Let Them Teach… And YOU Shall Learn

Getting into my major project has been like prepping for a major paint job…  I have changed paint colors so many times, and there are so many little things that I have needed to do to get this project off of the ground… but each little job needed to be completed before I could actually get things started. Alas, it’s happening and we are ready for take off!!!

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For those of you who have followed my major project journey so far, you can keep on keeping’ on and read on ahead. For those of you who are just stopping in, you may want to deviate over here first, to catch up on my latest plan!

This week we have been encouraged to take some time to reflect on our projects and their connections to Ribble’s Nine Elements. When I think about my project, 3 main elements come to mind.

First, Digital Literacy. This is the process of teaching and learning about technology and its uses. I have now got my “coding club” established. I sent out an email to the teaching staff looking for techy students or ones that were familiar and possibly interested in code.  What did I get? 7 staff identified students who either have a passion for technology or whom have tinkered with coding in the past. YES!!! Step one… check. Step two… the meeting. We had our initial meeting where I explained my purpose for the club to the students. I shared with them that I know nothing about coding, but that I think it is an important area within the digital world that I “should” know about. I explained that my goal would be to learn from them and to collaborate together by coding, to see what they could teach me and to see what we could create when given the green light to go for it! I believe that by working with this group, we will all advance quickly and appropriately in the ever evolving world of coding,

While embarking on this project, we will also address Ribble’s fifth element, Digital Etiquette. While I may not know all of the processes of coding at this point, I am confident that through the exploration that I will do alongside my Coding Club, we will encounter opportunities to reinforce how technology is to be used and what qualifies as appropriate. I intend on working with these students, demonstrating confidence in them,  that they know what is appropriate, allowing them to be trusted that they will code with caution and within the parameters that we will set out together.

Finally, I am curious about Ribble’s ninth element, Digital Security. We’ve all watched the movies as heroins save the world by putting the right code, into the right computer, at the last second, saving the world… and usually saving the girl too. Well, I don’t anticipate that this will be the case with my kiddos, however, I am looking forward to understanding further connections between coding and digital security. I believe that some pretty amazing things can be done through code, and I look forward to being exposed to what this includes.  I am looking forward to making connections on a very elementary level between coding and digital security. For us, this may simply include understanding how to keep our projects safe, how to back up data, and ensure that projects are stored appropriately when using school devices on a public server.

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And that is where I am at. I am enjoying this project as it unravels. I meet with my coders Tuesday at lunch for an hour. I can’t wait to see how Day 1 goes! In the mean time, I’m off to Youtube, to find a video or two on the simpler side of coding…. so that I start to wrap my head around what’s coming Tuesday!

I’ll leave you with this question. Have you used coding in your classroom / school? If so, how did you incorporate it, and what words of advice would you leave me with! Thanks for popping by!

 

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Ed-volution? Can We Keep Up?

What is the REAL future of education? Well, that’s a loaded question. In this week’s readings we were pushed to consider how technology has and continues to change the world of education. I think back to my elementary days, and that feeling of excitement when it was finally my 15 minutes to play on the Commodore 64 in the little work room. Ahhh that was the good life.

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Things have sure evolved since the 80s. If someone had asked me, as a kid, what education would look like in the future, I don’t think I would have been able to anticipate the realities we’ve achieved today. For example, today, (you betcha Anne, I have one in use in my class) I use an Alexa in my classroom… She interacts with my kids and answers their research questions. She challenges them to questioning games that encourage them to think outside of the box… She activates timers, so that my students can rotate through stations without needing teacher direction… My classroom has an audio broadcasting system that amplifies my voice, just from wearing a necklace with a voice box on it. It switches zones as I move through the school, so that my students can hear me clearly, no matter if they are right beside me or around the corner. My voice amplifier, even knows when to cut out, so I am entitled to my own privacy, should I head to the washroom, leaving the device button activated. It’s amazing. We have an enormous screen that rolls down from the ceiling at the bottom of our presentation stairs, turning the staircase into a theatre space. iPads, laptops, interactive whiteboards that allow students to work simultaneously and interactively on it. Children interact with their own devices, that they bring to school to incorporate technology into their daily learning.

Technology is absolutely changing the world of education. It’s exciting. It’s invigorating. It’s engaging…. and it’s terrifying.

