Category Archives: #growthmindset

When Social Media Gets a Bad Rap … What Should We Do?

“Because of their limited capacity for self-regulation and susceptibility to peer pressure, children and adolescents are at some risk as they navigate and experiment with social media.” – The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families

For the purpose of this week’s post, we are talking about social media and whether or not it is ruining childhood. The need to make that clear is important because the conversation around social media can often lead into one about technology as a whole and they are most certainly two different things.

I’ll start right off the hop by telling you I do not agree that social media is ruining childhood but I do believe there are things that society, schools and families are doing or not doing with social media that are ruining childhood for today’s youth. I do know that kids will be kids and there are certain things we can’t control but that can be said about anything, not just social media!

“…social media has given us a way not only to speak out, but to educate ourselves and expand our minds in a way that is unprecedented.” – A Generation Zer’s Take on the Social Media Age

We could lump society, schools and parents into one conversation but I think there are things that can be done, separately on all three levels to show kids just how powerful and positive social media can be, as opposed to just the negative.

Society…

Wouldn’t it be great if our society decided to care a little less about things like the tide pod challenge, the lives of celebrities, who is wearing what and spending a little more time encouraging people to share about their real, everyday lives? Also, what if we made the decision to judge others a little less and celebrate a little more? I really think we would start to see the positives side of social media if we decide to stop saying things like, “their food posts are so annoying”, “why do they post about beachbody so often”, “I can’t stand all their baby pictures” or “no one cares about your workout”.

What happens if that one post, shared by that one person, was the one positive thing they were able to find in their day and here we are, tearing them down for it?

Schools…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberpsychology

When I think about my job as a teacher and what I want my students to be able to walk away from my classroom being able to do, I think about preparing them for life outside of school, beyond their time in the K-12 education system. Some might argue that social media should not play a role in schools because it adds no value to a child’s education… I disagree. If we are preparing kids to be critical consumers, people who can work collaboratively with others and individuals who will create opportunities for themselves then I think social media needs to be part of their education. I am not saying it needs to be everything, it shouldn’t, but if we are not teaching students how to navigate social media appropriately, how are they going to manage the pressures one can feel from social media in their everyday lives?

If we bring social media into our classrooms, we allow students to explore this world in an environment that is safe, controlled and monitored. Now, this certainly looks different in different grades and the conversation changes when it comes to students with their own devices. However, when we look at modelling appropriate use through classroom accounts, we have an opportunity to show students the positive side of social media. As my classmate Shelly mentions this week, we are in Uncharted Territory and need to ask a few questions before we decide to accept or negate social media’s impact on childhood today. As always, there will be things that come up that aren’t all about the positive but those are real-world examples and most importantly, teachable moments!

When Eric Meyers, an expert on youth online behaviour weighed in on the recent tide pod challenge he pointed out that social media is in fact just a tool and not the reason for the challenge itself.

“It’s not that social media is compelling young people to do this,” Meyers said. “Social media is simply a tool by which they can do this and gain gratification by other people. So it amplifies some of the effects of young people’s natural tendency towards risk but it’s not the actual cause of risky behaviour.”

While risk is a natural part of adolescence, Meyer said parents and school officials can play a role in talking with teens about balancing risk with acceptance – but the effectiveness of the message is in the delivery.

Instead of telling them “no,” which can often “be like the forbidden fruit” scenario, Meyers said, talking with the kid about why they’re feeling they need to take part can lead to a deeper discussion about decision making and online behaviours.” Taken from B.C. expert weighs in on why kids are eating Tide pods for fun by Ashley Wadhwani

We need to find a way to bring schools and families together to help build an understanding of how youth are using social media. As educators, we have an understanding of brain development and how youth make decisions. We understand this in different ways than families, who tend to know more about how kids are making decisions based on peer influences. Bringing these two realms of understanding together can show our kids that we understand the pressures placed on them by social media and we want to work with them to help them understand and make decisions.

