Technology in the Classroom: Does it hinder hands-on experiences?

riaaaqqxtWith the rise of technology, it is no surprise that the education system has incorporated and invested in many devices for their classrooms. Perhaps the most popular technological device used in classroom environments is the iPad. This device is able to provide thousands of applications to children as they learn through an interactive experience. Early learning environments are effective when children are provided opportunities to learn through hands-on experiences. It is no surprise that children learn best through play, rather then continuous table work. However, the question that many educators are wondering is if the rise of iPads in the classroom decreases children’s motivation to participate in hands-on experiences.

In an article entitled Touch Tablet Surprises: A Preschool Teacher’s Story Cassandra Mattoon explores the idea of balancing iPads and hands-on experiences in the classroom. Overall, she noticed that when iPads were an ordinary material in the classroom the fascination of them declined which resulted in children’s equal attention to both technology and hands-on experiences. Just like toys, when the initial “newness” of a material is over children are less likely to find the desire to spend the majority of their day with that material as they find new activities to participate in.

From placement experience, iPads are not an everyday material in the classroom because the devices are shared among the school. Because of this, whenever the teacher is able to bring the devices to class the children devote all of their attention to the iPads forgetting about the other activities in the classroom. The children also become less social as they are focused on their individual device rather then sharing their experience with their peers. Furthermore, I noticed when my supervising teacher attempts to conclude the children’s time with the iPads to transition to a new activity many of the children experience difficulty giving up the iPad. After, the children appear to be less interested in participating in hands-on experiences.

However, what I would suggest to alleviate this struggle is keeping one or two iPads available in the classroom on an everyday basis. By doing this, the initial newness will begin to fade as the children realize this device  is an everyday material. Not only will the children be more apt to explore their environment by finding new activities to participate in, but by only providing a few devices they are more likely to collaborate on the iPads with their peers, thus facilitating social development.

Now, many educators may continue to believe that iPads in the classroom hinder hands-on experiences. However, if these devices are used appropriately iPads can be used to supplement hands-on learning. Take this video as an example. This kindergarten class was able to learn a an abundance of information about butterflies in an outdoor environment, as well as inside the classroom with their iPads. The children were able to take the information they collected outside and collect it onto their iPads, such as pictures and videos. They were able to share the information with their class in a large group setting. I also enjoyed watching how the educator provided social opportunities as the children worked together on one device. The iPad was a supplement in this learning experience as the children were simply not instructed to search facts on the internet, but rather take the device into the environment.

 

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There are also other activities that educators can facilitate in the classroom that uses iPads as a supplementary tool for hands on experiences. For instance…

  • How to Make Origami is an interactive app that provides children step by step instructions on how to make origami. Children are exposed to technology but also participate in the hands-on fine motor experience of creating their own origami pieces!
  • Have the class read a story, and then test their knowledge using an online quiz you created! Socrative  allows educators to to provide real-time questioning which provides insight on the level of understanding for each child. This experience provides an alternative for traditional paper and pencil quizzes as children are provided with a new medium to show their knowledge
  • Compose Yourself provides children with a hands-on experience of creating melodies as they are able to take music notes that are physically available, and hear the melody online. By doing this, they are able to rearrange their notes to create a song. This teaches children how to arrange musical notes to create a desirable sound

Those were just a short list of the endless options that you can facilitate in your classroom to use iPads as a supplement to hands-on learning. Have fun learning 🙂

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Technology in the Classroom: Does it hinder hands-on experiences?

Cyber Bullying

 

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Throughout history, bullying has been a prevalent issue within the lives of millions of children. Unfortunately, many children have been physically, socially, and/or emotionally bullied primarily during school hours. However, with the current rise of technology the evolution of a new form of bullying has rapidly gained public attention. Like the name suggests, cyber bullying is a form of bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Some scenarios many children experience are receiving disrespectful text messages, rumours posted on social media sites, as well as “embarrassing” pictures being sent via web (Stop bullying, n.d).  Check out this video that provides an in-depth look on cyber-bullying.

Cyber bullying is different from any other form of bullying as it can take place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Unlike physical and social bullying that typically occur during school hours, many children can not escape this nightmare as it often follows them when they log onto the internet. Bullies may also find it easier to tease and harass others online as they are able to hide behind a computer screen. Hiding behind a screen allows the bully to not see the negative emotionally response their actions are imposing, thus making it easier to say or post hurtful comments. Individuals are also able to remain anonymous on many platforms, such as ask.fm. Remaining anonymous gives children the sense that they can say whatever they like because of the untraceable nature of these sites.  According to nobullying.com 52% of youth have experienced cyber bullying. Although this percentage is high, think about all the unreported cases!

Cyberbullying poses many negative effects on victims. According to nobullying.org many children who are cyberbullying skip school, experience a decrease in school performance, as well as a decrease in self-confidence. Cyberbullying has also led to self harm and even suicide in many adolescents. For example, Amanda Todd took her own life after being severely bullied online as well as in person. Her cry for help was not noticed until after her help as her video became viral. Overall, since 2003 there have been 41 suicides in Canada, United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom which have been triggered by cyberbullying. To learn more about the rising suicide rates related to cyberbullying click this link.

These harmful effects leave families devastated as many are unaware of what is happening when their children log onto their technological devices. It is important that families are aware of the signs of cyberbullying as mentioned about before it is too late.

With that being said, what can we do to stop the rising rates of cyberbullying?  Many strategies and organizations are devoted to putting a stop as well as creating more awareness of cyberbullying!

If you reading my blog and are currently experiencing cyberbullying or any form of bullying, the first step is to tell someone! This can be a parent/caregiver, a trusted teacher, or even your best friend. Tell someone who you are confident that can help put a stop to your negative experience. However, if you feel that you are not ready to talk to someone Kids Help Phone is an excellent resource. By calling 1 800 668 6868 you will speak to a trained individual who maintains confidentiality, you do not even have to tell them your name! Perhaps, by calling Kids Help Phone you can seek advice on what to do in your particular bullying situation.

If you are a parent/caregiver it is important to maintain an open communication with your children as you educate them about the harmful effects of bullying. Many children who are new to social media may not understand the effects of writing a hurtful comment that they may deem “funny.” However, informing them on what the other person feels behind their computer screen may create a more empathetic understanding. It is also important for children to understand not to be a bystander! Even in online environments, its easy to be a bystander as many children witness hurtful comments being said on a Facebook page. Rather then clicking to view something else, teach children that it is imperative that they say something because perhaps the child being bullied is too nervous to speak up. A great film to show your children to further educate about this topic is entitled Cyberbully as it follows an adolescent girls journey as she finds her voice to face her cyberbullying experience.

As a future educator, I find it imperative to teach my students about cyberbullying as well. There are many experiences that are easy to provide in the classroom. By using this Toolkit, it provides various lessons and strategies that educators can implement from elementary, middle, and high school. Just like parents, it is equally as important to understand the signs of cyberbullying as well as educate students on the safe use of the internet.

Here are some methods that you can educate children about cyberbullying

  • Read the story entitled “Bully”  – this story is intended for children in grades 3-5 and examines the issue of cyberbullying in a fictional story. Read this to your child or classroom and have a discussion about how they would feel if they were being bullied online. This is a great way to develop empathy as children are less likely to bully others if they are able to place themselves into others shoes
  • Play cyberbullying bingo that reinforces concepts and strategies in order to not give into cyberbullying
  • Post the 10 Golden Rules in the classroom or at home!10 golden rules

Let’s work to create a harmonious online. With effort and education I believe we can put a stop to cyberbullying!

 

Cyber Bullying

Family Tech Agreement

Many parents can agree that the increased prevalence of technology has negatively impacted their family functioning and communication. Rather then spending their evenings around the dinner table sharing stories about one anthers day, many families are consumed with social media or addictive iPhone games.

Alongside the addictive behaviours many children exhibit with regards to their technology use, it is imperative that families are aware of the potential downfalls of technology use. When many parents were in school, bullying on the playground was unfortunately a common occurrence. Although physical and emotional bullying continues to be a prevalent issue in the education system, the rate of cyber bullying continues to drastically rise. Furthermore, without appropriate parental controls, children are exposed to a plethora of information on the web. However, with the help of softwares such as K9 Web Protection will ensure that children are searching safe and appropriate content on the web.

Furthermore, take this viral video as an example as it reinforces the idea that family dinner has been “ruined” by children’s addictive behaviour to their devices. Although I am not quite sure if the magical pepper shaker that claims to turn off wifi, television, and mobile devices is a legitimate product, families can implement measures to reclaim their quality time together.

Although this video focuses on the children’s addictive behaviour, I would like to play devil’s advocate for this issue. With no surprise, it’s evident that parents and caregivers are a primary role model for their children’s behaviours and actions. With that being said,in a recent article  entitled How we’re adjusting to parenting in the digital age Hayley Tsukayama explains that it is imperative that caregivers model positive behaviour with regards to their personal technology use. However, “Parent’s themselves are still struggling with how they manage their technology use, let alone their children’s behaviour.When it came to how well they modelled good technology behavior, parents gave themselves an average grade of B – as in, there’s room for improvement.” (Tsukayama, 2015). Perhaps your children find it appropriate to use their mobile devices at the dinner table because they have observed you unconsciously check your text messages at the table as well.

So the question is… if  children and parents both exhibit addictive behaviours to their technological devices, how do families reclaim their quality family time? One strategy I would strongly recommend is creating a family tech agreement! Now you may be asking what this agreement entails, well lucky for you I have the answer!

Gather the family around for a meeting, and brainstorm different limitations all members of the family must follow (this includes you too mom). For example, commit to all devices must be put away for dinner, or what about planning a games night one night per week. Or, how many hours a day are we allowed to use the internet for? Or what websites can and cannot access? The ideas are endless and each family will have their unique limitations based on their needs.

Like I mentioned before, children are keen observers of their parents actions, so consider writing down rules that solely relate to the caregivers, such as no texting and driving. This rule not only improves family safety but your children are less likely to follow this action when they are all grown up. Document these rules in a fun and creative way and have all members of the family sign it.

Now what if a member of the family breaks a rule? We all make mistakes, and no family is perfect but why not create a fun “punishment.” For example, create a family tech jar! This jar is the same concept as a swear jar, but members of the family drop money every time they break a tech rule. The family can accumulate the change for a group activity, why not a family movie and pizza night!

Need some inspiration? Feel free to use my family’s tech agreement as an example.  Also, if you click here, Internet Safety 101 describes in detail age-appropriate guidelines for online use. It also explains the parents role as your children learn about technology use.
Tech Agreement

 

 

 

Family Tech Agreement