Last week Haiming, Kelsey and I presented about assistive technology. I truly enjoyed exploring this topic. As a teacher, I find that it is always productive to dig deeper into these topics so you can begin to do an inventory of what you are already doing in your classroom as well as what areas can you continue to work on improving in your teaching practice.
My understanding of assistive technology before researching this topic was that technology that was assistive was ‘high tech assistive technology’. I was surprised when doing my research that there is actually a very large range of assistive technology ranging from ‘no tech all the way up to high tech’. This helped me realize that I was, in fact, using more assistive technology than I ever imagined.
For most of my career, I have spent my time teaching in an early elementary setting so many of the no-tech and low tech assistive technologies are ones that I was familiar with. I have used many of them for different students for a variety of reasons, without knowing that these are actually known as assistive technologies. I feel that these are adaptations that many teachers use often without fully realizing that they are using them as assistive technologies. I feel that most teachers are constantly working to create a Universal Design Learning Environment which is an environment that is aimed to allow each student to successfully navigate their learning physical environment as well as the curriculum. As teachers, we generally naturally make these adaptations without consciously thinking how this would fall under the use of assistive technology.
This year I have a student in my classroom who is non-verbal and has been working on increasing his language as well as his communication. It has been a great experience to work with him and learn alongside his Educational Assistant on how to use appropriate assistive technology in order to communicate and support his language. I have been able to see the progression that a young student works through in order to build towards using a high tech communication assistive technology. Currently, my student primarily uses a low tech velcro picture communication board. This board allows teachers as well as the student to move pictures around to create simple communicative phrases. We have been using this to demonstrate what the student is to be doing now as well as what he will be doing next. This allows him to understand what the expectations are currently and moving forward.
Another low tech assistive technology that we have been using to assist this student is the use of social stories. Social stories are:
stories are used to teach communal skills through the use of precise and sequential information about everyday events that your child may find difficult or confusing, thus preventing further anxiety on the part of your child
These stories are written with a specific purpose of teaching a child a specific behavior pattern. Using photographs and descriptive language allows these children to see the expectations of what the appropriate behavior is. This allows them to visually see what is expected of them as well as what is going to happen when they are in a new or unknown situation. This has proven to be a beneficial assistive technology as it helps students confidently step into a new situation with confidence. These stories aid to Universal Design for Learning as it allows them to be included and a part of new situations that they may not have been able to participate in without this understanding.
As students get older and more experience with no tech communication boards the next step is for them to begin to learn how to use and navigate a high tech communication assistive technology options. My student is beginning to learn how to use a program on his Ipad to help with his communication. The program that my student is currently learning to use is called ‘Go Talk’. Programs such as go talk are great for students as it allows them to verbalize their needs and wants. Moving forward we are going to build in time throughout our day where he is able to use ‘Go Talk’ to participate in our classroom discussions and activities. This will allow him to be an active participant and will also allow him to communicate with his peers. The following video shows how the program ‘Go Talk’ assist students in the classroom.
This year has been a great learning experience for me in the area of assistive technology. I have realized that these decisions are not primarily a teachers decision and that the school team and parents along with the teacher work together to decide what assistive technology the student would benefit. It takes the commitment of everyone to ensure that the technology is used consistently so the student can see the benefits of this technology. As teachers, we have to be open to all ideas around assistive technology to ensure that we are meeting the needs of each and every one of our students.
Assessment Technologies have changed the possibilities of assessment. There are many tools out there that can be used for formative and summative assessment and long gone are the days of the traditional pen and paper assessments. Technology can provide students with a variety of tools that they can show and share what they know and what they have learned about a topic. Digital assessment has the ability to become embedded in learning and does not have to be something that is completely separate and done at the end of a unit. Digital assessment allows teachers to get immediate feedback on exactly where their students are at. This allows them to assess that data and use that immediate data to inform their planning in order to meet the students exactly where they are at. There are many benefits to using assessment technology within the classroom.
