Author Archives: Bret McMann

AR VR MR – Week 12

First off, what is Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality?! If you are anything like me, someone who has limited knowledge on any of these realities, you also would have appreciated this week’s presentation on the topic.  Matt, Kim and Brian did a great job putting their content in a way that a novice like me can understand! 

Matt, Kim and Brian illustrated the importance of distinguishing the difference between these three terms to completely understand them.  Augmented Reality as outlined during this week’s presentations is where digital content is superimposed (pictures, text, animations, 3D models, etc) over the real world, instead of blocking out the world it supplements which will allow the user to experience both at the same time. Virtual Reality is the concept that we are most likely to know the most about.   VR is a computer generated that completely immerses the user and blocks out the real world.  Mixed Reality blends components of augmented and virtual reality that allows its users to interact with and manipulate objects that are overlaid on their real world setting.

AR, VR, MR & Education

So how do these 3 realities play into the world of education? It was outlined to us that they can be utilized to create an immersive learning environment for students which can also provide opportunities for teachers to give their students experiences that they may not be able to depending upon resources that are available to them in their classrooms or within their schools.  For example, you are able to provide students an experience working in a mechanics shop when your school does not have one or you could use the realities to take your students inside the human body during a Science or Biology lesson.

It was discussed during this week’s presentation that VR fits within Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning components.  Brian displayed an image that was created by Steve Bambury (2020) outlining how VR fits into Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning and help create an immersive experiential learning environment.

 

I was really appreciative of the graphics that the group used this week to help us understand how VR can fit into the educational world and how our students can use it..  As outlined  in the graphic below (used in presentation), there are 4 depths that VR can fall into – perception (3DOF), interaction(3DOF), immersion(6DOF) and presence(6DOF).  These categories are all dependent upon the Degrees of Freedom (DOF) available to the user.  When more DOF are available, a more immersive experience is the result. 

 We were also provided with an illustration (below) that puts some of these VR apps into the respective categories based on what type of immersive environment they create.  I found this very helpful as I see this as a new avenue that I can see myself going down to bring into my classroom.  I love teaching science, but specifically about the human body as it really is fascinating! I often struggle with finding experiences that can go along with lessons for Grade 7 & 8’s because our school is not equipped with a fully stocked Science lab.  VR provides an alternative to give students this experiential learning opportunities that will give them a real world look. 

Human Anatomy VR App

Like stated earlier, I often struggle with creating an experience for my students in the classroom that goes along with their lesson; thinking Science, Social Studies and PAA specifically.  This is where I see VR/AR/MR coming into play in my own classroom.  I am lucky enough that most of my students come to school with their own personal device which I would likely utilize for this as getting the right amount of Chromebooks is a daunting task and often results in students having to share a computer.  A VR app that focuses on the human body would add an element to lessons and activities that would make an impact on the students.  I structure my science classes with a lesson where we go over various information and then I try to have a practical application activity for students afterwards as a reinforcement to what their learning was focused on. Being able to see within a human body without having to leave the school is a great opportunity.  This exact app is a paid program that only allows for free trial for 2 hours, but if I was able to get my hands on a subscription I would utilize almost every lesson for my Human Body Unit.  

 

AR/VR/MR & The Digital Divide

All of this technology sounds lovely, but In a world that already sees a very large technological divide based on different populations and socioeconomic statuses, I feel that these realities would create an even larger divide.  These realities require specific programs, hardware, equipment and simple access to smartphones to be able to utilize – which is something that not all are privy to.  

In the article, Is There Still Time to Build Equity Into Virtual Reality Edtech which is written by Rebecca Koeing, outlines that VR headsets and equipment can cost hundreds of dollars, which is a big price tag for some students who already have trouble affording an up to date computer or internet that allows them to complete their work.  It is also outlined that if VR in education is not implemented in a thoughtful manner, it will only widen this already large digital divide.  Others argue that VR can act as a ‘bridge’ to access to higher education opportunities with the ability to teach those students who are not able to make it into a classroom. Koeing also outlines that those groups who are often benefited from previous technological advancements could also be positively impacted by the implementation of VR.  

Blogger Raghu Bathina writes in his article How to Avoid Creating the Next Digital Divide Through VR that “VR is no mere video game delivery system. It is increasingly an educational tool, entertainment vehicle, social connector, healthcare solution and training platform. It will increasingly be a part of how students learn and professionals receive important training.”  He later outlines 7 ways in which he sees avoiding a new digital divide or extending the current one.  

  • Continue to support low-entry devices – creating and making available VR devices people can access regardless of their status or income.
  • Develop Open Standards – 
  • Browser-based VR – these could be a great equalizer as to who can afford to engage with VR.  There are many affordable computers on the market for a fraction of the cost of other devices.
  • Accommodations for ALL – accommodations need to be made for those who many have hearing and visual impairments.
  • Diversity, Inclusion & Equity – create opportunities for creators of color and those from other backgrounds to participate meaningfully in the VR world and ensure we build in a way that empowers people from various backgrounds to live their most authentic lives.
  • Free Participation – ensuring that their are VR opportunities with local libraries, schools and school districts.
  • Private Public Partnerships – Government involvement in grants for accessible distribution of VR.

Thanks for a great semester! 

 

Cheers, 

 

Bret

Coding – Week 11

Prior to this week’s class I had some, but VERRRRRY minimal experience with coding.  I have never been someone who is drawn to these types of activities. I tried taking computer science in high school and struggled to grasp the concepts, but looking back now, I’m not sure I gave it an honest shot.  This is where my mind goes immediately when thinking about coding, but I feel that there is a much larger Detailed illustration silhouettes of expressive dance colorful group of people dancing. Jazz funk, hip-hop, house dance. Dancer man jumping on white background. Happy celebrationworld of coding out there and after this weeks presentation I now know that coding is much more than computer programming.  As Gilles mentions on his blog coding refers to “everything from choreographing a dance, to designing commands on paper for ozobots, apps, websites, etc.”

Over the last few years I have noticed that a lot of my Grade 7 & 8 students are very into coding, but I was not sure of the benefit that it would have to bring those types of activities into my classroom.  This attitude has made me hesitant to invest a lot of time into something that may not pan out (I need to change this attitude and take some more risks). If it was not clear already, I am not ‘techie’ or an expertDigital composite image of biracial girl enjoying virtual reality with world techies day text in this field by any means which has also led to some apprehension on my behalf.  Does coding need to be taught by a ‘techie’? I don’t think so, but I do believe that it should be taught by someone with more experience than I currently have.

