Category Archives: innovative teaching

Pear Deck: Test-Driven by a Fangirl

Will reiterating my love for Pear Deck sound like a broken record? I had nearly forgotten this love when Tuesday’s class reignited the spark. Kudos to Group 5!  In my previous life as an Online Learning Consultant, I completed the Pear Deck Institute training to guide divisional implementation in the classroom and online. It was a hit! The aside to that success, however, is that my 2.5 years online prevented me from actually testing it in a physical classroom….until this week. Too often we hear consultants and facilitators label EdTech as “teacher/classroom-friendly” without test-driving it themselves (whoops!); it was past time to take Pear Deck for a spin myself.

Test Subjects and Challenges…or Challenging Test Subjects

The majority of my Grade 7’s are tech gurus with daily “comfortable to seamless” digital classroom implementation. A handful can easily bypass my division’s firewall settings…a fact that both frightens and impresses me. Trialing Pear Deck on them didn’t seem challenging enough. Enter the vastly less tech-confident Grade 5 class at my current school. With the permission of their more-than-happy teacher, I created a science lesson on “Forces” to review with the 5’s.

First Challenge: The Grade 6 and 7 classes at my school are privileged to have 1-1 devices in the classroom. The K-5 classes scrounge for the remains of Chromebook and Dell rejects shunned by the upper grades.

Second Challenge: Tech focus and stamina take practice. Through repeated lessons….and full-out nagging lectures (truth-bomb), my 7’s have mastered the art of staying on-task 95% of the time. This cannot be said for the 5’s, due to their lack of access (see first challenge).

Third Challenge: Typing. Prensky once called my generation (and younger) “digital natives” but the art of typing and not texting appears to have died with the invention of the iPhone. 30 Grade 5’s typing Pear Deck into the browser and then the phonetic log-in code took more time than I want to remember. All the Right Type, why have you forsaken us?

 

Fourth Challenge: Heavy reliance on Smartboard or TV casting for instructor-paced activities. Another truth bomb, the Grade 5 classroom Smartboard is wretched! I would toss it in the garbage for the classroom teacher if I could!

Fifth Challenge: My premium subscription has loooooong since expired, so certain engaging features like LIVE dashboard, draggable, draw, and audio would be unavailable…unless I accessed a new premium trial from the Grade 5 teacher’s account (shhhhh!). Much as I love these features, do I want to shell out an extra $150 for them? Ummm no, I’ve seen current gas prices, thank you!

But Despite These Challenges…A New Fanbase Emerges

After the plethora of challenges on my Pear Deck “test-drive” you’d think the lesson might have been a loss, but the 5’s loved it so much they asked for more! Google Slide presentations for Generation Alpha have become commonplace. We know the drill. The presentation is shown on the glorified projector…I mean Smartboard. Questions are asked. The same 3 kids raise their hands. EVERY. TIME. It was true before Smartboards and Google Slides; it’s still true today. With Pear Deck, the students loved their anonymous ability to interact with the slides and view videos without leaving the Pear Deck (also handy for teachers worried about students staying on task).

Assessment Verdict

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it once more, Peardeck is an excellent formative assessment tool. The suggested reading, Section 4: Measuring of Learning, discusses the importance of embedded learning and real-time feedback, components fully provided by deeper-level thinking Pear Deck prompts. 

“Through embedded assessments, educators can see evidence of students’ thinking during the learning process and provide near real-time feedback through learning dashboards so they can take action in the moment.” – (Source

The Pear Deck instructor dashboard allowed me to see the Grade 5’s overall and individual comprehension. From these real-time insights, I was able to adjust my lesson pacing and suggest to the regular classroom teacher possible 1-1 conferencing for struggling students.

“Embedded assessments have the potential to be useful for diagnostic and support purposes in that they provide insights into why students are having difficulties in mastering concepts and provide insights into how to personalize feedback to address these challenges.” – (Source)

Despite my Pear Deck and EdTech fangirling, I hesitate to use the majority of digital tools for summative assessment. Google Slide extensions like Pear Deck or platforms like Mathletics allow teachers to quickly highlight student strengths and struggles, but nothing – in my opinion- trumps the potential for 1-1 student-teacher conferring. Human interaction/dialogue remains the epicentre of my assessment practices.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

 

No EdTech app or assessment method (digital or not) is without flaws. For the sake of not repeating my “challenges” section or the T-Chart Jamboard above, I will instead focus on where Pear Deck falls on the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model, created by Dr. Ruben Puentudura.

