So Many Questions….

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I have been working on this post for a while because my mind has been jumping in many different directions so it was hard to stay focused.  The readings and viewings gave me a lot to think about over these last few weeks. In the 1960’s, Albert Bandura developed the theory of social learning (Social Learning Theory).  Bandura, says that “behavior is learned from the environment through the process of observational learning” (McLeod, 2011).  I agree that children learn a lot through observing others and how they act.  Adults need to be mindful of their actions and what they say around children and youth because they are their role models and often many will look up to them.  Very young children will often imitate sounds, words, or phrases that they have heard and copy actions that they have seen.  As the article states, “Children will have a number of models with whom they identify” (McLeod, 2011).  Children and youth are not just influenced by their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or trusted adults.  But, children and youth can be influenced by older siblings, older peers, friends, television or movie characters, video games, actors, music artists, and athletes just to name a few.  Children and youth need to have guidance as they are growing up.  When thinking about a child’s behavior Bandura also makes a good point about how, “the people around the child will respond to the behavior it imitates with either reinforcement or punishment” (McLeod, 2011).  Starting at a very young age babies are praised for the sounds or words they say or for their actions that they have imitated.  When babies get older they get told no for pulling hair, putting something in their mouths that they are not suppose to, or touching something that could harm them.

In the article it also links to a famous experiment called the “Bobo Doll Experiment”.  In this video explores if, “social behaviors (i.e. aggression) can be acquired by observation and imitation” (McLeod, 2014).  I agree one hundred percent that “This study has important implications for the effects of media violence on children” (McLeod, 2014).  While I watched the video I thought about my colleague who teaches grade three and her experience with teaching a particular outcome in health.  That outcome that she was teaching was:

USC3.6- Distinguish between examples of real violence (e.g., schoolyard fights, shaking a baby, bullying) and fictional violence (e.g., cartoons, world wrestling entertainment, video games) and determine the influence of both on health and well-being.

The particular indicators for that outcome are:

a) Develop common and respectful language often used to talk about violence and abuse.

b) Reflect on what is known/believed about violence in communities.

c)Determine that violence can by physical, emotional, and/or sexual.

d) Describe types of violence and abuse including physical (e.g., punching, kicking), sexual (e.g., inappropriate touching), and emotional (e.g., name-calling, exclusion, cyber-bullying).

e) Recognize that physical, sexual, and emotional violence are behaviours that hurt or destroy people, places, or things.

f) Discuss examples of fictional violence (e.g., movies, video games, cartoons, world wrestling entertainment).

g) Investigate the influence of mass media on perceptions of violence (e.g., difficult to distinguish fiction from non-fiction, what is ‘normal’).

h) Distinguish the effects of violence on the mind, body, and spirit (e.g., fear, bruises, self-doubt, hopelessness).

i) Recognize violent and non-violent and/or harmful and non-harmful behaviours and the impact on self and others.

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I can recall my colleague telling me about a parent who was concerned because her child was learning about the differences between real violence and fictional violence at such a young age.  My colleague discussed with the parent that she was covering a topic right from the grade three Saskatchewan Health Curriculum that teachers are required to follow when planning units and lessons.  She explained to the parent the importance of teaching students in grade three about the differences between real and fictional violence.  After the discussion that parent felt much better about the unit that was planned and listening to my colleagues thoughts.  I do understand why that parent would be concerned, but with all the media that young children are exposed to they need to learn skills in understanding the differences between what is real and what is fictional or fantasy.  I have had grade two students write in their journals about playing grand theft auto and other games that are full of violence and adult material.  Do students in early elementary years understand that people do not have multiple lives like they do in video games and in the other games they can play online?  Do they understand the consequences of violence or how harmful violence is? I am happy that children are discussing and learning about those differences in grade three. Those types of lessons are very important because children are exposed to violence from television, movies, games, and other forms of media now at a early age compared to many years ago.

What do you think?  Should the outcome USC3.6 be taught in grade three or do you feel it is too mature of content for children to learn about at that age?  Do you think violence in media effecting our children and youth?

 

Changing gears I was also introduced to readings and viewings that had me reflect on the way children are taught in school!  What do you think 21st century classrooms should look like today?  I think technology has opened the doors for teachers to be more inventive and can begin to think more outside of the box in terms of teaching strategies and how they set up their classroom for learning.  Take a look at this following video!  In the video a grade seven student is giving a tour of how she has been learning in her science class.  This video showcases a student participating in networked learning and creating her own learning environment using different tools and media.

