EC&I Summary of Learning- Holly and Heidi

I must say that this class was a great introduction to my masters. I have been so thankful to be apart of a warm community of learners. I can honestly say that I have learnt so much from you.
Heidi Warren and I decided to use iMovie  to complete our summary of learning. We had a lot of fun making the movie and we hope that you have fun watching!

Hope to have the opportunity to work with you/ continue in classes with you in the future!

Thanks for watching


Virtual Leaning Experiences

Thanks to  Logan Petlak and Bill Cook on an awesome presentation. This was my first time learning about Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in general and you have overturned previous biases that I had related to this topic as a result of it.

The first experience that I have had with VR beyond this course is the virtual walk through of the new Connaught Community school. (See Images below or follow the link below to check it out for yourself!) To me this is certainly a great way to experience the new building in a new way.

Connaught VR.PNGThis connaught-2

Image Source

This tour actually works best on a mobile device and is also compatible with virtual reality glasses.

This experience, as well as after learning more about VR this week has opened my eyes to the learning that’s made possible by this technology. I appreciated this quote from the article “Augmented Reality Teaching and Learning”

Instruction can foster learning by providing rich, loosely structured experiences and guidance (such as apprenticeships, coaching, and mentoring) that encourage meaning making without imposing a fixed set of knowledge and skills (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Source.

To me this description embodies the positive implications of VR in classrooms today. This loosely structured experience can provide rich, meaningful experiences that extend far past a set of curricula. However this tool cannot be our only tool of instruction. Nicole did a great job at outlining some of the potential dangers of VR and AR. Her statement ” I do also think we need to look at whether or not our students are ready for a virtual world when they have yet to experience so many things in the real world.” Is certainly one I can relate to. To me this is why once again I am compelled to call for balance when incorporating these tools as apart of our instruction.

Furthermore, Launel asked the question in her blog,

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

To aim at an answer to this question I foresee  my middle years instruction being greatly enhanced as a result of the possibilities created by AR and VR. Heidi  did a great job in her blog at outlining the fact that VR has the potential to be for everyone as a result of Google Cardboard. This is certainly a tool that I would be eager to embrace and incorporate in my classroom.

This Ted Talk certainly helped me consider the impact that VR has on education and the practical tools that can be applied as a result. If you speed up to 7:40 you can see an awesome example of a classroom using Google Cardboard to enable students to explore the world. I love how connected our world becomes as a result of the evolution of technology. These experiences would be so meaningful for students and are not just meant for the privileged few.

Google Expeditions is what I am MOST excited about incorporating in my middle years classroom. expeditions.PNG

I am very excited for what is in store for educators when it comes to the use of VR and AR but I certainly want to be fully aware of how this technology impacts my instructional practices, both positively and negatively and strive to create the appropriate balance.


Overall, I am very excited to embrace VR and AR in the classroom. I know that I will need some help along the way but the opportunities that are possible as a result will be worth the effort.
Let me know what you think, what technology are you most excited about using?

Thanks for reading!

To Assist is to Teach

The technological revolution that has brought about assistive technology is a truly beautiful thing. We can be so thankful for those that have enabled this change to positively impact so many lives.

I had a brief experience with assistive technology when I broke my right collarbone playing rugby when I was in Grade 10. My injury prevented me from comfortably using my right hand to write. Although at the time I wasn’t disappointed that this happened around the time of my final exams I soon learnt that I had to explore alternate avenues for learning. My go to study method was to write study notes. I found it a challenge to simply read the information and absorb the content. Thankfully my teachers made it possible for me to  use a tape recorder to record my responses (I’m sure my english teacher loved correcting that essay questions, ha!). This experience gave my a minute understanding of the challenges that one might face in school and in life if they had a disability.