Image copyright 2012, Dr. Ruben Puentudura

Does Pear Deck redefine new tasks, “previously inconceivable” or provide significant task modification? No, whiteboards displaying individual student answers could easily accomplish the same tasks. Rather, Pear Deck falls precariously between Augmentation and Substitution. I would argue on the side of Augmentation, as Pear Deck does – in my opinion – provide functional improvements to standard classroom prompts or Google Slides. The draggable, draw, audio, and built-in video options, as well as the teacher dashboard (displaying individual student answers), are welcome additions that provide engaging and interactive lessons. Pear Deck takes Google Slides and makes them functionally better and, dare I say, more fun.

Final Verdict

After 2 and a half years of recommending Pear Deck, I finally took it for a classroom test drive…and I wasn’t disappointed. As far as Google extensions go, Pear Deck is a worthwhile add-on. While it requires a “basic to comfortable” level with technology for students and teachers, Pear Deck can seamlessly be used in the classroom to enhance embedded learning, real-time feedback, formative assessment data, and student engagement. My next test subjects will be my 7’s, a much tougher crowd to please. I’ll keep you posted…

Points to Ponder

  • Digital or not, what do you believe constitutes authentic, best-practice formative and summative assessment methods?
  • Can you think of any digital assessment tools that can be summatively, but not formatively, useful? And vice versa?
  • Do you believe digital assessment tools add more work for teachers or less?
  • Who is left out of the digital assessment narrative? Do online assessment practices generate or alleviate assessment anxiety? Do digital tools cause less savvy teachers to resist technological advancements?
  • What guides your standards for successful technology integration?

 

 

“My Mind is Like My Internet Browser…” Productivity and Presentation

If you’ve ever come across the well-known internet adage –

“My mind is like my web browser: 19 tabs are open, 3 of them are frozen, and I have no idea where the music is coming from.”  (Anonymous)

– I’m confident the author was describing me. Regardless, it seemed an apt quotation for our debate questioning the internet as a productive friend or distracting foe.

One of the suggested readings – Online Presentation Creation Tools. (2014) – outlined the merits of Prezi. Despite my dislike for Prezi’s dizzying presentation features, it seemed a suitable representation of the distracting spectacle we once called the World Wide Web.

Points to Ponder Section can be found below the video. Please drop me a line and tell me your take on digital distractions, multitasking, and productivity tips.

Some Resources From the Video

My Final Thoughts…(for now)

As I watched the assigned video, I was bombarded with texts, emails, browser tabs, and the full digital arsenal of our modern world. Was it distracting? Certainly! Do I often long to disconnect in a far-away wilderness cabin? There’s no doubt. Was I able to multitask in a sea of multitaskers? No, as the term is deceptive. There are no multitaskers, only people who have successfully or distractedly learned to switch their concentrative powers at a fatiguing pace. Despite these electronic hiccups, presentation and productivity tools – like those presented on Tuesday – demonstrate an array of creative and collaborative possibilities. The internet is far more nuanced than simply being our friend or foe, and as educators, it should be our goal to teach students awareness and proper application.

Points to Ponder

  • When researching/preparing your blog post, how often were you interrupted by outside digital distractions?
  • If you completed the multitasking exercise (in the above-shared youtube link), how did you do? Can you actually multitask?
  • If you’ve been teaching for an extended period of time, do you notice increased student distractibility?
  • How do you manage your own productivity online? What are your favourite apps/extensions to use for yourself and/or your students?

Pivot, Pivot, Pivot: My Evolving Philosophy of Knowledge and Learning

PIVOT! PIVOT! PIVOT! A video timeline seemed in order for this week’s blog on my philosophy of knowledge and learning. You can view the entire timeline at Canva here.

  • Here is an excellent Chrome extension I’ve been using lately for those needing subtitles.
  • For those strapped on time, I have included a summary of the main takeaways and points to ponder below the video. Happy viewing OR reading 🙂

Key Points

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Points Left to Ponder (please share your thoughts!)

  • When you began teaching, do you think you heavily relied on the philosophies of learning you experienced in school? 
  • If a shift happened for you, was there one distinct catalyst or many?
  • Do you “pivot” in your workday through these different philosophies? What situations warrant different approaches?
  • I dream of restructured schools without bells and Behaviourism-laden fundamentals; with a greater emphasis on Indigenous ways of knowing and Constructivist principles. If you could restructure the education system, what would it look like? Which learning philosophy would take centre-stage?

