Author Archives: msbsavage

Summary of Learning

“Tech gives the quietest student a voice.”

– Jerry Blumengarten

It is very hard to believe the class is already done! I would like to thank everyone who contributed to my learning, and how accepting and knowledgeable the class was! Thank you Katia for expanding my horizons in the tech world.

Throughout the course I utilized new tech tools:

  • Discord
  • We Video
  • Canva
  • RSS Readers
  • Furthered my knowledge of WordPress

I hope everyone has a great summer, and best of luck on the rest of your masters journey or congratulations to you who have finished after this class!

“Technology will never replace great teachers, but in the hands of great teachers, it’s transformational.”

– George Couros

Topic #7: Educators and schools have a responsibility to help their students develop a digital footprint. 

Educators in schools have a responsibility to help their students develop a digital footprint. Indeed we are in the 21st century where technology is booming, and mostly every student (in Saskatchewan) has access to technology in some form. I struggle with the wording of the debate topics (but hey that’s what makes it a debate), and in this particular topic I struggle with the word responsibility. Before I get too ahead of myself I want to acknowledge that I am all for helping students develop a digital footprint, and helping them understand what a digital footprint is. Where I get stuck is whose responsibility is it to help youth develop their digital footprint. Additionally, within the chat of the debate someone addressed the fact that some parents do not understand technology or digital footprints, conversely some teachers may not either. So I ask again, whose responsibility is helping develop a digital footprint for youth?

Youth are on social media more than ever and it is essential for educators to help guide students as to what is safe and not safe to share. The impacts of not helping guide students to help form their digital footprint, and furthermore their digital identity could negatively impact students. In the early years of students education we should be talking about terms such as digital identity, digital footprint and digital citizenship to provide awareness of the negative implications on various platforms like social media. Furthermore, I think it is essential for others to know how they could impact someone else’s digital footprint from posting a video of one of their friends on social media. Not everyone wants to air their “dirty laundry” on social media (besides the embarrassment factor).

Does developing students digital footprint solely rest on teachers? Some households do not have any technology within, therefore it would be difficult for parents to teach this essential skill with not all the tools or the know how. With the lack of knowledge parents would be ill equipped to educate their children about their digital footprint. Besides this, digital identity, digital citizenship and digital footprint are all relatively new terms that I am sure a large percentage would not know the meanings of. That being said, do teachers have the skill set to teach these newly coined words? Professional development needs to be pushed to understand how to merge these essential topics into the curriculum to help develop students’ digital footprint. Teachers also may need to be given more information to best inform their students. Teachers are not well-prepared to have these conversations with their students nor will they feel comfortable to do so unless there are some guidelines surrounding digital footprints and their effects. Teaching students to develop their own digital footprint is a collective responsibility between parents, teachers, the ministry and school divisions alike, certainly this responsibility should not just rest on the shoulders of teachers.

There are resources out there that helps embed digital citizenship into various curriculums as well as lesson plans on how to do so as Dawn McGuckin describes these steps in her article. With teachers already overloaded and with catching up from other years there is not a lot of time in the day to always learn these concepts, and furthermore take matters into your own hands. In the article, Post no photos, leave no trace: Children’s digital footprint management strategies students attested to their parents, in most cases, did not teach or talk to them about social media. Two of those students did say their parents ask them if there is something troubling them about social media and the other student said their account is linked with their parents so they can see their activity online. This proves that parents also need assistance in teaching about the harms of social media, and how their digital footprint can follow them around, with negative ramifications.

Final Thoughts

Teaching students how to develop their digital footprint does not solely rest on the shoulders of the teacher, besides teachers don’t have the resources they need to effectively teach these skills. Parents, teachers, school divisions, and the ministry are all responsible for providing resources and PD opportunities to help aid teachers in these undertakings – it takes a village. Digital citizenship, digital identity, and digital footprints are all important learnings in 21st century education, which students should receive the education they need to reduce negative implications in their future!

Debate #8: Online education is detrimental to the social and academic development of children.

Online learning is fairly current, and after the pandemic it is becoming more and more common. That being said, there is not a lot of data surrounding the negatives and positives of online learning, and a lot of the resources were pandemic based. The term online education is a broad term, whereas it could mean taking one or two classes (supplementary learning) or fully emerged online. Our group, which was the agree side, took it to be fully online and not in a face-to-face setting using supplementary online learning. Secondly, the term detrimental is a very strong word especially encompassing all children. That being said, online learning can be detrimental to social and academic development of some children.

Hang on tight! I have a LOT to say about this topic.

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 Less social interaction may increase feelings of social anxiety and pressures. For example, teenagers may worry about changes in their friendships as a result of prolonged isolation.

https://highfocuscenters.pyramidhealthcarepa.com/the-effects-of-online-learning-on-a-teens-mental-health/
Photo by Kat Smith on Pexels.com

Mental health affects students in both online and in person school settings. As being an online teacher I hear testimonies of students shifting to online learning because they are getting bullied in face-to-face school. Some of these students flourish in an online setting, but others have fear of the continued bullying, and hide behind the screen or simply start to vanish. Other students do not have parent support at home and require the supervision of an adult to keep structured boundaries for them, in this case students start to get into bad habits of spending all day in their bedroom, not socializing, and missing synchronous lesson. Ultimately, these students’ grades start to slide to the point of no return. Furthermore, students start to feel overwhelmed, stressed and feel as if they are in a hole they cannot crawl out of as they do not know where to start. I have dealt with a multitude of students that deal with this. Online learning requires skills that not all students possess and this subsequently puts them in an unfortunate position of helplessness. Conversely, some students no longer have the social anxiety they had while they were in person school, and they thrive online as there mental health is better than it has ever been. These thriving students used to be quiet and shy in the back of a classroom, but now have found their voice online and are flourishing. This is so amazing to see and hear about. There are definite positives for online learning given the right structure, positive work habits, parental support and having the right materials they need to be successful.

