Category Archives: google

Do you sleep with the door open or door closed?

What a title hey? I started thinking about how this course allows for us to have open communication versus having a closed forum, then I though about the door for learning being opened or closed.  I like to sleep with my bedroom door open but my husband prefers it closed.  I guess that having communication forums closed could be a preference for some people but just like my bedroom door, I like it open.

As a learner I have not had much experience outside of this course in terms of open online space.  I appreciate the Google+ Community for so many different reasons.  I love being able to post a quick question or even a fabulous article or medium that I feel reliant to our course.  Our Google+ Community is so supportive and helpful of one another, I find that just by reading different posts it saves me from running into common pitfalls. So far I have taken eight Grad Courses and feel that a Google+ Community would have been an asset to all courses, it allows us to pose different questions, share insights or ask each other for help as needed. University students are often given information in UR Courses but I think the experience would be so much different if there were a way to allow students to communicate in an open space.  I think that our course has really come alive with the use of the Google+ Community. The community can offer us so much more than what is being taught in the course.  Allowing students to become each others’ co-teacher.  Our blogs have also allowed us to learn from others, Amy mentions that “we learn from others’ perspectives while considering our own”.

I agree with Ashley that we must consider the age of the students when we decide to use an open or closed forum. I definitely think that younger students should have closed forums in order to protect them.  Although, I think that allowing parents, caregivers, or even classmates the opportunity to comment or share would allow for meaningful learning.  Amiee also mentions that student safety is a valid concern for educators. Shes also points out that students may have already become immersed into social media, but we should still consider that we are putting them into a wide open public space where we may not always be able to protect them in  an open forum.

Although, educators such as myself have to realize that students are developing their own digital footprint, this is where we have the teaching moments! I think that teachers can help students understand that there is no going back once pictures or even text hits the net.

Like Ashley, I too have enjoyed the break from blogging and being able to focus on my content creation has been wonderful.  My group even had time to meet up last week and go over some of the fine tuning of our course prototype. I feel that my group has made some great strides in getting our course up and running.  I know that with just a little more tweeking my module will be up and running.

Have you ever experienced any negativity in using an open forum?


Let’s Google It?

Photo Credit: I created this Meme using Meme Generator

baby agree or disagree

Let’s Google it?!?  I was struggling with how to start this post, but this photograph on Meme Generator inspired me with my direction! Actually when I first read the debate topic I believe this is what my face probably looked like.  I had to first understand the wording of the topic for the debate before I could begin to choose a side.  I could relate to Ellen because I also found this one a little bit tricky.  Ellen raised an excellent point about if she was a History or a High School Social teacher that she “might not need to teach specific dates in History anymore, since these can easily be Googled” and that she “should, however, focus on questions about the events impact today.”  I would not have students learn about dates either.  I can remember teachers wanting my classmates and myself to memorize small specific details when we were in middle years and high school.  I created little verses, songs, or sayings from using the beginning letters of events, names, or dates to help me remember everything when I wrote a test.  As soon as the test was over I tossed it from my short term memory and I do not know if I would  have been able to recall the information a few days later.  For me personally I enjoyed when we were provided the time for class discussions and when we did hands on learning.

I believe it is important for students to be able to take part in experiential learning. The University of Texas describes what experiential learning looks like.  In one of the points is stated that “throughout the experiential learning process, the learner is actively engaged in posing questions, investigating, experimenting, being curious, solving problems, assuming responsibility, being creative, and constructing meaning, and is challenged to take initiative, make decisions and be accountable for results.”  Many of the points listed in the article reminded me of the Principles of Early Learning on page 5 in the Saskatchewan Play and Exploration guide.  As teachers we need to look at our curriculum and see what kinds of learning opportunities we can provide to our students. In science it is a lot easier to find experiments for labs and hands on learning activities, but there are learning opportunities in other subject curriculum documents as well.  The University of Waterloo also had a great explanation of experiential learning and good diagrams, such as the Kolb’s cycle-“Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.”

kolbs learning cycle

Photo Credit: Source

In my second year of teaching I taught at the elementary school and I  also taught grade seven and eight arts education at Gordon F. Kells for the last period of the day.  My principal Tyler taught Social Studies and History at Gordon F. Kells at the time.  I can remember the students in his History class being so excited after class one day when he set up a learning experience outside for them.  They were learning about World War One and he wanted to teach them about the rolling barrage.  He could have gave them hand outs explaining what a rolling barrage was, have students do research, or they could have watched a video, but instead Tyler created a hands on learning experience using water balloons.  The experience was how he introduced rolling barrage to them!  If you teach History I encourage you to talk to Tyler about his lesson.  (I do not want to explain the lesson wrong.)  If was able to learn about History by doing interactive lessons I know I would have not tossed out so much of the knowledge I learned from my short term memory as I described earlier in my post.

