Author Archives: Savannah Pinfold

This is Goodbye… (but not really because everything stays on the internet forever…)

Below is my summary of learning! What a ride this course has been. I wanted to give a shout-out to literally everyone because the debates were fantastic and we all crushed this super-fast course. If you are interested in the links to any of the sources that have helped me over this semester and that influenced the writing in the summary of learning they are all linked in the blog posts previous! I tried to be as authentic as possible, but I only have like 7 minutes so it might be a bit brief – for more in-depth analysis and a peak into my brain check out the blogs previous to this one (did I say that already? It’s a shameless plug – like a professor saying “buy my book!” – we’ve all been there).



Cheers to the summer (and a big shout out to my husband for patiently helping me make this video (and I do mean saintly patience), and cheers to a technology-inclusive and adapting school year ahead. Stay techie and remember you are doing the best you can,



Cellphones for Sims… I mean students!

Ah.. cell phones.

To me, my cellphone is like an upgraded Tamagotchi – only it’s me that I am tasked with keeping alive. I see that my life revolves around the little device in my hand and that I am both the Sim and the teenage girl who just wants to have the best-looking house. But much like the Sims, it is up to us to give our little Sims (ourselves.. stay with me now…) some help with how to navigate our lives. It’s getting meta I know.

Does this image help with the meta-ness?

Now, we can’t leave ourselves without a ladder and then complain that we are drowning in technology. Banning cell phones is like removing the ladder once it was already in – a tease and also a big disadvantage – kids don’t know how to leave the pool without one! Teaching students how to use cell phones appropriately is like teaching them how to swim (and pull themselves up) so that there isn’t a need for a ladder at all, they just know how to be safe and to moderate their swimming.

It’s hard to separate life right now from our cell phones (in schools as well) but I don’t think we really need to separate – maybe just a little more moderation. The same can be applied to our students. It’s not a ban that is needed, but an understanding of how to use it responsibly and ultimately that teaching now needs to happen in the classroom.

In the debate we talked about safety, classroom management, effective usage, and mobility. All of these things are important in schools today, and all can be contested that cell phone actually make these things worse – but I don’t think that sentiment is stated with full understanding of the reality that cell phones aren’t going anywhere – and neither are teachers. We just have to try to see them as tools and look to the positive so we don’t all become anti-technology grouches.

Realistically, all of the cell phone issues come down to classroom management. I could tell that classroom management was a heated topic when it came to the debate – and why wouldn’t it be? No one wants to think that they don’t have their classroom under control, and no one wants to hear classroom management criticism from another teacher. That being said, without effective classroom management, even paper, pencils, gum, erasers, and literally whatever else the kids can get their hands on (I’m looking at your paperclips in the outlets) can be huge distraction and detriment to learning. When kids misbehave with those items we simply take them away – it works the same way with cell phones. We don’t punish the many for the acts of the few if we want smooth sailing through the year. That’s how mutiny happens.

Cell phones connect people. They connect me to my administration and to parents. They connect students to their parents. They even at times, connect students to teachers. Not every school is blessed to have 1-1 technology, and even if they were – administration is not letting you take the Chromebooks on a fieldtrip. The mobility that cell phones bring to learning is something that is not matched by anything else right now, so we as teachers should be taking advantage of that – not scorning it because sometimes kids misuse it. I heard in the debate that teaching students how to use their cell phone appropriately wasn’t our job as teachers, but neither (on paper) then are the countless other tasks we do in our day. Teaching is not sitting down (or standing at the front) talking at students and hoping they remember what you said. If that is what is expected then I have a huge surprise – it just is more. Teaching is more than curriculum. Teaching, is at heart, guiding younger people to be slightly more adept older people – and that includes how to use their phone.

It is our responsibility to ensure our students know how to use their cell phones, just like it is our responsibility to ensure that they know how to count, spell, think, and communicate effectively. Banning things historically has never gone well. From sex, abortion, drugs, liquor, or seeing your friends during Covid-19, people are going to do things anyway -they just do it in secret. It is always better to educate and provide safe spaces for people to do the things they want to do, where they are supervised and held responsible, than for things to go awry in the dark with no where to turn. When you think about banning cell phones, I just want you to consider how well human beings handle abstinence from temptation. Especially teenagers! Education on how to use cell phones can save us from being drowning Sims – not everyone wants a graveyard behind their house.



AI vs AI – Artificial Intelligence vs Animalistic Intuition

“I swear, I wrote it myself!”

When I think of AI I usually think of ChatGPT – it’s a favourite among my students. I teach senior English and in Ontario classes are streamed into academic levels. Since I work in a fairly small school, there are times when I have students who are placed out of their stream into streams that are more challenging than they are used to, which ultimately leads to some cheating. I don’t blame them, and on a level of self awareness I know that as their teacher I should be more considerate, but in a class of 31 I can’t catch everything. Until I can.

