Monthly Archives: June 2017

Last Blast for the M.Ed.

With tonight being the last class I plan on sharing some of the apps, tools and plans I have to become as paperless as possible.

Throughout the semester I have discussed how I want to embrace BYOD and hopefully create a paperless classroom.  I have come to a conclusion that 100% paperless is not going to be a reality as there are so many obstacles to overcome.  I do plan on encouraging and developing as many of my lessons, classes, and units to be integrated with technology to their fullest potential keeping in my my students needs, curriculum, and the appropriateness of the concepts.  

I will break down my ideas into my subject categories:

Mathematics -
Photo Credit: MeanGirlsWiki
1. Teachings - I plan on utilizing a variety of sites and also creating my own content videos.  My go to site for content will be Khan Acadamey, Mr. Kouyoumdjian's Classroom, I will be using both Adobe Spark and straight video to develop my own lessons.

2. Assignments/Evaluation - I am going to be using Mathletics for most of my assignments next year.  This site has the Saskatchewan Curriculum connected to it, along with the approved pre and post assessments that I use throughout the year as my formative assessment tools.  When the opportunity arises I plan on using the manipulatives within my classroom as a stepping tool to bridge the gap from the concrete concepts to the pictorial that the students will be working on within the Mathletics program.

Science -
Photo Credit: Pearson Canada
1. Teachings - As I do not come from a science background I have to rely mostly on the Pearson text and teacher guide as my go to sources.  This is nice because each of the students within my board have Pearson e-text passwords and we are able to utilize the online versions often.  For supplemental lessons I typically find videos through our library services or YouTube is always a favourite.

2.  Assignments/Evaluation - As much as Stager relented about Google and its dangers, I do love it, and I find it very useful.  I focus a majority of my assignments around the Google Classroom platform, whether it is docs, slides or forms for a variety of assessment practices.  What I hope to do this year is connect with other schools within the division and hopefully Collaborate (I know another dirty word Mr. Stager does not enjoy).  On top of that I also plan on incorporating Kahoots for formative assessment along with Flipgrids as exit notes to check in with my students quickly.


English Language Arts -
1. Teaching - This is an area where my "paperless" classroom may be a grey area...  I have access to the Pearson E-Text library for the middle years which gives me a plethora of options, but I also work with a teach of teachers that have a 2 year ELA plan that aligns with our curriculum.  We use short stories, creative writing, integrated cross curricular plans.  My attempt will be to utilize PDF ve
rsions of our short stories as long as it doesn't breach any copyright laws, and then I am hoping that through utilizing the tools built into Google Classroom platform that the students will become more efficient through their written outcomes.  
Photo Credit: GAFE


2. Assignments/Evaluation - I will primarily be using GAFE as my LMS, therefore a majority of my assignments will be evaluated digitally as well.  We will be focusing on more of the process of the writing traits and reading strategies that the students need to improve upon over the year.  I feel that through using an online format I will be able to help identify and improve my students understanding of the process of learning through language arts.  I believe that the issues of plagiarism, copying out weigh the problems of incomplete/lost assignments and there will be less excuses for these issues.  As long as I am diligent in checking in with the students along the way I hope the copying issues will be less frequent.  

I am interested in getting into blogging with my students but I am going to need to get the other members of my teaching team to buy into my philosophy before I will be able to make this a fully integrated part of my Language Arts program.  

Over the course of the semester I have been compiling my information into a slideshow so I can share with my staff and school community in the fall.  I have a link to the document here, but it will not be "finished" for a few more days (by end of June for sure!).  Keep an eye out for it and if you would like me to share it with you so  you can edit it please send me a message and I am more than happy to share.  


Finally I would like to thank my colleagues/peers/friends who over the last number of classes we have worked together and got to know one another in many different aspects.  I will miss spending Tuesday nights with you.  At this current moment I am excited to be done, but at the same time I feel that I will miss being involved regularly on Ed Tech topics through classes like Alec/Katia's.  I am sure that the free time I will have will eventually be filled with kids activities and honey-do-lists from my loving wife.  

I'm Out!
GIF Source: Reddit
Kyle DuMont   M. Ed. (soon to be...)



Last Blast for the M.Ed.

With tonight being the last class I plan on sharing some of the apps, tools and plans I have to become as paperless as possible.

Throughout the semester I have discussed how I want to embrace BYOD and hopefully create a paperless classroom.  I have come to a conclusion that 100% paperless is not going to be a reality as there are so many obstacles to overcome.  I do plan on encouraging and developing as many of my lessons, classes, and units to be integrated with technology to their fullest potential keeping in my my students needs, curriculum, and the appropriateness of the concepts.  

I will break down my ideas into my subject categories:

Mathematics -
Photo Credit: MeanGirlsWiki
1. Teachings - I plan on utilizing a variety of sites and also creating my own content videos.  My go to site for content will be Khan Acadamey, Mr. Kouyoumdjian's Classroom, I will be using both Adobe Spark and straight video to develop my own lessons.

2. Assignments/Evaluation - I am going to be using Mathletics for most of my assignments next year.  This site has the Saskatchewan Curriculum connected to it, along with the approved pre and post assessments that I use throughout the year as my formative assessment tools.  When the opportunity arises I plan on using the manipulatives within my classroom as a stepping tool to bridge the gap from the concrete concepts to the pictorial that the students will be working on within the Mathletics program.

Science -
Photo Credit: Pearson Canada
1. Teachings - As I do not come from a science background I have to rely mostly on the Pearson text and teacher guide as my go to sources.  This is nice because each of the students within my board have Pearson e-text passwords and we are able to utilize the online versions often.  For supplemental lessons I typically find videos through our library services or YouTube is always a favourite.

2.  Assignments/Evaluation - As much as Stager relented about Google and its dangers, I do love it, and I find it very useful.  I focus a majority of my assignments around the Google Classroom platform, whether it is docs, slides or forms for a variety of assessment practices.  What I hope to do this year is connect with other schools within the division and hopefully Collaborate (I know another dirty word Mr. Stager does not enjoy).  On top of that I also plan on incorporating Kahoots for formative assessment along with Flipgrids as exit notes to check in with my students quickly.


English Language Arts -
1. Teaching - This is an area where my "paperless" classroom may be a grey area...  I have access to the Pearson E-Text library for the middle years which gives me a plethora of options, but I also work with a teach of teachers that have a 2 year ELA plan that aligns with our curriculum.  We use short stories, creative writing, integrated cross curricular plans.  My attempt will be to utilize PDF ve
rsions of our short stories as long as it doesn't breach any copyright laws, and then I am hoping that through utilizing the tools built into Google Classroom platform that the students will become more efficient through their written outcomes.  
Photo Credit: GAFE


2. Assignments/Evaluation - I will primarily be using GAFE as my LMS, therefore a majority of my assignments will be evaluated digitally as well.  We will be focusing on more of the process of the writing traits and reading strategies that the students need to improve upon over the year.  I feel that through using an online format I will be able to help identify and improve my students understanding of the process of learning through language arts.  I believe that the issues of plagiarism, copying out weigh the problems of incomplete/lost assignments and there will be less excuses for these issues.  As long as I am diligent in checking in with the students along the way I hope the copying issues will be less frequent.  

I am interested in getting into blogging with my students but I am going to need to get the other members of my teaching team to buy into my philosophy before I will be able to make this a fully integrated part of my Language Arts program.  

Over the course of the semester I have been compiling my information into a slideshow so I can share with my staff and school community in the fall.  I have a link to the document here, but it will not be "finished" for a few more days (by end of June for sure!).  Keep an eye out for it and if you would like me to share it with you so  you can edit it please send me a message and I am more than happy to share.  


Finally I would like to thank my colleagues/peers/friends who over the last number of classes we have worked together and got to know one another in many different aspects.  I will miss spending Tuesday nights with you.  At this current moment I am excited to be done, but at the same time I feel that I will miss being involved regularly on Ed Tech topics through classes like Alec/Katia's.  I am sure that the free time I will have will eventually be filled with kids activities and honey-do-lists from my loving wife.  

