Cell phones…useful technological tool or a distraction?

For our blog post this week, we were given the opportunity to write about an article or articles we read and discuss our reactions to them. Luckily for me, I came across a short article which proved to be very interesting. If you have not yet read, I recently tweeted an article posted from CTV News about a Toronto middle school banning the use of cell phones within classrooms and in the hallways. When I first came across this article, I read it immediately as the title alone caught my attention. The article states,

“Since September, students have been prohibited from texting, taking photos or signing into social media over the school’s lunch hour”.

Following this statement, the article notes that the use of cell phones may be permitted where a cell phone may be “helpful” to the task at hand, which includes a school activity or a specific lesson.

After reading this article, I felt somewhat torn about the situation. I understand the real life struggle that teachers and instructors face with permitting the use of cellphones in schools. It is evident that there are both pros and cons for allowing the use of cell phones within the classroom and now a days, many students own cell phones, starting at a young age. I’m sure we can all agree that it is very easy to become distracted by our cell phones. Personally, I use my cell phone for almost everything. From paying bills online, texting, taking photos and exploring social media, it is difficult for me to put my phone down and remember that moderation is key when it comes to the use of technology. In my opinion, whether or not the use of cell phones is permitted in the classroom depends entirely on the classroom teacher/instructor. However, it is encouraging to know that there are ways cell phones may be put to good use in the classroom. Rather than exhausting ourselves while “fighting the good fight and asking students to put their phones away during class”, consider the different ways technological devices, like cellphones may be used during class time. Recently, my colleague Jayme-Lee tweeted an article about “Five Ways Students Can Use Their Cell Phones in the Classroom”. Within this article, it provides a list of 5 digital resources that includes Kahoot, Quizizz, Pear Deck, Google Slides Q & A and Socrative. These resources are engaging, fun, encourages team work, and are effective for examining informational content. Therefore, if you find yourself in the position of picking battles with your students about the use of cell phones, remember that cell phones do have potential to be used for learning, as long as it is in a controlled and teacher-lead environment.

Since taking online classes with Alec and Katia, I learned about many digital resources available to both teachers and students to assist with learning. Professionally, I have grown and am much more open to technology than ever before. As an adult, I enjoy taking online classes. I am able to learn and communicate online with fantastic individuals, many within the same profession as me. Furthermore, I am able to collaborate from the comfort of my own home. As a teacher, I also believe in the concept of Blended Learning. I appreciate the combination of face-to-face instruction with my students while using technology to assist in my everyday teaching. When implemented effectively, a blended learning program can be beneficial and serve several purposes:

1) Institutions have the potential to manage instructional and facility resources more efficiently, teaching more students within a semester.
2) This approach is beneficial for students, providing the convenience and flexibility associated with online learning, freeing up time for work, family obligations or extra-curricular activities.
3) Blended learning develops a skill set for students that otherwise would not be possible in exclusive face-to-face instruction. Skills include digital citizenship, information management skills, self-directed learning, and web research and collaboration skills.

Therefore, what are your thoughts regarding the use of cell phones in the classroom? In your experience, do you agree we can use them to our advantage to assist in learning or do you feel they are a distraction? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic!

Thanks for stopping by!

Digital resources for online and blended learning

For this week’s assignment, we were asked to reflect on chapter 7 of Bates’ textbook. Within sections 7.1-7.4 and 7.7, Bates’ speaks about the pedagogical differences involving media and discusses methods for deciding which media to use when teaching. We were also encouraged to reflect upon our own experiences with learning from digital sources. After reading Bates’ text, I realized the importance of digital sources but also its usage for learning. Before integrating digital resources, a particular purpose of the exercise should be considered, before being utilized.

As listed in Bates’ text, there are 5 critical questions that need to be reviewed about teaching and learning before the teacher/instructor decides which form of media to select. By doing this, the teacher/instructor is able to determine which form of media (text, audio, video, computing and social media) will be most effective in regards to the representation of content and the development of skills.

