Place Matters

“The conceptualizations and analyses of place defined in geographical and metaphorical terms play a significant role in understanding curriculum and are an exciting, important and ever-increasing discourse in the field of curriculum studies.”

~Oxford Research Enclyopedias~

This week for ECS 210 the class was required to read a short article called “Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing.” I really enjoyed this article and I think it was a great way to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing into the curriculum discussion. I have always found Indigenous teaching to be so interesting and I wish I would have had the opportunity throughout my grade school experience to learn from elders. They give their perspective on different situations and now that I have had the opportunity to meet many elders through my university experience, I have grown a love for their storytelling. This article reflected on a research project that was conducted to honor the Mushkegowuk Cree community concepts of the land, environment, and life. It followed the experience of joining young individuals of the community with the elders and going on an excursion past the river, doing interviews amongst the community, and making an audio documentary to tell their story.

While reading the article, we were asked to reflect on ways that we saw reinhabitation and decolonization throughout the narrative. The first way I noticed that the narrative was supporting reinhabitation and decolonization was through joining elders, youth and the generations in between on a voyage along the river to learn about the history, significance of the river, related issues of governance and land management, and the culture of the community. “The river trip helped members of the community share linguistic, cultural, historical, and geographical knowledge.” Bringing the many generations together allowed the community to reclaim the traditional knowledge of the culture. The next way I noticed reinhabitation and decolonization occurring was through creating an audio documentary about the river and the experience of the young individuals learning about their traditional ways of knowing and being re-introduced to this information in a way that allowed them to explore with other individuals who shared the same interests. By hearing from all different voices of the community such as band office, the health center, education system, elders and youth groups allowed for community involvement and overall re-connecting a community that was beginning to become lost through colonization. They then took the documentary that contained these interviews and experiences that youth individuals made and spread it both around the community and on the radio to reach a broader audience. This not only allowed community members to become educated about the history, land, and ways of knowing that is being shared across generations but also individuals who live outside of the community. The excursion not only allowed youth to become connected with the land and their elders, but also to recognize their home language and reclaim the names of the land that was set before colonization. This gave the youth an even stronger connection to their community and allowed to understand more deeply how colonization truly affected their community in all different aspects. The large focus on the word “paquataskamik” which means “natural environment” was an “attempt to retain a relationship to the rivers, the lands, and the communities joined together by them.” This trip not only rekindled old relationships amongst the community but also new relationships were formed both between people and the land and culture. I found this quote from the article summed up the purpose perfectly: “the project has been about fostering the development of meaningful space for inter-generational dialogue and community research on social and economic relationships rooted in Mushkegowuk conceptions of life and traditional territory.”

When referring to curriculum as place we are looking at the broader context of the community we are teaching in. After reading the article I made some connections of how I could adapt these ideas towards the grade levels I plan to teach in my future career (elementary education). I understand that doing curriculum as place allows teachers to give young children opportunities to view and understand the community in different ways. By doing these kinds of experiences allows students to broaden their understandings to the community around them as well as begin to understand the history this country was built on and begin to move forward with a different mindset than the generations before them. It would be most beneficial to be able to do an excursion like the one that was described in the article, however, with the budget, and the age of the children I plan on teaching it may not be suitable. That does not mean that students should miss out on experiences like this! This experience along with many that involve curriculum as place can be easily modified to fit the needs of your classroom and students. I would start by bringing elders and other voices into my classroom to allow my students to learn from other individuals other than myself. As noted from many other classes, it is important to give students a wide range of voices to learn from to allow them to reach their fullest potential in learning. Bringing in experts of fields will make it more real and relatable for the students. I would also adapt the place component by recreating such discovery in the area of the school grounds and around the community. Allowing children to explore the outdoors to gain respect for the land that supports them and learn through storytelling. In ECE 325 we also focus on the environment inside the classroom. We focus on the importance of bringing the natural world into the classroom to allow for a room that reflects what children see throughout their everyday life. By bringing nature into the classroom would also change the dynamic of the traditional classroom that is outlined in previous lectures and readings that have been discussed throughout this course.

