Technology and The Brain ~ SOL 2017

In reading workshop yesterday, I did a lesson on preparing for “binge” reading.  With parent/teacher conferences this week, our kids have a four-day weekend and I wanted them prepared for long stretches of nothing to do, which is when you plan for extra reading.

But first, we had to define the word “binge”.  After a brief discussion about this new word, we talked about the kinds of things we binge on.

Of course, video games came up first.

And, you tube videos.

Anything technology.

“Too many video games will rot your brain!” one girl shouted.

“Well, actually, it won’t.  But, you do change your brain when you are using a lot of technology, ” I told them.

I shared with them the research done by scientists and psychologists about how much technology a third grader should have per day (no more than 2 hours a day – and that may be too much for some).

I explained to them why their brains like technology, what dopamine is, and neurons and dendrites. They love learning these brain words. For some reason, learning how our bodies work is some pretty fascinating stuff.

“What do you think happens, when your brain has been feeling so good receiving all that dopamine from playing all those video games for hours, and then you have to quit?” was my next question.

Immediately, without even a hesitation, the truth came out:

“You’re bored,” a few of them said in sync.

They’ve been here.  They know.

“Yes, and nothing seems like any fun because your brain isn’t getting its drips of dopamine.  You have trouble finding anything that holds your attention or even seems just a little bit interesting. You get crabby. It’s because you have rewired your brain,” I added.

They were a little mortified that they alone were responsible for doing this to themselves.

“The good thing is,” I continued, “your brain is like clay and you can mold it back into a healthy brain.  One that is curious and interested.  A brain that is creative and focused. There are many good things to do for your brain: art, writing, legos, building, games, being with friends, sports, playing outside or being in nature, talking to people, and of course, lots of reading.”

Finally, I got us back on track to my reading mini-lesson: to share some new book titles to get them loaded with books for the long weekend.

My binging video-gamer told me he planned on doing some big time binge reading over the weekend.

“And I’ll probably still play some video games,” he confessed, “but maybe just an hour.”  And he smiled.

I think I have more work to do here.  But, I can’t help but wonder if we, the teachers, who complain about how technology is changing our kids, actually do the heavy lifting of teaching our kids what’s actually happening to the brains and the effects technology is having on them, can cause them to think about their own decisions on the use of technology.  Parents can, of course, influence decisions their kids make.  But, what if we put it on the shoulders of our kids – because they themselves are now informed and are old enough to make these healthy decisions for themselves?

Just what if we made this shift from complain and blame to educate and responsibility?

Would it make a difference?

I don’t know. . .

It certainly can’t hurt.

Shari 🙂

I’m participating in twowritingteachers March Challenge of posting a blog post every day for the month of March.  To check out other writers, visit here.





Finally. . . An Ipad App I Love sol#16


Our district went 1:1 three years ago, which means each of my third graders has their own ipad.  Even though I recognize the benefits of integrating technology into our teaching and learning, I have reservations as well.  My biggest struggle has been finding tools on our ipads that we can use every day (or not) that are not gamified.  My kids are a distractable group.  When the ipads come out, it’s tenfold.

Well, thanks to my colleagues, I think I have finally been introduced to the most effective app so far. It’s called Seesaw and it’s free.  Yes, free.  Here’s the nitty gritty on it:

What is it?  It’s a portfolio to house student work.  It’s a way for kids to show evidence of their learning.  It’s a communication tool between myself and my students.  It’s a way for parents to see what their child is doing in school.

Why do I like it so much?  Well, it’s free.  Did I say that?  It’s also so crazy easy to figure out – even for me – and I can’t run the remote for my tv at home.  We don’t do many worksheets in school – we are reading and we have authentic writing going on.  I often feel parents do not know what the daily happenings in our room are.  Now they can.  And, they can even give their child feedback.

But here is the best thing ~

Tonight, I had to make sub plans for tomorrow (yuck) and I could actually write my kids a note on SeeSaw, give them directions for lessons and even give them links for some art videos I want them to watch on their ipads tomorrow.  My kids love to draw and several of them are writing graphic novels during writing workshop (Jeff Kinny fans), so I thought some drawing lessons were in order.  Here is what I wrote them:

Dear Artists,

Today for Art Workshop, you will have some drawing lessons. Please watch these art videos with Mr. P. and he will give you some wonderful lessons on drawing characters with shapes. Then, get some paper and try making your own characters using some of his ideas!! Have fun!! I can’t wait to come back on Monday and see what you have done!

Your Friend,

Mrs. Daniels 🙂

How cool is that?  Now, all I need to put in the sub plans for Art Workshop is, “Have kids go to their SeeSaw feed.”

I was a skeptic about falling into the “App World”, but this one has possibilities.

Let me know if you have used Seesaw and how you use it.  I’d love to here your thoughts.

Shari 🙂

I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.  I’m on Day 10!

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

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