Breaking News! Your Phone Isn’t Just for Cat Pictures: Take Action!

Today I would like to reflect on how technology can be used to promote social action. Ben Rattray discusses how social media can be used to create grassroots movements through sharing digital stories and starting campaigns and petitions that lead to nation-wide movements. Maybe most influential is the idea that our technology is just beginning, therefore, our social action is just beginning. Ben notes that “we face big problems… but the democratization of technology [means] people will be able to start more campaigns than we can possibly imagine… because together with the right tools, we can change the world.” This video gives me hope that “there is no issue that will be left untouched.”

But how do we get students to engage in these issues that matter? I do think great change will happen but the technology is just the tool. In other words, the tools don’t use themselves. We must use the tools properly to make the change. It is the people behind the screen that matter.

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Photo Credit: andres musta via Compfight cc

So how do we promote social action for our students?

1. Knowledge/Exposure – kids cannot fix things if they do not know they are broken. We have the information at our hands. It is very important that we do not let single stories dominate our teaching. It is important that we show the voices of all: strengths, weaknesses, issues, successes, etc. If we expose children to knowledge in the right ways, this creates a culture of empathy in our classrooms/societies.

2. Create a Positive Digital Citizenship – kids need to create a positive online self. They need to actively be creating this positive imagine and we must assist them along the way (ie. get them to create a blog, discuss the risks/provide examples of inappropriate technology use that led to issues for people like this UCLA Student, discuss cyberbullying through examples like Amanda Todd, etc.).

3. Passion – with exposure to the knowledge and the know-how and platform to have a positive voice, students will find things that matter to them. It is up to us to help them pursue these things. Committees like We Day or SRC can help students work towards their goals. I was proud to be part of both of these groups during my internship and amazed at the action the students took; for instance, selling rafikis to empower women/families in Kenya. Here are some more examples of what has been done or what could be done:

Note that with all positives, come negatives, too. For instance, the ASL bucket challenge was a huge waste of water and highlights privilege (many people do not have clean drinking water so dumping good water on ones head would seem a bit insane to some). There is also the socio-economic divide causing a lack of access to technology. And we can’t forget the trolls of the internet.

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Photo Credit: uomoplanetario.org via Compfight cc

But in my opinion the pros outweigh the cons. If we expose students to different causes in an environment that encourages a positive sense of self; if we are proactive about bullying; if we help students find their passions; if we provide additional tools so that everyone has access to learning (even if it isn’t through technology); if we make technology a top budget priority in our schools; there really will be no issue that will go untouched. The internet, like our world, can be a more equitable place for all if we work from within. 

Compiling Tech. Resources

In ECMP 355 we have learned about many tools to facilitate 21st century education! From Blackboard to Pensieve to My Fitness Pal – it feels like we have covered it all. For my own benefit (and anyone else who is interested), here is an overview of what we have explored and some of my own favorites:

1. MOOCs

2. Blog/Writing/Classroom Places for Resources

  1. RSS Feeds/Bookmarking
  1. Communication/Assessment
  1. Social

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Photo Credit Globovisión via Compfightcc

6. Productivity/Plan

  1. Presentation/Assess
  1. Creative
  1. Media
  1. Coding
  1. Misc.

12. Autism Apps

13. Sign Language Apps/Sites

Today I also want to compile the resources from two articles: Snapshots Of Understanding? 10 Smart Tools For Digital Exit Slips and Apps That Rise to the Top: Tested and Approved By Teachers. Note: some resources repeat.

The first article discusses exit slips (an important element of assessment as… or assessment for if they are entrance slips). The article outlines these following technological options:

The second article outlines teacher-approved apps for:

1. Digital Storytelling/Presenting

2. Video Tools

3. Photo Editing

4. Augmented Reality

5. Reading/ELA/Library

*more ELA resources at kgorhamblog ELA Resources 

6. Commenting Tools

7. Coding

8. Note Taking/Organization

9. Digital Citizenship

10. Social Media

.11. Misc.

