Biases and Truth

Hello everyone!

This week in ECS 210, we were asked to think about what biases we learnt when we were in school and what ‘single stories’ did we learn during out schooling.

Thinking back to my upbringing, I grew up in a very forward thinking household. Throughout high school and later elementary school years, I knew it was okay to have discussions about the LGBTQ community with my parents without it becoming a hateful conversation. My parents tried to encourage me to be a person without a lot of biases, but they also tried to prepare me for the real world.

My parents, especially my mom, subtly taught me to cross the road to the other side if I felt uncomfortable with the person that was coming down the sidewalk. This other person was normally a tall, bulky, male with dark clothing on that we did not know. This subtle teaching is something that I know is still in the back of my mind today. I know that I am hyperaware of my surroundings at night and I will still cross the street if there is another larger person walking my way. I know this is a bias that I have and one that I was taught. I know that I was taught this as a good intention because my parents wanted me to be safe in a world that is not always safe for women my size and stature. This bias makes me fearful of anyone walking too close behind me with heavy footsteps and makes me walk faster when I see a larger male walking behind me. I know most of the time that I do not need to be fearful of this other person, but this bias prevents me from fully letting my guard down.

I went to Catholic schools when I was in both elementary and high school. I cannot think of a time in my schooling where a teacher taught me how to ‘read the world’, but I can think of many instances I was influenced by the ideas of other children’s parents that were spoken by their children. When I was in elementary school, many of the children that I went to school with had parents that worked at Evraz or in a labour intensive job. Most of the children had a parent that was part of the ‘working class’. I was one of the few kids that had two parents that worked a desk job. Many of the children that I went to school with vocalized that desk jobs were not real jobs and that those people really did not have to work for their money. This was something that bothered me because I knew that both of my parents worked hard and that their jobs mattered. Even though many of the students did not see the value in desk jobs, the schools pushed for students to do well in school so they could get into university and get a ‘good’ (desk) job. I was subtly taught during school that desk jobs were seen in a better light than hands on jobs. I was also subtly taught that students must go to university to make it anywhere in life and those that do not go into university are somehow seen as less than.

I know that my upbringing and schooling have helped me create biases that I will unintentionally take with me into the classroom. As a classroom teacher, I must strive to be as neutral as possible and not let the biases that I was taught govern my classroom. I must unlearn the bias that desk jobs are superior to hands on jobs. I must also learn to encourage students to see the importance of all jobs in society. Students must learn that the job of a CEO of a company is just as important as the job of a janitor in a school. Society needs different people with different skills to keep running smoothly and everyone’s job is worthy. As a classroom teacher, I must unlearn the notion that all large males are dangerous. This is something that I know I have gotten a lot better with. I am not nervous around large males at the university nor when I am out and about during the day. I still struggle with the bias at night but I do not know if I will ever be able to overcome this bias at night.

As a classroom teacher, the first step to overcoming the negative biases that have been taught to us when we were younger is to first recognize and acknowledge our biases. Once a person has recognized their biases, they must then go out and seek people that disprove their biases to help change their thinking. For example, I have a friend who is quite a big guy. He has helped me see that not every guy that looks like him should be feared, in fact, most guys that look like him SHOULD NOT be feared. Another way teachers can unlearn their biases is to get educated. Teachers can take classes to get informed about things such as the LGBTQ community, racism, and many other topics. Continuing to allow biases rule a classroom will not benefit the students that are negatively affected by the said biases.

As I mentioned above, I went to a Catholic elementary school and high school. Many of the classes were taught with Catholic values in mind. Most, if not all, of the teachers that I had growing up were white. I did not hear a lot about Indigenous perspectives or non-Catholic perspectives on most topics in school. I was taught through the truth of white, catholic people. I did not learn a lot about other religions and their stance on many of the important topics in society, such as family planning, family structure, the LGBTQ community, celebrations, and much more. When I was in school, the truth of white settlers was the truth that was most often taught, and thus I was taught this was the truth that mattered.

Thinking back to my schooling, it is shocking how little I learnt about other perspectives besides white settler knowledge, with a sprinkle of Indigenous knowledge here and there to fulfill curriculum content. I always could tell when teachers were forcing Indigenous knowledge into a lesson because I could tell the teacher was not passionate about it and they had the attitude that they had to teach it.

As a future educator, I want to incorporate more than just white settler knowledge into my classroom. I want to fully integrate Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing into my daily lessons and I do not want students to feel like Indigenous knowledge is being forced into the lesson. I want to be the classroom teacher that has little to no biases that affect my teaching abilities. I know that stating all these things is a lot easier than actually implementing my wants. I know as a classroom teacher, I will have to work hard every day to work against the biases that I have and not allow them to affect my teaching or interactions with students. Being a teacher that strives to incorporate Indigenous knowledge and not allow biases effect my teaching will be difficult at first, but then it will become routine and students will benefit from this.

Did you grow up with similar or different biases? Leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading my blog post!

Ashley Osachoff


Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?

Hello everyone!

