This is it! The end of EC&I 830! I cannot believe how fast this course flew by, and I also cannot believe how much I learned over two short months. It’s amazing the community we developed and how much we were able to challenge each other to grow and learn in such a short time span. It’s been a pleasure to learn with all of you.
I loved the style of this course and how it enabled us to be in charge of our own learning. We brought a lot of debate to the table, and I thank all of you for challenging my thinking and opinions. There is no one right answer to any of the topics we discussed and I think that makes this course so great!
Without further ado, here is my summary of learning video! Thanks again all for a fantastic class and I hope you all enjoy my video (I had a lot of fun making it)!
This week’s debate really made me think. I started somewhere in the middle; on one side, sharing is a fantastic opportunity for our students to learn important practices, share their accomplishments, and interact with other like-minded people around the globe. On the other hand, sharing can create a lot of issues with privacy, as well as cyber-bullying and consent to use specific photos posted online. This dynamic created a lot of debate in our class this week, and honestly a lot of debate in my own head.
Whenever the ideas of privacy laws and practices come up, it can be a very controversial and scary idea. What if what we post is wrong? What if we get in trouble? Can I lose my job for this? There are no shortage of horror stories out there to scare teachers into never posting a single thing on the internet again; class or non-class related. I too, often think and rethink what I share online about my students, which to be honest is very limited. Beyond team, athletic, and grad photos, I hardly post about my students online. Everything remains nameless and it is almost always acelebration of accomplishments.
I think the biggest struggle I had with this week’s debate was a lot of the focus was on the elementary stand-point and teaching young students how to be responsible online. What should you post? What shouldn’t you post? A lot of conversations circled around the idea of parents being super involved with their child’s tech use and also the teacher overseeing the practices. Seesaw, I’ve learned, is a great tool to engage parents and create important conversations with kids at home. This technology is awesome because it can often bridge the gap between school and home life. However, there is the down side of over-involvement of parents and the idea of “helicoptering.” In fact, Robyn Treyvaud states in her article, Dangers of Posting Pictures Online, that “more than 1 in 4 children admit to feeling worried, embarrassed, or anxious when their parents post photos of them on social media,” which goes beyond the idea of hovering or helicoptering. I know many of my friends are having children right now and seriously, the amount of “baby spam” I see in a day is ridiculous and the consequences can be even more serious! It’s something I don’t think my generation really understands, making it even more important for the next generation to comprehend! What parents post, even at a very young age, can affect a child’s mental health later on in life? It begs the questions, do you want the whole world to see a baby photo of you?
I think both sides of the debate did a fantastic job of making their case! When it comes to my world in a high school, photos, technology and phones are everywhere. We even have a school Snapchat and Instagram account run by the Spirit Committee, run by a couple of awesome teachers! My students are on their phones constantly; I use Remind 101 to contact students and my athletes for various things like deadlines, practice changes, or just general reminders for the next day. It allows my students to connect me as well without directly having my phone number. I also use Google Classroom for all the students’ homework, assignments, deadlines, and I also used it for Track and Field this year – creating an online platform for athletes to access permission forms, schedules, dates, and results. It worked fantastically and never thought twice about using these online platforms with my students. However, everything I use and do online is “private.” I’m not sharing student photos to the internet, not posting on Twitter about our interactive activities, and although I feel my students are safe because of this, maybe I’m not properly preparing them for the online world?
Randi Zuckerberg stated in his article that, “technology and the world around us is evolving so quickly that even children a few years apart may experience two very different forms of childhood.” And I think this couldn’t be more true. I know my childhood was vastly different than kids today and even looking at my current students. I graduated high school nine years ago, and THINGS HAVE CHANGED. EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED! I think it’s important that we don’t shut down these differences and instead we embrace them, because if we don’t, they we run the risk of not helping our students be successful in the outside world. Their world is online, and it will continue to be for the rest of their lives. They need to learn how to adapt and post appropriately online and protect themselves. It lends itself to the idea that we cannot protect our students by banning the internet or posting pictures online because what is that teaching them? They will rebel, and in turn post inappropriately online because they were never taught, nor was it modeled for them.
I think digital literacy and creating a positive digital footprint is incredibly important for students. What is the first thing their employer will do? Google them. What is the first thing someone just getting to know them will do? Google them. They need to understand that their online identity will exist online whether they want it to or not. If they do not create it for themselves, and twist it into the story they want to tell, someone else will tell the story for them. I think once students understand this concept, the rest becomes more simple than we think.