What other tools are out there? What is your favorite tool? What is a technology that you and your classroom couldn’t survive without!?

Free #DigCit Resources: No Tricks, No Gimmicks or Your Money Back

Alright, figuratively speaking you are sitting at your desk, coffee cup in hand and grabbing a fist full of your hair. You know you must teach #digcit to your students, but how? Where do you even start? How can you learn about it #digcit yourself? Well, set down the coffee cup, leave your hair in place and look below:

On March 6th, David Andrade posted resources (at the bottom of the blog post) and a free online class for teachers called teaching digital citizenship to students. This is the link to the free Teaching Digital Citizenship App by Netsmartz and Club Penguin. I would also recommend checking out Tech Learning and the Educator Resource Page. Also, 10 Tech Skills Every Student Should Have is worth the read!

The training covers:

  • Digital literacy & Ethics
  • Inappropriate Content
  • Online Sexual Solicitation
  • Online Privacy
  • Sexting
  • Cyberbullying

You can choose to look at whatever areas you want and start and stop if needed. In it’s entirety it is about 1 hour of training. The material covered is best for ages 5-17 and specific resources are recommended for each level. A certificate of achievement is earned after completing the training.

ELA and Digitial Citizenship Resources and Activities

Resources (as suggested by Donawa and Fowler in Reading Canada Chapter 6).

 “Fan fiction writers use pre-existing fictional characters from an original work to develop alternative relational, situational, and plot events which they self-publish for one another… fan fiction makes up 33 percent of all content revolving around books [on the web]” (in Boos, 2008)”” (Donawa et al., 2013, p. 186)

“Carlie Webber (2009) points out that school assignments like writing a letter from Mercutio to Romeo are fan faction: “You put your own spin on someone else’s story”” (Donawa et al., 2013, p. 186).

Activities (as suggested in Reading Canada by Donawa and Fowler 2013)

  1. Role-play
  2. Use Cross-Country Bookshelf to get students to present about authors
  3. Movie trailers
  4. Canada Read’s to debate and defend book of choice

“The concept of play (good for the brain and emotions) requires the students to know the story, setting, characters, and themes to be able to participate. The result tends to be higher order thinking and more elaborated conversation, including more extensive understanding by the young adult readers” (Donawa et al., 2013, p. 187).

To Use Technology or Not to Use Technology: It’s Not Even a Question

Computer Hard Drive Half-Full

Today I will be reflecting on Wendy Donawa’s and Leah C. Fowler’s “The YA Reader in the Digital Age” from their book Reading Canada. This chapter focuses on using technology in ELA classrooms. Donawa and Fowler (2013) state that “technology ought to be a seamless, integral part of what [teachers use] in the classrooms, especially in literature classes. Students and teachers want and need a connected classroom” (p. 188). This quote fits perfectly with my reason for becoming a teacher: my purpose is to help students realize their potential, uncover their unknown and known interests, and gain the confidence needed to share their knowledge and perspectives with others (both face-to-face and online). In my opinion, the purpose of learning is connection; we learn to share, we share to learn. Technology is a tool that teachers can and should utilize to get students engaged with collaborative learning. Furthermore, the use of technology improves “students’ interest, engagement, learning and success with Canadian [and other] literature” (Donawa et al., 2013, p. 190). This is how I view technology in my classroom. I believe all methods of instruction need to be utilized and would suggest that the only wrong strategy is an over-used strategy. Technology – although I will have to step back and explicitly teach certain programs – is not the lesson but the tool. Donawa and Fowler (2013) suggest that “mastering digital tools and technology is not the goal of instruction, but if they are well integrated for reading, research, and analysis of literature, they motivate, engage, and support learners” (p. 179). Appropriate use of technology is vital, as our directive is to implement the Saskatchewan Curriculum. Therefore, technology is a tool in accomplishing that goal. Donawa and Fowler (2013) note that “technology needs to be relevant to the objectives, topics, and assignments; it should be high quality, fast, accessible, glitch-free, focused, and specific. Classroom sites or web-based instruction platforms can be marvelous resources for teachers’ tailor-made assignments and activities that enhance learning key principles. Teachers and students support success when they co-create relevant resources and links that connect for learning” (p. 188). Some of the platforms – albeit, not always glitch-free or accessible to all – that can be used are:

Teacher Resources Student Resources Both
Teachers Pay Teachers

Twitter (ex. #edtech; #edchat)

Youtube Youtube
Teaching Channel Prezi EBooks
Edutopia Blackboard
Facebook (ex. Sask. Teachers’ pages) WebCT
Pinterest

Upworthy

TedTalks (Ed)

Class Wiki or Blog (ex. kgorhamblog@wordpress.com; kidblog)
 Google Docs Moodle

I believe that adding technology into our repertoire does not discredit or ignore previous methods or disrupt a sound ELA curriculum. Through the use of technology in the classroom, students can develop “inquiry strategies… receptive and expressive literary skills, and form meaningful online relationships and participate in reading communities” (Donawa et al., 2013, p. 179) and still work “on classic literary strategies: phonemic awareness, oral language development, spelling, vocabulary, writing, comprehension, and fluency” (Donawa et al., 2013, p. 193) through online exploration. We are not replacing the old with the new but shifting from individual classroom studies to global knowledge sharing communities; “the impact of the digital world and on readers and reading, and on literature production, has been profound” (Donawa et al., 2013, p. 179). Donawa and Fowler (2013) note that “we have come to expect an unlimited choice of information and communication as a norm and a right” (p. 180); technology is not going away and it is time to embrace it in our ELA classrooms.

Computer Hard Drive Half Empty

With the positives always comes the negative. Although I do believe technology is something we must incorporate, there are definitely some cons. One of my biggest issues with technology is the overload! I often feel bogged down; I can never keep up to all the information that comes my way and I am sure students feel the same. As an educator with endless amounts of great resources and new information each day, it is hard to pick what to study. We need to help students – who are coming of age and figuring themselves out – navigate through a vast amount of sources and engage with positive choices.  Donawa and Folwer (2013) note that this can be done through instructional scaffolding (p. 191). But this is harder than it sounds, especially when you can find anything to back up your opinion. I often wonder how we can determine if anything is credible? Are we not more incline to believe that an article that supports our preexisting belief is more credible than something that challenges our ideas? Technology is a great example of this: take for instance the many pro. technology articles on edutopia or #edtech on Twitter versus John Lornic’s work or Fusion New’s “This is what it’s like to be one of the 75 million Americans living without Internet access:”

(Note: John Lornic (2007) suggested that “multi-tasking, although inseparable from pervasive electronic distraction, is a phrase initially used to describe the capabilities of a the computer, not the human brain” and that “the sheer glut of data itself has supplanted the kind of focused reflective attention that might make this information useful in the first place (p. 50; 59)).  Even Donawa and Fowler, who are promoting the use of technology in ELA classrooms, suggest that “the generous support of information technology and competency-based learning may well be the prudent fostering of a future workforce, but it is generally accompanied by diminished support for art, music, literature, and liberal education” and furthermore, “ceaseless electronic demands… replace human interaction or inner contemplative and cognitive activity” (2013, p. 180). How do we pick what to focus our attention on and what to believe? And how do we teach this to students when we are figure it out ourselves?

Another issue I have with technology is the lack of access. Donawa and Fowler note that “Canadian students have a media-textual world at their fingertips through home, school, or public library computers” (2013, p. 189) and although this is true for most, over 75 million Americans are without technology access (see above video). This creates a socio-economic divide and also disproves the misconception (see page 191 in Reading Canada) that students are “digitally competent and able.” Many students need explicit instruction and just as learners are ready to learn at different paces, their ability to access technology is diverse. I want to flip my classroom one day but what if I had students who did not have access to technology? Could I do it? What could I do to assist those students and even the playing field?