Like I stated earlier, I have little to no experience with coding.  I have worked with students with various opportunities through Sask Code like the Ozobots but that is the extent of my coding repertoire – I struggled more with this than the kids.  What these opportunities told me about my students was that they are persistent, creative and stubborn problem solvers.  They worked together to help solve each other’s problems and celebrated with each other when they were successful!  This week’s presentation really made me think back to those times when I was able to get coding going in my classroom and made me realize that there is more benefit there for our students than I first thought – which is where I focused my attention… how does coding benefit students?

Businessman / BenefitI came across an article 8 Reasons Why Every Child Should Learn to Code while I was doing a little more reading around this whole coding thing, specifically what or how it can benefit my students.  This article outlines 8 main reasons why coding is an important skill for students to learn.  Below are some of the benefits that stood out to me: 

 

Coding teaches problem solving – this was one of the main things that I observed when watching students engage with the Ozobots a few years ago.  Coding helps students understand and develop anHello Im a Problem Solver Solution FInder Name Tag 3d Illustration appreciation of how things work.  It also shows students how software engineers can use math in a creative way to solve problems.  I believe that problem solving skills of our youth (especially since COVID) has become less and less.  Students struggle to solve the most basic of tasks – I have had students ask me what they should do with a Chromebook that is dead….

Challenges and Builds Resilience – coding provides students the opportunities to bounce back after they have been defeated and a way to show that failure is the best way in which we learn! 

Young woman drawing creativity in a notebookPromotes and Extends Creativity – these activities give students the confidence to try unique things and experiment with their creativity – they are able to design something that is entirely their own! Students thrive off feedback especially from creating something that they put all of their thought and creativity into – this motivates students to take risks and be creative.

Future of Computer Programming – as the technology boom continues being able to code will serve as a very useful skill to learn throughout grade school.  Those who know how to code, could be put in a better position for employment as there are more and more sectors relying on computer code. 

Coding is Fun with Math –  I am sure I am not alone when I say this, a lot of my students do not enjoy math class.  With that being said, math is not my favorite subject to teach.  Coding provides students and teachers to work on math skills in a manner that doesn’t feel like the typical math class.  Students would be organizing, analyzing data while they are using logic and calculation to create. 

Another article from the University of Texas adds a few other main benefits that students could experience through coding.  This article touches on a lot of similar points as the article above, however, they do add some other beneficial reasons for students to learn and teachers to integrate coding into their classrooms.

Improves Computational Thinking –  this is a type of thinking where problems are expressed in a way that a computer would display them.  Students who learn to think in this manner are encouraged to break down complex problems into smaller chunks and as a result expose a pattern.  

DIGITAL LITERACY concept blurred background 3d render illustrationCoding Helps Teach Digital Literacy – when we think about digital literacy, most of us think of cyberbullying, internet safety, digital footprints and online ethics and behavior.  We may not think of coding under this umbrella.  Technology surrounds us and this is something that is not going to change.  Being able to understand and engage with tech isn’t just a good skill to have, it’s a necessity for navigating an already highly digitized society.  Students need to be digitally literate.  Coding has not yet become a day to day necessity, but as our technology keeps advancing it may get to be one, requiring its own type of literacy one day.

Through focusing my post and reading on the benefits of coding, it is safe to say that this is something I now see as worth the time to understand and get confident enough to bring into my classroom.  To begin with, Sask Code seems to be a great place to start and get some helpful tips Gilles, Kirsten & Meenu  have pointed us towards.  I stopped to talk to the Sask Code booth at the teachers convention and they were displaying some very cool projects that we are planning to try and bring into our school to work with our Grade 7 & 8 students – like creating a remote controlled car using a shoe as the frame!

Cheers, 

 

Bret

Assitive Tech – Week 10

My Experiences with Assistive Tech

When thinking about assistive technologies, my mind often goes immediately to electronic technologies that help students learn.  But, like in the early stages of this class, when we were asked to define technology which helped me change my personal definition from one that is electronic based, to one that is any piece of new technology that enables the user to complete a task easier.  This new understanding and definition of technology is crucial when it comes to understanding assistive technologies and ensuring we are thinking outside of the electronic technology box when it comes to assisting our students.   These can fall on a continuum of No Tech to High Tech as illustrated in the image to the left.  These technologies can range from pencil grips and post-it-notes to e-readers and text to speech capable electronics.  They are essentially anything that allows our students to be successful in their learning.

 

Personally, I did not require assistive technology during my schooling years, but one of my closest friends did.  When he was in grade 9 or 10 he began having a lot of issues with his vision out of the blue and there was no definitive answer or reason to why this was happening.  With that said his schooling experiences needed to be adapted.  This was an area of contention and embarrassment for him as he was now needing assistive technology to help him with his schooling. 

One thing that I can vividly recall is that he had this computer looking magnifying piece of tech that he had at his house to help with his schoolwork.  Essentially, you placed the material which needed to be read/magnified on a bottom platform and an enhanced image was displayed on the monitor.  This made it extremely difficult to complete work in an efficient and timely manner.  At the time, it was considered to be state of the art technology.

The picture to the left was the original piece of technology that he had set up in his house.  It was very big, bulky and took up a ton of desk space.  The pictures to the right are the same machine, but have received some upgrades over the years! This machine can be purchased through the CNIB for roughly $3500,which I am confident not all families would be able to afford!

I also recall him have to use a magnifying glass during classes to be able to read the information that was required of us to engage with which thinking back was a wild occurrence and can’t imagine recommending that tool to a current student in today’s age of technology.

Professionally, I have had students who I thought could use assistive technology in some manner, but have very rarely been successful in gaining access to it for them.  The main piece of technology that I see in my classrooms when students need assistance is their own personal Chromebook, to specifically use Google Read and Write.  This is an outstanding program, but a lot of the time requires constant adult intervention to use with students.  This does help the students but it is not the be all and end all for their needs. 

I have also experienced that many of these students who I have tried to get the technology do not fit the criteria that is set out by the division.  Another aspect that is extremely frustrating is the hoops that are needed to jump through to get these students the equipment they require.  I often hear the mantra “What’s best for students” thrown around the education world but all too often this is just lip service as very rarely do our students get what is best for their learning… a very frustrating and defeating mindset to have.

Challenges and Limitations

When thinking about the challenges and limitations to assistive technology and being able to get students the support they need, three areas come to my mind: cost & accessibility, lack of PD and cultural beliefs.  