Families…

Every kid is different and their ability to make decisions on their own varies greatly. Honouring the terms of use set out by social media sites, monitoring sites/apps used, having set ‘no tech’ times and open lines of communication are just a few things I would suggest for creating positive experiences for youth on social media. A tweet shared by St. Alphonsus’ RC Primary School in Middlesbrough, England offers  a guide for parents wanting to talk to their kids about social media use: Image result for social media tips for parents

Social media harnesses a lot of power, how we look at it and interact with it, determines the power that it takes.

Meet Me In The Middle?

“Long before there were schools as we know them, there was apprenticeship — learning how to do something by trying it under the guidance of one who knows how.” – ‘The Objective of Education Is Learning, Not Teaching’

This week in #eci830 my group was tasked with the challenge of presenting an argument that suggested schools should not be teaching anything that can be googled, our opponents argued the opposite. What was ironic about the debate was that both sides spent a fair amount of time talking about critical thinking skills.

In our opening statement, my group discussed the need for educators to understand that:

  1. Knowledge is changing at a rapid pace
  2. Schools need to prepare students for that change in knowledge
  3. Technology allows for efficiency

Channing explains each of our introductory arguments further in her post, Educating The Google Generation.

Whether someone felt they agreed or disagreed with the idea that schools should not be teaching things that can be googled before the debate, I think you’d have been hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t agree that critical thinking skills are vital to student future success, after the debate! So if critical thinking is so important, just what does that look like and what does it mean?

What I found most interesting about this video was that it really doesn’t matter where in the world you live, what language you speak or your life experiences – critical thinking skills are valuable!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/acidmidget/13910556505
Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/nceeP8

Every day we are bombarded with information all around us. Whether it is in a store, on a billboard, on social media, the radio or pretty much anywhere we go – there is something to be consumed.  As educators we have to ask ourselves, what are we doing to prepare our students for the overwhelming amount of information they are being exposed to? Though both groups in the debate disagreed in some areas, Kristen highlighted in her blog that we did agree on the idea that critical thinking is something students NEED to have an opportunity to practice.

So we then have to ask ourselves how are we providing our students with these opportunities? I believe that we need to change how we look at learning, as a whole, in order to truly prepare our youth for a world that we don’t yet fully understand. The skills students will need to be successful are not things that can be memorized or copied. Rather, they are abilities that these individuals will possess! I believe that when we give students the skills they need, to learn about the things they are passionate about, they will internalize (I like that word better than memorize) the information they need to be able to share their knowledge and passions.

If we truly want to provide opportunities for students to develop critical thinking skills I think there are a few changes we need to make in education. Often times while planning units and lessons I have found myself questioning some of the things in our Saskatchewan Curriculum. Not because I don’t think learning is important but rather because I don’t think we allow for enough autonomy in our students learning.  Now, dependant on the age of your students, this certainly looks different but I think it is possible. As a bit of a side note, I do think we need concrete knowledge in areas like reading, writing and math but I do believe there are ways to provide student choice in these subjects as well.

Some changes I would make in my education dream world…

  1. Change the mindset around the role of the teacher from the knower of knowledge to a guide for students
  2. Provide guiding questions rather than answers/final destinations of learning in curriculum documents
  3. Integrate digital citizenship skills into all areas of the curriculum as a mandatory piece
  4. Eliminate traditional grading practices in the K-5 classroom
  5. Remove the idea that students of a certain age need to meet a certain ‘level’ by a certain time. Keep growth and development as a staple but remove the constraints of time.

In the real world, I believe we must seek to find balance in our classrooms, finding the middle ground for integrating tools like Google and learning skills like how to read!

All week I had this song in my head and I think Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey say it perfectly… meet me in the middle!

