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Battling the Ping

Battling the Ping

Adobe Spark (32)

In the book The Accidental Creative author Todd Henry talks about the need to avoid the ping. What is the ping? The ping is the constant desire to check your phone, to check your email, to check your Facebook account, check Twitter, check Instagram, or check any other product that is designed to be addicting and steal your attention. The ping is real. I find myself a lot of times reaching for my phone, opening an app, and then realizing what am I doing? I need to focus!

Knowing this about myself this year I have tried to be intentional with how I can help battle the ping. One of the things I am doing is trying out different apps that are helping me focus a little more and avoid using my phone at inappropriate times. Below are two of my current favorite apps that are helping me focus on my work and avoid the ping.

Coffitivity

Coffitivity is an app and website that you can use to help simulate the ambient sounds of a coffee shop or cafe. The idea behind the app is that a moderate level of ambient noise has been shown to help with creative thinking (Link to Coffitivity’s research study). In my current situation I share an office with several people. The noise level can quickly get very high and I find myself getting distracted easily by several conversations in the hallway. According to research, it can take an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain your focus after you have become distracted.

I’ll admit at first I was skeptical of the research and thought that the ambient noise would have no effective on my ability to focus. I was wrong. After using the app a few times I found myself getting lost in my work. I tuned out almost everything around me and focused on the task at hand. This included my phone, email, and social media. By getting into a state of flow I was no longer being drawn to ping. In fact I forgot about the ping and instead had a piece of solid work.

Forest

Forest is an app and website that helps gamify focus. When you open the app you are given the option of setting the time period that you want to focus for. After selecting your time period you click on plant. This will then start a countdown clock. The game from here is simple. Leave the app before the clock hit’s zero and your plant dies. Leave the app running and when the clock hits zero your plant grows. What is really cool about the app is that every time a plant grows you receive points. After reaching 2500 points you can trade in your points and the makers of the app will plant a real tree somewhere on the planet. This is a fun twist to the game that really helps you stay focused because you know that your focus will help doing something good in the world.

The app sounds silly but it works! There have been times when I feel the ping, unlock my phone, see the timer going and then lock my phone. Even though the plant is virtual I don’t want to kill it! I have found that this app is extremely helpful for when I am not feeling motivated to do anything. Times like these are when I really want to pick up my phone and goof off. Having this app has helped me refocus my attention and stay on task during these times.

I’m not going to lie. I still battle the ping. Even as I type this I looked down at my phone because I got a text. The ping is here and it’s not going away anytime soon. By using both of these apps my goal is to try and fight back and regain my focus. If you would like to do the same I would highly suggest trying both apps out.

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Month March 2017

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Month March 2017

What I have been thinking about:

This month I have been thinking a lot about product design and how to apply the idea of design thinking to my current role. This month I have tried to apply the lessons I learned from the books that I read to creating a 5 week PD series on differentiation, helping to rethink our teacher evaluation system, and helping implement a program at our school site. What I found interesting is that most of the advice that the books give isn’t ground breaking and sometimes seems very obvious yet people do not implement it, myself included. One of my goals this month is to share what I have learned with others in my organization so we can start building better processes, products, and experiences for our students and staff members.

Blog Posts to Checkout:

I recently learned about list.ly/ and thought that it would be worth trying out with my monthly blog posts to check out. Below is a list of the blog posts that resonated with me this past month.

My Books for the Month:

This past month I read two books on product design. The first book I read was Sprint by Braden Kowitz, Jake Knapp, and John Zeratsky. In the book the authors share their five day process for solving problems. While it would be impossible for me to be away from my school site for five straight days, there are a ton of great ideas in the book about collaborative brainstorming and decision making that I plan on using with the teachers at my site.

The second book that I read was Hooked by Nir Eyal. In the book Eyal breaks down the Hook Model that designers can use to create habit forming products. As I read this book I found myself laughing a lot because I started to realize how I had fallen for many of the techniques that Eyal presents in the book. As I was reading this book I couldn’t help but wonder how we could apply the Hook Model to professional development. Over the next few months as I create our professional development materials I am going to revisit the Hook Model and see how I can incorporate elements of it into our materials.

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Month December 2016

What I’m Reading and Thinking About this Month December 2016

What I have been thinking about:

As the first semester drew to a close I found myself doing a lot of planning for the second semester. Below are two of my big projects that I am currently working on for the second semester and beyond. Please forgive the stream of consciousness style of writing. I am still trying to work through both of these ideas.

Differentiation and Blended Learning Professional Learning

This year my school made the switch to standards based grading which has brought to light the need for more professional learning in differentiation and blended learning practices. This past month I spent a lot of time researching the best practices about differentiation and blended learning. I also started working on a differentiated professional learning series for my teachers on differentiation. My goal is to experiment with the differentiation series and then follow it up with a differentiated series on blended learning.

Rethinking the Bell Schedule

The switch to standards based grading has also helped me see that we need to incorporate reassessment time into our daily school schedule. While in an ideal world teachers should be incorporating this time into their daily lessons, the reality is they are not due to the pressure to get through their pacing plans and hit their own personal benchmarks. This month I have looked at a lot of school schedules and created a prototype of how we can include at least 40 minutes a day for reassessment . In a perfect world this time can also be used for project based learning projects or more passion driven activities like genius hour.  I’m also thinking of modeling this after the PBIS strategy of check in check out. At my school the students start their school day with an Advisory class. By having this reassessment class at the end of the day the advisory teacher would be able to “check out” with their students.

Blog Posts to Checkout:

Time For These Seven Edu Funerals by Michael Niehoff
If you don’t have time to read the entire blog post I would encourage you to at least read the first paragraph. While I don’t agree with everything on Niehoff’s list, I’m still a fan of non digital tools and resources, I do agree with a lot of what he is saying.

Just Ask by George Couros
A simple yet effective way to push innovation in the classroom. What’s the worst thing that happens? They say no?

Top 8 Reasons Why Your Ideas Don’t Get Backed by Phil McKinney
If you enjoy this blog post I would encourage you to listen to the podcast that McKinney did on this subject. On the podcast he goes deeper into the eight reasons and offers some solid advice  for anyone who is looking to have others back their ideas.

 

My Books for the Month:

This past month I read Todd Henry’s first book The Accidental Creative. The main theme of this book is about finding your creative rhythm. In the book Henry shares some great ideas and concepts about how you can create your own creative rhythm. Two of my big take aways from the book is that I need to be more intentional with my study plan and I need to create checkpoints to help keep myself focused. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to create structure and routines in their life that will help support their creative thinking.