Assistive Technology…

I believe one of the biggest advantages to having technology in the classroom is the way that it can help students with special needs reach their full potential. It feels like we have come a long ways in this area. Not only do we have more inclusive classrooms but we have found ways to make our students more successful in these settings and hopefully feel more included. We still have a very long ways to go but we for sure have things we can celebrate.

Prior to this presentation I focused on the higher level resources. This being computers, laptops and other electronic devices. I totally forgot about the low level technology we use on almost a daily basis. I have three students that I read with daily that have been diagnosed with Dyslexia. Not one of these students is the same and therefore they learn differently. One really enjoys using a ruler to keep the row they are reading right above the ruler. Another student uses the colored strips of paper that highlight the row they are reading. The third student prefers to just read without any assistance.

I have also used the pencil grips to help students work on holding a pencil correctly. Sometimes they have been successful but more often than not they have not. The students require constant reminders to place their fingers on them correctly and the moment they have a marker or crayon that does not have a pencil grip they are back to their old habits. Instead I have focused on teaching them a trick to grabbing their writing utensil in order to hold onto it correctly. This still requires a lot of reminders and practice but it tends to be more successful. Plus they do not lose this and spend half the lesson trying to find that pencil grip! This is the method I have tried, minus the little song!


As I have moved into the middle years age group I have found the technology I am using has also shifted. I have students that require computers to type out all their work. Learning about ways we can get programs to write out the notes was very helpful. I have started to use google read & write but I am in the very beginning stages with this. My experience and knowledge is limited so I really do not feel I can review this program. One thing I found really interesting was when Leigh mentioned “SETT”. It seems like such a great way to find what programs are best suited for the students needs. I am sure we have something similar in our division and as a Student Support Teacher, it would be very helpful I will have to look into it.

I also found Megan’s post about all the different types of Assistive Technology she is familiar with incredibly helpful. It has a simple way of identifying what core subjects it provides assistance in and also the prices that these programs cost. I often find the hardest part about incorporating technology is knowing what is out there and what is best suited for our students needs. Using both the SETT and this list of options that the group provided is definitely a great place to start.

Finally, the constant struggle with the digital divide seems very evident in this case. Some schools will have amazing technology in their classrooms. Students will come to school with their own support devices and also the knowledge and experience with them as they have access to these things at home. Other schools, communities or students will not have that same access. At the school I am teaching at, we are in working in a community that has a lower economic status. A majority of our students do not have the access at home to technology. We are very fortunate that our school has worked at providing opportunity for our students. We have multiple class sets of chromebooks and we have been able to provide students with their own personal computers when appropriate. We have projectors in every room, sound systems with microphones for the teachers in all our classrooms. This has been very helpful with our new way of teaching with masks on. It helps project the teachers voices throughout the classroom and has made it easier for all students to hear. We have also had multiple students with hearing aids so some of our classrooms have special speaker systems that work directly with the students hearing aid. Overall, I feel our school has done a pretty good job of meeting our needs of our students. We have had a variety of needs come through our school and we have found a way to make it work. From Pecs to high level tech we have different staff with all types of training. I know there is a lot more we could be doing to educate ourselves and incorporate more or better assistive technology into our school, but I really do feel we are doing a pretty good job after listening to this presentation! My favourite part was this feel good video, so I have included it in my post because everyone needs to watch it!


Assessment Tools…

That dreaded word…ASSESSMENT! So much of what we do revolves around assessment now. Pre and post assessment, summative, formative and so on. There are a million and one different ways to collect assessment and yet so often we find ourselves struggling to use the many different tools out there. As a student support teacher, a lot of my job consists of data collection. In order to write IIP goals, we need to have baseline data. What I find in my current school, is that we often do not have the best ways assessing our students when it comes to behaviour. Observation and checklists are high on the list for tools that we often use. With frequent assessing students, especially those with higher needs, can become anxious or act differently and therefore the answers do not reflect what they truly know. This weeks group presented us with some really great assessment tools that can be used in the classroom and can easily be adapted to work in a small group setting. The added bonus is they will also be very helpful if we are forced back to online learning.

Of all the tools they showed us, two really stood out ot me. Classkick and Quizizz. As we played around with these tools, I thought of some of the kids on my caseload. The fact that they can complete the assessment at their own pace without being rushed by everyone else was really appealing to me. That would cause a lot less panic and anxiety in some of my students. It would then likely turn up some more accurate results. Classkick offers an option to help out peers with questions. This allows for group work and student interaction which could be a super beneficial piece. It would help students explain their understanding and also allow me to assess some of the social skills of my students which is part of a lot of their IIP goals.

