Envisioning ‘Maternelle’ Online

This week we were to reflect on our online experiences so far this semester in EC&I 833 and comment on the impact the class has had on our learning. Further, we were asked how we would feel about teaching online or distance education classes to our present students and discuss the possible impacts.

My online course 

This term I have appreciated the richness and wisdom my colleagues have brought to class. I have felt inspired and re-energized to teach. I have taken risks and gained confidence in trying new technology. Our online class has enabled me to saved time and money in getting to and from the university. I appreciate not having to pay for parking and not having to walking to class in the cold. On a personal note, the online class has been a huge advantage for me because I am able to easily feed my enfant son and not worry if he will go hungry while I am in class. For these and many other reasons, I would recommend taking an online class.

Taking classes from home does present challenges. In past and current online courses, I have missed debriefing with classmates, orally and informally, what was learned. I continue to find myself craving face-to-face conversations post class with colleagues. I am often so excited about my new discoveries, I want to share them immediately. I find it challenging to contain my excitement and to have to wait to post or comment on my thoughts. A personal challenge for me has been concentrating in class when I hear my children upstairs playing or upset. Even with the volume turned up and headphones in, I can not block out my ‘tuned ear’ for their specific voices.

As a late adopter of technology, I have had a sharp learning curve and often felt out of my element blogging. This unease with blogging has improved with time. I am hoping to remain on the path of ’embracing technology’ however, I acknowledge that I will require ongoing support from colleagues and administration. I will also require consistent access to technological devices (I would love a smart board) or I could risk falling into the same old habits of teaching how I always have taught because it is easy and comfortable. I am elated to say I feel as though this class has empowered me with the required language I need to advocate for permanent access to technological resources in early childhood. It has also been reinforced that it is okay to ask for help and learn alongside my students.

Kindergarten Online: Possible Advantages 

I can foresee numerous advantages to teaching my French Immersion Kindergarten’s online. Financially, this could help our school division, as Dayley and Hoffman state that online systems “(s)old to and run by individual school districts, provides home-school educational opportunities at a significantly discounted price to the school district when compared to the cost of a traditional school. Two teachers can meet the needs of about five hundred students online, where the same two teachers would instruct about sixty in a classroom.” Therefor not only could divisions potentially save in teacher salary, school divisions would likely have a cost savings in transportation, infrastructure and insurance. The Saskatchewan School Board Association views school bus operation, air quality issues, property loss, boiler and equipment failure as potential risks for school boards. If students took online courses from home, it is presumed that the school divisions would not be required to carry as much insurance as they are not assuming many of the high risks.

Education Save Money

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If my French immersion kindergarten’s learning was delivered uniquely online, they would have the opportunity to learn independently, at their own pace and they would not be distracted by classmates behaviour. I believe that self motivated driven learners could excel academically at home. If my kindergarten lessons were online, students would be able to replay all or part of my lesson. This would be advantageous for them as repetition is an important teaching/learning aid, especially in a second language. As an educator, I would enjoy having formal assessments all being conducted online. I do not enjoy carrying heavy portfolios home to mark students work. Grading early childhood aged students in class time presents its own list of challenges. If my kindergarten student’s all took online classes, they would also benefit from flexible learning times. I find teaching the afternoon kindergarten class always more challenging to teach than the morning kindergarten class. The reason for that is some 4 and 5 year olds physically still require naps in the afternoon. With flexible learning times if one of my student’s was tired he/she/they would have the opportunity to rest in the comfort of their own home.

Kindergarten Online: Possible Disadvantages

Birthday @school!

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Having stated all the positives, I must state my MANY concerns in offering online classes in early childhood. For starters, kindergarten is a play based, activity orientated program. Working online you are removing a large part of the social aspect of kindergarten. Students need to learn certain social norms. They must learn to be able to physically sit next to someone while respecting their personal space. They need to learn an appropriate voice for indoor and outdoor setting. As I have previously stated, children need to learn how to resolve conflict independently with same age peers. It takes time and ongoing support throughout the day to learn how to function in a small group and a large group. Turn taking does not happen over night and to say that your child can play with their cousin is not the same as your child learing how to play with 24 other personality types.  Children in the ‘brick and mortar schools’ learn for example how to be a good friend, patience waiting in line, and many fine motor and gross motor skills. All these skills we require in real life. I practiced turn taking at the four-way stop, waited in line at the bank, apologized to friend when I ran late for a coffee date. Yes, some of these skills could be practiced at home, however, learning them alongside 24 other students is in my opinion richer and simulates ‘real life’.

