There’s always something

Half way through my morning routine yesterday, the internet went down and stayed down for quite a while.  I guess it’s true what they say that essentials are food, water, and internet access.  But I shall persevere.  With any luck, access will be restored so that I can upload this post.  If not, then I guess I’ll get the reminders from those who check in on me that there’s no post available for this Saturday morning.

Or, I could go to a coffee shop or the mall or tether to my phone.  That’s a problem with routines; it’s tough when they’re broken.

There’s been a bit of learning on my part about this internet thing.  My computers think they’re connected to the internet even though, in reality, they’re just connected to my wireless access point.  It’s only when they try to connect to something beyond and fail that they realize that something is wrong.  My Android phone, however, is not easily fooled.  It knows that it’s connected to the access point but that it doesn’t go any further.  There’s a little exclamation mark besides the wireless connection.

We can count on food and water and there’s another thing this blogger can count on – a comment from Aviva Dunsiger.  As per usual, her comment on yesterday’s post was one that got me thinking.  Fortunately, I still had it open in another tab so that I can comment on it.  The genesis for all of this has been an ongoing discussion about fidget spinners and I had shared her most recent post in my This Week in Ontario Edublogs post.  But she wasn’t ready to let the discussion die and so added a comment.

She zeroed in on the substitution that I had suggested to her post – substituting “cell phone” for “fidget spinner”.

Before we start, in case you have been under a rock the past few weeks.  (Warning, language)  What the Hell Are Fidget Spinners? An FAQ for the Olds

Her comment:

Would we ever call a “fidget spinner” a “learning tool” – as we may call a cell phone – and is this distinction an important one?

My immediate thought is “why not”?

As annoying as they might be at times, there are conceivably a number of things that these devices could do to support the curriculum.  I’ve read a number of suggestions that they can help students focus; I’d be hard pressed to draw a personal conclusion on that.  There have been a number of suggestions about how to use this technology to support the learning of science concepts.  That, I can easily see.  But, I’ll confess, I don’t see a document titled “Fidget Spinners Across the Curriculum” emerging any time soon.

That doesn’t mean that well meaning teachers aren’t turning lemons into lemonade.  Can’t beat ’em?  Join ’em.

If you’re interested, consider checking into these resources.

Aviva concludes her comment with

Will there be one more fidget spinner post in my future? That remains to be seen.

That will indeed remain to be seen.  But, if it’s not fidget spinners, it will be some other latest and greatest distraction.

I remember one of the disturbing things that we’d see when textbooks were turned in were doodlings of “ZZTop” in student stylish doodlings.

Just remember

No matter how big you are, there’s always something bigger.
No matter how nasty you are, there’s always something nastier.
No matter how lucky you are, there’s always someone luckier.

—Elminster, The Grand Tour Forgotten Realms comics.

Student distractions are just part of the teaching game.

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2 thoughts on “There’s always something

  1. Now you continue to have me thinking, Doug! I do like your comment about when a fidget spinner could be a learning tool. Lori St. Amand (@firstgradelori) on Twitter tweeted out a great Tinker Tuesday blog post sharing how her Grade 1’s created their own fidget spinners: https://lstamand.commons.hwdsb.on.ca/2017/05/23/tinker-tuesday-12/. Tons of thought went into their designs, and she definitely capitalized on a student interest here.

    Today though, it’s your last sentence that has me wondering: “Student distractions are just part of the teaching game.” I agree … but how does this change when we call these distractions a “fidget toy/tool” that help some students focus? Other fidget toys do the same, but seem to have less draw than these spinners. The interest by other students die down fast … but not so much in this case. People that support the use of fidget toys will often say that they are not meant for everyone. I agree. But again, with the fidget spinner, we’re marketing a “fidget toy” that benefits some, but not others, to a general audience. Is the value of this tool then being lost in the problems that surface due to its use by children that don’t need it? I’m sure over time, these problems will stop. Some educators I know have already said that things have settled in their classrooms. It’s the waiting game that can be hard. And maybe I’m working through some additional challenges: wondering how much any fidget toy is needed in a K classroom where we rarely meet as a full group. Do we then capitalize on these fidget spinners as a “toy of interest,” but not as a “tool to help with focusing?” I’m still wondering …

    Thanks for always giving me more to contemplate … and more questions to ask! 🙂
    Aviva

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  2. A favorite principal of mine recently told a teacher “if the student is more interested in the spinner than what is going on in class perhaps there is an engagement problem.”

    I’ll just leave that there. 🙂

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