Blog Post #8: Implementing Controversial Programs in Schools

Blog Post #8: Implementing Controversial Programs in Schools

“How do we best implement needed but controversial programs in our schools?”

Any time you mix content, students, administration, teachers, and parents, there is bound to be controversy; especially when attempting to implement sensitive material into the curriculum.  However, being proactive, transparent, and explicit about the reasons for implementing controversial content or programs can help keep the issues to a minimum.

As a pe/health educator, the Rob Newberry interview dealing with the impact of pornography on students hit very close to home.  We deal with this issue in our sex ed. portion of the health curriculum.  We deal with the difficulties by obtaining permission from parents early, sharing information on request, and letting the administration and parents know what topics we will cover.  Any topic that is controversial will cause some discomfort for some people.  It is impossible to please everyone.  But, by being honest, and forthright about why the program is being implemented and how it will benefit students can help justify why the implementation is occurring.  It is hard to argue with any program that puts students’ needs and concerns first.

Every generation has dealt with controversial programs or topics.  The difference now is that students have unlimited access to many things that can cause them emotional, intellectual, and even physical problems.   Establishing decision making skills, making students aware of the dangers or risks associated with the controversial topics, and making sure they understand how to do what is best for their health is crucial.  One thing that we can do better at SAS is making controversial programs multi disciplinary in nature.  The more people on board when implementing controversial programs for schools the better.

Reference:

21CL Radio. (2017). Rob Newberry Discusses The Impact of Pornography On Our Students. [online] Available at: http://21clradio.com/rob-newberry-discusses-impact-pornography-students-education-vanguard-28/ [Accessed 3 Jul. 2017].

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Blog Post #7: Values, Understanding, and Play

Blog Post #7: Values, Understanding, and Play

As a leader, identify 1 element of change that you believe is important and explain by referencing to your context.

Change comes in many forms.  It is essential for growth, but it can also cause anxiety and complications.  Usually, these negative feelings surrounding change occur because of a lack of preparation and understanding prior to the change occurring.  This can be especially true when it comes to technology reform in schools.  As Mike Pelletier mentioned in the interview, it is important to be clear on what is going to be learned before implementing technology.  Also, preparing all stakeholders for the change before it happens can help tremendously in avoiding issues or pitfalls.

Singapore American School (SAS) has five core values: compassion, honesty, fairness, responsibility, and respect.  These “old school” values may not seem to apply to 21st century learning or technology use, but I think they are very appropriate.  Being a good digital citizen means being a good citizen in general.  The middle school physical education program focuses a lot on social responsibility which relates to technology use.  With tools that allow students to access information, collaborate online, give feedback to their classmates, and interact with people all over the world, having a solid value system is important to assure that our behaviour online is a true representation of our behaviour in general.

As a leader, I would caution against rushing into tech reform in schools.  Understand why it’s happening, and how the tech tools can advance our way of educating our students as the SAMR model suggests.  Use technology when appropriate to enhance the experience rather than forcing it’s use or using it as a substitution for another method.  As a physical educator, balance is essential when it comes to tech use and reform.  On twitter, Tony Greaney posted an outstanding iPad article about the dangers of screen time and the lack of play in which today’s students engage.  Finally, make sure our students understand what it means to be a model citizen; online or otherwise.

References:

21CL Radio. (2017). Mike, Dion and Egmond Share Their Ideas for Building a Successful Technology Education Program. [online] Available at: http://21clradio.com/mike-dion-and-norman-share-their-ideas-for-building-a-successful-technology-education-program-education-vanguard-36/ [Accessed 2 Jul. 2017].

Commonsensemedia.org. (2017). Ruben Puentedura on Applying the SAMR Model. [online] Available at: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/videos/ruben-puentedura-on-applying-the-samr-model [Accessed 2 Jul. 2017].

SomeDaily. (2017). The iPad is a Far Bigger Threat to Our Children Than Anyone Realizes.. [online] Available at: http://www.somedaily.org/ipad-far-bigger-threat-children-anyone-realizes/#.WVK_qHDYvV8.twitter [Accessed 2 Jul. 2017].

 

Blog Post #6: SAMR

Blog Post #6: SAMR

Describe a lesson you have observed or taught that would be classified by Dr. Puentedura as “redefinition.” If you have never witnessed this type of lesson, describe a “modification” lesson. If you have not witnessed either, explain why you think this level of technology integration is not happening at your school. Feel free to share any resources for this lesson that would be useful to others.

 Does Paul Swanson’s analysis of SAMR  assist your own understanding about the role of technology?

 What connections can you make to your Personal Inquiry for this course?

 Technology integration can be a daunting concept for educators.  However, Dr. Puentedura’s SAMR model is a great tool to help us understand how it can work.

Unfortunately, I have not taught a lesson where “redefinition” has occurred…at least I don’t think I have!  However, lessons that show “modification” have occurred for me.  One example is when I had my students video their climbing skills and reflect on them.  They made connections to the learning targets, talked about their improvement and what they needed to work on, and also discussed the importance of route planning before climbing.  They were asked to post this reflection on their blogs and also comment on their classmates’ blogs as well.  This type of collaboration and reflection was a powerful way for students to understand their own progress and also appreciate the progress of others.

At SAS, I think that redefinition lessons are happening, but not frequently enough.  For many, I think it feels daunting and confusing.  Excitement is natural for trying new things, but when the trough of disillusionment occurs, we can become disheartened.  So, when uncomfortable, we tend to fall back on old habits and what has “worked” for us in the past.  However, if we are all fully aware of how to utilise technology in the classroom for more than just “substitute” purposes, we would feel much more comfortable trying to integrate tech into our lessons at the higher levels of the SAMR model.

 Teacher Paul‘s analysis of the SAMR model helped me to better understand the concept.  However, I do understand that technology should not simply be a substitute or alteration for something more traditional.  Using technology to enhance teaching methods and student understanding should be the goals.  Also, allowing students to be more in charge of their learning and rediscover their joy and passion should be the ultimate goal of using technology in schools.  Actually, that should be the goal of education regardless of the technology or strategies used.  Having students take ownership of their learning while utilising technology is something that interests me and is related to my own personal inquiry for this course.

References:

Commonsensemedia.org. Ruben Puentedura on Applying the SAMR Model. [online] Available at: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/videos/ruben-puentedura-on-applying-the-samr-model [Accessed 22 Jun. 2017].

Teacherpaul.org. (2016). Rethinking SAMR – Teacher Paul. [online] Available at: http://www.teacherpaul.org/2889 [Accessed 22 Jun. 2017].

My Personal Inquiry

My Personal Inquiry

Revisit your Personal Inquiry question you posted at the end of Module 1 and compose a blog post that reflects your current thinking and progress about your context, role of leadership, and the role of technology. What connections are you making between your own Inquiry and those of your cohort colleagues?

My original personal inquiry was – “How can I use technology within the PE/Health context to allow students to create and explore within the subject areas without taking away from their time to move and be active within the class?”

After listening/viewing sources over the last week and reading my colleagues’ personal inquiries, I have updated it as follows – “How can I encourage my students to lead their own investigation of devices and apps to allow them to achieve their fitness goals?”

Student agency has been something that we are encouraging in the middle school and it is something that I know can be better utilised in the MS pe/health program.  Allowing students to pursue their own interests in the area will help with their engagement.  Also, they are more well versed on devices and apps than I am so allowing them to take the lead will assist me in knowing more about what is out there in terms of fitness/health tools.  Designing a program based on student interest is exciting and something that will encourage more participation and engagement.

After reading my colleagues’ inquiries, a reoccurring theme of balance appeared.  We all want to use the technology available, but we also want a balance between tech use and collaboration, activity, etc.  Exciting times ahead!

Blog post #4 Leadership Practices and Beliefs

Blog post #4 Leadership Practices and Beliefs

Listen to the Eric Sheninger interview on leadership and post your reactions one or more of the following beliefs/practices:

  • Problem solving

  • Student involvement

What connections do you make to your Central Inquiry? What connections do you make between your context and the role of technology? What excites you? What concerns you?

I enjoyed listening to Eric talk about his experiences and philosophy.  I agreed with many things, and they are common themes in relation to what we have been hearing about and studying during this process.

In particular, I enjoyed hearing him talk about making less excuses and finding more solutions.  There will always be reasons why you can’t do something, but we should focus on solutions to achieving what we believe is important.  This resonated with me because I feel like I am using excuses as to why I am not using technology more effectively in my pe/health classes.  I should simply find solutions!

What is best for students?  It seems that gets lost in the education system sometimes.  So many things happening and ways to change and adapt that we forget about the students.  our schools shouldn’t be what is best for the adults involved, it should always be what is best for students.  We should even let the students lead us.  If I want to use more social media and technology in my classes, I should be allowing the students to explore these platforms and see what they prefer and find most effective.  If they feel involved and invested in the process, it will help in all aspects of the class.

Finally, I should be modelling what I want from my students in relation to technology and social media.  Using the tools effectively myself will give them the confidence to do the same.  More food for thought as we go through this leadership journey.

Technology and Educational Reform

Three great videos about technology and reform in education.  Amazing thoughts and ideas…and they are already four, five, and six years old!

Will Richardson

Sugata Mitra

Sal Khan

Teachers who watch these three videos may feel a knot in their stomach, or a rising fear in their hearts!  However, what we as educators should be feeling is excitement.  Education is definitely changing, but if we change and evolve along with the system, we can survive and thrive as educators.

Will Richardson’s talk about the five new realities was great for providing clarity in light of this time of change.  Understanding how our students are learning and what is available to them is crucial for us to provide what is best for them in our schools.  I also enjoyed hearing Will speak about how teachers need to be leaders and models of learning for our students and to learn along with them.  This relationship between the teacher and students can be very powerful.

Sugata Mitra’s talk was entertaining and inspiring.  His desire to help as many students as possible to have access to technology is amazing.  Utilising encouragement rather than fear to inspire is such a simple concept, and yet it hasn’t been implemented within the current system of education.  That is quite sad to think about and also a hard realisation to accept being an educator.  Technology allows anyone, anywhere to learn anything they want or need to learn.

Salman Khan also inspired me with his desire to be a servant leader.  Providing tools and strategies for any student to access through a non-profit organisation is education at it’s purest form.  Technology allows content and resources to never expire, allow students to learn at their own pace, and it allows all students to master concepts.  Those students who appear to struggle suddenly appear gifted once they have the opportunity to engage in the content at their own pace and time.

All three talks were outstanding and illicited emotional responses.  Change is happening.  We should embrace it and LEAD the change.  That will allow us to remain relevant.  Massive change is difficult and it takes time as proven by the fact that these amazing ideas and educators presented these ideas via TED talks four, five, and six years ago.  Imagine what has changed since then!

 

Blog post #3: Peer Videoconference – Excitement Outweighs Concerns

Blog post #3: Peer Videoconference – Excitement Outweighs Concerns

How is the ever changing world of technology impacting schools and school leaders?  What excites you most? What concerns you most?

I was lucky enough to conference with Simon Gustafson about technology and the impact on schools and school leaders.  We talked about what excites us and concerns us about the impact of technology.

We were both excited by the tools that are now available for students in our classes.  Simon is an elementary music teacher and I teach middle school physical education/health.  Both of us know the power of technology in our classes to engage the students, allow them to explore our areas of study more deeply, and create products that allow for collaboration and feedback.  It is exciting for Simon and I to see the students taking the lead and showing us as teachers what is possible with the tools at their fingertips.

Our concerns lie in ensuring that technology does not take away from the experience of our classes.  We want to make sure that students are engaged in learning music and being active in pe/health rather than staring at a screen.  As always, the technological tools should be used to enhance the learning and not to replace it.  Developing a love for music and physical activity is something that Simon and I are both passionate about.  Using technology to enhance these aspects rather than detracting from them allows our excitement around technology to outweigh any concerns that we may have about implementing and using technology in our classroom settings.