Juniors Go Tech Free and Learn Life Lessons

Even before the school year begins, students at CJ are given a Chromebook as part of the school’s Connected Classroom program. As part of a six-week assignment in Dr. Mick Mominee’s junior religion class, he challenged his students to turn off their Chromebook, and technology, during his class to better connect with one another.

“My hope was that students would consider how technology helped them connect to one another or how it could hinder or limit connection,” Mominee said. “I also hoped they would reflect on how they use technology and the level to which is creates stress, anxiety, addiction and/or the like. I hoped they would be able to reflect on how they could limit or enhance their technology use to find more spiritual, emotional, and physical connection and contact with others and God.”

Six students from Mominee’s seventh period class were interviewed each week during the assignment: Josh Kinnear, Nick Wissman, Gabe Campion, Tim Bullock, Diana Ekezie, and Jessie Hutton. Throughout the assignment, the students were asked their thoughts on the progression of the assignment and to rate how they felt overall about the challenge with a 1 being the worst and 10 being the best.

Week 1
Group rating: 5.5
Student notes:
“I think this is an excellent way to look at class compared to what it has been. I feel it’s going to be difficult for me because I like to use my Chromebook to check different classes and email. I don’t use my Chromebook in my classes very often except this class and study hall so if someone sends me important information or an email I might miss it. So I think that will be difficult but overall I feel this will be a good experience.” - Kinnear
“I think it’ll be a good experience because coming into Dr. Mominee’s room, we use our technology a lot. It’ll be good for the class to unplug. Typing of the keyboard helps me focus better, so that may be hard.” - Hutton

Week 2
Group rating: 6.6
Student notes:
“I’m enjoying this assignment. I think there are a lot of benefits that can happen from it.” - Bullock
“I’m feeling OK about it. I thought some people would be distracted and bring out their Chromebooks but overall they’ve been good. We’ve been talking as a class more.” - Ekezie

Week 3
Group rating: 6.3
Student notes:
“In class we have been talking about stereotypes, privileges and what privileges are common at CJ even if we don’t think we have those privileges. Having technology available all the time is a privilege. Having it taken away shows how easy it is to access stuff and use technology for our own needs. You get the feeling of how privileged you are in that regards.” - Wissman
“Overall people are listening and are more engaged in the class conversations.” - Hutton

Week 4
Group rating: 6.5
Student notes:
“I do like it a lot. It’s really helped the whole class focus in general. We’re all having good conversations now instead of being absorbed in technology the entire time.” - Campion

Week 5
Group rating: 6.6
Student notes:
“From this assignment I’m learning how technology has more of a hold on us and there are groups out there trying to us hooked on technology more.” - Ekezie

Week 6
Group rating: 8.5
Student notes:
“It was challenging in a different way compared to most school projects because it forced me to think differently from what I would and complete activities differently in a classroom setting.” - Kinnear
“I thought it was good for our class specifically. It was good to see the challenging scenario with us.” - Wissman
“I did really enjoy the project because it gave us time to have really good in class discussions. We got a lot done where a lot people weren’t paying attention. The class came together as a whole.” - Campion
“I  thought it was a really good unit. We had a lot of good discussions and focus more on the class.” - Bullock

When reflecting on the assignment overall, Mominee noted, “The real insight was that these students are so overloaded with stuff, assignments, tasks, and the like, that they do not have time or attention for spiritual growth. The technology is not hindering spiritual growth, it is the stress, anxiety and things they are asked to do. As a result, these students stay up way too late, distract, shut down, and find themselves over worked and without time for rest, hobbies, and spiritual or emotional growth. We as teachers contribute to this and I think we as a school need to consider the loads we expect, encourage and praise. I also think we need to consider helping these students with healthy stress management, to learn to say no, to limit their efforts, and to make time for friends, community, prayer and more rest.

“I am going to consider how I can add in more time in class to help students learn to do just that,” Mominee continued. “While I am not going to limit or scale back academic learning, I want to find ways to be more efficient, go more in depth, and encourage the students to consider limits, so they have the space to rest, growth and do things they enjoy, which I hope includes spiritual experiences and emotional growth.”

Posted June 14, 2018