In which I use the word “newfangled”

Technology is making our kids unhealthy.

Or is it?

Let’s try and take off our tin foil hats and think rationally about this statement.

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Photo Credit: AceOfKnaves via Compfight cc

In general, is technology making our kids unhealthy?

No. No, it is not.

There are a wide variety of different media types available today. To group all technology under the same and say it is “unhealthy” is taking things too much to the extreme.

For every positive, there is always at least one negative. While technology can help us stay connected, be entertained or complete tasks for school or work, there are those same people who cannot tear themselves away from technology.  Is this technologies fault?

One video this week compared technology’s effect on our bodies to that of drugs. We are apparently becoming so dependent on our phones and other forms of technology that we are addicted, like drug users.  However, this is a slippery slope kind of argument.  This is the same kind of argument that led to prohibition.

Of the four major arguments for prohibition, the “drinking is damaging society” is the argument that is most similar to the “technology is unhealthy” debate.  It’s not good for your health, it’s causing issues amongst friends, it’s increasing obesity…  Are we still talking about technology, or are we back on the prohibition bandwagon?

The reality is, we are smart cookies.  We know that if we were to drink all day every day it would be incredibly damaging (in so many ways). The same is true for technology. Putting the blame on the “newfangled” technology and expecting kids to abstain from using it would be just as silly as bringing back prohibition.

Also, another thing that people were worried about back in the 1920’s?

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Photo Credit: chrisheidenreich via Compfight cc

Yup, the radio. That piece of technology, that is so commonplace now, was greatly feared when it first arrived.  Radios were causing children to sit in front of them all night, listening, when they should have been outside! And when radio started to broadcast commercials? Look out! That’s when people went crazy and wanted to stop the whole thing.

This is a cyclical worry. We will come to accept the phones/computer games/social media that we currently use and start to worry about what other crazy new technology is being introduced soon.

And that one won’t harm us either.

Guys, why don’t we just check Bing?

This week’s first debate was covering the topic that Schools should not be teaching anything that can be Googled.

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Photo Credit: Franzgranlund

This was a tricky one for me. I am assuming the purpose of these debates are to prepare ourselves to be able to defend using technology in the classroom, to be able to mount a solid defense of our plan when it comes to technology.

To date, (with the three debates that have taken place) I’ve been on technology’s side. However, this debate, as I said earlier, was a little more tricky for me.

I agree that schools shouldn’t be teaching things that can just be googled, to a certain extent.

As soon as I typed my previous sentence, I knew that I needed examples, yet the examples that I think of could work for either argument, depending on your values and what you think is important in schooling today.

For example, if I was a High School Social/History teacher, I might not need to teach specific dates in History anymore, since these can easily be Googled. I should, however, focus on questions about the events impact today. (Difference between knowing the date World War One started and knowing the impact of the war)

But, even as I type this, I’m reminded of an episode of John Oliver, where he started (or at least shed light on)  misquotes that are becoming more and more prevalent online.

So how does one teach kids that not everything they see online is true, but also not weigh them down with information that might not be that relevant because it can be found online?

It seems like a catch 22.

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Photo Credit: Innovative Wealth

Perhaps what is needed is also how a lot of our current classrooms work.  In my Kindergarten classroom, I combine exploring the world through play with learning basic facts, like letters and numbers.  I know that play is the most important thing in Kindergarten currently, but I also know that if I don’t explicitly teach some of these things, because, as Chayln points out, recall still needs to be taught and the kids in my classroom might struggle in Grade One.

Or they might not.  As we know by now, scientific studies can be made to say anything you want them to.

Looking at the articles this week, I find that I agree with both sides.  Yes, we should memorize some things. Other things we need to look at critically. Besides,  as Katherine says, students are going to use it, no matter what we as teachers think about it.

So does this debate topic have more shades of grey than others? Can we both agree and disagree with a topic? I agree that we shouldn’t be teaching things that can be easily looked up, but we still need to teach kids the basic building blocks (such as reading and math) so that they can be trained to think critically about the information that Google gives them. After all, we can’t hope to feel lucky all of the time.

To date, debate is first rate

I have to say, last week in my blog post, I said that I was rather nervous for the debates, especially mine. However, this past debate was so engaging that I really enjoyed the format! It did, however, make me a little more nervous for my own. Especially since our topic is slightly controversial, but we got this Elizabeth!

In the debate, it was argued, back and forth, whether or not technology in the classroom enhancing learning.  This topic was a difficult one for the “disagree” side since this is an EdTech class. Most of the people here, I assume, are proponents of the “agree” side, especially if you signed up for this class.

