Unit 1 – Critical Theory

Power, control, and dominance are all words that could be used to describe the hierarchical structure of an education system.  Reflecting back on everything discussed in this week’s lecture notes, I cannot help but grasp onto the section discussing education, particularly the power relations that take place within the education system.  Having just completed a Curriculum Development course, I am recalling discussions from that class.  In learning about the history of early curriculum development, I was astonished to learn the primary goals established in the early 1900’s remain the same today.  Franklin John Bobbitt has been considered the ‘father of curriculum studies’.  He equated education to being like a factory; we, as teachers, are merely creating a product.  We are shaping young people to fit into future careers, rather than taking the time to care and nurture their interests and provide opportunities for exploration.  Bobbitt asserted that we are simply preparing children for adulthood with the future needs, skills, and competencies they require to be successful.  This continues to be the case and continues to be a discussion in education today.  When a teacher is asked to justify a project or assignment taking place in his/her classroom, the teacher is required to connect it to curriculum outcomes, which are determined by the “leaders” in education, ie. the government.  These outcomes are intended to include everything students need to know in order to maintain successful careers in adulthood.  Teachers do not have the freedom to create a ‘lived’ or fluid curriculum where they allow for student growth and exploration based on individual interests, desires, and needs, rather than the factory protocol.  Decisions are made at the top of the hierarchy and they then trickle down to the orderly minions below.  Teachers are bound to teach what they are told and failure to do so results in consequences for the teacher, regardless of how beneficial it may be for the students involved.  So many learning opportunities are missed or left out because they do not fit into the structure that has been imposed upon a system intended to teach all children.

 

There are of course exceptions to this model.  There are teachers who continue to stand up and push the boundaries to include learning opportunities regardless of whether they fit nicely into the curricular box they are expected to use.  These teachers provide opportunities for student growth and development and push to provide students with experiences where they may be exposed to opportunities that are pushing the limit of curricular outcomes.  In order for this to happen, there  needs to be some support and the hierarchical structure within the school setting needs to provide trust.  Both the administration and the teacher need to have a mutual understanding about what is best for the students and the impact of working outside the box.  We, as educators, need to remember we are not only working to provide our students with skills to be successful in their future endeavors, but we are also planting seeds to allow for students to grow.  By nurturing those seeds and providing some freedom to expand students are given the opportunity to grow beyond the skills prescribed by those at the top of the hierarchy.  It is through expanding those curricular boundaries that teachers are pushing beyond the factory model imposed upon them for over a century.

Teaching is such a personal experience and having the powers from above dictating what should be taught, how it should be taught, and when it should be taught takes the individuality out of the experience.  Learning is not prescriptive, but rather should exist organically when someone is interested, curious, or engaged in a subject area.  Teaching has become somewhat stagnant where teachers are simply teaching from published guides that were written by people who have never been in a classroom or worked with children before.  Teachers need to stand-up for education and take teaching into their own hands.  Teachers need to begin facilitating the learning process for the individuals in their classroom.  When this happens a weird thing occurs within the classroom setting; students begin to take on leadership roles and sometimes even teach the teacher a thing or two!

Here is an interesting article about what happens when students begin teaching in the classroom.  When students take on this kind of leadership in the classroom, not only are they more engaged, but they also take on some ownership and responsibility in not only their learning but the learning experience of their peers.  Talk about flipping the power structures within education by the waist-side!

I would love to hear from you. What has been some of your experiences regarding students teaching within your classrooms?  How have you seen the role of the teacher changed from “teacher of knowledge” toward more of a “facilitator of learning”? Have you noticed a power shift within education, or do you think teachers are becoming more focussed on this factory model?

Technology brings success to my classroom! … And maybe some challenges.

As a young (okay, kind of young) teacher I think I have always incorporated technology into my classroom. We were taught in university that technology was the way to engage students.  In the online text Teaching In a Digital world, Chapter 9: The continuum of technology-based learning They explain blended learning as

  • technology-enhanced learning, or technology used as classroom aids; a typical example would be the use of Powerpoint slides and/or clickers;
  • the use of a learning management system to support classroom teaching, for storing learning materials, set readings and perhaps online discussion;
  • the use of lecture capture for flipped classrooms;

via GIPHY

In my class, I think I hit those bullet points and I try to incorperate as many relevant videos and ways to puttechnology into assignments as much as I can. I often find it useful to have a few shorter videos, combined with questions in between to get my point across. This way it is a mixture of instruction and discussion from me, an expert from a medium they love (YouTube) and their own thoughts and feelings. In the text book, they explain that “Means et al. attributed the slightly better performance of blended learning to students spending more time on task” but my immediate thought was does that mean they are interested?

