Category Archives: Weekly Debates Reflections

Online Education

Debate #8

drawn2511

Is online education detrimental to the social and academic development of children?

I very strongly was on the agree side at the start of the debate. When I hear the words online learning or education it brings me back to COVID19 and the emergency learning we had no choice but to do. Kari in the group conversations stated, “Pandemic learning is different than online learning”. I think this is a key statement. No one was ready in March 2020 to close their classroom door and lock the school up. We had no idea what this would look like and how we would reach all our students and continue teaching them adequately. Just like the video “We’ll Be There for You” we all stepped up and did our very best. Why? We are teachers and that is what we do.

Both sides of the debate gave compelling points and I know find myself on the fence and think online education is equally good and bad. There are truths to both sides and I feel it comes down to the student whether online education can be successful for them. We need to remember that online education differs from the emergency online learning we all were a part of. These are some of the main arguments for each side.

Agree Side -Colton, Kayla, & Britney S

  • digital divide
  • safety & security of students
  • parents unaware if child is attending or doing their work
  • not everything can be taught online
  • difficult with authentic assessment
  • impact on mental health

Disagree Side- Arkin, Kat, & Christopher

  • flexible
  • cost effective
  • self discipline
  • customized learning
  • smaller class size
  • inclusivity
  • family dynamics

Online Education is now available by choice. The disagree side during rebuttals discussed that the option of online education provides more options for students. I have enjoyed being able to take my master courses online. It was more convenient, made my life easier and made me become more self disciplined with timelines. Colton in the rebuttal suggested that online education makes students more prone to procrastination and many students fall through the cracks. I did see this happen during the pandemic in some of my students and some who did not show up online or submit any work. Working with parents on these matters I felt there was no follow through. We are aware of our students and that not all have good work habitats. Procrastination and bad work habits can occur regardless if online on face to face.

This is my child. There are other factor that attribute to his work as well, but that is for another post. He is very capable, but regardless he struggled with online and struggles face to face. The teacher in me and as his parent it is very frustrating. High Focus Centers, article has a section called How To Help Your Teen Cope which gives strategies to use with your child. I tried all of these during emergency online learning and none of it helped my son. It was and is a daily battle.

Another great debate, which keeps you thinking and sorting out the positives and negatives in online education.

Developing a Digital Footprint

Debate #7

Becca Lee Jaro

Do educators and schools have a responsibility to help their students develop a digital footprint?

I had to go back and reread the description of this topic after the debates since many of the conversations were regarding digital citizenship vs. digital footprint. These are two separate topics but they work together. Technology runs society and students need to understand the impacts it has on them in the past, present and future.

These images from Sylvia Duckworth show how the two concepts work together. Digital citizenship is the responsible use of technology by anyone who uses computers, the Internet, and digital devices to engage with society. Digital footprint is the information that exists on the internet about a person as a result of their online activity. If I am teaching my students about digital citizenship then should I also teach them about their digital footprints? I think I should!

Photo by Ryan Miguel Capili on Pexels.com

In the debate both sides did an excellent job of their arguments. The agree side, Rae and Funmilola gave points that I think we all need to follow. As educators we are in the best position to teach kids the skills that are required in the 21st century. We all live through the use of technology devices. I do not think anyone could say that they are not in a digital world. If you say you do not then you may live in a forest as Mike Walsh (in the last blog post) states. Students need to realize that online space are real spaces and they need to approach it in a safe and controlled environment. Parents are not teaching their children and may not understand themselves. As our students grow, learn and pass through our classrooms I think they should be aware of the impression their digital footprints is leaving on others. I did not have to worry when I finished my education degree and applied for teaching jobs of what my future employer may find. I did not grow up in the digital age. In todays world the digital age is a reality because what is found on the Internet in regards to pictures, post ad comments can come back and haunt them. They may think their presences is unknown or hidden, but it is stuck in the digital world. As Dawn McGuckin states, “Our students live in an online world. They’re emotionally and physically attached to their devices and many of their relationships exist within technology.” I think we need to ensure they know not only how to be good digital citizens but also create a positive digital footprint. Your footprint in terms of what you say and do online stays in a world that no longer forgets.

