Author Archives: Brendon Weir

Building Digital Citizens: The role of schools in shaping students’ online identities

Schools should play a significant role in supporting students in the development of their digital identities by providing them with education and resources on responsible and safe online behavior, digital citizenship, and media literacy. This includes teaching students about the potential risks and consequences of their online actions, such as cyberbullying, online privacy, and digital security, as well as the benefits of positive digital engagement, such as communication, collaboration, and self-expression. Additionally, schools should model positive digital behavior and have policies in place that promote safe and responsible use of technology.

Safe Online Behavior

An article from Common Sense Media highlight 9 basics that parents can share with their children, which can easily be worked into a classroom setting.

Digital Citizenship

One thing that schools can help students is how to create a .

So what are some things students should know, and what are some things we can teach them?

  1. Online Privacy and Security: Understanding the importance of protecting personal information online, such as passwords, addresses, and credit card numbers, and the ways to keep them secure.  As Jeff mentioned on Discord, his school division, as well as mine, have been having staff complete modules on cybersecurity.
  2. Cyberbullying and Online Harassment: Recognizing the harmful effects of cyberbullying and harassment and knowing how to report and address these incidents.  Bell Let’s Talk was just last month, and Pink Shirt Day is coming up next week, where as educators, we can bring light to situations such
    Screenshot of a fake LeBron James account after Twitter allowed users to buy a verified checkmark.

    as bullying and the issues they can create, and how we can help.

  3. Digital Footprint: Knowing how to manage one’s digital reputation and the impact that online actions can have on future opportunities, such as college admissions or job applications.
  4. Digital Etiquette and Respect: Understanding the importance of respectful and responsible online communication and behavior, including avoiding hate speech and plagiarism.
  5. Media Literacy: Knowing how to critically evaluate online information and sources, including the ability to identify fake news and propaganda.  This has been a growing issue, since events from the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, to the events after Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter.
  6. Copyright and Intellectual Property: Understanding the legal and ethical issues surrounding the use and sharing of online content, including the proper use of images, music, and videos.  Google classroom has a handy add-on, that allows checking work for plagerism.  In middle years, students are developing researching skills, and when presenting their findings, this is a major concern.

Where do we go from here?

Identifying and addressing the issues are step number one as educators.  We need to know what we are going to talk about with the students, so we need to understand how they are using technology.  School divisions create accounts on Microsoft and Google, that students use from early on, where they are just learning the basics, to graduation.  While these are temporary, we need to promote proper use, as they will be continue using technology, and creating new accounts once they are finished passing through our classrooms.

But we also need to be aware of what technology and apps they use outside of school, and address the concerns and issues that could arise from these.  New apps and fads come into our schools and students lives faster than many of us are aware of.  First was Snapchat, then TikTok, in the summer was BeReal.  Who knows what the latest craze is, but this is something we should find out, and teach the students how to use it appropriately, and what are the possible dangers.

We need to lead by example.  I’m sure many of us in the education field maintain a good digital footprint and etiquette.  How did we learn this?  Many of us grew up as the internet was developing, from the dial-up modem and single computer in the house, to the handheld devices of today.  We have obviously learned lessons throughout this time, and it is now our turn to pass it along to our students.

AI, a quick transition from TV Screens to Reality

I’m sure I am not the only one who has spent time watching TV shows or movies in the past few decades, where AI was seen as a new, interesting, distant topic.  The first one that came to mind was AIDA (Artificial Intelligent Digital Assistant) from Marvel’s show Agents of Shield.  While knowing this was a Sci-Fi show, I didn’t pursue the topic any further, and just accepted it as another wild idea that probably won’t impact my life.

Boy, was I wrong!!

It’s not like my daily life has been changed overnight, or over the past decade for that matter, AI is slowly but surely being integrated into today’s society, and the advancements have been exciting, scary, and everything in between, all at once.

While using ChatGPT, I have gone through and made some exemplary work for some of my upcoming assignments in ELA for my Grades 7 and 8s.  With no other information except for the assignment question, I got immediate, top-quality work.  Here is from one of them:

Choose a familiar tune (I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, On Top of Old Smokey, Happy Birthday …) and write your own song lyrics about a type of work and its hazards, or about another disaster. In order to make it work well, the number of syllables (beats) in each line should match those of the original lyrics and the lyrics should rhyme.
Verse 1: I’ve been working on the pipeline Moving oil and gas with might But the hazards are a nightmare Leakage causing fights

Chorus: Pipeline, pipeline, it’s a hard life Danger all around Pipeline, pipeline, it’s a hard life Hazards to be found

Verse 2: I’ve been working on the pipeline In the scorching summer heat But the risk of fire is real And it’s a constant treat

Chorus: Pipeline, pipeline, it’s a hard life Danger all around Pipeline, pipeline, it’s a hard life Hazards to be found

Bridge: We work hard to keep it flowing But the dangers never cease Pipeline, pipeline, it’s a hard life But we’ll keep it running, with peace

Chorus: Pipeline, pipeline, it’s a hard life Danger all around Pipeline, pipeline, it’s a hard life Hazards to be found

Outro: Pipeline, pipeline, it’s a hard life But we’ll keep it moving on Pipeline, pipeline, it’s a hard life With dangers, we’ll stay strong.

 

As discussed in class, this is great for teachers, who can use this to shorten prep time considerably.  But this tool can also be used by students, and shorten their work time to nothing as well.

But how is this any different than computing programs, such as Wolfram Alpha, where I can put in a Math equation, and it spits out the results in seconds, and shows me all of the intermediate steps, if you have the paid version?  Some of these AI softwares are also paid versions, which can complete work in fractions of the time.  And while University Math and Science professors encourage programs like Wolfram Alpha, can we still discourage AI technologies?

If we want to encourage students to use higher order of thinking, then we should stop asking them to complete tasks that technology can complete.

Where in the world is Brendon Weir?

Good day EC&I 830 and beyond.  My name is Brendon Weir, one of your peers or student.  I am quite comfortable with computers and technology, and you can see this trickle down into my classroom and daily teaching.  I currently teach middle years at Saltcoats School.

This is now my 8th year teaching, and 3rd year in Saltcoats.  Previously, I have taught in Yorkton at the Yorkton Regional High School on two occasions, and one year stops in Norquay, Carrot River, and Grenfell.  My focus in teaching was high school Math and Physics, but I have taught every Math and Science curriculum from Grades 6 to 12, as well as Phys. Ed/Wellness from Grades 5 to 10, as well as Health curriculums, Life Transitions, and one semester of Land-Based Learning.

Saltcoats School is a typical, small-town Saskatchewan school, with multiple split-grade classrooms.  My current teaching load is 6/7 and 7/8 Math, Science, and Phys Ed, as well as 7/8 ELA.  I have only taught in Saltcoats for 3 years, I had to learn new curriculums, students, and families in the time of Covid.  While I was not alone in learning virtual teaching environments, I have continued an online teaching presence with my classes, especially in Math 6/7 and 7/8.  By teaching 2 math curriculums in each room, I took ownership of the learning atmosphere and the one-to-one student-to-device ratio in our middle years and created a blended learning environment.  I have also been tabbed as the “tech guy” in our school, which usually looks like me, quickly googling the problem to see if there are quick fixes.

Using Google Classroom as an online platform for assignments, allows students and families to see what is going on in class, submit and see feedback on assignments, as well as an easy way to connect with me, whether it be at school, or at home.  I have an android phone, which pushes these notifications to me, and I can easily and quickly respond to any questions.

At this point in my life and teaching career, technology is very much integrated with everything I do, and at this point, I can’t see myself having it any other way.