In saying all of this I know that many teachers have been using Assessment Technologies for years but quite honestly I haven’t used them much at all. One challenge that I have had with them is having access to enough technology in our classroom to use these on a regular basis. I feel like I have been my own barrier in this and so this week I made it my mission to see what I could find that could be used within my classroom even without having access to a full set of classroom devices.
When searching for an option that does not require each student to have their own device I found that Plickers would be a great tool to test out. I have heard about Plickers before and knew that it was a multiple choice assessment technology but I assumed that Plickers would be similar to Kahoot where students would select their answer on their own device. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that Plickers is a tool that offers the same multiple choice type of experience as Kahoot but that it only requires the teacher to have a device and not every single student.
Plickers requires teachers to print off a set of class cards where every student is assigned a card. Each card is unique to that student that has a different shape that is scanned when the student holds up their card. Students are required to turn their card to demonstrate their understanding by picking the answer A, B, C or D. Students need to be informed and taught how to properly hold their cards so that their fingers are not covering up the pictures as well and need to be taught how to turn their card to show which answer they have picked.
The following video demonstrates how Plickers can be used in the classroom to give teachers quick, informative and immediate feedback on their students learning.
Considering last week was a short week at school I only had the opportunity to introduce Plickers and give it a single try in our classroom. I am looking forward to this week to give it another try and begin to see what type of data I can collect and see how it can be used to inform my planning and teaching. All in all, I think that Plickers is a great option for incorporating Assessment Technology in the classroom when you do not have access to a classroom set of devices!
As we know the internet and technology is something that is continuously progressing at rates that many of us cannot imagine being able to keep up with. I haven’t ever sat back to think about the timeline of the internet and how it has progressed from web 1.0 to web 2.0 and now starting the progression into web 3.0. This weeks presentation by Jana, Katie, Kyla, and Brooke allowed me to really understand the differences between each era of the internet and has encouraged me to consider how these changes have impacted teachers and education.
I can remember the days of web 1.0. I was in high school when I was first introduced to the internet and looking back I cannot recall really ever using the internet for learning in high school. I do however remember using the card catalog and the encyclopedias in the library for research but I do not recall using the computers for research what so ever. What I do have memories of is typing class and remember how our ‘computer classes’ were primarily focused on learning to type. Reflecting on high school I do not have any memories of any teacher taking time teaching us how to use the internet. In Scott’s blog post this week he describes web 1.0 perfectly. He shares how the internet 1.o was just used for ‘read-only’ ways and there was no way for students to contribute to and add to their learning online. When considering what web 1.0 was used for it is easy to see that there was not much difference between using an encyclopedia or using the internet for research as it was all fairly relative at that point.
Moving into my undergrad I remember the shift to web 2.0. I remember this shift based on the internet then became a social space we were able to be much more connected online. Although I remember my social life becoming much more connected online I do not remember my learning becoming more connected online. Reflecting back on my undergrad degree I still remember going to the library and taking out all of the textbooks that I would need in order to do research on a topic for a class. I feel that the lack of knowledge of how to use the internet for research based on having no education of that in high school really hindered my use of the internet during my undergrad. It was not until I began my Masters degree that I really was able to understand how all academic articles and academic journals could be accessed online and that we do not require the library like we once did for research.
Looking at web 1.0 and web 2.0 from a teachers perspective and how it was used for my own education it seems that teaching and learning seem to constantly be a step behind the development of the internet. Many teachers currently today are still learning the basic skills of navigating the internet. They are still learning the basic skills themselves so incorporating technology into the classroom is something that teachers are struggling with. If teachers are not using technology in the classroom today then they are not meeting the needs of their current students and teaching and modeling the skills they require to be successful in navigating the internet independently outside of school.