Searching for Files

In the end, I will utilize technology in my classroom because the pros outweigh the cons and it is not an option. It is here to stay and it is a mode of teaching that works. Not only that, but it is ingrained in our lives; it seemed like I was helpless on my trip to Minot when I had to shut off my data and couldn’t consult Google Maps or Goolge whenever I wished. Technology is part of us and the theoretical framework of an ELA classroom can be met through the use of technology. For instance, technology fosters inquiry-based learning (answering self-directed, real questions), and constructivism (“learning is a socially mediated process, where learners are actively and relationally involved in a process of meaning-making and knowledge production” (Donawa et al., 2013, p. 191). By utilizing technology students get “choice, pace, and control over their work” (Donawa et al., 2013, p. 193). Technology fosters motivation, responsibility, independence, interaction, engagement, critical thinking, exploration, and reflection. Our learners may be all over the map with technology but as teachers it is our job to start with the zone of proximal development and expand their horizons, albeit at their own pace. Furthermore and most importantly, technology = digital citizenship = citizenship.

Digital Citizenship: The Need to Know

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Image by Paul Downey

I read a great article about digital citizenship by Vicki Davis (link below). Her approach to teaching digital citizenship is to teach both proactive knowledge and experiential knowledge.

For proactive knowledge she teaches 9 key things using her book, Reinventing Writing, and examples, lessons, assignments, etc. The 9 pieces of proactive knowledge are: passwords (strength and remembering them), privacy, personal information (and who to share it with), photographs (what can be shared and geotagging), property (copyright and licensing), permission (citing), protection (viruses, malware, phishing, ransomware, and identity theft), professionalism (netiquette, conflict resolution, and decision making), and personal brand (voice).

Resources she uses: LastPass; 10 Important Password Tips Everyone Should Know; Common Sense Media Curriculum; Location-Based Safety Guide; Creative Commons

For experiential knowledge she uses lessons, discussions, examples, assignments, etc. to bring the 9 P’s to life:

1. Truth or Fiction (of scams and cons) using Snopes, Truth or Fiction, the Threat Encyclopedia, or the Federal Trade Commission.

2. Turn Students into Teachers by getting them to find the scams and present.

3. Collaborative Learning Communities through Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds, Gamifi-ed, AIC Conflict Simulation, game-based learning, Ning blog, and a classroom wiki. This also allows students to connect with those around the world.

My Reflection:

I LOVE THIS ARTICLE AND THE RESOURCES. I felt a bit lost as to how I would teach digital citizenship in my classroom but this will serve as a great roadmap. Davis notes that she teaches from a digital citizenship curriculum so I may have to get creative as to how this fits in with the curriculum outcomes I am teaching. If I was teaching Grade 9 for instance, these are the outcomes that I believe would fit:

CR9.1a – View, listen to, read, comprehend, and respond to a variety of texts that address identity (e.g., The Search for Self), social responsibility (e.g., Our Shared Narratives), and efficacy (e.g., Doing the Right Thing).

CR9.3a – Use pragmatic (e.g., language suitable for intended audience), textual (e.g., author’s thesis or argument, how author organized text to achieve unity, coherence, and effect), syntactic (e.g., parallel structures), semantic/lexical/morphological (e.g., connotation and denotation), graphophonic (e.g., common spellings and variants for effect or dialect), and other cues (e.g., fonts, colour) to construct and to confirm meaning.

CR9.4a – View and demonstrate comprehension and evaluation of visual and multimedia texts including illustrations, maps, charts, graphs, pamphlets, photography, art works, video clips, and dramatizations to glean ideas suitable for identified audience and purpose.