Kahoot has always been a fun way to wrap up some lessons with some of my small groups. They really enjoy it and some thrive on the competition. The use of technology is always an added bonus too. With Quizizz, the competitive piece is still there but the rushed clock is not. You do get a bonus for being quicker but the countdown takes that pressure away. You are constantly brought back to the scoreboard so you know where you are at but again, you move at your own pace. As a teacher, it seems to be easier to keep track of students answers and know exactly where they are at. You can customize quizzes or you can use ones that have already been created. It seems like it has taken a lot of the great features Kahoot has and transformed them to make it a little more suitable for a classroom setting. The fact that you do not need the screen projected with the questions, like Kahoot is a huge win. That can be really tough for students that are slower readers and they can barely finish reading the question from the board and the time is running out.

I am a little sad, ok not really, that I am on maternity leave right now as I couldn’t go and try these two tools this past week. I know some of the students I worked with last year would have really enjoyed them. I also wish I could explore them a little bit more while they are fresh on my brain. So often we go to conferences, workshops or whatever, and we learn about these amazing new strategies or tools but then when we go back to our classroom we fall right back into the same routine. During my time away from the classroom this go around, I am going to make notes of things I want to try with my students. I hope that way I will come back with a fresh new perspective and a lot more tools in my tool belt!

That Social Dilemma…

I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I pressed play on The Social Dilemma. I honestly did not realize it was recently released. I could have sworn it was from a couple of years ago. I found myself so engaged in the information they were sharing and also a little mind blown. I thought of people that totally fill the bill of falling into the trap of being pumped with conspiracy theories and seeing news that they want to see. Heck, I swear I say something to my husband about what we should buy and then I go on Facebook and there is an ad right there for what I was talking about. I really enjoyed that they used past employees from key businesses to share some insight into how different apps work. I also appreciated that they used a family as an example of how this affects us in real life. Unfortunately, I was able to relate in some ways to what they were saying. There were a few key points that really struck me.

The first one was when in the film it quotes Yale professor Edward Tufte saying, “There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.” This hit home to me in a way that shows just how addicted we are to social media. We scroll through social media aimlessly without a purpose. We find video after video to watch without any purpose. We seek attention from peers with each post and like that we receive. For me personally, I am still a Facebook user, instagram I hardly use and if I do it is not to its full potential by any means. Snapchat I avoided for the longest time because I was so against its purpose in the first place. I coached high school girls at the time and it bothered me the things I heard about the app. To me it seemed silly. Now it is the probably my most used social media app on my phone. Tik Tok is now the app I cannot get behind. I see the hours friends spend on it just watching video after video. Sure some of them are funny but yet it is more hours spent staring at my phone that I am trying not to do.

The second part of this that struck me was when they talked about us being the product. That changed the whole way I thought about my time spent on the phone. Knowing that I was slowly being manipulated and therefore with each video I am watching, they are finding new ways to engage me and get me to keep my focus for longer. Since watching the Social Dilemma, I have become more aware of what videos I watch and how the next video that comes up sucks me into watching another and then another. I have become aware of the trend and similarities in each video. The way the video used the three guys to show how our phone works and tries to draw in our attention by sending us notifications was a great example of demonstrating how this all works. We haven’t picked up the phone for an hour? Ok here, check out this news story “ping” new notification on my phone and now I am scrolling through reading and watching videos for the next 15 minutes. It reminded me of “Inside Out” and how our emotions are controlled at a little control panel.

The talk about mental health and how cell phone use is affecting our youth and their mental state was not a new topic of conversation. This has been brought up numerous times and they had the data to show how much things have changed. The part that resonated with me was when an ex-facebook executive claims that he is most concerned about a civil war. By this he is referring to the ability for these companies to spread fake news and manipulate what we believe to be true. It really got me thinking about the divide in our society these days especially in the United States. When they showed that evolving graph of voters in the states and how they are losing the common ground in the middle of a Democrat or Republican.

Political Polarization in the American Public | Pew Research Center

It is either an extremist one way or the other. The constant sharing of conspiracy theories and other fake news has manipulated so many people to believe in things and take extreme measures to prove them to be true. The coronavirus, pizzagate and many more are examples of that. Fact checking and making sure our resources are coming from valuable sources seems to be a thing of the past. I know I have people I know and follow on

social media that have fallen into this trap. I am sure their newsfeeds are full of similar videos or ads supporting theories they have been googling. It scares me to think about what direction we are headed moving forward, especially with the Presidential Election just around the corner.