After the debate, I realized there is even more we could have focused on, including the idea of “fake news” and our students’ ability to interpret it, and the idea of curiosity as a skill. I touched on this slightly in my closing statements, but I hold strong on the idea that children and teenagers NEED to be curious! If they are not curious with their ideas, then where is the creativity? Where is the innovation? Where are the skills that they will NEED in the future? The “agree” team posted a video: Knowledge is Obsolete, so Now What? spoken by Pavan Arora and I do agree with them. Some knowledge is becoming obsolete, but not all of it is obsolete. Key math skills, and basic understanding of the English language are incredibly important! And whether my students believe it or not, they will need to add, subtract, create ratios, convert measurements and be able to do it quickly and will not always have the assistance of their phones.
When it comes to English and writing skills, everyone will need to know how to properly write an email, a cover letter, and important text messages. You cannot text your boss that you are ill, and send something full of abbreviations and misspellings.
Of course, Pavan’s argument goes beyond this. He discusses the idea that children of today, will not have jobs that exist today, so how do we educate them so that they are ready? He states our job is to “teach our children how to access knowledge, how to assess knowledge and how to apply knowledge.” Our group never stated that teachers should not use google or that students should be banned from using it for research. Our focus was to use it with purpose and not simply answer students questions by saying “google it.” Students need to use their critical thinking skills first and develop their own opinions before they start accessing the internet and using someone else’s opinion for make their opinion. Things like facts, should be checked and students need to figure out how to weave the web to find the good stuff, the right stuff and make educated decisions based on the information found.
The same goes for memorization. Imagine having a conversation with someone who didn’t know the basics of the discussion and everything they had to say, had to come from google.
These ideas of fact checking have their place, but it is much easier if we teach certain skills and basic understandings so that students CAN apply the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Memorization is the base of the levels so students need some ideas or thinking critically or innovative will not happen easily!
Students always ask me why we have to study Hamlet. I’ve thought about it, and is it necessary, no, but is it relevant, absolutely. I tell my students, what better way to learn than from a story. There are many life lessons from Hamlet that can be applied to the real world, and probably some irrelevant information as well but sometimes a piece of literature can help a student through a situation or they find a quote that really means something to them, and they hold onto it. In a world where mental health is a huge concern and we are trying to advocate for it, I show my students Hamlet – a depressed character who has been through a lot (the murder of his father and the marriage of his mother and uncle) voicing how sad he is, and no one listens. We discuss the importance of listening to each other and helping each other. He even has soliloquys about dying and wanting to die. Some of my students can unfortunately relate to that so we discuss the ideas of suicide and how Hamlet really feels right now. We talk about mental health and the differences between then and now and I would say it’s the most important thing we discuss in my class. And you know what, they don’t forget it. I have students come back and tell me, it is still their favourite Shakespeare play and they still remember the story! Of course, there are also ideas of following through with your actions and thinking before you act; watching the effect you have on others around you, and many other life lessons that are better experienced through literature than life itself (I mean, I don’t think anyone wants to plot the murder of their uncle and see what consequences follow, so probably better to read about it )I think Shakespeare also helps interpret language we don’t understand, students have to find meaning in it, and it helps them understand bigger ideas, and see how far our language has really come and it’s awesome to watch!
This example also leads into our third argument about deep-reading and reading for understanding. Of course, the internet and the process of skimming are valuable skills but so is reading and actually remembering what you read. I know I struggle to focus on the computer, especially for long articles or even books online. If I print them; totally different story! Anyone else?? The idea of reading and understanding is becoming a lost art and I know my students struggle with it. Lots of them turn to Sparknotes or other websites to tell them what happened in the novel instead of reading it themselves which can be really frustrating as a teacher. There is so much more to a piece of writing than just the summary and it can help them become better writers, and critical thinkers if they actually attempt to interpret the writing for themselves. Even looking at the ideas of themes or choices characters make can help them deeply in terms of their depth of knowledge and understanding of other people. In Is Google Making Us Stupid, Nicholas Carr makes an excellent stating, “our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged” when we are browsing the internet. I think he is 100% correct. I know the “agree” team argued this point stating that it’s a different type of skill we are gaining and I totally agree. And I think it is excellent that we can skim dozens of articles to find something meaningful to use for our own research but I’m also talking about stories and books and those need to be read to be truly understood. Deep reading is a valuable skill and one I’m worried we will lose if we don’t continue to make kids read! What will happen to all the old literature, the beautiful stories, and even our own history if we only skim it in the future?
So to conclude, I still think there is a place for memorization and facts in the classroom. There is value in teaching things that can be found on the internet. Do I think we should erase the internet all together? NOPE! It’s not going anywhere and we do need to teach our students to be responsible digital citizens and be able to navigate the web responsibly and effectively for information. It all depends on your purpose. And honestly, if we are teaching students that the first response to a question is to google it, I don’t think we are teaching them correctly. We should let them be curious, think about the answer, find their own idea, and then turn to the internet because that will have more meaning, they will remember the lesson more, and they will automatically think more deeply and critically about the response they found if it contradicts their own.