Unit 3 – School Level Technology

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Throughout my teaching career technology has always been a hot topic within the classroom. There has always been a divide between teachers that feel technology is welcome in the classroom and teachers who see it as the bane of their existence and has caused nothing but trouble.  When I first started teaching I felt like the latter. It was one more issue that caused a distraction and only piled onto the classroom management issue that all new teachers face. As I have gone through my Masters journey my opinion has changed, I have realized that technology can be a very powerful tool within the classroom if it is used correctly.

Last winter, while taking part in a course by Alec Couros, I decided that I needed to look into the way that I used technology within my classroom.  Not only the way that I used technology but the freedom that I gave my students when it came to using technology. Like I stated earlier, in the beginning of my teaching career I believed that technology (specifically cell phones) were a distraction and played a negative part in the classroom. Recently I have realized that technology is a distraction if students are not properly trained in way it should be used in the classroom, at home and in public.  Technology is not going away, if anything it will become a bigger part of our lives.  It has become very clear that students need to be taught not only how to use technology, but etiquette and responsibility when it comes to technology. I used to believe that the only way to have control over technology was to collect cell phones at the start of the day, I now believe that when students are taught or given proper guidelines on technology use technology is not a distraction but a very powerful tool.  For this reason last winter I developed a Digital policy for my classroom. Even over the matter of one year my beliefs on technology have changed and I do believe it needs to be altered, but it is a starting point. One change that I believe I will make was from Alec Couros, from his CBC article on device bans within schools, the idea of green, yellow and red light in regards to when technology can be used.

With regards to my digital policy and using the comparing it to a play I found it really intriguing….

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dramatis personae

When looking at digital policy that I have created for my classroom there are two parties that are greatly impacted by its implementation; the students and myself. First off, the students for the simple reason that there are guidelines and expectations put on their technology use.  They are expected to use technology appropriately if they want to continue to use it within the classroom. Second, myself for the simple reason that I need to beware the risks that there are of letting my students use cell phones and other forms of technology in the classroom.  If used inappropriately it could become a distraction or a tool for improper behaviour such as bullying. A secondary party that could come into play is the administrator because they will need to know about the policy and the consequences of improper use.

Props

The props within this scenario are any form of technology that the students are using on a day to day basis within the classroom. This could be chromebooks, cell phones, ipods, etc.

Conflict

This element of technology is the most difficult.  There are many conflicts when it comes to technology in the classroom and letting students access devices. I will only focus on a few that have had an impact on my classroom.

  1. BYOD – The biggest issue that stems from BYOD is that it is extremely difficult for teachers to monitor what students are using their devices for.  Students can seem to be working very hard, but be using their device for something entirely different. At least on school provided technology it is a lot easier to monitor what technology is being used for.
  2. Cyberbullying – This issue does not happen from within the classroom very often, but frequently it is happening outside the school and brought into the school. Issues that are happening on social media outside of the classroom make there way to school and cause a concern or distraction for the students. When this happens parents will call into school and want the school to get involved.  This often causes parents to believe that devices should not be permitted within the school.  I often explain that proper use needs to be taught and responsibility must be given to the students to accomplish this.
  3. Staff – Other staff not supporting the use of technology in the school. Not allowing students to use technology when given permission
  4. Sneeky Teens – One major issue that I have run into is that older students know how to beat the system.  There is always an app or website that teachers do not know about and students know how to use it.  These students have been on technology their whole lives, while we are often still learning how to use it.

Although my digital policy is far from perfect I believe it is a start.  I have come along way from where I was when I first started teaching and I believe that I will continue to grow as an educator when it comes to technology.

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Unit 2 – Take 2

Within the second part of our blog we were asked to look at 5 articles and take a quote that spoke to us.  Here are the results.

  1. Tourish, D. (2014). Leadership, more or less? A processual, communication perspective on the role of agency in leadership theory. Leadership, 10(1), 79-98.

    “(Leadership) It is fundamentally an ongoing process rather than a finished accomplishment.” (p. 12)
     

    When reading through this article this quote had me stop and think.  It is one of those things that you do not always think about, but it makes total sense.  Like everything else in life leadership is a journey and there may not be a perfect leader, but there are those leaders who are continually striving to get better.  Like Steve mentioned in preface to this part of the unit “…there is nothing worse then a leader who is stuck in their ways.”  This quote speaks to that explaining that to be a positive leader you must change with your staff, the times and the environment around you.

