Category Archives: Education

Technology & the Classroom – Finding Balance in 2018

“Technology could be seen as the culprit, or it could be harnessed to improve engagement and effectiveness.” 6 Pros and Cons of Technology in the Classroom in 2018 

We’ve all heard a colleague say it…

” I just don’t have the time to learn about all this new technology I’m supposed to be using.”

Does anyone else worry about the state of education when they hear these words? Maybe it’s just me, but I think we have a problem if this is how some are looking at technology in education.

Photo Credit: BECCA PONS [bp] + CREATIVE Flickr via Compfight cc

Now, don’t get me wrong, I get it – we are busy! We have about 101 things on our plates each day that we need to accomplish in order to feel like we are properly supporting the students in our schools. Most days, I feel like I get done about 25% of the things I set out to do. There are also those days where I feel like a super teacher because somehow I have managed to cross EVERYTHING off my list… until I make another but I’ll take the celebration while I can.

This week in #eci830 we were tasked with the creating a response to an in-class debate on whether or not technology in the classroom enhances learning and both sides of the debate presented valid points. Prior to the debate, I would have told you I was 100% on the agree side of this statement and I still am but the disagree side challenged my thinking!  If we aren’t challenging what we think we know, then are we really learning?

While reading the article from the quote below there were two phrases that continued to come to my mind: hidden curriculum and teachable moments.

“Students may be more enthusiastic about studying a subject if they are preparing a PowerPoint presentation or a video clip instead of a written essay. However, they might spend more time and effort on the presentation than researching the subject, and complete the project knowing very little about the subject.“ –  Negative Effects of Using Technology in Today’s Classroom by Timothy Smith

I certainly do not believe that technology is going to be the ‘be all end all’ in education but what I do believe is that it is not going away. If we think back 10 or even 5 years, the changes in technology in our world are enormous. As educators, we are tasked with the job of preparing our students for life outside of the K-12 education system. If we are truly preparing them for that world then we need to realize that how we have taught in the past is not going to work. We can’t expect to continue to use teaching methods from 20-30 years ago and integrate technology all at the same time. There simply are not enough minutes in a day for that and I’m not convinced that makes for best practice! Removing some of “what we’ve always done” and thinking in ways that allow for engagement of all not only benefits students but also allows the teacher to engage in the learning process with students. I think this is why I kept going back to the idea of teachable moments and the hidden curriculum.

When teachers are willing to let go of the idea that they need to be the one who holds all the knowledge and embrace that learning alongside students is also learning, we are in a space that then allows for a change in teaching practice and pedagogical growth. For me, this does not mean that we need to see technology used all day, every day in our classrooms. To me, this means balance. When bringing technology into the classroom, balance combined with informed and intentional teaching practices, in my opinion, is what creates learning environments that will prepare our students for life outside of the classroom.

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Do you see balance in this video?

I this video I see a few things: students who are engaged, collaboration, hands-on learning, technology, pencil paper tasks and excitement for learning.

What would I change about this learning environment? I don’t think we should remove technology from the main classroom, I think we need to integrate it into what we are already doing. There is no doubt these students are learning and developing problem-solving skills. However, are they seeing the connections that can be made with what they are doing in their classroom? Perhaps a better understanding of the school set up here would be helpful.

What do you see or think about how these students are engaging with technology?

 

 

EC&I 830 – Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology

Let the educational technology journey begin!

“To understand their world we must be willing to immerse ourselves in that world. We must embrace the new digital reality. If we can’t relate, if we don’t get it, we won’t be able to make schools relevant to the current and future needs of the digital generation.” – Ian Jukes

 

When Learning Happens in Layers

Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/nUKGz1

There is something about learning that I find interesting. When I began this semester I wasn’t sure if I had made the right choice in choosing another class based on educational technology. I am passionate about #edtech but understand that there is so much to be learned through taking a masters program and maybe I should ‘spread my wings’ a little. I found myself wondering if I might be learning some of the same things over. The thing about learning is that it comes in layers and when we have one piece we are able to take that and build. There were times in the class when I felt I already understood some of the topics but the conversations, blogs and class discussions are what added that next piece for me. I realized it even more as I put together my summary of learning, the pieces I had before were a framework for what I gained from this class.

I now feel more knowledgeable about how to discuss ways to incorporate digital citizenship and media literacy into my own classroom as well as in conversations with colleagues. I feel I can continue to lead by example and that can be a powerful thing!

I had been hoping to try something new and come up with an original idea this semester for my Summary of Learning and google pulled through for me! I came across Brackify one afternoon over the Spring break and decided to go for it. I really like how this turned out and although I am not much of a March Madness girl, I thought it was fitting for the time of year! Thank you to those of you in EC&I 832 who took a few minutes out of your time off to help me out with the results of the bracket! I had reached out on Twitter in hopes of a couple responses and received more than I thought I would! Check out the link to the bracket and results in the tweet below! What I found most interesting and encouraging was that many of the choices were the same ones that I chose and the overall winner was the one that I anticipated to be the winner!