With so many technological advances happening in the world that we are living in, it can be challenging to keep up. As teachers, we need to keep up…. so that we can act as catalysts for these technological changes in our classrooms… We have a duty to be educated in areas that we need to teach our students about… but are we digitally educated, to guide our students to becoming the most educated digital citizens possible? This week Bree and I used a Powtoon to share some helpful hints at how we can work toward creating better digital citizens. Brittany and Kyla, also shared their ideas on Sklar’s digital hygiene and Heick’s understanding the definition of digital citizenship in different situations. There is a lot of information out there that is ready and willing to lend teacher’s a hand in getting caught up to speed on the digital world.

But what about the future? As with all technology, it is ever evolving. What is new today, is old news tomorrow. Yet it is no longer okay to resist technology because one fears it. It is an essential lifeline in our world today. Laura McClure shares an article about the future of education… and quite frankly, it made me nervous. While the suggested ideas in the article point toward more creativity in the classroom (which I agree with), the insinuation that the physical four walls of the classroom will begin to disappear, made me very uneasy. I do agree that technology is an asset to education, but I do not believe that technology can replace the need for educational institutions.

Like Amy Ranford suggested in her blog post, we need to adapt to the world around us. We need to teach students the skills that they need while protecting their wellbeing. As educators, we have a large hill to climb if we are going to make it out on top in this fast paced techno world. We must evolve to meet the needs of our youth today, so that we may continue to scaffold them in attaining goals that will create a better tomorrow.

….for tomorrow, is a new day….and we can only imagine what it will bring.

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Talk {code} to Me!

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After much thought and deliberation I have decided to jump ship on both of my previous major project ideas…. something about both just wasn’t doing it for me. For the “Teen Apps for Parent Dummies” proposal, I started to jump in, and I came across two hurdles. First, I wasn’t comfortable having these apps on my phone at all… and secondly, I felt like a creeper just downloading the app onto my phone. What would it look like if I used it (even though it was professional growth and development)… it just wasn’t sitting right. I knew that I could still achieve a digital awareness of these apps youth today are using, but I didn’t feel that learning about them, just through research, would give me the understanding I was looking for. So, final verdict. NOT HAPPENING.

Second up….. Alexa in the classroom. Well this one was just plain and simple. I’m already using Alexa in the classroom…. and although I’m likely not using it to it’s full potential, I felt that I would be cheating myself of the “full experience” by tackling this one…. So, second verdict. NOT HAPPENING.

Alas, after many hours of thinking, rethinking, and a bit more thinking, I came up with something I have been curious about for ages. Coding. What is it? I don’t really know. Can it be used personally as well as educationally? From what I understand yes… but again, I really don’t know much! What better time and place to tackle figuring out coding, then now! So here it is. I’m on a mission to code! What does that mean? Not sure! Where will I end up? Dunno. But I’m excited! Like really excited!

My journey? Hmmm ….I am going to kick off this project by researching what coding is. Once I have a better understanding of it, I plan to research a few ways that I can begin to code, and I am going to try to code something, or create something by code…. or do whatever it is that one does when they are coding. Like I said, I am shooting in the dark here into unchartered waters…… oh it excites me!!! For those of you who know me, I’m sure you can picture that look I get… (insert it here!! )

How will I document this journey? I will use the 832 Major Project category to document the progress I am making in this area. I plan to share this growth through Vlogs, blog posts, and maybe even a few Screencastifies. The final product will be a documentation of my growth along with whatever I learn about coding. I also understand that the school division that I work for has some neat “coding” resources to use with kids. I plan to get in the know enough that I can begin to use this coding for future learning in the classroom or for an extra-curricular learning opportunity with students!

Here’s to heading out in a boat that I have no idea how to sail! I kind of feel like Moana at the moment… Hopefully I have better luck!

Digital Natives, Yea or Nay?

Are we doing our children justice?

This week we covered some great content in our weekly readings. One of the areas that got my attention was the idea of “digital natives” vs. “digital immigrants”. When I watch the following video, I question if parents today are failing our children by allowing acts like this to occur.

While iPads and iPhones certainly provide parents with a few minutes to wash their hair or get supper on the table, we must question if we are creating “well-rounded digital natives”, or stereotypical millennials. In today’s world, it seems that many people are looking for the shortest way, the quickest fix, the easiest solution to problems…. and with kids, that can easily resort to technology. But do we question these actions and their longterm results? Does giving an iPad to a baby mean that they will acquire the technological skills to make them a well-rounded, technologically savvy teenager or adult one day? Perhaps they will be able to navigate apps and surface level technology, but what about “smarter” technology like Microsoft Word, and other age old programs on computers that are used for academic purposes (or in the old days…. just plain kids!)? (Jocelyn Carr posted this video about millennials and it depicts an example of what could be seen as millennial’s “technological” intelligence…. And I found my self going “Oh yes, ugh… oh dear!” What do you think?)