This week I was able to participate in the EDTC 400 debate. This week’s debate topic created a lot of conversation during the debate. This week’s topic was “Social media is ruining childhood”. The two debaters for this week were Kylie and Lauren. Lauren was on the agree side of the debate and Kylie was on the disagree side of the debate.

Pre-Debate VOte

In the similar fashion to the rest of the debates that the class has participated in, the class completed the pre-debate vote. This week’s pre-debate vote was split pretty much down the middle. In the pre-vote, I disagreed with the statement that social media is ruining childhood. I am part of the weird generation that experienced playing outside and minimal technology as a child. I had internet access and access to a television that had limited channels, but I did not really get exposed to social media until I was in late elementary school. I based my vote in the pre-debate on my own experience with social media as a child. I do not think that social media ruined my childhood, and thus I disagreed with this statement.

EDTC 400 Debate 6 Pre-Vote

Lauren’s Side

To begin the debate, the class viewed Lauren’s video that agreed with the statement that social media is ruining childhood. Lauren made very strong points in her introduction video. Her four main points are:

  1. Social media is negatively affecting children’s mental health
  2. Social media is addictive and making children less social
  3. Digital footprints and privacy concerns
  4. Social media can cause cyberbullying

Many of the points that Lauren made are some of the points that I have heard from multiple sources about the negative side to social media. I really agreed with Lauren’s statement that social media can be very addictive. In Lauren’s opening statement, she related the addictiveness of social media to a cigarette addiction. If people smoked a cigarette each time they checked social media, they would be smoking a lot of cigarettes. This comment really got me thinking about my own social media usage. I would not be happy with myself if I was smoking a cigarette every time that I went on social media. If I, as an adult, have a hard time with my own addiction to social media, how can I expect students and children to have more self-control than I do with social media?

Kylie’s SIde

After Lauren’s video, the class watched Kylie’s video that disagreed with the statement that social media is ruining childhood. Like Lauren, Kylie also made some strong points in her introduction video. Her four points are:

  1. Social Media open’s doors
  2. Children are able to take a stand on social media
  3. Social Media promotes mental health initiatives
  4. Social Media is unavoidable

Kylie connected a lot of her points to real life experiences. One of the connections that I made to Kylie’s video was when she discussed a presentation that Dr. Alec Couros gave to her EDTC 300 class. Even though I was not in Kylie’s EDTC 300 class, Dr. Alec Couros gave a presentation to my EDTC 300 class about the influence that social media has had on his children’s lives. In Alec Couros’ presentation, he discusses how his children have learnt how to play the drums and do make up from watching videos on social media. People of all ages, including children, can learn new hobbies and skills from social media. I have learnt how to crochet, which is one of my favourite hobbies, from watching videos on YouTube and posts from Pinterest. Social media has a lot of benefits, but there are also many drawbacks.

One of the crochet projects I completed over Christmas break

The Debate

After watching both the introduction videos, I was more on the fence than what I initially thought I would be entering the debate. This week’s debate topic peaked interest from most of the class into the discussion. Since social media is extremely ingrained into the lives of most of my classmates, everyone knows what social media is and how to use it. Most of the EDTC 400 class is also part of the weird generation that did not have social media when they were really young, but at some point during their childhood, towards their teens, they got social media all at once.

Photo Credit: nodstrum Flickr via Compfight cc

The Drawbacks of Social Media

To start off the debate, the class discussed the issue of cyberbullying that can occur on social media. Cyberbullying is quite prevalent among young people, with 33% of middle school and high school students stated that they have been cyberbullied, according to Mary Sauer’s article. Unlike physical and verbal bullying, students cannot escape cyberbullying when they go home. Cyberbullying happens online, and with most students having a cellphone on them 24/7, it is near impossible to escape cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is not as easy to spot because students are bullying one another behind screens. Cyberbullying is not something that should be taken lightly either. As Liz mentioned, cyberbullying and the inability to escape the taunting caused someone that she knew in high school to commit suicide. Cyberbullying is dangerous and it has real consequences that students, teachers, and parents must be aware of.

Along with discussing social media, the class talked about the issue of the addiction of cellphones. As adults, many of my classmates, including myself, have an addiction to our cellphones and social media. This addiction to cellphones and social media is not only an issue that adults struggle with. Students can also be addicted to their cellphones and social media. This addiction to social media can cause mental and physical health problems. In Melissa Riddle Chalos’ article, she discusses many of the health concerns that come with teens using social media. One of the points that is made in the article is that many students are not getting enough sleep at night due to using their phones, which emits a blue light and it is proven to make it more difficult to fall asleep. Social media addiction does not only cause students to have lack of sleep, but it can also cause students to develop feelings of FOMO (a fear of missing out) or feeling that they must be perfect online. Social media can contribute to feeling lonely, unhappy, pressured, and amplify the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The Benefits of Social Media

After discussing some of the negative sides to social media, the class began discussing some of the positives that can come with social media. The class discussed some of the connection benefits that social media offers to students. Social media platforms that enable communication, such as Snapchat, give students the opportunity to stay in contact with friends or family that they are unable to see face to face. Students can also use social media or video chatting platforms, such as FaceTime or Skype, to stay connected with their peers and even complete homework as stated in Angela Barnes’ and Christine Laird’s article and Michael Sheehan’s article. Social media, despite some of the dangers of it, can be a great platform for students to use to engage in collaborative learning. During the debate, I mentioned that my brother uses social media to stay connected to his friends by playing video games online. My brother also will use his social media to work with a peer to complete a group assignment when it is too late to meet face to face to work on an assignment.

