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Bud the teacher gets it right

A couple of people responding to my post, "Distracting Technologies," pointed me to this Bud the Teacher post: "Would you please block?" It's well worth sharing and considering:

Ever since we opened up lots more of the Internet in our school district earlier this year, the district has received several requests from teachers and other staff to block resources that are distractions in the classroom.  I’ve written a stock response to those requests that I thought might be worth sharing.  It’s my hope that their requests and the conversations that come from this response lead to changes in classroom practice.

Here it is:

Thanks for your question.  When we implemented our new filter this school year, we looked at all the things we were currently blocking, what things were required to be blocked by law, and what we were blocking that we shouldn’t be.

What we’ve decided is that we will no longer use the web filter as a classroom management tool.  Blocking one distraction doesn’t solve the problem of students off task – it just encourages them to find another site to distract them.  Students off task is not a technology problem – it’s a behavior problem.  It is our intention that we help students to learn the appropriate on-task behaviors instead of assuming that we can use filters to manage student use.  Rather than blocking sites on an ad hoc basis, we will instead be working with folks to help them through computer and lab management issues in a way that promotes student responsibility.  We know that the best filters in a classroom or lab are the people in that lab – both the educational staff monitoring student computer use as well as the students themselves.

This opens up possibilities for students and staff using websites for instructional purposes that in the past were blocked due to broad category blocks.  It requires that staff and students manage their technology use rather than relying on a third party solution that can never do the job of replacing teachers monitoring students.

That said, we will still block sites that are discovered to violate CIPA requirements.  If you discover one, please do not hesitate to share it with us.  Also, if you discover a site that shouldn’t be blocked, please pass that along so that we can open it up.

I hope this makes sense.  I’d be happy to speak further with you if you have further comments or questions.


If we are serious about trying to remove all distractions from our classrooms for easier classroom management, we might be better starting off with pencils and paper (doodling), windows, announcements coming over the intercomm, and, of course, girls.

Of course some kids might say we should remove the teacher who distracts them from their personal online information seeking activities.

Thanks, Bud, for a great letter and post.

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Reader Comments (6)

Absolutely! Steve Johnson (our dear friend and co-worker) has been saying this for years!! :-)

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJames Keltgen

I completely agree. Students will always find a distraction. Classroom management and STUDENT ENGAGEMENT are key. If they are engaged, their minds won't tend to wander. As often. :)

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

I'm going to argue the opposite (again). Why is it smart adult management not to have cookies in the house when on a diet, but not smart management to exclude distracting websites from students in class? Sure, you can always wreck your diet with other foods, and if you were really disciplined you could resist that pack of Oreos, but isn't it more efficient to head off the temptation in the first place by keeping it unavailable?

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnna Watkins

No girls? Urp....

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Doyle

Doug- I find your blog to be one of the most thought-provoking out there in the blogosphere. Now, you've been awarded a Kreativ Blogger award (though you sure don't need the positive reinforcement from the likes of me!). Go to the link below, check it out, and spread the blogging joy!

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacy Nockowitz

HI Jim,

Have you noticed a decrease in the number of requests by teachers to block "distracting" sites in our district? I think so.


Hi Anna,

Interesting analogy. But think of it this way: instead of Oreos, maybe its peanuts that are being kept around the house. Fattening and maybe even dangerous to some, but a source of nutrition for others. And if we never give kids the chance to practice avoiding temptation, what self-discipline will they have when they leave the house?

Interesting dilemma and thanks for the comment!


And Michael, And I've never figured out how keep them from being distracting, even as an old guy.


Hi Stacey,

Thanks so much for your kind words! They mean a lot to me. I hope you get some traction from your meme.

All the best,


November 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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