Plugging Away

In the last 8 months I have used about 10 GB of space on my phone with photos and videos of our new family of three. I am constantly taking pictures of our baby and her new experiences and adventures. Is it wrong that I pick up my phone to capture her crawling across the floor or experiencing different foods? Is it time for me to unplug and live more “in the moment”?

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Photo Credit: Kaptain Kobold via Compfight cc

Our final debate in EC&I 830 was: We have become too dependent on technology and what we really need is to unplug. The agree debaters,  Janelle, Kyle, and Dean suggested too much technology is making us anti social and unable to live in the moment, but did also say that there needs to be a balance. The disagree debaters, Tayler, Nicole, and Angela  felt that unplugging really makes no difference in our lives, but agreed that we do need to find an appropriate balance.

 

There are many video’s on the internet (ironically enough), that encourage people to unplug. This video depicts the all too familiar scenes that people live everyday in the struggle to find a balance with technology. I don’t think we need to completely unplug from technology, but we definitely need to be attentive to the situation and recognize when to put our phone away.

 

To me it depends on what your definition of unplugging is. Is it to describe a complete “detox” from technology? Removing all technology from your life? If so that’s not really possible, nor is it going to make much difference in your life, Jurgenson believes. .  I do think a healthy amount of being off technology (or unplugged) is necessary to have a happier and healthier life. Breene’s article  reminds us that it is important to schedule in regular “rest time” where we unplug from technology .  She suggests it is feasible to step away from our devices and to allow ourselves to re-connect with other human beings, nature and other extra-curricular activities.

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I had never heard of the terms Augmented Reality vs Digital Dualism. Basically augmented reality is the belief that we are not living two separate lives. Who we are online is who we are offline. Yes, we may not include all the little details about our lives in our online profiles, but I also guard many parts of my life from friends and coworkers offline anyway. Not everyone needs to know everything about me online and offline, but I am the same person whether on or offline.

Technology can enhance our lives when used with discretion. Casey Cep states “that for some, it may take unplugging to be able to learn how to live a better life while plugged in, but it is not technology that is the actual problem… For most of us, the modern world is full of gadgets and electronics, and we’d do better to reflect on how we can live there than to pretend we can live elsewhere.”Unplugging will look different for everyone, some people may need to unplug more to find that happy and healthy balance and some might need to unplug less. Technology can cause stress and anxiety for some but for others technology can  be the very thing that can help ease our stress and anxiety. This article introduces 12 mobile apps that help relieve stress and increase happiness.

The key is finding a balance and knowing when it is time to “unplug” and when it is ok to plug back in. Being plugged in 24/7 is exhausting, whether it is being plugged into technology, work, family or just day to day life. Too much of anything can be overwhelming, regardless of what it is, and we need to find our own balance to feel “healthy and happy”.

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A little balance, nature and final EC&I830  blog

When I take a photo of a memorable moment in our daughter’s life I’m not ruining the moment. To me I am enhancing it. The moment can be shared with her dad, who is at work. One day, she will get to relieve those memories through video and photo and experience the joy we felt in those moments. I know I love watching VHS home video tapes from special moments in my life. I think it is how we balance capturing the moment(taking a quick video to remember the memory) and still enjoy being in the moment that is important.

Accountability…Amountability

I think tests are very valuable. In fact there are often times when I say test more!!!

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Photo Credit – An ad that popped up while working on my blog post…seemed quite fitting.

I know what you are thinking… stick with me….

Yes test more… car safety tests, blood tests, heart tests, food quality test- bring on the tests!!! But… more tests for kids… no thanks! Tests that give an extremely biased minimal snapshot of a child’s learning. No thank-you. Especially when those tests are standardized tests, and are  used to make critical decisions for a child’s future and the future of education. Critical decisions do need to be made, but is relying on test scores the way to do it? I agree with Larry Cuban that data driven instruction based on standardized testing is not the approach we need to be taking.

John Oliver made some excellent points in his Last Week Tonight segment “Standardized Testing” He said “[standardized tests] fail to reflect abilityblog6 and there are human consequences [when test scores are not adequate]”. Can you believe that they are using a calving formula for determining the success, and future, of teachers? I am beyond words for the logic in this formula. I am about accountability, but there is nothing accountable about using one grade school test score to determine a teacher’s future.

Oliver says “accountability is one of those concepts everyone is in favour of, but nobody knows how to make it work”. I agree with him. In order to be accountable it needs to be accurate. To be accurate we need to look at the big picture and not just one small sample. This isn’t like testing blood samples, it is a lot more complicated than that.