  • what is my underlying epistemological position about knowledge and teaching?
  • what are the desired learning outcomes from the teaching?
  • what teaching methods will be employed to facilitate the learning outcomes?
  • what are the unique educational characteristics of each medium/technology, and how well do these match the learning and teaching requirements?
  • what resources are available?

Throughout my schooling experience (specifically K-12), I do not recall many instances when I worked with technology and media. My only exposure to technology was practicing my typing skills using a desktop computer. Sometimes, I got to play Oregon Trail. When research for an assignment was required, the internet was not an immediate source used to collect data. Instead, I was encouraged to use the many books found within our school library. At this point in time, technology and media was very limited. In fact, it wasn’t until my first year of university that I began using technology and media for learning.

However, with technology advancing every day and technology and media available at our fingertips, there are many reasons why teachers should and need to be incorporating technology into the classroom. Today’s technology sources provide many benefits to students, especially for those who require additional support for learning. Technology allows teachers to experience a variety of learning styles, encourages students to collaborate and share, to be actively engaged and more motivated to learn and to gain responsibility and independence. But above all, exposure to technology and media within schools is helping to prepare students for the real world in which they live. With technology entwined in our everyday lives, it is apparent that students are exposed to technology, and what better way to learn about technology and media than in schools where teachers can focus on the importance of digital citizenship and internet safety!

As a primary teacher, I make a solid effort to integrate a variety of digital resources (print, audio and visual) into my daily teaching. Like my peer Lorraine, I enjoy playing Kahoot with my students. Kahoot is an online resource which is very effective for examining content. The students enjoy playing Kahoot because it is fun and engaging. Although Kahoot can create somewhat of a competitive environment, it also encourages cooperation.

Bates’ encourages teachers/instructors to experiment with a variety of digital resources as experimenting with digital resources will produce different learning experiences. However, this process is often a challenge depending on the task at hand and the diverse levels of experience my students have working with technology. For some, signing into their personal account can be a difficult process. Before I integrate technology, I search for digital resources that will assist me in achieving particular goals or learning outcomes. Through this process, I have learned that technology and media are extremely beneficial for learning. However, it is only effective when it is used appropriately and in moderation. Although working with technology creates an intriguing learning experience for both teachers and students, it is important to note that “face-to-face teaching should also be considered a medium”. Furthermore, it is important to take the time to research the digital resources you intend to use before applying them. According to Bates’ “Different media have different potential or ‘affordances’ for different types of learning”. I strongly agree with this statement for the reason that if we take time to research specific purposes of digital resources, we can feel confident while working with technology and trust that the resources we have selected will contribute towards meeting specific learning outcomes, content and skills involved.

What are your learning preferences when it comes to digital resources? What digital resources have proven to be effective for you and your students? Please share as I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for stopping by!

Having fun with GoAnimate!

Like my classmate Benita Struik, I decided to create an animation video using GoAnimate to provide a review/tutorial of this creation tool. This was my first experience using GoAnimate. I have always wanted to try this tool and I feel it has great potential to assist with learning in my Grade 3/4 classroom. In the past, I have attempted to create videos using VideoScribe but found GoAnimate to be much more simple to navigate and user-friendly. Within this video, I explain how simple it was to sign up for GoAnimate as well as the strengths and weaknesses this online creation has to offer. Based on my recent experience, GoAnimate can be a very useful tool for learning. I hope you enjoy my video everyone! I do apologize in advance if the sound quality is not great.

I would like to note that I did have some difficulty posting my whiteboard animation video to my blog. When using the 14 day free trial, you are unable to share/export your videos. Therefore, in order to share my short video, I used a program called Screencast-O-Matic. This online tool allowed me to record my computer screen and then upload my recording to YouTube.

Please feel free to share your thoughts!

Google Classroom it is!

On Tuesday evening, we learned about CMS/LMS/VLE platforms. At first, I felt overwhelmed with the variety of platforms we covered during class and in such a short period of time, simply because before Tuesday I had never heard of Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle or Edmodo let alone used any of these online platforms before. As a primary teacher, incorporating technology into my classroom to assist with my everyday teaching can be a difficult process. Therefore, when integrating technology into the classroom I try to find programs that both my students and I will be able to utilize, whether together in the classroom or independently at home.

