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My First Blog Post

Welcome!

“Tweet others the way you want to be tweeted.”

Germany Kent, You Are What You Tweet: Harness the Power of Twitter to Create a Happier, Healthier Life

Welcome to my blog! This is a new experience for me! I have a lot to learn. I am excited to share my journey of learning throughout my class. My first online class and I’m learning about the online world. I am excited and nervous as a lot of this class will challenge me and take me out of my comfort zone.

Learning and Revising

Photo by Ruvim on Pexels.com

Tuesday’s class presented us with the opportunity to learn from our classmates and view what they have been working on. Time was sparse as we tried to get through each classmate’s modules and give constructive feedback.

My group consisted of a variety of teachers all using different platforms to design their courses. I enjoyed learning about each platform and how they may currently be using it as well. It was wonderful to have time to dig into these as I have heard of them but haven’t had time to explore. It is a lot easier for me to learn about a new LMS from someone who has used it or is currently using it.

I learned about the following LMS:

  • Moodle
  • Canvas
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Google Classroom

Heidi, Darcy, Jocelyn and Leah were my group members. Each of us are teaching different grade levels and topics which created great education for each of us. I was hoping to get ideas from other primary teachers; but was happy to get the perspective of parents using Seesaw in my group.

For my Social Emotional Learning Course, I tried figuring out Moodle and Canvas but felt they weren’t user friendly for the age I am targeting. I have been using Seesaw in my class and am very familiar with it so naturally that would be the best fit. I wanted to try a new LMS to gain experience so I am also using Google Classroom.

Seesaw

Google Classroom

Each parent in my group who have children using Seesaw raved about how user friendly it is.

Positive feedback on Seesaw as a parent:

  • easy to use.
  • simple.
  • user friendly.
  • geared towards younger audience.
  • children independent.
  • can view exactly what kids are learning and assist.

A great feature of Seesaw is being able to use voice recordings for instructions. Students who are not able to read yet benefit from this feature and it creates independence for them in their work. I did not come across this feature in other LMS which is why Seesaw seems to be the best fit for my course. My group members suggested to use that feature on each page I create to generate more independence.

I had many questions about Google Classrooms as it was the first time using it for myself. Darcy displayed how he uses Google Classrooms for me to understand better. His tips were very helpful. Jocelyns’s course was on Google Classroom so I was able to see an example through her as well. I can now take what I learned from their courses and improve on mine. It was great to get an idea of how it looks and what students can do/see.

Although I didn’t receive a lot of feedback for improvement as my primary world is very different than my group members, I learned a lot from my classmates and the world they are teaching in.

Moving forward I will refer to the rubric provided by Alec as I design the rest of my lessons. I would like to touch base with other primary teachers and get some feedback from them. I have connected with some classmates that are teaching primary online and have gained knowledge from them. I will also work with colleagues and pick their minds about my lessons. My brain still feels very scattered but I think and hope it is headed in the right direction.

Any feedback on building my next lessons in Seesaw and/or Google Classrooms would be greatly appreciated!

Until next time,

Christina

Exploring Educreations and Explain Everything

Photo by Lum3n on Pexels.com

Learning about the many educational tools out there can be very overwhelming. I have been in a bit of a rut of using the same technology tools over and over. I get comfortable with my few tools and don’t look beyond that when I’m in teaching mode. This class is challenging me to look at new ways to improve my instruction and explore what’s out there.

I decided to look at tools that can create engaging video instruction and I could possibly use as I create my course. I looked at ones I have not heard of or explored previously. Reading about the many video maker tools out there got me excited to try them out. I found many set backs as I tried the free versions. I am not able to give a full evaluation of these tools as I didn’t get to fully emerge myself in them. I will share what I did learn about two specific tools and attempt to share where you may find out more about these educational tools.

Educreations and Explain Everything have many similar features and purposes. They are both designed to allow educators and students the ability to create, annotate and share educational videos. Both tools provide an easy-to-use whiteboard format.

Educreations

Pros

  • Easy to use and navigate.
  • Can use as whiteboard.
  • Can voice record.
  • Type text or write.
  • Add a pdf easily and draw/highlight over.
  • Multiple slides.
  • Add pictures and videos easily.

Cons

  • Can only be used on iPhone or iPad. No PC access.
  • Not easy to go back and edit.
  • Cannot access other educators lessons on free version.
  • Can only make 3 videos on free trial.

In the video I created to test out the tool, I enjoyed drawing and being able to explain/annotate. It was great that I could pause and draw more so I could keep the attention of kids. My video was not the greatest quality but I would like to continue to create more videos and explore this tool further.

I am currently teaching a unit on communities so I used this topic to test out making a video. I tried to add all the features it offers to test each out.

Explain Everything

Explain Everything was also fun to explore. I made a video about Animals for a science unit. My video would not upload here and I had to cut it short. I have attached the link and hope that works to give you an idea of what it is. https://expl.ai/REGGXJT In the video I go on to explain characteristics of each animal but you will not be able to see that.

Pros

  • Has clipart to use on whiteboard.
  • There are templates to choose from.
  • Can do a live lesson.
  • Can make lessons on PC and app.
  • Collaboration with other educators and students.
  • Can create a web link but only up to 1 minute for free trial.
  • Can easily add pictures and text.

Cons

  • Only one slide in free version.
  • Not simple to stop, go back, or edit.

Will I use either?

There is potential for both of these tools to be great for educators if they have full access to all they have to offer. For me currently teaching in-person, I believe they would be great for having to move online as we never know when that could happen. The free version of Educreations would work best for me to be able to create a video and put it on Seesaw easily.

Trying out the free versions, it is hard to say which one is more useful for educators. Reading and researching more about them I found more recommendations for Explain Everything.

