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  • Accessibility

    Well after reading through a few people’s blog posts and gathering a quick temperature I can say that we are all on the same page with assistive technology. The group this week did a good job highlighting and summarizing such a vast topic. There are so many tools that can be considered when thinking in terms of assistive tech. This had me realizing that I do not use a whole lot of them in my own classroom. Here is a list of things I could come up with while scanning my classroom and thinking back to previous days and lessons.

    FM System: I often use a mic in my classroom. Everytime (or almost every time I turn it on) I think of a class I took on speech during my inclusive education certificate. The prof highlighted the importance of using a mic as teachers because we talk so much throughout the day. This can start harming our vocal chords and effecting our speech. She explained that everyone is entitled to have one in the classroom if they so choose. The other use for this would be so students with hearing impairments can hear you louder and more clearly.

    Google Read & Write: This I feel is the classic go to when thinking of assistive tech. There are so many different ways Google Read & Write can be used. Whether it be for the speech to text, reading or the crystal ball, it can be really helpful for students with different disabilities or even one without.

    Audiobooks: I often use audiobooks when teaching novel studies to my class. This way different levels of books is accessible to a large amount of your students. It is also super helpful when a student is absent and missed the initial reading. They can go back and listen to what they have missed.

    Coloured Paper/Backgrounds: This is so easy for us to do now especially with all the different apps in the Google suite. It can be done easily without having to switch out the paper in the photocopier.

    Visual dictionaries: I often use this for Science at the beginning of the unit. Students compile a mixture of notes and visuals to help them understand topics.

    Through engaging this week’s readings and the presentations I have come to realize that assistive technology can be a variety of different things. Just like our previous lectures and discussions earlier on in the class, technology doesn’t need to be something that is connected to power or the internet.

    This image has also been circulating on a few of the blog posts I have viewed.

    Something that stood out to me that I use VERY often in my classroom is post-it notes. So I did some digging. How are sticky notes considered assistive tech? Here is what I found in this article ‘Assistive Technology: What it is, Who needs it, & How to know’.

    “Kathy White, a retired AT specialist and current co-chair of the AT Forward Project for the state of Wisconsin, explains the different ways a sticky note can be used as assistive technology:

    “You could use them to remind a student to stay on task, you could write directions on them instead of giving directions verbally, you could draw pictures on sticky notes for a visual prompt, you could use sticky notes to help increase the thickness of a page in a book to make turning a page easier.”

    AT can be low tech such as different grips of pencils, flexible seating (wobbly chairs, seat cushions, standing desks), slanted work surfaces, noise cancelling headphones, etc.

    AT can be hightech such as different apps on tablets, on the computer, speech to text, ReaderPen, etc.

    Was there anything that surprise you in terms of assisitive technology?

    Do you use it more often than you even realized?

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  • The One Where I Get Grade 6/7 to Help Me With My Homework

    This weeks focus is on using technology to assess our students. I use Google Forms, Quizizz and Kahoot! in my classroom daily to assess students on different things. I use it for formative assessment purposes. I think all these tools could potentially be used for summative assessment, but for some students that wouldn’t be fair in showing what they really know. Especially those who get wrapped up in the points and are caused stress by the timer and music.

    Google Forms

    Every morning my class fills out a Daily Check In using Google Forms. They answer questions about whether or not they ate breakfast, their general mood, how things are going at home and there is a spot where they can share anything they would like. I have been doing this religiously for the past 2 school years. It keeps you up to date with how your students are doing and sometimes they share things they wouldn’t in a face to face conversation.

    Kahoot!

    Kahoot is sometimes used for assessment on a topic in any subject or sometimes it is a time filler. The downfall with Kahoot now is a large majority of the premade content requires a paid membership. And I am for sure not spending my free time making my own Kahoots.

