Monday, July 27, 2015

What Connected Educators Do Differently Week 9: Key Connector 8 Know When to Unplug

We all know by now many reasons why we should be or get connected, but then we've also got to think about the importance of unplugging. Do you make intentional plans to unplug? What are some ways that you unplug? Do you agree with the authors' statement that connected educators "realize that part of digital citizenship is knowing not only when and how to connect, but also when and how to unplug"?

We only have one more week of the book club remaining. If you are behind in your reading and commenting, now is the time to catch up on both. You will have until Friday, August 7 to make your comments to all the blog posts to be eligible for the $1000 PD grant.

**Don't forget about the Twitter chat this week around this book. Whether or not you've participated in a Twitter chat, this is a such a great one in which to get involved. It is typically not too fast-paced so it's easy to follow along. Thursday night at 9pm eastern/8pm central tweet with us using the hashtag #INeLearn. 

99 comments:

  1. As we incorporate more and more technology into our school days, I find it more important to "unplug". I enjoy time reading books and the daily newspaper. I enjoy doing things with my family or watching my students in their sporting events. I allow myself time to get out of the room and move whenever possible. It is refreshing to just take a few moments to walk even if only down the hall and back.

    I also think it is important for us to model this "unplugging" behavior to our students. Many students have difficulty concentrating on any given task as they feel they are masters of multi-tasking. Many have an "addiction" to their phones.

    My school is going 1 to 1 this year, although I am excited to see where I can best incorporate the technology, I want to be careful to remember it is a tool. As with all tools, it must be used in the best way to enhance learning but not overused. I think it will be important for the students to "unplug" in the classroom and have discussions and interactions which do not always revolve around a technology device.

    My school also has a time for sustained silent reading each day. I plan to have students use this reading time with actual books or newspapers. Although it will only be 10 minutes, it will be a good way to let my students and myself "unplug" daily.

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    1. I love silent reading time in the classroom! However, my school has cut back to only doing this 2 times a week for about 20 minutes each time and it saddens me. I really tried to always be reading a book for pleasure during this time too as to model for my students. I would typically read a book from my classroom collection so that I could share with them or be able to help them choose a book that fits their interests better.

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    2. When your school goes 1:1, it will be interesting to see how long it takes for the students to "unplug" themselves. The first year that we went to iPads, students were glued to their devices at all times. We kind of expected that in the classroom, but seeing the same thing in the student lounge before and after school as well as in the cafeteria at lunchtime took us by surprise. It was a bit unnerving to walk through the previously lively and conversation-filled student lounge and not hear anything, just see kids staring at their devices. It took a few months, but gradually students reconnected with human interaction! It's important for us to teach and model when unplugging is a benefit.

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    3. Yes…we are a one to one school too and it is so important to remember the iPad is a tool. When we think about it a a tool to enhance learning it is not so nearly intimidating and easier to unplug from.

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    4. So glad to hear this Jody! I always wonder what other departments felt about the silent reading time.

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  2. Unplugging for me has mostly been a courtesy to interact with those around me during mealtimes, gatherings with friends and family as I didn't previously consider that I might overuse technology. When my children were young, we had a no tv or telephone plan during mealtimes and that propelled good habits over the years. This chapter caused me to consider that increased use of technology will require additional time away, as well. I also see that some of the suggestions for unplugging will be transformed in the future as reading for leisure is increasingly accomplished on electronic devices. Will I be able to buy a print magazine or newspaper ten years from now? This leads me to understand that each of us needs to establish our own filters and stops on technology. For my sixteen year old son, a video games is his release from the structure of a school day, followed by an athletic practice/game, then homework, etc. It is one of the ways to block out the voices of teachers, coaches, parents, and sisters. While I don't want that to be my life , I also extend that understanding to college students who are glued to multiple game systems at all hours of the night. When I consider how some college students release their wiggles at 2 a.m., a video game seems quite safe. That lifestyle applied by my middle school students who stay up all night playing games has the law of diminishing returns written all over it. Bringing me back to the point that some common sense blended with the authors' suggestions will look differently for each of us.

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    1. I really like the idea that people "unplug" differently. I love things like Pinterest and Facebook time (maybe sometimes too much) but those are ways for me to unplug from a days teaching. Thanks for that insight!

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    2. I too agree that unplugging is a courtesy to those around you- it is using good manners!

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  3. This summer my house has been under construction for about 10 weeks and the carpet was finaaly laid on Tuesday.. So I have tried to keep up with many things and get 2 kids ready for college and one for high school before I start my teacher work day Thursday. I know I need to find ways to unplug as I just can't sit still and feel I am productive. In addition to this book I have done a little pleasure reading. But when school starts I go full force and forget to unwind. I hope to unplug myself a little each day this school for my own personal health. I have enjoyed reading this book! Have a great school year everyone!

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    1. What I love most about summer is that feeling that we don't HAVE to be productive for a change! Even children are burdened with this feeling that time is moving so fast, we have to squeeze every moment out of the day. Yes, take advantage of time and make the most of it- but sometimes, for our own health and mental well being, we need to just BE and relax. Have a great year, Kathleen!

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  4. I am unplugged when I am work with the preschoolers. I have very little time to check in to even email when they are in the room. When I am not at work, I tend to check my emails, Facebook, Twitter, etc all the time. I will unplug when I am with friends or at dinner but otherwise I tend to have the need to know whats going on. I think it would be nice to take a few days and completely unplug!

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    1. I find myself doing the same as you. If the students are in the room, I don't have time to check even email. But I find that its a way for me to unwind from a hectic school day to check what's been going on in my non-school world on Facebook. I didn't have my phone for several days last year and it felt weird not to have it but I won't lie after a day I was okay with being unplugged and actually felt no guilt about it. I took it a step further kind of as an experiment and only answered school related emails during our after school prep and didn't do any personal email checking, Facebook, or Twitter for about a week and it felt good to unplug.

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    2. I find myself unplugged when I am working with my students as well. Also with family and friends…but when I am on my own I feel the need to be checking in. Frustrating sometimes…what did I do with that time before I got plugged in?

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  5. As I read this chapter, I thought about my 2 yr old who says "I NEED your phone." Devices are fun, interesting, colorful, keep us connected,etc. However, we have to have boundaries just like every other good thing in our lives. We have to be intentional with our time. I appreciate how the authors suggest that you need to plan to unplug. I also appreciate their discussion of exercise, reading, and solitude (pg 115-116) as ways to intentionally unplug.

