For this trip we will venture to Berkeley, California to look at a course offering called Studio H hosted by the Realm Charter School. The program is very unique, in that it offers Grade 9 to 12 students a chance to design, implement and build unique solutions to projects based social issues / needs around the school and in the community. Really the program encompasses project based learning to its full extent, with real problems and and students developing and implementing real world solutions, from community chicken coops, container classrooms and even homeless housing. Now this might sound like it has little to do with technology but the students really have to use computers, modern tools and techniques, web research and communication, and a host of other technologies and problem-solving abilities to accomplish their goals.
As part of my Major Project on presenting to students about smartphone use I thought it would be engaging to have some relevant data gathered from the students being presented to. As I discussed in a previous blog, I was going to gather real-time data during the presentation but decided against this, as I was worried it would take too much time and overload the wifi. So I chose to gather the data earlier using Google Forms at a school wide assembly that our Principal and Vice-Principal were hosting while we were in a teacher area meeting (thank you to them for the help and support). Of about 550 students present for the assembly, I received 261 responses, which although far from perfect, I am happy with as it is a statistically significant portion of the student body (we have about 720 students at our school so this represents about 36% of the student population).
Well this was definitely my most challenging blog thus far to come up with an idea to write about for EDL 820. Maybe, because there were no prompts to start us off, or maybe that I had many negative opinions to express based on provincial words and promises but no actions or sufficient funding to support actions and I much prefer to focus on positives and solutions. I have therefore decided to look critically at the idea of “The Home / School Continuum: Two Lives or One” (Pg 9 of Digital Citizenship in Saskatchewan Schools) as I believe our view of and decision in this realm has a very large impact on how we will approach the idea of digital citizenship in schools, home and society. I understand both perspectives and can quite honestly say that I have not decided which one I feel is the correct perspective to take as a teacher; it is not a black and white issue, but much more of a gray area in worldview. In some situations technology works great at home and school (ie. Google classroom), other times kids “Snap” each other endlessly in both environments. Furthermore, this debate still continues in other very similar situations as to whether school is to prepare students for life, work or both. Are we teaching citizens, workers, university bound youth, or rebels because at times it is hard to understand who school’s really serve and why? The Saskatchewan Ministry of Education has not told us the answer to this question very clearly at this point., but they seem to be embracing digital lives for teachers and students quite specifically.
The main target of my major project is to improve the responsibility of students in using handheld devices in the classroom and school, and the focused method of influencing these students will be through a 12 or so minute presentation to about 350 students at a time, one presentation to Grade 9 and 10’s and one presentation to Grade 11 and 12’s during Advisory. I have permission from my principal and after completing the Major project outline (Part 2) recently, I have progressed to developing the presentation and slideshow.
Well I have begun researching for my Major Project for EDL 820, where I am developing a presentation for high school students to positively influence their personal device usage in school and at home. I chose the issue of digital citizenship, specifically handheld devices, because they are so prevalent in our classrooms, and with our students, that it seems very important to confront and educate around technology if we would like it to ultimately have positive “impacts [on] their [students] health and wellbeing.” ( Pg 17 - Status of Mind: Social media and young people’s mental health by RSPH). One of my largest tasks is going to be narrowing down such a large topic to present and have an impact in a 15 minute time span available for presenting to grade groups in advisory. I am hoping to model it somewhat after the shorter TedTalks that have become ever popular online, in fact it may even make sense to record the presentation and share it much like a TedTalk online!
