Category Archives: digital identity

Common Sense Media – A Major Project Review

As part of my project, I wanted to evaluate a couple of key resources that have come up a lot in our discussions over the course of the semester.  The first resource I want to focus on is Common Sense Media.  This has been a staple in resources and conversations, with a lot of us directing each other to the website for lessons, resources, and information.  I have used it a few times this semester for informatCommon_Sense_Media_logo.svgion and I find they have an incredible library of questions and answers for both educators and parents.

They have lists of resources for apps, books, movies, and websites all in relation to age level!  But the part I want to focus on is the pieces for educators.  Once you click on the “For Educators” tab, you are taken to a screen with tabs for Digital Citizenship, EdTech Reviews, Professional Development & Advice, Resources in Spanish, and now, Coronavirus Resources.

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There is clearly no shortage of resources here and it is well-recognized because of the professionalism, and ease of implementation for the resources.  There is even an Implementation Guide to help teacher integrate these resources and lesson plans into classrooms, schools, and divisions (and it’s free!).  Under Professional Development, there is even a link to a webinar for the Digital Citizenship Curriculum.  This could be very useful for any teacher, whether they are skilled with digital citizenship or just getting started.

Now, to the important segment of this blog post: the lesson plans!  There are a variety of different topics to choose from and you can even filter by grade.  So for the purpose of this blog post, and my major project I am going to focus on the grade 11 and 12 resources.  What I notice right away is that they are definitely age-appropriate topics and would work in a grade 11 or 12 classroom.  I’m sure my students would have enjoyed the conversations that began from the topics.

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The lessons are listed below:

One thing I love about the lesson plans is they give a snapshot right off the bat, telling you the approximate time and a lesson overview.  There are individual links to the lesson slides, handouts, and quizzes.  It also includes take-home resources for family engagement and activities – and it opens in google docs and slides!

My only complaint would be that it connects to standards from the United States, and unfortunately does not connect to other curriculums, however, I think these lessons could have their place in many Saskatchewan curriculums given time and creativity.

I decided to check out a couple lessons I would consider using in my ELA classrooms and I was impressed with the resources as well as the connections made to students their age.  There were applicable questions asked, and examples that I believe would engage students and make them reconsider their online identities without rolling their eyes or replying sarcastically.  I like the maturity of the discussions and the opportunities the lessons allow students to explore within the classroom but that might also extend beyond the classroom walls.

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One lesson I really liked was “The Change You Want to See” which I thought connects well with my Global Issues unit in my ELA B30 course, and connects to my major project the best.  It asks, “How can you create a digital footprint that showcases your purpose?”

I like that it focuses on the why of a digital footprint and how it can help find purpose.  It also focuses on thinking about problems students would want to advocate for, and aligning themselves with like-minded individuals online.  This lesson could begin my whole unit plan, and even lead deeper into them campaigning in an online forum for their cause.  The lesson plan outlines everything a teacher needs to prepare, as well as steps to help students make their way through the lesson.  It even lists organizations reviewed by Common Sense Media to help students engage in a campaign, which I think is very important because it takes a little of the weight off the teacher in terms of making sure students aren’t becoming involved in online places that may not be entirely appropriate.giphy (17)

Overall, I would recommend using Common Sense Media for educational purposes, and I think it is age-appropriate, convenient, knowledgeable, and easy to use! I know I will be using it in the future and look forward to the conversations I will have with my students about Digital Citizenship!

Until next time,

Shelby

Be More Than Just Digitally Literate

This week’s prompt could not be more perfect for the current situations going on in our world – what does it mean to be literate?!  I don’t know about my fellow teachers, but I am exhausted after this week!!  It was jam packed with bad and surreal news – giphy (15)provincially and globally.  And with all this uncertainty circling the STF sanctions as well as the pandemic of COVID-19, it has left A LOT of opportunity to have a lot of real conversations with my students.  I have to say, the overall maturity my students have shown this week has been impressive, even if it has come with it’s fair share of debate as well.  We have had a chance to dive into these topics, what it means for them, look at different sides of the arguments, and generally appreciate where our province and our world currently is.  We have discussed the dangers of misinformation and the importance of being informed by the right sources.  If there is one take-away from this week I have learned, it’s that there is a time and place for social media, and there are other times to just step back and let go.  I think this week has been really informative for students to test how digitally literate they really are!

