Week# 12 AR, Virtual Reality

    “The tools today are primitive. And people aren’t using primitive tools because they prefer primitive tools. They’re using primitive tools because we’re still early on the journey to creating better tools.” — Mark Zuckerber

    We are fortunate to have live in a time when technology is fast developing. We hear and see different inventions and ideas come up and ready to be used.AR and Virtual reality technologies are just few examples of modern technology that we can use in the classroom. Google introduced us to virtual reality experiences in almost any topic we can be interested in. I have used Google’s sea life in a new and multidimensional experience in its Discover Sea Life.

    Students looked at sea habitat and the animals that live in it. We did not have google cardboard but they enjoyed watching the images in our smartboard. We looked at the Galapagos Island, the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot Island, Canal de Sela Gineta, The Coast of Bali, and the Cook Island in the South Pacific. We will discover and interact with animals on our next activity using Google’s Augmented Reality tool.

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    Week #10 Assistive Technologies

    Using assistive technology with your child prevents your child from missing out on content solely because he can’t yet read or write. If your child cannot (yet) read, providing audiobooks, text-to-speech capability with content on computers, etc., for science, social studies, literature, and other subjects that are content-based just makes sense. — Sandra K. Cook

    For the current topic on assistive technologies, I would like to focus on the role of parents during the pandemic. Pandemic left us no choice but to depend on technology that would make online education possible. It was the most challenging teaching experience for me, and I believe, among all of us. I had to continue the year trying to teach the contents with brief tutorial and technological trainings provided by the school. My grade 1 students adapted to the new ways of learning. Parents did their best to support learning at home.

    As we continue the school year 2020 providing online learning to our students, parents played a valuable role. They too, were obliged to learn the technology so they can assist their young children during online learning. They disapproved letting their children use ipads and laptops for long period of time every day. However, they needed to comply with the Kuwait’s government education mandate to continue on online learning. Parents learned how to login to their accounts in MS Teams and sat with their children throughout the day. They reminded the children about the rules and conduct during online learning.

    Some parents expressed challenges and frustrations regarding reading with their children. Having no or little knowledge about how students learn reading, they had a hard time completing assigned readings with their children. I have sent them videos on phonics, handwriting, and shared links to free apps available on the internet like https://www.abcya.co, https://www.getepic.com/, and our paid app https://www.raz-kids.com/. In RAZ kids, students were able to read and record their voice while reading. I was able to assess their reading difficulties and needs. With these technologies, students did not miss out significantly in learning the contents in literacy, math, and science.

    Summary of Learning

    For this final assignment, I talked about my experiences and learning about technology and how it impacted my teaching philosophy and practice. I have chosen a timeline as a format to showcase my learning in this course. My presentation adopts the similar progression of how technology has evolved from early stages to the current advancement in the world wide web, from web 1.0 to 2.0, and the present.

    My Educational Technology Timeline

    Week #11 Coding

    I have taught and facilitated coding activities in the North. I taught grade 1 in La Loche back in 2019. I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in a PD offered by the Northern Lights School Division, so I can share my knowledge and introduce my young students to coding. It was a joyful noise and frenzy echoed in our hallways that week. Students were sad that the “mice” had to leave after a week. Of course, we requested for them to comeback several times. Every time they got the opportunity to play with the mice, they learn new skills in literacy and math. Behaviors has improved as well!

    The values that coding brought to my classroom were infinite! I myself spent countless hours on the floor figuring out, problem solving, and discovering what these little guys can do to help us learn. Several students asked if they could take a mouse to home and show their siblings what they could accomplished. Students got better in patterning concepts which they struggled before “playing” with the mice. Students explored creativity and problem-solving skills. They learned to be patient and remained motivated even after countless fails in programming the mice. Not a single student in my class was disinterested to examine and try them. Watching them “work” were blessed moments and all that I could think was “I should have discovered it before!” and yes, I do not consider myself “techy” and yes, every teacher must try it in their classrooms.

    Week #9

    For this post, I chose RAZ-kids assessment. It is being used at our school to assess reading. Teachers can easily collect data on reading levels, phonics and phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills in elementary classrooms. It is used for formative and summative assessment. It is accessible both at school and at home. Students have fun learning to read while having fun by earning awards and badges that they can use to upgrade their Avatars. It also offers games and challenges students to climb up on to their reading levels. Generally, this technology is beneficial for teaching and learning. Teachers can assign work in an asynchronous activity and students can accomplish work at their own pace. Teachers can easily differentiate teaching methods. However, like any paid technology, RAZ-kids comes with a hefty prize, computers and ipads.

    Week #7 To be or not to be? Online Learning vs Face-to-Face Education

    Photo by Dids on Pexels.com

    You can’t teach people everything they need to know. The best you can do is position them where they can find what they need to know when they need to know it.