The Social Dilemma shares a lot of information and has a lot of well known Silicon Valley employees speaking out. Of course they are all sharing the negative side of social media with very little reference to the positives. That was the point of the documentary. I think it needed to be done to really drive home their points. It got me thinking about my last class, EC&I 830, with Alec. Each week we had two groups debate two different sides about a controversial topic in regards to technology. Each week I went in thinking I was pretty firmly on one side. Then after the debate I would say you know what maybe I can agree with the other side too. One of the debates was “Is social media ruining childhood?” After hearing the class discussion my stand changed. I saw a lot more of the good in social media that day. I still do believe there is some good that comes from it. I just believe that with technology there needs to be moderation and limits. It can bring so much good but we also need to balance it out with the basics of human interaction, exploring and learning on our own and just taking a break and getting outside! As I raise my kids I am reminded of this everyday. My oldest loves to watch a show but at the same time she will gladly spend hours upon hours outside. I know if I can juggle that balance and hopefully keep an open conversation going, I will be able to help her navigate through this very “connected” world.

Can I Still Teach, How I Teach, Using Online Learning Tools?

The whole online learning world came crashing down on me as I came back from my first maternity leave. I was so excited to be back in the classroom and have some of my regular routine back. I remember feeling like I had been gone for years after my first week back. In just one year, our school had become way more tech savy and was doing a lot more online. I never felt I was out of the tech world until this moment. I was unfamiliar with all google had to offer with google docs, google classroom and google slides. We now had a school dashboard that we could access a bunch of files that no longer were found in the “Digital Admin Binder” on the Data drive. So much had changed in just one year. So last year I navigated through it all and learned all these amazing new tricks. Thankfully we had some staff that were great teachers and were willing to answer my millions of questions. I still feel I have a lot to learn but I am able to function without being completely lost. Before I was back at work for a year, Covid-19 comes crashing down on us and forces us to leave the classroom and shift to full time online learning. PANIC sets in again. I have no clue what I am going to do.

Not only has the jump to learning more about online tools been a challenging but rewarding process, but the school I work in is affected by a digital divide. Our students have limited internet access due to their financial state. If they do have internet at home they only have phones, tablets if they are lucky and gaming devices to access their online learning. The level of students engagement in the spring was minimal and therefore it made things even more challenging. On top of that, as an SST, I found I was really struggling with continuing on with the areas I had been focusing on with my students. This was especially challenging because I was lucky to even have one student that had a computer that they could use to complete assignments. The work I was putting in would rarely get any results and I was becoming frustrated. I can only imagine how my students were feeling. After a few weeks, my focus shifted and I changed my approach. I made sure to connect with my students and find other ways to try and engage with them. Up until June, I was only able to reach out to about six of the many students I worked with. It was a really hard few months for me as so much of my job is working with students that rely so much on a strong connection to their teacher. It was a terrible way to end the school year.

Fast forward to this year. I cannot wait to see my students again and get to work with them facemask to facemask. As amazing as this was, it was also hard because they learned very quickly that I was coming back to school eight months pregnant and once again I would be leaving. So here I am again, entering another maternity leave knowing full well that the online world is going to change drastically by the time I come back next fall. The only difference is this time I will get to learn more about the online world through Alec and this course and the EC&I 834 course I am taking next semester. I can expand my knowledge and try and find new ways to enhance my online game. The thing is, as a student support teacher, I find am using less technology than I ever have before. We talk so much about how we would use these tools in our classroom but yet what I do in my classroom seems so different with the small groups and the areas we focus on.

My goal is to find a way to make these amazing tools work in my classroom setting. I know the students would love it, they would be engaged in their learning and it will also give them experience with so many other online tools so that hopefully as they continue on their education journey, they will not fall behind their peers that have had access to technology at home and not just at school.

I found it really interesting how Curtis mentioned in the zoom chat during the presentation that “remote learning and online learning need to be seperate.” I found this challenged my thinking of what each of those mean. As I previously mentioned, the current pandemic has forced us as teachers, parents and students to learn very quickly about the online learning world. Some people have had a lot more experience than others and it has caused everyone to go through a phase of transition. I still find I am learning so much and these classes have helped me so much. I cannot imagine what teachers near the end of their careers are going through. Well, that’s not true, I can imagine, as I hear them complaining in the staff room:). There are so many unknowns at this point and therefore we have to be prepared to go to online/remote learning again at the drop of a hat. Even a year from now when I return to work, I may be going back to a very different teaching world…again.

