This is it! The end of EC&I 830! I cannot believe how fast this course flew by, and I also cannot believe how much I learned over two short months. It’s amazing the community we developed and how much we were able to challenge each other to grow and learn in such a short time span. It’s been a pleasure to learn with all of you.
I loved the style of this course and how it enabled us to be in charge of our own learning. We brought a lot of debate to the table, and I thank all of you for challenging my thinking and opinions. There is no one right answer to any of the topics we discussed and I think that makes this course so great!
Without further ado, here is my summary of learning video! Thanks again all for a fantastic class and I hope you all enjoy my video (I had a lot of fun making it)!
When I began this week, I stood firmly on the agree side when the question was asked, “Is social media ruining childhood?” Of course, social media is ruining childhood! How couldn’t it be? Why do I not see children gathering outside? Playing hopscotch? Skipping? Shooting hoops? Riding bikes with their friends? Using their imagination to build forts? Because, social media controls their lives.
They no longer need to go find their friends, play these games, or use their imagination the way I did growing up, because they have a device that connects them to their friends, their device has the games, and their device allows them to be creative in other ways. Is this entirely a bad thing? No, I don’t think it is.
After the debate this week, I had many thoughts on the topic. I thought both sides of the debate did a fantastic job: Melinda, Allysa and Lori has some excellent points that made me nod my head and solidified my idea that social media is ruining childhood. They discussed the rise in anxiety, and cyber-bullying online, as well as the pressure kids feel to fit in, and how many of these problems are because children ignore the age restrictions, and parents are left in the dark – oblivious, or conscious of these decisions.
The disagree side is what started to sway me: Erin, Brooke and Daniel made some strong arguments towards the positives of social media, including the idea that it strengthens children’s relationships, creates a community, and they become more aware than children of past generations.
After both of these arguments, my original ideas were up in the air. I think the biggest difficulty for me was that I was stuck on the nostalgic idea of what my own childhood was like and that kids today were missing out! There was so much good before technology took over and I remember creating my own fun in the backyard, riding my bike all over town to meet up with friends, the new addition of MSN to my teenage years, and no social media. I grew up in the nineties and I am in awe at how fast things changed. I think I was stuck in the idea that I had the best childhood, so of course social media is ruining now-a-days children’s childhood because they are having such different experiences than I did 20 years ago.
Once I got past the idea that children today aren’t missing out; their childhood is just different with different opportunities and different challenges. I think yes, there are a lot of potential risks of over-using social media, and the risk of addiction for teens is very real. I had a couple of grade nines almost cry when I took their phones away for one day for a health experiment. Cyber-bullying is also a very real concern, and it is something I deal with daily in a high school setting. Unfortunately, cyber-bullying is worse than just bullying because it can follow a child home, and follows them every time they log online. This infograph does an excellent job of explaining just how prominent cyber-bullying is, and the different ways it is visible to teens.
However, as the disagree team pointed out, the online world can also be a great place for community development and support. When I am teaching about mental health, I always suggest using online resources to find supports if students are struggling but after Monday, it clicked. Students develop their own communities and support groups online for isolation, bullying, gender inequality, racism, etc. and this is awesome!! Another point the disagree team made was that students are able to explore their interests and ideas online, making connections to other students all over the world who are like-minded individuals and all of a sudden, they aren’t alone anymore and I think that is fantastic. Of course, there are risks associated with this idea, like pedophiles profiling and “cat-fishing” young children into meeting up or earning trust to have children partake in risky behavior, however, this is where education is key. Parents also need to be aware of the behavior of their children and not let them loose online. Teach them and discuss social media etiquette.
Advise parents to talk to their children and adolescents about their online use and the specific issues that today’s online kids face.
Advise parents to work on their own participation gap in their homes by becoming better educated about the many technologies their youngsters are using.
Discuss with families the need for a family online-use plan that involves regular family meetings to discuss online topics and checks of privacy settings and online profiles for inappropriate posts. The emphasis should be on citizenship and healthy behavior and not punitive action, unless truly warranted.
Discuss with parents the importance of supervising online activities via active participation and communication, as opposed to remote monitoring with a “net-nanny” program (software used to monitor the Internet in the absence of parents)
The real goal is to help students develop a positive online identity and understand the consequences of posting risky photos or videos online. Just because you do something when you are young, means it will follow you online for the rest of your lives. They need to understand that the things they say and do on social media is permanent and can harm their futures. I think this is also why, as teachers, we need to teach healthy digital citizenship to children from a young age, so that when they reach adolescence, they are better equipped to navigate this online world.