In ‘Special’ Technologies Make The World More Accessible To All” a number of remarkable technologies make everyday tasks accessible to all. I appreciated reading this article because I hadn’t considered how difficult it would be to do simple tasks like use an ATM. I would venture to suggest that a tremendous challenge for those with a disability is that those privileged stuggle to understand or consider the everyday challenges a one might face  with a disability.  screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-12-49-37-pm

Image Source 

As a teacher I had one experience in particular that stands out in my mind. In my grade 7 class I had a student with Albinism. Albinism can exhibit a range characteristics but this student in particular had challenges with her sight. Although people with albinism always have problems with vision, the degree varies greatly among individuals. This student had a great support system at home and was an exemplary student. The key accommodation that was noted was that she couldn’t read text easily on white paper, or see things when there was a glare (in the winter she struggled to see outside when there was snow). I took this into consideration and used colored paper for handouts and activities. As the semester progressed I would notice that she would be straining her eyes when reading a textbook or when I was sharing text on the smartboard. I often found that  since she was an exemplary student who completed her work and stayed on task that I forgot about making accommodations for her in certain tasks. I continued to work with her and attempted to do my part for her success but as I reflect I think I could have done much more to support her. I was very thankful that an outside agency, CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) provided support for her on a monthly basis. A volunteer would take her around town practicing learning and reading street signs (since they wanted her to have independence in being able to acquire her driver’s licence) and assist her in using an iPad and an app called TapTapSee she used to take photos and use color alterations to the photo to ensure she can read the text when she is out and about at restaurants and stores.

Screen Shot 2016-11-20 at 3.03.17 PM.png

In the article “Rethinking Assistive technologies” Edyburn points out this challenge with the question,

How am I supposed to consider AT when I don’t know what the options are? (Edyburn, 2000). Likewise, there are few tools to support the many decisions associated with assistive technology consideration.

There is a wide to range of tools available but I find it overwhelming to know how to support all learners. I am very thankful for knowledgable admin and LRT’s that have worked with me to provide support to these students.

Krista did a great job in her blog at highlighting the stigma that coincides when students receive extra help from assistive technology. I love her statement “Now and in the future, I want my own children/ students to understand, that there is nothing wrong when using tools to support your learning. I am hoping that we can break this stigma and have all students understand that using supportive /assistive technology is for all learners.” I totally agree with this statement and I think it’s very important to combat the stigma that exists and shift towards the idea that assistive Technology supports ALL learners.

One thing that helped combat stigma in my classroom is to teach them about the technology that student is using and/or the nature of their disability. I invited my studnet with Albinism to teach about her experience with albinism and she was so happy to have the opportunity to share with her peers. I often find that students oppose or reject what is unfamiliar (as well as people in general). When their questions were answered and they were educated it took away the stigma in that particular situation. I hope that in the future I can continue to approach these challenges in a sensitive way that will support my students.

To conclude I loved watching the Ted Talk by Ron MacCallum for me, his experience highlights the fact that it takes caring, passionate people to support individuals with special needs. With the help of volunteers, inventors and teachers he became a lawyer, an academic, and, most of all, a voracious reader. It is encouraging to think that we, as educators could empower another to succeed in this same way. I would never want a lack of insight or experience hinder any student, regardless of their ability.

What experiences have you had with combatting stigmas related to assistive tech or students with disabilities in general? Anyone else experienced a similar challenge?

Please comment! Thanks for reading


Non-Techie Solutions to REAL Solutions in Assessment

Honestly I always feel like one thing I really need to improve upon in my teaching is a lack of formative assessment for my students. It seems that I am often too focused on my instruction, supporting my students in completing their work, and chasing after them to hand in their work that assessment seems to take a back seat. To combat this issue I have tried a couple non-techie strategies in an effort to generate authentic assessment of my students. Two of these efforts that I find effective include:

  1. Student use small white boards to write their responses (especially in math) and hold them up so I can see who is understanding and who isn’t very quickly
  2.  Snapshot oral assessments I often use this in all subjects to rate a student’s understanding on a range of topics

Both of these forms have their pros and cons but I find that my students appreciate doing both and I find it to be great way for me to get a true idea about where they are at. However I chose to point these strategies out because I am very excited that the awesome presentation by Tyson, Jen, Nathalie and Nicole has informed me on ways to support these strategies in my classroom.


A great alternative to using whiteboards is Plickers. I like many others am very interested in using Plickers and I found that it is a more efficient way of practicing the first method that I already implement in my classroom. Andrew did a great job at pointing out the pros and cons of plickers in his vlog!  One aspect that I am very interested in is the fact that it can be implemented in a classroom where not all students have access to devices.