I'm Out!
GIF Source: Reddit
Kyle DuMont   M. Ed. (soon to be...)



My Last Summary of Learning!

It is hard to believe that this is the last blog post for my last class. Having the opportunity to end my Graduate Degree taking a Directed Reading course could not have gone better. I am very thankful that Jayme-Lee, Andres, Elizabeth, Kyle, and Jorie chose to take this course too. I had discussed this option with Alec in December, so I am thankful that it all turned out in the end. I learned so much more,  through our small group, than I could have hoped to learn if I had done this course alone!

Photo Credit: http://tvorbaweb-stranok.sk Flickr via Compfight cc

Initially, when this Directed Reading course began, I felt out of touch with my own teaching practices in my classroom. For 8 months of this past school year, I had a responsibility to write a blog post for EC&I 833 and EC&I 834 based on the particular topic that week. On top of that, there were other projects and assignments to complete. After awhile, having extra time and/or energy to spend on planning, became few and far between.

I was looking forward to focusing on my own teaching practices and how I approach technology in my classroom. I had the usual questions that I believe many educators have. Are the technology tools contributing to authentic learning? What tools should I be using for assessment? Am I providing a more student-centred approach? Are my students engaged? Am I providing balanced literacy? How can I provide enough time for students to blog with a limited number of Chromebooks? The list goes on and on and on!!

So Many Questions??

I chose to focus on including technology in a team teaching classroom because I struggle with having 17 Chromebooks for 47 students. How do I make the most of having Chromebooks, when I only have them for a limited time each day, or not at all?

What I learned is that I am on the right track! When I found articles about team teaching and teaching with larger groups, I also found information about blended learning and grouping students in smaller groups.

In this particular blog I found an article with great tips for team teaching and the importance and effectiveness of collaborating. From that point, I realized that working with large groups of students is challenging, and splitting students into groups is what most, if not all educators do, especially with limited technology/learning needs. Having more time to reflect, helped me to realize there is no magical solution to my frustrations. I just need to continue what I am doing, by making my decisions based on current research/information as my ideologies and pedagogical practices continue to change.

In week 2, I blogged about the negative aspects of technology. I’ve noticed that during daily conversation with different people like my EA (educational assistant), co-workers, friends, or family, I often notice that people who do not understand what educational technology has to offer, are the ones who are the most negative about it. It is understandable for sure. When people are misinformed, uneducated, or basing facts on ‘what we hear’ to be true, the comments tend to be “negative.”

One article that I shared shed some light from a different, yet relatable perspective. As you can see just by the titles, the article is worth the read.

Complexity Photo Credit: B Barr Flickr via Compfight cc
  • Why Some Teachers Are Against Technology In Education

  • The Problem With The #edtech Conversation

  • Technology Is Designed To Stir Emotions. So Here We Are, Stirred

  • Honoring The Complexity Of Teaching & Learning

Where some see a revelation, others see expense, distraction, and a lot of rhetoric.

I think it’s safe to say that based on our weekly conversations and each of our blogs, emotions were stirred, the #edtech conversation is deep and intense, and the complexity of teaching and learning is certainly challenging.

In week 3, we focused on preventative measures of cons. As I’ve already mentioned, I found some articles on collaborating and team teaching that confirmed what I have already been doing, as well as reminded me that I am the type of person who benefits from collaborating and having conversations about best teaching practices. It keeps me accountable!

In week 4, we looked into interesting finds. One topic of discussion was the limitations on the number of iPads and laptops allotted for each school in the RPS (Regina Public School Board).  My big take away(s) from this week was to focus on what we do have, since it doesn’t look like new laptops or iPads will be coming our way any time soon. I have plenty to learn about GSuite and the capabilities of Chromebooks, as well as transitioning to a more Blended Classroom. Next year, I will continue to try something new, including figuring out what else Chromebooks and GSuite have to offer!

Week 5 was all about the benefits of educational technology. There are more than enough articles that support the inclusion and importance of educational technology. Our students have grown up with smart devices and have had access to the web their whole lives. It is not a surprise that technology is something they gravitate towards.

I shared an article or two that help to remind myself and its many readers why educators continue to make the transition to a more blended classroom to meet the new learning styles of today’s students.

  • As much as 60 percent of schools in America, issue laptops or tablets to their students.
  • 41% of students are in favor of taking virtual classes.
  • 50% of students in middle and high school use the internet to complete work 3 times a week.
  • The students that study on computers, phones, or tablets, study for an average of 40 minutes more per week than those who do not.

The Future is Tech, Get Ready

This quote from the article; 5 Benefits of Technology in the Classroom says it all. Yes, we better get ready! It should actually read, “We better get moving!”  Eventually, educators will get on board, for the simple fact that we don’t have much choice! As technology transitions into Web 3.0, we as educators need to also be transitioning into Education 3.0. My blog from last spring provides a summary of how these are so connected.

In conclusion, not only did I learn an enormous amount of valuable information, I was also reminded about many of the new advances that educational technology has made. The enormity and complexity of the #edtech world is beyond my wildest imagination.

On top of that, connecting with Jayme-Lee, Andres, Elizabeth, Kyle, and Jorie provided me with so much awareness for the variety and complexity of our jobs as educators. I now have a much more personal appreciation for teaching Physical Education, French Immersion, high school Social Studies, tackling a paperless classroom using BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and being a Grade 2 teacher transitioning into an administration role. As a group, we were able to provide support, make connections, and learn from each of our roles as teachers in Regina Public Schools.

Thank you again for this amazing opportunity! I am very thankful for the chance to take this Directed Reading Course for my final class! Thank you Alec for providing me with this amazing platform where I’ve grown as a person, professional, co-worker, and technology guru for 5 of my 10 courses throughout my Graduate Studies!

Dream Big

 


THE END!

Photo Credit: Tom_Sugden Flickr via Compfight cc

Let’s take a quick look at our journey over the course of 6 weeks.  It has been a wonderful experience and I have really enjoyed being able to work with such amazing colleagues researching and reading about things we are so passionate about.  If we glance back at the beginning of this course I was full of excitement, eager to learn about an area of study that I am so passionate about.  Excited to take on the challenge of finding ideas, resources, answers, solutions etc.  Hesitant about what might come of my findings, but optimistic that change can occur.  This is my very last class in my master’s degree and glad I got to end it this way as it has been quite the journey.  Over the past 6 weeks, I have gone from feeling really good about incorporating tech into my classroom to moments of uncertainty.  Now that we have come to the end of our journey I can say that I am confident walking way from this course with many ideas, resources, connections, solutions, answers etc. of how to incorporate technology into my physical education classes.

 

Photo Credit: genpal Flickr via Compfight cc

 Week 2 we discussed the con’s that can be involved when incorporating technology into our classrooms.  A physical education classroom is a very different atmosphere in comparison to the typical classroom, however it was interesting to see that many of the negative aspects of technology in our classrooms could overlap from one classroom to the next.  Teachable moments are a big thing for me, when something arises I like to take advantage of those situations to teach our students something that might not typically be learned in a classroom.  I am very thankful to have taken several classes from Alec and Katia and have been able to witness this first hand.  While being a technology focused class they both have the ability to take a comment, question etc. and run with it to ensure their students are getting the full learning experience.  If I have learned anything from my 2 year old son, one would be that you learn from watching, then by doing.  Many people fear that by incorporating tech into the classroom we will lessen the chances of these teachable moments arising, I think it doesn’t necessarily change how often these moments will happen, however it may change the context of the conversation.  Perhaps our conversations will revolve around our devices, perhaps not. I guess it is something that we will have to wait out, time will tell!  It has been a focus of conversation all semester, tech as a distraction.  Like I mentioned earlier, I am a very optimistic person and there are just some battles that aren’t worth picking.  Why not use the tech to our advantage.  If our students are excited about using it for their learning then we need to find ways of incorporating it appropriately and not just for the sake of incorporating it.  I think if we allow chances for our students to be engaged and use tech on a daily basis we will minimize the distraction piece.  Liz mentioned earlier in the semester about tech check ins.  It is my goal when I get back to work after my maternity leave to incorporate tech check in’s into my classroom, I think this will also help minimize the distraction.  Another goal of mine upon returning to work is to find a way to communicate with students and parents online.  I think this leaves opportunity for students and parents to see what is happening in our classroom as well as seeing how their child is progressing.