    Seymour Papert

    When the pandemic hits, everything stood still! Schools worldwide were closed, and teaching and learning commenced almost immediately. Technology wore a cape that day. Teachers and students adapted to the new system of education. Flipping classrooms, synchronous and asynchronous activities, online platform were just few of the terms used in the classrooms. Countless technologies were introduced that day. Suddenly, we needed to use a sieve and choose only the basic and most important tools and knowledge the students needed to learn at that time. I myself, benefited from starting my master’s degree program because it was the better choice than being idle all day! Don’t get me wrong, I really intended to start the program, but it was difficult for me since I am overseas. Thanks to online education, now I am almost done with my masters.

    Thank goodness, we are back in the classroom. It was a difficult and challenging times. As a teacher in a grade 1 English learners’ classroom, I was pushed to the limits and had to adapt everything in a virtual classroom. Some worked, some did not, and some tools needed a lot of tweaking to adapt to the school’s culture and the changing learning needs. My creativity was tested over and over again during the online learning at my school. Flipping the classroom did not always work. Majority of asynchronous assignment were not submitted due to lack of technical knowledge of parents and guardians of my very young students. Language barrier was also an issue which affected my students’ learning. Now that we are back, I also needed to consider many aspects face-to-face learning. I learned a lot from these experiences.

    Now, if you ask how I will feel going back to online teaching? I will not be amused but I will take the challenge and use the knowledge and skills I learned from those experiences. I will consider the culture of the country more and the learning needs of my students in using technology. Once again, I will be using that same education “sieve” I have used and position those concepts the students need to learn and when they need it.

    Photo by Eva Bronzini on Pexels.com

    Week #8 Lo and behold! We are the products!

    “Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.”

    Sophocles

    The internet/technology or the web was described as a curse in the documentary “The Social Dilemma”. An allegory of something big, widely spoken and used, beyond popular, and similar to what Sophocles spoke about in his tragedy, Antigone. It makes our life easy from booking a trip, registering to a course, canceling an order and many more that were impossible before the creation of the web. However, it also brought many negative impacts to our lives. One would think that a lot of things in the net are for free, lo and behold, we are wrong! Nothing big is free. We are the products!

    The hands that control

    As the technology progressed over the years, the net became so powerful that it gained control over every aspect of our lives. It can predict our behaviors and can influence our actions. To the point that we lose our control on our own minds and actions. It provided us virtual environments (algorithm) that are beneficial to big corporations (hands that control). I must admit that I fell for such a pit myself. On many occasions, I lose track of how much time surfing the internet. I can watch videos after videos with similar topic which was “programmed” for me. It is very successful to attract our attention and sustain that attention over a long period of time. The longer we watch and keep our attention to something, more time for them to feed us adverts that will influence our behaviors.

    Schools are not spared

    As Jackie Gerstein stated that education should follow suit the evolution of the web. As the web takes over our lives (influencing our way of thinking, doing, and being), similarly, education should also evolve from education 1.0 to education 3.0. As promising as it may sound, there is one little issue that as educators must consider. There are two bigger implications of the web into our classrooms. First, teachers have no to little influence on the use of technology in the classroom. Some technologies are given to us to use in teaching. It may look and sound beneficial to teaching and learning but creates opposite impact in learning. Second, choices of technology may just be benefitting some stakeholder in the education but not our students. Bottom line is, we can all adopt technology in our classrooms, use all the technology that are recommended and purchased for our school districts, but the most important things are: teachers play vital role in the education process, and we cannot replace the human touch in teaching and learning.

    Week #6 OMG..my brain has so many open tabs!

    “When we think we’re multitasking we’re actually multi-switching. That is what the brain is very good at doing – quickly diverting its attention from one place to the next. We think we’re being productive. We are, indeed, being busy. But in reality, we’re simply giving ourselves extra work.”

    Michael Harris

    Michael Harris, bestselling and literary award Canadian author, perfectly sums up my thoughts about multi-tasking. Can I really multi-task? Yes, I can do many things at the same time. I was painting my nails while watching the assigned video, responding to text messaging, video chatting with my daughter in Montreal, noticing her dry skin and new shade of lip balm, sending snaps to my friend, and checking the mushroom soup recipe on my nutricook. The smell made me hungry! The list of things I was doing at the same time continued. However, was I accomplishing any of these tasks as it is supposed to be? Who was I kidding? I was less productive and a lot distracted when I was doing several things at the same time.

    This week’s blog task requires us to think about the internet. Is it really a productivity tool or merely an endless series of distractions? One of the biggest sources of distractions is digital. I had to shut the TV off while the PM Truss briefs about corporation tax cut. I just couldn’t focus. I also had to put away my phone which kept beeping every notification. I admit, I am distracted and less accomplished. Indeed, the Internet created a world of ‘multitaskers’ like me, who don’t accomplish as much as they could have without it!

    In this video, titled “Single-tasking is the new multi-tasking, James Hamblin addresses the extent to which multi-tasking has become the new norm for work and suggests that we need to find better ways to focus on only one item at a time. He confessed that doing only thing on the internet is a rare thing. Like what I am trying to do right now! I am trying to write this blog post and submit it right away, but I get distracted with so many things I need to include in this post. I have several tabs open, like to cite a quotation, images for mushroom soup, several videos, tutorial on how to insert an image in my blog, google doc and google slides for my report, Facebook, BBC news, discord, MS PowerPoint, word, teams, calendar, etc. Thanks to last Tuesday’s presentation, I just signed up for PowToon!

