“Google It” vs “The M Word”

This weeks first debate topic was “Schools should not be teaching anything that can be googled.” Agree or Disagree? 

“The M Word”

My initial instinct on this topic is bias towards the disagree side because of the experiences I have had in my teaching career. Some argue that students don’t need to know basic math facts because they will always have a calculator, but I have found it is incredibly difficult to teach mathematics concepts to students who do not know their basic math facts. I see it as more than simple memorization (aka “The M Word”), it is also about developing problem solving and critical thinking skills. Ben Johnson argues that this memorization must come before critical thinking can occur:

Bloom’s Taxonomy maintains that the highest order of thinking occurs at the evaluating and creating levels which infer that the thinkers must have knowledge, facts, data, or information in their brains to combine into something new, or with which to judge relative importance or value. Therefore, effective knowledge acquisition has to come first.”

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William R. Klemm shares similar arguments in his article:

“Moreover, many educators at all levels have disdain for memorization, stating that we should focus education on teaching students to think and solve problems, as if you can think and solve problems without knowing anything.”

Yes we need to teach students to be critical thinkers and problem solve, but before that can happen we need to go back to the basics and give them the foundation. The disagree team (Amy and Heidi) did a great job of defending their viewpoint and focused a lot on the research that supports the importance of memorization. Although they won my vote, and I stand by my opinion that memorization and basic skills are crucial, the agree team also made some great arguments.

“Google It”

Something that stuck with me from the agree team (Luke, Ashley, and Andrew) was their argument that if students think everything can be googled, they lose their motivation for working hard to figure something out rather than getting an instant answer. One of the problems Google has created, is the stop it puts to questioning. Dictionary.com defines Google as a verb:

verb (used with object), Googled, Googling.
2. to search the Internet for information about (a person, topic, etc.)
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You want to know something? Google it. Once you have your answer, you’re done. Google naturally suggests “answers” as stopping points.  Google has become more than just a search engine, it has become a way of life. If we want to encourage students to think critically, ask questions, and problem solve, they need to know that they can go beyond searching Google.

Although Luke was on the agree side, in his blog post he makes note that basic skills are important, but it is equally important to challenge students. He argues that student engagement and practical application are key factors in the learning process. In his latest blog post, Dean mentions Genius Hour as a way to get students to explore and learn about topics that are of interest to them, which would meet the student engagement and practical application criteria Luke mentioned.
In summary, although I stand my ground on the disagree team’s side that basic skills and memorization are necessary and should not be overlooked, in order for deeper learning to occur, higher level thinking and problem solving skills are needed. But this cannot happen unless students first have the basic knowledge that comes for memorization and basic facts.

Nothings Fine, I’m Torn

Since this class is an “Educational Technology” class, you would think it would be difficult to convince any of us that technology in the classroom can hinder learning. However, during last week’s Great EdTech Debate the disagree side argued some very strong points and I found my own opinions being pulled in opposite directions. Elizabeth and Ashley are just some of the others who are feeling the same way as me. In the words of Natalie Imbruglia’s 90s hit song: I’m Torn! ( Sorry- I know you will all have that song stuck in your head now.) This is not something new for me, in ECI 832 I wrote several blog posts discussing my struggle with the good and bad sides of technology. Sherry Turkle offers some controversial, but thought provoking thoughts on the topic.

Both the agree and disagree side made some very convincing points during the debate. Technology in the classroom is truly transforming education and providing teachers and students with an endless amount of possibility. Collaboration, student ownership, and asynchronous environments are just a few of the tools that technology provides. The agree side debate team did a great job arguing their points, but none of that information was really “new” to me. The disagree side however, brought to light certain arguments that I had not considered, such as having properly trained teachers or the distraction technology can cause.

I would like to focus on the distraction piece because this is something I struggle with personally as a teacher, but until this debate had never given it much more than a frustrated thought. So often when students are using devices (usually chromebooks) in my classroom, I find myself continually having to watch to make sure they are not using it for other purposes or getting “distracted”. Our school has a program called Go Guardian that allows teachers to track what students are doing on their chromebooks. It is very useful, but doesn’t solve the problem because I still catch kids watching YouTube videos while they should be doing something else. I am also at a school that does not allow cellphones in the classroom. The reason for this? Because of the distractions they cause and the misuse of the device. 1:1 or BYOD can be a powerful tool, and as much as we try to educate students on the proper use of devices in the classroom, we can’t control if they are sending Snapchats while you are teaching a math lesson.

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Photo Credit: JoePhilipson via Compfight cc

Although I think these are major issues with technology in the classroom, I will admit that I couldn’t imagine teaching without it. Being in my 5th year of teaching, I have had access to technology my whole teaching career. The opportunities I have and the resources I can use are great. So again, I find myself being torn in both directions. But perhaps, like so many things in life, it is all about balance. Technology in the classroom should be utilized, but it should not be the sole resource we use to educate our students.

Back At It… For The Last Time!

Hey everyone! This is my 3rd class with Alec and Katia- they’re so awesome I keep coming back for more! (But sorry Alec, this time I’m full out #teamkatia.) This is also my very last class in my Master’s program- it has been a long, challenging two and a half years and all my hard work has finally paid off.

