Is Unplugging From Technology The Answer?

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This week our eighth and final blog topic of the year was a quite fitting way to end our class.  The debate statement for this week was:

We have become too dependent on technology and what we really need it to unplug.

Agree or Disagree?

 

Janelle, Kyle, and Dean were debating on the agree side and debating against them on the disagree side was Tayler, Nicole and Angela.  Both sides did a fantastic job presenting their ideas to the class.  Tayler discussed in her blog post that she was hoping to argue the agree side on this debate because she felt more comfortable with the topic.  She made many great points throughout her blog and the one statement that stood out to me was, “I think I learned more than I ever could by arguing the opposite side of my initial beliefs.”  I think this shows that we need to take the time to look at topics through a new lens to allow us to gain new perspectives.  Personally going into the topic I was leaning towards the disagree side, but I wanted to be fair and listen to both sides to help me make my decision easier.

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national-day-of-unpluggingWhen talking to friends about this topic many of them believed that we need to unplug especially our youth.  The agree side presented many articles that explained why society needs to begin to unplug.   There has been a huge movement that tells everyone how they need to unplug.  When I was reading Kelsie’s blog she mentioned her discovery about National Day of Unplugging and that was a huge surprise to me.   I agree with Kelsie that “It’s an interesting concept: connectiveness has become such a ubiquitous thing that we need a day specifically set aside to justify unplugging.”   In the chat on Tuesday she asked, “What includes “unplugging”? Just devices? Laptops included?”  When I think of this “National Day of Unplugging” I also ask myself the same questions.  What does unplugging look like?  I am allowed to use my stove or microwave to make supper?  Are these types of technology included in unplugging?

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Photo Credit: Meme Generator

What does this mean for our children? 

I took EC&I814 Critical Perspectives on Preschool Education in the winter and was lucky to get into the summer early learning institute where I took EC&I811 Current Issues & Research in Early Childhood Education and EC&I813 Play & Learning.  In a Ted Talk Mary Beth Minton talked about the importance of unstructured play for kids and the need to make sure children unplug. From taking those classes from Patrick Lewis and Karen Wallace taught me about how children need to experience play in all of the different forms.  I know when Damon and I start our family we want to make sure our children go outside to play and have the opportunity to experience different types of play.  During the class we were able to explore and experience play and art while we were learning about the topics in our syllabus.  I felt so calm after each class was over!  I was able to connect and have great conversations with others while we were playing and creating art.  I am not going to say that when Damon and I have children that they will not watch movies or television, but we will not let our children interact with technology for seven hours each day as discussed in the Ted Talk.

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Kyle Ottenbreit discussed in the chat that it “may be easier for us to unplug rather than our children, who have grown up totally plugged in.” I think he raises a very good point because I can remember the days of no cellphones and high speed internet. The children of today and tomorrow have and will have very different childhood experiences than compared to the past generations.  I discussed in my blog, How Is Social Media Impacting Childhood?”,  that we can not compare our childhoods.  In Andres blog post he discussed his experience with talking about our debate topics with his grade 5/6 class.  I was interested in reading the students answers to Andres’ question “What is something you wish you could experience that your grandparents or older generations have told you about when they were your age.” 

Some of the students wished for:

  • “not having technology”
  • “being free to do anything you want, and not being connected to everything and everyone all the time”

The students explained they believe “that that their parents and grandparents had more interesting upbringings than them, and that they wish they could do some of the things their family members did when they were young.”  I would be interested to here the responses from grandparents if you changed the question to: What is something you wish you could experience that your grandchildren and younger generations have told you about growing up in today’s world?  Would grandparents mention that they wished they had technology? I encourage you to check out Andres’ blog to see the pros and cons to technology list that his class made.  His class came up with lots of great ideas!  Thank you Andres for demonstrating the importance to have conversations with our students about the topics they we explored in EC&I830.  I do not know if we need to encourage our students to be apart of long tech free challenge’s, but I so believe that we need to educate our students about the Ribbles 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship.  The two elements that link to this topic very well are:

Photo Credit: Taken from Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools

digtal etiquette

 

*Digital etiquette: electronic standards of conduct or procedure.

Technology users often see this area as one of the most pressing problems when dealing with Digital Citizenship. We recognize inappropriate behavior when we see it, but before people use technology they do not learn digital etiquette (i.e., appropriate conduct).   Many people feel uncomfortable talking to others about their digital etiquette.  Often rules and regulations are created or the technology is simply banned to stop inappropriate use. It is not enough to create rules and policy, we must teach everyone to become responsible digital citizens in this new society.”

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Photo Credit: Taken from Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools

*Digital Health & Wellness:  physical and psychological well-being in a digital technology world.

Eye safety, repetitive stress syndrome, and sound ergonomic practices are issues that need to be addressed in a new technological world.  Beyond the physical issues are those of the psychological issues that are becoming more prevalent such as Internet addiction.  Users need to be taught that there are inherent dangers of technology. Digital Citizenship includes a culture where technology users are taught how to protect themselves through education and training.

 

In this video the gentleman discussed how there are so many iMacs, iPads, and iPhones and our world is filled with many “I’s” and “selfies” and there needs to more of a focus on “us” and “we.”  He stated that Facebook should be an “Anti Social Network.”  Throughout his video he explores technology and social media.  Here are some of the main thoughts from his video:

  • broken friendships
  • big friend lists, but many are friendless
  • measure self worth from likes and followers
  • media causing over simulation
  • wanting to meet with friends talk to talk instead of talking through Skype
  • wanting conversations without abbreviation

The end of the video he talked about how he does not want to ruin special moments with a phone by taking videos, photos, or selfies.  Is technology ruining special moments? This reminded me of a video that I discussed in my “Selfie Sticks! Get Your Selfie Stick” post from EC&I832.  The idea of technology ruining special moments also connects to another video called I Forgot My Phone.

 

Have we become to dependent on technology, especially our cell phones? 

The agree side shared an article with us written by Margie Warrell called Text or Talk: Is Technology Making You Lonely? In the article it discussed how “Social media allows us to control what we share” and “We can pick and choose which photos we share and craftily edit our words to ensure we convey the image we want others to see.”  Are we representing ourselves in a way that truly reflects who we are?  In the article it lists different ways to build a social network away from using technology.

Strategies For Building A Real Social Network:

  1. Unplug
  2. Become a better listener
  3. Engage in your community
  4. Practice Conversation
  5. Find like minds
  6. Reconnect with long lost friends
  7. Invite people over

So does this mean…

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I am not 100% sold on the idea that if I disconnect from technology that I will reconnect with others.  If I was to follow the words on the image above I WOULD NOT reconnect with my family!  I use technology ALL THE TIME TO CONNECT WITH MY FAMILY I call my family on a regular biases and often we use Facetime so we are able to see each other.  I absolutely love this advertisement because it showcases how Facetime has truly helped me feel better about living away from my family.

