Category Archives: EC&I 831

Social Media for Change?

Now I’m not one to be a Debbie Downer, however I feel as though my last post focused on the negative issues surrounding social media. I addressed a lot of my concerns regarding social media in the classroom including issues of privacy, and cyber safety just to name a few. But overall, I’m much more drawn to the positive aspects social media has to offer. This week, I chose to counteract the negative and dig into the positive aspects of social media and how it can be used in  ways – and in some cases make a very positive impact on our world! There’s pro’s and con’s to everything and just as social media is capable of doing a lot of damage when not careful, it is also capable of helping those in need and spreading a whole lot of love, happiness and positive vibes.  Today – let’s focus on the GOOD!

confetti blog pic

Response to Natural Disasters

Not only does social media provide immediate information when it comes to natural disasters but it significantly contributes to disaster relief – anything from raising money to locating survivors.

social media blog pic
Image via Trendhunter

Heather Lessen  explains the use of digital responders during disasster response. She states “Digital responders can immediately log on when news breaks about a natural disaster or human-created catastrophe. Individuals and teams are activated based on skill sets of volunteer and technical communities. These digital responders use their time and technical skills, as well as their personal networks in an attempt to help mitigate information overload for formal humanitarian aid in the field. These digital humanitarians will help close the gap in worldwide disaster response.”  Aside from the importance of digital responders, think of how quickly word can spread about world disasters today compared to 30 years ago.

Image via Trendhunter

Healthcare and Public Health

Social media has helped many people suffering from the same condition seek support, ask questions, and connect with others experiencing the same condition. Yes, there is a flip side to this as we all have friends who rapidly self diagnose using Web MD and convince themselves that they only have days to live. There is of course the positive side which allows instantaneous information to medical information at the quick of a button. “28% of health-related conversations on Facebook are supporting health-related causes, followed by 27% of people commenting about health experiences or updates.” (source: Infographics Archive). Don’t even get me started on the positive aspects of fitness and healthy lifestyle apps! Amazing!


Image via National Prevention Information Network

Check out this link here for “24 Outstanding Statistics and Figures On How Social Media Has Impacted the Health Care Industry”. Interesting read!

Platform for Change

Remember the ice bucket challenge? This phenomenon was likely the most obvious but impressive example of how social media can make a positive impact! “More than 17 million people [in 2014] uploaded their challenge videos to Facebook … watched by 440 million people a total of 10 billion times. It is now an annual event to raise awareness and funds to find treatments and a cure. By the end of September 2014, ALSA had received an incredible $115 million from IBC donators—in less than 60 days. This represented an increase of over 3,500% in funds raised over the same two-month period in 2013, equal to 375% of its annual revenue for the previous fiscal year. It consisted mostly of small donations (but with some ranging up to $200,000) and came from over 3 million donors, over 2/3 of whom were new. According to ALSA, more than $220 million was ” (CPAJournal). Don’t forget the hours of entertainment in blooper and Celebrity Ice Bucket Challenges videos.

Building Empathy

I really enjoyed reaBell-Lets-Talk-003-001blogpic.jpgding Dani’s post about many other positive aspects to social media. On her most recent blog post, she “celebrates and acknowledge the amazing work of organizations like Kids Help Phone or Bell Let’s Talk for opening the conversations about how important self care, understanding and empathy are, and for being Image via The Brock Press                  there to support youth and adults in our province.”                                                                      Social media widely contributes to the awareness of                                                                    these support for teens.
It seems as though everything has it’s pro’s and con’s and social media is no different. However, it did feel good to read about such great, powerful things happening around the world thanks to something that often gets a bad rap such as social media outlets. I think social media can have the power to transform many situations and the possibilities are difficult to imagine!

What are some of your favorite examples of social media being used for positive change?

So Long, Mr Cronkite.

Gone are the days of the “Most Trusted Man in America“, Walter Cronkite.

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Photo Source: Socio-Economics History Blog

No longer do media consumers have someone who they trust as the voice of the news. Media outlets increasingly are subject to their own bias, due to parent companies’ agendas, of which, there are fewer and fewer (ahem, PostMedia).

The world of media is also becoming increasingly complex. Students are having to create new skill sets in order to combat the deluge of untrustworthy news. There is a greater push for students to recognize fake news when they see it: CNN, Globe and Mail, The Wall Street Journal, and NPR (and many more) report initiatives undertaken by schools and governments to educate children on what they consume via media.

Photo Source: IFLA

There are numerous ways to to analyse a “news” article from various media and educational sources: BBC, IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions), How Stuff WorksCommon Sense Media, and interestingly, AARP (an American  business for those 50 and older).