When I do this type of lesson it is usually one of the better days in a grade 11 and 12 ELA classroom. I find that I can evoke emotion through discussion, I engage them with the videos, and then usually force them to do the questions. But even thinking back to my last lesson on Waymo (Google’s Driverless Car) I had the most success with that assignment in that most of my students handed the assignment in, we had lengthy discussions, and my favourite part… opinions!


Photo Credit: harry_nl Flickr via Compfight cc

I have taken two other classes from Alec and each time have tried to implement his teachings into my class. The first semester, I fully embraced Google Classroom. I was very hesitant and honestly struggled a bit. At first, it was annoying for me to figure out how to post things. I had so many sections of ELA, and it seemed redundant to have to post in so many places… Then I saw the feature to copy it to multiple classes. I didn’t like that I didn’t have a paper copy of assignments to make edits on, so I found editing harder….But then I learnt how to comment and highlight. Lastly, I didn’t like that their parents didn’t have physical evidence of their work so they could help them… Then I realized I could add them as guardians and they could get a weekly memo about my class, automatically, without me doing anything.

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

I feel like Google Classroom has changed my classroom for the better. I purely use it as a management tool. I can post with attachments, whether they are an assignment, a video, or a resource. Students can make a copy of the assignment and add their answers right on document, they can hand the assignment into me on Google Classroom, and from there I can edit their work and send it back for edits and improvements. This has been a great tool for me to use for Formative Assessment. I am able to work w

ith students on their writing and show them how to fix it instead of rewriting their whole answer on paper, or having them take a glance at all my hard work, only to be put in the back of their binder without the improvements. It has also allowed me to keep in touch with parents. There is some accountability on them, but mostly the students. They don’t have anymore excuses about not handing things in, or not getting an assignment. It can be accessed anywhere which is perfect.

via GIPHY

At the same time, I was learning about Blogging and I was very excited. I was having fun with learning the new tools, but having a hard time motivating my students. I thought if I could teach them how to do their assignments online, they could add pictures of vehicles and write about the fun things they were reading about and watching. Instead it was an uphill battle. My students hated all of it. I think I had one student actually enjoy it, but gave up after a bit. I had so many comments about wanting to read and write about cars, but not wanting to find pictures and learn about attributions. My students honestly slowed down and seemed less engaged in my class. I think with blogging it was a case of reading my audience. My students are hands on learners. They love to work on vehicles and solve problems physically. Most of them hate reading and writing, so adding another element did not bode well for me.

MyBlueprint is another way I have implemented technology with my class. There we complete goals, learn about the trades, but most importantly, we create a portfolio of their learning in Auto. Students are able to post pictures of work they have done, make goals related to employable skills and essentially set up a portfolio to show future employers. I like the idea of MyBlueprint because it is accessed by my students homeroom teachers who can see what their students are up to. Eventually I would like to put Sask. Youth Apprenticeship on MyBlueprint to make it easier for students to access and learn about.

In Teaching In a Digital world, Chapter 9: The continuum of technology-based learning they say that “blended learning, should be deliberately introduced and gradually increased as students work through a program, so by the time they graduate, they have the skills to continue to learn independently – a critical skill for the digital age.” I feel like I would be doing my students a disservice by not making them do these types of activities. Plus, you can’t ignore the evidence. In the article The Myth about No Significant Difference They describe “Learning is an active process. In fact, the more active the learning is, the more likely the student is to learn. Simulations allow students to learn by doing. Visualizations enable students to see information that may have been hidden in tables of numbers. Students use technology as a key enabler in problem-based learning, searching for background information, conferring with team members, and using the tools of the profession to develop solutions.” I preach all the time that my class prepares students for the future. I want them to be ready to work when the time comes. I need to implement this type of learning so I can make productive members of society.

