Thursday, November 1, 2012

All Plugged In

While in the computer lab typing our personal narratives, I took notice to something. Before taking my class to the lab I clearly stated  my computer lab expectations. They were to walk quietly to the lab, have a seat, log on and begin working quietly on their typing. My first two class periods had a difficult time with this once they got settled in. Students were chatting with their neighbors, sneaking on game sites and fidgetting with irrelevant materials- completely restless as if being still and following directions was an impossible task. Even getting them to type in my desired font, font size and color was a challenge. They wanted to use anything and everything except Times New Roman, 12, black. It was as if they were offended I didn't allow them to mark up their papers with flourescent colors and flirty fonts.

This took a lot of redirecting and behavior monitoring to keep them on task. At one point I had to stop the entire class and explain again my expectations and the purpose of the assignment. After several attempts, the students finally got it together.

But something different took place with my last two classes.

As with the first couple of classes, I stated my expectations and got my students settled in the lab. This time when we walked in, the computer lab director had jazz playing over the speakers throughout the entire lab. My students were settled, focused and began working quickly. There was absolutely no talking, no fidgetting and the assignments were completed in record time. I sat back and watched this in amazement. What was it that hooked my students and kept them driven on the assignment?

It was the music.

It had them mentally satisfied and emotionally stimulated. The jazz riffs literally warped their concentration and turned them into lean mean writing machines. It's crazy how stimulated this generation of young people have become. Technology has not only become a commodity, but a necessity as well. Young people have mastered technology management far beyond my understanding. My students can tweet, update Facebook, Instagram, and surf the net all the while cuffing their ears with blaring  beats from Dr. Dre headphones. It amazes me and frightens me all at the same time. As a teacher it makes me reassess my strategies. Should I incorporate more technology- even more than what I allow? Or should I limit the use so that these stimulations aren't the only avenue in which they feel comfortable learning?

This challenges me...

because there is such a fine line between intentional technology use and social media play. Now, this isn't to say that I reject technology- I use several avenues every single day within my classroom. I try to mix it up a bit so that the students find learning fun, motivational and intriguing. But regardless of what I think, feel, or do, I have to acknowlege my qualitative observation because "it is what it is." If music and technological multi-tasking is keeps my students focused, perhaps I should let up a little.

Still pondering this... Interesting none the less.

Using technology to my advantage is a challenge but definately an option.

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