In her blog, Shelby Mackey wrote about the importance of research in the B30 classroom. This is a key idea, because the entire B30 curriculum is based around analysing global issues in an in-depth manner. Students need to be familiar with how to research and how to evaluate.

Photo Source:

In one of my classes, Theory of Knowledge, we’re looking at how to tell if something is scientifically verifiable and the concept of peer-reviewed research.

For all of their experience researching (and by this point in their high school careers as IB diploma kids, they’ve done a lot), the term “peer reviewed” was foreign.

This was slightly frightening to me, as these students are expected to produce university-quality research papers quite regularly.

The easiest way I’ve found to examine fake news is to look at wildly imaginative examples of scientific claims:

Photo Source: Goop Psychic Vampire Repellent

We look at the website source (it seems legitimate: high-powered Hollywood actress, recognizable name brands, shiny website). It passes the test of credibility on first glance.

Next we look at the product more closely (ingredient include: Sonically tuned water, rosewater, grain alcohol, sea salt, therapeutic grade oils of: rosemary, juniper and lavender; a unique and complex blend of gem elixirs, including but not limited to: black tourmaline, lapis lazuli, ruby, labradorite, bloodstone, aqua aura, black onyx, garnet, pyrite and nuummite; reiki, sound waves, moonlight, love, reiki charged crystals)

Wait. What?! Sound waves? Moonlight?

And so we begin a discussion of looking underneath all of the shine to find the scary. Granted not everything is fake. But enough of it is.

Photo Source: BBC (Viewing habits of children influenced by parents)

Ryan Wood brought up a really good point about how scary the world has become in raising our own children. It has now become a matter of teaching our own children about “fake news”. My family used to have cable and watch news every night, like Ryan’s family, but we cut the cord. CTV, CBC. Global were all trusted beyond any doubt and now, I need to carefully screen what we view as news. My son is becoming more and more aware of what is happening in the world (case in point, we were driving home, and the CBC news came on. They were explaining the bombing in Somalia and my son worriedly asked about the 2783 people who were injured or killed). My job as a parent has changed from what I anticipated it would be, even four years ago.

But, for better or worse, that’s the way it is.


Moving Backwards

This past week has been interesting. Wednesday afternoon I had tendon surgery on my (non-dominant) left hand. This has left me a bit immobilized but made an opportunity to see how good Read&Write is (spoiler: SO much better than Siri).

So, this week our question is about our concerns about teaching in a digital world. This was particularly of interest to me as there are going to be vast changes to how we are able to use Google Apps for Education in the very near future. Essentially, our use of GAFE is going to be severely curtailed to the point of non-use.

The concern is student privacy. Google gathers information to disseminate to others for money: data mining. I’ve talked about this in a previous blog for this class and more in detail for a previous class. To me, this is not a new issue.

Photo via: Kelsie Lenihan

But this connects to the question of our “moral imperative” to teach children, but to also protect their privacy. How do we ethically curate an online presence within a classroom, when we are bounded by so many obligations from our board, which ultimately dictates our parameters?

Photo via: McGraw Hill Education (also a really interesting article)

I think my questions are stemming from a growing frustration: I see the direction the world is moving and I am trying to teach students to move within it. The video by Michael Wesch about how connected everything is and how “ridiculously easy” it is to connect and share. It is so easy to connect, but we seem to be moving backwards in our rush to protect the vulnerability of our students.

Sharing will become locked down and inaccessible as our students’ privacy versus our students’ growth in a modern world becomes paramount. We are required to teach critical thinking skills, which Wesch referred to as a filter, but critical thinking skills are not enough anymore.

There is an atmosphere of control emerging as administrators and those in power grapple with the impact an online presence can have on a student’s future. This is compounded by the issues of privacy and the fact that no one truly knows where information is going.


Photo via: Education Next

To me this means that education is going to take a massive step backwards: I’m going to have to go back to pen and paper in order to make my students untraceable. Nothing will be shared, no footprints online.

I believe this is doing our students a huge disservice and is reactionary rather than being proactive. I think that before this edict is handed down, education about our role as educators online needs to happen for teachers and information about students’ online presence needs to be given to both students and parents. The only term I can put with this is frustrating.

As Google may be on its way out, thank goodness for other options. I’ll be exploring how to move my Google Classroom onto Canvas.

