English 111 & English Fundmentals, R. Dollieslager

multitasking cartoon

The Myth of Multitasking:

A Researched Reading & Writing Project in Five Phases

multitasking poster

Objectives: 1] Reading critically. 2] Connecting reading and writing. 3] Modeling the research and research paper writing process.
This project models the research gathering, note-taking and writing processes in a series of steps or phases and culminates in a short, documented essay.
Designed to be taught/learned in five or six class meetings.

Phase One achieves the following objectives of the VCCS ENF Student Learning Outcomes:

  • 1. Demonstrate the use of pre-reading, reading, and post-reading skills with college-level texts (including objectives 1.1-1.4)
  • 3. Expand vocabulary by using various methods (including 3.1, 3.3 and 3.4)
  • 4. Demonstrate comprehension by identifying rhetorical strategies and applying them to college-level texts (including 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.6)
  • 5. Analyze college-level texts for stated or implied main idea and major and minor supporting details (including 5.1-5.4)
  • 6. Demonstrate critical thinking skills when reading and writing college-level texts (including 6.5, 6.6, 6.7, 6.9 and 6.10)
  • 7. Write well-developed, coherent, and unified college-level texts, including paragraphs and essays (including 7.1, 7.2 and 7.6)

Assessments: Students will . . .

  • Locate and examine the meanings of unknown vocabulary words
  • Rephrase key areas of a text
  • Write clear, concise paragraphs to answer questions on the reading
  • Incorporate information into a unified and cohesive summary

Phase One: 1] Reading critically

Assignments for the article, “Studies on Multitasking Highlight Value of Self-Control

  • Note: Since the article is published in Education Week, it may not be available after 2012, in which case we can re-read it here.

1] Vocabulary: Consider important vocabulary and terms from the article which are listed below. For ten minutes freewrite on these words.  Write about the words that you are already familiar with and about what you hope to learn in the article about the other terms. 

  • multitasking
  • pervasive
  • bellwether
  • FOMO
  • emerging
  • simultaneously
  • bottleneck
  • prefrontal cortex
  • milliseconds
  • landmark
  • cognitive neurology
  • hyperactive
  • high-value distraction
  • intricately
  • metacognitive
  • intrinsically

2] While reading, define those vocabulary words on your list as they are meant in the context of the article when you encounter them.  Look them up in a dictionary if you are uncertain what they mean from context clues in the article.

3] On a separate note page or Word document, answer the following article analysis questions, after reading, in order to prepare for a) class discussion, b) writing an article summary, and c) using this information in your next essay. Note: Answer the questions in your own words because you will be using those sentences later in a paragraph. If you do this after reading, when the source is closed, there is no risk of plagiarizing. Where you cannot answer the questions from memory, go back to re-read that part of the article. Putting the information in your own words to use in your essay is a research writing skill that is called paraphrasing.

  • On the average, how many types of media do 13- to 18-year-olds use simultaneously outside of school? Does the article give examples?
  • What is the result of the tendency “to pay continuous partial attention” to everything?
  • According to researchers cited in the article, can the brain “be in two places at once”?
  • Does it take longer to “multitask” than it would take to do two individual tasks one after the other?
  • How does having to make a choice affect “multitasking”?
  • How do multitaskers perform on memory and attention tests compared to those who do one thing at a time?
  • How do text messages affect scores when testers answer text messages?
  • What is the affect on a reader’s attention when reading  is interrupted to take a phone call, email, or text message?
  • What did the original “marshmallow test” show?  Did researchers find similar results when test-takers responded to text messages, or did that research refute the “marshmallow test” results?
  • Your thoughts about the conclusion, please:  Are people really multitaskers?  Should people be taught this ability? Why or why not?

*Diving deeper to understand the original "Marshmallow Test" and its results: read this article, and view this video, recreating the test with kids. How much better are adults able to defer immediate gratification?