Educational Technology: Neither Sinner nor Saviour

Defining the Variable: Ed-Tech

When I think of educational technology, my (active) imagination transports me to AI classrooms and interactive hologram projections. Part of me views ed-tech as the saviour of classroom to world relevancy; another part of me suffers ominous flashes of Judgement Day and Matrix-laden doom! Of course, that’s not the reality…at least, not yet.

 

matrix, code, data

It’s all the Matrix Photo by 0fjd125gk87 on Pixabay

In class, I defined educational technology as classroom-based innovations, in either hardware or software context, meant to enhance learning. In my breakout room, we further settled on one word to divide technology from educational technology: Purpose. Any human advancements in applied scientific knowledge can be interpreted as technology, but educational technology serves to analyze, evaluate, develop, manage, create, and collaborate in an academic setting. Laughing in our small chatroom about the purpose of a fridge was unexpected but served to demonstrate that the refrigerator – our cold-food cornucopia – can be defined as technology. However, when considered in a Home Economics setting, it could be categorized as ed-tech. Purpose then, and intentional purpose preferred – is everything when determining what ed-tech best serves innovative classrooms.

Smart home control panel in a modern kitchen

Help! My fridge is sentient! Photo: Adobe Stockpack

A Shady Past and Meaningful Future

Without realizing it (admittedly, I hadn’t completed all the readings before class) my philosophy of purposeful ed-tech aligns with Robert B. Kozma. In 1994, Kozma restructured the media debate by asking:

“‘In what ways can we use the capabilities of media to influence learning for particular students, tasks, and situations?'”

This mindful shift in considering and implementing media in the classroom fulfills the highest purposes of ed-tech: Effective teaching and enhanced learning.

Unfortunately, as history and personal experience have shown, a philosophy of mindful ed-tech usage has not always been the case. Reading through Audrey Watter’s article “The 100 Worst Ed-Tech Debacles of the Decade” (2019) was a shame-filled Delorean blast to past. I giggled, I shook my head, I remembered. When I started teaching 13 years ago, any “good” innovative teacher salivated over getting a classroom Smartboard. It was the saviour (fallacy) brought to life in my classroom! Now many sit as $8000 whiteboards with poor lighting and abysmal screen alignment. As Watters and Katia indicate, Smartboards turned into a hard technology due to lacking soft applications. Despite receiving hours of Smartboard training, my Smartboard has become a glorified (problematic) projector. Now I salivate over classroom chrome-cast TV’s. It’s always something! And I say that tongue-in-cheek as I stare at my coveted classroom 3D printer… gathering dust in the corner. Whoops!

Picture courtesy of OfftheMark.com

My ed-tech philosophy has been largely unconsciously written by hours of ed-tech training and lived experience. My childhood education was filled with chalk-board dust and projector reels. I hardly considered these ed-tech advancements, and yet, that is exactly what they were…in their time. My high school typewriters gave way to computers. My Moodle and Blackboard training was replaced with Google classroom, then Edsby. My ed-tech philosophy evolved to understand two key principles:

  1. Ed-tech is synonymous with change.
  2. It is neither sinner nor saviour.

Neil Postman elaborates on my evolving understanding of ed-tech, providing 5 key things we must understand about technological change:

  • Advancements carry a price.
  • The digital divide allots winners and losers (something I am now cognizant of after 2. 5 years teaching online)…
  • That give way to prejudice and bias.
  • Its reach touches everything and everyone.
  • It creates its own omnipotent mythos. As my current students struggle to imagine a classroom without 1-1 Chromebooks – supposing it has always been this way – I can certainly attest to this last (potentially dangerous) concept.

    Stylish caucasian man in devil hat with horns and vampire cape with laptop isolated on white backhround.

    Ed-Tech: Neither Sinner nor Saint Photo by benevolente on Adobe Stock

Conclusion: Defining the Constant

After considering the historical and philosophical aspects of ed-tech, I can only surmise that my viewpoint will continue to evolve with the technology in my classroom. If ed-tech innovations are the variable, then meaningful/intentional/equitable implementation must be the constant.

