Big Potential: Virtual and Augmented Reality in Education

This week Logan Petlak and Bill Cook presented on the topic of virtual reality and augmented reality. The image below is a screen shot I took during their presentation which explains the differences between reality, augmented reality and virtual reality.

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Last week, I proposed two assistive technologies I would like to see created for the education sector.

This week, I felt it appropriate to carry on the ‘futuristic’ discussion of where virtual reality and augmented reality could take teaching and learning in the  foreseeable future.

Virtual Reality (VR)

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Imagine a virtual trip to a museum. No travel time!

Virtual Reality (VR) reminds me of the television show, The Magic School Bus.  Imagine if you and your students could put on a pair of VR glasses and be transported into an ‘alternate dimension’. You could visit locations you were learning about. Your class could be on a field trip everyday with ‘virtually’ no cost, travel time or need to sign permission forms!  Yes, I think teaching and learning would be more authentic and engaging if we all had the ability to teach like The Magic School Bus’s teacher Mrs. Frizzle.

In the following video, Mrs. Frizzle takes her class to learn in space!

Imagine VR in kindergarten during play time. Students could put on their VR glasses and be playing with their friends in a castle, in a pool or on a mountain. Some students have a hard time pretending that they are holding a baby in their arms or driving in an imaginary car to grandma’s house. VR could assist a student having difficulty with visualizing how their friends are ‘playing make believe’ by projecting a VR world. (I do see a downside to having an over dependence on VR and not using our own imagination for creativity, but that is another post for another day) From a cost saving perspective, VR could eliminate the need for many play props in my kindergarten room, as most of the ‘props’ could be virtually created with one pair of VR glasses!

I see VR playing an important role in my safety unit. It could simulate a street for when I teach students to look both ways before crossing the road. It could simulate a fire and the importance of evacuating a building, having a safe family meeting place, stop drop and roll or how to crawl under the smoke. As stated in the article, When Virtual Reality Meets Education,

This global distribution of VR content and access will undoubtedly influence a pedagogical shift as these new technologies allow a literature teacher in Chicago to “take” her students to Verona to look at the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, or a teacher in the Bronx to “bring” her Ancient Civilizations class to the ancient Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza.

VR makes the possibilities of teaching and learning endless!

Augmented Reality (AR)

I see augmented reality helping my kindergarten students learn how to print their names. Instead of me showing students step-by-step, hand over hand or having them trace the dots to learn to write their name, student could trace over the virtual dots.24495237233_5c31cbfb56

Augmented reality could be used to guide students in remembering how to hold their book upright and how to turn the pages of a book from right to left. 

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I also see AR help students track letters or words when learning how to read (left to right progression, top to bottom of the page)

I am hoping AR aids my students in becoming more independent learners. Augmented Reality could guide my students to the library and back to our room by placing arrows on the floor in front of them (kind of like IKEA has for us adults). Our school is so big, my students always seem to get lost a few feet past our classroom door. 

The following video got me excited about where AV will be in the future.

Do you see AR or VR playing a role in your future teaching or learning?

Nicole also asked a great question that I am eager to discuss:

Are our kids ready for a virtual world when they have yet to experience the real world? #eci833 #PLN #edtech #VR #AR
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Let me know your thoughts.

Forward to the Future

This week, Heidi, Holly, Benita, Allison and I presented on the topic of assistive technologies. I chose to respond to the following blog prompt:

In the future, what technologies would you like to see offered in your profession? Who would benefit from these technologies? What would be the advantages or disadvantages?

In the future, I would like to see two assistive technologies in the field of education. One that will predominantly aid students and one that will directly aid educators, both to my knowledge have yet to be created. If these assistive technologies already exist in some form, please let me know.

Assistive Technology for Students:

The first assistive technology I am envisioning is a technological device that helps primary school aged students resolve social conflicts. I have previously discussed the importance of children understanding the depth of conflict. Adding to that, I would like to help students better read social situations and act accordingly. Social stories alone do not seem to be meeting the needs of my early years students. Resolving conflicts continues to be a dominant part of my role as a kindergarten teacher. Most days, I am spreading myself thin trying to be in three places at once.

Short of cloning myself, here is my vision of a technology I would like created:

Children would wear a ‘customizable smart necklace’. (Idea of ‘Smart watch’ was taken).


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The device would communicate with my students verbally or through images.

