Synthesis of the Four Learning Environments Explored- table

The link provided (table) is the synthesis that I’ve created to compare and contrast the four learning environments. I look forward to any discussions that arise from this table, as I was feeling a bit unsure about a few of my presumptions after having explored each one. I did find MANY overlapping ideas/tenets and I also feel that as these learning environments change based on upgrades, new understandings and student/educator needs that more overlap is inevitable. I do think that each technology supported environment provides its own “positives” depending on the style of the educator, the needs of the students, the age of the students and access to technology. In addition, timelines must be considered and I believe each of these requires more time to allow students to find relationships, deepen their understandings, communicate with each other and reflect on their learnings, and even more time if they are to apply these understandings in real-world contexts. That being said it cannot be understated that these environments provide deep, rich understandings. In addition, I would like to add that supporting and educating teachers to use these valuable resources should be a goal so that science/math education can continue to support deep, engaging and meaningful learning for students.

Since I am an elementary educator I would also liike to put forth that these should be used in the early grades so that students can begin to consolodate their scientific understandings before “the damage is done”, so to speak. What I mean is that it seems that many misconceptions re: science concepts are formed in early learning and providing for engaging science problem solving and investigations that address these misconceptions would go a long way in hopefully curbing this trend. That being said, just using “technology” to teach scienc e is not a panacea, as there is much misinformation represented in a variety of science vidoes, interactive games, etc. online that is purposely “dumbed down” to be accessible to younger students. In addition, the ideas about technology integration held by the educator cannot be overlooked, as these understandings can colour how the technology is implemented. We need to be cognizant of this as educators and work towards adapting sound technologically enhanced learning environments into our early elementary classrooms.

I definitely agree with your last statement that “supporting and educating teachers to use these valuable resources should be a goal so that science/math education can continue to support deep, engaging and meaningful learning for students”, is one of the most important aspects of all of these types of learning foundations. I find it almost unbelievable that I have never heard of most of these technologies until this course. It is very difficult to integrate technology into the classroom effectively when there is little awareness of what is available for what subjects, grade levels, and styles. Although I found some of them too advanced for my grade group (7/8), it was still interesting for me to peruse, and had I known about it, could have used this with my own children in secondary school. Of course, time to explore all these programs will always be an issue for teachers, however, I feel that if school boards and ministries want us to give our students 21st century learning skills, time to discover these types of programs is imperative.

Anne

I absolutley agree with you Anne. As elementary educators we are expected to be a “Jack of all Trades” so to speak and to have the ability to teach a variety of subject areas succintly and integrate technology as well. On top of this, our curriculum is consistently being updated and revised to reflect new understandings and we must integrate these changes. Furthermore, we are, as reflective practitioners, constantly adapting our teaching to provide the best possible environment for learning. We require technology tools in order to do this effectively and we also need administration to provide scaffolding as we learn these new techniques and technologies.

Hi Michelle!

I really liked the table you had drawn up comparing and contrasting the four models. It gave a great visual of which model checked the most. I enjoyed your comment on using technology for the sake of using technology. It is definitely vital as educators that we pick technologies that are going to be effective to meet an end goal: the skills we want our students to learn. Once we have a clear idea about the things we want students to learn, then the best technology to meet that goal can be selected. Being on the other end as a high school teacher, I truly appreciate the endeavour elementary teachers take on in setting in the right habits, the right skills, and the right attitudes for young students for math and science learning.

Thanks for sharing,

Vibhu

HI Michelle,

What I liked best about your table was the concise way in which you described each of the categories. The use of a checklist also made it easy to visually understand your points.

In regards to your jack of all trades comment, I always wonder about teaching elementary using the specialist teacher. There are so many pros and cons and yet I find myself continually returning to the thought that the jack of all trades method currently used sells our kids short. I know many of the teachers in my school are blatant about their own dislike of math and science and lack skill and understanding in these areas. They do the best they can but know it is not a strength. We were having a discussion about the idea of specialists and many said they thought it wasn’t a good idea. As fate would have it sitting around the table were a grade 2, 3, 5 and 6 teacher (they were the math-shy ones) so I took the opportunity to point out what happens to the students who go from one grade to the next taught by each of them and then the students wind up in grade 7 having had 4 teachers who didn’t do the math or science program justice. Is it any wonder our students lack math skills when they arrive in my class. (On that note what about the students who go from k-8 with teachers who lack confidence in math and science.

As a kinesiologist, I have made the same point about PE specialists. Teaching age appropriate skill development is essential to our students becoming healthy fit adults.

Thanks for the post,

Catherine