Author Archives: christinapatt13

Summary of my Learning Journey

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I am very grateful to have been apart of such a great community. Thank you Alec for creating a supportive environment to learn and grow as educators and in our personal lives. Going through this tough time in our world has been easier having an understanding community. I am still pondering and processing discussions we had. It is so important to view subjects from all lenses and this class has allowed that. The ability to see all sides of an argument is something I want to bring more into my teaching.

I had to add where this journey began as part of my Summary of Learning. I tried to incorporate new tools into my video such as Screencast to step out of my comfort zone. I did test out a few other video making tools but fell back on WeVideo as I enjoy using it and having full access through my school board.

I can’t believe the class has come to an end. I had a great experience and learned so much from so many great classmates!

Have a wonderful summer! 🙂

Are Educators Social Justice Warriors?

Educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice. This was our final debate topic of the class. Like every topic, I say this is a complex subject. In today’s world, this is so relevant and I thoroughly enjoyed discussing and hearing from my classmates. It was a great matter to end the debates on. Educators have always had the job to nurture and guide students to become positive leaders in our communities. Teachers should have a passion to promote kindness and being the ‘change in the world we want to see’. This doesn’t always have to tackle controversial topics in our world. Going into the debate, I was thinking about more controversial topics and if teachers should be addressing each of them. In our classrooms, I believe we should teach social justice. On social media, I am weary. Conversations face-to-face give you the connection to understand each other, your beliefs, where your opinion may come from and you’re able to have a real discussion. Social media has become a place that is not always safe to share your views on an issue and we see over and over people being attacked by others. There isn’t the same understanding and connection as being face-to-face. Being a teacher and posting on a public platform can be very powerful and positive or have negative consequences.

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I like to use the resources from CrashCourse on YouTube in my teaching and for my personal understanding. They dive into many topics that we discussed and explain them in a way that is easy to comprehend for students. The videos provoke many good conversations within the classroom.

Debate

On the agree side, Mike and Jacquie created a great video to open up the debate. They argued that all educators have a responsibility to advocate social justice issues in our community and world. They shared great articles and resources. One that stuck out to me was the TedTalk with Sydnee Chaffee titled Social Justice Belongs in our Schools. Sydnee stated that “Teachers don’t just teach subjects, we teach people.” She argues we are doing students a disservice by not be teaching social justice issues and having tough conversations. If we just teach the curriculum, we are not teaching what is relevant around them. Teachers need to speak up and teach students to stand up for what is right. Educators should be modelling this for their students. But what is the best way to do that? Is social media the best platform to use? I am still going back and forth with this particular part of the debate. I 100% agree teachers need to be social justice warriors, but I am not sure social media is the best place to do so? There is a lot of misinformation around matters and teachers have to insure they are teaching students how to distinguish between what they are reading or sharing to be true.

Brad and Michala displayed Brad’s wonderful acting skills in their video disagreeing with the statement. They brought up the points that teachers should be neutral, assumptions could be made about them, what kids say online sticks with them forever, and that face-to-face interactions is the best way to have these conversations. They talked about the argument of how effective ‘slactivism’ actually is online. ‘Slactivism’ is defined as “the practice of supporting a political or social cause by means such as social media or online petitions, characterized as involving very little effort or commitment.” So again I ask the question ‘Is social media the best way for teachers to go about social justice issues?’ Brad discussed the possibility of creating students to be little foot soldiers for causes that are important to a particular teacher. He told an example from his career and stated that “Once media gets a hold of something, it’s not yours anymore.” It could be twisted or presented in a way that wasn’t intended. The conversation went into whether or not the act is authentic if it’s put on social media. I have scrolled across many amazing examples of kids using social media to display what they are doing to make the world a better place, especially recently. Social media can be a positive place to raise awareness of current issues in our world. Teaching Young Children About Bias, Diversity, and Social Justice says to use literature to teach issues in the classroom. There are so many great books out there to teach kids of all ages about social justice. Teachers should have a diverse library to give students opportunities to see themselves in books and to learn important life lessons.

Thoughts

‘Heavy’ is what my classmate Jill described this debate to be in her blog. This is a very heavy topic but I also feel this word expresses how I have felt over the last few weeks processing all that is going on in our world and what our role is. I felt worried going into the debate that I may say something wrong or offensive. It’s a touchy subject right now and I appreciated the conversation and input from my classmates. The way my classmates were open and vulnerable brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Melinda and Alton for sharing your personal stories.

I believe all educators went into the profession to make the world a better place. Teachers naturally have a passion for the younger generation and want to see them make a difference in the world. It is important for teachers to create an environment that allows students to feel safe to share and have real face-to-face conversations about issues in our world. It doesn’t have to always be controversial topics. As a primary teacher, I work hard all year to create a space that promotes kindness, fairness, and respect-our school values. It starts in our classrooms and we hope that in doing this, it will spread to the streets. Social-emotional learning and character building is an important part of my teaching. I have students that come to school not knowing any manners, how to share, play, or make friends. School teaches these skills to many children that don’t get that at home. At a young age students need to learn to be kind, inclusive, empathetic, compassionate, have perseverance, self control and more. We teach children to stand up to someone being a ‘bully’ on the playground. In the same way we want to teach them to speak up when they see injustices in the world and not just be a bystander. As students get older, we must teach the proper way to do this on social media. In conclusion, yes educators need to teach social justice in their classroom, but I’ll need more convincing for it to go onto social media. Myself, choosing not to be a regular social media user may be biased about that part. Class discussions and actions are extremely important but may not always have to transfer to the online world. The hope is that what happens in the classroom will flow out in a positive way to create change in our world.

Thank you for reading my last post about our debates! I have thoroughly enjoyed learning and seeing so many sides and aspects to one topic.

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Is Openness and Sharing in Schools Unfair to Students?

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Tuesday’s debate topic was on the statement ‘Openness and Sharing in schools is unfair to kids.’ This is a wide topic and as I looked into it before the debate, I saw that there were two parts to it. I was curious to see how my classmates would connect it together. Melinda and Alton took the agree side that it is not fair for teachers to share about students while Dean and Sherrie disagreed with the statement.

On the agree side that it is unfair to share about students online, I found it very interesting and eye opening to read Posting About Your Kids Online Could Damage Their Futures. I never thought about children’s digital footprint beginning before they are even born. Many parents post ultra sound pictures and this begins their introduction to the digital world. In this article they talk about a report that estimated many kids age 13 already have 1300 photos of them online. The article moves into talking about edtech collecting data from kids. I really never thought about that aspect of privacy within my classroom. This stuck out to me as something I need to think of when using educational apps in my classroom. The school board I work for has a good screening for which apps are allowed in the classroom, but I should still be looking into the ones I use daily to see what information, if any, they are collecting from my students. There are many things I didn’t think about keeping an eye out for such as baby monitors and toys that could be collecting and using data. Melinda and Alton made a great video that had lots of information to support their side. They talked about privacy, openness and cell phones.

As Alec had discussed, posting pictures online of kids or signing media release forms is an additional decision parents need to make in today’s world. This is the first generation with these issues. Many parents choose to share pictures of their children on their social media. For some kids when they grow up, they essentially have their baby book on display for all to see. In Don’t Post About Me on Social Media, Children Say, the research shows a big disconnect between parents and how children feel about them posting. In the debate the question of what age is the right age for consent? was brought up. This has become a new issue and carries into the classroom. Dr. Verena Roberts, a surprise guest said, “Open learning is learning what consent is.” In today’s world this needs to be a continuous conversation.