    Quizizz

    Quizizz is definitely my favourite to use. 99% of the subjects you search on Quizizz, you will find a premade quiz for it. I use the asynchronous option during my guided math centers as a back up incase students are completed their Mathletics. The only negative of this is that it only runs for 24 hours and you need to have the premium membership to open it again. A way I work around this is just assign the same quiz two days in a row and label the material on Google Classroom with their math groups colour. There is also the live version, which I use primarily for ELA. After every chapter of the book Hatchet, my students would complete a Quizizz on what we just read. The questions are general comprehension questions and give me a quick guage of who is able to recall the important events of the chapter.

    For the purpose of this blog post, I chose Quizizz. None of the other options really were really jumping out at me. I let my class know that they were helping me with my homework. The class completed a Quizizz on metaphors, similes and personification, which is something we had been working on all week during writing. I chose the live instructor paced option and picked teams for a little shake up. On teams, they are randomly sorted into different teams and their points are added together at the end of each question. After they completed the Quizizz, they took to Google Forms and shared their honest opinions on using Quizizz.

    Here are the results!

    And there you have it! Thanks for reading!

  • The Social Dilemma

    The Social Dilemma is a drama-documentary on Netflix. It came out in 2020 and is a compilation of interviews with people who have worked for highly recognized tech companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter. The documentary highlights the negatives of consistent use of technology. While watching, I compiled a list of negatives and positives of technology.

    Negatives

    -Isolation/disengaged from relationships

    -Links to mental health (body dysmorphia, anxiety, depression, etc.)

    -Lack of critical thinking skills on how to decipher between facts and what is fake

    -Can become addicted because most apps are designed to be addictive by collecting data on you to know exactly what you want to see, so that you keep scrolling

    -Notifications make you feel like you need to be constantly replying, opening and engaging

    -More of a need for gratification and attention (the like button)

    -Impacts on sleep

    Positives

    -New ways to communicate and share information

    -Stay connected with people

    -Creates career opportunities

    -More accountability (you never know when your actions online will follow you in real life)

    -Convenient

    The biggest users of technology and social media are the people in our classrooms. With this, there is implications on our schools and classrooms. The implications are both negative and positive.

    Negatives

    -Students lack digital citzenship strategies and skills

    -Online bullying is more prevalent

    -Loss of critical thinking skills

    -Reduces research and learning capabilities because of information overload

    -Inability to become an independent learner

    -Communication skills begin to diminish (spelling, face to face, sentence, structure, etc.)

    -Less physical activity

    Positives

    -Boosts creativity and student engagement

    -Ways to connect with others across the globe ex) Global Read Aloud, guest speakers via Zoom

    -Multiple sources of information at their fingertips

    -Easier to connect with parents and form a sense of community

    With the increase of social media and technology, digital citizenship is important to begin teaching in our classrooms even in the primary grades. Below are different links to lesson plans and resources to consider.

    9 Elements of Digital Citizenship

    Media Smarts– there are great teacher resources as well as free lesson plans for all grades on this website!

    Questions I have for you:

    How do you navigate online bullying in your classroom? (Especially when it is happening outside of the school on things like Snapchat).

    Do you use social media apps in your lessons?

    If you are some who started teaching before the boom of social media, what are the changes you have seen in the classroom?

  • Time Flies When You’re Having FUN!

    Halfway through this educational journey already? Woah.

    My first experience with online learning was in grade 11 when I realized pre-calculus was not for me, BUT neither was having a second period spare. I lasted about 2 weeks as an online student taking French 20. As a student, looking through the course outline was super daunting. The tasks were clearly outline, but there was no explanation of how to do these. For example, sending in a speaking video every week on a certain topic. Okay. Great. But how? Now this was back in 2011 before online learning really started to develop. There are so many ways that students can show their learning online and everything is relatively easy to use. As I was going through one of the recommend reading for the week “The 20 Best Tools for Online and Virtual Learning” I thought to myself.. ‘Hey, I use some of these during in person learning!’

    Relevant online tools

    Google Classroom and everything else in the Google Suite: I use Google Classroom daily to post different Docs and Slides assignments for students to complete. I also use Google Forms daily as a ‘daily check-in.’ Students answer questions about their well being (how they are feeling, if they ate, anything else they would like to share). I could go on and on about Google. One thing I will not share is the state my Google Drive is in. Yikes. Can you say disorganized?