Many teachers are still using the internet as a ‘read-only’ tool in their classrooms. They are now using it to allow students to research and look up information but they are not teaching them how to connect with others and how to be an active participant online. This becomes problematic as there become gaps in understanding with students and what possibilities the internet offers us for learning and how it should be properly used. Many teachers do not want to bring the ‘social’ aspect of web 2.0 into their classrooms. This may be due to their comfort level with the tools or they do not see the value in teaching using these tools. Due to these gaps students then miss out on learning about Digital Citizenship.
As teachers, we have a responsibility to understand the development of technology and how it impacts what students need to be learning and how we will meet those educational needs. Considering a large portion of web 2.0 is social media it is important for teachers to explore how their teaching needs to help students understand Digital Citizenship and help them understand how their digital footprint is a permanent footprint. We have a responsibility to be role models online and use these tools within our classrooms to model what appropriate online behavior looks like. There needs to be more professional development for teachers in these areas to help teachers understand how they can push themselves outside of their comfort zones and incorporate this into their teaching.
With the shift moving towards web 3.0 it is clear that education will once again be behind. Many teachers are just now becoming comfortable with or beginning to understand how Web 2.0 influences our teaching so this again will be a shift that we will need to make up ground on. I think it is important that teachers begin to have the conversations of what Web 3.0 is and how that will impact and change our teaching once again. School boards need to begin to consider what types of professional development will be needed to help teachers with this new transition. As a teacher, it can sometimes be frustrating how quickly technology is changing. We need to find ways to embrace it so we can help our students navigate the online world responsibly and to the best of their ability.
Education as a profession needs to commit to keeping up with the fast past changes with technology to ensure that we are preparing our students to successfully navigate the online world today, tomorrow and in the future. We need to be very mindful of the role we play in ensuring that they are educated in how to safely and successfully use technology.
Happy midway point classmates! I really cannot believe that this semester is already halfway complete. I already feel that we have made some amazing headway in learning about online tools and ways they can enhance our learning. I am looking forward to the final presentations and of course more dialog and learning with you all!
Similar to what Katie shared in her blog post, I feel that prior to taking Alec’s classes I always said that I would not take any online classes. I felt that it would be a lot to keep up with and the idea of working independently really just did not appeal to me. At this point, I assumed all online classes would be similar to working through online modules with no interaction with classmates. This did not appeal to me at all, as I love in class discussions and hearing from and learning alongside my classmates.
Insert my first online class: Welcome to class, there will be synchronized meeting times. Sayyy whattt? I couldn’t at that time imagine how 20 of us could all be online together- live. Let’s just say during the first class I was amazed at how Zoom was such an effective tool for our online class.
Zoom is an amazing video conferencing tool that allows students and teachers to meet online in real time. This tool allows for the flexibility of meeting online for class and not having to leave your house to meet in person. Yet Zoom satisfies the students who need that push for accountability that meeting face to face at a designated time encourages. I have been pleased with being able to take a class away from the university in the comfort of my own home but with a synchronized meeting time that allows me to still interact and have discussions with my classmates. I love the options and features that Zoom provides to students and teachers. The breakout rooms are a great way to encourage small group discussion as sometimes sharing in a large group is beyond peoples comfort zones. I also love the chat feature in Zoom. This allows the students to have a real-time discussion about the points being presented in class. This feature allows students to ask questions and share experiences without having to interrupt the presentation. I feel that this is hugely beneficial to further learning and provide students with real-world examples from their fellow classmates. This is a feature that is not available to students in a face to face classroom environment as it would be extremely disruptive. I feel that Zoom really is the best of both worlds. I feel that if I were to ever tackle teaching via distance, a video conferencing tool like zoom would be a must. This allows the teacher and student to still build a personal relationship where they can discuss topics in real time and not just via email.