So, what does it mean to be digitally literate in today’s world?  Common Sense Media defines digital literacy as the “ability to effectively find, identify, evaluate, and use information. Digital literacy specifically applies to media from the internet, smartphones, video games, and other nontraditional sources.”  I think in today’s world, it is greatly important to be literate online, especially with all the misinformation and the dangers that it presents.  However, it does extend beyond just being digital literate.  In my major project, I plan to begin with digital literacy in my ELA course and then extend this to include other forms of literacy, especially those in literature.  It’s important to improve on skills like lateral reading and being as unbiased as possible when navigating the world’s information as discussed in my reading from this week.  This does not just apply to recent news.  It also applied to many different facets of life, including things like health, wellness, and general information.

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If you were looking for a “new diet” for example, it’s important to do your research and not buy into the first fad diet you come upon.  The same goes for the latest workout plan or the latest information when raising young children.  You cannot believe the first thing you read, and it’s important we give students to tools to be successful in life beyond the classroom.  Being literate obviously includes making smart and informed decisions, and it includes steps in Fren Blumburg’s interview with Renee Hobbs including access skills like reading and listening and using a computer appropriately, analysis of a given piece of information, collaboration with others, reflection on who is affected or what the multiple-intelligences-learning-stylespurpose is, and action related to changing the society we live in.  Leigh’s post discussed the idea of multiple intelligences, and she is completely correct.  We all have a range of multiple intelligences, and it is important to improve them all throughout our lives as some pieces are stronger than others.  These multiple intelligences help improve our overall literacy which I believe makes us more rational, intelligent, well-rounded people.

There are many types of literacy, just check out this infograph here.  It is incredibly important to be vastly literate in a variety of facets, and to have the skills to improve on these different literacies.  They range from media, digital, visual, data, game, health and finance, civic and ethical, news, computational and coding and foundational literacy.  One not mentioned on this list that I spend much of my days as a teacher on is mathematical literacy.  And this is also where people bring up their pitchforks and claim “I hate math.”  But it goes much farther beyond computational mathematics and more about a way of problem-solving and rational thinking.  Even the Saskatchewan curriculum states that mathematical goals include logical reasoning, number sense, spatial sense, and math as a human endeavor.  The curriculum states, “All students benefit from mathematics learning which values and respects different ways of knowing mathematics and its relationship to the world”  and “the more exposure that all students have to differing ways of understanding and knowing mathematics, the stronger students will become in their number sense, spatial sense, and logical thinking.” sask

Teaching AP Calculus over the last few years has really changed my perspective on mathematics and what I want my students to gain from a course.  It’s changed from teaching content for the next level to understanding the process and applying it to new scenarios.  The thing I’ve learned as a math teacher is most of my students won’t use math in their daily lives the way we study it in school so it is important that they come away with skills that they can use in their daily lives, like being challenged, problem-solving, and thinking rationally when faced with a difficult situation, in a way improving their mathematical literacy without really knowing it!I-fear-the-day-that-technology-will-surpass-our-human-interaction.-The-world-will-have-a-generation-of-idiots.

Overall, improving our literacy is very important and helping our students be well-rounded is just as critical in this world.  We tend to focus a lot of digital literacy in this course and it’s being pushed much more recently in schools as well.  It is a very important skill, but so are many of the other pieces of being literate.  Let’s not forget to have growth, we need to encourage it in all aspects of life, struggle, and find balance in all things.