What stuck out to me during the debate was when Melinda was talking about newcomers not understanding the media release form in schools. I find it’s not just newcomers that struggle to understand but many families. It is a very wordy document that is not easy to comprehend. Many families sign it without really understanding what it means. I know many families struggle to read so to expect them to understand the media release form is not fair. Some families may have custody agreements and have a parent that is not allowed to be in contact with the children. If a family member signs this not understanding the form completely and a picture was put out on social media of the child, this could be a safety issue. The media release form we have in my division actually states that it lasts till they are 18 years old. So if a parent had signed it in kindergarten, we technically would still have permission to post or use their pictures. Families may not understand this and a lot can change in families lives that also might make this not safe for them. We still send the forms to be signed every year but I find I don’t receive many back for a variety of reasons. They might not understand it or it’s just not a priority to sign and bring back. We send them out each year but I can use my discretion if I want to say they’re okay if they had it sign in the past. I think our forms need to be more specific and parents should be aware of where and when an educator is posting something about their child. If it is in a space that has a separate permission form, for example, Seesaw, and parents know the pictures are just on Seesaw and no one else can see it, they may feel more comfortable. With social media, teachers may use Twitter to share pictures or students work. This was brought up in class that Twitter actually owns those photos once they are posted. Many of the families I teach do not have Twitter. I don’t think it would be fair of educators to be posting pictures of their children on a platform they don’t even use or will see. This kind of goes into another topic that was brought up which is the intent behind the post. Is what the teacher is posting authentic teaching or is it just to show of? Many teachers on Twitter may be seen as being ‘showy’ or just posting to brag about what they’re doing in their classroom. Many educators could use a lesson on ‘think’ before you post. So in this way the parents and students should be aware of where pictures are being posted because they might not have understood the form. I think it is general respect that if you want to use a picture of a student to put into the digital world where anyone could access it, that parents would know and be able to see it. Many parents are okay with their child’s pictures being within the school. Some schools have a TV that has a slideshow or pictures, assemblies could display photos or videos, or their pictures could be hung up in the hallways. Some parents are okay with this but might not want pictures or videos on social media or their child on the news. Therefore there needs to be a specific media release form with particular details of what is being posted and where.

Common Sense Media has great and simplified ideas and resources for teachers wanting to share. The posters below are great to go along with this topic.

Dean and Sherrie made a great video to argue the disagree side to this debate. They shared Protecting Student’s Privacy on Social Media which states you must know your schools policy and follow them. Not only that but have conversations with students as to why those policies are put in place. This video goes along with what the poster above displays. Teachers have a responsibility to check confidentiality and privacy settings on each platform they are planning to use. Educators need to put the protection of students first. Using social media in the classroom can be a good way to model positive digital citizenship to your students and parents. Digital citizenship is important to be taught in our classrooms and using it positively can be a good tool for teaching. I wrote in my notes (but don’t remember who said it) the question, “Is it unfair for us not to prepare kids for the digital world?” Or as Sherrie said in her video “Is it unfair to not take the opportunity to teach our students about positive online behaviours.” Open learning is having conversations and explaining all this at a young age to kids. As Dean said in his video, “sharing is caring and openness is everywhere.”

Overall, it seems that each debate has come down to educating students and families about digital citizenship, digital leadership, and digital footprints. It is unfair to not teach this in schools. Students deserve to know their rights and privacy online. It comes down to having open conversations and sharing the important knowledge of being a digital citizen. I have gone back and forth for my own opinion on this topic. I know that it will be a topic of discussion for years to come and I believe we need to be more clear as educators to students and parents on how we are sharing their pictures or work. Media release forms should be detailed and easier to understand. There should be translators to help newcomer parents to understand what they are signing. It should have more than a yes or no option.“To be true digital citizens, our students need teachers who model pro-social, creative, and responsible social media use.” -Common Sense Media

Thank you for reading!

Christina

Ban Cellphones in Classrooms?

Cellphones in classrooms has been a great debate since people started carrying ‘brick phones’ and ‘flip phones’. This week, Jill and Tarina argued there should not be phones in the classroom while Alyssa and Skyler fought against the cell phone ban.

Jill and Tarina made four points in their opening video to support cellphones being banned from the classroom:

  1. Cellphones are Distracting
  2. School Devices are Safer
  3. Cellphones Increase Negative Behaviours
  4. Detachment from Personal Device

They provided the video below as an additional source for us classmates. I thought it was a good insight to support their argument of cellphones being a distraction.

Alyssa and Skyler had three main arguments to support their slogan “Don’t make a ban, have a plan!”

  1. Medical and Emergency Use
  2. Educational Purposes
  3. Digital Citizenship

I initially voted that cellphones should not be in the classroom and have no place in the classroom. I stuck with that stance throughout the debate. I work in a primary classroom and most of my kids do not have cellphones. My experiences will be very different than educators with older students. This year I had one student that had a cellphone and when he brought it, the whole world knew about it. Every single child tattled on him and told me about the phone in his pocket. There’s no hiding things in primary classrooms!  I know it’s just an old iPhone that connects to wifi, but it’s funny how my kids know that it’s not allowed in our classroom. One reason I don’t like to have any technology from home is children lose everything. They also break everything. There’s also many kids that have sticky fingers and many things go missing. I have had an iPad stolen from my classroom before so I’m very careful with technology because of past experiences with stolen items. So when a student does bring a cellphone I do take it for the day mainly because I don’t want it to get stolen or misplaced. Most incidents involving kids bringing technology, their parents were not aware of. Our lockers also do not have doors and are in the hallway. Being a primary teacher, I have to be responsible for their belongings. I don’t let them bring toys because they lose them or they get taken and it becomes a problem. I prefer not to have any technology or toys from home because I want to avoid an issue if it gets lost, broken or stolen. Items from home can become a distraction from learning. There’s also the privacy piece- the kids can’t be taking pictures of others and I wouldn’t be able to control that if they brought cellphones. The biggest reason personally for me to not have cellphones in the classroom is, I believe kids need to be present. When they are at school- they are at school. They’re not thinking about their phone and they’re not talking to other people. They should not be playing games on their phones. They are present, they are social, they are hanging out with their classmates and they are learning. In a primary classroom, children are learning to have conversations together, they are bonding, they’re building connections and relationships. Children learn through play and are building their gross and fine motor skills. They play outside at recess are not on a device. I know many students go home and are attached to a screen for the entire night. This is why it’s really hard for me to use lots of technology in class because I don’t want to add to that screen time. Many students need to be taught how to have a conversation. I use a lot of ‘turn and talks’ in my classroom and I make sure to have lots of time where they have to socialize with each other, ask each other questions and play games together. This is an important skill to build at a young age. So personally I have no cell phones in my classroom. Most of my students don’t have cell phones so it’s not something I have to worry about. As Jill and Tarina highlighted, Schools provide lots of technology and those devices are safe for them to use within the class and provide equality in the classroom.

