My technology beliefs… and some learning theories!

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.Related image

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:

Electronics

**All personal electronic devices brought to school are done so at owner’s risk.

  1. 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?)
  2. 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)
  3. The music on the devices must be school appropriate.(How am I to know and track this?)
  4. Students may not share devices. (Why couldn’t they look up information together? Do we assume all sharing of devices is of bad nature?)
  5. Parents need to be aware of what is on the students device. (This all varies based on students home environment)
  6. 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!)
  7. 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).Image result for no phones gif

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?

RANT OVER.

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.

Image result for after two weeks we tend to remember

  • 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!

 

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Technology… forever changing.

Let me take you back to the 90’s… My first memories of technology. I will never forget when my family first got dial up internet. We had this massive, heavy, pixelated view computer. Back then, this was the dream. I could finally play more games, talk to my friends online instead of calling, and download music. One of the first games I can recall playing was whyville! Everyone at school who had dial up internet would set a time after school to meet online to play together. Following this came the big MSN and ICQ. These were game changers for making plans with friends. I was able to connect with students from other schools and talk with my friends more often after school and on the weekends. Now this is when I first began the “texting” lingo. My parents would set timers for how long my sister and I could play on the computer because they never knew when to expect an important phone call. Whenever our time was up my mom would yell from the top of the stairs “G2G” (Got to go). If we didn’t get off right away she would come right into the computer room and type G2G on whatever msn conversation we were on. This is where I started to type incorrect words/phrases such as: how r u, ttyl, asl, lol, etc. I found this article 17 things you’ll only remember if you were an MSN Messenger addict and it hit home. It reminded me of how I used the internet most as a child.

Secondly, my memory recalls having a cell phone at the end of grade 8.It was a beautiful audiovox and I was only allowed to text a certain amount of times in a month because my parents paid for by bill. Texts were ten cents and I think my cell phone bill was around $20 a month. It became more of a safety thing so if I was out with friends, my parents could contact me and vice versa.

Fast forward to where we are now. Technology is a part of our lives every day. As teachers we use our devices to communicate, use social media just as our students are. Technology is here to enhance our lives. So why not embrace it? So many teachers are tired of cell phones and want to ban them. I understand in some cases, but rather, why don’t we as twenty-first century teachers take the initiative to teach our students how to use them appropriately. Not only can we teach them the skills but we can also help them by skillfully integrating technology in our classrooms. It would be…

  • Purposeful
  • Students would learn how to navigate websites and use it properly (fake news, citing sources)
  • Critical for future careers
    • Typing
    • Formatting
    • Access information online
  • Enhanced learning
    • Skype classroom – location can change perspective, allow for reduce cost instead of bringing in a guest speaker/travel time
  • Teachable moments about appropriate use of tech!

As educators we are the future. If we implement skills early on to enhance student learning by using technology we can set students up with the right skills to be an innovative and creative thinker.