Author Archives: Brooke

Wrapping Up My Major Project

It’s finally here! Today I am wrapping up my major project for EC&I 832.

For my major project, I choose to do a Personal Journey Into Media (option #2). You can read about my original plan: Major Project Projections however, my plan changed slightly over the course of my exploration. My original plan included exploring 3 things:

  1. Exploring Snapchat as a social media platform
  2. Exploring Seesaw as an educational app
  3. Integrating memes into literacy (in March – meme month! I am a big fan of alliterations).

Exploring Snapchat and Seesaw remained in place throughout the term. However, as I began the set up of Seesaw, I realized how much my students (and I) didn’t know about being digital citizens. Because I was just learning about being a digital citizen, I used our class sessions, readings and vlogs to learn about myself first! I couldn’t just hand my students a new app and expect them to know how to use it responsibly.

The apps we use in the classroom are mostly RAZ Kids and Mathletics, which unlike Seesaw, do not include social interactions or creating posts that others can see. We needed digital citizenship education! But I hadn’t taught this before. In fact, it wasn’t until this course that I found out about the Digital Citizenship Education in SK Schools document and even later when I discovered that teaching digital citizenship is part of our division’s policies. I am sure glad I know about this now! I plan to continue to use my Twitter account to share information about this because I know I am not the only person who wasn’t aware of this!

Through early February, I spent my time setting up the Seesaw app and preparing a digital citizenship unit. Which meant that I really did two of the major projects options combined into one (option #1 and option #2). I drew on a number of sources including Media Smarts, Common Sense Media, Google’s Be Internet Awesome curriculum and many more. I took online courses to be a Google Digital Citizen Educator and many courses about setting up and using Seesaw through their PD in Your PJs sessions.

The latter half of February was spent starting up our digital citizenship unit and before I knew it, March was almost here and I was supposed to be starting meme integration into our literacy unit. I have some really cool resources and tools to integrate memes into literacy (which I haven’t yet had a chance to use yet) but I had to make an executive decision. We had only just begun our digital citizenship education and still had much to learn alongside starting up with Seesaw. I didn’t want to switch things up  when we just got the ball rolling! So I decided to cut the meme integration for now and continued to work on creating my Digital Citizenship unit.

Thus, my major project changed to focus on exploring these 3 things:

  1. Exploring Snapchat as a social media platform
  2. Exploring Seesaw as an educational app
  3. Creating and teaching a digital citizenship unit.

Meanwhile, I was using Snapchat as a personal social media app and having a blast!

Though I realized that I use Snapchat mainly for: having fun with filters, taking pictures of my dog and snapping about what we are up to (the last picture is us getting ready to hike to Horseshoe Bay Canyon – see my photo of the canyon in this post and then go visit it because it is A-MAZING!)

Here is look back at my app exploration and digital citizenship education journey:

  1. The first week included setting up the Seesaw app and checking out all the great set up resources that Seesaw has to offer educators. Check out my process here!
  2. Then I examined how Ribble’s 9 Elements relate to the Seesaw app and considered whether I would use Seesaw next year to replace Remind (which I currently use as well).
  3. Next, I headed Back to the Basics with Snapchat to learn about the company, examine the app from the eyes of a newbie and get an insider view into some of the features.
  4. Our first digital citizenship lesson looked at the Internet as a place you can visit (just like a field trip). We took an online field trip and came up with some rules for how to be safe online. Check out the lesson details here.
  5. Up next was examining some of Snapchat’s core beliefs in the wake of the Kylie Jenner tweet about the new update which put Snapchat in the Spotlight for quite some time.
  6. Our second digital citizenship lesson was about personal and private information. See lesson details here! This lesson included the kids creating safe usernames for each other — so much fun!
  7. Then the fun really began! I explored Seesaw’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Service in my blog post.  Did you catch the sarcasm? To be honest, it wasn’t as boring as I thought it would be! I learned a lot about privacy during this class and am much more skeptical when a website or app asks me to agree to sharing information.
  8. In our next digital citizenship lesson we learned about digital footprints. We transformed our classroom into the Internet, were hired by a detective agency and had to find clues by following the Digital Trail of two digital citizens from the animal kingdom.
  9. If reading Seesaw’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Service agreement wasn’t interesting enough, I went ahead and read Snapchat’s too.
  10. Next, I took some time to reflect on my learning in class and think about the importance and the why behind teaching digital citizenship. You can find those thoughts here.
  11. Our fourth digital citizenship lesson focused on what it means to be a digital citizen.
  12. Then I wrote a review about Seesaw, recommending it to other teachers! If you can’t tell from reading the review, I am pretty pumped about integrating this app into my classroom so far.
  13. As I started to move up in the world of being a Snapchat user, I took some time to explore Bitmoji’s as they relate to Snapchat.
  14. For the next three digital citizenship lessons, we spent a significant amount of time focusing on cyberbullying — what it was, how it differed from in-person bullying, how it was similar to in-person bullying, how being a responsible digital citizen means not being a cyberbully and what to do if you witness or are a victim of cyberbullying. Check out the lesson details here. We need to learn about being kind online before I would hand over the reins and let them start commenting on Seesaw.
  15. My last look into Snapchat for the semester dealt with Digital Health and Wellness as it pertains to social media use and in particular through the use of Snapchat. You can find my thoughts here.
  16. Now that we had some digital citizenship basics under our belt and had been using the Seesaw app to create posts for several weeks, it was time to open up the commenting feature on Seesaw. Learning to comment came in phases. The first phase of commenting instruction can be found here. Unfortunately, our next phase of commenting will happen after the Easter break but know that we are continuing to work on it beyond this course.