  2. Edwards, G., Elliott, C., Iszatt-White, M., & Schedlitzki, D. (2013). Critical and alternative approaches to leadership learning and development. Management Learning, 44(1), 3-10.“Finally, and most recently, there has been a focus on authentic leadership development (Cooper et al., 2005), which suggests a process of ethical awareness alongside leadership development.” (p. 5)

    I liked the idea of this quote because it brings to light how authentic leadership development involves ethical awareness. I have always believed that being a true leader is not what you say, but how you act and the way you conduct yourself. To be a good leader you must behave ethically. If you lead without following your moral compass you are more then likely doing it for the wrong reason. When you are acting ethically you are keeping mind the people that are under you and the people that your decisions are impacting.

  3. Abrahamson, E. 2004. Avoiding Repetitive Change Syndrome. MITSloan Management Review. Winter 2004“It would be wonderful if each disruptive episode of creative destruction had such a cheesy fairytale ending. But for many companies, repeated change efforts over the past 20 years have been too much about destruction and not enough about creation. What fairy tales do not mention is that many organizations make big revolutionary changes and perish, or worse, change and therefore perish” (p. 1)

    This quote caught my attention because we are in a time of continually change. If you are unwilling to change, you are usually left behind.  According to this quote, just because you change does not mean that you are going to have success. Tearing down what you have is not always the best solution but building on what you have or attempting to make it better may be the better solution.  As effective leaders we must know how to change to make our organizations or schools better.  Once again this goes with the idea of being stuck in a rut and not changing to better ourselves.  If we stay complacent with the leaders that we are, we will never grow. Instead we have to build on what we have and grow to become better leaders.

  4. Excerpts from: Alvesson, M., & Spicer, A. (2016). The stupidity paradox: The power and pitfalls of functional stupidity at work. Profile Books.“In today’s image-obsessed organisations, executives also set out to manage their employees’ lives, shaping the way employees think about themselves, how they feel, and what their moral judgements are”

    Wow! I do not know if I am totally off base here but I feel like this really related to our previous unit with unjust power in education.  In the sense that as educators we have the ability to shape the way our students think of themselves, how they feel and impact their moral judgement.  When given the curriculum guidelines that we have we can often shape these young minds in ways that are not positive. With the hidden curriculum focusing on writing, math and reading we often do not give the proper self esteem to the students who struggle in these subjects.  I feel that education often is worried about our image and test scores that we often forget that it is our job to get the best out of our students and sometimes that is not math, reading and writing scores.

  5. Bryant, M. 1998. Cross-Cultural Understandings of Leadership. Educational Management and Administration, 26(1) 7-20. “Native Americans spoke of a different kind of leadership. It is a leadership that is decentralized. Every person has a role to play. Each person’s role is important to the whole.” (p. 6)

    This idea goes against everything that western society believes about leadership.  We believe that for an organization to work there must be someone in charge and over seeing everyone else’s work.  As the article puts it “the buck stops here”. What a beautiful idea, but would it work in todays society I do not know. I believe that as a good leader you do need to give roles to your team, or staff that allow them to be successful. This idea from First Nation culture is about giving everyone in your group responsibility and trust.  This can be a powerful tool as an organization

Unit 2 – Part 1 – Leadership Reflection

Part one of this weeks blog posts asks us to take into account how our personality has shaped our leadership style. In my case I believe that my personality has had a huge impact on the leader that I am and that I want to develop into.  I have always been a social individual who loves to get to know people and genuinely cares about others.  This has played a crucial role in my leadership style because I believe I go out of my way to make sure the people around me are okay and have everything under control.  At times I will take things off other’s plates to make sure that they are okay, while taking on more- leaving myself swamped. I am also the type of person who likes to solve issues as soon as possible, stop everything to make sure this gets done.  As you can guess this can be a good quality at times, but also can be a very bad quality at times.  Sports have always been a big part of my life, which in turn has turned me into a team player. Being a team player has always allowed me to work well with others and work together for the common goal of an organization.  I have always believed that it is the leaders responsibility to get the best out of those around them, to put the right people in the right place so they can be successful.  Everyone has strengths and it is the leaders job to utilize everyones strengths for the good of the whole group and that individual. I also believe that I am an approachable person and easy to talk to, which allows people to want to bounce ideas off of me or ask for help.

Throughout my life I have had numerous experiences that have shaped me into the leader that I am today. As I stated earlier I have played competitive sports my whole life. I have been a part of numerous teams which have allowed me to witness good leaders and terrible leaders.  Leaders that have earned respect and leaders who have tried to demand it without success.  I have had leaders who you were willing to do anything you could for, because you knew that they were willing to do the same for you.  I have had the opportunity to be a captain on high level teams and I modeled my leadership after those that I respected.  Sports is where I truly believe that I developed the leadership belief that it is the leaders job to get the best out of those around them, by offering them support and putting them in situations where they can be successful. You can only be successful if everyone works together.