Janelle shared a true picture of growth in her post this week:

“All the standardized exams tell us is that we continually under perform.  What they don’t show is how a student in grade 9 has gone from a grade 3 reading level to a grade 6 reading level in one year.  Or how a student in grade ten who has never read a chapter book, can now read at grade level and is loving literature.  That is growth”

 I understand having some form of assessment that allows us to look at results to help direct decision making, but I think there needs to be a balance during those decisions. A mix of using a variety of assessment methods and consultation before a true picture can be created on student learning and progress.

Our debate this week”Have schools sold their souls to corporation”brought out a lot of frustrations on the negative impacts we see with standardize testing and how companies like Pearson Education are cashing in. Tyler and Justine shared many negatives about corporate involvement in education. Dean Shareski (Community Manager of Discovery Education) shared his views on how teachers and corporations can have success when working together.

I have to admit, I think I’m on Dean’s side for this one. Disclaimer: I do not agree with companies taking advantage of schools and schools wasting money on programs that are not authentic for student learning.

I do think that their are companies out there that can support our classrooms in positive ways. Corporations that see it as their duty to get involved and make a difference and help address problems that are beyond the reach of classroom teachers. Programs like Google classroom that are used to enhance the learning of students.

Dean suggested that all school divisions need outside support.The key is to begin that support with conversations about the relationships between big-business and education, and how the relationships are built and understood. Corporations need to believe “We do good, by doing good”. I agree and believe that when you are in the position to help someone in need and it is for the good, I welcome it. I also think that it is naive to think that one resource or one support is going to cover all we need in our classrooms. We need a variety of sources just like we have a variety of learning needs.

Our guest speaker Audrey Watters (Author of the Hack Education blog) also spoke about relationships. She said “we need to look at how the relationships have changed over the years”. We need to ask how is it changing what happens in the classroom and how does that change the mission of schools.

Purpose of school – for people to get jobs…

        Defined to meet the needs of corporations….

You should have an education that is crafted to meet your needs not the needs of corporations

 

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Child Rights Photo credit: Freedom online

Schools need to think critically when turning to corporations for support. Whether they are offering financial contributions or offering resources, we need to stop and think how it will affect our ability to offer a high quality, authentic education to our students. An education that they so rightfully deserve.

Learn it All – Learning Summary

Well here it is. My learning summary for EC&I 830. It was a whirlwind of a class with only 2 months of learning, but I have never been part of such a great learning opportunity before. I was challenged to be the kind of learner I hope my students can be.

The format of this course allowed me to set out my own path and determine how I was going to learn the content around some of the most debated issues in education today. This learning summary was just one more great experience in this course. I have never had to create a learning summary in this format. Right from the beginning I wanted to challenge myself and attempt to “write” lyrics to a popular song. This is something I never do… I sing often but “write”… NEVER.

 The introduction is very formal and “Lecturing”,  something that I steer clear of when teaching, but if you can hang on until the 1:30 mark you will get to “Shake it Off” and enjoy my own rendition of Taylor Swift’s hit that I have rewritten called “Learn it All”. I apologize that the intro video seems to have the edges cut off in editing (movie maker). If anyone can suggest how to fix it, please let me know. Most links are in the video, the ones that I couldn’t show links for are found here in a separate document.

Enjoy my Learning Summary!

It’s been a great semester.

This is Not a Box!?

How many times do we hear parents say, “My kids love playing with the box more than that toy!” I have fond memories of using boxes to create a fort or a car or pretty much anything I wanted. I loved using my imagination and turning the “ordinary” into the extraordinary – or at least what I thought was extraordinary!

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As I sit and reflect on the debate, Is Social media is ruining childhood,  from this week, I can’t help but remember all the ways I loved to play and explore as a child.

There is something about a cardboard box and a child’s imagination that is magical. If you haven’t read “Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis and you have kids, do it! Do it now! It’s a great story to read with kids and ignite some creativity and not a boximagination. At some point each year, I have some boxes available for my students during centre time and they get to imagine, create and play. After all a box is just a box until it’s not a box!

Photo creadit: Amazon

This week our debaters Amy, Logan, and Carter vs. Ellen and Elizabeth did a great job bringing forward arguments and resources for both sides to the debate. So, is social media ruining childhood? Is the box really just a box now, because there is no one left to play with it as we all sit on our devices trolling social media?

There are many harmful ways social media is affecting children today. Many children have been endured online abuse and are victims of cyberbullying. There is also an increase in 

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Photo Credit: Sarah Mirk via Compfight cc

mental health issues in children because of stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation caused by social media use. There is research that suggests social media is changing the way we communicate and a focus on quantity instead of quality when it comes to what is being posted.What will happen if children continue to use social media and continue down this damaging path? I believe a lot more harmful affects will occur UNLESS teachers and parents step in.

