Author Archives: Sarah Clarke

Summary of Learning

This summer session has flown by and I am grateful to have been able to take this class with all of you. I enjoyed learning more about contemporary ed-tech issues and seeing both sides of the arguments. Everyone did an excellent job preparing and sharing their information to justify why we should side with your group. Well done! And of course, thank you to Katia for instructing another great class!


Attached is a link to my summary of learning video.

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their summer and good luck with the remainder of your masters program. Take care,



Debate #5: Technology has led to a more equitable society

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the documentary “Without A Net” the other night and I have included some quotes from the video that I hold closely.

“Instead of a wife swap, we need a school swap… everyone needs to get a feel of what we actually go through.” Isn’t this the truth? Many higher income schools don’t need to worry about the issues that some public schools are facing in today’s technology-driven world. The debate from Wednesday opened my eyes seeing the difficulties many public schools are struggling with integrating technology into their education on a daily basis. This topic allowed me to reflect on my personal experience as a student who grew up in a small community and I can compare it to where I teach now (in the city). We take our technology for granted in the school where I teach. When the wifi is slower than normal, we panic. I can’t imagine how other schools who have limited access to technology feels…

“23% of school districts do not have sufficient bandwidth to meet the current needs for digital learning” 

The disagree side of our debate mentioned three distinct challenges that we face bringing technology into the schools. They are:

Challenge #1) securing up-to-date working devices (hardware)

Challenge #2) getting those devices online (connectivity)

Challenge #3) skills needed to implement the proper use for technology effectively (teacher training)

All of these issues can be related to funding issues in our education system. We need more money to integrate technology into each classroom and ensure the bandwidth is sufficient for the amount of devices used. This is a problem that my school is current facing. This costs a LOT of money.  My question is, where can we get more funding? It seems like every school needs supplemental funding to keep up with today’s trends in education… never mind the schools that have to dig into the ground and add in fibre optics. They may never get adequate funding to meet the needs of their students. My heart breaks for them.

“By 2020, 77% of all U.S. jobs will require computer skills.” – U.S. Department of Labor 

This quote states that in order for students to prepare for their future, kids need access to technology and wifi. If kids don’t learn with computers and technology, they will be left behind AND may never get the proper education they need to fulfill their dreams. Just as the second group stated, the digital divide continues to widen. The less fortunate becomes even more less fortunate and their education is falling behind everyone else.


“Schools that have successfully integrated technology into their classrooms have seen an 11% gain in math proficiency and an 8% gain in reading proficiency.” – The Rand Corporation

These statistics are great. However, we need those numbers to be greater… If we can help less fortunate schools up-to-date with technology, we can agree to the debate question: does technology lead to a more equitable society. Yes, maybe in the future it can. Right now, we can’t agree that EVERYONE has equal access to technology. And not every student is receiving the same education experiences. The wealthier communities continue to receive better education and the families living in poverty are just scraping by once again. 

I agree with the first group in the debate that effective technology use can transform learning making it more engaging, relevant and accessible. There are MANY free apps out there (for example DESMOS) that students can access instead of purchasing a calculator for class. There are also many apps that aids students with disabilities and we should be grateful for the advancements in technology. Technology also accommodates different learning styles and students are able to watch instructional videos, tutorials and interactive simulations that aid their learning. This is a positive push in the right direction to provide equity in one’s learning. 

As mentioned in the discussion on Wednesday and earlier in my blog post, we are moving in the right direction with technology. However, we still have a gap in the digital divide in education. 


Debate #3: AI technologies will revolutionize education for the better

Both teams did a fantastic job putting together their videos and arguing their reasonings if AI technologies will/will not revolutionize education for the better. This is a hot topic right now and I have very little background information about AI.

Since I was not able to attend the live Zoom session on Monday, I am a little late to post this blog. If I were able to pre-vote where I stand on this topic, I would have selected “disagree” before the debate took place. After watching the recorded debate online last night and reviewing the articles/videos from each group, I have learned more about this topic and feel more confident adopting AI into education. Therefore, I would have chose “agree” as my post-vote. As many of you said in the debate, AI is here to stay whether we like it or not. The agree side posted an excellent video on how AI will revolutionize education by 2025 and used these points in their debate video and rebuttal:

  1. Personalized learning experiences – AI analyzes how students learn best and it keeps changing with the person (their style, their pace and their interests).
  2. Intelligent tutoring systems – AI guides learners, gives feedback to them, and helps each student on they learning journey, resulting in enhanced performance on assessments.
  3. Streamlined administrative tasks – Saves time on tasks that usually takes up hours of people’s time and energy.
  4. Predictive analytics for students success – AI will foresee academic struggles of students and step in advance to help before they fall behind. AI can enhance student retention rates and unlocking a students full potential.
  5. Adapting curriculum to market demands – AI will reshape curriculum to align with the advancing job market.
  6. From English to my language – AI creates a more inclusive environment by breaking down language barriers.

