Debate #1

Our class debates sure started out strong! The question is…Does technology in the classroom enhance learning?

My first reaction was:

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But after listening to both sides of the agreement I was more like:

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I decided it may be beneficial for me to do a bit of a ‘classroom inventory’ to explore a) the technology I have in my class, and b) the ways that I use that technology, to see if it really does enhance learning in my own classroom.

What I found was this: the typical SMART board at the front of the room that I know I don’t use to the best of my ability, at a small table near the back of my class I’ve got a listening center set up with a CD player (yes those still exist) and 3 iPads. Our school also has 2 laptop carts, each with a class set of laptops. However, being a Prek-12 school with over 500 students and specific high school tech classes, my own class’ use is limited to once per week at most. I’ve also got my iPhone, too, which I admittedly use for school use such as Seesaw, Twitter, or email. Even though our division has cautioned us of the potential risks of using our personal devices for school use I still cannot get out of the habit just yet. That brings me to Seesaw.

This is the third year now that I have used Seesaw in my classroom as a digital portfolio of my students’ work. Even though I may not use it to its fullest potential, I strongly believe that it has enhanced school/home communication. Has it directly enhanced my students’ learning? Well. I don’t know. I will have to explore this further in another post.

When I do have access to the school laptop cart, it is typically a chance for my students to do research for their Genius Hour projects, to type up a piece of published writing they are proud of, or to put together a presentation (I taught them how to use Google slides this year and they love it!) My students even make slideshows for me when I am away sick and they miss me. As a grade 4 teacher of 100% EAL students, I just love the fact that they are playing around with language and writing! Plus, it’s adorable:

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I swear I don’t pay them to say such kind things!

Getting back to the debate…I do understand and agree with some of what “Team disagree” was saying. The cons do add up: cost, limited resources, students spending more time on creating a powerpoint presentation rather than the assignment and research itself, and student distraction. I suppose I don’t understand the full extent of the student distraction seeing as my students don’t bring their personal devices to school, and have never tried. I am sure it will become more common in the future, but for now I haven’t had those issues (if one would consider it an issue??)

Team disagree mentioned a study that was done in the U.K. where student cell phones were banned and test scores went up. I would argue that test scores aren’t all I care about as a teacher. I would argue that growth can and is being seen with the use of technology, but as it was pointed out many times during “Team agree’s” argument, the teachers themselves play a tremendous role in whether the technology is used in a meaningful and authentic way to enhance learning.

Team agree brought in some very informative information such as the SAMR model which is something I had never seen before. As they argued, the goal should be to integrate modification and redefinition tasks with the use of technology to not only enhance learning but transform it. This was a pretty enlightening moment for me, as someone who has always been fairly comfortable with technology use, but realizing that I am not using it to its full potential in my classroom.

I do believe it is our job as educators to help teach our students about digital citizenship. So much of their lives are based in technology. Is that good? Well, that’s another debate for another time. I do know one thing; it’s not going away anytime soon. So shouldn’t we make the most of it and use what our students know to engage them?

Although I think both teams did an excellent job of bringing this debate alive, it is plain and simple that I agree that technology enhances learning in our classrooms.

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Oh, and by the way…hi :)

After writing my first two posts, and checking out a few of the blog posts on eci830.ca I realized that I haven’t introduced myself yet. For those of you who do not already know me, my name is Kari Krug and I am a grade 4 teacher at Regina Huda School. This is my sixth year at Huda and I have taught everything from KG-4. I received my BEd from the University of Regina in 2011 and prior to taking my education degree I spent two years teaching English in China at Jingmen Foreign Language School.

In 2016, I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer with the Canadian Teachers Federation Project Overseas in Guyana, South America. To read more about my powerful learning experience please visit my write-up in the STF bulletin found here. While being there, I realized how extremely fortunate we are in Canada to have easy access to education, and so I began my MEd as soon as I got back.

Although a Master’s degree was not something I ever thought I would pursue, my trusted colleague and ‘advisor extraordinaire’, Andrea Sterzuk, convinced me that I should go the thesis route. This past two years of taking graduate courses and diving into the world of research has been both terrifying and enlightening. I look forward to continuing the crazy journey with this EC&I class, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

Like a fish out of water

The crazy thing is that I am probably considered a fairly tech-literate person, and I have always been comfortable and enthusiastic about trying new things with tech in my classroom. Yet, this class has me completely overwhelmed and it’s only week 1. All week I felt like I should’ve been ‘doing something’. Whether it was reading articles, or engaging in some sort of research around the topics. After endlessly scrolling for a couple hours on the weekend, I sort of just gave up and hoped that I’d learn more about what I should be doing each week in class tonight.

This class is so different from the other 5 graduate courses I have taken, and that is not a bad thing, but I really do feel like a fish out of water. And someone mentioned last class about already thinking about our final project!? Yikes!

I hope tonight brings some clarity, and I hope I can gain a bit of confidence so that I don’t feel like I am drowning. The good news? Anytime I have felt like this in my life, it has turned out that I was in exactly the right place that I needed, I just didn’t know it at the time. I am banking on the fact that this is where I need to be. Wish me luck!

What IS technology, anyway?

In our first EC&I830 class last night, Alec casually threw out the question, what IS technology anyway? It made me chuckle, and reminded me of the many different things that technology encompasses. Technology is not just social media and iPhones. Yet, you’ll hear people say things like “Ugh, I wish technology wasn’t such a big part of our kid’s lives.” But is that really what we mean? When the word technology includes everything from our computers to the chairs we sit on, it really makes me stop and think.

I am often looking for the ‘next big thing’ to use in my classroom. A couple of years ago, that became Seesaw. Seesaw is a digital portfolio that I use in my class to engage my students’ parents and families with what we are doing in class. My students love sharing their learning this way, and I have seen the countless ways that it has benefited me as a classroom teacher. When I saw that one of our debate statements is “Opening and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids” I have to admit I was taken aback! In fact, I was almost ready right then and there to go on the defense. Not only am I excited for that debate, but I am very interested to see what the group who agrees with that statement will come up with. Unfortunately, I doubt they will persuade me to agree with it, however I think it is going to be super beneficial for me to see both sides of the spectrum to support or oppose the use of it in my classroom.