Explain Everything has more features included in the free access. It allows you to be able to make more videos and have more options. To get an adequate review I would suggest reading more about the full versions.

Below is an analysis that includes more details of the ‘pro’ versions of these tools. Common Sense Education has reviews for educational tools that are great if you are looking into accessing a new app or online tool. I would recommend checking Common Sense Education’s Edtech Reviews. Youtube is also loaded with tutorials and information around these and many other common educational tools.

I am happy to have had the opportunity to dive into these educational tools. I look forward to exploring more in the future.

Has anyone used either of these tools or have access to them? What is your favourite site to create videos on? I would be happy to hear about your experiences with these tools or others that are similar!

Until next time,

Christina

Course Profile: Social- Emotional Learning

My number one priority at the moment teaching in-person second and third graders is their health and well-being. This is a hard year for everyone; especially our children. They have had to adapt to a world with many unknowns, unpredictability and change in their little lives. Our students are resilient, strong and unbreakable. Every day I experience anxiety going to a big school with so many people during a pandemic, but the energy and spirit of these little people make my day so wonderful. When we are in our classroom and present, there is nothing that can pop our bubble of happiness. We have created a positive environment where we prioritize being kind, respectful, mindful and having a growth mindset.

Our ‘mindful minutes’ everyday is my favourite part of the day. I model that I need time to regulate before I am able to teach and they need it to get their bodies and brains ready to learn. We check in with how our body and heart feel, do a variety of breathing activities, and positive affirmations. Each day I lead a type of mindfulness/meditation and then we all say our positive affirmations.

  1. I am a super learner.
  2. I work hard and try my best.
  3. Mistakes help me learn and grow.
  4. I ignore distractions.
  5. I am focused and regulated.
  6. I am a good friend and classmate.
  7. I am kind and caring.
  8. I am safe and loved at school.

Today is going to be a good day! 🙂

We have many other affirmations as well but I make sure to say those. Recently, I have been opening the floor to have students pick affirmations they feel we need to say in our hearts. For example, “we are joyful and happy, we are bucket fillers, we are brave, etc” It is a beautiful part of our morning routine that sets the tone for our learning time.

When schools shut down in March, I made it a prime concern to make sure my students had this as part of their routine. I knew how much they were missing school and their friends. Attached is a video I made of our ‘mindful minutes’ in March for students to watch each day if they chose. Hopefully this helps you understand what I am getting at. I was set on bringing this part of our day to their homes.

Social-Emotional Learning has become a big part of my classroom and has changed how I teach. Students can not learn if they are not regulated first. Students need strategies to help them deal with everything life throws at us. Many adults do not have these coping skills and strategies. I really wish I would’ve learned these when I was young.

With all that being said, this is why I have chosen to do my course on Social-Emotional Learning. It is important not only during this difficult time but always and will benefit students whole being as they grow.

To continue with my long rationale, I have included a video to understand what Social-Emotional Learning is. After teaching for many years and using this in my classroom, I will make lessons around what I have found works best in my teaching, for my students, and have had the most success in. It will be my own interpretation of Social-Emotional Learning. As I create these lessons, I may change the title to ‘Emotional Well-Being’ or ‘Healthy Mind and Body’. We will see what happens!

Course Overview: Social-Emotional Learning

Rationale: To summarize what I wrote above, Social-Emotional Learning is an important part of child development. Children must learn how to self-regulate, build healthy relationships, and develop skills to process their emotions in a positive way. In order to learn, children need to have positive self-esteem and believe in their abilities. Many children are not learning these skills at home; therefore I believe it is important to implement these lessons in a blended learning format.

Target Audience: The beauty of this course is that it can be used with a variety of age groups. I will target Kindergarten to grade 5 with all lessons created to be adapted beyond these ages.

Course Format: I will be using a blended learning format on Canvas and Seesaw. Lessons will be flexible and accessed at home and/or used in whole group, in-person instruction. With attendance not being consistent this will give students opportunity to participate from home. The course will be designed to be approximately four weeks. Students can work at their own pace at home or school.

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes: From the Saskatchewan Health Curriculum the outcomes and indicators targeted are:

Kindergarten

  • USCK.1 Develop basic habits to establish healthy relationships with self, others, and the environment.
  • USCK.3 Explore that who I am includes more than my physical self.

Grade 1

  • USC1.1 Examine healthy behaviours and opportunities and begin to determine how these behaviours and opportunities may affect personal well-being.
  • USC1.3 Analyze, with support, feelings and behaviours that are important for nurturing healthy relationships at school.
  • USC1.5 Explore the association between a healthy sense of “self” and one’s positive connection with others and the environment.

Grade 2

  • USC2.1 Demonstrate a basic understanding of how thoughts, feelings, and actions influence health and well-being.
  • USC2.4 Examine social and personal meanings of “respect” and establish ways to show respect for self, persons, living things, possessions, and the environment.

Grade 3

  • USC3.2 Examine the spiritual dimension of the “inner self” and determine the importance of nurturing it.
  • USC3.4 Understand what it means to contribute to the health of self, family and home.

Grade 4

  • USC4.3 Examine healthy interpersonal skills and determine strategies to effectively develop new relationships and/or negotiate disagreements in relationships.
  • USC4.5 Examine how identity (i.e., self-concept, self-esteem, self-determination) is influenced by relationships that are formed with others.
  • USC4.6 Assess healthy stress management strategies (e.g., relaxation skills, stress control skills, guided imagery, expressing feelings, exercising).

Grade 5

  • USC5.4 Analyze the connections between personal identity and personal well-being, and establish strategies to develop and support a positive self-image.
  • USC5.7 Assess the importance of self-regulation and taking responsibility for one’s actions.

There will be many cross curricular connections within the lessons such as English Language Arts, Physical Education and Arts Education.

Course Materials: Access to technology, support from family members, and positive engagement.