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As mentioned in the debate it is important to assess students before they fully engage in online learning, as we do not want to set our students up for failure. Parents play a very essential role in online learning. When students are at home all day long by themselves, and required to log onto their meetings independently without good work habits they will not always log in (if ever). That being said, the students that take responsibility and initiative to do their work and attend meetings are cultivating their skills, therefore they will be successful in the online education world and these skills will help them in their future. The parents need to be sure to also pay attention to the students’ marks and attendance, otherwise there is a risk of some falling through the cracks.

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Online learning is perfect for students needing the flexibility, especially for busy or traveling families, and students that attend a lot of appointments for health concerns. Other students that need flexibility is for various sports, and online education allows them to travel for sports and maintain their education, for example hockey. Some students get billeted in WCS and play their season out while engaging in asynchronous education, and once they have completed their season they go back to their base schools generally for the second semester.

There are extra supports and activities that are available in face-to-face school that is not available for all students online. Some students that would once have had an EA in face-to-face school struggle to get this support online as well as LST and RTI hours are reduced for all students. There are shop classes and other hand on classes that can be taken in person that are not available online as well as labs that aid in learning. That being said, there are sometimes bridge programs that are allowed, and students can take these classes in addition to electives that are not offered in their own schools. Students are able to take extra curricular classes from the school that they are closest to if they wish.

Before Covid-19 hit, the family of five had been sharing an old laptop and a desktop computer without a camera or a mic—features that didn’t really matter a year ago. Suddenly, two aging devices weren’t enough to get three kids through school.

https://torontolife.com/city/the-miserable-truth-about-online-school/

In some instances, school is a students safe place where they get breakfast/lunch, as well as getting out of their living situations. Not all students have a happy and healthy home-life and this allows students to get out of these toxic atmospheres for a portion of the day. In other instances, students get more time to spend with their parents and feel more comfortable and protected in their own home. The research attests to students being more successful in online learning with affluent families as they may be at home more for support as well as supporting students with their technology needs.

Final Thoughts

Being an online teacher I see the realities of students from all over the division emerging to online learning. For some, this is the last option for students as they are non-attenders and they are hoping that they will find some success. These students tend to vanish, and this is completely heart breaking. My job is incredibly rewarding, as it is a huge success when you get a student to finally pass a class, start to attend class regularly, or make a connection with a student that was completely shut off from the world. I see both sides of the coin and the students that have good work habits and parent support will succeed online, but it is not for every student. The reality is most students leave in person learning to come to online learning for a few main reasons: mental health reasons (mostly anxiety), health needs, sports, and travel. Regarding these reasons online learning has the flexibility to meet everyone’s needs, however it does not always meet students needs academically. I believe that online learning is detrimental to SOME students regarding their social and academic achievement.

Debate #6 – Cellphones should be banned in the classroom.

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Throughout the debate I maintained my position by disagreeing that cellphones should be banned in the classroom. Cellphones have immense capabilities, clearly negatives and positives, that being said we should integrate technology into the classroom when appropriate. In the classroom I gave students permission at the start of the class to use their cell phones constructively. Students sometimes had to look up a word, and I encouraged them to increase their vocabulary by looking up synonyms, as well as other ways to enhance learning. As a result, I found students were on their phones less, as they did not have to hide them and there was less misuse. Yes, I recognize this does not work for every class. With this in mind, I taught high school, whereas they SHOULD be able to have some self-control. It should be noted, I believe there should be an age limit as to when we can entrust students with this responsibility.

Some big questions that creeped into my thoughts throughout the debate: should we give students the right to have a dynamic tool in their back pocket that can distract them from their learning? Rather, should we as educators teach students how to use these powerful tools?

That being said, there are valid reasons as to why cell phones should be banned in the classroom. These reasons include, but are not limited to,

Beland and Murphy’s (2016) study on the impact of cell phones on students’ academic performance, reported that when cell phones were banned from classrooms, standardized test scores went up approximately 6% on average and more than 14% for low-achieving students. The researchers observed that the ban’s differential effect on previously underperforming students is especially significant in light of school-board equity policies, as “banning mobile phones could be a low-cost way for schools to reduce educational inequality”

Cell Phones, Student Rights, and School Safety: Finding the Right Balance
  1. Distractions…umm…what did you say? – Have you ever had a student look up from their lap with that blank stare on their face? The panic of oh I have been caught doing something I shouldn’t be, and now I have no idea what this lady is asking me. I have seen this face more than once in my classroom. Additionally, there are the vibrations or the ringing disrupting the whole classroom, and once in a while a video starts playing blaringly loud! For this reason, there is no doubt that cellphones are a distraction in the classroom. Cellphones are also a distraction for teachers alike, as teachers have to police who is on their cellphone as opposed to working. Ultimately cellphones could be stored in their locker or in a cellphone hotel and used at breaks only.
  2. Equitability gaps …hey not everyone has a cellphone – We have covered equitability in numerous debates and this one is no different! Sometimes when you cannot get the laptop cart you tell students to just use their phones. Additionally, in other instances there have not been enough to go around and you tell them to either pair up or use their phones once again. Some families cannot afford to buy their child a new cellphone with an attached data plan, and I as an educator forget that not everyone has a cellphone. Not having the ability for every student to have a cellphone with a data plan without connecting to WIFI, consequently widens the learning gaps and the equality within education.
  3. Critical situations – The agree team mentioned cellphones interfering with critical situations that occur in schools, for example, fire drills and lockdowns. Stephen corrected me in the debate conversation about the lights of cellphones being the main concern for the intruder, although there can be interference with cell towers being jammed up. He pointed me to a time at Luther High School where a teacher was held at gunpoint and the police could not get through to the shooter as the towers were all jammed up with the multitude of cellphones from students. In a lockdown drill students are not to be on their cellphones, furthermore they are supposed to shut them off. In effort to defend the agree side, this would be a very important factor and should be noted why cellphones should be banned from the classrooms.