    Flip: This is one I recently started using in my classroom. It has been primarily used for students to share their personal responses for the novel study on the book Hatchet we have been doing. This allows students the opportunity to hear new ideas about the same topic. I like that it allieviates the stress for those students that don’t like sharing whole group. Videos can also be hidden from the group if they don’t want others viewing.

    Canva: Since discovering Canva it has become one of my personality traits. I absolutely love it. I like the variety of ways students can create on there. It’s a hub for everything from posters to slides to video making. Plus educators getting premium features for free is a huge bonus.

    Zoom: The few times we had stints where we went to online learning during Covid restrictions, Zoom was my go to. It is user friendly and just the most familiar to myself and others.

    ClassDojo: This has been my primary form of communication with parents since I started teaching. It definitley has it’s pros and cons. One of those being the feeling of needing to reply back right now since it’s an application on my phone. Notifications always must be off for us to stay sane!

    Khan Academy: I was first introduced to Khan Academy in grade 11 during Chem 20. I will give this YouTube channel and creator full credit for my passing of this class. I like using Khan in my own classroom specifically for teaching math because the videos are very simple. They are simple in the way they are presented, there is no huge distractions and nothing fancy happening. They are also broken down into simple steps for anyone to follow. Using any type of YouTube tutorial for lessons is benefical because students who are absent can go back and watch or students that need a second watch through have the freedom to do that as well.

    Kahoot/Blooket/GimKit/Quizizz: Anytime my students see any of these websites pop up on my screen, they lose their minds. I use these for temperature checks of understanding of a topic, assessment or simply just to pass some time. Kahoot and Quizizz definitely have more in terms of premade games, but Blooket and GimKit are the fan favourites.

    Although I much rather my role as an educator in a face to face environment, through using these applications and tools on a daily basis the shift to online learning wouldn’t be a complete shock. One thing I have been more mindful of since starting this class is the amount of time my students spend on tech. I have tried to dwindle it down to only 2-3 periods per day (1.5 hours). I want to make sure learning is more meaningful than just answering questions on a Google Doc.

  • My Brain Has Too Many Tabs Open

    Internet = Distractions

    Well, I resignated with the video ‘Single-tasking is the new multitasking.’ Even while the video was playing, I was thinking about all the other things I need to get done. Not too mention my constant strand of about a million tabs open on my Google Chrome. I wonder if there is someone who can open up their computer and start doing a task and complete it on the computer without segwaying into about 50 other tasks. If this is you, please comment below. And this is the quote that made it all make sense.

    “Heavy media multitaskers are more susceptible to interference from irrelevant environmental stimuli.” -Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

    Thomas Frank highlights in his article How the Internet Destroys Your Focus (and How to Get It Back) neuroplasticity. This means your brain changes the way it is formed and how it responds to specific stimuli. A cause of this is internet use. He also talks about how we are never bored now. I have seen that in my own classroom. Students are constantly asking what’s next and can’t seem to just have a minute in between tasks.

    “Multitasking”

    The use of internet encourages multitasking. Like I mentioned before, we hardly ever have one thing on the go at once. Netflix is in the background, you’re scrolling on your phone watching Tik Toks and you have 57 tabs open. Frank notes that the internet rewards this distracted behaviour. You are constantly being given more. New mentions and likes on social media and video suggestions on YouTube. But are you really multitasking when you aren’t getting anything done? And is multitasking even a good thing?