Considerations:

  • The audience is young with many needing assistance to participate in online portion.
  • Students may not have access to technology at home.
  • Will have to be adapted for visually impaired learners in my school.
  • There may be disengaged students not doing any of the online portion like when we moved to online learning.

Guiding Questions and Assignments: There will be two lessons per topic that flow together as children learn and build on each skill.

  1. What are Feelings and Emotions?
  2. Mindfulness
  3. Growth Mindset
  4. Positive Affirmations 
  5. Gratitude
  6. Self-Love
  7. ‘Bucket Filling’
  8. Friendship

Assessment Strategies: Formative assessment will be how this course is assessed. Students will participate in a variety of activities at the end of each lesson that will demonstrate their understanding of the concept.

I welcome all feedback, questions and ideas of how I could make this course come to life. I am struggling with the assessment part and delivery of the course. I know it will change as I put the lessons together and learn more about online course formats. If you have any ideas, I would be very grateful.

Thank you for reading! 🙂

Christina

Blended Learning- A New Concept to Me!

What is Blended Learning?

As stated in the title, I do not have a lot of knowledge surrounding blended learning. In this new world of distance and online learning during a global pandemic, it does not seem like a completely unfamiliar concept as it would’ve a year ago to me.

Watching the video Alec shared during our class, I immediately felt discouraged. This is impossible, there’s no way students would actually do this? My experience with online learning involved many students not participating. It was very hard to get students and families engaged. Full online learning that teachers were thrown into in March has similarities but with blended learning students still need to have access to technology. Schools must provide the technology for the students and teach them how to use it properly. It is also necessary for students to have this technology at home. The realistic side of me was very negative initially learning about blended learning. I automatically think about socio-economics and equality when it comes to this model.

I also thought about the workload on educators. Teachers would have to have a lot of time to prepare the online lessons and be very organized. Coming from the lens of teaching during a pandemic and trying to go back and forth between online and in-person learning right now may be why I was viewing it negatively. Removing the pandemic from my mind, I began to see the benefits for many students. I am also looking through a primary teacher lens where many students struggle to use technology properly and need a lot of support. So detaching from what has been clouding our minds during pandemic teaching—It is a very intriguing model.

As Tessa stated in her blog, I probably also wouldn’t have defined blended learning as anything to do with technology if you asked me a year ago. The past year has developed the most experience I’ve had with anything surrounding educational technology. Last year I took my first online course with Alec and had the chance to start exploring this wide topic. It was great timing for what was about to happen in 2020. For one of my assignments I chose to dig into Seesaw and use it effectively within my classroom. When we found out schools were being shut down, it made our transition somewhat smooth. I became a Seesaw Ambassador to learn the ins and outs and help out colleagues. What I learned in #eci832 from Alec and my classmates was a lifesaver during distance learning. My technology journey has taken me way past where I ever thought it would be as I never considered myself a ‘techy’ person. Fast forward to the present, I do find it very difficult to try and have Seesaw going with lessons, go back and forth to in-person and online, and utilize technology efficiently in my classroom. All teachers need a lot of grace right now as there is so much unknown. A big challenge through all of this has been student engagement and of course, access to technology. With students being so young they need their parents to help them and support them online. From what I have learned, students would thrive with a supportive home environment.

Reading Chapter 4: Methods of teaching with an online focus, displayed how broad the subject of blended learning is. Most teachers have now, after 2020, engaged in forms of blended learning without knowing anything about it. Teachers currently have been expected to do the impossible and our circumstances don’t look like they are changing anytime soon. I imagine how amazing these models could be with education for teachers, time and motivation to plan.

In my own research to define blended learning, I came across some YouTube videos to further understand what a blended classroom looks like. I found the video below assisted me in understanding what blended learning is, the variety of models, and the positives and negatives of blended learning. There is a lot to learn, grow and build on with this concept.

I am excited to learn more especially in this unique time. It will be very interesting to see how things change and move forward in education once the pandemic is over.

Thank you for reading,

Christina

Summary of my Learning Journey

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I am very grateful to have been apart of such a great community. Thank you Alec for creating a supportive environment to learn and grow as educators and in our personal lives. Going through this tough time in our world has been easier having an understanding community. I am still pondering and processing discussions we had. It is so important to view subjects from all lenses and this class has allowed that. The ability to see all sides of an argument is something I want to bring more into my teaching.

I had to add where this journey began as part of my Summary of Learning. I tried to incorporate new tools into my video such as Screencast to step out of my comfort zone. I did test out a few other video making tools but fell back on WeVideo as I enjoy using it and having full access through my school board.

I can’t believe the class has come to an end. I had a great experience and learned so much from so many great classmates!

Have a wonderful summer! 🙂

Are Educators Social Justice Warriors?

Educators have a responsibility to use tech and social media to promote social justice. This was our final debate topic of the class. Like every topic, I say this is a complex subject. In today’s world, this is so relevant and I thoroughly enjoyed discussing and hearing from my classmates. It was a great matter to end the debates on. Educators have always had the job to nurture and guide students to become positive leaders in our communities. Teachers should have a passion to promote kindness and being the ‘change in the world we want to see’. This doesn’t always have to tackle controversial topics in our world. Going into the debate, I was thinking about more controversial topics and if teachers should be addressing each of them. In our classrooms, I believe we should teach social justice. On social media, I am weary. Conversations face-to-face give you the connection to understand each other, your beliefs, where your opinion may come from and you’re able to have a real discussion. Social media has become a place that is not always safe to share your views on an issue and we see over and over people being attacked by others. There isn’t the same understanding and connection as being face-to-face. Being a teacher and posting on a public platform can be very powerful and positive or have negative consequences.