Before taking these classes I had very little knowledge of the Google world. I didn’t use my google account really at all. I used the basic google docs and google slides but that was the extent of my Google knowledge. This class has given me the opportunity to explore and use more of the tools that Google provides. The Google Plus Community I feel is one of the most crucial parts in running an online class successfully. Let’s be realistic- the online world can be quite overwhelming for many so the Google Plus Community allows and encourages students to work together and support one another. It is essential in troubleshooting any questions or issues that may arise. I feel that it is so helpful in getting a timely response to any course-related questions you may have. This community also takes the burden off of the instructor in being the knowledge keeper. It is amazing as a teacher to be able to use a tool such as Google Plus to pass the problem-solving questions onto classmates and have students work together to use their knowledge and problem-solving skills to help one another. I feel that the google plus community is a great hub for the class. If at some point in my career I were to teach a higher level class I feel that this would be a tool that I would use and encourage students to use so they could communicate and troubleshoot with their classmates.
Twitter is a great online tool for teachers and students. Many teachers use Twitter to collaborate and learn from other professionals. When you find a topic that you are interested in it’s a great tool to allow you to connect with and follow other educators to get real-world examples of how things can be done in your classroom. Twitter can be overwhelming at times but I am beginning to learn how to sift through to find educators that are relevant and inspiring to what I am currently wanting to focus on and learn about. I find that Twitter is a great place to keep up with trends in news and education. It can be a place to browse to see what is trending and find topics in which you may want to read about and dig deeper into. It is a great place to form relationships with other inspiring educators who can inspire you and motivate you to further your teaching practices. I enjoy following my classmates as they are sharing articles and information that is relevant to further our understanding of our in-class topics.
Blogging is an online tool that allows students to reflect on, document and share their learning journey. Blogging encourages students to read and relate the work of the class to their current teaching practices. I have found blogging to be helpful as it encourages me to take the topics that we have been learning about and really begin to break down and pull apart my current beliefs and practices of teaching and learning. Blogging also encourages students to interact and read about other students perspectives on the weekly topics. I have learned so much more about these topics by reading my classmates’ blogs. It is interesting to read how others have different views or interpretations of topics and how those may challenge your thinking of the topic. This allows for discussion about how your ideas and others ideas may align or differ. I feel that blogs are a great way to encourage students to share and reflect on their learning journey.
I feel that all of these tools together create a great online learning environment. These tools allow students to feel connected to their professor as well as their classmates. I feel that in order to create a climate of sharing and collaboration professors of online courses need to find ways to allow students to connect with one another. I feel like Alec has thoughtfully considered what tools can be used in order to use the flexibility of online classes by allowing us to not have to meet in person but to still feel connected and have opportunities to collaborate, discuss and share our learning. I feel that these tools are very user-friendly and have a large impact on learning. I am excited to see how in the future I could potentially use these tools if my teaching career takes me in this direction.
This week we are encouraged to think about the idea of multitasking and question how productive we are when we multi-task. The following video is a spoof on multitasking that encourages us to actually think about life while multitasking (if we can focus on this one task of watching a video that is).
My life as a mother, wife, teacher and grad student is about as ‘multi’ as it comes. I really cannot imagine what life would be like if I was to ‘single task’ as I would fear for everyone’s safety and health. I really don’t think I could step back and only focus on one task at a time. I truly can’t imagine what a ‘one tab’ life would look like and how it would feel like at this busy point in my life.
The reality for me is, I feel that multitasking is a skill that students need to learn how to manage. Although when looking at the question ““Is the Internet really a productivity tool or merely an endless series of distractions?,” I think we can agree that the answer to this question can swing in both directions. Yes, it can be a distraction and yes it can be a productivity tool based on how we are educated to use it. In her blog post this week Kelsey mentioned three things that I find so fitting for teaching students how to be productive when using the internet. She shared that students need to learn self-discipline, time management, and self-awareness in order to use online tools to their fullest potential. If we fail to teach these skill the internet will instead become a distraction rather than a tool.