 

Elizabeth said it well in her blog post:

However, the more I study social media, the more I read about it, and the more I see it in the schools, I begin to understand that perhaps the best way to protect our kids is, in fact, presenting them with what exists. Showing them the world, focusing on the good but not hiding them from the bad. This is the new childhood; I need to embrace it to use it advantageously for our students.

We need to encourage children to have a balanced childhood where they can enjoy playing outdoors with friends and improve their social skills, but also learn about and enjoy technology. I agree with Anthony’s article that parents and teachers need to educate children about outside influences and, “give them a little freedom to be their own person and reign them in if they are trying to be too much too soon“.

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Photo Credit @ Denovati

Social Media has many benefits for our youth today. I like hearing realistic suggestions and reason and I found Sheenan’s “5 Reasons Why Social Media Might Actually Be Good for your Child” to be a quick read that was down to earth and realistic. His five reasons were as follows: allows children to keep up with friends, collaborate with school mates, discover new interests, get prepared for the future, and get creative. He also reminds us that children need a coach and mentor and shouldn’t be working alone on social media. That is when the problems arise.

Randi Zuckerberg has a lot of great points in her article “Childhood Isn’t What it Used to Be” The world is constantly changing and evolving, which is great… it’s what we want to happen. For change, positive change. Randi speaks about our children now living in three worlds:

“the real world, the imaginary world, and now, more increasingly, the virtual/mobile screen world. When used mindfully and sparingly, this third world can add a whole new dimension of creativity, education, and delight. But when used mindlessly or as a default, we run the risk of this new virtual world creeping into the time kids would have spent using their own imagination and creativity.”

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Photo Credit: mikecogh via Compfight cc

So what becomes of the magical box? Social media provides a way to stay connected to family members, to learn and grow, and to explore new concepts and ideas. As long as we use it with guidance and in moderation, so that we can still have time for making something out of nothing, I think childhood is going to not only survive but continue to thrive in our technology driven lives.

Digital Dazzle

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This week I’m left feeling frustrated and bit defeated… but some how hopeful all at the same time!? Equality – giving everyone what they need to have opportunities for success- something so fundamental yet so difficult to achieve and understand.

The big debate this week was  Technology is a force for equity in society. Agree or disagree? Our debaters Bob and Katherine vs. Ian and Ainsley did a great job with both sides of the argument. After the debate, reading through the articles, reading classmates blogs and struggling with my personal beliefs I have a lot to sort out before I can come to a decision.

Education  is powerful. Many say it has the power to change the world  yet inequality is still the biggest issue in the world today. Why? What can we do? I’m left wondering if equality is really even possible- and this is where I feel defeated. While reading the articles that say technology is having negative impacts, I was frustrated that something that could be used to benefit students seems to be creating  a digital divide. It’s disappointing reading these articles where many look a technology as the magical fix to all the worlds equality and problems. Governments, directors, parents and many teachers are “dazzled” and think that technology is the answer and are extremely disappointed to find results that are not reflecting what they assumed would occur. Often results are not happening because  One Laptop Per Child is not going to make a difference when the approach doesn’t fit the situation.

This week when I read Stephanie’s fantastic blog post  (all her posts have been great, check them out here) and then Justine’s  great post, I really appreciated the two cartoons that they shared.

 

Justine spoke about Dave Mulder and his belief that the approach to equality is not in giving everyone the same thing, but finding the unique ways to get everyone to the end goal  even if that means everyone’s approach is different. This really made me think about Prekindergarten in the province. This program is specifically designed to meet the needs of specific populations(See page 19). When families get turned away from a prekindergarten program for not meeting the criteria, they are often upset with the teacher or school for taking an opportunity away from their child. I would love for my own daughter to be in a prekindergarten program; however, I understand that she doesn’t qualify for these programs as she is already receiving early learning support through her family and other community opportunities. I know that she would benefit from these programs and I wish she could go, but Prekindergarten is a “targeted” program and I wouldn’t want her taking the spot of a student in the community that requires the program in ways that our daughter does not. Technology is like prekindergarten, it is one of the methods we can use to help our students succeed. We must look at all of our students, classrooms and communities and determine  what methods and strategies can be used for each of our students to reach their full potential.