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So without further ado here is my Summary of Learning for EC&I 832!

Ohh and I should add that not only do I believe in learning as a lifelong endeavour but I also believe in following your passions so… see you in #eci830 next semester Alec!

Can You Spot The Fake?

“According to a Stanford study, only 25% of high schools students were able to identify an accurate news story compared to a fake one.” –The Problem with Fake News byJohn Spencer

Photo Credit: Meme Generator

Reading between the lines has taken on a whole new meaning thanks to the term ‘fake news’. Now Mr. Trump might believe that he is responsible for coining the term but The Long and Brutal History of Fake News piece in Politico Magazine highlights world events that suggest otherwise.   If we don’t know how to or know that we should, question the stories we come across on a daily basis we are allowing ourselves to be uninformed and quite likely persuaded by untruths.  Now as Dani talks about in her post this week, figuring out what’s fake today is a more difficult task than it was 20 years ago. However, when we base our opinions and responses on things we believe to be true, without verifying, we are creating a culture where manipulation of the truth is accepted. This is scary!

Prior to starting my graduate degree, I wouldn’t have considered myself someone who was critical enough of the things I read online. I was aware that there were things I shouldn’t believe but certainly didn’t question things quite enough. As I have worked through my courses I have spent a large portion of them in educational technology classes with Dr. Alec Couros and have grown to be more critical and aware of what I am viewing online because of what I have learned in these classes. If you are in education or have a child and aren’t already following him on Twitter, go right now and do that, I promise you won’t regret it and that you will definitely learn from him! I think those who have the knowledge of what it means to be critical of media today, have a responsibility to share how we have come to develop those skills and what that means when it comes to being an informed citizen.

I can’t even begin to count the times I have seen “Click Here to Win A Costco (or any large retail store) Gift Card”, “Share This Post and You Will Receive $1,000,000.00”, “Share this Post and I Will Share My Lottery Winnings With You”, news stories from 5 years ago being re-shared, missing (but now found) pet posts being re-shared and anything else along those lines on Facebook. I will admit sometimes, I get just a tad bit frustrated by these but then I have to remind myself that I have some background knowledge on how to question these things. Since gaining this knowledge I have realized I spend a lot less time focused on the ‘news’ that comes across my Facebook feed and more time spent viewing posts from friends and family.

This past week I made a conscious effort to stop myself when I clicked on something to read, outside of posts by friends and family. I found it interesting to go back at the end of the week because I was spending less time than I thought on Facebook and more time interacting with media created by people I actually know and would stop to talk to on the street. I should also mention that during the last 6 months or so I have made an effort to unfollow several business or celebrity accounts on social media because I was missing out on posts from those very people! Twice throughout the week, I went into my settings on my phone to check out just where I was spending my time when I was on my phone.

I was actually quite surprised to see these results when I went in there. Sometimes I feel like I spend way too much time on my phone but knowing about the efforts I’ve made to interact with posts that I know are real, I was happy with what I saw. One important observation I made with that the Buzzfeed app didn’t have more than 1% either day. I am curious what that would have looked like about 6 months ago because I could certainly lose a lot of time on the quizzes and stories on that app not all that long ago.

Throughout the week I also took a screenshot of a couple articles that came across my phone that I stopped to question! After watching Jaimie and Jocelyn’s video this week I realized, that through time and practice, I have developed the 5 skills for identifying fake news that they discussed. I did google the first one to check if it was a true story and came across several different links to the same story being reported by various sources. I actually didn’t make it through the complete list on the second posts because I just didn’t feel like it sounded real and even if I had googled to fact check, I’m not sure we can ever trust what is reported on the lives of celebrities unless we hear it directly from them. I don’t know that I consciously always use each step but I didn’t realize until this week, that I was using them at times. Also, I learned about Snopes this week! I had heard of it before but really didn’t know anything about it, will be checking it out in further detail! These two are the examples from this week but I would say, with confidence, that this is something I do on a regular basis and I can attribute that to becoming educated and informed.

As educators, we have a great responsibility and power to help our students understand how to decipher what is fake and what is real. However, one trend that I am starting to see pop up on social media from time to time is celebrities taking to their accounts to let their fans know what accounts are real and which aren’t. When it comes to young people, celebrities hold a great power as well. Check out Jason Aldean on Instagram taking a moment to educate his fans about how to identify fake accounts.

