Testing… Beneficial or Detrimental?

Written by Katelynn Brown 

“Imagine twenty-two players frantically kicking a ball, running, and then kicking some more, not concerned about what direction the ball is kicked. Some players will enthusiastically run and follow the ball, while others will stand idly by and wait for the ball to come to them. Some players might even just give up in frustration and lie down on the field. If the ball accidentally makes it into the goal, the crowd cheers, but the players don’t have a clue as to why.” –Ben Johnson

Think of this concept in the classroom, does this sound like any classroom you are familiar with? How would this lack of direction help students? It wouldn’t! In education teachers try to provide and guide instruction to provide students with the information that they need. This is done through testing. When discussing education, many question why testing is crucial and necessary to learning. For teachers, testing provides direction for instruction, it provides information on what students are grasping and where they are struggling, and provides further data to guide future instruction. For students, testing allows students to identify their individual learning gaps and acquired knowledge, strengthen their retrieval abilities, and improve their memory. When used correctly and appropriately testing can be a beneficial method to help provide effective and meaningful instruction in the classroom.

Diversify Testing in the Classroom

When used appropriately, testing can be a powerful way to improve learning in the classroom. Testing asks students to retrieve knowledge, to activate their memory, and to demonstrate that knowledge. When the test accurately measures what is supposed to be measured it is valid. Valid tests, depending on the design of the test and what the instructor feels the goal of the learning is, should be able to measure learning. In the classroom, there are different forms of testing that can be used to for different situations and contexts. Teachers can use different forms of testing to help develop a better understanding of where students are successful and where students are struggling.

  • Formative/ Informal Assessment

Formative assessments are used in classrooms to check for understanding in an effective way in order to guide and direct instruction. These assessments are used during instruction rather than at the end of a unit or course of students. When used correctly, results from this form of assessment helps instructors recognize where students are struggling and address problems immediately. It also helps students to identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work. This assessment allows teachers to ensure that students are understanding what is being taught and ensures that students are not getting lost in the material. These assessments should be used frequently to guide instruction while or after students learn a new idea, concept, or process. Teachers can utilize use different activities and assessment tools to incorporate formative assessments into the classroom.

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  • Exit Ticket

Give students a question to answer that targets the big idea of the lesson and have students write a sentence or two. Teachers can also challenge student’s retrieval and ask about previous content that was covered in the class. As students leave, collect their exit ticket. As teachers go through the information determine what students understood the concept, somewhat understood the concept, or didn’t understand the concept. The size of each stack will provide guidance for future instruction.

  • Student Checklist

Teachers can provide students with a checklist and have them self-assess. Provide students with a checklist for each new concept or with various concepts. Ensure that students write a sentence or two plaining how they know they have got the concept or why they think they are struggling with the concept.

  • The Three Minute Paper

This activity can be use frequently either when presenting a new concept or after a lesson. The teacher provides students with a given amount of time. The teacher would instruct the students to “Take out a piece of paper and tell me what you have learning so far about ________”. The teacher will evaluate students responses to determine into separate piles of students who understand the concept, students who somewhat understand the concept, and students who do not understand.

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  • Misconception Check

Teachers will provide student with common or predictable misconceptions about a specific principle, process, or concept. Ask the students whether they agree or disagree and explain why. These assessments can be provided in multiple choice or true/ false form. This assessment can allow teachers to acquire knowledge of where they misconceptions are present in student understanding.

  • Watch, Look, Listen

In the classroom, observing the actions, behaviors, and words of students can provide valuable data and serves as an effective formative assessment. Teachers can take notes as they conference with individual students, during shared conversation, or during collaborative learning groups. Teachers can assess which students have an understanding of the concepts being taught and which students are struggling.

  • Summative/ Formal Assessment

Summative assessments are used in classrooms to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit through the use of standards or benchmarks. Summative assessments are often high stakes. These tests are given using the same process, to all students in a classroom, school or state, so that every students has an equal opportunity to demonstrate what they know and what they can do. Summative assessments cover a full range of concepts for a given grade level. This assessments serves as a final evaluation of what students have learned and if they have understood the concepts that were taught. There are multiple forms of summative assessments that teachers can use within the classroom.

  • Quizlet

This website allows teachers to build flashcards, quizzes, games, and tests in the app. On Quizlet teachers are able to use material and content created by other teachers or they can create their own content. Through the app teachers can keep track of student progress and data to determine what information students have gained and where they are having difficulty. Teachers can add images and voice recording to enhance the experience for students.

