I Just Can’t Do It – I Just Can’t Unplug

 

I believe the final debate of  We have become too dependent on technology and what we really need is to unplug was one that probably hit home for each and every member of the course.  In education we have been encouraged to imbed various means of technology into our classrooms and we have done the same in our personal lives as well.  My wife often reminds me that I stated “I will never need a cell phone, never had one as a kid and I survived”.  Well I may be one of those people that feels lost without that little device in my hands or in my pocket.  That little Samsung Galaxy Note is my phone and my computer – it is my portable little office.  Being an administrator I need access to my phone and computer at all times – I need to respond to important emails, I need to communicate with staff if emergencies arise (accidents, sickness, needs for subs, etc.), and it has my calendar of events.  Without this little device it would be hard to do my job so effortlessly – could I survive without it…maybe, but it sure makes the job a lot easier.

So unplug from technology?  I don’t think I can do it, actually I don’t believe I need to or want to.  Technology has become an important part of my live and the lives of my family.  We rely heavily on many types of technology, for things that we deem make our life “normal” or more “easy” to manage.  But we do need to use these various technologies in moderation and for a specific purpose.  Do we need to unplug? Nope but we can take the time to enjoy the company of others and have face to face interactions.  I even find in my own home – that we need to do this – we need to “Look Up”.

Taking the time to “look up” is very important but that does not mean we have to unplug and do away with the technology that we see has beneficial to our lives.  According to the article by Casey Cep even Pope Benedict XVI sees the benefits associated with being connected by technology.  Since I’m Catholic I’m listening to him. Cep also states that the whole unplug movement seems to be a an escape from the reality that the world is today… technology is part of today’s world.  There are so many positives associated with technology – many things that make our life better.  As in article by Nicole Arce – there are even apps that can make us healthy and help us reduce stress and anxiety.  There are so many other things that bring people together such as Twitter. We need to embrace it and learn to accept that these are part of our lives.  But as we have all stated in numerous posts – its about moderation and knowledge.  We have to use it when necessary and know that like anything in life there can be risks.  We can look at past debates where we focus on discussions about digital citizenship and digital footprints – we all know that we must have an understanding of these.  With knowledge comes proper behavior – we must realize that technology is part of our lives and we must know how to use it.  With that said, the technology of today will seem as odd as the new technology of the past.  I remember when we got our first color TV and how that was so amazing.  Or when they came to hook up cable and we went from two channels to twenty some.  But in today’s standards of technology that is nothing… I couldn’t even tell you how many channels I have with my Bell dish.  It just goes to show us that technology changes and we change with it.  What seems like it is something new and even negative.. years from now it usually is old and positive.

Wow.. I’m Learning

Wow I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.  This class has really opened my eyes to how little knowledge and skill I had in terms of using technology.  Now I am not stating that I am an expert or that I will continue blogging or tweeting everyday but I now see the benefit of technology in schools.  I now realize that there is a place for more technology in the classroom but that we must have certain things in place prior to that.  First, we must have training available for teachers.  If we expect and want teachers to implement technology in the classroom we must offer them the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to use it with their students.  They need to have an understanding of the pros and cons of any type of technology they will be using in the classroom.  Second, we must have division support by having them understand the importance of teaching our students how to use technology. Finally, we must teach kids the importance of understanding their responsibilities when using technology.  They must  realize that digital citizenship is important and that they can and will leave digital footprints throughout their lives.

Overall I truly believe I learned something…who would of guessed that?  I hope everyone enjoys the presentation Justine and I put together.  I really enjoyed working with her (as I do everyday) plus I enjoyed the opportunity corresponding with everyone in the class.

Hey Lucifer…Let’s Make a Deal!

Devil Bruce | I LOVE EDUCATION | image tagged in devil bruce | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

Now to be honest with everyone, I do not totally agree with the idea that public education has sold its soul to corporate interests – but maybe we have been making some deals with the devil himself. LOL

Education and companies have had relationships for a very long time.  It is these companies that we get our basic resources from such as paper, pens, textbooks, etc.  As Audrey Watters discussed during our class on Tuesday, this connection has also been there but what type of relationship is it?

According to Alex Molnar’s article Corporate Involvement In Schools: Time for a More Critical Look, there are many ways in which corporations get involved in education (ways of making relationships) – such as:

*Exclusive Agreements such as the Pepsi (donated 2 million dollars to help build a football stadium in return for the exclusive rights to sell its product in the school district – making them approximately 7 million dollars) and Coca-Cola (signed a ten year exclusive vending agreement worth 8 million dollars for the company).