In this clip, Dr. Peter Gray highlights the evolutionary function of play and calls attention to the societal consequence of the decline in play.

 

Grey area:

Having stated the advantages and disadvantages I do need to acknowledge a grey area. I do believe that some of the ‘academics’ of an early childhood program (learning rhymes, patterning, counting etc.) could be online if students had appropriate ongoing engaged adult support at home when taking the class. However, overall at this point and time, I would advocate for the greater importance of play in an early childhood program and for the program to remain in ‘brick-and-mortar’ schools.

Audrey Watters acknowledges, “experience colors (her) views on online educating today (…).” I must admit that I too am tainted by my history of online classes and the positive experience I have had. Do you feel that your experiences have tainted your view of online classes for your students?

Do you see more advantages or disadvantages to teaching kindergarten online?   Let me know your thoughts.

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Essentialist Approach and #tablessthursday

This week we were to watch James Hablin‘s YouTube video Single-tasking Is the New Multitasking and respond to the questions, ” is the Internet really a productivity tool or merely an endless series of distractions?  Has the Internet created a world of ‘multitaskers’ who don’t accomplish as much as they could have without it?”

My featured image is an example of my world. Twelve things on the go at all times. I watched my parents juggle raising four kids, working full-time and owning a business. I feel like that is the only example I know of how to do things. This morning, I fed my children while I unloaded the dishwasher, did laundry, ordered groceries online, let the dog out and talked on the phone. I realize that I have accomplished a large quantity of work, but what about quality? Did I miss the fact that I put away some dishes that still had food stuck to them? Was I actively listening to my phone conversation or more focused on one the other tasks? If I am truly being honest, I must say I wasn’t fully paying attention to the phone conversation.

This is how I feel daily when I am on the Internet. Especially when taking this course.  There is so much to learn and everything mentioned has peaked my interest. I find myself clicking on one tab, then a link or two, then another, and hours have gone by. I may have GAINED the opportunity to learn a bit about Genuis Hour, SeeSaw, Endless Alphabet, and Mentimeter, but I sure haven’t started the assigned readings or blog post I was supposed to write.

Six Windows 10 annoyances: How to make them go away for good0

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There are only so many hours in the day and so much time that I can devout to class and being away from my family. So far this semester, I was not as productive with my time as I could have been. So is it the Internet that is to blame for the endless series of distractions? Have I been taught to use it incorrectly? Is my curiosity to blame? Perhaps it’s the love of learning that has me clicking on all those links? Am I unable to concentrate on one task? My concern when using the Internet, as Ashley Murray quoted one author on lifehack saying, is that ” (g)etting information from the net is like getting a cup of water, sitting under the Niagara falls. We certainly get a cup of water, the problem is that we also get far more than we need.” – Tejvan Pettinge

In short, I believe the Internet is a productivity tool that I simply misuse. I propose that society take more of an essentialist approach to using the Internet. Instead of #tablessthursday could society not participate in #everydayessentialism online? This YouTube video highlights essentialism.

Greg McKeown who wrote the Book Essentialism also states in his dowloadable one-page PD summary that “(o)ur highest priority is to protect our ability to prioritize.” Do you agree with that statement? Is the main problem society has online the ability to prioritize?

Let me  know your thoughts.

If you have time, check out my first ever infograph inspired by Noami.  https://infograph.venngage.com/p/163427/o-quote

Lundi matin

Being at home on maternity leave, I had to reflect a great deal on what educational media or software I use in the classroom. At first I thought, nothing fancy. Nothing I could write a post on and get excited about. As I began to think deeper, I realized that I use a lot more educational media than I give myself credit for. Although, I recognize I do need to expand what I am currently doing.

Today, I will evaluate You Tube.3606295240_51f643dd5d

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Perception vs reality and impacts on education:

Ten years into my teaching career, I continue to fear the misunderstandings others may assume about my teaching. How many educators feel that if somebody is walking past their classroom while You Tube is playing, that they need to justify the educational objectives behind the clip? For me, it is an ongoing trepidation that parents or colleagues might have the perception that I am not ‘really’ teaching, that I am just ‘putting a video on.’ This perception, that educational media is not ‘good teaching practice’ still exists in many of our schools and is a hard stereotype to fight. How can I educate others about the benefits of educational media, the needs of the French immersion program and the needs of my early learners?