Cost & Accessibility

These supports cost money…. Some more than others and in a sector that is already hit with funding cuts or lack of funding to enhance education for all students, getting your hands on some of these technologies poses to be quite a difficult task.  I can think of many occasions where I have worked with our LRT to get a solid application in place for a student who requires or would benefit from having their own personal tech only to have very few of these applications accepted.  When these applications are rejected or not successful, I often ask why, and the common answer is there isn’t enough funds available to be able to fulfill these applications which makes it difficult to access to help the student succeed – what’s best for students, right?!?

Lack of PD

My sister is in a student support teacher role and I asked her what were some of the challenges and limitations that she sees.  She too mentioned the lack of PD for teachers and staff.  She mentioned that she has made many of these different technologies to help her students, but she does not feel comfortable enough to educate the teachers that she supports in how to properly use these tools, citing that the PD needs to come from a specific specialists such as SLP, OT, etc. to properly display how these tools best help support students and how to properly use them.

Culture

This is another challenge that I feel many teachers now face is how these types of technologies are perceived within specific cultural beliefs.  I have had many conversations over my 8 years of teaching with newcomer families surrounding learning difficulties that their child has and some possible interventions that could help, specifically assistive technologies.  A lot of times, these interventions are met with resistance as they feel that their child does not require these supports and they will be able to overcome these hurdles with extra tutoring, homework or that they will eventually grow out of it. 

There is a significant amount of available technology out there for students to use who may need that little extra support to succeed in school, but there seems to be so many roadblocks that make accessing them seem almost impossible. 

 

Cheers, 

 

Bret

Quizizz – Week 9

First off, I am going to start with a disclaimer…. I am currently on Paternity Leave so I will have to wait until January 5 to be able to use this new assessment technology with my class.  

With that said, I am going to do a review of Quizziz as a possible assessment tool to incorporate when I am back in the classroom.  I choose this tool because of its similarities to Kahoot in the sense that students would be able to make the transition fairly seamlessly.  When doing research for our presentation last week, one thing that kept coming up when it came to technology integration was that teachers should try to meet the students where they are at.  They should be looking to use tools or programs that students have experience with and are familiar with how they operate.  

What is Quizziz?

Quizizz is a Learning platform that offers multiple tools to make a classroom fun, interactive and engaging.  Quizizz takes the excitement of a gameshow-style review game and puts the whole experience in the students’ hands. With a traditional Kahoot! game, everyone sees the question and possible answers on the projector and answer simultaneously. Quizizz is different because the questions and possible answers are displayed individually on student devices.  As a teacher, you can create lessons, conduct formative assessments, assign homework, and have other interactions with your students (for all grades) in a captivating way. 

Quiziz Features

  • Instructor paced Lessons/Quizzes: Teachers control the pace; the whole class goes through each question together.

  • Student paced Lessons/Quizzes: Students progress at their own pace and you see a leaderboard and live results for each question or lesson.

  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): Students always see the content on their own devices, be it  PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

  • Access to millions of Quizzes: Import any public quiz as-is, edit and customize them.

  • (Quiz + Lesson) Editor: Choose from 6 different question types to add images, video, and audio to teleporting questions from other quizzes and lessons.

  • Reports: Get detailed class-level and student-level insights for every quiz. Share with parents/guardians to monitor student progress.

  • Options to Customize: Options to customize your quiz sessions to toggle the level of competition and speed.

  • Sharing & Collaboration: Share your quiz with other instructors and/or ask them to be collaborators.

Unique Features

  • Memes – you are able to embed funny pictures as  treat for your students 
  • Homework Mode – students do not have to complete the game in person.  Teachers can assign to be completed by a deadline.
  • Media Add ins – Adding audio, images and math questions.
  • Power ups – where students can have advantages throughout the assigned activity.

Alternative Modes  of Play

  • Fast and Furious – using it as a teaching tool or  formative assessment  tool to see if reteaching needs to happen for a particular lesson and complete the Quizizz after the content is re-taught.

  • Student Created Quizizz – have students submit questions to be asked in a game using Google Forms survey.  You can import the data directly from the spreadsheet and into your Quizizz accounts.

Pros & Cons

Below are some of the pros to incorporating Quizizz into your classroom:

  • Answer explainers, 
  • Audio/video responses
  • Asynchronous assignments
  • Good reports for assessment
  • Student paced 
  • Student progress board for teachers

There are also some cons to Quizizz:

  • LMS integrations limited to district plans
  •  Challenging to sift through the library to find top-quality content
  • Loss of excitement with students working at different paces
  • Question isolation for further instruction

This tool has come a long way, adding handy customization options that allow teachers to create learning experiences that exceed other quiz platforms.

Classroom Purposes

This tool can be seen as a swiss army knife or a multi-tool for teachers.  There are numerous ways in which we can utilize Quizizz and other apps just like it in our classrooms.  Teachers are able to use in ways that are not limited to assessment.  Some ways that I plan to use Quizizz for in my classroom: 

  • Formative Assessment tool – create quizzes and games to test students knowledge of taught materials.  Teachers can use reports to analyze the performance of students to plan individualized interventions or notice any areas that may need to be retaught.
  • Use poll type activities to collect student feedback and engage them in decisions surrounding everyday learning.
  • Have students create Quizzes to be shared with the whole class as a way of review or formative assessment.
  • Quizzes act as a exit tickets to check understanding 
  • As a way to introduce new topics in fun, interactive and engaging ways. 

Challenges to Technology In Classrooms

As with any technology integration into our classrooms there are going to be challenges.  The major challenge that resonates with me is the student to computer/device ratio.  Many of these games’ best use is when each student has their own device.  For that to be accomplished, not using personal student devices, there needs to be a  1:1 ratio which depending on your school and access to tech can be a daunting task to accomplish.  Personally, I am grouped with the other grade 8 teachers to share 2 carts of 20 or so computers.  To ensure that each one of my students has a device that is not their cell phone, I have to book both of these carts as I have 30 students.  This affects other teachers’ ability to use the tech a the same time. 

Another challenge that always seems to come up is the quality of the internet or having the internet not functioning properly when you need it to be.  This requires teachers to redirect on the spot and cna affect the quality of the lesson they may be getting.  Students’ technological savviness can also be a challenge when integrating technology.  Just like learning where every student learns specific ways and at different paces, they also have varying levels of technological abilities.  Even though our students can are known as ‘digital natives’ there are still some that are going to struggle using technology.  To help limit or rectify this problem, teachers need to ensure they are using trial runs with the program that they are asking their students to use.  This helps students be more comfortable and alleviate some user issues that may arise.