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    1. It's amazing that children are beginning younger and younger with technology...

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    2. I agree, Sarah. We do need to have boundaries just like everything else in our lives. I put in my post that I try to unplug mainly during the weekends and sometimes during the evening. We just have to make the time, because we do need to relax and be able to reflect on things that are going on around us and in our lives.

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  6. When I think about unplugging, I too, think about my child as well as my students. I think I am pretty good at unplugging because I had time to discover all the great things in life before technology and the internet came along. I still enjoy reading real books and writing letters and cards by hand. I was just out of college when the social media wave hit, and I have never really gotten sucked in. I do, however, worry about my son and my students. I am constantly reminding my 5 year old son to cut back on his screen time. And, now that my school is 1 to 1, students spend the majority of their time at school as well at home using technology. Their parents don't know if they are actually doing school work unless they hover over them the entire time. Because of this, I agree with Kim that it is important to model being unplugged to our students. It is our job to teach them all the great things about education besides technology. It is nice to see my students' eyes on me instead of a screen occasionally!

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  7. I just got back from vacation with the entire family. Two couples and two kids in a cabin with no central air and poor Wifi! Let's talk about UNPLUGGED! It felt great though I have to admit. It was us, bonding-talking and laughing. This will be our 3rd year 1:1 and I've noticed in my students are always plugged in. I do an activity with my students on managing stress and they listening to some relaxing music and I ask them to unplug everything and just close their eyes. Most of the time the entire class enjoys this activity and ask to do it over and over again.
    I think with the school year starting very soon, disconnecting will be important- I definitely agree with the authors that its as important to unplug as it is to plug in. To answer the question I don't think I've ever intentionally "unplugged" but I fully intend to now. Maybe try a scheduled time to unplug everyday to do things for myself.

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    1. I think I'll try that unplugging, relaxing activity with my students this year- I'm sure we all need it!

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    2. Try five minutes of mindfulness­čÖĆ

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    3. It is interesting how your students requested the stress management activity again and again. Good for you for modeling that behavior with and for your students. I wonder if your students took that a step further and did it on their own time too.

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  8. I really enjoyed this chapter as I completely agree that balance is so important in all aspects of my life. I actually felt guilty after reading chapter 8 as I have caught myself ignoring my boys due to social media this summer. I haven't intentionally taken the time to "unplug" yet, but this chapter has challenged me to start. I often give my oldest son a hard time about putting the electronics down, and I now realize I need to be a better model for him. With school starting soon, it is going to be even more important for me to schedule time to unplug when I get home.

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  9. I also really enjoyed this chapter. I think it is so important to unplug. I know that personally, I don't spend a great deal of time on my devices. However, I have family members that are on their devices constantly and it makes me crazy! I truly don't understand what is so fascinating on there that it takes up so much of their time! I would much rather have the face-to-face interactions with people. I do feel like at times I am spending too much time on school tasks on line and need that time away just to redirect and refocus myself. I also really enjoyed the conversation about multi-tasking. I have tried to explain this to my students and my children, that it is not really possible to multi-task successfully. So I am thrilled to be able to have the data and research to back up my claims!!
    When I started reading this book, it was under the assumption that all of these great "connected" educators were connected all of the time or so it seemed. So I am glad to know that they place importance on unplugging as much as their "plugged-in work".

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  10. I am one of those connected educators that is plugged in all the time. It's easy when your phone is also a computer. I'm plugged in while waiting to pick up children as Mom's taxi driver, while they are at practice or lessons. The expectation from my administration is that we are constantly plugged in; he frequently sends emails at 6:30 a.m. and expects us to read them before school. Yet I do make time for unplugging too. Especially over the summer. I tend to stay out of Twitter chats during the summer, post much less on Facebook, and yet I find myself in blogs and taking a MOOC on historical reading and writing and in this book chat. I think it's hard to completely disconnect. I need to plan myself an unplugged vacation! I also unplug by making time to read "real" books rather than just books on my Kindle, by watching "real" TV instead of just Netflix on my I-pad, and by taking my family for meals where the phones aren't permitted (like that commercial on TV). I think we ALL need some unplugged time- even in the classroom, students enjoy an "old school" day from time to time, on paper and no tech!

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    1. I agree! In our family, we are going to try the unplugged dinner idea. Because that is a time where you need to be able to talk and reconnect with the days happenings with your family! And I know it is hard to find time to disconnect. I have considered taking my school email off my phone, but I don't because I don't want to miss anything like those early emails. And I am like you and try to read "real" books and even re-read old favorites (I am re-reading HP 4 now).

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  11. Everything in moderation is something that I try to live by. Sometimes successfully and sometimes not so much! I do not have a problem with unplugging at this point, but I do wonder how I can become very connected as an educator and not allow this to change the time I spend doing other things and with family etc. Right now I have been more connected than ever trying to use twitter. I even sometimes feel guilty for not checking my twitter feed. I do unplug in the afternoon so I can be present in conversations with my husband and family. At school, my phone is put away unless I check it at lunch or I need to take a picture in class. I also discuss unplugging with the students. We talk about what it is like when you go out to dinner and you see the family next to you all on their phones. A good time to unplug would be the dinner table! Modeling this behavior is very important so that means parents too! I like the suggestions for making your time unplugged as part of your routine but I also think sometimes it is just the right thing to do even when unplanned. Again it is balance and moderation in everything. Unfortunately, sometimes we just have our plates so full that this is hard to achieve. Multitasking is something that I think we do to try to accomplish everything and I am guilty of this!! I was surprised to read that multitasking does not work. Maybe that is why it is so stressful! Using one mindset at a time makes sense!

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  12. Recently my wife and I took a 12 day 2500 mile round trip vacation. I made her the promise that outside of a few things, I would unplug for the 12 days. I did not participate in my usual twitter chats. I did not spend every evening going through emails. What I found was when we returned from vacation and I went back to the emails and chats and so forth, I focused more on what I was doing. I think even in our connected world things can sometimes become routine. We need to unplug ourselves from time to time to refresh ourselves. We do have a rule that phones are put away when we are sharing a meal together or if we are gathered with family. I once heard, and like it, that if you are out to dinner with friends or family everyone puts their phones in the center of the table. First person to pick up their phone before the meal is done has to pay for everyone's dinner. If everyone makes it without picking up phones then you pay for you own. I really like that and need to start doing that with my adult children.