Luke, Ashley, and Andrew gave us very interesting resources  to learn about the agree side of the debate.  I really enjoyed watching Rasmey Musallam’s TedTalk- 3 Rules to Spark Learning.  He caught my attention when he talked about the importance of teachers evoking real questions.   Musallam explains that those questions helps inform the methods of blended instruction and he stated that, “Students questions are the seeds to real learning!”  I believe that questions do ignite the learning journey and makes the learning more meaningful for the students.  If they are asking the questions then they will want to find out the answers.  In the video Musallum explains how he has 3 rules that he follows when creating a lesson.  They are:

  • #1 Curiosity comes first
  • #2 Embrace the mess
  • #3 Practice reflection
boy being curious

Photo Credit: stlcparks via Compfight cc

The way The University of Texas describes experiential learning and the principals of early learning in the Saskatchewan Play and Learning guide connects very well to what Musallum’s beliefs are.  I think often in schools teachers want to get to the content part of the lessons because there are so much to cover in just one year.  I think this leads to not providing  time or enough time for students to be curious and wonder about the topic.  I know personally next year I want to provide more time to my students to reflect about their learning and make connections before we move onto another unit.  A lot of learning can be discovered during the reflection process.  If students just went to Google to find the answers all of the time are they truly understanding and retaining the knowledge they are discovering?  Do students know other ways to find resources and information other than using Google? It is convenient that students can turn to Google to find the answers to questions, but is that the best learning experience for students?  Do students know how to tell if the information they found is authentic or from reputable source?  Now in the world of the Internet people are able to create and curate.  It is possible for people to upload documents on the Internet that may not be accurate.  Students need to learn and understand how to decide whether information they’re reading is accurate and creditable.

brain

Photo Credit: paulgabrinetti via Compfight cc

I was surprised like Chalyn when I read How the Internet is Changing Your Brain.  I had no idea that “the average number of Google searches per day has grown from 9,800 in 1998 to over 4.7 trillion today.”  It was very eye opening to me! In the article is also talked about a study and how “college students remembered less information when they knew they could easily access it later on the computer.”  This is problematic as “Our brains use information stored in the long-term memory to facilitate critical thinking. We need these unique memories to understand and interact with the world around us.”  What information are we not keeping in our long term memory because we know we can access it easily through technology?

I read another article provided by the agree side called  How Google Impacts The Way Students Think  written by Terry Heick.  I think Heick raised a very good point when he stated that, “if users can Google answers to the questions they’re given, they’re likely terrible questions.”  We need to model good questioning skills to our students and help them grow as learners, just as Tyler’s cooperating teacher did as it was described in Tyler’s blog post.  We want our students to be curious and learn how to ask great questions independently.  In the article Heick lists a few reasons in how Google is impacting the way students think.  One of those ways was how “Google naturally suggests “answers” as stopping points.”  I do not want my students to stop their learning once they think they have “found” the answers.  I want my student to continue on their learning journey!  When exploring a topic there is so much to learn about and the learning should not stop after finding the answer.  Students need to understand the materials and reflect after there assignment or lesson is over.

