R.I.P. Critical Thinking

This week we took a deeper look at whether or not schools should teach anything that can be googled. As a class, we debated this topic, through discussion, while considering facts that, yes, had been found where else, but on the net. We weren’t just instructed to read articles online though. We made connections to our teaching practices, examined realities of the consequences of moving education in this direction, and took the time to really think about how this would impact students of different ages, demographics and abilities.

After the debates, I took some time to read the articles from both teams and came to the conclusion that I do believe that schools should teach things that can be googled. However…. I feel very strongly, that we maintain the perspective that “googling” and “internet use” remain single strategies to learning. We must also acknowledge the flaws that come with using these resources and teach students to proceed with caution. As William R. Klemm mentioned in his article, the internet is constantly flawed with error and propaganda, and is not always accessible.

The big zinger for me in this week’s debates was the apparent impact that the “Google Affect” can have on critical thinking.

When I think about my classroom full of 6 and 7 year olds, I see our learning as something messy. I see curiosity leading their learning. We ask questions, we explore, and we think critically about the information that we gather. Sometimes we take that information and we memorize things while incorporating actions into silly songs about creatures we learn about. Sometimes our room looks like a bomb went off in a Mardi Gras parade when we are done learning because there are sequences strewn over the floor and textured paper hanging from chairs and tables…. but it is learning, and we are doing it critically, using information we find in the library, through discussions, from the computer, and from using our imaginations. We use our voices, hands, minds, and bodies to inject this learning into spaces in our minds that will inevitably be remembered long past year’s end. If learning can be this way, maybe the kids in my class will remember the lessons that push far beyond learning “just enough”. (Click here for an example of the kind of lesson I am referring to). If we took out all of the learning that we “could” access through googling, I believe that there would be a real gap in our education system. We cannot promote the termination of critical thinking. I’m not sure that is something that our students can afford either.

Slide1 Photo Credit: IslesPunkFan via Compfight cc

Finally, in an article posted by Ben Johnson, he reminds us that the brain is like a muscle. The more we use it, the stronger and better it gets at doing its’ job. Memory work helps students to achieve high standards in school. When memory work is done in meaningful and interesting ways, the results can be rewarding.

Let’s continue to strive for excellence in our youth by finding the right combination of educational strategies to promote the highest level of education possible for tomorrow’s future!

This Will Change EVERYTHING………..

…radio, television, movies, telephones, computers, vehicles, farming, pencils, chalkboards, dataprojectors, microwaves….. 

History goes to show, that each time a new form of technology explodes into our fast paced world, there is an assumption that “everything is about to change“. ANDDDD maybe to some extent that is true. In our fast paced, technologically changing world, it can be a very daunting task for the uneducated person, to remain on top of the latest forms of technology that are constantly evolving and morphing into the next big thing.

The list of types of technology that has evolved over time is limitless. When we take a minute to think about the evolution of technology in the education system, we come to realize, that technology has been happening since the beginning of education itself.

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So really, what is technology? In a recent Tedx Talk video, Greg Toppo takes a deeper look at educational technology today. Here, Larry Cuban is quoted on his technological views stating that educational technology is “any device available to teachers for use in instructing students in a more efficient and stimulating manner than the sole use of the teacher’s voice”.

This week’s debate topic questioned whether technology in education was able to close education gaps or improve education. This really got me thinking. Previous to this class, my answer had always been a solid yes. In fact, I felt bad for the team that had to fight for the “no” side, especially since we are taking an Ed. Tech. class. However, I did not expect to agree with much from Team “No”, and I found myself nodding my head in agreement to pretty much everything that the team had to say. My final stance on the decision was somewhere in the middle. Both teams did an excellent job on showing us the pros and cons to educational technology.

Being a newbie to the Zoom room, I must say, that I had a first hand negative experience with technology this week. I had done all of the steps to prepare myself for the Zoom room previous to Tuesday, however, when things got going, I found the video streaming, the side chat, and the navigation of the program, somewhat overwhelming…. I was pretty much like this:

hamster
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It was after this experience, and while I was reading the course articles, that I took some time to reflect on my experiences with educational technology.  I’ve always found myself to be fairly technologically literate. Yet, as I read Sam Carlson’s article, I realized that although I am able to use the basic functions of most technology that I come into contact with, I am realistically just scratching the surface in terms of using the devices and am in no way really using them to their full potential. This is often the case for many educators…and it IS a problem. Such was the case in my experience with zoom room. In order to make the most of the experience and to enhance my learning to the fullest extent, I now need to alter a few things to further my learning experience next week.

So what do we need in order to be more successful? Well sure, more PD. But what does that need to look like? Well, when we looked at the heart of the TPAK framework it becomes easier to see that being able to use technology in the classroom involves much more than simply being able to navigate a device. We as educators need to have a solid grasp of the content, the pedagogy AND the incorporation of technology in order to provide successful technology rich learning experiences. In order to actually benefit from using the Zoom room myself, I will need to become more familiar with the technology, so that it promotes my learning rather than hinders it. Once I am more comfortable with using the Zoom room, the distraction of “figuring it out” will no longer be there, and I will be able to better shift my focus to getting a deeper grasp of the content, which derives from the instruction that my peers are creating.