    The Internet is Changing Our Brain

    The “online brain”: how the Internet may be changing our cognition is a study written by multiple authors located in Australia and around the UK. The hypotheses is that the internet is changing our cognition through the following things:

    -attention capacities (our attention is divided among multiple sources)

    -memory (how we retrieve, store and value information)

    -social cognition (how we act in real life)

    Why this is impacting teachers

    As teachers we are constantly surrounded by productivity suites. With so many options of how we can transfer knowledge to our students, we become distracted. And so do our students. After presenting with my group on this topic and the class discussions that followed, I became much more reflective of my own teaching practices using these suites. I will be honest, productivity suites make things easier. Therefore, I tend to lean towards using them. I can see how that would have a negative impact on students. They are given a tool that is full of distractions and we give it to them with the expectation to not get distracted. Moving forward, I will be mindful of my time spent online as well as my students. Balance truly is key.

    How to be more productive

    Well since I am guilty of going down a rabbit hole of things that were not my initial intent when logging on, I had to search for the secret to being more productive when using the internet. Why the Internet Is So Distracting (And What You Can Do About It) by Jeff Stibel recommends this:

    Sleep well because rested brain is less likely to be distracted

    Eat well because nutrition is important for brain function

    Minimize stress and anger

    Watch out for time wasters and set limits for online activity

    Work smarter, not longer. If you work too long your brain will naturally divert to something else. It is important to have scheduled breaks.

    Thomas Frank suggests these things:

    Read more books or when you are reading online, consider using reader mode. Here is the link of how to access this on Chrome.

    Spend more time working without the internet

    Limit time on distracting websites and watch YouTube videos in full screen mode

  • Self Realization: I am an iPad Kid

    I am going to start off by saying that immediately upon clicking play on Scott Widman’s TED Talk for this week a light bulb went off in my head. I am one of the learners that benefits from audio-visual educational tools. I am much more engaged and find it easier to respond and engage in these practices. I am constantly listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube about things I am interested in. But very rarely will you find me reading a book on these topics because I just can’t buy in. I am the epitomy of an iPad Kid. Oh no.

    AV Technology

    Despite my own use of technology, I relate with Widman because I also have no idea if technology in the classroom is the best thing in the world or the worst. Just like everything, there are advantages and disadvantages. Technology isn’t going to go anywhere and it is embedded in the students in our classroom lives. It is crazy to think, they have never experienced life without technology. By incorporating technology in our classrooms, we can educate students on how to use responsibly use technology. According to Chey and Pav, those students who have access to technology have the upperhand over those that don’t. They also highlight that this comes down to money. I have a similar experience at the school I teach at. There is not much push for Chromebooks to come back when they are loaned out, just like libray books. I have had this discussion with the librarian at our school. Back when I was school, I would go to the ends of the world to get a missing library book back and now most students don’t care. Just like they don’t care that they just smashed the screen of a Chromebook because what happens when they do this? A new one appears.

    Coming back to the podcast episode from this weeks recommended readings. There is no more learning curve on how to use these different types of technology. I can relate to this in my own classroom. I can find a new to me AV technology app on TikTok and present it to my students. I often will say “i don’t know how to use this well enough to show you, but give it a try” and over the weeks, days or even hours sometimes they become experts.

    How YouTube and TV changes how we think about education:

    I believe Postman is implying that Sesame Street does not actually teach the younger viewers anything. It does not follow the traditional schooling because it is not what school is actually like at all. There aren’t giant puppets walking around, colours flashing and loud songs playing to teach you the ABCs. I don’t think that Sesame Street would be effective for all learners to comprehend and understand how these skills are applied in reading, writing and arithmetic. Sesame Street acts a blue print for a large number of educational programs and YouTube channels that are popular today. These include Cocomelon, Ms. Rachel, Little Einsteins, The Wiggles, etc. I think that these have had a negative implication because kids are now under the impression they always need to be entertained and have stimuli surrounding them. Then these kids get a Smartphone or tablet in their hands and are constantly flipping back and forth between different social media apps and games.

    Another implication is the belief that traditional schooling could be replaced with AV technology. I will say that YouTube channels like Khan Academy, Crash Course and Math Antics are super helpful within the classroom. When browsing these videos I can’t help but notice the types of comments that are on them. The comments are usually about how the video taught them better than their teacher did. This proves that the belief of YouTube videos being a better teacher than an actual teacher is out there. I wonder if people thought the same thing about Bill Nye.