One of my favourite things to ask students when I suspect cheating/plagiarism, and now the us of AI to write their assignments is “do you know what this word means?” I ask them for definitions – if they are using a thesaurus to broaden their vocabulary, then even if the word seems out of place for them, they most likely will be able to give me a roundabout definition. If they can’t, then we move onto the talk of “I don’t think this work is yours.” It’s not a talk either of us enjoy, but usually students confess pretty quickly when you approach it in a calm and conversational manner. But then there is the issue of consequences – what do those look like for AI use and how do we implement consequences to something that is so rapidly changing?

In the debate, one of the most prominent things that stuck with me is the dehumanization of learning and education through AI. I don’t mean every use of AI, but specifically with writing and expression. When students write (and I think every English teacher will agree), there is a very clear voice for each student. Students, for the most part in high school, have a conversational tone and they use words they already have in their vernacular. At times they may sprinkle in some interesting adjectives to sound academic, but they do indeed write like high school students. When papers or assignments come in that don’t reflect the voice of students – those of whom you have worked with the entire semester – that’s when things get complicated.

I heard in the debate that “we should move away from writing essays and that could fix the problem,” but you can’t. In the Saskatchewan ELA curriculum, essay writing is a large component. Is the need to build skills to communicate effectively and persuasively in an organized manner always have to be an essay? No. But I would love to see another option presented that builds the same skills that an essay (or even essay style writing where you string together logical arguments in progressive paragraphs) does for our students. Perhaps I am just partial to essay writing because I’m a certified yapper – who knows.

I teach a lot of farming kids – kids who don’t want to go to university or college and therefore love to tell me that English class and writing essays is a waste of their time because they won’t need it. I am constantly reminding them that it’s not the essay – it’s the skills you learn through it. You learn to listen to direction, READ directions (which seems to be a never ending fight), follow structure, organize thoughts, create an argument with logic and evidence, perhaps even do research to ensure that you have knowledge on what you are talking about. All of those things are skills that they will use at their jobs, or even interacting with other people. Those are skills that AI cannot fill in during the real world. 

Now of course I want to get away from the factory model of learning – where students sit in rows, teacher is the boss, and we all adhere to the strict schedules of our administrative overlords – but I can’t always do that. There are only so many things I can bend before they snap – I still have to fill out field trip paper work and write personalized report card comments. Those are skills that, while some people use AI to help them, I do not. There is something about reading human voice, or hearing human voice, that just adds some connection that AI lacks. That’s not to say that AI does not have it’s advantages in school, but when it comes to academic integrity I think the struggle will be a long hard road ahead.

I use AI to help create rubrics. It helps me save time. I input all of my criteria and outcome-based understandings and voila – rubric! HOWEVER – I do actually look over the rubric to make sure that it is accurate, appropriate, and  usable. I change things to make more sense – or to make it easier for students to understand. I also use AI at times to order my ideas into categories when my brain just won’t figure out where things go. At times AI can be helpful for teachers, and I know that AI can also be helpful to students with some guidance. 

This video from Kent University was interesting. I think that we as teachers often see the negatives in AI, or we don’t think about them because it can be too much – too much work, too much stress, and too much information. Just like any piece of media we get our students to consume and analyze, and the sources they get it from, we need to teach students to be critically literate. We need to teach them about bias, and that search engines produce the most used, most popular results first – and AI like ChatGPT works like a search engine to a degree. Once students can read for bias and understand how to critically analyze the sources of information, ChatGPT could be a tool – something to summarize, bullet point, break down, annotate, or reword. Not create. 

AI will not replace teaching on the level we all think it might one day. Teaching is a profession that is more than knowledge transfer – we are councilors, parents, facilitators, friends, at times even medical professionals and bouncers (I’ve broken up a few fights). AI will never replace the connection that fosters learning in the first place, and we as teachers need to remember that AI, technology, hell, even the classroom does not equal learning and education. It is the thirst for knowledge, understanding, and connection to our lives that is the thing we call education. Nothing outside of us can take away the inherent community that we have together to learn. It’s innate. It’s animalistic. It’s education.

Technology will never beat us – even if we need a ton of us to get a grasp on it!

Social Media – A Manufactured Childhood

Before the debate, I was a staunch believer that social media ruins childhood, and after the debate, I find myself in the same boat. There are many times as a parent and a teacher that I wonder if kids know how to be bored anymore. It also makes me feel a bit like a Boomer to say things like that, but I honestly see the truth in it.

Kids don’t know how to handle being bored. Social media, used by both parents and kids alike, manufacture childhood to be instantly gratuitous, and with the constant barrage of dopamine-inducing videos and games, there isn’t time to just sit and be. One of my biggest fears is that my kid will grow up to be an i-Pad kid.