Okay, so I have given you a quick glimpse into my app exploration and creation of a digital citizenship unit. The strange part for me about this project is that it is more about the process and less about the product. All along I have been wanting to create a final product to hand in and had to accept that this project was more about blogging about my learning process. The semester is coming to a close and I have learned so much about Seesaw, Snapchat and teaching digital citizenship. But..it feels like my learning has just begun and the semester has flown by!

In my mind I have many future blog posts planned out such as how Snapchat can be used as a classroom tool, more about the activities and ways we are using Seesaw, how we are even deeper into learning about constructive commenting than before, other digital citizenship lessons that I have lined up for my students and so much more! I guess the best part is that all of this learning can continue on and it was a pleasure to engage in a major project that was relevant to me and that I felt I had some control over in regards to the process and the outcome.

Cheers

That’s a Wrap! – Summary of Learning W18

What a whirlwind of a semester! I cannot believe how quickly it has gone by. On this page you will find my Summary of Learning for EC&I 832. Thank you to Alec and my fellow EC&I 832 classmates for helping me along this journey of digital citizenship and media literacy. I have learned so much and my pedagogical practices have changed for the better! Not only has my practice changed but I am also a more conscientious and informed digital citizen. I now have a stronger understanding of emerging literacies and contemporary issues as they relate to digital citizenship, media literacy, the fake news world and the variety of moral, ethical and legal issues surrounding these topics.

For my Summary of Learning I decided to try a new tool: Powtoon! I really enjoyed using this tool. It was very easy to create with and there are so many features I haven’t even explored yet. I am hoping I will get to try it out a bit more during the spring semester of EC&I 830. The only unfortunate thing about this tool is that the free version only allows for 5 minute clips which means that I had to break it into a part one and part two so please make sure to watch both!

Summary of Learning Part 1:

Summary of Learning cont’d (Part 2):

Thank you for watching!

I am happy that I can now say I am half way through completing my graduate degree!

Cheers!

Snapchat – Health and Wellness

You don’t need to look too far to find information about how social media is causing an increased or at least sustained momentum with regards to youth anxiety and other mental health concerns. There are several examples of tech guru’s working in the industry place limitations on themselves or their families. Despite much work being done on this topic, it is also contested (this article was published only two days ago!) by many who cite not enough research has been done to draw conclusions yet.

Many researchers are examining the effects of technology as they relate to distractedness and how app features are specifically designed to manipulate our brains. Tristan Harris talks about the extent in which tech companies “ethically steer people’s thoughts”. He discuss the business of technology and how all tech companies are competing for one thing: your attention.

In this Ted Talk, Harris discusses Snapstreaks and how the app is intentionally designed with your psychology in mind. Once again, the Internet is abound with articles and information about how Snapchat (the app I am engaging with for my major project) and Snapstreaks are addictive and relate to potential mental and socio-emotional concerns. (See also, My Bitmoji Gives Me Anxiety).

Harris founded the Center for Humane Tech and the Time Well Spent movement to encourage understanding of how the Internet is hijacking our society. In response, apps can choose to make more humane and ethical decisions about how to fight the attention addictions they create in the first place. Here is one example of how Snapchat is doing this.

