Hocus Pocus or Focus

Does all the technological wizardry of the latest gadgets, games and applications inhibit our ability to concentrate? Does all this magical media provide a constant source of distraction that conditions our brains for short attention spans?

Some scholars believe that the ability to focus and concentrate is a strong predictor of success. The ability to attend to a problem, think about complexity, wrestle with potential solutions is fundamental to writing, science, mathematics and life in general.

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Recent Posts


Multitasking: a State of Continuous Partial Attention

Clifford Nass did pioneering studies of multitasking and found, guess what? We really don’t multitask well. Read more in this guest blog for I-KeepSafe.

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A Safety Lesson Gone Viral

In November, a Tennessee elementary school counselor decided to give her students a real-life demonstration of how fast things can spread on the Internet. She got more than she bargained for.

Julie Culp posted a photo on her Facebook, asking people to “like” it to show “how quickly a photo can be seen by lots of people.” It went viral soon after, being reposted by radio personalities and getting press coverage around the world. And it garnered more than 4 million “likes.”

Culp certainly succeeded in illustrating how quickly images can spread.

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One Click to Be InCtrl

By Kat Stewart

Over the last several months, Cable in the Classroom has rolled out InCtrl, a series of standards-based lesson plans that help 4-8 graders learn about digital citizenship. I’m happy to announce the final lesson in the series is available on the Cable in the Classroom website. There are now seven lessons, each covering a specific digital citizenship topic, that help students make thoughtful decisions and be in control online.

All of us at Cable in the Classroom are really proud of InCtrl.

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Teaching Digital Citizenship Everyday

By Eric Langhorst
This October teachers around the country are participating in activities for Connected Educator Month. Digital Citizenship Week (October 21-25, 2013) places an emphasis on how all of us – teachers, students and parents – can have thoughtful discussions about being ethical and responsible online. It’s so important to have these discussions considering the digital world in which we live.
I am a self-admitted geek – a Google Certified Teacher who carries multiple devices and instinctively checks for Wi-Fi access and electrical outlets whenever I enter a building – but I have no personal experience in navigating today’s digital world as a teenager. 

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Empowering Students to be InCtrl in a Digital Age

When we talk to our kids about the Internet and their digital world, have we kept up with the times?  Are we trying to scare them with stories of bad things that can happen or are we teaching them to be good digital citizens who are in control of their digital lives?

The old fear-based approach doesn’t work, and it isn’t supported by the research about online risks, about risk prevention, or about effective teaching and learning.  

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Past, Present, and Future: Jane Addams, Broadband and 21st Century Skills

Today’s Google Doodle was in recognition of Jane Addams’ birthday. Addams (1860-1935) was the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her work for women’s suffrage and world peace. She was most known for establishing Hull House, the first Settlement House in the US, providing a residence for woman, adult education classes, Kindergarten, and more.

In Addams’ time, information and training were scarce commodities, available in libraries, newspapers, schools and places like Hull House.

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His Dream, Our Stories

Today in Washington DC, traffic is snarled, the Metro is crowded, and the mood is festive. We get a lot of demonstrations and commemorations here in the Nation’s Capital. We natives like to think we’re above it all, going about our business as busloads of ardent citizens sally forth for this or that cause.

Today, however, is different. We mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, of the “I have a dream” speech. That day and that march changed America.

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Spread the Word About Digital Citizenship!

By Kat Stewart

InCtrl, a new initiative launched by Cable in the Classroom, is a series of free, standards-based lessons that teaches digital citizenship.

Digital citizenship empowers students to make thoughtful decisions and develop a sound digital foundation for the rest of their lives. It’s a holistic and positive approach to helping students learn how to be safe and secure, as well as smart and effective participants in a digital world. That means helping them understand their rights and responsibilities, recognize the benefits and risks, and realize the personal and ethical implications of their actions.

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Connected Schools, Connected Learning

Earlier this summer, the Obama administration announced ConnectED, an initiative to provide schools with high-speed broadband, teachers with adequate professional development, and students with exciting digital content. By midsummer, the FCC opened proceedings to reform the e-Rate program to help pay for faster broadband connections to schools and the wireless, internal infrastructure necessary to get broadband to classrooms.

What are these initiatives trying to accomplish? What does a 21st Century digital learning environment look like?

For the past year the Partnership for 21st Century Skills has been visiting schools that exemplify 21st century teaching and learning, schools where kids are regularly practicing the four Cs: Critical thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity.

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21 Things

What objects, once common place in education, are now obsolete? The smell of a freshly printed mimeograph worksheet? A filmstrip machine?

Technology advances make some new things possible and make some old things useless. In our personal and professional lives, we’ve seen this over and over.

Business Insider ran a list of 21 things that became obsolete during the first decade of the 21st Century. The list included video rental stores (like Blockbuster), PDAs (replace by smart phones), road maps (replace by GPS devices and Google Maps on smart phones).

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