Posted in ECI 830

Rethinking Google

Another interesting statement for discussion, “Schools should not be teaching anything that can be googled.” 

My initial thought was to think, “That’s pretty far fetched! Of course, my students are going to use google to search information.” After hearing both sides of the debate and thinking “critically” myself, I once again came to a crossroads.

Of course, many valid points were made. I am often concerned about the impact technology has on a child’s brain development as well as the impact googling information has on children’s critical thinking skills. Just a simple visual like this one provides insight into how far from the truth a child/student likely is. Perhaps some inquiring and searching is necessary!

critical thinking

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It concerns me that google is so accessible for students and is thought of as the quick fix to an answer. I use it regularly myself to find out some quick facts and/or to look something up. The difference is that I understand what is a “thin question.” As an educator I want my students to think critically or consider “thick questions.” Thin is simply “not going to cut it” (unless you’re searching for a one word answer) and it doesn’t taste good either!

thick:thin

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As Katherine explains, When I am having dinner with a friend and they ask a question, we simply Google the answer. We live in a world of instant gratification and Google gives us the opportunity to solve problems without thinking. I do the exact same thing. Only now, I will be googling information with a whole new understanding of my true intention. Perhaps I should continue the conversation and figure it out on my/our own through face to face conversation. Either way, I will think differently about googling information.

Fortunately, there are great tools that educators use already in our daily teaching as well as new ways to improve critical thinking skills in technology. Sparking a students interests by providing activities that build curiosity, hands on learning opportunities and developing their critical thinking skills is not something new. I think one of the problems is that problem solving skills, curiosity, and hands on learning are being put on the back burner for many children who have had 7+ hours of screen time per day. Parents have too much on their plate and/or are not often educated about the repercussions of too much screen time for their children.

quiet-activities-for-kids

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Hopefully, through modelling digital citizenship, building curiosity, teaching how to use google as a tool and not as a “one and only” way of learning, more of this awareness will be increased. Personally, I applaud Nicole for sharing with an Edtech class that she does not allow her children to access computers, television, and/or iPads at this point in their lives, knowing that her children will access it soon enough. It would not be easy!

The other side of the debate provided many important insights as well. Great arguments were made for the need to memorize some of our learning, particularly in math and reading/writing.

One of the Value Added Assessments, (DNA) requirements for grade 4 in the Saskatchewan Curriculum is to learn their multiplication facts. The curriculum instruction is to teach the strategies and not memorization alone. I see a lot of value in teaching some memorization techniques, as well as working on multiplication strategies repetitively throughout the year. I notice a huge difference in my students achievements when they know all 36 multiplication facts compared to the students that struggle. In grade 4, the math curriculum requires that the students learn whole number strategies from 0-10 as well as 2-3 digit multiplication by 1 number. If my students do not know their facts, it is a lot more difficult for them to figure out strategies and larger 2-3 digit by 1 multiplication facts.

36-multiplication-facts

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We also work on common misspelled sight words. I spend a short amount of time throughout the week practicing these words so that my students learn to spell their sight words correctly. This is a basic example of memorization that children learn through repetition of reading the same words over and over again. I use Month by Month Phonics to  provide systematic multilevel instruction. The visual, kinaesthetic and auditory way of learning new words. My students love cheering as we repeat each letter to spell out the word. Next, we write the word down and then I post the words on the word wall for kids to refer to if needed.

Finally, I connected with the fact that our brain looses the ability to build those deeper long term memories when we don’t develop those pathways. I have a great long term memory for so many life experiences that many of my family members have no recollection of. Perhaps it is because I learned to memorize my multiplication facts and my friends and families phone numbers. As a result, I remember them to this day. Repetition is the key as indicated in the video, Why teach math facts to automaticity? and in Andres post about remembering the projects he completed between 1997 and 2000. I should also add that my short term memory is terrible so if I remember an event or fact, it was most definitely meaningful to me, an unforgettable experience or I learned through repetition.

 

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Author:

My name is Jennifer and I am a Grade 4/5 teacher with the Regina Public School Board. I am taking my 8th class towards my Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction. EC&I 833 Foundations of Educational Technology: History, Theory, and Practice.

4 thoughts on “Rethinking Google

  1. I can relate to your math comments. I teach grade 2 so my students master their basic addition and subtraction facts and then we work on 2 digit addition and subtraction. If students don’t have their basic facts mastered, 2 digit addition and subtraction becomes an exhausting task. The students who have their facts mastered have little to no problem with these more complex questions. I agree that it’s not simply memorization though to master these facts, but rather, there should be an emphasis on developing personal strategies that work for students. In my experience, a good understanding of these strategies leads to automaticity.

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  2. Yes, for sure. It’s so tough for the students who don’t have the basic facts and also don’t have support to practice at home. Hopefully some of the suggestions for mastering facts and memorization will work for them. The activities sound fun!

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  3. I believe that many parents are very busy and often don’t have the time to explain concepts or provide learning opportunities for their children. Often times I know that parents, myself included will just quickly google something and go from there. You are correct in saying that’s where teachers can open things up and ask deeper questions. Let Google just another tool in our tool kits!! Great post Jennifer.

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