Until next time,

Shelby

Major Update – Still Under Construction

It’s been awhile since my last update on my major project and I figured it was time to let everyone know what I’ve been up to!  I have been spending lots of time researching, brainstorming, and compartmentalizing how to bring this unit plan to fruition. I didn’t actually think making a unit plan for digital citizenship would be this difficult!  giphy (5)However, I have a plan set to get some physical evidence of my unit plan finished this week.  I have started to outline my unit plan and I have matched my outcomes to Ribble’s Nine Elements as well.  I have goals and vision for what I want my project to be; it’s just difficult to put into words (hence my lack of blog posts lately).  My brain has been all over the place!!

Over the past few weeks, I have been making small tweaks to my ELA curriculum in my everyday classroom.  We began a new semester in February, and it was perfect timing to begin making adjustments.  I’m hoping these adjustments will influence my unit plan as it continues to mold.  One thing I have realized since beginning my project and outlining it, is that I do not want it to be a stand-alone unit plan.  I don’t want to discuss digital citizenship in-depth and then not discuss it again later in the semester.  This has created a challenge in how I approach this formation of the plan.  I have decided to create a few general resources to use at various points throughout the semester, so I can encourage my students to keep thinking about these important topics.  These resources are beginning to look like fact-checkers, and critical thinking questions to challenge my students’ opinions on what they are reading.  I had a “research organizer” I used last year and now looking at it, I know it needs A LOT improvement, so I have been updating it! (Stay tuned!!)

However, the real focus of my unit plan will be setting expectations, discussing online etiquette, and setting up the mindset for our semester which I have decided will be finding valuable sources, fact-checking, as well as recognizing bias in a variety of formats.  Students are attacked with messages, advertisements, and news all day, every day, and I want my students to take a step back from this overwhelming world of data and communication.  As an ELA classroom, we will need to look at more than just news articles and videos but also plays, short stories, poems, and novels.  It is my idea to hopefully incorporate these templates I will create to help my students understand not only how to find valuable sources of research and news, but also understand what the real purpose is of any piece of literature or video or speech.  I want them to become critical thinkers and also more responsible citizens in the online world.  I would be lying if I said our conversations surrounding the Portrait of a Graduate has not left an impact on me.  My students aren’t going to remember Hamlet or the poems we read in two years, but it is my hope I can teach them something about digital responsibility, advocacy, and bias as they move forward in their lives.

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A big part of our semester focuses on The Search for Self which I think connects directly to my students figuring out who they are and how they can be better people.  I also discussed in my first update that I will connect this unit to the other unit of focus which is The Social Experience.  It is my hope that I can touch on every one of Ribble’s Elements within these two units.  I have linked each one of Ribble’s Elements to an overarching unit question.  It’s something we spend a lot of time focusing on, and always link our content back to during the unit.

So, my unit plan is definitely still under-construction, but I feel like I’ve made real progress in what I am trying to accomplish.  My next steps will be to finish the resources and link them on my blog for some feedback then create some vlogs for some of the online resources I’ve found to help other teachers with digital literacy!Brain-Under-Construction

Stay tuned!

Shelby

Digital Citizenship Moving Forward

In this week’s class, we elaborated on the idea of a portrait of a graduate, and focused on the portrait of a digital citizen.  The conversation ensued and debates about age, access, and expectations evolved. Every group focused on a different age, and these conversations left me thinking about my expectations for my grade twelve students.  I take a lot of pride in what I teach and molding their young adult brains into what I hope to be successful citizens of our world. I have always left opportunities for discussion on real issues, global issues, and debates they take interest in within my ELA classroom.  I believe it is really a place they can explore who they want to be and what they want for their future and their world.  reynoldsburgportrait-1c962cd241d306876be2bff000011dea3