The device would let them know when they are upset or starting to feel a change in emotion. I would like the device to be able to interpret the child’s body language.

Children often are unable to label their emotions. This device would help my students develop the necessary language to express how they feel. The device would say ” I can see you are angry”, ” I can see you are sad” just as I, as their teacher, would use that customizable language.

Next, the device would guide students through self-regulation strategies practiced in class such as ‘take a deep breath’ and ‘count to ten slowly’.

Once the device has detected (perhaps through pulse rate) the student is calm (or at their baseline), the device would help students identify what the problem is, and how they arrived at the problem, and finally, steps to address the problem.

This assistive technology would not only be beneficial to students with autism spectrum disorder, as they often misread social cues, it would benefit all children learning social play rules and how to engage with others. Please note that this device would not force children to resolve conflict. A willingness to resolve the conflict must come from the student. I feel that sometimes conflict in class can get out of hand because of limited access to the teacher (25 students to 1 adult) and limited time in a day. This device would ideally go home with students as conflicts arise outside of school hours. I also foresee this device being a Web 3.0 device that would adapt to their social needs as they grow older.

Electronics for you’s article  highlights a possible disadvantage of this technology stating;

 “(…) concern that while kids are attracted to technology and it could help them discover new concepts, it comes with a huge risk of them becoming glued to the devices for long hours ignoring social interactions- which is indeed more important(…)”.

Assistive Technology for Teacher:

Teachers spend a great deal of time discussing our students needs however, I feel it is time to highlight our needs. Our chosen careers are becoming more challenging.  In an attempt to ‘solve the problems of the world’ I decided to propose the creation an assistive technology that addresses the most challenging part of my day. In recent years, the biggest challenge has been dealing with violence in the classroom. With every hit, kick, bite or object thrown in class by students (whether directed at another student or  at the teacher) comes 6 plus pages of paper work to fill out and a lot of emotions. I feel that violence against teachers is on the rise, however there is a general consensus of lack of  data in this area. Without the appropriate national, provincial or local ‘violence against teachers’ tracking mechanisms in place I do not see my chosen career’s working conditions, becoming any easier.

The correct avenue to address such concerns of collective interest is through our provincial teacher organization, the STF (Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation). Last year, in hopes of addressing this problem directly,  I wrote an STF resolution; “BE IT RESOLVED that the STF develop a reporting system to track all acts of physical and verbal violence against registered teachers in Saskatchewan in the workplace.”

What I am asking you is, what would the ideal reporting system look like for you? Would you consider a system that tracks violence against teachers (or violence in the classroom in general) to be an assistive technology?

Background information: When I wrote the resolution, in the back of my mind, I wanted the STF (Saskatchewan’s Teachers Federation) and CTF (Canadian Teachers Federation) to have concrete data in their hands so they could adequately advocate for our needs at the bargaining table and when developing policy. Initially, I wanted the wide array paper work that teachers were filling out across the province to be consistent, online and consolidated in one place.

Having taken this Ec&I 833 class I now want more out of that resolution from an assistive technology perspective.

I now envisioning the ‘tracking mechanism’ described in the resolution to be in the form of an app. I want to check off if I was hit, kicked, or bit in the workforce. Maybe the app would allow for visual documentation of damage to property? An additional function I would like the app to do is to automatically notify appropriate people; school board personnel, teacher associations and OH&S of the incident. Also in the app, I would like a box to be checked off where teachers could perhaps request restorative measures to be taken. Workplace wellness, OH&S (Occupational Health and Safety) to mention a few, could then come into the classroom to do checks on students and staff post violent episode. Perhaps the next day additional school or division resources could be re-allocated to support that particular classroom.

This is my vision for an assistive technology for teachers.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Underused and Undervalued

The past few years teaching kindergarten,  I was required by my school division to assess students using Early Years Evaluation (EYE) and Help Me Tell My Story (HMTMS). The politics of education are interlaced with assessment. I debated discussing the above, but decided to discuss anecdotal notes and rubrics in this post as I find them to be the most relevant to my everyday practice.

For those that are not familiar with the EYE assessment, you may watch the video below. Most pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers in Regina complete the EYE assessment. 

