Ed Tech and Social Justice

This week in class we discussed how educational technology is related to social justice. I really took time to ponder how we could make the internet a more equitable place.

I came across an article entitled Teaching kids to Code: An economic & Social Justice Issue. I thought this was pretty fitting considering in class we talked about the growing number of students coding and the importance of teaching coding.

There was a part of the article that stated there are many jobs that require students to code; however, particularly schools with students of low income and minority students are not given the opportunities to code. An initiative was started called the Hour of Code. Their vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science. On the website there are stats on coding and gender and racial equity. If coding is not taught in all schools, especially those of low income students then there is a greater chance of those students not being able to experience coding and therefore not being able to get jobs in an ever increasing coding world.

On a side note I was interested when Katia had mentioned that Facebook uses algorithms to decide what shows up in your feed. I did not know this was a thing!!

I found this quote from an article:

“My News Feed took on an entirely new character in a surprisingly short amount of time. After checking in and liking a bunch of stuff over the course of an hour, there were no human beings in my feed anymore. It became about brands and messaging, rather than humans with messages”

The fact that news feeds become only filled with things that people like is a problem. We set up our political and social filter bubbles online and the things we read and watch cater to our specific interests. This means that we may never be exposed to some of the most controversial or important things on Facebook. It reminded me of not just online but in our society. So many of us choose what we want to see and hear, which can leave people blind sided to social justice issues. Some people might never volunteer in downtown Regina or leave their area of town to see what is happening.

Last but not least!! I think it is important as teachers to realize that some students may not have the means to technology. As teachers, we must ensure that anything that is required online be done in class time. If there are hand outs have them both online and in paper form. Just being aware of what your students have at home (in regards to technology) is key! The digital divide is a reality for many students.


What about your eyes: an optometrist perspective

This week I went to the optometrist for my eye checkup. So far I am the only one in my family who does not have/need glasses!! I am known as the family champion when it comes to eyes. I want to do everything I can to keep my 20/20 vision. However, I asked my optometrist if I would ever need to get glasses and his response made me think…think about technology and this class.

His response was that these days technology is making it more and more that people need glasses and is putting a strain on people’s eyes. When he started his career he never thought he would be making special glasses for people to wear as they stared into 3 computer monitors for their jobs. He never imagined that people would be spending hours in front of a television screen or constantly on their phones. These days people have their tv on while they are also on their phone and possibly some other device. Technology has made it so that our eyes are constantly being exposed to screen time. My eyes get sore from being on my computer so much for school. My optometrists advice was to follow the 20-20-20 rule do work for 20 min and then look at a far object (20 feet away) for 20 seconds. He said that there are no studies yet as to how much screen time or use of technology is detrimental to your eyes, but he did say to try to not spend as much time with technology. Here is an article of other tips to help your eyes.

Remember to Blink

Remember to Blink

Take Breaks

Take Breaks

Reduce lighting

Reduce lighting

I also was talking to him about the impact technology has made on our eyes. We no longer can stand something being blurry. We live in a society that promotes everything in high definition. The idea of good vision is slowly changing. More and more people are getting glasses because the smallest change  in eye site may make something blurry and people can’t stand that.

Just something to think about! Try to protect your eyes!

The Adventures of Outside!

Today I read an article about a teacher in Regina who promotes puddle play! As she states in the article:

“I think it’s a really wondrous time of year, I think every person remembers being a kid and playing in puddles”

I remember playing in puddles as a child and now a days children are discouraged because they will get wet and muddy. However, I agree with the teacher that it is important to let children learn from the outdoors. Playing can provide lots of rich learning. This article reminded me of when I was in BC and volunteered at a school.  The school had something called ‘Forest Play’ in the mornings. The students were required to bring rubber boots and splash pants and the children went and played in the designated area in the forest. The children were not allowed to bring any toys with them and had to play with the natural surroundings. They learned how to treat the environment and went looking for bugs. I believe there was amazing learning happening and the students loved when they had ‘Forest Play’. It also reminded me of the play and exploration document, as it promotes using real experiences and using the  outdoors for learning. It also encompasses the Growing Up Wild mandate of having teachers take their students outside to explore!

I take 2 little boys to school 3 times a week and I try to let them walk through the puddles on the way to school. Here is a photo of our rubber boots!


Pensieve…Say What?

This week in ECMP we presented our S’more about Pensieve. During the research of the program I became very excited to have my own classroom and try it out! Here is the link for you to check out what we learned about Pensieve.

For some background, pensieve is a program used for Daily 5 created by the two sisters. Pensieve allows teachers to be able to keep track of student’s reading levels and progress, group students, and connect it all to CAFE. It is an organized way of keeping track of your daily 5 records.

In our presentation we interviewed a principal from Regina Public schools who has teachers using the program. Here are some of her reasons for using the program. For the full interview visit the S’more!

Interview with Lori

Interview with Lori

For the project we also found apps for Daily 5 since the program is centered around Daily 5. There is a description and links to the itunes store on our S’more. Many of the apps are free and we used them in our internships.