As presented last week in the presentations, we learned about the many productivity tools that the internet has to offer. When looking at many of these tools it is easy to see that they overlap in some area of another. It seems that if we were to use these tools to their fullest potential that we would have to multitask to some extent. It is important that students understand how all of these tools can work together to help them further their learning. In order to successfully use these tools, their full potential students will need to learn to multitask in order to move from one program to another.
I wholeheartedly agree with Kyla this week when she shares that it all comes down to finding a balance. She shares, “We cannot over-rely on the internet but we also shouldn’t underutilize it”. I couldn’t agree more. We need to teach students to find a balance that allows them to utilize the internet to its full potential but where it is not overwhelming them and causing a distraction. It is our job as teachers to prepare our students for their future by helping them to build the skills they will need to be productive members of society. Having the ability to multi-task without being distracted I feel is no doubt a skill that students will need to work on and build in school.
Teaching students how to multitask is a skill that will help with their digital skills. In the article “Can Kids Multitask” it is evident that our kids are growing up in a multitasking generation. They share that in order for students to be wired for the web they need to have multitasking skills. When kids are on the web they are bombarded with many messages, information, and data that they will have to learn to sift through at a quick pace. Multitasking allows students to quickly surf websites scanning and sorting information deciding if this website is worth reading fully or if they should move on to another. The article states, “our brains get better and better at synthesizing and evaluating information at lightning speeds. This is an important skill in the digital age and is useful a lot of the time.”
I feel that multitasking is a skill that is useful for students. I feel that the reality of focusing on a single task at a time is no longer a sustainable reality. In order for students to be successful in our ever-changing fast-paced world, they will, in fact, need to learn how to use the internet as a productivity tool while avoiding the multiple distractions online. Focusing on teaching and building self-discipline, time management, self-awareness, and balance will help students navigate this world successfully. As teachers, we have a responsibility to help students build these skills so they can be successful with completing tasks that they will likely need in order to be successful in the future. Will multitasking make the list of 21st-century skills? I feel that in the future this word could hit the list of those key skills.
As a child, I do not remember watching much TV but I do remember watching snippets of Sesame Street and being enthralled with it. Shows like Sesame Street, Barney, and Mr. Dress Up were shows that hooked children and parents because of their educational offerings.
Melanie shared in her blog post the ultimate goals of Sesame Street. She shared from the book “Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street” that Sesame Street was created and geared towards young children and preparing them for school. The goal of Sesame Street was to “create a children’s television show that would master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them.” I think this quote is very interesting as it shows how writers and parents knew that AV right from the beginning would be addictive to children so they began looking for ways to use this as an educational tool while still allowing it to be entertaining for children.
When we were children audiovisual technology was really just beginning to make its way into homes. As Postman states, parents had less guilt allowing TV to seep into their homes when it was educational and they knew that it would teach their children something. Sesame Street was known to be engaging, educational and geared towards preparing young children for Elementary School. Parents were happy to let their children spend time watching TV as they felt that it was, in fact, helping to educate them as they were watching TV.
Sesame Street had the goal to help children to love school or so we believed. How could children not love school if the school was going to be anything like Sesame Street? Sesame Street was highly entertaining with lots of singing, dancing, colors, characters fully engaging children in learning. This is how a school is and should be, correct? Postman begins to challenge the idea that schools are not engaging like Sesame Street and that Sesame Street may, in fact, undermine the ideas of traditional schooling.
Educational programming such as Sesame Street really did challenge the traditional approaches to teaching and learning. In many cases, the behaviorist learning theory was a prevalent approach to teaching during this era when Sesame Street was first introduced. They were now beginning to challenge the traditional schooling with an engaging program where children were learning and were entertained at the same time. This shows that children will, in fact, learn best when they are interested and engaged. These beginning days of AV meant that now the traditional teaching methods in schools were being challenged as students now had access to other ways of learning that was fully engaging and not just lectured on to them.
