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Archive for September, 2010

It seemed like it took for ever for me to learn to 8-3-3-9-9-8 (text.) No wonder many states make it illegal to text while driving (see earlier post.) I heard a report that the safety council had suggested that data had been misinterpreted which suggested that car crashes had gone UP in states where texting while driving had been made illegal. We’ll see.

Texting in school is a hot issue, though. Many of us try to embrace the new wave of technology while trying to decrease distractions. It is true that teens are so accustomed to multiple streams of input that they can learn faster than we can teach–well, at least in theory.  It may be true that the net can be spread wider, but they’re not catching many fish.

So why is it that the world of information can be a mile wide and only an inch deep? Linda Stone may have an answer. It’s called continuous partial attention. Years ago, I did a research project on memory, and the bottom line of the whole thing was:

 If you want to remember something you must pay attention to it.

Students (and adults) who are in constant contact through their phones and texting devices are hard to get through to. They seem to linger on the edge of many things simultaneously without giving true attention to anything. This is  the state of continuous partial attention. This is not multi-tasking, this is multi-glossing. It increases stress, frustration, and causes email-apnea and early burn out. (www.lindastone.net)

The internet as well has changed the way we think. For example: we can sift through Google results faster as we search for something, and decide which information we’re looking for. That’s a good thing. And while we can search, message, Facebook, and any number of other things, we have lost many of the more human aspects in exchange.

Many of these human things–recognizing irony, reading body language and facial expression–have become lost to many students today. We even have to use emoticons in our messages and e-mails!

In feeding students spirit, try to have a totally disconnected time. Turn everything off – breathe – focus – pay attention to the task at hand. There is no mass of information to sift through-the teacher has already done the sifting. There are no decisions to make-the teacher has done the deciding.

And while new teacher methodologies dissuade this approach, sometimes we need to let the students sit back,

and think.

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A Model of Success

I saw the most amazing thing on television the other night. It was a documentary about a charter school whose graduation rate and college placement success was so high parents were jumping up and down if their child was selected to go there and weeping if their name wasn’t drawn. Parents actually WANTED their kids to go to THIS school as if merely attending there was a ticket to a great future.

So what made this school so great? Let’s look: 1) High expectations of all involved, both leaders and learners. 2) Professional leadership and administrators. 3) High demand yielding high result and insured by unwavering parental support.

Great kids, great teachers, and great parents are the secret of a great school’s success.

What about that? If I have great teachers supported by great parents and great administrators and send them great kids I’ll have a great school!

Who’d-a thunk it?

It makes me sit back an reflect on what I do as a teacher. If I’m not a great teacher, what is holding me back? If we’re not a great school, what holds us back? If local parents are not great, what’s holding them back?

Make a list of the obstacles, then draft your plan to get around them.

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