New trends and technology in Canadian schoolrooms
Published Wednesday, August 29, 2012 11:01AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 29, 2012 11:12AM EDT
As technology keeps changing, Canadian schools are also adapting to use new teaching tools in the classroom. That process has given way to 21st century learning, a new catch phrase among parents and teachers.
“It’s all about using great technology. But it’s also about engaging kids and finding new ways to share lessons with children,’” Jennifer Reynolds, the editor-in-chief of Canadian Family magazine, told CTV’s Canada AM on Wednesday.
From using smartphones to generating ideas quickly in short bursts of time, students and teachers are embracing technology in the classroom. But with these trends come new present issues for parents to consider.
Issue 1: Redshirting
Would you postpone kindergarten if you thought holding your child back might help him get ahead?
Redshirting, as it is called, refers to the practice of delaying the enrolment of children who are born near the yearly cut-off date for school entry. The Canadian numbers are small right now for this practice, but are growing as more parents consider this option and its benefits to their children.
In the United States, many kindergarten classrooms are now populated by six-year-olds. However, when one compares the maturity of a six-year-old with that of a five-year-old, redshirting may present certain challenges for younger students.
Older students in kindergarten do appear to achieve higher test scores – which may continue in later years at school. However, the danger in redshirting is that it may make older children the focus for teachers and not the entire class.
Redshirting may also lead to higher expectations for the entire classroom, according to Reynolds, which may leave younger students at a disadvantage.
“Every child is different,” said Reynolds.
“If you are considering this option, the best thing to do is to talk to your school and see how their teaching program will suit you child,” she said.
Issue 2: Innovation
Imagine a room full of Grade 6 students who are given 20 minutes to come up with 50 solutions to a problem. It may sound like a recipe for chaos, but that is what educators are banking on.
This method of creative thinking and problem solving is the principle behind the Rotman School of Management’s I-Think Initiative.
A handful of high schools have begun incorporating I-Think in lessons. However, the Toronto District School Board will be the first in Canada to introduce this learning method to their young students.
“There are no bad ideas,” said Reynolds.
When student are forced to think quickly, they can come up with a host of ideas that are creative, she explained.
In a more traditional teaching environment, teachers generated the ideas considered in the classroom. It was merely the student’s job to learn.
However, this new I-Think method views a child’s mind as a creative force and not merely as a receptacle of ideas.
Students who have experienced this process like taking ownership of a problem and generating solutions in class, said Reynolds.
Issue 3: Technology
As schools begin to adopt more technological tools, real-time feedback will play a bigger role the classroom, according to Reynolds.
Today, wireless polling systems similar to those used on the game show “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire,” are adding another element to engage high-school aged students.
These wireless polling systems were first used in university settings to encourage student participation rather than passive listening.
Typically, a multiple-choice question is posed to the class on a whiteboard. Students “vote” on the correct answer using their device. When the voting is closed a histogram –a graphical representation showing the distribution of data -- is shown to the class reflecting the students’ answers.
As this tool makes it way into high schools, it may encourage shy students to share their ideas through the click of a button.
This tool can also support students with communication challenges and allow them to participate in a classroom setting.