As I discussed in a previous post:

I am the only person in my family who does not live where I was raised so it is nice to be able to Facetime with my family when I am not able to make it to special events that happen during the week.  My nephew and I have so much fun when we Facetime each other.  He tells me about play school, what they did during the day, and shows me all the new things that he has learned.  I love watching my ten month old niece and her reactions when my sister turns the phone to her so I can say hi.  Her expressions on her face is priceless!

Casey N. Cep wrote an article called “The Pointlessness of Unplugging.”  The parts that stood out to me were when it discussed people’s unplugging announcements:

  • “#digitaldetoxing”
  • “leaving Facebook for a while to be in the world”

She explores how “the Day of Unplugging is such a strange thing” and that “Those who unplug have every intention of plugging back in.” I found the comment about “leaving Facebook for a while to be in the world” very interesting because so many people do not realize that the “online world” and “offline world” are connected to each other.  This relates to what I learned about digital dualism and augmented reality in EC&I832.  I would never go online and state that I am leaving the online world and going on a digital detox. I am grateful for technology especially on a day like today!  My husband works with Saskpower and this weekend with all of the storms he has been very busy trouble shooting different outages so he can get the power turned back on.  I appreciate technology because he can update me if he is going to be home late through a quick text message and let me know he is safe in between jobs.   I can even download different apps onto my phone to help relieve stress and anxiety.  These types of apps can help me reconnect to myself! There are so many positive to technology!

 Photo Credit: Source

Unplug-4

I am very excited to reenergize this summer as my brain feels like I have been running a marathon! Shannon and so many fellow classmates have discussed the importance of balance and moderation.  I believe life is about balance and moderation, but  I also believe that it just takes time find the correct balance for yourself.  My balance and moderation for technology might look different than yours, but that is okay.  Everyone has different needs and personalities so we need to stop judging each other.  I thought Luke included an excellent quote in his post that connects to my thoughts on this topic of unplugging. The quote written by Anne Lamott states “Almost everything will work again if you unplug for a few minutes…Including you!” I believe this quote also connects very well to my philosophy!  I thought Angela stated it best in her post that  “…being connected in a balanced way enhances our realities and gives us opportunities to become our “best selves.”  I could relate to Nicole’s post because I am also ready to take a step back from technology for the summer.  I have enjoyed every class so much as each class has helped shape my teaching practices and philosophy.  I have not taken a break from classes since summer of 2014 so I need to unplug for a few minutes to recharge and get ready to work again for my new grade two class in the fall.  Does that mean that I will not turn on my computer to do planning over the summer?  Or that I will not log into Facebook or Twitter all summer long?  Absolutely not!  One of the ways that I recharge and reenergize is by being connected to my family and friends! 

 

IMG_1367I am looking forward to have more time to spend with my husband and not having to be so connected to technology to get my assignments complete and marking entered.  I want to thank my husband Damon for being so supportive while I was taken classes towards getting my Masters Curriculum and Instruction.  I am so grateful to have him in my life and that he was able to pick up the slack in the areas that I was not able to do as much at home, especially the semesters that I had to drive to Regina!

Also thank you to everyone who I have attended classes with.  I have learned so much from each and every person!  A big thank you to all the amazing professors I have had throughout these last two and a half years.  I am also grateful that I had the opportunity to learn from Alec and Katia for three semesters.  Thank you for designing courses that have given me a deeper understanding of educational technology.  I know my students have and will continue to benefit from everything I learned from those classes.  Finally thank you to everyone who took EC&I830.  I hope everyone has an amazing summer with family and friends!  Good luck to those who are continuing to pursue their degree and congratulations to everyone who has finished their Masters now!!  I look forward to seeing you at convocation in October. I have met so many fantastic educators through out my ten classes and students are so lucky to have those amazing and smart people as there teachers!  I thought this was a fitting by to end my 60th and final post:

 

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Mission…Accomplished!

mission accomplished

Photo Credit: Patti Leigh

Wow!  I can not believe that the end of the semester is here!  I am very excited to say that the summary of learning that I created along with Tyler is complete!  We had a lot of fun using the “Mission” theme for our assignment.  This is the third summary of learning assignment I have completed for Alec and Katia.  For my first summary of learning for EC&I831  I used an story telling app Toontastic to create a video that discussed the beginning of my journey and then I created a Prezi to explain what I learned along the way.  The Prezi ended with a song that I created to wrap up what I learned about in that class.  For EC&I832 I created a video of the book I wrote “Twas The End of The Semester” inspired by the book “Twas The Night Before Christmas.”  Since it was December I also created a short Summary of Learning Jingle to the tune of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.

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magnifying glassFor this assignment Tyler and I had many conversations trying to decide on our direction for this project.  For our debate we used a green screen to record our presentation so we wanted to try something new.  I was wanting to use an app or website that I have not used before and so we turned to… of course Google!  When we looked up fun video presentation websites we saw PowToon was one of the options suggested.  Tyler and I decided to check out this website to see what it had to offer.  You can create your own presentation by scratch and they have some templates that you can use to help get you started for the first few slides.  We saw the template “Mission Impossible” and were inspired to use that template to help us create our vision for our project.  We got busy discussing highlights that we learned about from each debate and began to figure out what order to include our ideas in the script.  It was a lot of fun working with someone on this assignment and it led to many great conversations about the class and all of the different topics that were covered.  I am usually very long winded and sometimes struggle with focusing on key ideas and often want to discuss everything so Tyler was very helpful in that area.  In the video we had to complete “missions” through researching the topics and had to report back to discuss our findings in the different areas.  Tyler and I worked hard at talking about the key things we learned about from each debate and the assigned readings.  I would recommend PowToon! Once Tyler and I discovered that we were able to do voiceover per slide in the program that made it go by a lot easier.  Originally we were trying to take sound from audacity and transfer it onto the program, but that was not working for us. There were some really neat features and I know next year I want to try using PowToon with my students.  I think they would have a lot of fun and it would be great tool for them to use to practice many skills such speaking.  They could practice how to speak clearly with expression when they record their presentation.   There are so many great tools and websites that can be used in the classroom to allow students to showcase their learning.

Photo Credit: Source

summary-of-learning-experiencesI loved the debate format for this semester! So many colleagues from this class are at different points in their degree and in their career.  Each bringing in a wealth of knowledge and experiences.  Also some fellow colleagues were very familiar with educational technology while for others they did not know a lot about digital citizenship and other topics discussed in class.  This class shows the power of asking a question or leading with a debate topic can open the doors for a lot of learning to occur.  I have been lucky to have some background knowledge on the topics through previous classes and each week I learned so much.  I was able to expand on my prior knowledge and the debates allowed me to think critically about technology in many different contexts.  This class was a great way to finish my Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction because it has helped me to continue to shape my pedagogy.  The debate topics have allowed me to think a lot about technology and what I need to be teaching in my classroom to support my school division’s  motto “success for all my students.”  All of the classes that I have taken over the past two and a half years has helped me shape my philology of education and my education beliefs.