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I like to use the resources from CrashCourse on YouTube in my teaching and for my personal understanding. They dive into many topics that we discussed and explain them in a way that is easy to comprehend for students. The videos provoke many good conversations within the classroom.

Debate

On the agree side, Mike and Jacquie created a great video to open up the debate. They argued that all educators have a responsibility to advocate social justice issues in our community and world. They shared great articles and resources. One that stuck out to me was the TedTalk with Sydnee Chaffee titled Social Justice Belongs in our Schools. Sydnee stated that “Teachers don’t just teach subjects, we teach people.” She argues we are doing students a disservice by not be teaching social justice issues and having tough conversations. If we just teach the curriculum, we are not teaching what is relevant around them. Teachers need to speak up and teach students to stand up for what is right. Educators should be modelling this for their students. But what is the best way to do that? Is social media the best platform to use? I am still going back and forth with this particular part of the debate. I 100% agree teachers need to be social justice warriors, but I am not sure social media is the best place to do so? There is a lot of misinformation around matters and teachers have to insure they are teaching students how to distinguish between what they are reading or sharing to be true.

Brad and Michala displayed Brad’s wonderful acting skills in their video disagreeing with the statement. They brought up the points that teachers should be neutral, assumptions could be made about them, what kids say online sticks with them forever, and that face-to-face interactions is the best way to have these conversations. They talked about the argument of how effective ‘slactivism’ actually is online. ‘Slactivism’ is defined as “the practice of supporting a political or social cause by means such as social media or online petitions, characterized as involving very little effort or commitment.” So again I ask the question ‘Is social media the best way for teachers to go about social justice issues?’ Brad discussed the possibility of creating students to be little foot soldiers for causes that are important to a particular teacher. He told an example from his career and stated that “Once media gets a hold of something, it’s not yours anymore.” It could be twisted or presented in a way that wasn’t intended. The conversation went into whether or not the act is authentic if it’s put on social media. I have scrolled across many amazing examples of kids using social media to display what they are doing to make the world a better place, especially recently. Social media can be a positive place to raise awareness of current issues in our world. Teaching Young Children About Bias, Diversity, and Social Justice says to use literature to teach issues in the classroom. There are so many great books out there to teach kids of all ages about social justice. Teachers should have a diverse library to give students opportunities to see themselves in books and to learn important life lessons.

Thoughts

‘Heavy’ is what my classmate Jill described this debate to be in her blog. This is a very heavy topic but I also feel this word expresses how I have felt over the last few weeks processing all that is going on in our world and what our role is. I felt worried going into the debate that I may say something wrong or offensive. It’s a touchy subject right now and I appreciated the conversation and input from my classmates. The way my classmates were open and vulnerable brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Melinda and Alton for sharing your personal stories.

I believe all educators went into the profession to make the world a better place. Teachers naturally have a passion for the younger generation and want to see them make a difference in the world. It is important for teachers to create an environment that allows students to feel safe to share and have real face-to-face conversations about issues in our world. It doesn’t have to always be controversial topics. As a primary teacher, I work hard all year to create a space that promotes kindness, fairness, and respect-our school values. It starts in our classrooms and we hope that in doing this, it will spread to the streets. Social-emotional learning and character building is an important part of my teaching. I have students that come to school not knowing any manners, how to share, play, or make friends. School teaches these skills to many children that don’t get that at home. At a young age students need to learn to be kind, inclusive, empathetic, compassionate, have perseverance, self control and more. We teach children to stand up to someone being a ‘bully’ on the playground. In the same way we want to teach them to speak up when they see injustices in the world and not just be a bystander. As students get older, we must teach the proper way to do this on social media. In conclusion, yes educators need to teach social justice in their classroom, but I’ll need more convincing for it to go onto social media. Myself, choosing not to be a regular social media user may be biased about that part. Class discussions and actions are extremely important but may not always have to transfer to the online world. The hope is that what happens in the classroom will flow out in a positive way to create change in our world.

Thank you for reading my last post about our debates! I have thoroughly enjoyed learning and seeing so many sides and aspects to one topic.

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Is Openness and Sharing in Schools Unfair to Students?

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Tuesday’s debate topic was on the statement ‘Openness and Sharing in schools is unfair to kids.’ This is a wide topic and as I looked into it before the debate, I saw that there were two parts to it. I was curious to see how my classmates would connect it together. Melinda and Alton took the agree side that it is not fair for teachers to share about students while Dean and Sherrie disagreed with the statement.

On the agree side that it is unfair to share about students online, I found it very interesting and eye opening to read Posting About Your Kids Online Could Damage Their Futures. I never thought about children’s digital footprint beginning before they are even born. Many parents post ultra sound pictures and this begins their introduction to the digital world. In this article they talk about a report that estimated many kids age 13 already have 1300 photos of them online. The article moves into talking about edtech collecting data from kids. I really never thought about that aspect of privacy within my classroom. This stuck out to me as something I need to think of when using educational apps in my classroom. The school board I work for has a good screening for which apps are allowed in the classroom, but I should still be looking into the ones I use daily to see what information, if any, they are collecting from my students. There are many things I didn’t think about keeping an eye out for such as baby monitors and toys that could be collecting and using data. Melinda and Alton made a great video that had lots of information to support their side. They talked about privacy, openness and cell phones.

As Alec had discussed, posting pictures online of kids or signing media release forms is an additional decision parents need to make in today’s world. This is the first generation with these issues. Many parents choose to share pictures of their children on their social media. For some kids when they grow up, they essentially have their baby book on display for all to see. In Don’t Post About Me on Social Media, Children Say, the research shows a big disconnect between parents and how children feel about them posting. In the debate the question of what age is the right age for consent? was brought up. This has become a new issue and carries into the classroom. Dr. Verena Roberts, a surprise guest said, “Open learning is learning what consent is.” In today’s world this needs to be a continuous conversation.