I think this semester in Alec’s class will be great because I will be exploring sites that allow me to create whole units online. Make interactive lessons that can be accessed anywhere. Also, my lessons possibly recorded so students can access information (flipped learning… I just learnt this term). I feel like it will be Google Classroom on steroids. I am really excited to see how I can take my class and make it more interactive and interesting for my students.

What Blended Leaning means to me!!

Credit

Blended learning and the integration of technology, in my eyes, is very important for the success of our students in the classroom.  The idea of blended learning became more and more popular ever since the idea of progressiveness was introduced to the world. Incorporating values and principals from progressive educational theories such as Dewey, Montessori, Piaget, ect.,  who believed in more of a student centered approach of teaching, has definitely shaped and continues to shape the type of education that exists today. In saying that, I believed that the main purpose of education is to prepare young children to become successful members of society. As well, to use their interests and to help motivate and guide them in a direction in life that can allow them to be successful. However, I also believe that a teacher should be using a variety of philosophies to accomplish this. In other words, using a blended learning approach, is how I believe students will be successful in the classroom. The Video: What is blended learning? that Alec showed described blended learning in a way that really stuck with me. Basically, they said that blended learning is the combination of the best teacher and computer instruction. Therefore, for my response this week, I am going to reflect on the pros/cons of blended learning, as well discuss my own experiences with blended learning.

Credit

We had great discussions in our zoom session this past Tuesday about the history of blended learning as well the pros and cons . During these discussions, I was jotting down notes on the ideas and information that was being talked about. This includes the pros and cons of blended learning. In the chart below are these ideas. A couple of the ideas came from the zoom chat. I will be sure to credit those who shared their ideas!

Pros

Cons

  • Personalized learning
  • Small group instruction
  • Student driven (Kyla M)
  • Empowered learners (Wendy)
  • Opportunity (Kelsey)
  • Not being able to meet curriculum guidelines
  • Technology changes, hard to keep up
  • Hard to teach an old dog new tricks
  • Cost of putting technology in school
  • Lack of PD

There were many other ideas discussed however those stood out most to me. Do you have any ideas to add?! In the end, I believe that the pros and cons even out, and that blended learning is still the way to go to make our students successful.

In terms of the blended learning and integration of technology in my own classroom, I do my best with the time, materials, and resources I am given.

By using the classroom computers and school tech carts, I try to use as many applications and suites as possible. For example, and as Kyla talked about in her blog post this week, I have used google classroom in the past. It is super easy to use as well I found it kept the students online work organized. I also have been trying to incorporate more experiential learning into the classroom. I find giving the children additional time to explore inside and outside the class can create richer learning experiences for them.

I have been faced with a few challenges when trying to do this. Drawing from the challenges I presented already in the post, I would say the lack of PD, the resources provided, and availability

of technology is most challenging for me. I am currently without a data projector in my classroom and still in the process of getting one (4 months later). Overall, I believe that it is important for students to have the opportunity to be exposed blended learning opportunities as well technology.

On a side note, Alec showed this theorist chart in another class. I LOVE it and have used it several times when learning and writing about all the educational theorists out there. Click the link to view it more clearly (learning-theory).

 

Thanks for reading!

Amy 🙂

My experience with online learning

My experience with the use of blended learning/technology integration is through the use of Google Classroom. For example in Health right now we are focusing on mental health, understanding how to support others, while becoming more familiar with general mental health concerns (depression, anxiety, social phobia, and suicide). We used Kids Health to read articles and think about the following questions: What is this topic about? What can you do to help yourself or others going through this? Why is it important to know about this topic? Together we looked at suicide, read the article and answered the questions as a group. Following this I let the students explore any topic under the “Mind” section. Once they chose what they were interested in, they were able to read articles with a partner, listen to the article with headphones or work independently. I thought this was a good opportunity to implement guided instruction, group brainstorming and then gave the students the flexibility to learn on their own. I thought this went over quite well and the students liked the option that they didn’t have to read on their own but rather could work in pairs or listen to the reading too. Thus far, in the school I teach at, there haven’t been any major concerns or issues for me. We have access to tech whenever we need and students all have access to a cell phone with the exception of one student. I find that student engagement frequently increases with the use of technology and the opportunity to research online. The only main challenge that has come up is when the power goes out or the server isn’t working, therefore students cannot connect to the internet and keeping them focused on the task without opening tabs to distract themselves. I feel as though online/blended learning is the wave of our future and if we can support students to know how to use it appropriately, how to cite sources, how to locate a reliable source, and knowing how to time manage while accessing the internet, to become a positive digital citizen.

