Archive | January, 2011

Tech Task #3 – Media Response

22 Jan

Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson begins his presentation by sharing stories of children who make humourous mistakes.  His point in sharing these stories is the fact that children aren’t afraid to be wrong.  He then explains that he doesn’t equate being wrong to being creative; if we are always scared of being wrong then we will never create anything new.  He argues that schools promote a fear of being wrong.  Some students are afraid of being ridiculed for making mistakes or afraid to challenge the norm.  Robinson suggests that children grow out of their creativity and lose most of their original thinking by the time they reach adulthood.  He then identifies the hierarchy of classes that are present in many schools, with the Mathematics and Science classes at the top.  The speaker states that this hierarchy is due to the fact that these are the classes that traditionally could get you a job.  Robinson concludes with the wonderful story of Gillian Lynne (the choreographer of Cats) and how a doctor discovered her talent as a dancer.

I agree with Robinson that most schools kill creativity, especially elementary schools.  Many schools do not include the arts in their class schedules as much as Mathematics, Science, or English.  I would even argue that there is even a hierarchy within the arts, with visual art at the top and dance near the bottom.  Therefore, students may not be recieving the education they need to support their creativity.  As Robinson states, creativity is essential in the creation of new ideas and advancements.  We need schools to support our students’ creativity – we cannot move forward as a society without innovative minds.

Even though I agree with Robinson, I feel as if he is putting a great deal of blame on schools.  I have noticed that many people like to blame the schools for all of society’s problems.  Yes, schools have a huge impact on society but they are not responsible for all of the world’s problems.  Our society values the subjects at the top of the hierarchy, and so that reflects what we, the people, value.  For example, I believe many parents would be upset if schools decided to decrease the amount of time spent on Mathematics and replace it with the arts.  I am not sharing this example to provide an excuse for the schools but I believe it is the truth.  I wish there was more equality in the allocation of time for subjects, but as most of us know, this is not the case.  In my opinion, our society would have to change our values if we want schools to do the same.  Schools reflect society and we are society.

Challenge your students to think "outside of the box"

Lastly, I would like to share a few of my personal experiences in relation to the video. I have always loved the arts and have been involved in dance, music, drama, and visual art.  My parents have always supported me in engaging in the arts but never encouraged me to attempt a career in such an area.  As Robinson described, children are not usually encouraged to think of the arts as something that could result in a stable career.  However, I remember wishing that I was talented enough to be a professional dancer.  I hope that one day schools can become fully supportive in helping all students become whoever they want to be.  I am very appreciative that I have found a career that I am extremely passioniate about – I can even share my other passion of dance with my students!  I am curious to see what our schools will look like ten years from now since I know they will be filled with fresh and progressive teachers.:)



Tech Task #2 – Facebook in the Classroom

21 Jan

Should Facebook be used in the Classroom?

This is a question I have been asking myself for the past few years.  I have heard many different opinions about the use of Facebook in the classroom and am still in the process of forming my own.  I can see some positives of Facebook but yet I see many negatives, as well.  I have researched both sides and also posted a question on my personal Facebook page (one of the positives of Facebook since people actually replied!)  I would like to begin my sharing some of the comments I received when I posed this question:

Do you think Facebook should be used in the classroom?  Why or why not?

 “I used to think if you set up a ‘teacher’ facebook account that it could be beneficial, however, I began to think how much do you want to know about your students outside of school? When you have that kind of access to the personal/social lives of your students there is increased moral responsibility, in my opinion. I wouldn’t want the responsiblity of knowing that some kid is planning to get wasted on Friday, or being expected to police things like cyber bullying etc online. We’re already expected to do so much more than we are required; accessing students’ facebook would add to your responsibilities.”
 ”I personally would not use Facebook in the classroom. I feel that there are so many applications on the internet to use to stay connected with your class that would be probably more beneficial and appropriate than Facebook. Facebook focuses too much on personal information, so I don’t think teachers and students should be part of each other’s Facebook experience.”

I actually did not receive any comments that supported the idea of using Facebook in the classroom.  Here are a few arguments against and for using Facebook in the classroom.  I collected these ideas from a variety of sources and will link them when possible (I will not be able to link you to my friends’ pages or conversations I had with people face-to-face)

Arguments Against Facebook:
Students may become distracted by their friends on Facebook instead of getting their work completed.  This idea is addressed in this article.  It also discusses some of the pros of Facebook in the classroom. Note: This article discusses Facebook in a University classroom but is still applicable.
     ♦ Teachers should not have the added responsibility of monitoring what their students are doing on Facebook.  They are already responsible for so much and the benefits of Facebook do not override all of the risks of using it in the classroom.
     ♦ Teachers have access to so many great resources other than Facebook.  Teachers should not have to include something so controversial in their classroom.
     ♦ Some students or teachers may use Facebook inappropriately.  An example of when this has occurred over Facebook can be found here.

Arguments for Facebook:
     ♦ Many students are interested in Facebook and know how to use it.  Teachers should always try to meet the needs and interests of their students.
     ♦ Facebook does not cause inappropriate behaviour – people need to start taking responsibility for their own actions.  Check out this blog post to read more.
     ♦ Facebook provides teachers with innovative ways to teach and learn; tools that are not available in a traditional classroom.  This blog gives 100 examples!
     ♦ The only way we can advance Education is if we move forward and try new ways to teach our students.  The idea of using Facebook in the classroom may seem risky, but it could be worth it!

I am still unsure of my stance on using Facebook in the classroom.  I agree that Facebook is an innovative and engaging way to teach students but I also can see the risks.  There are many great tools that we could use instead of Facebook but I’m not sure if students would be as interested. I know that I would use Facebook appropriately but I cannot guarantee that my students would.  I would be become responsible for them but that’s my job! I want to teach my students how to become responsible and respectful individuals.  Instead of ignoring the bullying that is happening over Facebook, I could take action and make a difference in my students’ lives.  I believe that we must teach the whole child and that involves how to act appropriately in all situations.  Hmm, I see myself leaning towards the idea of Facebook in the classroom.  I want to move forward in Education and maybe that does involve using Facebook in the classroom. I am still unsure. Please leave your ideas on Facebook in the classroom in the comments section below.

I wanted to share a video that was created by a teacher I worked with during my internship.  She took a course from Alec last year and is the “Tech Teacher” of the school.  Enjoy!

Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy blog post. 🙂



Tech Task#1

13 Jan

About Me:

My name is Melissa Horvath and I was born and raised in the small town of Raymore, Saskatchewan.  I lived with my parents, Mike and Gail, and my two older brothers, Justin and Dean.  We have two dogs, Candy and Peanut, who are 12 years old and 6 months old, respectively.  They provide a great deal of entertainment for my family!  My entire family (including my parents) attended Raymore School for our education.  My favourite school teacher inspired me to become a teacher when I was only 7 years old.  I continued to follow my dream of teaching, which lead me to the University of Regina.  I have grown in so many ways since beginning University and appreciate all that I have learned on my journey.  I am currently finishing my fourth year of Elementary Education and cannot wait to return to the classroom!  When I am not concentrating on my studies, I love to dance, read, go for walks, and spend time with friends and family.

Previous Experience with Technology

I have always been interested in technology, especially computers.  I received my first computer as a Christmas present when I was 12 years old.  Ever since then I have been using computers for multiple purposes, such as word processing, picture editing, social media, research, and simply exploration.  I have little training in computers, I learned how to operate most programs by “playing around” with different options.  In high school I took Information Processing and Computer Science and enjoyed both of the classes.  During my pre-internship and internship, I had my students use computers for a variety of activities.  My students were always excited to work with computers and I found the technology was beneficial in enhancing their learning.

Computers in the Classroom

I believe that computers can be very useful in the classroom in a variety of ways.  Computers can help to differentiate instruction, actively engage the learners, provide endless resources to teachers and students, and help students to develop technological skills that they can use later in their lives.  However, there are limitations with computers in the classroom.  The first thought that comes to my mind is the unreliability of technology.  Teachers must always have a “Plan B” when working with technology.  I had a few experiences in internship when the computers were not working and we were unable to complete an activity.  Also, many schools do not have access to an adequate amount of computers.  During my internship, the computers were always on high demand, and it was sometimes difficult to find them.

I am currently indecisive about my views on certain technologies, such as Facebook, Youtube or MySpace, in the classroom.   I have found some great educational videos on Youtube and believe that there is value in the website.  A teacher I recently worked with asked her students to figure out Pythagoras’ theorem simply by using Youtube.  She was amazed by how engaged they were in their learning.  However, I think teachers may have to ensure that their students are watching appropriate videos.   I have little experience with MySpace but do believe Facebook could have a place in the classroom.  Many students are on Facebook daily and I believe teachers could connect with their students in new ways.  Like Youtube, teachers need to make sure that all activity is appropriate, including their own.

Expectations of ECMP 355

Like any other course, I want the class to be relevant and useful in my future classroom.  I want to incorporate technology more in the classroom and I want my professor to share ways I can achieve this.  I want my professor to be patient when I am having difficulty understanding (this inevitably will happen) and to be passionate about his work.  This is all I am hoping for and I look forward to expanding my knowledge of computers.

My Thoughts on Computers in the Classroom

13 Jan

Since this is my first blog post I thought it would be fitting to write my initial thoughts on computers in the classroom.  I am assuming that my ideas will continually change and develop as I progress through the course.  I think it will be interesting to compare my first blog post with my final reflection at the end of the semester.  Anyways, here are my thoughts on computers in the classroom.

Since entering University I have been bombarded with many views on computers in the classroom.  Some of my professors felt students spent too much time playing on computers and should spend more time being active. Other professors felt technology should be used in every possible way in the classroom.  My ideas were continuously impacted by the thoughts of my educators.  However, I always came back to the conclusion that there must be a balance when using computers (or any other tools, resources, materials, etc.) in the classroom.

Through my experiences with children, in a variety of settings, I have found that they love to work with technology, especially computers.  I often used computers during my internship and every time I brought the laptop cart into the classroom the students reacted the same way.  They literally would jump up and down and squeal with excitement.  They had so much fun while working on the computers that I rarely had to deal with any off-task behavior.  I liked using the computers in all subject areas but I was especially pleased with their impact in Numeracy.  Many students expressed great difficulty in Numeracy but through different Math games and computer programs, math concepts seemed to “click”. I thoroughly enjoyed using computers in my classroom and believe that they can have a powerful impact on student’s learning.

I would like to share with you a website that has a large variety of Math games organized according to curricular outcomes.   I liked the organization of the games and the students loved playing them.  You can find the website here.