Schools then had the challenge of incorporating AV into the schools to keep up with this change. With Audio-Visual being a part of students lives at home in order students to be engaged in learning a teacher lecturing is not going to warrant their attention like the use of Audio-Visual will. Over the years with AV becoming so widespread and children having access to it at very young ages schools needed to begin to make this shift in using AV in teaching. We now know that there are many benefits of using AV technology in teaching and learning. Not only is it engaging for students but it also allows them to take their learning beyond the immediate classroom. It allows them to connect with and learn from others all over the world.
Students today use their devices non-stop. Some studies show that students spend upwards of four out of school hours a day on their devices. Although this may seem outrageous we have to realize that this is the reality for our children. So as teachers we have a responsibility to teach them how to properly engage with technology, teach them boundaries with technology and teach them how they can use technology to further their learning. Using technology in the classroom is highly engaging for students. As teachers, we need to use this to help engage students in the learning process. This engagement is beneficial to their learning experience and in return they are building on the technical skills that will help them be successful in the 21st century. This is a win, win in the classroom. As teachers, we need to push ourselves outside our comfort zones and overcome our uncertainties and barriers with technology to ensure that our students are highly engaged and practicing the skills that they most definitely will need in order to be successful in their futures.
This week we were introduced to the program Logo. The logo program is one that teaches users how to program or instruct a computer to do something. Within the Logo workbook, it shares that computers can only understand very simple instructions so one must work to program a computer by combining many simple instructions to carry out complex sequences. When flipping through the Logo workbook it is easy to see many math outcome connections to this program. In going through the curriculum this fall to make my yearly school plans I did not see ‘coding’ as an outcome in any of my grade 2/3 curriculum outcomes. Has anyone found a specific curriculum link for coding?
Working through the Logo workbook I found that it was very easy to follow once I could wrap my head around the direction of the turtle. Being able to place yourself in the turtle’s position was key I found for successfully programming its movements. I found the beginning of the workbook to be very helpful where it explains all of the movements and gives good visuals to demonstrate how the turns and movements will work. I really liked the instructions where it talked about turning and it shows pictures to show a 90 degrees turn, a 180 degrees turn, and a 270-degree turn. These visuals were very helpful! I feel that teachers could easily make a cheat sheet for students with these visuals to help them get started with this program!
I really like the progression of Logo and how it goes through a number of exercises to allow students to practice. I like how it has the exercises and does not just expect students to come up with these codes on their own in the beginning. I have used other coding apps with my students and I feel that many of my students were stuck with getting started and they were not sure exactly what to do. I feel that by giving students these exercises it allows them to practice specific skills as they work through them. It allows them to explore and understand all that the program has to offer before venturing out on their own.
In a past semster, we were encouraged to try out some coding apps. For this, I chose to explore the program Scratch as it was one of the coding programs that was already on my classroom Ipads. In my blog post Coding…..Say…..Whaaat? I shared my first experience with coding and my introduction to the world of coding in schools. My experience on the app Scratch was a good one as it is a very user-friendly app and is extremely visually appealing which I feel students would appreciate. One aspect I feel that it is missing in comparison to Logo is the exercises. I feel that there is value in those exercises as they share with students what tasks can be completed with the app. I feel that Scratch could benefit from having some exercises to allow students to practice before they jump right in. I am going to re-explore Scratch now that I have used Logo and see if some of these questions can be answered.
Another coding activity that I have explored and tried are the Bee-Bots. Bee-Bots are programmable ‘bees’ that students can manually program by pushing the buttons then allow them to go to carry out the code. I loved using these with my elementary students as I thought it was a great hands-on way of teaching the basics of coding and it allows them to physically manipulate and watch the bots go. We set up mazes using blocks and we programmed the Bee-bots to navigate their way through the maze. It was a great introductory activity to coding in my classroom.