To those individuals passing by my classroom, I invision myself saying  “my students are not ‘just watching a video’ they are hearing rich French spoken language, they are tunning their ear to a different French accent and they are connecting images with spoken words. They are making predictions about what might come next in the clip, they are learning sequencing; beginning, middle and end -among many, many others things.”

This video is one of my favorites. I get excited showing my students it at different points in the year. I enjoy seeing their deeper understanding of what is occuring in the video as they become more proficent with their French language skills as the year progresses.

My perception is that students watching ‘Lundi matin’ are learning. In reality, I can not say with certainty what is going on in all of my students brains and how much information is being absorbed. Children learn at different rates and in different ways. I know from experience that repetition is very important in kindergarten and especially with additional language learners.  What I can see when I play this You Tube video is that the majority of the class is trying to orally participate by singing along. This is a huge milestone in French immersion kindergarten as students must first feel comfortable hearing an additional language. Once students accept hearing the new language, they are then better positioned to start to take risks speaking the new language. With the assistance of You Tube’s wonderful French songs, my student seem eager to take risks and appear truly engaged in their learning.

Pedagogical advantages and disadvantages

One of my favourite pedagogical advantages of You Tube is that it is free! With the click of a button unilingual parents have the opportunity to learn many the basic French immersion kindergarten concepts with their children.

You Tube also has the ability to connect students and their families to ‘la culture francophone’. I want my students to feel part of a greater French community. I have accomplished this by showing them parts of video clips on  Festival du voyageurCarnaval de Quebec as well as many other national and international French cultural celebrations.

Some of the big disadvantages using You Tube are the pop up adds, links that go down or the internet speed being slow or not working at all. In French, I also have to pay particular attention to the vocabulary that is being taught in class and what my students are hearing in the video. For example, the You Tube video might say ‘marron’ for brown when I prefer to say ‘brun’. It is a teachable moment, however, in kindergarten it can be very confusing when some of the children do not yet know all their colours in English.

Despite the disadvantages, I will continue to use You Tube videos as teaching opportunities in my classroom as the advantages far out weight the disadvantages. As stated in the article The Importance of Media in the Classroom,”(t)echnology is so much a part of the real world that to limit its use in the classroom is to limit our students’ ability to compete in the world”. I hope that I remain open to learning about current educational media and software in my classroom throughout my profession. As I have previously stated, I am a late adopter of technology and can sometimes resist change. Knowing the kind of teacher I want to be in the future, I pushed myself to learning about Seesaw today. Thanks to Erin Benjamin and Heidi Warren for their knowledge and convincing posts!  My new learnings today and in the future will further open doors to endless possibilities for my students.

 

Rapid Evolutionary Changes?

This week we were assigned the task of exploring the Common Sense Media website, reading chapter one of Shalom Fisch’s book, and reading Audrey Watter’s post. We were also asked to unpack a very loaded Postman statement.

I must start by saying that I enjoyed all the readings, particularly the opportunity to explore Common Sense Media’s website. I researched my 2 1/2 year old daughter’s favourite shows with family and friends. While exploring the website, we had great discussions about how the role of parent-child co-viewing has evolved and how society’s expectation for ‘ quality educational’ programming has increase since my childhood.

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When Postman states that Sesame Street undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents, I believe he is referring to technology as being a trade-off. Postman states that with “every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage.” On one hand, I agree.  Postman explains that “ (s)ome critics have argued that exposure to television-even educational television-can lead to outcomes such as reduced attention spans, lack of interest in school (because teachers do not sing and dance like characters on television), or children becoming passive “zombie viewers”.” As a French immersion kindergarten teacher, I have often felt like I am a character in a Disney movie for most of my day. Almost everything I do has a song and actions associated with it. For example, I have a line up song, a wash your hands song, a clean up song, a snack time song, a come to the carpet song, etc. Is my day-to-day reality perhaps the trade-off that Postman alludes to? In order to hold student’s attention in class, must I sing and dance and entertain them? I would argue that if this is how children learn best, through song, dance and the teacher being an entertainer, then this is how teachers should be teaching. So this answers his question “what will technology do”. The next question “ what will technology undo” deserves to be examined.

