Mentoring and my Experiences

Because I took EDTC300 last semester with a different professor I was slightly scared of the idea of mentoring students in a class that was vastly different from what I had just taken. But I jumped right in and had a great group to work with.

The first thing I did after finding out who I was to mentor this semester was jump on Slack and create a group chat where I introduced myself and asked for their blog addresses so that I could have them on hand to comment on and see what they were up to each week. Slack worked great because I knew they were all on it and it allowed them to have direct contact with me whenever they needed. After they introduced themselves I became more intimidated as two of my three mentees were in their fourth year, I was like “how am I supposed to help someone who has more experience then I do?? This is going to be something good…” But my experience was far better then what I had anticipated.

Garrett had quiet an active blog and it was easy to compliment him on what he was doing. And I mean wow he learnt a language through out a semester!!

Kennedy had a very engaging and active blog that was lots of fun to read. At first most of the feedback I gave her was to improve the way her blog looked as it had a weird colour combination that I found very hard to read. I loved seeing what she would post on Twitter and finding out what she was up to each week.

Lastly Jonah had a great blog that was set up quite well, and all of his posts were really engaging and fun to see his growth each week as he did a lot of vlogs.

I didn’t really find that I had challenges because all three people that I worked with were great and didn’t need much help along the way. I was so happy when I would see that they had taken my advice from last weeks comment and changed what they did the next week when they posted, or would change up something about their blog to make it more user friendly. I liked looking in each week and seeing the vast improvements that they had made each week, it made me happy to see them doing good each and every week. Their honesty that they showed each week was tremendous, I so felt for them during midterm season its hard to do things for fun then when you are burning so much on school.

If I ever taught an online class I would totally use Slack, it made everything so easy. Although I would find my method of keeping all their blogs open on one page very tedious and not great when I was trying to find their most recent posts and this would be far worse with more then 3 students, I would have to find a better method. But it worked with just 3 people because it kept them all in one place.

I had a great time reading what they shared on their blogs every week, and seeing some of what they had to share on Twitter! These three are super stars and I have been able to learn from them, probably more then they learnt from me. I kept a Mentor log of all my comments on their blogs so that you can see what I have done. I am so grateful to have had such a great group to mentor this semester, they taught me a lot that will help in my future.

Do Teachers need to teach social justice?

This week we debated on the topic “Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice and fight oppression.” With Jesse showing us the pros and Daniel showing us the cons. When it comes to this topic I find myself leaning more towards the pro side, because I know what it is like living in a small town community and the ridicule that you face when you try to do something that doesn’t sit well with the beliefs of the rest of the community. Trying to bring more Liberal ideas into a VERY Conservative space doesn’t work, even when providing the facts they still believe that they are correct and it is hard to change a conservatives way of mind.

46813205041_644252ddebPhoto Credit:hillelsFlickr viaCompfightcc

In one of the articles provided to us by Jesse titled, “‘Education is Political’: Neutrality in the Classroom Shortchanges Students” talks about how teaching is a political act and that, “Neutrality is itself a political choice, and is one that bolsters the status quo.” which I do believe that it does and is, in fact its the essay I wrote that got me accepted into education, but isn’t everything in our lives political? While I know that saying nothing doesn’t help anybody, forcing our opinions into the sponges that are our students isn’t a good thing either. When it comes to social justice issues and oppression it is important that we say something, but we need to provide only the facts. Its hard to dispute the facts when we can site and prove that such things are real and do in fact exist.

The article titled, “Why Parents Don’t Respect Teachers“from Daniel talks about the varying reasons as to why parents may not like their child’s teach or the education system in general. But most of these reasons that are provided are excuses, a parent is too tired, well maybe that parent should make time to spend with their child and not take their work home to “stay on top of it. ” When I was growing up we had a diary farm, so my dads work was at home but we all helped out so that it wasn’t just all him all the time. Whereas my mom is a nurse, so she would work 12 hour shifts and when she left work and came home nothing about her work came home with her. She might have been tired but so were we, she came home we’d watch a show together and all go to bed. But now as I’m working at a daycare I see so many parents that are on their phone with work when they pick up their child. So it’s easy to see why a parent wouldn’t like a teacher or the education system when the parents can’t even look up from their phones to say “Bye. Love you” when they drop their child off for the 11 hour day that they get to spend with us at daycare.