So to finish off my ramblings, I am going to focus on some of the tools I would like to incorporate into my teaching tool belt. Flipgrid seems so easy to use and a fun way to get students to engage. I feel with some learning it would be a great way to get them to interact with one another and the best part is they can make their videos using multiple devices. Sharing answers post reading or even to a math problem might be a simple place to start. I also found nearpod to be a simple tool to use and I would love to share it with my colleagues that I work with for their class projects. Along with wakelet, it could be a great way for students to present their ideas and what they have learned during Genius Hour! In the spring, I was introduced to Flippity and Daina shared some great examples of it last week during our presentation. I would like to experiment with it a bit more and find ways to include it in some LLI lessons. I know the students would enjoy it and hopefully it would engage them a bit more. Plus if things going online then I have the resources ready to go. During tonight’s presentation Edpuzzle was mentioned. This is something I am very unfamiliar with but it sounded really interesting so I would love to look into it more and find a way to make it work with my students or to pass it along to the teachers in our building. I know there will be more that I will want to try but for now this will be a great place to start.

The possibilities are endless and to be honest I am a little sad I cannot go and try some of these tools tomorrow with my students. I know I will have more ideas tho by the time the opportunity comes!

Is the Internet really helping us multitask?

After watching “Single-tasking is the New Multi-tasking” I found myself laughing a little bit at the points that were made. I found a few of the points hit home with me while others are maybe not so accurate. I had to laugh when I thought of people sharing their screens in our class. I do not think I have ever seen one desktop with only one tab open at a time. It just does not happen. Everyone has multiple tabs open. It would be interesting to see how everyone would react to a “Tabless Thursday.” I know for me personally I hate having a bunch of tabs open at one time. I for sure use multiple tabs at work and have about 4-5 open when I am working on something, however, as soon as I can close them, I will. Just last year, I set up a dual monitor system at work and I found that to be so beneficial. Instead of wasting time flipping back and forth between tabs I was able to have my two screens up and work between the two. I found I was more focused and able to finish my work quicker because I was able to stay on task. I did not take breaks or become distracted between each tab change. Does that go against what he is saying with multiple tabs? His example about writing a paper and going off on tangents and then becoming distracted was very relatable. When I am struggling to wrap my head around what I am writing on I find I work in chunks. I might have a thought and then go and google it then look for a bit and then come back. It never escalates as far as he did in his example. I find the bigger distraction for me is my phone. I find even as I am writing this my mind is drifting off to other things. Staying focused can be difficult but I get distracted in different ways. I pause and text or snap someone. I think of something else I want to do and maybe make a purchase on amazon that I keep putting off. I pause and creep Facebook to see what else is new (nothing has changed since I did this 5 minutes ago). It is mindless breaks that I really do not need but it is a habit that I have created. I relate in the sense that I cannot finish a paper efficiently but not because of opening tabs on my computer but because of the phone that is sitting on my desk.

Is the ability to multitask really a bad thing? I remember past employers mentioning to me that they preferred to hire high-school athletes because their ability to multitask and get jobs done efficiently made them a more desirable hire. Of course, this is not always the case but that was just one observation that was made. A article I found mentioned “Multitasking has been heralded as one of the best ways to get ahead, both at work and at home. Doing more than one thing at a time can increase efficiency, productivity, free up more time, and in some cases, save you money.” talks about how multitasking can make you more competitive in your field and makes you beneficial to a business because you can take on more than one role. When I think of being a teacher, we are constantly multitasking. We are working one-on-one with a student while we keep an eye on little Johnny because we can see his frustration is starting to rise. We are also thinking about how much longer we are going to provide our students on this activity and when we should let them know its time to transition to the next. Not to mention thinking about our own families and maybe what we might need to grab on the way home in order to make supper tonight. Or is that just me?

