Monday, May 23, 2016



Ever sit down in the afternoon to read a book or newspaper and soon after starting have the phone ring?  Sometimes I think my friends are on FaceTime, just waiting for me to sit down.  If that ever happens to you, watch what you do next.  Research says that you’ll return to the interrupted task with increased intensity.  You see, researchers have know for quite some time that, when we’re interrupted at a task, our brain treats that task as a goal and yearns to complete it.  So I got to thinking…

It might be worth the test for teachers to purposely interrupt students working on, say, math practice or perhaps a writing assignment.  The key would be to wait until the class was, for the most part, absorbed in the task.  That would both create the frustration that would intensify the goal of completing the task, and, it would make it more likely that students would look over what they had completed and refresh their approach to the task, also a proven strategy for enhancing the learning.  

I’m not saying that this is a proven technique.  What I’m saying is that research suggests that it “might” enhance learning.  How might one do that in the classroom?  One approach that make sense to me is to minimize the time for work completion after instruction so that students had time to plan and begin their work, but not enough time to complete it.  Then, later in the day, while the material is still relatively fresh in students’ minds, a “study hall” period could be planned where students completed catch up assignment with the teacher flowing around the classroom providing support.

If you try it, please let me know how it worked.

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