I guess that the big and somewhat controversial idea in this chapter is that multitasking is a myth. Medina does not mean that we aren't capable of doing more than one thing at once. He means that we can only pay attention to one thing at at time. Our brains process information sequentially. So, when we are multitasking, tasks take longer and we make more mistakes. That makes driving while talking on a cell phone or always being online dangerous and unproductive. Many of the discussions I have heard about this book say that they don't quite believe that they can't be productive while multitasking. Medina says that those of us who are somewhat successful multitasking are able to do so because we have a good memory and are able to recall what we were doing after being interrupted. My question is about the use of music or TV to block other distractions. Medina says that we are not able to do this. I know that I sometimes find it hard to concentrate when it is very quiet. My mind goes in many different directions at once. I find that if I can put on mindless tv, I can better block out all the other thoughts and concentrate on the task at hand. This does not work if the program is too interesting. Then my focus is split and I find it harder to concentrate. I teach many kids with attention issues. Some of them find that listening to music helps them to block out other distractions in class when then need to concentrate on something like math. I think that Medina would say that students concentrate better in silence. I do not agree that this is true for all students. I do agree that our minds can only pay attention to one task at at time. But I am not sure that this means other tasks that don't take much thought can't be done at the same time.
A few other good ideas from the chapter that are important for teachers to realize are that we have 10 minute attention spans and our brains pay a great deal of attention to emotional events. Medina suggests planning lessons that are chunked into 10 minute sections. Starting with the big idea and then following with the details of that idea within that 10 minute section. Then either ending or beginning with an emotional hook. As I plan my trainings with teachers this year, I will keep this in mind. Especially the 10 minute rule. I will break up activities so that teachers don't hear me drone.
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