I personally like these types of game show apps as a formative assessment tool where I can get a significant amount of data in a relatively quick manner to help guide my teaching practices.  I find it difficult to use this as a way of summative assessment as I feel these  apps  do not lend themselves to assessing topics to a deeper understanding or application level.  Students love them so I think they do hold a value to incorporate in our classrooms, but maybe not as a summative assessment tool.

 

Cheers, 

Bret

The Social Dilemma – Week 8

overwhelmed, stressed out, burned out
Photo by fotomacher_ch on Pixabay

It has been sometime since I had originally watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix!  Before I set out to watch it again, I tried to remember any sort of specifics regarding the show.  I couldn’t remember many specifics, but I do recall how I felt after watching it…. OVERWHELMED, DEFEATED and GUILTY.  I felt overwhelmed with finally understanding how these social media apps work.  I felt defeated and guilty as I am a frequent user of these apps and find it extremely difficult to cut the cord with them. I do feel that the Web 2.0 has impacted our lives in some positive aspects, but I feel that it has affected us more in a negative manner.  

The Social Dilemma reinforced my thoughts on the negative aspects in which our lives have been affected.  My key takeaways are: 

Society’s Addiction to Social Media

tiktok, social, social media
Photo by geralt on Pixabay

In some capacity or another, society is connected and exposed to social media more than we like to admit, but have a hard time admitting that fact and as a result refrain from trying to find a solution to limit our exposure to social media.  I personally cannot remember a time when I’ve been able to go week, let alone a day without exposure to an obscene amount of social media time.  Most of us see how these apps can affect our physical and mental well be and we know that we should limit our time on these apps, but have an extremely difficult time doing this.  In the article 5 Key Takeaways From The Social Dilemma Documentary on Netflix which was written by Nnaemeka Ugochukwu, they outline that the more frequently we engage with social media apps the more likely we are to grapple with poor mental health, anxiety, and depression.  Stemming from the unrealistic comparisons that are created through these apps.

Social Media Designed to be ADDICTIVE

facebook, social media addiction, internet addiction
Photo by Mediamodifier on Pixabay

This was one aspect of the documentary that made me cringe the most.  These companies are designing apps that make it extremely difficult for its users to step away.  Human beings are constantly searching for that interaction that makes them feel alive.  In come the comparisons that the use of social media can release a hit of dopamine directly into our system, something some users are searching for and addicted to.  These hits come from watching post collect likes and shares.  I am guilty as charged.  I have made posts on these apps and have been addicted to checking to see how many likes I have gotten.  This has made me feel good for a very small amount of time, but it seems each time I post, I do the same thing.  Another aspect we need to consider when talking about social media addiction is FOMO! You do not want to be the last one to find out about something major, or completely miss a huge announcement, with that said we are constantly on our devices ensuring that does not happen. 

Governments are doing squats to help us. 

ottawa, parliament, canada
Photo by festivio on Pixabay

One major takeaway that I did remember from my first viewing of the documentary, was how frustrating it was to find out how little our governments are doing in protecting us against these big companies like FaceBook.  There are no limits to the amount of data that these companies are able to attain from its users, something that makes me feel very exploited! Not only is there no limit to the amount of data they can cultivate, but also, these companies seem to be able to do with this data whatever they wish.  Most of those government players who are in power to make these decisions to protect users likely do not understand enough to make decisions that are not political in nature.

Kids are at risk

caution sign, banner, header
Photo by JanBaby on Pixabay

The users that are most at risk are the younger generations, the ones that have not developed proper decision making skills or digital citizenship skills yet.  Many of these younger generational users are digital natives who have been born into a time where they do not know any difference. As a result they see these apps with a different lens, usually seeing the obscene amount of time or the unrealistic comparisons of a normal part of life.  

With most negatives, comes some positives and I feel that this is the case with the Web 2.0 era.  Although currently, more of the negative sides of things are being discussed it has done some good things for our lives.  Some of the ways that this era has positively affected our daily lives that I have seen.

Connection

The power of these apps to build connections is unprecedented.  Not only are we able to stay connected with those that are important to us that may live afar, but they also enable us to connect to anyone in the world.   

Variety and Ease of Usage

There is a wide variety of apps out there for people to find one that they really like to use.  FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram are 3 of my go to apps, but that is going to be different for everyone.  I feel that I don’t know the magnitude of apps that are out there and when I listen to my students talk on a daily basis, there are usually 1 or 2 apps that they mention that I have never heard of.  Most of these apps are user friendly in the sense that they are easy to use.  Many are designed this way as their sole purpose is  to capture our attention and with an app that is difficult to use, many users will focus their attention elsewhere. 

Web 2.0 and Schools

Knowledge Building 

businessman, tablet, concept
Photo by geralt on Pixabay

With the power of Web 2.0, learners are now an active participant in their knowledge building.  They are able to connect with people all over the world, including experts in fields of study.  For example, Twitter has enabled many students in my school to reach out to experts to help with projects like Science Fair and Heritage Fair.  Many of these experts are very willing to meet virtually with groups of students to talk about their topics! Web 2.0 has also given learners access to so much knowledge.  Most of these students are carrying a device in their pockets that gives them immediate access to be able to research. 

Learning Communities

connections, communications, social
Photo by GDJ on Pixabay

Learning communities is another byproduct of the Web 2.0 era for both teachers and students.  Teachers are able to join through LMS like Google Classroom or Edsby professional development groups of like minded educators.  Students are able to collaborate through the use of Google Tools for Education and Google Classroom.  

Cyberbullying 

Of course the elephant in the room when it comes to Web 2.0 is the ease of cyberbullying.  This will always be the case when we are working in a digital age and when the technology booms shows no sign of slowing down.  Many

cyberbullying, internet, computer
Photo by Elf-Moondance on Pixabay

students think that the web is a safe place to mistreat others and that there won’t be any repercussions to their actions.  This issue makes it abundantly clear that a responsibility of educators is to expose their students to some sort of Digital or Media Literacy instruction as school may be the only place that these students are going to be exposed to this type of guidance.  

 

I apologize for the brief post, as this week has been a crazy one! 

 

Cheers, 

 

Bret

Halfway Point – Week 7

business, people, clip art
Photo by LokaDesigns on Pixabay

WHOOP WHOOP – we made it to the halfway point of our semester!

 

 

 

graduation, teen, high school
Photo by greymatters on Pixabay

This also means that the end of the tunnel for my Masters of Ed – Curriculum and Instruction journey only has 1.5 classes left – crazy to think about!  Over the first half of the course, we have been exposed toa ton of information (some of it new and some of it old) surrounding Educational Technology.  It is always great learning from and alongside fellow educators and hearing how they use specific tech tools in their practices.