Anya Kamenetz article “Your Kids Phone is Not like a Cigarette” argues that “when it came to tobacco, the solution was simple: Quit or don’t start smoking. That’s not the case here. Phones, tablets and other devices that have caused so much concern have more in common with cars than with cigarettes; unlike tobacco, they are essential tools that can be used in a healthy way”. So, we need to figure out how we use those tech tools in a healthy way.

I posted earlier this semester about how the Internet is Not the Problem. The Internet and it’s big business model which tracks and benefits from human psychology calls into question what we understand about society-technology dichotomy and brings many ethical concerns to the forefront. But to sit around and blame the Internet doesn’t help anyone. We need to continually be ultra-informed and aware about what is happening in the tech world. In this case, ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance can be potentially very harmful. Technology is transforming at lightning speeds and in order to care for our digital well-being, we need to stay caught up. Dr. Ribble’s 9 elements of digital citizenship includes the element of Digital Health & Wellness. Ribble makes the case that “Digital Citizenship includes a culture where technology users are taught how to protect themselves through education and training”.

Let’s work on maintaining our digital well-being together!

Where will you start on your journey of digital well-being? If you’re not sure, try some of these suggestions.

The Evolution of Commenting Online – Part 1

My students and I have been looking at this poster during all of our digital citizenship lessons. After exploring what it means to be a digital citizen, we have returned to this poster to guide and set a purpose for each new lesson. For example, when we talked about being kind online, we were focusing on the “heart” of a digital citizen. When we discussed personal and private information, we talked about “wearing our thinking caps” before we share information online. When we talked about rules for being safe online, we discussed listening to our gut feeling.

Today, when I opened the “commenting” feature on our Seesaw app (one of the apps I am exploring for my final project), I brought this poster up again for my students to see and asked which part of a digital citizen must we engage when we think about commenting on other people’s work. Of course, they responded with: respect themselves and others.

 

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In order to guide our thinking about how to comment, we looked at this graphic and discussed what each element meant, along with examples. This included the discussion that random emojis, using for example 30 smiley faces or 28 exclamation marks would fall under the category of unnecessary. For our first go at commenting, we focused on the elements true, helpful, necessary and kind (we left out inspiring because we just aren’t there yet!) and the kids were excited to start commenting right away.

My students work on Seesaw during Daily 5 so they got started on this as soon as their group was at that station. They assignment for today was a short one (take a picture of their Ted Harrison art project) and write a caption explaining how they imitated his art style. This was a short assignment so that they had time to comment on the work of others and explore some of the comments that had been left for them by me. Their comments have to be approved by me before they are posted so they weren’t able to see comments from their peers right away.

After two days (when all groups had made it through this station and their first chance at commenting), I put all of the comments up on the screen for the kids to see. We filtered through each one deciding if it fit into our THNK (no I yet!) model. Some of the kids were surprised that I put their comment up for everyone to read (even though it is visible to everyone in the class through the app). This allowed us a teachable moment about the permanency and availability of their online actions. This also gave us an opportunity to talk about the “grandma rule” (they thought the name was hilarious!)

What we discovered as a class was that most of their posts were two things: true and kind. Here are some examples:

There were a few that went beyond the true and kind model to include helpful and necessary as well. Here are some of those examples:

This is just the beginning of my students and their learning how to comment. Next week we will be adding another layer of rules that comments must include in order to be approved! Stay tuned!

The Post-Truth Era – Part 2

Click to read The Post-Truth Era – Part 1.

Image result for fake news meme

This week, our professor Alec, asked us to write about an average day (for us) in terms of reading and making sense of information, media and the world around you by discussing personal strategies for analyzing and validating information? After all, if we are going to teach others (especially our students) about being media literate and about being able to spot fake news, we must first analyze our own practices. 

I am finding more and more that my parents are talking to me about “news” they read on Facebook or wanting to purchase something off of ads they have seen on Facebook.

Signe Wilkinson – Philly.com

Trust me, I have tried to explain filter bubbles to them. I have tried to explain fake news to them. My mom is constantly phoning me asking if I have heard of this make up or fancy lotion that she has seen in an ad on Facebook. When I tell her that I haven’t heard of it before, ask her if she has checked out their website or read reviews and inform her about why she is likely seeing the ad in the first place, she scoffs and rolls her eyes. However, her generation has not previously had to critically examine news in the way that people are required to today. I am constantly emailing articles to her so that she can better understand the algorithms that are controlling what she sees online. She is learning though!