CC9.1a – Create various visual, multimedia, oral, and written texts that explore identity (e.g., The Search for Self), social responsibility (e.g., Our Shared Narratives), and efficacy (e.g., Doing the Right Thing).

CC9.2a – Create and present an individual researched inquiry project related to a topic, theme, or issue studied in English language arts.

CC9.3a – Select and use appropriate strategies to communicate meaning before (e.g., considering and valuing own observations, experiences, ideas, and opinions as sources for ideas), during (e.g., shaping and reshaping drafts with audience and purpose in mind), and after (e.g., ensuring that all parts support the main idea or thesis) speaking, writing, and other representing activities.

CC9.5a – Create and present a variety of visual and multimedia presentations to best represent message for an intended audience and purpose.

CC9.6a – Use oral language to interact purposefully, confidently, and appropriately in a variety of situations including participating in one-to-one, small group, and large group discussions (e.g., prompting and supporting others, solving problems, resolving conflicts, building consensus, articulating and explaining personal viewpoint, discussing preferences, speaking to extend current understanding, and celebrating special events and accomplishments).

CC9.9a – Experiment with a variety of text forms (e.g., debates, meetings, presentations to unfamiliar audiences, poetry, précis, short script, advice column, video documentary, comic strip) and techniques (e.g., tone, persona, point of view, imagery, dialogue, figurative language).

Obviously, I would have to go beyond teaching digital citizenship to meet these outcomes but these are all places where digital citizenship can be touched upon. Through technology and digital citizenship I could definitely have my students focus on the 6 strands of ELA: reading, writing, speaking, listening, presenting, and viewing.

The best part about this process is that I would be learning alongside my students, as I have lots to learn about digital citizenship. Another resource I would use is lol…OMG! by Matt Ivester.

“Citizenship is what we do to fulfill our role as a citizen. That role starts as soon as we click on the internet.” – Vicki Davis

Read more at: Edutopia’s “What Your Students Really Need to Know About Digital Citizenship” and Anne Collier who believes we should drop the word “digital” in digital citizenship.

 

Discussion:

What resources would you use to teach digital citizenship? What curriculum connections can you make (Saskatchewan Curriculum)? Do you think we are teaching digital citizenship or just citizenship; are the terms one in the same?

Digital Citizenship and the Saskatchewan Curriculum

There are several outcomes and indicators that would support the teaching of digital citizenship in the Saskatchewan Curriculum. The subject that first comes to mind when I think of digital citizenship is Health Education. This is because a sound health education program, according the Saskatchewan Curriculum, allows “young people [to] acquire the understandings, skills, and confidences needed, for example, to evaluate healthy food policies; to negotiate and make healthy decisions about sexual and reproductive health; to question the norms and trends that influence decision making; to communicate effectively in relationships; and to take action to promote the health of self, family, community, and environment.” I do not think you can talk about sexual health, evaluation of sources, norms and trends, and healthy relationships without discussing media. It is not enough to talk about bullying at school when bullying can also occur online (a very unhealthy relationship).

With that in mind, I took a specific look at the Grade Nine Health Education Curriculum and these were the outcomes that stood out to me:

USC9.9:  Develop and demonstrate the personal insight, motivation, and skills necessary to enhance and promote sexual health and avoid health-compromising sexual attitudes and behaviors.

AP9.12: Design, implement, and evaluate an action plan that demonstrate responsible health promotion related to comprehensive approaches to sexual health.

I think these outcomes could be approached by:

– discussing/defining sexting

– watching the video “Sex Plus Text = Trouble”

– brainstorming ways to protect self online

– scenarios/examples and brainstorms of how to get out of a risky situation

– reading or watching Amanda Todd’s story or one of the other many examples

– student created videos on how to say no/appropriate technology use

– RCMP of guest speaker

A Thin Line: Allie’s Story

looking at criminal law/consequences of sharing a picture etc.