debate 2 twitter pic

Screen shot from Twitter

encyclodia twitter

Screen shot from Twitter

On Twitter Alec posted the debate question and some of the response caught my eye.  I thought it was very interesting when Marc stated “should we teach info in encyclopedias?”  I think that is a very interesting point.  Yes often we can access information, but as I talked about earlier in my post students are not retaining the information because they know they can access it again.  Lots of the information whether they can access the answers online or from another resources still needs to be explored by the students and taught.  Marc also talked about memorization which was discussed during the debate as well.  Amy Singh and Heidi provided us with information on why we should disagree with the debate topic and a lot of the resources they shared with us talked about memorization and automaticity.  I enjoyed reading Kelsie’s thoughts from Tuesday’s debate.  She brought up excellent points about Google and how everything is “Googleable.”  I agree with Kelsie that  ‘some amount of memorization is important.”  In the beginning of her post she explores Math Makes Sense and Mad Minutes.  I think it is important for students to know their math facts and to provide them time to critically think in math through problem solving and explaining how they reach their answer.  I think for the deeper understanding to occur that students do need a level of automaticity for their math facts.  Louise Spear-Swerling discusses in an article that “Automatic recall of basic math facts, sometimes termed math fluency, is generally considered to be a key foundation for higher-level math skills.”

 

In my classroom I have my students practice their math facts through playing games that I have created or other dice and cards games that I have learned from other educators.  The only way you can become more fluent in a skill is through practice and students can “build conceptual understanding and fluency through games“.  I really like all of the strategies that students learn now in math.  I think I would have learned my facts faster if I was taught about doubles, doubles plus one/minus one, think ten, etc.  Students also need a level of automaticity in reading as well.  Tim Rasinski talks about three components of fluency and one is automaticity in word recognition.  He discusses “Readers not only are accurate in word recognition, they are effortless or automatic in recognizing the words they encounter. The significance of achieving automaticity is that readers can devote their limited cognitive resources to the important task of comprehending the text.”  Memorization is not always a dirty word…by being able to recall math facts and words helps students focus on a math problem and understanding the text. 

Ainsley wrote an excellent post about another debate and the end of that post caught my eye.  She shared a link to an article that has a teacher describing what a classroom might possibly with look like and how it could be organized in the future.   It made me reflect on when I was talking about the goals of education, but I could not remember the details.  I was excited that Katia knew what I was talking about and shared the Goals of Education for Saskatchewan with the rest of the class.  This document has not been updated since 1985 (I was not even born yet).  It is time that we take a look at this document and update the goals with the vision of 21st century learners. In a previous post I reflected about my vision in what I want to do in my classroom after I took EC&I832.

What is your philosophy of education?  What should our education goals be??

 

I think it is important to know yourself as an educator.  I completed two inventories (Teaching Perspectives Inventory (TPI) & Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory (PAEI)) in my EC&I804 Curriculum Development class and then we had to reflect on our teaching beliefs.  I completed the inventories again and for the first inventory I ranked the highest in nurturing.  In the second inventory I ranked the highest in progressive and humanistic.  The PAEI inventory has a chart on the second page that breaks out the five philosophies into different categories: purpose(s), learner(s), teacher role, concepts & key words, methods, and people & programs.  The chart makes sense to me because in EC&I804 from over two years ago I described in an assignment that I felt most philosophically aligned with Dewey because my philosophy is strongly progressivism. 

After two years I still believe that my grade two students learn better through cooperative and experiential learning.  My job is to guide my students while posing questions to deepen their understanding.  Social process is an important part of education because students learn better through interacting with others. If a student can explain or demonstrate what they have learned that validates a deeper understanding. Students are also more engaged in the learning if they are interested in the curriculum and when their needs are being met.  I think it is important for teachers to take inventories because it was a good reminder that I need to include the other philosophies in my classroom.  Every student is an individual and learns in their own unique way!

“Learning is experience. Everything else is just information”. – Albert Einstein

 


Let me Google that for You…

This week I had a tough assignment.  I had to debate the question, ‘should schools teach things that can be googled?’  I was arguing the agree side of this debate and I found it challenging to say the least.  I enjoyed researching the science behind how people learn and the importance of meta-cognition in the ways we organize information in our brains and make sense of it.  In essence this debate question came down to whether students should be taught the basic facts that have been standardized across our society or whether we should be encouraging more critical thinking and skill development.  On a much deeper level this becomes a question about curriculum and who decides what knowledge is required for use in society.  For example, is it necessary for everyone in our society to memorize the periodic table of elements?  For those of us who did memorize it in high school, is the recall of that information possible or necessary at this point? Furthermore, the periodic table is easily searchable online and readily available.  I am far from saying that the information in the table is irrelevant, however I am suggesting that the memorization of these types of facts may not be necessary or beneficial for life after school.