It is basically impossible to erase all ‘negatives’ from a digital footprint: the Internet has the memory of an elephant

Katia Hildebrandt

In the field of education we use many different platforms such as Seesaw or Edsby to share our students learning and work. For some children this is their first digital footprint. Dependent on the students age the topic of consent played a role in discussion through the debate rebuttals. Yes, the age of a child should be considered, but if you are sharing their learning with their parents then what happens to those images is on the parents. Right? I am not sure of the actual answer to this because I think if I am a parent and then sharing my child’s learning and images online then that is on me and not the education system. Do parents then need responsibility? Yes I think they do. Do teachers need to post photos of their students? Yes and no. I like to share thing my students are doing on Twitter or through Edsby because of my knowledge of privacy I do not show their faces. Not all teachers do this.. How do we get a whole education system to follow the same protocol of digital citizenship, digital footprints, and privacy policies?

The disagree group consisting of Gertrude and Kim spoke a lot about policy. Although I loved their Unsolved Mystery theme and think it fit well with this topic. Who is responsible? Who can solve this mystery? There is a document called Digital Citizenship Education
in Saskatchewan Schools
which was written by Dr. Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt. This document highlights how educators need to support students to develop responsible and appropriate online behaviour. Teachers are not taught on how to teach to their students in a digital realm, but I feel this should be a mandatory course in the Faculty of Education. Teacher training needs to happen so that all educators know where to go to help navigate and find relevant resources to use such as Common Sense Media.

We can pick apart the idea of who’s responsibility it is to teach children but I am firm on my belief that teachers should be teaching not only digital citizenship but also about students digital footprints. We can not manage what happens outside of school but giving the information students need can help them make better decisions of their online activity.

Should Cellphones be Banned in the Classroom?

Debate #6

I disagreed with the topic this week. If I was listening to this debate a year or two ago I may have been on the agree side of it. I had to change my mindset on what cellphones look like in the classroom and their purpose. I credit my change of thoughts through Edtech courses I have taken.

The agree team of Echo, Lovepreet, and Amanpreet gave their arguments as to why cellphones should be banned but it did not persuade me to change my vote.

The arguments Bret, Reid and Leona made validated my reasoning for why cellphones are tools that should be used in the classroom. Cellphones do come with problems, but it is how educators incorporate them into the classroom avoiding the problems.

“Educators need learning opportunities that will change their mindset on cell phones.
Eventually, educators will understand the educational benefits of incorporating cellphones into the classroom.”

– Breanna Carels

Negative Mindset

The agree side gave lots of examples as to why cellphones should be banned. The arguments examine cellphones with a negative mind set. They feel that it will prevent cyberbullying. Cyberbullying does not just happen in school or the classroom. When issues like this arise it typically occurs outside of school hours which then trickle into the school. In order to eliminate this problem all together cellphones should be banned everywhere or until children become adults at the age of 18.

They suggest that banning cellphones will limit distractions. Classroom learning is affected with students spending 20% of class time texting, emailing and viewing or posting on social media. Nomophobia which is the fear of being able to use their phone also plays a role in the distractions. Technology addiction is real and people spend a lot of hours on their phones which allowing in the classroom reinforces the addictions. Students using cellphone have poor cognition and are not fully engaged in the classroom lessons.

Cellphones in the classroom can heighten the digital divide. Not all students have cellphones and seeing others with them can cause them to feel isolated and unconnected to their peers.

These are all valid points. What if we flip from the negative mindset of cellphones and see the positives they can bring?

