Final Post. Mission Accomplished!

This 4 year snail’s race is coming to a finish….. and I’m not sure about you, but I’m ready to celebrate! snails-1540696_1920

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This coding journey has been exactly that…QUITE a journey. From deciding on my project focus, to harvesting the perfect batch of coding club students, to wrapping my head around coding, to recognizing that teachers like me are out there clueless about what coding is, this project has been very informative.

As a result of embarking on this challenge, I can confidently say that I have taken the plunge into the coding world. Though I will admit that the coding world is huge, and full of endless opportunities, I still have a distance to go in being totally coding literate.

For the purposes of this class, I feel that I have immersed myself in the coding world enough, to be an asset to other educators wanting to delve into the coding world, whether with their students, or as a school club.

While coding appears very overwhelming to those who do not know much about it, with proper guidance and education, it can easily be integrated into the daily learning of students, around the globe.

By clicking the link below, you will gain access to a “Coding for the Curious Teacher” document that I have made. This guide is intended to prepare any curious teacher (like me), for the coding world. It starts with the basic Scratch Jr. program, then moves onto the Tynker website, to provide a more complex and well-rounded look at coding for educators. I see this more as the beginning of a new journey for me, rather than the end. I am excited to see how far I can go with it with my next batch of coders, next year, when  I have a few basic skills tucked in my back pocket (including my amazing little coding students who have taught me a great deal!)

Here is the document that I have made, for anyone who would like to take a look at how to implement coding in their class, while taking the plunge to become literate in the world of coding!

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Thanks to all of my amazing classmates who have stretched my mind, guided me toward answers, and given me ample food for techno thought. It really has been a great time.

With this click, I officially wrap up, this life chapter. Class 10 of 10 is in tha books! And Boom goes the dynamite!!!

Cheers everyone!

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EC&I 832 Summary of Learning

It’s been a long road…. 4 years to be exact. And I fought extremely hard to make sure that I ended off my graduate studies with a course that I was excited about (ask Alec… it took a letter to the Dean and a few phone calls). It’s hard to believe that this ride has come to an end. With the post of this summary of learning, I reflect on all that I have learned in this course, but also in this journey to earn this achievement.

This course has been filled with many enjoyable zoom rooms…and dozens of fantastic course catalyst, comments, and thought provoking articles. I have enjoyed it all. Albeit, it’s been a challenge, to tackle two courses at once… but I don’t regret it for a bit!

The following is the summary of learning that I completed with my partner at crime, Bree Arguin! We hope that you enjoy our spin on things as we dive into the past semester with our “Couros Cruise”! Sit back. …relax. . . and enjoy the ride!

The following is our script from the summary of learning:

Oh hi there, uhm… where’d you come from Bree? I guess I can’t really get much privacy hanging ‘round the web these days, can I. What’s a girl to do?

You see, we’ve been busy trying to claim our citizenship as Digi Citz this winter, by trying to figure out what Digital Citizenship actual means… I mean… do you know what it is anyways? Well, hey, don’t sweat this. Let us tell you…. After all, it’s what we’ve been trying to figure out. . . and it’s pretty clear that some people out there, really have no idea.

Let’s take a little trip together, like “Magic School Bus Style”. Think of me as Ms. Frizzle, as I’m starting to get comfortable with this media literacy business.  Bree, I’m happy you decided to join me for this round of the “Couros Cruise”.  Let’s hop on the Digi Citz bus and re-visit what EC&I 832 was all about! Buckle up, this is one fast ride, and you don’t wanna get left behind.

So let’s get to it. First stop. Digital Citizenship. This was a big theme this semester. Basically, this refers to norms of appropriate and responsible technology use.  Brittany Frick nailed it in her Content Catalyst, when she mentioned that Sklar called Digital Citizenship, the new citizenship.  Unfortunately for us, the digital world is so fast paced, that it is hard to keep up… and that means that many of its users have no idea what is considered appropriate technology use.

Take these guys for example. Yawzahhh that’s a real doozey. There are too many sad cases of media getting a hold of the wrong picture, story or post, and then having these hand delivered on a first class train to the rest of the world. Stop. Ask yo-self…. Would your momma want you posting that? Think about it. Think. About. It. Exactly.

Next up, our instructor Alec took the time to shoot some pretty interesting theory our way. Let’s head over to foundational theories in Media Education next. What does this mean? Well…. As with any great Graduate class, the basis of all good learning, is grounded in theory. This class did not disappoint. Let’s take a look at a few key theories. Take technological determinism for starters. This theory presumes that a society’s technology determines what we use. Like the Walkman for example. Man…. People feared the Walkman. In fact, word on the street was that the Walkman would result in people becoming antisocial. They really had no idea what was coming….