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The second experience that I have had that has shaped the leader that I am (and person that I am) is becoming a father. Becoming a father has allowed me to understand that making mistakes is part of learning and growing.  On a daily basis I watch my daughter learn from doing things that do not work, and learning from this.  Everyday she grows and becomes more capable because of doing things wrong earlier.  This is important to remember as a leader because no organization, especially in education is going to run smoothly without mistakes.  Instead it is a leaders ability to learn and make changes from those mistakes that makes an organization better.

Leadership Styles 

Democratic/Participative Leadership Style – This leadership style holds the most interest to me because I believe in the importance of allowing all team members to have a say in the final outcome.  Ultimately it is the leaders final decision, but it is important to have input from all shareholders.  This could spark something that the leader did not think of or simply allow your staff to know that you value their input.

Laissez-Faire Leadership Style – This leadership intrigues me for the simple fact that I do not know much about it.  I like the idea of giving freedom to my team or staff, but I feel like this leadership style could spiral downhill fast.  I think that it could help moral of staff and could increase productivity, but it could also have the opposite impact if the time lines are not watched.  I would like to learn more about this.

Charismatic Leadership Style – This leadership style also interests me because we all know someone who fits this profile.  Sometimes this type of leader could be very good, but they could also have risen to their position because of their charisma and not deserved the promotion.

All in all I believe that all of these leaderships have their upsides, but also could have some very negative impacts on their team if not monitored appropriately.

 

 

And Here we go…Critical Theory

It feels like it has been a long time since I have last blogged, but here it goes.  When reading about how the education system can be used as an agent of maintaining unjust power structures in society, it honestly worried me quite a bit. Can it really be true? This idea that throughout history education has been used as a powerful tool for promoting unjust inequalities within our society? This question forced me to look into my practices as a teacher and what is going on in our province to hinder or to help these unjust practices.

Education being used as an Agent

Within their lecture Stephen and Kristen talk about the idea that education’s primary focus is on creating good law abiding citizens, who are rewarded when they show traits of conformity, uncriticality and submission to authority. They state that even teachers with the best intentions are handcuffed by curriculum guide lines and expectations of the job. As every teacher knows this is very apparent in our profession, as stated by many others within our class by the minutes allotted to “core” subjects. The heavy focus on our reading, writing, math and sciences leaves well intentioned  teachers little time to teach other subjects appropriately. Unfortunately this often allows students who have high aptitudes for reading, writing and math an unfair advantage throughout their schooling.  While students who excel in the arts, History and physical education are left disadvantaged and often feeling unsuccessful at school due to the emphasis being that their strengths are not as important. While critically analyzing Stephen and Kristen’s ideas I believe that until more emphasis is spent on other courses the “power” struggle in school will continue. Not every student has the same strengths and I believe it is our job to bring out every students strengths to help them feel successful at school.

equity cartoon
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Neo-Liberalism

Another Idea that I found extremely interesting that I believe to be hurting education in Saskatchewan and adding to inequality is the idea of Neo-Liberalism in Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Party using government funds to pay private sectors to complete jobs, creating a cycle of the rich getting richer while the low class are being cut.  According to Stephen this becomes apparent when he writes “Directing Education dollars towards the construction of facilities that are more grandiose and expensive than useful. By this scheme, politically-allied contractors grow rich, while teacher assistants get laid off, and teacher/student ratios climb”. Not only are educational funds being used inappropriately but funding is being cut to education as a whole.

The idea behind Neo-Liberalism is the privatization of business, creating an increase in the private sector which in return would have a trickle down effect on the economic classes below.  When in fact it often has the opposite impact where the rich get richer, and the lower classes lose out on the work in return the money.  This has been seen in the education field as well, impacting the amount of money we have to spend on EA support in the classroom.

What am I doing in the classroom

First thing is first, while reading this weeks assignment I had to question my teaching practices.  Am I adding to this problem of the unjust power structure by what I am doing in the classroom? Are the things that I am doing in the class creating an environment that are only rewarding those that fit into the “model student” mould? Although as teachers we are handcuffed and forced to do things that we do not always agree with there are things that I am doing to battle this. The first thing that comes to mind is inquiry based learning projects. A lot of the teaching that I do inside the classroom has to do with inquiry, instead of rote memorization and regurgitation.  I feel that it is important to have students who are problems solvers and are seeking to find their own answers.  Having these types of students creates an environment of engagement and onious for their own learning.  It has had a huge impact on the learning in my classroom.

Another major idea that I have incorporated within my classroom is the idea of Genius Hour. The idea of Genius hour is to allow students to find something they are passionate about and become experts on that topic.  By giving them one hour a week to work on this project it encourages them to explore and move outside their comfort zone. Genius Hour has become one of my students favourite periods simply for the fact that they get to learn about something of their choice, that interests them and get to show this using their strengths. It is a way of not catering to the typical A student, but giving every student a chance to find a way to succeed.

