Work Work Work Work Work Work

When it rains it pours.

That’s the saying I was reminded of this past week when a huge project we expected to do in a few weeks’ time had to be fast tracked and completed in one weekend so as not to disrupt classes in our gym – and we had to make it happen with two days notice.  After three 16+ hour days I am glad to say that the project is finished!!  My husband and kids, as well as a handful of our cheer family, demolished an existing subfloor in our cheer gym.  Then my husband, son, daughter and I put together a 42 foot x 54 foot spring floor.  My body aches.

A reluctant crew
A reluctant crew
Just floored about leveling this floor!
Just floored about leveling this floor!

 

Spring Floor completed!
Spring Floor completed!

 

Needless to say, everything else took a back seat to this floor project.  I had a lot of time to think while doing all that physical labour, and yesterday and today have been spent continuing my work on the major project.  I discussed what I intend to do for this project in my blog post This is Major.

I am working to develop a scope and sequence for secondary ELA that will support and/or enhance the digital components (products and processes) in our curricular documents while incorporating portions of Ribble’s nine elements – particularly Digital Communication, Digital Literacy, Digital Etiquette, and Digital Rights and Responsibilities.  I have a good friend and colleague who is going to pilot the resources I am creating – we are intending to support the curricular outcomes but enhance the students’ digital citizenship at the same time.  The goal is to enhance our students’ learning and knowledge in online safety – while meeting our curricular outcomes/objectives.  

Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools is one of the documents that is influencing how I am designing the tech infusion for my classroom.  Thoughts about how to infuse technology and digital citizenship learnings into the existing curricula is tricky considering we are seriously lacking in the technology department.  We don’t have access to nearly enough devices for students.  We encourage BYOD, but even then it is still a struggle to have all students “connected” at the same time.  I have found some useful ideas for how to incorporate using technology in the classroom –  10 Classroom Blogging Ideas to Boost Engagement by Hattie James is one list that I intend to use in my planning.  Another one that I think has some very good ideas is 50 Creative Writing Prompts for Student Blogging.  Don’t let the name fool you – these ideas are useful for many ELA classes and not just Creative Writing.

Though I feel like I have much to do for this project, I am so excited about the learning potential this will provide for my students.

 

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A Change Would Do You Good

I love being a life-long learner.  I am a self-professed technology dunce but I am learning new things as a result of EC&I 832.  This ties into the generational differences we discussed last week in class.  It seems that younger people have an easier time catching on to technology – or is that just a stereotype?  I am always thinking about what I’m learning and how I can apply it to the classroom.

How I imagine I look to my classmates – AKA feeling out of place in my learning environment

Photo Credit: mikecogh Flickr via Compfight cc

Look at our grad class.  We “meet” every week via technology!  We don’t even have to leave our homes to be connected and learning.  I’d say that this is going to become more and more common and it will eventually trickle down into the K-12 system.  I am reminded of our alternative education students and how much difference it makes to them that they don’t have to sit and learn in a  traditional classroom.  They are given opportunities to learn based on their strengths.  Perhaps we would do well to remember this when we are designing learning environments, both online and in person.

I think that, in the future, it will take a variety of different learning environments for students to learn the appropriate skills they will need in order to become productive citizens of society.   “What’s the Future of Education? Teachers Respond” by Laura McClure was the resource I resonated most with, and particularly the following quote:

So long as there is a workplace… there will be schools.
“The K-12 experience for students also provides societal infrastructure that allows for a working class. By 2050, the ‘World of Work’ will have little resemblance to what it is today. We should hope this to be the case for schools as well. If we begin by helping children to identify their strengths, interests and values — and then dedicate time in school to cultivating them towards exploring where each child’s unique place in the world might be — I think we’ll be on the right path regardless of what new technologies or advances in learning become available.  — David Miyashiro, Superintendent, Cajon Valley Union School District, California, United States”

Unfortunately, the rate of change for education in North America seems to be a snail’s pace.  Change is good, and the ability of schools to change with the times is going to become more important than ever before in history.  Digital citizenship is vitally important for the future — so schools will need to evolve and develop ways to help students become the best possible digital citizens they can be.

Oops! I Did It Again … and this time Big Brother is watching

I have this horrible habit of leaving emails, texts, and now blog posts chilling in “draft” form.  This week, my excuse is final exams.  I am so not a multi-tasker.  I am a hot mess right now, actually.  Like, a Britney-esque hot mess circa 2007.

 

My mom (who was far more sane than Britney) … shaving her own head like a boss because chemo doesn’t get to win.

Photo Credit:  Toni Underwood, 2008

So continuing below is the blog post I wrote on the weekend … and realized tonight that I hadn’t posted.   OOPS!

