Posted in Directed Learning, Team Teaching

My Last Summary of Learning!

It is hard to believe that this is the last blog post for my last class. Having the opportunity to end my Graduate Degree taking a Directed Reading course could not have gone better. I am very thankful that Jayme-Lee, Andres, Elizabeth, Kyle, and Jorie chose to take this course too. I had discussed this option with Alec in December, so I am thankful that it all turned out in the end. I learned so much more,  through our small group, than I could have hoped to learn if I had done this course alone!

Photo Credit: http://tvorbaweb-stranok.sk Flickr via Compfight cc

Initially, when this Directed Reading course began, I felt out of touch with my own teaching practices in my classroom. For 8 months of this past school year, I had a responsibility to write a blog post for EC&I 833 and EC&I 834 based on the particular topic that week. On top of that, there were other projects and assignments to complete. After awhile, having extra time and/or energy to spend on planning, became few and far between.

I was looking forward to focusing on my own teaching practices and how I approach technology in my classroom. I had the usual questions that I believe many educators have. Are the technology tools contributing to authentic learning? What tools should I be using for assessment? Am I providing a more student-centred approach? Are my students engaged? Am I providing balanced literacy? How can I provide enough time for students to blog with a limited number of Chromebooks? The list goes on and on and on!!

So Many Questions??

I chose to focus on including technology in a team teaching classroom because I struggle with having 17 Chromebooks for 47 students. How do I make the most of having Chromebooks, when I only have them for a limited time each day, or not at all?

What I learned is that I am on the right track! When I found articles about team teaching and teaching with larger groups, I also found information about blended learning and grouping students in smaller groups.

In this particular blog I found an article with great tips for team teaching and the importance and effectiveness of collaborating. From that point, I realized that working with large groups of students is challenging, and splitting students into groups is what most, if not all educators do, especially with limited technology/learning needs. Having more time to reflect, helped me to realize there is no magical solution to my frustrations. I just need to continue what I am doing, by making my decisions based on current research/information as my ideologies and pedagogical practices continue to change.

In week 2, I blogged about the negative aspects of technology. I’ve noticed that during daily conversation with different people like my EA (educational assistant), co-workers, friends, or family, I often notice that people who do not understand what educational technology has to offer, are the ones who are the most negative about it. It is understandable for sure. When people are misinformed, uneducated, or basing facts on ‘what we hear’ to be true, the comments tend to be “negative.”

One article that I shared shed some light from a different, yet relatable perspective. As you can see just by the titles, the article is worth the read.

Complexity Photo Credit: B Barr Flickr via Compfight cc
  • Why Some Teachers Are Against Technology In Education

  • The Problem With The #edtech Conversation

  • Technology Is Designed To Stir Emotions. So Here We Are, Stirred

  • Honoring The Complexity Of Teaching & Learning

Where some see a revelation, others see expense, distraction, and a lot of rhetoric.

I think it’s safe to say that based on our weekly conversations and each of our blogs, emotions were stirred, the #edtech conversation is deep and intense, and the complexity of teaching and learning is certainly challenging.

In week 3, we focused on preventative measures of cons. As I’ve already mentioned, I found some articles on collaborating and team teaching that confirmed what I have already been doing, as well as reminded me that I am the type of person who benefits from collaborating and having conversations about best teaching practices. It keeps me accountable!

In week 4, we looked into interesting finds. One topic of discussion was the limitations on the number of iPads and laptops allotted for each school in the RPS (Regina Public School Board).  My big take away(s) from this week was to focus on what we do have, since it doesn’t look like new laptops or iPads will be coming our way any time soon. I have plenty to learn about GSuite and the capabilities of Chromebooks, as well as transitioning to a more Blended Classroom. Next year, I will continue to try something new, including figuring out what else Chromebooks and GSuite have to offer!

Week 5 was all about the benefits of educational technology. There are more than enough articles that support the inclusion and importance of educational technology. Our students have grown up with smart devices and have had access to the web their whole lives. It is not a surprise that technology is something they gravitate towards.

I shared an article or two that help to remind myself and its many readers why educators continue to make the transition to a more blended classroom to meet the new learning styles of today’s students.

  • As much as 60 percent of schools in America, issue laptops or tablets to their students.
  • 41% of students are in favor of taking virtual classes.
  • 50% of students in middle and high school use the internet to complete work 3 times a week.
  • The students that study on computers, phones, or tablets, study for an average of 40 minutes more per week than those who do not.

The Future is Tech, Get Ready

This quote from the article; 5 Benefits of Technology in the Classroom says it all. Yes, we better get ready! It should actually read, “We better get moving!”  Eventually, educators will get on board, for the simple fact that we don’t have much choice! As technology transitions into Web 3.0, we as educators need to also be transitioning into Education 3.0. My blog from last spring provides a summary of how these are so connected.

In conclusion, not only did I learn an enormous amount of valuable information, I was also reminded about many of the new advances that educational technology has made. The enormity and complexity of the #edtech world is beyond my wildest imagination.