I encourage you to check out Kayla and Chaylyn’s summary of learning!  They used PowToon for their project and they even used the same template!  It is neat seeing how different  websites and apps can allow people to put their own creative spin on their project and allow each piece to look awesome in their own unique way.  There are so many talented educators in my class and I encourage you to check out the blog hub to read their reflections and check out the videos that they created to showcase their learning.

Here is our summary of learning!

A quick shout out and thanks to Tyler!  I enjoyed working on our debate and our summary of learning together.  Also a huge thank you to Katia, Alec, and everyone in our class.  I have learned so much in these last two months through the debates, reading your blog posts, and exploring the resources that everyone has shared through Google+, Twitter, and their blogs.

“The journey of our lives is not just about the destinations we have reached. Our wisdom, education and personal growth come from the people we meet, the paths we choose to follow and the lessons we have learned along the way.”  

– Unknown

 

How Is Social Media Impacting Childhood?

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ThinkingThis week in EC&I830 we had another great ed tech debate which has led me to ask a lot of questions and reflect on my childhood.  My mind has been going in different directions!

How is social media impacting children?

Is social media actually ruining childhood?

Amy, Logan, and Carter (the agree side) shared with our class how social media is affecting children in a negative way and is ruining childhood. While Ellen and Elizabeth (the disagree side) presented to our class how social media is not ruining childhood and how it can have a positive impact on children’s lives.  Both sides presented very strong arguments and did an excellent job!

The agree side presented to us an article from The Huffington Post- Social Media Affects Child Mental Health Through Increased Stress, Sleep Deprivation, Cyberbulling, Experts Say.  In the article it started off talking about a girl who was unable to get away from bullying due to the online world of social media.  She talked about her struggle getting verbally bullied face-to-face and how the bullying continued to happen on Facebook.  Later in the article it stated “A potent mix of cyberbullying, increased anxiety, stress and sleep deprivation are increasingly linked to mental illness in children, campaigners, doctors and psychologists have told The Huffington Post UK.”  This article reminded me of my The Good, The Bad, and The…What Side Are You On? blog post that explored if technology is making our kids unhealthy.  During this blog post I looked at both sides of the debate to see how technology was negatively and positively affecting physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, and the social health and the well-being of children.  Throughout that post I tried to make a point that there are two sides to the debate which have valid pros and cons to social media as well as the positive and negative affects that social media can have on kids.  In The Huffington Post article there were a few points that stood out the most to me:

  • “With adolescents we know there is a link between social interactions and self-esteem, that they spend lots of time online and that a lot of that time is spent on social networks,” she tells HuffPost UK.”
  • “Young people often act first and think of the consequences afterwards; they do not consider how an act now can affect them in future years,” Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist at Birmingham’s Woodbourne Priory Hospital, told HuffPost UK. This can have a profound effect on the self-esteem, mood and anxiety levels.  By posting pictures or comments on social media they open themselves to scrutiny from many more peers than they are used to when doing this in a classroom – and their comments and pictures are now permanent.”

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putting on make up

In Amy Martin’s blog post, Amanda Todd and The Myth of Digital Dualism, she raised many great points about society and the sexualization of women.  In her post she wrote, “According to Media Smarts, “three-year-olds already prefer game pieces that depict thin people over those representing heavier ones, while by age seven girls are able to identify something they would like to change about their appearance.”” I agree Amy, this is terrifying!  Our children and youth are exposed to so much media through television, music, movies, magazines, advertisements, Youtube, Internet, and all the different forms of social media.  There are so many pressures for people to look and act a certain way. I can remember watching a documentary called Sext Up KIDS when I took EC&I832.  During the documentary it discusses and “reveals how our hyper-sexualized culture has hijacked childhood and what parents and educators are doing to fight back.”  (I encourage you to watch it, but without young children because it is geared for a mature audience as it has profanity and highly sexualized images throughout the documentary).  What messages are we sending our children and youth?? The documentary gave a powerful message how youth are not just consuming images online, but producing images now as well I discussed this in a previous blog The Good, The Bad, and Just Plain Scary Side of the Technology and Media

Jessica Henrion wrote a thoughtful post called “#nofilterlifestyle.”  Jessica talked about how we need to teach children to love and care for themselves.  She quoted CBC (2013) “You can get a different version of yourself…. You can edit yourself.” Now with technology we can retake photos until they are “perfect”, edit photographs according to our style, and we can even add a filter over the photo!  I thought Jessica made an excellent point when she stated:

… we need to help our students become confident individuals that love themselves.  We need to help tear down the expectations social media has to be beautiful and perfect.  We need to help our students lead a #nofilter lifestyle!!  By doing this we can hopefully begin to prevent our students from reaching out to the online world in unhealthy ways.

Can you guess which photograph has no filter?

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On Snapchat there are now different filters that you can use to change up your photographs.  Some of the filters are meant to be silly while others you can use to “enhance” your appearance.  One of the filters that I used evened out my completion (also looks like I have eyeliner on now) while the other filter gives more of the smokey eye effect and thinned my face.  I was raised that I am beautiful with or without make up on and that I do not need to change who I am!  What message do these types of filters send to children and teens?

I do have to admit that sometimes the filters that you can add to a photo are a lot of fun! Do students feel comfortable enough to share silly pictures of themselves?

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Children and teens are feeling the pressure to look a certain way!  In an article called Does social media impact on body image? it discussed how “Magazines and television are often blamed for portraying an ideal body image that causes people to question their looks and lose confidence in themselves. But what about the role social media plays in moulding attitudes to the way we look?”  Later in the article “The MPs’ report said pressure to look good had pushed up cosmetic surgery rates by nearly 20% since 2008. ”  That is very scary statistic to me! 

 On April 7th, 1995 my life and my family’s world was shaken!  SCRYL-COPIE16061322041_0002When I was just seven years old I was diagnosed with Necrotizing Fasciitis also known as flesh eating disease.  Doctors had to remove the diseased tissue and once I was in the clear then they performed skin graphs.  I was left with visible scarring across my chest, on my right shoulder, and down the right side of my back.  I  discussed my experience in a previous blog post called Will You Be The One To Speak Out??  I  talked about not wanting to hide my scars because why would I ever want to hide who I am!  My scars tell my story of survival and I am proud of who I am today.  I do often wonder if my journey would have drastically changed if social media was around when I was sick.  I can recall many newspapers telling my story when I was sick and I still have all of the articles from different newspapers in a special box.  The picture above is one of the many newspaper clippings I have from when I was young and in the hospital.  I can even remember being on CTV Regina news when I came out of the hospital!  I was sitting in my living room when I saw the clip and saw my photograph on the television.  I asked my parents why they were talking about me because at the time I did not understand how serious my illness was and how worried everyone in the community was.  Facetime would have been amazing when I was in the hospital so I could have talked my family more often especially my older sister and younger brother.  I missed them so much while I was in the hospital as I only got to see them on the weekends.  I also wonder what people would have wrote about me in all of the different forms of social media if it existed over twenty years ago. Maybe social media would have made me more self conscious about my body?  Maybe if I was older I would have wished to use a filter to try to hid my scar?? There could have been a lot of positives too! Maybe I would have found groups of people who had similar surgeries before?  Maybe people would have created a group to write me notes to send positive encouragement and prayers to my family?  With social media there are some negatives sides, but there are so many positive aspects of social media! 