Ponderings

  • Based on usage, technology can often be categorized as ed-tech, but how often do we use ed-tech as technology in our day-to-day lives? For example, Kahoot is largely construed as ed-tech software, but do we ever use it ourselves for fun? I know I don’t! If I never hear the theme music again, it will be too soon!
  • Do you feel a sense of jadedness when the “next big thing” in ed-tech/training comes out? Or a heady rush of excitement for something new to offer students?
  • It’s been over 13 years since I was an education undergrad, but I wonder how much emphasis is now placed on meaningful classroom ed-tech selection and implemenation. Insights are most welcome!

Off the Screen, Back Into the World

Allow Me to Introduce Myself…

My pronouns are she/her and I am honoured to live on Treaty 6 land. In the last 13 years, I have taught every grade from 1-12, and for the past 2.5 years, I have been the K-7 Online Learning Support Teacher (OLST) for the Light of Christ School Division. I am freshly returned to teaching middle years for 2022-23, while I continue to help educators with edtech curriculum and content creation. My family consists of my husband, Mark, two children, a polar bear (Great Pyrenees) named Tank, and – sadly – our recently departed mountain lion (cat) named AJ. My interests include creative writing, reading (largely fiction and personal growth), learning, hiking, travelling, my family, mental health, and environmental/social justice.

“Back In My Day…” 

film, movie, cinema

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pixabay

 

The powers-that-be (AKA: my students) have dubbed me a geriatric millennial, but I think I prefer xennial-on-the-cusp. The dubious title holds a wealth of experience with early educational technology. Strobing lights and flickering sounds of a classroom projector, alongside dying of dysentery a million times on the Oregon Trail, are some of my earliest educational memories. My elementary school was progressive enough to have a computer room simply to practice our wpm, but when I went to high school, typewriters remained the norm until Grade 10. Pshhkkrr-king-tshchchchch-ding-ding-ding, dial-up is a sound time does not forget; a necessary evil I endured while researching senior-level science projects and English essays. Registering for University classes blindly on the Registrar phone line….what could possibly go wrong? Technology and us…me? We’ve come a long way since those early Oregon Trail, Windows 95 days.

After the After(math)

Edtech and Me

 

In my first Graduate class, I wrote my first blog post, outlining the before and after(math) of educational technology during the pandemic years. Before the pandemic, my classroom heavily relied on technology to create student projects, but -in hindsight- I wonder if I unknowingly used tech for its own sake (mostly to seem current).

After spending 2.5 years as an Online Learning Support Teacher (OLST), isolated between four small walls and my face between four small points on a screen, something in my educational pedagogy shifted….a redefinition I still struggle to word. In my online time, navigating the digital divide was a daily struggle. Zoom, Edsby, TikTok, Flip, Peardeck, Kahoot, Blooket, Miro, etc. etc. etc.? What I finally understand is that all the programs, apps, platforms, and tech tricks can’t help without equitable access and human connection.

Returning to the classroom now, tech is interwoven seamlessly throughout my teaching day. From my classroom 3D printer to Zooms with Indigenous Saskatchewan artists, edtech provides amazing opportunities for my students (and me) to connect to learning on a deeper level. My edtech and teaching pedagogy is more purposeful now, revealing a silver lining in my post-pandemic online world.

Drop a line and share…

  • What were your early experiences with edtech? Do you feel it shapes how you use/don’t use technology in the classroom now?
  • Tell me someone out there mastered the Oregon Trail!?!
  • Do you see a clear distinction between your technology use before and after the pandemic? Have we become too reliant on edtech now? Or perhaps adverse to it due to overuse in the last 2.5 years?

 

 

Hey Times Table, “Ya Basic!”

But is basic bad? Post 3: Debate 3

To quote Eleanor Shellstrop
GIF credit: The Good Place Memes

Another Monday evening and my brain is rumbling with all the new information laid out smorgasbord-style. Our first debate – Schools should no longer teach skills that can be easily carried out by technology (e.g., cursive writing, multiplication tables, spelling) – simultaneously had me questioning my reliance on unreliable tech while agreeing education needs a more innovative futuristic lens. Both sides presented such compelling, passionate cases I considered calling this: If My Blog is as Fuzzy as My Brain Right Now. I didn’t, and I’ll try to be clear as I outline the presented facts. For me, the question became: Does “basic” mean unnecessary? Let’s see what both sides have to say…

PRO points to consider

I can’t speak for the rest of the class, but in the pre-vote, I was Team PRO- ALL. THE. WAY. As a former student who struggled to learn multiplication facts and spelled I’ve as eyve, I managed to grow up to educate young minds. Sushmeet and Leah passionately outlined why our students deserve more than basic skills.