Positive Mindset

The disagree side’s points were strategies I do in my own classroom. Cellphones are easily accessible. You plan a lesson with technology and you do not have one to one computers, carts are shared among numerous classrooms therefore not always readily available, or half the computers are not working what do you do? Take out your cellphone. Sam Kerry suggests “smartphones is a way to bridge the gap”. Many of the programs we use in school are available on smartphones. Students can use them and your lesson can carry on. Not all students have cellphones but in knowing your students will help you prepare and make sure they have a computer to use. This requires proper planning on the teachers end.

To keep students engaged and away from distractions you need to teach digital etiquette of cellphone use in your classroom. I spend the start of the school year modelling and reviewing the expectations of cellphone use in my classroom and students comply. Cellphones can provide educational success as tools for learning. Implementing cellphones in the classroom is not just for games or scrolling. They need to be aware of how it is a tool to support their learning. This requires how you will manage the use of cellphones in the classroom.

Conclusion

Cellphones when properly implemented and used in the classroom are an excellent tool to enhance students learning. You need to know your students and families and if this is a plausible tool as we know the digital divide exists. It takes time and work from the teacher to ensure cellphones are used properly and accordingly. Students will be engaged and the distractions will be null or limited. Cellphones should be allowed in classrooms.

Is Childhood Lost?

Debate #5

This was a great debate. Is social media ruining childhood? I agreed with this debate topic at the start but the disagree side’s arguments changed my mind. Fasiha, Gunpreesh and Dami were on the agree side of the debate. In their argument they provided valid reasons as to why social media is ruining childhood.

Reasons:

  • takes away from children playing outside
  • ruins imagination
  • opportunity to meet friend in real time
  • robs children of their authentic life
  • cyberbullying (more prominent now)
  • victims of predators
  • false news & marketing

I agree that children are spending more time on devices such as phones, tablets, and game machines and less time outside or playing with toys. But who has created this problem? Technology? Parents? In the Mike Walsh video , the group shared, he discusses how he does not let his kids play video games and they do not have access to the internet. He believes if you give children the choice they will choose the technology choice over play. I do not disagree with this, but in todays technology driven world is it plausible to not allow your child access. The group also debated the idea that cyberbullying occurs more often on devices. I feel NOT allowing children any access will bring bullying in person to them. They will feel isolated from their peers. A four year old may not feel isolated but a 10 year would. I am not suggesting kids need to be on devices 24/7, but as suggested by the disagree group we can not limit their experience with it and balance is needed.

The disagree side, consisting of Jennifer O., Mike and Shivali, used a swimming analogy to prove their reasoning. When we want our children to learn how to swim we take the time for them to learn and do not just toss them into the water. As parents, we know they would not survive because they lack the skills required to keep them a float. We provide them with tools to help them in their learning process. Parents need to do the same when giving their children access to technology and the internet.

Jennifer O. made a very good point which changed my vote in the end to disagree. She said, “we have a habit at looking back with rose-tinted glasses”. We only see how things were in the past and fear the changes that have occurred. Some of us grew up prior to the internet and smart devices therefore we grew up with the only choices of playing outside until the street lights came on or play with the toys we had to entertain ourselves.

Our world has changed and technology is here to stay and will only advance. We need to teach our children how to navigate these waters and have a balance between technology and real life experiences. Childhood does not need to be lost!

Social Justice Through Social Media

Debate #4

First , I want to thank my amazing group members Jessica and Kari. Thank you for trusting me in the Teacher Tech Talk video and the editing process. I have never done this before and so glad we did. It was fun filming and learning how to use green screen, editing videos, and putting it all together. It wasn’t perfect, but think we did a pretty a good job as first time talk show hosts 😊 . Kari the coffee mugs you made were the perfect touch.

Educators Have a Responsibility to Use Technology and Social Media to Promote Social Justice was not an easy topic and caused a lot of debate during class presentations, but it got everyone talking. Prior to doing the agree argument for this debate I stood more on the disagree side of things. I thought if teachers were vocal on such platforms they run the risk of ‘getting in trouble’, as Dalton and Brooke discussed in their arguments.