I believe it is going to take time figuring out what this will look like in the classroom when I return to work in February. I have not used AI in my previous lessons or assessment practices; however, I am open to the idea. Knowing that I can save time and energy on lesson planning, creating assignments/rubrics and finding new ways to assess my students is encouraging. Our profession continues to get busier and busier, so using AI on streamlining admin tasks and integrating AI tutoring systems to assist students in math classes may be a helpful tool for my students and I.

I didn’t forget about the disagree side of this argument. I am 100% on board that AI dehumanizes education. The future of AI scares me and I fear that students are becoming reliant on technology, and misusing ChatGPT in their learning resulting in less creativity in their own work. I hear about some of the struggles our Humanities teachers are dealing with regarding their students using ChatGPT to complete school work and I am waiting for our school division to implement an AI policy. Academic integrity is a topic that our students need to understand, and there is a fine line where AI can easily cross.

After reading Savannah’s post the other night, it is apparent that many teachers get to know their students quickly and can identify words or writing styles that do not match that specific kid. Having those difficult conversations about plagiarism is important and can be helpful to teach students the importance of using AI to stimulate ideas for a writing assignment, but not relying on a robot to complete the work for you.

And lastly, a comment that stuck with me from the disagree side in the debate was the fear that AI will replace teachers. If AI is replacing other workers in different fields, how will it not replace us? Especially if it offers so many benefits to the learners and their families…

I think it is fair to say that students need human connection and teachers to guide them through their learning process. Teachers have a responsibility to teach their students HOW to use these advancing technologies efficiently and responsibly. We need to guide them in a positive direction and show them the amazing opportunities AI serves. We also need to have the important conversations about developing our own critical thinking skills and completing assignments on our own (without relying on technology). Teachers, once again, have another big learning curve ahead on the proper implementation of AI in the classroom and educating their students how to properly use it.

Debate #4: Cell Phones Should be Banned in Classrooms

Agree side


Bithy, Chloe and I had the privilege to debate why cell phones should be banned in schools today. Thank you to all our classmates for chiming in on the group chat and sharing their thoughts and reasonings why cell phones should/should not be banned. It was a great discussion and got pretty heated!


There is no doubt that cell phones are essential in our everyday life. With technology available at our fingertips, students have the opportunity to find new information online and learn new skills quickly. It would be beneficial to teach our students to use their cell phones efficiently and responsibly in a classroom setting, but why is this so difficult?


We have become so reliant on our cellphones that we have trouble putting them down. Yes, even during instructional time, students are texting their parents, sending a snap to their friends, or surfing the web. A study we found shows 64% of teenagers text during class, even in schools that restrict cell phone use (Jones et al., 2018). Clearly creating “some” restrictions in the classroom is not working. Students continue to get off-task and use their mobile device for non-related academic purposes. This is why we NEED to ban cell phones in the classroom. Alberta and Ontario have already implemented this ban within their schools and Saskatchewan is not far behind


An experiment from a middle years school tracks 30 students, 30 cell phones and 40 minutes to see how many notifications/alerts interrupted the learning process. In the span of 40 the class received 662 notifications. Science tells us that arousal levels are higher when text messages/alerts go off on our phones. Other findings from this experiment show us that learning is taking longer and teachers are not getting through their mandatory curriculum. Mental health concerns are also an issue and need to be acknowledged. Even if a student chooses not to use their phone, they are still affected by their peers who do. Another study by Thornton and colleagues (2014) found that distracting effects of the cell phone’s “mere presence” interferes with complex tasks, therefore, affects the learning process in schools. The unapproved use of cell phones in classrooms not only distracts students but also disrupts the teaching process. Imagine a teacher having to repeatedly ask a class full of students to put their phones away, losing valuable teaching time


The academic performance of students is strongly impacted by the use of cellphones in classrooms. Research shows that students who frequently use their phones during class tend to perform worse on both assessments and assignments. The ability to retain information, participate actively in discussions, and also comprehend complex topics is impossible when students’ attention is divided between the lesson and their devices. Students who are on their phones are less engaged in the classroom. Students want instant information which affects their motivation and can affect their ability to problem solve and critically analyze information. 