I believe we are always very hard on ourselves and sometimes tend to see our faults first instead of our strengths. 

Check out this video below!

In this Dove video it showcases how we truly are our own worst critic and we see all of our flaws that do not stand out to other people.  We need to start to embrace who we are and focus on the positives instead of the negatives!

There are other videos to view that were created by Dove that showcases how media “enhances” images before the photographs go on billboards or adds.  The video was called  Dove Evolution | With some images, all is not what it seems. Near the end of the video these words appear on the screen, “No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted.”  I could not agree more! I was excited to see that dove and the campaign were looking at the male version of real beauty as well.  That video is called Dove campaign for real beauty (male version).  I think that sometimes we forget that boys need to talk about self esteem too.  Boys have pressures to look a specific way just like girls do.  There is another video called Dove Legacy | A girl’s beauty confidence that explores the importance being role models to children by loving ourselves and not cutting our self down with negative thoughts.  Finally there is another great video called Dove Real Beauty Sketches | Mothers & Daughters.  I think these Dove videos are great to view because they open to the doors to have great conversations in the classroom.  It also gives students time to understand the importance of loving yourself! 

Here are some other resources for teaching self-esteem:

In the CNN article “Is social media ruining our kids?” a comment that stood out to me in the video was when they talked about how what kids are posting is not matching what they are feeling.  It reminded me of the video that Amy, Logan, and Carter shared with us to watch to have more understanding on how social media can effect us.

I encourage you to also read an article called Split Image by Kate Fagan and watch the video that is linked in the article.  The message from the video above connects to Madison Holleran’s personal story.  “On Instagram, Madison Holleran’s life looked ideal: Star athlete, bright student, beloved friend. But the photos hid the reality of someone struggling to go on.”  Parents, teachers, and community members need to make sure they are reach out to students and build positive relationships with them.

In the CNN article “Is social media ruining our kids?” it started off by stating “It is 10 o’clock. Do you know where your children are? A decade ago, if your answer to that question was, “Yes, at home,” you felt comfortable that your children were in a safe and secure place. That’s no longer true. Now that kids have smartphones and tablets, they can hang out on a dangerous street corner without ever leaving their room.”  I encourage you to watch another documentary about a young girl named Amanda Todd.  The Fifth Estate’s documentary was entitled The Sextortion of Amanda Todd and during the documentary it talks about Amanda’s life.  Amanda had a beautiful voice and often posted videos of her singing on YouTube using her webcam from her bedroom.  One day she made one mistake in front of her webcam that led to her being bullied at the schools she attended, online, and also being blackmailed online.  Students need to be educated not only about positive self esteem and , but they need also need to understand digital citizenship.  I do not want my students to have to go through online shaming.  I am hoping that I can teach powerful life lessons to my students when they are young so they do not have to go through the online shaming that Justine Sacco has inquired from one Tweet she posted on Twitter. I have explored online shaming before in two previous posts called Do You Think Before You Post or Share Online? and my Do You Have A Digital Tattoo? What Story Does It Tell?.

Photo Credit: Brian 104 via Compfight cc

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It is important not to just look at one side of the debate!  Ellen and Elizabeth shared with us some great articles on how social media can be very positive to children and teens.  One of the articles discusses 5 Reasons You Don’t Need to Worry About Kids and Social Media.

  1. It strengthens friendships- Social media can allow children and teens to feel more outgoing and can help build their friendships stronger.
  2. It offers a sense of belonging– Social media can help students feel less lonely and are becoming “more socially adept.”
  3. It provides genuine support-  Children and teens have the opportunity to find acceptance through groups who share similar hobbies or have the same values in life.  It also gives children and teens “immediate access to quality support online.”
  4. It helps them express themselves– Children and teens get a chance to be creative through self-expression on social media.
  5. It lets them do good– Social media expose children and teens to important topics and events from all over the world.  “Kids realize they have a voice they didn’t have before and are doing everything from crowdfunding for people in need to anonymously Tweeting positive thoughts.”

In Angela Barnes and Christine Laird’s article The Effects of Social Media on Children discusses that social media “…is not just an avenue for socializing; kids and adolescents can be creative, interact, and learn.”  It also allows for peers to stay connected in and outside of school hours with others from similar interests and hobbies.  Social media can lead people to accept others and their differences.  It can even help students complete their homework and other class projects! Michael Sheehan also shares his opinions on 5 Reasons Why Social Media Might Actually be Good for Your Child.

  1. Keep up with friends
  2. Collaborate with schoolmates
  3. Discover new interests
  4. Get prepared for the future
  5. Get creative

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thumbs upThis week everyone in our class had very thoughtful and well planned blog posts.  In Lisa’s post This is Not a Box she had many great insights throughout her post.  Lisa discussed that “We need to encourage children to have a balanced childhood where they can enjoy playing outdoors with friends and improve their social skills, but also learn about and enjoy technology.”  Also thank you for sharing the article “Childhood Isn’t What it Used to Be” by Randi Zuckerberg! I thought it was very interesting!  Stephanie brought up a great point when she discussed a workshop that she attended by Rick Lavoie.  In her post she commented “that we need to recognize the childhood our students and children are experiencing is nothing like the childhood we experienced. He cautioned us to think about how we respond to students.” I agree that our environment has changed significantly and when I was in my teens social media was just beginning.  We can not compare our childhood because it is like comparing apples and steak.  Ashley’s post Does social media need a time out? was well written!  Ashley addressed many key points and I enjoyed reading her thoughts about how social media is “hurting the development of face to face communication skills in our youth and even adults.”  She talked about the importance of body language and how our tone of voice both play a vital role in the way we communicate.  However, when we use technology and type our responses body language and tone of voice becomes removed which can lead to some misunderstandings between people.  Ashely shared an interesting video called Text Tone Deaf and it showcases the misunderstandings that can occur.  I encourage you to check it out!

At the end of is technology making our kids unhealthy debate I was teetering between agree and disagree because both side brought forward valid points.  I came to the conclusion that by educating our children and youth I think we can help them find a balance.  Balance has been a word used often in people’s reflections during our EC&I830 debates and in their blog posts.  Where do I stand on this debate?  Is social media ruining childhood?  In the The Huffington Post article that I shared earlier in this post had a quote by Lucie Russell who is a Director of Media and Campaigns at YoungMinds.  I thought the quote sums up my thoughts nicely on this topic.  The quote stated:

“We need to realize young people are on social media and that’s here to stay, now it’s about giving them skills to manage their online lives.” 