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Photo Credit: Jean Nieves via Compfight cc

Technology won’t fix everything, but it does have some amazing possibilities to help our students if the approach and implementation are done thoughtfully. There are many advancements happening with online learning. Instead of offering “One Size Fits All” there are new programs which are trying to offer more personalized education. I liked parts of the approach that Daphne Koller spoke of when she said that every students has to engage with the material. She gave the example of students in a lecture and the teacher asks the question…most students are on facebook, some are frantically still writing notes, some don’t understand the question and the keener in the front row blurts out the answer before the rest even have time to process the question and the lecture continues. With the online courses they have created, the questions are built in; every students has to stop and complete the questions and engage with the material unlike a lecture format. I want to believe that most elementary, middle and high school teachers already know this and are finding way to engage their students instead of just lecturing at them all class with and without technology.

I was so amazed when I read about the Medical Robots and ways they are making a difference. This technology is really life changing. I think that it is a huge advancement for many around the world. My parents lived in Pelican Narrows when my mom was pregnant

Photo Credit: CBC

with me 33 years ago. My mom was sent to Flin Flon when she approached her due date as there were no doctors in Pelican Narrows. My dad stayed back to work and drove to visit when he had the day off. Luckily, he happened to be visiting the day my mom went into labour. Pelican Narrows now has one of these medical robots. That makes me excited and hopeful for the people that live there and the possibilities these robots half in making a difference in many lives. It appears that many people agree as the survey at the end of the article showed results that were very promising for how people are reacting to this robots.

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So the challenge to implementing technology is finding the approach to meet the needs of the students, classes, schools and communities in which we live. Many factors need to be considered before throwing a bunch of laptops into students hands and expecting results. I liked the program that Reich mentioned in his article called TechGoesHome  This program provides netbooks and internet connections to students, along with computer training for the entire family. What a great idea – training for the ENTIRE family! That seems like a smart idea and would really help some of our students. Now we just need to find some funding for programs like these!

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Photo Credit: 드림포유 via Compfight cc

My decision lies with the wording of the statement. Technology is a FORCE to equity in society- to me this means that technology is a tool and is making some sort of difference.  The positives of technology enhancing learning and opportunities for many students and communities around the world cannot be ignored. Technology is not a magical fix… BUT, there are success stories because of technology, and to me, we need to build on those successes and continue using technology as it is making positive differences in the lives of our students.

 

Do You Accept These Terms?

What goes 150 bpm, gets sweaty hands and has trouble putting together fluent sentences? Me during our debate last week! Wow, what a great learning experience! This was my very first debate and I had an awesome team in Stephanie and Haiming. We were doing online sharing to the max and I loved it! We disagreed that “Openness and sharing in schools is Unfair to kids” and had great opponents with Kelsie, Danielle, and Shannon.

Here was our  opening argument.

 

We focused on 5 major points of why we felt sharing was more than fair for our students.

1. It’s our duty to share

Like Sisk and Stegman, point out “we all need to understand, discuss, teach, model and set expectations around online behaviour that will set our students up for success now and indebate 6 the future and Educators are key in helping students develop lifelong habits.” As educators, it is our responsibility to model, discuss, apply and share. We have a wonderful document, Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools, that is a guide for implementing digital citizenship from k-12. (Sidebar-Let me just say that our province really should put pre-k to grade 12 on their publications😉 ) If we teach them how to share its more than fair. It’s a disservice to our students if we do not introduce them to all the different skills they may require to live in our ever changing world.

 

2. We live in a connected world where sharing is accepted if not expected

 

We need to model positive uses of social media. I believe that students learn best when we model and engage them in the learning process. When it came to my own digital footprint I always believed that “Less is Best”. I was glad to see that I was not the only one in this tech class that thought this way. Carter and Heidi had similar thoughts about their digital footprint. When  our debate group came across this…

“If you aren’t controlling who you are online, some [one] else is or will”

Steven Anderson Teachers, Take care of Your Digital Footprint

I realized my “Less is best”needs to be updated. I need to begin building my digital footprint and controlling it as best as I can. Luckily there are lots of great resources others have shared. I welcome any suggestions in the comments on where I should start with building my online identity beyond my personal Facebook page and Instagram accounts.

 

3. We need to prepare our students for the world we are learning in

We are living in a technological age and knowledge and connections from around the world are available at our finger tips. We have the opportunity to help prepare our students to navigate the pros and cons of sharing and learning online.

Janelle Bence has her students share their work online. The students have had a positive experience and believe it is more authentic learning. I really enjoyed the video of the students sharing why they enjoyed the sharing, that was the inspiration for our end video “If you don’t show me, who will?” starring the ever adorable – Miss S.  In order for sharing like this to work students need to be educated on how to do it and teachers need to have PD and guidelines to follow. PEEL School district in Ontario created a very thorough document of guidelines for their teachers, administrators, parents and students to follow.