Conversely, in my humble opinion the reasons for cellphones not to be banned in the classroom out weigh why they should.

“These educators maintain that cell phones can be leveraged to enhance student collaboration, engagement, and idea-sharing across grade levels and subject areas.”

Cell Phones, Student Rights, and School Safety: Finding the Right Balance
  1. Promoting responsibility and self-control – As adults, most have the ability to not be on their cellphone when they shouldn’t be. We can use cellphones as a teaching tool in the classroom to know when to and when not to use their cellphones. Allowing students a sense of responsibility is positive in terms of future growth, as well as enhancing their social skills and work habits. As educators we can use this as a teaching moment to progress not digress!
  2. Outrage – Within the debate it was pointed out that guardians would be outraged if they could not get ahold of their child while at school. Whereas, looking back 10-15 years ago the guardians would just call the school. Preemptively, schools are avoiding the backlash of banning cellphones in the classroom, additionally schools would be plagued with the outrage of such an effort.
  3. Enhance learning – Cellphones are an integral part of the 21st century, and I strongly believe we should integrate these powerful tools into our planning and preparation. In doing so, students may not feel the need to always be on them (fingers crossed). I encouraged students to use their cellphones as a tool, as previously stated, in ELA to look up synonyms and increase their vocabulary as well as knowledge. Students began to tell me/ask me if they could further their research with their cellphone. If we start allowing cellphones to be a tool, as opposed to a distraction or a negative aspect in our classrooms students tend to not be scared to ask if they can use them. I mean in hindsight they are going to use them whether we say yes or no in some instances, so why not use them to help enhance their learning?

Studies reveal that cell phone use in classrooms have an array of other beneficial effects for young people, including improving motivation, being relevant for future work, supporting pedagogical innovation and greater interactivity in the classroom stated that cell phone use has high potential for students involved in distance learning.

Cell Phones, Student Rights, and School Safety: Finding the Right Balance
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

Final Thoughts

Educating students on ways to use their device properly in class would enhance learning as they have an immaculate amount of knowledge at their fingertips. That being said, I do not believe that self-control is primarily the students fault, as parents are calling and texting students within instructional hours of class time. Additionally, parents like the sense of security they have when they can reach their child at school. For this reason, boundaries are essential when allowing cellphones in the classroom, although cellphones in the classroom puts more work on teachers, as they have to police cellphone misconduct.

Some educators use cellphone hotels with labelled pockets for each student. Katia brought up the idea about student not having a cellphone and their pocket is empty, evidently pointing fingers back to the digital divide and equitability. There are going to be a multitude of hurdles that we face in the classroom with cellphones, regarding distractions, although I believe cellphones have their place in the classroom as well.

Maybe we, as educators, need to foster acceptable cell phone policies within our classrooms.

Debate #5: Social media is Ruining Childhood

Ruining: to spoil or destroy something completely. Foremost, is social media really destroying childhood entirely? Perhaps the use of the word ruin is a bit of a leap. I believe there are downfalls to social media, but there are also acceptable applications. When I think of social media I immediately think of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok and Snapchat, although there are other platforms of social media that are arguably enhancing the learning of children. I was initially on the agree side, and then consequently questioning if I was comparing what childhood should be based on with my own experiences in mind, and as a result refusing the change that is amongst today’s youth. A commonality in the debate was what childhood should be: playing and socializing with friends (in person) OUTSIDE. Does childhood look like that these days? If not, then it is not as accepting by people that grew up in the time span where children were outside playing all day long with their friends. Who is to say my childhood was better than the childhood of children today? In all honesty, I have had these thoughts, and on occasion voiced that I would not want to be a child growing up in today’s society with the copious amounts of technology.

Photo by Victoria Borodinova on Pexels.com

Within the education system we use social media platforms like Edsby, Seesaw, and YouTube to help share information to students. Are these platforms ruining childhood or enhancing childhood? I loved the analogy of the swimming pool from the disagree side, and this idea resonated with me the most. We are slowly teaching children how to swim at a younger age, rather than throwing them into the deep end of the waters. Likewise, educators are using social media platforms to enhance learning and slowly integrate social media into the lives of youth positively!

Conversely, there are negative aspects effecting youth in terms of social, mental and physical development, as Bizieff attests to in their article. Alternatively, is the sole fault of social media ruining childhood rest on those platforms alone? I challenge that idea, and not only question, but state IF social media is ruining your child’s childhood you as a parent have to reevaluate the use of social media in your home. This issue was brought up in the debate about where does the role of parents in social media lie, and I believe we, like any other moving parts in the past (TV), still have to monitor and limit time spent sitting in front of the TV or watching our phones. I wonder when the TV first came out if people from that era believed that the TV was creating lazy children, and in turn was ruining childhood? I can just see the advertisements now…

Television Is Ruining Childhood and Making Children LAZY!