What stuck out to me during the debate was when Melinda was talking about newcomers not understanding the media release form in schools. I find it’s not just newcomers that struggle to understand but many families. It is a very wordy document that is not easy to comprehend. Many families sign it without really understanding what it means. I know many families struggle to read so to expect them to understand the media release form is not fair. Some families may have custody agreements and have a parent that is not allowed to be in contact with the children. If a family member signs this not understanding the form completely and a picture was put out on social media of the child, this could be a safety issue. The media release form we have in my division actually states that it lasts till they are 18 years old. So if a parent had signed it in kindergarten, we technically would still have permission to post or use their pictures. Families may not understand this and a lot can change in families lives that also might make this not safe for them. We still send the forms to be signed every year but I find I don’t receive many back for a variety of reasons. They might not understand it or it’s just not a priority to sign and bring back. We send them out each year but I can use my discretion if I want to say they’re okay if they had it sign in the past. I think our forms need to be more specific and parents should be aware of where and when an educator is posting something about their child. If it is in a space that has a separate permission form, for example, Seesaw, and parents know the pictures are just on Seesaw and no one else can see it, they may feel more comfortable. With social media, teachers may use Twitter to share pictures or students work. This was brought up in class that Twitter actually owns those photos once they are posted. Many of the families I teach do not have Twitter. I don’t think it would be fair of educators to be posting pictures of their children on a platform they don’t even use or will see. This kind of goes into another topic that was brought up which is the intent behind the post. Is what the teacher is posting authentic teaching or is it just to show of? Many teachers on Twitter may be seen as being ‘showy’ or just posting to brag about what they’re doing in their classroom. Many educators could use a lesson on ‘think’ before you post. So in this way the parents and students should be aware of where pictures are being posted because they might not have understood the form. I think it is general respect that if you want to use a picture of a student to put into the digital world where anyone could access it, that parents would know and be able to see it. Many parents are okay with their child’s pictures being within the school. Some schools have a TV that has a slideshow or pictures, assemblies could display photos or videos, or their pictures could be hung up in the hallways. Some parents are okay with this but might not want pictures or videos on social media or their child on the news. Therefore there needs to be a specific media release form with particular details of what is being posted and where.

Common Sense Media has great and simplified ideas and resources for teachers wanting to share. The posters below are great to go along with this topic.

Dean and Sherrie made a great video to argue the disagree side to this debate. They shared Protecting Student’s Privacy on Social Media which states you must know your schools policy and follow them. Not only that but have conversations with students as to why those policies are put in place. This video goes along with what the poster above displays. Teachers have a responsibility to check confidentiality and privacy settings on each platform they are planning to use. Educators need to put the protection of students first. Using social media in the classroom can be a good way to model positive digital citizenship to your students and parents. Digital citizenship is important to be taught in our classrooms and using it positively can be a good tool for teaching. I wrote in my notes (but don’t remember who said it) the question, “Is it unfair for us not to prepare kids for the digital world?” Or as Sherrie said in her video “Is it unfair to not take the opportunity to teach our students about positive online behaviours.” Open learning is having conversations and explaining all this at a young age to kids. As Dean said in his video, “sharing is caring and openness is everywhere.”

Overall, it seems that each debate has come down to educating students and families about digital citizenship, digital leadership, and digital footprints. It is unfair to not teach this in schools. Students deserve to know their rights and privacy online. It comes down to having open conversations and sharing the important knowledge of being a digital citizen. I have gone back and forth for my own opinion on this topic. I know that it will be a topic of discussion for years to come and I believe we need to be more clear as educators to students and parents on how we are sharing their pictures or work. Media release forms should be detailed and easier to understand. There should be translators to help newcomer parents to understand what they are signing. It should have more than a yes or no option.“To be true digital citizens, our students need teachers who model pro-social, creative, and responsible social media use.” -Common Sense Media

Thank you for reading!

Christina

Ban Cellphones in Classrooms?

Cellphones in classrooms has been a great debate since people started carrying ‘brick phones’ and ‘flip phones’. This week, Jill and Tarina argued there should not be phones in the classroom while Alyssa and Skyler fought against the cell phone ban.

Jill and Tarina made four points in their opening video to support cellphones being banned from the classroom:

  1. Cellphones are Distracting
  2. School Devices are Safer
  3. Cellphones Increase Negative Behaviours
  4. Detachment from Personal Device

They provided the video below as an additional source for us classmates. I thought it was a good insight to support their argument of cellphones being a distraction.

Alyssa and Skyler had three main arguments to support their slogan “Don’t make a ban, have a plan!”