Embracing Social Media in the Classroom

As technology continues to grow and develop, we have a choice in our personal and professional lives to embrace or resist it. Personally, I believe it’s easier for many to be resistant to change and remain doing things the same way one has always done. Although, what may be “Easy” isn’t always the right thing to do.  If we expect our students to be able to navigate the tech- savy world we live in today, we are doing a great injustice if we resist teaching about the complexities of social media and let students learn to navigate this on their own. Bringing twitter, blogging and other social media tools into the classroom can help model proper use and prevent many perhaps devastating or unsafe situations for our students in the future. Karen Lederer draws  attention to many common advantages and disadvantages of social media in the classroom.  Here is my take on it.


Photo Credit: Say It Social

Giving students the opportunity to share their work within a larger community offers many advantages such as the ability to collaborate with others, engage learners and seek and provide feedback.  The enhanced level of communication between home and school is also a major advantage. Being connected within the classroom offers a window into the classroom that didn’t exist during my education. Many parents have commented that they feel more connected and enjoy seeing what their kids are doing each day through classroom twitter updates or Dojo “class stories” which are similar to Instagram stories except limited to a private audience.


Unfortunately, not everything can be sweet as pie and social media within the classroom can have its struggles as well. However by being aware of the cons to social media in the classroom can prevent some future disasters when it comes down to issues of oversharing and internet safety.  I quite enjoyed Colleen’s reference to using the “Grandma Rule” when it comes to sharing online. She also cautions us to consider whether or not we would want our boss or future employer to see what we post. I completely agree with this as it is so important to “think before your post” and this is why I tend to keep my Twitter account as primarily a professional account. Even though I don’t share many political things to Facebook, I also tend to be very careful with my privacy settings to separate my personal life from parents and students as much as I can.  The article Oversharing: Why Do We Do It and How Do We Stop?  advises one to “Think or more specifically, think ahead” when it comes to sharing online.

Imagine the ripple effect of the piece of information you are about to share. Imagine your mother, children, partner/spouse, boss and any other relevant person knowing what you are about to divulge. Imagine meeting new people who posses the piece of information you are about to disclose. Think about that information in the public domain today, and think about it in the public domain decades from now. Still OK with it? Then wait, and think again. Time, consideration and reflection are the antidotes to oversharing, so take and use all three.

Many are also concerned about students misusing these tools and as a teacher myself, my main concern is whether the students are engaging in it effectively, or merely distracted by it. Another potential disadvantage is the amount of time it takes to teach these important skills – however my favorite back to motto is “Slow if Fast”. Taking the time out of the regular outcome driven day to teach routines, procedures and set expectations for technology use is really setting yourself up for a more successful outcome. Issues of privacy also continue to be a major concern and one as teachers we must be vigilant about. Check out this helpful guide from Common Sense Education for a thorough list of Do’s and Don’ts” regarding how to protect student privacy on social media. Another interesting issue that Kelsie speaks about on her most recent blog post includes additional issues of protection and who owns what is posted. I find this fascinating because although we as teachers are constantly creating and uploading resources, it is not very clearly stated (at least in my opinion) which resources belong to me, and which resources belong to my employer. I’m probably not the only educator out there who is also foggy on the details as to ownership. Have these clauses from your employer regarding ownership ever impact what you create/post and how you do this? For example the creation of Teachers Pay Teachers resources.

All in all, despite the many considerations when it comes to social media in the classroom, I definitely think the pro’s outweigh the cons. Taking the time to introduce students to it in a safe way that outlines expectations clearly can dissipate many of the initial fears towards using social media in the classroom. It’s hard to make the statement that social media is either worth using or not in the classroom as it so highly depends on how it is being used, the skills taught and gained and the value of the experience for students. It is not whether or not it should be used, but rather how it is being used.

Happy Blogging!



A Whole Can of Worms.

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Source: Giphy

This idea of posting online is such a can of worms in elementary and secondary teaching. There are so many implications, both obvious and more subtle.

Photo via: Heart Sisters

Posting class achievements and online work online is a way to show the world what educators do, which often occurs behind closed doors. Educating students can be a very isolated event and teachers can sometimes feel maligned by various interest groups. Teaching is an emotional labour and showing the fruits of that labour can feel really validating. It proves that teaching is an essential job and that students are learning things, despite it not being in a traditional fashion, like perhaps their parents and grandparents learned.

Photo via: Getting Smart

Students can feel value in their learning by seeing its applicability to the outside world: they can see immediately the impact what they do has on others and see other’s responses to their work.In this way students are exposed to the wider world, beyond their closed classroom doors. This prepares them in many ways for life after high school.

Photo via: Steven Smith

The world of work is in many ways about how you connect and to whom you connect. Being able to more easily through the internet and understand the trail you leave is now an essential skill. Networking is no longer just circulating at a cocktail party in your hometown; you can now wander the globe, making contacts literally everywhere.