  • Portfolios

Portfolios is a compilation of academic work and other forms of educational evidence assembled together. This assessments allows teachers to evaluate coursework quality, learning progress, and academic achievement, determines whether students have met the standards and academic requirements of the course, and helps students reflect on their academic goals and progress as learners. Portfolios are a subject method used to assess student learning over time.

  • Projects

Projects allow students to synthesize many concepts into one product or process. They require students to address real world issues and put their learning to use to solve or demonstrate multiple related skills. Through the use of projects students are given multiple opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge in creative and innovative ways.

  • Tests

The most common form of summative assessment is the paper and pencil test. This test can come at the end of a unit, chapter, semester, or year. The purpose of this assessment method is to provide teachers with information about what the students have learned over the course of the unit, chapter, semester, or year. These assessments can include multiple choice questions, fill in the blank, short answer, and extended constructed response questions.

References:

Alber, R. (2014, January 15). Why formative assessments matter. Retrieved 2017, from             https://www.edutopia.org/blog/formative-assessments-importance-of-rebecca-alber

Eberly Center. (2015). Whys and hows of assessment. Retrieved 2017, from             https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/assessment/basics/formative-summative.html

The Great Schools Partnership. (2016, February 18). Portfolio. Retrieved 2017, from             http://edglossary.org/portfolio/

Johnson, B. (2011, June 20). A different perspective: Teaching to the test. Retrieved 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/teaching-to-the-test-benefits-ben-johnson

Ronan, A. (2015, April 29). Every teacher’s guide to assessment. Retrieved 2017, from             http://www.edudemic.com/summative-and-formative-assessments/

O’Malley, K. (2015, October 25). 4 common types of tests teachers give. Retrieved 2017, from https://www.noodle.com/articles/4-types-of-tests-teachers-give-and-why

Is Testing Helping Your Memory?

Written by Katelynn Brown

Testing in education, is a concept that has been questioned and debated for centuries. Many question the benefits, drawbacks, and outcomes of testing in the classroom. Especially when considering learning in the classroom, many question how the testing process can impact student learning. When thinking about testing, many question how repeated testing can be beneficial to students and if testing truly impacts the learning experience? The answer… when used appropriately and effectively testing can benefit both the teacher and the students in the classroom. When used appropriately students are given the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills, recognize where they are making mistakes, and provide opportunities to improve retrieval and memory. Teachers able to use results from testing to plan and correct instruction to help support the development of students and to provide additional instruction where needed.

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Did I Forget That?

Have you ever found yourself asking, “Where did I leave my phone?” If you have, like many others, you became frustrated trying to remember trying to remember where you placed it. You searched around frantically looking for and trying to remember the last place that you might have seen it. Many times we find ourselves becoming frustrated with our memories and wonder why it doesn’t work like a computer. That’s because your memory is better! In the mind, our memory works by forming complex associations between cues present in our environments and target information stored in our brain. The target of these cues, is to trigger a memory.

When considering our memory, researchers have argued that memory helps us predict the future. Our memories take into account the complex patterns based on environment, context, and frequency that help it generate the best possible target with the information it has. Information that doesn’t get used very often is forgotten, unless it was associated with an emotionally-charged and important event. The more that you use memory the better it becomes. Researchers have studied testing as a way of practicing memory and examining what factors improve our memory by focusing on the process of retrieval. Retrieval is the process of rebuilding in order to call information to mind. Every time something is recalled and an individual is able to go through the process of retrieval, they get better at rebuilding the memory making it easier to remember the information in the future. As teachers, it is crucial to remember that retrieval is an active process that changes the learning experience of students. Through testing, quizzing, and repeated practice, students are able to change their retrieval ability for the future. Thus strengthening connections between cues and memories. In order for students to learn and succeed, it is important to provide opportunities for students to practice and to be tested in real-world scenarios. While in the classroom, teachers can use multiple techniques and strategies to help the students strengthen their retrieval, memory, and learning abilities.

How Can I Improve Memory?

Everyday students are learning and acquiring more knowledge both inside and outside of the classroom. As students continue to learn, it is important that they have effective strategies to help students make connection and utilize their memory to remember information. In the classroom, there are many strategies and activities that teachers can utilize to help students make connections and remember information. Through the use of these strategies students can improve their memory and retrieval abilities.