While Daniel’s argument makes it easy to see why we as teachers shouldn’t be taking the responsibility to share with students about social justice issues or oppression, it also kind of argues the opposite. As parents aren’t going to talk with their child about social justice issues or oppression because they are too busy with many other things, shouldn’t teachers be providing some of the facts surrounding those issues while students are not yet corrupted? Even at the end of this debate I’m still struggling to find  where I stand in this issue of education.

Dependant on technology or not?

Our debate topic of the week this week was, “We have become too dependent on technology and we’d be better off returning to the “good old days” before the Internet and smartphones took over. ” Before this debate I was in total agreeance with what was stated in the pre-date synopsis. Not only have students become totally reliant on what technology has to offer us, but so have adults and even young children. I am the kind of person that likes to be acknowledged when I talk to someone, but when half the people I talk to have their phone in their hands and are playing who knows what, it becomes pretty hard for those around me to even nod along with what I am saying (major frustration point in my life).

Pre debate vote

Jayden provided many great articles detailing the ways that we might be addicted to the technology that we have in our lives and how it might be impacting what we do on a daily basis. The article that I am going to talk about is 29 Once-Common Survival Skills We’ve Lost to Technology where it talks about skills that people used to have that were deemed necessary for the work force that people were going to enter into once they had finished school.  But due to technology and the way that society works now we don’t care if you can darn a sock, you just throw it out and buy a new pair. Many of these skills have become obsolete because a phone can hold all the phone numbers you need, a GPS will get you from point A to point B. To me I think its sad that a child can’t tell you their parents phone number because they just tell their phone to call mom and it does all the work.

Post debate results

While Kiera provided readings about the good to using the varying forms of technology that we have access to every day. The one article that I am going to talk about is called, How the Internet has changed everyday life which talks about the ways that the internet has changed what we do and the way that we live. Stating that the internet was made to be no longer just for communicating between two people but now it was sophisticated and gave us access to a plethora of knowledge at our finger tips. While I suppose that things have changed since I was in school, I would felt so left out if it were totally up to the internet for how I was to make friends. I didn’t have access to any internet that would be good enough to run a chat page, and I didn’t have a fancy cell phone with data because I paid for what I had and couldn’t afford the $50 a month to have data. Living in small rural communities my whole life has me skeptical about the internet as a way to have friends.

I guess you could say that my mindset about technology and it taking over our lives wasn’t phased much by the debate this week because I still see all the faults that exist with technology and don’t want to allow myself to believe that it could one day be our society. I don’t think that the friends you make through the internet are actually going to be there for you when you need them most and therefore believe that we still need some of the human touch in our lives.

Corporatization of Education; Good or Bad?

This week we debated if education had sold its soul to corporate interests. Liz argued in favour, meaning that education has sold itself out to corporations, while Shaleen argued that education hasn’t sold out.

In my experiences in school I really haven’t seen any of the things that we talked about, like brand pop machine’s, logos on score clocks, or hot lunches from specific restaurants. But I know of schools that have gotten sponsorship from wherever to buy new whatever, I have just never witnessed it in any of the schools that I attended prior to university. So when we started this debate I wasn’t sure where to lie.

After reading a few of the articles Liz gave us, and noticing that they are all American, I am left wondering if the statistics for Canada resemble those of the US. One of the articles 80 Percent of Public Schools Have Contracts With Coke or Pepsi gives some insight to what the contracts have done for the school, stating “Under the existing 10-year contract, Coca-Cola paid the district $4 million upfront and an additional $350,000 a year to sell its beverages in schools. The annual payments have funded field trips, gym uniforms, SMART Boards and other frills that individual school budgets may not otherwise have afforded.” Which obviously gives more opportunity to the schools that otherwise would not have been able to afford such luxuries, having to ask parents and students to do more fundraising. Which I understand isn’t always an option for everyone. So these contracts can be seen as a good thing because of the funding that they provide to the schools.