I also loved the video that Krista posted about plickers on her blog which also outlined a detailed list of many great aspects of using plickers. Since so many have done such a great job of describing this program I won’t spend too much time discussing this tool. This is certainly something that I am really looking forward to trying.



Another alternative to oral assessments with students one on one is Recap. I have used an app called Coach’s Eye as a wrestling coach. This is a very popular app since it allows athletes and coaches to review techniques and performance. I really felt like an app like this would be very helpful in my teaching  since it would give me time record students responses and review them later but I didn’t give it much thought till now.
I was able to do some research and find out about the app “Recap. ” Now please bear with me because I haven’t used it but I am really excited about it!

Video Source 

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-10-55-01-pm Image Source 

Recap is a student video response and reflection app that is a secure and practical way to use video in classrooms, giving students, teachers and parents easy access to vivid learning insights through video.


  • Recap is free, and easy to use
  • Teachers can set up classes and students can use the class pin to join their teacher’s class
    • This can be used using google + and email as well
  • teachers can create assignments and add questions for students
  • allows the teacher to guide instruction and insert reflective questions of their choice. Students respond to the questions with a video
  • Teachers have ample time to review student’s answers and assess understanding
  • Great way to differentiate instruction for students who may struggle with written responses
  • Can be shared with parents


Image Source


  • Students must have access to a device
  • It may be difficult for students to have a quiet space to complete their reflection (especially if all students are responding at the same time)

This would be a formative assessment tool since it allows teachers the much-needed time to hear about student’s thoughts and insights into various topics. I feel like this week has been very beneficial for me to reflect on my assessment practices and strive to do better in the days ahead.
Anyone else moving from the non-techie assessment towards these techie tools? How is the transition going?? I would love to hear from you and get any tips!
Thanks for reading!

Web 3.0 – A Perfect Storm?

Last weeks team did an awesome job of opening my eyes to what Web 1.0-3.0 is. Thanks Erin, Naomi, Angus, Kyle and Heidi for sharing. I really had no idea what the evolution of the web was all about so this has been an eye opening week of learning for me. I really feel like my understanding was also improved by  Gerstein’s article, Moving from Education 1.0 Through Education 2.0 Towards Education 3.0.  The key point that has resonated with me is that the level of connection that is created through Web 3.0 is causing a societal shift.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Image Source

We live in a connected world where nearly two billion people connect to the internet, share information and communicate over social media, Wikis, blogs, and a host of other media. This network offers endless possibilities. In this way I really appreciate the analogy that Gerstain uses describing these technologies as if they were creating “the perfect storm.” For me when I consider the world of Web 3.0 I would liken it to a storm, I just don’t think I could call it perfect.

Some of the biggest challenges that are apparent for me have been eloquently pointed out but others including NancyHeidi and Allison. When it comes to assessment and outcomes I am not convinced that Web 3.0 will be easy for me to adopt. tech storm.jpg

Heidi said it well when she stated,

While there is a push for inquiry and student driven learning in education, there is also a push for accountability and checking off boxes/assessing outcomes.

Image Source

I am not convinced that the storm pictured on the right (aka Web 3.0) will provide the freedom to ensure that ALL students are learning. There is a definite set of tools that students must have to be successful in life. The ability to read, write and do basic math skills requires a structured learning environment. Without a curriculum or definite set of assessment tools it is very difficult for me to imagine that these skills could be accomplished.

On the other hand, perhaps the post-secondary setting would allow for more collaboration and creativity that would be very beneficial. Has anyone seen an example of Web 3.0 being effective in an elementary setting?

In his TedTalk, Philippe Modard points out that one downside of Web 3.0 is that “We will be so dependent to the internet that we will live inside the web and not with the web.”  To me this further illustrates the analogy of Web 3.0 being like a storm. There is greater potential to become dissuaded because some students may not rely upon on our critical thinking skills but require a machine to find our car keys and tell us when we are out of milk.

Although this paints the storm in a negative light I truly do see positives in the model of Education 3.0. I really appreciated Gerstein‘s conclusion of the article,

A mental shift occurs when a fixed mindset, which often leads to learned helplessness, is changed to a growth and positive mindset, where one believes that there are options: that one can grow, change, and be significant. It becomes focusing on what can work rather than what is not working.