The final thing that I will briefly touch on about the debate is the comment that Katia made about people having an unrealistic idea of what childhood should look like. I think this was an important point to make because every generation will say “back in my day we had it so good because we did not have (insert piece of technology, whether it be television, cellphones, or social media) and my childhood was way better than yours” to the younger generation. This made me wonder a bit about my childhood. I did not have the influence of social media in my life until the end of elementary school and I do not think my childhood was any better or worse than the childhood kids are experiencing today. Many of the arguments against social media is that it makes kids less social and children do not go outside as much. Even with social media, I see children outside all the time in my neighbourhood. The idea that social media is making children less social is also something that I cannot get 100% on board with. As Shaleen mentioned, children are playing video games together online and also inviting friends over to play the video games together. I think that having social media allows children to be social in a much different way from when my parents were growing up. Instead of having to walk to a friend’s house to hang out or bike past their house to see if they are home, children can now send text messages to stay connected with their friends.

Post-Debate Vote

At the end of the debate, I was still leaning towards the disagree side of the debate. The whole class voted after the debate and it seems that I was on the majority side of the final vote. About 78% of the class disagreed with the statement that social media is ruining childhood and 22% agreed with the statement. A picture of the debate results are below.

EDTC 400 Debate 6 post-debate vote

Final THoughts

Even though I do not think social media is ruining childhood, I think that it has the potential to if it is not used properly. There are a lot of dangers that can be associated with children using social media as listed in Melissa Riddle Chalos’ article. Things such as cyberbullying, mental health concerns, and lack of sleep are just a few reasons why social media can be dangerous for young people to use. Even though there are many potential drawbacks of using social media, there are a lot of benefits of allowing children to have access to it as Michael Sheehan explains in his article. Children are able to stay connected, find new hobbies, and be creative online are just a few benefits of social media.

Photo Credit: scootergenius02 Flickr via Compfight cc

The decision of allowing children to have social media is ultimately up to their parents to decide, but even if children have social media they should still be monitored while they are online. Ensuring that children know how to be safe online and what they should and should not post is extremely important when allowing children to use social media. Whatever a child posts on social media can follow them for the rest of their lives. Parents and educators must teach children how to be safe and respectful online. Students must learn that cyberbullying is just as, if not more, dangerous and hurtful than physical and verbal bullying. Students must be taught how to be respectful to everyone online and ensure that they do not participate in cyberbullying. Students must also know that they should reach out to a parent, a friend, or educator to let someone know when they are being cyberbullied. Children should not be left alone to try to navigate social media. Having teacher and parental support online and offline is very important in ensuring the benefits of social media outweigh the negatives.

Thanks for reading my blog post! What do you think is the biggest drawback and benefit of social media? Leave a comment below!

Ashley Osachoff

Cultural Influences on Mathematics

Hello everyone!

This week in ECS 210, we had a guest lecturer, Gale, talk to the class about the influence that culture can have on a person’s understanding of mathematics. Now, I was super excited to attend this lecture because I love math, and yes it is my major. I really liked Gale’s lecture because she talked about mathematics in a way that I have not heard before.

Gale went into depth on discussing that people are inheritably mathematical beings. She described two scenarios that showcased children that were not yet in school; in the first case the children were under the age of 2 and in the second case, the children were about 5 years old. In both scenarios, the children were able to comprehend mathematical concepts that are taught to students when they are in elementary school.

Gale also discussed the importance of context in mathematical concepts and the importance of culture on mathematics. One of big topics that she discussed was the importance that language and culture can have on student’s ability to comprehend and understand mathematical concepts. The one example that Gale shared with the class that stuck out to me the most was the example of the Inuit students learning mathematics in traditional Inuit language and then having to take the mathematics test in English. Many of the students did not do well when they were asked to take the test in English, but when the test was taken in the traditional language, students exceeded the average score of non-Inuit students. From thsis example and from reading the articles that were assigned to the class this week, I have learnt a lot about the influence that culture can have on a student’s understanding of mathematics.

This week in ECS 210, we were asked to do two quick readings. The first reading that the class was tasked with reading is by Leroy Little Bear, Jagged Worldviews Colliding. After reading this article, I was tasked with thinking back to my own experiences of being taught and learning mathematics. I was asked to identify if there were aspects of learning mathematics that was oppressive or discriminative to myself or other students.