To me this is all beneficial multitasking. What was mentioned in the video came across more as a distraction. Just like the phone that keeps buzzing on my desk and pulling me away from this blog. Our ability to ignore the urge to google some random fact that pops into our head or answer that text is what makes us efficient. Maybe I can answer that text quickly and move on with this post. Or maybe I answer that text, check instagram for the sixth time and then take a drink of water, look at the clock, think about what else I need to do today and then finally come back to the blog five minutes later. To me that is not multitasking, that is being distracted and getting pulled away from what I should be focusing on. Have you ever looked around the room at at staff meeting? How many people check their phones regularly or are on them constantly? How many people bring their laptops to do prep work while they sit through the meeting? Is that multitasking or is that disengaging from the meeting and trying to make the most of your time while being somewhere you have to be but don’t want to be? Some may be able to multitask and follow along and be engaged in the staff meeting for sure. I know that some of our teachers are not present in the staff meeting because they are focused on what is happening on their computer. How about students during class? Maybe if I removed my phone from the room while I wrote this blog I would be writing something far more magical?

Single-tasking is the New Multitasking – The Atlantic video

The invention of productivity suites and presentation tools have allowed us to become more efficient multitaskers. We can use many different presentation tools to share images, videos, text and more while presenting to a class. We allow our audience to focus on a visual while also listening to someone speak. This helps with different learning styles and also student engagement. We have all been to lectures where we have done everything we can not to fall asleep. The use of stimulating presentations have helped keep people stay engaged and it allows them to make connections to what is being shared. It takes a special person to captivate an audience and keep them with them without the use of some type of presentation tool. It seems as the younger generations get older they require more stimulus to stay engaged but they can also stay focused with a lot of stimulus around them. Everyone learns differently and everyone can handle different levels of multitasking. I just think it is important to know when multitasking is really just being distracted!

Sesame Street… the way school should be?

So many people have memories of watching Sesame Street growing up.  I, however, was not one of those kids.  I am sure I watched it a little bit but it is not one of the shows that I really remember watching growing up.  I knew the characters but that was likely more from people talking about Ernie and Bert, Big Bird and Cookie Monster.   So when I saw Postman’s quote: “…We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.”   It got me curious as to what Sesame Street feels schooling should be like.

I noticed that Sesame Street did do some pretty good things such as talk about topics that maybe aren’t easily addressed in homes or at school.  This could include conversations about race, death, HIV, obesity, breastfeeding, Autism and the mentioning of many life events such as 9/11.   I do feel that it was brave and with the best intentions when Sesame Street tried to tackle some of these topics.  It provides the opportunity for students to become aware of something that is happening around them when they maybe are unaware of it.  It also provides an insight into an area that they may see a different side of at home.   Maybe they come from a home that does not talk about death and this has provided an opportunity for a child to learn more about grief.   It might also spark a conversation at the dinner table if questions are raised.  It really could go either way.   I feel that mentioning these topics in an appropriate unbiased way is important… but there is so much more to traditional schooling than that. 


When comparing to traditional schooling of today, there is one thing that both Sesame Street and our education have in common.  Early intervention.  By this I mean, exposing children at a young age to learning.   We have pre-school systems set up for children at the age of 3 and 4.  That was who Sesame Street was trying to target.  They were the only ones at that time that were providing academic content to young viewers.  Television was new too so that attraction helped keep young viewers engaged.  That is much the same as now days with smart phones.  Two year-olds grab hold of the phone and know how to unlock them, find youtube or their favourite app and navigate it in a way that keeps them occupied.  The key word being occupied. 

They may get something from what they are watching but there is more to it than that.  There still needs to be a dialogue with an adult to really understanding what they are watching.  It rather compliments their learning instead of replacing it.  Using chromebooks, youtube, projectors and other AV technologies in the classroom is a way to add to the lesson, further the learning and gain student engagement.  It helps to meet different learning styles but it isn’t the only way.  There needs to be more to it than simply parking in front of the TV.   I see it all the time.  Parents handing their child a phone to keep them quiet.  There is no interaction with the child on what they are watching.  It is just instant Zombie mode and relaxation for the parent.  My daughter watches more TV than I would like but I try and engage in teaching when she is doing so.  We talk about the feelings that characters are feeling in moments on the show, we talk about the colors other observable things that are happening and I even have started to ask comprehension pieces about it.  It takes away my guilt but I also find it helps her really understand what is happening.  I tell myself moderation is what is important.  Just like in the classroom.  We have all this access to amazing technology, why aren’t we using it to further our students learning?  We can incorporate some of the basics and then enhance them with the new technology we have access to. 

I struggled all week with wrapping my head around this post.  Not only because I felt so unfamiliar with Sesame Street, but also because it really got me thinking about how I am interacting with my own kids and shows that are similar to Sesame Street.  I still feel like I haven’t unwrapped the full implications of what Sesame Street has done for generations of young learners.   Maybe that is just it, we don’t know the impact of a moment until way down the road?!