What tools for online and blended learning seem most useful/relevant to me?

I have mentioned numerous times before I find trying to incorporate tech, especially new tech, into my teaching to be extremely overwhelming.  Currently teaching in a school that is over 1000 students makes technology hard to come by when you are sharing 2 computer carts of 40ish laptops with over 100 students and multiple classrooms.  With that many students, we have to do our best to ensure that each classroom has equal opportunity to access computers.  This makes it extremely difficult to create a 1:1 student to computer ratio, but we try to supplement it with the use of smartphones and devices. I am also hesitant to really dive into new technology that I am not comfortable with due to the fact that there isn’t adequate time in a work day to try and train myself to a point I feel comfortable and confident enough to have my students use it.  Work-life balance is extremely important to me with a young family at home. I need to prioritize my time spent with them when I am at home, not on a computer learning about new prospective tools.

With that said, the tools I utilize the most in my current practice are Google Classroom and Google Tools for Education.  This is a program that I have become accustomed to over the last few years as I have moved into the Grade 7 and 8 world.  I really appreciate the compatibility and ease of being able to upload material for students through the integration of all the Google Tools; Docs, Slides, Forms, Meet, Jamboard, Classroom, YouTube etc. I find this to be a great way for students to track what they have missed when they are away.  I would like to utilize Google Forms to help streamline my assessment practices.  I have used it extensively throughout a current novel study, where I have given students listening quizzes at the end of chapter chunks – a great way to monitor comprehension!  Another component of Google Classroom that I really appreciate is that we are now seeing more integration from outside tools and sites.  These tools give you an option to add material directly to your Google Classroom.  This is an option that I have not yet taken advantage of, but it is something that I have noticed a few times. 

google, seo, search engine
Photo by KoLa on Pixabay

One of the drawbacks of Google Classroom that I have experienced over the course of the last few years is the inundation of messages, alerts, marking and space taken up in my Google Drive.  Throughout the course of the pandemic, I had many students decide they were going to start being not very nice people over the stream in Google Classroom. This led to many fires needing to be put out from a distance and many discussions on how to behave online (ugh…. Digital Citizenship at its finest)!  

How would you feel about teaching with these tools in an online or distance education class, and how would your current context be impacted if you were to shift to an online/distance format vs. face to face?

If I were to switch to online or distance education tomorrow (pleeeeeeeeease not again!) I would be leaning very hard on my friends at Google, specifically Google Classroom, Google Suites and Google Tools for Education.  During the times of online learning over the last few years, I was teaching Grade 4-5 and they were not very technologically savvy; something that my students most definitely are today.  Even with the younger students’ knowledge of how to use a computer and Google, I trudged forward.  For a little more backstory, I started online teaching using SeeSaw and found it to be extremely frustrating as it was not very compatible with Google and I was constantly troubleshooting.  I made the decision to switch to Google Classroom to save my sanity! 

Like any other educator, one of the most important things is developing a relationship with students and being online or distance makes that a little bit more difficult.  This is where utilizing Google Meets can try to replace that face to face aspect with students.  This function would also have to take the place of my live lessons in person and have some sort of live instructional component for students.  Being able to record lessons, upload to YouTube and easily integrate them into Google Classroom is another great way to give students instruction.  The Google Tools for education also provide seamless ways to assign, collect and assess student work, something I would depend highly on if we were to be online.  Not all families have printers/scanners at home and the ability to assign each student their own individual copy of material and assignments can really be a game changer for them to complete and submit their work.  

The part of being an educator that I really enjoy the most is getting to know students by developing respectful, authentic and meaningful relationships.  I take pride in my ability to develop these relationships and if I were to switch to online or distance education, this is where I feel my context would be impacted the most.  You can always teach students how to use tools, but I feel that we are still seeing some effects of the lost relationships from the circus of being online, to in person to back online fiasco of this pandemic.

 

Cheers, 

 

Bret

Productive or Distracted – Week 6

When thinking about the internet, I often think I like what it has to offer, but the one thing that always gets me is how easily distracted or off task I tend to get! This results in longer than expected timeframe to complete tasks (if they get completed at all).  A lot of the time I just have a multitude of tasks started, but unfinished tasks litter  my Google Chrome browser.  With that said, I have often thought to myself when looking at my laptop screen…. “Why do I have sooo many tabs open? What are some of these tabs even for? What the heck was I doing with these tabs?” 

browser, internet, web
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I have a terrible habit of leaving my computer with multiple tabs open and when I return to work on my computer, I cannot for the life of me remember why these tabs were open! A lot of the time, I find myself not knowing where to start when I have so many tabs open on my computer and I usually end up doing something completely unrelated to any one tab that is currently open.  I sometimes feel this represents what is actually happening in my brain… scattered thoughts and to do lists!

I have started utilizing the function on Google Chrome where you can group your tabs under one umbrella tab, to make it look like there is only one tab there, until you decide to click and see there are 18 more tabs sitting there waiting for you to remember why they are open in the first place!  

I recently completed some more unit planning documents, otherwise there would be another 5-6 tabs under the Unit Planning tab.  I really should be creating a paper list of the tasks that I need to complete on my computer and knock things off of that rather than having 14 tabs open.  Perhaps James Hamblin is onto something with the Single-Tasking movement!!

 

Brain Configuration

brain, mind, psychology
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I wanted to do some more digging into what actually happens to our brains when we use technology and came across the article How the Internet Destroys Your Focus (and How to Get It Back) which was written by Thomas Frank.  He first outlines that over the last few decades, brain scientists have learned a lot about our neuroplasticity – which is essentially changes in our brain’s physical configuration in response to the stimulus that you expose it to and the response that is generated.  Frank goes on to outline that this can be accomplished by completing simple tasks like reading a clock to more complex tasks like playing video games or using the internet.  According to the article, there have been numerous studies to confirm and understand this development in our brains.  These experiments were done using authors, violinists and even cab drivers.  The broadness of these experiments really emphasizes that no matter the task, from writing to playing a musical instrument to navigating,  your brain will always adapt and change to the stimulus that it is exposed to. 

Frank also outlines that human beings are wired with bottom-up attention/thinking which basically means that we are able to pick up through our senses, changes in our environment and our attention will naturally drift to those observed and noticed changes.  This type of thinking/attention grabbing is great for identifying when we are in danger or when we are hungry, but not great for more complex and prolonged concentration activities which requires top down approach thinking.  The top down approach promotes the development of our neural pathways, and when we use the internet, it is not prompting the development of these neural pathways.  When we stop using these neural pathways, our brain reallocates its resources in the sense that new pathways are formed from our exposures and stimuli. 

