My mentoring experience

This semester in EDTC 400, I was assigned a number of students in EDTC 300 who I was to be a “mentor” to. I think that the idea is great, and I have heard from past EDTC 400 students that they loved mentoring, but I found it to be quite challenging. At the start of the semester, I kept up with the required four comments per week on my mentee’s blogs. I commented on their learning project blogs, but I found it to be very challenging when I had no knowledge or interest in the topic or activity that they chose. I ended up noticing a pattern in all of my comments and I often felt like they were not genuine, but I also didn’t know how to fix that. I did, however, feel as though my comments were much more genuine on one of my mentee’s blogs. Scott is an EDTC 300 student that I mentored who chose to learn guitar for his learning project. I did the same thing way back in ECMP 355 and I am still very interested and passionate about music. I found that because I had some knowledge about the topic of Scott’s blogs as well as an interest in what he was talking about, I was able to write much more genuine comments as well as actually give advice!

In the last couple of weeks of classes, I stopped commenting on mentees’ blog posts. Between classes being cancelled, not having access to public spaces to study and all of the other stressors that life has to offer right now, I pushed being a mentor to the bottom of my priority list. I also think that part of the reason that I stopped was that I felt insincere when I wrote most of my comments and as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t know how to fix that.

Although I think that being a mentor to EDTC 300 students was a valuable experience, I am stuck when thinking about what it taught me about teaching. As a math teacher, the feedback that I give my students is much different than what I was saying in my blog comments. Another major difference is that I am extremely passionate about mathematics and know how to give feedback and advice when it relates to mathematics, but not so much when it’s about knitting.

 

Cellphones should be banned in the classroom

The topic that I argued in the EDTC debate was that cellphones should be banned in the classroom. Although we did not necessarily need to believe our topic, I absolutely agreed with mine. Cellphones were a major issue during my internship and I feel as though students would have had a much better learning experience if they did not have their cellphones on them. In a perfect world, I think that students should actually not have access to their cellphones at any point during the school day. The main argument against me in the debate was that this would be impossible. 

I think that it is important to remember what the debate topic is when arguing the point. The topic is “Cellphones should be banned in the classroom” not “it is possible to ban cellphones in the classroom”. It was hard for me to beat this point even though I personally do not think that it aligned with the topic itself. Any other point such as parent access to their children or students who need their cellphones because of a disability or medical reason all seemed to be easy to argue against. 

After seeing Josh’s debate, I knew that I would probably begin with a disadvantage being in an educational technologies class. The entire class revolves around learning how to use technology in schools and here I am trying to argue that we should get rid of some of it. In the end, I still absolutely believe that cellphones are a major problem in schools and I hope that one day my dream of a school without cellphones becomes a reality.

Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be googled

This debate took a turn that I was not expecting. I think that the debaters argued a topic that was different from how I interpreted the topic, but for this post, I am going to write about the way that I interpreted it.

I think that schools still need to teach things that can be googled because almost everything can be googled at this point in time. Some classes such as history and some science are very based on facts, all of which can be googled. If schools stop teaching things that can be googled, would they teach anything in history class? I also wonder about if schools did not teach anything that was facts-based, what would motivate students to learn about it on their own? I know that if I did not have to learn about the French Revolution in school, I probably wouldn’t have ever learned about it. This is the biggest reason that I think that is important that schools still teach these topics.

Victor had an interesting point about googling things being a low level of learning which is true. I think that it is important for teachers to teach things in a way that will support higher levels of learning, but I do not think that this is possible without some focus on topics and ideas that can be researched via google.

Social media is ruining childhood

This debate topic got heated and both Britnee and Dallin did a great job arguing their points. I do think that social media may be ruining childhood, but I don’t know if I feel strongly enough about the topic to argue that it absolutely does. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of actively using social media, but I will use it passively. When I say that, I mean that I will browse social media, but I rarely am one to post things as I always feel very anxious and nervous when I do. Because of this anxiety, I initially voted that social media is ruining childhood.

I think that children are spending too much time online rather than having real connections with their classmates. I also know that cyberbullying has been a huge issue and it will not go away anytime soon. Although there are many negatives that can come from children and youth using social media, Dallin brought up some great points about why social media is not ruining childhood. He shared his personal experience of making friends through social media while living in a small community. This was something that I have never considered, but when I thought about it, I realized that I actually met one of my own best friends online. While I do still think that social media has many negatives, I am aware that it is not going anywhere. I ended up changing my vote at the end of the debate because of what a great job Dallin did arguing his point.

Technology in the classroom enhances learning

In the debate of whether or not technology in the classroom enhances learning, Josh had the very difficult task of arguing that technology does NOT enhance learning. Of course, we almost all agreed that technology does play a very important role in the classroom. There have been so many technological advancements especially in recent years that have greatly impacted schools. It would be extremely hard to argue that something like having a school or class set of laptops would not enhance students’ learning. I also think that it is important to consider what classifies as technology in a school. Many people, including myself, consider something that is as simple as a chalkboard to be technology. As a math teacher, I have no idea how I would teach math to students without any form of technology.

Josh’s main argument was that technology is simply a distraction in schools. I believe that this can absolutely be true, but to rule out all technology as distracting seems to be a little bit extreme. A photocopier is a form of technology, but I have never heard of a student being distracted by one. I also think that this debate topic is a little bit too broad for there to even be a debate, especially in an educational technologies class. Technology covers such a wide array of things, it seems impossible to say that none of them enhance learning. Overall, I think that technology does enhance learning and it feels impossible to say that it doesn’t.

My Mini-Lesson

In our last class, I taught a mini-lesson on digital storytelling. I had my classmates use StoryBoardThat to create comics with three images each. I found this to be quite difficult for a number of reasons. The first thing that I found to be difficult was that as a math major, I found it hard to come up with ideas for a lesson that could be brought into highschool math as well as one that could be taught online. I decided to settle on the English 7 curriculum as I thought that I would be better able to meet the assignment criteria. Another thing that I found challenging was actually teaching online. I have never shared my screen before and immediately became stressed while teaching. I also did not like that I was not able to watch what the students were doing while they had time to work on the comic. In a physical classroom, I would typically circulate and help students as they go, but I couldn’t do that during this assignment.

One thing that I loved about my lesson was all of the comics that my classmates made! In a very short amount of time, everyone was able to create a short comic and tell us a story. I think that they were able to be creative and tell us some little stories that we normally wouldn’t hear in class. Although I am not sure if I will be using this program as a math teacher, there are many other free online tools that math teachers can use.

A lot of my classmates are math majors, so to end my blog I just want to share a little bit about my favourite program! Desmos.com is a website that has endless possibilities. The main function is graphing, but there are so many things that you can do with it. I allowed my students to use Desmos on their phones as graphing calculators, but there are also many other pre-programmed demonstrations that it can show. I also love using activities on teacher.desmos.com This site has a great collection of game style intro and review activities for students. Along with the features for students, the teacher is very involved in this process. The teacher can do the activities as a class and control the pacing of the students, as well as select and sequence student responses (shout out to Gale for teaching the five practices). If you have not explored teacher.desmos.com I would highly recommend it!