Home' Teacher : April 2011 Contents 54 TEACHER APRIL 2011
wired hub where they can switch off internet
to certain computers at certain times. If they
are not able to have a hub, they might con-
sider having the internet-capable computer in
the area of the house where it can be super-
vised, then purchase some cheap second-hand
laptops for students to use in their bedrooms.
They can go to the internet capable computer,
do their research, cut and paste what they
need onto a memory stick then bring it back
to their non-internet capable computer to
work on. Of course, if students have other
internet capable devices such as iPhones these
would also need to be managed.
Dealing with distractions
I remember when I first heard about Myspace
and MSN quite a few years ago. It took
awhile before I realised what a big issue this
had become for students and actually had a
look and worked out what it was all about. Of
cou rse now Facebook, YouTube and Twitter
are just some of the potential distractions that
many students struggle with. I am su re that
students could use social networking sites to
improve the way they study independently at
home. But let's be honest. They really aren't
using social networking in this way, at this
point in time. Students are aware that this is a
huge issue, more so than something like TV,
as it is so easy to slip in and out from school-
work to Facebook without anyone else in the
house even being aware that they are doing it.
Many students are frustrated by their inabil-
ity to self-regulate in this area and are aware
that 'multi-tasking' just means their work at
home takes five times longer to complete. The
best strategies to deal with these are simple:
students should work in half-hour blocks at
home on their schoolwork and during this
time they remove all distractions and just
learn to focus on their work for half an hour.
Because it is just for half an hour, it is bear-
able, whereas 'no Facebook until homework
is finished' seems insurmountable. They will
be amazed at how much work they get done
in this time when they separate schoolwork
and their personal life. Some students take
the drastic step of placing a jar by their com-
puter and every time they go on Facebook
during that half hour block of schoolwork
they place a dollar (or an IOU) in a jar next to
the computer and the money goes to charity.
This certainly helps many students get their
addiction under control.
Organisation and filing
Of course it is not enough to teach students
how to manage their loose sheets of paper
anymore. We also need to teach them how
to manage their electronic resources. While
a simple way of doing this is to set up a
folder structure with a folder for each sub-
ject and folders within this for topics, other
options exist such as programs like Micro -
soft OneNote. OneNote is a program that is
a note-making tool which does much more
than you will find in just a straight word pro -
cessor like Microsoft Word. OneNote helps
students gather, organise, find and share
notes and information -- including typed or
handwritten text, pictures, graphics, photos,
and audio/video recordings -- in one place.
Mac users could try Circus Ponies Notebook
or use the Notebook view in Microsoft Word.
Regardless of the software used, students
need to be encouraged to take much greater
care in naming files. File names like 'english.
doc' are often the norm. An important skill
for students to develop is to name their elec-
tronic resources descriptively and accurately.
Although most schools still insist that stu-
dents use a school diary, many students
are supplementing this with electronic
approaches. Some students place remind-
ers in their phone or use an online calendar
such as Outlook. iPhone applications (apps)
are also becoming very popular in this area.
While my favourite by far is Week Calendar;
other apps recommended by students to help
them manage their time and workload are:
Schoolbook, iStudiez Pro, The Night Before
Essay Planner, iAssignment, iHomework,
My Homework and Time Table.
Research skills have also become a whole
lot more complex. Now we have to ensure
students can search online effectively, access
databases and electronic journals, assess
the credibility of a site and manage their
resources while maintaining a cybersafe
approach and backing-up their work regu-
There are some wonderful tools now to
manage resources found when researching.
One such resource is EndNote. The tagline
for EndNote is 'bibliographies made easy.'
EndNote is a software tool for managing
and publishing and integrating bibliogra-
phies. For students doing work that requires
lots of references, EndNote allows students
to record all of their references easily and
then insert these references into their docu-
ment and instantly create a bibliography in
a particular format.
In terms of managing web resou rces,
social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us
allow students to store bookmarks for
internet sites not on their own computer
but on the web so they can access them
from any computer. Students can also add
tags to their bookmarks so they can search
through categories. And they can see the
sites other people have bookmarked on dif-
ferent topics. You can see an example by
looking at the bookmarks I set up during
my Masters of Education course: http://del.
Whenever students have a test or exam
approaching, the first step is always to make
study notes or summaries. I am often asked
whether students should handwrite or type
their study notes. The basic answer is that
they are best to do whatever they have to
do in the exam. However, it is not always
as straightfor ward as it may seem.
On one hand, students usually have to
write in the examinations. So they are bet-
ter off getting used to writing as much as
possible, especially as these days students
do less and less pen to paper and more and
more on the keyboard. If handwriting is a
problem for your students, you may also like
to visit ww w.ringpen.com to check out this
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