  1. Teach students to use visual images and other memory strategies

When learning new material, it is often easier to remember information that has been presented in different ways. Especially when teaching new concepts, it is important to use visual aids to help organize information. Images can be used as a retrieval cue to facilitate the recall or access of store information. Visual images or other words that the new information is associated with at the time it is stored in long-term memory. Through the use of visual cues it is easier to remember what has been read and seen. When students are provided with the retrieval cues, it is easier for them to access information that has been stored in long-term memory. The use of multisensory instruction enhances memory and learning or children. By presenting information in multiple formats, students are able to recode information, make meaningful connections, and facilitate long-term memory storage.

 

  1. Activate prior knowledge

When students are learning new information, teachers should activate their prior knowledge about the subject being taught. Activating prior knowledge about a topic provides students with a “hook” to hang new information on in their mental memory network. Teachers can utilize this strategy by discussing vocabulary, helping students make personal connections to the material, and discussing the topic prior to the lesson. This strategy allows students to focus on the more crucial information and engage in more effective depth of processing.

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  1. Help students develop cues

Memory research has found that information is retrieved by using a cue and that cue should be present at the time the information is being retrieved. Teachers can use different cueing forms to help students make connections and remember information presented. Teachers can incorporate this into the classroom by providing students with different cues such as multisensory cues, helping students develop personal cues, and through the use of mnemonics. The use of mnemonic methods can provide the scaffolding for higher order thinking for students. Mnemonic learning can be helpful for retrieval of information in long-term memory. Mnemonics also provide visual imagery or verbal elaborations that serve as cues for recalling information that is meaningful. An example of this would be the acronym HOMES which can be used to represent the names of the great lakes. When using this strategy students can generate their own devices or their teachers can provide them.

  1. Provide retrieval practice

Research has shown that long-term memory is enhanced when students engage in retrieval practice. In the classroom, teachers can provide students with multiple opportunities to recall information from long term memory. Teachers can help students practice retrieval by asking questions and creating activities that incorporate recalling previous information that was presented in class. The process of testing can also help students practice retrieval. Prior to taking a test, when teachers review information they ask students questions or have students make up questions which allows students to recall information. When students are asked to create test questions, teachers are then able to determine what knowledge students remember and where students might need help recalling information. This allows students opportunities to practice recall and memory as well as providing teachers with information of what knowledge students have acquired. Practice tests can help to boost long term retention and can help decrease stress. Teachers can incorporate multiple forms of testing to help students practice their retrieval and recall abilities.

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  1. The spacing effect

Many times in the classroom, students are presented with new topics every day. Instead key ideas and concepts should be revisited throughout the school year. Research has shown that students tend to perform better academically when given multiple opportunities to review learned material. Teachers can incorporate this strategy in the classroom by asking students questions related to the previous content, creating activities and lessons that connect the material, or using homework to re-expose students to prior information.

References

Terada, Y. (2017, September 20). Why students forget and what you can do about it.         Retrieved 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/why-students-forget-and- what-you-can-do-about-it

Thorne, G. (2003, January 1). What strategies can be used to increase memory? Retrieved 2017, from http://www.cdl.org/articles/what-strategies-can-be-used-to-increase-memory/

Thorne, G. (2006). 10 strategies to enhance students’ memory. Retrieved 2017, from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/10-strategies-enhance-students-memory

Where is Your Focus?

Written by Katelynn Brown

“The real message is because attention is under siege more than it has ever been in human history, we have more distractions than ever before, we have to be more focused on cultivating the skills of attention. It’s about using the devices smartly but having the capacity to concentrate as you need to, when you want to. The more you can concentrate the better you’ll do on anything, because whatever talent you have, you can’t apply it if you are distracted.” –Daniel Goleman

 

Attention and focus are two aspects of our everyday lives. In any activity, learning experience, or action that is presented throughout the day we demonstrate our ability to utilize focus and attention. Our ability to demonstrate and utilize focus and attention can be impacted by distractions. These distractions can come in multiple forms and can affect our ability to focus and concentrate. Many times we can become distracted and we do not even acknowledge that it has occurred. Especially in the 21st century, technology has become both a benefit and a hindrance to student attention and focus. Many times throughout the day we become distracted by cellphones and computers without even realizing it. In the classroom, it is important that educators guide students in developing and improving their ability to ignore distractions. As students embrace attention and focus, they are better able to learn and retain information in the classroom.