    To summarize, I agree that incorporating technology in the classroom is beneficial because without it, you cannot teach your students to use it in a responsible way. AV technologies have their place in education and are a great tool, but do not single handedly replace the traditonal schooling experience.

  • Theories on Theories on Theories

    Whenever I hear the words earning theorist, I am instantly taken back to my first year of university and having to memorize Erikson’s Stages of Development and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I believe since these were taught so early on in my educational journey, they unknowingly have a great impact on my teaching philosophy and classroom practice. I often reflect back to these two theorists when analyzing different situations and behaviors that my students show. When planning lessons, I often think of Bloom’s Taxonomy and Vygotsky’s ZPD. I see the importance of scaffolding and gradual release during instruction and the benefits of creating performance tasks that allow students to be creative and that they can do independently. I try my best to incorporate all the different learning styles throughout my day plan. Even though it had been awhile since I had thought about the specific names connected to these different theories until this past class, I unconsciously incorporate them in my day to day planning and teaching. 

    Behaviorism, Constructivism, Cognitivism and Connectivism

    Behaviorism- This is the belief that positive reinforcements increase good behavior and negative reinforcement decreases the bad behavior. 

    My application: I don’t have any reward system in my classroom. I use Class Dojo, but not for the point system. I have used Class Craft before, but it was far too time consuming and I often would forget about it. I can see the importance in using these types of tools, but I think simple is better. I have been lucky enough to have a great class the past two years. Some things that I use that could be classified as positive reinforcement would be FOOD (works every time) and rewarding with free time (either on tech, outside or playing board games). I never explicitly say you are getting this reward for this good behavior, but kids are smart and they are bound to catch on. As for negative reinforcement, over the years I have gotten better and better at LOOOOONG lectures about negative behavior. I am sure listening to me talk for that long about how they should do better should decrease the bad behavior. 

    Constructivism- Students learn by doing and through their experiences.  

    My application: This is the one that I had to skip and come back to, so maybe that’s a sign I need to work on this area. I have students working collaboratively in the classroom and try my best to offer learning opportunities that are hands on and creative. 

    Cognitivism- Students learning through problem solving. 

    My application: Problem solving and working through questions that may not have a set answer or require students to think “beyond the text” can be challenging. This theory is definitely the one that would require the most pre-teaching, so that it can be successful. 

    Connectivism- Students learn by collaborating. 

    My application: I love partner and group work and so does my class. This also gives them a purpose for talking. And honestly nothing makes me happier than hearing kids talk about what they are reading, reading aloud to each other or discussing questions that have been posed in a certain subject area. This happens naturally in my classroom sometimes and sometimes it is part of my lesson plan. 

    My beliefs have shifted over the years. It also depends on the students in your classroom and their needs. You may spend more time using one theory than another. We are never done learning and adding to our teacher toolboxes.

  • Educational Technology

    During last week’s class discussion, the group I worked with came to the agreement that educational technology is any type of technology that can be used for education purposes whether it was designed to be or not. For example, Zoom was not created to be used for educational purposes, but it was adapted to be throughout the implementation of online learning. After reading the section of Bates’ textbook A short history of education technology, I can now understand it as being split up into different pieces of the puzzle. This includes 

    • Oral communication (ex. telephones)
    • Written communication (ex. printing press)
    • Broadcasting and video (ex. radio)
    • Computer technologies 

    To be honest, I never thought of cave paintings on a wall or books as a form of educational technology. I always thought of technology as something that requires power and/or  connection to the internet. These are the types of technologies that I mostly use in my classroom. Watters’ article School Work and Surveillance caught my attention because with all the positives of using these types of technologies, comes the negatives. Students and teachers are constantly under survellience whether it be through the cameras in the hallways or their Google accounts. With technology, teachers are expected to have constant communication with parents/guardians through apps like SeeSaw or ClassDojo or Outlook. And we are somehow now responsible for the online bullying that happens on social media apps (SnapChat being the worst of all). Then there is inside the classroom where you are making sure that students are actually doing what they are supposed to be on the Chromebooks. Not plagiarizing, playing on Cool Math games or sending gifs to their friends on Google Chat. I often feel as though a second job title for me could be a “Chromebook Cop.” Just like Postman states “technological change is a trade off.” Trading in written communication for computer technologies requires us as teachers to be on surveillance at all times.