I recently sent this video to her:

Fake News often uses seemingly shocking headlines to get readers to click. This video asks readers to stop, think and check before sharing. This video also lists the variety of items on a new site that you should be skeptical about. I think about many of these items as I scroll through news articles daily.

Like most people, I receive much of my news through social media sites, in particular through Twitter. My first line of defense is looking at the web address. If it is an opinion piece I am looking at, I am a little more lenient because many opinion pieces I read are from personal blogs. However, if it is news I am looking for, I want a web address that I am familiar with like CBC. I have friends on Facebook that post “news” articles from the most bizarre web addresses and I never click if it doesn’t look like a legitimate web address. I also roll my eyes at them for posting without being thorough. I’d say my thoughts coincide with my classmate Kelsie, as she talks about not knowing what to say when other post obvious misinformation on Facebook. I often end up just scrolling past.

With Ideas from the video I posted earlier in this blog combined with a list of critical questions in my mind (similar to the ones in my classmate, Luke’s blog post A Day in the Life of a Media Consumer), I set out to explore my daily intake of news.

If I read something that seems a bit fishy I often see if I can corroborate one news story with another. I also always check the date and the source of the information. I often (but not always) check the background of the author to see what else they have written and if they are writing for/working for a reliable source.

One new idea that I am now becoming cognizant of is circular reporting which makes it more difficult for people to corroborate their news stories with others. Check out this video to understand how circular reporting works and how it creates an fertile environment for the spread of false information.

Recently, I have also learned about websites like Snopes.com and FactChecker which I will be starting to use now that I am aware of them!

What personal strategies do you use for navigating the (mis)information you see online?

 

The Post-Truth Era – Part 1

Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year for 2016 was post-truth as defined as “an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less  influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.

This week’s class discussion focused on the new and emerging challenges of literacy in a fake news world or if you will, a post-truth world. Many of my classmate’s presentations this week discussed how fake news spreads rampantly compared to factual articles and that fake news stories tend to have some sort of flair or novelty, thus appealing to the emotions and personal beliefs of their readers.

Why is this such a big deal? Well, it isn’t just a big deal for journalism, fake news is attacking the foundations of democracy by hacking into the human psyche in a way that has not been done before. Fake news is eroding epistemological and ontological values and understandings in humanity’s worldviews. In his article How the Business of the Digital Age Threatens Democracy , Aiden White (2017) references the BBC’s Grand Challenges for the 21st Century where many experts “named the breakdown of trusted information sources as a primary threat” in the 21st century.

Aiden White (2017) writes about the business model of the digital age,

“Using sophisticated algorithms, bots and turbo-charged distribution systems and fed by limitless databanks providing personal access to millions of subscribers, this business model thrives on “viral information” that can deliver enough clicks to trigger digital advertising. It matters not whether information is true or honest or whether it has public purpose; what counts is that it is provocative and stimulating enough to attract attention. Digital robots are useful but they can’t be encoded with ethical and moral values. Clearly, the best people to handle ethical questions regarding online content are sentient human beings, however the digital business model eschews any significant role for journalists and editors to do this work. The development of business models driven by algorithms which put clicks before content has created a new culture of communications in which truth and honesty is obscured by fake news, bigotry and malicious lies; and it legitimises a political space that encourages ignorance, uncertainty and fear in the minds of voters. These realities raise bigger questions about fake news that not only concern the future of journalism but also the nature of democracy itself”.

It is a big job then, for parents and teachers to tackle the big business of the digital age. Anthony Golding (2007) in Fact or Fiction: Fake News and Its Impact on Education writes that “Students armed with a positive skepticism of fake news can become change agents rather than victims”. In The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News the author states “falsehood consistently dominates the truth on Twitter, the study finds: Fake news and false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into the social network, and spread much faster than accurate stories”. In all elementary classrooms, reading comprehension is a big deal. But in this “post-truth” world, simply understanding what we read is not enough. Young people must be taught the necessary skills for not just understanding what they read but being able to interpret the validity, quality and credibility of the sources they read. They must be able to analyze the difference between real and mis-information.

Adam Zyglis / The Buffalo News (CagleCartoons.com 2016)

So, where do we start?

In Jaimie and Jocelyn’s vlog, they discuss a video called The Problem with Fake News on the 5 Cs of Critical Consuming (context, credibility, construction, corroboration and compare).