4] Summarizing to avoid plagiarism: Use your answers to the questions above when you write a one-paragraph summary (around 200-250 words in length) of this article. Watch this video about how to write a summary. Let's discuss summarizing for researched papers, by following this summarizing process.

Homework to be turned in: Vocabulary, answers to reading questions, and one paragraph summarizing the multitasking article. Be sure to keep your comments separate from the summary of the Sparks article by use of a parenthetical citation. Note: I won't formally grade this paragraph or your notes, but I do want to see how you are doing with note-taking and how that is reflected in your summary paragraph.


Phase Two achieves the following objectives of the VCCS ENF Student Learning Outcomes:

  • 2. Pre-write, draft, revise, edit, and proofread college-level texts (including objectives 2.2, 2.3, 2.5 and 2.6)
  • 7. Write well-developed, coherent, and unified college-level texts, including paragraphs and essays (including 7.1, 7.2, 7.5 and 7.6)

Assessments: Students will . . .

  • Write a response to a scenario with an identified purpose and audience
  • Write a reaction paragraph to an assigned reading
  • Revise for clarity
  • Identify and correct errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics.
  • Support a topic with facts, illustrations, and/or anecdotes

Phase Two: 2] Connecting reading and writing

multitasking

5] Group/class discussion: What have been your experiences when multitasking?

  • Freewrite for ten minutes.
  • Discuss in small groups and take notes
  • Share in class discussion

6] Writing in class:

  • Revise your summary
  • Compose another paragraph by relating the point of the article to your own experiences when you have “multitasked.”
  • Discuss your experience in the context of what Sparks' research shows, that humans don't really multitask (we aren't computers, after all), but rather what we think of as "multitasking" is shifting focus or "paying continuous partial attention."

Homework: Two paragraphs above, due at the start of next class.


Phase Three achieves the following objectives of the VCCS ENF Student Learning Outcomes:

  • 1. Demonstrate the use of pre-reading, reading, and post-reading skills with college-level texts (including objectives 1.1-1.4)
  • 3. Expand vocabulary by using various methods (including 3.1, 3.3 and 3.4)
  • 4. Demonstrate comprehension by identifying rhetorical strategies and applying them to college-level texts (including 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.6)
  • 5. Analyze college-level texts for stated or implied main idea and major and minor supporting details (including 5.1-5.4)
  • 6. Demonstrate critical thinking skills when reading and writing college-level texts (including 6.5, 6.6, 6.7, 6.9 and 6.10)
  • 7. Write well-developed, coherent, and unified college-level texts, including paragraphs and essays (including 7.1, 7.2 and 7.6)

Assessments: Students will . . .

  • Demonstrate pre-reading skills using SQ4R
  • Use the clues in sentences to determine meanings of unfamiliar words.
  • Apply written information to their own experience
  • Read college-level texts to identify the main idea and the major supporting details
  • Identify the author’s argument and the points that logically support it
  • Identify and explain the thesis statement

Phase Three: 1] Reading critically, 2] Connecting reading and writing

Assignments for the article, “Stephen Covey‘s Time Management Matrix Explained"

coveys matrix
covey matrix examples

7] In class: Previewing reading and note taking using the SQ4R reading process. (Since we are taking notes to use in a researched paper, we will add "recite" to the "R's" per Steve Piscitelli's video on SQ4R, which you may review outside of class.) Section your notes sheet into Cornell format and follow the instructions below: (We will all do S and Q together.)

  • Survey/skim the article on Covey's time management system, looking for words you are not familiar with and write the words in the cues column of your Cornell notes.
  • Questions: Write questions in the cues column while you survey, turning section headings, breakers, boldfaced or specialized text, and any new ideas you skim into questions you will answer after reading.
  • Read each paragraph or section at a time, and then pause, close the sources and
  • Recite what you recall. This is an important step in avoiding unintentional plagiarism. If you can put it in your own words and write it down while not reading the source, you won't plagiarize.
  • Record answers to the questions in your cues column, and define the vocabulary words in your cues column as you read, filling up the main notes section of your Cornell-formatted pages, but leave blank lines between them to add more notes later.
  • Respond/Review by writing a page summary in the bottom section of the Cornell note page.

