Category Archives: Lesson Ideas

The Great Debate

This post was co-written with Lisa Frazer and also appears on her blog.

VS

Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be easily googled.

Our debate was on Thursday, and due to the double negative, we both argued the same side of the debate (the best side).  We based our argument around the Levels of Teaching Innovation (LoTi) model as we feel strongly that this is the type of classroom that is needed in the 21st century in order for students to become the best lifelong learners they can be.  

Daina and Jocelyn brought up some key points as well. Some fit in with our argument. The first being that Google does not expose students to the learning process which is what we based our whole argument on.  They also added that students would not be motivated to remember information as easily because they have such quick, easy access to it with google.  They then went on to state that students needed to get “Back to the Basics” but then brought up a very valid point, “What are the Basics”? 

They stated one very specific key point that we feel should be the key assessment piece in learning— “If you can explain it, you understand it”. This led to a discussion on what assessment should look like. We feel that authentic assessment should be based around a conversation piece with a student in a conference-style manner or small group where students can explain their learning in multiple ways. Traditional teaching models do not necessarily fit this mold as students tend to just regurgitate information without really understanding. Therefore, they are not involved in the learning process.

Our research also found that 21st-century skills favor student-centered work, such as problem-based learning, project-based learning, and hands-on learning.  The LoTi model places great importance on ensuring that learning is student-centered and therefore students are exposed to the learning process. 

We read the book Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve Got Google by Ian Gilbert.  This book highlights the need for students to inadvertently learn the 6 skills (Positivity, Bravery, Determination, Self-Belief, Creativity, and Sheer Energy) that will enable them to be well-rounded individuals. Google cannot teach any of these skills. These skills can be taught in a 21st-century classroom using a model such as LoTi (Levels of Teaching Innovation) where technology is only APART of the learning. 

The LoTi Framework focuses on the balance of assessment, instruction and effective use of digital as well as other essential resources to promote the essential skills of higher-order thinking, engaged student learning, and authentic assessment practices.  The framework allows educators to ensure the learning process automatically flows. Teachers can reflect on their teaching practice to promote student-directed learning as opposed to teacher-directed learning.  

It is crucial that students be involved in the learning process and dig into their learning using the 4 C’s (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity). 

  • Critical Thinking – empowers students to discover the truth, and separating fact from opinion.
  • Creativity – thinking outside the box. This means looking at a problem from multiple perspectives, including those that others might not see. 
  • Collaboration – virtually every job requires you to work with people, this skill is something that you cannot find from the internet. 
  • Communication – In the age of text-based communication, it is so important for students to learn how to convey their thoughts in a way that others understand them. 

We argue the importance of the teacher as a facilitator of learning.  A 21st-century teacher is now becoming a facilitator or the guide to help the students in their learning. This means shifting roles from a lecturer to a facilitator who provides resources, monitors progress, and encourages students to solve a problem. They help the student in the learning process to guide students to be able to apply the learning in real-life situations, making the learning meaningful and relevant. If the learning is meaningful, they will remember it, know when to apply it, how to put it together, and once practiced students can get creative with it.

We also argue the point that learning should be multi-sensory. We have 5 senses in which we can learn and each person learns a different way or a multitude of ways. Learning becomes much more tactile when you can see it, touch it, manipulate it in a multitude of ways. Real-life applications such as hands-on learning or land-based learning where students take ownership of their learning by doing things such as planting a garden is a much more relevant and beneficial way to learn. Students develop so many more skills through this type of process rather than to just learn about the plants themselves through googling it.

We stated the importance of deepening the learning process by utilizing experts such as elders, knowledge keepers, support experts, professionals, community members in the classroom. This process enables mastery of subjects while also providing students relevance to their own learning. It is also beneficial to students as they are exposed to positive role models in their community.

In Conclusion:

 

 

Moral, Ethical and Legal Issues in Technology in Education

As an instructional technology consultant, much of my job revolves around the implementation of technology in education.  Our Instructional Technology team in the past year has tried to do a lot in the sense of promoting the importance of protecting student privacy and looking at copyright.

Our division has strongly encouraged teachers to use specific programs and digital resources for our students in order to protect student privacy.  For example, our school division has enrolled in Seesaw for Schools.  Many teachers in our school division were previously using Seesaw in their classrooms as a communication tool and a digital portfolio tool.  However, even though Seesaw has a great reputation in the world of education our school division found value in signing up for Seesaw for Schools as you are able to store data in Canada, not in the United States.

In my teaching practice, it is very important that parents understand the programs that their students are using.  It is important that we send home permission forms to parents to give them information on the applications and the programs used at the school.  In my opinion, the media release form and the current acceptable use policy is not good enough for parents and students. Often we try out new tools and parents need to be informed.

Copyright has also become a center of attention for our school division.  We have provided professional development around the topic of copyright and fair dealing.  Schools have to be ever more cautious when showing movies or having movie nights at their school. For example, a school in California was fined for a screening of Disney’s “Lion King”.   Many people do not realize that when you show movies or film outside of a home you need to have permission to do so as it is considered a public performance.  Our school division has purchased a license for a program called Criterion on Demand. A subscription to their services provides film-rights to the Canadian non-theatrical market. It features more than 1500 titles.  This service provides teachers in our school division to legally show films, as we encourage our teachers to not use Netflix or other streaming services in the classroom.

