Just this week it hit me that I have come to more than just the end of this class but the end of my time spent in classes taught by Alec and it feels a little weird to know this will be my last summary of learning! I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to take all 5 grad classes offered by Alec throughout my program and I have to say, if you are new to your degree and passionate about educational technology, take them ALL! They’ve changed how I run my classroom and how I think about preparing my students for their future!
Without further ado, my summary for #eci830…
This summer I will finish up my Masters degree and I am thinking come the Fall I will be feeling a little lost without blogs to read, twitter to check and posts to write… don’t worry too much, I am sure I will find something to spend my time on!
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
Social media harnesses a lot of power, how we look at it and interact with it, determines the power that it takes.
The age-old saying that goes a little something like “the learning never ends” is how I would categorize my major project this term. The learning certainly isn’t complete and there is so much more to do but the piece that I have had to remind myself about, the important part, is that learning happened! Much like Megan mentions in her final post for her project, this isn’t just a project that ends but a project that allows for continued growth and learning. As I’ve mentioned in my posts outlining my process and the progress throughout the term, this was an evolving project that eventually took on a two-sided approach.
As I began to form my plan for this project I had originally set a goal for myself and my students:
“…to create a collection of students in my building who are confident digital citizens with a growing understanding of media literacies. I want them to be able to share the value, possibilities and opportunities that technology can provide in a learning environment with their classmates and teachers.” – From Panic to a Plan… Sort of! (January 20th blogpost)
My goal helped me to set my purpose and the conversations throughout the term allowed me to build on what I already knew to support the students I was working with. My conversations with my classroom students as well as my school tech team were what guided my process for this project. In an effort to share how I went about organizing my knowledge I have created a Padlet to show my thinking process. I don’t think this is a linear process because I still feel like I am working on all 3 steps but I know that I am making progress and in my mind, that’s what counts!
Demonstrating Digital Citizenship using Seesaw in my Grade 2 Classroom – Where are we now?
The like button is very popular now!
Students seek out opportunities to view peer posts and leave feedback
Students are leaving both text and audio comments for peers
Parent engagement with Seesaw has increased
Students are continuing to work towards comments that are on topic, along with appropriate emoji use
Students who showed little engagement with Seesaw prior to the project now seek out opportunities to post
A sample of some of the work being shared and comments left by the grade 2 students and their families:
Goals moving forward:
Continue to model positive digital citizenship and engage my class in the conversation
Provide further opportunities to engage in giving feedback comments to classmates
Work on taking intentional time to talk with students about the posts they’ve made
Developing Media Literacy using WeVideo with the MacNeill Tech Team – Where are we now?
Team members now know:
How to join a Google Classroom
How to organize their Google Drive
How to set up folders and organize their Google Drive
How to create a Google Slides presentation
How to create a screencast using WeVideo
How to use features within WeVideo to create a video using a created screencast
The learning curve for these grade 5 & 6 students was large and I asked a lot of them. They stepped up and did a great job! WeVideo was new to the team and myself, we worked through many challenges together as a team and I am really looking forward to seeing the growth that this will see as we continue to work together.
Here are a couple samples of the videos they created:
Goals moving forward:
Look at the videos that were created and provide feedback as a team, looking at what was done really well and how we can work to improve certain features
Work to build the teams understanding of digital citizenship (I had to edit out pieces of their videos as they had shared first and last names within the video)
Continue to allow the group to create videos and supports that they feel would be valuable for the students and staff in the school
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’svideo 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.
Both media and literacy have been part of society for longer than any of us alive today have been around to see. The World in Data website tells us that in 1820 only 12% of the world’s population could read and write while today, only 17% of the world’s population cannot read and write. The conversation about what it means to be literate is not new but the context that we apply to that conversation has changed drastically with the addition of media. When discussing literacy in today’s society, as opposed to 1820, we must also remember to consider what is classified as media. Media is defined as “the means of communication” and literate is defined as “able to read and write.” We live in a media-rich society and the ways in which we are able to communicate our intended messages change on a daily basis.
So in 2018, what does it mean to be media literate?
Trying to keep up to date with the ways in which our world is able to communicate messages is almost impossible. At times it feels like there is a new tool, trend or format for communicating introduced every day. I would venture to guess this likely isn’t just a feeling, this probably does happen! In order to classify ourselves as fully literate individuals, I believe we need to place value on all forms of media. Whether it be a book, digital book, website, podcast, magazine (digital or paper), app, social media or advertisement, we need a set of skills that allows us to safely and critically navigate all forms of media. If this is the case how do we prepare ourselves and our students to be able to critically understand these means of communication and determine what is valuable and what is not? Jaque shared that the Ontario Ministry of Education suggests that being media literate does not mean we should teach students to avoid the media but rather teach them how to, “watch carefully [and] think critically.”
Media Smarts provides educators with tools and strategies for teaching students how to be a critical consumer of media literacy. In the Media Literacy Fundamentals section of the website they highlight the 5 key concepts for media literacy:
Media are constructions
Audiences negotiate meaning
Media have commercial implications
Media have social and political implications
Each media has a unique aesthetic form
As a teacher, I would look at this resource thinking it most certainly would be helpful for my own knowledge but I would also be wondering where I can find the tools and resources to use this with my students. They have you covered for this too! Right in the introduction to the 5 key concepts section, there is a link to their Media Minutes program that has videos and lessons ready to go and use in the classroom! The very first video asks students to think about imagining a day in their life and all the different media that they encounter. I think it would be interesting to then have students take the media that they see/experience each day and then categorize them into areas such as advertisements, commercials, public information, educational, etc. I wonder what that sorting activity would look like?
We can provide our students with the tools to be critical consumers but we also need to give them the opportunity to practice what it means to be critical. This needs to be done in a way that is relevant to their everyday lives. As teachers, we know that when we engage students with material that they have a vested interest in, their engagement can skyrocket! In my reading and research for this weeks post, I found a video that one, made me feel a little nostalgic for my high school days (see the video quality) and secondly made me realize that when we take what we know about student engagement and apply that to media literacy education we can truly create authentic learning opportunities for our students. I also found it interesting that the video below is from ten years ago, yet it applies in many ways to our current conversation in class.
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?
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!
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!
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.
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!