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    1. We go to my parent's lake cabin a couple times each summer and there is no reception. I truly feel more relaxed when I can unplug for a couple days. I love the dinner idea. I'll have to try this the next time we go out.

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    2. I find that being connected is part of my routine. When I wake up in the morning, I get on my device. I log on to track my Fit Bit steps a couple times a day. It is part of my daily life. However, I see this as a negative aspect too. I love your idea of the dinners and no phones. This would be a great time to connect with those who are right in front of you.

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  13. I think unplugging is a good thing. I wish this chapter was at the beginning of the book. I watched my husband for over 30 years constantly look at his phone for messages due to his job. By this I learned you miss so much if the phone or technology connection is your main concentration. Twitter may be good and I have learned it is not for me. I do like the webinars that are available for educators no matter what help you need. People can interact if they want or if you can't be available at the open webinar you can go back to it at anytime and watch or listen to it. The option is even available to contact the presenters and ask or learn more if you want.

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  14. I am in total agreement that it is vital we take time to unplug. As the mom of a 6 month old, I am frequently thinking how I want him to understand the usefulness of technology while realizing we need to take FREQUENT breaks from it and unplug. I am very guilty of overusing technology in my personal life between social media, digital photos, reminders, email... the list goes on and on.
    Our school is a 1:1 school with iPads. I definitely integrate the iPads in my lessons. However, there is something to be said about taking an entire school day to do nothing with technology. In reality, this is what happens when technology fails. As we get more and more students who have grown up using various forms of technology in the classroom, we need to integrate "paper and pencil" lessons so that they realize it is ok to learn this way also.

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    1. I so agree, Laura. It's amazing how dependent we all are with technology working in our lives and in our classrooms. There definitely needs to be a balance of learning with and without technology. I KNOW that not all learning needs technology and without it, we develop learners that aren't dependent on technology. We need to model this in our classrooms just as well as modeling technology resources that are good.
      D :)

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  15. "Unplugging" is so hard to do but so important. I have found that I am using technology more and more all the time and notice that others are, too. My children are grown and live far away and so do my grandchildren. Technology keeps us connected so in that way it is good for us as a family. My daughter recently attended her 20th HS reunion and I asked her if there were any big surprises in her friends' lives. She replied, "Not really. We stay connected through FB." She said she would probably never attend another reunion as it was just OK. Her best time was some time with a special friend. They are planning another get-together at her home in the northwest.

    What is most disturbing to me is watching young parents totally detached from their children instead of being "present." They have their phones in hand at all times and constantly checking updates on FB and email and messages and... Children notice that the phone gets more attention than they do.

    Just being present for friends and family are what matters most. There will be no life regrets of spending quality time with family, but I'm guessing everyone can already have some regrets about being distracted by technology. Being too connected is at expense of something else. Better time spent?

    I just got a new cell phone, and I can't seem to put it down and quit playing with it. Good time to reflect on this.

    Happy Back-to-School Everyone!
    D :)

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    1. D- I am like you, I use FB to connect with family that is far away. I have family from LA to Tampa and being able to connect digitally has been amazing. I love that I am able to keep up with their lives and watching my little cousins grow up. And I agree with being present with friends and family. If you unplug there will be no question about if you are paying attention to what is going on. I know this is something I have been working on, especially on time with friends. Happy back to school to you as well :)

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  16. Being connected is amazing, but I completely agree that it's important to spend time unplugged. It's really about balance. We can't forget the real people while we reach out as connected educators in the world. Our real life family, friends, and colleagues need attention and our time as well. I try to make time for a few unplugged hours each day between my school hours and my kids bed time, as well as the morning when they get up until I get to school. I'm also much less likely to connect with my PLN on the weekend (other than Saturday morning #satchat) than I am during the week. I need to be better about this balance.

    The same can be said for our classrooms! Our students love having 1:1 technology, phones in their pockets, and using digital tools, but they also love hands-on projects, coloring/crafting, physical activity. We need to use being connected to make things easier and more relevant while also saving time for being unplugged and enjoying unplugged activities.

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    1. I agree that we need a balance. We need to model the balance for our students to become successful with technology. I like the reminder about hands on projects that students become familiar with as well.

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  17. I really enjoyed this chapter because I think it is so important to unplug. It is about finding that tipping point or balance. I just saw a show about the 80's and they claimed that todays world is more selfish and very much less connected to people thanks mostly to the inventions of the 80's like walkmans and other things.
    I plan to do a bold experiment (assignment) in my class after reading this this chapter and seeing the show on the 80's I am going to challenge my students to unplug for a weekend and write a paper about their experience the next week.
    I do agree with the authors that it is important to know when and especially how to unplug. I do not think we can forget the other people that share our lives and it seems by being plugged in all the time we may be doing such a thing.
    This assignment will be tied into a discussion about this chapter plus the book "1984" by George Orwell. It should be an interesting part of my class.
    Being connected makes many things easier but is it better? Should be an interesting topic for my class also.

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    1. If you can find the movie 3 day test and show a clip or two your class might enjoy it. Nit is the story of a dad who locks his family in with no electricity or technology after her thinks that they no longer connect. They have to bond aa a family to survive dad's wacky mission. Try at www.echolight.com/3daytest

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    2. Looks interesting. Thanks for the link to the movie.

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  18. Unplugging is good. I enjoy taking the time to mess in my garden (some studies have even shown that soil contains bacteria that help combat depression). My family also volunteers in the village at Spring Mill State park. We dress in our 1863 clothes and my kids play with toys from the era or mess in the creek. I love it that there is no cell or text reception in the park. I love the ability to be connected. However, I have to remember that I control the technology, it does not control me.

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  19. I was glad to see this chapter as well. Including unplugging as important also emphasizes that it's relationships that are important. If we are all so connected, why do we travel miles to see each other in person? There are still things that cyberspace cannot provide.

