In my post A Touch of Dissent I talked about how engaging every student may not always be as realistic as we would like. I have been giving it some thought recently, and I realized that the idea of trying to be more engaging than whatever is distracting your students may be a red herring.
When students are distracted, it is often the case that they are not more engaged by what is distracting them, they are intentionally less engaged. Consider the following link, which your students, if they are anything like mine, probably visit regularly:
How long did you last? Ask your students. I guarantee that some of them have clocked hours.
But what does this mean? First, it means that students (well, people in general) are not always seeking intellectual stimulation – sometimes they want mindless drivel. But it also means that we can’t always win the attention war by making lessons more and more interesting and engaging. Of course we certainly can’t make our lessons less interesting – we can’t fight fire with fire on this one. To be honest, I’m really not sure what it means, except that I will try building more brain-breaks into my lessons to give the kids a bit of down time to recoup for the next onslaught of intensive reality.