I found it interesting to read that they do not allow field trip details to be posted before an event. I never even thought of this risk before. IF I had a student that had custody issues all it wo

Photo Credit: cchana via Compfight cc

uld take is for this person to go on our school website and pull up the calendar and see the day and time and location of our field trip. In my class blog I always post our newsletters and calendars and reminders for upcoming field trips and events- important to be sure that this information is only shared on private pages where the public would not have access to them.

One of the many conversations that would need to take place with students is private sharing vs public sharing and know when, how and why there is a difference and what should be shared where.

 

 

4. Sharing is the foundation of education

Sharing is the how we learn.

When we were preparing for the debate we tried to develop analogy for sharing in the classroom. This is what I  came up with and why I think sharing in schools is vital.

 

Education is, first and foremost, an enterprise of sharing. In fact, sharing is the sole means by which education is effected. If an instructor is not sharing what he or she knows with students, there is no education happening.” (Wiley & Green, 2012)

When we share the issue of oversharing comes up. Oversharing is going to happen, but at least if we are teaching about it in a safe place at school we can use that oversharing as a teachable moment.

After reading Linda Geddes article about oversharing I have been feeling a little guilty about posting photographs of our daughter.I found that Amy and Ashley also talked about their concerns of oversharing and becoming a “Sharent“. I post a weekly picture of our little babe, with a little blurb about what we are learning, eating, experiencing, etc. It’s always something positive and the photographs are not embarrassing, but is it too much? I really don’t think so. Its shared with my family and friends and doesn’t give too much information. Right now it is my responsibility to keep her safe in the physical world and online and as she gets older we will begin the conversation about what we are sharing and if it is OK to share and with whom.

 

5. Creating open pathways, enhances how we learn

Schools provide an optimal environment for teaching students about how, where, when and why they want to share.   It also provides a way to continually share these expectations with parents. Parents need to be involved in their child’s education and we can work together by sharing information letters home with parents or offering information sessions – teachers can explain how they are using technology in their classrooms and share their expectations of use.

I appreciated the resources that many of you have shared.  Dean was one of our digital learning coach in Regina Catholic Schools and shared many ideas and resource links in his post this week. We are very lucky to have people in our division to help with implementing good sharing habits in our classrooms. We are also lucky to have each other,  in this class, to turn to. If you are interested in some additional resources our team put together this list of resources. There are many resources that you could use as guidelines and get some ideas from! Resources like Educators Guide to sharing online with ConnectSafely.org and The 9 Essential Elements of Digital Citizenship by ­ Mike Ribble, and much more!

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Photo Credit: get directly down via Compfight cc

I have had nothing but a positive experience from this class with openness and sharing. I am able to connect with others, share ideas and work collaboratively on assignments. I feel that when I am writing a blog post I am putting a different amount of effort in. I want people to want to read my posts, putting thought into my title, my links and my phrasing. Not only that, but once I post, classmates read and make comments and the reflecting and learning continues! A much more engaging and authentic learning tool than simply writing a reflection and handing it in for my prof to put a check mark at the top and hand it back.  What kind of learning experiences do we want our students to be part of?

Do you accept these terms? So often we don’t read the fine print, we are quick to hit accept or sign permission before really understanding what we are agreeing to. Lets have conversations about sharing, oversharing, privacy, safety and permanency with our students and families so we all can be better citizens in the digital  and physical worlds.

 

 

 

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

An apple a day keeps the doctor away…well it depends what kind of apple you are using!!!!

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http://science-all.com/apple.html and cardinalatwork.stanford.edu

Our third debate was “Is Technology making our kids unhealthy”. Is it technology that is making our children unhealthy or is it society and the current “detached” lifestyle many people are living in.  As I’ve mentioned before (I apologize… early learning is my passion so I talk about it in everything I do)… “play” is how children learn, and there is not enough play happening in our society today.