Melinda brought up the point that her kids use phones at lunch time and many problems come out of this. Cellphones may take away the social aspect of school. It may also cause cyberbullying and issues for teachers to deal with which takes away from learning. These moments could also be argued as teachable moments. We don’t want to avoid all problems because students learn from them. Maybe I just like having control but everything has to go through me or the office for parents to even talk to their kids. Again this is because of the young age of students I teach. I believe kids need to practice mindfulness and be able to play, have fun, learn and engage, and not be thinking about what’s in their pocket. I know for me right now teaching at home I find it really hard not to be on my cellphone because it’s right there beside me when I’m working on my computer. I get distracted very easily by my phone and I’ve been working on putting it somewhere far. In the classroom I don’t usually have my cellphone. If I do have my cellphone, I often am thinking about it and thinking about who might have messaged me. If I as an adult struggle with that, I know students would as well. I’ll have it for emergencies but my school doesn’t have recess so all morning I don’t look at my phone and the kids know I don’t look at it until lunchtime. When I do look at it, students know I am checking in with my family or checking emails. I usually verbalize what I am doing on my phone to try and model positive cellphone use. Sometimes I need a break for 10 minutes while they’re watching a Wild Kratts or Magic School Bus episode at lunch. With no recess and doing full-time supervision and lunch room, I sometimes need that time to tap out. This was also in our discussions in the debate. This time can be a nice break from a busy day. I do notice when I have my cellphone out and visible I am less present with students. I do not ever want to be a teacher that is on my phone instead of using the short time we have with them in the day to effectively teach them. I strive to use every moment wisely in my instruction and they deserve to have me not distracted by my phone. I have had to use my phone during instruction at times but I will talk aloud about what I am doing on it.

In my experience, admin plays a big role in cell phone use in the classroom. My first year teaching, there were rules for technology posted in every single classroom including kindergarten. There was absolutely no cellphone use during class and recess. These very strict rules alleviated many issues in the older grades. I also experienced the opposite approach where there were no rules surrounding cellphones in the classroom or school. I saw a huge difference and problems arose when students didn’t have clear guidelines on cellphone use. I’ve always been able to have the same rules within my classroom. When it comes to older students, they need to have some rules for cellphone use. When there was no rules, older learning buddies would come to my classroom to work with the kids and they would be checking their Instagram every 10 minutes. It drove me a bit crazy. I thought this was so wrong for them to be having their cellphones in class. All I saw it as was a distraction but I was looking from the outside in. I didn’t know how it was going within their classrooms or if they were using the phones as learning tools. When I would look outside on the senior side of the playground, I would see kids huddled together on their cellphones. Now we have shifted back to having guidelines around cellphones and students are not allowed to have them outside at recess. I see kids playing, socializing, playing games in the field and this makes me happy. I’m not saying either way is bad, I am writing from what I see in my primary classroom.

I like the model that was shown for students to know how to use their device. Having visuals in the classroom is important.

I understand the positive ways cellphones can be utilized in the classroom. Teachers also can educate students side by side on digital citizenship. Cellphones can definitely make the digital divide visible. Especially when there’s kids that have the newest cellphone and others that are using old ones. They may be embarrassed to bring their phone or to use it in classroom. It may not work to do the tasks they are supposed to complete in class. I don’t think students should ever be expected to bring a cellphone and use it but I think it’s important for them to be taught how to use a cellphone properly. Students can be taught to use their cellphones as a tool in their learning and education. Digital citizenship needs to be taught in our schools so students can learn to use their phones in a positive way and balance their screen time. Skyler and Alyssa made great points and arguments to support their stance. EAL learners were brought up in the discussion. Many of them use cell phones to translate work. This could be argued the other way as well for schools to provide a tool or device for these learners.

I also like the poster from Common Sense Media that is similar to the one above.

Overall I thought the debate was really great and lots of people had good things to say about their experiences. It was fun to research more into this topic and read the articles provided. Again I’m coming from a primary perspective so I do totally agree that you can utilize a phone properly within the classroom. It can be used as a learning tool in older grades. You can teach kids to use it responsibly. Digital citizenship and leadership is so important to be taught in classes. Students who have their cellphones with them in class can learn to balance their cellphone use, socializing with their peers, focusing on the learning and may help them self regulate. But still in my mind I voted to say that cellphones should not be in classrooms mainly because I believe kids need to be present for that whole time and unplug from their devices. I stuck to my original stance on keeping cell phones out of class. The readings did not convince me otherwise but I am continuing to learn and be open about this topic! I see the benefits to both sides!

Thanks for reading my thoughts!

Christina 🙂

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Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?

Is social media ruining childhood? This is a very big question. I got to debate this topic in Tuesday’s class. My partner Laurie and I debated on the ‘agree’ side of the statement that social media is in fact ruining childhood, while Dean and Amy argued against us that it is not ruining childhood. My partner Laurie and I started researching and found a lot of evidence that shows social media definitely affects children today. There was a lot of research on the effects of technology in childhood. Kids development and growth are  affected by technology use. It was difficult to find research that targeted social media on young children. The research surrounded kids mainly 13 to 17 years old. Age restrictions on most social media platforms are for kids 13 and older. Please check out our Wakelet for more research and articles to support the statement social media is ruining or ‘changing’ childhood as my classmate Daina wrote in her blog post.

A point that was brought up is- what defines childhood? What age does childhood end? The arguments we had for younger kids was that  social media is a distraction in their families. Their parents may be distracted by social media. They could be checking their phones more often and not paying attention or connecting with their kids. Children who have older siblings may experience them having depression or mental health issues because of social media. This affects children, their childhood and family dynamics. It would be interesting to see research on the impact of social media on families. Are families less connected to each other? What is social media doing to our homes?

It was very hard to compress all the research that we had done in an only 5 minutes video. (yes, Dean we went 22 seconds over) Our video consisted of three major categories mental health, safety, and cyberbullying.

Dean and Amy made a great video opposing us stating that social media is not ruining childhood. They focused on the 10 Examples of the Positive Impact of Social Media.

  1. Young people can feel empowered to teach older relatives to use technology
  2. It can be used to create a positive digital footprint
  3. It provides parents an opportunity for open communication
  4. It helps students learn essential job skills
  5. It can lead to more communication, connection, and creativity
  6. You can use it to form or join (support) groups that may not be represented locally
  7. It offers students a way to stay connected
  8. It promotes students’ civic engagement
  9. It spreads social awareness and kindness
  10. It offers students a way to stay in touch with friends if they move