Photo Credit: taihwaterryho Flickr via Compfight cc

In my list of con’s I listed several apps that had both pro’s and con’s, like anything there are always negatives to go along with the positives.  I am going to try several of these apps in my classroom and hope that with trial and error we can perfect how they are being used and integrated into my classroom.  All the apps that I plan to incorporate into my classroom will hopefully provide a different, fun, engaging, challenging, interesting learning experience for all my students.

Photo Credit: mick62 Flickr via Compfight cc

Prior to incorporating technology into my classroom I think it is essential for my students and myself to come up with some guidelines of how and when our devices can be used appropriately. It is essential that I teach them to how to be good digital citizens.  The one thing that I am still pondering is I don’t want students to have their devices in the change room.  I think for privacy and safety of everyone devices should be left outside of these areas, in saying that I am left with “do I have a bin where devices are kept until used?” “Do I have like a mail slot type thing where they each have their own spot to keep their device?” How do I ensure for the safety of everyone that no devices are making their way into the change rooms?  This is definitely something I need to think about and perhaps even having a conversation with the students and hearing their thoughts/opinions would be helpful.

Throughout the semester a hot topic of conversation was also that of funding.  I was always under the impression that SCC was unable to purchase technology for the classrooms.  However, upon conversing with colleagues etc. the SCC would be able to purchase a variety tech pieces that would work wonderfully in my classroom (ex. Pedometers, heart rate monitors etc.)

Photo Credit: evil.heather Flickr via Compfight cc

Upon my return to work I hope to write a proposal to our SCC asking them so if they would like to help expand our physical education program.  In my proposal I plan to address why I think it is essential that we have these pieces of equipment and how it will benefit our students.  Our SCC has been very generous with things in the past, so I am very hopeful that they will be willing to help a physical education teacher who is on a mission to make a difference.

I have been very fortunate to have read many wonderful things both positive and negative in regards to technology in classrooms over the course of this semester.  Through these readings it has been evident that technology in our classrooms has been doing some pretty great things and many teachers and students are loving the variety of opportunities that come along with using tech in our classroom.

Photo Credit: byrawpixel Flickr via Compfight cc

I am a firm believer that with using technology in our classroom we are able to meet the needs of all of our learners.  We are able to make adaptations, provide differentiated instruction etc.  One thing I really struggle with in my physical education classroom with grades 5-8 is to motivate each and every individual to actively participate in every class.  Some students simply aren’t interested in participating and I struggle with constantly finding ways to encourage them to participate.  Now that I have had a semester of simply focusing on tech in physical education I do believe that tech could definitely be a motivating factor.  If I find ways of incorporating tech into my classroom that interests them perhaps they will be willing to participate in the activities.

I am confident that with tech being a revolving door like our society

Photo Credit: free3yourmind Flickr via Compfight cc

Regina Pubic Schools will begin to expand their shared visions.  My colleagues this semester have been able to point me in the right direction as to who I need to talk to in regards to tech related things in my classroom which has been very helpful.  I hope to be able to use this contact in the future to successfully implement technology into my own teaching and learning.

Photo Credit: Sally K Witt Flickr via Compfight cc

Overall this semester has been quite the whirlwind, from ups to downs, to challenging moments to wonderful ideas.  I am so thankful that I have been given the opportunity to learn alongside these amazing people who have given me such a great experience.  My colleagues have supported me throughout the last leg of this journey and encouraged me to find new ways of teaching physical education.  I hope that once I get back to work we can get a tech support group started and begin to put all my wonderful ideas into motion.  Physical education has always been a passion of mine and I want my students have the necessary tools and resources to live healthy active lifestyles outside of school in their community, home, workplace etc.  I am optimistic that with some changes, some trial and error, some ups and downs that the integration of technology and what is has to offer will be a success in our school.  Thank you so much for a wonderful semester and I look forward to staying in touch with all of you and seeing how your tech journeys are coming along!


A summary of my learning this semester

Introduction

Hello!
SOURCE: GIPHY

As we finish off our directed reading course, I have a lot to think about in terms of the effectiveness of bringing tech into a language class.

To reiterate what I said the other day in class, I felt as though it was very difficult to actually focus-in on research that specifically catered to my topic. I also started to gain the feeling that as we were answering some of the questions in our blogs, I was coming up with many of the same conclusions I had come up with in previous tech classes I had taken in the past.

First of all, tech is great. It brings SO much to the table as far as providing our classrooms with infinite amounts of resources that can be used and applied in infinite amounts of ways. As long as there’s a reliable connection to the internet available to use, students and teachers can access materials, resources, lessons and content from any hidden corner of the world.

Think about it…the “I left my homework at home” excuse is literally invalid now!

Wahoooo!
SOURCE: GIPHY

You’re in a rush and need a quick idea for a lesson? No worries, a quick Google search will actually bring up thousands of ideas that you can use in your classroom.

If you’re using an LMS platform in your classroom, you can keep track of your students’ performance and grades with minimal effort.

Sounds great right? It is, BUT (and there’s a big BUT), you as a teacher, NEED to know how to apply tech in useful and innovative ways that go beyond simply replacing the pen and paper. With every advantage technology may have, there are countless drawbacks that continue to scare teachers away.

In our last class, my classmate Kyle, who’s directed reading topic focused on the B.Y.O.D. approach to tech, came to a big realization. For the upcoming school year, Kyle was hoping to have been able to completely transition into a paper-less classroom. As we continued our research over the past six weeks, he realized that going completely paper-less is not 100% feasible. With all the drawbacks and potential unavoidable issues that come with bringing technology into the classroom (also relying on it 100%), going totally paper-less would be very difficult, and in many cases, wouldn’t be as practical as you’d hope.

Although it would be more realistic to aim for an 80% paper-less classroom, some subject areas such as math, rely heavily on working with paper. Having a pen and paper to write out your work is not only practical, but it’s much easier and functional in a math class for instance. Throughout the study, Kyle’s attitude towards B.Y.O.D. definitely changed. He no longer seems sold on the idea of going completely paper-less, something he wouldn’t have realized had he not taken the time to look into all aspects of this teaching style.

As Kyle was sharing his thoughts last week in class, I felt as though we came to similar conclusions and share a lot of the same sentiments towards technology. Although tech is wonderful and can make all sorts of things possible in the classroom, we still haven’t quite figured out everything about it…yet.

So why did I chose to focus on language?

SOURCE: GIPHY

I chose language as my main focus because I realize how many people have used technology in the past to learn all sorts of things relating to language. Languages are very systemic and scientific; there are rules to learn and memorize; there are exceptions and distinctions that you must learn to identify and understand; and you must practice over and over until you finally get it right.

A lot of software that’s being offered to consumers these days provide students with the opportunities to learn and practice all of these things in the privacy of their own homes. A lot of the software out there provides learners with video lessons, sound clips and audio books/texts, and even voice recognition technology. Furthermore, these programs often use some sort of LMS platform that can keep track of your progress and performance in real-time (including grades). Not only that, but most of these programs provide learners with real-time, online video and chat support with REAL PEOPLE (Teachers or trained instructors) in case they have questions or need further guidance/assistance.

With these services, not only are students able to listen and practice speaking the language, they are able to ask questions and gain insight on their progress as they are learning. It’s not perfect, but people use these programs, and they definitely work well enough that many people continue using them. I actually know a lot of people who have used language learning software and apps to either learn a new language, or to brush up on the skills that they already have.

In case you were wondering what type of software I’m talking about, here’s a list of some of the best language learning software in the market right now: Link

Summary of Learning

Let’s see here…
SOURCE: GIPHY

So what did I learn this semester?