I found an article that states 5 Reasons Why Online Learning is More Effective.

  • #1 Students learn more than they do in traditional courses.
  • #2 Retention rates are higher with online learning.
  • #3 Online learning requires less of a time investment.
  • #4 More frequent assessments can reduce distractions.
  • #5 eLearning is the greener option.

The one that resonates most with me is #3. Online creates a more convenient learning experience for those who need the flexibility. This allows students to split their time working on content if they online have small windows of time to work on homework/study. This way, students can work at their own pace, chunk their assignments, and learn time management skills. Do you have a strong stance for or against what the article suggests at the 5 reasons why online learning is more effective?

I also wanted to highlight 4 takeaways from the video on Blended Learning.

  • Learn at own pace – they stated that learning at individualized levels will optimize learning
  • Use of Technology – This will help students become comfortable with computers will better prepare them for our technologically advancing world.
  • Differentiation – This allows for more personalize instruction for individual needs in the classroom.
  • Collaboration – This invites the flexibility to move around, collaborate, or work alone.

Traditional VS Progressive Education

Ever since I began my journey of becoming a teacher, I have believed that the main purpose of education is to prepare young children to become successful members of society. As well, to use their interests and to help motivate and guide them in a direction in life that can allow them to be successful. However, I also believe that a teacher should be using a variety of philosophies to accomplish this including the both Dewey (1938) discusses, progressive and traditional. 

GIPHY

Dewey (1938), outlines many principles of each philosophy. I found myself caught in the middle of deciding which philosophy I felt can best meet the need of my future and current students. I reflected on the principals and properties of each and was able to think deeply about which I truly believe might work best in the classroom. For this response, I will share my reflections on both philosophies and the two qualities I find most appealing.

 

The traditional way of teaching is not all that bad. As Dewey (1938) discusses, it is the attitudes of both the teacher and students that can make an experience a positive or negative one. Two principles of the traditional way of teaching in Deweys (1938) book, and also in my own experience in elementary school, stood out for me. As we know, the progressive way of teaching is all about students having learning experiences. However, there are many opportunities in a traditional setting for students to have similar experiences that can impact their learning greatly. Dewey (1938) concurs by admitting that “it is a great mistake to suppose, even tacitly, that the traditional schoolroom was not a place in which pupils had experiences” (p.9). In my early elementary years, I would have considered my school experience traditional. Despite that experience, I remember having many memorable experiences that I was able to learn from. Next, I believe that learning about history and the ways in which society has been and not been successful in the past has a lot to offer. I remember appreciating learning how our history has shaped our world today. Dewey (1938) raised a great point when stating that “how shall the young become acquired with the past in such a way that the acquaintance is a potent agent in appreciation of the living present” (p.8). I did not mind being taught information and answering questions as I found myself truly comprehending and learning the content. Therefore, having experiences and learning about how our past has shaped our future are two principles that I found attractive about the traditional way of teaching.

Progressive education, on the other hand, has many principals in which I believe can benefit students both in and outside of the classroom.  Aside from the “organic connection between education and personal experience” (Dewey, p.8), progressive education is not contained to potentially dull textbooks. Progressive education provides more flexibility for the teacher and students. As well, teachers are able to really focus on the needs of the students rather than trying to educate our students with irrelevant and foreign knowledge. Another positive element of progressive education is the fact that it provides a better quality of human experience. Dewey (1938) also states, “can we find any reason that does not ultimately come down to the belief that democratic social arrangements promote a better quality of human experience” (p. 12). In my five years of teaching, I can name dozens of experiences in which children who have learned through experiences, conversations with peers, and through doing. Therefore, the flexibility and opportunities for endless experiences are two principles of progressive education the stood out for me.

Overall, I believe that it is important for students to have the opportunity to be exposed to different teaching philosophies. I don’t believe there is one right way to educate our children. I believe, and continue to believe, that the way in which a child should be learning depends solely on their needs. After all, “teachers are agents through which knowledge and skills are communicated and rules of conduct: enforced ( Dewey, p.5)”.

