To be honest, every year my mind shifts on whether I should continue using as much technology in my classroom. Right now I feel as though it is a slippery slope. Some worries I have are that teens and adults alike are addicted to technology. In my classroom I try to have a daily balance of technology in subject areas and in some cases we don’t use technology at all. For example, every morning when students come in we do a daily writing prompt. The prompts vary from: If you could be any animal what would you be? If you could have your ideal playground with an unlimited budget, what would you want? In their futures they are going to have to write down things without technology so this gives them organization, structure and instructions to follow. Then for most Literacy assignments, I prefer to use a computer for a few reasons.
- Organization – students can add, delete, and move items very easily through Google Docs.
- Formatting – students can indent, use tables, graphics, etc. at the click of a button.
- Spellcheck – students don’t fear being embarrassed about their spelling.
As far as how my philosophy has evolved over my teaching career, again it has been a slippery slope. When I first started there was a list of rules we sent home to the parents of our Grade 6-8 students. Am going to post them and then in read write my reflections on each piece. They are as follows:
**All personal electronic devices brought to school are done so at owner’s risk.
- Students will be allowed to use electronics in the classroom but not allowed on the playground at recess. The use of Internet will not be allowed on electronic devices.(There is one supervisor at recess… can they really monitor 100 students to stay off their devices? How would we ever detect whether they are using the internet on their own devices?)
- Use of cellular phones during school time is prohibited.(What will this teach them? In the future they have jobs and they will need to learn how to manage themselves and their cell phone use)
- The music on the devices must be school appropriate.(How am I to know and track this?)
- Students may not share devices. (Why couldn’t they look up information together? Do we assume all sharing of devices is of bad nature?)
- Parents need to be aware of what is on the students device. (This all varies based on students home environment)
- If appropriate use is not demonstrated students may be asked to not bring items back to school or teacher will assume responsibility for device until it can be retrieved by parent.(Oh, this one sounds serious! I am sure the kids are shaking in their boots!)
- Three strikes for misuse of any electronic device will result in a suspension from use of the device for a period of time. If this happens three times, the student will not be allowed to bring their device for the remainder of the year. (This is basically the one rule I now follow).
In the end, my belief is that we need to use technology as yes in fact it benefits student learning. But we also need parameters. Students need to know appropriate use vs. inappropriate use. We are the people they spend the most time with! We need to be the ones setting a good example and teaching them what is a good time to use music, when a good time to call their parents is, and they should want to hang out with their friends at recess rather than playing on their phones. I find myself at recess wanting to show pictures of things on my phone to others. What if this is what students are doing? Perhaps they aren’t in the same homeroom and want to show a friend a picture on their phone… is this why we are banning cell phones at recess?
Onto Learning Theories… When reading Tales of the Undead…Learning Theories: The Learning Pyramid
They wanted us to remember…. 10% of what we read… 20% of what we hear… 30% of what we see… and so on, all the way up to 90% of what we do. Ironically everything worked out to an even percentage which is a multiple of 10. In the article the authors talk about how we need to tread lightly when looking at the Learning Pyramid. Although they spent some time describing why they believe we need to move away from this model, there are some credible gains to learn from it.
- Memory – one strong form of assessment is to survey memory and retention (for example: reading comprehension) Students could read all they want, but if they are not retaining what they are reading, what is the purpose of reading? Here is an article that you can read to understand more about learning techniques and which would be most helpful for particular students.
- Attention Spans – as teachers we need to incorporate different teaching methods in other to keep the attention spans of our students on the task at hand. For example: lecture, do think, pair, shares, allow for small group collaboration and use the internet!
All of this stuff seems simple enough but it is always a good reminder for us as educators. We can always analyze our own teaching and make things better. There is always a more engaging, efficient more exciting way to teach. That’s the best part about our job. We have the power to change things year to year and engage students in topics they can become passionate about… while teaching students to be good digital citizens!