I think as we move forward in the world of education, it is greatly important we educate students on media literacy, as much if not more than regular literacy.  For those who don’t know what media literacy is, it is the “ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending” according to Commonsense Media.  This is not a subject many teachers feel comfortable with and as we discussed in class, I think NOPEeducating teachers on digital citizenship is the best place to start.  It is too easy for teachers to say they don’t understand what to do so they just don’t teach anything to do with media. According to Fran Blumberg’s article from this week, Ezther Hargittai stated, “there are substantial skill gaps between people who claim to be effective Internet users…Many instructors at the high school and the college level remain woefully ignorant of the economics of the Internet and few can explain how Google produces a list of hits when you enter various keywords.”  We need to give teachers the tools to be successful in order to then successfully educate our students. It cannot be a stand alone unit or lesson either. Digital Citizenship needs to be integrated into many subjects areas and lesson plans – that is where it is most effective and valuable for students.

As Adam said in his blog this week, many students don’t understand the ideas of privacy or the inappropriateness of taking photos of everyone and anyone around them.  This is where the education needs to begin – online etiquette and empathy. I recently had a teachable moment in my classroom where we discussed why we do not check banking information over public wi-fi and it shocked me that no one is telling students this!! giphy (14)It is these simple teachable moments where this information can be taught.  Students need to be responsible for their technological uses and we just assume because they grew up in a tech world, that they understand the uses, but they don’t. Students need to be able to “consider the potential risks and harms of media messages; and understand how differences in values and life experience shape people’s media use and their message interpretation.”

In the interview with Renee Hobbs also said in the article that teaching media literacy can be messy, but that’s why it works and teaches students how to be responsible online.  They need to experience it. If I think about my current practices, I always assumed students understood what to do and how to do it online. I never educated on properly giphyresearching because I assumed they had figured it out by the time they got to me.  I was soooo wrong. This year, I am really trying to focus on finding credible sources and having high expectations for the resources they use online. It is time consuming, but I know it is worth it!  In Alina Tugend’s article, These Students are Learning About Fake News and How to Spot It, I found the acronym IMVAIN to be really useful moving forward:

“Are sources independent, are there multiple sources, do they verify evidence, and are they authoritative, informed and named sources?”

My students are currently working on a research project, that I will be talking about more in the upcoming weeks in my major project updates.  They have really taken to the challenge of lateral reading and finding good sources. They have been asking good questions, and trying to be as unbiased as possible while preparing their presentations.  I’m excited and looking forward to seeing the results! I also want to challenge my students to use the following questions I got from the Renee Hobbs article:

(1) Who is the author and what is the purpose? 

(2) What techniques are used to attract attention?

(3) What lifestyles, values and points of view are represented? 

(4) How might different people interpret this message? 

(5) What is omitted?word-cloud-web

It is easy to use these questions for fake news and checking sources, but my hope is to apply them to all literature challenging my students to always think no matter what they are reading, viewing, or listening to that there is a purpose and viewpoint to the text.  I am hopeful for the future of teaching digital citizenship in our classrooms. As Tegund put it nicely, “research has shown that an inability to judge content leads to two equally unfortunate outcomes: People believe everything that suits their preconceived notions, or they cynically disbelieve everything. Either way leads to a polarized and disengaged citizenry.”

Until next time,

Shelby

A Teacher’s Digital Identity

This week, we discussed the ideas of digital identity and what a conversation we had!  After some digital sleuthing of some volunteers courtesy of Twitter, I think it was safe to say we all felt a little creepy and some of us might have enjoyed the process more than 2619we expected!  In the current digital world, it is almost normalized to “creep” on other people, especially when we do not know the person well. And we all know we are guilty of it, whether we want to admit it or not.