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  20. I agree that we need to unplug during the day. As several have stated, students also need to unplug throughout their day. Everyone has his/her own way to unplug. I have a forty-five minute commute to and from school everyday. My ride home is often my “unplugged” time. Generally, I even turn the radio off and enjoy the silence! I try to limit my “plugged in” time outside of school. I set time limits on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest during the school year every evening. I do spend sometime finding resources for the following day, but I try to complete this during the school day.
    I think technology is great but I agree that sometimes it’s nice to do unplugged activities in the classroom. A lot of my high school students say that they would prefer a textbook on most days but they were brought up using books. I am sure when the current elementary students enter the high school, they will have the opposite opinion…and they will not have a choice since most textbooks are/will be gone!
    Happy 2015-16 school year to all!

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  21. Trying to "unplug" yet I feel so disconnected. This is the first summer in a long time that I did not teach anywhere and it has been very difficult for me being a very active person. In a way, I have felt extremely guilty for "unplugging" in a way, not to mention somewhat bored. I know once the school year starts it will be a different story... To unplug during the year because I am a certified yoga instructor, I teach my students some yoga and meditation to lighten the mood when needed. Also, I like to read and through the summer I have been doing my SUP yoga and fitness out on the lake as much as I can. In addition to, learning Twitter and building my skills with technology through this book study.

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  22. I think it is incredibly important to show our students the necessity of “unplugged” time. Like some other people have mentioned, I try to teach “everything in moderation” to the students. I find myself failing miserably at this at times! During the summer, I often have my face buried in a book and love every minute of it! However, during the school year I always have my face in the computer. I feel like there are always things that need to be done on the computer; whether I am responding to emails, looking for new lesson ideas, writing a test, or updating my website there is always something that needs done. I find myself taking every minute of the passing periods to squeeze in time to write an email or one of the other many things that need to be done. Instead of staring at the computer, I need to pull myself away and make sure I am at the door greeting the students. I feel like it is so important to continue to foster face to face communication with the students. While there are SO many fantastic things that students can do on the computers and so much that we can do to improve ourselves professionally, I still feel that is it essential to take advantage of the unplugged time and create as many meaningful face to face discussions and relationships that we can.

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  23. Technology has always been kind of a touchy subject with me. I feel that it is highly beneficial at the appropriate times. However, I feel like our cultures is moving to trying to incorporate technology into all things at all times. I do not agree with this. Kids need to learn to use their hands and create things physically as well as electronically. Simply because technology is where our world is moving currently, doesn't mean that there aren't valuable lessons to be learned by not having technology. I still like to see students creating projects with markers and poster boards from time to time. Besides the educational aspect of technology, people are losing touch with reality because of all of the social networking going on. They believe they are connecting with people because of how easy it is to stay in touch with people, and in a way they are. However, people are also losing the ability to communicate in person. When my husband and I go to restaurants, there are always numerous couples or groups of two or three people who are sitting at their table on their phones. I have witnessed a married couple having a conversation over their dinner that consisted of approximately two sentences. The rest of the time they were on their phones. I find this to be incredibly sad. I think that cell phones are great for emergencies and being able to contact someone when something's important while you're out, but I do not understand the need to having one's phone with them and being used all the time. I also worry that all of this technology takes away from family time. Using technology for social networking, networking with other educators, or in any other way, takes our time away from our families in the evenings when we're not supposed to be working.

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    1. I wasn't sure I would find anyone else wanting less technology or more managed technology in life. I have a little trouble plugging in rather than unplugging. I enjoy facebook, twitter, and surfing, but can only last about 90 minutes and my body tells me to get up and do something else. Since we are all so different, that makes sense to me that others want it more, just as there are people plugged in to sports 24/7, music, etc. It's difficult to find balance in life when you are REALLY interested in a subject. For students, we also need to teach that balance with devices. Parents also need to be very vigilant. The future will be VERY interesting as more technology becomes part of our lives. There is a TV show called "HUMANS" that I've been watching. Realisitic looking and acting robots that have different capabilities. Interesting sci-fi that may eventually become reality. I want to live a nice long life, but I'm not sure I want to live THAT long to see that happen ("Soylent Green" is another futuristic film that really makes you think twice.)

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  24. Because I teach Prek, I am unplugged most of the day. I check my email before school, quickly after lunch, then most of my time after school is spent plugged in until I leave. Our class has computer time, pro board, and projector at different times throughout a day. During this time, I am teaching, monitoring, and modeling. My quiet time is in the car on my way to work and when I exercise. I try to spend my lunches in the teacher's lounge. This is usually the only time I have during school hours to talk face to face with other teachers. When I get home I check my home email and Facebook, but I try my best to leave school work at school. This helps me keep that balance of work and home life. My family needs to know that I put them first and when I'm at home, they have my attention. When my kids go to bed, I spend about an hour with my husband watching tv or reading a book (which is on a kindle), but that is my down time and I look forward to it each day.

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    1. It sounds like you have a good balance between all the areas of your life and aren't too reliant on technology. I need to find more of this myself in the school year. I tend to take my work home with me. Even when I go on my devices I tend to still look up YouTube videos to show or ways to present information in an upcoming lesson at school.

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  25. At the e3 conference this week Todd Nesloney shared this quote "Adults need to have fun so children will want to grow up." Erica Bauermeister
    That is how I feel about my unplugged time - I read passionately, I play sports for the joy of playing, I make music, and I get lost in those moments. Being plugged in has never provided me with that same level of happiness, even in my most creative moments.

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    1. Couldn't agree more! And I love the quote - what a great thought to live by!

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  26. I try to take 30-45 minutes each morning when I first wake up to read in my Bible, write/reflect, and pray. I am learning that this really prepares me mentally for the day ahead. Granted, I sometimes catch myself thinking about the tasks of the day ahead and try to refocus, but this time away from a screen really seems to help me.

    I thought that the section regarding "screen time" before sleep was really interesting (pg 113). I never thought of the whole blue-light concept before regarding the use of technology. I think it is a good idea to read as much as you can in traditional formats. It is also usually much better for your eyes.

    We discussed modeling last week. I believe that modeling being "unplugged" for our students is just a critical as modeling connectedness.

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    1. I completely agree about modeling being "unplugged." They have grown up "plugged in" so they need to see what "unplugged" looks like!!

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  27. I think "unplugging" is essential to my own mental health. It is tricky though because I use technology to keep in touch and up to date with friends and family. So I guess for me unplugging is something that makes me relax and laugh and even shut down for a little bit. I use pinterest and facebook for that (and now maybe twitter a little!).

