Stop, Drop and Unplug?

This last debate of the class was arguing the fact that we have become too dependent on technology and the fact that we need to unplug.  This debate might have made me a little ‘ranty,’ my apologies in advance, if so.

It seems over the course of our semester, most of the debates have not gone in technology’s favour and this was, again, another “technology is everything that is wrong with today’s society” debate.

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Photo Credit: BarkingBacteria

Every time we are told that technology is making us unhealthy or that we need to unplug, I think that we are looking at technology with such a narrow viewpoint.  Technology is all sorts of things. Technology is books. Technology is the total knowledge and skills available to any human society, which is why I find it so frustrating that we are only focusing on the negative “we can’t put our cell phones down” arguments.

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Photo Credit: TheTruthAbout via Compfight cc

If anything, we need to define what technology we are going to unplug from. Are we unplugging from the “luxuries” of certain technologies? Is it still a luxury if my cell phone is my only phone? I no longer have a land line and the only way for my parents or grandparents to get a hold of me is with my cell phone. I rely on my cell phone. Is that a bad thing? Does “unplugging” mean relying on antiquated means of communication? Does anyone still know how to read a telegraph? Or Morse code?  Times change and technology changes.  To not try and keep up with the times is to be left (far) in the past.

I believe I wrote in an earlier blog post, and as Janelle says, it’s important to have everything in moderation. We have been through bans on things that society has deemed “not good” for us before, from bans on alcohol, to bans (or burnings) of books.

It’s really discouraging as someone who considers themselves to be a “tech geek” and a person that others can go to on staff for tech help, to see just how strong the argument is that we are too dependent on technology.

“Too dependent on technology” is crazy talk to me. This is how society works now. This is the era that we are living in. We are no longer part of the 1960’s. Or the 1900’s. Or even further back. We are members of this century. And our students are even more invested in today. We need to teach them the skills to get along and advance in today’s technology driven society.

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Photo Credit: Telegraph

So back to that question: are we too dependent on technology?

I agree with Angela, I think that technology has grown and our use of it is necessary and a sign of the times. I’m not advocating for children or adults to be glued to their phones at all times, but I think that we have to acknowledge that it’s a necessary part of our lives.

For better or for worse!

You sank my battleship!

Here is my summary of learning for EC&I 830.

I really enjoyed the debate format and therefore decided to “battle” myself in a somewhat friendly game of Battleship (or Navel Command, the cheaper, knockoff version of Battleship.)

Here’s what it’s like in my mind during the debates:

Thanks again to my husband, the video editing genius, who is very sick of my EC&I projects.

The script can be found here!

Thanks for a great semester, all!

Ellen

“Test 1 2 3, Anything but that”

This was another excellent debate, with good arguments on both sides.

I’ve found that one negative of the debates is that the sides are very black and white. This is probably due to the format (and I’m not complaining about the debate format – I’ve really been liking it) of having to choose sides and then argue vehemently on that side.

I’ve found, throughout the class, that this leads to the “all-encompassing statements” and sweeping generalizations.

Then we take to our blogs and we discuss the fact that the issue isn’t black and white, it’s a grey area.  So, here’s yet another blog post on those grey areas!

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Photo Credit: mmshomes

While the agree side did raise a couple of great points, like the money we spend on corporate products, the take away at the end of the debate was that this is happening whether or not we agree with it.

As a classroom teacher, I feel pretty powerless when it comes to what the government decides for me (in spite of me?) And, here in Saskatchewan it’s been a great week of wonderful news stories surrounding Education at the Ministry level. (end sarcasm).

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Photo Credit: someecards

When the government decides to enact big business testing, the school divisions rush to catch up and classroom teachers get handed another task.  For example, while teaching my very first Kindergarten classroom in 2012, the school board decided to make the EYE test, mandatory for all Kindergarten classrooms immediately, since the ministry was going to make it mandatory the next year in 2013.  We had a day of training on the test – where a bunch of French immersion Kindergarten teachers were quite upset to have a test that we have to give in English – and then told that “this is what we are using, deal with it.”

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Gif Credit: giphy

And then the work started.  For the EYE that first year, we sent results home  with children after the fact. Then we were told we had to meet with parents face to face to discuss the EYE results.  Even though we had just had parent teacher conferences.

At any rate, I could go on for a while on the EYE and that’s just the tip of the iceberg for standardized testing. (The EYE is actually run by KSI research, based out of New Brunswick.) We have so many others in Regina Public, and there are other (sometimes more) examples in other school divisions.

So, when it comes down to it, whether I agree or disagree with this topic, standardized testing or corporate interests are happening anyway.

I ended up siding with the disagree side in the debate, narrowly, simply because other provinces and countries have it worse off than us, at least from what I’ve been led to believe.

But, how long will that last?

All for one and one for all

This week’s debate was excellent.

The first debate topic was technology is a force for equity in society.  Both teams did a great job in presenting their arguments.

To echo the other blogs posts that I’ve read, I believe that, when every student has technology, the technology is more than a force for equity, it is a game changer, maybe even a life changer.

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Photo Credit: rwentechaney via Compfight cc

When technology is available, as the agree side mentioned, it had long lasting and far reaching benefits.

Google read and write, speech to text, assistive technology, even advancements in medicine! All amazing things.

But let’s go back to the beginning of this argument, “when technology is available.”