The video argues (and I agree) that critical thinking citizens are good for democracy and democracy is good for everyone. Jaimie and Jocelyn also included this infographic to help teachers, parents and students begin to spot fake news:

Last week on Twitter and in our EC&I832 Google+ Community, I posed this question:

My students are too young to analyze most news articles because it is above their current reading ability but I would like the opportunity to incorporate this topic into our discussions at school.

My friends and classmates came back with the following ideas/resources:

Other ideas welcome!

Is Bitmoji the New Face of Your Digital Identity?

As described by Bitmoji.com, “Bitmoji is your own personal emoji. Create an expressive cartoon avatar, choose from a growing library of moods and stickers – featuring YOU! Put them into any text message, chat or status update”. There are over 1.9 septillion different combinations to make your bitmoji look just like you. Sometimes, I am kind of creeped out by how much my friend’s bitmoji’s really do look just like them.

So, how do you make one?

Bitmojis are are fun way to respond to messages in a variety of apps. I have been using Bitmoji for a few weeks now and really enjoy the creativity it allows me in conversations via text and Snapchat especially. Snapchat has recently introduced Friendmojis. To check out how to use Friendmojis, click here.

Bitmoji (owned by the software company Bitstrips) is a Toronto based company that was started by high school friends Jacob Blackstock and Jesse Brown in 2008 with the original intent of providing a web-based service for people to create their own comics without having to be good artists. In 2016, Snap Inc. (the company that owns Snapchat), bought Bitmoji. As I have discussed in earlier posts, Snapchat is one of the apps I am exploring for my major project.

Source  – Bitmoji now allows you to take a picture so that you can make your real image to your avatar.

Common Sense Education provides a good review of how this tool can be used in the classroom including as a safer profile picture for students to use at school. The review offers it’s own bottom line: that Bitmoji wasn’t necessarily made with education in mind but that they are many cool users for the app in the classroom. One interesting suggestion this review gives is for students to use Bitmoji as a way of representing characters in books or other texts. I know this simple idea opens up many possibilities in my mind for uses in the classroom. Remember, you must be 13 to sign up for the app though so best reserve this for high school students.

So, why do people love Bitmoji so much? Several sources that I have scoured for this blog post suggest that it provides the kind of face-to-face (if you can call it that) interaction that text message bubbles do not. Young people aren’t the only ones using it either. Most of my 25-30 year old friends are using Bitmojis. My youngest teenage cousin is using a Bitmoji and so are people I know that are similar in age to my parents.

What do you think of this reason for loving Bitmojis presented in the Forbes Magazine article The Inside Story of Bitmojis: Why We Love Them, How They Make Money, Why They are Here to Stay?

So, EC&I832 classmates, do you think Bitmoji fits into the emerging definition of digital identity?

Check out how the new selfie feature makes it even easier to create a Bitmoji in the image of your IRL self using the selfie option:


If you don’t have a Bitmoji already, here is how you can get one and then download it onto Snapchat:

 

How do you think I did?

Before you download Bitmoji or Snapchat to your phone, make sure to check out their Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. Lucky for you, Bitmoji and Snapchat operate under the same Privacy Policy under their company, Snap Inc. You can check out my review of Snap Inc.’s Privacy Policy here.

As for the Terms of Service, by creating a Bitmoji, you grant them the following rights:

“Rights You Grant Us: Some of our Services let you create, upload, post, send, receive, and store content. When you do that, you retain whatever ownership rights in that content you had to begin with. But you grant us and our affiliates a worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, and distribute that content including in connection with marketing and promotions for as long as you use the Services…You alone though remain responsible for the content you create, upload, post, send, or store through our Services…just know that we can use your ideas without compensating you”.

So, please be informed before you engage with this app and any new app for that matter!

Have you used Bitmoji? Do you like it? What apps have you used it with? What do you think of it as making text messages or chats appear like a more face-to-face human interaction? Do you see it as a way to create your digital identity online? IMG_1965

Media Literacy and Beyond!

Image result for media literacy meme

Wow! I learned so much from my EC&I832 classmates this week on media literacy. This topic fits well with an earlier debate in our class about the concept of digital natives. For further discussion on this topic, click here.

Generation Z which includes those born anywhere from the mid-90s to early 2000s. This crew is often lumped together under the title of Digital Natives. The concept of Digital Natives is frequently contested because it operates under the assumption that simply being born in that era somehow magically grants those young people with the “innate” gift of using, manipulating, and understanding technology. This is a BIG assumption to make. Children of Generation Z are part of a generation that won’t recall a time when the Internet did not exist. True. They are part of a generation with the most ground-breaking technological advancements. True. Although, so was every other generation before them at one point in time. They have technology at their fingertips and have been exposed to technology or portrayed on social media likely before they were even born. But does all this make them skilled users of the technology that is placed in their hands at increasingly younger ages? No.

