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.Β 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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11 thoughts on “Debate #1

  1. Thanks Kari for sharing your thoughts! I love Seesaw also, it is such a great communication tool. The lack of equipment sure makes it tough for teachers to fully integrate technology into their students’ daily lessons. It sounds like you are doing the best you can with the resources you have. What a sweet message from your students!

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  2. “I would argue that test scores aren’t all I care about as a teacher.”

    I love this point you make! Those with a strong memory who can store information for long term or short term retrieval contribute no more to society than those who can’t πŸ™‚ Hang tight for next week’s debate where my team will be arguing why we should not be teaching things that can be googled in the 21st century classroom.

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  3. I love that you mentioned how accessibility to tech is opening opportunities for success for EAL students! We have a high EAL population at our school and they are successful because of a combination of some great teachers and supportive technology. One of my students uses Google Translate to support him in his grade 7 writing. Without that technology, he would constantly be stuck.
    Thank you for your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I could totally see the benefits of Google Translate! Is that the primary tech tool you would use with EAL students or are there others you would suggest??

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  4. I love that you reflected on the technology you have and use. I don’t think you are alone in not using the SMARTboard to it’s full potential. I have a Mimio, very similar to a SMARTboard, and I rarely use it to it’s potential. It’s more of a glorified whiteboard that I don’t have to erase and don’t have to be at my computer to navigate and interact with. I love that you are using Seesaw with your students. If you ever have any questions about Seesaw feel free to ask. I’ve been using it for 3 years and just got my Seesaw Ambassador badge this past winter. I also agree with your point about test scores, as they are not everything and don’t tell the whole picture. Taking away the device takes away the distraction, however it doesn’t teach students how to manage distractions.

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    • That’s great! I was also a Seesaw ambassador a couple of years ago, but that was before this “activity” business came into play. I’m going to have to look closer into it. I actually love when I give my students a problem to solve and they just use the drawing feature to figure it out and record their voices explaining what they’re doing. It is instant assessment on how they are doing, but it also allows their parents to see how they are doing! I’d love to pick your brain re: Seesaw someday soon πŸ™‚

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  5. I loved your thoughts. I can attest to the fact that cellphone distraction is a real issue once they start bringing their own devices and it can definitely hinder some aspects of learning but to me, it really enhances their learning. If lack of computers are an issue, we find a way to use our phones to complete an assignment. They can access google docs, google classroom, and graphing calculators all at the touch of a button. It can be really helpful. One thing I found interesting was that your school division cautions you from using your personal devices for work related ideas. If this was my division, I would be lost! I use mine for email, remind, google classroom, and accessing student-made projects on social media platforms. In a day where a cellphone is like a personal computer, how do they expect you to accomplish all the connections in a day or at home? I’m curious! It would be much more time-consuming for me if I always had to log onto a laptop to connect or send something. Your students are also the sweetest for that little message! It must be a great feeling to know you are impacting them positively πŸ™‚

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    • I know, and I have to admit I still use my cell phone for all of the above that you stated! However, due to privacy concerns, there has been a shift this year and they have cautioned us against using our personal devices. Until they are willing to provide cell phones for work use, I am going to continue doing what I am doing.

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  6. As a high school teacher, I haven’t used SeeSaw yet, but know many primary/elementary teachers who love it, so glad you do as well! This is a great example of how technology improves communication which was one of our team agree reasons I too am fairly comfortable with technology, but hadn’t really reflected on how I was using it and the SAMR model was such an eye opener for me! Really trying to think about how I can use technology beyond substitution and augmentation to those deeper levels of transforming learning. Great post!

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  7. It’s interesting to think that the tech that seems have the greatest impact in your classroom is one that is powered by your own phone (vs. a cart, laptop, smartboard, etc.) and one that is available for free (although district-supported in this case). Tech use doesn’t have to be sophisticated – it is sometimes best when it takes something that we know works really well with students (e.g., formative assessment, rich documentation) and makes it easier and better. SAMR speaks to this to some extent. As well, the problem with SmartBoards is that they too often simply were used as a (costly) substitute for something that was already being done in the classroom.

    Thanks for you post. As well, you seem to have the blog format already figured out! Well done!

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