Overall, this reading has allowed me to understand that curriculum if implemented positively and restructured to fit the needs of our students and the community, learning can stretch much farther than the classroom, as well as shift the view of the classroom in general! After the lecture, I now am ready to continue my life long journey to find who I truly am as an individual and what changes we need to make to our own lives to benefit our students learning and lives in the most positive ways possible.

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Should we teach what can be googled? A battle I did not win!

This week in EDTC400 my friend Aurora and I battled it out with the topic if we should teach something that can be googled? I decided to take the agree side, understanding that it would be a challenge since I was giving my argument to a zoom room full of future educators! However, I was able to gain a little bit of ground after I gave my argument so I think that is a success in itself! To begin, I was in for a good fight with me being the only one who voted that they agreed (I felt so much love).

But, don’t you worry I came in with some valid points and I won a couple friends over to my side!

To be fair, I think if there was a third option for the class to pick, the decisions may have been different! Aurora and I both made many valid points to begin which then blossomed the conversation into many different paths that I do not think either of us expected! Overall, it was a wonderful debate and I think I got some people thinking about why we are actually teaching something that can be googled!

So let’s begin:

I will start by summarizing up my side of the debate. I have to say that I found it very difficult to find articles that specifically looked at Google searches replacing education, most of the articles I found related broadly to technology replacing older teaching methods! The four main points I decided to address through my video are listed as follows:

  1. Having access at our fingertips helps us move from rote memorization of google-able facts to innovative thinking: Instead of spending lots of time in the classroom memorizing facts that can easily be googled, you can now use that time to further understandings of those concepts. The article linked above does a great job of explaining the importance of moving away from memorization and more towards exploratory learning!
  2. Current models of curriculum do not allow for personalized learning: Becuase our curriculum is focused on developing students to memorize facts and all think the same, there is no time for students to expand their knowledge on interests they may have. Using Google search engine allows students to realize a vast amount of knowledge that is offered to them at the tips of their fingers. This will then change the face of education to the teacher not being the information giver and the student to be able to regurgitate, we then move into the possibilities of the teacher becoming a moderator or facilitator in the class and students having the ability to self direct their learning! This point can also be linked to many articles that are linked above and below!
  3. Saving time for critical thinking: Saving time by googling facts that can effectively be googled allows time for classroom instruction on teachings that are not easily googled such as application questions and lab work! The article linked above not only reflects on how Google searches can be time savers but also many other advantages google search engines allow for students and individuals. This article states that by using Google individuals can learn mistakes of others through sharing of experiences, this not only allows students to make connections with other individuals around the world but also save them the time from making those same mistakes.
  4. Bringing teaching into the 21st century: With technology so vastly distributed throughout society, many of our students will be introduced to these forms of communication at a very young age. By integrating Google into the classroom we move away from structured learning and into learning that allows for problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration. The article linked above really reflects on the different approaches that need to be done in education to allow students to be more stimulated in their learning as well as prepare them for life after school as they live in a technology-filled world.

To conclude my statement, I ensured to give pointers to help teachers understand how to use Google search engines to their fullest potential inside and out of the class. Kathleen Morris gave many great pointers on how to successfully teach students to make effective google searches that will give them true and real articles and information. I believe this is a very important lesson to be taught in classrooms as technology is becoming so integrated into today’s society!

Do you disagree?

I know Aurora did when she gave many great points to why she supported the side that teachers should still teach Google-able information in the classroom! Check out her video here to listen to the statements to support her argument:

Aurora’s four main points were:

