Category Archives: media literacy

A Real Media Smarts Resource!

I had planned on completing these reviews earlier in March, but as our teaching worlds were turned upside down recently, they are a little later than I would have liked, but no less, here’s another one!  Hopefully it will be of good use to my colleagues and classmates as they embark on their newest remote, online teaching journeys.

Media Smarts is the second resource I would like to review for my major project.  It is another website dedicated to educating children about digital literacy and media literacy, and it’s Canadian!  They have many different types of resources for teachers, for parents, and for kids.  They have an entire section dedicated to Digital & Media Literacy with many different Media Issues like body image, intellectual property, and violence listed.  The website also listed a variety of Digital Issues ranging from authenticating information to cyber security, and online ethics. It also includes general information about digital and media literacy as well as information about video games, movies, and music.

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There is a “For Parents” tab that offers many resources for parents to begin talking to their children about media and digital literacy.  There are resource links to blogs, games, tips, guides, videos, and workshops.  This is a great option for parents because I think it is very user friendly and easy to access, especially if you are not 100% comfortable with the topic.  All the links provide detailed explanations and videos on how to discuss certain topics or how to become familiar with different ideas online.  It definitely breaks things down, however I found some of the videos I browsed to be very simple, which can be good if you are brand new to the internet or teaching young kids, but any child older than ten would likely find the videos too simple and childish.

But the part of the website I really want to dig into is the Teacher Resources.  I found this page to be incredibly resourceful and informative when it comes to the different sources and information listed.  There is a Digital Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools which is actually broken down into K-3, 4-6, 7-8, and 9-12.  These then connect to specific lessons and outcomes for students to hit and connects it to a specific framework piece, like ethics and empathy, privacy and security, community engagement, digital health, consumer awareness, finding and verifying, and making and remixing (very similar to Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship if I do say so myself)!  And there are a ton of lessons to choose from to connect to the framework and age of students.  As I scanned some of the example lesson plans, they all seemed age appropriate and suitable for the students they suggested.screen2There is also a page connecting outcomes by province and territory to digital and media literacy which I haven’t seen before.  It goes so far as to break it down by province, and then by subject area and then to specific curriculums.  I was shocked when I decided to look further and found when I clicked on the English B30 tab (since that is the focus of my project) that it listed every outcome digital and media literacy could connect in.  Beyond that, it even gives lesson plans and suggestions for each outcome!  You will definitely need to check this out if you are looking for lesson plans on media and digital literacy in the future!  It’s an unreal library!!

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You can also find lessons and resources using the search engine, but I think finding them by outcome or subject to be much more useful.  However, the search is also useful because you may search by resource type like game or guide, topic like aboriginal people or cyberbullying for example or by media type like music or movie for example.  Again, I would recommend checking it out yourself as it’s something I will be using in the future.

I thought for the purpose of this post that I would talk about one of the lessons I found that would fit very well into my already established unit plan.  It’s called Fact Versus Opinion and the overview states:

“This is the fourth of five lessons designed to teach students to think critically about the way aboriginal peoples and visible minorities are portrayed in the press. “Fact Versus Opinion” begins with students discussing the difference between fact and opinion. Students then apply what they have learned to an opinion piece selected by the teacher, and then an opinion piece that they have selected.”

It gives a very clear outline of what is expected of students and gives all the necessary materials for the lesson.  It also includes outcomes for the lesson itself and what students should achieve by the end of the lesson.  The only thing I would mention about the lesson as it does seem a little young for grade 12 (it is recommended for grade 9-12) and would probably need to be adapted a little more for a higher-grade level.  However, you could easily use the provided editorial for a warm-up and gradually make the analysis for thegiphy (9) activity more difficult.  Overall, it is a process I would like to use in my classroom.

I was really impressed by Media Smarts resources and I would definitely recommend using their lesson plans especially because they connect so well to Ribble’s Nine Elements and our Saskatchewan curriculum!  Have you used any Media Smarts lessons?  How did it go?

Thanks for reading my review!

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

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

Social Media and Mental Health

Last week, we had the pleasure of having Mary Beth Hertz discuss digital citizenship and media literacy with our class.  What a wealth of knowledge she has!!  I was left feeling awed and also completely incompetent as someone who thinks of themself as i-dont-know-2e2ed5“tech literate.”  Boy, do I have a lot to learn!! Mary Beth brought up so many ideas I never really thought about as an online user and as a teacher.

I have always encouraged my students to be smart on social media, and we always discuss the media world but after listening to Mary Beth, I know I can do a better job.  One of the ideas that really stood out to me and made me think more critically was the ideas of online and offline identities and the blurred line in between – they are the same thing now.  I think the online world is a great place for people to explore their identity and find other people with the same interests and ideologies as themselves, especially in this giant world.  For some small town kids in Moose Jaw, SK, the world can feel pretty small.  Having an online identity can allow teens to explore beyond the confines of our small city and make connections with real people across the globe.  I love the idea that some of my students can be completely different people in the online world, whether it be a persona or finding a group of people they really connect with when they lack those connections elsewhere.  The thing that stands in the way is that they need to be smart and educated about how to interact with people online, and how to protect themselves. I know when I was a teen, I was on MSN Messenger 24/7 and often ended up online playing games or on platforms like Whyville.  I was so vulnerable and my parents had no idea what I was doing, and realistically, neither did I.  We lied about our age all the time to get on chat rooms, or access different parts of a website that were 13+.  Looking back, I was probably dumb more than a couple of times, but the consequences were quite less than they are today.  Teens think they know everything about the online world, and in most cases, they definitely know a lot, but the difficult part is making them listen.