  1. Medical and Emergency Use
  2. Educational Purposes
  3. Digital Citizenship

I initially voted that cellphones should not be in the classroom and have no place in the classroom. I stuck with that stance throughout the debate. I work in a primary classroom and most of my kids do not have cellphones. My experiences will be very different than educators with older students. This year I had one student that had a cellphone and when he brought it, the whole world knew about it. Every single child tattled on him and told me about the phone in his pocket. There’s no hiding things in primary classrooms!  I know it’s just an old iPhone that connects to wifi, but it’s funny how my kids know that it’s not allowed in our classroom. One reason I don’t like to have any technology from home is children lose everything. They also break everything. There’s also many kids that have sticky fingers and many things go missing. I have had an iPad stolen from my classroom before so I’m very careful with technology because of past experiences with stolen items. So when a student does bring a cellphone I do take it for the day mainly because I don’t want it to get stolen or misplaced. Most incidents involving kids bringing technology, their parents were not aware of. Our lockers also do not have doors and are in the hallway. Being a primary teacher, I have to be responsible for their belongings. I don’t let them bring toys because they lose them or they get taken and it becomes a problem. I prefer not to have any technology or toys from home because I want to avoid an issue if it gets lost, broken or stolen. Items from home can become a distraction from learning. There’s also the privacy piece- the kids can’t be taking pictures of others and I wouldn’t be able to control that if they brought cellphones. The biggest reason personally for me to not have cellphones in the classroom is, I believe kids need to be present. When they are at school- they are at school. They’re not thinking about their phone and they’re not talking to other people. They should not be playing games on their phones. They are present, they are social, they are hanging out with their classmates and they are learning. In a primary classroom, children are learning to have conversations together, they are bonding, they’re building connections and relationships. Children learn through play and are building their gross and fine motor skills. They play outside at recess are not on a device. I know many students go home and are attached to a screen for the entire night. This is why it’s really hard for me to use lots of technology in class because I don’t want to add to that screen time. Many students need to be taught how to have a conversation. I use a lot of ‘turn and talks’ in my classroom and I make sure to have lots of time where they have to socialize with each other, ask each other questions and play games together. This is an important skill to build at a young age. So personally I have no cell phones in my classroom. Most of my students don’t have cell phones so it’s not something I have to worry about. As Jill and Tarina highlighted, Schools provide lots of technology and those devices are safe for them to use within the class and provide equality in the classroom.

Melinda brought up the point that her kids use phones at lunch time and many problems come out of this. Cellphones may take away the social aspect of school. It may also cause cyberbullying and issues for teachers to deal with which takes away from learning. These moments could also be argued as teachable moments. We don’t want to avoid all problems because students learn from them. Maybe I just like having control but everything has to go through me or the office for parents to even talk to their kids. Again this is because of the young age of students I teach. I believe kids need to practice mindfulness and be able to play, have fun, learn and engage, and not be thinking about what’s in their pocket. I know for me right now teaching at home I find it really hard not to be on my cellphone because it’s right there beside me when I’m working on my computer. I get distracted very easily by my phone and I’ve been working on putting it somewhere far. In the classroom I don’t usually have my cellphone. If I do have my cellphone, I often am thinking about it and thinking about who might have messaged me. If I as an adult struggle with that, I know students would as well. I’ll have it for emergencies but my school doesn’t have recess so all morning I don’t look at my phone and the kids know I don’t look at it until lunchtime. When I do look at it, students know I am checking in with my family or checking emails. I usually verbalize what I am doing on my phone to try and model positive cellphone use. Sometimes I need a break for 10 minutes while they’re watching a Wild Kratts or Magic School Bus episode at lunch. With no recess and doing full-time supervision and lunch room, I sometimes need that time to tap out. This was also in our discussions in the debate. This time can be a nice break from a busy day. I do notice when I have my cellphone out and visible I am less present with students. I do not ever want to be a teacher that is on my phone instead of using the short time we have with them in the day to effectively teach them. I strive to use every moment wisely in my instruction and they deserve to have me not distracted by my phone. I have had to use my phone during instruction at times but I will talk aloud about what I am doing on it.

In my experience, admin plays a big role in cell phone use in the classroom. My first year teaching, there were rules for technology posted in every single classroom including kindergarten. There was absolutely no cellphone use during class and recess. These very strict rules alleviated many issues in the older grades. I also experienced the opposite approach where there were no rules surrounding cellphones in the classroom or school. I saw a huge difference and problems arose when students didn’t have clear guidelines on cellphone use. I’ve always been able to have the same rules within my classroom. When it comes to older students, they need to have some rules for cellphone use. When there was no rules, older learning buddies would come to my classroom to work with the kids and they would be checking their Instagram every 10 minutes. It drove me a bit crazy. I thought this was so wrong for them to be having their cellphones in class. All I saw it as was a distraction but I was looking from the outside in. I didn’t know how it was going within their classrooms or if they were using the phones as learning tools. When I would look outside on the senior side of the playground, I would see kids huddled together on their cellphones. Now we have shifted back to having guidelines around cellphones and students are not allowed to have them outside at recess. I see kids playing, socializing, playing games in the field and this makes me happy. I’m not saying either way is bad, I am writing from what I see in my primary classroom.

I like the model that was shown for students to know how to use their device. Having visuals in the classroom is important.

I understand the positive ways cellphones can be utilized in the classroom. Teachers also can educate students side by side on digital citizenship. Cellphones can definitely make the digital divide visible. Especially when there’s kids that have the newest cellphone and others that are using old ones. They may be embarrassed to bring their phone or to use it in classroom. It may not work to do the tasks they are supposed to complete in class. I don’t think students should ever be expected to bring a cellphone and use it but I think it’s important for them to be taught how to use a cellphone properly. Students can be taught to use their cellphones as a tool in their learning and education. Digital citizenship needs to be taught in our schools so students can learn to use their phones in a positive way and balance their screen time. Skyler and Alyssa made great points and arguments to support their stance. EAL learners were brought up in the discussion. Many of them use cell phones to translate work. This could be argued the other way as well for schools to provide a tool or device for these learners.

I also like the poster from Common Sense Media that is similar to the one above.

Overall I thought the debate was really great and lots of people had good things to say about their experiences. It was fun to research more into this topic and read the articles provided. Again I’m coming from a primary perspective so I do totally agree that you can utilize a phone properly within the classroom. It can be used as a learning tool in older grades. You can teach kids to use it responsibly. Digital citizenship and leadership is so important to be taught in classes. Students who have their cellphones with them in class can learn to balance their cellphone use, socializing with their peers, focusing on the learning and may help them self regulate. But still in my mind I voted to say that cellphones should not be in classrooms mainly because I believe kids need to be present for that whole time and unplug from their devices. I stuck to my original stance on keeping cell phones out of class. The readings did not convince me otherwise but I am continuing to learn and be open about this topic! I see the benefits to both sides!

Thanks for reading my thoughts!

Christina 🙂

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Is Social Media Ruining Childhood?

