Our Kids and Technology
Are you aware American teenagers (aged 13-18) spend nine hours a day using media, while “tweens” (aged 8-12) spend 6 hours a day using media, in addition to technology used for school work, according to a five year update by the non-profit group Common Sense Media? In a recent report by MSNBC, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media James Steyer shared with NBC News that “[k]ids spend more time with media and technology than they do with their parents, time in school, or any other thing. They are literally living in a 24/7 media and technology world” (NBC News 2015). This research also found that, despite teens’ beliefs that they are able to attend to several tasks simultaneously, i.e. do homework, listen to music, connect on social media etc., researchers at Stanford and Harvard have found their attempt in be ineffective explaining that “[i]t [media] gets in the way of [one’s] ability to concentrate and to synthesize information well” (NBC News 2015). This research study also noted that this overload of technology may well be hurting kids’ ability to communicate, as well as their ability to show intimacy and empathy and that schools can help students learn to “focus on the learning process” rather than encouraging their constant back and forth via devices. With this recommendation in mind, the Durham Media Center and Counseling departments are beginning a series of lessons to guide students through the murky waters of the digital world. Media Specialist, Mrs. Baker and 8th Grade Counselor, Mrs. Favors-Parks will be visiting 8th grade students during the week of January 19th-22nd in their Reading, Origins or Spanish classes to begin a discussion regarding precautions they should employ to protect themselves online. The International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) NETS Standards and resources from NetSmartz Workshop will be utilized during the lessons. In February, 6th grade counselor, Mrs. Crandall and 7th grade counselor, Mr. Wilson will will follow suit with their respective grades. Plans to teach additional lessons across grade levels based upon survey results and data analysis will follow in the spring . For an abundance of resources regarding media and technology , be sure to check out Common Sense Media and NetSmartz Workshop and for even more resources, be sure to check out the links provided under the “Digital Citizenship” tab above.
The most awesome example of student-directed teaching and learning is taking place at Durham Middle School. Sixth grade Language Arts students in Pat Miller’s class have recently explored the iPad app, TouchCast. TouchCast is a platform for video apps or vApps that allows users the capability of adding background images and sound effects into their video creations. The class was brainstorming creative ways to orally present the research projects that they were working on and needed to complement their content, bring it to life, and share it with one another in a creative way that wouldn’t put the audience to sleep. An interest in green screen technology was piqued, but there were obstacles. The school does not currently have iPads. To combat that roadblock, students and teachers used their personal iPads through the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative. A second obstacle was that no one on campus was trained in green screen technology. To remedy that issue, Mrs. Miller reached out to Cobb County’s Department of Technology Services, and county instructors visited Durham to provide collaborative instruction to several educators. Those teachers readied themselves to guide the students, and then the project was on. Along with guidance from parent volunteers, media specialist, Mrs. Baker, and Mrs. Miller, students jumped in with both feet. As the students worked, trouble-shooting the technology, guiding and teaching one another, Mrs. Baker had an epiphany. This excited, engaged group of students should be teaching others, particularly the Broadcast News Crew comprised on all 8th grade students, how to use this resource. And so it was. Select 6th grade students from Mrs. Miller’s class joined forces to create presentations providing step-by-step details. Here are some snapshots of the super cool moments where Durham students are collaboratively learning together, across subjects and grade levels.
Students returned to school from winter break to find nearly 200 new books added to the media center collection. In addition to the print books currently on display are new ebooks available for access via the online catalog, Destiny. For a preview of what’s new, check out the main hall bulletin board, and then swing by the media center to check out a hot new read.