Society adjusts to various different technologies that have been introduced over the years like the radio, printing press, TV, Internet, social media, and cell phones. When these technologies were first introduced it was met with skepticism and the unknown.

Harmful Impacts of Social Media

Social media is not all sunshine and rainbows as the agree side projected their research and views. The reasons why the agree side attested that social media is ruining childhood is:

  • takes away from children playing outside
  • ruins imagination
  • opportunity to meet friends in person – I would argue social skills and social anxiety is more prominent
  • robs children of their authentic life – what is an authentic life? Childhoods we are used to when we grew up?
  • cyberbullying
  • victims of predators – teaching children about the threats and dangers would help reduce the risks
  • false news & marketing – isn’t this just news in general anyway based on perspectives?

Is social media the cause of all of the points above? Conversely, I believe that social media enhances imagination, as children can research and watch how to projects or DIYs, for example. The world is at their fingertips as they have more knowledge now than ever! If anything I would argue there is too much information and can be an information overload! If given the choice between technology and play the Mike Walsh video argues they will choice technology. Technology is evolving daily, and children do not get bored with technology perhaps even enhancing their imagination.

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

Regarding the increase of victims of predators, if parents are not teaching children the risks of social media they lack awareness, and could potentially fall into this horrendous trap. So, who do we blame? Technology? Social media? Parenting? Lack of education and/or awareness? Back to the swimming analogy, do we blame the swimming pool if a child drowns? No, rather we look to the parents/supervisor of the child of the time and the lack of education/practice (lessons) the child had. So why are we blaming social media for ruining childhood?

Concluding Thoughts

As a society we struggle with the unknown or the unfamiliar. Social media is something most people never grew up with, and it is challenging for others to see children not playing outside, but rather playing video games, watching YouTube videos, or even scanning through TikTok or Instagram. If we look back amongst generations there were a plethora of new things that could potentially “ruin” childhood. The television, printing press, computers, internet are all examples that generations questioned the ruining of childhood, as they entered the space of the unknown.

Social media is here to stay and is expanding daily. We, as a society, better hang on tight and rather than stop the roller coaster from rolling embrace the ups, downs, twists and turns, as our youth depends on us!

Debate #4: Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice. 

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Social justice is defined as equal rights, equal treatment and equitable opportunities for all. Are educators responsible to use technology and social media to promote social justice? I have always struggled with this in the classroom, also brought to our awareness is pushing our own beliefs on students. I believe it is important to educate students about social justice issues and how to enact/promote change through various avenues positively. I taught in a small town last year and their were very different beliefs and opinions when I was teaching History 30, mostly around First Nations history in Canada. During that time there was light shed on the injustices of the residential schools, as hundreds of Indigenous children’s unmarked graves were discovered. I pulled up a news article on the SMART Board stating the facts of this horrific news. I was met with controversy and negative comments. That being said, I take the steps to promote social justice issues, although it is a slippery slope based on where you are located and where you are teaching. I also believe that if I pushed some of the social justice issues I would have been faced with parent complaints (especially in that area), therefore I protected myself while scraping the surface of the issues at hand.

Agree Side Perspectives

  • Teaching and education are not neutral
  • Social justice addresses human rights issues – if we do not promote these issues are we just simply bystanders agreeing with the injustices
  • Teaches students to become critical thinkers and change makers – two sides of the coin
  • Social media and technology are a large part of students’ lives
  • Social media connects us with others around the world
Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

There was a split during polls of the debate between the agree and disagree side for promoting social justice in the classroom through the use of technology and social media. Promoting social justice through social media platforms is a slippery slope, in which one should tread cautiously. I was on the disagree side through out the debate, however mostly because I believe there are better platforms than social media to promote social justice. Throughout the debate the agree side did a compelling job raising important points as to why social justice should be promoted by educators, as they argued that teaching is not neutral, and teaching children to use their voice is essential for critical thinking.

“They [middle school students] also struggle with not knowing exactly where they stand on issues and not having the language to articulate their thoughts on these matters.

Using Social Justice to Promote Student Voice by: Lorena Germán

Furthermore, promoting social justice through various platforms gives students tools to speak out when they see oppression, racism, hate crimes, privilege/white privilege, discrimination etc. If classrooms are not open and inviting to these conversations to be had we, as educators, lose the opportunity to educate about social justice issues.

I am all for promoting social justice, as these important conversations need to be had to promote and awaken unequitable issues in our world. As educators we should be fearful about the intolerance that may occur if we do not educate on social justice issues. Some of these examples that were addressed in the debate were Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and Black Lives Matter.

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The article Using Social Justice to Promote Student Voice is a testimony on how students were unaware of how to use their voices and articulate their thoughts in matter of social justice issues. The author testifies on how she promoted social justice issues (issues that her students were passionate about) to teach students how to use their voice, be aware of social justice issues as well as inequalities in society. Germán voices, “they had to address ways that race, gender, or other social identities were related to their issue and impacted the experience of the people involved in the issue,” shedding light on inequalities.

Disagree Side Perspectives

  • CAUTION: teachers walking a fine line between professional and private/personal lives
  • Teachers pushing their own agenda on their students
  • There are other platforms, possibly more effective ways, as opposed to social media to promote change in social justice issues
  • It is not the teachers responsibility to promote social justice issues using social media or technology, but rather for teachers to protect themselves if they uncomfortable in doing so
  • Educators teach values of differences (race, culture, socioeconomic etc.) in classrooms to make them safer spaces

The disagree side had a very compelling argument, a great opening video and realistic viewpoints on the topic. As previously stated, I voted disagree in both of the votes, although I just want to clear the air in saying I do not believe we should shy away from educating students about social justice issues that could make a less intolerant society.