Is this to say that we shouldn’t teach anything that we can find online?  On the contrary, their are some sets of knowledge that are necessary at a base level in order to continue the scaffolding of knowledge.  Amy Signh brought up a good point concerning reading and the alphabet.  Can we find the alphabet on Google?  Of course we can, so why do we teach young children to memorize a song that helps them remember the letters?  We do this because this base knowledge is necessary for the development of the SKILL of reading.  Students need to be able to recognize the letters of the alphabet in order to practice and develop their reading skills.  This is a key element because if we intend to prepare students for life after school, we must take the next step and help students move beyond base level memorization of facts to the synthesis, analysis and constructive phases of learning.

exp

Source

“Students who create, build, invent and lead SOMETHING in high school are those who not only stand out in the college application process, but they are also those who are more sure of themselves and more confident about their abilities.”-Alex Ellison

So how should we be preparing students for life after school.  Firstly, students should be given opportunities to deepen their understanding of material through practical application.  The difference between memorization and understanding is an important distinction that needs to be present in the organization and planning of learning activities.  In essence, teachers need to assure that students are being moved from passive learning to active learning.  In other words, instead of listening to or reading information from a textbook or computer, students should be given opportunities to participate in hands on learning and then reflect on what happened and why.  Research has shown that as knowledge is applied and experienced, it is embedded further in our active memory.

coneoflearning

Source

I have been very involved over the past number of years in the Middle Years Practical and Applied Arts.  As my fellow teachers and I developed kits that allowed the hands on application of scientific and mathematical principles, I began using these types of Project based learning and Inquiry models in my classroom.  I quickly discovered a few very important things.  Firstly, there is an improvement in student engagement inherent in any activity that requires practical application.  I have definitely witnessed students who normally struggle with traditional styles of teaching and learning soar to new heights when given the opportunity.  Students who have difficulty sitting in desks thrive when given a chance to use and develop hands-on skills.  Secondly, the light bulb moments come thick and fast while students are building and discovering together through experiences.  Here’s an example from our classroom in which the students created a Mbira (Finger Piano) while working with fractions, measurement, sound waves, and world cultures.  I could have given my students this information in other ways but I wanted to have them share in a challenging hands-on experience and then reflect through blogging on the process (Meta-Cognition).

It will always be a difficult question to consider.  What and how should students be learning in schools?  Let’s not forget that the entire traditional classroom design was born out of the Industrial Revolution.  Society had to find a way to produce workers for factories that would have a set of basic skills in math and language to be able to continue in the labor force.  Education systems sought to have a standardized set of skills and values adopted by all society members and students, just like future labor force workers were to be compliant and obedient to authority.  The rise of public education was due in large part to the Industrial Revolution but the school system itself was modelled in large part after the factories of the time.  As we now know, we cannot educate students as we move pieces through a factory.  This is why it is crucial that teachers focus on giving students engaging and investigative opportunities for experiential and problem based learning.

So can we forget about teaching base knowledge because most of those tidbits of information can be found on Google?  The result of this type of teaching approach would most likely result in much confusion and lack of direction.  On the other hand, teaching through wrote memorization exclusively does not serve to challenge our students, make them curious, help them solve problems or give them skills necessary for life in the real world.  Scaffolding is the key and any good teacher is constantly evaluating, planning and reflecting on their students as they move through the levels of blooms taxonomy.  I think we can all remember studying for hours for an exam, only to write it and immediately forget most if not all of the information.  If students are simply memorizing answers for a test, deeper understanding is lacking.  We need to ask ourselves, are our students being given the skills and understanding they need to thrive after the last school bell rings?

 


You have to walk before you can run.

Tuesday night it was my turn to take part in the Great Tech Debate for my EC&I 830 class. The debate statement was: Schools should not be teaching anything that can be googled. I was arguing in favour of that statement but to be honest when we signed up for the debate topics I was planning to argue against the statement. So it was actually quite interesting to try and argue against my own feelings on the topic. I can’t say that I came around and was fully convinced that schools shouldn’t be teaching anything that can be googled, but I think that my team was able to argue some valid points.