*Incentive Programs such as the Pizza Hut “Book It” reading incentive program

*Sponsorship of Programs & Activities such as Duracell Invention Challenge and Milk sponsorship in Athletic Activities SHSAA

*Fundraising– the most wide spread commercial activity

*Appropriation of Space-such as allocating school space to advertise

Being involved in these ways makes it a win – win for both the schools and the business.  But if we were to examine these in more detail would we find out that it is the businesses that are profiting more?  You bet they are.  Unfortunately education is seen as a business and therefore people see it as a way to make money.  Do businesses/corporations take advantage of the education system for their own financial gains?  You bet that some of them do.

Companies utilize spokespeople to peddle their product to schools and school districts.  Many school districts/divisions make critical friends with these people in order to strengthen an area that needs improving.  Some see these critical friends as a positive while others see them as a way for businesses to make money.  I believe that overall critical friends are a great, they provide guidance and support for the professionals in the district.  In our division we have made critical friends with some that are sponsored by specific companies.  Sue Jackson has spoken to our teachers on several occasions, discussing reading strategies that are based on Scholastic resources.  Another critical friend that our division has is Dr. Marian Small who has all of her works published by Nelson Literacy.  She has been a critical friend with our division for many years and her ideas have been implemented in almost all the schools.  Are the ideas and resources that Jackson and Small present to us good?  Yes, they are very good but sometimes it feels that we are pressured into using “their” resources in order for us to have success.  Many teachers also feel pressure to abide by these “new” ideas because the division has told them to.  It is hard for many teachers to fully implement these ideas because they had little to no input into what new ideas they wanted to learn abut.  More and more teachers are feeling disconnected from the division personnel because they fell they do not understand the issues teachers are facing in the “trenches”.  And “pushing” these new critical friends on the teacher (even if they are great resources) is sometimes met with resistance.

Now are there companies that are invested in education for the right reasons and want students to have success?  You bet there are.  Dean Shareski  stated during our debate that there are many partnerships that are founded on a common goal – success for kids.  But there may be some companies that project a sense of “doing good” but are they mainly in it for the financial gains.  Companies such as Pearson have been involved in almost every aspect of education for a very long time.  Many people have been making absurd amounts of money in this company as detailed in Alan Singer’s article.They have an invested interest in education but some of their interests seem suspicious as seen in this video:

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=big+business+in+public+schools&view=detail&mid=E3B1F139667949E82622E3B1F139667949E82622&FORM=VIRE

Even comedian John Oliver has taken into looking at Pearson (around the 10:30 mark) and the potential corrupt behavior associated with the company.

The question that still subsides in me is why do we (as school divisions) invest so heavily into companies that may be slightly corrupt (I am not saying they are for sure…wink, wink) but that supply us with resources that are not what we need.  For example the M-Comp (a Pearson product)screen that is used three times a year in some divisions to check on students’ math computation skills does not fully screen what the students are expected to know.  The example of the Grade three screen having 10 percent of its grades based on questions that ask students to multiply beyond their expected knowledge base.  Why put these stresses on the kids or teachers.  Divisions question screen results that really do not ask what the kids need to know.  Why utilize a product like this when we could simple have a conversation with the teacher and gain an understanding of where the kid is at? The answer is that the TRUST is gone – ministry has lost the TRUST in divisions and now the division has lost the TRUST in the schools and teachers.  It’s a vicious cycle.

Now I am not stating that relationships that are made with businesses or corporations are endangering our kids but are all of these relationships based on the same common goal?  I would hope the goal is to have success for all kids but some businesses might have the goal of money first and student success second.  Therefore maybe we have been making some deals with the devil… you’re welcome Lucifer.  I really hope I am wrong.

Kids and Social Media – A Great Combination

Social media is ruining childhood.  This seems like a harsh statement when I think of the many positives that come from individuals having access to Social Media.  I like to think that Social Media does the opposite – it compliments childhood and adds more enjoyment to it.  Social Media and its impacts on society are very often seen as bad mainly because we focus too much on the negatives.  There definitely are negatives associated with Social Media just as there are negatives associated with watching TV or playing competitive sports.  But does that mean we totally stop our children from watching TV or competing in competitive sports?  I think not, but what it does mean is that we must monitor and encourage proper participation or use.