I watched this video on manufactured childhoods and I think that it is so important that we as educators do not blame the kids for their inability to switch off from their devices – it often starts at home above them with their parents. When seeing all of the glamourous childhoods online there is a competitiveness that happens with parents and children; I want that too! This comparative nature of social media harms both parties, child and parent, and strains already naturally somewhat rocky (especially during teenage years) relationships. It is here where I think problems begin.

I have heard often that millennials have a parenting problem and that that problem is reflected heavily in Gen Alpha kids – our predominant student body. Statements like “your kids can’t read” (by teachers/adults) or “I can’t read!” (said in [hopefully jest] by students) are common, but it isn’t that students are illiterate – it is that they lack literacy skills like critical thinking and processing skills because the information they are taking in is so fast and rewarding that they don’t have to really grapple with anything difficult. This inability to develop and utilize critical thinking skills is hitting hard in the classroom, and I think I speak for the majority of teachers when I say that it makes our job so much harder when we are supposed to be preparing them to enter the world as a literate person, able to see, understand, and interact with the world around them.

Beyond the inability to concentrate for long periods of time, be bored, and be critically literate, there are numerous safety issues with social media as well. I teach high school and have for my whole career, and the sheer amount of inappropriate things that happen through social media is insane. That’s not to say that having unrestricted access to the internet when I was young didn’t happen – we all know the videos that circulated that we definitely should not have been watching – but that viewing did not happen during school hours or get shared so instantaneously. I have had students arrested for child pornography that they had viewed while during school hours (nude photos of teen girls in the school), cyberbullying and threats, and even human trafficking into the cities via social media.

I can’t help but think that children want to get away from all of the social media and problems that come with it, but they are so indoctrinated and absorbed in to their phones that they don’t know how. The validation students get when they get likes or shares, or when they are the topic for gossip has to be filling a hole that parents and trusted adults have created for them.

The global community and connectivity that social media gives students is only a fraction of the things that social media provides, and I don’t think that it outweighs the issues that surround social media and childhood. Social media might not be the start of the problem, but once it has its grips on our kids, it subsumes the problem and creates entirely new monsters. Perhaps our cellphones and social media have become the ultimate panopticon – constantly viewing and judging – and we are nothing but prisoners in a self-made prison.

Tech in the Classroom… Enhances (?) Learning

I remember when we first got SMARTboards in the classroom. It was grade 6 or 7, and it was the biggest deal ever (I still feel that way) for our class. I remember fighting to be the person to recalibrate or to write with the pens and it was a blessed day if you were the student chosen to erase the Smartboard. That was also the time where everyone was really excited about “body breaks” and I had to learn a plethora of dances like the Hoedown Throwdown, Soulja Boy, the Cha Cha Slide, and most importantly DOUBLE DREAM HANDS. (Please tell me I am not the only one who had to learn these sick moves).

As a teacher now, I can honestly say that my SMARTboard is a glorified projector, which makes me a little sad – but technology is much more than just a SMARTboard.

Rethinking Ed-Tech

Often, as educators (or parents), when we think about technology in education we think of cellphones, i-Pads, Chromebook carts, or (and I feel like I am dating myself here?) computer labs. But that is not the entirety of educational technology.

Joseph Lathan describes educational technology as “the technological tools and media that assist in the communication of knowledge, and its development and exchange.” This definition says nothing about what those tools look like, and when teachers jump on the anti-tech bandwagon they leave behind the most vulnerable of their students. Through my career I have had Deaf and HoH students, blind students, students with physical disabilities that does not allow them to learn in the same capacity as their peers, students with cognitive disabilities or trauma, and students who just need a little extra support to get them to the mastery of the outcomes. Without educational technology and the implementation of those tools, all of those students who are capable of success would have been left behind.

I used one of these devices every day this semester for a HoH student

The Pros of Using Ed-Tech

When it comes to No Child Left Behind (Act), J Harris et al. (2016), states that schools should be teachings students how to use technology (whatever that looks like for them) so that they are literate (p. 368). Literacy does not just mean reading – but analyzing and synthesizing information with critical thinking skills – students cannot be literate in the world today without using technology of any kind. It just isn’t practical to not know how to use technologies to assist you, provide information, or to connect with other people. These skills, while they should be started at home (just like speaking, reading, and writing), teachers need to recognize that they too are responsible for creating aware and literate citizens.

Realizing that technology is never going away, and to refrain from sounding like my grandma (“kids these days and their technology…”), then teachers need to learn how to work with the technology as it comes into the classroom – because come into the classroom it will. D Furió et al. (2015), mentioned that students preferred using their i-Phone to a regular lesson plan, and the connection is easy to see (p. 198). Students are comfortable with their devices – they use them most of the day. Trying to eliminate or regress their technology skills by taking the access away isn’t going to get you anywhere in the classroom, except maybe crossed out in the yearbook for being a Scrooge.