It is important to understand that although it seems that almost anything can be googled, it cannot be the be all and end all as Jeremy also noted. Google is a tool. We need to teach students how to use the tool properly in order for them to benefit from using it. We need to teach students that not everything they see online is true and how to evaluate the quality of online information. Before our students can evaluate the information on the internet, they need to have some foundational knowledge. This is where I agree with Amy in that the “cart can’t come before the horse”. Now I know what you are all thinking — didn’t she argue against that in her debate?? Yes…yes I did. But I had to come up with something to argue in favour for the statement. Isn’t this why we are taking grad classes?? To be challenged haha. Anyways, I agree that students do need to have some basics before they can jump into the whole evaluating and analyzing part of learning.

In my own little world, I would argue that the focus should be on developing basic skills but we cannot be okay with simple memorization of facts. We need students to go beyond memorizing and move towards deeper understanding and thoughts. In order to move beyond the basics, we should be trying to “google proof” our questions.  We should be working towards questions that make students think as opposed to allow them to find a simple answer online. Terry Heick describes three ways that google impacts the way students think and I think they are very valid points. Terry suggests that Google creates the illusion of accessibility, naturally suggests “answers” as stopping points and obscures the interdependence of information because it is linear. I think that the first two points are especially true. We feel like we have instant access to everything because we can use google but we have to remember that not all answers can be found on the internet. Some answers have yet to be discovered. We need students to be curious and seek to find answers that don’t exist on google. We need them to use their basic skills and knowledge to be creative and use their imagination to find the answers.

As a math teacher it is hard to say that students don’t need basic facts. Yes students can use calculators to help them, but a calculator doesn’t help students quickly remember their multiplication facts. A prime example is teaching students how to factor. Students who are able to factor easily are the students who have their basic 12 x 12 multiplication times table pretty much memorized. I have students who need to use their calculators to attempt to find the factors of an equation, but most of them take a long time to do it. For many of my students (most of which are in grade 10 and 11) who struggle with their multiplications tables, I have to give them a chart to help them out. This video hits the nail on the head when it says that some things should be automatic. They need to be automatic before we can move on to the more complex problems. For my students that have the basics down the higher level thinking questions are MUCH easier for them than their classmates. Thanks to Amy and Heidi for the great find.

I can’t argue against the fact that students do need the basics before we can move to a higher level of thinking. I think that we need to do a better job of creating opportunities for students to think outside of the box and go beyond the simple memorization of facts. We need to foster skills that will help them be employable in the future by providing different learning experiences.


Embrace the Mess

That is this blog entry.

Both agreeing and disagreeing with the question: should schools teach anything that can be “Googled?”

As I enter week 2 of debates, I am learning a lot about myself in a way that has nothing that has to do with technology. I used to think that I was somewhat sound in my convictions on some of the topics that have been discussed. I came into this course having experiences as both a parent and a teacher that have given me, what I perceived to be a pretty good idea of where I stood on most of these issues. However, as I read, read, read, and write, write write, I realize that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Maybe, this is because the debaters are doing SUCH a good job that I am feeling myself being pulled in all different directions. I am certain that it is in part, a result of accessing resources that are engaging to me (TedTalks, ect) and I feel like I am taking more away from some of these resources than I have in the past when reading photocopies were simply handed out by professors.

At this point in my journey, I am confident to say that I will likely be on the fence for a lot of these issues, because when I am participating in the Zoom Room, each and every comment that is brought up connects to a story. The narrative and experiences of my students as individuals, and their differences in gender, age, culture, and socioeconomic status to name a few factors, mean to me that I cannot answer in a blanket statement if I agree or disagree. It depends on the context of the situation, and which one of my students faces I envision at that moment in time.

If you need a concrete answer to whether I agree or I disagree in entirety, STOP READING NOW.

Should things that can be “Googled” be taught in schools?

14253849274_ab20a010a0
Photo Credit: theglobalpanorama via Compfight cc

 

No. Of course not.