    I do think it is critical (for me anyway) to completely unplug from technology. Meal times are a no technology time and during the school year I often read for a little bit after dinner or before I go to bed.

    It is difficult when you are with others and everyone is on their phone...plugged in! I sometimes get a little sad and nostalgic for a less connected time.

    There is a time and a place for everything and I definitely think this is something that needs to be modeled for our students. It is important to connect with people but that also means face to face. It is also important to connect with ourselves...allow our creativity and passions to be explored.

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  28. I really, really enjoyed reading this chapter and highlighted several statements. I have always struggled with being a "workaholic," spending hours perfecting my lessons, providing extensive feedback to my students, and emailing colleagues, parents, and students as soon as they sent me a message. In my 14 years of teaching, it really wasn't until last year that I realized the time I was missing out on with my family, as well as not taking personal time for myself. I have changed some of my habits and am grateful for the changes. Now that I am utilizing social media more for my PLN and branching out into areas that I am unfamiliar with, I have moments of anxiety and have felt overwhelmed; I want to excel at my job, but in a 24 hour day with other responsibilities and commitments, I realize that I can't do it all. Balance is probably the word that I have really focused on over the last year. I love teaching, love my school, the students, the community, and many of the teachers I interact with; however, I also want my family to be a priority because my children are growing up fast, and I don't want to miss out on them. In addition, I need time with my husband, and I need time for myself. I very much enjoy reading and exercising, and I know that I am a better teacher if I maintain a balance between all three (family, personal time, and work). I thought the suggestions in this book for unplugging were so helpful, and I have definitely tried to incorporate them - some I already had, but there were others that I had not thought of previously.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the authors that a connected learner knows when to unplug! I used to have my phone at the dinner table because I was texting someone from work or checking my email. I now put my phone up and away so that I can enjoy this time with my family. I also used to struggle with wanting to lose myself in social media and emails when I went to bed and have made a conscious effort to only do this a couple of times during the week because my husband and I need to spend time together. I also definitely unplug when I exercise, which is about four to five times a week. This is a very much needed unplugging activity in my life, especially since teaching and being on Twitter can be such a mental drain - a good mental drain, but a mental drain nonetheless!

    I was so grateful that the authors included this information and advice and am especially appreciative of the fact that it was the last main chapter in the book! All teachers need to hear this because we can't do it all, and maintaining that balance is so important for our own mental and physical health. True, it is important to build a strong PLN and get out of our comfort zones, but we also need family, friends, time with spouses, hobbies, etc. because it is a part of who we are.

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  29. I appreciate how the authors address the need to unplug. Striking a balance between being a connected educator and other personal responsibilities can be hard sometimes. When the school year starts I always feel like if I'm working on school stuff that I should be doing something else and vice versa. I try to do school stuff when my daughter is doing her sports activities so that I don't take our time together but that doesn't always happen. If she has homework, all call my work that too, and we'll sit down together to do the work. I don't have a specific time I unplug although I try not to be on my computer or phone when it's family time. I'm trying to be that model for my daughter since she's getting older and technology is becoming much more a part of her life.

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  30. Good morning everyone! Don't forget about the #INeLearn Twitter chat tonight. Not only is this a great opportunity to have more conversations with book club participants (and hopefully others who are interested in this book and topic), but it will be great Twitter chat practice whether you're brand new to Twitter chats or an old pro. See you tonight at 9pm eastern/8pm central and be sure to use and watch/search for the hashtag #INeLearn!

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    1. I wish I hadn't had to miss it. I got to participate in the #k12artchat last week and that was fun! I plan to try it again. Is there a way to see the chat for this group? Do I go to #INeLearn?

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  31. I have recently found it more and more important to "unplug," especially with teenagers in the house. I can have a conversation with my 17 year-old son, and he hasn't heard a word I've said because he is staring down at the screen on his phone. I make him turn it off and go to the gym, go outside and play basketball, eat dinner with me at the table (no phone!), and, thankfully, he has a job that requires phones be put away. I have an eReader (NOOK), and I feel "guilty" not using it to read my books since I have invested so much money in the device; however, every so often, I have to read a book the "old-fashioned" way to save my eyes and unplug. I think our students need to see us modeling this behavior as well - which in my room is easy as I don't have a signal and my phone is never out. I do allow students to listen to music while writing papers, but I want the devices put away when we are reading and discussing stories. I want their full attention, and I know I don't get it if they have the phone on the desk. Because I can check email, Twitter, FitBit steps, and count calories all on my phone, as well as send text messages and, gasp! - talk on the phone, I admit i do find it difficult to unplug, but I have to force myself to put the phone away at night and do something else.

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    1. I also find it hard to unplug with all the cool apps that my devices offer. There is always something to look at! However when I do unplug I enjoy life more. Taking the time to enjoy my friends' company, look around at nature, focus on physical exercise is what makes me feel more alive than any website could ever provide.

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  32. I do believe the author's were completely accurate when they stated that connected educators need to know when to unplug from their social media. Part of being a good teacher is having a balance between all your facets in life. To have good mental, emotional, intellectual, and social health is important. If you are always concentrating on the internet, you are missing out on so much more.

    I enjoyed the follow 5 advice in the reading this week "It's important to always put family first and make a concerted effort to shut the devices off at some point modeling for your kids that 'face time' is really necessary for developing interpersonal skills." This excerpt connects last week's reading to this weeks. As adults, we must MODEL how to use technology but also how to find time away from it. Without this guidance future generations will only know how interact with another person online. They will never learn how to confront issues head on.

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  33. This chapter really hit the spot for me!!
    This summer has been a bit frustrating since I have been in a cast due to a stress fracture, so my play time has been limited. Rather I spend time on my phone or computer because that is the easy thing to do. I also have a four year old that loves his ipad!!
    I worry alot about my son being on the ipad because of "screen time," but have also taken a step back and looked at the time he is unplugged. He plays with his friends at daycare, he rides his bike, he loves to be outside. The one thing I do need to focus with him is bedtime!!!
    For myself......my goal is to plan "plugged" time at school and weekends, and focus on family and friends after school hours. Because we are a 1:1 school, it is easy to get wrapped up doing digital curriculum. And even on the weekends, my plugged in time will be limited, because I want to model to my own children that being unplugged is necessary.

