Does Technology Enhance or Harm?

I have used technology since I was in elementary school and I have owned a cell phone since I was 16. So on one hand I feel like I understand why students use their phone so much. But I have been teaching for seven years, and I really do understand the pain technology can cause in the classroom.

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For the majority of my teaching career I would fight students about their use of technology. I would constantly tell them to get on task, off their phones, off Facebook. Almost every semester I debated taking cell phones away all together. In the article Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away. They explain that “research shows that laptops and tablets have a tendency to be distracting — it’s so easy to click over to Facebook in that dull lecture.”


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I know this is true because I see my students do it everyday, mostly with Snapchat, but it still happening. Furthermore, I know it is true because I am guilty of this! The article states that students learn more when they write information out. We have been hearing this for years. I often make my students write out important definitions because I think the retain the information more. They do not like writing, but we spend so much time on the computer that it changes our lessons up a bit, and I think they benefit.

The article Research: College Students More Distracted Than Ever  claims” in 2013 30 percent of students self-reported that they used a digital device more than 10 times for non-learning reasons during class-time, in 2015 the count rose to 34 percent.” Students are constantly using devices for texting, social networking, or gaming. When students receive poor grades or they don’t hand in work the students in my classroom say the same things as in the study: they “don’t pay attention” and 80.5 percent listed “miss instruction.” They know what they are doing will negatively impact their learning, but do it anyway.

When I moved to Campus Regina Public, my position on technology really changed. We are core classes (ELA, Math, Social etc.) combined with electives (Auto, Welding) so we no longer had text books. We 100% had to rely on technology, and as you know there is not an abundance of technology in any high school right now. Incorporating cell phones and computers into my daily lessons was mandatory in order to get anything done.

Our first debate, Does technology in the classroom enhance learning, is a debate I have been having with myself and colleagues for years. While expressing my frustrations with technology with other staff members I was always met  with one of two sides:

  1. They totally agreed with me and often told me the method they used to reduce technology misuse in their classrooms
  2. They explained: students need to understand time and place with cell phones. They need to be taught when to use them and how to use them properly, and if they still misuse technology, then that’s not your fault and maybe they need to learn that lesson.

And I chose the second approach!

My class is partnered with Capital Auto Mall, and at work, the employers have a zero tolerance for cell phones. It is a safety issue as well as an employability issue. So I am lucky that we get to back up our thoughts about technology misuse with our corporate partners. In the shop, students are not allowed to be on their cell phones, and when they come to ELA they are taught time and place. We constantly ask them, should you be on that website or app right now? Are you being employable? How much money would you have wasted your boss? And for most students it actually works.

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When we were speaking in class yesterday, I was going to chime in about how CRP does receive backlash from students about our cell phone policies in the shop. Some students really buy into the idea, and understand the employability aspect, but some students have a hard time with it. I find that students are defensive over their technology. They think it is a right to use it when they want. When the students hear our rules, they are defiant at first, express that they have a right to have it or use it, or that their parents are calling them and they must have it out. It does take time, but eventually most do understand that we are trying to teach them proper use of their devices.

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I was surprised to find that many of the reasons why I felt like technology was detrimental to learning were the thoughts expressed in our debate. As Amy, Wendy and Kyla explained there are many disadvantages to technology in the classroom. One of the largest reasons was cost. Not every classroom has access to technology and this is frustrating to teachers and students. When we do have access to the technology, it does not work properly or the sites do not work. They explain that technology is just a tool and that in a way it is killing creativity and they do not prepare students for jobs without technology.

I think it is important to note that although I see their side about technology being a distraction in school,  I also see the value in teaching the students time and place. I think that this is the most important lesson we can teach students right now. I really believe that this is not a lesson they just learn as they grow older. They need to practice this behavior so it does not effect their futures.

I also liked that they talked about how the teachers role is important, that technology can be a distraction and that it is up to the teacher to implement the lesson in a way that engages students. I love teaching lessons that I am involved in, that the students are participating in and we have great discussions… but I think this can be done in conjunction with technology.

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In the article Technology can close achievement gaps, improve learning they explain how it needs to be “the right blend of teachers and technology.” It needs to be a team effort. Students need a teacher to explain the lesson, the importance of the lesson and model for them.  This is the teacher’s role. Then teachers should use the technology to further that lesson and demonstrate that lesson so students are prepared for real life. As the debate went on I realized that I was much more on the agree side of technology enhancing learning then the disagree side.