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This topic of Social Media ruining kid’s childhoods reminds me of the issues I discussed in one of my past blogs where I discussed the importance of adults monitoring our children’s access and activities when utilizing technology.  Also, in another post I talked about the importance of teaching digital citizenship.  It is of the utmost importance that we realize that Social Media is a part of today’s society and that instead of focusing on the negative we must focus on the positives.  With that being said we must teach children the importance of utilizing technology properly and we must limit their access to it as well.  Once we have taught the children about such thinks as digital citizenship, and digital footprints we must teach them the positives that Social Media can have on them.  We must be open with them and have open conversations about Social Media expectations and rules – as does this family in the following video.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/21/living/social-media-positives-teens-parents/index.html

 

As Caroline Knorr states in her article, Social Media can play a positive role in kid’s lives.  It can give them a sense of belonging by connecting them with people of similar interests, strengthen friendships by being connected to friends whenever they may need them, and overall let’s them be themselves when they cannot maybe do so at school or work.  In the article The Truth About Kids and Social Media, they discuss some of the benefits of being online.  Especially how “Social media will help connect them with like-minded individuals, including mentors, that share similar interests and aspirations that can help them achieve their long-term goals.”   Therefore, being online an utilizing Social Media CORRECTLY when they are kids has the potential to assist them later on as they plan for their future careers or dreams.  If properly used Social Media can help ones self confidence or self esteem than we must encourage them to use it.  Benefits of Internet and Social Media explains how the communities available to young people via Social Media can really improve ones social skills and build confidence.  These two attributes are sometimes very difficult to difficult to install in youth – and if these online communities and the social interactions that take place can do this then we must see it as a positive.

As stated earlier, young children need to be directed and encouraged to utilize Social Media properly.  In doing this they must also be made aware of the potential risks that can be linked to Social Media.  “Eliminating social media isn’t just unrealistic – it has it’s own risks for kids” states Susan Shaffer and Linda Perlman Gordon in Chandra Johnson’s article How Parents Can Help Kids Understand Social Media Risks. Thus, we must ensure kids know how to use it and realize all the risks associated with it.  Parents and teachers must talk with kids and to be able to have these conversations we must all have a sense of Social Media.  We must take the time to investigate Social Media outlets and ask our own questions on the securities associated with each one.  Maybe even some adults have as much sense of Social Media as the kids in this short video:

 

In closing, Social Media can open so many doors to kids but like anything in life – if used properly.  Also, we must ensure that kids understand their responsibilities that go along with using Social Media and the potential risks that there may be  if used incorrectly.  Social Media has potential to in rich children’s lives but will they use it properly or abuse it?  Depending on THEIR choices they will have to live with the great rewards that accompany it or face the harsh realities.

Is There Equity in Education?

When we look at the education system I would like to think that there is equity, but is there truly?  When we look from country to country, or from province to province, or even at division to division there is such differences that it makes your head spin.

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But can technology be a force for equity in society?  I think it  can.  The agree side made some very compelling points that made me agree with them.

Bob and Katherine’s discussion regarding technology assisting those with disabilities really stuck with me.  Having  students in our school that have various forms of disabilities I began to wonder is there more we (as a school or school division) could doing to make their education experience better? Could various means of technology be this force for equity that we speak of?  This got me thinking of some videos I watched that demonstrated the power of technology in assisting people with disabilities.   The following videos show how technology has made life and schooling better for two young people.

These two videos demonstrate how technology is making a difference in their lives.  Whether it is taking notes in the classroom or communicating at home, technology  has the ability to make things better.  Assistive technology and the devices associated with it are truly making a difference, Sam and Elle are two that experience the positives of this technology.  There are many types of devices or helpful tools available to teachers – 8 Helpful Assistive Technology Tools For Your Classroom.  Now many will say that not all people have access to this type of technology but those that can are experiencing things they might never have if they did not have the technology.  Therefore, it is making things more “equal” for them if they  have access and the training to use them. I now ask myself how can I implement tools like these in my school?  The answer is unknown because I do not control the “purse strings” and therefore I cannot “call the shots”.  Can I inquiry and research about various tools, you bet, but will anything come of it?  I guess there is only one way to find out.