I hope you enjoyed reading my response 🙂

References
Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: Collier

The Beginning of the Learning Journey

Image Via On History

Hello Everyone,

 My name is Sapna Bajantri and welcome to my blog. I am a Mathematics educator and have been teaching from the past seven years. Over the past seven years of my teaching experience, I have taught various Math courses for students from grade 12 to undergraduate. I love teaching Math and also a technology-hungry person and I love learning new platforms of teaching. Being a mathematics educator from the past seven years the first thing I notice in my students is the fear of mathematics and have always worked hard to change this perception and make Math a joyful learning experience. Aside from my profession, I am also a wife, and soon to be a mother. I and my husband are expecting our first child in February 2019. We are very excited and just cannot wait to meet the newest addition to our family!                     

This is my tenth master’s class and fifth EdTech course with Alec, and I am so excited to be part of EC&I 834. I really enjoy taking online classes with Alec which is always interactive and informative. I am even more excited because by completing this course I will be completing my masters.  During this course, I want to learn many things in regards to online and blended learning. For now, I have set three goals.

  • To gain and explore new resources and tools to build an online learning course.
  • Become more active with my twitter so that I could connect with other professionals who can provide examples and ideas.
  • To be more creative and interactive in my blogs

I am certain that these goals will change and improve over the time during the course and I am looking forward to learning with all of you over this term!

GIF Via GIPHY

 

Introduction Post to EC&I 834!!!

Hello everyone,

My name is Amy Cross and I am in my fifth year of teaching for Regina Public Schools. I have had the opportunity to teach grade 3,4, 6, 7, 8. Although I did the Middles Years Program at the University of Regina, I have been enjoying teaching more the primary grades, mostly grades 3.

I am currently enrolled in the Curriculum and Instruction Master’s program here at the University of Regina. I am in my 8th and 9th class this semester.

GIPHY

I began my master’s journey last January (2018), so it definitely has been a rather quick process, yet enjoyable. This is my third class with Alec and I am so very much looking forward to it. Three goals I  have for this class include:

  1. To learn about that the history and foundations of blended and online learning. I am interested to learn how online learning started and how we came to be at the point we are today (if that makes sense).
  2. To learn specific strategies and techniques on how to incorporate online learning in the classroom today.  I am definitely interested in incorporating MORE online learning in my current and future classrooms.
  3. To get to know and work with everyone in the class. Most importantly, LEARN from others projects, shared experiences, and the stories they tell!

Thank you everyone for reading and I am VERY excited to be working and learning alongside you this semester!

GIPHY

Feel free to follow me on twitter by clicking the link:)
@Cross16a

Thank you for reading my first post!!

Online Learning… #eci834

My experience with the use of blended learning is through the use of Google Classroom. For example in Health right now we are focusing on mental health, understanding how to support others, while becoming more familiar with general mental health concerns (depression, anxiety, social phobia, suicide, etc.). We used Kids Health to read articles and think about the following questions: What is this topic about? What can you do to help yourself or others going through this? Why is it important to know about this topic? Together we looked at suicide, read the article and answered the questions as a group. Following this I let the students explore any topic under the “Mind” section. Once they chose what they were interested in, they were able to read articles with a partner, listen to the article with headphones or work independently. I thought this was a good opportunity to implement guided instruction, group brainstorming and then gave the students the flexibility to learn on their own. I thought this went over quite well and the students liked the option that they didn’t have to read on their own but rather could work in pairs or listen to the reading too. Thus far, in the school I teach at, there haven’t been any major concerns or issues for me. We have access to tech whenever we need and students all have access to a cell phone with the exception of one student. I find that student engagement frequently increases with the use of technology and the opportunity to research online. The only main challenge that has come up is when the power goes out or the server isn’t working, therefore students cannot connect to the internet. I feel as though online/blended learning is the wave of our future and if we can support students to know how to use it appropriately, how to cite sources, how to locate a reliable source, and knowing how to time manage while accessing the internet, to become a positive digital citizen.

I found an article that states 5 Reasons Why Online Learning is More Effective.

  • #1  Students learn more than they do in traditional courses.
  • #2 Retention rates are higher with online learning.
  • #3 Online learning requires less of a time investment.
  • #4 More frequent assessments can reduce distractions.
  • #5 eLearning is the greener option.