The videos and audio recordings presented in the Unit 4 - Division Level section were a nice change from the traditional readings, as I really seem to engage with visual and auditory presentation of information. The information presented really offered me a much better view of where embracing technology in a school or division could ultimately lead, as I have been frustrated for years with technology’s increased use as a distraction and change for the sake of change without developing better learning outcomes in schools and in the classroom. I have found that much of what has been offered as technological advancement in the classroom or school has been at the substitution or augmentation level as discussed in the SAMR levels video of using technology. We have substituted hand-written worksheets and essays with power-points and google docs, replaced calendars and agendas with text messages and google classroom, but ultimately very little has actually changed in using the technology for deeper learning in the realm of the digital and real world. Our lives are a little bit easier and more organized in and out of the classroom but that has come at the cost having an infinite number of distractions with screens and no real deeper learning in many courses. This causes me to really reflect on my use of technology in my practice and how I can help students to modify or re-create learning opportunities. I have been as guilty as most teachers of just randomly inserting technology into assignments whether that was really necessary or not; using technology as a learning outcome instead of a tool. It does build technological literacy but that is generally a skill many students already have and so we are just “preaching to the converted.”
The following is a fictional situation based on my experience in a high school classroom over the last 5 or so years:
Mrs. Rotary shows up early to school to organize her days lesson, check her email (personal and work), responding to one teacher, two parents and reading through two other emails with important school information and then finally do a little photocopying. She texts her husband and turns off her ringer on her phone. Then Mrs. Rotary remembers, as she is on her way upstairs to the classroom she teaches senior Math in, that she forgot to punch in a class set of marks while she was in her office from the exams she marked last night. She opens the classroom a few minutes early to get her lesson set-up and the projector ready to show some important graphs for the lesson. She would like to use the Smartboard, but someone has taken all the Smart pens and her computer cannot be updated with the necessary update without administrative access, so she will just have to use the whiteboard accordingly until these technical issues are dealt with later this week, month, or semester.
In looking at my previous post about my core personality and leadership style, and now reading about the 5 C’s of commitment, connection, compassion, consistency, and competency (and then the ability to communicate those) I feel like I do strive to authentically display these traits. My two strengths would likely be in commitment and competency, as I strive to be very committed to a team and their outcomes and also develop a strong ability in what I am trying to do, teach or lead at while still being able to admit shortcomings, say “I don’t know” or ask for help. My weakest point would likely be in compassion, as I tend to get tunnel vision to my perspective and the end goals I have in mind, and get very disappointed if others do not live up to expectations, despite the challenges they may be facing or have faced. Luckily in the world of teaching, one is constantly reminded that compassion is a necessary trait, as many student stories are filled with challenge, neglect or heart-break. I enjoyed the five readings as each challenged traditional thinking in some way, causing one to mentally adjust or defend your thinking regarding leadership accordingly. The following is a chosen quote from each of the five articles and a short explanation of how it relates to my leadership philosophy or personality.
In looking at my core personality as a foundation of my leadership style, I would say that I am a detail and solution focused, hard-working individual who prefers to work within a team environment, building on the strengths of multiple people to organize and function towards a larger goal. I am willing to take on large challenges and tasks, as one of my strengths is to view the larger picture behind the small goals required to accomplish greater outcomes. I would also say that I am willing to go “against the grain” (Bad Religion - Album and Song - 1990) in a non-abrasive manner to create change, as I have experienced much insight through exposure to counter-culture and it’s eye opening benefits throughout my life. Lastly, I am also willing to work independently for long periods without recognition to realize goals ,as I think that personal growth often stems from unspoken and long-term goals and grit.
I grew up in small town Saskatchewan, where looking back I can now see how the public school setting really supported the unjust power structures in society. The students I attended school with from the various surrounding are with were mostly middle to upper class and of 2 parent families with European ancestry. It was very apparent early on in my public education that you would be judged on your ability to conform as a student in the classroom and on your appearance as a citizen, that looked good and spent money and time to do so. I say these two things critically now, but as a child I strongly believed in both concepts, unknowingly. Personally being very proud of my ability to complete school tasks swiftly, stand in line perfectly and follow the rules in class and at recess without question. I also placed great value in fitting in based on appearance through all the horrendous trends of the 80’s and 90’s, from Pace-setters to Hyper-color T-shirts to Mushroom cuts. This idea of competitive consumerism became very clear to me in reading the book “The Rebel Sell” by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter from 2004.