Another point of view that the agree side discussed was how technology is making valuable education more accessible to more people.  Once again does it reach everyone, no it doesn’t, but those it can is making their lives better.  Even having classes such as EC&1 830 available through the online method has made live better for many of us.  Myself and many of my friends that take classes from the University of Regina fully online to enable us to continue to work, not commute hours a day, and remain at home with our families.  This type of technology is making it easier for us and giving us the same opportunity as someone living in Regina.  Also, many school divisions including South East Cornerstone Public School Division offer online alternatives for students through programs such as  Cyber Stone Virtual School.  This alternative to in class schooling has many benefits:

  1.  Offers classes not available at certain schools
  2. Those that are unable to attend school (illness, etc.) can still receive an education
  3. Gives students an opportunity to do online learning

Cyber Stone offers enough credits that a student could graduate and receive a Grade 12 diploma.  There are Level 10, Level 20 and Level 30 courses available.  Having access to this gives many the opportunity to receive an education when they may not have been able to due to various issues.

So is technology a force for equity in society?  I believe it has the opportunity to in many ways but can and will it reach everyone? No it will not.  But those that can access it will benefit from it and have equal opportunities as anyone else.

 

 

 

Unfair? Nope.

Wow…what a debate – Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids.  I have to admit I was swayed very early on once the disagree side began their defense of their stance.  We all know that children will have access to technology from a very early age.  Since they will have this access we need to ensure that they understand what lasting footprints they will be making with this technology.  The classroom is one of the best places to beginning installing our kids with the knowledge and skills to be “smart” about technology.

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We as educators have an excellent opportunity to help direct these kids into giving them the skills necessary to have lasting digital footprints that will not hinder their present or future lives.  If we do not do what Lisa, Haiming, and Stephanie suggested; as in teaching, modelling and setting expectations for kids in terms of sharing information online in a appropriate manner – we are in the long run doing them a disservice.  Therefore, we can and should at school begin introducing students to the ideas associated with digital citizenship.

But before we do that we must make sure that we have a “foothold” on our own digital footprint.  As the author stated in Teachers, Take Care of Your Digital Footprint, “If you’re not controlling your footprint, others are.”  Therefore, we must be vigilant in ensuring that we are active in controlling what is “out there” about us.  If we have a proper footprint (that we monitor) than we can begin to teach our students to begin to create their digital footprint.

This process begins with introducing them to what digit citizenship is.  And thanks to Katia and Alec for the link to this amazing resource – Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools – we as educators have a guideline to introducing it to our students.  Being able to use this resource to educate ourselves and our students about Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship is essential to building a basis for our lessons.

Being able to understand the importance of digital access, commerce, communication, literacy, etiquette, law, rights and responsibilities, health and wellness, and finally security (self protection) – is essential for every child.  If they understand the importance of these, we can hope that they will have a sense to protect themselves as they begin to par take using today’s technology.

Thus, if we want our students to understand these concepts they must experience them.  We need to give them opportunities to begin to build their digital footprints while under the guidance of us at the school level.  A very creative way to start the discussion on what digital citizenship is using the technique that teacher Sam Payne uses in his classroom.  He has some great discussions with his students about the expectations for being “online”.  His creative and engaging way to discuss this topic was very unique and inspiring (mainly because I have a huge comic book collection).

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/teaching-digital-citizenship

The following link is another small way that we can begin to teach digital citizenship to our students.

A Hands-On Activity to Teach Digital Citizenship

Finally, Teaching Digital Citizenship in the Elementary Classroom discusses how we teach social skills for our daily in person interactions but that we must do the same for our “online” interactions as well.  Being able to be identify strangers, being friendly, an treating others with respect is sometimes easier in person than “online” when we are behind a keyboard.  We must help kids learn this skills to help them protect their digital footprints.  Also, if your division does not have resources to use you can rely on other divisions such as Regina Catholic to find ready laid out teacher resources.

We must teach children at a young age that it is their responsibility to share appropriate material and demonstrate how to create a positive online identity .  If they have this instilled in them at a young age, the hope is that as they get older they will be responsible with their online behavior.  We also hope that they will be responsible with their own but also with others’ footprints.  As an administrator I fully encourage my staff to engage their students in understanding digital citizenship and how important it is to be knowledgeable in it.  One of my staff members, Justine does an excellent job introducing this to her students.  In her blog this week Justine discusses how she prepares her students by gaining an understanding of “rules” needed when online and the importance of be safe.  She even has a class blog that is accessible to the parents, and it is a great way to begin to have her students make a positive digital footprint.    Teaching them to be respectful of themselves and others is the underlying message of digital citizenship in her class.  In essence Justine and other teachers are preparing their students for the connective world of today and tomorrow.