I believe if children are not taught the skills, if they are not given the knowledge or are not having open conversations about self esteem, digital citizenship, cyberbullying/bullying, and the importance of living a healthy life style then social media could have the potential to ruin a child’s life if they do not have a support system.  I believe children need to know they can count on a trusted adult to turn to for advice and for support in their lives.  Sometimes students may even contact someone through using social media or use one of the many support groups that exist in the different online spaces.  I think if children and youth are educated about social media, know how to maintain a positive digital footprint, and have a support system that social media will not ruin their life.  In the CNN article and video that I mentioned earlier in my post discussed, “Kids whose parents were involved were less likely to get up set about social media.”  Parents, educators, and the entire community need to work and come together…

takesAvillige green

Photo Credit: Small World Learning Village

The Time Is Now…We need to educate our students about sharing

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sharing

This week in my EC&I830 class we explored a new debate topic- Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids.  Going into this debate I was already leaning towards disagree because of my previous experiences with having my students sharing online through blogging.  When I took EC&I831  I was able to choose my own project.  For my major digital project I chose to create a classroom blog and I created individual blogs for each of my students under their secret agent number.  I saw so many educators using classroom blogs and thought it was a great opportunity to begin a new journey.  It also allowed me to teach my students about digital citizenship.  This project was a huge learning curve for me because I had no previous experience blogging before personally until I started taking classes from Alec and Katia.   Then when I took EC&I832 I was able to continue my journey by being able to expand on my previous project and I choose a new focus for my major digital project.  I  documented my journey on my blog discussing resources that I used such as, the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools, Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship Scope and Sequence, the Government of Saskatchewan Digital Citizenship Continuum from Kindergarten to Grade Twelve, and other resources that I found.  I also created three grade two integrated units using the Common Sense Media lesson scope and sequence as a major resource:

I appreciated Shannon, Kelsie, and Danielle (the agree side) sharing the Peel Region School Board Staff Guidelines for Social Media.  The school division I work for also has administrative procedures for responsible use of technology and internet, confidentiality, media relations, and that the use of social media will comply with administrative procedures.  Before we can engage in any social media with our students we need to fill out a social media approval form.  It is critical for all teachers and staff to know their schools divisions administrative procedures! After I had approval from the division office then I was able to send home a Permission Letter to Parents About Using A Blog 2015-2016.  I encouraged  each family to talk about the blog with their child.  My students are  the ones participating in the blog so I think they should have a choice.  I have always had 100% of my students participate and I really appreciated one family that talked to me.  When the family talked to their child he was nervous about videos and audio being posted on the blog, but was excited about writing posts and having pictures posted.  I would never want a child to do something that he or she is uncomfortable with.  I was very proud of him!  His parents did sign off that part of the parent permission form incase he changed his mind and they knew that I would respect their son’s wishes.

digital footprintPhoto Credit: Source

Lisa, Haiming, and Stephanie (disagree side) shared with us an article that explored how teachers need to be positive role models and need to make sure they are taking care of their digital footprint.   As Andrew mentioned in the chat on Tuesday teachers need to “walk the walk.”  I agree with the article and Andrew!  If we are going to “talk the talk” with our students about the importance of having a positive digital footprint then it is imperative for teachers to be role models on what a positive digital footprint looks like.  I have Googled my name to show my students that anything you create or write online stays online.  My students thought it was very neat to see their teacher’s work online.  I learned on Tuesday night from Amy that I can use not only use Google to see what digital footprints I have left online, but I can also use Duck Duck Go-it is a search engine that doesn’t track you.  When I was reading Erin’s blog post this week I could relate to her when she talked about “how tiny [her] digital presence is” since she changed her name after she was married during the summer.  During the summer I also changed my name after I married my husband Damon.  Now I go by Justine Kyle, but for university I chose to hyphenate my name since I completed more than half of my Masters Degree as a Stephanson.  I have been slowly changing my name for my social media accounts while other accounts that I use professionally I chose to hyphenate since I am Justine Stephanson-Kyle at the university. Currently right now I do not have a big digital footprint under my married name, but I can show my students my footprint under my maiden and hyphenated name.

It is important to “walk the walk” when you “talk the talk” but I started to think about the educators who are not online and do not have a digital footprint or that has a digital footprint that is tiny.  Some people are “digital visitors” online while other people maybe “digital residents.”  In my post, “Which One Am I?” I reflected about how I know that I am a digital resident as I choose to be visible online through all the spaces I engage in.

Here is a short video that gives a quick snap shot showing the difference between digital visitors and digital residents:

I encourage you to also watch David White’s video about digital visitors and digital residents that I added in below.

I prefer White’s continuum over “digital natives” and “digital immigrants.” You can watch Do “Digital Natives” Exist? to find out more about digital natives and digital immigrants.  I like using the wording digital visitors and residents because it doesn’t assign people to groups based on age and population as the other video did that explores digital natives and immigrants.

People who are digital visitors may go online to  book a holiday or pay bills.  Once the person is finished their task then he or she goes back offline again.  Visitors are invisible as they do not leave any social traces online when interacting on the web in those spaces.  While a resident leaves their mark and identity through blogging, commenting, posting videos, posting pictures, and/or posting in variety of ways in a series of different places or spaces online.  Residents live a portion of their lives out online. They choose to go online to be present with others and will leave a social trace and footprint.

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digital fingerprint

I believe every teacher needs to start understanding and learning about digital citizenship whether they are a digital visitor or resident.  So many of our students are becoming digital residents at a young age and they do not understand that they are leaving a social trace and their digital prints online for the world to see.  I know I do not want my students to leave negative prints online that could affect them as they get older.  I liked the quote that Kayla included in her blog post this week from teachershub.com -“If you aren’t controlling who you are online, some else is or will.”  I think it is critical to make sure we are personally shaping our own digital identity and giving the students the opportunity to learn how to do so in a positive way.  I believe we not only need to educate our students, but parents as well.  With many parents participating in different forms of social media their children are no longer anonymous at birth.  Some children are digitally born before their actual birthday as many parents post ultra sound pictures or make a pregnancy announcement.  Parents and other family members are the first people to start adding to their child’s digital identity so they need to make sure they are creating a positive digital tattoo for their child.  If parents are made aware of what digital footprint is maybe they will want to be proactive to protect their child’s future identity as the couple did in the article that the agree side provided us with.

I have been very proud of my students this year!  They have learned a lot about online safety when visiting websites, exploring how to keep their identity private, and they know what a digital footprint is.  My students really understood the permanency of a digital footprint when I described how it is like a digital tattoo.  Check out secret agent #5’s post about “No Sharing Your Stuff” and secret agent #15’s post “stay safe“.

lesson one #2 photo lesson one photo

Here are two pictures from one of the lessons I taught my students when they talked about safety.  My students were able to make the connection that the rules are similar when they are visiting places online and in real life.  I think so many times people view online and offline as separate places, but they are not because people are able to interact with other people in both spaces.

When I was looking through a website called Visual Library while I was exploring digital citizenship resources I saw this image:

all good citizensI believe Citizenship and Digital Citizenship are the same thing…

I want my students to be good citizens no matter where they are or what online spaces they are using!

Both of these digital citizenship posters “All Good Digital Citizens” and “Think” can be used to remind students how to be good citizens when they are offline too!

new think image

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This reminds me when I learned about digital dualism and augmented reality in EC&I832.   Alec mentions both of terms in his Ted Talk –Identity in a digital world. (Thanks for sharing Angela! I never saw his video until I read your blog!).