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Source – First5california.com

Our great debaters brought some good discussions and points to consider for this topic. All of our choices ultimately affect our health both mentally and physically. I believe that children need to play more, but I see more children on technology – so to me I have to say “YES!!!! Technology is unhealthy for our students-sometimes”. However, there are many benefits in using technology and we can’t just throw it away and say “no more technology”.
I enjoyed the article by Lindsay Holmes. There are some interesting physical and mental health factors that I had never thought of before. “Text Claw”! I’m so happy to see that it’s a real thing… well not officially, but it’s there! I developed a terrible case of tendonitis when I was pregnant and I still have difficulty writing, picking things up and holding my phone. I love to crochet (check out my facebook page), but had to stop because of the pain. It’s gotten a bit better since stopping that, but I wonder if I had given up my phone if it would be even better now… but could I give up my phone?
Technology Causes Obesity!?! Well I don’t think it causes obesity, but I don’t think it’s helping either. Sitting in front of the T.V. or computer screen all day is going to have a negative effect on your body. Some is causes our children to choose unhealthy choice because of the commercials they see and some is reactive, like snacking while watching T.V.
The article Split Image was very moving for me. Depression is very complex and affects so many people, in all walks of life. In her digital world she appeared picture perfect, yet in reality she was having some serious struggles and anxiety. Technology can have serious affects on our mental health. Luckily people are beginning to spread the world about mental health in hopes to end the stigma and get people talking. Online support groups are great motivators and recovery supports for many people.
My favourite stories are stories of kids doing awesome things and the Buddy Project created by Gabby Frost, a 16-year-old from Pennsylvania, USA, is one of those great stories. She demonstrates a great way to use technology to benefit people’s health. You think that’s a great story… this story about a Valedictorian posting kind words about his classmates on Instagram is probably my favourite feel good tech story! It’s a “like” and “share” for sure. What a wonderful way to connect and do something positive. I would love to see this happen in one of our schools!
Konner Sauve told his classmates he had been posting to the secret account for nearly an entire year. “I wanted to focus on the better aspects of people,” the teen told the news outlet. “To shed a positive light on each individual, make them feel appreciated, and to know that someone cares.”

Using technology doesn’t make our kids unhealthy, but it can become unhealthy for us if we abuse it and don’t know how to use it appropriately. Schools offer a great place to begin the conversation about technology awareness-benefits and things to consider. If we teach about technology safety in schools, we can change the way people think and use it.
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Original Image – http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/fitbit-279-commercial.html Edited image- Lisa Cooper

I don’t own a “FitBit” but I’ve been imagining what my “TechBit” would be telling me right now after spending a week plugged into technology between 2 blog posts, reading, commenting and prepare for my own debate tomorrow….

Let’s see My TechBit is telling me I’ve reached my limit for technology time and my computer is about to self distruct in 3, 2, 1… good-bye!

 

Building Bridges – Google it?

This week in EC&I 830 our first  debate was “Schools should not be teaching anything that can be googled“- agree or disagree. Both groups brought some valid points to the debate and gave the class a lot to think about. It got me thinking about the ways we learn in my classroom.

My prekindergarten class is not a place where we sit in our desks and memorize facts and recite our ABC’s on a daily basis. My students arrive and immediately begin using their creative thinking skills and start playing with the learning invitation set out on their tables. This often leads to discussions and questions among peers about what is taking place. The majority of our prekindergarten day is spent playing, experiencing, manipulating and representing the world around us. This often leads to great questions and discussions. All of these are great learning experiences…but I have been know to “GOOGLE it” the occasional time too!!!😦

Photo Credit: ghatore via Compfight cc 

27192495261_6d908950baAn example of where I would use google: My students are working on a bridge  project in the building centre and ask “What does a bridge look like”. I go to my computer and google bridges and have a variety of bridges within 15 seconds… We talk about what they see in the image and how they might be able to represent a bridge and we engage in open-ended conversation and questions as they build their bridge. There is learning occurring, but could there have been a more meaningful interaction? As Alec point’s out in his post, I thought I was helping teach something, but really I missed a great learning opportunities.

How could I have approached this experience in a different way? Before I ran to google the image, I first needed to engage in further conversation and dig a little deeper into their critical 27186057752_7109e24c42 and creative thinking skills. I could ask them “What do you think a bridge looks like?” or “Have you seen a bridge before?” I can then ask them to draw a bridge for me and ask them how they think they could build a bridge like that in the classroom. Once we’ve had a conversation and did some play around “What does a bridge look like”, we could then go to google and see what more information we can add to our knowledge of bridges. I could then use documentation to share the learning process and demonstrate the different bridges from before and after our research. 

Photo Credit: sallysetsforth via Compfight cc

When used in this way I feel like Google can be used as a research tool in my classroom. I find that when we use google to search for images or videos about topics we are interested about, it doesn’t destroy our creative thinking, but adds more possibilities and questions. It helps to lead my students to further discovery(ONE TOOL). We are able to wonder about things from all over the world and experience them through resources we find on google. Terry Heick says in his article that googling is easier than thinking, but I find it can lead my students to challenge their thinking as they try to express their new found knowledge.