It was very eye-opening to research the affects of social media on teenagers’ mental health. Teens live in a world where social media is a major part of their daily life. It plays a huge role in their social life. They are constantly thinking about what their friends are posting, commenting, and liking on social media. They have a self image to display online and want to portray themselves in a specific way. Teenagers struggle to be mindful because they are always thinking about what they are missing online. We mentioned FOMO in our video which means the fear of missing out. I remember when I would work at camp and we would not be allowed to have our phones for the week. It was so refreshing to unplug and be in nature for a week. I wish all teens could experience this now as they are addicted to having their phones with them at all times. The amount of suicide in teens that have gone up since social media has been prevalent in our world is heartbreaking. This ties in with our research on cyberbullying. Our opponents argue that social media can be a positive platform for teens to express themselves and make positive change in our world specifically in bullying. But there is a lot more evidence that shows it’s negative effects on teens. Now I’m kind of an old-school, country girl that really believes kids should be kids as long as they can. Social media has very negative affects on me and it can be a huge distraction in my life. I see so many adults not able to navigate it in a positive way and it affects their mental health. As you may be able to tell through my writing I actually believe this statement to be true, maybe not that social media is completely ruining childhood but that it’s definitely changing and affecting childhood. It’s forcing kids to grow up faster and can take away their innocence. Our safety section was scary to read and learn about. Becoming educated about The National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre and Saskatchewan Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit literally made me sick. When I was in high school every Friday I would watch the show Dateline NBC. My favourite segment was when the show would use online chat rooms to lure and confront predators. Professionals would pretend to be a young girls or boys and strike up a chat with an older man or women. Eventually they would  set up a time for this older man or woman to come to where the young girl or boy said they would be. They would say their parents are not home. I remember being so disgusted by this but also I couldn’t stop watching. In Grade 9 health I did an assignment on this specifically because it really interested me and I wanted to share what I had learned. That was about 15 years ago- before social media. The stats that we found about reports on child exploitation is extremely gut-wrenching. The fact that complaints of child exploitation has gone up 616% in six years is super scary. Even if children know how to use the internet properly and are taught to use it safely doesn’t mean they’re going to. I would highly recommend checking out the ICE unit in Saskatchewan and reading about the incidents that they responded to this year. I remember even after watching the Dateline show, I still went into chat rooms when I was told not to and knew how dangerous they were just to see who was out there and to strike up a chat. I was always a curious child and I always needed to learn things on my own. I only did this once and deleted it right away. We know kids are curious creatures and social media is a big world to explore and learn about. Without direction, social media can be very unsafe for kids and teens.

Doing this debate really taught me about how important it is to stay up-to-date with the trends and challenges that are going on on social media. There are so many parents, professionals, teachers, and adults that have no idea what is going on on social media and these are the people that are supposed to teach kids how to navigate it properly. In our video we stated that teens brains are not yet fully developed to be able to make good choices on social media. These choices they make follow them for the rest of their life. Kids don’t understand that the choices they make now and post on social media can affect them down the road. Yes, kids have always been making risky choices and doing crazy challenges, like was stated in class, but it wasn’t ever recorded and didn’t follow them for the rest of their life like it does today. It is so important to teach digital citizenship and leadership today in our schools but also we need to be educating parents. Is this really our job? Whose job is it? Social media evolved really out of nowhere and now we have to bring this into our teaching. I wouldn’t completely say that it’s ruining our childhood but I would say that it is putting a lot of danger and stress on kids today. I always feel so lucky to not have grown up in this time. Kids have so much more pressure and stress to connect to friends online. They are always thinking of likes and comments and what their friends are saying about them. So many kids have experienced cyberbullying. Yes, there’s lots of positive things that happen on social media but from my research and researching the topic, the negative trumps the positive. I’m optimistic and hopeful that this can change but it’s got to start with adults. If adults can’t use social media properly, how are kids supposed to be able to? If schools are expected to teach these skills, there needs to be PD for educators.

half listening

I really enjoyed learning about this topic as it is something that has always interested me. Honestly for me, social media gives me a lot of anxiety. I never post online, I overthink everything that I want to post, and I am anxious that I posted the wrong thing. I stopped posting on Instagram about 3 years ago. The reason I stopped posting and deleted my Instagram app was because every time I went to do something, I was thinking of taking the perfect picture for Instagram instead of actually enjoying the moment and having fun with it. Anytime I did something exciting or went on a trip, I was focused more on the pictures for Instagram then being present and enjoying myself. I realized I personally was not able to balance it and I was constantly comparing myself to people I saw on Instagram and their ‘highlight reel’ that looked so perfect.  I know for me personally I’m way happier when I’m not looking at social media. I am a lot less anxious and I can be present and mindful. I realize it can be a very positive place as well where I can connect with my friends and family. I would never say social media is actually ‘evil’ like we stated in our video. But it does affect a lot of people in a negative way.

I had fun learning and debating against Dean and Amy. They had really good points about social media being a positive outlet for teens. What argument I definitely cannot go against is students that are feeling alone and may need to find a community that they can relate to and feel connected to. I had an older student show me all of the communities they were a part of on Instagram where they had met many friends and even had a best friend they had never actually met in person. They talked on social media and Facetimed every day. This students social media gave a community and connection they needed and didn’t have otherwise. This is definitely something I can’t argue. Teens who feel alone can build a community on social media that provides the support they need. But we also see the opposite often of very harsh and mean messages happening on social media at the same time.

I see both sides of the argument but personally lean more towards social media having a negative affect on children, teens and our society in general. I see the benefits and enjoy them myself at times but personally feel we’d be fine without it. The research I did with my partner really made me see this.

Thank you to my amazing partner Laurie for being fun and passionate to work with! Thank you to Dean and Amy for the great debate! I learned a lot! 🙂

Many thanks

Google vs Teachers

Back in the day when we had a question, we would ask someone we believed knew all the answers. This person for me was my dad. I thought he was the smartest person in the world. He never could be stumped by a question. I believed he had all the knowledge in the world. My father was my ‘Google’ when I was young. And like the internet-he had a biased. I was learning from him and having faith that everything he said was true and not misinformation. We heard it all the time when we were young “My dad said so.” Now our students have the ability to ‘Google’ any question they have. The problem is not all students are able to determine if the information is credible. This is an important skill we need to teach early on in childhood in this digital age. There is so much misinformation going around on the internet. Adults today even struggle to know what is true and false information.

It is essential that we teach students how to properly determine what is real and fake. As Curtis and Lisa stated in their video, we must teach the 4C’s – Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking. They also taught about teaching students the difference between good knowledge vs bad knowledge.

Curtis and Lisa also went through the LoTi framework which is the Levels of Teaching Innovation. This model goes through the stages of teachers effectively implementing technology in their instruction and assessment to enhance higher level thinking. Their video was answering the statement ‘Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be easily googled’. This debate was a puzzling subject. Looking at the topic beforehand I was very confused and interested to see what my classmates would come up with. The debate had to make a few changes and adaptations as both sides had argued the same thing. We ended up having good conversations around this topic.

Daina and Jocelyn created a video and argument to state that ‘Schools should focus on teaching things that can be easily googled.” They argued that students don’t have the skills to properly acquire information from google. These skills must be taught so students are not relying on false information. Many students don’t have access to the internet. The internet is expensive and not all families can afford it. This digital divide makes it necessary for teachers to teach all topics in all ways. Google is not accessible to all students, therefore educators must teach all subjects. Educators also can have a deep understanding of a topic and can differentiate for students to be able to understand. Google doesn’t differentiate for kids and is not able to personalise learning for students.

Daina stated in her video about Google, “it is a tool, not a teacher”. Teachers cannot be replaced by google. Google does not give love, care, and authentic teaching/instruction to kids. It does not teach kids to think critically about what they are viewing on the internet.

In our class discussion there were many tools brought up. The idea of reinforcement was a topic of discussion. Students learning to read need a lot of repetition and need to be able to memorize. Kids learning sight words need repetition to be able to read these words automatically. There are many words in the English language that do not follow ‘rules’. In my class I call these “jail break” words because they break the rules and need to be put in jail. These words must be memorized because students cannot phonetically sound them out. Students at the level I teach also benefit from knowing their addition and subtraction facts automatically to 20. We discussed multiplication facts within the class too. These are skills that cannot be Googled.