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Previously, when teaching History 30 I combatted various racist and distasteful comments in the classroom. When educating I always try to throw shade at the other side to be sure both sides of the coin are being represented well. I do not believe I push my opinion, although I am sure some of my own beliefs trickle down the pipes, in spite of me trying very hard to allow children to form their own viewpoints. I caution you about teaching in a rural area as it is imperative to understand the community before you dive into a swimming pool full of rocks.

Do you ever worry about professional repercussions when voicing your opinion on social justice issues through social media? There is a standard for educators to lead by example, and I refuse to get into a keyboard war with some stranger over a difference of opinion, regardless I rarely post anything on social media. Teaching values of difference in classrooms to make them safer spaces seems to be more impactful and promote awareness of these accepted differences.

“Many teachers do shy away from sharing political opinions on Twitter or Facebook for a range of reasons: They want to preserve their objectivity in front of their students.”

Teachers, Politics, and Social Media: A Volatile Mix – Madeline Will

Madeline Will portrays the side of educators not wanting to put their private over their professional, and as stated in the debate a lot of educators do not want to lose their jobs/income over getting into hot water over voicing a stance on social media (right or wrong).

Verdict Is In!

So where do I stand at the end of the debate. I still am on the disagree side as I do not believe it is the teachers contractual job to educate social justice issues if the educator feels uncomfortable, depending on demographics in the community, or even just plain protecting themselves for job security. However, I will continue to push these social justice issues within our society, and slowly pick away at promoting positive activism and addressing the inequalities that exist in our society.

Debate #3 – Should schools no longer teach skills that can be easily carried out by technology?

First off, I loved playing conductor in the room, and showing off my knowledge of multiplication facts. Multiplication skills/flashcards were my jam and I thoroughly enjoyed doing mad minutes. That being said, for some this was shear torture and ultimately very embarrassing for students that were not as strong in this area. If you do not know what conductor is the rules are: a student stands by a students’ desk and the teacher shows a flashcard, and if the student gets it correct they move on to the next desk. Can you imagine the student that did not get any correct? Now, think about the student that struggled in math, and every time a teacher said “we are going to do a mad minute”, had a sensation of panic run through their body. Where am I going with this? Well, simply put not every “old” strategy we use in the classroom is necessary in the 21st century. If we can support students through other means, like technology, why don’t we use that way for the student(s) to show their strengths, so they do not have to feel these uncomfortable sensations?

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If technology is the right fit for one student and the “old” methods (like multiplication facts) are right for the next we need to do what is best for students. That does not mean replacing these skills with technology, but finding the balance between the two to promote the strengths of students to flourish! During this debate I would have picked neither if I could, as I do believe that technology is needed as well as learning math facts, printing or cursive writing, spelling or even reading a book to students. If we do not have a balance we are stunting the growth of our students!

Balancing the Agree and Disagree Sides

Do we really need to know spelling, basic math skills, or cursive writing?

The arguments presented from the agree side stated that there is spell check on computers, calculators for basic math skills and is there really a need for cursive writing today?

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As I am currently typing my blog spell check is right behind me fixing the errors made. Do we need to know how to spell correctly? Technology surrounds us that allows us to be better spellers with that squiggly red line telling us there is an error. The disagree side argued that learning how to spell promotes motor skills as well as seeking employment. Perhaps it is not about the spelling of words, but rather a good foundation on language. Expanding your language and vocabulary is imperative when working for various companies, completing a bachelors degree, or even just simply applying for a job with a well tailored cover letter and resume. I struggle with allowing tech to completely take over these essential skills. Teachers fine tune and adjust for each individual student, which in turn allows students to reach their full potential and not limiting their future. As the article Shaping Future Schools with Digital Technology indicates that there needs to be a balance within the classroom, because technology can have an impact on education as well.

“Technology refers to all applications of scientific knowledge for practical purposes in human societies because they all have an impact on education.”

Shaping Future Schools with Digital Technology By: Yu, Niemi, and Mason
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Isn’t basic math skills why the calculator was invented? The agree side argued that students have access to calculators in schools, so why is it so crucial students learn their basic math skills (multiplication, division, subtracting or addition)? The disagree side disputed that basic math skills are to scaffold their skills in order to comprehend the steps after to grasp other outcomes easier. A member of the disagree side mentioned that they had one student spend the whole class on working on their basic math skills as opposed to working at the task at hand that was being assessed, therefore putting said student behind. On the opposition side the debaters stated that using technology to aid in these skills allows to meet the students where they are as well as being effective and efficient. In my personal opinion I believe it is essential to learn these basic math skills being able to scaffold their knowledge as they move ahead on more vast problems. Additionally, learning these basic math skills in a lower grade will make future grades easier as they build off their skills from previous years.

In the article, Shaping Future Schools with Digital Technology they aim to support the agree side, which attests to supporting technology in the classroom, and the fundamental reason of teaching: for students to achieve the outcomes. We differentiate in our classrooms daily, and that should not be different if the differentiation requires the use of technology, as opposed to learning those basic math skills, cursive writing or spelling.

“By redefining the value of knowledge and abilities, technology can fundamentally redefine the outcomes of education, that is, what education should be about.”

Shaping Future Schools with Digital Technology By: Yu, Niemi, and Mason

Looking at the other side of the coin – equity gap or digital divide. If we taught all these skills through technology we are leaving some students in the dust. Moreover, not all students have equal access to technology or WIFI, which is not necessarily based on their socioeconomic background, but also their location. As a result, we are leaving some students behind which could potentially be the ones that are already struggling with math skills or spelling. Maybe there is a place for technology to take over these skills, but not in today’s world as we are not set up properly to do so.