I imagine that when the telephone was invented, the youth of that generation were using it more frequently. I imagine the same thing happened when the automobile was invented and frankly with all other major technological advances as well. It only makes sense that the younger people of this generation are quickly acquiring skills to be computer literate because they have been exposed to digitization for their entire lives.

But, as my classmate Dani points out in her vlog, digital literacy and computer literacy are not the same thing. She claims, it is not enough to be able to work with the programs (computer literacy) but that digital literacy requires critical thinking, awareness of behavioural standards (eg. Ribble’s Netiquette) and understanding of the social issues created by technology.

Most of the content catalysts this week first discussed the definition of literacy which is the ability to read and write or to have understanding in a specific field of knowledge. When we think about learning to read, kids need to be able to decode words, use clues to interpret meaning, understand the author’s purpose, among a variety of other skills. These too, apply to the relatively new concept of media literacy. As my classmate Nina describes in her vlog, media literacy helps students understand how words produce meaning and in turn, how people interpret these words which allows them to organize and construct their reality.

[By the way, media literacy seems like it should be a topic for the younger generation but I think it is just as important for my generation and people older than me to learn about digital citizenship and media literacy too. This learning is relevant for all ages! For the Generation X group to learn about it because most people in Gen X were teenagers and young adults when social media truly came onto the scene in the general public. Because it was so new, there wasn’t teachers and adults to help the Gen X crew navigate this new type of media.]

Ok, so what is digital or media literacy then? Well, Mike Ribble defines it in the following way:

This video also describes that while we are increasingly using media as a source of learning and information gathering, few people understand how it affects us and our society:

Media literacy is about the intersection of skepticism (as Erin explains in her vlog) and the act of deconstruction (shout out to philosopher Jacques Derrida on this one!) which meanings critically analyzing the relationship between the text itself (whatever media that may be) and the message (received, perceived and often replicated in some way) by the consumer of the media. Erin talked about the first line of defense in media literacy is a person who thinks before they click and that thinking comes from questioning.

In Media Literacy in the 21st Century, the presenter claims that media is hypnotizing; it is a construction and creatively and methodically captures our attention (in positive and negative ways). Teaching kids about their digital world through media literacy has the power to break that hypnosis. My classmate Jacque, warns in her vlog about “filter bubbles” which are personalized algorithms that allow the media you see to be curated to what the algorithm “thinks” you want to see. In Beware of Online “Filter Bubbles”, Eli Pariser suggests that algorithms are beginning to be the “gatekeepers” of our individual worlds and the problem is that they don’t have the same kind of human ethics or empathy that are required to do the job they do.
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In his vlog, my classmate Luke discusses an important quote. This quote is by Alvin Toddler who said “movers and shakes will not be those who can read and write but those who can learn, unlearn and relearn”. In a weird coincidence, on the same day I was watching his vlog, I was also scrolling through some old tweets and this Tweet popped up from 2012 (great minds think alike!).

The definition of literacy is constantly changing and teachers need to be at the forefront of that change. Teachers need to be the movers and shakers for their students. To guide teachers, Luke brought up was a list of questions to use when critically examining media (other catalysts from this week brought up similar questions):

  1. Who created this message?Image result for media literacy meme
  2. What creative techniques were used to grab my attention? (how did they hypnotize me?)
  3. How will different people understand this message based on worldview (empathy for minority perspectives)? (We have to do what the algorithms cannot which is use empathy to evaluate media).
  4. What lifestyles, values, points of view are included or emitted in the message? (searching for the story that isn’t being told as much as examining what is being told)
  5. Why is this message being sent?

In school, we are taught to critically analyze in the same way with books and other print media. We need to do the same with digital media. This is part of our changing role as educators.

Do you use these questions personally? Do you use them in your classroom? How do you integrate this teaching into your daily practice?

To conclude, I’d like to share two important messages heard during the content catalyst presentations/readings this week. First is a quote that Luke put in his vlog: “Today’s media allows the most hateful and most beautiful voices to be heard like never before”. Media literacy is about sifting through those voices in personally and collectively meaningful ways. Finally, in Parisers Beware of Online “Filter Bubbles”, he suggests “We need the Internet to be that thing that we all dreamed of it being. We need it to connect us all together. We need it to introduce us to new ideas and new people and different perspectives”. Media literacy allows us to use the Internet for the power of good, in the way we all dream it to be.