Another thing we probably don’t want to admit is that we all ran to google immediately after class to double check our own digital identity and make sure it was as clear as it was last time we “googled” ourselves.  I definitely wanted to make sure my digital footprint was similar to what it was in the past and I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that in fact it was pretty crystal clear!giphy (12)

It’s safe to say that since I was a teenager, adults have scared the life out of me lecturing about how my digital footprint needs to be clean and how one mistake can affect the rest of your life online as well as in the real world, particularly related to your career choice. Growing up, knowing I wanted to be a teacher, I made sure I was smart online.  When I was a teenager, we also had to take pictures with a camera, and almost all of them ended up on Facebook but at least we would edit out certain ones first. Nowadays, kids have a lot more to worry about because it takes less than 3 seconds to upload a photo to the internet or social media, instead of hours or days! I didn’t really have to worry about inappropriate photos ending up online, and honestly I was a pretty good kid, and I was mature enough to understand I didn’t want certain things to end up online.  2d3g3w

When I applied for education, and went through the program at the University of Regina, the professors often warned to clean up our online profiles because school divisions will check and will not hire anyone who has provocative photos, posts, or anything illegal like underage drinking on their profile. In the year of 2010, the only real social media platform I had was Facebook and so the purging of friends and photos commenced taking care to ensure my profile was clean for hiring – almost too clean. Looking back, I was pretty freaked out about the whole idea and although it was an important aspect, I don’t think it should be everything. People make mistakes but I also have some pretty awesome memories but feel uncomfortable sharing because there may be something in the background.  Is this what we want for our future? Hide everything unless it’s perfect and proper? I was confident that I was “google-able” and nothing undesirable would pop up if anyone looked for me online. However, the only things that really did pop up was sports articles and results, and the odd random photo from Facebook. All in all, not really a digital footprint at all! I was so conscious of my footprint that I had basically erased it entirely.

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As I made it through university, and into the teaching profession, one thing that is continually on my mind is about what I post online and what others post about me.  As we all know, we can control what we post, but we often can’t control what others post about us online. Currently, I live a compartmentalized life online. One as a professional, and one as an individual.  Platforms like Twitter and Pinterest, I leave public, showcasing a more professional life in the online world. Obviously, I use twitter for networking with other teachers, and especially in these types of courses.  My private online life consists of the other realms with platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and audience05-300x200Facebook. I post and comment for my friends and family, often leaving the professional facade behind, however I am still incredibly cognisant of my online footprint, making sure nothing would be deemed inappropriate if my online worlds ever blended together.  As I tell my students, we live in an incredibly negative world, where we overlook the good often, and focus on the blemishes a lot more frequently.  This is an unfortunate reality, but for teachers, I find it can be a lot more harsh as we are placed on a pedestal of society, always role models whether we are on duty or off. And this calls into question, is this what we really want as a society? Do teachers need to be ‘perfect’ online OR should we be real, showcasing that we are indeed human too, making mistakes and also having lots of different opinions, talents, and interests beyond just being teachers?

audience01-300x200Over the years, I’ve become less strict about who I allow to follow me on platforms, and my world of compartalization is slowly blending as I believe it should.  I’m not ashamed of anything I have online, but as we learned in class this week, there is a lot more about us online than we think, which can be a very eerie thought for most of us.  Moving forward, I want to continue to create a positive digital identity online and encourage my students to do the same. And I think the best way to teach students this is through modelling.  We can lecture all we want about the do’s and don’ts of the online world, but the real way students learn is through practice and example. Leading by example and setting expectations for students is the real way to get them to listen and think about what they are doing online. Fear-mongering does not work and if teachers also become students in the online world, creating a digital identity their students can see, I think it would do a lot for everyone moving forward.giphy (13)

I had a student this week tell me he appreciates the way I teach because he doesn’t feel like he’s just a student but that I genuinely care for him, his growth, and his success.  This was one of those moments I thought, this is it. This is why I became a teacher. With teaching comes great responsibility, and maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to blend my worlds a little more, allowing my students to see how I live my live online and also encourage them to improve their digital footprint and individual media literacy.  If I have to be a role model, then why not use that power for good, and really attempt to teach my students through example how to leave a healthy digital identity behind.

Until next time,

Shelby