This time I am taking the class with my fiance Carter. We live in Moose Jaw and both teach for Holy Trinity Catholic School Division. The third (and most important) member of our family is our dog Lizzie.

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Lizzie’s signature look: the one-ear flop 

My passion and interest in educational technology started with the very first class I took from Alec and Katia, ECI 832. I learned SO much and found that I was really interested in everything to do with educational technology, digital citizenship, media literacy, and so much more. Since then I have taken every opportunity to learn more from them in ECI 831 and now in ECI 830. I am looking forward to learning more about some of the issues in educational technology in this class and I think the weekly debates will be a really great way to learn and discuss them.

Last semester in ECI 831 we had a learning project where I created a book blog “Reads by Amy”. Even after the class ended I have been doing my best to keep up with it. If you love books as much as me be sure to check it out!

I am looking forward to this semester and learning from all of you, see you on Tuesday!

You can also find me on twitter @AmyScuka

Reads by Amy Wrap-Up

Hard to believe the semester has finally come to an end! Although I am hoping that my Reads by Amy learning project has not come to an end, I am planning to continue what I have started and continue posting book reviews.

It’s hard to summarize all that I have done with this project and recap everything into one final artifact. My reflections and experiences throughout the semester can be found in my Major Project category, but here is a quick video I created to show a snapshot of what I have done with Reads by Amy this semester. Enjoy! And be sure to check out readsbyamy.wordpress.com if you haven’t had a chance. I would also like to thank all my classmates that offered support during this project and helped to direct traffic to my blog. It was very much appreciated 🙂

Summary of Learning

Wow- it’s hard to believe the semester has already come to an end! Danielle and I worked together on our summary of learning and created this newscast. The only tools we used were the app “Do Ink” for the green screen, and we used iMovie to put it all together. Enjoy!

Reads by Amy- Slow and Steady

It’s been awhile since I have updated my stats for Reads by Amy:

Twitter: 30 followers

Instagram: 64 followers

Blog: 17 followers

I was beginning to get frustrated earlier in this project because I was not seeming to get many followers on my blog or other accounts. So I took a bit of a break from watching them really closely and focused some more time on just posting often and interacting with other bloggers. I know that this project isn’t just about getting followers, but for me it’s evidence that people are caring about what I am doing and taking the time to read my reviews and connect with me.

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This week I struggled with my latest book review because I didn’t really like the book I had just read, so I was unsure if I should still post about it. All of the books I have reviewed on my blog are ones that I have really enjoyed and would recommend to others, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start posting about ones that I didn’t really love. But in the end I figured even if I didn’t love this book, other people might. (And if I didn’t post it as a review I would have to wait another week until I finished my next book to post a review! And I think the key to keeping followers is to post regularly).

Have you followed my blog yet!? If not check it out! And if you know any other book lovers pass the link on to them, I would appreciate it! https://readsbyamy.wordpress.com/ 

Thanks and happy reading 🙂

 

 

Slacktivism-Isn’t It Better Than Nothing?

So I learned a new term this week… Slacktivism. Turns out I know what it is, I just didn’t realize there was a term associated with it. Nor did I realize how split people’s opinions are about it.

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Abby Rosmarin defines slacktivism as:

“When people do something online in support of a certain cause or event, such as sign a petition or share a news article, that requires little time and/or thought. A lot of people consider it a useless endeavor and tend to have some less-than-kind statements about those who do it.”

Scott Gilmore gives a very different definition:

“A slacktivist is someone who believes it is more important to be seen to help than to actually help. He will wear a T-shirt to raise awareness. She will wear a wristband to demonstrate support, sign a petition to add her voice, share a video to spread the message, even pour a bucket of ice over her head. The one thing slacktivists don’t do is help by, for example, giving money or time to those who are truly making the world a better place: the cancer researcher, the aid worker, the hospice manager.”

Gilmore argues that these slacktivists that like or share a post on Facebook, then become less likely to donate money or actually physically do something to help because they feel they have already done their part by posting on social media.

Another article by Kate Groetzinger contradicts Gilmore’s arguments, saying that those who support online movements are more likely to contribute in real life.

Elizabeth shared some of my same thoughts this week in her blog post, stating that although slacktivism is not the same as activism, it is a step in the right direction for positive change. Something Elizabeth said in her blog post that I think hit the nail on the head was: “So, yes, you may be an activist, and you may think slacktivists are, well, slackers. But at least they are starting somewhere.”  I couldn’t agree more!

Something that comes to mind is the number of Go Fund Me fundraisers that have popped up on my Facebook feed in the past year or so. The amount of money raised for family and friends in need is incredible. As long as people are actually contributing money and not just sharing the page, the impact is huge. And even though some people may be “slacktivists” about it and not donate only share the page, maybe they share it and in turn someone who sees it goes to donate money. That is an incredible thing and the amounts of money I have seen raised would not be possible without social media.

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So yes I understand that people don’t always DO something, but it is at least spreading the word about certain issues to people who maybe wouldn’t have known about it otherwise. And not everyone is DOING something, but I guarantee some people are. Isn’t that better than nothing?

Just for fun, here is some evidence that I could be considered a slacktivist. A snapshot from my ALS ice bucket challenge from a few years ago- and YES I donated money afterwards! (So does that mean technically I’m not a slacktivist??)

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