Amanda brought up the idea of inquiry in young ages. This is something I was also thinking of while listening to the conversations. The curriculum in younger ages does allow flexibility and encourages this approach to teaching. The idea of Inquiry as a way of instruction within teaching is a progressive idea. In older grades it could be harder to implement this model into learning due to time allowed in the curriculum. This idea and way of instruction I believe depends on push from administration and school boards. My first year teaching, Inquiry was what we did as a school for all subjects besides Literacy and Numeracy. Inquiry was the approach we used for teaching health, science and social studies. As admin changed there was more of a push to get ‘minutes’ into our timetable for each of these subjects. Inquiry is a great tool to allow students to take a deep dive into topics of their interest and take ownership of their learning. They also can take leadership over the learning and can direct where the learning goes. Using this approach, students have to understand these topics by using many resources around them. This could mean people, books and/or the internet.

I am still a bit puzzled by the debate topic, but had many take aways from the videos and the discussions that came out of class. I believe Google cannot replace teachers, hands on learning, critical thinking and many skills students need to be successful. Educators need to teach students how to acquire good knowledge and have a balance of learning from more than one place. Anything under the sun can be Googled and answered, but just because something is easily Googled does not constitute it as real information.

Until next time,

Christina

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Is Technology a Force for Equity in Society?

The dictionary defines equity as “the quality of being fair and impartial”. Kalyn and Nataly argued that technology is a force for equity in our society, while Victoria and Jasmine took a stance against this. Both sides brought up great points to argue both sides of this broad, deep topic. This debate went beyond just equity in education but also in our society. Many questions were raised during this debate allowing me to see both sides of the topic. This subject is very relevant in the world we live in today. The digital divide is a discussion among educators and professionals around the world as online learning is implemented.

Many great points were brought up from both sides. Many argue that internet access should be a basic need in our society. This doesn’t mean the devices are all equal. Many students are experiencing difficulties doing online school because their device is not new. They have access to the internet and to online learning but it looks different per household and device. I have had many families tell me certain lessons don’t work on their old tablets, iPads or computers and make their child very frustrated. This is the only device they may have at home, but it is not able to help them in their online learning. The article provided by Nataly and Kalyn, How Access to Technology Can Create Equity in Schools, states the three ways technology can increase equity in schools is “1. Students can access learning materials outside of school, 2. Students and educators have more tools to create a learning environment that fosters personalized learning, and 3. Educators and district leaders can use data to make informed decisions.” I know this is not always possible in our schools and our society. It is a good theory but not always practical or the reality of education.

A discussion that came up regarding assistive technology in schools is that it creates inclusion. We see many students being able to be in mainstream classrooms because they have technology to help them learn among their peers. But on the other side there can be many obstacles to get this technology implemented into the classroom. Some students may be on a waiting list to get proper technology to assist them in their learning for a long period of time. This provides a gap as they struggle to wait for technology to help them learn and show their learning. I see many students slip through the cracks because their learning needs are not as visible as others. We also discussed having this assistive technology can point out differences in kids and create bullying or students not understanding why one kid gets an iPad and another doesn’t. These students learning needs may stick out among the classroom and this student may feel embarrassed that they have assistive technology and others don’t need it. On one hand it gives them confidence and on the other it points out their differences. You may also argue that this is a good thing for students to celebrate differences and understand that we all need different tools to learn. Some students may need more than others and that is okay. There can be many ‘teachable moments’ during this time. The school I work in believes in kindness, fairness and respect as their motto. These three values are talked about at every assembly and on morning announcements. They are posted in every classroom and in the hallways. The discussion of fairness often leads to equality. Is fairness the same as equality? Fairness does not always equal equality. What is fair doesn’t always look equal. These are discussions I like to have in my classroom. I believe these are important conversations to start at a young age. Students may see a child with a device in the classroom and say ‘that’s not fair’. This gives us the opportunity to have conversations about equity and the needs of each learner. Our students will experience this for the rest of their lives and I argue it’s never to early to help them understand this value. We can celebrate each other’s differences and learn that everyone needs different things to be successful.

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Reading one of the articles provided by Victoria and Jasmine Should schools teach anyone who can get online – or no one at all? had me nodding and agreeing with many of the points presented. “Expanding e-learning district wide raises thorny questions about digital equity and access, especially for students with disabilities, children living in poverty and those who are homeless. This has forced school leaders to ask, “If we can’t teach every student equitably, should we be teaching any at all?”” This quote stuck out to me and goes with what I had discussed previously. We are seeing many students not accessing online learning and falling behind because they lack technology or the supports around them to do online learning. This, again is a very big topic that I could go on and on about but will leave the idea here to allow you to ponder more about it. All educators are experiencing online learning differently depending on the school, community, district, country, etc that they work in. There are many factors that are affecting equity in our society and education right now.

The discussions we have within the debates always lead to more resources and tools. I am very appreciative of this learning that takes place. I learned about two new models that I had never heard of previously. Universal Design Learning (UDL) is a method used to give all students equal opportunity for success in learning. Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) is a model that helps with instruction for EAL students. Reading Daina’s blog, I got to learn more about these two models. I believe these approaches are beneficial for all learners in our classrooms, not just struggling or EAL students. I will look into these models more and see what I can implement in my instruction.

I feel like this could be a very long post diving deep into this heavy topic but I will keep it short and sweet with my thoughts that were provoked after hearing the debate and reading the articles.

Until next time!

Christina

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Does Technology in the Classroom Enhance Learning?

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Our first debate happened Tuesday and was not a disappointment at all. My classmates Nancy, Amanda, Trevor and Matt set the bar high for creativity, persuasiveness and had very valid points. This is a topic I have gone back and forth between. I can see and understand the pros and cons for both sides. There was great discussions happening with many other classmates seeing both sides of this argument. Many points that were brought up I had not considered prior to the class. After reading the articles provided and hearing from my classmates, I am still on the fence. Here are some of my personal experiences for both sides of the argument.

Pros

Technology does enhance learning if used in the proper way. George Couros states, “it is important that we try to focus on what opportunities technology presents to us as educators to do something that we could not do before.” If technology is brought to us as educators but we are not taught what to do with it, it won’t enhance students learning or engagement. Educators need to be taught how to implement technology so it can be as beneficial as possible. If you put a student in front of a laptop or iPad with no direction, it’s not going to enhance their learning. Technology can be used in so many ways to create more learning opportunities for students. As my classmate Daina wrote in her blog, “Technology in the classroom CAN enhance learning when: there is a purpose!, there is consistent usage of specific tools and applications, all students have access to technology tools that benefit them as a learner for their specific needs, technology can transfer to different settings in the real world and even beyond educational environments, students/staff are trained and supported continually as to how to use the technology, and when tech issues don’t arise, batteries are fully charged, updates have been made, wifi (when applicable) is accessible and not spotty.” Daina summed up the great points of how technology can enhance learning and made the point during our debates that teacher need to have PD on the technology they are implementing in their classrooms. This way it does enhance learning and not distract from learning. If teachers don’t have training on the technology in their classrooms, it won’t be used efficiently or have purpose.