I feel that in the profession of teaching we are faced with a long list of challenges, a significant one is the ever-changing landscape of technology. I love the idea of reflecting on where our focus is each day. If we are focused on the struggle it is harder to see the reward. I believe that I must focus on the positive parts of the change and do what I can, (even if it is one small step at a time) to incorporate aspects of Web 3.0.

I feel like this connectivist approach allows for school to be stimulating for all learners (not just those who excel at book learning) and allow for more genuine interaction and relations amongst peers as well as teachers. However, I feel like I have a great deal to learn about how to create a structured program that supports learners, especially our most vulnerable. Especially when I consider an elementary setting I am not convinced that the storm of Web 3.0 will be the most effective tool to ensure we are educating and preparing young people for the world.

On the other hand is Education 3.0 what we must do to prepare our students for the future?? Like Gerstein stated in his article, “The learner needs to be central to all teaching endeavors.” Therefore I would not want my own perplexities to limit my student’s learning.
How can I provide structure while utilizing the benefits of Web 3.0?

Please let me know what you think. 🙂


Virtual Classrooms and Virtual Connections

This semester has been a great way to start my masters class. I was very apprehensive about taking a class online because I really felt like it would hard to be accountable while meeting online and being responsible to complete my work each week. Although I really feel like this hasn’t been my biggest challenge in online education, I feel like I have a greater sense of myself as a learner and am able to really consider the pros and cons of using these tools for learning.

I felt like Allison really expressed my thoughts in her honest blog post. She wrote about the struggle of not having face-to face interactions, and also finding originality difficult because we are reading each others’ posts week-to-week. I feel like I totally relate to this because I am one that loves face-to-face social interactions and although I see can see all your faces on Zoom it just isn’t the same as a classroom. Furthermore, the as I read all of the great thoughts on our #bloghub I find that even though I love building on others ideas originality can be a challenge.


I really hadn’t considered distance education as an option in a K-12 setting so I really appreciated learning about the Sun West Distance Learning Center.  I feel like I really didn’t give it much thought prior to this presentation.

For me there are some definite pros I feel there are in taking this class online:

  1. Convenience 
  2. It gives me more time. Rather then driving to the university or to a group meeting Zoom makes for a major time saver
  3. Opportunities to network and connect I love that in our class we can contribute ideas in the chat, and using various tools like Kahoot. I also love that we are given so many opportunities to share our ideas with one another
  • This networking has also opened my eyes to the vast array of tools that I want to utilize in my classroom. In Kyle’s blog he composed  a list of tech tools that he utilized in his classroom. This list was very much like my own and his summaries were on point. Although I have a list of tech items I want to implement in my classroom, I also just want to get better at using the technology that is apart of my current classroom practices such as Google docs, slides, and Google classroom. This class has certainly modelled how to achieve this.

On the other hand when I consider distance education in an elementary setting I have my doubts. I appreciated the article we read by Bonny Barr in Identifying and Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Online Students in Higher Education.

The 5.6 million students participating in online education have lower incomes, and are of  a minority race, at rates much higher than that of on-campus classroom students (Schaffer, 2011) which puts them at greater risk for mental health issues (World Health Organization (WHO), 2012). Cite

We as humans are not meant to be islands. We need to interact with one another and I do not feel like online is the best way to teach in an elementary setting because much of the learning is related to how to work with, and get along with others. I imagine that cooperative learning strategies such a as peer tutoring, cooperative learning groups, and differentiated instruction would be more challenging for me to do as an online educator. *Please note that I would love to hear about any suggestions on how this can be accomplished. 

Currently I work at a community school and to be honest, curriculum often takes a back seat if I sense the need to talk about choices, hardships, or if I know if a particular student or group just needs a break. I am confident that the relationship between student and teacher is key in promoting their success. I do not feel that distance education would be a good option in this setting, especially at the age of 12/13. My students need a safe place to be, away from their homes, as well as positive adults to look to as examples. I do not feel that distance education would sufficiently meet their diverse set of needs that is a result of their social situation. Furthermore,  even if students are  in a “privileged situation” it doesn’t mean that this connection is any less improtant or valuable. Can we still make meaningful connections with vulnerable students through distance education?


Photo Source


I definitely see that there are great benefits to distance education and I am eager to learn more. I just dont want the importance of the relationship between student and teacher to become lost in the mix. I know that we heard about some strategies to create relationships with students using technology and I would love to incorporate this into my teaching.