Recommendation: Seesaw – User Friendly

We have all experienced PD sessions in which a new resource is shared that is difficult to navigate and from there on collects dust on our shelves.

Sometimes I feel this way with new technology or apps as well. Someone tells me something new or I attend a PD session for a new educational app or program and as great as it may be…Oftentimes that program or app ends up collecting dust on my digital bookshelf (also known as my bookmark page).

Image result for professional resource meme

With Seesaw — one of the apps I am exploring for my major project — I am loving the simplicity of starting a new program. The company makes it sooo easy for new teachers to start and supply you with everything you need and more.

When I signed my class up for the app, the first thing I received was a grade-specific document on Getting Started with Seesaw in Third Grade. If you are thinking of starting and want to find the Getting Started document for any other grade, click here!

This user guide is very easy to use. (You’d think the name user guide would mean that user guides are always user friendly, but if you have ever put together anything from Ikea or Canadian Tire, you know that it’s not always the case!)

There are many visuals and not a lot of text which makes it easy to meander through the 20 pages. The majority of this guide is made up of 14 lessons that prepare students to use the app. That seems like too many lessons, but each lasts approximately 5 minutes with two of the lessons lasting 20 minutes. For my group of third and fourth graders, we combined several lessons into a few half hour periods and easily completed the 14 lessons that prepared us to use the app.

Linked into the Getting Started Guide is helpful videos like the one below. You will also find many other helpful videos featured on their site.

In addition to the helpful Getting Started Guide and the set up videos, I also found a K-5 Seesaw Student Intro presentation via Google Slides. This presentation was certainly helpful in getting the kids to visualize what we would be working on. The presentation discusses what Seesaw is (a digital journal), why they would want to keep a digital journal, the types of things you can do on Seesaw and instructions for how to login and add something to your Seesaw page. The students got right to it and loved taking a picture of the QR code to login to our class page.

In the Seesaw Help Center, you can find just about anything you need including FAQ. While I was getting started, I found these printable posters that we use and reference almost everyday in our classroom. So many of my students needed practice taking a “good” photo, choosing a good recording spot, making sure the mic was close to their mouth, and many other kinks that come up during the recording process.

Once I had created an account, the Activity Library was so helpful in thinking about the kinds of assignments I would create for my student. I love that the students can read, but also LISTEN to the instructions. This is HUGE for some of my struggling readers.

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Here is a sample of one activity we have recently been working on as we learn about the historical First Nations worldview:

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The other thing I LOVE about being a new teacher on Seesaw is how connected I am with other Seesaw educators. Within minutes of creating my account I was connected with Seesaw on Instagram, Twitter and a grade-specific Facebook group.

I have already used both Facebook and Twitter for help. On Facebook, fellow educators commented very quickly. On Twitter, Seesaw replied with help to my problem as well. Much of what Seesaw posts on their various social media platforms is retweets or shares of what Seesaw educators across the nation around doing. This makes it really easy for me to see how Seesaw is being used in other classrooms. I have taken so many screenshots because I am constantly seeing activities I want to use with my students in the future. Love it!

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One last amazing thing about Seesaw start up… They offer PD in Your PJS which is a variety of webinars on different topics; presented and created by teachers for teachers. You can easily sign up and if you miss the webinar, they send you the link to watch it later. I have attended a few of these PD in Your PJs sessions and enjoyed the interactiveness, the relevance and succinctness and also the resources offered by the presenters. So far I have participated in the Favourite Apps to Use with Seesaw webinar, Seesaw for Fluency practice, Sharing Activities on Seesaw webinar and the Brand New to Seesaw Grades 3-5 webinar. I loved all of them! If you are a Seesaw educator, I encourage you to sign up and participate in some of these live sessions. Each webinar comes with the option to print a certificate stating that you participated. The best part is you can participate from home, in your PJs!

In my books, Seesaw gets a 10 out of 10 on user-friendliness and I highly recommend the use of this app for ALL ages levels.

 

What is a Digital Citizen anyway??