Can I Strengthen My Focus?

In the classroom, there are multiple techniques that educators can use to help students avoid distractions and strengthen their focus. These methods can include a variety of activities and practices that teachers can model, demonstrate, and incorporate into the classroom. Each of these methods can assist the students in strengthening and improving their knowledge of focus and selective attention. The integration of these instructional methods can truly influence the academic performance of students in the classroom by strengthening their ability to focus and diminishing their tendency to become distracted.

1.    Teach students what staying focused looks like

Throughout the day, teachers should model and explain what staying focused looks, sounds, and feels like. In the classroom, teachers can use interactive modeling. Interactive modeling is an effective way to show students how to stay focused. This instructional method not only shows students how to do a multitude of particular skills but also shows them why it is important to do it well. Teachers must explicitly explain to students why staying focused is important and then must work to model those behaviors to students. During this time, teachers model exactly what their eyes, mouths, hands, and feet should be doing when students are focused on a multitude of tasks.

2.   Get students up and moving

As people, but especially as children, we are naturally inclined to move and be active. Many times in the classroom, teachers forget that students are active individuals and thus our expectations are not realistic. Teachers can get students up and moving during instruction by including “Brain Breaks” into instruction. Teachers can increase the effectiveness of student learning by incorporating Brain breaks throughout the day. Brain breaks can include using yoga moves, playing a quick game, allowing students to walk around the classroom or wiggle, or using websites such as GoNoodle. As you take this time to allow students to move around, students will refocus and foster well-being and academic performance.

3.    Teach students how to refocus

One important way to help students build stamina is to give them strategies for getting back on track when they lose focus. One way to help students learn to refocus is for teachers to have students practice doing multiple things at once. As teachers give students multiple things at once, students are training their brains to focus on what they are doing. Through continues practice, students are less likely to lose focus. Another technique would be for teachers to teach students how to take small breaks without disrupting their concentration. When students notice that they have lost focus, teachers can show students how to use different techniques to help regain focus. These breaks can include breathing techniques, walking around, or taking time to move around.

4.   Help students build endurance

Students can improve and strengthen their ability to focus by building endurance. This can be done by having students think about focus related to something they are interested in. Teachers can have students think about areas that interest them and how that knowledge is developed through continuous focus and practice. Students can build endurance in any area through patience, practice, and time. In order for students to strengthen their endurance, teachers must provide students with opportunity and time to practice this skill. Through repeated practice, students will be able to effectively ignore distractions and utilize focus.

5.    Adjust instructional time frames

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During instruction, sometimes teachers find that students are not able to maintain focus and stay on task. When these difficulties occur in the classroom, this would be the time to consider breaking content into smaller time intervals. Teachers need to remember that students can only concentrate on material for a limited amount of time. During instruction it might be necessary for teachers to adjust time frames if students are demonstrating difficulty focusing. Teachers should be cautious of lengthy instruction and lectures. While presenting instruction, it is important that teachers work to ensure that students remain involved in the material and active in the lesson. Teachers can do this by involving hands on instruction and questions into the lesson.

6.   Play memory games

Memory games helps students to strengthen their focus in a fun way. Through the use of these games, students are able to concentrate when challenged. In the school day, teachers can integrate these games into the regular instructional time. Teachers can also encourage this use of memory games during student’s free time as well. Games such as red-light-green-light, I-Spy, and Simon Says challenge students to focus and pay attention. Through these games, students are able to repeatedly practice focus through the use of a fun and interactive game.

7.    Breakdown tasks

This technique requires the teacher to be responsive and aware of the needs of students in the classroom. Teachers need to assess how students are performing in the classroom. Teachers need to remember that learning is not a one size fits all method. If students seem to demonstrate difficulty with the instructional material, teachers should attempt to differentiate instruction. Teachers can do this by breaking material into smaller chunks. Teachers should break up instruction into smaller chunks, as students complete chunks of instruction the students can take a break, and then return to the next chunk of information and instruction. With the implementation of this strategy, students may complete tasks faster.

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In the classroom, there are various techniques that can be used to help students strengthen and improve their ability to focus. Teachers can help students to strengthen this skill with repeated practice of these various techniques. As students continue to practice focus and attention, the skill will become more automatic and students will begin to do it naturally. As students improve their ability to focus and pay selective attention, students can improve their learning experience and retain more information.