Anyone else feel like they have doubts like me? Has anyone used a tech tool to create a connection with a student to help engage them in the classroom? I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading!

Where does the time go???

I must mirror everyone’s praise of a great presentation from Andrew,Nancy, Jayme, Roxanne, and Ashley. Through the semester I have not been able to put these teaching tools into action (since I am at the end of my maternity leave) but I have been able to explore these tools and generate a list of tools that I know will impact my teaching in a positive way. I feel excited about the innovation these tools bring to our lives but fear for what we are at risk of losing in the process.

As read about the Impact of Email in the Workplace, I noted the following message, “Employees can interact and collaborate without the need of face-to-face conversation at times. In these cases, companies use virtual work teams where employees engage in the same projects and work tasks.”. To me this statement generated a clear list of pros and cons for me.

Opportunity to collaborate in an efficient way. Lacking meaningful face to face interaction.

Communication can be strained and ideas can be misinterpreted.

It must be said that I believe there are situations where I am totally on board with interacting through email or other platforms because it simply makes the most sense. However, I feel like this method of communication is not always the best route. Especially when we are in a profession that is all about relationships and our interactions with one another. We need to find a happy medium and I think  Heidi stated this well, in her blog about multitasking and the need for balance.

I feel like this has really been on my mind as I think of my upcoming time transitioning back to work from my mat leave and learning how to be a teacher, mom, student, wife and more. I feel like more then ever the need for this daily break from technology is so important in order to be present and mindful of what we do day-to-day.

When I was watching the video, If our Bodies Could Talk, one big takeaway for me was the need to make value judgements when we are doing a task. This reminded me of a story I heard on the weekend about a friend who asked a six year old what they would be if they could be anything. The child replied, “I would be a phone so that my mom and dad would pay attention to me.” This child gave an honest reply and I am sure this statement would help any parent make a value judgement when using technology in front of their child. This caused me to reflect on whether or not I am finding balance in my life with my relationship with technology and relationships that matter the most. Below the graphic shows the average minutes spend in a month per social media platform. This was humbling for me to personally consider how much time I am mindlessly wasting online, and how this time could be better spent elsewhere.


I sometimes find myself on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and I honestly don’t even remember opening the app. I want to be mindful in what I say and do but often feel like anytime I have a moment of boredom I automatically look for consolation through my iPhone. Too many important moments are going to pass me by if I go down this road and the blame is not on the internet but on myself.

When it comes to teaching I really don’t know how it would be possible to single-task. We are forever assessing, managing, remembering, correcting, instructing  and more continuously through the day. However, I have found that technology has been a great help to me in addressing this. For example, Genius hour has provided an avenue of instruction that starts where each child is at, activates their interest, and gives students the opportunity to learn using technology.

To conclude, I value the internet and see these tools as a great benefit in our lives, but I do feel like we need to be mindful about how these tools impact our relationships with one another. What do you think? Is it possible to put an end to this the mindless form of multi-tasking? What do you do in your classrooms to slow things down and to find balance?

The School/ Home Connection

As I thought about the list of technology that I feel I could not live without, the first that came to mind was Remind (formally known as Remind 101). For those of you not aware of Remind, it is an efficient tool to make communication with parents and students easy. Using the app or the website you can quickly send class announcements, reminders, create group chats and even contact individuals. You can read more about the Remind Features  by clicking on the link.

The app is geared towards K-12 teachers.  As of February 2014, 15% of the K-12 teacher population in the U.S used Remind (Source). Clearly good news travels fast.


The need for teachers to use this tool illustrates the need for constant connectedness in this generation. It is a growing expectation for us to always be in the know, and have information at our fingertips. Furthermore, more and more people rely upon their devices to keep them organized. I would likely forget every appointment I need to attend if it wasn’t for the alerts on my phone, and/or my email. This state of dependence has it’s ups and downs, but overall I feel that this tool has a positive impact overall.

When I began using Remind it was easier to hold student’s accountable for homework assignments and simple things like returning a permission slip.  I also received great feedback from parents since they could be engaged in what was happening in the classroom.