Katie, Jana and Kirsten explain that the most important part of using technology in the classroom was making sure teachers use technology effectively. We need to prepare students for the future. It ensures our students are up to date with information, can access information anywhere and also helps teachers get to students who need one on one attention. I agreed wholeheartedly about this. The fact that our students are training with programs that will help them later in life is very important. It is also imperative that my students get immediate feedback on their writing. I use Google Docs and make edits right on their page. I have never had more success with editing and rough drafts. The students get it back quickly enough that they haven’t forgotten in and their writing tends to improve. I really liked how they used the SAMR model. I like this because at first I was just using Google Docs as a substitute. But as I researched it, I found that I could comment, it auto saved for students and that they could access their work anywhere. Learning how to use the technology properly was essential to enhancing my students learning.

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In the article Technology can close achievement gaps, improve learning they also explain that “technology – when implemented properly -can produce significant gains in student achievement and boost engagement, particularly among students most at risk.” I think this has been proven in my class. Having the students constantly improve their writing in real time has improved their writing skills. Many of my students have never written a full essay, but with guidance and editing they get there.

I think that I have finally found that perfect balance of using technology in my classroom, and teaching students how to properly use their technology. I think our debaters hit the topic perfectly. We discussed the impact technology has had positively and negatively and now it is our choice on how we approach the situation! I do not think technology is going away anytime soon. And it is important for our students to learn how to use it properly.

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Summary of Learning

Whoa! I cannot believe it is time to hand in our Summary of Learning.

EC&I 832 has opened my mind to the idea of digital citizenship and media literacy. I feel like I knew about these terms, but I did not critically think about them. While learning about these topics, it became apparent that I should be teaching my students about these topics as well.

In my two PowToon Videos I explain my favourite articles, topics, discussions and really how this class made me push my boundaries and become more knowledgeable about technology. It in the end, this class actually made me use the technology we learnt about which was scary for me.

Please feel free to check it out! I am pretty proud of my little PowToon!

One topic I did not touch on in my video was my PLN.  As I mention in my PowToon videos, blogging was my absolute favourite this semester. I found I could speak about the readings in a comfortable environment and then interact with my peers about those topics. I feel like I have developed a lot of connections in this class. I really appreciate how everyone was so willing to help me, even when I contacted them directly. I liked that we had the Google+ community because we could share articles and get help as soon as possible.

One of the aspects of the semester that I need to work on improving is Twitter. I have really worked hard to go on Twitter everyday, and read the feed, but I am really bad at posting. I am the creeper and not the active participant. I am signed up for a couple more classes with Alec, and if possible, Twitter will be one of my goals.

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I want to thank everyone for their help this semester! I really had a great time and look forward to seeing you in future classes!

Help! I am illiterate in fake news…

I think I get the majority of my information from colleges and friends. We will have discussions about news stories, or send each other news links, but other than that, I get my news from social media. It’s not a “better” social media site like Twitter; it is usually Facebook or Instagram. I tried to replace it with different news apps, but quickly found myself not using them. The only excuse I have is laziness.

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All day I take information in. I know that I am constantly processing something whether it be planning an event, thinking about a new assignment, evaluating the credibility of my student’s work or the numerous social media pages I look at. Although this information is going into my brain, and I am thinking about it, I do not know how much I am processing or understanding.

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When I think about my  personal strategies for analyzing and validating information (e.g. fake news or other information)… I can’t think of one! I rely on myself and my hunches, which is not good! Last week, when we spoke about fake news being emotional, I thought about how I would totally read those types of stories. I always question whether or not they are real depending on the grammar, and the appearance of the article or website, but I don’t really go beyond this. The only defense I have is that I try not to share something if I don’t know if it is true. I don’t want to spread misinformation and I do not want to offend anyone.

I know that this is an important topic for my students. I know they are flooded with fake news daily. I know that if I don’t teach them, no one will. I was appreciative that in class there were many sites shared that could help me determine whether something was fake like factscan.ca, canadafactcheck.ca and factcheck.org.

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I feel like this topic is something that I need to include into my major project. It wasn’t something I originally planned,  but media literacy is very important. In today’s world, being critical of media is even more important. I am actually excited about planning this resource. I feel like it is something that is useful for my students, and I can make it relevant to their interests in auto.

I don’t have a lot of insight for you guy this week. I do not have any strategies and it is definitely something I need to work on. I guess the question I have left for myself this week is: If I don’t have any strategies to determine whether something is credible, how can my students? 

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wut does it mean 2 b literate?

I used to think that being literate only meant being able to read and write. As I learn more about literacy, I am starting to realize that it is really about understanding different types of information. For instance, when we think about fake news, the idea of fully understanding how to interpret what is fake news is a literacy. More and more, it is becoming important for people to understand the information available to us.