Then there is Techno-utopianism. That’s a mouthful. Basically, this is the idea that technology does really wonderful things for society. Or the opposite, distechnotopianism. . . Which portrays technology as a beast… If you feed the beast, it will destroy you. DON’T FEED THE BEAST!

Okay, let’s haul this bus on over to the Digitally Networked world next. Before we stop this bus, do you know who you are in the digital world? Alec had us dive into some great material that helped us to understand Prensky’s concepts of digital natives and immigrants. David White countered these ideas though, and proposed the ideas of residents and visitors. To us, this idea was a better fit. We simply couldn’t agree with people being referred to as digital natives simply by virtue of being born in a certain decade. Regardless, wherever you lie in the digitally networked world, your interaction online, creates a digital tattoo… and sometimes people don’t realize its permanence until it is too late.

Documents like Mike Ribble’s 9 Elements, Alec and Katia’s Digital Citizenship Document, and blogs like fellow classmate Stacey Bradley’s help us to realize that we have to take responsibility for who we are online. Stacey set out to find out if it was possible to maintain different profiles online, depending on what your personal or professional purpose was… and the reality is, that no matter how hard you try to keep things separate online, the space between different accounts, profiles, and intentions, is a big grey blurred line. It intersects everything and makes it virtually impossible for educators to keep personal and professional lives separate… so there ya have it. What you blog, post, or even like in the past, may catch up to you in your present and impact your future. WHAT WOULD YOUR MOMMA SAY?! If she’d say no…. JUST DON’T POST IT!!!

That takes us to our next stop… Which is a heart breaking one. We’ll call this stop “A Choice Gone Wrong”.  Amanda Todd is just one example among many, of young people that were taken too soon, because of the reality that you just can’t choose your audience. And… the sad truth is, that you can try, but you can’t always successfully choose your audience. Many of today’s youth suffer from the anxiety of getting caught up in a moment and making a horrific choice that in some cases, costs them the ultimate price.

So that takes us to here, “The Role of the School”. Let’s take a look at what we are responsible for in preparing our students to be digitally literate. Within the schools, we can start by teaching digital citizenship at a very young age. We can do this by first educating ourselves. We can help students to begin understanding how to weigh the risk versus the reward of posting something online. This is a good lesson for students, and teachers alike. Look at Trump for example. It’s clear to see that he has not been showing up to our Digi Citz class… and if he did, he’d surely learn a thing or two from those of us, north of the border.

Speaking of Trump, we need to mention what we learned in terms of fake news.  Students today are having a very difficult time differentiating authentic from fabricated news.  In fact, according to Jaimie and Jocelyn’s content catalyst presentation, “80% of students are unable to identify a fake news story from a real news story”.  This is alarming!  We really loved what Meagan Weisbrod suggested about doing “quick-check-ins” with her students when determining the authenticity of a news story 1. Check the publishing date 2. Check the source 3. Check the information on another website.  We look forward to using this strategy in our own classes.

Pat Maze served as a great example of WHAT WE SHOULD DO. We educate. We educate the children by modelling, scaffolding, and immersing them in safe, supported environments where they can learn alongside their peers and an instructor. We invite people like Pat Maze to classes to engage in meaningful discourse with teachers… hopefully giving us some food for thought to help us stand up against things we disagree with, and to educate us on things that we did not know. We use documents like the “Digital World: 10 Tips for teachers” or Couros’ Digital Citizenship Guide, to help lead our practices…. And we carefully craft our digital foot prints to reflect the best sides of us that we have to offer. Jennifer Scheffer is a great example of this. By helping each student leaving high school to create a Linked In profile, she was able to better prepare them for the chance of getting hired for their dream job.

As educators, this is our goal. We want to prepare our children for the real world. But today, the real world and the virtual world are equally as important. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the impact that results from our online activity. By creating digitally literate and responsible students, we have the power to help them forge into the future with opportunities that are as bright and exciting as these children are.

This brings us to the end of the ride folks, and it has been a good ride. Hopefully you have gained a little bit of food for thought in reflecting on your journey, and considering where you want to head next. The digital world can be an exciting place to be. Let’s make sure that everyone engaging in this, knows the rules of the road, so that they can make an informed decision about the bus they choose to hop on, and get to their planned destination without too many bumps in the road.

Thanks Alec for helping us spread our virtual wings, and to become part of the change that we want to see in education!

Pinocchio’s Nose Knows Better… Do You?

If Pinocchio’s nose growth was actually a “thing”, and people had to pay for lying online… what would our world look like?

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Don’t believe everything you find on the internet. . . We’ve heard this line 1000 times. Yet, as we reach for our phones day after day, before opening both eyes each morning, it amazes me how so many of us consume what we are reading, without stopping to question the validity of it.