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Raise your hand if you’ve felt personally victimized by a teen eye roll?

If looks could kill, am I right?  We discussed a lot about cookies and tracking as well in our class and I couldn’t help but think of ways to make my students listen to this!  I care for these kids so much, and all I want is the best for them.  I don’t want them to fall for some crazy scheme, be catfished, stalked, or tracked by any hooligan online.  Nor do I want my students to feel bullied, or worthless just because some model on instagram can pay for high quality photoshop or hire someone to follow her around snapping pictures.  Mental health is a huge issue for teens, and I agree with Mary Beth when she said social media is a huge influencer of this.  In fact, there is an actual list of the top 5 worst social media apps for mental health — instagram being at the top of this list.  I feel for children growing up in this era, as it must be difficult to see so many people online “living the dream” when the reality is so much different.  As we discussed in class, things aren’t always what they seem, and FOMO although feels real, is not all there is to life.  It is so important to teach students about these ideas and concepts, and also allow them to know it’s okay to feel a certain way, but compartmentalize it, and go back to the real world.  You live there, not online.

Most of my students feel like they get preached at for being safe online.  They “already know” or “learned this already.”  In my grade 12 ELA classes, we discuss media and the messages out there.  This semester, I asked them to pay attention to the advertisements they saw online for one day and find one to bring to class.  We then analyzed it using Aristotle’s Appeals.

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Aristotle’s Appeals

I made them dissect these advertisements and we talked about why they are great ads, or why they are fake, why they call to the person, and what they really want.  Of course, lots of people have done this in classes, but I think the trick to getting students to buy in is to get them involved.  I cannot lecture them about how to be safe online (let’s face it, I’m young — but not THAT young), instead I have to involve them in the practices and let them discover WHY they need to be safer online.  We need to talk about the dangers and the facts together, and hopefully through these experiences, they learn why it’s important to fact check, why it’s important not to send that picture, and think about why it’s important they protect their digital identity.

Until next time,

Shelby

My Major Project – An Outline

Since this class began, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time thinking about my major project.  What would I like to do?  What do I have time to do?  What do I have an interest in finding out more about?  I feel like I’m pretty tech-savvy and the idea of researching more about the apps we use daily was intriguing, but what I finally settled on was developing some media literacy and digital citizenship resources for my classroom.

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Anyone who know me, knows I’m a planner.  I LOVE unit and lesson planning – I think it’s fun to create different projects and plan out how to teach students different topics, and I get to be creative which is my favourite part.  Just ask Brad how insanely organized my courses are.  The best part about planning is everyone does it differently, and has their own approach and I love how two people can look at the same curriculum, and interpret it so differently, and design units and lessons that are totally different, yet address the same ideas.

So back to my topic.  I have decided to go with option one: development of a curriculum-supported digital citizenship/literacy resource.  I made this decision because 1) I like planning, and 2) I have noticed there are less sources directed to high school media literacy and digital citizenship explicitly.  I think it would be very beneficial for myself to create a resource package to use in my classrooms and share with other teachers as well.  5a5343f99e00de5d5277df0111180fd5My starting point will be to investigate a course I’ve become very familiar with over the last 4 years: ELA B30.  This course has become my baby and I have tweaked and perfected it over the last four years I’ve taught it.  I don’t know why, but I’m never satisfied and I find there is always another outcome I feel like I need to hit in a better way, which leads into how digital citizenship fits in.  The curriculum states: “View, comprehend, and evaluate critically a variety of visual and multimedia texts by international, including indigenous, artists and authors from various cultural communities, and identify how the texts address beliefs, values, and power” (CR B30.2) which leads into lots of conversations about critically viewing and evaluating the world apps, social media, connected, smartphone, app store, play store, social media, business app, app for your businesswe live in.  I think this outcome would be an excellent fit for some knowledge on digital citizenship and media literacy.  Then there is the outcome: “Create a visual or multimedia presentation that suits the topic, purpose, and audience; teaches others about a global social issue; and persuades them to act on the issue in a responsible manner”(CC B30.2) which I believe fits nicely into the topic of media literacy for an upcoming generation.  This curriculum is wide open to interpretation and that’s why I think it’s a perfect fit for this project.

To begin more indepth research for this project, I’m going to start by looking closely at some other resources out there, and evaluating them. I’ve already found a couple on Twitter!  I may even organize my unit and plans in an LMS, like Google Classroom since it is a platform I’m familiar with and will use often.  I will also be checking out Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship.

To make sure I stay on track and am within Saskatchewan’s guidelines, I will be looking at the Saskatchewan’s Digital Citizenship Continuum and the Saskatchewan’s Digital Citizenship Policy Planning Guide as per Alec’s recommendation.

Wish me luck!! 🙂

Shelby