 

Our readings for the week got me thinking about how prevalent social media has become.  I watched the Danah Boyd keynote about Teenagers who are Living and Learning with Social Media.  What struck me is how much social media has changed since this keynote was videoed.  MySpace is a non-entity now.  Facebook is considered an “old person” site – so my students and my son tell me.  I asked them, “what is the best social media site?” They tell me it’s not a site really, but an app.  SnapChat.  Apparently, if you don’t have this app, you are a digital dinosaur.  Well, all righty then.

How my students and son view me!

Photo Credit: RobinGoodfellow_(m) Flickr via Compfight cc

This tied in with what I read in Neil Postman’s 1998 article, “Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change” I look at how the mighty dinosaurs ceased to exist.  I watch the rapid growth of technology that is portable and easily accessible (for those who can afford it) and I am becoming increasingly afraid that it is not going to end well.  I look particularly at Postman’s conclusion to his article:

“First, that we always pay a price for technology; the greater the technology, the greater the price. Second, that there are always winners and losers, and that the winners always try to persuade the losers that they are really winners. Third, that there is embedded in every great technology an epistemological, political or social prejudice. Sometimes that bias is greatly to our advantage. Sometimes it is not. The printing press annihilated the oral tradition; telegraphy annihilated space; television has humiliated the word; the computer, perhaps, will degrade community life. And so on. Fourth, technological change is not additive; it is ecological, which means, it changes everything and is, therefore, too important to be left entirely in the hands of Bill Gates. And fifth, technology tends to become mythic; that is, perceived as part of the natural order of things, and therefore tends to control more of our lives than is good for us.

Technology controls more of our lives than is good for us.  That quote bears repeating.  The most popular form of discipline or punishment in my students’ homes is the removal of technology or “taking the phone away.”  This is a punishment of epic proportions because STREAKS. Teachers in our school have rules about usage and most classrooms are equipped with “phone garages” – made by our carpentry classes, these can hold 36 phones while their owners are learning.  Some teachers have even attached charging ports to their device garages so their students’ phones can charge while they’re in class.  OY!  I will admit, I am as reliant on my phone as the next person… but I can go all day without charging my phone and still be at over 50% battery remaining … and I believe this is because I rarely use social media at work and I use texting instead of SnapChat to communicate.

Recently at our school, we lost internet access.  No big deal for me – I am kind of old fashioned and I teach ELA, so we still have books to read and I have paper copies of most other literary resources that I can pull out if I need to.  It was almost refreshing that the phone or the bells couldn’t ring and I didn’t have to worry about being bombarded with emails.  I could go about my lesson without fear of interruption.

My kind of technology!

Photo Credit: Theo Crazzolara Flickr via Compfight cc

My classroom was productive; however, in other parts of the school there was full blown panic.  Teachers who use online formats to store their lessons and content had nothing to teach … and the (digital) natives were getting restless.  This outage came only days after an email was sent stating that the wifi passwords had been changed to protect bandwidth and staff and students would no longer be given passwords or access to wifi on their personal devices.  I half expected there to be a mass exodus from the building.

Photo Credit: Creative Ignition Flickr via Compfight cc

How dare they not provide access to wifi for our students or staff?  A question one of my students asked stopped me in my tracks.

“Isn’t denying access to the internet a breach of basic human rights?” – a student.

Woah.  On so many levels this was a teachable moment.  Before I could say anything, another student in my class asked what the basic human rights might be… which lead to a very heated (but polite) debate on the topic.  As I listened to my students ponder the question that was asked, I felt like I was in some alternate universe and had been transported back in time to the early 1990s in my grade 12 high school English class.  George Orwell’s 1984 was the book we had just finished reading and it had introduced us to the saying that has come to epitomize life without freedom: BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.   Since the internet was still in its infancy and not yet mainstream in the fall of 1992, we were having difficulty imagining a world like Oceania, where all human actions are scrutinized by Big Brother, where screens can watch what we are doing, and where all of our actions can be recorded.  It’s only been twenty-five years since I graduated high school – but the idea of owning a home computer and having internet access was pretty much nonexistent.  Now, our students can hardly imagine a life without internet access.

Photo Credit: byzantiumbooks Flickr via Compfight cc

In 1984, the protagonist, Winston, works in the Records Department at the Ministry of Truth and rewrites and distorts history.  This reminds me of a John Mayer song, “Waiting on the World to Change” which states:

“when you trust your television*
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want.”

*television = any media source, really

This brings me back to Postman’s article.  Though written 20 years ago, I still find relevance in what was written.  As Postman says, “[t]here is no escaping from ourselves. The human dilemma is as it has always been, and it is a delusion to believe that the technological changes of our era have rendered irrelevant the wisdom of the ages and the sages.”  Students really do need teachers to help them navigate the technology highway.  I would take it a step further and say that the older generations (dinosaurs like me) can learn from the younger generations just as much as – and maybe just a bit more! – than the younger generations can learn from us.  We’re all in this together!