From listening to the student I can see that a lot of learning has taken place.  She has not only learned science concepts, but has learned how to use tools such as: Google Docs, blogging, bookmarking, and Evernote to help with her researching skills and documenting her learning journey. While I was watching the video I was curious how the teacher set up his/her classroom? Many other questions began to race through my head…What does the teacher’s day plans/lesson plans look like?  Would teachers be able to teach using this style with students who are younger than grade seven?  Did the student in the video need to do complete some of her work outside of the classroom or was she provided time to complete all the tasks during class time?  If she was required to complete work outside of class time did she and her peers in her class have access to a computer, device, or the Internet?  I would want to make sure all of my students learning opportunities are the same.  I would love to talk to a teacher using network learning in their classroom.  I began to reflect about…What could network learning look like for my grade two classroom or in the early learning years?

For my class I also read an article by Dave Cormier called Understanding the Basics of Rhizomatic Learning.  I was fortunate to learn about Rhizomatic Learning from Dave Cormier when I took EC&I831 Social Media and Open Education Class from Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt.  Rhizomatic Learning allows for students to decide on the goal instead of the instructor or teacher giving students the learning goals or outcomes.  Students begin to take responsibility for their own learning!  I see this style of teaching more focused on the process instead of the product.  It is refreshing because learning should not just be knowing the answers to given questions.  When students get the opportunity to make their own learning goals I believe learning opportunities are endless.  Instead of the teacher being the person “who knows all of the answers” the students are given the opportunity to research and learn skills to find the answers to questions they are curious about.  If you want to learn more about Rhizomatic Learning and Cormier’s thoughts I encourage you to watch to a video of Cormier – Embracing Uncertainty of Rhizomatic Learning.  In this video he even briefly discusses MOOCs (Masssive Open Online Course).   For class we were to watch Corimer give short presentation in how to have Success in a MOOC.  I have never participated in a MOOC before, but many classmates in EC&I831 took part in one of their choice for their major project.  I enjoyed reading their posts about the courses that they took.  Right now I am too busy with teaching, coaching, and taking graduate classes; however, I think once I am finished with my degree I am going to miss learning and taking classes so I can see myself finding a MOOC that interests me.  I agree with Ashley Murray that I do not feel that our students should be left learning through MOOCs, especially students younger than high school.  I think students do need to still be learning along side their peers and the teacher needs to help facilitate learning and help guide students. I could see students participating in a MOOCs to get more knowledge and to network with other people if they were provided to opportunity to participate in Genius Hour.   Have you ever participated in a MOOC before? What are your thoughts about students participating in MOOCs?

In another article I read Cormier “suggests that Rhizomatic Learning is a means by which learners develop problem-solving skills for complex domains” and that “the community is the curriculum.”  What could Rhizomatic Learning look like in the early year classrooms?  When I took EC&I831 I wrote a blog post (you can see how my blog posts have evolved over the last year) reflecting on my thoughts about Rhizomatic Learning.  It reminds me a lot of the Reggio Emilia Approach which “values the child as strong, capable and resilient; rich with wonder and knowledge. This approach believes a “child brings with them deep curiosity and potential and this innate curiosity drives their interest to understand their world and their place within it.”  Some of the fundamental principles for the Reggio Emilia Approach are:

  • “Children are capable of constructing their own learning.”
  • “Children form an understanding of themselves and their place in the world through their interactions with others.”
  • “Children are communicators.”
  • “The environment is the third teacher.”
  • “The adult is a mentor and guide.”
  • “An emphasis on documenting children’s thoughts.”
  • “The Hundred Languages of Children.”

I see a lot of connections and similarities between the Reggio Emilia Approach compared to Rhizomatic Learning and Network Learning.  Students are the center of the learning and not the teacher or educator.  Students can learn through the environments and through communicating with peers or from other people outside of the classroom.  Students document their thoughts about the learning journey and begin to form their own understandings about the world.  I could also relate to Ashley’s post when she discussed the teacher’s role and later on explained, “that there is a lot of information that students MUST learn such as reading, writing and math skills.”  I agree that there are skills that students must learn, but I am finding more ways to teach my grade two students those skills through play based learning.  However, I still have guided reading, writing, and math lessons that are at my students individual levels.  I have found students have continued to develop their reading, writing, representing and math skills through centers, play based learning and projects that they participate in.  These last few weeks of articles and viewing have had me reflect on education and what classrooms look like today more than ever before.  While I was doing some exploring I came across a video that was “adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson.”

I encourage you to watch his lecture entire called Changing Paradigms.  It is fifty-five minutes long, but he raises many great points about education, how people learn, and how they think.  His lecture connects with some of the viewings and readings that I have been learning in my EC&I832 class.  Near the end of his lecture and near the end of the video above he talks about divergent thinking and gave an example of a study.  The question was “how many uses can you think of for a paper clip?”  This study showed that children in Kindergarten scored higher than older students and adults.  Why were the children in Kindergarten able to think of more uses for a paper clip compared to older students and adults?  What does this study show about our education system?  I find that I am left with more questions…what do you think?

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What should education look like today in the 21st century?  Do we need to change the way we approach and view education? 

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

 What messages are we sending our children and youth??

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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.

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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!

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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