Social media has become a way for all people to voice support for a cause. The important piece of using social media is how the message or cause is being utilized. Activism is not about shaming or being judgmental of other people. I think we need to model this to our students. As Angela Watson states in her podcast Truth for Teachers “there is no neutrality when you are targeted for discrimination because of your race, ethnicity, immigration status, or gender, sexual orientation, and so on.” Rather then remaining neutral of political or ‘touchy’ subjects we need to speak our voice and not be silent or hushed out of fear. This voice is not to push your beliefs on others or promoting bad behaviour online but to stand up for what you believe in, creating a positive change in the world.

In a blog post by Katia Hildebrandt titled In Online Spaces, Silence Speaks as Loudly as Words discusses how educators often fear to speak out online on matters of activism because it can come back to them in a negative way. This is exactly why I normally tread lightly when I see posts about social justice issues. I become silent and don’t voice my thoughts in fear of getting in trouble. She feels if we remain silent about issues we are sending the message that “these issues are not important”. This is not what we want to show our students especially when they are affected by many on the social justice issues today.

Photo by Kat Smith on Pexels.com

Social media can be a powerful tool and not such a bad thing. Social media activism can be meaningful and worthwhile if used correctly. Dalton and Brooke argued that teachers posting activist content is useless and only promotes the idea of “slacktivism.” It is only “slacktivism” if your not doing the work. When I post or share something does that mean I need to follow up with the evidence of my work? An article Dalton and Brooke shared, Should Educators Express Their Political Opinions in Classrooms? discusses teachers fears but through the students voices in the article they agree that ” as long as the educator in no way tries to influence the student’s opinion, they should be allowed to share their views”. Teachers who use these platforms responsibly and with respect should not have to worry about the backlash of their beliefs. The article Genuine Social Media Activism: A Guide for Going Beyond the Hashtag was good reminder to educators of how to be on social media through the 10 tips it shares.

Activism helps remind students that their is a world beyond the classroom that demands their attention. Social justice helps young people in the following ways:

  • develop an interest in the world and a commitment to improve it
  • gives a voice to younger people to take part in social activism where previously they were not given the voice.
  • the power to be a public forum for the exchange of ideas
  • those often excluded from access and privilege
  • great equalizer
  • accessibility
  • inclusive space for conversation

There is power in student voice, and it isn’t a voice any teacher can give. We don’t give voices. We make space for them in our curricula and classrooms, or we don’t.

Lorena Germán

Social media as a tool for social justice has become relevant in the last few years. As Jessica discussed how the Idle No More Movement grew from a face book page which turned in to a world wide movement. With out social media this movement would not have spread far and wide and quickly as it did. We all witnessed the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter movements all over social media and the hate and love communities were faced with. The hate is were our students need to see a change social justice topics affect us and our students. My son is biracial and at the age of 17 has been directly and indirectly faced with racism and I do not sit idly by.

As George Hofstetter says being uncomfortable is ok: “Truth can be the strongest catalyst for change.”

Basics vs Technology

Debate #3

I disagreed with the debate topic this week: Schools should no longer teach skills that can be easily carried out by technology. Examples of theses skills are cursive writing, multiplication tables, and spelling.

Sushmeet and Leah debated the agree side. The arguments made were that technology is:

  • convenient
  • ensure tasks done correctly
  • more time spent on meaningful learning
  • support deeper thinking
  • equity and inclusion
  • improved feedback
  • machines designed to solve problems
  • thrive in future work
  • essential in society

The Tedx video Sushmeet and Leah shared by Ethan Dickens, an 8th grade student, states “that technology lifts weights off shoulders”, I agree that technology can help supplement learning and support those who need it. He followed up with “it can even be better than teaching sometimes by real teachers.” I had a hard time with this statement. I take this statement as schools and teachers will be the past and that my job is replaceable by AI or a computer screen. David Middlebeck’s Tedx also supports the idea that automation in the next 10 years could replace all jobs. I think this will do more harm to our future generations. School is about learning skills, but also about building relationships through human contact. Technology can not replace relationships!