For my final blog, I decided to give you a recap of my findings. I will then provide you with some reflections on my experience, as well as some final thoughts and some of the conclusions I came to from my research.

Blog 1: The cons of bringing technology into the classroom

Bring on the bad!
SOURCE: GIPHY

What did I learn?

Technology availability and funding are giant obstacles that will most likely continue to create problems for teachers, students, and schools alike. Equity amongst different schools and demographics is always going to be an issue and not all students are going to be provided with the same opportunities, tools and resources as students in more privileged communities.

Technology availability, such as reliable internet and WI-FI connections, are always going to be a gamble and will never be a guaranteed thing (…yet). When you’re simply trying to get a video to work or your students must log into whatever LMS platform you may be using in the classroom, if we don’t have an internet connection, you can kiss your lesson goodbye.

Then comes the question of convincing teachers and administrators to actually embrace technology. As my classmate Jen mentioned in her Cons blog, there are a lot of teachers out there that are avoiding technology for various reasons. Whether they are unwilling to adapt or change their old ways, or they don’t have the adequate training or direction; unless administrators and school boards are providing support, training, guidance, and ideas; then we can’t really expect teachers to be interested in, or take the initiative to implement blended learning in their classrooms.

And then there’s the age old question of distraction. My classmates Kyle and Liz both talked about student distraction in their blogs, and how devices, social media, and mobile apps/games have proven to be a giant obstacle for all modern-day teachers. Heck, even WE are addicted and distracted by our own devices, how can we expect our students NOT to be?

Blog 2: Preventative measures to avoid the cons

You gotta get creative with those solutions
SOURCE: GIPHY

What did I learn?

In this blog entry, I addressed the question about funding. For schools that are lacking in funding and equipment, I found a lot of information relating to grants and external funding options. In relation to having limited resources and equipment, I read about how to share equipment and allotting time for students to work on computers using a rotation system. These are excellent suggestions, especially if you’re hoping to slowly transition into a blended learning classroom. For classrooms and teachers who want to go completely paper-less however, sharing computers may solve some of the minor issues, but it won’t replace the pen and paper. I think the biggest thing I learned here is that sometimes we simply have to work within our means. As much as we may want to implement certain teaching styles, if we don’t have the tools readily available for everyone, then we must adapt and settle with what we have available to us.

Another interesting point that I came across was that as teachers, we should be advocators for technology. If we don’t want our students to be distracted by their devices, it’s our job to learn about these tools, and teach them how and when to use them in an educational environment. According to a lot of my findings, technology isn’t failsafe. There’s very little evidence that these tools are helping students flourish academically, so in order to use these things to their full advantage, teachers NEED to know how to use them.

In my study that week, I also learned the importance of training and providing as much support as possible to our teachers. If we can’t convince teachers and administrators about how beneficial these tools can be in the classroom, then we’re never going to move ahead and catch up with the times. If we’re providing teachers with the opportunities to bring these tools into their classrooms, we also have to be willing to show them the ropes and support them whenever they require assistance.

There was also the question of planning and how putting together online courses and creating your own content for your classes is not only time-consuming, but can be extremely frustrating as well. Through my own experiences and my readings however, I’ve found that through trial and error, a lot can be learned. Something that might’ve taken you hours to do initially, can quickly become a simple task after some practice. Teachers need to put in some serious work at the beginning, but once you start to get the hang of it, things get much easier from there.

As for addressing tech availability for students, it’s important not to assume what students have or don’t have access to at home. One of the articles I read suggested surveying your students to find out what type of tools they have available to them outside of school. If the majority of your students don’t have access to the internet, let alone a device, then you can’t expect your blended learning classroom to take off.

Blog 3: Interesting finds

interesting…
SOURCE: GIPHY

What did I learn?

This was an interesting week for me because I realized a couple things that kind of shattered some of my previous work to pieces. During one of our discussions in class, Kyle mentioned how many school districts, including the Regina Public School Board, often have restrictions or simply don’t allow teachers to use grants to purchase laptops for their classrooms. The reasons for this is because unless we’re purchasing board-approved devices and software, having devices that aren’t supported by the board will not receive any maintenance or tech support. For school boards, having classroom teachers purchase devices that they aren’t trained to repair only results in further costs and staff training. Furthermore, purchasing unapproved devices can result in software compatibility issues, potentially rendering the devices obsolete or useless. It’s important to figure these things out BEFORE you go ahead with any type of technology grant application.

I realize that regardless of how new and current your devices may be, they will only continue to work properly and efficiently unless we’re able to maintain them. If that’s not the case however, devices don’t exactly age too well and can become pretty much useless after a couple of years.

Stager’s blog post was particularly interesting because he argues that unless we’re providing our students with quality products, why bother bringing them into the classroom in the first place. I definitely agree with Stager. If we aren’t providing our students with quality materials and quality experiences, how on earth are we to expect them to produce quality products? How can we expect students to unleash their creativity if the machines they are using are incapable of performing such tasks? Unless you’re figuring out innovative ways to use these tools, it’s almost as though you shouldn’t use them at all. Definitely something to keep in mind.

Blog 4: The pros

Not bad!
SOURCE: GIPHY

What did I learn?

The pros were a lot easier to identify this week. Technology obviously has a lot going for it and it definitely offers teachers and students new opportunities that wouldn’t be possible without it. For instance, tech allows people who live in remote areas to access education; it allows us to connect with other learners from all parts of the world; and it allows students to take control of their learning and progress at their own pace. Students and teachers can access documents, lessons, resources and content from virtually anywhere. Sharing homework and assignments is as easy as a simple push of a button. Heck, even the fact that we don’t even have to leave our homes to attend school is an outstanding pro!

A lot of the articles I read pointed out how blended learning classrooms can help students develop better research skills, become better independent learners, improve their decision-making skills, and help them become computer literate. Technology can save time and money for teachers and schools, it can allow very personalized learning opportunities for students and it can help us gain better insight to the way our students learn (when using programs or LMS platforms that keep track of grades and performance).

Tech allows us to stay up-to-date, providing our students with the most current content. Technology is constantly evolving, improving and becoming more and more innovative. Apps and programs are constantly being developed to better suit the specific needs of our students. As far as versatility and problem-solving go, tech obviously reigns supreme.

What I learned the most however was its effectiveness in language classes, particularly with ESL classrooms dealing with second language acquisition.

Using language software for example allows students to practice outside of the classroom setting. This is particularly useful with reading and writing. Teachers can provide students with additional online content, lessons, resources, drills and enriching material that can allow learners to explore their learning at their own pace. If students aren’t feeling confident in one domain, they may go back and revisit specific units or modules.

Many programs that teachers use in language classes also allow students to practice their oral language skills with voice recognition programs. Allowing students to practice oral language outside of the classroom can allow students to become more confident and comfortable speaking out loud. The biggest argument for these tools is that you can go home after a lesson, and continue learning, which is essentially the key to learning a new language. Furthermore, the use of video, including tutorials, instructions, or even having students produce their own videos for assignments, allows the learner to interact with the material in innovative and interactive ways

Reflections

hmmm….
SOURCE: GIPHY

So what does this all mean to me now? Well, the initial purpose of this directed reading course was to find ways to implement technology in a language class. Whether we’re dealing with ELA, French, or we’re teaching an ESL class to newly arrived immigrant students, I’ve learned some very important things that will come useful to me as I start to experiment a little more with tech in my classroom.

As for all the negative aspects about technology, I think it’s important to always expect the unexpected. There are things that are simply going to be out of your control; relying 100% on tech may not be the best course of action to take.

I think the bigger things teachers need to focus on is to finding innovative ways to use technology in their classrooms. In order to reach this, there really aren’t any magical solutions. For one, you need to allow yourself enough time to prepare and put together your courses. Blended learning environments take some serious initial startup times to put together, so you can’t expect these things to run smoothly, nor can you expect them to start up immediately. These things take time to develop and require a lot of thought and planning to bring these things to life.

