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

The Digital Skills Gap in Education and Beyond article banner

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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Top New Books for Educators: See What’s Coming in June

Here are some of the top new books for educators being released in June:

Differentiated Coaching book cover

Differentiated Coaching: A Framework for Helping Educators Change, 2nd Edition
Jane A. G. Kise

Jane Kise takes you on a journey into differentiated coaching with a strength-based framework for understanding, appreciating, and working with people who may think differently from you. Through an online self-assessment tool, you will discover how your strengths and beliefs influence your coaching practice. Through examples, case studies, and reflection exercises, you will understand how to:

  • Tailor your coaching practices to meet the needs of each educator
  • Increase teacher willingness to implement new skills in their classrooms
  • Anticipate patterns of resistance and adjust both the content and delivery of professional development

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