 

Is the Internet really a productivity tool or merely an endless series of distractions?

With a little more background on the basics of how our brains work, we can shift focus to the interaction

social media, facebook, whatsapp
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of the brain and the web.  I feel that the internet isn’t really a productivity tool but is more of an endless series of distractions.  The internet promotes a sense of distraction and multitasking which most of us can confirm!  Many of us have multiple devices in use at any given time and are jumping back and forth not really accomplishing much on any of these devices.  Frank outlines, like most of us already know, that when you are working on the internet, you can have 20 tabs open, playing Spotify or Podcast, while receiving messages from Discord, Facebook, or any of the plethora of messaging platforms that exist.

dimethoxyphenethylamine, dopamine, molecule
Photo by WikimediaImages on Pixabay

The internet does provide us with something. It’s not an increase in productivity but it is a steady dose of quick and constant hits of dopamine which pushes humans back to their bottom up style of attention control, one that does not promote or enable us to think complexly or hold attention to a specific task for very long, according to Frank.  He also outlines that the more we allow the internet to promote the distracted, free for all style of digesting information on the internet, the less time you will be able to concentrate and focus on one single task.  Not only does this way of consuming information on the web discourage our ability to focus on a single task, it also makes it harder to draw on any previous information we were able to attain while we were utilizing our top down approach of attention and thinking.  

Like any new skill, regaining the way we think will take time.  We have to change our neural pathways and that is not something that is done overnight.  If we want to be less distracted online, we need to be engaging with activities that provide our brain with stimuli to practice holding our attention and promote a top down approach to our thinking and assigning our attention.  Personally, I really like the idea of being less distracted online as I feel my distractions provided when I am on the web, has spilled into my personal life where I am more distracted when I am interacting with my family and friends.  

There are ways in which we can increase our top-down approach to thinking and assigning our attention. Frank outlines his 10 suggestions to help with this!  He outlines that the key is not to stop using the web entirely, but rather to reduce activity that causes our brains to resort to the bottom-up approach.

  1. Read more books!

    top, top ten, best
    Photo by geralt on Pixabay
  2. Spend time working offline.
  3. Have more authentic and in-depth conversations.
  4. Watch more movies.
  5. Spend longer chunks of time on 1 task.
  6. Watch YouTube videos in Full-Screen Mode
  7. Use Reader mode on the web.
  8. Try limiting time on distracting websites.
  9. Make social media sites less distracting.
  10. Hide Visual Clutter in browser.

Has the Internet created a world of ‘multitaskers’ who don’t accomplish as much as they could have without it? 

In the article written by psychologist Larry Rosen and technologist Alexandra Samuel, Conquering Digital Distraction, published in the Harvard Business Review, they outline that digital overload is what is plaguing the workplace and our societies today.

multitasking, efficiency, time management
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They outline that we are always inundated with messages, alerts and time spent on devices that it is nearly impossible to focus, wasting time, attention and energy on relatively unimportant information and interactions leaving us staying busy but not productive.  Rosen and Samuel outline that those of us who are regularly juggling multiple streams of attention (multi-tasking) do not pay attention, memorize or manage our tasks as well as those who focus on one thing at a time.  This idea results in a significant decline in engagement both at work and at home.   They offer up two different strategies to combating this inundation – Samuel suggests that we fight fire with fire and become more efficient at using technology, where Rosen suggests we need to change our behaviors.  I see the merits of both sides, however, am more compelled to side with Rosen, which is where I focused my attention (pardon the pun).

Rosen suggests that the evidence supports the idea that multi-tasking can be done, however, doing two things at once is not always successful.  He later discusses further that for multitasking to be done successfully 1 of the 2 tasks must be automatic, like walking.   With that being said, Rosen outlines that we are able to walk and chew gum, because walking is an automatic skill, whereas checking social media and email at the same time proves to be more difficult as neither one of these tasks comes as automatic.  He also suggests that the mere presence of a smartphone decreases one’s ability to be productive.

Rosen outlines some answers as to why we allow ourselves to be so distracted by technology, because it

offline, disconnected, wifi
Photo by khaase on Pixabay

is after all, a choice we make to engage with the tech.  Many people try to spin their dependence upon technology as an addiction.  He outlines that not most of us do not gain much pleasure (a defining characteristic of addiction) from technology.  It in turn becomes a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out), FOBO (fear of being offline) and nomophobia (fear of being away from phone or offline), all of which are closely related to anxiety and obsessive behaviors..  I feel this describes my relationship with technology.  I often feel lost when I forget my phone at home, or that it is a game to be the first to tell your friends about some information you saw on Twitter in hopes of gaining some sort of prize.  After reading both of these articles, I feel that the internet has created an abundance of people who like to think they’re being productive via multi-tasking, but in reality all we are is very distracted and unproductive.  

sos, earth, globe
Photo by geralt on Pixabay

There are some ways in which we can become more productive, which as many psychologists would do, Rosen feels these strategies should be centered around changing our behaviors.  The first strategy he outlines is weaning ourselves off of our devices.  This can be done by setting an allotted time you are allowed to use your devices and then all devices must be turned off and put away.  The second strategy he outlines is taking a “recharge” break every 90 minutes.  He outlines that our brains work on 90 min rest-activity cycles and giving ourselves these breaks will help increase productivity and recharge ourselves.  The final strategy he outlines is to keep our technology out of our bedrooms.  Our sleep time is a crucial time in our day where what we learned begins to be cemented into our memories and we should be limiting the amount of useless information and technological distractions we face before we sleep.    

 

Cheers,

 

Bret

Sesame Street – Week 5

We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.”

To begin with, I tried to remember a time when I was young and could actually recall watching Sesame Street…. I could not.  So I had to enlist the help of my parents and low and behold I was a frequent Sesame Street watcher.  Being a 1988 baby, I was able to watch “the Street”, as Tad Suiter references in his article After 50 years on TV, has Sesame Street been gentrified? (thanks to Matt F. for sharing the article).  I found myself feeling lucky that I got to experience (even though I don’t remember) the Street before the gentrification happened.

