On Sunday, sitting on a plane waiting for an extended period of time to take off, I was causally talking to my mum on Skype (Perth, Australia), a teaching colleague on messenger (Laos) and (@whatedsaid) Edna via direct message on Twitter (Melbourne, Australia). . (Yes, I love technology!) These conversations were all independent of each other, in fact none of these people even know the other, or that I was speaking to them all at once, but I was engaged with all three, planning, discussing and reviewing different things relevant to the purpose of the engagement.
I could say I was multitasking however ever others may say I was re-tasking and therefore not really giving full attention to any one conversation or may be I was just distracted. However once I set the phone to 'plane' mode I started thinking . . .
When our students are doing more that one thing at a time are they being 'efficient' or 'multitasking' or engaging on a shallow level because they are continually 're-tasking' or are they 'easily distracted' and not in the flow?
Is it possible for all three situations to be correct?
So how do we know when our students are actively engaged in the learning 'state of flow' and when they are just 'actively engaged' or 'look like they are on task'?
As our Grade 5 Exhibition looms closer I am thinking that this is a highly relevant question.
We want our students to be engaged, motivated and passionate while they are on their personal inquiry journey; this means that students will be collaborating with other students, with adults and other teachers. They are excited and nervous, they are confident and reluctant. Some have seen the exhibition staging days of previous years, however it is all new - it is their turn!
We have unit frameworks and rubrics and mentors and connectors, we have support teachers and a time line; it is a collaborative journey of inquiry learning, however our expectations have shifted.
They will be responsible for their time management and for their learning. They will be making choices and decisions that will lead their learning in different directions.
My thinking comes back to that fact that we need to provide a learning environment that encourages deep levels of engagement and also gives students freedom to manage their learning.
Regular meetings with students so they can share their 'work flow' plan and teachers can annotate engagements will help to encourage and steer those who need support and will positively reinforce those students who have applied the transdisciplinary skills effectively and are managing to find the balance between 'multitasking', 're-tasking' and 'distraction'.
Now, the more I think about it, the more I think the reality of this struggle is something I am going to discuss in class over the next few weeks with our students, before we start our expedition (@pypchef) into the PYPexhibition so we have time to discuss strategies that students can use to support themselves and others with this when it happens, cause it will happen.
When they 'look' busy or look 'engaged' what are they doing? Do they know?
Teaching in an IBPYP school; interests: student agency, technology integration, growth mindset & the continuous cycle of improvement that is the world of education, learning and being!