Is social media ruining childhood? This is a very big question. I got to debate this topic in Tuesday’s class. My partner Laurie and I debated on the ‘agree’ side of the statement that social media is in fact ruining childhood, while Dean and Amy argued against us that it is not ruining childhood. My partner Laurie and I started researching and found a lot of evidence that shows social media definitely affects children today. There was a lot of research on the effects of technology in childhood. Kids development and growth are  affected by technology use. It was difficult to find research that targeted social media on young children. The research surrounded kids mainly 13 to 17 years old. Age restrictions on most social media platforms are for kids 13 and older. Please check out our Wakelet for more research and articles to support the statement social media is ruining or ‘changing’ childhood as my classmate Daina wrote in her blog post.

A point that was brought up is- what defines childhood? What age does childhood end? The arguments we had for younger kids was that  social media is a distraction in their families. Their parents may be distracted by social media. They could be checking their phones more often and not paying attention or connecting with their kids. Children who have older siblings may experience them having depression or mental health issues because of social media. This affects children, their childhood and family dynamics. It would be interesting to see research on the impact of social media on families. Are families less connected to each other? What is social media doing to our homes?

It was very hard to compress all the research that we had done in an only 5 minutes video. (yes, Dean we went 22 seconds over) Our video consisted of three major categories mental health, safety, and cyberbullying.

Dean and Amy made a great video opposing us stating that social media is not ruining childhood. They focused on the 10 Examples of the Positive Impact of Social Media.

  1. Young people can feel empowered to teach older relatives to use technology
  2. It can be used to create a positive digital footprint
  3. It provides parents an opportunity for open communication
  4. It helps students learn essential job skills
  5. It can lead to more communication, connection, and creativity
  6. You can use it to form or join (support) groups that may not be represented locally
  7. It offers students a way to stay connected
  8. It promotes students’ civic engagement
  9. It spreads social awareness and kindness
  10. It offers students a way to stay in touch with friends if they move

It was very eye-opening to research the affects of social media on teenagers’ mental health. Teens live in a world where social media is a major part of their daily life. It plays a huge role in their social life. They are constantly thinking about what their friends are posting, commenting, and liking on social media. They have a self image to display online and want to portray themselves in a specific way. Teenagers struggle to be mindful because they are always thinking about what they are missing online. We mentioned FOMO in our video which means the fear of missing out. I remember when I would work at camp and we would not be allowed to have our phones for the week. It was so refreshing to unplug and be in nature for a week. I wish all teens could experience this now as they are addicted to having their phones with them at all times. The amount of suicide in teens that have gone up since social media has been prevalent in our world is heartbreaking. This ties in with our research on cyberbullying. Our opponents argue that social media can be a positive platform for teens to express themselves and make positive change in our world specifically in bullying. But there is a lot more evidence that shows it’s negative effects on teens. Now I’m kind of an old-school, country girl that really believes kids should be kids as long as they can. Social media has very negative affects on me and it can be a huge distraction in my life. I see so many adults not able to navigate it in a positive way and it affects their mental health. As you may be able to tell through my writing I actually believe this statement to be true, maybe not that social media is completely ruining childhood but that it’s definitely changing and affecting childhood. It’s forcing kids to grow up faster and can take away their innocence. Our safety section was scary to read and learn about. Becoming educated about The National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre and Saskatchewan Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit literally made me sick. When I was in high school every Friday I would watch the show Dateline NBC. My favourite segment was when the show would use online chat rooms to lure and confront predators. Professionals would pretend to be a young girls or boys and strike up a chat with an older man or women. Eventually they would  set up a time for this older man or woman to come to where the young girl or boy said they would be. They would say their parents are not home. I remember being so disgusted by this but also I couldn’t stop watching. In Grade 9 health I did an assignment on this specifically because it really interested me and I wanted to share what I had learned. That was about 15 years ago- before social media. The stats that we found about reports on child exploitation is extremely gut-wrenching. The fact that complaints of child exploitation has gone up 616% in six years is super scary. Even if children know how to use the internet properly and are taught to use it safely doesn’t mean they’re going to. I would highly recommend checking out the ICE unit in Saskatchewan and reading about the incidents that they responded to this year. I remember even after watching the Dateline show, I still went into chat rooms when I was told not to and knew how dangerous they were just to see who was out there and to strike up a chat. I was always a curious child and I always needed to learn things on my own. I only did this once and deleted it right away. We know kids are curious creatures and social media is a big world to explore and learn about. Without direction, social media can be very unsafe for kids and teens.

Doing this debate really taught me about how important it is to stay up-to-date with the trends and challenges that are going on on social media. There are so many parents, professionals, teachers, and adults that have no idea what is going on on social media and these are the people that are supposed to teach kids how to navigate it properly. In our video we stated that teens brains are not yet fully developed to be able to make good choices on social media. These choices they make follow them for the rest of their life. Kids don’t understand that the choices they make now and post on social media can affect them down the road. Yes, kids have always been making risky choices and doing crazy challenges, like was stated in class, but it wasn’t ever recorded and didn’t follow them for the rest of their life like it does today. It is so important to teach digital citizenship and leadership today in our schools but also we need to be educating parents. Is this really our job? Whose job is it? Social media evolved really out of nowhere and now we have to bring this into our teaching. I wouldn’t completely say that it’s ruining our childhood but I would say that it is putting a lot of danger and stress on kids today. I always feel so lucky to not have grown up in this time. Kids have so much more pressure and stress to connect to friends online. They are always thinking of likes and comments and what their friends are saying about them. So many kids have experienced cyberbullying. Yes, there’s lots of positive things that happen on social media but from my research and researching the topic, the negative trumps the positive. I’m optimistic and hopeful that this can change but it’s got to start with adults. If adults can’t use social media properly, how are kids supposed to be able to? If schools are expected to teach these skills, there needs to be PD for educators.