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In the article The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News: they explain that “It seems to be pretty clear [from our study] that false information outperforms true information. . .  “And that is not just because of bots. It might have something to do with human nature.” Carter video also touches on this. He mentioned that fake news is shared more because it evokes more emotion. I thought this was very interesting. I think that the majority of information shared on my Facebook feed are posts that make people mad, sad, frustrated or happy. It is not very often that you see someone share something that is just everyday news. It is often something that they are passionate about.

In most of the videos this week, they stated that “80% of students cannot id real from fake” when it comes to the news they are reading. They do not know how to distinguish what is real, nor do they check to see if it is real. In the article Fact or Fiction: Fake News and its Impact on Education there are examples of how people have acted out based on fake news such as the Comet Pizza Story.

More than ever, it is important for teachers to take the time to teach students how to determine what is fake so we can prevent incidents like this from happening again. The article claims that recent events have “shed light on the problem that most students are not taught media literacy in current curriculums,” I really appreciated that this article gave tips to help teachers teach about media literacy such as: incorporate news-related key terms into the curriculum like credibility and bias, discussing news, and providing different types of news so students can distinguish between the two.

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Another good resource we were given was the video The Problem with Fake News (and how our students can solve it) they give us a five C’s of critical consuming: context, credibility, construction, corroboration,  and compare. I feel like students should watch this video and then students should use this with an article of their choice!

Based on this week’s readings, I would say a large part of being literate is understanding information. It is important to understand what information we are taking in and interpret that information, how to properly use the web, what to post, and what to share. Most importantly, it is important to understand what fake news is. It should not be a teacher’s job alone though. Everyone should ban together to understand this new form of literacy including teachers, parents, communities and social media sites.

 

Digital Literacy: understanding a teacher’s role

This week I spent a lot of time thinking about digital literacy and my identity online as a professional.

In the article Digital Literacy: What does it mean to you The article describes how “in order for students to be digitally literate, they not only need to learn how to use technology, but to be critical of the information they gather. Students are exposed to information digitally—articles, statistics, videos. They require explicit instruction that information might be old, biased, fake, illegal, or discriminatory.” I think it is common to think that students understand these concepts naturally. That they are exposed to these images daily, and therefore they should just know how to decode them, but this is not true.


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In the article Media Literacy: A National Priority for a Changing World, they explain that “If our children are to be able to navigate their lives through this multi-media culture, they need to be fluent in “reading” and “writing” the language of images and sounds just as we have always taught them to “read” and “write” the language of printed communications. Just because students are exposed to books, does not mean they know how to read.” Taking that further, we need to teach students to think critically about the texts they are reading in class. We need to tell them to dig deeper and understand the bigger idea and picture. These skills were taught and it is necessary for teachers to provide these students with these skills.

I think that students are lacking skills in digital literacy, but they are also lacking basic reading and writing skills.

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It is a common discussion among people that students are not prepared for real life, or university, and the authors in this article backed up these discussions. They say that “Their research indicates that high school students are poorly prepared for college and the job market, and that employers and post-secondary institutions “all but ignore the diploma, knowing that it often serves as little more than a certificate of attendance,” because “what it takes to earn one is disconnected from what it takes for graduates to compete successfully beyond high school.”

To be honest, this made me a little worried about our school systems. I know that these dis

cussions happen, but the fact that they think the job I do in my classroom is somehow not credible is concerning. I know that many teachers feel that students need to be held more accountable, but when we are held down by the rules, what do we do as professionals? Are we really preparing students for the world, and if not, how can we?

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The article also provides “Five Key Questions [that] provide a “short-cut” and an on-ramp to acquiring and applying information process skills in a practical, replicable, consistent and attainable way”

These questions are:

Key Question #1: Who created this message?

Key Question #2: What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

Key Question #3: How might different people understand this message differently from me?

Key Question #4: What lifestyles, values and points of view are represented in — or omitted from — this message?

Key Question #5: Why is this message being sent?

I think these are great questions to ask your students. By using these in our classroom, we can begin teaching our students to be deeper thinkers about the information they are taking in.

I think I need to do a better job of making my students think critically about the information they see online.  I need to stop just preaching information and teach them how to think beyond the information, to dissect it, and understand how to interpret what they are seeing.  As Dani and Staci both mention in their videos this week: digital literacy is important because it helps us make decisions… and I think we can all agree that is one thing that students need help with!