 

Citations:

Cox, J. (n.d.). Teaching strategies to help students stay focused. Retrieved 2017, from http://www.teachhub.com/teaching-strategies-help-students-stay-focused

Reeves, D. (2015, July 10). 7 ways to increase a student’s attention span. Retrieved 2017, from  https://www.edutopia.org/discussion/7-ways-increase-students-attention-span

Schwartz, K. (2013, December 5). Age of distraction: Why it’s crucial for students to learn to focus. Retrieved 2017, from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/12/05/age-of-distraction-why-its-crucial-for-students-to-learn-to-focus/

Umstatter, K. (2014, January 3). Teaching students to stay focused. Retrieved 2017, from https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/teaching-students

How Do I Focus?

Written by Katelynn Brown

Focus, it’s a concept that we all think that we are familiar with. When asked to define what focus is, many people would say that focus is to pay attention to something in particular. Though this is true, focus is much more than that. As individual, when we say we think we are using focus, we are actually demonstrating selective attention. Selective attention is when we consciously focus on something by skillfully ignoring distracting stimuli. Through the use of selective attention, we are able to effectively ignore different types of distraction. Research has determined that attention is the first step in the learning process. The ability of students to focus and orient attention impacts what is information is gained and retained to memory. Research has also found that the ability to students to ignore distractions and focus on learning has strong associations to academic performance. As educators, it is important that we help students to think about focusing to encourage selective attention and limit distractions in the classroom.

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Can I Direct My Focus?

Take a second and look at your surroundings, notice all of the possible distractions that are around you. Have they affected your ability to pay attention and stay focused? Everyday students are constantly surrounded by multiple forms of distractions that challenge their ability to focus and to learn. Student’s ability to focus is constantly being challenged and tested. As students find themselves surrounded by conversation, technology, and various other distractions, students are challenged to focus and successfully ignore all other distractions that are present. For many, this concept is easier said than done. For students it can be difficult to simply focus on one activity rather than attempting to multitask. It is important that as educators, we are able to help direct student thinking and help students demonstrate selective attention in order to ignore all of the distractions that are present. By helping students to utilize selective attention, educators can better gear students to learn, gain information, and retain this information to memory. Educators can demonstrate for students different methods to improve focus and attention in the classroom. The next step, is to determine how educators can help students to increase the use of selective attention in the classroom.

Think About How You Focus:

While in the classroom, educators want students to be hard at work, engaged in the lesson, and focused on the material that is being presented. During class instruction, educators might find that students are distracted or focused on something either than the instruction. These distractions can come in multiple forms in the classroom. Educators can try to limit this distraction by explicitly instruction students on how to regulate attention. Educators can provide students with cognitive strategies that can guide students to understand how they can consciously direct and maintain their attention on learning tasks. Through regular practices, these cognitive strategies can improve students’ ability to manage their individual learning. By providing students with this instruction, educators can encourage and self-directed learning in the classroom.

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1. Shine the Spotlight On Attention

In this activity, educators introduce the subject of attention by asking students to share examples of being extremely focused on an activity that the student was able to block out distractions around them. These examples can include reading a book, watching a movie, practicing an instrument, or practicing a sport. In the way that students provide this attention in the examples that they have given, students can purposefully focus their attention to learning in the classroom. Based on this information, work with students to brainstorm ways that regulating attention can improve learning. For example brainstormed ideas might include:

  • Paying attention to a lesson instead of being distracted by distractions in the hallway or playground.
  • Switching from learning one subject to another or one class to another.
  • Leaving personal disagreements or problems outside of the classroom to limit distractions during instruction.
  • Completing a homework assignment before turning on TV, using cellphone, or playing a video game.
  • Limiting or “turning off” worries about not doing well on an assignment or test in order to stay focused and remember material.
  • Identifying what is most important and focusing solely on what is most important.

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2. Focusing attention is a skill that can be improved

At any stage, students can develop their attention for learning through regular practice and training. Educators should provide students with good reasons for training their attention. Educators should remind students that people who can take charge of their attention are better at remembering things and figuring out what new information means and how they can use it. Students who are able to develop this knowledge, are better at metacognition and higher-order thinking processes. In the classroom, educators must guide and encourage students as they work to improve and strengthen their ability to focus attention.