Anecdotal notes

Anecdotal notes provide the opportunity to monitor student’s social skill development and work habits in class. I often feel like anecdotal notes are underused and undervalued. I write what I observe on a post it note and stick the post it in my assessment file. At the end of every day, I transfer the ‘anecdotal post it note’ information into a simple Google Docs. In the Google Doc, I have each student’s name, date and time of anecdotal comment. This system allows me to communicate specific concerns I have for individual students to administration, learning resource teachers, educational assistants, speech and language pathologist and our school counsellor. When monitoring students with ongoing behaviour and work habits difficulties, I have been asked to document how often incidents have happened with the date and time. For example, “When did Jonny hit Sally? How often did you have to ask Jonny to keep his hands and feet to himself ?” Generally, I have full classes; 25 students in the morning class and 25 students in afternoon class. It is difficult to remember specific incidents in my day without my anecdotal notes. The clarity in the anecdotal notes is crucial in determining the level of support a student will receive in the kindergarten program and moving into grade one. Our support team requires anecdotal notes to communicate efficiently with parents and as documentation to support their effort in advocating for great supports from the board office.

Example of anecdotal note:

December 8th 9:08 AM. –  Jonny was sitting at his table spot. A classmate walked by Jonny’s table spot. Jonny kicked his classmate. Jonny was unable to explain why he kicked his classmate. Spoke with both students involved. Johnny spent five minutes in the reflection chair and later apologized. Situation was communicated home to all parents in students’ agenda.

When it comes time to complete the personal and social growth rubrics, I refer to each child’s anecdotal notes. If parents have questions about why their child fell in a certain area on the rubric, I can refer to specific examples with date and time on my ‘anecdotal note’ document.

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Rubrics are another tool used to evaluate kindergarten student’s progress. They are generally easy to interpret for parents. They serve as a guide in understanding where their child is in relation to others in the class (or in relation to the standard). Rubrics also provide concrete examples of what their child must demonstrate in order to move to a higher level of achievement. Rubrics help in explaining where I would like to see most children’ end up’ by the end of kindergarten. Rubrics are used for pre-assessment and post-assessment. They can be formative or summative in nature. All French immersion kindergarten teachers in Regina Public Schools use the same rubrics to determine students Progress Report marks. Below is an example of Regina Public Schools French immersion kindergarten Progress Report.

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In terms of assessment in early childhood many questions come to mind. I often wonder how much can and should be done in a half day program. Further, is the assessment tool I am being asked to use, designed for four and five-year olds? Who is the assessor-consultant, classroom teacher, other? What is the frequency of the assessment?  Is this a perceived or actual need for assessment? What is the ‘why’ behind the assessment? For ‘who’ are we assessing? What will be done with the data? Who will it be accessible to? Is this a standardized assessment? By what definition? Will this inform my practice? As Amanda Ronan states ,

“(a)ssessments themselves have been vilified, when, in fact, it’s why assessments are given and how the data is used that is really the issue.”

In my mind, the focus of my assessments is to give constructive feedback to students and parents to help support student’s in their future learning. I am fearful of overwhelming kindergarten parents by sending them home with too much data on their child. If my child was struggling and I had data coming home every month both formally and informally, saying that they were struggling, I would be devastated and looking for support. What is the point in formal assessment if we are not prepared to offer additional support in a timely manner?

Do you feel that you have the necessary resources available to support parents whose children are struggling socially, emotionally and academically?

Will Web 3.0 Pigeonhole Students?

*Podcast of this post can be found here.

This week we were asked to take into consideration Jackie Gerstein‘s metaphor and discuss what impacts the shift to Web 3.0 has on education? Further we were asked what types of students and teachers are privileged/disadvantaged by the shift to Web 3.0?

Before we dive into that question, I thought it would be beneficial to review my understandings (from the readings) of Web 1.0-3.0 and the fundamental differences of each.

Web 1.0 views all learners as being ‘the same’. The teacher is the keeper of information and directs student’s learning. The emphasis is on the 3 R’s (receiving– listening to tea5623073342_60b2d9cb12_mcher, responding– talking notes and regurgitating students all take same assessment). The learning theory in alignment with Web 1.0 is behaviourism. Web 1.0, for example, allowed users to look up information from an online encyclopedia such as Encarta. Users of Web 1.0 no longer required a shelf full of encyclopedia’s, as all of the knowledge contained in those heavy encyclopedia books, was condensed into one light weight CD ROM. Web 1.0, also known as the World Wide Web, was very exciting for its time.