  • Free
  • Great way to get parents involved in the classroom.
  • Student’s can’t say they forgot about ______ ________ or ________. (As long as they and/or their parents are signed up and receiving the messages)
  • Great way to save paper.
  • Students and parents can join just by sending a text message, they don’t need to download the app.
  • They can also sign up using an email address, if they don’t have a phone.
  • You don’t need a smartphone, just the ability to receive text messages.
  • As a safety precaution, all phone numbers are kept private so there is no need to know anyone’s cell phone number, and for that matter the students/ parents won’t know yours!
  • Teachers can send documents as needed.
  • Since students can’t reply, you don’t need to worry about inappropriate communication on either side.
  • Unlimited amount of students can sign up and you are able to send an unlimited amount of text messages.
  • Users can have up to 10 different classes.
  • Messages can even be translated into over 70 languages, making it possible to communicate with parents who are non-native English speakers.


Image Source 


  • There is a limit of 140 characters per message.
  • It can be time consuming to write all the reminders.
  • Yet another thing for teachers to add to their long TO DO lists.
  • Not much ownership on the student’s to remember their own work.

The greatest pedagogical advantage is that the app increases parental participation in the classroom. This type of parental engagement has been linked to increased student performance. 

One study showed teacher to family communication increased homework turn in by 42%, kept students more focused and increased participation. SOURCE

Clearly it is very helpful for student achievement if parents are connected and Remind  is a great way to help them feel apart of the daily events, and to help support students at home.


Image Source

Now that I’ve pointed out how useful this tool is, I want to mention one thing that  I feel is the biggest challenge when incorporating these types of technologies in school communities. These tools illustrate socio-economic gaps. I have had experience using Remind in a higher socio-economic school. At this school I had around 95% of my parents connected and using the app on a daily/weekly basis. Now that I work in a community school I am lucky to keep 50% of my parents connected. This presents a challenge because as studies have shown, when parents are involved it helps students succeed. Are these tools helping our most vulnerable? Although I believe this technology is beneficial overall I want to take the opportunity to see if anyone has had any success connecting these parents and students and has it helped with their involvement? Any suggestions on how to use the tool better to connect families?

I would love to hear your thoughts/ suggestions!

To conclude, since my focus is on keeping parent’s in the loop, I felt compelled to do some research on other apps that are available to use for similar purposes. Another piece of technology that I would strongly consider using in my classroom is  Classtree.

Classtree goes a step beyond Remind where it actually lets you attach a consent form for parents to e-sign to go along with the announcement. I always find collecting consent forms to be such a headache and this app makes the process painless and paperless. Has anyone used this app before?

Gotta love technology.


Complimentary Forces: AV Technology and Education

As I consider the use of Audio Visual technologies and it’s implications on informal education I couldn’t help but make note of the lights and noise that’s playing in the background as my daughter plays with her learning walker. As a new parent I cannot ignore the fact that there are so many toys marketed based on their educational value. Therefore opportunities to learn and grow are interwoven into the day-to-day and I feel that this is not limited to the informal learning that happens as a result of AV technologies today.

As I consider Postman’s quote and what he meant by traditional schooling I appreciated what Heidi said in her post, when she said,

I think that educational programming does not undermine traditional education, but rather challenges it.

Technology is all around us. It engages and informs us. Children benefit from valuable educational programming like Sesame Street. There is also no doubt that children benefit in the same way from formal education. I agree with what Fisch stated in Children’s Learning from Educational Television: Sesame Street and Beyond.

Educational Television is not meant to replace formal education… rather, it’s intended to supplement formal education.

Postman states that, “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.” I would like to challenge this statement and say that educational programming compliments traditional schooling. Various AV technologies provide a lens that otherwise children may not be exposed to.  As I stated in my last post, I am constantly striving to create a student-centered learning environment. To do  this I aim to incorporate exciting content that I do not feel fits in the “traditional schooling” that Postman is describing. This once again illustrates the point that Heidi made, that as educators we are challenged to incorporate engaging content in order to keep our student’s attention.

Heidi also made a very important point in stating that technology doesn’t teach! Although my daughter’s toy’s light up with number and colours she requires much more than that to learn to count and recite her letters. Furthermore, educational programming cannot take the place of valuable instruction that comes from parents and educators alike. Technology in any form requires a conversation. In my middle years classroom I use AV on a daily basis to improve my instruction. However, as I reflect on these practices I am sure that the times when this is most valuable is when I am able to engage my student’s in meaningful dialogue around the video.  The problem lies when we do not engage children in a discussion about what they are viewing.

