Should Teachers Give Homework?

Throughout my schooling experience, homework has been a significant part of my school-day routine. In no way did I feel over burdened with the stress of homework, but, in all fairness, I usually enjoyed doing it!

In the present generation it seems that the assigning of homework to students on a daily or bi-daily basis is a controversial issue for many educators and parents. I came across an article titled “Is Homework Good or Bad For Your Kids?” and I read that “The Halton District School Board in Ontario, Canada cites homework as “an aid in developing life-long learning skills such as self-discipline, task commitment, time management, responsibility, independence, initiative, and problem solving.” I think that this idea is true to an extent, but I truly believe that educators should allocate enough time at school for children to do their schoolwork. In this day and age, it is a reality of many children to be a part of  extracurricular activities outside of school and I feel that children do not always have time to spend doing countless hours of homework. I think that in providing enough time in class to work on assignments and activities, students will learn to prioritize their schedules, and evidently “problem solve, have self-discipline and commit to tasks”. Unless it is requested by the parent or a key influence in the learning of a child, homework should only be assigned if the child did not finish it in class. There are some exceptions, such as reading and writing at home, or learning to cook with a parent for example, but from my experiences I found that the time spent in class working on assignments and activities relevent to that childs learning allowed children to prioritize and take charge of their own learning. Another quote I stumbled upon in the article stated:

“…in more recent years, schools and parents are challenging the idea of homework, placing significant emphasis on differentiated homework and acknowledging the role of family time and experience in a child’s overall educational development and attitude toward school.”

All teachers will use their professional judgements on whether or not they feel that homework is important in their own classrooms, but for me I feel that homework should not be provided in the form of “busy work”. Rather, homework should be focused on the overall enrichment of a childs learning – including their home life. This article raised a number of valid arguments. If you are interested in other educational topics, the People For Education website has a number of articles to read!

Do you think teachers should give homework? What are your thoughts?

iPads: Changing the Way Children Learn

The iPad is a fascinating piece of technology that seems to be taking the world by storm! Originally the idea of an iPad was not very appealing to me, as I envisioned it as a big version of the iPod. Over the course of this semester however, I have been exposed to the numerous benefits of the iPad in communicating, teaching and learning. I was browsing the Education page on Pinterest, and I came across an article titled “iPads Changing The Way Children Learn Today”. In this article, it was discovered that the use of technology at a very young age can affect the development of children’s cognitive function. It was stated in the article that the iPad creates “amazing opportunity to entertain and teach kids in a new and interactive way.” Below is a piece of the article that I found to be relevant to children, teachers and parents!

“… creating dependence from an early age will no doubt alter a child’s methods of processing information. Giving them the ability to experience the world from their laps is an amazing opportunity and freedom, but if misused we may see a generation conditioned for a decreased desire for human interaction and inability to dive deep into complex issues or focus, symptoms of which teachers are already seeing in classrooms around the world. The iPad must be a complimentary tool that will enrich a child’s educational experiences, not a substitute, and parents need to be responsible for what their kids are doing with technology.”

                                                          – Gideon Hayden

I feel that iPad’s are a phenomenal piece of technology that allow children to explore the world around them in a much more advanced way. Technology in the classroom for individuals with exceptionalities is a significant resource. In my Educational Psychology course, “Children with Special Needs”, we were given an assignment to become experts on particular exceptionalities. The exceptionality that I researched was Cerebral Palsy. Some people with CP are nonverbal, and I learned that different forms of augmentative communication allows these individuals to use words and phrases to communicate with the world around them. The iPad for  individuals who are nonverbal is a significant communication tool, as it has an app that says words and phrases at the touch of a button. Along with many other apps, the iPad gives endless opportunities for all children to engage in learning experiences. If I had a choice, I would definitely use the iPad as an educational resource in my classroom!

Below is an image that I found to be quite humorous:

Hopefully someday soon I can have my own iPad! :)

What are your thoughts about children using iPad’s in the classroom? At home? What opportunities does if open up for children in education today?

Craft Ideas to Help Create a Safe and Welcoming Classroom Environment!

I have been thinking a lot about how I am going to create a welcoming and inclusive classroom that children can feel safe, wanted, and accepted in. I believe that visual art is a fabulous way for children to represent themselves! Below are three pictures of art projects that I believe would promote a positive and inclusive classroom environment.

If you have any other cool art projects please send them my way! I am always looking for more ideas! :)

Experiential Learning: Invitations to Learn

For my Experiential Learning course, three classmates and I created a workshop to teach our peers about invitations to learn. Invitations to learn allow for children to direct their own learning using tools that are strategically placed in an “invitation” area. An example may be a painting invitation, with paints, a paint brush, paper, and other materials placed in a manner that invites the child in.

Through my experiences as a student-teacher, I have come to realize the importance of allowing children to explore, inquire, and guide their own learning experiences. Setting up invitations to learn in the classroom means having materials set out for students to explore on their own. Sometimes it is difficult for teacher’s to give up their “direct” teaching methods; however, experiential learning is known to benefit a multitude of students as it fosters inclusion, diversity and individuality in the classroom environment.

To begin our presentation we created a video to show what we believe a classroom should not look like. Then we created two different invitations to learn through the use of literature. One invitation was based on the Stella book series by Marie-Louise Gay and the other was based on the book “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick” by Chris Van Allsburg. Literature is a significant source of inspiration for children to engage in invitations, but also an idea generator for teachers thinking about how they can create invitations! After allowing our classmates to engage in the invitations, we provided different picture books for them to look at, and asked what kinds of invitations they would create using the books that they had! The workshop turned out very well, and I am so glad to have learned about the implementation of invitations to learn in classrooms.

If you are interested, please have a look at the introductory video that my classmates and I created for the workshop, and provide any feedback that you have about what you saw. I would love to hear from you. Thanks!

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING ROCKS! :)

Below is a list of fabulous resources for teachers who are interested in setting up invitations to learn in the elementary classroom!

Childhood 101  (BLOG)

Creating Invitations for Learning (SK Ministry of Education Brochure)

Snails and Puppy Dog Tails (BLOG)

Technology: Bringing the World Together!

I recently watched the YouTube video, KONY 2012. As I watched this video, I considered how technology can allow the world to come together for world peace. I have heard about children in Africa who have been forced to become child soldiers, but in actually witnessing this video and hearing the first-hand account of a young Ugandan boy, I was able to develop a deeper empathy for children who are exposed to war in Africa. To hear about something, and to actually be a part of the fight for justice, are two very different things. The creator of this video is clearly very passionate and driven, and through the use of technology, he was able to express his message and bring the world awareness about Joseph Kony. This video has truly empowered me! If you have time, please watch it below. The video is 30 minutes, but I assure you, it is worth the time!