Reflecting on the technology in my classroom, the most important, in my opinion, point that was made by Amanda is that technology invites inclusion into our classrooms. Without technology many students would not be able to be included in ‘mainstream’ education. Schools today have a variety of learning needs. Technology gives students a voice and helps teachers to be able to adapt for all learning needs. Voice-to-text is a great tool for students who struggle to write or read. Technology can give confidence to our students that learn in different ways. I have had students with visual impairments in my classroom. Each student has different needs and ways to learn. Some use Braillers to write and read, others use computers with a large, yellow keyboard, and others use a CCTV which is a device that allows students to magnify their books or work under a camera. The technology that we have to adapt for students with visual impairments is remarkable. Years ago, we would not be able to have these students in a ‘mainstream classroom’ but today with the technology we have these kids can be successful learners with their peers. Inclusion is so important in our classrooms and if technology can help provide inclusion, it does enhance learning.

There are many fun, interactive ways to use technology to teach a skill or concept. Students learn in many different ways and technology can give an opportunity to embed a skill or concept into students. Using the Smartboard, videos, songs, and games in class makes the learning fun and provides opportunities for students to really understand a concept. Many learning apps work on concepts that we teach in class and give more practice independently for students that need it.

Cons

Trevor and Matt brought up great points to argue against technology enhancing learning in the classroom. The article they provided The Digital Gap Between Rich And Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected, gave insight from a parents perspective of not having screen time and the digital divide. I agree with a lot of what this article said and the points my classmates made. Parents don’t have a say in how much screen time we allow within a classroom. It can be a distraction from learning. I have had times where students have meltdowns because I won’t let them go on an iPad. This is a waste of time and a big distraction from learning.

Within my classroom I try to have a good balance of implementing technology that has purpose. At lunchtime I let my students watch one episode of either Magic School Bus or Wild Kratts because it does have educational value. The iPads in my class are only used for the reading and writing apps. I use technology to teach many concepts. My go to sites are Brainpop and Epic Books. I value connection and social interaction in my classroom and throughout the day for my students. I believe it is so important to have face-to-face human interaction and connection. I provide opportunities for this to happen within my teaching day. I do a lot of turn and talks, sharing circles, hands on partner or group work/games, and make kids have conversations. Many students go home and don’t have anyone talk to them or listen to them. They may play video games for their whole evening. As part of literacy, students need to know how to speak and have a conversation. Providing times to do this and not have technology is very important to me as an educator. At the end of the day I try to have a social time. On Friday’s I have ‘Fun Friday” where students choose to play board games, build with blocks, draw, and interact with classmates in a fun way. This relationship building time I believe is very beneficial for their growth. I don’t allow iPads during this time and my students understand it’s because I want them to play/interact together and be creative. Technology can be a distraction in the classroom from interaction with peers. Nature is also so important to me as an educator to implement in my day. Having students play outside and enjoy the beauty of nature is a priority I put in my teaching. Technology often distracts students from wanting to enjoy nature and be outside for recess. Technology in the classroom can distract from these important skills that need to be developed at a young age. Without technology students learn to regulate themselves, be bored, present(mindfulness) and build meaningful relationships.

In conclusion I see both sides of the argument and agree with many points from both. This is a very broad topic. I believe there has to be a balance and purpose to everything we do in our teaching day. If you put kids in front of technology all day, important skills are missing from their development. But if we don’t teach students how to use technology properly in our world, they won’t be set up with the skills to navigate the digital world. My classmate Curtis made the point in his blog that “technology needs to be used as a tool FOR learning, and must have a purpose.” Without a purpose it is just fluff in the classroom or busywork and won’t enhance learning. With a purpose, technology can enhance learning and engagement in our classrooms. I will finish with another quote from The Myths of Technology Series.

“If we can develop meaningful learning opportunities that empower our students to make a difference, our impact will go beyond their time they spent in our classrooms.  Technology alone will never provide this.  We need great educators that think differently about the opportunities we now have in our world and will take advantage of what we have in front of us, and help to create these experiences for our students to do something powerful.” George Couros

A Day in the Life of Miss Patterson

Life as we know it looks different then it did two months ago. Looking back two months, I would never have guessed that this would be our reality. I actually never would have guessed this would ever be our reality. Not in contact with our students, not getting to hug them everyday, not being in our classrooms, not being able to enjoy spring weather together, no field trips, no good-bye, not being able to get a hold of some students-our normal has completely changed. Every time I am asked how I am doing, I respond “I miss my students”. A day in the life is mainly missing students.

Fast learning has taken place for many educators during this time. Technology and resources we never had time to dig in to are now what we are using each day. It’s like forced professional development that is the practical and best way to learn. A goal for myself as an educator this year was to learn the ins and outs of Seesaw. I joined a community of practice to learn more about the app. I have been using Seesaw in my classroom for communication with parents but had never focused my attention on the other features I knew were in it. When March came around I had started looking in to more of the features and learning about them. When news of schools closing became a reality, I quickly learned what I needed to to get my students signed into their own accounts. I became a Seesaw Ambassador to understand it better and be able to share with my colleagues. Now I am using Seesaw everyday to teach lessons and send activities to my students. I am grateful for this time to be able to learn and know how to apply Seesaw to my classroom when life goes back to ‘normal’.

The problem with technology is not everyone has access. Each day I send three lessons or activities out on Seesaw. I have about eight out of twenty six students who complete and participate in these lessons each day. I have four who have not connected to Seesaw and don’t have access to it. Online learning is great when all have access to it. Each student that is participating is using different devices. Some have old phones, tablets, ipads, chrome books, or desktops. Each of these devices work differently for the apps and technology we use. Many of my students are also learning to type while trying to learn online.

What I really miss the most is being able to talk and connect with students. I have been working on getting students onto Google Meets as that is an approved platform we can use to connect with students. Many of my students are in daycare and not able to come to an assigned time. Currently I am working on getting a few students at a time to meet using parent emails to connect. Being able to see their faces has brightened my days.

I use zoom regularly to meet and collaborate with colleagues. I also have been attending many professional development webinars to keep busy and embrace the time we have and all the free information out there. Since learning that we are not going back in June my school has been working hard to prepare for fall.

My day is full of meetings, emails, Seesaw, google slides, Epicbooks, google meets, and much more all in front of a screen. Some days I feel like I am busier then I was before and still feel exhausted at the end of the day. The best thing I have for all this screen time {yes this is a plug/advertisement} is my blue screen glasses from my brothers optometry clinic. I highly recommend everyone that is working in front of a screen to get a pair of these glasses.

Some days are full, some days are hard, some days are fun, sometimes it’s difficult to find motivation to work at all. If anyone else feels this way you are not alone and it is okay! It is okay to still feel like you’re learning. I know many educators are on a rollercoaster of emotions these days and that’s okay.

I am thankful for having technology to stay connected with student, colleagues and educators around the world. This has been a neat time to see the education world come together and support one another.

Thank you for reading!

Final Post-Major Project Journey

The journey has not come to an end- it has just awakened a new beginning!