When technology is not available, it widens the gap between those who have and those who have not.

We can see this easily in classrooms when some students have technology and others do not. This gap can get bigger at home and bigger between social classes, cities, provinces, and countries.

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Photo Credit: filehippo
One of the biggest arguments against technology in the classroom is that it does not always work: the laptops aren’t charged, the internet isn’t working, the projector won’t display, etc. I find that the “technology isn’t always available” is another excuse for people who aren’t big on technology.

As I’ve said before, I think it is important to teach technology to everyone, to not be afraid of technology, because not only is it the future, it has power.  The fact that it has the capability of creating equity means that we as teachers need to teach our students how to use the technology in the proper way.

I feel like this entire argument is very cyclical. Technology might make things equitable. However, not having technology means that it’s not equitable. If only we had more technology?

Hop aboard the positivity train!

Social Media.

Get on board.

In case you hadn’t figured it out, I was on the disagree side for the debate “Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?” along with the amazing Elizabeth!

Our awesome introduction video is here:

To reinforce a few points, I really believe in the “childhood is subjective” argument that we used.

Everyone has rose coloured glasses on when it comes to their own childhood.

It’s why we have the stereotype of an older person telling children “back in my time…” That stereotype is such a supported one because, as a generation, we tend to dislike the generation that comes after us.  Or even before us.

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Photo Credit: Generational Differences in Technology

Just think back to your grandparents or parents talking about new forms of music, or different styles of dressing – older generations usually are not fond of the new generation’s ideas or ideals. It’s parodied now – “Look at those saggy pants!” “I can’t believe they listen to this garbage!” “All they do is take selfies!” These are all things that I’ve heard in some aspect by members of different generations, about others (and generally younger).

So to think that we are ruining childhood because of the advancements is a crazy notion. We get smarter and smarter as we go and this generation is no exception.

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Photo Credit: freepik.com

While I am not advocating for continuous screen time, I do think that creating a positive online digital presence with our kids is important. It’s an important skill for them to learn and it’s a useful teaching tool for parents. It’s important to be part of the conversation about social media with children and to guide them in appropriate use. That might mean learning a little bit more about the online world first, but generally, when parents are scared of something, that fear results in a lack of knowledge for children.  This contributes to the bullying issue that was raised in the debate. Unfortunately, bullying might happen with or without technology. Teaching kids how to respond to that negativity is better than ignoring it.

And, I feel like the more we tell students that “social media is ruining their childhood,” the more they want to use it and maybe even use it inappropriately. It’s also why teenagers are drawn to risk, as a way to stimulate their brains. Social media might be another way they are drawn to a “risk.” We need to do all we can to help them navigate that tool like we would with any other thing they were interested in.  If we don’t teach them these skills and, instead are fearful of ‘what could happen’ we can actually do more damage to our children.

“Paradoxically,” the psychologists write, “we posit that our fear of children being harmed by mostly harmless injuries may result in more fearful children and increased levels of psychopathology.”

Quote Source: New York Times

As we know, the connections that are created and the world that opens up with social media is incredible. If children and teenagers are taught to use these outlets correctly, they can be a part of true change, which is kind of amazing.

Sea creatures share. Otherwise they’d all be shellfish

Sharing is caring.

At least that’s what I try and teach my kindergarten students.

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Photo Credit: Sharon Lee
At the beginning of the year, you can usually tell which kids have siblings or have been to daycare and have learned how to get along with other children, share their toys and use their words.

After that initial September meeting, my goal is to have a whole classroom who has all of these skills.  Especially the sharing part.

In our latest debate, as the “disagree” side put it, sharing is a good thing. But, we also need to be “share aware.”

When we are striving to be share aware there are two major things that we as parents or teachers can help with:

  1. When sharing things on social media, especially of our students, we need to follow media releases and respect parent and student wishes, and allow students to have a voice in their digital footprint, as Andres suggests
  2. When teaching about digital citizenship, we need to also teach how to share appropriately, as Janelle writes, and be models in the digital world, either as parents or teachers.

Sharing itself is not hurting our children. Instead, it is the lack of knowledge about sharing that might be hurting our children. Parents and teachers need to educate themselves so that we can pass on digital lessons to the children around us.

At the end of our class, the topic switched to sharing by teachers and who owns the ideas, lessons and final products that teachers create in order to be effective at our jobs.

I know that this is still being hashed out, as to who ultimately owns what – I hope it end up in our favour as what I create I should be able to do whatever I want with.

However, while I love the idea of teacherspayteachers, (and I think that – as I just said – you should be able to do whatever you want with your creations) I never use the site.

I find that I have to change so much to make it meaningful to my students, or I have to completely translate it for my French students… I also find that, a lot of the time, the lessons that are available are worksheet based and are not incredibly engaging anyway.

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Photo Credit: wayneandwax via Compfight cc

I’m not sure how to solve the teacherspayteachers problem (and maybe the problem only exists for me?) Either we need to have a lot more sharing (not just worksheets and apple templates) or a little less – sharing ideas and concepts that force people to be a little more creative in order to get something that works for their classroom.

The fact is that we should be sharing.  But maybe what is easily shared isn’t always the top quality, Saskatchewan curriculum focused content that we’d like to see. So, let’s all embrace the inherent contradictions that abound today in our profession!

That being said – If anyone needs some amazing French Kindergarten ideas, you know where to find me!