On top of this, students are more aware of their country, and the world they live in. Having instant connection to social media and news, things spread fast and they are on top of it. Often students are advocating for causes, researching bias of opinion and using social networking sites to trend important issues like #blacklivesmatter, #metoo, #prayfordouglas, or even something like #humboldtstrong. These kids have power at their finger tips, and once they realize it, things could start happening for our future, and our planet. The Learning Network says, “We’ve become the most tolerant and conscious generation to date, with 76 percent of Gen Zers concerned about humanity’s influence on the Earth and 60 percent hoping the job they choose impacts the world.” I think a large part of this is due to social media, in creating an open dialogue for a lot of these issues, like climate change, racism, gender equality, political campaigns, mental health awareness, and so many more. People are able to connect with others online, and start discussions that matter, whereas in the past, we have been limited to the beliefs of the people around us physically.
I think Melinda had a great point, when she said in her blog, “There needs to be a balance, kids need to be kids and play outside, rough house, interact, etc. They don’t need to have 24/7 screen time, they need to be active and imaginative.” And to sum up, I think social media can be a great outlet for children, but it is not the only outlet. Like Melinda said, kids still need to be kids, explore, and develop in the real world, be active and engaged, but I think there are a lot of great things we can expect from this generation as they become more tolerant, and engaged in the issues occurring in our world.
This week’s debate really made me think. I started somewhere in the middle; on one side, sharing is a fantastic opportunity for our students to learn important practices, share their accomplishments, and interact with other like-minded people around the globe. On the other hand, sharing can create a lot of issues with privacy, as well as cyber-bullying and consent to use specific photos posted online. This dynamic created a lot of debate in our class this week, and honestly a lot of debate in my own head.
Whenever the ideas of privacy laws and practices come up, it can be a very controversial and scary idea. What if what we post is wrong? What if we get in trouble? Can I lose my job for this? There are no shortage of horror stories out there to scare teachers into never posting a single thing on the internet again; class or non-class related. I too, often think and rethink what I share online about my students, which to be honest is very limited. Beyond team, athletic, and grad photos, I hardly post about my students online. Everything remains nameless and it is almost always acelebration of accomplishments.
I think the biggest struggle I had with this week’s debate was a lot of the focus was on the elementary stand-point and teaching young students how to be responsible online. What should you post? What shouldn’t you post? A lot of conversations circled around the idea of parents being super involved with their child’s tech use and also the teacher overseeing the practices. Seesaw, I’ve learned, is a great tool to engage parents and create important conversations with kids at home. This technology is awesome because it can often bridge the gap between school and home life. However, there is the down side of over-involvement of parents and the idea of “helicoptering.” In fact, Robyn Treyvaud states in her article, Dangers of Posting Pictures Online, that “more than 1 in 4 children admit to feeling worried, embarrassed, or anxious when their parents post photos of them on social media,” which goes beyond the idea of hovering or helicoptering. I know many of my friends are having children right now and seriously, the amount of “baby spam” I see in a day is ridiculous and the consequences can be even more serious! It’s something I don’t think my generation really understands, making it even more important for the next generation to comprehend! What parents post, even at a very young age, can affect a child’s mental health later on in life? It begs the questions, do you want the whole world to see a baby photo of you?
I think both sides of the debate did a fantastic job of making their case! When it comes to my world in a high school, photos, technology and phones are everywhere. We even have a school Snapchat and Instagram account run by the Spirit Committee, run by a couple of awesome teachers! My students are on their phones constantly; I use Remind 101 to contact students and my athletes for various things like deadlines, practice changes, or just general reminders for the next day. It allows my students to connect me as well without directly having my phone number. I also use Google Classroom for all the students’ homework, assignments, deadlines, and I also used it for Track and Field this year – creating an online platform for athletes to access permission forms, schedules, dates, and results. It worked fantastically and never thought twice about using these online platforms with my students. However, everything I use and do online is “private.” I’m not sharing student photos to the internet, not posting on Twitter about our interactive activities, and although I feel my students are safe because of this, maybe I’m not properly preparing them for the online world?
Randi Zuckerberg stated in his article that, “technology and the world around us is evolving so quickly that even children a few years apart may experience two very different forms of childhood.” And I think this couldn’t be more true. I know my childhood was vastly different than kids today and even looking at my current students. I graduated high school nine years ago, and THINGS HAVE CHANGED. EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED! I think it’s important that we don’t shut down these differences and instead we embrace them, because if we don’t, they we run the risk of not helping our students be successful in the outside world. Their world is online, and it will continue to be for the rest of their lives. They need to learn how to adapt and post appropriately online and protect themselves. It lends itself to the idea that we cannot protect our students by banning the internet or posting pictures online because what is that teaching them? They will rebel, and in turn post inappropriately online because they were never taught, nor was it modeled for them.