As a was researching for my 5-minute video on Moral, Ethical, and Legal regarding Technology in Education.  I began to do more research on fair dealing and what fair dealing is.  According to fairdealing.ca fair dealing recognizes that certain uses of copyright-protected works are beneficial for society. People can use fair dealing for research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review, and news reporting.  It is important to consider several factors, the amount that you are copying, who you are copying to, and whether or not the copying might have a detrimental effect on potential sales of the original work.

One tool I like to showcase to teachers is something called the fair dealing decision tool.  This website allows teachers, “to decide whether ‘fair dealing’ permits classroom use of print materials, artistic works, or audiovisual materials without getting copyright permission.  Teachers can look up, consumables, articles, books, artistic work, poems or musical scores, newspaper articles, reference books, audiovisual, or other material to learn how much they can legally use in the classroom.

To learn more about moral, ethical and legal issues in the classroom. Check out my video below.

How Should Schools Change?

The culture of education in school has changed.  Even since I have left as a student in 2012.  I believe as I had stated in a previous blog post, “Learning and Unlearning”, teachers are no longer the gatekeepers of knowledge.  Students have access to knowledge through the internet.  Educators must become facilitators of learning. Too often we see teachers that are stuck in their ways, that have used classroom content that is no longer relevant, or teachers may not keep up to the best teaching practice of today’s age.  These are problematic problems that are happening in our schools.  However, we must also be mindful of how the teaching has changed.  Are we providing opportunities and support for our teachers to take risks and to find relevant content? Are we focusing too much on the content of our teaching or the process of learning?  How can we move students from knowledgeable to knowledge-able?

As educators, we need to shift how we teach students from teaching content to teaching students how to learn.  The Landscape of Learning provides educators many different resources for how to introduce and teach the following skills.

  • Craft Meaningful questions
  • access and apply useful information from resources (information literacy)
  • How to think creatively and critically to solve problems
  • Reflection

Many teachers are still working on unlearning traditional practices such as daily homework, and lecture-based instruction.  For change, there needs to be buy-in from teachers.  Teachers need to be on-board and want to change.

I believe that teachers need to leverage technology as a vehicle for learning.  Many teachers are still using technology as a “one time experience”.  This does not provide opportunities for students to grow or continue their learning.  By using a framework such as the SAMR model and the ITSE standards for students and teachers it can provide teachers with direction to use technology appropriately for their learners.

Teachers are often reluctant to try new tools, or opportunities because they are afraid of failing.   We discussed the terms digital native and digital citizen in-depth in class, and the problematic nature of these terms.  As Leigh wrote about in her blog post, “Some People were born knowing how to use technology without needing to be taught and others do.” Furthermore, I believe this is problematic because many of our students do not have access to this technology outside of school.  These terms are also very superficial.  Many students are aware and understand technology, but they may not understand how the code works, or how the app interacts with our personal data.  We live in an era in which we can make connections that were never possible before.  We can connect students to each other, as educators, we can grow our practices by connecting through tools such as Twitter or by sharing Open Educational Resources (OERs) all which would have been difficult to accomplish in prior generations.

When I think of this question I think back to the traditional classroom. Students in rows, a teacher at the front, students quiet.  Yes, there still may be appropriate times for this to take place.  But effective learning studies have shown otherwise.   If we provide opportunities for students to take ownership of their learning such as “self-reported grades“, or provide learning opportunities such as the “jigsaw method” these teaching practices have shown that students will be more successful according to John Hattie.

In our curriculum, we have outcomes that refer to the content of what we are teaching students.  As a society, we need to take a step back and look at the skills that we are teaching students.  These goals are found in the front of our curriculum.  We want to teach our students to become lifelong learners, develop a sense of self, community, and place, and to be an engaged citizen.  If we follow Michael Wesch’s concept of knowledge-able we can put a focus on these bigger goals inside our curriculum. Combining these opportunities with the standards laid out by ISTE provides a framework that I try to follow as an educator.  How are you trying to improve your practice as an educator to more from knowledgeable to knowledge-able?

 

 

A Bit about Me, Curtis Bourassa

A bit about me.  Currently I am an Instructional Technology Consultant with South East Cornerstone Public School Division.  I like to think that my job is one of the best jobs in the field of education as it allows me to observe what other teachers are doing in their classroom, opened many learning experiences and opportunities, allows for co-teaching, and shares my passion for using technology appropriately in the classroom.

Outside of the classroom, I currently am in the midst of wedding planning and this has taken up a large amount of my time.  I also enjoy travelling in my summers, spending time catching up with friends, and watching and playing sports.

ECI832: Digital Citizenship is of interest to me because I believe it is critical that we teach students, and become aware as educators how to become digital citizens.  We need to teach students and educators to be critical consumers of the the digital content we are exposed to.  This class pairs hand-in-hand with my position as an Instructional Technology Consultant, and thus I am excited learn and share my learning with others.