The debate…that wasn’t

Debate 3 participants were to pick a side (agree or disagree) to the prompt ‘Schools should not focus on teaching things that can easily be googled’.  Oddly enough we decided, after the introductory videos, that each side was arguing the same point.  Quick thinking by Dr. Couros led us into great discussions around the topic of great teaching among other things. 

There was lots of discussion (and videos provided by Dr. Couros) which showcased great teaching strategies. Some of these included: accessing students’ higher ordered thinking (Bloom’s Taxonomy), using a holistic approach, and teachers as facilitators of learning. 

Some believe that critical thinking skills have diminished since the birth of Google.  Students can get the answer…but they can’t apply the knowledge to another situation…so what have they really learned?  Their thinking skills remain at the bottom of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  They read the information online, perhaps even memorize it, and regurgitate it for the teacher.  Hopefully, the teacher doesn’t change the wording of the question or ask for an application of the memorized information.  As it was brought up in a classmate’s video…Google is a tool, not a teacher. 

It was interesting that there was quite a shift in votes between the pre and post vote…even with no ‘debate’ taking place.  Although, no one was really sure what that meant.  

Our discussions continued on to the importance and value of ‘Inquiry based learning’.  This type of teaching can utilize tools, such as Google, to facilitate deeper critical thinking skills while providing engagement for the students.  They may find the information needed on Google, but the student is then expected to apply the new knowledge to their own project.  Many classmates, including myself, cited our curriculum as a barrier to this type of learning.  This type of learning takes time, which many of us feel we don’t have.  Maybe one day the curriculum will be updated to reflect this type of learning (especially in the higher grades).  

Even though this debate didn’t take place…this topic gave me a lot to think about and to reflect on in my own teaching.  

Dr. Couros ended our discussion with a fitting video ‘Life and Music’ by Alan Watts.

  It reminded me of this quote by Arthur Ashe:

Arthur Ashe - Success is a journey, not a destination. The...

Debate #2

‘Technology is a force for equity in society’ is not a phrase that I’ve given much thought to…until our debate last night in EC&I 830.  Both sides had strong arguments and I found myself swayed as the debate progressed. The agree side had strong arguments including: the removal of barriers to learning materials, tools can personalize learning experiences-enabling students to work at their own pace that focuses on their strengths not weaknesses, complex tasks can be made simpler, and technology opens the door for the marginalized to gain knowledge and power. The agree side did indicate that they realized that technology can’t get rid of systematic inequalities such as income disparities, geographic isolation, and discrimination. The phrase that stood out to me from this side of the debate is “For most of us technology makes things easier, but for people with disabilities technology makes things possible. 

The disagree side countered with strong arguments including: the ‘digital divide’- lack of affordability, accessibility, and varying ability for some, and ‘techno-colonialism’- the idea that poor cultures are exploited by wealthy ones.  This side of the debate got me thinking about these developing societies that are given technology. On the surface it seems like a grand gesture. What these societies need is clean drinking water and equal access to basic needs. These ‘societies’ are not only in third world countries but right here in Northern Canada. Technology is great but until basic needs are being met on a daily basis equality is just a pipe dream.  As you can see both sides have strong arguments that were backed by research. I found myself swayed from the ‘agree’ side to the ‘disagree’ side by the end of the debate. I had my eyes opened to many issues that block technology from creating equity in society. Thank you to both sides for an entertaining and thought-provoking debate. 

Let the Debates Begin…

What a skilled debate to kick off our debates in EC&I 830.  The topic “Technology in the classroom enhances learning” is one that I definitely have thoughts on both sides of.  Both sides showcased their technology skills with their opening videos.  They were both informative and engaging. 

Nancy and Amanda chose to argue an agreement stance with this topic.  The points that stood out to me in their presentation and readings that I could agree with and swayed me to their side were thoughts around the idea that technology will never replace a great teacher, but in the hands of a great teacher it can be transformational.  A great teacher needs to be a role model and engage in the technology alongside their students.  The integration of technology into a classroom needs to be purposeful.  I have seen too many times in a classroom where it is utilized as a babysitter.

Trevor and Matt really opened my eyes to the other side of the story.  As I am going through articles relating to our debate topic, I see similarities as cellphones in the classroom are one form of technology.  Some of the shocking information for me (and was further brought up by the disagree side) is the notion of addiction and the role technology may play in it.  Although, I am not sure why I am surprised that some students feel anxiety when they are asked to give up their technology for a brief time (a class period).  I have many friends that can not put away their technology while they are working or socializing.  The thought brought up by this side of the debate regarding the loss of human connection is something that concerns me.  I have witnessed numerous times a group of youth hanging out, but each person is on their phone.  It is an escape for some.  Instead of talking to those around them, they choose to be engaged with their phones or devices.  I often wonder how some of these students will survive a full working day if it is a workplace where phones/devices are not allowed. 

As with almost any debate topic, you can find data to back up each viewpoint.  It comes down to a personal choice or feeling.  Overall, I feel that technology in the classroom does enhance learning when used with purpose.  Technology will not make a mediocre teacher great, but in the hands of the skilled teacher it will further enhance engagement and often provide a challenge for those students who seek innovation.

Four Weeks into the Unknown…

I am into my fourth week of ‘emergency remote teaching’.  I borrowed this term from George Courus’ blog.  I am finding it hard to describe a current “day in the life” related to technology, teaching, and learning.  I am finding that every day is different.  It was a steep learning curve for me when we went to remote teaching.  I enjoy technology, but I used it sparingly in my grade 6 classroom.  My main method of delivering assignments/instruction is through Google Classroom utilizing Screencastify and YouTube videos.  This was definitely something brand new to me.  I love Microsoft Office and am slow to switch to the Google world.  This pushed my hand.  I am also someone who doesn’t like their picture taken (I am NOT photogenic), so making videos is totally outside of my comfort zone. I feel like I may be learning more than my students at this point…

My main method of contact with staff, parents, and students is email so far.  As a staff, we do meet once in a while through Google Meet.  I have yet to take this leap with my students.  I am sure as time goes on this will be something I will add to my toolbox.  I find in some ways that I am better connected to the parents in my class.  I am conversing with them every couple of days it seems.  I also feel that I am getting to know a few of my students in a different way.

Some days I feel I am killing it, and other days I feel like I am digging a hole in sand which keeps filling in.  As this situation is not going away…I look forward to learning different ways of connecting with families and students.

This video resonated with me and described some of my thoughts.

About Me

My name is Tarina Kelln and I am currently a grade 6 teacher at Central School. Central School is a Pre-K to grade 8 school in Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

I have been teaching for 20 years, with the first 5 years subbing in between having two beautiful daughters. My first teaching contract was at Ecole Oman School in Swift Current.

I am creating this blog as part of my Masters program through the University of Regina. My current class EC&I 830 will be an exciting journey into Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology. My first degree was a Bachelor of Management from the University of Lethbridge, with a major in Management Information Systems. I used to feel I had a good grasp on changing technologies-but have felt ‘out of the technology loop’ for the last few years. I hope this class helps to bring me up to speed on current issues in technology and also expose me to some newer technology I can implement into my grade 6 classroom.

I hope you enjoy my blog and I look forward to reading any comments you may have.