In my context, a high school English teacher, the task is to get them to understand the power of their words: not just in the sense of what they say, but how they say it. Being articulate and using proper conventions is important when trying to get your message out. Being able to sound like you know what you’re talking about is almost half the battle. Spelling and grammar have not disappeared. Sure we have spellcheck, but it doesn’t do everything. Proofreading is still an essential skill.

However, there are issues when it comes to blasting the internet with your latest literary essay.

Infrequently, but still enough times for me to pause and reconsider my practice, the issue of custody appears.

This happens in two forms: custody of the materials I’m posting and physical custody of the child.


Who owns what I’ve posted online? Do I own it because it was turned into me? Does the student own it because they created it? Does the school or school board own it because it was created using their materials/technology? If it were to generate an income, to whom would it be paid? The person who uploaded it or the person who created it or the entity that provided the opportunity?

The second potential issue is with physical custody. There have been situations in schools where there has been an acrimonious breakup and there have been protection orders issued. A child’s safety may be compromised by putting their artifacts online, which can be traced with a little bit of tech wizardry.

This letter from the Peel District School Board and this one for British Columbia teachers gives some guidelines for teachers to follow regarding what to put when. By providing protections for both staff and students, the online world can be explored.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet…

Choosing a narrow focus for my major project has been a bit challenging. I’ve bounced between a creating a project rooted out of passion or purpose and have ultimately decided to integrate something I’ve wanted to do within the classroom for a while now – exploring using Twitter in the classroom.

The “runner up” project idea was exploring photography. However, I feel integrating Twitter into my classroom is a perfect learning opportunity to explore something that I’ve been putting on the back burner and often feel “too busy” to take the time outside of university & work to explore.  It helps to have the time dedicated towards reading and exploring carved out each week as part of this class and gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for Twitter may allow me to enhance my students learning experience and potentially result in my using this tool in my classroom in the years to come. To be honest, I’ve never completely “bought in” to the Twitter experience, but will admit I have yet to give it a solid chance.I want to explore Twitter, alongside my students, by reading, learning and playing around with different things without it feeling “forced”.  I want to feel more comfortable and confident navigating all of the possibilities Twitter affords. It’s time to stop putting it on the back burner and get started! The only way to learn is to try!

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Image via Denis Nguyen

One of the ongoing projects in my classroom involves finding a means of communicating with parents that really works. When I say really works, I mean engages the most amount of parents and keeps parents in the loop and involved in their child’s learning. For years I focused many hours each week on creating a weekly blog update. This blog included pictures, information, parent tips etc. This works well in some schools I’ve taught in, however my blog wasn’t receiving much traffic since moving to a community school. I knew I had to switch it up and try something different. This year I’ve decided to use class dojo as a main communication tool, and have created a classroom Twitter account that will replace my classroom blog. However, I don’t just want to use Twitter for parent communication, but rather spend some time learning how to use Twitter in different ways and for different purposes.

So many Inspiring Examples of Twitter in the Classroom!

Possible Avenues to Explore in my Major Project:
Tips for getting started
Teaching Digital Citizenship
Twitter Etiquette – Using Twitter in the classroom safely
Expand Learning Possibilities
Network & Collaborate beyond the classroom
Connect with Parents

If you have any suggestions for other key topics for me to dive into I’d love to hear them! Any feedback you may have is greatly appreciated!


Freedom and Choice


Hi! My name is Kelsie Lenihan and this is my 9th Master’s course in Curriculum and Instruction. This is also my third Alec course.

I was initially a little hesitant to sign up for a social media course because 1) our lives are so dominated by social media, do I really want to add another layer on top of it? and 2) I’m not the most active on social media.

But I dove in. I want to learn more about how to use social media effectively, both personally and professionally. It seems like a big job to curate your online presence in a way where you control the message sent to the world about you.

As well, I have two young sons. I want to know how to make the social media world inviting and safe for them by helping them create their online identity early.

On the first day of class, when we were assigned the task of learning something new through exploring online help, I was stymied.

Source: Giphy

There were just so many avenues and options. This is a huge opportunity to do something — anything — that you’ve always wanted to try but never had the time. Here is the time. You need to do this.

So I started asking around. Everyone had a different opinion. My art teacher friend insisted I learn how to paint, because she saw how “well” I did at a Paint Nite. I thought about cake decorating but that got a hard “no” from my husband, who would most likely have been responsible for the eating of the cake.

Finally, it was my three-year-old who made the decision for me.