Technology & the Classroom – Finding Balance in 2018

“Technology could be seen as the culprit, or it could be harnessed to improve engagement and effectiveness.” 6 Pros and Cons of Technology in the Classroom in 2018 

We’ve all heard a colleague say it…

” I just don’t have the time to learn about all this new technology I’m supposed to be using.”

Does anyone else worry about the state of education when they hear these words? Maybe it’s just me, but I think we have a problem if this is how some are looking at technology in education.

Photo Credit: BECCA PONS [bp] + CREATIVE Flickr via Compfight cc

Now, don’t get me wrong, I get it – we are busy! We have about 101 things on our plates each day that we need to accomplish in order to feel like we are properly supporting the students in our schools. Most days, I feel like I get done about 25% of the things I set out to do. There are also those days where I feel like a super teacher because somehow I have managed to cross EVERYTHING off my list… until I make another but I’ll take the celebration while I can.

This week in #eci830 we were tasked with the creating a response to an in-class debate on whether or not technology in the classroom enhances learning and both sides of the debate presented valid points. Prior to the debate, I would have told you I was 100% on the agree side of this statement and I still am but the disagree side challenged my thinking!  If we aren’t challenging what we think we know, then are we really learning?

While reading the article from the quote below there were two phrases that continued to come to my mind: hidden curriculum and teachable moments.

“Students may be more enthusiastic about studying a subject if they are preparing a PowerPoint presentation or a video clip instead of a written essay. However, they might spend more time and effort on the presentation than researching the subject, and complete the project knowing very little about the subject.“ –  Negative Effects of Using Technology in Today’s Classroom by Timothy Smith

I certainly do not believe that technology is going to be the ‘be all end all’ in education but what I do believe is that it is not going away. If we think back 10 or even 5 years, the changes in technology in our world are enormous. As educators, we are tasked with the job of preparing our students for life outside of the K-12 education system. If we are truly preparing them for that world then we need to realize that how we have taught in the past is not going to work. We can’t expect to continue to use teaching methods from 20-30 years ago and integrate technology all at the same time. There simply are not enough minutes in a day for that and I’m not convinced that makes for best practice! Removing some of “what we’ve always done” and thinking in ways that allow for engagement of all not only benefits students but also allows the teacher to engage in the learning process with students. I think this is why I kept going back to the idea of teachable moments and the hidden curriculum.

When teachers are willing to let go of the idea that they need to be the one who holds all the knowledge and embrace that learning alongside students is also learning, we are in a space that then allows for a change in teaching practice and pedagogical growth. For me, this does not mean that we need to see technology used all day, every day in our classrooms. To me, this means balance. When bringing technology into the classroom, balance combined with informed and intentional teaching practices, in my opinion, is what creates learning environments that will prepare our students for life outside of the classroom.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Do you see balance in this video?

I this video I see a few things: students who are engaged, collaboration, hands-on learning, technology, pencil paper tasks and excitement for learning.

What would I change about this learning environment? I don’t think we should remove technology from the main classroom, I think we need to integrate it into what we are already doing. There is no doubt these students are learning and developing problem-solving skills. However, are they seeing the connections that can be made with what they are doing in their classroom? Perhaps a better understanding of the school set up here would be helpful.

What do you see or think about how these students are engaging with technology?

 

 

When Learning Happens in Layers

Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/nUKGz1

There is something about learning that I find interesting. When I began this semester I wasn’t sure if I had made the right choice in choosing another class based on educational technology. I am passionate about #edtech but understand that there is so much to be learned through taking a masters program and maybe I should ‘spread my wings’ a little. I found myself wondering if I might be learning some of the same things over. The thing about learning is that it comes in layers and when we have one piece we are able to take that and build. There were times in the class when I felt I already understood some of the topics but the conversations, blogs and class discussions are what added that next piece for me. I realized it even more as I put together my summary of learning, the pieces I had before were a framework for what I gained from this class.

I now feel more knowledgeable about how to discuss ways to incorporate digital citizenship and media literacy into my own classroom as well as in conversations with colleagues. I feel I can continue to lead by example and that can be a powerful thing!