Mathematics always came easily to me when I was in elementary and high school. All of the math concepts just seemed to click with me in my head. I cannot think of a time that when I was learning mathematics that I felt some aspects were oppressive or discriminative to me. I know that when I was learning mathematics, there was some aspects that I did not like. I remember a time when I was in elementary school, some of the class would learn math with the regular classroom teacher, while a good handful of the class would learn math with the learning resource teacher. I was always frustrated that I did not get this special attention and I was mad that those students were able to learn the ‘easier’ math. Thinking back on this situation now, I can see how this really could have made those students that were pulled out of the classroom feel ostracized and singled out for ‘not being good at math’. Many of these students that were pulled out to do the ‘easier’ mathematics were not the highest achieving students, but I think not pushing the students to learn the same mathematics as the rest of the grade, and instead getting the simplified computational mathematics, was a disservice to them.

In my EMTH 200 class, we have been discussing the importance of teaching student mathematics through problem solving. In EMTH 200, we have also discussed the importance of students having a deep understanding of the mathematical concepts is crucial in mathematics. When students have a deep understanding of a mathematical concept, they actually understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of a procedure. When students do not have a deep understanding of a concept or rule, they are simply not plugging in numbers to a formula they do not actually understand how to use; they just know that this is the way that the teacher taught them and they must follow it. Giving students formulas and rules to follow in mathematics is important, but students must understand why, when and how they should use the formula. Simply teaching students how to put numbers into a formula is not really teaching students mathematics, it is instead teaching them memorization and how to pass the test.

After reading the Leory Little Bear’s article, I read Louise Poirier’s article titled Teaching mathematics and the Inuit community. This article focused on ­­how teaching Inuit students mathematics at the Kativik school. After reading this article we were asked to identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes mathematics and the way we learn it.

While reading this article, I found many ways that Inuit mathematics is different from Western mathematics. First, Inuit mathematics is in base 20, while Eurocentric mathematics is in base 10. The Inuit use base 20 due to having ten fingers and ten toes. Second, I noticed that the Inuit mathematics requires context. The term line in mathematics is translated to English as the “adopted line”. This translation made me turn my head a bit at first, but after Poirier’s explanation about the situation that in the Inuit environment, there are not a lot of straight lines. In Eurocentric mathematics, a ‘line’ is automatically thought of as a straight line, while in Inuit mathematics a ‘line’ is not automatically thought of as straight. The third thing that I noticed from reading this article is that Inuit calendars are very different from Eurocentric calendars. Eurocentric calendars are solely based upon the twelve months, each with specific numbers of days. In contrast, the Inuit calendar also have twelve ‘months’ but each month is based upon how long it takes a natural event to take place, not a set number of days. This can be problematic when trying to teach students calendars in a Eurocentric sense because it is completely different from the Inuit calendars.

Overall, these articles and the lecture by Gale gave me more insight on how culture can effect a student’s understanding of mathematics. Teachers must consider the cultural influences that students may experience.

What are your thoughts on how culture can effect mathematics? Leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading my blog post!

Ashley Osachoff

Is Technology Equitable – EDTC 400 Debate 5

Hello everyone!

Due to an unexpected family situation, I was unable to attend EDTC 400 last week. Thankfully, I did not miss out on the fifth debate since Katia records all the classes and posts them to the Slack community board. The fifth debate topic was “Technology is a force for equity in society” and the two debaters for this week were Kaytlyn and Ryan.


Prior to entering into the debate, the class did the pre-vote. The class had to choose if they agreed or disagreed with the statement that “Technology is a force for equity in society”. If I was in class and voting, I would have chosen to agree with this statement because I have witnessed technology being used as a force for equity with students with exceptionalities integrated into mainstream classrooms. I was not on the majority side of this pre-vote; about 60% of the class disagreed with the statement and about 40% of the class agreed with the statement. With this divide, it seemed that Ryan, who was on the agree side of the debate, would have a bit of a difficult time trying to sway the class to the agree side of the debate.

Ryan’s Side of the Debate

To begin the debate, the class listened to Ryan’s video, which is below. Ryan had three main points in his video that argued that technology is a force for equity. They are:

  1. Technology assists students and people with disabilities
  2. Technology enhances education in the World
  3. Technology gives young people a voice

Ryan made a very strong argument that compelled me to agree with his side of the debate. I really agreed with the first statement that Ryan made. He stated that technology can benefit those with disabilities and used Stephan Hawking (who used his eyes to use technology that would enable him to communicate through spoken words) as an example of how technology can create equity for students that have exceptionalities. I work with students with exceptionalities and I have seen first-hand the benefits that technology can have with students with disabilities. Students with exceptionalities can use technology, such as applications on tablets to communicate or complete assignments.

Kaytlyn’s Side of the Debate

After the class watched Ryan’s video, they watched Kaytlyn’s video, which is below. Kaytlyn had four main topics that she discussed in her video. They are:

  1. The Digital Divide
  2. Access to Technology
  3. Digital Equity
  4. Digital Inclusion

Like Ryan, Kaytlyn made a very compelling argument for her side of the debate. Her side of the debate heavily focused on the issue of students having limited access to technology at home. This limited access to technology can create a gap between student achievement and student participation in homework and assignments. Kaytlyn made a very true statement that not every student will have access to cellphones and other technology in classrooms. It is a teacher’s responsibility to know what technology students have access to both at home and at school. Teachers can then use this information to plan activities and assignments that do not create an even wider gap between students that have technology and those that do not.