On top of that, connecting with Jayme-Lee, Andres, Elizabeth, Kyle, and Jorie provided me with so much awareness for the variety and complexity of our jobs as educators. I now have a much more personal appreciation for teaching Physical Education, French Immersion, high school Social Studies, tackling a paperless classroom using BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and being a Grade 2 teacher transitioning into an administration role. As a group, we were able to provide support, make connections, and learn from each of our roles as teachers in Regina Public Schools.

Thank you again for this amazing opportunity! I am very thankful for the chance to take this Directed Reading Course for my final class! Thank you Alec for providing me with this amazing platform where I’ve grown as a person, professional, co-worker, and technology guru for 5 of my 10 courses throughout my Graduate Studies!

Dream Big

 

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Posted in Directed Learning, Team Teaching

The Countless Advantages of Technology

When I think about the pros of technology, I think a lot about how much more engagement I see in my students when using technology tools and the positive feedback from them. I witness a lot more focus, interest, willingness and motivation to get started right away, remain on task, and complete the task at hand. There will always be students who are distracted by YouTube or their devices, but I always feel their excitement during educational technology tasks compared to teacher led, or independent student learning. This is what motivates me to keep planning lessons that include technology.

Student Engagement

There are so many articles available that support educational technology, so it is my job to take the information and learn first hand whether or not it might be beneficial to the group of students I have in my classroom. According to the article, “7 Benefits of Educational Technology in the Education Sphere,”

The future of the educational system is practically determined by the development of technology.

The teaching strategies based on educational technology can be described as ethical practices that facilitate the students’ learning and boost their capacity, productivity, and performance. Technology integration in education inspires positive changes in teaching methods on an international level.

#4. Thanks to technology, students enjoy learning!

Students are addicted to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Digg, and other websites from a very early age. The internet can distract them from the learning process, but you can also use their inclination to spend time online for a good purpose: Making learning enjoyable.

5 Benefits of Tech in Ed

My students are connected to technology in their daily lives in some way or another. It is definitely a learning curve to have to introduce them to the inclusion of technology as a learning tool if they are not used to using it in school, but as I explained earlier, I see a lot of enthusiasm, engagement and eagerness to use technology and share what they have learned using Google Slides, Google Classroom, blog posts on Blogger, sharing work on Class Dojo, or creating an iMovie or WeVideo.

The students I interact with each day have grown up with smart devices, having been entertained instantly with videos, movies, games, sounds, visuals, etc. It isn’t a surprise to me that they are connected and drawn to Chromebooks,  and iPads when we use them in class.

Technology is certainly here to stay and as the poster says, “The Future is Tech, Get Ready!”

So, it is my job to keep an open mind to new ideas and opportunities, to try something new with my students and to deepen their understanding and motivation for learning the best way I know how.

Reading this article and watching this video from the article; “10 Advantages and Disadvantages of Technology in Education,” shares a couple of different perspectives (as well as common ones).

1. Parent’s Peace of Mind
Cell phones allow easy access for parents and children to communicate with each other at school too.

2. The Information Highway
Any answer to any question can be found with a few clicks of the keys on the computer or smart phone.

3. Broaden The Mind
Having access to the technology will expose children to things outside of their parents interests and help them to form their own opinions.

4. Brings Some Fun Into The Classroom
“Learning the same exact way from the same person every day can really get…boring,” which results in a real lack of motivation. “When they are able to integrate computer learning into their normal schedule, they become much more excited to learn.”

5. Applicable Education
In the working world, in nearly every job you may take, you have to know how to operate a computer. Teaching this skill in children early will give them advantages and a learning curve for when they are adults.

Each one of these 5 perspectives make sense and are common points of view. As a teacher, having to compete with technology devices is no easy task, so jumping on board is the logical solution, even though it is often challenging and full of obstacles.

The following video really showcases an interesting perspective from children about what “Technology is, how people learned before the internet, technology these students use in their daily learning, and what technology will look like in the future. Very entertaining video for sure!

It is hard to believe that these students are guessing and unsure about how we learned before the internet. “I think they had to go to the library, ” They read books,” etc. Interesting responses for sure!

There are so many amazing ways that technology can improve students learning, and yet at the same time it can be challenging. I have found that my students have more success when we try a new technology tool, it is best to start small (a daily lesson or a shorter project that takes 2 or 3 lessons). Once my students are familiar with that tool, we can move on to a more in depth project. One step at a time!

Next year, I will continue to build a blended learning environment.  It will take some time, especially if I follow a model like the one I shared in last weeks blog post”3 Essentials for Success in a Blended Learning Classroom,” but I already have a great foundation and I see the benefits for/in my students every day. This is the way it has to be for our students who are growing up in a digital world.

In closing, I want to share Jessie Woolley-Wilson’s Ted Talk about the divide in education based on a student’s zip code and the decline in funding for education. This reality has narrowed her determination to provide quality education no matter what zip code a child has. Jessie shares a story about a California teacher who shifted to blended learning using an Adaptive Technology that “learns the learner as the learner learns!” Based on the individual student, the software determines what lesson the student needs to support their learning based on previous answers given. Sounds great to me!

What technology tools do you really like? What technology tools work best for you and your students? Is there a technology tools or software that you continuously use?