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  34. I found this chapter very enlightening. As a mother with two young boys, 8 and 3, I try to monitor their screen time but never gave much thought to my own. It is so easy to be connected that it's hard to stop and think about disconnecting. During the school year I do a lot of school stuff after they go to bed. After reading this I think I need to reevaluate the best use of my time so that I can enjoy my own children and get a good nights rest. It's hard to find that balance and this chapter had some helpful advice.

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  35. I would say I do make intentional plans to unplug. We need time to spend away from our devices and that is the only way to do it. I usually do it on the weekends or when I am just tired of being on it. And I do agree. As connected educators, we need to know when to unplug because we do need the time to ourselves to be able to slow down and reflect on how life is going. And if we are always connected, we are worried about someone else is doing, and not about ourselves.

    One way I unplug is: READING! I love to read. Whether it is professionally or leisurely, I always make a point to read at least 15-30/day. I do this not only because I enjoy it, but also it helps me relax, slow down and think about my day without having the distractions of many things going on at once. Another way I enjoy my unplugged time is by visiting with friends/family and crafting. I love being able to spend time with my family and friends and I always want to make sure they get my full attention.

    I know in our society it is hard to find time to unplug, but the more I do it, the easier it gets.

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    1. I love reading as well. I used to read every night before bed prior to kids. Well, I read to them now, but I mean my own books. I also have preferences. For personal reading I like the books on my iPad but for professional reading I like the actual book, so I can mark it up with highlighter. Does anyone else have a preference that differs when you are reading personal versus professional?

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  36. Unplugging is definitely important. I am sitting here with my TV on, typing on a computer, my phone is sitting next to me, and I am listening to a podcast that I am considering using in my class this year -- too many plugs! But... I spent the afternoon with my daughters by the pool, reading real books, and enjoying conversations with them. We have to find balance, but it is not easy. Last week, my phone died unexpectedly and the sense of panic was quite real, but I think (I hope) that my panic was more over lost contacts, pictures, etc. than the actual loss of the phone (which the AT&T lady was able to bring back to life). I think our society has a hard time dealing with that sense of panic or disconnect -- many times my students get texts from their parents during class. I am always shocked by this, it would not have happened 10 or even 5 years ago. This book has taught me about connecting with others in my profession to become a better teacher. I also attended a conference this week about using digital tools more in the classroom. As a result, I feel inspired to embrace more technology, but I also plan to continue doing many thing the old-fashioned way!

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    1. I agree that unplugging is definitely important. Technology has become an important part of our lives. Learning how to balance family, work, responsibilities, and technology is not easy. Technology can enhance our teaching and help encourage students to pay attention during class. Sometimes I loss my Smartboard (it breaks down)- and I think now how did I do it before the Smartboard. - Oh Yes - Chart paper and a marker. Full circle - the old becomes the new again. Education goes in cycles.

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    2. I can totally relate! Last school year our internet went down. My partner teacher and I both relied on Everyday Math online portion to teach. She came to me in the morning and was like "Oh my goodness! How will we teach math?" So funny!

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  37. Unplugging is a necessity - Many people allow technology to take over their lives. Leaving no time to parent or have a conversation. Research one day will find that many people have attention issues due to their technology usage. Distracted most of the time. There are teachers who walk around with their Smartphones. Hold on - Hold on. They spend a lot of their time thinking about being connected. I believe there will be an adverse affect for society. Why put in extra effort when you can use technology to solve problems. Problem solving skills will begin to diminish. If don't allow hour brains to disconnect or unplug, we will fatigue our alertness. Too much technology wears me out. I don't own a Smartphone and rarely answer my cell phone. Drive time is my unplug time - going to work and going home - no phone just music or quiet time.

    I do agree with the authors' statement that connected educators "realize that part of digital citizenship is knowing not only when and how to connect, but also when and how to unplug."
    You have to be conscious of when you are allowing you technology to consume your time and thoughts.

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  38. I seem to agree with most of the other comments I've read here on the blog. It is important to unplug!! Technology can be great, but it can also take over. More and more young kids are having access too, which isn't always good. Just like everything in life, you have to find a balance that works for you and your family.

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    1. At the conclusion of this study we should all pledge to spend 30 minutes a day unplugged!

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  39. I really find it easier to unplug that to plug in. I enjoy technology but no where near like my students do. It always bothers me to see mothers nursing their babies while they are looking on Facebook. It is so important to interact face to face and not just online. Many students don't even know aloof the other students in the class because they are so plugged in even during class and sneaking if they are told to participate in the lesson instead of being on their phone. I have spent a lot of time this summer swimming, walking, and enjoying the conversations with others. Interacting in the classroom is every bit as important as the lesson being taught. When someone is texting on the phone instead of participating they lose on several levels. It is just as rude as two students talking instead of listening or participating. I enjoy the human connection person to person.

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  40. I do make intentional plans to unplug. I purposely only check E-mail and Facebook when I eat breakfast, before dinner and before bed.
    I went on the Twitter Chat Thursday July 30th and we were asked what would you be doing if we were not plugged in. I answered outside walking. I know that is better for my health and wellbeing than being plugged in too much. Others stated, reading books, playing with their children- all very healthy activities.
    I do agree with the author's statement that connected educators, " realize that part of digital citizenship is knowing not only when and how to connect, but also when and how to unplug"? My husband is having a hard time unplugging after work and we have started a routine of being off the computer at 11:00pm. He is getting more rest and so am I!

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  41. My children are grown but I still find ways to unplug. For example, I love scrapbooking and reading but I purposely do not do either of these in a digital format when it is my fun time. I am part of a group of women who meet one Saturday a month to scrapbook together. We share the rental cost of a community building and pitch-in food for the day. During this day each month, I get to socialize with a great group of women of various ages. Often we spend as much time connecting about our families or net-working information as we do scrapbooking. One woman even brought her tax receipts to one of the days and spent the time organizing and socializing. There is no wi-fi available in the building and most of the women stay off of their cell phones. We are all un-plugged.

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  42. I find that it gets harder and harder to unplug, but because of that, I have really begun to understand the importance. My husband and I commit to putting our devices away during meals. It gives us time to catch up and just chat! I also love taking my dog on walks in the evening to just unwind. The one thing I really want to figure out how to do is teach the kids to do the same! Maybe modeling the behavior at school somehow? Giving them a small amount of time for device free time. It's hard for so many of them!