The Debate

I think Kaytlyn made some very compelling points in her video and her discussion in the debate as much of the debate was focused on the issues of access and cost of technology. The class focused heavily on the issue that as technology is changing and improving rapidly, the costs of technology are still very high. The class went into depth on the issue that not every family will have the extra money to spend on technology. Students that do not have access to technology at home cannot always continue their learning at home if it requires them to use technology. As Liz mentioned in the debate, not every student has time or the ability to go to the library to complete an assignment on a public computer. The class discussed the issue that some students might have other commitments such as a job that prevents a student from accessing the library.

Throughout the discussion, the class also discussed access to technology as well as the cost of technology. As in many of our other debates, the issue of technology in rural communities came up. Rural communities often do not have great internet access and not every student living in rural communities will have reliable high speed internet. With limited access to reliable internet and technology, students living in rural areas are put at a disadvantage when it comes to using technology in the classroom.

As the debate went on, I was beginning to see the lines of equity and equality begin to be blurred. Tiana mentioned the image that I have in my head when I am thinking about the difference between equality and equity. The image is likely an image many people have already seen. There are three boys standing behind a fence and they are all trying to see the game. One boy is short, the middle boy is medium height and the final boy is tall. The tall boy can see over the fence, but the other two cannot. Equality is described as giving all three boys a box to stand on. With these boxes, the tallest boy and the middle boy can see over the fence, but the shortest boy cannot. In this case, everyone got the same thing, but one person got something they did not need and one person did not get enough. Equity is different from equality. Equity is giving each person the tools that they need to meet the expectations. In the case of the fence scenario, the shortest boy is given two boxes, the middle boy is given one and the tallest boy is given no boxes. In the equity situation, all three boys got something different, but all three boys are now able to see over the fence.

Photo Credit: House Buy Fast Flickr via Compfight cc

My thoughts on Debate TOpic

With this image in mind, I had a lot of thoughts after watching the debate. When I first began the debate, I really thought that technology can make things equitable in society, but then towards the end I began to think that technology is NOT a force for equity in society.

Prior to watching this debate, I did not really think about Kaytlyn’s side of the debate. I had only thought about the pros of technology in society and how much it benefits the students that I work with. I did not think about the issues of access to technology and the cost of technology being forces that make technology inequitable in society. I will admit this was fairly ignorant of me. I grew up with a lot of blessings. I had access to updated technology throughout my childhood and years going to school. I never had to go to the library to work on an assignment on a computer because I had access to a computer at home. I did not think deeply about the influence that access to technology had on students’ abilities to complete assignments or fully participate at the same level as their peers in an activity that uses technology.

Photo Credit: Tuesday Digital Flickr via Compfight cc

Access to technology is a huge barrier to an equitable society, because as mentioned in Annie Kelly’s article, technology is a huge influence on today’s society and students must have technology knowledge in order to enter the work field in today’s society. Not every student will have access to technology at home. Teachers are putting the students that do not have access to technology at home at a disadvantage when they are requiring students to complete assignments online at home. As mentioned in Justin Reich’s video, technology innovation will benefit affluent (high income) students more than students that come from low income families. Technology innovation creates a larger gap between students that come from affluent and low income families.

Now even though technology can be expensive and not every student will have access to technology at home, schools in the United States are not allowing lack of internet access at home become a barrier to student learning. As described in Chris Bedrick’s article, schools are starting to create towers that distribute internet to school issued computers in student’s homes.  Another point that this article made was that families are allowed to check out wifi routers with limited data plans from the library during the school year to ensure that the students that are going to school will have internet access at home.

Not every student has access to wifi at home

Photo Credit: m.gifford Flickr via Compfight cc

Now, there are many barriers that technology creates for creating an equitable society. As mentioned in the Dell article that Ryan asked us to read, technology and access to technology can open the doors for students around the world to new opportunities. Technology can be very equitable because regardless of a where a person lives, with the internet, a person will have access to the same information as everyone else. Technology enables many students to learn new skills, such as coding, that will open the door for job opportunities in the future. Giving to students that do not come from affluent neighbourhoods can be very equitable, because they not have access to the same resources and tools that students from affluent neighbourhoods already have.

Along with technology being a great resource that can open the doors for students, it also can be equitable for students with exceptionalities. I witness in my ECS 100 placement the powerful effect that technology can have on equity between students with and without exceptionalities. I viewed a student that did not have the ability to write out their own complex sentences actually create sentences using the Google extension Google Read and Write to create complete their work that matched the level of their peers. In this sense, I have seen technology as a force for equity.


Overall, this debate pulled me from side to side and I do not think that I have come to a conclusion that I agree one hundred percent with either side. I am stuck in the middle with this debate. On one hand, I have seen and think that technology can offer so many options for students that have exceptionalities or that do not come from affluent neighbourhoods. On the other hand, the issues of the cost and limited access to technology can be extremely inequitable. How can teachers expect students to benefit from technology and the resources it provides when students do not have access to technology at home? In conclusion, I think that creating more access to updated technology will make technology an equitable force in society. I think that technology is an equitable force in society, but the access to technology is not equitable. Improving access to technology will create a more equitable society that benefits from the tools that technology gives people.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading my blog post!