This brings me to this week’s readings. When I watched the first video “Do Digital Natives Exist?“, I found myself constantly pausing and rewinding to repeat sections. There were some solid key points made.

First, Prensky’s definition of digital natives got me thinking. A digital native is defined as native speakers of the digital language of computers, video games, and the internet. A digital immigrant is defined as those who were not born into the digital world but later in their lives became fascinated by and adopted many or most of the new technology. Okay, so just to get this straight, if you were born after the internet became “a thing” you get to be a digital native… but if you are an “old foggy”, and were born before it came out (so … when internet was rolling out and one was competent to learn as it evolved…. you are still considered a digital immigrant). Apparently, I have a few problems with this.

First, I am one of those people sitting right on the cusp of that time transition… so what does that make me? An in-betweener? Do I have the unique ability to choose which one I want to be? hmmmm.

Additionally, just because someone lives in a certain place, does not guarantee that learning the native tongue will be innate if they are born there. What if their entire social circle continues to speak the language of their specific culture.  Similarly, just because someone is born as a millennial, does not mean that they will have access to technology, nor does it guarantee that those accessing it, will take their time to educate themselves on quality uses of technology. In my opinion, we have become a society that focuses more so on “social technology”, and finding ways to communicate with others, whether they are right in front of us, or millions of miles apart. Where does the guarantee of “quality technology” come into play?

While I agree that older generations may struggle to understand and immerse themselves into some aspects of technology, I find myself aligning my thoughts much more with David White, when he explained his continuum that rated one’s digital literacy based upon one’s motive to engage with technology.

White also takes the time to clarify what examples of learning technological literacies can include. He names “critically evaluating a range of digital resources, and having the capability to formulate and express cogent arguments online” to start. Understanding that there is more to engaging with apps on a phone is an area that may require further engagement for our future generations if we are to label them “digital natives”. Us “immigrants” best be figuring out how to teach them digital natives, how to be better educated “natives” if this be the case.

When examining White’s model of visitors and residents, we look at these positions through a lens. Those who are using the visitor lens, primarily use the web for tools that leave no footprint behind. These might include: paying bills online, searching for information, booking a holiday, etc.

In resident mode however, those interacting, use the web as a space where engagement does leave a digital footprint. Examples of these interactions include: commenting on posts, having social media profiles, and being active within known online communities.

Where one sits on this continuum, and whether the use is for personal or institutional goals, can change one’s level of experience. While I do think that millennials today tend to “use” technology all day e’ry day…. I don’t think this should be a qualifier to “native” citizenship.

Those who I believe are the most technologically literate and knowing, might possibly be those who indulge in some social media aspects, take the time to understand academic programming skills (Word, PowerPoint, etc.), are able to critically analyze digital resources, while also remembering some of Turkle’s suggestions of the need to disengage every now and again… to be “head’s up, eyes to the sky, left to ponder and appreciate”. Being immersed, knowing how to use technology, but also having the smarts to remember to disengage, is perhaps my ideal vision of the “ultimate” tech savvy profile in today’s day and age.

Where do you lie in the mix?

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Sorry…. got a Snap Streak on the go…. I’ve got to run! See you next week! 🙂

Major Project Indecisiveness

So this post is intended to be my announcement to everyone about what I am going to do for my major project…. and well, until a post was made about the use of Alexa and its privacy risks, I was gung ho on my initial plan. Now I’m stuck trying to commit…. and I just can’t decide.

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So I am going to allow myself one more week to get my hands a bit dirty by looking into both projects…

Project 1 Option:

Through our class and talking with teenage offspring of friends, I would like to collect a list of the sneakiest, riskiest apps that are being used today. With this info, I’d like to create a top 5 or 10 list (unsure on the number depending on how deep I look into each) of Apps to be aware of… “Teen Apps for Parent Dummies” type of deal. However, rather than warning parents against letting their children use these Apps, I’d like to find ways to help teens navigate apps more cautiously (maybe having them create their own criteria for when they choose to use the app or not) and then also provide parents some tips for how to help their children to utilize the apps on their phones safely while understanding the risks.
I would create a reflective blog trail of my findings as I moved forward with this, with my final project being a newscast that demonstrates the apps and educates users/parents.
Project Option 2:
After sharing that I use Alexa in my classroom at a basic educational level, colleagues encouraged my to delve deeper into 2 areas. 1- “the privacy/ security factors to consider when using Alexa in the classroom”. 2 – “What the top educational uses for Alexa are”. with student participation permission, I would prepare mini videos of how these Ed. Apps are used effectively in the classroom. I would create a mini interactive online notebook that lists and demonstrates what the best different apps are, as well as a document providing safety and privacy support for classrooms when they use Alexa.
I would love your feedback! I will try to sleep on this a bit longer and will update everyone about my decision!
I am loving what everyone else has decided to do for their major projects! I can’t wait to get mine started as well!
See you tomorrow in Zoom!

The Final Countdown…

As I sit here staring at this screen, a song lingers in my mind….

It’s been a long road and a lot of learning, sweat, and time spent away from my family and kids. I can’t even count the number of times I have fallen asleep in my textbooks, and awoken to find my lovely husband snapping yet another sleepy video of me out to the world….The struggle folks, has been real.  But, dear ladies and gents, the time has come where I push the limits one last time as I enthusiastically embark on my 9th and 10th classes for my M.Ed in EADM.

Have you got the song I’m thinking of in your head?

Any ideas?

Wait for it……

Wait for it……

AND….

Anyone else singing that tune?

Alright, here it goes. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Danielle. I am pretty much passionate about everything I do. I love my job. Like really love it. I’ve taken the road less travelled over my 14 years of being an educator and used my profession to see the some amazing places in this world. I’ve taught in Regina (5 schools), Calgary (Spanish bilingual program), Mexico (shout out to Colegio Vancouver), and Spain(ASV). It has been awesome! I don’t believe in staying put. Life is short, and there is so much to learn… so I’ve stayed true to myself and taught in 8 schools over the past 14 years. It has taught me a lot. Alas, I have landed in a really “good fit” school. Plainsview school opened this past fall in Regina and I am one of the proudest teachers around. Being part of this community and getting to help plant its roots has been exciting and challenging! This tech savvy school has pushed me to want to learn as much about the digital ed. world as I possibly can, so that I can shape the young 6+ year old minds in my classroom from the get go!

As I sit back pondering the million ideas racing through my head for my major project, I see this light. It is finally getting closer… and I am so excited to be racing to the end of that tunnel with all of you, and of course, my partner in educational crime and bestie, Ms. Breezy Arguin! Let’s do this!!!

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Do we Need to Unplug to Create Balance?

This past week I have spent a lot of time analyzing how I go about my daily life with technology in it. As I moved from day to day throughout the past 7 days, I found myself asking if taking my phone with me certain places was really necessary. I noticed a lot. For example, in the mornings, when I get my daughter out of her crib, I find myself automatically grabbing my phone to take it with me to grab her. The thing is, if I were to get a phone call or text when I was getting her up in the morning, I wouldn’t stop what I was doing with her to answer it anyways, yet I am so programmed not to live without my device, that I just have it with me always.

As I moved through the week, I also took time to look at the people around me. Yesterday, for example, I was at the Belle of the Ball, (princess party) with my 3 year old. My daughter was so excited about seeing the princesses and wearing her princess dress, that it was impossible not to feed off of her enthusiasm and get caught up in the moment. When we got to the party, my first reaction was to want to capture every moment, so I could share it with my husband when I got home. And, well, to be honest, that’s kind of how the party started out…. and then I got to looking around the room. Cell phone after cell phone was out doing the exact same thing…capturing the moment, but we were all IN THE MOMENT, and very few seemed to be soaking it in first hand. It made me think about the video “I Forgot My Phone“, that Justine posted in her blog this week. There was more picture posing going on then dancing, and I took a step back, looked at my phone and decided to tuck it back into my pocket and take in the moment first hand. I didn’t need to turn off my phone, or leave it in the car to do this, I just simply put it away and enjoyed my daughter’s excitement with her in that moment. IT. WAS. AWESOME.

But, just becauseBraya princess I happened to take this picture, I’m going to share her cuteness with you all anyways! haha Sorry!!! What I did realize in this moment though, was that this one photo we took before we left the house, was enough.
The memory was there for her to look back on in the future, but capturing the moment did not need to be the main event of this special moment with her.

 

Throughout this past week I have spent a lot of time considering what Unplugging  means to me. I’ve also thought about if I feel that it is necessary. Awhile ago, I randomly came across this video on Facebook.