Suiter goes on to confirm that “the Street” has indeed been gentrified.  He outlines that the show seems to have responded to economic pressures in similar ways many cities have.  He outlines that they tried to ‘clean up’ the neighbourhood, forcing out minority communities and thereby raising the metaphorical real estate values.  I feel that this comparison draws on the BYOD push – it does not take into account many of the stakeholders who may be getting “pushed” or “forced” out of being in the running to operate within this policy based on the fact they cannot afford a device, something that is pretty critical in the BYOD world!

Further into his article, Suiter outlines that the show was not just merely learning the alphabet, counting 1 to 20, and lessons in sharing, but a larger goal was at play with the show promoting inclusion and representation.  With this in mind, the show was created with a backdrop that was realistic to those who watched it, making it seem like their own neighbourhood was one way of promoting learning as inclusive.  As the show progressed through the seasons, the introduction of new characters was happening fast; these characters were diverse and represented a vast array of races which was another aspect that promoted inclusion and representation.  Thinking about this deeper, most education systems say they are all about inclusion and representation, but this seems to be more lip service than action.  

It is these stakeholders in the “real life” education system that are not feeling included or represented in our classrooms and have significantly less opportunities than their caucasian counterparts. These diverse populations are the ones who end up on the ‘lost list’ as students who the division has on their books, but their butts are not in a classroom.  I have personal experience with this, working with a program that tried to re-engage these ‘lost’ students, and when we were able to get them back into our classrooms, I always wanted to know what caused their absence and almost all said they did not feel included or valued in the school system.  But according to Sesame Street, this should not be the case!

Thinking about the grander implications of this idea of the “real” vs “the Street’s” take on education only gets more complicated with the addition to smartphones and BYOD policies.  As educators, we all strive to construct a classroom that is based on respect, inclusion and fairness, but the matter of fact is that it is difficult.  There will always be some who do not feel this way.  With that said, we do not have control of who is placed into our classrooms and not to mention each student’s story is completely different, but we try our best to make sure every student feels included, respected and welcomed. 

We may see very affluent students and not so affluent students and some students who fall into the middle.  We also do not know who has access to a smartphone or device in the home, never mind being able to bring it (if it’s the only one in the household) to school to use for their education.  This makes an already tricky situation even harder to navigate with the push on BYOD and the use of smartphones and apps in the classroom for a couple of reasons.  Some families may not feel comfortable sending an expensive device to school that could possibly get lost or stolen. 

Other families may only have 1 device for their household and cannot have it at school all day.  Large schools may have a poor computer to student ratio and depend on BYOD to establish a 1:1 ratio for students.  Some students may misuse these devices and have them taken away, eliminating the opportunity to use them for educational purposes.  All of these situations can lead to a feeling of exclusion or again, not the picture that “the Street” paints school to be.

What are the grander implications of the current array of AV technologies, such as apps and interactive educational shows, when we think about the format of schooling?

I really connected with Scott Widman’s Ted Talk.  On any given day I feel that education is both the best and the worst thing for education! Scott outlines that technology is both incredibly useful but it also can be incredibly dangerous if not used properly.  He does a great job outlining the grander implications of the technology boom in the sense that it is not a fad and is not going to be going anywhere and that most students will have a device in their pocket that is both infinitely beneficial and dangerous at the same time.  With this in mind, we as educators have the responsibility to be great role models and do what is right for our students, showing them how to be a responsible digital citizen and how to properly use and engage with technology.  

In ECI 830 last spring, there was a group debate that brought up the argument of who is responsible to teach our young people how to use technology? This group outlined that when we were all little, most of us learned how to swim and we were taught primarily through structured swimming lessons.  Our parents just didn’t take us to the pool or lake and toss us  in, hollering, “SINK OR SWIM, KID!” and walk away.  The terrifying part of this argument was that this was/is the primary way young people are taught to navigate the digital world, they are tossed a device by someone with the sink or swim mentality.  With this in mind and some previous negative experiences with students and technology, I have a designated block of time in my schedule this year for “Digital/Media Literacies”, where we as a class are going to examine how to properly behave in our digital spaces, handling poor behaviour, and being a critical consumer of media!  


With technology not slowing down, it is going to be even more crucial that our young people get the guidance and lessons on how to navigate our digital world and for some this may only come at school. As outlined in the article The Effectiveness of Audio-Visual Aids in Teaching Learning Process , where Prem Sunder outlines that the use of AV technologies are the most effective and easy way to make the teaching and learning process results oriented it becomes more apparent that the digital/tech boom will continue to gain steam.  One larger implication that I think will affect the format of schooling, is the need to more concentrated efforts on digital etiquette, literacies and critical consumption of media; not only in a 1 hour block every 5 days, but actually installing it into our curriculums that are required to be taught ensuring that students are at least getting some exposure to proper behaviour and consumption in our digital world (which happens to be one of Sunders recommendations to curriculum planners)!

Cheers,

 

Bret

Learning Theories – Week 4

To begin with, I think it is important to define what learning entails and how learning occurs to properly  do a deep dive into my own teaching philosophy, classroom practice and changes or shifts in my 8.5 years of teaching.  Ertmer and Newby define learning in their article Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing Critical Features From an Instructional Design Perspective  as “an enduring change in behavior, or in the capacity to behave in a given fashion, which results from practice or other forms of experience.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary breaks down learning into three different definitions:

  1. The act or experience of one that learns.
  2. Knowledge or skill acquired buy instruction or study
  3. Modification of a behavioral tendency by experience (such as exposure to conditioning)

Both of these interpretations of learning outline that the learner is taking part in some sort of instruction or observation and as a result will modify a behavioral behavior accordingly.

To properly answer this question I felt it necessary to seek the answers that Ertmer and Newby pose in their article relating to each learning theory:

  1. How does learning occur? 
  2. Which factors influence learning?
  3. What is the role of memory?
  4. How does transfer occur?
  5. What types of learning are best explained by the theory?
  6. What basic assumptions/principles of this theory are relevant to instructional design?
  7. How should instruction be structured to facilitate learning?

I feel getting the answers to these questions will help provide the necessary information surrounding each learning theory for me to understand each theory more, compare and contras and accurately identify which theory is the driving force behind my teaching philosophy and classroom practice.

Behaviorism

How does learning occur? 

This theory equates learning to either the changes in the form or frequency of observable performance.  It is accomplished when a proper response is demonstrated following the presentation of a stimulus.  

Which factors influence learning?

Although there are multiple factors at play within the Behaviorist theory (learner and environmental), many theorists feel that the environmental conditions are the most important.  Further outlined that the environmental factor encompasses the arrangement of the stimuli and the consequences within the environment in which the stimuli is utilized.

What is the role of memory?