While the articles that Shaleen provides I again noticed a very large influence of American schools, so this is making me question more and more how much corporatization really affects Canada.  One of the articles, Ask the expert: smartly investing in education technology talks about technology as a necessity in education, and that to keep up with the latest tech is nearly impossible when you have to stick to a budget. And with an ever tightening budget from the government it isn’t helping the fight for better tech. I say the effects of this when I was in school, we had two sets of 30 laptops and one computer lab for the ENTIRE k-12 school. Often times about 10 laptops in each set didn’t work and things were broken on the other 20, but there was nothing more that the school could afford to give us. So instead we’d wait for the tech guy to show up and he’d spend all day fixing our laptops.

 

 

Based on my experiences with schools and what we talked about in the debate, I’m still not sold that schools have sold themselves to corporations. I’m sure some schools have but overall I don’t believe that there are as many as we think. My school didn’t have a vending machine, our score clock only had the school logo on it, we fundraised year round with various different things so that we could get what we needed, and we suffered through junky tech and learned ways around it so we could still learn. That’s why I don’t believe that schools have sold their souls to corporations.

Social Media, Ruining Childhood

This weeks blog really has me stuck between a rock and a hard place. I can’t seem to decide where I stand in this debate. On one hand I see so many instances where a child is so hyper-focused on what social media has to offer them that they can’t even see the pothole a millimeter from their toe, and on the other hand I know that there are many great things that social media has to offer us.

One of the articles Lauren provided for us titled, “Is New Technology and Social Media Ruining Our Children’s Lives?” talks about the implications that giving technology to youth has, and gives some statistics about age requirements and how well a child can operate technology. Because I am a science and math person the first thing I think about is how was the survey conducted, because quite often I feel that they are fudged and don’t actually represent any reality. In my experiences with youth they all ignore the age requirements and go behind their parents back if they really want something (like how I got Facebook). The reason that children can operate technology so well is because in many cases they are also parented by the technology that they can operate the best. I’ve had many rants about parents who would rather send their kid to daycare and plug them into any device every day of their child’s instead of having an actual interaction with their child. So I’m going to skip that rant and move on by saying that if we don’t want kids to be totally plugged in all the time we need spaces and people who are encouraging them to unplug. I work at a daycare, and we don’t allow any of the children to bring PED’s because we want to be a place where they can unplug while they are there, even the staff are encouraged to unplug.

Moving on, Kylie provided many great resources about why social media is great for youth but I am going to focus on the article titled, The Effects of Social Media on Children talks about how youth can use social media to talk to others and have interactions and friendships, and share their works online in spaces that aren’t available when not using social media. But to me there are so many dangers to letting youth use social media to talk to strangers, when they are barely old enough to spell the words that they are speaking. How do they know that the things they are talking about aren’t going to hurt them or that they aren’t going to say too much and get hurt? If a child cant spell I don’t believe that they understand enough to be sharing in digital communities because they don’t understand digital identity, and citizenship.

I guess what I’m getting at here is, why at ages 2-6 do we need to create spaces where children can unplug from their various medias and technology when they can hardly spell their own name? So then why has it become important to share with the world through these medias? Isn’t it enough to have it to share with your family, or show your friends when they come over later? Kids share so much online that they don’t realize that they may have put themselves in danger, but here we are still throwing our phones at our screaming kid.

I suppose I have taken a side the further into this I get, the more I start to believe that social media is ruining childhood. So I’m going to leave off with one final question:

Is it really better to feel lonely in a room full of people who are all entranced by social media, then it is to be the only one not talking in a room of people?

 

Equity within Society

After the debate a few nights ago regarding technology as a force for equity in society, I had a lot of thoughts running through my head. I liked many of the points that Ryan had brought up in his video before the debate, but much of what he said wasn’t discussed further. Which made me question how much we actually viewed technology as a force for equity. Yet Kaytlyn argued many points about why technology isn’t always the answer to creating an equitable society. Which was very convincing as to why we shouldn’t rely solely on technology to provide all the answers.