Survey says: Based on the survey shared on Discord (P.S. – such a brilliant strategy!) our class respondents heavily rely on technology to complete basic tasks, even though many of us come from a bygone era of basic skill drills. Why? Convenience. Should I strain my brain when Grammarly can spell restaurant for me (after my 6th attempt!)? And as someone who was diagnosed with dyscalculia too late in life for it to matter, using Siri as my verbal calculator feels like a godsend. Newsflash: Our teachers lied! We can carry calculators around with us every minute of the day!

Less menial more meaningful: With less focus on rote learning, students become free to create and explore. Cue flashback: It’s grade 3 and I am trying struggling to learn anything past 2X2. My mom buys a bootlegged tape (yes, Gen Z, I said a TAPE!) of multiplication songs. I finally learn my facts. I can sing 5X2=10, but I don’t understand why until I am much older.

Memorizing this…

Multiplication table
Photo credit: Adobe StockPack.

Has much less meaning than the awareness that an egg carton equals a real-world array.

Eggs in an egg carton on a white background. Isolated.
Wow! 5X2 really does equal 10!
Photo Credit: Adobe StockPack

Additionally, less focus on basic math skills allows more time for critical thinking tasks like makerspaces and coding. Hmmmm, would students rather look at a 2-D multiplication table or make a 3-D printing of an array city? I know what 9-year-old me would’ve said!

Less impersonal while more equitable: Rote learning often fails to consider the diverse needs (and circumstances) of each student. As discussed in previous debates, tech can provide a diversified approach to student interests and abilities. Likewise, with less focus on spelling (as if it somehow reflects a person’s character) more time can be used for relevant and humanitarian-based subjects: social justice, climate change, and the like. If you’ve read my other post on tech-equity (techquity?), you’ll know I am not a huge proponent of technology bridging the digital divide; however, in the Tedx Talk Re-inventing Education in the Digital Age, speaker David Middelbeck makes a compelling case for a digital shift in education. Technology (when and where available) can be used to help students struggling with basic math and grammar skills; they can then advance to more innovative and employable skills like coding.

Shift in teacher-student roles: As discussed in class, educational roles are changing. In the aforementioned Tedx Talk, Middelbeck outlines how education has consistently (albeit often too slowly) adjusted to meet the learning needs of society. The printing press marked an increase in class-inclusive education systems. The Industrial Revolution pushed an agenda of homogenous learning and capitalist advancement. Today, digital age educators are helping students use technology to ask and answer their own questions through creation and collaboration. With the use of such technology, how important is cursive writing for students in comparison to programs that allow ideas to flow across a shared screen?

Retro picture of classmates. Group of children in the classroom
Industrial Era classrooms…and you thought yours was packed!
Photo credit: Adobe StockPack

Other points like tech providing timely feedback and less bias were also discussed, but I’m not 100% sure these concepts exist in the “same lane” as the idea schools should no longer teach basic skills. Please feel free to argue this point with me! Until then, I’ll move on…

Aerial view of road interchange or highway intersection with busy urban traffic speeding on the road. Junction network of transportation taken by drone.
What lane am I in anymore?
Photo credit: Adobe StockPack

CON points to consider

Just when I thought I was firmly entrenched in the PRO camp, Alyssa, Kelly, and Durston presented their compelling reasons why basic doesn’t mean bad in education.

Current events versus current abilities: If ever there was a timely case for the necessity of basic skills in education, the ransomware situation at Regina Public has certainly provided a relevant anecdotal record. As my Regina-based classmates struggled with tasks ranging from photocopying to inputting report card data, I questioned if I could function without technology in the classroom? Short answer: As an online educator, I can’t. Obviously.

Even in a physical classroom, I flounder with certain basic skills. Thank God ransomware can’t attack calculators, but what would I do without one? The situation was posed in class: If a student asks a math equation and the teacher needs to walk across the classroom to grab a calculator, how bad does that look? Full disclaimer: In the past, I have frequently been that teacher. Of course, it’s not calculators that finally “saved” me – it’s (really) learning my basic math. Hurray for meaningful math strategies! Likewise, it took time and effort for me to master my spelling issues. As Grammarly seamlessly corrects my errors (while I type this), I am extremely grateful; however, without basic grammar skills, I could never catch the issues often missed by computer programs. Quite often, or at least in my case, it feels like basic skills must come before tech skills.