Student led learning is present in most early childhood classrooms and I have heard of many other grades finding success with this format of learning in their classrooms. I think that this type of learning relates well to what Ramsey Musallam spoke to in 3 rules to spark learning

Rule 1. Curiosity comes first-questions can be windows to great instruction

Rule 2: embrace the mess – trial and error

Rule 3: practice reflection – what we do needs our revision

I feel that google does not take curiosity away if used appropriately and used as a tool and not just a way to get the answer and nothing else. Isn’t there a place for google in inquiry, student lead classrooms when used in this way? I think so.

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There were some very interesting articles brought to the debate around brain development. I’m a huge advocate for play is how children learn.  The Saskatchewan Play and Exploration Guide lists many reasons for why play is the main contributor to how children learn.Where is memorization rank in the tool box for learning?

The article “When Rote Learning Makes Sense” by Ben Johnson said “Once they know how to learn, or memorize, then students can acquire knowledge about anything they want to learn, which is in direction opposition to what critics say about rote memorization”. I have seen this first hand with my on nieces and nephews. They struggled with Discovery Math and understanding concepts so their parents thought that they would enroll them in an after school math program. After being part of Kumon and memorizing math facts they had more success in building their mathematical abilities in Discovery math as they could build on their current knowledge and had confidence in their skills and abilities.

“The true advantage of such exercise is that generates mental industriousness. Any teacher will tell you that many students today are mentally lazy. Memorization also trains the mind to pay attention and focus intensely. Such skill also seems to be lacking in many youngsters, which is most obvious in the growing number of kids diagnosed with ADHD”. William Kelmm

While reading through classmates blogs I enjoyed Taylor’s final thoughts. She posted about Shelly Wright’s article, Flipping Bloom’s Taxonomy. I must admit it does seem like an interesting concept and something that does make you wonder how much we see this in today’s classrooms.

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Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc

I do feel that schools should teach concepts that can be googled and I do think that there is validity in memorizing facts and building our brain, but that’s not all there is. They are both just one support for our bridge to building strong learners. We need to have a balance of  teaching tools to continue our learning journey for our students.

Tek-nol-uh-jee in Education?

This past week we debated about Technology  and if it enhances education or not. My immediate reaction was “of course it does“!! The debate opened my thinking and expanded my understanding of Technology in schools and is challenging me to take a deeper and more critical look at Edtech and why I believe “of course it does!!”

The phrase”time on task” is popping in my head as I sit to write this post. Currently, my computer has frozen  and the “program is not responding” message has popped up several times – delaying my start to this post… Perhaps its because I have over 15 tabs open with articles from last week’s debate and further reading as well as multiple program and browsers running?!?  Then there was the “no service you cannot connect to the internet” this weekend as I tried to access the internet to do research for this blog post.  I realized that everyone at the lake must be online as there was zero cell service and therefore zero research happening on the weekend… and how is this technology enhancing things for me right now?

Technology can be frustrating, but no pain no gain! It did eventually enhance my learning. Once I was able to get settled, and connected to a stable connection, I was able to do my research. I love being able to do research online as I can easily open additional tabs and learn more about speakers, topics, ideas, etc that are mentioned in the articles I’m reading for class. If I was just reading a paper copy I wouldn’t have that ability to go deeper into the research and broaden my knowledge. I am able to easily access information I need right away.

As mentioned in the debate, (funding, lack of knowledge in using devices, distractions, time on task) there are  reasons to be frustrated with technology in education. Each “disagree” article I read, I just keep thinking and seeing that it isn’t about not using technology, but using it appropriately.  The How, When and Why we use the technology is what leads to enhancing education.

Greg Toppo give a quick synopsis of the history of technology in education. There is no  “school” without technology. Greg refers to Larry Cuban, and how he believes that technology is really any device that a teacher uses to instruct students in a more efficient and stimulating manner than just their voice. Technology is all around us in schools, from the desks we sit in to the boards we write on and the books we read. It’s not just the obvious computers and SMART boards.

The article “The Missing Link in Education Technology” reinforces the need for professional development in Ed-tech. It was an article that was used by the “disagree” side of the debate, but I found it  agreeing that Technology DOES enhance learning as long as it is used efficiently. It can only be used efficiently if teachers now how to do this and are given the training. It’s great to sit in a PD about some cool new apps or technologies you can use with your students, but if you aren’t given the opportunity to sit and learn them it is impossible to implement them successfully. This is one area that I would advocate more for in the future when suggestions and new programs are implemented in my school. Teachers need more PD on technology.