    How am I doing with writing this post you may ask? This task is taking way too long because of too many distractions. I also think I am turning into a Dory. These countless new apps supposed to help my work easier, more efficient, and prettier presentations. But I just couldn’t focus on single task and work on it until it is fully done. That’s a big issue! Am I the only one experiencing this? Not according to James Hamblin, Machael Harris, university students, parents, and everyone. Everybody is caught up in this intricate web of distractions!

    As suggested by James Hamblin, I am trying to follow his tips on ways to focus on one thing at a time. He suggested that one should focus on one thing only. He calls it tabless Thursday. That is on Thursday, one can use the internet with one task only. Working on it until it’s totally done or closing it when it is no longer interesting. There is even an app for it called Tabless Thursday. The app offers organizing tasks and compartmentalizing work. This may sound exciting, but I am not going to sign up just yet until this blog post is done.

    There are also few things that I do to help me focus and get things done. I focus on my mind, body, and soul. I practice some mindfulness exercises to help ease my thoughts. When I find myself antsy and distracted, close my laptop. I check if I need to eat, drink, or sleep first. I walk around and look at my plants, water them, and pick dry leaves and twigs. I also use my Tibetan singing bowl. It helps declutter my mind. I also go out for a walk to change my environment. Fortunately, I live close to the beach. Another helpful strategy is to plan and organize ahead. I use the Eisenhower Matrix to declutter my mind and organize and prioritize tasks. These can be done online or offline. It works for me!

    My Tibetan singing bowl. It helps me declutter my mind.
    I love my plants! They help me relax and focus.
    A walk to the beach and a quick dip never fail to help me destressed and refocused.

    Week #5: Traditional Schooling Versus BYOD Classrooms

    “We now know that “Sesame Street” encourages children to love school only if school is like “Sesame Street.” Which is to say, we now know that “Sesame Street” undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.” Neil Postman

    In this week’s blog post, I will unpack the implications of this quote, particularly the idea that Sesame Street undermines traditional schooling. What does Postman mean here, and how might we extend this idea to the current culture of smartphones and the push towards BYOD and the integration of smartphones in classrooms?

    I think Neil Postman wanted to challenge the idea of traditional schooling. Sesame street and other educational TV shows threaten the position of traditional educational system. This implies that traditional schooling is losing its effectiveness in the classroom. With its educational standards, students try to fit in this “cookie cutter” system that does not allow individual abilities and talents to flourish. This also implies that teachers in traditional schools are failing to motivate and inspire students. Being overwhelmed with the demands of curriculum and standards, teachers do the bare minimum of educating students. It also suggests that students are passive recipients of knowledge and skills in a traditional educational setting.

    The revolution in technology and the introduction of connected classrooms brought changes in the format of schooling. The current array of technologies, such as apps and interactive educational shows impact teaching and learning at a great extent. Connected classrooms provide a successful learning environment and students can achieve the 21st century skills through the 4C’s of learning. Non-traditional and alternative classrooms offer numerous ways to learn. Sir Ken Robinson described a flipped classroom where collaboration of learning is made possible. However, these changes are all in one side of the coin. The other side shows the disadvantages of technology in the classroom. In a report about virtual school in the US suggested that the format is not fitting for all students. Students need to be in a social learning environment. BYOD and tools like YouTube, Khan Academy, Crash Course, etc. cannot and will not replace a caring and creative teacher in human form!

    Week #4: So much ado about Teaching Philosophy

    “What is a teacher? I’ll tell you: it isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.”

    Paul Coelho

    For this week’s blog, I would like to explore my own teaching philosophy and how the different theories of knowledge and learning continually shape it. Rooted from the different theories of knowledge and learning, I believe in the following tenets. These principles have influenced and guided my teaching practice over the years.

    1. Great teachers continually learn. They are great students before they are great teachers. Vidhya Srinivasan shared what it means to be a great teacher. One of the qualities is the love of learning. I enjoy reading any topic about the classroom. I love attending teacher’s conferences and training for new skills that I can share with my students.

    2. Learning is an active process. I strongly believe that when student stake own responsibility of their own learning, their understanding and skills stick and could easily be transferred. It is not enough that students just sit and passively receive knowledge from their teachers. To inspire students is a great task but a worthy one. It takes a lot of our energy to motivate students to participate and take an active role of their own learning.

    3. Teaching and learning can take place anywhere and anytime. Schooling have changed drastically especially during the pandemic. The education system had to adapt to the demands of changing times and situation. With the use of educational technology, teaching and learning can take place anytime and anywhere.

    4. Learning is developmental. I believe that a child will learn when he is ready. He learns at his own phase. Knowledge and skills are meaningless and easily forgotten when it is forced and inappropriate. It is vital that the teacher considers differentiation and use variety of learning opportunities in the classroom.

    5. We all learn from people around us. Our environment greatly affects us. We learn the language, values, ways, and practices from our family before we are in the classroom.