Well the end has come to this specific experience. What a learning journey it has been. I have learned so much in the last few months and have opened my mind to great teaching. Before I started this class I did not think it would have a lot of relevance to me and my teaching practice. I thought that it wouldn’t really apply to me but would be interesting to learn about. Was I ever wrong-this class has been so relevant for all age levels of teachers and to our personal lives. I had never heard the terms ‘digital citizenship’ or ‘digital identity’ before this class. Teaching grade twos and threes, I thought this topic would not be important as I have always prioritized their basic needs being met, then traditional literacy within the class. I was not aware of how easy it is to integrate digital media/literacy within my teaching instruction and how important it is in this day and age. I am very thankful to have learned so much and to be able to apply and share my learning with my colleagues. I now have a new understanding of how important it is to teach the topics in this class at an early age. Thank you #eci832!

Now to my Major Project-what a journey this has been. Way back when I started to think about my Major Project, I had no idea what I wanted to do. The options were broad and I didn’t really understand each option or how I would be able to do them. I definitely did not get as far as I had hoped due to the events in our world, but I will take you on my journey of what I did do and learn. My journey is very much like how my brain works-scattered and all over the place. My first post about my Major Project I identified that I wanted to look into different apps that were suggested in the syllabus. I had not heard of the ones suggested so I thought that would be a good start. I chose to look into three educational apps-Aurasma, ShowMe, and Touchcast. I also wanted to look into the social media app TikTok because I didn’t know much about it. I know many students in my school use TikTok and a few of my students knew what it was, had an account or had siblings with an account.

My second post about my Major Project was on a ‘page’ in my blog where I had planned to put everything about my Major Project in but ended up updating on blog posts. I put updates within blog posts and don’t know how to include those posts on that page. #stilllearning. I had just started looking into TikTok. I downloaded it and started scrolling. I was coaching girls basketball at my elementary school so I was surrounded by the best resources to learn all about TikTok. I started to have great conversations with the girls and they were educating me on how TikTok works. They showed me how they use it, who they follow, why certain people go viral, and the benefits they see in having it. I learned a lot about this app and know all the drama between the famous teenagers that are on TikTok. I have not dug deep enough to understand how it could be used for educational purposes. I am following teachers and hope to learn more about it. I feel good that I understand what people are doing on this app and it’s purposes. I don’t feel out of the loop anymore but I still feel old. I have not made my own dances but have attempted some without recording myself. 🙂

My third update/post about my Major Project is where it took a major turn. Looking into the three educational apps, I learned that these are not ones I have access to in my school division. I looked into Showme which looked like one I could actually use within my classroom. You can make lessons and record yourself on a virtual whiteboard type background. You can send your lessons to students or use them in your classroom. You can also find many lessons that other teachers have created and use those. This sounds like it would be a wonderful app for times like right now. You need an iPad to create the lessons. I have five iPads in my class so I thought this would be a great app to add to the iPads. In order to have an app added to the iPads you have to put in a request. I put in the request with my Vice-Principal after pitching the app to him. Attached I have put the request below or here to show what that looks like. This was another learning process. My Vice-Principal and I filled out and submitted the form together. Unfortunately with all that has gone on in our world, I have no idea what has happened with that application and I am not going to bug anyone to find out. I was not able to get Showme and start making my own lessons and implement them as I had planned for my Major Project. I did use some of the lessons I found through my computer on the account I created. I would like to explore this app in the future when we are back in the classrooms as it looks like it could be beneficial.

Aurasma and Touchcast were both not available for me to use. I couldn’t figure out how to get the proper apps on my phone. When I was looking into these apps and trying to get Showme put onto my iPads, it dawned on me that I do have lots of educational apps available to me as a teacher in Regina Public Schools. I had never taken the time to really look at the apps I have on my iPads and use them effectively within my classroom. I had learned about platforms that I do have access to through my classmates like WeVideo. I used WeVideo for my Content Catalyst project. I would have never known I had access to such a great resource. I have now started to use it to create teaching videos to send to my students! I also learned about and started using Wakelet to gather resources for the project. Following this realization that I have access to lots of great resources I’ve never learned about, I thought this would be a great opportunity to explore these as part of my project. I decided to look specifically at the apps I have on my iPads and explore the benefits of them. I believed this would be the best way to make my Major Project useful to myself and my professional development. I wanted my Major Project to be something that benefits myself and I could implement in my classroom.

I asked myself these five questions .

-Why am I not utilizing what I already have in my classroom?

-What apps are already on my classroom iPads that I can use/What am I already using?

-How can I explore these apps and use this learning for my Major Project?

-Are there apps that can assist me with teaching digital citizenship?

-Why have I not explored these apps before?

The apps that I do use regularly in my class are Epicbooks, Razkids, Toontastic and Brainpop. The majority of the time I let my students use the iPads for reading. Epicbooks and Razkids are great apps that have an almost unlimited amount of books for kids. Epicbooks has lots of great teaching books and videos I use in my instruction. It has lots of non-fiction books that kids love. I always call it the ‘Netflix’ of books. Razkids is a huge library of levelled books. There are many great features like putting students into guided reading groups. Both apps have comprehension quizzes after the students read the books. Teachers can manage students profiles. I have been sending collections of books that spark students interests over Epicbooks recently. Students can still access their profiles at home and continue to have success in reading if they don’t have their own books. I would highly recommend teachers to use these two reading apps. Toontastic is super fun to use while teaching narrative writing. Students get to pick a setting and characters and make a video of a short story. They enjoy recording themselves and moving the characters around. It is great for getting their creative juices flowing and having them be storytellers. Brainpop is a site I use very often in my teaching. It has almost every subject and topic. It has an engaging teaching video followed by a quiz, game, activity, joke, etc to teach about that topic. Although I have used these for many years, I have had time to learn more features I never knew existed.

My next step and change I wanted to bring into my Major Project was to look more deeply into the apps I have and specifically look into Seesaw. Seesaw is an app I have been using for two years to communicate with families and share our learning. I’ve always known it has other features and had made it one of my PD goals this year to explore those. I thought why not dig deeper into Seesaw for part of my Major Project. It is also a great place to send resources about digital citizenship to families.

SeeSaw - The Making Thinking Visible Machine! - EdTechTeam

My next update came with learning about implementing digital citizenship. I never realized how easy it is to implement digital citizenship and media literacy into my everyday teaching. I explain in my blog post about adding implementing Common Sense Media resources into my teaching. I wanted to record myself teaching a lesson from Common Sense Media. I really like the topics they have for second and third graders. It is very easy to access and understand. They make it so easy for educators to follow along and engage the students. I sent this resource to my colleagues and recommended they try it out as well. It is full of great lessons that relate to the students age.

I had started teaching these lessons to my students before schools had closed. I am thankful for the conversations we had and really hope that it stuck with them as they are spending lots of time now on devices at home. I really wish I would’ve started earlier so my students were more equipped for this time. I learned how important it is to embed these lessons into my teaching throughout the whole year and to be having conversations around digital citizenship. I didn’t get as far as I wanted to using this resource in my class but have sent it to my families on Seesaw and hope they will explore it with their children. I was not able to record my teaching and discussions as I had wanted to. I look forward to next year using Common Sense Media in my classroom and sharing it with my coworkers.