8] Write a summary of the article (about 200 words in length) using your Cornell notes, which are written in your own words if you followed the note-taking instructions, and therefore, they are

Homework: Reading notes, summary of the article, and your time management matrix (read more about it below). Note: I will collect your notes and the typed, documented summary of the 4 Quadrants Matrix article and grade them as equivalent to an essay grade. The quality of your notes will be reflected in your grade for this phase of the project. With my feedback and suggestions, once I return the paragraph and your notes, you will revise and edit this graded paragraph to include as body paragraph three in your final essay.


Phase Four achieves the following objectives of the VCCS ENF Student Learning Outcomes:

  • 2. Pre-write, draft, revise, edit, and proofread college-level texts (including objectives 2.1-2.6)
  • 4. Demonstrate comprehension by identifying rhetorical strategies and applying them to college-level texts (including 4.1-4.6)
  • 7. Write well-developed, coherent, and unified college-level texts, including paragraphs and essays (including 7.1-7.6)
  • 8. Identify, evaluate, integrate, and document sources properly (including 8.1-8.6)

Assessments: Students will . . .

  • Insert appropriate transitions for coherence
  • Write original examples, anecdotes and personal experiences that exemplify ideas
  • Use a semantic organizer to provide appropriate and reasoned support for written texts that exemplify a specified rhetorical mode and/or organizational pattern
  • Read and analyze exemplars and videos demonstrating varying ways to integrate paraphrased and quoted material into their texts.
  • Read a text from an outside source and integrate paraphrased information, quotes and summaries from the source into their texts.
  • Format accurately each in-text citation
  • Format accurately on the works cited each bibliographic entry for each outside source

Phase Four: 1] Reading critically, 3] Modeling the research and research paper writing process

revising vs editing
proofing

10] Group/class discussion: Are you living and working in Quadrant II?

  • Discuss in small groups and take notes
  • Use your time management matrix as a reference
  • What quadrant are you in the most? the least? should you be in?
  • How can you get yourself into Q2 for college?
  • Share in class discussion

11] Writing in class:

  • Revise your summary
  • Begin composing another paragraph, one which describes how you have been using your time and how you have reorganized it or adjusted it afer using Covey's time management matrix: Which time management strategies from the MindTools website, or the JMU Learning Toolbox, or the StudyGs web sites, or the Kent University careers site (provided by Mueller in his article) will you employ to move your life into Q2?

Phase Five: 3] Modeling the research and research paper writing process

revise your paper

12] In class: Writing about multitasking. Let's do this revising together. Use the following outline for an essay on multitasking, including your two article summaries and the two personal experience paragraphs you wrote. On the draft, we will add the works cited section and cite the summaries to complete the documentation of sources.

  • Introductory paragraph with a good thesis statement
  • Body paragraph 1 summarizes the multitasking article we read and discussed
  • Body paragraph 2 describes your experiences when you have tried to be a multitasker
  • Body paragraph 3 summarizes Covey's time management matrix article by S. Mueller
  • Body paragraph 4 discusses how you use Steven Covey's four quadrants matrix and the strategies from MindTools or the JMU Learning Toolbox or the StudyGs or the Kent University careers site websites (or other sites you have identified) to manage your time, in order to be successful
  • Concluding paragraph brings it to closure
  • Works cited entry for the articles--be sure to find he correct model from the Little Seagull Handbook's MLA research section to compare your Citation Machine outcome to. Citation Machine is a good tool, but it is just a tool. It is not infallible, though it is usually close to correct, at least.

Homework: Finish revising the separate paragraphs into an essay, completing the introductory and concluding paragraphs and tying the parts together with good transitions. It is due at the start of the next class.
Next class: Pair-share, peer reviewing the multitasking/time management essay

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