If you aren’t the one putting everything together from scratch, then you’re going to need to connect with people that either know how to do these things, or are willing to share their resources and ideas with you. Building a network, whether it’s for support, for ideas, for sharing lessons, or even linking and connecting with each other’s classes; it’s important to know people who are doing the same things you are. You never know when you’re going to need a hand!

I’ve come to realize that revolutionizing the way we use tech in our classrooms is a very difficult feat to accomplish. One of the reasons I say this is because I really didn’t find too many resources telling me how to use tech in really groundbreaking ways. Sure we can set up stations, students can work at their own pace, and they can access their information from any place at any time; but I didn’t really find anything that really stood out to me as truly “breath-taking”. Throw in the fact that devices are not only distracting, but also facilitate malicious behaviors such as online bullying; it becomes quite easy to allow the negatives to outweigh the positives.

Truthfully speaking, I can see why so many people dismiss tech when sometimes it’s actually a lot easier to simply stick to the basics and teach the “old school” way.

Negatives aside, I did learn a lot about how useful tech can be for ESL and students learning another language. A lot of the ideas that were suggested in my readings will be things I will be seriously taking into consideration for my future classes. Being able to flip through past lessons and modules, and even having the ability to work at your own speed would all be very beneficial to learners.

Languages require a lot of practice, meaning class time and conversation labs don’t provide anywhere near enough time to practice. Anyone who’s ever learned a second language will tell you that the lesson should never end in the classroom; it should continue outside of school hours, ideally as often, and in as many different ways as possible.
Teaching French immersion, I need to find ways where I can encourage and motivate my students to continue learning outside of school. The other day, Liz mentioned how a lot of her math students are going home at night and watching YouTube videos to learn concepts that they are having trouble with in class. Although we did joke about how some people would argue that video tutorials on YouTube could potentially “render our jobs obsolete”, there’s a lot that we can embrace from this notion. We briefly talked about how this could easily become part of our lessons. For example, we could assign videos for students to watch before class, that way they are coming to class prepared and with valuable background knowledge. In a language class, this could mean assigning students to listen to a French song for example, or having them decode, translate or transcribe the dialogue in a video. As of right now, I’m definitely going to be focusing a lot more time on trying to find new ways to provide my students with opportunities to continue learning outside of the classroom.

Conclusion

well…looks like I’m done here…
SOURCE: GIPHY

In closing, I would like to thank everyone for all the insight and helpful tips they’ve shared throughout the past six weeks. I feel as though these tech classes I have taken with Dr. Couros have greatly helped me build a network of reliable and truly committed individuals that share the same visions, passions and interests towards technology in education.

I have a lot to think about as I start to plan ahead for the coming school year. Thanks to my research and my peers, I probably won’t dive head first into any of these things, without taking some precautions. This also means I won’t be as hesitant as I used to be towards tech either. I’ve started to figure out some of my own cool ways that I can bring tech into the classroom; I’m definitely going to do my best to use them.

Lastly, what works for some people, might not really work for you. What’s important is capitalizing on your strengths and taking advantage of what works best for you and your students. If you’re not much of a Smart Board kind of teacher, then why invest the time and effort to bring in something that you might not even end up using to its full potential. Whatever you end up using, commit to it full-heartedly. I’m finally feeling as though I’m starting to figure out what works best for my style of teaching, and what type of classroom I’m trying to create for my students.

Thanks for stopping by everyone, and I wish you all the best in your journeys. Good luck!

Thank you, thank you!
SOURCE: GIPHY

Dre


The Countless Advantages of Technology

When I think about the pros of technology, I think a lot about how much more engagement I see in my students when using technology tools and the positive feedback from them. I witness a lot more focus, interest, willingness and motivation to get started right away, remain on task, and complete the task at hand. There will always be students who are distracted by YouTube or their devices, but I always feel their excitement during educational technology tasks compared to teacher led, or independent student learning. This is what motivates me to keep planning lessons that include technology.

Student Engagement

There are so many articles available that support educational technology, so it is my job to take the information and learn first hand whether or not it might be beneficial to the group of students I have in my classroom. According to the article, “7 Benefits of Educational Technology in the Education Sphere,”

The future of the educational system is practically determined by the development of technology.

The teaching strategies based on educational technology can be described as ethical practices that facilitate the students’ learning and boost their capacity, productivity, and performance. Technology integration in education inspires positive changes in teaching methods on an international level.

#4. Thanks to technology, students enjoy learning!

Students are addicted to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Digg, and other websites from a very early age. The internet can distract them from the learning process, but you can also use their inclination to spend time online for a good purpose: Making learning enjoyable.

5 Benefits of Tech in Ed

My students are connected to technology in their daily lives in some way or another. It is definitely a learning curve to have to introduce them to the inclusion of technology as a learning tool if they are not used to using it in school, but as I explained earlier, I see a lot of enthusiasm, engagement and eagerness to use technology and share what they have learned using Google Slides, Google Classroom, blog posts on Blogger, sharing work on Class Dojo, or creating an iMovie or WeVideo.

The students I interact with each day have grown up with smart devices, having been entertained instantly with videos, movies, games, sounds, visuals, etc. It isn’t a surprise to me that they are connected and drawn to Chromebooks,  and iPads when we use them in class.

Technology is certainly here to stay and as the poster says, “The Future is Tech, Get Ready!”

So, it is my job to keep an open mind to new ideas and opportunities, to try something new with my students and to deepen their understanding and motivation for learning the best way I know how.

Reading this article and watching this video from the article; “10 Advantages and Disadvantages of Technology in Education,” shares a couple of different perspectives (as well as common ones).

1. Parent’s Peace of Mind
Cell phones allow easy access for parents and children to communicate with each other at school too.

2. The Information Highway
Any answer to any question can be found with a few clicks of the keys on the computer or smart phone.

3. Broaden The Mind
Having access to the technology will expose children to things outside of their parents interests and help them to form their own opinions.

4. Brings Some Fun Into The Classroom
“Learning the same exact way from the same person every day can really get…boring,” which results in a real lack of motivation. “When they are able to integrate computer learning into their normal schedule, they become much more excited to learn.”

5. Applicable Education
In the working world, in nearly every job you may take, you have to know how to operate a computer. Teaching this skill in children early will give them advantages and a learning curve for when they are adults.

Each one of these 5 perspectives make sense and are common points of view. As a teacher, having to compete with technology devices is no easy task, so jumping on board is the logical solution, even though it is often challenging and full of obstacles.

The following video really showcases an interesting perspective from children about what “Technology is, how people learned before the internet, technology these students use in their daily learning, and what technology will look like in the future. Very entertaining video for sure!

It is hard to believe that these students are guessing and unsure about how we learned before the internet. “I think they had to go to the library, ” They read books,” etc. Interesting responses for sure!

There are so many amazing ways that technology can improve students learning, and yet at the same time it can be challenging. I have found that my students have more success when we try a new technology tool, it is best to start small (a daily lesson or a shorter project that takes 2 or 3 lessons). Once my students are familiar with that tool, we can move on to a more in depth project. One step at a time!

Next year, I will continue to build a blended learning environment.  It will take some time, especially if I follow a model like the one I shared in last weeks blog post”3 Essentials for Success in a Blended Learning Classroom,” but I already have a great foundation and I see the benefits for/in my students every day. This is the way it has to be for our students who are growing up in a digital world.

In closing, I want to share Jessie Woolley-Wilson’s Ted Talk about the divide in education based on a student’s zip code and the decline in funding for education. This reality has narrowed her determination to provide quality education no matter what zip code a child has. Jessie shares a story about a California teacher who shifted to blended learning using an Adaptive Technology that “learns the learner as the learner learns!” Based on the individual student, the software determines what lesson the student needs to support their learning based on previous answers given. Sounds great to me!

What technology tools do you really like? What technology tools work best for you and your students? Is there a technology tools or software that you continuously use?


Reasons For Technology Within the Classroom!

For most of this class I have been antagonistic in my approach to technology in my classroom.  This week I am feeling much more natural in researching why to incorporate technology.  Janelle Cox writes about the Benefits of Technology in the Classroom.  While her stats are from an undergrad study I can appreciate her stance.  What I did like within her blog were the links she connected with and how she shared her knowledge.

