Category Archives: EC&&I 833

ism, ism, ism! Where do you fall?

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.

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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 theDSC00743 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

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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.

 

My technology beliefs… and some learning theories!

To be honest, every year my mind shifts on whether I should continue using as much technology in my classroom. Right now I feel as though it is a slippery slope. Some worries I have are that teens and adults alike are addicting to technology. In my classroom I try to have a daily balance of technology in subject areas and in some cases we don’t use technology at all. For example, every morning when students come in we do a daily writing prompt. The prompts vary from: If you could be any animal what would you be? If you could have your ideal playground with an unlimited budget, what would you want? In their futures they are going to have to write down things without technology so this gives them organization, structure and instructions to follow. Then for most Literacy assignments, I prefer to use a computer for a few reasons.

  • Organization – students can add, delete, and move items very easily through Google Docs.
  • Formatting – students can indent, use tables, graphics, etc. at the click of a button.
  • Spellcheck – students don’t fear being embarrassed about their spelling.Related image

As far as how my philosophy has evolved over my teaching career, again it has been a slippery slope. When I first started there was a list of rules we sent home to parents are a Grade 6-8 bunch.  Am going to post them and then in read write my reflections on each piece. They are as follows:

Electronics

**All personal electronic devices brought to school are done so at owner’s risk.

  1. Students will be allowed to use electronics in the classroom but not allowed on the playground at recess. The use of Internet will not be allowed on electronic devices.(There is one supervisor at recess… can they really monitor 100 students to stay off their devices? How would we ever detect whether they are using the internet on their own devices?)
  2. Use of cellular phones during school time is prohibited.(What will this teach them? In the future they have jobs and they will need to learn how to manage themselves and their cell phone use)
  3. The music on the devices must be school appropriate.(How am I to know and track this?)
  4. Students may not share devices. (Why couldn’t they look u information together? Do we assume all sharing of devices is of bad nature?)
  5. Parents need to be aware of what is on the students device. (This all varies based on students home environment)
  6. If appropriate use is not demonstrated students may be asked to not bring items back to school or teacher will assume responsibility for device until it can be retrieved by parent.(Oh, this one sounds serious! I am sure the kids are shaking in their boots!)
  7. Three strikes for misuse of any electronic device will result in a suspension from use of the device for a period of time.  If this happens three times, the student will not be allowed to bring their device for the remainder of the year. (This is basically the one rule I now follows).Image result for no phones gif

In the end, my belief is that we need to use technology as yes in fact it benefits student learning. But we also need parameters. Students need to know appropriate use vs. inappropriate use. We are the people they spend the most time with! We need to be the ones setting a good example and teaching them what is a good time to use music, when a good time to call their parents is, and they should want to hang out with their friends at recess rather than playing on their phones. I find myself at recess wanting to show pictures of things on my phone to others. What if this is what students are doing? Perhaps they aren’t in the same homeroom and want to show a friend a picture on their phone… is this why we are banning cell phones at recess?

RANT OVER.

Onto Learning Theories… When reading Tales of the Undead…Learning Theories: The Learning Pyramid

They wanted us to remember…. 10% of what we read… 20% of what we hear… 30% of what we see… and so on, all the way up to 90% of what we do. Ironically everything worked out to an even percentage which is a multiple of 10. In the article the authors talk about  how we need to tread lightly when looking at the Learning Pyramid. Although they spent some time describing why they believe we need to move away from this model, there are some credible gains to learn from it.

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  • Memory – one strong form of assessment is to survey memory and retention (for example: reading comprehension) Students could read all they want, but if they are not retaining what they are reading, what is the purpose of reading? Here is an article that you can read to understand more about learning techniques and which would be most helpful for particular students.
  • Attention Spans – as teachers we need to incorporate different teaching methods in other to keep the attention spans of our students on the task at hand. For example: lecture, do think, pair, shares, allow for small group collaboration and use the internet!

All of this stuff seems simple enough but it is always a good reminder for us as educators. We can always analyze our own teaching and make things better. There is always a more engaging, efficient more exciting way to teach. That’s the best part about our job. We have the power to change things year to year and engage students in topics they can become passionate about… while teaching students to be good digital citizens!

 

Technology… forever changing.

Let me take you back to the 90’s… My first memories of technology. I will never forget when my family first got dial up internet. We had this massive, heavy, pixelated view computer. Back then, this was the dream. I could finally play more games, talk to my friends online instead of calling, and download music. One of the first games I can recall playing was whyville! Everyone at school who had dial up internet would set a time after school to meet online to play together. Following this came the big MSN and ICQ. These were game changers for making plans with friends. I was able to connect with students from other schools and talk with my friends more often after school and on the weekends. Now this is when I first began the “texting” lingo. My parents would set timers for how long my sister and I could play on the computer because they never knew when to expect an important phone call. Whenever our time was up my mom would yell from the top of the stairs “G2G” (Got to go). If we didn’t get off right away she would come right into the computer room and type G2G on whatever msn conversation we were on. This is where I started to type incorrect words/phrases such as: how r u, ttyl, asl, lol, etc. I found this article 17 things you’ll only remember if you were an MSN Messenger addict and it hit home. It reminded me of how I used the internet most as a child.

Secondly, my memory recalls having a cell phone at the end of grade 8.It was a beautiful audiovox and I was only allowed to text a certain amount of times in a month because my parents paid for by pill. Texts were ten cents and I think my cell phone bill was around $20 a month. It became more of a safety thing so if I was out with friends, my parents could contact me and vice versa.

