Technology in the Classroom: The Teacher’s Companion

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A recent study by the Academy of Management Journal found that people who pursue careers they treat as callings have particularly high rates of burning out from emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. They feel a sense of obligation or moral duty to make a positive social difference in their work, and tend to go “beyond the call of duty.” It should come as no surprise that the teaching profession fits this description—many teachers expend vast emotional resources on their students and careers, and this kind of devotion can be time-consuming and financially draining.

Additionally, large class sizes, ever-changing teacher evaluation processes, and high-stakes assessments are adding even more pressure to teachers’ overflowing workloads. In particular, formative assessment, a range of formal and informal assessment procedures, is in high demand for its power to collect information about what students are learning while they’re learning it. Many believe that teachers should then use what they learned about performance to adjust their instruction to meet students’ needs. While some teachers may be naturally skilled at doing this, it’s not necessarily an easy or straightforward task.

Plain and simple, with an increasing number of challenges on the horizon, our teachers need more—more time, more tools, and more resources—to be able to meet the demands of school boards, administrators, parents, and the state and federal government. And with these high demands, it’s imperative for teachers to make the most of their time in the classroom.

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Attention and Focus in the Classroom: What Can We Learn from Fidget Spinners?

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“They’re disruptive and annoying.”

“I would never let my child have one.”

“If I see one in the classroom, I consider it a donation.”

Teachers certainly have a lot to say about the newest craze sweeping through classrooms across the country. Fidget spinners, handheld devices that use weighted ball bearings to spin, have quickly morphed from a learning tool designed for children with ADHD or autism into a toy plaguing teachers. Articles and anecdotal research have shown that, for the general population, these gadgets prove more distraction than asset. However, their prevalence in schools can lead us to think about bigger issues on attention and focus in the classroom.

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The Digital Skills Gap in Education and Beyond

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Besides measuring academic progress, student scores on national and state tests, such as PARCC and SBAC, are also used by federal and state education agencies to make decisions related to curriculum and instruction, graduation requirements, and educator evaluations. So when there’s uncertainty in these scores, it becomes difficult to utilize them to make informed decisions.

In the 2014–2015 school year, students who took the PARCC exams via computer tended to score lower than those who took the same exams with pencil and paper. Since both exams tested similar academic skills, a likely factor in this difference is a new type of achievement gap: the digital skills gap.

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Looking for Ways to Prevent Summer Learning Loss?

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Students all over the country are counting down the days until summer break arrives. Lazy mornings, vacations, and fun are in store for many, but often along with that comes summer slide, or the learning loss experienced by many students during the break from school. Summer slide disproportionately affects low-income students, and accounts for roughly two-thirds of the reading achievement gap between low- and middle-income students by ninth grade.
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Using Mindfulness in the Classroom

What is mindfulness?

When people think about “mindfulness” it is often associated with Buddhism and meditative practices; however, mindfulness can also be practiced in a secular way. Mindfulness is the ability to clear one’s mind to focus more clearly on one thing, one task, or one experience. While many of us who hear this word associate it with the unfamiliar or unusual, it is a practice that most of us do daily, in some form or another.

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