fidget spinner

Even Teachers Can Be Fooled

Last week, another news story about fidget spinners appeared on my Facebook feed. Not only were my friends sharing it, but it was also shared within teacher groups that I belong to as well. You might be familiar with the story already:

Columbus, Ohio School Teacher Loses Eye After Fidget Spinner Breaks in Classroom

The article was posted on a website called FocusTimes. When I first read the article, I thought it horrible, but knew that accidents happen. I didn’t share it, but I did watch the posts I had seen online. I kept thinking about the article, especially after so many immediately felt validated by it because of their general dislike for the toy as it is. Something seemed off.

Then, other teachers started questioning it as well. We came up with some common read flags for potential fake news:

  • Only one source had it. No internet searches yielded any other sites with the news
  • It immediately provoked a strong feeling of anger in those who disliked the toy
  • It validated a feeling that the dislike side had right off
  • Nowhere was there any identifier to place the school or to further look into

With that in hand, I saw fit to submit it to Snopes.com to have them take a look further into the story. The very next day, I received a response. Apparently, enough people had submitted the story, and Snopes had verified that it was indeed a false news story.

I returned to the teacher forum where I had originally seen the post and created my own stating that the original story was indeed fake, and that it had been verified with Snopes. Some teachers knew it was fake, others not so much, but they were glad that it was. Even teachers aren’t above being fooled by internet articles.

If you were fooled, it’s best to be humble and accept that you have been fooled. It does make for a good story for students so that they can see that no one is perfect, and that we all fall for journalistic tricks from time to time. Please do not let your students keep believing that it is a true story, even if it does seem to quell the use of fidget spinners in your classroom.

Oddly enough, the same website that posted this false fidget spinner toy story also posted this false one as well.

…Those Blasted Fidget Spinners!

If you’re an educator, you’ve probably seen these devices creep into your school within the last few weeks. If you’re a parent, you’ve probably had your child begging you to buy them one so they can be like their friends. There have been the immediate bannings and the toy vs device debates. Show one to someone, and you’ll quickly find out their thoughts on the topic.

Welcome to the world of fidget spinners, the latest trend to hit schools. Like any other trend, once it catches, it catches quickly and without much warning. Like the ways of predecessors (beanie babies, slap bracelets, Pokemon cards, virtual pets, etc.), once the trend hit, it was sticking around for a time. Only time will tell exactly how long it lasts.

Fidget spinners come in different shapes and colors. They range from very cheap to very expensive, and can be found in online shops and gas stations alike. Fidget spinners are designed to help those with ADHD, ADD, anxiety and the like to focus on tasks at hand. However, they can also be used as a toy, and you can even do all kinds of tricks with them, like this video:

My school district has been hit by the craze. I work between the middle school and the high school, and I see many middle school students with a variety of spinners. Most of them use them as a toy, rather than a helpful device. I do enjoy walking the hallways and asking a kid for their fidget spinner. I love watching their eyes get wide because they think I’m going to confiscate their spinner. In reality, I tell them that since they had it, I wanted to try it out and test it.

This led to me picking up my own spinner. Actually I got a 2 pack because it was discounted, but they’re both the same. Mine were about $16 each bought separately so they aren’t the cheap gas station ones, but they also aren’t the fancy expensive ones. I have been keeping my spinner in my pocket, all the while considering ways of appropriate and inappropriate uses. Mostly I carry it when walking and absently spin it in my right hand as I go, but I can see myself using it at meetings to focus instead of my usual tapping and doodling that I am fond of doing.

I’ve also read articles online in support of and against the device. Based upon my reading, it seems that parents should be teaching children at home how to appropriately use the fidget spinner as a device to focus. Like with any other tool, we can’t give it to them and expect them to know the appropriate use innately. Use the spinner to teach appropriate ways to use it in public so that it’s not bothering others. At the same time, let them know when it’s okay to use it as a toy, such as when at home or alone away from others. Yes, I’ve used mine like a toy – at home. I’ve spun it on my fingers and tried to learn some tricks. However, this isn’t something I’d do in public to occupy my hands.

Teachers that I’ve found in support of the spinner talk of setting boundaries and a management plan for classroom use. This means getting the students involved and discussing how it can be used for focus in the classroom, appropriate times in the classroom, and what happens when inappropriate uses occur, which can include banning at the very extreme. Others are in support of it only if the child’s 504 or IEP calls for a tool for fidgeting.

Those against the spinner argue that it’s a distraction and that students are playing, trading, and focusing more on the spinner than what they should be doing. For some students, it will never be more than a toy to play with, collect, and trade. This is where the bans have come into play in school districts.

In the end, it seems like the fidget spinner has its pros and cons, depending on how it’s used and who uses it. I would say to give it some time to see if the trend dies down, and then see who still carries them about. Chances are, those people are either die hard fans or they really do need the fidget spinner.