He’s been starting to get together his wish list for Santa Claus (thank you, Costco, for having Christmas decorations out before Hallowe’en). One of the things he’s been after is called a Code-a-pillar. It’s a way to introduce coding to preschool children.

This started me thinking about why I would want my child to learn how to code at such a young age. It came to me that this is about 21st century learning — about preparing him for jobs that don’t yet exist and to get him familiar with technology so that he’s confident using it and can adapt to the massive shifts in learning that are happening right now.

Computer science is no longer just for nerds. It’s become part of the core curriculum rather than a hobby.

Because my children will probably have coding for homework, I want to be able to help them.

I know nothing about coding. Quite literally nothing. I am starting from ground zero. Well, not quite ground zero, because I’ve got Twitter.

I’ve got a place to start from, but I’m still struggling with the end product. Backward design is ingrained in me, so I am trying to figure out what success will look like. Do I want to learn to code for Apple (I’ve got an iPad and iPhone) or for Android (much more open)? What do I want to code? A game? An app? What is being too ambitious? What is not being ambitious enough?

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Source: Giphy

If anyone out there has experience about coding, I’d LOVE to have your advice of where to start.

2 First Days of School & a Learning Project: Follow the Journey @cameronscorner1

This has been a very unique start to the school year and it all began the day my school gained a teacher halfway through the month of September. What does this really mean? Well all of our kids re-shuffled grades – including myself. I went from teaching a group of 3/4 students to a new group of 4/5 students and experienced 2 “First Day of School’s” in one school year. I’ve taught grade 4/5 before so I wasn’t too thrown off by the sudden grade change, however I am feeling a tad bit behind in my teaching and where I would have hoped to be at the beginning of the October in terms of classroom routines, teaching content, and of course my learning project which involves my students & bringing Twitter into the classroom.  The positive side is this minor set-back in time has allowed me to explore Twitter behind the scenes apart from my classroom and begin to read – read – read!

Welcome to our classroom at the new Connaught Community School!
back to school pic.jpg

The end of September was spent establishing routines (again) with my new group of kiddos , attending the internship seminar and getting to know my new students learning styles areading picnd personalities. Since this was a hectic 2 weeks in the classroom I spent my learning project time focused on setting up our classroom Twitter account, researching the “Do’s and Don’t’s” of using Twitter in the classroom, collecting parent permission for social media use,  exploring how to use Twitter in general, informing parents of my intentions of using Twitter in the classroom.  along with brushing up on issues of student privacy.

I have a rarely used personal Twitter account from my bachelor degree days – so the basics were a much needed review but were fairly straight forward. What bring me anxiety was reading the hundreds of ways to use Twitter. Ah! Where do I even begin??

So to wrap my head around it – I browsed the many possibilities Twitter has to offer and decided to focus on my own classroom Twitter and get my feet wet by sharing our learning. Currently to get started, I’ve Tweeted out the first few updates and will slowly transition to a point where students will take over the responsibility of sharing and creating tweets.

I have also explored Alec’s recommended documents with suggestions of educators to follow, education related hashtags and the tips and tricks demonstrated within class.
Learning the Basics!
Photo via edudemic

Inform & Connect with Families
I came across an educator online from Windsor, ON by the name of Kristen Wideen. Mrs. Wideen’s blog provided a very helpful starting point for me and it’s definitely worth a visit!  I also adapted her Parent Letter, as seen below, as my own starting point for a letter. I pulled key points and adapted her letter to fit my own situation. I took her advice regarding following only other educators – not necessarily following parents back as I hadn’t considered the repercussions of others personal twitter content popping into our classroom news feed.

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I really enjoyed reading about other teachers mistakes using Twitter and what they learned in hopes to avoid any trouble and start rolling with my project smoothly. For example, Kristen identified the following rather helpful “mistakes” which you can explore in further detail here.

#1 Classroom Twitter Mistake
The Teacher creates and publishes the tweets.

*Rule # 1 and already an Oops in my project 

#2 Classroom Twitter Mistake
Jumping right in without laying the ground work first.

#3 Classroom Twitter Mistake
Leaving the parents out of the loop

#4 Classroom Twitter Mistake
Keeping the Class Twitter Account Locked Down

These common mistakes were a great starting point to lock down areas of focus during the first two weeks. My priority has been connecting to families, following educational accounts, and sharing our learning. Basically – jumping into it and building upon my learning each week. From here I would like to continue to explore issues of students privacy and check out how other classrooms are using Twitter within the classroom.

Now time for my shameless plug – follow our classroom on Twitter @cameronscorner1 🙂

Wish me luck!
Ms. Cameron