  • EC&I 833: My History with Technology

    Early Memories

    My family is not the most tech savvy. At home, we had a desktop computer that I would go onto on Saturday mornings and spend hours playing CD Rom games that you’d get out of cereal boxes. Then as I matured, I would spend hours perfecting my Piczo website and chatting on MSN for hours. I wasn’t much of a gamer, but I sometimes would sneak downstairs to play my older brother’s PlayStation. Then there was the Guitar Hero and Rock Band days. An unhealthy amount of hours was spent trying to perfect playing Slow Ride by Foghat on easy mode. Receiving technology for Christmas gifts such as a Wii and my beloved iPod touch. I got my first flip phone in grade 7 and would have to purchase $20 phone cards from 711 to keep it afloat. During this time, I felt like you were always having to replace your phone because it would suddenly just not turn on one day. Phones flipped and slid until the Blackberry gained popularity. After I got my first iPhone, I haven’t looked back.

    K-12 School

    My first memory of using technology at school was through the use of the Sun computers. Each class had a set of 5 and they hardly ever worked. I remember going to the computer lab in elementary school and doing All the Right Type and playing on Math Circus. In grade 4, we started using PowerPoint for different research projects in Science and Social Studies. The use of technology stayed stagnant throughout my elementary years. This was probably because it was not as accessible at school and you could only use it when your class had their one period a week in the lab. I vividly remember our school getting one singular SmartBoard and the vice principal who bought it was all for it, but no one really used it because no one knew how. And how annoying was it to always have to recalibrate using those x’s? (Sorry SmartBoard lovers).

    When I went onto highschool, the use of technology did not really change. I remember in grade 10 English I was still doing typing school, but this time through Mavis Beacon University and the teacher would come around and check our typing form. It started to change very slightly when I got into a grade 11 Media Studies class. The teacher who taught it was very with the times and changes of technology. I remember using Prezi for the first time instead of PowerPoint and my mind was completely blown. This was also when I was first introduced to Google and the apps offered. This is where technological growth came to a stand still.

    Current

    I am surrounded by technology daily, especially in my classroom. I was lucky enough this year to get my SmartBoard taken out and have it replaced with a ViewSonic TV. I consistently use technology in my teaching practices. For example: 

    -The use of Chromebooks by all students 

    -Using Google Classroom for all subject areas 

    -Google Apps such as Keep, Docs, Slides, Read & Write, Forms, etc. 

    -Educational apps such as Mathletics, Epic! Books, ReadWorks, Wordle, Prodigy, IXL, etc. 

    -I project plans by subject area throughout the day using Classroom Screen and all the amazing widgets that it includes 

    -Use of Gim Kit, Blooket, Kahoot!, Mentimeter And Quiziz for quick engaging formative assessment (or just to pass sometime) 

    -In the past year, I have become a lover of Canva (Here’s a link to get Canva Education + all the premium features for free!)

    -Scrolling through TikTok to find resources and ideas on TeacherTok 

    The thing I love about technology is it is always evolving, changing and getting better. If you are unsure how to utitlize something, it is just a quick Google or YouTube search away! I am looking forward to learning how to better utilize technology this semester.

    Thanks for reading!

    Maddy

  • Welcome!

    My name is Maddy McKay. I currently live in Moose Jaw where I teach grade 6/7 and work as a Student Support Teacher for grades 6 to 8. This is my 5th year of teaching and I have taught middle years since the beginning of my career. The greatest thing about teaching middle years is that they are always ready to dive into any new educational apps I throw their way. They teach me as much as I teach them!