The article by Pan, Rickard and Bjork backs up the disagree side by confirming that spelling skills still need to be taught by educators. Pan, Rickard and Bjork researched spelling becoming obsolete in schools in the 21st century. The research states that spelling is no longer assessed on standardized tests, and included a testimony of a processor devaluing these skills;

“The emphasis on grammar and spelling, I find a bit unnecessary because they are skills that were essential maybe a hundred years ago but they are not right now.”

Does Spelling Still Matter—and If So, How Should It Be Taught? Perspectives from Contemporary and Historical Research By: Pan, Rickard and bjork

Moreover, the article also confirms that people who had spelling mistakes in their resumes were quickly passed by during the initial screening stage. Additionally in the employment sector spelling skills are important for some promotion decisions, can be costly for companies – spelling errors on websites, advertising campaigns – which can discredit a company and reduce sales as a whole.

“In a survey conducted by human resources firm Adecco (2013), 43% of recruiters listed spelling errors as sufficient grounds for immediate rejection.”

Does Spelling Still Matter—and If So, How Should It Be Taught? Perspectives from Contemporary and Historical Research By: Pan, Rickard and bjork

The Verdict Is In!

While both sides made some compelling arguments my personal beliefs still push to me to the disagree side, which is teaching skills in the classroom. I do not believe technology can take over entirely, although I do believe technology can aide in teaching these skills in the classroom. Additionally, we as teachers are teaching these skills in the classroom not just for the right here and now, but for also whatever career path this student may choose. I believe that if we just focus on one way of teaching we are doing these students an injustice in the future. Moreover, we know that not all students have access to technology or internet at home increasing the digital divide that is not equitable!

Debate #1: Technology in the Classroom Enhances Learning

Technology has evolved at a very rapid pace over the last 20 years, as more and more applications come to light. Has technology enhanced learning, or is there so many platforms out there that are ever evolving we don’t know where to start, and then ultimately stick to the same old? I do believe technology enhances learning if implemented effectively, and taught how to use these implemented platforms.

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Technology has its place in the classroom, and students seem to perk up when we say movie or computers, notably increasing engagement. However, technology does not always enhance learning as students can become easily distracted, cause a lack of social skills, and now more than ever the rise of mental health issues are on the rise. Beginning this debate I immediately, without a thought, clicked agree to technology enhancing learning, surprisingly after the debate I leaned more to the disagree side. The disagree and agree sides portrayed their positions remarkably well to show how technology can both enhance and impede learning in the classroom.

Technology Enhances Learning

  • Students can learn at their own pace:

Emma Cullen in the article What is Technology Enhanced Learning provides relevant ideas on how students can learn differently in the classroom. We all know that not every student learns at the same pace nor do they learn the same way, for this reason technology enables children to adjust to their own pace of learning. Furthermore, software applications allow students to focus on one exercise as long as they need till they understand, as a result freeing up the teacher to help students that need extra support. We all know that there are diverse needs in the classroom and only one teacher, in that event some students do not get the help they need depending on classroom sizes, as well as varying different grades in one classroom. Oh the other hand, students who need enrichment can also challenge themselves with software applications.

“Technology in education enables children to adjust to their own pace of learning.”

What is Technology Enhanced Learning – Emma Cullen
  • Skills for Success in the Real World:

Technology continues to grow and flourish, therefore there will be more and more careers that will require the use of technology. When children are introduced to technology at a younger age they are more adaptable, comfortable and prepares them for these future endeavors. In preparation for the real world and the changing dynamics I think about my parents verses their children and then their grandchildren – my nephew can run a iPad better than me – each generation becomes better equipped with technology as they are introduced at a younger age.

“Children can start getting technological skills early that they’ll need in the future.” 

Impact of technology on kids today (and tomorrow).
  • Engagement of Students:

Technology motivates students to learn from different platforms from watching a video (visual aid) to engaging in Gizmos (application based).

“Modern technology also motivates students to learn, students can learn and have fun at the same time, which helps them stay engaged with the material.”

The Positive & negative Effects of Technology on Education and In Classroom in 2022

As the agree side stated, technology is constantly evolving, therefore various technology is more current than the textbooks we rely on in our classrooms. These textbooks are projecting material from only one lens, whereas when you research a topic you can get a multitude of perspectives about the same topic. Students engagement level is heightened when watching a video, as opposed to reading a textbook daily – as I used to do mostly in high school. I remember the joy we would feel when those old projectors or TV carts would be pulled to our room – phew something different! Humans alike do not like mundane repetitive tasks, so why would our students?

Technology Does Not Enhance Learning

  • Lower Attention Spans

“The immediacy of technological interactions make waiting harder for children.”

Impact of technology on kids today (and tomorrow).

Have you ever had your patience tested when a website will not open immediately? Technology moves very fast which is adjusting our wait time/down time, ultimately leading to shorter attention spans. The rate at which technology moves allows students to have something to entertain them, on the contrary in the classroom there are wait times as the transitions are not as smooth or at the pace of the other students. Furthermore, as attention spans are lowered adjustments may need to be made for only focusing 10 minutes on one activity and faster transitions. Feel the need for speed!

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  • Lack of Social Skills

As more time is spent online, and most of their communication is being done through social media platforms, children are struggling with face-to-face interactions. Have you ever been in a restaurant and seen a group of teenagers at the same table? Generally, this group of teenagers are not interacting verbally, instead they are all on their phones. Most children spend more time texting as opposed to meeting in-person, which is creating social anxiety in many youth.