Building Digital Literacy with Seesaw & WeVideo – Project Update

In the past couple of weeks, I have been able to see the preliminary work for my major project begin to come together through the work my classroom students and tech team have produced along with the conversations we are having!

A little update on my WeVideo post When Technology Beats the Techy for you:

  1. I’ve now figured out and solved the problem of being able to get everyone access to WeVideo in the correct way.
  2. Everyone is registered and part of our Tech Team group on WeVideo
  3. We have watched the Screencast together
  4. Groups are working on their screencast
  5. I need to work out how I can help the team understand and work with the collaboration feature within WeVideo (stay tuned for a post about that one)

As I’ve mentioned before, my project took on a bit of a twofold approach. I have been focusing on and talking about both media literacy and digital citizenship with my grade 2 class and my tech team but the focus for each has been a little different. With the tech team, we are focusing on media literacy through the use of GAFE and now WeVideo. With my grade 2 class, we are focusing on understanding Digital Citizenship through Seesaw.

This past week my grade 2 students and I had an opportunity to check out the new activities feature with Seesaw. My class had been working on a Social/ELA project where they interviewed an adult in their life about what it was like for them to live as a child. We talked about differences between now and then as a comparison and to build an understanding of community differences. The students created a poster and then presented that poster to the class. I recorded those presentations on Seesaw with the plan of using those presentation videos as an opportunity to integrate a lesson on digital citizenship into social studies. It really can fit anywhere!

To set up the activity I created a video, using Screencastify, describing and modelling the expectations along with actually putting the activity on Seesaw. I really liked that I could create the Seesaw activity on the weekend and wait to post it on the day of the activity. Here is a picture of the activity I posted on each students journal along with the video.

What I realized today while putting this post together was that in part, I misunderstood the activity feature. I did not teach the students to go to the activities tab and add their responses there. However, I did like having the activities tab as a place for them to go and check on what they were expected to do. We also went over it together before they began their commenting. We will try another activity using the student responses portion!

Their responses to classmates presentations really were fantastic and I feel like many of them are beginning to understand their role as digital citizens! I appreciate that their comments are on topic and supportive. Some perhaps missed the mark a little on talking about what they learned (this is a conversation we will have next week) but they stayed true to our conversation around making sure to use the THINK model before posting!

As part of our conversation around digital citizenship in grade 2 we have also been talking about how the way we represent our thoughts is important. When we are posting something to explain what we know it is important to include as much information as you can. This month in science we have been talking about air and how it moves. Throughout the week students created a plan for how they could use our classroom STEM corner to create a tool that would measure wind. Check out a couple of their posts after they had created and tested their tool. These are two completely different creations and two different approaches to using their words to share understanding!

How Do I Know if I am Literate in 2018?

“…media literacy is a very important tool for reinvigorating teachers.” – Assignment: Media Literacy 

Photo Credit: DigitalMajority Flickr via Compfight cc

Both media and literacy have been part of society for longer than any of us alive today have been around to see. The World in Data website tells us that in 1820 only 12% of the world’s population could read and write while today, only 17% of the world’s population cannot read and write. The conversation about what it means to be literate is not new but the context that we apply to that conversation has changed drastically with the addition of media. When discussing literacy in today’s society, as opposed to 1820, we must also remember to consider what is classified as media.  Media is defined as “the means of communication” and literate is defined as “able to read and write.” We live in a media-rich society and the ways in which we are able to communicate our intended messages change on a daily basis.

So in 2018, what does it mean to be media literate?

Trying to keep up to date with the ways in which our world is able to communicate messages is almost impossible. At times it feels like there is a new tool, trend or format for communicating introduced every day. I would venture to guess this likely isn’t just a feeling, this probably does happen! In order to classify ourselves as fully literate individuals, I believe we need to place value on all forms of media. Whether it be a book, digital book, website, podcast, magazine (digital or paper), app, social media or advertisement, we need a set of skills that allows us to safely and critically navigate all forms of media.  If this is the case how do we prepare ourselves and our students to be able to critically understand these means of communication and determine what is valuable and what is not? Jaque shared that the Ontario Ministry of Education suggests that being media literate does not mean we should teach students to avoid the media but rather teach them how to, “watch carefully [and] think critically.”

Media Smarts provides educators with tools and strategies for teaching students how to be a critical consumer of media literacy. In the Media Literacy Fundamentals section of the website they highlight the 5 key concepts for media literacy:

  1. Media are constructions
  2. Audiences negotiate meaning
  3. Media have commercial implications
  4. Media have social and political implications
  5. Each media has a unique aesthetic form

As a teacher, I would look at this resource thinking it most certainly would be helpful for my own knowledge but I would also be wondering where I can find the tools and resources to use this with my students. They have you covered for this too! Right in the introduction to the 5 key concepts section, there is a link to their Media Minutes program that has videos and lessons ready to go and use in the classroom! The very first video asks students to think about imagining a day in their life and all the different media that they encounter. I think it would be interesting to then have students take the media that they see/experience each day and then categorize them into areas such as advertisements, commercials, public information, educational, etc. I wonder what that sorting activity would look like?