In choosing the online platform for our course prototype project, Jayme-Lee, Andres and I decided to explore a platform that we could see ourselves using within our own classrooms and to support student learning. Therefore, we decided to work with Google Classroom for our course prototype project. All three of us have not worked with Google Classroom before, so we were eager to discover what this platform has to offer. Today, my group and I were fortunate enough to meet with a colleague of ours who uses Google Classroom regularly with his students and was able to provide us with a detailed tutorial. While navigating through Google Classroom, we learned how to create an account, create assignments/documents as well as how to invite teachers and students to join the site. Teachers and students can be invited to join simply by entering their email address. Moreover, we were able to discover that this online platform has many valuable features and is very user friendly for both teachers and students.

Google Classroom is an online sharing tool where teachers, students and parents may have access to view/upload videos and assignments in the form of Google documents and PDF’s. Furthermore, teachers, students and parents can also view due dates for created assignments which encourages student accountability. Google Classroom is a great tool for immediate assessment, allowing teachers to edit student work and to provide feedback. Google Classroom can be accessed from a variety of devices such as computers, tablets and mobile phones. For students who have access to mobile phones, they can even receive alerts notifying them that their assignments have been edited by their teacher. Google Classroom also provides a calendar to organize deadlines and has an attractive yet simple layout.

Although it is still early within the semester, my group and I will continue to explore Google Classroom to see if this platform will complement our course prototype project. At this time, we intend to create and upload our modules, activities and evaluation tools onto our Google Classroom site. By each having access to our Google Classroom, we will be able to collaborate ideas and share documents which we will all have access for viewing.

After reading “Beyond LMS”, a post by Audrey Watters, it became clear to me that LMS has many advantages beyond the classroom. With technology advancing every day, it only makes sense that students gain access to information and their studies beyond the classroom and textbooks. Watters states,

“Ed-tech must be not become an extraction effort, and it increasingly is. The future, I think we’ll find, will be a reclamation project. Ed-tech must not be about building digital walls around students and content and courses. We have, thanks to the Web, an opportunity to build connections, build networks, not walls”. 

Therefore, if we create an environment where our students have access to their studies outside of the classroom, perhaps we can encourage students to be independent learners and to help them realize that technology can be beneficial to their education.

Thanks for stopping by!

Prototype project for blended learning, take one!

First off, I would like to start of my post for this week by saying it is great to be back online and taking another course with all of you fine folks! I have had the opportunity to read through many of your posts and have to say, I am feeling very inspired! Many of you seem to have some wonderful ideas for your prototype projects and all this motivation is encouraging! I am very eager to learn from all of you and look forward to everyone’s final products.

As for me, I am extremely fortunate to get to work alongside with Jayme-Lee Lazorko and Andres Araneda once again! Not only are they both amazing teachers, but they are also my co-workers. Together, we teach at Elsie Mironuck School. This has allowed us to stay in close touch with one another and collaborating ideas about our prototype project has been a simple process. This semester, we have been asked by Alec and Katia to create a course prototype which should entail specific lessons, activities and assessments. Jayme-Lee, Andres and I have decided to focus our prototype project around Blended Learning. Together, we appreciate how blended learning offers a combined learning experience, specifically a balance between teacher lead hands on interactive activities with digital based instruction. Moreover, we respect blended learning for offering students an equal learning experience, despite geographical location or socio-economic status. These are factors that we agreed are important and would like to see within our course prototype project. We have also chosen to focus our material at the middle year’s level. Although the specifics about our course prototype are not yet set in stone, we decided to focus our project around the English Language Arts curriculum. Seeing that technology plays such an important role within this subject area, we agreed that creating both interactive and digital lessons and activities would contribute to generating a fluent and dynamic learning experience for our students.