My experience in the Zoom room can be directly correlated to our roles as educators. As teachers we need to understand how to use technology, but also its pedagogical application in order to improve student learning, not just to say, “yeah, we are using technology in the classroom”. Once we can confidently provide this balance, deeper learning and student achievement is possible.

So what do we REALLY do, in order to create a positive change to maximize technology in education? I happen to have a few opinions on this. Saying FUNDING, FUNDING, we need more FUNDING, is not realistic. So we need to optimize the funding that we do have. We need to provide better education to the educators with the funding that we do have.

  1. Teaching the educators how to use the technology that we do have is a must. Yes, this costs money, but if we better educated those implementing the technology into the classroom how to use all of the functions of devices, how to problem shoot when a computer crashes, how to clean up a computer before it gets too slow, how to use more than just Microsoft word on computer, maybe computers would last longer in the schools causing less need for replacement technology when things break down.  Maybe then, computers wouldn’t spend half of their life spans on the shelf downtown waiting to be reformatted. Maybe providing this education to those implementing the software, would help this knowledge to be filtered down to the students, which as a result would lengthen the lifespan of a technological device. Technological PD of any kind, is just a plain good idea.
  2. Providing Mentorship programs. The International Society for Technology in Education provides a diagnostic tool to determine competency levels for using technology. By having teachers identify what their competency level is, a mentorship program could be easily created within school systems to help teachers engage with one another to promote self-learning and school wide support systems.
  3. Remember that technology is not everything. Yes, it is important. If used properly, it can be a true asset. But we need to remember that like the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development states, those who use the most technology in the school systems, do not always perform the best. We need to ensure a balance between experiences that happen with and without technology come meaningfully.

Technology can be a great tool. It CAN change everything, if we take the time, put in the effort, and promote technological leadership that fosters a truly positive academic experience for educators and students alike!

I look forward to this weeks class when my hamster will hopefully look a little more like this:

hamster2

Until next week…cheers!

 

Who’s Who in this eduZoo…

Hey everyone! My name is Danielle and I’m very excited to be here! This is my fourth course towards my master in Ed. Admin. It is also my first online course, and I’m pretty excited about that. If you really want to know why I’m excited about taking an online course, make sure you read right to the end to find out!!

Although I am currently on maternity leave, I began this school year teaching at the AWESOME Walker Elementary School! It has been an adventurous 12 years of teaching for me so far! I’ve been fortunate to teach in a few different places. I started off my teaching career in Regina back in 2004 at Glen Elm Community School. Next, I ventured off to teach in the beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico at Colegio Vancouver (an awesome Canadian-Mexican School). Next up, was Escuela Dalhousie, an international Spanish academy with Calgary Public. This was followed by an international school in Valencia, Spain, where I meanwhile got hit by cupids arrow and somehow found my way back here to Regina. And, well, 1 husband and 2 kids later, I find myself here…. sleep deprived, a few grey hairs wiser, and well, happy as can be to be right where I am, right now…. It’s been quite the journey getting here. And like Pete the Cat says, “it’s all good”!

My family is numero uno for me. I have a pretty awesome husband, who keeps me in line (or tries), a 3 year old who is as witty and ‘spicy’ as they come, and a newbie. That would be Kira. She was born a painful 8 long days overdue this past January….and came racing into the world at such a pace (in attempt to make up for her tardiness), I nearly had her… IN. MY. CAR!!!! That’s right. We’re working on the timing of things these days.

I’ve been a recreational travel blogger since teaching in Mexico, back in 2005. My travels have created some pretty great memories, so I’m glad I have an “online journal” of sorts to look back on (check it out!!). Since beginning to blog, I’ve extended my techy powers to include using as much technology as possible, that will fit meaningfully in the primary classroom. I’ve established some great connections with parents using a class blog (at my last school & current one), Class Dojo, Remind Broadcasting for parents, and the good ole Smartboard in the classroom. Let’s not forget the tried and true use of laptops and iPads in the classroom either. I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel about the use of technology in the classroom following the debates!

Alright, now for the reveal….this is why online courses work for me….

I can be a mom, a “good mom”, wash my hair (but leave it undone) and rock my kiddo to sleep, while “using my iPhone” to get my course work done. I can do my work in manageable pieces, at all hours of the night (watch for my late night comments on your blogs peeps!), while hanging out with my 3 month old night owl! My kids get mom, and I get my education. Win win!! I’d love to hear why online courses appeal to many of you!! Leave me a comment and share some of your wisdom!! photo credit (me)!

I’m looking forward to learning with everyone, and extending my knowledge beyond Hyperstudio with Alec and Katia this semester!

Thanks for reading!

You can follow me on:

Instagram – @danielleoz

Facebook – Danielle Istace

Twitter – @dannyistacio