Fast forward to where we are now. Technology is a part of our lives every day. As teachers we use our devices to communicate, use social media just as our students are. Technology is here to enhance our lives. So why not embrace it? So many teachers are tired of cell phones and want to ban them. I understand in some cases, but rather, why don’t we as twenty-first century teachers take the initiative to teach our students how to use them appropriately. Not only can we teach them the skills but we can also help them by skillfully integrating technology in our classrooms. It would be…

  • Purposeful
  • Students would learn how to navigate websites and use it properly (fake news, citing sources)
  • Critical for future careers
    • Typing
    • Formatting
    • Access information online
  • Enhanced learning
    • Skype classroom – location can change perspective, allow for reduce cost instead of bringing in a guest speaker/travel time
  • Teachable moments about appropriate use of tech!

As educators we are the future. If we implement skills early on to enhance student learning by using technology we can set students up with the right skills to be an innovative and creative thinker.

My Teaching Story 2018-09-23 18:13:53

Hello fellow EC&I 833 classmates! It is so great to be back for another semester of ed tech learning!

In class this week, we discussed some definitions of educational technology and explored some of the historical contexts of technology and its impacts on society. You can read about my personal journey with technology in this blog post. My classmate Kyle provides his history with tech in his post found here and Scott provides a trip down memory lane as well.

This is my third ed tech course and we have spent a lot of time in all of the courses discussing how technology is simply a tool. It does not have positive or negative connotations associated with it but how people choose to use the tool does. In the spring session, our class debated whether or not technology enhanced learning. My classmate Erin used this graphic to highlight points from either side of the debate:

Despite some really relevant concerns that tech can possibly inhibit learning, most people felt that the positive aspects of ed tech outweighed the negative. To further this discussion, the SAMR model provides various steps in which technology can be integrated into the classroom in meaningful ways. My classmate Adam also share some of the tools he has used (many fit into this SAMR model!) that enhance or enrich student learning in his post.

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This week, Alec presented us with some variations to the definition of educational technology. My personal understanding of educational technology combines the ideas I have presented above in that the purpose of educational technology is to enhance learning using a variety of technological resources. Critical to this understanding is the consideration and facilitation of ed tech resources by the teacher so as to use the technological resource to enhance and transform learning. Equally as important are the ethical implications that go along with using technology in terms of data collection and sharing and student privacy. The ethical use of technology often leaves many teachers at various stages of comfort with the use of tech. My classmate Channing explores her experience and comfort level with using tech in the classroom in her blog post found here.

As Tony Bates (2015) argues in A Short History of Educational Technology, that “there are some useful lessons to be learned from past developments in the use of technology for education, in particular that many claims made for newly emerging technology are likely to be neither true nor new”.

I find it very interesting that Bates compares the King of Egypt’s (fifth century) critique of writing (as a technology) to modern day critiques of social media: 

When we think about contemporary understandings of technology use in the classroom, Neil Postman (1998) provides some relevant ideas about the ever-changing world of technology. As our contemporary definition of educational technology continues to evolve, Postman’s ideas provide a continuous reminder about technology in general:

  • Idea #1: “For every advantage a new technology offers, there is a corresponding disadvantage. The disadvantage may exceed in importance the advantage, or the advantage may well be worth the cost”. (I don’t agree with this statement in it’s entirety but the main point is relevant).
  • Idea #2: “The advantages and disadvantages of new technologies are never distributed evenly among the population. This means that every new technology benefits some and harms others”. Technology can be a driving force for equity or a driving force for inequity in society. To read more about my thoughts on this topic, visit this blog post.
  • Idea #3: I actually don’t really like Postman’s description of his 3rd idea. But what I think he is trying to get at it is Marshal McLuhan’s idea of “The medium is the message”.
  • Idea #4: Technological change is ecological / immersive and seeps into all elements of our society or ecology. Postman (1998) provides an analogy: “What happens if we place a drop of red dye into a beaker of clear water? Do we have clear water plus a spot of red dye? Obviously not. We have new colouration to every molecule of water.” This idea also relates McLuhan’s understanding of technology within society and has a Foucaultian ring to it: when tech becomes so ingrained, society fails to continue questioning its relevance, purpose and impact.
  • Idea #5: Relates back to idea three and four. Postman (1998) argues “Technology tends to become mythic; that is, perceived as part of the natural order of things”…which be become dangerous for society.

I tend to agree with some of Postman’s ideas and I think they are important to consider when reflecting on a more modern understanding of educational technology. I do think that his article is outdated especially in the many examples he provides along with each of his five ideas. One premise that I wholeheartedly disagree upon is his positioning that schools/teachers can be replaced by technology. I will reiterate a point made in an earlier blog post this spring: Critical to technology integration is the role of the teacher. Technology does not and cannot replace the teacher. Teachers play a crucial role in implementing technology which allows students to be more prepared for the future. In this article, McKnight et al. (2016) indicate “Teachers play a critical role by organizing the learning environment to provide students with active, hands-on learning and authentic tasks and audiences for their work…Researchers have found that for technology to make a difference in learning, specific systems factors such as leadership support, frequency of technology use, and instructional models must be in place…Perhaps most importantly…technology transformed teachers’ roles as educators and activated cognitive processes that learning science tells us enhance learning”.

That’s all for now folks! I look forward to reading more of your blog posts in the coming days. Comments welcome!