 

 

This is Major

The end of the first semester in secondary ELA classes always seems to be a mad dash to the finish line.  So many loose ends to wrap up, assignments to mark, and essays to assess before the final exam.  There is also planning to do for next semester.  In the midst of this chaotic circus we call teaching, I have been contemplating the major project for EC&I 832.

thought process
The aftermath of an ELA PLC which gives you an idea of how my desk looks during finals week.  P.S.  I recycled all of the paper

 

Source: Kyla Moffatt, 2018

I have been reflecting on the use of technology within my classroom, within my department, and within our school as a whole and I have determined that there are areas where improvements are needed.  This is a bit overwhelming for a neophyte such as myself – where do I begin?  What will be the best way to infuse technology and online learning tools (which I know next to nothing about) into my classroom in a way that is purposeful?  How can I best educate my students not only on the proper use of technology to enhance their learning but also on the importance of digital citizenship?

For my Major Project, I intend to develop a scope and sequence for secondary ELA that will support and/or enhance the digital components (products and processes) in our curricular documents while incorporating portions of Ribble’s nine elements and keeping in mind the Saskatchewan’s Digital Citizenship Continuum and Saskatchewan’s Digital Citizenship Policy Planning Guide.

I would like to vet resources to use that will not only support the curricular outcomes but enhance the students’ digital citizenship at the same time. We have recently had a problem in our building with kids using their devices inappropriately (bullying, sending nude/partially nude photos) so I am interested in searching for ways we can integrate digital citizenship education  – to enhance our students’ learning and knowledge in online safety – while meeting our curricular outcomes/objectives.  

Another area that I intend to incorporate is social activism; this is a perfect fit because Developing Literacies and Developing Social Responsibility are cross-curricular learnings embedded in the 10-12 curricula.  These will likely end up being the primary area of focus for my project, guided by the need to teach my students to be socially responsible citizens, both digitally and otherwise.  

Though I will be attempting to develop the entire scope and sequence for ELA 10-12, I will likely focus specifically on developing a “technology infusion” for ELA 20 since I teach two sections of it this coming semester and could actually pilot the lessons and assessment tools that I will be developing for the project.

Bonus:  I will be completing my project for my grad class but also planning for my students.

WINNING!

The dawn of something new!

I really have no idea what I’m doing.  Blogging?  Like, writing things and posting them for the world to find?  Seems a bit egocentric to me.  Why would anyone care to know what I think?  What would happen if I did something inappropriate without knowing or write something that offends someone?  Worse, what if I do the unthinkable and *shudder* make a grammatical or spelling error?

I started course work for a Master’s of Education in Curriculum and Instruction last fall.  The first class was difficult for me.  Granted, it happened during a time of great emotional stress with the sudden loss of my mom and while trying to teach and coach and be a wife and mother.  All things aside, it was a huge learning curve and I felt like a fish out of water.  I just kept imagining the scene in Grey’s Anatomy where George asks “Who feels like they have no idea what they’re doing?” and the interns all raise their hands.  That was me in ED 800.

It’s a standing joke with my colleagues that if it involves a new technology or a new program or software, I will likely be uttering curse words at my device within minutes.  This lack of “technology gene” has caused me more than a few headaches.  Using and learning new technology does not seem to come easily.

Change is also hard for me – I am definitely a creature of habit.  Although I am extremely adaptable with some things (ie.e switching a lesson in mid-stream, jumping on a teachable moment in the classroom, working out a problem area with my athletes), I find sudden change to be a trigger. As with all new things, I am apprehensive, nervous, anxious, and overwhelmed.

I was happy to get into an online class for winter semester.  I hate winter road conditions so the opportunity to save myself two and a half hours of driving to attend class and the ability to login and attend through technology from anywhere with a computer was very appealing.  I am  excited to learn and gain more knowledge about Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy in EC&I 832, but I have a feeling I’m going to have a few more of those moments like the interns had on Grey’s because I feel like an absolute ancient relic when I am faced with technology.

2931856207_70b4bd8097_d
Actual image of what my brain sees when trying to decipher something new on a computer.

Photo Credit: bortescristian Flickr via Compfight cc

My favourite medium is pen and paper, not the unforgiving, glowing screens I am forced to use in my daily life.  Indeed, I feel I spend too much time being a screen zombie and not enough time doing things that I love.  Writing.  Reading.  Doing puzzles.  Laughing.

Maybe this is an opportunity to combine two worlds.  Perhaps my love of learning and writing will overcome my apprehension of technology and technology and I can live together in peace and harmony.  Maybe.  But I’ll probably need a little help to get there.

Featured image Photo Credit: glendon27 Flickr via Compfight cc