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Technology Weening & Differentiation

posted Nov 26, 2017, 6:06 PM by HSD Principal
“Due to the constant temptation to check their smartphones, today’s students are spending less time on their schoolwork, taking longer to complete assignments, and feeling more stressed in the process,” 

says Larry Rosen in a Kappan article. The full article is behind a paywall (sorry), but some cited research includes:
  • Teens are constantly multitasking, even though they know it’s not efficient.
  • When teens have their phones taken away, they become highly anxious.
  • Phone-related anxiety is closely linked to poor academic performance and sleep deprivation.
  • About 80 percent of teens say they rarely if ever sleep well, usually because they have a smartphone at their bedside and check it before going to sleep and during the night.
  • The average adolescent finds it difficult to study for 15 minutes at a time.
  • During a 15-minute stint of studying, teens spend at least five minutes in a state of distraction.
  • 80 percent of high-school teachers and 63 percent of elementary teachers say technology is making students less able to sustain attention.
One of the ways he says teachers can help is to build stamina for studying without technology
Treat this like any kind of strength training, says Rosen: start off easy and gradually increase the amount of time without a tech break. He suggests 15 minutes at first, turning off all websites and apps that aren’t relevant to the study topic, setting an alarm, and placing the phone within sight, face down. When the alarm goes off, the student can check for messages and notifications for a minute, then set another 15-minute alarm. When the student can tolerate 15 minutes, perhaps finishing a paragraph when the alarm goes off rather than immediately grabbing the phone, push the time to 20 minutes, then 25, and so on.
We can help students by being intentional about doing this in class. When you disallow technology use, explain to students why you are doing it and how the practice is helpful. Students need to understand that not being allowed to look at their cellphone constantly isn't a punitive practice, it's a developmental one.

If you want to take a deep dive into differentiation in your classroom, here is a whole issue of HaYidion (a publication for Jewish day schools) based on that topic. It's a challenging read, but includes articles such as "Differentiation in an Inclusive Classroom" and "Differentiated Instruction and the Fairness Challenge" as well as the awesomely titled: "Differentiation: The Key to Unlocking the Joy of Torah Study for All Students."