Do you find it easy to stay focused? Is this a skill your students have mastered? I like to think of myself as a productive person. But I still find myself checking my inbox or social feeds more often than I’d like to admit.
And as a classroom teacher, the idea of helping students build this skill wasn’t something I could really wrap my head around. However, I knew we were working towards building stamina and focus during certain parts of the day. For example, I wanted to create an environment where students didn’t feel distracted when they were working on a challenging math problem, or reading independently.
Regular readers of the blog know that I love sharing tips, ideas, and experiences around productivity and saving time. You might even remember that my “one word” for 2022 is optimize. Well, I’ve had a chance to use a new tool called Focusable this fall and love the concept and results. I think it has many implications for how we think about preparing students to become lifelong learners.
Learning How To Focus
What does it mean to focus? Focus is essentially the ability to control our attention and place it on a single task. It takes effective self-regulation of impulses (like not picking up your phone to check Instagram). And it requires rest and restoration (like carving out time for a deep breath). When you have focus, you can make the right moves to accomplish your goals – even if your immediate interest is in another topic. Having focus can help you perform and achieve your goals with consistency.
Can you learn how to stay focused? Focus is a skill that you can build and improve. It’s certainly a skill we can all use to help us avoid the increasing number of distractions we encounter throughout the day. We need to focus in order to learn new things (in any subject area or discipline). A tool like Focusable can help students build this skill inside the classroom.
As a classroom teacher, there were plenty of times when my students and I had that “Oh no, look what time it is!” moment. This happened when we were deep in the flow of independent reading, problem-solving, or group project work. Flow is an advanced progression of focus where we are in the moment and able to find the joy and fulfillment of completing a task. But how do we help students learn how to focus and then find the joy in being in the flow of learning? That’s where Focusable comes into play.
Stay Focused with Focusable
I first connected with the team behind Focusable several years ago and was super excited to learn more (and try out) their new platform. Focusable helps you and your students learn how to stay focused on a task. It automatically guides students on how to focus, self-regulate, and rest by following a sequence of instructions.
How does it work? As you can see in the video above (and linked here), Focusable sets you up for success the minute you log in. You have the option to use Google or Apple single sign-on or to sign up with your email address. If it’s just you, you’ll want to make sure you sign up as a teacher (make sure that the student box is unchecked).
Once you’re in, you set a Progression that will take you through a series of steps as you work. There are built in breaks that help you pause, reflect, and move so that you are better able to focus as you continue to work. There are prompts that ask you to jump on camera to set and share your focus during breaks. You can also access activities like deep breathing or stretching.
Getting Started with Focusable
I have used Focusable on my own tasks, like writing this blog post – and if you want to try it out yourself first, I’m sure you can think of many ways it connects to the work happening in your classroom. From students revising a piece of writing in an English Language Arts classroom, to students brainstorming ideas for a project in a Social Studies classroom, the possibilities are endless.
Focusable creates opportunities for social learning and encouragement on focus skills which can transfer to any subject area. Teacher and student users have access to tools that let them view and assess how their focus is progressing and give feedback. And there are ways to connect with groups who are working hard on a task, too.