As educators ourselves, I am sure most of us (if not all of us) have witnessed students using their mobile devices during school hours. Snapping pictures and texting during class time, or surfing the web are only a few examples of current inappropriate cell phone uses in schools. These actions have created more problems for students and teachers to deal with. Even with cell phone restrictions, students are finding ways to use their phones inappropriately during school hours. Student cell phone use has been associated with increases in cyberbullying, academic dishonesty, sexting, and poorer mental health. 



The disagreeing side of our debate was very strong. Both Greg and Savannah brought great points to our discussion and I had a hard time not agreeing with them! Now that our debate is over (thank the lord), I can agree that cell phones should be allowed in the classroom to support educational experiences (for example: using apps to aid learning and researching online). I also agree that students should be taught HOW to use their cell phones efficiently and responsibly. As difficult as this process is, I do believe that students need to learn this skill. However, we can not do this alone. Whether our government puts a ban on cell phones in the classrooms or not, we need parents to help teach their children about appropriate cell phone use at home and monitor their mobile device use. I think kids are getting way too much screen time to begin with and cell phones are addicting. It is a convenient way for kids to entertain themselves and I believe that kids nowadays are missing out on important life skills. They are not leaving the house as often and interacting with people in person without burying themselves in their phone. You see them walking around with their eyes glued to their device. Mind you, adults are doing this too!


Kids need a healthy balance between putting their phones away when not needed and using their phones appropriately for educational purposes. How do we teach our students to become responsible users without burning ourselves out?

Debate #2: Social Media is Ruining Childhood

This topic is so interesting to me. I often wonder if I am on my phone too much and if social media is something I should continue…

I love connecting with family and friends and sharing information about fundraiser events that I organize to help spread the word. Social media is a great platform to share information and stay connected with others. It is also a place where people might be sharing too much about themselves and can be harmful to one’s mental health. 

I really enjoyed reading the article Social media is shortening our attention spans by: Dante Caloia. There were many things that resonated with me, and some great suggestions to help with the addictive issues we are seeing with youth glued to their phones all day. Caloia mentions that  “checking social media has become an involuntary response to momentary boredom… and this usage shortens our tolerance for things that don’t involve instant gratification.” We see this often in schools. Students (and adults) are expecting continuous arousal and do not know how to be “bored” anymore.

You also notice young kids and many adults on their phones in restaurants, waiting in line for groceries, sitting around with friends during lunch, etc. People rather go online and see what other people are doing on social media than have a face-to-face conversation with the people around them. This is concerning to me…

Our social connection (face-to-face) has changed immensely. However, our social connection online has evolved into something unimaginable. Friends or family who live across the world are able to stay connected with pictures, videos, and posts. There is so much to offer online… when used appropriately. 

As the group who debated against this topic, there was an excellent podcast Is Social Media Bad for Kids’ Mental Health? that mentions the fact that there are many studies that DO NOT show a negative correlation between social media and mental health. This tells us something. If used properly, I believe youth can find positive groups online that share common interests and they can find new and exciting information that interests them. It can be a safe space where people can find what they are looking for.

With that said, I do believe kids need to be old enough to know how to navigate the internet and understand the purpose of social media. Before jumping onto social media, students need to learn proper “netiquette” when conversing online. They also need to know red flags on what is real and what isn’t. They also need to build online skills that teach them to “unfriend” or “unfollow” negative people/content if it interferes with their own mental health. 

Just as the second debate group mentioned, SOCIAL MEDIA IS HERE TO STAY and we need to learn how to work with it.

As educators know, we need to help students navigate their way online. It is also a parents job to know what their kids are up to on social media. Together, I believe we can work together and help prepare these kids for the future of social media.

Debate #1: Technology in the Classroom Enhances Learning

I am a teacher that LOVES using technology in the classroom to increase engagement and keep up with the trends. I will often create interactive games online (Jeopardy and Escape Rooms) for math review days. Group 1 did an excellent job stating benefits that technology serves in the education world. Some of these include: 

  • provides immediate access
  • differentiates learning
  • allows for collaboration
  • feedback is organized and immediate
  • tasks can be completed quickly
  • increases motivation
  • increases engagement

Another great point that was mentioned in the debate was that technology allows learners (similar to us in our masters program) to complete classes online. In the busy world we live in, this has been a positive factor in my life personally and professionally. 