Pre-Debate results
Post Debate results

One of the articles that Ryan shared with us titled Technology can empower children in developing countries – if it’s done right, has a quote that I found very impactful but mostly argues that we shouldn’t be afraid of bring technology into classrooms of young people, it doesn’t really highlight technology as a tool for equity. This quote states, “Young people are natural adopters of new technologies and certainly the potential for technology and digital media to be a force for innovation, education and change is just beginning to be realised.” There is great potential for technology in the classroom, but the article as a whole only looks at 3rd world countries and fails to look at our own local statistics. The article also doesn’t take into account that there is still a good sized portion of people who cannot afford and don’t have access to these technologies outside of school time. Giving them access in school starts to remove the equity fence that we talked about, but it really only took off enough boards that the student can now fit their head through to watch, they still can’t fully participate.

Tinkering Spaces: How Equity Means More Than Access is an article provided to us by Kaytlyn, this article talks about the Maker Movement and how most schools can’t afford to create a fancy Maker lab, or even get the techy materials that we often envision when we think about a Maker Space. But often places found that their most successful Maker activities where for things like sewing, which is by no means something new or fancy, but it caused the students to build relationships with others in their community. To me building relationships with the people around you is more important then any fancy techy tool. but maybe that’s just me…

I do honestly think that if we had technology that we could share if everyone that it could help to create equity, but we can’t rely solely on technology to solve all of our problem. Technology is not the answer to world hunger, it is not going to cause everyone to be a decent person. To go back to the idea of the fence, technology can help us to remove a few boards off of the fence, but technology is never going to be the reason that the fence disappears. At some point to get rid of that fence you are going to need to help of ANOTHER PERSON (shocker, we need others to help our selves)!! To answer the riddle of our debate, no technology is the be all end all force of equity in society.

 

 

Cellphones, do they have a place in the classroom?

This week we debated if cell phones should be in a classroom. Our pre-debate vote showed that 50% of our class though cellphones were best suited in high school classrooms only.

And through the points that Cody, Kendall and Tiana brought to our attention through the debate our class shifted even more so into the belief that cell phones only belong in high school settings.

An article provided to us by Kendall, Distracting, disrespectful side to cell phones in class talks about how when students use cell phones in the classroom they “lose out on what is going on in the classroom around them.” Often what is going on around them is some form of socialization that is important to children development. And children having a cell phone at a young age they lose out on so much of what is around them. Children should be focusing on what is around them because this is how they learn so many things.

side rant: can someone explain to me why a child who is in grade ONE would need a cell phone? From my perspective they have ZERO reason to have one, especially since this child comes to daycare where we walk them to school and pick them up after school, they do not have a single moment in their day where they are not monitored by an educator or parent. Said child had a better phone and plan then I did, she was 5 at the time…             End rant.

Another article A Blanket Ban on Cellphones in Class Would Not Be Smart stated that Smartphones are powerful technology that we have put in the hands of our children. We have a responsibility to teach them how to use it wisely. Schools need to play their part.” arguing that we should never ban cell phones in any classroom but rather that we have to teach students to use cell phones in an appropriate manner. But at the same time that article was also saying that we shouldn’t allow students to have cell phones until about grade 5 because this is the age where most students seem to get cell phones.

Lastly an article titled Adventures with Cell Phones gives a brief overview of how a teacher might use cell phones in a classroom to create an engaging lesson where the students are allowed to use their phones to create and submit their work to. This is a great idea, but what would the students who don’t have access to the technology do to keep up in this class that is asking a lot of them in terms of the ways that they are to use technology? It’s great for higher grades where you know that most of the students will have a phone but to do activities like these they would require a smart phone, which in the case of some families is out of their price range for their child.

To be honest I am not quiet totally of this mind set that only high school students should have cell phones. I do believe that there is a time and a place for a cell phone in most classrooms, but they need to be used in a way that encourages learning. Cell phones do have to be put under some sort of regulations when we have them in classrooms and we CANNOT have them all the time. There are so many variables for us to consider when we want to use a cell phone in the classroom.