Photo Credit: Lon Levin
I stumbled upon an awesome blog that laid out how to incorporate tech into a classroom for the .  While I have not found any evidence supporting higher grades, reduced drop out rates, or any form of legislation forcing educators to incorporate technology into the classroom in Saskatchewan as of yet, there are other signs that technology has a huge importance in our society today, especially in the field of education.  Our federally funded national news company CBC continually does spots on the importance of digital literacy, coding, and incorporation of technology within schools across Canada.  While we are not being forced in any means to work on digital skills, we are approaching the point of:  if you are not teaching digitally, you are doing a disservice for your students.
technophobic teacher

The benefits to incorporating technology seem to outweigh the current arguments against the concept.  From personalizing education for specific students with high needs (extending curriculum or condensing), to the increased availability to teach through inquiry based methods, into blending or flipping your classroom to support the varied needs of time management for the every busy student.

Photo Credit: 2013 PBS LearningMedia
Students are feeling more comfortable with the idea of using technology within the classroom.  Not only is the ownership of technology (Laptops, tablets and smartphones) going up but the usage for school work is increasing dramatically.








Photo Credit: 2013 PBS LearningMedia
In terms of how the students are learning within the classroom is also changing.  As of 2013 over 80% post-secondary students have experienced online classes in some aspect.  I am sure these trends have continued.  We have seen this within our own university and the amount of online classes being offered.  With this we can see why it is important for the younger students to be introduced to technology within their education voyage.  The idea of readying students for their future workplace also falls into this category as well, because if the students do not know the basics of technology, how we expect their future employers to hire them for jobs that revolve around technology.

How to integrate technology is a topic of discussion we have had in many of our ed tech classes recently.  We know that different divisions have varying policies on what devices are to be in schools.  Within my division we are allotted 1 tablet for every 3 students in grades 1-4 and then 1 laptop for every 5 students from grades 5-8.  The message we have received for the reasoning behind not being able to purchase more tech for individual buildings is based on the financial upkeep and the workload to keep all the tech running at a working capacity.  Through studies my division has determined that through strategic planning every student can access the technology enough that the schools should not need more technology.  This is where most of us (actual classroom teachers, shake our heads at the utopia dream world most of the decision makers live in).

BYOD is a concept that my division is creating a policy on and as going to expect their schools to adopt. How it is rolled out and how the communities will accept it only time will tell, but I am hoping that with the board approved policy it gives the schools a little more substance to stand on when we ask our parents to support sending private technology to school for their children to use.  One of the policies I have read through and feel is substantial in how they plan on dealing with BYOD issues is from Alberta.

Another concept I found interesting and could very well combat the cost issues with our division is a Parent Owned Device Program.   With this concept the parents purchase a device and the school division would upload all the software needed to connect with the schools servers, and the students can access all the necessary digital needs, while off setting the cost based on the devices being owned by the families.  While this is from a private school, I feel the concept is worth looking into.  There will certainly be the conversation about have and have not schools, but similar to our new public MRI policies in Saskatchewan I'm sure we could adopt something similar in the public education system.

Throughout my research I am finding that everything to do with technology is a balancing act.  From how much screen time a student is exposed to, or how effectively the students are retaining the information they are learning.  We need to be sure that what we are planning for our students is productive and appropriate.

“One-to-one and BYOD are game changers, giving students access to digital tools throughout the day, across all subject areas. This paradigm shift challenges teachers to rethink and redesign learning activities to capitalize on their school’s investment in technology. ISTE
This puts more pressure on the teacher to develop the appropriate content for each grade/subject level.  This brings me back to the point I made earlier in the course about teachers and technology, whether it is 1:1 or BYOD that neither are legislated or mandated to have to be including this concept into the classroom.  While I feel technology is very important, I need to understand that colleagues around me may not have the same passion or belief.  The goal to education needs to be improving the students, based on curriculum first, and if you have the time, energy, or motivation then you can add in the extras such as technology.

Reasons For Technology Within the Classroom!

For most of this class I have been antagonistic in my approach to technology in my classroom.  This week I am feeling much more natural in researching why to incorporate technology.  Janelle Cox writes about the Benefits of Technology in the Classroom.  While her stats are from an undergrad study I can appreciate her stance.  What I did like within her blog were the links she connected with and how she shared her knowledge.

Photo Credit: Lon Levin
I stumbled upon an awesome blog that laid out how to incorporate tech into a classroom for the .  While I have not found any evidence supporting higher grades, reduced drop out rates, or any form of legislation forcing educators to incorporate technology into the classroom in Saskatchewan as of yet, there are other signs that technology has a huge importance in our society today, especially in the field of education.  Our federally funded national news company CBC continually does spots on the importance of digital literacy, coding, and incorporation of technology within schools across Canada.  While we are not being forced in any means to work on digital skills, we are approaching the point of:  if you are not teaching digitally, you are doing a disservice for your students.
technophobic teacher

The benefits to incorporating technology seem to outweigh the current arguments against the concept.  From personalizing education for specific students with high needs (extending curriculum or condensing), to the increased availability to teach through inquiry based methods, into blending or flipping your classroom to support the varied needs of time management for the every busy student.

Photo Credit: 2013 PBS LearningMedia
Students are feeling more comfortable with the idea of using technology within the classroom.  Not only is the ownership of technology (Laptops, tablets and smartphones) going up but the usage for school work is increasing dramatically.








Photo Credit: 2013 PBS LearningMedia
In terms of how the students are learning within the classroom is also changing.  As of 2013 over 80% post-secondary students have experienced online classes in some aspect.  I am sure these trends have continued.  We have seen this within our own university and the amount of online classes being offered.  With this we can see why it is important for the younger students to be introduced to technology within their education voyage.  The idea of readying students for their future workplace also falls into this category as well, because if the students do not know the basics of technology, how we expect their future employers to hire them for jobs that revolve around technology.

How to integrate technology is a topic of discussion we have had in many of our ed tech classes recently.  We know that different divisions have varying policies on what devices are to be in schools.  Within my division we are allotted 1 tablet for every 3 students in grades 1-4 and then 1 laptop for every 5 students from grades 5-8.  The message we have received for the reasoning behind not being able to purchase more tech for individual buildings is based on the financial upkeep and the workload to keep all the tech running at a working capacity.  Through studies my division has determined that through strategic planning every student can access the technology enough that the schools should not need more technology.  This is where most of us (actual classroom teachers, shake our heads at the utopia dream world most of the decision makers live in).

BYOD is a concept that my division is creating a policy on and as going to expect their schools to adopt. How it is rolled out and how the communities will accept it only time will tell, but I am hoping that with the board approved policy it gives the schools a little more substance to stand on when we ask our parents to support sending private technology to school for their children to use.  One of the policies I have read through and feel is substantial in how they plan on dealing with BYOD issues is from Alberta.

Another concept I found interesting and could very well combat the cost issues with our division is a Parent Owned Device Program.   With this concept the parents purchase a device and the school division would upload all the software needed to connect with the schools servers, and the students can access all the necessary digital needs, while off setting the cost based on the devices being owned by the families.  While this is from a private school, I feel the concept is worth looking into.  There will certainly be the conversation about have and have not schools, but similar to our new public MRI policies in Saskatchewan I'm sure we could adopt something similar in the public education system.

Throughout my research I am finding that everything to do with technology is a balancing act.  From how much screen time a student is exposed to, or how effectively the students are retaining the information they are learning.  We need to be sure that what we are planning for our students is productive and appropriate.

“One-to-one and BYOD are game changers, giving students access to digital tools throughout the day, across all subject areas. This paradigm shift challenges teachers to rethink and redesign learning activities to capitalize on their school’s investment in technology. ISTE
This puts more pressure on the teacher to develop the appropriate content for each grade/subject level.  This brings me back to the point I made earlier in the course about teachers and technology, whether it is 1:1 or BYOD that neither are legislated or mandated to have to be including this concept into the classroom.  While I feel technology is very important, I need to understand that colleagues around me may not have the same passion or belief.  The goal to education needs to be improving the students, based on curriculum first, and if you have the time, energy, or motivation then you can add in the extras such as technology.