We live in a society that is starting to be more and more reliant on technology every single day.  And we know that critical thinking is a skill of examination, not a skill based on memorization of the things that we as curriculum makers think that students will need to know, maybe…in the future for the job that they might have that may not exist yet, possibly…. We need to be process oriented, and basic skills will evolve within the process. We can’t dismiss the possibility that we don’t know everything about when knowledge is actually acquired along the process for every single one of our students, all the time. Waiting for students to achieve “foundational knowledge” aka “things that can be googled” could be detrimental in killing off the curiosity and passion they have for learning. I have had moments where days later, I will be mulling over a question and have “AH HA’ed” while folding laundry. (I am a mom, after all) Do we truly know, if that “ah ha!” moment has been triggered by the 9,999th moment of repetition by the learner? It is very possible that a moment of questioning the questions that have been continually questioned by the learner has lead to higher level thinking. Or because at a certain moment in time, a familiar scent may have triggered a memory of a lived experience allowing a learner to connect a memory to a puzzle which allowed them to achieve that level of deeper understanding of something they have been questioning. How do we know what goes on in that moment, which is different to every learner, and further differentiated by factors like learning styles, ages, gender, culture and socioeconomic status?

I loved: Ramsey’s 3 Rules

1)  Curiosity comes first. Curiously is starting to attract some attention, in a good way. I believe that engaging learners is just another term for embracing the curiosity that naturally drives kids.

2) Embrace the mess. Learning is so, so messy.

3) Practice reflection, (it deserves our revision) This is something that I can appreciate significantly more since I began taking my masters. As an overwhelmed beginner teacher, there was no time for me to reflect. I was simply trying to keep my head above water. However, as the fog cleared and I have embarked on this journey into graduate studies, I have become increasingly aware of how significant reflection and revision is to the learning process, both for myself and my students. I feel that in the process of drill and practice there is less room and meaning for reflection, which leaves a huge gap. When you are actually applying your knowledge through experiential learning there is room for higher level thinking and therefor reflection.

Yes, of course.

Rasmey Mulligan refers to his open heart surgery and taking comfort in the confidence of his surgeons curiosity. I would like to point out that we are all aware of the grueling amount of traditional schooling that doctors endure. A strenuous amount of rote memorization, to be exact. I am going to go out on a limb here and ask, is his doctor’s curiosity and willingness to attempt this trial and error surgery reliant on a foundation of skills, abilities and prior knowledge that we would consider to be “Googleable”?

In the article, How Google impacts the way students think, three areas of concern are outlined.

  1. Google creates the illusion of accessibility.
  2. Google suggests “answers” as stopping points.
  3. Being linear, Google obscures the interdependence of information

During the debate it was brought up, and referenced from this article in particular that Google gives students the illusion that answers are in reach when they are not, creating a false sense of knowing. Students don’t necessarily know, or remember and because it is so fast paced they are collecting just enough information that it is not maintained as knowledge in the long term, because they are more likely to remember where they got the information than the actual information itself. As teachers we have all been witness to this. However, I do not believe this is Google’s fault; that the illusion of accessibility is for students is created, nor that answers are seen as stopping points. And being linear???? This is where it gets messy. Replace the word “Google” with the word “memorization” and you could make the exact same accusations. These are all descriptive qualities of the traditional institution of SCHOOL. Google has not created these problems, school has.We have traditionally taught in a product rather than process driven way. Most of us in this class, likely attended schools where there was one right answer to the questions we were being asked. Work was linear, and it didn’t necessarily promote in depth learning or inquiry, and in some classrooms, it is still this way. Lets not blame to tool, or even the user. Ken Robinson states that the current education system (including curriculum) was “designed and conceived in a different age, based on an intellectual model of the mind”, by a bunch of wealthy, white men.

Ultimately…..

Learning needs to be balanced, and the system of education and curriculum needs to continue evoling. Every day I see professionals around me going to combat against an outdated system, and trying to not only teach but to assess in the way that supports this notion of critical thinking, by teaching basic skills and using inquiry to emphasize the learning process and reflection to be just as valuable to students as the final product. I do take value in the concerns of what happens when students only “Google” as reflected in this debate. However, I believe that these concerns will stay the same and simply be replaced by the next “tool” or “Google” to come down the line, unless we challenge the bigger picture which is the institution of education itself.

