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Screen Time

During Winter Break I got to regroup with family and become re-energized by searching out new books and resources for good information that I can return to school with and hit the ground running.  This break I was delighted to find a series called “What Were You Thinking?” on the Audible audio platform.  If you haven’t listened to it yet, you HAVE TO.  It was just what I needed to be able to take a step back and get my head back in the crazy mind of my middle school kids.


In every language and for many generations parents have been asking their children, “what were you thinking?!”.  I know I heard this repeatedly in my own teen years, and now instinctively say it to my 12 and 7 year olds. Spoiler alert: they’re not thinking.

It really got me thinking about just how much technology and sleep deprivation plays in the decision making of students.  Every generation has it’s own level of knuckleheadedness, but with the advent of accessible and constant internet (think: smartphones, tablet, gaming consoles, Google Docs, social media, oh my!) has added a whole new layer, and we’re not even close to being in control.

I started thinking about all of the educators who have said “I can’t do this forever” burnt out from constant 504 meetings, student apathy with assignments, and unfiltered student communication.  How much more can we handle?! But alas! We are only in the infancy of seeing the ramifications of putting an iphone in the hands of a toddler, and as we learn more about that, we may also learn more about how to curtail these hazy side-effects and rise our kids up to their true potential.

More to come on this, as I was so inspired I had to write it out. I submitted a blog post to my beloved Free Spirit Publishing and can’t wait to hash out the details!

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I’m adapting some of this post from a book study I’m completing  at work using the text Teaching the iGeneration by W Ferriter and A Garry.  It’s actually pretty interesting, easy to read, and has a TON of reproducibles.  As I was writing my first post (don’t tell anyone, I’m like three weeks late on my assignments), I was all, “I can totally use this in my bloggy-blog and post something that is actually relevant to education!” So here I am. Before actually finishing my assignment. procrastination at it’s finest, and now you are partially to blame.

So the chapter talked about teaching students how to organize the information following an explanation of who the iGeneration is.  I like this idea of learning to organize inforamtion because there is so much out there.  I never really delineated the process though to realize that simply organizing information is the real first step in learning to evaluate sources, which is obviously every adult’s fear of the interwebs as a whole.  But it also got me thinking about how far the effects of this might expand as a result.

I think that appropriate sourcing is easily related to interpersonal growth and many different counseling topics. When a student is taught from a young age how to sift through sources and consider where information comes from to decide whether or not it is valid, they can also learn to apply this to choices they make in their personal life. The implications might be better choices made more by factual information and less by peers and assumptions. With this kind of decision-making in mind; Could this change a student’s decision when offered illegal partaking and opportunities? Maybe. Could this be factored into what kinds of decisions might be made with college and career planning? Maybe. Might a student be more likely to listen to a teacher during lecture than a classmate? Maybe?

Though some of these might seem far-fetched, the truth is we don’t quite know yet. Information saturation is relatively new, and I’ll be the first to admit that I am not even entirely clear on how it must feel to be part of this generation growing up with information overload. But I feel like teaching students the principals addressed in this book is a good start. Just because a student is born into a world of unlimited information, opinion, and networking does not mean they know how to use the information, or how to make sense of it. The bridge that is needed is between these two lines: they know they know more than us in terms of the integration and vast uses and ease of cyber information, but we understand better the application of this information on the real-world and real-life situations because of our experience without it and acquired knowledge.

The book doesn’t ask teachers to teach students how to judge a source, which I also think is important, because kids will automatically baulk at doing something so lamely adultish (see: most Incident Reports because the student will typically mention at some point “I don’t want to be a snitch”).  Instead it simply asks that they be categorized based on certain criteria- also a good method given that developmentally there is some serious cognitive categorization going on during adolescence. Students have no problem disagreeing with peers or adults, it’s about harnessing that towards skepticism of the internet.