Ashley Osachoff

Cellphones in the Classroom?

Hello everyone!

So unfortunately due to some unforeseen family circumstances, this blog post is a little late. This blog post is about the EDTC 400 debate that took place two Tuesdays ago about using cellphones in the classroom. Now, this topic is heavily debated in schools as it is since cellphones are extremely integrated into the lives of adults and students.

Since this topic is so heavily debated, there were three positions we could choose from; cell phones should always be banned, cellphones should never be banned, and cellphones should be banned in elementary school and allowed in high school. Due to having three options to choose from for this debate, we had three debaters; Kendall, Cody and Tiana. Kendall was on the side that cellphones should always be banned in classrooms. Cody was on the side that cellphones should never be banned in classrooms. Tiana was in the middle of Cody and Kendall and was on the side that cellphones should be banned in elementary classrooms, but should be allowed in high school classrooms.

Pre-Debate Vote

Before we began the debate, as we usually do, we started with the beginning poll. The image of the pre-debate poll is below. At the beginning almost everyone was either on the side that cellphones should never be banned in classrooms or that cellphones should be only allowed in high school classrooms. There was only a vote of two for Kendall’s side that cell phones should be banned in classroom’s everywhere.

Beginning the Debate

Kendall stated the debate off with her introductory video, which you can watch below if you would like. Kendall had four main points to back up her side of the debate. Kendall stated that cellphones were:

  1. Distracting
  2. Disrespectful
  3. Disruptive
  4. Dangerous

Kendall made some very good points in her video and the articles that she asked us to read really backed up her points. One of the statements that really stuck out to me at the beginning of her video was “that on average, students check their cellphones 11 times per day, which equates to 20% of class time”. I found it crazy that this much class time can be lost through cellphone usage.

After Kendall’s video, the class watched Cody’s video, which is also below. Cody’s stance is a stark contrast from Kendall’s stance. Cody is on the side that cellphones should always be allowed in the classroom. Cody had three main points:

  1. Cellphones are huge parts of society and should not be forgotten in schools
  2. They are useful tools that are instantly available
  3. There are inquiry benefits that cellphones offer.

These three major points really supported Cody’s stance that cellphones should be allowed in schools and should not be banned. Along with the video, Cody gave the class a few short readings that also backed up his stance that cellphones should never be banned. One of the biggest points that stood out to me from Cody’s argument and from reading the article “A Blanket Ban on Cellphones Would Not Be Smart” was that cellphones allow students easy internet access that enables students to easily find information, collaborate with peers online and communicate with the teacher.

After Cody’s video, the class watched the third and final video made by Tiana. Tiana was in the middle of Cody and Kendall. Her side to the debate was that cellphones should only be allowed in high schools and should be banned in elementary schools. Tiana made a video explaining both sides of her stance, which is below. On one hand, Tiana had three reasons for why cellphones should be banned in elementary school. They are:

  1. Physical health risks
  2. Mental health risks
  3. Cyberbullying

On the other hand, Tiana had three reasons why cellphones should be allowed in high schools. The three reasons are:

  1. They prepare students for adulthood
  2. Bans would be difficult to regulate
  3. They provide diverse learning strategies and opportunities.

Tiana’s video was very compelling to me and I agreed with a lot of her statements. I think there is a time and place for cellphone usage in classrooms and I am not sure that I think elementary schools should be having cellphones. I also really enjoyed reading the article “Adventures with Cell Phones” that Tiana asked the class to read. I did not think cellphones could actually be integrated into a classroom up until I read the example at the beginning of the article with students texting in their responses to the teacher.

The Debate      

I won’t get into much of the details of the debate because I know many of the people reading this blog are my fellow EDTC 400 classmates, but I will give a quick recap of some of the things that I remember and that really stood out to me.

At the beginning of the actual debate, I brought up a comment that my brother made after watching some of the beginning of the EDTC 400 debate. I know some of the people in the debate mentioned using cellphone parking garages as a way to manage student cell phone usage. My younger brother is currently in high school and some of his teachers use cellphone parking garages as a way to ensure that students are not on their phone in class. My brother stated that even though they have the parking garages, most students do not use them and still go on their cellphones in class. This sparked a bit of a debate with the class about other effective ways to manage student cellphone usage. Tiana and Cody have more classroom experience with students than I do and they mentioned that they did not always call out a student that was on their phone if they were not distracting other students.

In the debate, the class also discussed the issue of having differing cellphone policies throughout schools. Many of the students in EDTC 400, including myself, had a cellphone at some point in their high school career and they remembered the frustration of having different rules with different teachers. As a class, we discussed this issue of having different cellphone rules in classrooms causes confusion for students and can lead to conversations such as “well Mr. or Mrs. So and So lets us have cellphones in class, why don’t you?”, etc. As a group we stressed the importance of having a school wide policy that is consistent so these conversations do not happen.