As we know Constructivism is a powerful learning theory in teaching children. Coding is most definitely a skill that falls under the constructivism umbrella. Coding allows students to use their problem-solving mindset and skills to create and construct learning with 21st-century skills. Coding activities provide students with problem-based learning which is a constructivist learning task. Coding provides them with a problem or an idea that they have to work through in order to create a code to carry out the task. Students have ownership in this problem solving as they creatively work through authentic tasks that grow their knowledge of coding.
Moving forward I realize that as a teacher coding is a task that I need to incorporate more into my classroom as experiences for my students. Looking at our current curriculum I can see that coding is not a priority in education in Saskatchewan. I do however understand that it is a skill that students need to be exposed to and hopefully in the near future coding will be written into our curriculum. It is evident that in comparison to other provinces in our country Saskatchewan has some work to do! As teachers, we need to be committed to bridging these gaps for our students. I plan to look into Hour of Code to find out how I can prepare and encourage my students to participate in this!
This week we are challenged to begin to look at our own understanding of which teaching theories make up our own teaching philosophy and classroom practices. As teachers, I think in many cases it is hard to step back, understand and verbalize the teaching theory your practices fall under. Through the process of my grad classes I feel that in the past two years, more than any other years in my teaching career, my teaching theories and pedagogy have been challenged. These challenges have inspired me to change and grow as an educator. Throughout these years, I have come to understand that teaching as a practice for me, is fluid, meaning it will change and change often.
When reading this weeks reading “Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism : Comparing Critical Features from an Instructional Design Perspective” I found that I could identify times within my teaching practice where I used most, if not all teaching and learning theories to some extent. Different subject matter, different learning styles, different learning environments and many other factors challenge teachers to combine different teaching and learning theories throughout their day and year in order to provide all students with an educational experience that caters to their individual learning needs.
In the beginning of my teaching career my comfort level was greatest when I had more control over the teaching and learning environment. I placed a lot of importance on the way my classroom was run and the order in which things were accomplished and done. When reading this weeks reading I see can identify with behaviorism in many of my original approaches to teaching and learning. Throughout the years this has began to change and although I am still a firm believer in routines and procedures being the foundation of the classroom, I do offer more choice and student lead learning then I did in the beginning of my career.
Throughout my career I have learned the importance of passing control over to the students and allowing them to take the lead on their learning. With this shift in my teaching I would say currently I am teaching using more of a constructivism approach to teaching. Ertmer and Newby share that, “Constructivism is a theory that equates learning with creating meaning from experience.” I believe that in order to provide our students with the 21st century thinking skills that we have talked about so much over the last few terms, it is crucial that we are allowing them with choice and opportunity to build their own understanding. Similar to what we have discussed about the role of the memory in this generation of children where they have access to information at all time as well as the idea that knowledge is becoming obsolete constructivism provides students with the skills to handle this rapid change of knowledge. “The goal of instruction is not to ensure that individuals know particular facts but rather that they elaborate on and interpret information.” Constructivism can help in fostering the 21st century skills that will allow students to think critically about, elaborate and create their own meaning within learning.
This week Alec shared how ‘Connectivism’ is a learning theory that should be considered when beginning to look at how we shape our learning environments and teaching pedagogy. Over the past few terms of my masters degree I have come to truly understand the importance of technology in the classroom and helping students navigate the online world safely and efficiently. Like I mentioned above it is important to consider how our teaching practices are preparing students with the 21st century skills that they will require to be successful in their futures. The article “Connectivism: A Learning theory for the Digital Age” shares the following, “The life of knowledge was measured in decades. Today knowledge is growing exponentially. In many fields the life of knowledge is now measured in months and years.” The focus is moving away from teaching and memorizing facts and is now moving towards teaching students the skills in order to keep up with this fast pace change in knowledge. Connectivism helps provide them with the skills they need to keep up with this rapid change.
Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired. The ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. The ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday is also critical -Siemens
As teachers we need to ensure that we continue to challenge our teaching practices and our teaching pedagogy to ensure that our practices are growing and changing to address the needs of our students as well as the demands of society. Professional development opportunities as well as these grad classes have allowed me to really step back and begin to address areas within my teaching practices that I can continue to improve on. I mentioned in the beginning of this post that I would refer to my personal teaching theory as ‘fluid’. This is because as an educator I understand that different scenarios, different students and different changes within our society will push us teachers to continuously challenge and change our teaching practices to meet the ever changing needs.
Hello new EC&I 833 friends! I am looking forward to semester of great learning with you all!
This week we are challenged to share our understanding and personal journey in the use of educational technology. Similar to many other educators my confidence in using technology to enhance learning in my classroom is a work in progress. Over the past few years I feel that I have become much more confident in incorporating and using technology within my classroom. What has changed this you ask? My number one reason for this change is my professional growth in Educational Technology through my Masters program. This has allowed me to really understand different angles of technology and the importance of teachers incorporating it and teaching about it in our classrooms.
So how do I feel about educational technology in my classroom today?
I believe that using technology is an integral component of a child’s educational experience. I feel that in order to prepare students for this every changing world it is crucial that we are teaching them to use the technologies that allow them to keep up to that fast pace. As teachers we need to consider how the constant access to technology changes the way in which we approach teaching this generation of students. With technology students generally have access to a wealth of knowledge at any time. We need to be teaching them the skills that they will require to access and critique this information that is so readily available to them.
In order to do this we must be teaching students how to use technology to build their 21st century thinking skills. These skills are crucial in helping them to understand, challenge, communicate and further their understanding of the rapidly changing world. As teachers if we are not bringing technology into our classrooms to build these skills, how are students supposed to know how to navigate and use technology efficiently outside of the classroom. As teachers we have a responsibility to create an environment where we can build these skills and guide students to use technology to build their 21st century thinking skills.
We need to find time within our teaching to help foster the future skills that our students will require to be successful in their futures. Statistics show that 65% of grade school children will have jobs that do not even exist yet. When looking at this statistic it is crucial that we consider what skills we are focusing on within our classrooms. It appears that the content may no longer be the main focus, rather we need to begin to focus on the skills that will allow students to build their own knowledge. The 21st century skills encourage students to have choice, learn to collaborate, communicate, use critical thinking skills and use their individual creativity. Our teaching needs to allow room for students to practice these skills with guidance in our classroom. We also need to consider how technology can enhance the learning in these areas and push the boundaries outside the four walls of our classrooms.
The book Building 21st Century Skills Through Technology provides teachers with specific ways to meet the 4Cs through the use of technology within the classroom. The following quote provides us with questions we should consider when identifying ways to incorporate technology into our teaching where the focus stays on the learning and not on the technology.
We know the impact and transformational experience technology brings, but it is important to look at the use of technology in the classroom by asking ourselves “What do we want students to learn?”, and after we have the objective, “How can technology transform the learning experience and foster the 4Cs?” Asking these questions in this way keeps the focus on learning and not on technology integration
Within the use of technology we need to remember to consider the SAMR model to help examine our use of technology. The SAMR model is a great way to look at the effectiveness of using technology within your teaching. The different SAMR levels allow teachers to consider how technology is enhancing the learning for the students. It allows teachers to consider what level the technology integration is at. The use of technology should be purposeful and used to enhance learning and not just used for the sake of using technology. Technology must be used to further learning and not just used because it is available to use.
My views and comfort level of using technology in my classroom are a continuous work in progress. I feel that over the last few years I have really challenged myself to look at the way I use technology in my classroom and have really considered how I can continue to work on this. These classes have really opened my eyes to the importance of using technology in the classroom for the future of our students. Some may feel that technology is a distraction in the classroom but if lessons are thoughtfully planned and technology is purposefully integrated with familiar routines and expectations it can take learning places that are not reachable without the use of technology. I still have work to do in this area but I feel like I continue to make progress each and every school year!
Thanks for stopping in friends!