“Isolation of students in a digital and virtual world that distances them from any form of social interaction”.

Four Ways Technology Has Negatively Changed Education – Alhumaid
  • Other Negative Impacts

Four Ways Technology Has Negatively Changed Education – Alhumaid

• Deterioration of students’ competencies in reading, writing, and arithmetic, which are the basic three skills any student is expected to master;

• Dehumanization of education in many environments and distortion of the relationship between teachers and students;

• Deepening of social inequalities between the haves and the have-nots that is students who can possess technology and those who cannot.

  • Mental Health on the Rise & Bullying

The use of technology has lead to depression, anxiety in all forms, as well as suicide, coupled with cyber bullying, which further heightens these mental health concerns. Students used to be able to escape bullying, as it was limited to the school day, whereas in the 21st century there is no escape from cyber bullying. Furthermore, not being able to escape bullying this alone can impede on one’s mental health. I strongly believe that technology has enhanced these mental health concerns, although I am unsure about the role technology in the classroom impacts these concerns.

Concluding Thoughts

After hearing and reading about both sides of the coin I still believe technology has the opportunity to enhance learning in the classroom. Albeit, technology must be introduced in a way that will enhance learning effectively and implemented strategically. Technology is not a babysitter for teachers, but rather an enhancing tool to help enrich and supplement diverse learning needs in the classroom. Teachers should be teaching boundaries and expectations of the various different technological platforms being used within the classroom to allow technology to enhance learning. I do, however see the downside to technology as well, and with proper guidance and implementation technology can indeed enhance learning in the classroom.

Debate #2 – Has Technology Made a More Equitable Society??

I have been struggling with this topic after the debate, as some very valid points were shed light on. I repeat the word equitable through my head. Equitable: dealing fairly and equally with all concerned. From one end of the spectrum people with disabilities are given a more equitable education, and then there is a social divide that limits certain students from accessing technology allowing for an unequal chance at education. So where do I sit?? The debaters did such a great job that I feel torn as I see negatives and the positives of both sides of the debate.

Positives Aspects

Individual Needs

From the agree side, teachers are able to help assist students with individual needs closing the gap and allowing every student inclusivity. The technologies mentioned in the debate was assistive technology such as hearing devices, screen readers, and even visual assistive technology. Through various assistive technology it allows people to function more independently and has created more opportunities to further their success.

  • Hearing Impairments: FM Transmitters have allowed students in classroom to hear all the content that is being addressed. We have all been in a noisy classroom, and feeling as though you cannot project your voice loud enough, but now think about students that are hard of hearing with the help of a personal FM station their world just got a little easier!
  • Screen readers: help students that have dyslexia be able to understand the text on the page without struggling for hours to read through the text and maybe then not even grasp the concepts. If there was not this assistive technology students could become discouraged and check out of learning for feeling that they are not the same as others. Technology such as screen readers has promoted equitability in the classroom to learn

Differentiated Instruction

There are various learners so it seems very obvious that we need differentiated instruction in the classroom. The Role of Technology in Reimagining School states, “Technology also makes it easier for teachers to share the work of developing differentiated lessons. If every teacher is teaching two-digit multiplication, one can develop games for skills practice while another creates word problems.”

Technology can assist in allowing all students succeed with various platforms like videos with captions and screen readers to name a few. The struggle lies when teachers do not see these as a learning platform to expand students understanding and knowledge, but use them as a babysitting tool so to speak, as mentioned in the debate. Technology in the classroom is equitable IF all students have equal opportunities to access computers, Ipads, and other platforms that are utilized as an educational tool.

Negative Aspects

Access Gaps

  • Cost of Devices

Technology may further the gap in education, as well as further outcast various students that come from a lower socioeconomic family. Not all technology is affordable for every student that is in our classrooms, and therefore do not have the background knowledge nor the capabilities of technology that we incorporate in our classrooms. Are we promoting a fair, inclusive and equal access to education when families cannot afford these platforms, and there is not enough technology to go around in our classrooms?

“Still many cultural and societal issues when it comes to a fair, inclusive and equal access to education.”

https://edtechnology.co.uk/comments/increasing-access-to-education-is-incremental/

Cost does not allow for equitability regarding access for all, therefore I argue does not lead to a more equitable society.

  • Digital Divide

Over the course of the last few years the digital divide has become more prominent in our educational systems. As schools shifted to an online learning format many students struggled with access to technology as well as internet. How does this affect students’ of lower socioeconomic backgrounds? The disagree side exclaimed that the digital divide promotes a social divide and creates gaps for students that do not have access at the ready for them to utilize. Furthermore, the digital divide is understood and coined in the 1990s by inequality between those that have access verses those that do not have access to technologies.

“Inequality of technological opportunities, in terms of the gap between ‘those who do and those who do not have access to new forms of information technology'”.

s. Ghobadi & z. Gobadi – Behaviour & INformation Technology

The disagree side laid out the inequity gap between high socioeconomic verses lower socioeconomic status regarding access to technology.

High Socioeconomic Status

  • Parental supports
  • More resources
  • Sufficient devices

Low Socioeconomic Status

  • Widening gaps
  • Technological inequity and pandemic
  • Insufficient access to devices

Socioeconomic status widens the gap between the use of technology in the classroom. The pandemic widened this gap further especially for families with multiple children as there were not enough devices for students to engage on. When I taught during the pandemic I heard multiple students exclaim that their sibling was using the computer, and they were on a phone therefore they could not fully engage in a lesson. Adversely, causing further problems when the said student went to work on their homework and realized they had no idea what to do. These students started to fall between the cracks.