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This week Patrick Maze spoke to our class about our online identities… and to be honest, at the beginning of the class I was not really happy about what he was saying. I am very careful about what I post online. I was particularly annoyed that he told me it could be seen as unprofessional to post a picture of me holding a drink. I don’t know why this bothered me, but I felt like something so simple shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Patrick suggested we ask ourselves if we really needed to share a picture, story, or comment online, but I always ask myself this. I never want my students, parents of students, or colleagues to think differently of me, but I also think that I have a pretty open mind and would never actually do this.

But, as Patrick went on I realized he made a lot of great points. He said that teachers are always in the spotlight, that we need to ensure that we have the public’s confidence to teach their youth, that we are held to a higher standard and need to be careful of what we put online.

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All of these points made a lot of sense to me. When I have this conversation with other people, they often do not understand why holding a drink is such a big deal, but I do. I know why I became a teacher. I know that it is important to have the respect of the community… and I want to have that.

I am not so keen on having my life censored, but I know that I think teaching is more important to me. We can still have an opinion, and I think we can express these opinions in our classroom, but we need to do it safely. We need to ensure we talk about all sides and include everyone. I think this applies a lot to digital literacy. Not only is it important to have an understanding of how to decode and interpret messages, but also an understanding that as teachers, what we write, and post online hold messages about who we are as people.

 

About Me!

Hello #eci832!

My name is Amy Ranford and I am 29 years old. I grew up in Regina and went to Winston Knoll Collegiate. Right after high school I started toward my degree in Education at the University of Regina. I finished my degree in December which was an awkward time to get hired.

Luckily, at a career fair at the U of R, I was offered a position in Rocanville. Now… if you have not heard of Rocanville, it is a small town south-east of Regina. It is about two and a half hours away, and although that might not seem far, it was quite the culture shock for this city girl. Let’s just say the students had to teach me what a Combine was!

After the semester, I moved back to the city and was hired at the Adult Campus. This is a place for 18-21 year old students to complete their high school education. I am very grateful for my time at the Adult Campus because it led me to my current position at Campus Regina Public. It is very important that I link the two schools because we are often confused with each other. It is also my hope to teach people about Campus Regina Public and what we do.

Campus Regina Public, or CRP as we call it, is a career focused high school. We pair a core class with an elective to make education relevant and interesting for our students.

Some of the courses we offer are: Early Childhood Education, Health Science, Video Game and Design, Advanced Construction Technology, Welding, Cosmetology, and Graphic Arts (which our very own EC&I 832 classmate Anne Wells teaches). Each class is paired with a core subject such as Math, Science or ELA.

We not only prepare our students for their chosen career, but also how to be employable. Most importantly, CRP has industry partners who help us train our students in real life situations which helps them gain employment.

A student who chooses to come to CRP will go to their home school in the morning for period one, homeroom, then travel to us for two hours for period 2 and 3. The students then travel back to their home schools for the afternoon and CRP gets a different set of students for period 4 and 5.

My course is Auto Mechanics and English. I teach the English side of things, and my teaching partner teaches the Auto Mechanics side. We have about 40 students in each class. The students will enroll in either Auto 10, 20 A or B, 30 A or B, and pair it with either ELA 20, 21, A30, A31, B30 or B31. We split the class in half and for one day the students will work on customer cars completing repairs (for real, we work on anyone’s car, so if you would like to inquire, our contact information can be found here!) and the other half will work on ELA.

I like to call my class an Auto Themed ELA class. My students still read and write, but we do it in different ways. For instance, my students will write essays, including citations, but our topics are different. In ELA 20 the students write a persuasive essay. My students choose a vehicle and convince me to buy it. Or in ELA B30, students compare and contrast two vehicles. My students read, write, represent and view, listen and speak, but it is all geared towards Auto Mechanics.

My class is also lucky enough to have our corporate partners Capital Auto Mall. They allow our students to complete a work term, as well as hire many of our students. They have hired over 25 students and interview our students every semester. Our partnership allows us to teach students how to be employable, which is a hard concept for many of my students.  Capital Auto Mall adds another element to my classroom, and drives the students who truly want to become mechanics to work hard and learn the necessary skills.

Coming from the high school I did, where academics were stressed, I never thought I would love teaching in a trades based classroom so much. But I do. I love that my students see meaning in what they are learning, that it is relevant for their future, but most importantly, they are interested in my class and the content we teach. I enjoy going to work everyday. And that’s all I can ask for!

That is a little bit about my school and my program. As you can tell I am pretty passionate about them both. I look forward to integrating technology, including blogging…which you can read about in my next post!