How Open should our classrooms be?

When we first started the debate this I was sure that I wanted to create a transparent space where parents could see any of the work that their child had created and that we could share that openly. But little by little I began to question my philosophy.

One of the articles Dryden shared with us called “Openness to Ideas, Perspectives and Change Yields Trust in the Classroom” Is my motto. Transparency is best and that it is good to be open with those around you about the things that are happening and that way you will create a better bond with the people that you are working with. I still believe that being open with people about what is happening is going to create some of the best relationships, but s sharing students work freely on the internet really something that I want to be apart of?

Photo Credit:CREST ResearchFlickr viaCompfightcc

While one of Ashley’s articles titled, “Teens speak: Should students publish their school work online?” talks about how some students choose not to make their blogs public, so that nobody can read their work or copy it and make it into something that it was never meant to be. Shouldn’t we all have a say in what our work gets to be used for? And maybe once we understand the consequences of having our work online we might change our opinion to how we display our work. Students should be given a choice in what their assignment says about them and who can see is.

I believe now that we can share students work online if we have their consent, or in the case of presentation I heard last night if we are using an anonymous student to teach the class about some common error that is present in their work. But even if we are sharing their work online we should consider what it could mean for the student and their relationships and digital identity. We don’t want to control what happens to their digital identity, but we do want to share their expectational skills with family, friends and peers.  As teachers we need to teach our students what a safe online presence looks like and how we can shape it into something that we want to show the whole world, but don’t have to show if we aren’t comfortable.

 

“I’ll just Google it” A look into teaching in a Time of Google

This week in EDTC400 we debated whether or not we should be teaching material that can be Googled. This left me pondering the line of what can and can’t we Google? To my understanding if you can put it into words you can Google it. So following my logic, we stop teaching because everything in the curriculum is in words so therefore can be Googled. (I guess I’m already voicing my opinion on this without explicitly saying it. ) In that case what’s the point of teaching if you can just Google it? I know I’m pessimistic but even after the debate I still feel this way.

Photo Credit:tecmark UKFlickr viaCompfightcc

By letting a group decide what can and can’t be Googled we are giving them the power to tell us what is and isn’t important. Because we are allowing them to remove content from what we are assessing in the classroom.

One of the articles that Sydney shared with us titled Advent of Google means we must rethink our approach to education states:

Any standard room in a Holiday Inn is better than the best facilities in an emperor’s room in the 15th century. Air conditioning, hot and cold running water, toilets that flush, TV and the internet. The middle class lives better today than any emperor ever did. Going back to horse-drawn vehicles is not the solution to our traffic problems and pollution. Beating children into submission will not solve the problem of educational disengagement.”

So basically we live better now then a king did in the 1400’s, so why would we go back to living that way when we have all these things now that make life so much better. Drawing a parallel to education, that we aren’t going to go back to beating children into submission when we have so many resources to make their learning better. We should be using the technology that is in our space but isn’t it a step backwards to remove a teacher to replace them with a Google machine?

While in one of the articles that Aurora shared with us titled, How Google Impacts The Way Students Think, shares with us this idea that students who “Google it” tend to find the solution to the problem and then they are done. Students won’t go further to understand why it is that way, or question what they have found, they found the solution so why care about that other stuff when you can just Google it when you need again? But isn’t it easier to understand how a chemical reaction works then it is to Google it, and relearn the whole process.

I believe that we still need to teach content that can be Googled (because it can all be Googled) but that we still need to give students an opportunity to find their own solutions first. We should be giving them thought provoking questions related to the topic where they can begin to find a solution and we can guide them in the correct direction, but there are still somethings that need to be taught. I know as a student if you would have told me that I needed to Google in order to learn about World War 2 I would have been lost, confused and frustrated, would have given up and never learnt anything. Teachers still need to be there if you are asking students to learn on their own because it’s hard to learn from a Google search as they are often over-whelming and hard to understand.