I had been hoping to try something new and come up with an original idea this semester for my Summary of Learning and google pulled through for me! I came across Brackify one afternoon over the Spring break and decided to go for it. I really like how this turned out and although I am not much of a March Madness girl, I thought it was fitting for the time of year! Thank you to those of you in EC&I 832 who took a few minutes out of your time off to help me out with the results of the bracket! I had reached out on Twitter in hopes of a couple responses and received more than I thought I would! Check out the link to the bracket and results in the tweet below! What I found most interesting and encouraging was that many of the choices were the same ones that I chose and the overall winner was the one that I anticipated to be the winner!

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
So without further ado here is my Summary of Learning for EC&I 832!

Ohh and I should add that not only do I believe in learning as a lifelong endeavour but I also believe in following your passions so… see you in #eci830 next semester Alec!

Can You Spot The Fake?

“According to a Stanford study, only 25% of high schools students were able to identify an accurate news story compared to a fake one.” –The Problem with Fake News byJohn Spencer

Photo Credit: Meme Generator

Reading between the lines has taken on a whole new meaning thanks to the term ‘fake news’. Now Mr. Trump might believe that he is responsible for coining the term but The Long and Brutal History of Fake News piece in Politico Magazine highlights world events that suggest otherwise.   If we don’t know how to or know that we should, question the stories we come across on a daily basis we are allowing ourselves to be uninformed and quite likely persuaded by untruths.  Now as Dani talks about in her post this week, figuring out what’s fake today is a more difficult task than it was 20 years ago. However, when we base our opinions and responses on things we believe to be true, without verifying, we are creating a culture where manipulation of the truth is accepted. This is scary!

Prior to starting my graduate degree, I wouldn’t have considered myself someone who was critical enough of the things I read online. I was aware that there were things I shouldn’t believe but certainly didn’t question things quite enough. As I have worked through my courses I have spent a large portion of them in educational technology classes with Dr. Alec Couros and have grown to be more critical and aware of what I am viewing online because of what I have learned in these classes. If you are in education or have a child and aren’t already following him on Twitter, go right now and do that, I promise you won’t regret it and that you will definitely learn from him! I think those who have the knowledge of what it means to be critical of media today, have a responsibility to share how we have come to develop those skills and what that means when it comes to being an informed citizen.

I can’t even begin to count the times I have seen “Click Here to Win A Costco (or any large retail store) Gift Card”, “Share This Post and You Will Receive $1,000,000.00”, “Share this Post and I Will Share My Lottery Winnings With You”, news stories from 5 years ago being re-shared, missing (but now found) pet posts being re-shared and anything else along those lines on Facebook. I will admit sometimes, I get just a tad bit frustrated by these but then I have to remind myself that I have some background knowledge on how to question these things. Since gaining this knowledge I have realized I spend a lot less time focused on the ‘news’ that comes across my Facebook feed and more time spent viewing posts from friends and family.

This past week I made a conscious effort to stop myself when I clicked on something to read, outside of posts by friends and family. I found it interesting to go back at the end of the week because I was spending less time than I thought on Facebook and more time interacting with media created by people I actually know and would stop to talk to on the street. I should also mention that during the last 6 months or so I have made an effort to unfollow several business or celebrity accounts on social media because I was missing out on posts from those very people! Twice throughout the week, I went into my settings on my phone to check out just where I was spending my time when I was on my phone.

I was actually quite surprised to see these results when I went in there. Sometimes I feel like I spend way too much time on my phone but knowing about the efforts I’ve made to interact with posts that I know are real, I was happy with what I saw. One important observation I made with that the Buzzfeed app didn’t have more than 1% either day. I am curious what that would have looked like about 6 months ago because I could certainly lose a lot of time on the quizzes and stories on that app not all that long ago.