3. Be Responsive and Pace Your Teaching

Within the classroom, the attention span of individual students is going to vary drastically. Educators should vary the instructional times that are provided in the classroom based on the needs of students. Especially when teaching younger students, educators should provide instruction is shorter amounts of time during lessons and learning activities. In the classroom, teachers can utilize the acronym CRAVE as a way to remember five other strategies for keeping students’ attention focused on learning:

  • Build curiosity for learning with “teasers” that get students interested in the lesson. Educators should incorporate anticipatory sets into the classroom that peak student interest and curiosity.
  • Look for ways to make lessons relevant to students’ lives. Educators need to incorporate authentic text, discussion, instruction, and activities into the classroom. By providing meaningful and authentic text and instructions students are better able to become engaged and interested in the material.
  • Ask questions to engage students in learning and inquiry. By asking students questions, educators are ensuring that the students are involved in the lesson and are able to be active learners during instruction.
  • Remember to include variety in the lesson. Educations should use a mix of learning activities. These variety helps to keep students engaged and interested in the material.
  • Evoke emotions. Emotions can be distracting, they can also be used to enhance attention by making a lesson or learning activity more interesting.
  • Educators can incorporate and utilize each of these instructional practiced into the classroom. The integration of these instructional methods can help students to become aware of their own thinking and their ability to focus during instruction. Each of these instructional methods and activities, can help to increase student attention and focus while in the classroom. As students are able to strengthen their attention skills, students will be better able to learn information and to retain the information that they have learned.

 

 

References:

Wilson, D. (2015, January 5). Strategies for getting and keeping the brain’s attention.

Retrieved 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/strategies-getting-keeping-

            brains-attention-donna-wilson-marcus-conyers

Multitasking in the Classroom

Why Avoid Multitasking?

In our everyday lives we are constantly bombarded with information, activities, and engagements that we can be involved in. For a majority of the day, we are each participating in multitasking in one form or another. Many times we are engaging in multitasking behaviors and do not even notice the distractions that are affecting us throughout the day. For students especially being involved in these distractors can impact their performance both inside and outside of the classroom. As educators, we must incorporate different methods to assist students with limiting the amount of multitasking they are involved in to ensure their success in the classroom.

Why Shouldn’t Students Multitask?

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All around students are constantly surrounded by devices and platforms that can cause distractions. Social media, videos, video games, and other similar distractions are all readily present to students and can cause distractions while attempting to complete assignments. Many times students believe that they are able to multitask and complete multiple tasks successfully at once. But this is not the case! The brain is designed to limit conscious focus to one thing at any particular time. When we attempt to multitask and attempting to do multiple things at one time; rather than multitasking the brain is actually shifting its processing from one network to another. Each time that you shift from one task to another, you are wasting time, mental effort, and brain fuel. The use of multitasking can affect the effectiveness and productivity of students both inside and outside of the classroom. The consequences of task switching can include less work being completed, more time is required to complete assignments, and less information is retained. It is important that teachers emphasize single tasking rather than multitasking. Teachers should also provide students with methods to limit multitasking.

Limit Multitasking in the Classroom:

While in the classroom, teachers want students to be hard at work, courteous, and well-behaved. From time to time, teachers might find that students are distracted while in the classroom or multitasking. These distractions might include using cell phones or interruptive behaviors that might be demonstrated during class time. There are multiple techniques and methods that teachers can use to help students avoid multitasking and distractions and stay focused on the lesson.

Establish standards and expectations for student behavior and learning

As a teacher, it is important that you first establish a relationship with your students. Along with developing a relationship with your students, it is important that teachers are able to establish rules and expectations for the students. While in the classroom, students need to understand the rules that are in the place and the expectations that the teachers has for the students. Ensure that in the classroom, expectations and rules are made aware to the students. With this knowledge, students understand what the teachers expects to see from students. This should aid teachers in explaining to students how important attention is during lessons, in limiting distractions and inattention that might occur, and in diminishing the tendency of students to multitask.

Protect and Leverage Time

While teaching a lesson, teachers need to appropriately time and pace lessons in order to keep student engaged and interested. Teachers need to ensure that when presenting content, there is sufficient time for instruction and for students to practice the instructional methods. By providing students with sufficiently paced instruction and allowing student ample time to practice the concept present in instruction, teachers can increase student academic performance. Effective time planning can prevent the presence of ideal time thus limiting the possibility of student multitasking or distraction. By minimizing lost and idol time, teachers can attempt to keep students fully engaged in the lesson.

