25 Tips for Dealing with Digital Distractions

flickr photo by Kris Krug http://flickr.com/photos/kk/4059160242 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

In truth, it can be hard to focus among the delights presented by a never-ending machine of distraction available on the Internet.

TeachThought has a great post with 25 tips, ideas, and tools to assist us with this endeavour.

  1. Use Apps Like StayFocused

    “You don’t necessarily have to be prone to being distracted to sit down to work only to find yourself shopping for pearl snap shirts on eBay and wondering how you got there. StayFocused is a Google Chrome plug-in that lets you decide up front how much time to allow yourself to burn on those time-wasting sites before it cuts you off cold.


  1. Track Yourself With Resources Like RescueTime

    If you’re not quite ready to let StayFocused dictate your web browsing, try RescueTime. It records where you click and how much time you spend there so that you can see the depressing results in all their graphed glory. If and when you decide to make some changes, it also includes the option to start blocking sites altogether.”

Read the entire post and the other 23 tips here.


Using Tech to Showcase Student Work

flickr photo by tobiastoft http://flickr.com/photos/tobiastoft/3209413578 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

InformEd recently ran a piece by Saga Briggs on 24 ways to showcase student work using technology.  It’s got some great ideas for why to use tech as well as different platforms and ways to use them.  Take a peek and you’ll discover at least one new, intriguing tech tool.

Read it here.

“Stop Googling. I want to talk to you.”

flickr photo by Mark Nye, ClubofHumanBeings.com http://flickr.com/photos/marknye/8241325991 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND)

flickr photo by Mark Nye, ClubofHumanBeings.com http://flickr.com/photos/marknye/8241325991 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND)

Thoughtful New York Times Oped by Sherry Turkle:

“COLLEGE students tell me they know how to look someone in the eye and type on their phones at the same time, their split attention undetected. They say it’s a skill they mastered in middle school when they wanted to text in class without getting caught. Now they use it when they want to be both with their friends and, as some put it, “elsewhere.”

These days, we feel less of a need to hide the fact that we are dividing our attention. In a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 89 percent of cellphone owners said they had used their phones during the last social gathering they attended. But they weren’t happy about it; 82 percent of adults felt that the way they used their phones in social settings hurt the conversation.” Read the entire piece here.

You may remember Turkle’s TED talk Connected, but Alone:

She takes her ideas further in new book out called Reclaiming Conversation. You can read a review here.

3 Strategies To Integrate Technology Into Any Lesson via TeachThought

flickr photo by flickingerbrad http://flickr.com/photos/56155476@N08/12601914845 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

“3 Strategies To Integrate Technology Into Any Lesson

by Sandra L. Love, Ed.D., mentoringminds.com.

In today’s classroom, we have moved beyond teaching reading, writing and mathematics through rote memorization.

We must push students to dig deeper and ask clear, thoughtful questions so they build the critical thinking skills essential for success in school, college and life. Technology has played a huge role in the development of the modern classroom, progressing from something that’s “cool” or “different” to a key piece of the critical thinking puzzle.

While technology is an important part of the education equation, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Teachers play a bigger role than ever in developing an engaging well-rounded curriculum, though integrating technology into the mix presents its own unique set of challenges. Many teachers have been reluctant to replace their print materials due to cost and dissatisfaction with the available digital options. According to the MDR 2014 State of the K–12 Market Report, there’s a growing demand for solutions that improve teaching and personalized learning and educators are willing to consider new instructional models.

So, how do we build an engaging curriculum based on the components of critical thinking, while incorporating technology into the mix – without sacrificing the basics? Here are a few simple tips to integrate technology into almost any lesson.

3 Strategies To Integrate Technology Into Any Lesson

1. Think Visual–Or Help Students To Do So 

There is a wealth of free programs that allow students to incorporate visuals into their class work.

For example, programs like Easel.ly can be used to create infographics to enhance history papers or scientific experiments. Animoto, a video program that turns your pictures into video, can be used to create book reviews or book trailers, which can transform an ordinary book report, essay, math project, or art portfolio pice into a fun and engaging multimedia experience. Technology is nothing is not visual.

2. Blog All About It–Before, During, & After Learning

Journaling is a classic critical thinking instructional strategy that helps students independently deliberate on a teacher-prompted topic.”

Read the entire post here.

Looking through a new frame: Technology Rich & Innovation Poor

flickr photo by boegh http://flickr.com/photos/boegh/6085347780 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Alan November has a excellent post at his site, November Learning, in which he explores the confusion between technology rich and innovative poor schools. He identifies several key questions to use as reference points to determine your own or your school’s level of true innovation.

“Test your own level of innovation.  If you answer no to all Six Questions when evaluating the design of assignments and student work, than chances are that technology is not really being applied in the most innovative ways. The questions we ask to evaluate implementation and define innovation are critical.

(Beyond SAMR: Special note to those of you applying SAMR. Many educators who believed their assignment to be at the highest level of SAMR have discovered that the answer can be NO to all six of the transformation questions.)

Transformational Six

  1. Did the assignment build capacity for critical thinking on the web?
  2. Did the assignment develop new lines of inquiry?
  3. Are there opportunities for students to make their thinking visible?”

Read the entire piece here.

Great Tools for Differentiating Instruction

flickr photo by Sean MacEntee http://flickr.com/photos/smemon/5209796269 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Edutopia has a great piece by John McCarthy with dozens of tools for differentiating instruction. It’s a strong list with something for everyone. Even the strong tech user will likely find something in his list that they haven’t tried yet.

Learning Profiles

When students address concepts from diverse perspectives, especially in collaborative groups, it can lead to in-depth understanding. Learning profiles are about providing each student with experiences that incorporate a variety of learning style elements, not just one. Such activities help students find deeper connections, especially if they share points of view via peer reflection and dialog.

Try these tools:

Here are an additional 50+ tools for exploration. Consider which will best fit the “current” needs of your diverse learners. More will be added on a regular basis. What tools do you use?”

Read the entire piece here.