The Realistic Struggles of Ed-Tech

There are also numerous drawbacks to technology in the classroom – specifically digital technology like phones and computers. As a senior ELA teacher I have noticed a few drawbacks in my students – things that other teachers have also noticed. Using technology in the classroom does not mean that the students actually know how to use it. We think to ourselves “oh well they should know how to Google or open a new document” but that isn’t always true. They know how to use technology for pleasure – not for academics. There has to be explicit teaching of how to use tools and technology for it to be an actual tool.

Beyond that, technology cannot replace physical reading and writing. Technology, as we all know, is unreliable. The school I used to work at had day long power outages at times and the students need to have workable and legible writing skills. Now, that is not to say that students need to know how to write in cursive, but I have noticed that many of my students struggle with pencil grip and the formation of printed letters. I think that it is easy to connect typing/tapping with the regression of physical pencil writing. I suppose then what really needs to happen is a balance of typing and writing practice so that students are prepared to communicate effectively no matter the medium.

Another barrier to technology, or a struggle really, is that some teachers just do not wish to learn or use it. Some schools have more money and can afford it have their teachers attend technology PD so they have the opportunities to learn and use new technology and applications. Schools that tend to have less money have then teachers who are more hesitant to engage in new technologies because they lack the skills and confidence (Warschauer et al., 2010). I have seen this first hand with different schools, but also the age of teachers.

Overall, I would say that technology only enhances learning if there are skills to do the learning in the first place. There needs to be preliminary work done ahead of time by the teachers and the school to ensure that all parties, including students, are using technology appropriately for learning experiences.



  • Furió, D., Juan, M.-C., Seguí, I., & Vivó, R. (2015). Mobile learning vs. traditional classroom lessons: a comparative study. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning31(3), 189–201.
  • Harris, J. L., Al-Bataineh, M. T., & Al-Bataineh, A. (2016). One to One Technology and its Effect on Student Academic Achievement and Motivation. Contemporary Educational Technology7(4), 368-.
  • Warschauer, M., Matuchniak, T., Pinkard, N., & Gadsden, V. (2010). New Technology and Digital Worlds: Analyzing Evidence of Equity in Access, Use, and Outcomes. Review of Research in Education34(1), 179–225.

A Day in the “Life”?

It is not often that I go a day without using technology. Born into the Age of Information, I remember sitting at the family desktop (which was in the dining room of all places) and having to race to the kitchen during commercials. Now, I pay extra to ensure I don’t get commercial breaks and that I can take my computer to bed with me. I am never without my conveniences.

As someone who grew up with technology as it became more mainstream – from i-Pod to i-Phone to God knows what next – I find that I can adapt to new technology as it comes fairly easily – unlike the generation before me and even the one after me. While I have to help my mom and dad set up new devices and warn them about fake news (legitimate fake news), I also find myself doing the same thing with the students that I teach. I often ask myself when interacting with either generation, “How do you not know how to Google things efficiently? Why do you not just attempt new things, when it comes to navigating a website or a technological tool?” On either side of me, I realize that there just isn’t the technology literacy skills that my generation seem to have. On one hand, my parents’ generation was a bit scared of the power of technology, but I realize that perhaps the newer generation is so used to what they have, that they never had to figure out anything new – just slight adaptions to what they already know.

Honestly, kind of miss this set up…

It might be that we are moving out of the Age of Technology and into the Age of IoT [the Internet of Things] . Students who have explicit access to more computer automated devices live in a world where questions are answered before they have the opportunity to struggle with how to find them and grapple with the process of critically analyzing information. The same for my parents – there is no self-taught process of discovering the technology and growing as it grows as well. As education, and subsequently the world, become more technology forward (everything I teach is on Google Classroom, and I cannot remember the last time I gave a paper assignment) I think that it is crucial to stay on top of how to operate the technology so that students have guidance and someone to teach them how to use it appropriately and also effectively.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the ease of life that technology affords me. I video call my mom every week, research recipes to try, doom scroll on TikTok, and lesson plan from my phone. But, I would hesitate to say that I am addicted to it. I can’t say the same for my students. Before summer, I had a student make a plea to take their phone to the bathroom with them because (and I’m paraphrasing here for clean content) they had classically conditioned themselves to the point where without their phone… nothing was going to happen (if you get me).

Letting go of the technology at times seems weird at first, but I think is also necessary to reset and remember how interact in the world without having every answer and piece of information at my fingertips. I’d like to believe that I can be in the bathroom without my phone.


However, I did write this post while sitting on the closed toilet to supervise my toddler in the bath…. So maybe I can’t?