Pro’s To Incorporating Technology Into Our Classrooms

Our world is ever revolving and technology is becoming a big part of that.  Technology has slowly made its entrance by replacing textbooks, resources to now being fully integrated into our classrooms and is used as a teaching/learning tool.

Photo Credit: iratebadger Flickr via Compfight cc

When I think back to my school experience we had and overhead projectors where we’d copy notes and if you could write faster than your classmates you would sit there waiting until the teacher moved the page up so you could continue writing your notes (not necessarily the most effective way of teaching in my opinion).  We had chalkboards, not even white boards and had never heard of a smart board before!  We had one computer lab in the school that was shared amongst classrooms.

Photo Credit: kristinefull Flickr via Compfight cc

In the computer lab I remember using All the Right Type to practicing our keyboarding skills and if you finished early you were allowed to indulge and play number munchers.  We have come a long way since then and many classrooms now have access to smart boards, iPads, lap tops, cell phones etc.  It has been reported that 75% of educators think that technology has made a positive impact within the education system.  Educators are aware that technology has become a big part of our world and it is our job to ensure our students are technologically literate and ready to enter the workforce.  Technology has transformed the way our teachers teach and how our students learn.  Teachers are able to teach using a variety of means and our students are able to learn in ways that are able to meet their individual needs and interests.  Some of the benefits to using technology in our classroom could include:

Photo Credit: startupdigi Flickr via Compfight cc
  1. It makes learning more fun and engaging. Students have reported that with the use of technology in their classrooms they are more engaged, lessons are interesting and fun.
  2. Technology prepares our students for the future, for a world outside of our schools. Many jobs if not all jobs require some type of technological component, therefore by learning and using it in our classrooms we are already on the right track to ensuring our students are successful citizens in our society.
  3. Many students have reported that technology has helped them to retain information. A study done amongst grade 2 students asked them to complete about power point project about an animal.  16 out of 18 students were able to remember more facts about the animal upon completing the PowerPoint presentation.  This is a perfect example of technology helping students to learn/retain information in another fashion.
  4. Technology gives students an opportunity to learn at their own pace and provides opportunities for differentiated instruction. Students are able to use technology as a means of learning in ways that meet their individual needs and abilities. It allows the teacher to be able to work one on one with students and provide feedback and support when necessary.
  5. Technology connects with students. Many students are surrounded by technology every day and it is a part of their world, so why not bring their world into our classrooms. I would much rather use technology in my classroom as a teaching/learning tool then avoid it and it becomes a distraction.  Cell phones for example, with Facebook, snap chat, Instagram, twitter etc. students are often wanting to be on their phones to stay updated in the social world, so why not turn this “distraction” into a teaching and learning tool.
  6. Technology allows us as teachers to keep tabs on our students. It allows us to combing information about individual students such as attendance, test results, etc.  We are then able to see how students are performing as individuals and a whole.  This is beneficial to us as educators because it gives us a glimpse of where one or two students may be struggling or where the whole class is struggling and perhaps not understanding a concept.
  7. The concept of choice. Technology provides different learning modalities so students are able to choose how they learn best and meet their own individual needs.  From my own teaching experience, I have found great success in offering choice, gives the students some responsibility and freedom.  It allows them to choose what they are interested in it, how it applies to our learning and run with it…. Kind of like what we are doing with a directed reading course!
  8. Technology offers opportunities for students with special needs to gain access to a variety of apps and resources that will help them in being successful in their educational journey. It also offers opportunities for students with language barriers to over come those boundaries and to learn alongside their peers.

A few weeks ago I took a look at several apps/resources that could be used specifically in a physical education classroom.  If you take a brief look back, I was able to address how the app could be used in a physical education setting as well as the con’s that may arise when incorporating this app into your classroom.

Photo Credit: subratpatnaik Flickr via Compfight cc

I saved addressing the pro’s until this week as this week as we are discussing the pro’s to incorporating technology into the classroom, so here it goes:

Coach’s Eye– The pro’s of using the specific app are the student is able to playback their recording.  So for example, I could have a student practicing how to do a lay up and verbal feedback just isn’t cutting it.  We can use coach’s eye to record the student doing their lay up, play back the recording and I am able to show them what they are doing incorrectly.  The bonus of this app is that it can work on any device, there is no need to use the school computers etc. therefore if student’s have access to their cell phones, iPad etc. we can download the app and use it that way.

Camtasia– This app provides opportunities for teachers to create lessons while explaining the rules.  The students are able to view the lessons at home or on their own time so when they get into the gymnasium it leaves more time for being physically active and less time for passively listening.

Xbox Kinect– This type of resource allows those students who are not always enthusiastic about physical education to perhaps feel excited about it as we incorporate a form of ‘gaming’.  Xbox Kinect can help with coordination and other gross motor/fine motor skills.  It also provides opportunities for students with disabilities or limitations to be able to fully participate in a physical education classroom.

Heart rate monitor– Heart rate monitors can continuously encourage our students to be physically active as they want to be within the optimal heart rate target zones.  If we allow our students to wear the monitors outside of our classrooms it may encourage them to be physically active for the remainder of the day.

Fitness Tracker– Similar to a heart rate monitor it can encourage our students to be physically active in and out of school.  Some fitness trackers allow students the opportunity to log exercise and other features that they are able to do at home as well.

Photo Credit: Good.Influence Flickr via Compfight cc

Overall, in my opinion I see the benefits to incorporating technology into the classroom.  I see both positive and negative sides however I do feel that with our world ever so changing in a way where technology has become a major aspect I think if we don’t include technology into our own teaching and learning we are doing our students an injustice.  With support, resources, professional development etc. in regards to technology I do think that all of us could successfully incorporate it into our classrooms to benefit our students.

Photo Credit: Good.Influence Flickr via Compfight cc

Checking out the pros

Officially in the “future”
SOURCE: GIPHY

“The era where computers rule the world is here. Just as technology plays a major key role in business relations, entertainment, music, movies, and almost every aspect of our everyday lives, it plays an equally important role in education. Studies have shown that 90% of students have access to some type of computer or mobile device – whether at school, at work, or at home. So, it’s not surprising to see the evolution of classrooms and teaching methods gravitating in the direction of technology.”

Article can be found here.

This week I’ll be focusing on the pros of bringing technology into a language class.

Unlike my past posts, I feel as though this week will be a little easier for me as the media tends to lean in favor of tech use in the classroom.

“AYE!”
SOURCE: GIPHY

Whether technology is allowing people in remote areas to attend online university classes, or the fact that we don’t really have to rely exclusively on libraries to conduct our research for assignments (like many of us used to); having access to online and digital tools is definitely a “game-changer” when it comes to diversifying our teaching, our learning and our resources. For many students, tech is fun and engaging; it captures peoples’ attention and kids want to use it. Furthermore, not only do digital and online pedagogical tools allow students and teachers to have access to resources from anywhere and at any time, but they also make collaborating with others a lot easier thanks to cloud-based software (link).

Having access to the internet definitely has the ability to make every-day tasks much easier for teachers. Teachers can quickly share documents, ideas and lessons with colleagues with the simple click of a button. Contacting and keeping parents up-to-date is easier than ever with email, classroom blogs and online grading systems such as PowerTeacher’s Parent Portal.

Blended learning classrooms help students develop better research skills, learning independence, self-engagement, improved decision-making skills, responsibility and overall computer literacy. Others would argue that blended learning environments can also improve efficiency, save money and time, personalize learning and gain better insight of how your students learn and what type of support they may need from you.