One other topic that really stood out to me during the debate was a topic that has come up many times in other debates. Not every student will have access to technology. Kiera brought up this comment. She stated that she did not have a cellphone in elementary school and if the teacher would have asked the class to pull out their cellphones to do something, she would be out of luck or left out. Not every student will have access to technology at a young age, or in high school, due to various reasons. Teachers must be mindful of what technology their students have and determine if asking students to use their cellphones in the classroom would leave some students out.

Post-Debate Vote

After having a really good debate on a very controversial topic, the class participated in the final vote. In the end the votes changed slightly. More people voted for having cellphones only being allowed in high school and being banned all together. A picture of the vote is below.

My Thoughts

Going into the debate, I thought that cellphones should only be allowed in high schools. After the debate, my position stayed the same, but I left the debate with a lot more knowledge about cellphone usage in classrooms. Prior to this debate, I have only had the conversation about cellphones in the classroom with my friends and family. I think it was extremely interesting to have this debate with other educators, especially those with experience teaching in the classroom, rather than just being students.

I think that there is a time and place for cellphones. I, like probably many other people, find my cellphone extremely distracting. I know when my phone buzzes that I want to check it right away, regardless of what I am doing. I think it is difficult for me to ask my students to not be distracted by their cellphones, if I am distracted easily by mine. As discussed in many articles, including “Should schools welcome cell phones in class?”, “Cell Phones In The Classroom: Learning Tool or Distraction”, and “The Disadvantages of Mobile Phones in Schools”, cellphones can be extremely distracting and can take up a lot of a student’s attention; attention that should be spent on school related topics.

Even though cellphones can be extremely distracting, they also have many benefits. As discussed in “Cell Phones In The Classroom: Learning Tool or Distraction”, cellphones offer the option of having educational apps, easy access to information and access to digital information. Cellphones can be great tools for students in schools with limited laptop and computer access. Many students, especially those in high school, have a cellphone that they can easily pull out to search needed information faster than opening up a laptop and researching it on the computer. Cellphones also offer completely new ways for students to present information to teachers as described in the article “Adventures with Cell Phones”.

I think there are many pros and cons of having cellphones in classrooms, as discussed in the debate. I do not think it is fair to students to have cellphones stay in their back pack forever. I think elementary students are still too young to have cellphones in the classroom and I do not think cellphones should be regularly incorporated into elementary classrooms. I think laptops and using computers is a better technology for elementary students to use. I think allowing high school students to use cellphones in the classroom for educational purposes is a good use of class time. Most high school students have a cellphone on them and using them for quick internet searches is a much better use of class time, rather than finding the laptop carts and using laptops (which would take probably double the class time to find the same information).

I do not think there should be a free for all with cellphones in classrooms. I like the idea of having a cellphone parking garage. It is a great way to ensure students leave their phones away from them during class time, while still letting students be confident their cellphone is safe. Having parking garages also ensures that students can quickly come up and use their phone when they need to find information or if they want to listen to music during class time.

Allowing cellphones into the classroom is and will continue to be a highly debated topic. I think cellphones offer many benefits for high school students, including quick access to information, music capabilities, and collaboration opportunities. I do not think cellphones should be consistently integrated into elementary classrooms and teachers should use laptops or computers instead for technology purposes. Cellphones in the classroom were around when I was in school and they will continue to be in classrooms when I am teaching. Following the school guidelines and ensuring that my students are not distracted by their cellphones during valuable instructional time is an important step that I must take as a teacher.

Thanks for reading my blog post! (I apologize for the length) What are your thoughts on cellphones in the classroom? Leave a comment below.

Ashley Osachoff

Citizenship in Schools? everyone!

This week in ECS 210, we were asked to do a quick reading and watch a quick video about citizenship and citizenship in schools.

In the  article by Joel Westheimer and Joseph Kahne, it discusses three different types of citizens. The three types of citizens are:

  1. The Personally Responsible Citizen – “one who acts responsibly in his/her community” (p.3)
  2. The Participatory Citizen – “those who actively participate in the civic affairs and the social life of the community at local, state and national levels.” (p.4)
  3. The Justice Oriented Citizen – “analyze and understand the interplay of social, economic, and political forces.” (p. 4)

Many people think that schools only teach students about the core curriculum subjects. Schools teach more than the core curriculum. Schools teach students about social norms, about following rules, and about how to be citizens in society. Things such as Food Bank drives, volunteer service and many other community involvement activities all teach students how to be good citizens in society.

When I was in school, I was taught a lot about citizenship, even when I did not know that I was. Most of the time I was taught how to be a Personally Responsible citizen.  I was taught how to pay my taxes in Personal Finance class. Throughout high school, I was taught how to help those in need where I was as big participant in the Food Bank drive. I really pushed myself to give as much food as I possibly could to the Food Bank because I knew I had many blessings that others did not.

When I was in high school, we were required to do volunteer service for a class called Christian Ethics. For four years, I did volunteer service at the Regina Food Bank. Most of the time I helped out sorting the food that was donated on the Annual Food Drive. The Food Bank drive was always important in my high school and I felt that I needed to participate and volunteer as much as I could.