Memory is not seen or acknowledged as a critical component by behaviorists with more emphasis given to the creation of new habits with forgetting a response attributed to nonuse.

How does transfer occur?

Within the Behaviorism Theory, transfer occurs when the learner is placed in a similar environment to the one where the skill was learned which promotes transfer across the common environment.  

What types of learning are best explained by the theory?

Learning that involves the use of instructional cues, practice and reinforcement that are used in building, strengthening and maintaining stimulus response associations.  Further described as tasks that involve recalling facts, defining and illustrating concepts, applying explanations and automatically performing a procedure.

What basic assumptions/principles of this theory are relevant to instructional design?

Ertmer and Newby outline specific assumptions/principles have a direct relationship with instructional design:

  1. Producing observable, measurable and correct behaviors
  2. Pre Assessments to determine where instruction should begin.
  3. Scaffolding
  4. Using rewards to reinforce behaviors.

How should instruction be structured to facilitate learning?

As outlined earlier, this theory is driven by eliciting the proper behavior from a learner following a stimulus.  With that said, instruction should be structured in a way that students see the appropriate/correct behavior and are given many opportunities to practice making the proper response.

Cognitivism

How does learning occur? 

Learning is geared more towards the changes between states of knowledge vs the search for a proper response that is seen in Behaviorism.  These theories focus on the conceptualization of the students’ learning processes and address the issue of how information is received, stored and utilized.

Which factors influence learning?

Cognitivism, like behaviorism, placed the most emphasis on the environment in which the learning is taking place stressing the importance of demonstrations, explanations, examples and ample opportunities to practice and apply skills.

What is the role of memory?.

Cognitivsm places more emphasis and importance on the learners memory and ability to retain and retrieve information.  Learning results when information is properly stored in memory in an efficient and organized manner.  Inability to retrieve information is said to be due to interference, memory loss or missing or inadequate cues needed to access the information.

How does transfer occur?

Transfer occurs in Cognitivism when the learner is able to apply the knowledge and skills learned in a multitude of contexts, not only the one that the information was acquired in

What types of learning are best explained by the theory?

Due to the increased emphasis placed upon the learners mental structures and memory cognitive theories are more appropriate for tasks and learning where reasoning, problem solving and informational processing are required. 

What basic assumptions/principles of this theory are relevant to instructional design?

Ertmer and Newby outline specific assumptions/principles have a direct relationship with instructional design:

  1. The learner is required to be an active participant in the learning process.
  2. Learners need to be able to follow procedure.
  3. Teachers play a crucial role in present information in a manner that learners can process and retain.
  4. Teachers need to create an environment where students can connect their learning with previously acquired skills.

How should instruction be structured to facilitate learning?

Unlike Behavioral theories where the teachers are required to arrange the learning environment in such a way that elicits the proper response, Cognitive theories require the teacher to make learning meaningful and help learners connect, organize and relate new information to previous.

Constructivism

How does learning occur?

Unlike Behavioral and Cognitive theories where learning is dependent upon the outside world, Constructivist Theories essentially contradict these previous theories in that learning is driven by the learning creating learning based upon interpretation of their learning experiences. 

Through the Constructivist lens, learning essentially takes place through experiences where the mind filters data from the learning experiences to create their own unique learning, essentially meaning that humans create meaning rather than acquire it which contrasts what is stated with  Behavioral and Cognitive Theories.

Which factors influence learning?

Both learner and environmental factors are crucial for learning to take place through the Constructivist lens.  To create learning there is a specific interaction that needs to happen between these factors for knowledge to be acquired. It is important that learning takes place in realistic settings and that the learning tasks be relevant to the learner.

What is the role of memory?

Looking through the Constructivist where knowledge is always under construction, there becomes less of a reliance on memory and more of a continual construction of learning.  The emphasis is not on retrieving knowledge rather on creating novel and situation specific understanding through the use of previous knowledge and newly acquired knowledge.

How does transfer occur?

Through this theory, transfer occurs when learners are placed in authentic, engaging, meaningful and challenging contexts where they are forced to create new meaning.

What types of learning are best explained by the theory?

Constructivist approaches to learning and knowledge acquisition are best suited for situations where mastery or advanced knowledge acquisition.

What basic assumptions/principles of this theory are relevant to instructional design?

Ertmer and Newby outline specific assumptions/principles have a direct relationship with instructional design:

  1. Meaningful and authentic contexts are essential
  2. Using what is learned in an active manner
  3. Variety in the learning contexts
  4. Problem solving skills
  5. Being able to apply knowledge to multiple contexts.

How should instruction be structured to facilitate learning?

Simply put, instruction within the Constructivists lens is to show students how to construct knowledge through the use of multiple perspectives with the use of collaboration with others. 

Ertmer and Newby state in their article(pg. 24),  “as one moves along the behaviorist – cognitivist – constructivist continuum, the focus of instruction shifts from teaching to learning, from the passive transfer of facts and routines to the active application of ideas to problems.” This quote resonated with me when thinking about my own practice.  As educators, we do this on a daily basis and that all three of these theories are at play daily in some capacity.

In terms of my own classroom and teaching practice, I feel that I draw on aspects of all three of these theories. I feel I use each of these theories in my day to day teaching practice.  I rely heavily on Behaviorism to help establish routines and appropriate reactions to specific aspects of the school day. For example, I have trained my students that when they come in first thing in the morning and right after lunch they are expected to be reading, writing or drawing, helping them settle from their outside time during recess.  I reinforce the positive behavior with a reward (candy) for those who are on task without prompting…. We are still working on this! 

As educators I think it is safe to say that we use  the Cognitive and Constructivist Theories as what in terms of instruction and assessment.  We present our students with what we hope to be unique, authentic and engaging learning activities to help in the acquisition of new knowledge and skills and as they become more efficient with the skill we present them with an extension or enrichment type activities where they must use knowledge gained from early learning opportunities to create new meaning for themselves.  We continue to strive for change and adaptation to our own teaching practices to continue to provide students with meaningful and authentic learning opportunities.

One thing that I think that has shifted or changed, is more of an emphasis on using the behaviorist lens to create routines and procedures although this theory also creeps its way into my classroom instructional repertoire!  The use of behavioral tendencies has shifted the most especially since I entered into the Elementary School teaching world.  I have found that these students often still need to learn how a school day operates and what behaviors are expected.  I realize these behaviors will change from classroom to classroom, but a lot still require knowledge on how to behave in class.  I have found that this may still be the case in some High School settings, but these students are quicker to pick up on the appropriate behavior and change accordingly.

 

Cheers, 

 

Bret