It is inevitable that children will be exposed to various AV media as they grow. As a new parent and teacher it’s hard to know how to decide how much exposure is too much, or not enough for that matter. I appreciated the TED talk below where Linda Guersey, the Director of the New America Foundation’s Early Education Initiative speaks to the importance of interacting with your child and asking them questions about what they are viewing. I know that it’s more than 10 minutes long but to me, it provides a valuable, practical perspective on how to talk with kids about what they are viewing. If you don’t have time to watch, one idea that i really appreciated was the idea of being “Media Mentors” for our kids  and talking with them about what they are seeing and how it relates to the world around them. As children’s exposure to technology increases everyday I feel like these conversations are growing to be more and more important.

In conclusion I  feel that we must embrace the change that is before us to ensure that we engage the learners in our classrooms. Technology cannot be the sole teacher in the same way that formal education will no longer the be the only avenue to educate.

What are your thoughts? How do you think that we encourage a deeper dialogue between parent’s and children about the technology they are exposed to? Do you think this dialogue is important?


The Essential Questions and Theories

Over the past week I’ve appreciated the opportunity to reflect upon the definition of learning, as well as the learning theories that form the foundation upon which we build our instructional practices.  To me, learning is about opening our mind to the unknown and taking that necessary step forward. I am sure that you all can relate when I say that the diverse landscape of teaching pushes us to learn each day. Therefore in this week’s post I want to explore how in my 6 years of teaching  these theories have been manifested.

As others have stated, learning is very complex . In  Ertmer and Newby’s article, Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing Critical Features From an Instructional Design Perspective it states,

Learning is a complex process that has generated numerous interpretations and theories of how it is effectively accomplished.

I feel like we all can agree that there is not one set learner, therefore following one theory cannot be possible to be an effective teacher.  In a perfect world, a teacher would be able to dictate how much information a student would acquire.However, we know that this is not the case.

I too feel like my beliefs have went through a necessary shift as my years of teaching have progressed. It is integral that I meet the needs of my learners and this is a complex task that requires educators to be constantly accessing the needs of each learner.  This assessment requires a behaviorist approach and  I feel that at the beginning of each school year I exhibit much of a behaviorist approach to my teaching.  For myself, this helps me to establish a set of routines and procedures that are key to getting the classroom running smoothly. I feel that after these clear expectations are established I can move towards a more constructivist/ connectivist approach.

A number of key components to my classroom exhibit a constructivist approach. I use a balanced literacy program that is based around independent practice and student choice. I have found that this format has made learning so much more valuable for my students. Genius hour is another component of my classroom that follows this approach. Both of these approaches also have a large social constructivism component since an integral part of the learning tasks is sharing their ideas in small and large groups. As a middle years teacher I have found that social constructivism is very effective and it is a significant part of my day-to-day instruction.


Graphic Source

Lastly, I am striving more and more to employ a connectivism approach to my teaching. This graphic illustrates the shift that occurs when educators incorpate a connectivist approach to instruction. Part A illustrates my schooling experiece from K-12 and I feel very much that for me to be an effective teacher I must strive towards part B. In my classroom I aim to create a student-centered learning environment that considers each need. To do this I need to know my students and establish meaningful relationships with each one. Once these relationships are established we can work from where our students are at to help them to grow and learn. Apart of this shift is a change how we assess true learning, and this has been a learning curve for me.

I feel like Siemons illustrated this point when he said,

 The field of education has been slow to recognize both the impact of new learning tools and the environmental changes in what it means to learn. Connectivism provides insight into learning skills and tasks needed for learners to flourish in a digital era.


I want to be open to change as my years in this profession continue and I feel that technology is certainly moving education to a much more constructivist/ connectivism approach.

In conclusion, as I consider my instructional beliefs I know that my teaching philosophy and practices are always evolving. However, at the heart of my philosophy is a student centered focus. I believe that no matter what changes come our way in education nothing is more important than keeping our work student-centered.  I never want to forget this belief and ensure it is at the core of my instruction.