It is good to be back in a class with all of you – and some new faces! My name is Ellen Lague.
I’m a French Immersion Kindergarten teacher at Connaught here in Regina. This is my seventh masters class and my third with Alec and Katia.
One of my goals for this class is to reinforce my previous knowledge about using tech in the classroom and hopefully add to my skill set!
Another goal that I have is similar to Kelsie’s goal of exploring Google Classroom. I too, would like to use Google Classroom, or a platform that is very similar. Since I teach Kindergarten, I feel like a lot of the online platforms that we will see will be extremely interesting but might not be able to be used by my Kindergarten students. Unless I adapt it for them, or use it with their parents?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.”
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.
At least that’s what I try and teach my kindergarten students.
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:
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
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.
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!
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?
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.
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)
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.
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.
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. Mostof thepeople 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.
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.)
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.