  1. Information vs Misinformation: This reflected the abundance of information that can be found on Google. Some of this information yes is correct, however, a lot of the information that can be found online can also be incorrect. Aurora argued this is a main problem with not teaching something that can be googled because how do you ensure that your students are getting the correct and accurate information on the topic. This is a very valid point, but I just wanted to point out that the information we learn from our teachers may not always be accurate or correct. Teachers are human beings that hold their own values and beliefs and that is often shown throughout their teachings. In ECE 325 we focus a lot on becoming an anti-bias teacher, however, I think it may take a lot more work than just saying you are one, you must also be able to act on this as well! The TED talk linked above put this point into a very interesting perspective that there is a human behind the algorithm! An interesting thought that I never overly considered when I was stating my perspective!
  2. Stopping Points: The second point Aurora made was Google searches result in stopping points for students to further their knowledge about a topic. This can be seen in the article linked to this point. However, I disagree. In my argument, I stated that Google searches allowed for more exploration of a topic because it allows students to spend less time memorizing the basic skills one needs to further their understanding of complicated concepts!
  3. The Human Factor: The third point Aurora made was stating that technology can not give the connection and relationship as a human being can to a child. And if you were in EDTC400 class on Tuesday you probably noticed I did not touch on this point because I completely agree! I agree with this point, that yes there are many online resources that allow you to connect and build relationships all over the world, however, nothing compares to face to face relationships that can be built in the classroom between students and their teachers.
  4. Lack of Basic Skills: The last point Aurora mentioned to support her argument was stating that because of the integration of technology and Google in the classroom and at home students are losing their basic motor skills, as well as literacy and numeracy skills. The article linked above shows how young children are not as developed as they should be with their fine motor skills because of technology advancements which I completely agree with! As for literacy and numeracy, there are hundreds of online programs that allow students to further their knowledge in both literacy and numeracy as well as become more competent and confident in the online world!

What else?

Aurora and I were not the only ones who raised many important perspectives and points that someone should consider when debating this very controversial topic! Lauren raised the point of access to technology and if schools and students do not have access to these resources is that going to set them even farther behind then students who have access to technology that allows them to do quick Google searches? Another interesting point that was raised was by Ashlee. Ashlee asked if there could be a middle ground, a place where teachers still could teach google-able information and then have the Google search engine as a resource to help students better understand the topic or learn from different sources! Another perspective that was discussed throughout the debate was where do we draw the line between what information should be Googled and what we should teach since almost everything can be Googled! The last perspective that was very interesting and something I never thought about was when Daniel made the comment that in his university classes he is not allowed to display his work or answers in any other way then how his professor taught it, this then takes away the opportunity to use the Google search engine as a second option!

Time to conclude! 

Before starting to research for this debate, I was heavily on the side of the disagree! I thought it was a crazy thought that we should stop teaching what can be googled, I mean what can’t be googled! As I began my research process, I thought it was very interesting to find the points that were being laid out to support my argument. As I continued, I began thinking about why are we really teaching information that can easily be googled? After I finished my video more connections were being made to the number of times I googled a simple fix to a problem I was having both in my studies and in my life. The points I have listed above to support my argument I agree with completely, however, I also agree with many points Aurora stated as well as the new points that our fellow classmates contributed. With that, I have come to the conclusion that I am not going to say that we should not teach something that can be googled but, we should use Google as another resource that we can incorporate into our classroom to give our students a variety of opportunities to further their learning and gain deeper understandings of the content. I am not here to make teachers obsolete, I mean I am in this profession after all! I just believe that there is much more to education than a teacher giving the information and a student retaining that exact information. To see a shift towards using Google and other resources in the classroom also requires a shift in the viewpoints that the education system is formed on. I believe one day we will reach this shift and it will make learning endless, and allow for knowledge to be accessed from all over the world. I am so pleased I decided to do this debate topic. I have not only learned new information about the topic alone, but also my future goals as an educator!

I thank all of my EDTC400 classmates for joining me on this new discovery of knowledge! I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did!

 

The Formation of the Curriculum: Before and After Thoughts

Before the Reading:

I think school curricula are developed through a series of steps that are conducted to create a curriculum that suits the needs of the school and society. I imagine a group of higher individuals in the education profession meeting in a conference room discussing what is and is not important to include in the curriculum. I also believe that the teachers have some say into what is important and not. Through teacher conferences, surveys, and meetings teachers are able to confess their concerns, wants and needs to the board that will then be taken into consideration when it comes to forming the curriculum. I think the curriculum is formed by people in the dominant group at the specific geopolitical location and that they take specific consideration towards the desirable class (for example middle-class individuals). I think the demographics of society highly impact what is being seen as important to be taught as well as what perspective the information is coming from. Another important point I believe about curriculum is that it takes in little consideration of what students want out of their learning. Overall, I believe the development of the curriculum takes in many different factors before reaching the final product, these factors may benefit one specific group and disadvantage other groups.