So…. do I think that openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids?

No I do not think that openness and sharing at school is unfair because there are many benefits to sharing student’s work in online spaces. I think that there is The Good, The Bad, and Just Plain Scary Side of the Technology and Media as I talked about in this post, but when policies are in place and teachers are educated about digital citizenship I think sharing can be positive for students.   I am very excited to continue blogging with my students again next year especially since I will have some lap tops that we can keep in our classroom. That will provide students more of an opportunity to blog daily!  This year we started off very strong using our blogs especially when we had learning buddies, but when we worked on some other projects during that time we did our blogs as much as I wanted.  I also want to branch out more to other schools and connect with them especially other grade two classrooms.  This semester I have been able to reflect so much about my learning through reading over my own posts and using pingbacks in my writing when a debate topic reminds me what I learned about in EC&I831 and EC&I832.  If students are able to blog daily or every other day then they could reflect on their learning, make connections to other subject areas, and continue to expand their thinking as they learn more about different topics. I really enjoyed reading Angela’s blog post this week.  I appreciated her honesty and sharing her journey with us.  I recommend to take baby steps and turn to fellow colleagues for advice and help along the way.  I was lucky that a colleague shared the information about a digital citizenship webinar that Kathy Cassidy presented on.  She is so knowledgable and gave us great tips to help us get started on our journey.  One of my struggles is sharing videos on my classroom blog because I will admit I have fear of Youtube and I am not comfortable having videos of my students on that space.  Are there other ways to post videos onto a blog?  Has anyone posted videos onto Youtube of their students?  There is always so much to learn!

I am looking forward to continuing my journey next year with my new group of grade two students and continuing to learn how to teach them to become positive citizens!

its-a-journey-no-one-is-ahead-of-you-life-quotes-sayings-pictures

Photo Credit: Source

The Good, The Bad, and Just Plain Scary Side of the Technology and Media

 What messages are we sending our children and youth??

body image

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This past week for class for my EC&I832 Media Literacy class we had the choice of a few videos to view for this weeks assignment.  A few weeks ago on television I watched a documentary along with my husband called Sext Up KIDS.  This documentary happened to be one of the choices for this weeks assignment.  During the documentary it discusses and “reveals how our hyper-sexualized culture has hijacked childhood and what parents and educators are doing to fight back.”  (*Warning: I encourage you to watch it alone without young children as this documentary is geared for a mature audience as it has profanity and highly sexualized images.) My husband Damon and I do not have children yet, but we hope to soon start a family.  This video led to a lot of good conversations about social media and rules that we would want to see in our family in terms of cell phones, computers, tablets, etc. My heart dropped as I watched this video and I started to think about my nieces, nephews, younger cousins, and my students.  This documentary introduced me to a new acronym that I have never seen or heard before called KAGOY:

Kids

Are

Getting

Older

Younger

Our children and youth are exposed to so much media through television, music, movies, magazines, advertisements, Youtube, Internet, and all the different forms of social media.  In  this video it discussed sexualization and how outfits for young girls designed for the tween age group look more like outfits designed for older females.  Children are only young once and should not have to pressures to grow up faster because childhood seems to go by too fast already.  Toys have also become more sexualized as it discussed Barbie dolls, the Bratz dolls, and the Monster High Dolls.  The toy market is growing and more children are viewing advisements of the different products while they watching television or YouTube videos, playing games, or searching the Internet.  Later on in the documentary it went on to discuss young girls playing princess and how many girls grow up wanting to be one of the Disney Princesses.  I can remember playing princess with my friends and how I loved Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  I never really thought and reflected on that form of play before.  A lady in the documentary commented how for many children that this is their one form of play that children take part in for a long time and how as they got older it went from wanting “to be the prettiest girl to being the sexiest girl.” During the documentary it talked about a workshop in British Columbia called iGirl empowerment.  It is great to hear that there are fabulous workshops and programs for students.  At our elementary school we have a program called girls circle that grade five and six students get to join.  They talk about a lot of important topics and some high school girls also attend as well.  The high school girls are positive mentors and role models for our students for the elementary students.  Our school is hoping to start a boys circle soon to allow for male students in our school to have a place for positive conversations and  to be able to interact with male high school mentors as well. 

Does your school or community have any programs or workshops that your students can take part in?

This documentary gave a powerful message how youth are not just consuming images online, but producing images now as well.  Taking photographs and videos is so easy now through using all the new technologies that have been invented.  When I was young pictures had to be first developed before we could even view them.  Now with a touch of a button photos and videos can be shared for the whole world to see if a person wanted to share them.  It is scary to hear that some youth are sending sexual pictures of themselves and how those pictures are being shared with others without their consent.  In the documentary the girls discussed how that one mistake of sharing their photo has led them to face peers and other people calling them names, being humiliated online and in person and being publicly shamed.  Have you lately critically looked at media lately?  There are a lot of music videos that showcases women in a very sexualized way by the clothes they are wearing, the style of dancing, or how they are interacting with others in the video.  Also sit back and listen to the lyrics in many of the popular songs.  A lot of those songs discuss drinking, drugs, sex, name calling, and many songs contain a lot of profanity.  A few weeks ago at our school dance I had many students who requested songs that I could not play in school because one or many of the reasons mentioned above.  During the documentary it discussed Miley Cyrus growing up and wanting to move away from being her Disney Hannah Montana image.  What are the pressures that our children and youth are going through growing up in the 21st century?  We need to make sure we teach our children and youth to be more critical than ever when viewing media and what it means to be in a healthy relationship.  Children and youth are exposed to more offensive websites, video games, videos, and pressures I believe than ever before.  A lot of youth now have mixed messages of what a person should do when trying to pursue a relationship and what a good boyfriend or girlfriend does when they are in a relationship.  Parents need to have conversations with children about what a healthy relationship looks like and begin to discuss pressures that they may in counter like sexting.  These kinds of conversations are never easy, but it will allow you know what message your child has heard.

teen on cellphone

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Ashley Murray also discussed the Sext Up KIDS documentary in her recent blog post.  In her post she shared an article by CBC that discussed and outlined information and issues involving sexting.  It is a newer term that may people probably have heard, but I wonder how much they know about the topic.  Do people know the laws involving sexting and sharing sexual images? I appreciated that Ashley shared her findings involving sexting laws in Canada.  I think it is important for parents to not only be educated about the laws, but youth as well.  I wonder how many youth understand that sharing sexual images of people who are young than eighteen is child pornography? 