Learning needs to be differentiated. Some of my students should be allowed to bypass tasks, and use tools for technology that others don’t get to use. Why? Because fair is not always equal. I do understand that this runs risks of streamlining kids. I really do understand that. But I am a professional. I am trying my best, given the education and training that I have, to do the absolute best for my students. If I allow a students to by-pass a step and go straight to Google, trust me. That student being able to “Google it” may very well be a moment serving of HUGE celebration. For that student, the deeper understanding may be present in the action of being able to Google something.

Learning needs to be meaningful. This can be achieved through drill and practice too. In grade 6, I shot free throws in my front yard for more hours than I practiced my math facts. I wanted to make the basketball team. I did, make the basketball team, and I was addicted for life. I went on to play a lot of basketball in my day (Go Spartans!) and still play women’s rec league with a bunch of great ladies in Regina. This drill and practice of a skill, was meaningful to me. Ben Johnson refers to the body as another learning tool that can benefit from repetition. He states that “the body is another learning tool — another often-ignored concept. The body is connected to the brain and if you engage the body, you are engaging the brain too.He also claims that, like in my case, “learners feel an addictive sense of accomplishment when something has been memorized completely” (Johnson, 2010).

 

 

 

 

 

 


Just Google it? Just Google it right. Building from simple to complex.

Statement: Schools should not be teaching anything that can be googled.

logo_no_google

No2Google Logo via No2Google.com

 

Disagree.

The picture below isn’t necessarily related, but it was one of the pictures that came up when I searched, “Yes Google”, and I feel compelled to use it… it helps if you imagine Psy singing “Heeeeeyyyyyyy educators, Goo, Goo, Goo Goo. Google ain’t so bad”. This builds into my post, while illustrating both the problem and potential solution of simply “googling it”.

2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival - Day 1 - Show

LAS VEGAS, NV – SEPTEMBER 21: Rapper Psy performs onstage during the 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 21, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for Clear Channel retrieved via Business Insider)

Building from simple to complex googling.

Apart from the fact that so much can be Googled (and Googled and found mistakenly, as seen in picture above), the policing of instruction to avoid this next to impossible. However, like any potential problem-causer, it provides opportunity. How do we roll with this? How do we make a positive out of a negative? How do we build from simple to complex?

Terry Heick visited the thought that: “complex questions can’t be googled.” He went on to state that the answer Google provides can be a stopping point… and that it “… creates the illusion of accessibility,” or “obscures interdependence of information.” All valid. This can happen from simply using Google without education, but it reminded me of Dave Cormier’s details on using MOOCs appropriately through the cynefin framework and the rhizomatic learning… specifically that answering complex questions requires a particular approach to learning, that we as educators can seek to facilitate. Terry Heick then concludes with an awesome point that alludes to this need for educators and highlights the importance of teaching about proper use of Google and why Googlable (new word?) concepts should be taught in schools: “none of this (the above concerns) is Google’s fault.” Educators (and parents, for that matter) bear the responsibility to inform students of how to use technology like Google and Wikipedia to foster ideas and “cultivate curiousity”. So much can be Googled, so teach students to think critically, and recognize that every teacher can do this regardless of grade or specialization, as evidenced here, and through digital citizenship as Jeremy Black referenced.

Connecting critical thinking to maximizing Google.

“Before students can think critically, they need to have something to think about in their brains.” Ben Johnson made this comment, and used it to remind us of the importance of memorization and still keeping this as part of instruction. This speaks to the baseline knowledge that may come from using Google and other information sources. Finding the simple answers that “Googling it” may provide is the beginning to deeper parts of cognitive function in individuals, leading to fostering curiosity that I made reference to before. My phrase I tend to use in course outlines in senior science echoes the overlap between memory, critical thinking and curiosity: “in order to remember these terms, I will push you understand these terms.” This simply reflects my angle of looking at it, but there are many ways to aid in memory.

 

Final thoughts

Ultimately, the proper use of “Google” falls to educators to ensure students continue to ask complex questions and follow links to continue pursuing knowledge and continue to connect to new ideas with that new knowledge. Memory may play a dominant role in this process providing the fundamental information that sets a foundation to curiosity and challenging complex questions.

 

Agree? Disagree? Comment!

– Logan Petlak


Just Google It?