After the Reading:

After reading the article Curriculum Policy and The Politics of What Should be Learned in Schools, written by Ben Levin I was able to gain a deeper understanding of how the curriculum was and is truly formed. This reading looked at how politics heavily impact the creation of the curriculum and the steps that are taken to form a new curriculum. To begin, my before thought of how the curriculum was created was not too far off what the reading stated. However, there were some key points that the reading reflected upon that I did not take into consideration before.

One of the biggest issues that was brought to my attention by Levin is, out of all the people to accommodate and the different values and beliefs these individual people hold, how does the education policymakers decide which individuals voices are heard and which ones are not. In my before the reading statement, I stated that the individuals of the dominant culture are often the ones who are heard, however, is this still true? The article stated the importance of bringing society in to play a role in the formation of curriculum, however, not all societal groups wishes are heard. Levin states that the people who often are the most financed, and their wishes and beliefs are understood more deeply are often the ones who impact the curriculum. For example; larger businesses have a say in the curriculum and what classes students should learn that will benefit their company in the long run. Another issue that was brought to my attention that I did not consider beforehand was the issue between subject experts and teachers. At first, I was unsure of what this even meant, however, after continuing reading a realized how this could be very problematic in the school. This issue looks at when subject experts such as professors are constructing the curriculum, their objectives are often to complex for teachers to successfully teach and for students to successfully learn. Teachers are more concerned about having a curriculum that embraces all students diverse learning needs and give their students opportunities to learn at their fullest potentials.

Who is involved in the process?

As mentioned above, before I did the reading I did not think many people of the community were involved in the development of the curriculum. I even thought teachers had little say in the formation and it was mostly up to the people higher up in the education field to develop and decide the important information that should be taught in the classroom. However, according to Levin, “education governance typically involves some combination of national, local, and school participation.” With that, people of the society, school, and government have a say in the development of the curriculum. Groups that contributed and had little say in the curriculum development would be parents, non-educators, students, and minority groups. The individuals who were apart of the reference committee were often teachers and other individuals apart of the federation. I am not so sure that this is always how it has been, and I am interested to see if all of these individuals are truly part of the decision- making process. Levin also states that the final say in curriculum and education policies come down to both the national and subnational governments. After going through grade school following the curriculum as well as taking this class and learning about many issues that arise in the school system because of the curriculum, I was somewhat shocked at how many individuals were able to give input to the formation of the curriculum. However, I was not shocked that some businesses and beliefs had a larger impact on the formation than others. This article was released in 2007, and Levin stated it takes many years to form a new curriculum, so maybe we will begin seeing more diversity through the pages as we explore the newly made curriculums in the week’s to come!

What is the process?

The process is conducted by jurisdictions that layout important guidelines that one must follow when revising the curriculum. The individuals who often revise the curriculum are teachers and subject experts, and the revising is often lead by a certain government official. It is important to state that the traditional views of the curriculum did not have many connections towards actual teaching in the classroom, just on the content. Levin’s perspective now looks at both the content and teaching methods by bringing experts of the subject as well as teachers together to collaborate to make a curriculum that benefits all who are involved. Curriculum reviews are now seeing more parents, students, and non-educators portraying their needs and wants. A rigorous process that can take many years to form is now developed through more voices than ever before. Again, one main concern I have with this is it actually happening, are people actually being heard and are changes being made? Because from the information we have gained thus far in the class I do not see nor hear many voices being portrayed through the curriculum.

Overall, there are so many considerations that must be made when it comes to developing the curriculum. Considerations such as ideology, personal values, issues in the public domain, and interests as Levin stated throughout his article. I found this article very interesting and what I thought I knew about how the curriculum was formed may be more about how the curriculum used to be formed. I really enjoyed how this article tied in the importance of understanding all that the government and policymakers have to do. I think we sometimes forget how much they must accomplish and overall, they are trying to make decisions that will hopefully benefit many individuals in society.

The Great EdTech Debate: Why Teach Something that can be Googled?

Hello everyone! Aurora and I decided to take on the second week’s debate topic which looks at why teachers should teach information that can be googled! I took the agree side (which was a lot harder then I thought)! Here is the video! I am super excited to hear all the discussions on Tuesday!

Here are a couple required readings to help the class understand my side more thoroughly!

Why Learn Facts if you can Google?

This article focuses on why students are asked to memorize information and facts that can just be googled. Tapscott looks at the curriculum and then reflects that to the current age. Tapscott emphasizes the importance of Google in the classroom and states the importance of understanding and creativity over memorizing specific facts that may never be applicable to the student’s life outside of the classroom. Through this view of the curriculum then cuts back on traditional teaching and looks more directly to personalized learning!

Advent of Google means we must rethink our approach to education

This article specifically looks at the traditional forms of teaching and how students are underprepared for life after school. The article looks at changing the face of education to incorporate google searches in the classroom to enhance collaboration, self-learning, and deeper understandings. This will overall prepare students to become successful individuals in society.

Additional Resources you may find helpful:

 

Does technology enhance or diminish learning?

Last night the EDTC400 crew took part in our first debate where Ashley and Raeann debated if technology-enhanced learning or diminished learning in the classroom. I was conflicted about this topic before entering the debate, and now after the debate, I am still conflicted about if I agree or disagree. However, I feel like I have gained more knowledge about the controversial topic that educational technology faces on a daily basis. Both debaters gave numerous examples and information that allowed me to gain a larger grasp about how I feel about technology in the classroom, and I have come to the conclusion that I agree technology enhances learning, with some circumstances that need to be recognized.

 Photo Credit: ITU Pictures Flickr via Compfight cc

I will begin this blog post to why I believe technology enhances learning. As we have learned both in EDTC300 and EDTC400, technology used in the right way allows for endless possibilities both in the classroom and out. Specifically to the educational context, using the SAMR or TPACK model one can understand that yes technology can be used as an easy replacement to the pen and paper model. But, if technology is used to it’s fullest potential, technology can enhance learning and children’s interests in so many ways that the original pen and paper model could never do. Ashley gave many examples of how technology can enhance learning. The article she shared titled “Using Technology To Create a Dynamic Classroom Experience” stated that all means of technology can be used to enhance learnings. Different platforms such as audio, video, blogging, and many more are just a few platforms that can be integrated into the classroom to allow students to learn how to effectively use technology for their work as well as keep it interesting. Technology can also help close achievement gaps between classmates and allow for all children to get the education they deserve. With the multiple technology platforms that are available to teachers worldwide, it all comes down to if teachers are willing to put the time in to integrate these sources into their daily teachings.  Technology allows for so many different opportunities to allow children to learn in diverse ways that suit their learning needs, with that, I think it is very important to integrate technology into the classroom to enhance a child’s learning and school experience. Just look at these heartwarming videos of how technology in the classroom leads to such amazing relationships:

As you can see from the above examples, technology allows for so many different experiences that would have never been possible without technology platforms. However, technology in the classroom does have some disadvantages and negative impacts as explained by Raeann throughout the debate. Technology in the classroom results in some kids being advantaged, and some kids being left with disadvantages. Not all schools have the ability to supply technological resources to integrate technology into the classroom. With that, not all children will benefit from these integrations because they can not afford to have their own source to learn from. Raeann shared a great article that looked at how money and the widespread of technology can leave some kids behind. The article states that yes technology is great in the classroom, however, not all classrooms have opportunities to do so. Another problem with allowing technology into the classroom is multitasking. Multitasking may seem to be great, however, in an educational setting multitasking can lead to information not being retained and negative impacts to an individuals grade. This article does a great job of explaining the negative impacts of multitasking in the classroom.

Overall, I believe that done the right way, technology is a great resource to use in the classroom and can even enhance children’s learning. However, there would need to be some guidelines to ensure the enhancment of learning occurs. One would have to ensure that they were not using technology to replace other ways of learning but instead changing those ways of learning to make it better. If one was to integrate technology in the classroom they must also ensure that all students have an equal playing field so all students learning is improved. I agree with technology used to enhance learning and I hope in my future classroom I will be able to use technology to my advantage!