– read Teaching About Cyber Security from NY Times learning blogs

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Photo Credit: MacQ via Compfight cc

As an English major, I wanted to explore ELA outcomes that lend themselves to digital citizenship. In ELA I would discuss digital citizenship through identity and verifying sources, as this relates to character analysis and essay writing.

Outcome Connection:

CR9.4b: Demonstrate effective, active viewing behaviours including considering what one knows and needs to know about the topic, viewing with a clearly defined purpose in mind, etc.

CR9.1a – View, listen to, read, comprehend, and respond to a variety of texts that address identity (e.g., The Search for Self), social responsibility (e.g., Our Shared Narratives), and efficacy (e.g., Doing the Right Thing).

CC9.2a – Create and present an individual researched inquiry project related to a topic, theme, or issue studied in English language arts.

– get students to brainstorm the pos. and neg. about technology and identities

– introduce idea of false identities and trolls/bullying through Facebook/Twitter examples (fake celebrities). Can also explore photoshop fails and how people fake their own identities (image-crafting). This could be compared to how a character in a novel creates their identity or is treated by others. An article titled: Guest Post | Who Are You Online? Considering Issues of Web Identity on the NY Times learning blogs would be a helpful read. Making Facebook profiles for characters in a book can also be helpful in getting students to understand the character and analyze how we create our identities online.

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Photo Credit: Perfectance via Compfight cc
– brainstorm what to do when being harassed and students make a survival kit

– look at sources by reading Reader Idea | Evaluating Arguments and Checking Sources on NY Times learning blogs before writing an essay (and then also bring in that they should do this when posting to Facebook etc. – make that real life connection to the students).

 

What ways do you teach digital citizenship in your ELA, health, or various classrooms? Do you agree that digital citizenship should be incorporated into every class or should it be a class of its own?

 

Cyber Safety and Digital Citizenship in the Classroom

It scares me that Google tracks my location, Facebook knows what I like, and that my contact information is all over this blog. However, I am conflicted because I also know the importance of creating a digital citizenship. I also find most of these tools either entertaining (Facebook) or useful (GPS). It is like I have an angel and a devil on either shoulder – one with the voice of my elders saying “be cyber safe… be careful of what you post… don’t post when you leave for a trip or you will get robbed” and the other voice saying “people got stalked before internet ages… anyone can find my information out if they want… I can’t control what others post so I might as well post and take some control back… use it as a tool to collaborate… having an online identity makes you more employable.” This war always wages.

What are your thoughts on digital citizenship and cyber safety? Do you think cyber safety has a place in our teachings or is the sole purpose to terrify children? What things do you do/should I do to be cyber safe?

I recently read an article called “10 Dangerous Apps Every Parent Needs to Know About.”  I think the information applies to educators, too! This article discusses Tinder, Snapchat, Blendr, Kik Messenger, Whisper, Ask.fm, Yik Yak, Poof, Omegle, and Down. After realizing I am not “with the times” and only know about a couple of these applications I read the rather convincing problems with each app. For instance, Snapchat is described as the #1 sexting app and the problem is that these supposed temporary pictures can be screenshotted and uploaded to various places on the internet. I would not want that for any of my students and I can see why this app could be detrimental at such an impressionable age, where fitting in is central and self -confidence isn’t always fully developed. However, to play devil’s advocate, despite my own desire to just listen to this and wrap my students in feathers and bubble wrap, is it worth banning? Doesn’t that make it more desirable for kids? There are definitely a few of these application that, based on their descriptions, I would ban and/or discourage. But is there a way to get kids to use some of these appropriately? Would it not be more beneficial to have discussions about these issues than to just ban it altogether? The internet/technology is not stopping so maybe if we focus our attention on appropriate use, self-respect, and the serious talks that should occur, we won’t have to waste our time trying to figure out the new thing to ban each month? Maybe it is about appropriate use vs. what to use? Let me know what you think.. I could go either way on this topic!