In the TEDTalks video about Kris Alexander, he claims he learns best by playing video games and listening. He reiterates how humans learn differently through audio, text, visual and interactivity and mentions that teachers need to be aware of delivering instruction with a combination of all these to enhance learning outcomes and not overwhelm students. As persuasive as this video was, I still have hesitation allowing my students to “multitask” and play games while I am instructing a lesson. Some students may be like Kris and be able to reiterate what the teacher is saying but other students need to direct their focus and attention to the instruction/lesson from the teacher themselves. 

In Alex’s situation, he claims to be able to learn by listening to his teacher while playing video games for a visual stimulation. My question is: What does Alex do when we are going through a complex math problem on the board that is brand new content for him? Is he watching me complete the problem step-by-step so he can complete his practice questions properly after the instruction is over? Or is he directing his attention to some of what I am doing on the board while his eyes are on his screen? On that note, Group 2 found an interesting article on the effects of multitasking and results show when students are trying to complete schoolwork during multitasking, their capacity for cognitive processing deeper learning is affected. 

So where do I stand regarding technology in the classroom?

If I had to choose sides it would be that technology enhances learning BUT it must be controlled. I believe using technology in the learning environment must be used in a respectful, responsible and appropriate way. There is a time where students need to follow direct instruction from the teacher and their focus should be solely on them and the content they are learning. Teachers can also use engaging videos via YouTube to assist with different learning needs (for example: auditory and visual). Teachers can also use learning aids (for example: algebra tiles) for our kinesthetic learners. It is our job to find ways to meet the needs of our learners in a controlled and responsible way that will improve their overall learning experience and best prepare them for success in the classroom. 

A Day in the Life with Technology

Technology continues to play a major role in my life.  As a high school math teacher, I rely on computers to store my lesson plans, videos, and worksheets. Technology continues to evolve and there are more apps available to assist students and teachers in their education journeys.

Similar to the majority of my students, I use my cellphone to capture special moments (pictures and videos), to read articles or watch videos to learn, and to communicate with others through texts, phone calls, and social media. Cell phones have become our lifelines and we bring them everywhere we go. I often reflect on my childhood (before cell phones were popular) and wonder how we could go back in time without technology. As frustrating as it can be at times, technology allows us to access information quickly and efficiently.

Online platforms such as Google Drive and Google Classroom have been my “go-to” choices allowing me to create, edit, and post classroom resources with ease. I always give my parents the invite code to join Google Classroom so they can see the reminder messages I send out weekly and they can access their child’s daily lessons/activities. These platforms have been amazing to use as a teacher. I like knowing my resources can be accessed quickly and shared with others.

What does a day in the life with technology look like for me?

I have always made my lesson plans into a presentation-style format via Google Slides. It keeps me on task and allows me to work through practice problems one at a time with my students. I can add pictures to my presentation that relate to the content we are learning. I can also add links to YouTube videos or other resources as needed. Just recently, my projector stopped working, and my administrators bought me a TV for my classroom. As a high school math teacher, I needed to be able to interact with the TV to work through math problem step-by-step. I found a neat APP called Annotate that allows me to interact with my iPad, and an apple pencil. It also allows me to record a live lesson for those students who missed class that day. I can upload these videos on Google Classroom or YouTube for my students to access easily. 

I have also been using various online platforms for quick formative check-ins and summative assessments. A few of these platforms I use include: FlipGridQuizizzgoogle forms, and ZipGrade. These platforms have SAVED ME SO MUCH TIME with marking and photocopying, and have been very user-friendly. Teaching math can get very repetitive so I have been incorporating math games into my unit plans. Some online math games that my students enjoy are jeopardy, escape rooms, and kahoots. I am able to reuse these platforms every semester and can quickly add/edit questions that are suitable for my students and the different classes I teach.

Even though I am constantly using technology to plan and prepare lesson plans, deliver/instruct my lessons, and (sometimes) use it to evaluate my students quickly, I really do NOT enjoy having my phone on me 24/7 as I find it to be distracting. As I am teaching, I want to be focused on my students and be present with what we are doing in the moment. I rarely sit at my desk and go through emails or check my phone for notifications during the workday. Because I am walking around helping my students or going through extra practice problems on the board, I will often miss important messages from my administrators or parents during class time. As difficult as it is to keep up with communication throughout the day, I hope people understand that I will respond to emails/text messages when I have time. In the world we live in today, people expect immediate responses. No longer are the days where you wait hours for a phone call or a letter in the mail with important information.