half listening

I really enjoyed learning about this topic as it is something that has always interested me. Honestly for me, social media gives me a lot of anxiety. I never post online, I overthink everything that I want to post, and I am anxious that I posted the wrong thing. I stopped posting on Instagram about 3 years ago. The reason I stopped posting and deleted my Instagram app was because every time I went to do something, I was thinking of taking the perfect picture for Instagram instead of actually enjoying the moment and having fun with it. Anytime I did something exciting or went on a trip, I was focused more on the pictures for Instagram then being present and enjoying myself. I realized I personally was not able to balance it and I was constantly comparing myself to people I saw on Instagram and their ‘highlight reel’ that looked so perfect.  I know for me personally I’m way happier when I’m not looking at social media. I am a lot less anxious and I can be present and mindful. I realize it can be a very positive place as well where I can connect with my friends and family. I would never say social media is actually ‘evil’ like we stated in our video. But it does affect a lot of people in a negative way.

I had fun learning and debating against Dean and Amy. They had really good points about social media being a positive outlet for teens. What argument I definitely cannot go against is students that are feeling alone and may need to find a community that they can relate to and feel connected to. I had an older student show me all of the communities they were a part of on Instagram where they had met many friends and even had a best friend they had never actually met in person. They talked on social media and Facetimed every day. This students social media gave a community and connection they needed and didn’t have otherwise. This is definitely something I can’t argue. Teens who feel alone can build a community on social media that provides the support they need. But we also see the opposite often of very harsh and mean messages happening on social media at the same time.

I see both sides of the argument but personally lean more towards social media having a negative affect on children, teens and our society in general. I see the benefits and enjoy them myself at times but personally feel we’d be fine without it. The research I did with my partner really made me see this.

Thank you to my amazing partner Laurie for being fun and passionate to work with! Thank you to Dean and Amy for the great debate! I learned a lot! 🙂

Many thanks

Google vs Teachers

Back in the day when we had a question, we would ask someone we believed knew all the answers. This person for me was my dad. I thought he was the smartest person in the world. He never could be stumped by a question. I believed he had all the knowledge in the world. My father was my ‘Google’ when I was young. And like the internet-he had a biased. I was learning from him and having faith that everything he said was true and not misinformation. We heard it all the time when we were young “My dad said so.” Now our students have the ability to ‘Google’ any question they have. The problem is not all students are able to determine if the information is credible. This is an important skill we need to teach early on in childhood in this digital age. There is so much misinformation going around on the internet. Adults today even struggle to know what is true and false information.

It is essential that we teach students how to properly determine what is real and fake. As Curtis and Lisa stated in their video, we must teach the 4C’s – Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking. They also taught about teaching students the difference between good knowledge vs bad knowledge.

Curtis and Lisa also went through the LoTi framework which is the Levels of Teaching Innovation. This model goes through the stages of teachers effectively implementing technology in their instruction and assessment to enhance higher level thinking. Their video was answering the statement ‘Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be easily googled’. This debate was a puzzling subject. Looking at the topic beforehand I was very confused and interested to see what my classmates would come up with. The debate had to make a few changes and adaptations as both sides had argued the same thing. We ended up having good conversations around this topic.

Daina and Jocelyn created a video and argument to state that ‘Schools should focus on teaching things that can be easily googled.” They argued that students don’t have the skills to properly acquire information from google. These skills must be taught so students are not relying on false information. Many students don’t have access to the internet. The internet is expensive and not all families can afford it. This digital divide makes it necessary for teachers to teach all topics in all ways. Google is not accessible to all students, therefore educators must teach all subjects. Educators also can have a deep understanding of a topic and can differentiate for students to be able to understand. Google doesn’t differentiate for kids and is not able to personalise learning for students.

Daina stated in her video about Google, “it is a tool, not a teacher”. Teachers cannot be replaced by google. Google does not give love, care, and authentic teaching/instruction to kids. It does not teach kids to think critically about what they are viewing on the internet.

In our class discussion there were many tools brought up. The idea of reinforcement was a topic of discussion. Students learning to read need a lot of repetition and need to be able to memorize. Kids learning sight words need repetition to be able to read these words automatically. There are many words in the English language that do not follow ‘rules’. In my class I call these “jail break” words because they break the rules and need to be put in jail. These words must be memorized because students cannot phonetically sound them out. Students at the level I teach also benefit from knowing their addition and subtraction facts automatically to 20. We discussed multiplication facts within the class too. These are skills that cannot be Googled.

Amanda brought up the idea of inquiry in young ages. This is something I was also thinking of while listening to the conversations. The curriculum in younger ages does allow flexibility and encourages this approach to teaching. The idea of Inquiry as a way of instruction within teaching is a progressive idea. In older grades it could be harder to implement this model into learning due to time allowed in the curriculum. This idea and way of instruction I believe depends on push from administration and school boards. My first year teaching, Inquiry was what we did as a school for all subjects besides Literacy and Numeracy. Inquiry was the approach we used for teaching health, science and social studies. As admin changed there was more of a push to get ‘minutes’ into our timetable for each of these subjects. Inquiry is a great tool to allow students to take a deep dive into topics of their interest and take ownership of their learning. They also can take leadership over the learning and can direct where the learning goes. Using this approach, students have to understand these topics by using many resources around them. This could mean people, books and/or the internet.

I am still a bit puzzled by the debate topic, but had many take aways from the videos and the discussions that came out of class. I believe Google cannot replace teachers, hands on learning, critical thinking and many skills students need to be successful. Educators need to teach students how to acquire good knowledge and have a balance of learning from more than one place. Anything under the sun can be Googled and answered, but just because something is easily Googled does not constitute it as real information.

Until next time,

Christina

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