Artifact # 1 - Sketch Note
The implications of Seesaw of Literacy Education -ETEC 540 - Text Technologies: The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing
For my final assignment in this course, we were asked to research a particular development in technology for writing and reading. I chose the wildly popular platform, Seesaw. The goal of the assignment had me paying particular attention to not just the general use of seesaw in a classroom, but specifically the implications that Seesaw had on literacy education. Having had plenty of experience with the platform prior to this assignment, the challenge for me was to find out all about Seesaw as a tool used for learning, not just of learning.
My initial discovery was that the rapid evolvement of information and communication technologies has brought forth a change in the way literacy is defined (Hargrove, 2019). This means that our literacy instruction must also evolve if we are going to reach the needs of our twenty-first century learners. In 2009, the International Literacy Association (ILA) released a position statement emphasizing that: to become fully literate in today’s world, students must become proficient in the new literacies of 21st -century technologies. As a result, literacy educators have a responsibility to effectively integrate these new technologies into the curriculum, preparing students for the literacy future they deserve (Hargrove, 2019).
My discoveries about Seesaw were this: Seesaw is an almost perfect tool for literacy development. Technically, is is an open-ended tablet applications, a multi-modal tool for children to communicate their ideas, engage with others, and demonstrate and develop their knowledge and skills (McGlynn-Stewart, Brathwaite, Hobman, Maguire, Mogyorodi & Park, 2017). It is an app that positions students as the producers and creators of their own literacy content, and allows them to communicate using their strengths while supporting them in their areas of challenge. It is a particularly effective tool for supporting the literacy development of children who have special learning needs or who are English language learners. Audio, video, and drawing options add tons of opportunities for differentiation and reflection, enabling teachers to accommodate a variety of learning styles without a lot of extra effort.
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Artifact # 2 - Website
Credibility and Critical Thinking in Media - ETEC 532 - Technology in the Arts and Humanities Classroom
Teachers today have a responsibility to talk with our students about the pros and cons of technology and different types of media. Kids (and adults) today are bombarded with so many different types of media. We all grew up being exposed to typical advertisements on TV, in movies and in print, but now there are so many new types of media and ways for kids to be exposed to bias including: text messages, memes, viral videos, social media and video games just to name a few. Expert estimate that the average young person views more than 3000 ads per day (Strasburger, 2006).
Media analysis skills are a crucial part of media literacy education. They can help us to learn how to analyze and evaluate messages in a variety of forms by challenging learners to observe and interpret what they are seeing. For example, students can examine and challenge the stereotypes, biases, and hidden motivation of media producers. It is important for kids to understand that all media is created for a reason and understanding that reason is the basis of media literacy.
Teachers work hard to incorporate as much technology and media into our curriculums as we can, and now more than ever, we cannot forget the increasing need to provide them with opportunities to think critically about what they are viewing. The purpose of this assignment was to identify challenging areas of analysis for students and to provide tools for teachers to help support students evaluate the credibility, validity and bias of online media.
The work I completed as a part of this assignment applied directly to the teachings I do with my grade 5 students everyday. Not only do we do Unit of Inquiry centered around media and advertising, but it is a part of the ATL skills we try to teach all year long.
Artifact # 3 - Website
Developing a Makerspace for Learning - ETEC 510 - Design of Technology Supported Learning Environments
Before beginning this project, I had some previous experience with working in a Makerspace. I had worked with my fifth grade class in a Makerspace before and had a technology teacher guide specific lessons on using different technology tools such as Sphero, Makes Makeys and 3D printers. From this project, I was hoping to gain a better understanding of how myself as a teacher could use the Makerspace as a place where learning could be integrated with both technology and be involved in the ‘Maker Movement'. It became evident fairly quickly that my group intended to focus largely on using the Makerspace as a place to integrate and use different types of technology tools (as opposed to the kind of Makerspace where you go build stuff with old junk and cardboard etc…) I was happy to learn about all the different ways in which technology could be used in a Makerspace, but had personal interests more in the area of learning about how the ‘Maker Movement’ was connected to the ideas of a students centered classroom as well as the Constructivist Theory. For years I have been a big believer in inquiry based learning and to me, a Makerspace has a place in the heart of these theories. I especially believe that as an educator, it is my responsibility to prepare students for a world in which critical thinking, problem solving and resiliency are important and valued skills. For these reasons, I decided to do some research in the area of Design Thinking.
I was happy to discover that Design Thinking can be used across the board curricularly. I discovered lesson plans and work samples for literacy, maths, science and social students, for every grade between K-12. What was most impressive was that the lesson plan samples had students working in a Makerspace not only sometimes, but throughout entire units of study; a Makerspace isn’t just somewhere you go at the end of a unit, but a place that can house long term learning objectives and projects.
I particularly loved that the Design Thinking Process values the entire learning process, not just the final or summative project, and that unlike other forms of learning, the Design Thinking Process is quite fluid, meaning students are constantly moving through different stages of learning horizontally. Of utmost importance is the idea of critiquing our own thoughts and ideas, and learning to improve upon them, as well as learning from our mistakes. Students constantly revisit their work and reflecting is such a huge part of the process.
Working in a Makerspace, using the Design Thinking Process is a valuable learning opportunity for students. Either collaboratively or on their own, students learn real life problem solving skills, encounter obstacles and reflect on their own work. Much of the work done in the Makerspace mimics real life, and this will not only lead to better learning, but also to having memorable learning experiences for each student. I hope to incorporate the Makerspace into my own planning, as well as working with the tech coordinator at my own school to get more supplies and better access to this incredible space for my class and grade level. In the long run, hopefully this will inspire others around me to do the same.
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