Students being distracted is always going to be an issue in education. Who doesn’t remember passing notes in class or doodling? Maybe evening counting how many times your teacher said “um”. As with any thing in the classroom it boils down to keeping students engaged.

 

 

What are we doing to keep them engaged. What are the procedures and classroom management techniques were are using to keep students engaged and on task? Those are the questions we need to be asking ourselves when planning any lesson or activity.

Digital tools are transforming education when used appropriately. People do care what children think and through technology they are given a chance to show this. I think environment plays a huge part in education. In prekindergarten our environments set the stage for learning. I loved this part of the “5 Ways Digital tools are Transforming the Educational Space” article:

Create spaces for making, collaborating and tinkering. Give students chances to build and create using real-world tools (wood shop, electronics, metal work and coding stations) and to solve open-ended, real-world problems. Bring play back into the picture. These spaces provide students with challenging problems to solve where there is no one correct solution. Through self-directed learning, students are driven to find solutions to create a product that has value.

As an Early Childhood Educator I look to see where I can enhance the learning in my classroom with technology. I want to continue with digital documentation and sharing with families. I also think family education is key. NAEYC believes we have to be partners with families. We can partner with parents to nurture children’s curiosity, create experiences rich in interaction and language, and to enable children to discover their worlds.

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Image the creation of Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D. http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/

 

As I move forward I will continue to adapt my approach to teaching by ways that I can engage and enhance student learning. I like visuals and really think that I will be able to use this the SMAR visual to help reflect on my practice.

So for now, I’m sticking with “Yes technology does enhance learning”, but we(teachers) have to be trained in how to use it effectively for each student as we would with any lesson or tool.

Capturing the moment…

My name is Lisa Cooper. I have been a Prekindergarten teacher with Regina Catholic Schools since 2008 and taught K,1,2 in Calgary before that. I graduated with my Bachelor of Education from the University of Regina (with a focus on Early Childhood Education) in 2005 and I am currently working on my Masters of Education with a major in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Regina. EC&I830 is my third graduate class and first Ed Tech course since my Undergrad.

As a prekindergarten teacher, my way of showing and communicating learning to children, families and the community is through photos, so naturally that is how I thought I would introduce myself to all of you.  I created this collage as I believe each picture tells a small story about who I am.

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Who I am

My husband and I had our baby girl in the fall and I am enjoying every moment with her. I have been out of the classroom and my mind has been on family life for the last 6 months. My family and faith is very important to me. My husband and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary this summer! You probably see the massive dog in the photo…well we love Great Danes, and our Watson is great in size and in heart. You see that little piece of heaven? Well, that is where we spend most of our time, at our cabin at Marean Lake.  (If you click the link then click Marean Lake the google map will show you where it is in relation to Regina.)

This is my first WordPress Blog. I am familiar with blogging using blogger as I kept a classroom blog, family blog and a personal blog with that format. My classroom blog was a place that I posted weekly updates for families so they could stay connected with their child’s learning. It was a great communication tool. I put a sample photo in the collage from one of my blog posts.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions about using WordPress for communicating with families and if you found it secure and easy for families to access!? I’m considering a change in blog providers😉.

I enjoy documenting and capture the learning that takes place in my classroom through video and photos. It is not only the most important way to communicate my students’ learning, but it is how I plan and prepare future learning experiences for them. You can see several photographs in my collage of the children engaged in different activities. I enjoy reflecting on the photos and seeing the story each one has as it shows the emerging learner. In my classroom I usually have over 100 photos a week that I have collected from a four day program with 32 students… each one of them was taken because it was a moment of discovery and learning for that child.

My approach to teaching is very simple, I follow the children’s interest and strive to create an environment where each child feels safe and valued. I love to  engage 3 and 4 year olds in learning projects and inquiry learning. I have documented several projects on my class blog and through SmileBox, Publisher, Movie Maker and PowerPoint. I’d be interesting in hearing what other people use for documentation and sharing learning! Here is a great resource of some projects that are being done by Early Childhood Educators in our province.

Early Childhood Education is my passion and I am an advocate for it outside my classroom and school division. I am on the provincial executive for the CAYC and do contract work with the ministry of Education to provide support and facilitate workshops around best practices in Early Childhood Education. Some workshops I have done have encouraged the use of technology to assist with documenting children’s learning.

I am not a technology guru, but love to learn and adapt it to fit my needs in my classroom. I feel like there are many people to learn from in this class and I am looking forward to learning about great technology resources out there that people are using for documentation and with young children.

Well I better run…. I hear my little girl waking up and you guessed it…. I’ve got some unforgettable baby moments to go and capture!