Technology can aid us in spelling with tools like Grammarly, or the basics of math computations with a calculator. It can also guide some critical thinking skills such as problem solving with coding or robotics as mentioned by Leah, but students should know the basic skills as technology is not always available or functional.

“If we teach today as we taught yesterday then we rob our children of tomorrow”

John Dewey

The John Dewey quote used in their presentation is true but teaching proper spelling, math facts, or cursive writing is not taking away from their future but merely adding to it.

They ended their argument with the question: Can we live with out technology? We could as we did many years ago but it is here to stay and will only continue to evolve and we will continue to incorporate it our teaching.

On the other side of the debate, Alyssa, Kelly and Durston, made some good points as to the importance of still teaching the basic skills of spelling, math and cursive writing. Their main arguments were:

  • productive and successful members of society
  • no internet access (digital divide)
  • positive on mental comprehension and processing
  • reliance on calculator impacts understanding and mastery skills
  • diminishes critical thinking skills
  • not internalizing the process

The basic skills I feel are essential regardless of the technology we have. Spelling skills, as Alyssa spoke about, are pivotal in applying for jobs, promotions, or everyday life.

In the article posted by the group called Does Spelling Still Matter—and If So, How Should It Be Taught? Perspectives from Contemporary and Historical Research states ,”spelling skills were highly valued and widely taught in schools using traditional methods, such as weekly lists, drill exercises, and low- and high-stakes spelling tests.” This practice has become obsolete in most classrooms today as the skill no longer is seen as essential.

This image was my first thought on the topic of teaching basic skills such as spelling. Can you read it? I am sure most of us can but it reminds me of some of students work that I try to read, whether on paper or computer. The spelling errors are atrocious. Even with technology students still struggle with their spelling and often leave it with the red squiggly line underneath because it was so off form the word they wanted to spell that they either choose the wrong word from the suggested word list or just leave it as is. How do we expect our students to navigate words in the “real world”?

Should we teach Cursive writing? I think this should still be taught. We have to sign (cursive) for all sorts of things whether you are signing digitally or on paper. I teach cursive writing in my grade 6 classroom as a bellwork activity. The students love it! When my son opened his bank account, got his drivers license and sign paper for his first job he had no clue how to do it. I do take some blame on this as I knew he was not learning it at school and should have taken the time to show him. He still struggles in signing his name and I opted to show him a ‘doctor’ scribble, which is a problem in itself! An article posted by the group on cursive writing suggests that “our very identities are compromised when we can’t create identifiable signatures

Kelly’s arguments for the importance of mental math and computations is key to understanding numbers. A calculator is faster but understanding the computations is vital. According to Paul Bennett, relying solely on calculator enforces students to have a lack of skills needed to engage in problem solving and the ability to do higher-level math.

Math is my favourite subject to teach and I see the struggles some students have with basic computations. The ones who know them find math very easy as one concept in the curriculum moves to another. Knowing the basic skills helps them to be successful in all areas. Those who struggle I allow to use tools to aid them in the computations but they always do not work because they are lacking the skills to move to the next step.

Incorporating technology into our teaching pedagogies is vital but should not replace the basic skills of spelling, cursive writing, and math!

Inequality or Equality

(Debate #2)

The debate tonight was whether or not technology has led to a more equitable society.

I found myself at a crossroad with this statement. In Tracy, Nicole, and Stephen’s debate video they spoke of how technology has provided equity and inclusion to the students who have disabilities. I agree with this statement as I have technology in place for some of my own students to help them engage with the learning taking place in the classroom. However, in order to receive or implement assistive technology for these students you first have to go through the SETT Framework, which can be a time consuming process.