In a recent post, I discuss an article called How to Teach Kids Social Responsibility in a Connected World and how I was focusing on the second recommendation in this article as part of my major project. To review, the second recommendation states, “Connect your class via social media and allow them to chat, post, and interface in a safe learning environment. Model responsible virtual social behaviors — blogging, vloging, Skyping, texting, and emailing. Set classroom norms for internet engagement, and give students tools and strategies for how to respond when they encounter inappropriate virtual communication” (Kristina Macbury, 2017, Common Sense Media). So far, as part of our digital citizenship unit, we have discussed rules for navigating the Internet safely, what information should be kept private and what it means to have a digital footprint.

This week, we discussed two new concepts: digital citizenship and cyber bullying. To teach this lesson, I used a variety of tools over two days including: the Rings of Responsibility lesson, the Screen Out the Mean lesson and the Power of Words lesson from Common Sense Media and the It’s Cool to Be Kind lesson from Google’s Be Internet Awesome Curriculum. I am really enjoying the lessons created on the Common Sense Media site and am using bits and pieces of a variety of lessons to differentiate for my group of students.

On the first day…

First we discussed what kinds of responsibilities we had IRL (in real life) to ourselves, our families/friends and our communities. Then we discussed how these responsibilities transferred to the online realm. Some examples (of many) that they came up with:

  • don’t litter (community)
  • don’t post random things or put too many emojis in your comments (only post what is helpful or necessary)
  • be respectful (family/friends)
  • post respectful comments
  • do your homework/chores (self)
  • don’t spend too much time online [I am constantly reminding them to play outside!]
  • go on Mathletics or RAZ Kids at home

We also used this video to help guide some of our discussions:

During the first lesson, we decided to focus on the responsibility of being kind. The students read about an example of a friend who took their login information on a gaming site and used it to destroy what the other person had set up on their game (see Screen Out the Mean lesson for the story). This opened up an opportunity for discussion about how cyber bullying isn’t just saying mean things, it can include other actions as well. Students were open about experiences they had with different examples of cyber bullying, how it made them feel when it happened to them or they saw it happening to someone else and talked about some steps to respond to the problem of cyber bullying.

On the second day…

This time we took the concept of digital citizenship a bit further by looking at this poster:

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I particularly like this poster because it connects the “rules” about being a good digital citizen to different body parts. We stood up an did a movement activity as we went over the different rules and why the author of the poster chose to (author’s craft!) associate those body parts with that particular rule.

Next we previewed the video “The Power of Words“. Just prior, we talked about the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me”. Many students raised their hands to say they had heard this from an adult before. The video however, shows one character calling another character hurtful names. What I loved about the video was that it showed the words coming out of the computer screen and hitting the victim of the bullying in the face. Words can hurt you is the message clearly conveyed. Many students knew this to be true, others did not. This led to discussion about how words can hurt feelings and that feelings come from your brain…

The students worked with a partner to complete the following activity which featured a student repeatedly receiving unkind messages on a chat site. IMG_1946

After completing this activity with a partner, we met as a group to discuss our answers (this is where the empathy piece comes in!) Looking back to the recommendation from the How to Teach Kids Social Responsibility in a Connected World article (discussed at the start of this post), the author suggests “give students tools and strategies for how to respond when they encounter inappropriate virtual communication” (Kristina Macbury, 2017, Common Sense Media) which is exactly what we did in the lesson. Unfortunately, what you don’t get to see is the rich conversation that this assignment sparked when we met as a whole group including their suggestions about strategies to help solve this type of situation.

Attached to the Power of Words lesson is the following assessment which the students completed to hand in at the end of the lesson.

Later that afternoon, we reviewed what we had learned about being a digital citizen and how that might relate to our use of the Seesaw app. We used the following poster to make connections between the “Post Your Wow Work” section and our responsibilities to ourselves and community by filling the Internet with a positive digital footprint (instead of litter!). They also made connections to the “Only Share Public Information” (or personal, as we defined it) to our learning about personal and private information. We will continue to revisit this poster throughout our learning about digital citizenship and Seesaw work.

If you have read my Why Teach Digital Citizenship? post, you will know that I haven’t taught about digital citizenship before this course. I must say that I am loving it! I am so impressed with how much the kids already know and can contribute to our discussions. Simultaneously, I see the gaps that are being filled in their understanding through our time spent on this topic in the classroom. We are certainly making headway!

The best part was one of the parents emailing a YouTube video of their child retelling what they had learned so far about digital citizenship. We played it for the whole class the next day!

Later that week, we explored the What’s Cyberbullying? lesson from Common Sense Media. Here is the diagram the students came up with comparing in-person and online bullying: thumbnail_IMG_1969