Students get back to the basics, reduce technology use on ‘Mindful Monday’

Sep 19, 2022, 7:50 PM

SANDY, Utah — As teachers and students look for ways to balance the use of technology in the classroom, one school in Sandy starts the week off by getting back to the basics with “Mindful Mondays.”

“Our school community council wanted to look at a way to, not limit the technology use, but focus in on appropriate use of it,” said Doug Graham, principal at Indian Hills Middle School. “So we came up with this idea — let’s come up with one day a week and take a rest from it, take a break.”

Graham said “Mindful Mondays” came as a response to the challenges students faced in the classroom after the COVID pandemic, when online learning became a daily necessity. Now, every Monday, students at Indian Hills put their cell phones and chrome books away and teachers look for opportunities to reduce technology use in their classrooms.

For some, it’s getting back to the basics of using pencils and paper, work books, and having group discussions.

“We really need to start pulling back and make much more of a blended model of learning again,” Graham said.

In Katie Buffington’s 7th grade Language Arts class, “Mindful Monday” started with fixing sentences the “old school” way — on paper with a pencil, and not relying on Microsoft Word to do it.

“I’m part of the iPad generation. I can’t imagine what this generation is; they’re iPad to the extreme,” Buffington said. “So it’s just part of their everyday life — they’re not really exposed or used to not having those instant technology responses.”

Buffington said for some students, taking a break from the technology is a struggle, which makes “Mindful Mondays” even more critical to their educational development.

“Our brains remember what we write down way better than what we type or read,” Buffington said. “So I try to get them to see, listen, then write as much as possible on Mondays, and then we apply those later through the week either with technology or both, or whatever works best.”

Students in Buffington’s class say they miss using their chrome books but like “Mindful Mondays.”

“I kind of like ‘Mindful Monday’ because it helps me learn more,” said Darian Gutierrez, a 7th grade student at Indian Hills Middle School. “But I also like using my computer because it helps me catch up faster than writing.”

“Last year, all we did was computer, canvas, canvas, canvas, and now, we’re actually back to paper, back to being able to write, getting our handwriting better,” said Madeleine Thaut, a 7th grader. “I think it’s helping our brain develop more.”

Thaut said students at Indian Hills Middle School are more engaged during lunch time thanks to “Mindful Mondays.”

“On ‘Mindful Monday,’ you’re able to sit down, eat your lunch, actually talk to them — say, ‘Hi, how was your weekend? What did you do?’ instead of texting them,” Thaut said.

Graham said he too has noticed more interaction with students in the lunchroom on Monday, which was another goal for “Mindful Monday.”

“We just want kids to be interacting, like in the lunchroom. One day a week, it’s nice to go in there and see the face-to-face interaction and kids’ going outside and playing again. And, you know, within a 20-minute period, it may not be that dramatic of an effect, but it’s just helping them understand that, hey, this is important, and you need to pay attention to the amount of time on your phones,” he said.

There are no set rules for teachers on “Mindful Mondays,” just a hope that they’ll reduce the use of technology in their classrooms and set a good example to their students.

“At the end of the day, you want the students to have the best experience possible, and sometimes, that’s with technology in their hands and sometimes it’s not,” Graham said. “And we just really have to get back to that balance.”

For Buffington, “Mindful Monday” is an important reminder that there are many ways to educate, and technology is just one of them.

“I think the world we live in now is all about balance,” Buffington said. “We had nothing but screens in front of us for two straight years for education and everything like that, so it’s going to be hard, and it’s going to be an uphill battle, but I think in the end, having that balance pays off educationally and personally.”

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Students get back to the basics, reduce technology use on ‘Mindful Monday’