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    1. Are there activities/lessons you can do where there is no need for a device? Something that they would enjoy doing, so they don't even think about getting their devices out...like coloring, or hands-on projects, discussions, etc.? You could even challenge the students to be unplugged for a meal at home and have them journal about what they learned or something like that. I'm not sure your subject, so I'm not sure how easily any of my ideas are to implement in your classroom.

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  43. Being "unplugged" is very difficult in the digital world that we lie in. I have been teaching for 29 years and even before all of the technology it was difficult to "unplug" from school. Before Tech I always tried to not do any school work on Sundays and it was difficult. It took years to understand that I needed a balance and it about cost me my family. Sometimes it is ok to just be a good teacher and not a great teacher every minute of everyday.
    This will be our 3 year with chromebooks and I have found that the kids enjoy having a "no tech" day once in a while. The idea of modeling being unplugged is a good one.

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  44. While being connected is one of my passions, I enjoy being unplugged just as much...well, for the most part (I am only 24, any way!). My students know from the very first day that I am unplugged professionally as of 9pm each night, unless I am involved in a Twitter chat. Another way I unplug is through reading. I will admit, though, that the majority of what I read is professional or what we are reading in class. At school, I spend a good portion of my prep hour walking around the school, building relationships with my colleagues rather than sitting at my desk plugged in grading papers, planning, etc.

    I also try and share how I unplug with my students and the benefits of unplugging. I even have my students unplug sometimes with lessons/activities where we may draw/color a comic strip, take a nature walk then come in and write about it, or just read as a class out of a print source. The students can sometimes be too plugged in, I think, so I like to remind them that life is also happening outside of their cell phones/computers.

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  45. Unplugging is harder than I thought!

    I wasn't that plugged in until I got my smart phone a few years back…once I had that device in my hand and realized all I could do... it was over. I am plugged in and finding it harder and harder to unplug. To be honest, on days when I leave my phone in the house instead of in my pocket, my family and friends gets a little frustrated, because I do not respond to things as quickly as they want. (I find this a bit funny.)

    With our children we need to be mindful about what they are plugging into, for how long, and for what purposes.

    This will be a GREAT year to practice plugging in and unplugging with with my students.

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  46. I agree with the quote above wholeheartedly. It’s so important to unplug and to intentionally unplug. And I love the suggestions of exercising, reading, and solitude in terms of unplugging. I try to engaging in those activities when possible.

    However, as we are nearing the end of this book, I have a serious piece of criticism: time constraints. I know the authors are not asking us to do these things every day however, that is a lot to ask of any working parent. How am I supposed to work ten hours, find time to tweet, write in my blog, exercise, spend time with my kids, cook dinner, do chores, read for 15-20 minutes a night, etc… it’s unrealistic to set these kind of standards. We all wish we had more hours in the day to do what we should for our minds and bodies or to do what we love but it’s just not possible. If I have to choose between Twitter and my family, well that’s not even a contest. I know the authors are not suggesting that by any means but I find it hard to believe that I can engage in all of these extra activities outside of my very demanding work days without completely draining myself. Find me the super man or women who can do all of these things and tell me their secret!

    I struggle to find a balance in my personal and professional life as is and I find that adding more work doesn’t help things. I love the idea of finding resources that make my life easier or better or my classroom more efficient/effective but the truth of the matter is teacher burn out is a real thing and I am going to try to avoid it at all costs because I love my job and I love teaching.

    If anyone has any suggestions regarding how to balance their professional Twitter account with demanding work days and family time, I’d love to hear it. At the end of this book I am feeling less inspired and more overwhelmed. And to be honest, I’ve hardly touched my Twitter account because I want to spend time with my family before the school year begins and life gets too crazy. Also I still haven’t quite figured it out yet and I haven’t found it useful, mostly because I still don’t know what I am doing. Any advice?? I'd greatly appreciate it!!

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  47. I think that unplugging from facebook, twitter etc.. will not be hard for me because I did not grow up with these social media sites. In fact, I use my cell phone but do not have to be on it constantly either because once again I was in my mid-thirties before I purchased a cell phone. My daughters had to teach me how to text. So, while I can learn about the new technology it is not the same as growing up with it. I am amazed to watch 2 year old kids playing with their parent’s smart phones and using iPad in the grocery store. I do have a hard time leaving my school work at school. And this is what I need to work on unplugging from so I can focus on my family when I am at home. I love being a teacher, but find it very consuming at times!

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    1. Your comment made me start thinking of back to my first year teaching. My boyfriend (husband now) called me after I had spent an entire Sunday up working in my classroom. He called wondering when I would be "done......" even being my first year teaching I had the insight to pause...think...and say "you know what....when I retire." Teaching is a profession we can always alter and adjust and in our profession we are always striving to be better, more efficient and more engaging. We could never sleep, ignore our families, not eat....and still have work to do.

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  48. I completely agree with their statement about knowing when to unplug. It is important, but hard to do. I feel it will be even harder with younger students that are just becoming adults. I didn't grow up with technology everywhere like there is now and it's sometimes hard for me to unplug. The youngsters today have grown up their whole lives with technology constantly at their fingertips. Even at our school, technology plays a big deal. They will send us emails about needing kids at a certain time and get frustrated at us when we don't constantly check our emails. I feel that if I'm in the middle of class I shouldn't be checking email and often don't see them. I'm not completely unplugged (using Smart Board), but not necessarily being plugged in they way they think I should. I think we have to find that balance whether at home or at school.

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  49. Unplugging is an area where I have quite a bit of room to grow. It is such a privilege to live in a day and age where we are able to connect to other educators, family members, and friends so easily. However with that privilege is the responsibility to know when to pull back and to be able to follow through on that. As a working mother with 3 young children I find that I have to make a conscious choice to be unplugged when I am with them. There is time a time for work, a time for friends/socializing and there is a time to just be away from all of that and enjoy the people in your life.

    For me to unplug I need to remove myself from technology. That means leaving the phone or ipad or computer in my bedroom and spend the evening hanging out with my children and husband. I try and "leave the screens behind" in the early hours of the morning, in the car, and right when I get home in the evenings. These chunks of time are filled with face to face relationships, reading, or exercising and I have found them to be not only refreshing but also necessary. According to the text, "Being connected can become too much of a good thing and it is necessary to guard against relying too much on digital connectivity as a way of life (pg 114)." I completely agree with this statement and make a conscious effort to apply it to my daily life.