My Experience with LOGO!

Looking at this weeks blog prompts, I thought I would write about the chrome extensions because I had no clue what LOGO was and I didn’t want to mess around with it. However, I have very little to no experience with those so really I was a newbie either way. After Alec gave us some time in class to read through the LOGO workbook and experience some free time on the LOGO site, I was hooked. I found myself curious about how it all worked and trying out new ways to create images. I felt I caught on quickly and was moving through the process smoothly. I felt excited when I hit that run button and the image actually came out correctly. It was a sense of accomplishment. Yay! I did it. A few of the images I found easy but as I worked through the book they became more challenging. I was determined to figure it out tho. If I made an error I would try again until I got it figured out. I was a little frustrated that I could not undo my last error and then just continue on. I would have to clear the screen and then start over. This frustration became very evident when I tried to create my own “simple” images.

It was after class when I thought I would play around with the LOGO interpreter a little bit more. I thought I would create my own image. It was full of lines and 90 degree corners. I guessed a bit on the lengths of lines. It isn’t perfect but it worked. My strategy was to think it out all in one process and then hit run. If it didn’t work I would go back and try again. I found it a lot more satisfying to think it through than to just write in one step at at time. It was my way of challenging myself. I was happy when I saw I was successful. If you want to see what I made…here is the code: fd 20, rt 90, fd 100, rt 90, fd 20, rt 90, fd 40, lt 90, fd 70, rt 90, fd 60, rt 90, fd 20, rt 90, fd 40, lt 90, fd 50, lt 90, fd 40

I felt that first attempt at my own image was a little too easy. I wanted to experiment a little bit more. At this point I have stopped reading the guide book and am learning through my own experimental play. This time I didn’t want to just use 90 degree angles and straight lines. I challenged myself to make something a little more complicated. This was a lot more frustrating. I had to play with it a lot. I no longer could write it all out in one step. I had to attempt angles and see if I was turning in the right direction or not. I had to make notes on a seperate piece of paper so I did not lose the code. I became frustrated that I had to start all over when I made an error.

It was a lot of guess and check but I was determined to figure it out. I spent a long time working on my image. I was slowly getting closer to the end. I ended up having to draw it out on paper to try and wrap my head around it. In the end I had a finished product. It was not great and the angles are not exact and the measurements do not line up perfectly. I was still happy I got the image I did and was feeling like I had learned through the process of experimenting on my own. This is exactly what Seymour Papert was saying about constructivism, “Students learn through participation in project-based learning where they make connections between different ideas and areas of knowledge facilitated by the teacher through coaching rather than using lectures or step-by-step guidance.” Today I looked back at the workbook to see if I could have done things differently but I did not learn nearly as much as I did by just using the program. Here is the code to my second LOGO: Rt 90, Fd 20, Rt 110, Fd 100, Rt 70, Fd 10, Rt 65, Fd 30, Lt 125, Fd 30, Rt 60, Fd 10, Rt 65, Fd 100, Rt 115, Fd 20, Rt 65, Fd 70, Lt 115, Fd 20, Rt 50, Fd 10, Rt 50, Fd 20, Lt 125, Fd 70

Using LOGO is not something I see myself doing in the future unless I wanted to for fun. I do think some students would really enjoy coding. Even in talking to Shelby, we noticed how differently we think and how we found one blog prompt easier than the other. This is the same with our students. Some would become incredibly frustrated using the LOGO program but others would find it relaxing and enjoyable. I think it really challenges our thinking. Planning ahead, understanding angles and measurement is critical and also just that focus and determination is a skill some students need to work on. I can think of some of my own students I am currently working with that might find this really neat and I would love to see the images they would create. I am sure they would come up with something far more magical than I did.

This also made me think of a program I already use in my classroom. I have the Osmo and have used most of the different programs with my students. I mainly use the words, numbers and tangrams games and occasionally the Pizza Co. one with my students. The thing with the Osmo is kids are using an Ipad and manipulatives to work through skills such as reading or math plus lots of problem-solving skills. It is fun, interactive and can also be independent. The one program I do not have and have been curious about is the coding one. I am curious what it is like and how helpful it would be for students. It might be a great way to introduce coding to some of our younger students!

What Kind of Teacher am I?