Throughout the week I also took a screenshot of a couple articles that came across my phone that I stopped to question! After watching Jaimie and Jocelyn’s video this week I realized, that through time and practice, I have developed the 5 skills for identifying fake news that they discussed. I did google the first one to check if it was a true story and came across several different links to the same story being reported by various sources. I actually didn’t make it through the complete list on the second posts because I just didn’t feel like it sounded real and even if I had googled to fact check, I’m not sure we can ever trust what is reported on the lives of celebrities unless we hear it directly from them. I don’t know that I consciously always use each step but I didn’t realize until this week, that I was using them at times. Also, I learned about Snopes this week! I had heard of it before but really didn’t know anything about it, will be checking it out in further detail! These two are the examples from this week but I would say, with confidence, that this is something I do on a regular basis and I can attribute that to becoming educated and informed.

As educators, we have a great responsibility and power to help our students understand how to decipher what is fake and what is real. However, one trend that I am starting to see pop up on social media from time to time is celebrities taking to their accounts to let their fans know what accounts are real and which aren’t. When it comes to young people, celebrities hold a great power as well. Check out Jason Aldean on Instagram taking a moment to educate his fans about how to identify fake accounts.

The Brain, Teens & the Internet – Where Should We Start?

For students to be digitally literate, they not only need to learn how to use technology, but to be critical of the information they gather. Students are exposed to information digitally—articles, statistics, videos. They require explicit instruction that information might be old, biased, fake, illegal, or discriminatory. – Digital Literacy: What Does It Mean To You?

Photo Credit: Matthew Dahlitz 

When we think about our role as educators, within the context of helping our students become media literate digital citizens, we need to consider the many factors that apply. Media is everywhere and they are growing up in a digital world. We can’t deny this and if we choose to do so, then we are providing a disservice to our students and not truly preparing them for their futures. Our job as educators is to work towards building an understanding of the individuals who walk through our doors on a daily basis. Understanding who they are as an individual is critical to engagement and building relations. Just as important is our understanding of how their brain develops.  The teenage brain goes through a period of neuromaturation in which the brain essentially pieces together lower level thinking skills to help in the development of higher level thinking skills.  The area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex is what controls the regulation of complex cognitive, emotional, and behavioural functioning. Due to the fact that this area of the brain may not be fully developed until the age of 25, it can be hard for parents and teachers to understand why teens make some of the choices that they do.  Understanding that teenage brains are still developing is critical to how we approach teaching about digital citizenship and media literacy. Many teens are often described as fearless thrill seekers. These videos might help you understand just why that is!

When we understand that our student’s brains are in a constant state of growth we are provided we an opportunity to embrace their inherent desire to learn about and try new things. We have the chance to guide them towards experiences that foster good decision making, critical thinking skills and for them to be knowledge seekers.

This week Staci shared the TedX Talk  Creating critical thinkers through media literacy: Andrea Quijada at TEDxABQED where we are encouraged to create opportunities that allow each student we engage with to connect what happens at school with what happens in their real lives. In order to do this, we must open ourselves to the idea that digital citizenship and media literacy NEED to be part of our daily classroom lives. Not taught in isolation but rather integrated into the lessons we teach and the conversations we are having. This is not something that will happen overnight but I would suggest that it is something every teacher CAN do.

The first thing we need to do is work together, collaborate, seek our professional development opportunities and most importantly: talk to our students about what they already know about the digital world and engage in conversations with them. Perhaps we can take a little bit of insight from Keegan Korf’s TedxTalk on just how to do that! 

 

 

Identity is Not Formed Through a Post- It’s Who You Are!

“Digital identity is thus not a separate aspect of “identity,” but “identity” itself.  – Paul Gordon Brown

Photo Credit: SeanJCorrigan Flickr via Compfight cc

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before but I’ll say it again, I believe that committing to a life as an educator means that I have also committed to a life of influence, whether I always like it or not, I have and that is a powerful thing. How I choose to conduct myself in the online or face to face world can influence my students, their families and how I am viewed as an educator. Now, do I let this deter me from making my own decisions? No, certainly not but I believe that the characteristics that make me a good teacher are also the things that make me a good person, I don’t believe they are two separate things. I might wear different hats from time to time but I am always me.

