Principal's Corner

Principal's Corner - Digital Zombies

Digital Zombies - A Lesson from Our Freshman Seminar Class

This year, Bishop Dunne has begun intentionally teaching social emotional learning skills in our freshman seminar class and as part of our advisory program, Dunne Honorably. The program will expand in future years.

When Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Voigt, and I attended training for this program this summer, we were impressed with a lesson called "Digital Zombies." We went looking at what we would "teach" students; this lesson (to be taught in the next couple of weeks) had us look at ourselves as much as our students.

From School Connect

Lesson 1.9 Reviving Digital Zombies

A quick note at the start—make sure and make this topic an everybody issue (not an attack on teen culture) it will be much better received that way. It is a societal issue not just a teen issue and one hopefully you can say you struggle with as well.

The lesson begins with asking students to describe what they think is a digital zombie "someone who is somewhat addicted to tech." Students are asked if they can think of a time they were hurt or offended by one and shown this YouTube video to give them some ideas:

Students share their stories about how they were offended by digital zombie-like behavior at some time. We ask students to work on eye contact as they do this activity, and then we quickly reflect on the importance of eye contact after the activity before sharing with the overall group.

Next, students watch the incredible and moving spoken word film "Look Up" by Gary Turk:

Students are then instructed to listen with empathy as they discuss in small groups and then share with the whole group. They are basically preaching to each other about the need to balance our use of technology with real social interactions and being present.

In addition, students may see the video "Can We Auto-correct Humanity:"

If there is time, this article discusses the impact of technology on the brain and how it stimulates the addiction centers similar to a drug. There are awesome graphs and charts at the end of the article that lead into super discussions. Here is the link:

Students then go into a group activity where they choose to work in groups on a spoken word poem of their own or a comedy routine of punchlines to the phrase "you might be a digital zombie if".

Finally, students talk about how to make adjustments to help with this obvious problem. Students are encouraged to consider some of the suggestions for a digital diet or digital detox. These are all independent suggestions and not recommendations to do all of them, just ideas for healthy parameters. The reflection is critical; it is the action steps based off the lesson.

While Bishop Dunne has added about thirty cell phone holders in classrooms this year to limit the distraction of the device, this effort is not enough. We are addressing some of these distraction issues at school and encourage you to discuss them at home. Be ready to admit your own "zombieness" when speaking with your sons and daughters; that admission and learning are key to education.