 Anticipate student behaviors

When teachers plan their lessons, it is important to keep in mind student interests, behaviors, and paths of attention that are required to acquire the content information. Teachers need to focus on what they are teaching and how students will be able to demonstrate their learning. In the lesson, teachers should include open ended questions that challenge student thinking. This should allow students to remain engaged in the lesson and the material being presented. In the lesson, teachers should utilize multiple methods of representation to provide the information to students. This method will allow the teachers to effectively meet the needs of multiple students in the classroom. Finally, teachers should also provide the students with a variety of opportunities to demonstrate the knowledge that they have acquired. By thinking about the behaviors of the students in the classroom prior to teaching the lesson, teachers are able to ensure that they have worked to meet the needs of each student. This should ensure that the students remain involved in the lesson, limit the amount of possible distractions, and diminish the occurrence of multitasking by the students in the classroom.

Differentiate instruction to keep students engaged. 

Schoolchildren bored in a classroom, during lesson.

Along with understanding student behaviors during the lessons, teachers also need to differentiate instruction in order to engage and challenge students with the material. When differentiating instruction, teachers can differentiate the content, process, or products in order to avoid multitasking or distractions during the lesson. When differentiating content teachers can use reading material at varying readability levels, use different vocabulary and spelling lists based on the level of the student, present ideas through different means, and use different methods of grouping students such as in pairs, small groups, or individually.When determining the process there are multiple methods and activities that can be used to assist in differentiating. Teachers can use tiered activities by using different levels of support, challenge, or complexity. Teachers can develop personal agendas to be completed either during individual study time or while in centers in the classroom. Teachers can provide manipulatives or hands on supports, and can use varying lengths of time depending on student need to complete the assigned material.

When considering the product that students are expected to present, teachers can differentiate the outcome based on the needs of the students. In the classroom, teachers can give students options of how to express the required learning. Teachers can use rubrics to assess and extend student learning. Teachers can vary the method of completing the product from individual to small groups. In each of these sections- content, process, and product- teachers are able to differentiate the material to ensure that students remained engaged and active in the learning experience. By gearing the planning, instruction, and product to the needs of the students can avoid the habit of multitasking. By providing planned and differentiated instruction to their individual needs, the teacher can attempt to prevent students from multitasking by challenging their thinking and providing support where necessary.

A cute African American schoolboy thinking while looking away

Provide students with brain breaks throughout the day

As teachers, there is a lot of material that needs to be covered and instruction that needs to be provided throughout the school day. Though there is a lot that must be taught, teachers cannot forget to provide students with opportunities to relax, recharge, and reenergize during instruction. At different points throughout the day, teachers should allow students to take breaks to reenergize and refocus. These breaks can include simple tasks such as allowing students to stretch or walk around the classroom. These break can also include using websites such as GoNoodle to allow students to dance and sing along to videos. Any of these options would allow students to reenergize and refocus before presenting more information. By providing students with brain breaks, students are less likely to become distracted or to multitask during instruction.

References

Edutopia. (2016). Conquering the multitasking brain drain [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/ search?biw=1777&bih=882&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=_3rzWevzEcjLjwTh3rDYCg&q=multitasking+edutopia&oq=multitasking+edutopia&gs_l=psy-ab.3…6008.8613.0.8812.15.15.0.0.0.0.105.1357.13j2.15.0….0…1.1.64.psyab..0.8.721…0j0i67k1j0i24k1j0i10i24k1j0i8i30 k1.0.r-C4sP0kJBQ#imgrc=qNjtCOeN1JF3zM

Freepik. (2016). Smiling students paying attention in class. Retrieved from: https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/smiling-students-paying-attention-in-class_866544.htm

Johnson, B. (2016, September 2). The 5 priorities of classroom management. Retrieved from Edutopia website: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/5-priorities-classroom-management-ben-johnson

Tomlinson, C. A. (n.d.). What is differentiated instruction. Retrieved from

http://www.readingrockets.org/article/what-differentiated-instruction

Willis, J. (2016, October 25). Conquering the multitasking brain drain. Retrieved from

Edutopia website: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/conquering-the-multitasking-

brain-drain-judy-willis

 

Author

Katelynn Brown

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