I was reminded this morning of a post I wrote several years ago about the distraction caused by our use of tech tools. So . . . a quick update with few new tools designed to help all of us wrangle back our focus.
Is social media, cell phone use, and technology really good for us? Or can it be so distracting that we (and our students) are unable to focus long enough to think and deliberate on important issues?
Can we use mobile devices and Google and Twitter and all sorts of other tech tools to encourage learning, collaboration, and creativity? If we really can’t multitask but switch quickly between tasks instead, is back-channeling and Tweeting and texting and other forms of social media just encouraging less comprehension and more confusion?
Researcher Maggie Johnson wrote a book several years ago titled Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. Her research seems especially appropriate for social studies teachers:
If we forget how to use our powers of deep focus, we’ll depend more on black-and-white thinking, on surface ideas, on surface relationships. That breeds a tremendous potential for tyranny and misunderstanding.
Let me be clear . . . I strongly support the use of social networks and technology as learning tools. But I’m beginning to believe that we’re not really sure how to use these tools appropriately as part of instruction. We’re not asking enough questions about the best ways to integrate tech into what we do every day.
Can students and instructors really use technology/media/social networks in ways that engage and keep students focused on the truly important?
I think so. But Read more
I’m starting to get the feeling that we’ve reached critical mass. When I work with social studies teachers around the country, I always make sure they’re familiar with the work by Sam Wineburg and the Stanford History Education Group.
SHEG’s Reading Like a Historian lessons and Beyond the Bubble assessments are the kinds of non-negotiable tools that belong in every teacher’s toolkit. But for the longest time, it seemed as if very few teachers had actually heard about the SHEG site. Of course, as soon as these teachers had the chance to explore the available tools, they were blown away.
Lately I’ve run into more and more teachers who are already familiar with the site and are finding very cool ways of integrating SHEG resources into their instruction. Maybe we’ve reached the point where most teachers have heard about the SHEG goodness and we all love it. (If you’re still not sure what sorts of SHEG lessons and assessments are available, for Pete’s sake, stop reading and head over to check it out.)
If you are using SHEG resources, I feel a little like a TV infomercial host this morning when I say, “but wait . . . there’s more.”
Because SHEG has some new stuff. Read more
Real or fake?
Biased or unbiased?
Trustworthy or untrustworthy?
During a recent trip through different parts of Texas, I got the chance to lead several teacher conversations around these three questions. We worked together to share strategies and resources designed around creating knowledgeable, thinking, and active citizens.
With a specific goal of training our kids to be effective consumers of online information. So our conversation wasn’t just about fake news – it was also about online civic literacy.
We started with a series of images: Read more
I’ve always known that Mary F. is smart. She’s been a K-12 teacher, a technology coach, and a college instructor. She’s leading the way with our year-long tech integration study group. And I’m pretty sure she had a side gig consulting with Google as they’re struggled with the new Gmail rollout.
And last Friday . . . smartness confirmed. She shared a new tool that I had never heard of before.
And it’s very cool. Turns out a ton of people are using Wakelet to deal with the imminent death of Storify. But as Mary and I started chatting, we began to realize that there is a lot of power in Wakelet beyond just Read more
I’m probably showing my age. But the old orange juice commercial still comes to mind every once in a while. You know the one. Everyday folks drinking orange juice all day long cause . . . you know, it’s not just for breakfast anymore. (You’re welcome, Florida Orange Growers Association.)
And it came to mind again yesterday while I was working with a small group of educators as they explored all of the different tools available in Google’s G Suite for Education. I had stopped to talk a bit about Google Search and a teacher shared what I’m guessing was the overall mood of the group:
Search isn’t really a tool, is it? Not like Docs or Slides. And don’t most kids already know how to search on Google?
Yes, it is a tool. And after a few minutes of gentle conversation and examples, mmm . . . it was clear that maybe we don’t all know as much about the power of Google Search as we think we do. (Yesterday I overheard one particular user mention that she starts all of her searches by clicking the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on the Google search page.) And while we’re all pretty good at putting some keywords into the Google search box and hoping for the best, I think we can do better.
Google Search isn’t just for breakfast anymore – we need to realize that finding and organizing information is a vital digital literacy skill that we and our students can’t ignore. And it’s becoming even more critical as more and more of the documents, sources, and tools that our students need are being pushed online. So . . . Read more