However, I think that the disagree side raised a lot of points that many people deal with every day, either from coworkers that are a bit more Luddite-esque (Thanks for the obscure word, Aubrey) than others, or from administration (or from the division office), who agree that the cost for technology that actually works is too high.

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Photo Credit: torbakhopper via Compfight cc

I’ve found, in my own Kindergarten classroom, that most of the disagreeing voices that I hear from are from parents.  I use a blog where, every day, I update parents on what we did that day and I add any pictures that I’ve taken as well.  The only negative response I’ve ever had about the blog was one parent who didn’t read my blog and was slightly upset that he had listened to his five-year-old daughter on the start time of the field trip instead of checking the permission slip or my blog…

I’ve also had parents ask me about screen time in my classroom, worried that all I do in Kindergarten is sit them in front of screens and then ignore them. I feel like this is a common worry of parents when it comes to technology in the classroom.  This worry can stem from studies decrying technology or maybe a bias against teachers.

However, there are even more studies that show the many benefits of technology, even in younger classrooms.  This one shows that sharing an iPad helps develop collaborative skills in Kindergartens. Which then leads them to success on all kinds of standardized tests (hooray. But that’s a different topic!)  I use iPads in my classroom as an easy method for my French Kindergarten kids to hear French from someone other than me. Sometimes it’s music or videos of French speakers. Often it’s games in French as I try to “backdoor” their learning. (Lori is rubbing off, Jeremy.)

Five-year-olds love this one
Five-year-olds love this one

Photo Credit: MindSnacks
I am under the belief, as was shared by the “agree” side – technology is a part of our life and our classrooms.

We need to use it for so many things that to not have it be a part of our classroom is doing a disservice to our students. We don’t know what their lives will become, but I want to do my best to make sure that the children in my Kindergarten classroom are prepared for whatever does come.

And that means using technology in the classroom.

So, if you are struggling with questions such as “who is right?” “should we be using it?” that’s a good thing.  I think that the purpose of this debate was to raise these questions, with the idea of answering them, at least in our own mind.  And that way, we can go forth and be supports to our students, so that they can thrive and do even better – with all the tools available.

Ready, Set, EdTech: Round Two!

In the style of the great listicle, I present to you the top five things you should know about Ellen Lague as in introduction to my blog for EC&I 830.

1) I am a French Immersion Kindergarten teacher.

I teach 23 five-year-olds all the things every morning. 23 may sound like a small class, not a lot of kids, but trust me it’s so many five-year-olds. I have a classroom blog that I update daily for parents. I find it an easy tool to use to communicate with parents, especially in French Kindergarten. In the afternoon, I am a Core French/Arts Ed Specialist for a range of grades.

We get messy in art
We get messy in art

2) This is technically grad class #3 for me.

I decided that May and June were not busy enough already and signed up for two spring session classes. I am taking EC&I 804 on Monday and Wednesday nights as well as this class. I’m really liking the Curriculum class right now, I love getting pushed to think outside the box, I think it helps us grow as learners and teachers.

3) I spend an exorbitant amount of time on the internet.

I tend to fall down a rabbit hole when it come to the internet. I’ll start online with twitter, end up clicking on all the links, so that I have all the tabs open.

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Source: MemeCrunch

Last semester I took EC&I 831 with Alec and Katia, so this has definitely aided me in my “all the tabs open all the time” internet addiction.  Also due to their influence, I have a lot of knowledge about social media and EdTech ways, including knowledge about trolls and French baking. (They go together, kind of.)

4) I am incredibly competitive

I’m pretty competitive in all areas, although, I have given up when it comes to FitBit. I learned early on in the game that my mom would beat me every time (she’s also a teacher and is super competitive… weird.) I’m in the same FitBit group as Jeremy, but am definitely not any one of the marathon runners. Instead, I’ll throw down in board games and children’s games of Badminton instead. (The school team that I help coach is okay with my competitive nature.) I usually do a reading challenge over the summer and will voraciously devour as many books as I can in the span of a month. I’ve also “competed” in NaNoWriMo, which is the best kind of competition: against yourself! (Thanks Monica Geller.)

5) I’m really looking forward to this class! 

I love reading the blogs that I see on the hub, and hearing from other people who are hearing the same information and synthesizing it in different ways.  I also appreciate people who are braver than me when it comes to the Wheel of Terror, (thanks, Amy!) so I’m not too sure about the great EdTech debates! (It feels like a different version of a Wheel of Terror!) Anyone else slightly dreading the great debate?

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Super nervous

Source: Giphy

At any rate, I am looking forward to this semester and hopefully learning a whole bunch!