This week I wasn’t surprised to see it again when it came to the weekly readings. This young man makes some excellent points. He states that while “technology claims to connect us, connections have gotten no better”. I think he is right too. I agree that using devices enables us to avoid face to face interactions when we want, but also helps us to make connections to those who are far away with the touch of a button. I think it is something that we need to think about. There are definitely endless advantages to having technology accessible, but there is an URGENT need for people to find a balance of how much tech time is enough… or where that limit is when it comes time to put the phone away and plug into the reality around you.

Sophia Breene, guides us to consider many important points in her article Why Everyone Should Unplug More Often. She points out that “spending tons of time online can actively harm relationships, interpersonal communication skills, and mental health.” As we have gone through this class this semester, I think we would all agree that this is valid. What I disagree with however is the need to UNPLUG in order to prevent this from happening.

Here is why:

Unplugging to me, means disconnecting from all sources of non-face to face communication. Phones. Emails. FaceTime. etc. To me, unplugging, really means, becoming totally inaccessible. And, frankly, I don’t think this is necessary in order to get the cleansing effects of not using technology. Put your phone in your pocket, and keep your hand out of it. Put your phone on the counter, and leave it there. I don’t think there is a need for it to be totally unplugged, rather a balance needs to be created.

Last year, a friend of mine made the decision to unplug from technology from 10pm until 8am every week night. It seemed a harmless, and maybe even healthy idea. Here is what went wrong. One night, her father had a heart attack. He was transported to the hospital by ambulance and later passed away. Family from all around desperately tried to reach my friend, but was unable to reach her. Staying up-to-date with technology, she no longer had a landline and was virtually inaccessible during this emergency. As a result, she never made it to the hospital in time to see her father before he passed. To me, and my friend, this was a tragedy. Having to have someone drive to her house to get her in person, almost seemed like a blast from the technological past. But it was the reality of unplugging. 9223503647_e12e740835_b Photo Credit: Trojan_Llama via Compfight cc

This is just one reason why I don’t agree with unplugging. What I do propose instead, is to find a balance. Choose times/situations/ scenarios where you decide that your phone will not be pulled out. Create a balance and stick to it. It is all about setting limits and being true to them. It is just as freeing to put your phone on the shelf and leave it alone without having to turn off, if you can handle NOT checking it every 5 minutes. One thing that I have done is allocate special ring tones on my phone to my husband, siblings, parents, and daycare provider. This way, I can keep my phone with me and be aware that I am receiving text messages or phone calls, but not have to race to my phone when I am in the middle of other important daily events, without worrying I will miss an important call or text. This has worked really well for me until now. Alternatively, putting my phone on the “do not disturb” setting but including the people who need 24/7 access to me in my “favourites” is another effective way of being able to disconnect from technology without needing to be 100% unplugged. Through doing this, the people in my favourites, can still get through on my phone, while the beeps and bells on my phone notifying me of new Facebook posts, snapchats, instagrams, Google Plus community posts,  etc., can be minimized while I am plugging in to the reality around me, preventing me from missing life’s simple pleasures of day to day happenings.

Instead of unplugging, perhaps it would be better if the concept of “creating balance” catches on and helps people to develop and follow new protocols for how to connect (without going crazy) in the Internet Age. Sophia Breene has many helpful suggestions.

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Mary Beth Minton, had a helpful Ted Talk where she pointed out that it is easy to limit the screen time for children by “filling time playing in snow, laying on floor playing with toy, and sparking imaginative play”. I think if tech time is provided to children in moderation, balance can be created. Of course this also goes back to the role modelling that parents provide for their children. If parents limit their child’s tech exposure, but are constantly connected to their device, there will be inconsistency, and it will only be a matter of time before the child finds their way to being connected at all times like their parents.

So, there you have it. Do I think it is necessary to unplug? No. Do I think it is necessary to set boundaries to limit times and situations when devices should be present? Absolutely. As we become more comfortable with the way that technology is integrated into our everyday lives, I think, we, as humans, will become better at finding this balance, and in turn become better connected with the outside world we are living in. This is my hope, and my goal. I look forward to continuing to find this balance in my life, as I model this for my children as they grow and look up to me for guidance!

Thank you to everyone in my EC&I 830 class for helping me to open my eyes to the bigger tech. picture out there! I am so glad that we embarked on this journey together! I look forward to seeing many of you in the future in other grad courses along my way! Have a great summer everyone… and thanks for reading!