We can provide our students with the tools to be critical consumers but we also need to give them the opportunity to practice what it means to be critical. This needs to be done in a way that is relevant to their everyday lives.  As teachers, we know that when we engage students with material that they have a vested interest in, their engagement can skyrocket! In my reading and research for this weeks post, I found a video that one, made me feel a little nostalgic for my high school days (see the video quality) and secondly made me realize that when we take what we know about student engagement and apply that to media literacy education we can truly create authentic learning opportunities for our students. I also found it interesting that the video below is from ten years ago, yet it applies in many ways to our current conversation in class.

 

The Brain, Teens & the Internet – Where Should We Start?

For students to be digitally literate, they not only need to learn how to use technology, but to be critical of the information they gather. Students are exposed to information digitally—articles, statistics, videos. They require explicit instruction that information might be old, biased, fake, illegal, or discriminatory. – Digital Literacy: What Does It Mean To You?

Photo Credit: Matthew Dahlitz 

When we think about our role as educators, within the context of helping our students become media literate digital citizens, we need to consider the many factors that apply. Media is everywhere and they are growing up in a digital world. We can’t deny this and if we choose to do so, then we are providing a disservice to our students and not truly preparing them for their futures. Our job as educators is to work towards building an understanding of the individuals who walk through our doors on a daily basis. Understanding who they are as an individual is critical to engagement and building relations. Just as important is our understanding of how their brain develops.  The teenage brain goes through a period of neuromaturation in which the brain essentially pieces together lower level thinking skills to help in the development of higher level thinking skills.  The area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex is what controls the regulation of complex cognitive, emotional, and behavioural functioning. Due to the fact that this area of the brain may not be fully developed until the age of 25, it can be hard for parents and teachers to understand why teens make some of the choices that they do.  Understanding that teenage brains are still developing is critical to how we approach teaching about digital citizenship and media literacy. Many teens are often described as fearless thrill seekers. These videos might help you understand just why that is!

When we understand that our student’s brains are in a constant state of growth we are provided we an opportunity to embrace their inherent desire to learn about and try new things. We have the chance to guide them towards experiences that foster good decision making, critical thinking skills and for them to be knowledge seekers.

This week Staci shared the TedX Talk  Creating critical thinkers through media literacy: Andrea Quijada at TEDxABQED where we are encouraged to create opportunities that allow each student we engage with to connect what happens at school with what happens in their real lives. In order to do this, we must open ourselves to the idea that digital citizenship and media literacy NEED to be part of our daily classroom lives. Not taught in isolation but rather integrated into the lessons we teach and the conversations we are having. This is not something that will happen overnight but I would suggest that it is something every teacher CAN do.

The first thing we need to do is work together, collaborate, seek our professional development opportunities and most importantly: talk to our students about what they already know about the digital world and engage in conversations with them. Perhaps we can take a little bit of insight from Keegan Korf’s TedxTalk on just how to do that! 

 

 

Media Literate Digital Citizens in Elementary Ed. – Citizens in the Making!

 

Now that I’ve got my project figured out and feel like I am on the right track I figured it was time to share what my student have been up to. Incase you missed it last time, my project has taken on a bit of a two fold look. I am working on focusing on digital citizenship with my grade 2 class using Seesaw and building media literacy with a groups of grade 5&6 students on a newly formed Tech Team! It’s also fair to say that both sides of the project are focusing on media literacy as well as digital citizenship but for my own sanity and over organized brain I needed a clear focus for each group!

Seesaw

We have spent a great deal of time this year focused on building quality posts that are easy to follow, hear and understand. They have made leaps and bounds in this area. Digital citizenship is something we talked about from day one but have recently made it a greater focus with the introduction of commenting on classmates posts. We talked about what that looks like and how to do that. Here are a few examples!

 

Teach Team on Google Classroom

Our tech team has found its groove and we have a solid team ready to help build media literacy within our school as well as support that learning through conversations about digital citizenship. Right now our focus is on building an understanding of how to use tools that are available to them within our school. They are working in small groups, that they chose, to create a screencast of how to get to, use and create google slides presentations. They are working on plans for how to teach someone these skills and the screencast is our next stop.

 

 

What’s next?

In Seesaw we are going to be working on adding a little more depth to comments. Instead of saying that they like something,how can the elaborate and explain why they like it.

The tech team is going to take the reigns after our google slides project! My question to them will be, what do you want to learn and how can you teach someone about that? I will simply act as the guide and support!