The one that resonates most with me is #3. Online creates a more convenient learning experience for those who need the flexibility. This allows students to split their time working on content if they online have small windows of time to work on homework/study. This way, students can work at their own pace, chunk their assignments, and learn time management skills. Do you have a strong stance for or against what the article suggests at the 5 reasons why online learning is more effective?

Intro to EC&I 834

tumblr_inline_niqsekhbjx1qgt12i (1)Hi everyone!  I am so excited for another semester and become one step closer to completing my Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction!  This is my fifth course overall, and I can start to see the end!  This is my third class with Alec, and I’m looking forward to learning even more tools to test out in my courses.  I’m also looking for recommended courses to take next year so let me know if any of you have taken any gems lately!

me.jpg
Emerald Lake, BC

I teach at Central Collegiate in Moose Jaw, and am in my sixth year of teaching.  Over my short career, I’ve taught a lot of different courses, and have finally settled into my chosen path of senior English, and Calculus.  I know, total opposites!  But I have loved teaching such different courses and challenging myself to teach in these completely different mediums.  Along with teaching these courses, I coach basketball and track and field at the school, and somehow find time to take a course every semester!  In my free time, I love reading and exploring this beautiful country of ours.

As I said before, I’m looking forward to learning all about online learning in this course.  My top three goals for the course are:

  1. Since I teach AP Calculus, I am hoping to be able to apply some of the learnings in this class to my own course as I would like to make it more of a blended course! Giving my students the best opportunities to prepare for the big exam is my main priority this year, as well as giving them as many resources as possible.
  2. I’m looking forward to learning about different mediums for creating/using online courses to further my students’ learning and my own.  Looking at different platforms will allow me to figure out what I like and don’t like about online learning as well as develop my own.
  3. I also want to further expand my Personal Learning Network by working with each of you, and exploring Twitter more in-depth.  I have a great network already, but I am always looking to expand it because, as I have learned since I started my master’s, that it is incredibly valuable for resources, support, and enhancing professional development.
43084937444_5cd4f9dbe8_n
Via Flickr

I’m looking forward to the learning journey ahead and connecting with you all more as the semester goes on!  If you want to connect on Twitter my handle is @mackeyshelby21.

Shelby

 

 

I don’t know what you heard about me…

Featured Image Source

Hello ECI 834’ers and welcome to my blog!

First, thanks for coming to check out my blog – I am excited to get back on here after taking 1 semester off to study curriculum development relating to Indigenous education.  Below is the 5 W’s of me, hopefully it will give you enough of an insight into what I am and what I want to get out of this course. 🙂

W ho:  Danielle Hackel (Dani).

W hat: I am a 31 year old wife and animal Mum!  I am a grade 2/3 teacher, a small business owner and a life long learner.

W hen:  I have been teaching for 9 years and am on my 5th Master’s class towards my curriculum and instruction program.

W here:  I was born in Saskatoon and moved to Regina when I was 6.  I currently live and work about 5 minutes from where I grew up, went to elementary school and then to high school.  Geographically I have gone no where. 😛  I suppose the good ol’ saying, “There’s no place like home” has never rang truer.the wizard of oz home GIF  Thanks Giphy!

W hy: So, Alec asked us to set 3 learning goals for this blog and I think that’s the ultimate why.  1.  I want to be able to continue to build and develop my PLN through online course development and research.  I don’t think a teacher would last in this profession without building support systems.  2. To learn the tools I need to actually develop a curriculum as one day I am hoping to move out of the classroom and into some kind of other position with my division.  I think the skills that blended learning allows,  gives us a giant step in the right direction.  Technology and online learning is the way of the future and these skills will keep us at the forefront.  3.  I would like to stay ahead of the impending issues that will arise while using online platforms.  I am interested in exploring issues in technology and online learning because I want to always have an educated answer to problems and also be able to see both sides of the coin.  I know there are issues and I know that I won’t ever grow fully if I don’t learn to come up with solutions for the tough problems.

If you would like to follow me on Twitter, check here!  If you’re interested in any of my other posts, just click here!

Thanks for stopping by!

❤ Dani

“Educating the mind, without educating the heart,

is no education at all.”

-Aristotle