“Basically, a blended approach ensures that not only is the learner engaged more and driving his/her individual learning experience to some degree, but also since different learners have different learning styles, a blended approach is more likely to cater to those varying needs. Of course there are also numerous benefits for the instructor – instant feedback, and the ability to quickly assess learner performance and needs based on reporting, testing or quizzing via the LMS. “

Link to article

With tech and blended learning environments, students have instant access to knowledge, teachers can personalize learning to better suit students’ needs, and with every passing day, teachers and students are gaining more and more access to newer and more innovating apps, software and tools. As this article mentions, technology can actually make our lives a little easier too:

“Educators should understand that if they employ technology in their classroom that is similar to the technology students use at home, their teaching job will be easier”

Unlike the old, stale textbooks many classrooms are still using to this day (sometimes from the 80’s and 90’s), online tools and resources can constantly be updated and can provide students with the most relevant and current content. (link)

Where the party at?
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“This study investigated the potential benefits of a blended learning approach on the reading skills of low socioeconomic status students in Grades 1 and 2. Treatment students received English language arts instruction that was both teacher-led and technology-based. Comparisons were made with control students who received the same English language arts instruction without the blended learning component. Results showed significantly greater pretest/posttest gains on a standardized reading assessment for the treatment students compared to the control students. The greatest discrepancy occurred in reading comprehension. A sub-analysis of low-performing English language learner students in the treatment group revealed the largest reading gains. At posttest, these students performed at the level of non-English language learner students in the control group. Results indicated a blended learning approach can be effective in enhancing the reading skills of low socioeconomic students.”

Link to article.

The reasons are there you guys. Factor in the fact that the kids we’re teaching at school basically were born with devices in their hands; it becomes more and more clear as to why we should just welcome tech with open arms instead of dodging and demonizing it.

Technology’s the devil
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I won’t bother going into everything that can go wrong either, because as teachers, we KNOW what can go wrong. But is that enough to make us want to quit while we’re still ahead?

As I read through my articles this week, I noticed a really interesting “pocket” that I’d like to explore in this post: using technology and blended learning while learning a second language.

oh snap!
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There’s been a lot of research done in this field that’s worth taking a lot this week. According to my readings, there’s a lot to gain from tech for ESL students (or any students learning any language for that fact).
This article for example discusses how word processors can help students improve their writing abilities until their work becomes legible and comprehensible to others.

“We go through a process of creating and re-creating text until it is fully comprehensible to others and is accurate. We can create a draft, show it to others and, based on feedback, can make changes to improve the text. The tools can also help us by showing that our spelling or grammar needs work, too. Technology makes this much easier, and makes it more likely that learners will engage with the editing process to produce the highest-quality text that they can. This writing can then be displayed for others to look at and comment on.”

When I was learning French for example, this particular statement holds a lot of truth (for me at least). Having gone through the BAC program (French Education Program at the U of R), you are required to gain a masterful understanding of French. Students in this program must attend school at Laval University in Quebec for an entire year in order to gain the necessary skills to not only read, write and speak French, but also teach it. Writing for me was a big factor, as word processing tools, online grammar editors, dictionaries and writing tools all helped improve and develop my writing skills.

yeah, this is the 2014 model, it’s pretty cool.
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Furthermore, although immersion is a major component to language acquisition, any additional methods that can either improve or augment the amount of social interactions and exchanges we have is going to benefit the learner:

“Trying to find ways for people to do meaningful spoken language practice in a class can be very challenging, particularly if, as a teacher, you lack confidence in your own spoken language skills. Linking your class to other classes around the world, using tools such as video conferencing, can give a reason for a learner to ask a question and then try to understand the response. It might also provide support for the teacher, too. The technology mediates the process, getting language out there and giving feedback that shows whether someone has or hasn’t understood what you have said.”

In the following article, the author makes a very interesting point in relation to social media:

“Using tech means that students can now turn to Twitter to use the language, without having to pack the class off on a school trip. Goria says: “Use of technology has moved towards the internet and social networks, rather than concentrating on pieces of purposely-designed technology that you would have in language labs. They increase exposure to the target language and allow you to join groups that share interests in the language.”

Although social media has a bad rap, if teachers start playing their cards right, rather than fearing and banning platforms such as Twitter and Facebook from the classroom, we could be using these tools to establish valuable social networks. If used correctly, these new connections can allow learners to connect with people around the world, potentially helping them grasp the language in more engaging and interesting ways. At the end of the day, we need to make learning a fun and engaging experience, so why not open up the experience to include as many people as possible?

oh I like that idea!
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Another interesting point that was made in this post relates to confidence levels. When learning a language, one of the hardest things to do is actually speaking the language. Many students, including my very own French immersion kids, don’t always feel comfortable sharing in class because they don’t feel as though their language skills are adequate enough:

“Computers can also help oral interaction by creating some sort of safety for the speaker. You hide behind the monitor and it lowers your inhibition level.”

The article also points out the beneficial uses of video:

“Another major development in language tech has been the use of video, according to Stannard. “The potential of video is incredible,” he says. “It could be instructions, presenting learning materials or students producing videos themselves. They could pretend they’re telling the news in the foreign language, they could act out a job interview situation, or put videos online for students in Europe about their local town. We could even prepare for oral exams by working in groups, filming it and then watching it back.”

For some students, the traditional classroom setting isn’t always enough. Although the following article relates to ESL students, the same can be said with basically any subject taught at school:

“Learning English as a second language (ESL) in a conventional classroom means all students must crawl along at the same pace in class. However, if you are ahead of everyone then you might become bored. Computer programs and resources allow students to progress at a comfortable speed – quickly or slowly, depending on their level of proficiency. This allows the ESL learner to spend extra time on the sections where they require additional help. This important group of learners now has the opportunity to learn English more efficiently through the use of computers!”

This article touches on the subject as well:

“Further, some technology tools enable teachers to differentiate instruction and adapt classroom activities and homework assignments, thus enhancing the language learning experience. Distance learning programs can enable language educators to expand language-learning opportunities to all students, regardless of where they live, the human and material resources available to them, or their language background and needs. In sum, technology continues to grow in importance as a tool to assist teachers of foreign languages in facilitating and mediating language learning for their students. “

The following blog talks about how technology makes learning much more interactive and engaging, which helps solidify learning and understanding:

“Experts have studied and debated that language learning through input only is not only ineffective but is also not successful at achieving learner language development. The best way to learn something is through an interactivelearning environment created by technological tools and resources. For students learning a language, it‘s key to ‘do’ things with language rather than just learning about language from your teacher. Technology makes it possible for students to interact with their language courses and gather a more complete understanding of all of the language components. Some students feel more comfortable, less embarrassed to make mistakes and learn from them in this interactive, intuitive model.”

My final article once again addressed the question of writing:

“Web-based writing instruction has proved to be an important factor in enhancing the writing quality of low-ability English as a foreign language (EFL) students. In a study designed to examine the effectiveness of Web-based instruction in the writing of freshman EFL students, Al-Jarf (2004) found that the use of Web-based lessons as a supplement to traditional in-class writing instruction was significantly more effective than teaching which depended on the textbook alone. “

The article also discusses the possibility for collaboration and networking with other students from other places around the world:

“In another study, Hertel (2003) describes an intercultural e-mail exchange at the college level where U.S. students in a beginning Spanish class and Mexican students in an intermediate English as a Second Language class corresponded weekly for one semester. Survey results revealed this student-centered endeavor had the potential to change cultural attitudes, increase knowledge and awareness of other cultures, foster language acquisition, as well as boost student interest and motivation in language and cultural studies.”

At the end of the day, I’ve learned that some of the biggest benefits of tech in language classes is that not only can students work at their own speed, but they have more opportunities to challenge themselves when they are provided with the ability to connect with others outside of the classroom. Online and digital tools allow students to continue learning once the class is over. Students can build legitimate connections with native-speakers, who can provide the learner with different knowledge the teacher or class resources could provide.

This week was refreshing, as the past few weeks have definitely focused on the more negative aspects of tech, it’s nice to see the good that can come out of all of this. Although I am still on the fence on whether or not I’d be completely transforming my classroom into a digital and online learning space, it’s good to weigh both sides of the argument.

Thanks for reading everyone, I hope you all have a great week!

Dre