I encourage you to watch another documentary about a young girl named Amanda Todd.  The Fifth Estate’s documentary was entitled The Sextortion of Amanda Todd and during the documentary it discusses Amanda’s life.  Amanda had a beautiful voice and often posted videos of her singing on YouTube using her webcam.  One day she made one mistake in front of her webcam that led to her being bullied at the schools she attended, online, and also being blackmailed online.  Now a days so many children and teenagers have access to webcams or other devices that can take photographs or videos just like Amanda and her story could happen to so many teenagers.  Throughout the documentary her parents were interviewed and shared Amanda’s story.  I will never forget Amanda Todd’s mother words when she said, “we are in a decade of technology that doesn’t go away.”  Nothing can be permanently deleted online so more than ever people need to be careful with what they share online using different devices, apps, and what they comment on all the different spaces as well.  Genna’s blog post entitled Amanda Todd: Was There Even MORE to the Story?  I Believe So… allowed me to look at this story through a different lens. I thought she made some excellent points about how the documentary did “lack of attention to her Attention Deficit Disorder and the magnitude of the impact this carries both offline and online.” I appreciated reading Genna’s post from her perceptive as a special education teacher and all of her thoughtful questions she presented at the end of her post.  One of the questions that Genna asked that stood out to me was:

  • “What can we do to support our more vulnerable children (those with disabilities and mental health conditions) to ensure they develop positive digital citizenship skills and feel confident about their online presence?

 A lot of people may remember watching Amanda’s video that she posted on YouTube that was published on September 7th, 2012 entitled My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm. In the video she shares her story by holding index cards that she wrote on with black marker.  Card by card she unveiled her thoughts, feelings, and what she enquired in her life.  Sadly on October 12th, 2012 Amanda committed suicide.  I had to quit reading the comments left because even after Amanda’s death many people felt it was necessary to post negative comments and public shame her.    After I watched Amanda’s video I noticed along the side another video called Teens React to Bullying (Amanda Todd).  This video filmed teens who are a variety of ages reactions to watching Amanda’s video and then share their thoughts of the video and about online bullying.  Listening to Amanda’s story confirms that parents and educators need to start talking and educating our youth.  Again they will not be easy conversations, but they need to happen!

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I also believe we need to also teach our students and children about self esteem and positive body image! 
Do you remember Dove’s Campaign that explored how women see themselves and how they see others? It was called Real Beauty Sketches You’re more beautiful than you think.

 

This video showcases how we are our own worst critique and how we often find so many flaws about our self that other people do not see.  This video highlights that we do not see our true beauty.  We need to begin to remove all of the labels and start spending time appreciating every part of us.  We need to start to love ourselves for who we are because we all are special and unique.  Media and technology makes is more difficult for youth, men, and women to have a positive body image when so many of the images in magazines, on billboards, and advertisements have been digitally enhanced.  Just take a look at the Dove Evolution With some images, all is not what it seems video.  It is a short yet powerful video showcasing how images can be transformed and edited so the person appears to look flawless.  Near the end of the video these words appear on the screen, “No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted.”  I could not agree more! I was excited to see that dove also did a campaign looking at the male version of real beauty. 

The pressures of having a perfect body is not just a problem for females, but for males as well.  Media portrays men to look a certain way and to have a certain type of build.  So many times people dream of looking like the people that they see in the media, but if take away the professional stylists or all the digital changes those people would not look the same.  How do we teach our students to think critically when viewing media?  How do we teach our children and students to have a positive body image?
Well it needs to begin with adults first.  Adults need to model having a healthy body image and self esteem to our children and youth.  Parents, teachers, coaches, etc. are role models and children are always watching.  They care what you think and will often model your behavior and what you say.  We need to be role models to our children instead of media as it can send negative messages.  We need people to start thinking more critically about what we say and how our words effect others positively and negatively.  As adults, especially parents need to model how to interact with all the different forms of media and model positive digital citizenship to their children.  For example, Always created a powerful video with an excellent message called #LikeAGirl.  The creators asked teenagers, women, and boys to “run like a girl” and “fight like a girl.”   Later the creators asked the young girls the same questions and the movements that the first group of participates looked a lot different compared to the young girls.  Have you heard people or media use “like a girl” statements before?   Parents need to remember A girl`s beauty confidence starts with you.  Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, educators, etc. are influencing children everyday.  This is another Dove video and this one focuses on mothers and their daughters. The creators compare the mothers and the daughters answers about their likes and dislikes in regards to their body.  The daughters shared many of the same likes and dislikes about their body as their mother.  Daughter’s look up to their mothers and the same goes for fathers and their sons.  Boys need to have role models showing self esteem and having a positive body image.  I think if this video was created for fathers and their sons that the results would be similar.

Lets send positive messages to children and begin to be role models for our children and youth!

like symbol

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Last year during EC&I831 I wrote a post called Will You Be The One To Speak Out.  It discussed an episode of Glee that I watched that has the character Rachel contemplating on getting plastic surgery on her nose so it looks like her friend Quinn’s nose.  In that episode they sing I Feel Pretty/Unpretty.  The band TLC wrote the song Unpretty and it is also a very powerful music video.  As an educator I believe we need to be teaching our students starting at a young age to have positive body image and teach them to love themselves for being unique.  It needs to be ongoing and not just a lesson or a unit.  It needs to be a topic and a conversation that is ongoing for the whole year.  How do you as educator promote positive body image and self esteem in classroom and school

Hip Hip Hooray!

hip hip horray

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We had another fantastic week in my classroom!  At the end of the week the last blog permission form came back to school.  Now all sixteen of my grade two students have permission to take part in our classroom blog and create posts on their own blog.  Everyone is allowed to have their picture posted onto our blog and can have videos or audio clips posted onto the blog as well.  (Insert happy dance!!)  I was able to finishing creating the remaining individual student blogs for those two students who handed in their permission forms.  I was beginning to think about what those two students would have done if they did not return their forms back while the other fourteen students were blogging.  I was thinking about students creating a notebook blog and if they handed in their form then I could scan their work and upload it onto their blog. Has anyone else experienced students not handing in a permission form?  If you had students that could not participate on the blog what did you have those students do while other students were blogging?

My students are almost finished their community project!  Please take a look at my students working on building their community projects!  They all have been working very hard at finishing up their project and adding in their own creativity.  It has been a lot of fun watching their designs come to life.  Next week we are going to put the final touches on the project by creating roads and placing their buildings on the roads around the community.  I was hoping to record an audio clip or video of my students finishing up this project and talk about their community.  I was wondering if anyone knows if you are able to post audio clips or videos without using Youtube? Or is Youtube one of the only ways you can post videos easily onto a blog?  If Youtube is the main way to post videos onto a blog then do teachers need to get parents to fill out another permission form if you are uploading videos onto Youtube?  If you have any tips or advice on the best way to post videos or audio clips onto a blog please leave me a comment on my blog.  I would really appreciate it!

