"I've already collected 22 of those things to give to the office!"
"I'm a Teacher, and Trust Me When I Say That Fidget Spinners Are the Effing Worst"
"That thing is NOT more important than my lesson!"
Most of the time we as educators just take these things, fill a drawer with them, and move onto the next fad which we believe will be our demise. Anyone remember... Garbage Pail Kids? Pogs? Polly Pockets? Slap bracelets? Planking? The list goes on forever.
No matter the fad the cycle goes something like this:
1. Students see said fad (now on social media).
2. Students convince parents to purchase said fad.
3. Teachers are confused at the sight of said fad.
4. Teachers realize said fad is taking over their students focus.
5. Teachers outlaws said fad.
6. Schools outlaw said fad and ask parents to help end throughout society.
7. Students continue to sneak said fad into school and around parents.
8. Said fad dies of its own accord and limited utility.
9. Rinse and Repeat.
So what are we to do?
Here are a few tips on how to embrace and make the fad part of learning:
- Do experiments with it. (Spinner revolutions per minute with slow motion video, compare and contrast models. Do students who use these do better in class - test with a time used and a recent lesson.)
- Create data and analyze. (See above or create surveys where you can break down amount owned, time of day, age of users, quality of product, opinions, etc.)
- Write about it. (How does it make you feel to use? Should students be able to use these in class? Interview and write and article from student and adult perspective. What if (a character from your book) had a spinner...how would they be different?).
- Research similar fads. (How long they lasted? Were they worth it? Did your teacher do one in the 70s, 80s, 90s and are they 'okay' today).
- Read about it. (What does this article say about the fad, why and do you agree? Write back to the author!)
- Ask students why the fad is more interesting than classwork. (Then goal set as a class how future lessons can be as 'fun' and 'engaging'. How can they help?)
- Use fad as a management tool. (If spinners are to help focus and anxiety of some students, set goals for next unit on focus and growth and track to see if students using spinners achieve these... if not maybe they need to go away!)
While there is no way to anticipate and head off fads such as the fidget spinners, it is my opinion that embracing and making them part of our courses can only enhance student engagement and make us seem relevant to our students!