Me, trying to do math
(if I had a beard)
GIF credit: Tenor.com taken from The Hangover

Mental math before calculators: My anecdotal academic failings aside (are you shocked I actually made it as a teacher?!), let’s return to the data. In Mathematics Deficit: Why do Canadian Students Still Struggle in Math?, author P. Bennett provides some (disappointing) findings: “The most recent April 2021 Fraser Institute report on Mathematics performance of students across Canada contained very few surprises. . . . Steep declines have been registered by students from Alberta (- 38 points), British Columbia (-34 points), and Saskatchewan (- 31 points).” Why? Bennett stresses an over-reliance on calculators since the 1980s. In comparison “top performing nations, such as Singapore, China and Korea, put far more emphasis on integrating mental computation with conceptual understanding before progressing to higher-level math and problem-solving.” In simple terms, we have to lay structurally sound foundations (see: basic math) before we can expand our thinking confidently and creatively.

Grammar: A Schoolhouse Rock production: We’ve all read the (judgy) adage: “If you say ‘I seen’ rather than ‘I saw’ I will assume it’s never been the inside of a book!” (anon). Schoolhouse Rock, with its catchy beats, led us to believe that spelling and grammar act as windows to our minds. As discussed by the CON team, a lack of basic spelling and grammar skills can negatively impact a student’s future in the following ways:

  • Employability: Though arguably an antiquated and possibly costly practice, employers dismiss over 42% of resumes based on spelling errors.
  • Miscommunications: Students have valuable ideas, but grammatical issues can cause their concepts to be lost in translation.
  • Societal judgment: It’s not a point I like mentioning, but society is constantly judging us based on our grammatical/spelling skills. Whether applying to a university, writing a prescription, or creating a business site, grammatical mistakes can prove costly.
  • Societal Inequity: This one relates to all basic skills – if we assume technology will “fix” all student learning discrepancies, then we assume all students have access to these technologies in the first place.

Enter the case for programs like Grammarly and Readable. If grammar and spelling are so elitist and important, why not use assistive tech to help students? Every year, I have my students download Grammarly to their Chromebooks, and every year, the ones who don’t have basic grammar and spelling skills seem colour-blind to the glaringly obvious (to me) red squiggly lines. We cannot slap a grammar program on little Billy’s learning (dis)ability – brought about by a lack of literacy at home – and then wipe our hands clean. And as Durston noted in his team’s defense, we can’t just be waiting for future tech; our current technology is simply not there yet. I can attest to that as Grammarly tries to adjust my Canadian spelling to American for the millionth time (despite changing my settings a hundred million times!). It’s colour not color, Grammarly!

Grammar, saving lives
Photo credit: BookBub Memes

The case for cursive: I haven’t discussed cursive much because, as a person with a weird hybrid form of print-handwriting, I’m uncertain how much this skill has helped or hindered me….or any of my students. In its defense, cursive writing (when a mastered skill) is quicker than printing, allowing for flowing prose and speedy note-taking. Additionally, as noted in the Edutopia article What We Lose With the Decline of Cursive, cursive lights up the brain, activating increased memorization skills. For me, if I have to give up one basic skill for myself and my students, it will be cursive. From Egyptian hieroglyphics to Chinese Hanzi, the way we communicate using letters and images will continue to evolve (and I’m okay with that). Of course, I may just be bitter because my old-school, beautifully scripted mother, consistently judges my sloppy handwriting!

Basic ain’t so bad, and ain’t ain’t a word…

After all that thinking (and it’s been hours on this one topic alone), I have reached the conclusion that “basic” has its place in our lives, neither bad or unnecessary when used mindfully. Like technology, basic multiplication and grammatical skills must be used with purpose. I feel with certainty there is no purpose telling students, “Memorize these math facts! Why? Because that’s how it’s always been done!” Even if educators resisted the use of computers and/or programs, there are still a plethora of innovative, hands-on learning activities that can demonstrate basic concepts without relying on sit-and-get drill sheets. When we teach basic skills to show the why and how of learning, students can use these concepts as scaffolding for deeper level thinking. In their closing remarks, the PRO team quoted John Dewey: “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” I would argue that we cannot build for tomorrow if we do not understand yesterday.

Stay tuned for Debate 4 (which I haven’t named yet because I can no longer see straight)….Meanwhile, someone please save me from my own fuzzy thoughts/blog, what were your main takeaways from this debate?