Thursday, November 14, 2013

Creating Teachable Moments

In a recent Google Hangout with Grant Wiggins, one of our teachers asked about the role of character education in public schools.  Wiggins shared his perspective, but he really made me think when he explained his view that we really learn character education by being put in situations that test our character.  We don't learn about perseverance through lectures, but rather by enduring situations in real life and then reflecting on those moments.  As our students learn to navigate the digital world, this 1:1 environment is putting these students in daily situations that test their ability to focus, manage time, be responsible, etc.  While it can feel incredibly painful to watch the blunders of mismanagement of the digital world, I do believe that our students will learn these skills and be more prepared for their future. I had the great privilege to attend #edcampKC this past weekend, and I learned of several great tools that might be great conversation starters regarding digital citizenship, time management, focus, etc.  Here are a few tools and ideas to consider using with your students:

1.  Who doesn't love Kid President?  The first 1:40 of this clip is a great conversation starter about how we use the Internet.  Thanks to Jake Boswell for sharing this video with me!

2. Check out this video on The Science of Procrastination...another great conversation starter.  It really makes you think about why we multi-task and the effects it may be having on our productivity.  The video also provides a great synopsis of how to use the Pomodoro technique as a time management tool.

3.  Check out the Chrome Extension Strict Workflow.  This extension plays off the idea of the Pomodoro technique.  For every 25 minutes that you have focused work, you get a 5 minute break. By using this extension, if you find yourself multitasking and hopping to another site that might interrupt your workflow, you will receive this message:

Customize the list of sites that are blocked during your 25 minutes of workflow.  CAUTION:  In reality, you or your students can just hop into another browser and access the sites, but the extension might provide that needed moment of reflection about our multitasking habits. 

4. If you want to try the concept of the Pomodoro technique, the Tomatoist Chrome app or the Tomatoist site offer a simple timer that gives you 25 minutes of work flow and then a 5 minute break timer.  Many teachers use timers to keep the pace of class moving; let's teach students to use timers for themselves!

5. The StayFocusd Chrome Extension allows you to limit the amount of time you spend each day on time-suckage websites.  Once your allotted time for the day expires, the site is blocked for the remainder of the day.  This could be a great time-management tool. 

6.  Lastly, check out the Progress Bar Timer.  Create progress bars that track time, dates, and more. 

Please share what tools, videos, or strategies work for you or your students.   

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