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Web 2.0 in my mind is the ‘social web’. It encourages more interact between teachers and students. The teacher continues to direct student’s learning. Web 2.0 enables students to look up a word in Wikipedia rather than on Encarta’s CDROM. The major shift in using Wikipedia, is that student’s can instantly change the Wikipedia definition 4037217553_30e35161c4_mthemselves based on new/instant information they receive. Under the umbrella of Web 2.0, student’s are seen as co-constructors of the web.  Skype in the classroom  and blogging are examples of Web 2.0 in action. In regards to learning theories, Web 2.0 is in alignment with constructivism and connectivism

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7158942356_0bee586f93_mWeb 3.0 has an emphasis on the 3 C’s; learner’s being connectorscreators and constructivists. Web 3.0’s keyword that differentiates it from Web 2.0, in my opinion is ‘personalized’.  Web 3.0,  also known as the Semantic Web, will be able to individually tailor our searches based on personal needs or interests. Web 3.0 will collect data and streamline the overabundance of information for us. With the introduction to Web 3.0, our students are being seen as “self-determined learners.” I hope that society will see a major shift not only in the role of the student, but also in the role of the teacher. The belief, with the introduction of Web 3.0, is that teachers will facilitate student’s learning rather than direct it. In regards to the shift in education to Web 3.0, Jackie Gerstein’s article states,

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“There is an emphasis on learning and teaching processes with the breakdown of boundaries (between teachers and students, institutions and disciplines (Keats & Schmidt, 2007, para. 9)”

Although Web 3.0 is still in its early creation, it holds much promise in shifting HOW our student’s learn. I predict that Web 3.0 will continue to make learning more engaging for students as it will be individually tailored for their needs.

Education 3.0 is characterized by educational opportunities where the learners themselves play a key role as creators of knowledge artifacts that are shared, and where social networking and social benefits play a strong role in learning.”

In response to Kyle’s post, Erin asked “I wonder if my young students have even been alive long enough to have built up the learning communities which could lead to interest-based learning online?” I too am having a difficult time imagining what a learning community would look like in early childhood or the primary classrooms. I replied to Erin that “(w)orking on getting students to be comfortable learning in ‘our classroom environment’ comes first. We need to help build confidence to take risks within four walls before pushing (our students) to develop their learning network online. I think students would have the skills and emotional readiness for ‘self-directed’ learning online about grade 3.” Do you agree? Please share your thoughts.

Students that are privileged/disadvantaged

I do have concerns that Web 3.0 could potentially be pigeonholing students from different socioeconomic levels. Web 3.0 will have collected enough data on my students pre-entrance to kindergarten, that it will be able to ‘customize’ student’s searches engine results for them. (The web can already do this to a certain extend now.) My students who will be at a disadvantage, are the students who do not have consistent adults in their lives to guide them and advocate for them.  What if the web is their opponent as opposed to their adversary?

Allow me to clarify with an example. If my class was undertaking an inquiry project on ‘community helpers’ and ‘careers’, would my disadvantaged students only be presented careers that the search engine deemed were within their reach? This is a major concern I have for student’s coming from different socio-economic levels. Are the more affluent student’s searches going to be directed towards being lawyers, bio-chemists? Perhaps they do have a greater likelihood in achieving those fields because they have the finances and appropriate support system in place to guide them through their degree, however, is this morally where we want to go? I would hope society, as creators of Web 3.0 takes this, among many other issues, into consideration in its design. As Jason Ohler asks in the video below, “when do we talk (or even think) about this stuff?”

It is my hope that Web 3.0 keeps the world of possibilities open to my energetic, passionate 4 and 5 year olds. Creators of Web 3.0 (all of us), please do not squash children’s dreams and streamline them into careers based on data collected from such a young, easy influenced and impressionable, vulnerable age.

Questions to ponder:

In your role, how can you influence the development and content of  Web 3.0?

Do you feel as powerless as I do?

Do you also have a fear that your students could be placed into an unwanted mold?

Please let me know your thoughts. If you are looking to gain further knowledge on the functions of Web 3.0, take a look at this video.

Thanks for your time.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

6337323654_1b4ec2f5e8Thomas Hawk Flickr via Compfight cc

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

                                             khalid Albaih Flickr via Compfight cc

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.  


Ken Whytock Flickr via Compfight cc

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.