Lack of WIFI and technologies affect minorities resulting in students not being able to freely participate in school, adversely being discriminated against and the feeling of defeat when trying to catch up in school work. The article by S. Ghobadi & Z. Gobadi addresses four major ideas when it comes to the digital divide; motivational access material access, skills access, and usage access. Motivational access is to wish to have access to a computer and to be connected to the ICT affected from low income, low levels of education, computer anxiety and lack of time. Ghobadi describes the other three factors with commonalities relating back to income, education, social class, and ethnicity. The word equity still buzzing in the back of my brain – this does not sound equitable in the least for students in our educational systems. I will leave the digital divide topic with the following quote for you to ponder over:

“Their results showed the relationship between digital access divide and digital capability divide (e.g. students without home computers had lower self-efficacy even when they had IT [information technology] access i schools) as well as the relationship between digital capability divide and digital outcome divide (e.g. students with lower self-efficacy had poorer learning outcomes”

S. GHOBADI & Z. GOBADI – BEHAVIOUR & INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Concluding Thoughts

I see the divide for many students when it comes to technology in my classroom. Let me tell you why. We have students from all over the division, and some live in rural areas which either do not have internet or have very poor internet. The divide within the classroom for these students is very evident if they struggle with their work and cannot work on it at home, or if the student is sick for an extended time (especially during COVID). These said students started sliding behind with no means to catch up. That being said, this is only a small portion to consider within the realm of technology. I have also seen technology assist students with dyslexia in the classroom with mainly screen readers and speech to text. Furthermore, technology is constantly evolving creating difficulties for families to keep ahead of the everchanging ways of technology.

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In the debate I voted for disagree, although if I could neither agree nor disagree I would have chosen this option. There are positives and negatives to everything we incorporate into the classroom, and I believe it is important to keep in mind these discrepancies while we engage students in the classroom. This debate has opened my eyes to the gap in education from various socioeconomic status’ that disproportionately have access to technology (whether low end or high end quality), conversely creating a digital divide that questions whether technology has really made a more equitable society.

Surrounded by Technology

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My day immediately starts and ends with that blue light streaming onto my face as I scroll through Facebook, and sip a cup of coffee in the morning and lay in bed at night. I scroll through Facebook observing the world news, fashion trends, the news of both family and friends, catching the newest beauty hacks and everything in between. In the middle of getting ready in the morning for the day I send and receive snaps as well as viewing various stories on Snapchat. My main mode of communication is through Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, and Teams chat daily! Technology surrounds me all day everyday using various applications.

This all sounds very simplistic and a part of everyone’s (well mostly everyone’s) daily lives. I accepted a position in June 2022 working for an online school for the next school year, and this was anything BUT simple. I would consider myself fairly techy…well just kidding!

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Last fall of 2022 was anything but easy, rather some words that may be better would be whirlwind, overwhelming, frustrating, chaotic, and simply not knowing what the heck I was doing. Why you may ask? Well technology and various technological platforms was a part of my entire teaching life! Maneuvering through and trying to plan and create lessons on an entirely new program -(Blackboard) to me – was difficult enough, and then slap in what are the best tech programs to use for various grades and subjects?? I had no idea where to even start! How do you engage students in an online classroom? There was a magnitude of questions that were unanswered for me. Technology can be so incredibly overwhelming, but once your toolbelt is full technology is truly amazing (when it works).

Now, currently back to the present day I have eased into the online world and have found various ways to engage students in the class. I have discovered different applications to use for assessment tools, to engage conversations and to add a little fun when we learn in the online classroom.

What Tools Do I Use Daily??

Everyday I use Microsoft Teams to teach synchronously for our live lessons as a class. Microsoft Teams has various capabilities some of these are, but not limited to, whiteboard, breakout rooms (which my grade 9’s despise), chat options, and for me to me able to project my screen when necessary. I enjoy using Teams, but my favorite part of this application is to be able to call students into their meetings if they accidentally laid down and fell asleep (I have heard all the excuses)!

As an online platform to show daily lessons and to layout plans of each individual day for both synchronous and asynchronous students we use Blackboard. Blackboard allows teachers to embed pictures, videos, files, and text to form blocks for individual/daily lessons. Teachers can mark assignments directly on Blackboard, and students can submit their assignments here as well. My favorite part is I cannot lose an assignment (less paper hooray) when they are sent directly to Blackboard.

Lastly, Edsby is used everyday to show progress and understanding of student’s learning throughout the course of the year or semester. Furthermore, Edsby is a fundamental communication tool for teachers, parents and students, as well as a way for parents to keep in touch with their child’s learning and progress.

Two Of My Favorites

I teach science classes and one of the tools that I think gets the class out of the normal day to day of online learnings is Gizmos. Online teaching does not allow for individual labs as we would have to mail all the materials to each individual student all over our division, therefore Gizmos allow us to have a bit more of a true science experience. Engagement occurs more readily with the use of Gizmos and concepts are driven home with the use of this tool!

Secondly, Padlets allow students to share their material in a more simplistic fashion as opposed to the traditional PowerPoints. I utilize Padlet to get students to introduce themselves, share their thoughts and for assessments. The downside is you can only start a certain number of Padlets before you have to pay.

This year has been a learning journey in which I embrace and learn knowledge daily about various tech introduced into the classroom to not only utilize, but to engage young minds in this new learning journey we are all taking together.

Finally, the missing piece of the puzzle for students is the absence of their friends and being able to socialize face to face with other students. How would you, as fellow educators try to separate this divide amongst their peers?