I think digital literacy and creating a positive digital footprint is incredibly important for students. What is the first thing their employer will do? Google them. What is the first thing someone just getting to know them will do? Google them. They need to understand that their online identity will exist online whether they want it to or not. If they do not create it for themselves, and twist it into the story they want to tell, someone else will tell the story for them. I think once students understand this concept, the rest becomes more simple than we think.
I have to confess that I don’t think I’ve really shared to my best capability as a young, millennial could. I have all the knowledge, and the tools and yet I don’t feel like my lessons or ideas are valuable enough to share or for someone else to use in the online world. This is funny, because I don’t hesitate to hand over lesson plans, ideas, binders, or
USB sticks of information to fellow teachers in my building. If there is ever a need, I oblige and give any of my colleagues what they need, in hopes that one day the favour will be returned if I ever need it. In my short 5 year career, I’ve taught a whopping 18 different curriculums at a high school level. I know, in my earlier years, teachers handed me lots of resources and now it’s my turn to help some young, stressed out teacher play the part. In Sharing: The Moral Imperative, Dean Shareski talks about how it is our responsibility to share these resources not just with our colleagues in the building, but with the world and I totally agree. I think that main reason I haven’t, is because I’ve never actually thought about it! I should. I’ve had many compliments on my plans and curriculum. I’ve made a bunch of “original” projects that would and could be useful to many teachers, especially in Saskatchewan.
We discussed in class one night about who owns our lesson plans? Us? Or the division? In some cases, it is the division, but I know in Prairie South, sharing is encouraged and I don’t think I would ever be reprimanded for sharing resources online via Twitter or my blog. I think my personal barriers is thinking that my work will not be of benefit to others, even though I’m sure this is not the case. As Dani stated in her vlog, she didn’t think her post would be noticed even though she should have known better. I feel the same way. I think I get caught up in the idea that the internet is SO big, how would my tiny footprint, make a difference. I also think I haven’t shared online because in my busy day, posting an assignment or idea to Twitter seems irrelevant and like more work sometimes. It’s super quick and easy, but it’s just not something I consciously think about on a day-to-day basis.
The benefits to sharing work and collaborating online are incredible! Dean discusses a few examples in his video and the one that stood out to me the most was Dan Meyer’s Math Stories. He put over 18 hours of work into one lesson. ONE. And he felt validated by it because he shared it and had over 6, 000 people download and use it within a couple of weeks. I think as educators, we get stuck in our bubble and in reality, there is SO much information out there that can help ease the stress and pressure on teachers to be innovative. If teachers learn how to use the information, filter through resources and had time to collaborate together, I think there would be a lot more sharing going on. Teachers need some professional development and education geared toward how to share, why it’s so important, and the benefits that can ensue. I think that the younger generation of teachers is a lot more equipped to help this movement become a reality, however I think there needs to be support by divisions and maybe even time in a day, week, or month to collaborate with others in their buildings to help develop a sharing network for teachers. The movement needs to begin small, and with an implementation like that, I think it would be possible to create a culture of collaboration.
Sharing students work is another story. I think it is great to get their ideas out there and
amazing things can happen. Students can learn more authentically and understand how to navigate social networking sites and be able to filter through information. I’m starting a project with my ELA B30 class as we begin Hamlet. In the past, I’ve struggled to make it authentic and get them to really buy in. I created an assignment after browsing a few websites on making Hamlet relevant. I decided to use social media to help them relate to the characters (with some motivation from this class). I want them engaged so I’ve decided to get them to create character profiles for the whole play. They have the option of doing it alone or in groups and they have the option to interact with each other online as characters or as an omnipresent narrator. Here’s the link to the assignment (also my first attempt at sharing my work online): http://bit.ly/2AYEYJO. I’m pretty proud of this assignment already and I think the students are already engaged with it as I had two new Instagram followers (Hamlet characters) yesterday immediately following me handing it out! I will keep you posted as we progress through the play and I hope to actually share some of their posts if they are good! Of course, I’d love to know what you think of the assignment? Maybe a fellow Senior English teacher like Kelsie could chime in? Anything I could tweak? And what do you think would get teachers more involved in openly sharing resources online?