I have found myself really reflecting on our class this past week. I keep sitting down in an attempt to write my response but yet I find I am stuck. There is so much to think about from last class that I do not know where to begin. The discussion was deep and thought provoking and wrapping my head around each theory of knowledge and theory of learning became a little overwhelming. The opening discussion about how do we know when we know something to the conversation about people having their own beliefs and only seeking answers from those that share the same view, really got me thinking and reflecting on what is happening in our schools right now with a political election coming and with all the new protocols surrounding Covid-19! It is very obvious to me who has a strong opinion on the matter and how they only see things from one view. It can make for some tense times in the staff room when a conflicting view comes in. As the week went on tho, I started to think about how I have changed as a teacher over the last tens years and how I have changed depending on what school I was in or what I was teaching.

When I first started teaching I was in a grade 3/4 classroom in our highest economic school in Moose Jaw. I had done my internship there and I had also attended this school as students so I was familiar with it. I was eager to have my own classroom and I was more than willing to put in long hours to create the lesson plans I had wanted. I think I had various ways of teaching that focused on a cognitivism approach and a constructivism approach. Teaching at the school I was, I had the opportunity to use experiences that the students had to further their knowledge. They had travelled, they had access to technology to further their education. For the most part the students were reading at or near grade level so it made it a lot easier to plan lessons that the whole class could work together on. The dynamics of the classroom and the support from home made it a little bit easier to build off of prior knowledge and to teach in a way that the students were really engaged.

The next four years of my career I spent in rural Saskatchewan teaching Kindergarten, Grade one and Grade two in a combined classroom. The class size was small and the levels of ability varied drastically. Half of my class came from a farm or ranch while the others lived within the small community. The knowledge these students had varied. At times it was tough because the students did not have the experience to build off of. Other times they did because growing up on a farm provided them with an experience that could not be taught. I really enjoyed my time teaching in rural Saskatchewan. I found I was using a Humanistic approach at times as I was providing my students with scenarios to learn from and I would role model experiences to help them better understand what we were talking about. I still mainly incorporated a constructivism and cognitivism approach. I was strategic about my groups with my students so that they could learn from one another and have a hands on approach to their learning.

The last five years I have been a SST in a community school here in Moose Jaw. It used to be the EAL school in town. Students from all over Moose Jaw were bussed here and they were provided the extra support they needed to be successful in both their learning and with learning how to become literate in English. It is no longer the EAL school as each school is responsible for EAL students in their catchment areas. However, the families that were part of our family were grandfathered in and the younger siblings still get bussed to Prince Arthur from out of catchment area. This means that in our school we have a lot of students from other countries and cultures. We also have a lot of students from low income housing in the neighbourhood. Since we have students with so many different life experiences, knowledge and abilities it has once again changed how I am as a teacher. Plus with me being in a different role and moving from an SST in grades 2 all the way up to grade 7, I have learned to adapt my style to suit my students needs. I absolutely love my current position and have found I have learned a lot from the students.

As an SST, I do feel I am still using constructivism but I have now used a bit of connectivism to help my students learn. I have used their past experiences from their home countries to help them make a connection to the book we are reading. So often our EAL learners struggle with comprehending a book. However, by making the connections to things that are familiar to them, they are able to understand better. It is also such a huge learning opportunity for some of our students that have not travelled out of the country, province or even city. Some of my favourite conversations have been off topic and student-led based on the sharing of a students culture.

Finally, the one thing I have noticed, as I reflect on myself as a teacher but more specifically as an SST, I have used a behaviorism approach with some of my students. My principal has commented to me a few times about how one of my strengths is connecting with some of our more challenging behavioural students. Each case is different and therefore my approach to working with them is also different. These students are often extreme cases where a students behaviour is my main focus and some major learning needs to take place. Positive and negative reinforcement has been one thing that they have responded positively to so that is why we used it. I know this is not what a lot of people support but with these specific students it was a positive experience. It was one of the only things that resulted in growth and change. Yes, for some students we used the dreaded classdojo and it was a game changer. Depending on the student, we were able to alter the positive and negative points to suit the child’s needs. We were also able to hide the negative points so they were unable to see that they had lost points. It ended up being a tool multiple staff members could use to collect data. In the end we were able to see trends and target behaviours to help the student learn. Some kids it was not as successful and we moved onto other tools. I really do think in some cases it is an option and like most things, moderation, how we utilize it and the other strategies we use in collaboration will determine how beneficial or detrimental behaviour conditioning is. I know the way I teach has evolved as I have learned more, changed positions, schools and even students. At the end of the day if we are connecting with our students and meeting their needs, that is what it is important. I will continue to adapt and embrace new theories to help my students reach their full potential. I will make mistakes along the way I am sure but I hope I will continue to have success with some of our most challenging students.