I can remember sitting in class in university and feeling almost terrified to do anything online because “something bad” might happen if I posted the wrong picture or said the wrong thing. Back then, if you wanted to find me on Facebook you would have had to look for Nicole Janine because it couldn’t possibly be appropriate to use my last name! I don’t think that my professors had the intent of instilling fear but I think sometimes we over analyze and become way too critical of things that we haven’t taken the time to truly understand.

Social Media, no matter the platform holds an overwhelming amount of power. How one harnesses their power speaks more about their identity (digital or not) more than the power itself. My perspective of online identity and how I might be perceived has certainly changed since my undergrad days. No longer will you need to look for me under a pseudonym but you will need to be:

1) a real person
2) a friend or family member
3) likely an adult
4) responsible
5) considerate of others
6) someone I trust with my ideas and images

I don’t think that the criteria listed above is too much to ask of someone wanting a view into my personal life. I also wouldn’t/don’t have a problem with sharing who I am with my students and their families but I do feel I am allowed to and should set some boundaries. As a professional I am aware of the influence that I have and that again, whether I like it or not, I live under a bit of a lense because of  my job but what I think is important to note is that I don’t filter my life because of that lense.

Creating an identity that we are proud of is something that takes time. This means hitting bumps along the way, learning life’s lessons and receiving responsibility on a gradual basis. We wouldn’t hand the keys of our car over to a 5 year old but we would teach them, guide them, drive them around and when they are ready (at 15 or so) we begin to slowly allow them to fully experience the real thing behind the wheel. Eventually they take control and become responsible for their own actions but under the watchful eye of an adult, or so we hope. As the adults in kids lives, we are responsible for the process. We need to show them what is appropriate, the impact of ones actions and how to handle responsibility. This goes for both the on and offline world.

Someone along the way has had a powerful and impacting conversation about online identity with the 14 year old in this video!

“I like being treated as an intelligent, rational, thinking human being!”

In order to create a positive identity we must be willing to do the work, educate ourselves and model positivity. When we do this, we emote a positive self image and allow those who look up to us to do the same!

 

 

Media Literate Digital Citizens in Elementary Ed. – Citizens in the Making!

 

Now that I’ve got my project figured out and feel like I am on the right track I figured it was time to share what my student have been up to. Incase you missed it last time, my project has taken on a bit of a two fold look. I am working on focusing on digital citizenship with my grade 2 class using Seesaw and building media literacy with a groups of grade 5&6 students on a newly formed Tech Team! It’s also fair to say that both sides of the project are focusing on media literacy as well as digital citizenship but for my own sanity and over organized brain I needed a clear focus for each group!

Seesaw

We have spent a great deal of time this year focused on building quality posts that are easy to follow, hear and understand. They have made leaps and bounds in this area. Digital citizenship is something we talked about from day one but have recently made it a greater focus with the introduction of commenting on classmates posts. We talked about what that looks like and how to do that. Here are a few examples!

 

Teach Team on Google Classroom

Our tech team has found its groove and we have a solid team ready to help build media literacy within our school as well as support that learning through conversations about digital citizenship. Right now our focus is on building an understanding of how to use tools that are available to them within our school. They are working in small groups, that they chose, to create a screencast of how to get to, use and create google slides presentations. They are working on plans for how to teach someone these skills and the screencast is our next stop.

 

 

What’s next?

In Seesaw we are going to be working on adding a little more depth to comments. Instead of saying that they like something,how can the elaborate and explain why they like it.

The tech team is going to take the reigns after our google slides project! My question to them will be, what do you want to learn and how can you teach someone about that? I will simply act as the guide and support!