Summary of my Final Project

 

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This final project was a great experience! It had me out of my comfort zone learning and teaching elements that I did not feel comfortable teaching previously. I am now confident in being able to say that I can not only teaching digital citizenship within my classroom, but that I am a better digital citizen myself because of this project. The premise of my project was to focus largely on Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship and use these to create lesson plans and teach my students how to be proper digital citizens.  I also focused and brought in ideas from Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools to help guide my practices within the classroom.

After taking guidance from Alec, I decided that to focus on all nine of Ribble’s elements would be too much of an undertaking, so instead I decided to focus on three that were relevant in my classroom. Those three were Digital Etiquette, Digital Law and Digital Rights and Responsibilities.  I attempted to break each element into lesson plans and teachings towards my students.  I blogged about my findings and the process.

First Step

The first step in the process was to find out how much time my students spent online and what did they do online.  I used Google Classroom to poll my students about the hours they used technology, the influences they had online and what apps they used.  You can see my findings on my blog post here (link).

Second Step

The next step in my process was creating a responsible use policy within my classroom.  In my classroom I have always attempted to incorporate technology into the classroom, but never had a plan put in place.  According toDigital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools it is important to have a responsible use policy put in place when technology is used at your school.  I allowed the students to help create this policy and it has been a huge success so far.  Here is a link to my Digital policy.  If you want to see the process involved you can see it in my blog post (link).

Element One – Digital Etiquette

This part of the process I taught my students what it meant to have proper digital etiquette.  I created a lesson plan and webquest for my students to follow to create 10 rules of social media for a specific app of their choice.  You can visit my webquest here (Digital Etiquette WebQuest). If you are interested in reading the blog post associated with this (link).

Element Two – Digital Law

This element was the most interesting to learn about and teach.  The students got the most information from this because this element was the least known to them.  When teaching about this element I focused on what can be the consequences of misuse of the internet and what are the proper uses.  We learned about what actions could fall under criminal law and what actions would fall under civil law.  We also focused on the responsibilities of an online citizen.  Here is the blog that talks about this (link).

Element Three – Rights and Responsibilities

The final element that I focused on during my final project was the rights and responsibilities of citizens online. We began by creating a list that compared the rights vs responsibilities of Canadians. This showed that it is no different online. As a class we created a list of the rights and responsibilities of online citizens. The students used these lists to create a powtoon presentation.

Conclusion

This Major project was rewarding and insightful. It not only helped me to become a better digital citizen but a better teacher of digital citizenship. I have also have confidence that my students are better equipped to tackle the challenges that they will face online.

The Final Countdown…..

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The third and final element of Ribble’s Nine Elements of digital citizenship that I focused on for my final project was Digital Right’s and Responsibilities. This element was one of the hardest that I focused on because there was not as much information on the internet as as the other elements and as well a lot of the material focused on similar content that I have already taught to my students. Within Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools Digital Rights and Responsibilities is stated to be “‘the privileges and freedoms’ inherent in participation in digital society, as well as the expectations that come with them (25)”. Within the document it is said that students should be made aware of the responsible use policy (Digital policy), and their rights as a student online (posted in last blog). These are things that I have already taught or created in my classroom, so we reviewed these in detail before starting.

When starting into my new content I decided to start by focusing on communities as a whole. I wanted my students to understand that as citizens in our communities we have rights and responsibilities. We began by creating a list that compared the rights vs responsibilities of Canadians. By doing this it helped my students to understand the difference between rights and responsibilities, and shows that by being part of a community we inherent the rights and responsibilities of those communities.  This is no difference when part of the online community. I explained that although we may not be in constant contact with those that we communicate or share with online we must still be responsible members.  One of my students suggested that we should create a list of Rights and Responsibilities within our school (I thought that was great).  I gave them the rest of the period to search and create a personal list that we could bring together to create a classroom list.

This is what they came up with

Rights

  • To access technology
  • Be taught to use technology
  • Identify real news story or credible sources
  • To feel safe when online or social media
  • To post our opinion and ideas without getting stolen
  • To get help when someone is harassing or bullying us
  • communicate safely with friends online
  • Create material without it being stolen
  • To privacy

Responsibilities

  • Respect others opinions, beliefs and ideas online
  • Protect our own digital footprint
  • Protect others by not posting what they would not want you to post
  • Protect our privacy by keeping information that we do not want out (ex passwords)
  • Do not cyberbully or harass others
  • Respect others online in all aspects
  • Use the internet appropriately

After completing our classroom list the students were asked to create a powtoon presentation on the list that we created…this will be there first time using so it should be fun! I am hoping that these will be done this week so I can post them on here to let you guys see them. Overall this was a great experience for me and my students. It allowed us to understand what the expectations are for us online.