Tonight’s first debate was over whether schools should be teaching anything that can be Googled. This was an excellent debate topic as it is very relevant to the frustrations I have as a teacher in my own classroom. Process to me needs to be the main focus in the ways teachers are teaching, however, it would be callous to assume that on the other hand students shouldn’t be required to memorize basic facts that support higher levels of thinking and computation.

One thing the debate topic doesn’t address is the fact that nearly everything taught in the classroom, from basic skills to specific facts on a specialized topic, is accessible in some form through Google. Basic skills need to be taught, learned, and memorized in order for a child to then later work upon this base to develop specialized skills that are specific to their interests and set goals.

In our current education model, teachers have the ability to offer a flipped classroom where students can access and learn the basic content off of a website, and even practice the skill using a Google searched, or teacher recommended online app. The only issue, as was pointed out in the debate is that this ideal model ignores the social inequity that exists in our society. Personally I have seen this model work very well for students who have 1) access to online tech at home, 2) Have consistent support and routines at home that support extended learning outside the classroom, 3) Are at a level of Bloom’s taxonomy where purposeful practice and study is diligent and is being achieved independent of a guide or mentor overseeing this progress. Unfortunately, the majority of students in my classroom do not necessarily have the support, or the dedication to push themselves to learn and practice simply through technology.

Technology, as we argued last week, is simply a tool, that when used effectively (both in and out of the classroom) can pay dividends towards motivation, memorization, and application of any particular skill, whether it be the multiplication table, Japanese, grammar, etc. This isn’t to say that it is always the ideal means of teaching however, but can be a lead or supplemental to the understanding of any given topic.

I will attempt to add Xzibit memes to every blog post from here on in…

 

Curriculums are moving away from the memorization of facts, and are pushing for experiential and hands-on ways of applying basic skills towards higher level thinking processes. This provides students with the opportunity to put these basic skills, learned both through online sources and in the classroom, through  a variety of different applications, moving towards increasingly challenging and more abstract (outside of the initial frame of reference to which it was taught/learned) applications.

So, let’s remind ourselves as teachers that first of all, students need to learn how to use the tools effectively to maximize their learning, and to realize that Google is not the end all of knowledge: in order to develop and master any particular skill, we must apply the skill in a variety of situations to help us refine the skill to use it most effectively. Do we need to do this all the time? No. There are many random facts, such as knowledge of all state capitals or how to fix a broken PS3 that are one time uses which don’t offer much in the way of a starting point for further exploration. However, with a skill based question in mind, Google serves as a jumping off point to take and refine ideas to improve one’s own skill set. Take cooking for example. When I need to find a killer recipe, I head over to seriouseats, as through researching different sites, I find their writing and recipes consistently motivating, challenging and, well, tasty! This interest though, while it certainly started through the use of seriouseats moved me into ordering cookbooks, talking to and cooking meals with others, getting feedback from friends and family, etc. Through using Google as a means of acquiring skill and culinary information, I have build up a level of skill that has been refined through ongoing practical application and real world feedback.

Anders Ericsson was the scientist behind Malcom Gladwell’s popularization of the fact that it simply takes 10,000 hours to master a skill, whether it be composition, to basketball. Giving students easy access to technology that will allow them to better research and practice any given chosen skill is then very beneficial for motivation in working towards achieving these 10,000 hours.

While driving home from the lake this weekend I was listening to a Freakonomics podcast about this very same topic, and it turns out, it isn’t simply the 10,000 hours that makes a master. Rather it is the deliberate practice of a skill, or rather the meta-cognitive understanding of how the skill is put together that matters most, paired with a mentor who is consistently ensuring that the deliberate practice is maintained and is working toward meeting the ongoing SMART goals being set.

I enjoyed listening to this as it kept me from falling asleep at the wheel, and that it again cements the idea that technology is a very effective tool when used appropriately. Like anything, if the tool and the process is not being used effectively, growth will not occur. Simply going out and running at a slow rate for a long period of time will not push the body to create the changes that will enable you to become a better, faster runner. Instead, doing the research into what the most effective means of running for the specific goal you have in mind, paired with a way of tracking and monitoring growth will enable your body to make the necessary adaptations through stress.

Google is amazing, but it isn’t the end of the road.