As for the tools we intend to use for our prototype project, we discussed using the following programs: Kahoot, Google Docs, Read & Write for Google, as well as WordPress. We chose these tools based on the activities we would like to see performed within our course prototype but also because using these tools allows us to track our students progress as well as assist them in their learning. We also chose these programs because they offer the ability to receive instant feedback for both teachers and students. Furthermore, parents have access to see what their children are learning/doing in school. My group and I are open to any suggestions you may have about any online programs you have used and found to be helpful within this subject area, so please share your ideas with us!

At this point in time, we have not thought a lot about the tools we intend to use in order to assess student learning. However, it is still very early within the semester and we welcome any ideas you may have to offer! What type of assessment tools would you use for the online portion of our prototype project? Please comment below and thank you!

Let the learning begin in EC&I 834!

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Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Roxanne Leung, I am a Grade 3/4 English teacher at Elsie Mironuck School. Before teaching Grade 3/4, I taught Core French among many other subjects for six years. Although I enjoyed teaching the French language and culture, I was ready for a new experience and gladly accepted a classroom position at the beginning of the 2016/2017 school year. I truly enjoy having my own classroom as it offers a different kind of experience, allowing me to create closer relationships with my students as well as establish routines. Aside from my profession, I am also a wife, daughter, sister, and soon to be mother. My husband and I are expecting our first child in April, 2017. We are beyond excited and simply cannot wait to meet the newest addition to our family!

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This is my seventh master’s class and third EdTech course with Alec and Katia. I really enjoy taking online classes with Alec and Katia as these classes allow me to balance work, school as well as my personal life. Furthermore, I am able to learn in the comfort of my home yet remain connected to so many wonderful individuals, some within my current profession and others that offer new experiences/perspectives in regards to education. I have to admit, when I first began taking online courses I was beyond nervous and extremely self-conscious as I did not (and still do not) consider myself to be too technologically-savvy. However, with help from Alec, Katia, and my classmates, I have grown both technologically and professionally. Technology is used often within my everyday life and I am learning how to use it for educational purposes in order to expand my PLN (Personal Learning Network) and find helpful resources which I can use to assist in my teaching. You could say, before I only used technology for entertainment purposes but now I truly see how crucial technology and the internet is when it comes to finding useful tools that offer different learning experiences that are beneficial to both my-self and my students.

Throughout this course, I hope to learn many things in regards to both blended (face-to-face) and online learning as well as effective assessment/evaluation strategies to follow. For this course, I have set three goals for learning. First, I would like to explore new teaching resources and programs that can be incorporated into my classroom to assist within my day to day teaching, specifically at the primary level. Second, I’d like to become more active with my twitter account as well as participate in more Twitter Chats, as I have had the opportunity to participate in two and found them to be extremely engaging and useful! Lastly, I would like to gain new ideas about how I can create and present my summary of learning project. Within past classes, I have used a program called Animoto that displayed my learning in the form of a slide show with a voice recording. I have also created a Podcast in the form of an interview conversation. Both of these tools were quite simple to use as well as an enjoyable way to display my learning. However, I would like to try something new this semester so if any of you have any ideas for user friendly programs, please let me know. I’d love to hear any ideas you may have to offer!

I am really looking forward to this semester! I am excited for all us to grow both professionally and technologically together. With that being said, let the learning begin! Thanks for stopping by everyone!

Summary of Learning

I can not believe how quickly this semester has gone by! I’ve truly enjoyed EC&I 833, thanks to Alec and all of my peers! When Jayme and I began planning for our summary of learning project, we had initially planned to create a video and audio recording using VideoScribe. However, after experiencing some difficulty with this program, we decided we were not going to waste any more time and select a different approach. After speaking with a co-worker within our school, he encouraged us to try doing a podcast. Jayme and I had never performed a podcast before, so we decided to step out of our comfort zone and said “let’s do it”. We downloaded a program that allowed us to record and save our podcast. We also used a super fancy microphone which contributed to the clarity in our recording. Despite having to change our original plan for creating our summary of learning project, Jayme and I had a lot of fun creating our podcast! We definitely recommend people try doing a podcast if they have not done so already. It is truly an enjoyable and creative way to reflect on a learning process. By clicking on the link below, you will be able to listen to our podcast. We hope you enjoy it! Thanks everyone!