One of parents' biggest concerns around student use of technology is that of distractions. The same tool we use to create and learn, can be used to entertain and derail productivity.
So what are our options, as teachers? As parents?
We could create elaborate structures of control (blocking certain websites, turning off wifi etc), but that is only a temporary solution.
At UWCSEA, we prefer to educate students about distractions, with a view to creating informed citizens, who learn to manage their tendencies to get distracted. This is of course what all adults need to learn to do themselves...
This skill of self-management takes time to develop, and students need lots of opportunities to practice. They may well need frequent reminders throughout their schooling of techniques and approaches to reducing distractions, and this is where responsive teaching comes to the fore.
One of the ways we have begun to educate students about distractions is through the Personal and Social Education curriculum. Recently, I co-taught with a Grade 3 teacher, who was concerned her students were getting side-tracked with Google Chat, and who wanted some strategies for helping students remain focused during class.
When I walked around the room, I asked if I could borrow a few students' computers to show the class. Here's what we found: