“The tools today are primitive. And people aren’t using primitive tools because they prefer primitive tools. They’re using primitive tools because we’re still early on the journey to creating better tools.” — Mark Zuckerber
We are fortunate to have live in a time when technology is fast developing. We hear and see different inventions and ideas come up and ready to be used.AR and Virtual reality technologies are just few examples of modern technology that we can use in the classroom. Google introduced us to virtual reality experiences in almost any topic we can be interested in. I have used Google’s sea life in a new and multidimensional experience in its Discover Sea Life.
Students looked at sea habitat and the animals that live in it. We did not have google cardboard but they enjoyed watching the images in our smartboard. We looked at the Galapagos Island, the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot Island, Canal de Sela Gineta, The Coast of Bali, and the Cook Island in the South Pacific. We will discover and interact with animals on our next activity using Google’s Augmented Reality tool.
Using assistive technology with your child prevents your child from missing out on content solely because he can’t yet read or write. If your child cannot (yet) read, providing audiobooks, text-to-speech capability with content on computers, etc., for science, social studies, literature, and other subjects that are content-based just makes sense. — Sandra K. Cook
For the current topic on assistive technologies, I would like to focus on the role of parents during the pandemic. Pandemic left us no choice but to depend on technology that would make online education possible. It was the most challenging teaching experience for me, and I believe, among all of us. I had to continue the year trying to teach the contents with brief tutorial and technological trainings provided by the school. My grade 1 students adapted to the new ways of learning. Parents did their best to support learning at home.
As we continue the school year 2020 providing online learning to our students, parents played a valuable role. They too, were obliged to learn the technology so they can assist their young children during online learning. They disapproved letting their children use ipads and laptops for long period of time every day. However, they needed to comply with the Kuwait’s government education mandate to continue on online learning. Parents learned how to login to their accounts in MS Teams and sat with their children throughout the day. They reminded the children about the rules and conduct during online learning.
Some parents expressed challenges and frustrations regarding reading with their children. Having no or little knowledge about how students learn reading, they had a hard time completing assigned readings with their children. I have sent them videos on phonics, handwriting, and shared links to free apps available on the internet like https://www.abcya.co, https://www.getepic.com/, and our paid app https://www.raz-kids.com/. In RAZ kids, students were able to read and record their voice while reading. I was able to assess their reading difficulties and needs. With these technologies, students did not miss out significantly in learning the contents in literacy, math, and science.
For this final assignment, I talked about my experiences and learning about technology and how it impacted my teaching philosophy and practice. I have chosen a timeline as a format to showcase my learning in this course. My presentation adopts the similar progression of how technology has evolved from early stages to the current advancement in the world wide web, from web 1.0 to 2.0, and the present.
Virtual Reality (VR) is something that has always intrigued me and I do believe it offers a wide range of possibilities. When Virtual Reality was first introduced to me, I thought it was the most fascinating thing and my friends and I would spend hours going to the beach, playing hockey and down rollercoasters, all in the comfort of my living room. VR is vastly emerging which is referred to Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) and sometimes even defined as extended reality (ER).
I must admit I am hesitant about bringing it into the classroom, after our breakout room discussion. I do believe that it offers vast opportunities for experiential learning, but I think there inevitably will be a divide if used in the classroom. First thing is money. VR is expensive and right now, we cannot even supply enough Chromebooks or iPads to the school, I am unsure how VR would be successful with limited supplies. Secondly, time. My students require sufficient scaffolding throughout lessons. Using VR would take up a lot of teaching time to teach them how to utilize it and how to effectively use it. Furthermore, Heller (2020) discusses serious concerns with VR such as privacy issues. Heller (2020) states, “Some researchers have found that autism in some young children can be gauged by irregular eye motion patterns. Other serious ailments, like schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, and concussions can also be diagnosed though eye tracking.” Through VR, our eyes are constantly moving to relate to what we are seeing. Heller (2020) goes on to say, “Performance on a VR game is not the type of information that those who created health privacy laws may have anticipated as related to one’s medical health – and imagine if those results were to be available for purchase by third parties, like insurers.” There is huge safety concerns and privacy breaches, as Heller (2020) discussed. It is “challenging to inform users of the deeper and full implications of collection of their data, since most people do not understand how involuntary bodily indicators of emotional responses, mental state, or health can be disclosures of fundamentally private information, like truthfulness, inner feelings, and sexual arousal.” In my opinion, I cannot be on board with bringing this into the classroom with so many harmful risks.
On the flip side, I do see opportunities to use it within different subjects that would supplement their learning. It is true that VR would “make learning a fun experience, in which both engagement and motivation are affected.” Makransky et al. (2021) discussed how appropriate instructional design is essential, to ensure relevant information is being taught or else students could be cognitively overloaded with the amount of information given at once. Within a variety of subjects, I do see potential like within science, going to space or being on an airplane (something my students have never had the opportunity of). In literacy, going on an adventure and writing about what you saw, how you felt, what you did, to expand upon their writing. In Physical Education, they could participate in different sports like hockey, football or baseball. I do see the possibilities within all subjects of integrating VR.
This has always been my thoughts around coding and therefore, I have not engaged with it within the classroom. The one time I did engage with it, I had someone else come in and do it with my students. When this occurred, the students loved it but I have never felt equipped enough to teach coding to my students.
I think coding brings value to students as it gives them an opportunity to try new things with technology and create. Firstly, most of my students are gamers, who spend most of their free time, well gaming. Coding is something that would bring them joy and excitement as they would be creating their games. I think it is valuable in that they would feel accomplished/successful in creating a game or “telling the computer what to do”. My students would get a thrill from sharing it with each other and trying each others game. I think it is also valuable when looking at Bloom’s Taxonomy, as they are able to take this knowledge and create. Technology is everywhere and it is not going away. In many different professions, this would advantage them.
“Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer.. because it teaches you how to think” (Steve Jobs).
In my personal opinion, I think all students benefit as an in class activity, grades 2 and up. Students may not benefit with the idea of taking it home to try, as many of my students do not have access to technology at home. However, in class, with computers provided, I think all would benefit. Looking at the website we explored in class,Hour of Code, it varies with grade level and experience, which would allow all students the opportunity. There is even an option of pre-reader, if they struggle or are unable to read. I think coding gives opportunities to students within school and gives them the potential to try to create!
“Programming is an incredibly empowering skill to learn” (Hadi, code.org)
I currently do not engage in this, as discussed prior as I feel like I have never had the knowledge to and would be a lot of pre-teaching. I feel I already use so much of my spare time to mark, coach, plan and create that I honestly feel lazy in the aspect of teaching myself something else (how bad that sounds, but honest). It is my own self holding me back and I can acknowledge that. As discussed in Code Stars, it can be summed up as intimidating, but Chris, NBA star, had a point.. What isn’t?? Everything new is intimidating. Being provided with this website within class, I feel this is a start to beginning to engage with coding in the classroom.
I think this is valuable to acknowledge as creating is something we actively encourage students to do and think outside of the box; digging them to dig deeper.
I disagree in saying that coding should only be taught by techies as it is true, technology is everywhere and there are so many resources now accessible that anyone can learn at the tip of their fingers. Through these different resources, like Hour of Code, it is beyond easy to navigate and learn. I think saying it can only be taught by techies is simply an excuse. I have been using this excuse but its not valid. Technology is only evolving. Creating is empowering. Creating is fun, as suggested when I type in “creating is” to Google.
"Coding also provides students with skills that apply across content areas. By learning to tell machines what to do, students engage in problem-solving and computational thinking, which apply to academic and professional disciplines across the board."
I have taught and facilitated coding activities in the North. I taught grade 1 in La Loche back in 2019. I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in a PD offered by the Northern Lights School Division, so I can share my knowledge and introduce my young students to coding. It was a joyful noise and frenzy echoed in our hallways that week. Students were sad that the “mice” had to leave after a week. Of course, we requested for them to comeback several times. Every time they got the opportunity to play with the mice, they learn new skills in literacy and math. Behaviors has improved as well!
The values that coding brought to my classroom were infinite! I myself spent countless hours on the floor figuring out, problem solving, and discovering what these little guys can do to help us learn. Several students asked if they could take a mouse to home and show their siblings what they could accomplished. Students got better in patterning concepts which they struggled before “playing” with the mice. Students explored creativity and problem-solving skills. They learned to be patient and remained motivated even after countless fails in programming the mice. Not a single student in my class was disinterested to examine and try them. Watching them “work” were blessed moments and all that I could think was “I should have discovered it before!” and yes, I do not consider myself “techy” and yes, every teacher must try it in their classrooms.
Since embarking upon my educational journey, I have had ample opportunities to use assistive technology within my classroom. When I first think of assistive technology my mind immediately goes to using electronics - Talk to Text, computer, iPad, etc. but assistive technology is so much more than that! Understanding this, can give more students in the classroom an opportunity and helps me to understand every student can take advantage of assistive technology.
Through this weeks facilitation, I have come to understand that assistive technology is simply not just connected to a power source aka. an electronic, it is so much more than that. As stated before, I can give every student in my classroom the opportunity to use assistive technology without even realizing at. When looking at low tech, this could involve graphic organizers, pencil grips, manipulatives, sticky notes, highlighters and displaying my visual schedule each day. These are simple ways I am meeting the learners of my classroom, everyday, where every one has access to these tools at a low cost!
As we move to mid tech this could include word prediction, calculators, audio books (Raz Kids being one of my favourites), voice amplification or devices to help people move around (wheelchair). Each day my students use word prediction and audio books, which helps them to be successful in the classroom. For many of my students, they are below grade level with reading and therefore, audio books are a very useful tool to ensure they are still interacting with books and have the same opportunities to read. For one of my students, I use a voice amplification which evidently helps them to hear clearly through their hearing aid.
Finally, high tech would be using the power sources - computer, iPad/tablet, SMART board and Talk to Text. All the students within my classroom have SETT devices (Student, Environment, Tasks, Tools) where each of them have an iPad or Chromebook to assist with their day to day tasks within the classroom.
There are inevitably limitations and challenges with using assistive technology. One challenge that Childhood and Assistive Technology: Growing with opportunity, developing with technologyhighlights would be lack of products, services and financial barriers. These all go hand in hand, as when it comes to budget cuts, looks of services and products go with it. For myself, in my school division, there is not enough high assistive technology available to every one due to finances. However, with saying such, Botelho stated, “even though there is no denying how powerful a talking computer, a hearing aid, or a motorized wheelchair can be for those who need them, there is today a tendency to overlook how helpful low technologies can be in many circumstances” (p.590). Inevitably, the challenges and limitations that initially come to mind revolve around high assistive technologies. When thinking about low to mid technology challenges, I think there is sometimes not enough time to learn how to utilize all these tools to effectively bring into the classroom and in turn, teach your students how to use them. Going back to budgets, we are only given a certain amount of money per year, per classroom. It is not an option for me to have access to all these tools and I have to be aware and stringent with what ones I am choosing for my learners.
Provided here is a description of SETT devices and how the process works provided by Joy Zabala.
My role as a Learning Resource Teacher, I am constantly creating IIPs (Inclusion & Intervention Plan) and ROAs (Record of Adaptions), which typically involves low, mid & high technologies to utilize within the classroom. After the presentation, articles provided and digging into this blog post, I realize how many opportunities assistive technology has!
What limitations and challenges come to mind with using assistive technologies in your classroom? What assistive technologies are you using daily, weekly, monthly within your own classroom?
For this post, I chose RAZ-kids assessment. It is being used at our school to assess reading. Teachers can easily collect data on reading levels, phonics and phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills in elementary classrooms. It is used for formative and summative assessment. It is accessible both at school and at home. Students have fun learning to read while having fun by earning awards and badges that they can use to upgrade their Avatars. It also offers games and challenges students to climb up on to their reading levels. Generally, this technology is beneficial for teaching and learning. Teachers can assign work in an asynchronous activity and students can accomplish work at their own pace. Teachers can easily differentiate teaching methods. However, like any paid technology, RAZ-kids comes with a hefty prize, computers and ipads.
The tool I chose this week was Quizizz and was a great success! I initially chose this tool because Kahoot has always been a hit with my students and during the presentation on Tuesday, it caught my eye immediately. I think it is a good indication of what the overall class knows and needs further teachings on.
I did not face many challenges to set up Quizizz. I had to sign up for an account, which was free, and I was able to get started. The site is easy to navigate and utilize. The biggest challenge would have been setting aside time to create the Quizizz. While creating it, I had to come up with a variety of questions and answers. The toughest part was creating a variety of answers to the questions. Other than that, I found this assessment tool very accessible and easy to use!
All I have to say is it was a HIT! It was a very positive response, with students asking to play another round and making it a consistent game, weekly. I asked the students for their thoughts and conducted a list of what they stated, as seen below.
Clearly we will be playing this again…
How did you use the tool for assessment?
This tool was used as formative assessment regarding our read aloud – Because of Mr Terupt. It had a variety of questions from a poll, to a multiple-choice selection, to illustrating. This was a way for me to gather if they are following along and/or are missing key concepts in regard to the book. Through this, I was able to see everyone is on track and comprehending Because of Mr Terupt.
Pros/Cons to using the tools
- Easily accessible
- Easy to navigate
- Formative and summative assessment tool
- Answers are coloured coded on the presentation screen and their screen, to help with non-readers.
- Need internet (our internet can sometimes be wonky at our school)
- Need to have time to create Quizizz
- Time limit (students may feel rushed and make mistakes)
- Need to simplify answers/questions for non-readers
- Students can make mistakes due to rushing to try to be the first to answer. (Students get more points if they answer first and it is correct)
Is its purpose more formative assessment/summative assessment or both?
I think its purpose could be both, dependent on the way it is used and when. It collects data that you can look over after, which can either be used at that time as a formative or summative assessment. Whether it is used mid way through a lesson or at the end, could determine which way it can be used. I think it is important to remember though, sometimes mistakes are made due to the time limit and quickly answering due to the time limit. I do believe, it would be best used as a formative assessment due to the nature of the game. However, if needed, it could still be used as a summative assessment.
,Cannot wait to continue using Quizizz, to unleash the magic...