For this blog post, I worked with the wonderful Megan Gurski (check out her blog and Twitter if you haven’t already!). We decided to create a couple of case studies, that address some of the problems with technologies in the classroom. We created case studies for each other, and then provided hypothetical responses to the situations at hand. Click here to check out my scenario with Megan’s response, and keep reading for my response to Megan’s scenario!
What Would You Do?
Lisa Scenario From Megan: Sam is a 9th grade student who is just above the failing line, half way through the semester. All of his classes except his Robotics class (which he has an 80%) he is either missing a bunch of assignments, or has unexcused absences for quiz days, and has not made time to make them up. Sam does not show any ambition when it comes to his classes and is having a hard time transitioning to high school. His teacher has sent home notices about his missing assignments/quizzes (not to be brought back) and has emailed the parents multiple times regarding the situation but has heard no response. The teacher is starting to become concerned that Sam will not be able to bring his marks up for the remainder of the term. The teacher decided to ask the office for the home phone number and called the parents to conference about the concerns. The parents were unaware that their son was near failing, when they asked, he was doing great! He would go home and show them his assignments/tests from his Robotics class so they thought he was doing well. As for the email, they updated their email address and had the wrong one in the school system, so they never received any of the teacher’s concerns, even though they were in the wrong by not having up-to-date information, the parents were furious to learn that their son was near failing halfway through the semester.
As ‘different roles’ within the school how would you react to this situation? What would you do differently, would you do anything the same? Do you think there is an underlying issue with Sam and school, how could you find this out? What technologies would best help this situation, or none at all?
Teacher: As a teacher in this situation there are a number of issues to be addressed. Two of these issues are that of accountability and communication — between Sam, his parents, and the teacher(s). Through honest and open communication, teachers and parents are able to foster student accountability, but chances are, there are more than one other set of parents who are not receiving emails/notices, and because their child is not failing or causing too much of a disturbance, it goes unnoticed. By introducing the Remind App within the class, to all students and all parents, the lack of communication or miscommunication is addressed. Remind provides the teacher with an appropriate platform to communicate with students and parents through text, email, or computer. Through the app, the teacher can create classes or groups, send attachments, notices, voice clips, or short friendly reminders about class related content/assignments/expectations etc., improving parent-teacher-student communications, and encouraging students to be more accountable for the efforts and contributions in class.
Another issue is in relation to Sam, his grades, and his lack of interest in most of his classes. As Sam’s teacher, it would be important to try and uncover the reasoning behind Sam’s lack of ambition — is it because he doesn’t like what/how something is being taught? Or is there an underlying accessibility need that is not being met? Another important consideration, is learning about what it is about Robotics that Sam is so interested in. As Sam’s teacher, if I am able to break down and understand his interests and motivations, I will be able to show Sam how the theories, designs, and systems in Robotics can be applied to his other courses, including math (geometry and algebra), physics, computer science (programming), mechanical and electrical engineering and even psychology! And further, how to apply these skills and knowledge to real world problems and situations. If Sam can learn how to approach his other courses through the lens of Robotics, he might feel more inclined to engage with his assignments, and successfully complete his courses.
Parent: As one of Sam’s parents in this situation, it would be important for everyone to be on the same page with each other in regard to communication. If my child were nearly failing his classes, and I was completely unaware, I would hope the teachers or admin would be communicating this as it were happening, especially if it was for more than one class/assignment. Yes, it may be the parents’ responsibility to update contact information, but there are a million other ways to communicate with parents about their children, that do not involve email. If the teacher has suggestions on what kinds of technologies they want to use to improve communication between parents, students, and teachers, that expectation needs to be made known as early as possible.
Also, as a parent of a grade 9 student, accountability is extremely important. If Sam is showing me Robotics assignments and tests every other day, maybe I should ask about his other classes. If I am THAT inattentive as to what Sam is showing me that I don’t notice or ask about his other classes for half a semester, then maybe there ARE some underlying issues that need to be addressed, and maybe that might explain Sam’s lack of ambition.
Reflection: Upon completion of this blog post, and interaction with Megan, there are a couple of things I’d like to conclude with. First, I thought it was kind of funny that I created a scenario for Megan that was about French — which is what she is learning for her #EDTC300 Learning Project, and she created a scenario for me about Robotics, which is strongly related to coding, which is what I’m learning about in my #EDTC300 Learning Project. I think because of that, we were able to connect with our scenarios in a more authentic way, because the content of them were more relevant to what we’ve been working on in other areas of our learning. And second, and lastly, I wanted to reflect a little bit on the process with this assigned prompt. I think Megan and I took this post in a little bit of a different direction than some of our other classmates, but I really liked where it ended up. By creating scenarios for each other, we were able to reflect/react upon the given scenarios with a more objective viewpoint. I think something like this would be very beneficial to use in a classroom setting because it allows us (as students) to approach problem scenarios from different perspectives, and then can more easily be transferred to real-life situations.