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    1. I also strive to be better at this with my kids. It's easy to set them in front of a tv or iPad to (well in my case) get some work time in. But I just need to learn that what is most important is spending time with them. More so than anything I can get done on my computer for work. I am crossing my fingers now that my son is sleeping through the night I can get some energy back enough to be able to stay up later and work once they are both in bed. Hard to get much done, including keep a clean house, when you pass out at 8:30! :-)

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  50. Yes, yes, yes! Unplugging is great. I need to unplug at night before bed. I just read a blog post where a lady felt she was turning to her phone more. She chose to read before bed and move the phone across the room. I'm going to begin to adopt a shut off time. I will check it and then no more.

    I recently got married and want to make sure that I am giving my husband the time he deserves and not turning into the world wide web over him. I also want to make sure I am giving all I can to my class.

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    1. I like your idea of a "shut off" time. I love to read, but I find myself reading facebook posts before going to bed! I think I will try and put my phone across the room as well. Since I also use my phone as my alarm clock, this might help me get up in the morning!

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  51. I didn't start using social media until I started college. It's amazing how quickly it can start to take over. On most days I find myself checking facebook and/or twitter throughout the day. Even though I normally don't post on social media, I do like to check what others are posting! I'm working on posting more, especially on my classroom twitter page.

    Unplugging is very important to me. I make plans on when I want to be unplugged and I do my best to stick to it! My husband and I always do a Friday date night. During this time we put our devices away. This time is very important to both of us. We also try to not have our phones out when we are eating dinner together or when we are around friends. When I am by myself I like to take time for my crafting! Although, I do find many crafting ideas on Pintrest!

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  52. This last week was almost comical to me for one reason - I am not sure that I have much to unplug from. We live in an area where internet access can be questionable at best. High speed internet is a joke. It is workable enough, however, for me to understand that it is not only important to make connections, but also to slip back within myself and take a break. This is not what I ever imagined education looking like when I graduated from high school. There were no cell phones, no internet and no reasons to connect beyond the teachers in your building. Students were not always connected to each other - parents were not able to see what they are able to see now concerning their children's education - and teachers were not connected beyond verbal communication around the staff meeting table in the teachers lounge. I am not sure that we suffered much because of that limited time period - maybe no more so than now on some occasions. We need to find a balance - personally and professionally. We need to set goals and priorities and stick within that frame work. If not, we may not have enough down time to unplug and rejuvinate. I am not sure how to make that happen, but I know I need it occasionally.

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  53. I agree that unplugging is very important. I feel that many of our students use technology at school and then go home to video/computer games at home; therefore, they are "plugged in" all the time. I think it's necessary to show them the importance of "down time."

    I am going to do better this school year at unplugging. In the past, I spent a lot of my free time on Pinterest, Facebook, blogs, etc. I thought it was importent for me to keep finding new things to use at school or at home. However, this chapter has made me realize the importance of unplugging, not only for myself but also for my family.

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  54. In general, I think that unplugging is very important, both for professionals and for students. Your brain needs time to unwind and recooperate, to do some of the thinking and challenging screen free. Our world is such a technology driven world that most of our interactions are plugged in, but taking the time to unplug is such a helpful way to recharge.

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  55. While I love social media and technology it is important to unplug for my own solitude but I feel it is critical for our students. We no longer teach cursive writing on a regular basis, imany students cannot sign their names. If our students don't embrace unplugging I fear our students may not develop important communication and social skills.

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    1. You are right...they are glued to their screens. I wish their was a parent app that would shut their phone off after a certain amount of screen time.

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  56. While I love social media and technology it is important to unplug for my own solitude but I feel it is critical for our students. We no longer teach cursive writing on a regular basis, imany students cannot sign their names. If our students don't embrace unplugging I fear our students may not develop important communication and social skills.

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  57. While I believe that I should walk away and unplug, I seldom do. There are days, but I feel like I might have "missed something". It is important to have relationships with people and take a step away from our technology dependent society. I need to do better at unplugging at the end of the day. I tend to use technology to unwind or reward myself with needless info at the end of a long day. I really should just step away and spend more time with my family and get a bit more sleep without it as well in the evening. Chances are I am not going to miss something THAT important.

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    1. I too love needless info.....love Pinterest pinning things I will never have time to make or create haha!

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  58. Unplugging is necessary for our mental health! This is my 30th year of teaching, and I have observed too many teachers become overwhelmed when they don't take the time to unplug. I love time outside with my family and pets to unwind. Time with friends once felt like a luxury, but it is an important thing - to give to others and to receive the gift of friendship for myself.

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  59. Unplugging is hard for me. I don't just mean unplugging from social media and Internet but just multi-tasking and working in general. There is always one more lesson to plan, one more email to send. I also run a home-based business and teach an online course so I feel like I always have a to-do list out the door. I really struggle to just sit back unplug and relax. If I am not doing three things at once...I feel behind. I need to just enjoy my kids, my husband, my family, and just have some time to myself. Funny, I got behind in responding to these posts....not because I unplugged from it but because I got even more busy getting ready for school to start. As teachers, and many of us with young families I think this is a constant battle. This past week I did make it a point to spend time after dinner, once the baby was in bed, to play a board game or do some type of art project with my daughter before bed. I LOVED it.....that was my favorite part of the day. No phones, no email, no computer, no lesson planning.....just her, me and Candyland. :-) I need to make this more intentional now that school is back in session.

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  60. It's very hard for me to unplug! The internet is such a great source for information and resources that it is so easy to just pick up my device and search. I do know that it is very important to unplug and give time to my family. I like the idea of scheduling time to unplug. This would probably be a great way for me to ensure that I am unplugging more often!

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  61. I have to find time to unplug!! If I don't, I end up not enjoying what I do each and every day. I don't tend to unplug until after 5 o'clock when I get home though. My students leave for the day at 215, so I have a good two hours to wind down, grade papers, plan, and then go pick up my son at day care. I know there are teachers at my school who are constantly on pinterest or other sites trying to find new and inventive ways to teach. However, I find that my family should come first and that is what I try to stick to.

    Planning to unplug is a good thing. Although, it is so easy not to with all of the handheld devices that we are dependable on today. Maybe you should plan to turn off all devices at a certain time of day to focus on what is really important.

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