I decided with this new learning to create a layout of a Year Plan to implement Digital Citizenship throughout the year. I looked at my year plans and units I do and chose where each topic would fit best. Of course these conversations will be happening throughout the year but I wanted to make a layout to focus specifically on certain topics. I created a table to show how it connects to the grade two and three curriculum. Please check out my Digital Citizenship Year Plan here. It converted to a PDF kind of wonky. I tried to insert it in a here a few ways. I hope it works. I also decided in helping my coworkers and classmates to make a document that shows the curricular connections to teaching digital citizenship in the classroom. I created a document that shows kindergarten to grade five outcomes connecting to digital citizenship topics. These topics/themes are similar to how Common Sense Media breaks up digital citizenship. Please share!

My last blog post update regarding my Major Project was when schools were shutting down and we were all in a heightened state. This was before I had known how much things were about to change. This post has a lot about where I am at now and I will now expand on where I have gotten. I still had high hopes to thoroughly look into each app and I have done some exploring. With the circumstances of life right now and focusing on teaching online I have not done an in depth review of each app. I will share what is on our iPads but focus on what I am using while teaching from a distance. I will mainly share my experience with Seesaw as that is the main platform I am using for teaching now. My goal was to dive into Seesaw while my pre-interns were teaching. They got to teach for a week and I got to explore and get students logging in to their own accounts and try some of the activities I had been playing around with. What perfect timing as the next Monday we were told we were shutting down. I believe time is a huge barrier for educators learning to use new tools and apps. I really hope the time we are in now will allow professional development for all educators in the resources and apps we have access to.

Below I have put pictures of the approved apps on my classroom iPads. I have played with many of them but would like to continue to learn and keep this journey going so I can properly use them effectively in my classroom.

I have compiled a list of the apps and their purposes. Now having a bit of knowledge of the benefits of the apps, I am excited to be able to utilize them and feel confident that they are effective for learning. I hope to dig deeper into them when we are back in the classroom!

Seesaw Overview

What is the purpose of Seesaw?

Seesaw is an online platform for educators to use within their classroom. Students are able to creatively show and represent their learning. Their families are able to connect with their ‘journal’ and celebrate learning. It is a great resource to assess and track students learning and have them take ownership and responsibility for their learning. It promotes student and family engagement. Seesaw gives a variety of ways for students to demonstrate learning in a portfolio. (video, audio, pictures, drawing, etc)

How is Seesaw an Educational Tool?

Seesaw was created for educators to engage students and families in the classroom learning. This learning can be expanded, shared and assessed.

I have become a Seesaw Ambassador! The best way to learn and understand the app is to go through the training so I can help others learn as well. I also got upgraded to a paid account so I could really explore the benefits of having full access. I am very excited to continue to learn about Seesaw and keep creating and sharing my own lessons. I recommend all teachers to become a Seesaw Ambassador if you are using it for online learning.

I can not imagine just downloading Seesaw for the first time and having to use it to teach online. This is the case for many teachers who were not already connected to families and using Seesaw. I have been helping a few teachers get set up and been available for questions as I have learned and implemented lessons on Seesaw. I had to learn quickly the features Seesaw offers that I hadn’t looked into previously.

I never thought I would become an expert (using that word lightly) in Seesaw so quickly. I have learned how to create my own lessons, about the features and the security. I feel very safe using Seesaw in my classroom.

In the Ambassador training I learned Seesaw is safe to use:

  1. Seesaw will never sell your data or student data.
  2. There’s never any advertisements.
  3. Seesaw doesn’t own the content you add.
  4. Students work is private to the classroom by default.
  5. Seesaw uses the latest security to protect you.
  6. Seesaw is transparent about their practices and notifies you if things change.
  7. Seesaw is compliant with FERPA, COPPA, and GDPR.

I have attached the permission form my school sends home to families.

Free Version vs Paid Version

The free version of Seesaw has many great features but also some setbacks. In the paid version called Seesaw Plus, you can have up to 20 teachers connected to your class. In a time like now that allows all itinerant teachers to send lessons to students as well. In the free version you can only have 2 teachers connected to your class. In the paid version you can have a ‘school library’ to collaborate and share lessons with teachers in your school. That is not available in the free version. In the free version you can only have 100 activities in your own library. This is what made me panic as I am sending on average 5 activities a day. When you have the paid version you can have unlimited amount of activities in your library. In the paid version you are also able to assess skills and attach outcomes to track students progress. Another big part of Seesaw plus or Seesaw schools when the whole school has it is that the students journal stays with them each year. They have a new journal for their new grade or teacher but they can look back and see growth over years. For teachers this makes it easy to transfer students each year and have their families already connected. This way you don’t need to send home the information each year. For example, I had a paid account at the beginning of the year somehow and had all but two families connected to my class by taking them from their previous teachers. My trial ended and I had to send home the handouts many times and create a new class. Students who teachers had worked very hard on getting the families connected had to start from the beginning again.

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Highlights/Benefits/Pros of Seesaw

  1. Differentiating for students- You can choose what you to send to specific students. Great for split grades. Able to create lessons and personalize them.
  2. Scheduling lessons to come out at a certain time- Teachers can prep lessons and activities for the week and choose when to assign them and have them appear for students.
  3. Students take pictures of their work and own what they want to share. Easy for them to be independent in their learning.
  4. Families are able to be apart of students learning and see what they are doing in class. They can connect and celebrate learning.
  5. Families can communicate with teachers.
  6. Students demonstrate learning in a variety of ways. (recording, video, drawing, writing, etc) They can easily expand on their learning and show their personal understanding.
  7. Security/Privacy
  8. Huge Library of activities/lessons already created by other educators. You can search any grade and topic.
  9. Able to attach outcomes to assignments and assess ‘skills’ and progress of students.
  10. Easy to use and understand. Teachers are able to make their own lessons/activities. They can share instructions by audio or video for little ones who aren’t able to read yet.
  11. Able to use on most platforms. (Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, Chrome)

Cons/Downfalls of Seesaw

  1. Not being able to video or teach live. (I’m dying to see my students and video chat with them)
  2. Students not being able to communicate with other classmates. (found the best way to have students be able to communicate is post something to all their journals so they can comment)
  3. Most teachers are using free version.
  4. Confusion of two separate apps. ‘Seesaw Class’ for Students and ‘Seesaw Family’ for families.
  5. Students are not able to search activities on their own.

Seesaw is very beneficial for learning and I would highly recommend elementary educators to use it in their classes. I am continuing to learn during this online/distance learning time. I hope to become more efficient in using Seesaw and am excited to see the benefits of implementing it into my classroom when we are back in schools.

Unfortunately I have not been able to show my learning in the ways I had pictured. My journey was all over the place and constantly changing. I get new ideas and get excited to try new things. I always struggle to narrow down what I want to do for a project. It was a big learning process that I will keep building on and learning from.

I say this journey has not come to an end because it will always continue. It is just the beginning of understanding the importance of digital citizenship and implementing it into my teaching. I am very excited to continue to implement what I have learned next year and as I am teaching from a distance. I’ll say it one more time how grateful I am to have taken this class at a time like this. It has opened my eyes and my mind to so much greatness out there and how positive technology can be. Thank you to my wonderful, supportive classmates I have learned alongside. For being so helpful, patient, and knowledgeable. Lastly, thank you to my prof for the rich conversations and a teaching style that has been so open to letting us take our journey in a way that connects best to us! Thank you, thank you, thank you!