Avoiding Technology Distraction

Note this is one of the posts I will be bringing over from my previous blog.  This was originally posted on May 3, 2012.

As a teacher I deal with students being distracted on a daily basis.  Distractions can stem from just about anything and anywhere.  Some of the most common distractions are caused by tools that the students need; scissors, pencils, erasers, and even textbooks can be distracting for many students.  Even with the amount of technology I use in my classroom I spend much more time reminding students to stop playing with pencils than to stop playing with their iPods or other technology.

 
Imagination and a pencil can be distracting to elementary students!

The most common critique I hear about using technology in classrooms is that the technology is a distraction.  My response to this is simple; technology if not used correctly can be a distraction.  However, everything in a classroom, if not used correctly, can be a distraction.  If guidelines and expectations are consistent when using technology the distractions caused by technology can be minimized to that of the distractions of a pencil.

Here are the guidelines that my students and I follow in regards to using technology (iPod Touches, computers, SmartBoard):

  1. Unless specifically told to do so students must ask to use any technology.
  2. Students only have iPods at their desks during instruction time when they need them to do part or all of an assignment.
  3. Students never have their iPods during lesson introductions or when instructions are being given.
  4. Other than rare occasions or free time iPods are used for educational purposes.  Even during free time the iPods must be used in an appropriate manner.  One of the ways to ensure this is that the only game apps installed on the iPods have educational value..
  5. No photographs can be taken unless they are part of an assignment (using the “Restrictions” function I can easily disable the camera if students are misusing them).
  6. When technology becomes a distraction or an issue in some other way the student will lose the privilege of using the technology for a set period of time.

These simple guidelines have helped me implement technology in my lessons and overall classroom, while eliminating the distractions that can go along with technology implementation.  Another way I minimized the distraction was by giving my students some time to explore and experiment with the technology before we started to implement in lessons and assignments.

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