I love Smartboards.

February 24, 2009 at 7:26 pm (Technology in the classroom) (, )

Last Thursday, I was asked to substitute teach in a second grade classroom.  I knew the teacher and children pretty well and felt that this would an easy day. After seeing the plan left by the actual teacher, I quickly realized that this would be a REALLY easy day for me. Why you may ask? Because this specific teacher is a techno-freak and integrates technology whenever and as often as she can, thus this made my job as the fill-in teacher easy-peasy.  Almost every activity throughout the day was accompanied by some sort of technology. And because the students were so accustomed to  this type of learning, it wasn’t difficult to run the activities. For the first hour of the day, I was to set up centers, including activities on the Smartboard, a listening station, and computers. As I supervised the activities, I watched students work on the Smartboard together with total ease and comfort, use the listening station without any problems, needless, play happily on the computers. Several arguments that surround technology are based on the fact that the set up, planning and management when using technology doesn’t make it worth it. However, in this classroom, the students are so accustomed to the routine that it was probably easier than setting up a paper activity. They knew the centers and how to use them, and when the Smartboard was causing some technological difficulties, also gave me some friendly and effective advice on how to fix it. These students were in SECOND grade and were so on track with technology, they would probably put most students in our faculty to shame…but not me of course 😉 I guess my point is, that if you implement technology in the right way, it can be extremely successful for both the students and the teacher.

 In our readings this week, they discuss exactly that. In chapter 5, the author suggests different approaches some administrations should take when introducing technology in schools and in classrooms.  One approach that is discussed in great detail is the ecological approach to technology. In this approach, media ecology is explained as how media and technology affects our environment, and which technologies have greater impacts and why. I find this particularly interesting because this idea plays with the theory that certain technologies have bigger impacts on us, such as social networking.

If we decided to integrate social networking in education, it is imperative that teachers and the administration are aware of the effects of this media on the children’s environment.

Because as per the readings, certain media can have negative effects on the users. In addition, the readings also discuss the importance of professional development in education. Referring to my experience subbing in that grade 2 class, this was an example of a teacher that decided to develop herself professionally to improve the teaching and learning in her classroom. By taking workshops and doing work at home, this teacher improved her computer skills and established a classroom where technology plays a vital role in the curriculum. 

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Techno-Friendly Chapter 3

February 24, 2009 at 3:56 pm (Technology in the classroom) (, )

I find the issue of technology in schools an interesting battle. I spent three in a half months in an elementary school doing my field experience, and I can’t tell you how many times the issue of technology came up in discussions, staff meetings and workshops. I find it’s a love/hate relationship most of the time, and it could bring out the best in and worst in teachers. During staff meetings, you could almost see the burning line drawn between the teachers that got technology and those that didn’t. And even though the staff got along great, when technology was the issue, the

tension would build. Being totally technologically friendly, I found this divide

hilarious. And it wasn’t even as clear as old school and new school

teachers. Some teachers were pushing retirement and were teaching me new tricks for the smartboard, while some brand new teachers were refusing the idea of smartboards in their classrooms.

 

 

In the reading, the author discusses the stages of pedagogical development and the hierarchy of needs, better described by Abraham Maslow. In this pyramid, the teaching and learning of technology can be described in different stages. Maslow describes these stages starting from the top of the pyramid, as cultural transformation, collaboration, authoring and lastly, content management. As a student in university, I use these stages in my everyday life; however, the idea of reproducing all of these stages in an elementary classroom seems like a challenge. More and more classrooms are being pushed towards technology, and just recently, the Lester B. Pearson school board has set up a instant messaging system with parents. This all seems like a wonderful theory, however how are the schools supposed to sell these ideas, if the staff doesn’t buy them. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I can’t see that this huge technological push from the school boards is going to be effective in the classrooms if teachers are not comfortable with technology. Even at McGill, in the Education faculty, there are teachers that are not comfortable with technology and choose not to use it.


 

So this makes me wonder: What is it about technology that makes seasoned and quality teachers refute even the mention of online discussion boards and what can be done (if anything at all) to encourage these same teachers to use technology in the classroom? Of course there are workshops and guest speakers that come in and talk about all the great things you can do with it, but instead of encouraging non-users, they often end up by just intimidating these same teachers. In chapter 3, the author discusses all the wonder of the web and how it can be translated in the classroom, however I don’t feel it is as wonderful if the teachers are nervous and apprehensive to use technology. Also, we can’t expect teachers to want to use technology if they can’t see the advantages and benefits. We need to show these same teachers what can be done that is useful to them instead of just giving them all these tools that they don’t even see as useful. Well, that’s my two cents on technology. 


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Chomsky’s the Cheese.

February 6, 2009 at 8:00 pm (Reading Response Blogs) (, )

Noam ChomskyIn my three years of Education at McGill, these two readings may have been the most interesting and insightful readings I’ve done. Any student who has done their Bachelor of Education at McGill has read or heard of Noam Chomsky and his anarchist-ish theories on politics. Not only is he a genius in the field of linguistics, he is also very involved in social justice and world politics. To be quite honest, I think Mr. Chomsky is the cheese. His theories in linguistics and his leftist political stands are enlightening in a time where saying what he often says is oh-so taboo.

So now that I have finished my biased appraisal of Noam Chomsky, I will start off by discussing how I feel about the readings from Chapter 7. Although this chapter was short, I felt as though I learned so much from it. Each sentence was more interesting and informative than the last. I felt so involved and in touch with the readings, I even had to stop and call my father to discuss a particular passage from the readings. After having read about the American involvement in the Lebanese Civil War, it struck a cord. I had always heard from my father the details about the war, but I had never suspected such huge American involvement. My dad and I had a good chat about what happened in Lebanon during those years and the American involvement in other wars. It’s no secret that the latest war in Iraq was backed with an economic and imperial agenda; however, I hadn’t known the extent in other wars. The article informed me of the strong U.S. pull to convince the world that the Arabs were/are public enemy #1 not only this time around, but almost 20 years ago as well. The issues discussed are so real and relevant; it felt wonderful to be reading about this for a class.

middle-east-peace-dove

Dr.Kincheloe’s article in chapter 6 was also incredibly motivating. His discussion about the U.S’ motivations in all the wars was fascinating to learn about. I was shocked to read about the American involvement in South America and the consequences stemming from these actions. This article made me reflect on the American trend. Every few decades there’s a new country to hate and to be afraid of. The Americans use media to infuse fear and hatred towards other countries, depending of the political gain. Starting after the civil rights movement, being Japanese was the new Black. Then being Russian, was the new Japanese. And now, being an Arab is exactly what you do not want to be. Regardless of your religion, of your ethnicity, or of your political view, if you enjoy hummus, you are a terrorist and the devil. Which is precisely what the American government wanted pre-911.


These articles make me wonder about the present American state. Although I am a huge Obama supporter, I can’t help but think about Kincheloe’s imperial puzzle. Now that Obama is in power and that the neo-conservatism is out, eventually the American “imperial mentality” will die. Will the new government need to re-establish this mentality at some point? I’m not sure if I’m making any sense, but I will leave it at that for now.

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