My high school also encouraged students to become Participatory Citizens. The school had an SRC which students in grades 10-12 organized school events such as assemblies, dances, and many other school activities.

My high school encouraged and taught students how to be both Personally-Responsible and Participatory citizens. This approach encouraged all of the students to have desirable qualities, such as being compassionate, honest, and caring. This approach to allow students to learn how to become not only good citizens, but also good leaders and community members.

Unfortunately, as we discussed in the lecture today, this approach does not always allow students, or people that are living in poverty, or who need assistance to be ‘good’ citizens. A personally-responsible citizen is someone who fulfills their civic responsibilities (which can include paying taxes, voting, and helping those in need). If students are those that are in need, it is difficult for them to helps others that are in need. Students that are in need themselves are also able to help others in need, but it might be in different ways from donating things to the Food Bank or giving away clothing to the Salvation Army. Students that are also in need can be compassionate and help others in need in ways of being a good friend or neighbour. Students must be told that they can be a good citizen by listening to their friends when they are in need or by assisting others when they are struggling with homework or assignments.

This approach to teaching students how to be citizens that I experienced in high school did not encourage Justice-Oriented citizenship. Justice-Oriented citizens are needed in society, because they are the ones that question the social justice issues in society. It is important to teach students that it is okay to question the issues in society and want to make changes. As teachers, it is important to teach students and encourage students to be all the types of citizens. Every one of the three types of citizens are required in society. Society needs people to fulfill their civic responsibilities, play active roles in the community, and those to question the cause of social problems. It is important that schools encourage students to be the type of citizen that they fit in.

Citizenship is something that schools will teach students along with the core curriculum that teachers are required to teach. Schools teach students much more than just the core subjects. It is a teacher’s responsibility to encourage students to learn about and feel comfortable being any type of citizen. Citizenship is a crucial aspect of society and it is something that students will learn about in school, explicitly or implicitly.

Thanks for reading my blog post!

Ashley Osachoff

Treaty Education

Hello everyone!

This week in ECS 210, we did not have class. Instead, we were asked to watch a few videos and read a short article about Treaty Education. For this blog post, we were asked to discuss how to incorporate Treaty Education in a school that does not see the purpose of teaching Treaty Education if there are no First Nations students.

Treaty Education is something that teachers are required to teach, just like every other subject in school, such as math, social studies and science. Even though Treaty Education must be taught in schools, it is often overlooked and not taught. Many people still believe that Treaty Education should be only taught to Indigenous students, but in fact, it is just as important (if not more) that non-Indigenous students are taught Treaty Education as well. Many Indigenous students already have knowledge about Treaty Education and about the Indigenous culture and history in Canada. Many non-Indigenous students do not know about the history of Treaties and the history of the relationships that non-Indigenous settlers had with Indigenous people in Canada.

As Claire states in her introductory video, Treaty Education is mandatory and teachers must teach the Treaty Education curriculum that has been laid out by the government of Saskatchewan. As discussed in Claire’s interview, Treaty Education is not a fad, it is not the flavour of the month. Treaty Education is here to stay and teachers must ensure that they are teaching the Treaty Education curriculum to their students of all grade levels and in all subjects.

As a future educator, I know there is a lot of curriculum to cover throughout the year of teaching, but just like every other subject, Treaty Education is mandatory and must be taught to students. Up until taking Education courses at the University of Regina, I did not know that Treaty Education was mandatory in every grade level and in every subject. I have a hard time thinking about where Treaty Education was in my classes growing up. It was likely in some of the classes, but I really only learnt about Treaties and Indigenous knowledge in Social Studies classes.

As an educator, it is my job and my responsibility to teach Treaty Education. Since I do not have a lot of memory of Treaty Education in my own elementary and high school education, I know it can be daunting to try to teach Treaty Education for the first time. As a future educator, my first place to look for resources and information about Treaty Education is the actual Treaty Education curriculum. After looking at the curriculum, it is always good to look at other teacher’s resources to gain ideas for how to plan lessons that incorporate Treaty Education into the classroom. Treaty Education should not be something that is forcefully stuck into a lesson or once throughout the school year. Treaty Education must be incorporated with other subjects and become part of the daily learning, not something that is just stuck in here and there. As a pre-service teacher, I can also take a Treaty Education course at the University of Regina to gain more knowledge about how to teach Treaty Education.

Living and teaching on Treaty 4 land and coming from a family of settler’s means that I am a Treaty person. Every person living on Treaty land is a Treaty Person. By acknowledging that treaties are part of everyone’s story, we are acknowledging the past and the knowledge that we can learn from one another, as explained in Cynthia Chambers’ article. As people, we must fight back against colonialism, which Dwayne describes in his video as “an extended process of denying relationship”.

Treaty Education is not a fad and it is not something that can be skipped over. As educators it is our job and responsibility to teach ALL students treaty education, regardless of their race.

Thanks for reading my blog post! If you have any thoughts on it leave a comment below!

Ashley Osachoff