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I highly recommend taking a look at Pensieve if you use daily 5 in your classroom. In fact, our group got a tweet back that a teacher was trying it out with her Junior team!!

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To quote our group:

“They are the most organized Daily 5 Records you have ever seen!”

Play and Exploration: Links to Digital Photo Album

Last week I decided to see if there were curriculum links to my learning project of making a digital album.I don’t think students would be able to use shutter fly in the classroom; however, the idea of pictures is what I focused on.

I remember back in my ECE class reading the Government of Saskatchewan document entitled Play and Exploration. In the play and exploration document one of the aspects is creating an inviting environment was with student pictures of them and their family in the classroom.

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“Children experience healthy, inclusive and safe settings which enhance their learning and well-being. Children see themselves reflected in environments that stimulate communication, questions, investigation and exploration. Children sense that they and their families belong in the setting”    – Government of Saskatchewan

It is important that students see themselves in the educational setting. In my internship we had something called Star Student where two students were picked each week and from that would bring information about their family and pictures. We also had a bulletin board show casing pictures of the students doing work.

This is where we hung the star student posters for everyone to see!

This is where we hung the star student posters for everyone to see!

Making my photo album has made me see the benefits of having and taking pictures. I also believe that as teachers we can use photographs for documentation. If there is something we want to show parents we can show them through photo documentation. In a Reggio Emilia article it states that documentation through photographs is key.

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Coding 101: Scratch

This week in class we used the program Scratch to learn about coding! I did not know much about coding and to be honest did not have much interest in it.

I could not get my project to share on my blog. I made my coding and then realized I had to make an account. I tried to sign up, but for some reason my email would not work. I took a screen shot of the project to show that I had been working hard on it. I also read on our classes google plus that others had a hard time sharing their project. I thought I would leave my project and try to share it later. BUT…big mistake because my safari decided to shut down and I no longer have the project. Very frustrating!! This is also my second time blogging about scratch because of safari shutting down. I am sorry that you are unable to see my work that I did on scratch through the video, but hopefully the picture will show my effort. I made a little butterfly that moved and its flight was all timed to music! I also had the butterfly change colours as it went through the sky. The background was a field with wheat and a bright blue sky.

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My thoughts about the program and coding:

I must say I had many laughs while using this program. I was laughing at my butterfly because it would be flying upside down and off the page. I was also working on my project with other people and laughing alongside them on their projects. I think students would have lots of fun with coding. However, on the negative side I was frustraded because I could not get my butterfly to start at the same spot/direction each time. When I would go to play my coding the butterfly would start from the previous spot and position. This meant that each time my butterfly’s flight path was different. I also was annoyed that I could not get my project to share, especially after spending hours to make it. I can see students breaking down (elementary students) if their project could not be shared/saved.

Since Scratch was not really working for me I thought I would see if there were other websites. I came across this website that offers many websites and apps for coding. I recommend checking it out, as they have the coding categorized for ages. It start with coding for pre-schoolers (age 2) and goes to teens (age 13). I thought I would check out Kodable Pro. It is a coding program for children age 6 and introduces children to the logic and sequencing needed for coding. I like it because there is a written curriculum component.

On the Common sense media website, which is the website mentioned above it has a nicely laid out format to explain each app and website.

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I also was curious as to why coding is becoming so popular and important for teachers to teach students. According to this article ‘coding powers our digital world’. It is estimated that over the next 10 years 1.4 million jobs will require coding. I also found the final words of this article to be interesting and I am still running it through my head.

“Our kids should learn to bend, join, break and combine code in a way it wasn’t designed to. It’s a whole generation of kids that will use code like our generation used words.”

If coding is going to be such an important part of the next generations lives than I had better become more familiar with it. Here is a video on why coding is important:

The Album is almost complete!

I am almost done my photo album and I am so proud of the results. In reflecting on this project I have realized how important photos are and the significance of keeping photos. There was a period of time that my family does not have many photos and it definitely made it hard to make the album. There were lots of photos from when my brother and I were young, but from about grade 7-10 there were hardly any photos. I also have an appreciation for digital cameras and how easy they have made peoples lives for taking pictures. It was much easier for me to download the more recent photos.

I wanted to make this photo album, but throughout I have also learned about myself and how I interpret technology. I did not want to make a you tube account. I was/still am scared in the fact that shutterfly has my pictures!!! I feel as though I see the benefits of using technology, but I am so hesitant to use it. I struggled to make a screen cast account because I was worried about getting a virus on my computer because I did not know if the program was reliable.

As for the program ShutterFly I learned that I like to have things organized and Shutterfly  did not disappoint. I found that I tended to just play around on the program and from that I was able to learn new things. I think if I were to use this program again I would pick a different album layout. The one I used seemed to have some restrictions and that got frustrating. However, I found where to get more embellishments!! Here is my screen cast on it what I found!

Here are some of my finished pages with the embellishments. I just need to add the text to each page.

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When the album is completely done I will do a screen cast of it all!