Innovative Ways to Turn Distraction Into Education
As we all know, elementary school children are full of boundless energy and have naturally inquisitive minds. A classroom setting can easily help them to learn new concepts but, without the opportunity to take a break and burn off some of that energy, their minds can get easily distracted and their enthusiasm can be seriously thwarted.
Giving Kids a Break – Not Always!
Recess is not always a given in all schools and the lack of time devoted to taking a much-needed break can be very detrimental to students. This unstructured play time allows, first and foremost, a chance for children to decompress from the rigid daily structure of the classroom and curriculum, something innately against a child’s inner spirit. Also, the exploration and successful learning of social skills can be inadequate, as students are not provided the time to interact with each other doing activities that they find important. According to a recent article by Dulwich College discussing the importance of school recess, playground time involving conversations, games, and most any other activity are deemed as being essential to help students release pent up stress and learn to cope and build relationships with other children in their class.
When recess is not part of a school’s daily routine, or even when there is a need for a less regimented learning environment stemming from a perceptible increase in student distraction, finding activities that allow for freedom of imagination, exploration, movement, and expression of ideas may prove to be a necessity. Providing a fun learning experience is very important and, fortunately, not that difficult to achieve, especially when these lessons can be readily implemented by the use of technology-based learning tools.
The types of lessons that can be deployed using technology is vast. While lots of the material found online to help teachers find sources for creative tech-based lessons is really just a lot of online, downloadable worksheets, like the Sudoku, maze, or word puzzles offered by Bostich, there are some sites that provide actual tools and components that can be built into more creative and action-based lessons for their students. The NAEYC Blog features many new stories to help teachers and parents find good resources. Another example is Ditch That Textbook – a website and an accompanying Twitter feed, by teachers and for teachers, highlighting a constantly new selection of sources, ideas, and recommendations about ways to get to the types of things needed to quickly put together digital lessons. For example, one easy project suggested is to divide students into two groups. Once divided, have the participants of each group work collectively to decide on and pick images from the internet, by using classroom computers or personal cell phones, that best represent clues for a scavenger hunt they would create for the other team. The images can be printed or incorporated into an online tool (like a scrapbook or slide presentation) for the opposing team to work from. A digital lesson such as this provides exposure to certain topics (arts, animals, science, history, etc.), active engagement and social-building skills all while teaching further computer skills to the students.
Even more exciting for both students and teachers is the implementation of high-end technology-based devices into their learning environment. This is especially true for older school children who can become even more readily bored and distracted than those a bit younger.
Improve STEAM Skills While Staving Off Boredom
One of the most intriguing developments being introduced in some classrooms is the use of drone technology. The introduction of drone tech into the classroom also feeds into the push to include STEAM learning for children. STEAM education components include Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. As far as teaching these principles, there is not much of anything better than using a drone to help children encounter all the STEAM components on some level in a given lesson. Plus, as they soar through the air, drones help teachers impart to students a different interaction with the world.
Drone technology helps students learn about environmental education as they explore things like climate change, atmospheric conditions, air quality, coastal erosion, marine biology, ecosystems, and the effect of pollutants. They can explore practices and techniques of land surveying, a career field now looked at as a very up-and-coming choice. In this area of exploration, math skills, topography, geology, and even wildlife monitoring and migration can all be goals of the lesson. Drone building is another option for lessons, providing students with the opportunity to use and develop their brainstorming, analytical thinking, and mechanical skills while also being introduced to programming, electronics, math, and even chemistry principles. Artistically, drones can be flown nearly anywhere capturing video of places not often seen or hard to get to. They can be used to capture any event – school trips, school sporting events, or just time at recess from unique angles and perspectives. Students can then use video design tools to weave the images into presentations to share with parents, classmates, and the like. For more tips, Dronegenuity provides educators with a great selection of activities for teaching the use of drones to older kids.
And finally, using drones as a tool in the classroom can help older students begin to learn lessons on ethics. Technically, drones are considered Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has rules about what can be flown, where, and why. Further information on this can be found at Know Before You Fly which also provides other resources for educators looking to bring drones to their educational lesson plan.
I'm April Bailey, a freelance writer and editor for hire who has been writing about various topics for many years. Most of my early print work was destroyed in a major house fire. Luckily, I was able to pull some copies from an old PC and have posted them here. Other items on this blog reflect my current articles and blog posts written for online publications and copied here so I never lose my work again!