 

Technology… Today’s New Parent and New Teacher?

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As I sit here to work on my newest post, I needed some quiet time, therefore out comes the iPad.  Now I know that isn’t the best way to occupy my child’s time, but sometimes its the easiest (and she still looks cute watching it).  It really has changed, parenting that is.  When I was a child it was “go outside till I yell for you” or “go find a friend to play with”.  Now many parents find it easier to just put an electronic device in their kids hands and be satisfied with that.  I too do this on occasion (like right now) but it really isn’t the new way to parent, it has become a new parenting choice.

The questions that were generated from the third debate really made me wonder about my life and what technology is doing to my own children and the children I teach.  I think of the first three debates, this one hit home the hardest because I am a parent/teacher and I question my own judgment all the time.  Are we as a society harming “our children” by utilizing technology as much as we do?  Or does it simply come down to moderation just as it is with so many other aspects in life?

When I look at the students I have taught over the years (especially the last five) I have noticed that technology has been having a negative effect on some of them.  Many have become addicted to some technology where they begin to have erratic sleep patterns as mentioned in the article “Sneaky Ways Technology Is Messing With Your Body and Mind”.  I have seen this in many students, who openly admit to staying up all night playing “Halo” or chatting all night using “SnapChat”Ella Paula also discusses how screen time interferes with sleep which than affects kids eating habits, leading them to snack more.  There are also more negatives that can not be seen by the naked eye -the  mental issues that arise from technology.  Being exposed to negative images, images of how society think people should look, what they should wear, what they should eat, etc.  Kids begin to have self esteem issues due to exposure to these things.  Also, due to easy communication with anyone around the world many children are open to bullying and exposed to online predators as mention by author Pamela Deloatch.  Is technology also having effects on our children’s development?

It may be very easy for society to admit that technology is having an negative effect on our children, but is it all that bad?

As Kristina E. Hatch stated in her paper “technology will be part of our world for the rest of our foreseeable lives”, therefore children need to have access to it. There are also many apps out there that can be very helpful to children, but like anything moderation is key.  I believe that we as parents and teachers must set limits on children and their access to technology.  Yes, technology is an important part of today’s society, but it can be over used.

Can technology be harmful/unhealthy for our children?  Yes, but I firmly believe that if it is used in moderation at home and in the classroom it can open so many opportunities for the kids.  We need to teach children about the negatives about technology, but we must share with them the many positives.  It comes down to us as parents and teachers to demonstrate proper usage of technology – we must be “technology role models” for them.  As stated in the above video, if we expect limits for our kids we should expect them for ourselves.  It is like telling the kids that ice cream is bad for them as we devour a DQ Blizzard.    In discussion with Justine at school the other day, she made a great point.  We cannot control what is taught or role modelled at home, we must do what we can to teach and role model responsible “technology use” when they are in our care.  We must always be aware that we are role models for our children and we are in charge of them, mentoring them to make the right choices.

 

 

 

 

 

To Google or Not to Google…That is the Question!


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Much like old William pondered in Hamlet, I too ponder now… to Google or not to Google?  This second debate really had me questioning my views on the usage of Google in the classroom and in all aspects of life.  Are we becoming too reliant on the quick easy answers?  Or, is it okay to have quick and easy answers as long as it leads to more questions? Or can it just lead to trouble?  Just ask Sheldon.

The agree side made excellent points on how Google is in a way “weakening” our students and society as a whole.  It seems that Google is just making us wanting the answers without examining the topics in more depth.  Terry Hierck made some excellent points in his article such as …”Google is easier than thinking” and that “they find what they want rather than what they might need”.  Is Google making us “lazy”? Are we gearing away from inquiry based learning?  Hierck also states “if users can Google answers to questions they’re given, they’re likely terrible questions”.  Therefore, maybe it isn’t Google that is the issue, rather the educator that asks the question.

Ramsey Musallam made some very relevant points of interest during his TED talk, mainly around having students question.  He focused on encouraging students to be curious and inquiry.  “If we place technologies before students inquiry, we are robbing us (the teacher) of the greatest tool… student questions”.  There is place for technology such as Google but it is based on the questions that arise from the curious minds of students.  Having students do more than learn facts is very important in any classroom.