I was able to accomplish almost everything from my to do list that I wrote about in my previous post.  My students each drew a self portrait of themselves.   A few students were away so they will need to finish their self portrait next week.  I was able to help add their self portrait onto their individual blog pages and create their blog avatar.  We talked about why they were using a drawing for their avatar on their blog instead of using a photograph. It led to a good discussion about posting pictures onto the Internet.  For the header of their blog my students decided that they wanted to use their Dot Day art work that they created.  During Dot Day  my students rotated around to different stations and were able to create a variety of artwork pieces using different mediums.  Each student choose their favourite piece from Dot Day to become the header artwork for their blog page and I helped them post their art onto their blog as well.  My students were really excited to see their work posted onto their blogs.  Please explore our classroom blog and check out my students art work!  A lot as been added onto our blogs this week!  I know my students would be excited to see that more people have visited our blog and their own blog.  If you have time please leave a comment on my students individual blogs as well.  My students would be thrilled to read your thoughts!

oct 23 blog

Photo Credit: Picture Taken By Mrs. Kyle

On Thursday my students brainstormed ideas of what they wanted to write for their about me page as a class.  During our class discussion I wrote down their ideas of what they wanted to share on their about me.  After the brainstorming was over students recorded their ideas in their journals.  On Friday I taught my students how to log onto their blog so they could create and type their about me page.  I am very thankful that I have a Smartboard in my classroom because it made it easier for my students to follow along and for me to model what to do.  I was also lucky that I had another adult in the room during blogging time.  She was able to help my students as well if they had any problems.  I had a few students away Friday and some had to leave class a bit early for Missoula Children’s Theatre practice since they performed Friday evening.  Check out Secret Agent #15s about me page and all my other fabulous Secret Agents in my class! This coming week students will be given the opportunity to finish or create their about me page on their own blog!

I was away from school for a few days so we did not have time to co-create criteria together on what they think a good blog post looks like.  I plan on co-creating criteria for a blog post on Tuesday. Then later in the week when students create a blog post about their community project they will have a guideline of expectations to follow.  Since I was away we did not have a lot of time to blog during the week.  I did have a few students who typed out their about me pages fast and wanted to continue blogging so they created their first blog post discussing what they have been learning about in school.  Last year I found so many of the students who struggled with writing and did not want to write, but loved blogging using Edublogs.  I am not sure if it was the novelty of being able to type on the computer or having an larger audience of people reading their ideas and seeing pictures of their work, but I enjoyed last year seeing their faces light up while they were blogging.  I looking forward to seeing my students reactions while they are blogging and hearing their opinions about blogging as they begin to understand more what a blog is and what they can post.

This past week my students did a great job remembering safety online when reviewing the going places safely lesson.  On Wednesday I will introduce my class to the common sense education lesson about ABC Searching.  As a class we will talk about the proper way to search online and I will introduce to them to a picture dictionary.  I will have students go onto the websites that was suggested on lesson plan and have students work together to create an ABC book.  I am looking forward to continuing to reflect on the safety topic as students work on their searching skills.

Please check back later in the week to read about how my major digital project is progressing with my students!

Slow and Steady…I am Continuing My Race!

Wow!  Where did the week go!  This past week has been very busy for me because on Monday, October 5th our division had a Professional Development Day and our school brought in a fabulous presenter Jeanne Corrigal later on during the week.  She talked to the different grades in our school and taught our students about some Metis and First Nations teachings that she learned from her father’s friend Jim Settee and her family.  My students learned a lot from her presentation and as a class we created a blog post telling everyone what we learned from Jeanne.  I was so impressed with her presentation and how she was able to keep our Kindergarten to Grade Two students engaged while delivering her message.  I am excited to extend her lesson and teachings into my classroom with the resources that she provided us!  It is so important to bring teachings from different cultures into the classroom often throughout the entire year and not just special events or holidays.  This week my class also created a post showcasing what they have been learning about during the week throughout their day.  During this time I have been modeling to my students about the blogging process and I have been showing them how to navigate around our blog.  We have also been exploring and looking at other classroom’s blogs so they can see what different classroom blogs can look like and what their classroom blogs about.  Next week we are going to begin to co-create criteria together about what a good blog post looks like!

Near the end of the week I have been busy working on creating my student’s individual blogs.  I have been waiting to get all my student’s blog permission forms (Permission Letter to Parents About Using A Blog 2015-2016) back before I began to create their blogs.  As of right now I have fourteen out of sixteen student’s blog permission forms back.  I decided to create those fourteen students blogs and I will create the remaining students blogs when their form gets handed into me.  Last year I had all my students hand in their forms and everyone was allowed to participate so I am hoping for the same outcome this school year!  When I was beginning to create my student blogs I could not remember what I did and what that process looked like.  Thankfully I blogged about this process last year so I was able to look back at my blog called “Approaching The Starting Line…”  When I looked back at my old blog post and I clicked on the Edublog link that explores and outlines student blogs and tips on when creating student usernames.  I could not remember what I did when it asked for my student e-mail addresses.  Since my students are young and only seven or eight years old I did not want to create individual accounts for each of them.  On the Edublog website it gave helpful information in how to create student accounts using one email account.   When I read over the information on the link I was happy to remember that my students did not need their own e-mail accounts.  The Edublog website has been a fabulous resource for as I have been using my classroom blog again.  I am looking forward to my students creating their first blog post!  My students have been asking me many times when they get to blog so I know they will be excited to get started this week too!

students on lap tops

Photo Credit: nwresd via Compfight cc

This week I also decided to add in another widget onto our classroom blog.  I created a flag counter widget!  When someone from a different country visits our blog this widget will showcase the country flag of the visitor onto our blog page.  This widget will allow students to view different flags from a variety of countries.  I am hoping that it will open up conversations about places around the world like the ClustrMaps widget does.  The ClustrMaps widget puts a dot on the world map of where the visitor lives who came to read and view our blog.  Last year my students enjoyed getting their agendas out and exploring their world map when we looked at the ClustrMaps.  In grade two students need to learn about mapping skills in social studies so this one widget provides a great learning opportunity for the social outcome-DR2.3.  When I went to create the flag counter widget I could not remember what to do since I created ClustrMaps  widget last year wither.  I read through the Edublog support for adding in widgets and then Youtube came to the rescue again as I found a video that walked me through how to add the new flag counter widget onto a blog.  That is the beauty and power of the Internet!  It is amazing that I am able to find resources and receive support at the click of a button.

This week I have a few goals set out that I would like to accomplish:

  1. Begin to co-create criteria with students about what they think a good blog post looks like.
  2. Have students draw a self-portrait of themselves so they can use their drawing as their blog avatar.
  3. Have students choose their own favourite art work that they created.  Students can create their background picture for their blog using their favourite drawing.
  4. Students will write in their journals to plan what they want to say in their about page for their blog.
  5. Along with our learning buddies we will review the Going Places Safely lesson and have open conversation about what they learned about.
  6. Give students time to do their first blog post!

My blog post “Approaching The Starting Line…”  gave me inspiration for the title and the direction for this blog post “Slow and Steady…I am Continuing My Race!”  I believe that blogging is a never ending journey!  My students and myself might cross the finish line by reaching some goals or tasks that were set out, but there is always more to learn about.  I only created my first classroom blog last year so I have so much to learn!  I am looking forward to a busy week with my student!

Please check back later this week to read about my progress with teaching my students about digital citizenship and the blogging process.  If you have any recommendations of other great resources and supports regarding digital citizenship and blogging please let me know.  I always look forward to learning new things and expanding my ideas!