Image may contain: text that says 'Every time you hear yourself say, that kid is "attention seeking, replace it with, that kid is "connection seeking," and watch your perspective change. #KidsTheseDays @DrJodyCarrington'

Educational Technology

When I think about educational technology, I find it has changed a lot over the past year due to the circumstances we are currently in.  Some teachers may have already been doing this but others were forced to move our classrooms online. Now that we have returned to school and things are still different.  The push is for more use of technology in the classroom and no longer using paper and pens to complete assignments.  However, this push been around long before Covid-19.  It has always been a heavily debated topic as some people have different views on if the use of technology is always a positive thing.  Not only that, but everyone has their own opinion on what tools are the most appropriate and have the largest influence regarding our students learning.  Educational technology uses various types of media, technological processes and educational resources to help improve users academic performance.

The way educational technology has evolved over the years is crazy to think about.  I have been teaching for ten years already (that seems crazy, I still feel like a newbie) and the amount of change in our classrooms is drastic.  We now have class sets of chromebooks, Ipads and laptop carts for all of our classrooms. Our computer labs are no longer filled with students but instead they are filled with dated computers that are broken or not updated. This is a lot different than the classrooms I grew up in many years ago.  We thought it was pretty darn cool when that TV came rolling into the classroom.  You just hoped that the VHS had been rewinded so the teacher did not have to do that.  If you sat at the back of the classroom you had to dodge from side to side to see around those shifting in their seats in front of you. 

Now we project a movie on the board that is streamed and you can easily see it from anywhere in the classroom.  If it is a short clip, you can access the link on Google Classroom and watch it on your own with your own computer and headset.  This got me thinking about the article, “Five Things We Need to Know about Technological Change” and how the point about technological change is an ecological change because, “A new medium does not add something; it changes everything” (p.4).  The way we teach, the things we have access to and the way we are able to help our students engage and learn is forever changed.  So many of the new technologies are forced on us and this new tool becomes our normal. 

                With the ecological change of new technologies, it also brings challenges.  This is why we need to be aware of what innovations we are bringing forward.   Another point that was brought up about technological change, was that “every new technology benefits some and harms others” (Postman P. 2).  With the integration of more technology we can further the digital divide and leave some students struggling to meet outcomes when they do not have access to the same media and tools that others do.  Every learner is able to learn in different ways, technology can help with that, but it can also make things more challenging for some.  This ties in “The Media Debate”.  In this debate, Richard Clark and Robert Kozma argue over the use of technology and its affects on our learning.  Clark feels that “It cannot be argued that any given medium or attribute must be present in order for learning to occur, only that certain media and attributes are more efficient for certain learners, learning goals and task.” (Clark 1994:22).  To further his point, Clark insists on the replicability test: and “Whenever you have found a medium or set of media attributes which you believe will cause learning for some learners on a given task, ask yourself if another (similar) set of attributes would lead to the same learning result.  Therefore, is the use of technology helping us learn more or is it just a tool we use to express what knowledge we have?  

On the other hand, Kozma feels that “learning with media is a complementary process within which a learner and a medium interact to expand or refine the learner’s mental model of a particular phenomenon”. Therefore Kozma (1994) concludes “If we move from “Does media influence learning?” to “In what ways can we use the capabilities of media to influence learning for particular students, tasks, and situations?” we will both advance the development of our field and contribute to the improvement of teaching and learning.”

I used to think that I was pretty good at integrating technology in my classroom.   However, after taking my last class with Alec, I realized I had a lot to learn and I was not using the technology to its full capacity.  There is so much out there that we do not even realize and I think that is part of the problem.  Teachers are not aware of what educational technology they have access to.  On top of that, if they do know what they can use, they do not know how to use it to its full potential.  We are often provided with new sources of technology in our schools but there is little to no training on how to use them.   We hear about google slides, Kahoot, coding, virtual reality options and so much more but yet we rarely get the proper training on what we can do to integrate them properly into our classroom.  I think that is why I enjoy these classes so much.  I learn about so many new high-tech interactive and collaborative tools that can be used effectively in our classrooms.   I cannot wait to see what new things I can incorporate into my teaching after taking this class!