Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dealing with the Distraction Factor

One of the things I struggle with, in classes taught in computer labs, is the distraction factor. My Journalism 2 course is structured so that students work independently and function for much of the course as freelance writers. Now I know in the real world, freelance writers work from home much of the time. They might multitask among any number of activities including reporting, writing, reading, checking e-mail, eating, and talking on their cell phones. Unfortunately, in a classroom setting that is governed by school rules much of this is impossible. In addition, watching students get done “just what they need to do” for the day to spend much of the 82 minute block playing games, commenting on Facebook, or playing videos on YouTube drives me crazy.
So the question I’d like to pose is how do you set up an environment that functions as a writers' workshop where students are productive without being distracting or breaking school rules?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

To be honest,with highschool seniors at the end of the year, you don't.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there's any way to completely remove all of the distraction factors in this type of a classroom setting.

Anonymous said...

There is no way to stop students from finding a new website to go onto. Facebook, myspace, beerpong.com. You can not set up a way from teenagers from getting distracted. It is up to the kids to do the work.

Anonymous said...

Before really thinking into it, I think that with this transformation of education where we have an open classroom, so comes more of an opportunity to be distracted. Times are changing, and I think it'd be interesting to observe a journalism class enviroment before this wave of technology. I don't know if there's necessarily a way to cure the class enviroment, but it has a lot to do with our choice of heart, and at this point most of us are looking towards the summer.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes you need to realize when to count your losses, and try to rebuild. In this case you just need to try and not let it bother you. Because no matter how hard you try, it will happen. Sadly but surely.

Anonymous said...

Being in this type of setting, I believe that there is no way to stop these distractions. It also does not help that the majority of the class are apathetic seniors who have given up on school

Anonymous said...

there is very small hope for high school students, specifically seniors, to pay attention fourth quarter. maybe you can have the students go outside and write therefore they are away from the computers, or you can block the internet from the computers, print out the hand outs, and then have them type the responses in word. besides that, kids will be kids

Anonymous said...

Unless the students in this class are really interested in writing freelance, they are just going to "get done what they need to do." Journalism II is a high school class and thus can never fully function as a writer's workshop. If everything was done in this class without computers, students would be forced to do their work and reach a higher level of concentration. Unfortunately, this is not practical, seeing as students need to contact sources for their articles and research information.

Anonymous said...

There's no way to completely remove the distraction factor. With the Internet comes distraction. If you make more deadlines, it may make students slightly more motivated to complete their work.

Anonymous said...

I agree that there isn't any real way to take away all distractions from any classroom. The best way would be to remove the computers or make it a class that isn't focused as much on work that needs to be done on the copmputer. But teenagers our age and especially seniors always find some type of distraction.

Anonymous said...

I think that the school should block sites like Facebook and game sites. In other classrooms playing games and using cell phones is not allowed, so that stuff shouldn't be eithert. Also, to keep students more interested you could have more class group activities, and things to do together. If all the time is spent on your own, you get bored with your story topic and sick of reading the same types of articles.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what the first person mentioned in his/her comment. The classroom enviroment varies according to the type of students enrolled in the class. This class is comprised of a majority of seniors in their final quarter of high school. We are all into college. We all have plans for next year. And, quite frankly, the pressure to maintain our grade point averages in this competitive public school has lightened up drastically.

Knowing that students are not going to work nearly as hard as they would have prior to the college admissions process, I think that its important to gear your lessons toward your students' interests. At this point, many of us aren't going to go out of our way to complete assignments. I think that you will, however, receive a lot of positive feedback if you create lessons based on topics that really affect some of us. We should want to do an assignment; you shouldn't have to force us to do it.

Rachel

James Glowacki said...

First of all, I think your looking at this situation entirely the wrong way. The premise of your entire post was about changing the classroom structure to conform to what the "school" tells you is correct and proper. Granted, you are working under the school's roof, and consequently, the school's jurastiction, but does that mean the most natural and essential goals of freelance journalism should be compromised? This open and relaxed form of journalistic reporting will be hindered and stripped of its meaning under a condition where laws and ordinances differ from those of the outside and "real" world.
In terms of a soution I think it is pretty obvious what needs to be done. You must approach an administrative official and preach to them the importance of a relaxed enviroment where free journalistic reporting can work hand in hand with eating, drinking, cell phone use (which can be used as an interview source, just as the very computer i sit at) and other electronics can be regularly permittable and accessable.
Take, for example, the world reknowned movie "The Lion King". In this movie, Simba is inncapable and unable to take up the responsibilities of a true king shortly after the murder of his father by Scar. Eventually, Simba reliezes that he has no other option but to gather Simon and Pumba and make the enviroment appropriate for just and fair kingship once again. If you, Thomas Mchale, do not make the classroom as habitable and friendly as that of post-scar Pride Rock, none of your students will ever take their essential place in the journalistic circle of life.

Anonymous said...

I really don't think there is much of a choice but to accept that seniors are going to be seniors. The internet is a necessary part of the class, and unfortunatly there are a lot of distractions online.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there is anyway you can stop students from getting distracted. It's going to happen whether they are on computers or not. Everything distracts us.

Kelly Christopherson said...

Well, as an administrator that teaches a communication class, I often find myself in the same situation. What I do, because these are students who can make decisions on their own, is let them. I post the expectations of the class, give the expectations of the assignments and what needs to be completed and then let them go. I remind them of deadlines and such, encourage them to get to work, give them suggestions but, ultimately, these students are old enough to make decisions in the confines of the classroom given the assistance that is provided. So, their marks reflect their work. They get upset and some are giving up but this is a lifelesson that they will be required to learn in a world where the internet is available at the same time you should be doing work.

Tom McHale said...

Thanks to all of you that responded. I certainly can't force students to do work (whether it is 4th quarter during senior year or not). I had hoped that since most of the class is pursuing some kind of degree related to communications, writing a freelance artilce would be a project that would motivate them a little.
So I guess I'll try to make the deadlines and objectives clear, try to work in some interactive exercises and projeccts to break things up, and try to live with students wasting class time on Facebook and games playing. It is ultimately their choice to make.

School rules however, will be enforced.

Anonymous said...

As many people have already said, it is way too hard for students to concentrate considering it there is less than a month left of high school for most of the students. It is their grade suffering, so if they don't want to do work, they don't do work and it's as simple as that. It is getting warm out, and our minds are all in a different place.

Anonymous said...

thanks jesus...

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