I will start with the social implications on our culture. Sesame Street allows children to watch a conflict unfold and shows how it can be fixed.

What Sesame Street does not show is the depth of hurt that can be caused by someone’s actions and how it can not instantaneously be fixed. I have to remind my kindergarten’s often that after a conflict, another child has the right to be mad and is allowed the time to process what has been done. I explain daily that saying your sorry doesn’t INSTANTLY fix the problem. It takes time to repair a relationship. I believe technology has ‘undone’ the understanding of ‘real time’ and the intricacy of friendships and peoples feelings. Not every personality type is able to forgive and move on. Sometimes things can’t be fixed.

Extending the idea of ‘what will technology undo’ on the current culture of smartphones and BYOD, I would agree with Haley Amanda Toadvine that “social skills and face to face interactions are damaged through impersonal communication because the individual is unable to express body language, tone, voice, touch and facial expressions(…).” At this point in human evolution, we have not evolved enough that our species can function without body language and facial expressions. Perhaps one day we will not need face-to-face interactions, but until then, I believe we need to balance emerging technologies and practices such as BYOD with the importance of face-to-face conversations.28384316975_130f8f68a0

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Take a look at this TED Talk on Human Evolution and read this Washington Post article and let me know your thoughts. 

Do you believe in the possible link between evolution and Autism? If you do, are humans truly ‘undoing’ anything in terms of the big picture of evolution?

It’s not a race, so slow it down

My teaching philosophies and classroom practices my first year teaching were highly influenced by behaviourism. I began teaching almost ten years ago. I was a French Immersion and English itinerant teacher teaching all subjects across all grade levels. My primary concern, as Ertmer and Newby state when referring to behaviourism, was “how the association between the stimulus and response (was) made, strengthened, and maintained.” Looking back, the learners in my classroom were reactive to the environment that I created. I did not give them enough opportunities to take an active role in their learning. As a beginning  teacher, I felt very pressured to get through the curriculum and to complete formal assessments often. I was the time-keeper-always watching the clock and the instructional minutes. Thinking back, could I have taught that first year any differently? Could I have let go of some of the control I had over just disseminating information and assessing what I received?  I know some students responded well to my style of teaching. Perhaps they were comfortable with “discriminations (recalling facts), generalizations (defining and illustrating concepts), associations (applying explanations), and chaining (automatically performing a specified procedure). To this day, I still use flashcards (discrimination) if I am studying. No one teaching theory can ever be used in isolation due to the diversification of students learning styles in our classrooms. However at some point in my first year, I took on more of a cognitive teaching style.

I think it was a natural progression that I became more concerned with “what students (knew) and how they came to acquire it.”  Explaining my way of thinking didn’t always work. I realized I needed to explain what one student knew and how he came to understand it to other students. I started to focus more on if the students are truly understanding a concept. If yes, we move on, if no, I slow it down and re-teach it in a alternate way. What I can take from my first few years is that teaching is not a race. I learnt to slow every lesson down. I do not feel the same pressure as I did then to get through the curriculum.

With assistance from colleagues who I had the opportunity to team teach with, I can see a shift in my teaching style in recent years. I am a mix of everything; behaviourist, cognitivist and constructionst. I can’t say I ever had just one teaching style, just like I can’t say I have only one learning style, although some styles may be dominate at different points in my career. Hopefully as educators, we are constantly changing. I recognize that I adapt my style based on students needs, the school, the staff and the working conditions.  I anticipate that I will continue to evolve and change throughout my career.  

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When I think about the big picture of teaching and learning I think Ertmer and Newby  said it perfectly, “the task of translating learning theory into practical applications would be greatly simplified if the learning process were relatively simple and straightforward.” I hope that all partners in the education sector are able to clearly articulate the complexe nature of our student’s learning and our job as educators. I fear that if we are unable to do so, that education will continue to be underfunded and undervalued. Do you feel that educating the public about the complexties of the learning process is necesssary? Could it potentially be more harmful than helpful?

Would bringing more awareness to the complexetities of learning bring more resources to education?

Let me know your thoughts.