During my pre-internship (back in 1995…wow that was long ago) I was in an amazing teachers room – Mr. Ted Weir.  Ted had the ability (without the use of the internet) to challenge students to think for themselves.  During his Unit on World War One,

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he would break the class into nations and give them some basic information about their nation and some (but not all) of the surrounding ones.  They would role play the entire war by simply asking questions of him and the other nations.  He played the role of “the all knowing” and they ran ideas by him first before acting them out.  This process lead to the students asking questions and learning, not from facts but from actually playing the events out without the knowledge of what actually took place.  It was very interesting to watch him direct kids and observe them make decisions that actually took place in history without Googling the answers (which they couldn’t do back then).  This process of encouraging students to ask questions and “think” for themselves is lost in many classrooms today because answers can be found very quickly and easily.

Now with that all stated, can the disagree side be unto something with their argument?  I believe they also made some great points about the importance of still teaching things that can be Googled.  Their emphasis on students having the ability to learn things in class that can still be found easily on Google is something that many teachers believe in.  Memorization is important, therefore we must still have students memorize things such as poems and soliloquies.  As William R. Klemm’s states in his article “the more you know, the more you can know” therefore memorization will help “train the brain”.   This notion is continued by Ben Johnson who believes “the brain is a learning tool” and that “before students can think critically, they need to have something to think about in their brains”.  So we need to encourage kids to learn certain facts and figures to encourage more in depth, critical thinking later on.

Overall it is the questioning that can and should lead to students wanting to learn more.  As a former History teacher I found some merit in some information found on Google (and the internet), but it was the inquiry learning that was the main focus.  Sure we could find information from the internet, but what do we do with that information is the most important thing.  For example Louis Riel, we could find information about him on Google (if we so desired) and than ask questions such as was he truly a criminal?  Was he right or wrong?  Use the basic information and get students to think about it.  Asking the right question can lead students to so much more – having them ask the questions is even better because it shows their critical thinking.  It is the educator that must be the one to encourage students to question information they obtain in class or from the internet.  Encourage them to ask why? How come? What if? and so on.  Questioning by the teacher and the student leads to better critical thinking by all.

The following video demonstrates the importance of good questions – if we as educators can encourage students to question they will learn so much more.  They may also teach us a few new things but even questioning us.

 

The Great Escape… I mean Great Debate

Much like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape (possibly one of the greatest movies of all time), the “agree” side barely escaped with the victory last night.  The two sides shared very convincing arguments that had myself waving back and forth on who to vote for.  In the end I voted for the “agree” side because the debate statement was:

Technology in the classroom enhances learning. Agree or disagree?

In my eighteen years in the education system I full heartily believe that technology does enhance the learning.  Now with that said I must admit that there are many challenges with it but if implemented properly it can and will enhance the students’ learning.  Yes there are many possible barriers, that were very eloquently proposed by the “disagree” side, but if we look past those, technology of almost any type will enhance learning. It would be like trying to argue against the statement “working out enhances your health”.  That is a very true statement, it cannot be argued with strong supportive facts.  Are there barriers to working out, yes; finding the time, having the will power, having the skills to work out properly, and so on.  Even with these things stated , there is no argument that working out does not enhance your health.

Therefore I believe there are many reasons why technology enhances learning:

  1. Engaging the students – if we can utilize different types of technology that will get students to be more engaged in the topic being covered in class than we must.  In http://www.teacherkit.net/engaging-students-through-technology-four-strategies/ the author states “When we’re engaged in something, we do better at it. That’s as true of learning as it is anything else: an engaged student is more likely to learn and succeed than a disengaged one.” In my first few years as a High School History teacher I used many forms of technology to get my students engaged.  I used the VCR machine , the video recorder, and even a fairly new idea called the internet.  The students loved these forms of technology because they were different from the textbook and lectures that they were accustomed to in the past.  So I move ahead 17 years and we have at our disposal many new forms of technology that can also get the students more engaged.  We use iPads (for videoing), Smartboards for interactive activities (such as class surveys), laptops (for easier access to information), and much more.  And with these advancements we can challenge our students to dive deeper into content because they have unique and interesting ways to find answers and new ways to demonstrate their knowledge.  They have at their fingertips new ways to demonstrate their creative and critical thinking.
  2. Opportunity to Collaborate – the ability that some technology has provided students to be able to learn from is endless.  Whether it is obtaining information from the internet ,or collaborating with fellow classmates when not at school, or connecting with someone from across the world – students have so many avenues to learn more and especially learn more from others.  Eric Sheninger states that “social media has given rise to new definitions of community”, and really that is what students need to rely on, the world wide community that technology has opened up for them.  In 4 Strategies to Engage Students Using Technology  the author makes an excellent point, “Today’s students are also social.  They love being part of a community, collaborating, sharing and exchanging ideas.”  And I believe we must give them this opportunity to do so (with restrictions of course).  If we allow students this opportunity to reach out to the world wide community, we open them up to so much more information and new experiences.
  3. Equal Opportunities for Learning – utilizing various forms of technology opens new doors of learning for those with disabilities or those that struggle with certain aspects of learning. In the article Using Assistive Technology in Teaching Children with learning Disabilities in the 21st Century, the authors state excellent points regarding technology helping children with disabilities but they can also be used for every child.  The tools can be used to identify strengths and weakness of students which in the past (without technology) was sometimes near impossible.
  4. Technology in action – please watch this video that I posted earlier in the week on Google Plus that demonstrates technology in action in the classroom.

5.  Barriers – as stated previously in this post and also stated by the “disagree” side in the debate, there are many barriers.  Sam Carlson believes that teachers need to be trained before we even think of introducing technology in the classroom, and I agree.  The pressure needs to be on divisions to implement proper training for teachers if they want students to be knowledgeable on the changing technologies of the day.  But as Brad Kuntz sates; “Including technology in classroom comes with unique challenges…..But as we continue to set the standard for technology’s inclusion in the classroom, more clearly define and clarify its role in our teaching, and train our students to use it wisely, we can modernize our classrooms despite these challenges”.  Therefore, we as an education system must realize that this is the “new” way of education and its not going away.

So debate number one brought forth great questions but I truly believe that technology must be implemented to enhance the learning of our students.

P.S. – Spoiler Alert – Steve McQueen doesn’t escape for very long.

What am I doing?

What am I doing?  This question has crossed my mind ever since I registered for this class.  But after our class on Tuesday, I have a change in thinking.  Now I say “I need this”.  I need to learn some new “tricks”, I need to update my “techie knowledge”, and I need to change.

I guess a little background on myself is needed.  I am Tyler Fehrenbach and I am currently the Principal of Carlyle Elementary School in the community of Carlyle located in the southeast part of the province.  We are part of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division.  I have been in this role for two years and love my job.  I have an unbelievable staff, including Justine who also is taking this class.  I also have 220 energetic and amazing students.  This is my eighteenth year in education where I have taught everything from Pre-K to Grade 12, been a Curriculum Consultant, and a Vice Principal, and now in the Principal role.

More important than all of that, I am a father and husband.  My wife is currently finishing her Social Work degree and still holds the position of  Community Education Liaison at the same school that I work at.  We have a ten year old son, a three year old daughter and a little one up in Heaven whom we lost suddenly when she was only 21 months old.  Our lives revolve around our kid’s activities and I coach or assistant coach all my son’s teams.  I believe that I will be at every game and practice therefore I might as well get involved.

I am nearing my Master’s Journey which began in 2011.  When we lost our daughter I took a leave and only last year decided to continue the journey.  I have just recently finished a very interesting class in the HR field, one that really pertains to my position now.  I realize that EC&I830 will also come in very handy, especially with my staff getting younger and younger and bringing in more technology into the classroom.  My final two classes will take place this summer during the first three weeks of July.  I am looking forward to the end but also wonder what I will do in the evenings with all my spare time.

Thoughout this school year our admin meetings have included some very interesting book circles and guest presenters.  We discuss authors such as Fullan and Davies, but this year we focused a lot around the work of Tom Hierck.  Tom’s book “Pyramid of Behavior Interventions – Seven Keys to a Positive Learning Environment” has really shaped our school and many others in our division.  His ideas of a common Behavior Matrix for the school and modelling expected behaviors by all students, staff and parents has really changed the way our school operates.

 

 

I am hoping that this class will open new path ways fro me, pathways that will enable me to connect better with my students, staff and community.  At the end of this journey I want to be able to not say “what am I doing/

 

You can follow me on Twitter @FehrenbachTyler