“A critical feature of successfully applying the SETT Framework is a shared understanding across the educational team, the student, and the family.”

(https://exceptionalchildren.org/blog/sett-framework-and-evaluating-assistive-technology-remotely)

Not everyone is always on board with the plan or tools that have been suggested for the students learning. Another problem I have seen is the next year teacher is not implementing the plan put in place because they do not know how to use the technology or feel comfortable with it. Lastly, students have not been trained on how to use assistive devices like speak to text. Teachers need to be provided the opportunity to learn how to use these tools or devices as well as time to train the students on proper use. Is technology equitable with all these factors in play?

Christina, Amaya, and Matt were on the disagree side. Their focus was on the inequality gap between students with high socioeconomic status and low socioeconomic status, where they live, school funding, and accessibility. These reasons became very relevant during the COVID pandemic. We were not ready for a world to shut down and having our students learn fully online. Many students were left behind because of lack of technology or internet services in the home. The issue of equality goes beyond the school walls. Many families were given or offered laptops for their children to use. However, many did not have internet so the plan of trying to create equity failed. Vidya Shah discusses how e-learning impacted many families during the economic hardship making it nearly impossible for some children to access the learning taking place online. Not only were they left behind academically but also socially. In an article posted by the agree side called The Role of Technology in
Reimagining School
it states “if the family had no access to high-speed internet, school happened in the parking lot of the local public library, where Wi-Fi was available, ‘ troubled me as to who actually did this. I can assure I had students who did not have internet nor did they have the means to get their children to a public library parking lot. This statement seemed a bit far fetched to me.

https://giphy.com/gifs/barstoolsports-pardonmytake-barstoolbigcat-money-gun-WtgZas2OGrHgxVTC99

School funding is another issue that pertains to lack of equity for technology. When computers no longer work or other devices, they are often not repaired in a timely matter or if need to be replaced are not due to lack of money. We do not have class sets of textbooks most of the time let alone enough computers or ones that work for student learning. How can this be a form of equity?

In conclusion my original vote stayed the same on the disagree side. There are too many factors that play into equitable access to technology.

“Day in the life” with Technology

Photo by Ola Dapo on Pexels.com

Technology can be overwhelming with all the different devices and social platforms that encompass our lives today. Sitting here thinking about the tools I use in my personal life I thought my iPhone but as I look around there are more devices such as my streaming tv and Alexa Echo.

iPhone main uses: texting, google, social media (Discord, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter), Podcasts, alarm clock, and various other apps such as banking, weather, calander, email, etc. the list goes on……

I am however not a big social media poster. I fit under the scroll and lurk category. I like using social media to see what family or friends are doing in there lives as I do not always have time to catch up with everyone. The most important people I connect with everyday is through text messaging or Facetime. It is surprising how rarely I actually make phone calls to chat.

Photo by Photography Maghradze PH on Pexels.com

Streaming Tv: Disney Plus, Netflix, Prime

It is embarrassing how time I spend binge watching shows on all of these platforms.

Alexa Echo: When I am too lazy to google, play music, and display pictures.

I do not use this device its full potential but I may get there one day.

Technology in the classroom is an area that I am gaining more confidence in using and can not teach with out it. School technology devices I use everyday are my laptop, data projector, computer carts, FM system and student devices. Devices are used to teach and engage my students learning.

Laptop: email, lesson plans, online booking, online calendar, parent communication, EDSBY, student programs (Google classroom, WeVideo, Canva, Google slides and documents, and more…..)

Data Projector: videos, lesson plans, worksheets, games, and anything I project to guide in students learning.

My data projector quit working and while waiting to have it fixed I felt lost and did not know what to do as I rely on it everyday. My students also felt the strain of not having it. When I fist began my teaching career I was more than capable to teach without the technology we use today. We have transformed in how we teach over the last decade especially with online learning during the COVID pandemic. I can only imagine how it will change and progress in the next decade or 2.