Since the majority of my time is spent reading peer reviewed journals and textbooks and keeping my 2 and 5 year olds active these days, I don’t take much time to do additional reading these days. The extent of my media consumption comes from Facebook, Twitter and the 2 quick minutes of Z99 that I hear on my 4 minute drive (which I love!!) to and from work each day.

Let’s just say, I’m a bit out of the media loop these days. I somehow managed to avoid hearing about the ferries in Mexico that had been blown up, until just last week. I am literally living in a grad class bubble at the moment…

Occasionally, I take the time to numb out before bed and first thing in the morning though and I do take in a bit of Facebook and now Twitter, thanks to this class. I check Facebook out of habit. Like Amy, I began using Facebook as a social lifeline. However, the world of Facebook has drastically changed over time and there is no longer such a strong focus on staying connected, but rather a flood of news (fake and real), advertising, and social protests that range in things I agree with to strongly oppose. The advertising really gets me though. All too often, people I love dearly fall into the reoccurring “share” traps. They receive fake promises of gift cards, discounts, and other goodies, and the “shares” go wild. I always have to stop and chuckle… Thankfully, I can see through those hoaxes fairly easily.

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The majority of news articles that I read these days are often linked in a post on Facebook or Twitter. For the most part, I tend to find the quality of literature, or at least the decomposition of inaccurate articles linked on Twitter to be much more educative. This likely has to do with the fact that the people that I am connected with on Twitter have mainly resulted from this class… so the articles and links they are posting, share the same purpose that I have. To educate and to scrutinize what we are reading.

On facebook, I interact with a wide variety of people however, and this results in a wide variety of information coming my way when I logon. There have been times when I have had a hunch that something sounds too good to be true, or something just doesn’t sit right. In these instances, I have googled the article post names followed by the word “hoax” and usually confirm my suspicions. However, I have learned through this class that there are a few go-to places that I can use as resources when I am not ready to believe new information on first glance. Factscan, canadafactcheck, Snopes, and Politifact are just a few great sources that can be accessed when checking the validity of what I am reading.

For me, I think growing up as a criminal defense lawyer’s daughter has given me an innate ability to sniff out the fluff. I have had real luck attracting fraudulent promises on Kijiji while trying to rent out my house in Calgary in the past…. For example, after several emails back and forth for a rental request that seemed FANTASTIC, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought “something smells fishy”! I opened my computer and googled a line of the email the potential renter had written and low and behold, I was right in the middle of a first class scam that was about to land me in the danger zone. I didn’t really have the skills that I needed to be renting out a property online… I surely was not media literate in this area…. but thanks to my spidey-senses, I caught on before getting myself into a hot mess. The man had even sent me a variety of photographs of himself, his wife, his grandparents, and children… MAN! If only I knew then, what I knew now… I wouldn’t have needed my intuition to guide me. I just would have known better! I’ve been sure to smell out the phony baloney in Kijiji interactions ever since!

Anyways, back to fake news. It is everywhere. And it is easy to believe it all if you don’t know any better. You also attract what comes your way online. Filter bubbles, as explained by Eli Pariser definitely impact the news, advertisement, posts and search results that we interact with online. Being aware of cookies, and malware, will definitely help in securing your privacy and security online… but I feel that further understanding in how this process works an how I protect myself, would certainly be of benefit.

So, I suppose my feet are wet, and I’ve jumped into the media world unknowingly. However, I am reacting to the need to educate myself at a faster pace than I started out with. Through engaging in courses like ECI832 and ECI830, I have found ways that have helped me to become more media literate and online aware. I believe that I still have a long way to go, but for now, at least I’m keeping my head afloat!

Coding Project Update

Tonight I am taking a bit of time to document what I have been up to with my major project over the past while. As recommended in the course syllabus, we are encouraged to keep in mind the importance of the PROCESS while working through our major project. As such, I have been doing a lot of hands-on work with the project I have chosen, but haven’t shared in awhile. Soo I thought tonight might be a great time to just stop, and share my journey so far.

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So, as many of you know, my first attempt at this project was me sitting at cross-roads trying to decide between exploring and educating parents on the teen apps that parents may not know about but “should absolutely” know about.

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I was torn between this project and then also exploring how Alexa could better be used as an educational tool in my classroom.

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When I shared my ideas with Alec, he reminded me of the focus on the aspect of digital citizenship and media literacy. I have to be honest, at that time, I did understand the concept of digital citizenship, but I hadn’t truly wrapped my head around the concept of media literacy. It was stumping me a bit, and I think I needed to get my feet wet in the course a bit more to truly understand what was being asked of me.

Fast forward a few weeks… and I found myself choosing the Teen Apps project. However, I didn’t want to just read reviews on the apps, I wanted to explore them first hand so that I could give first hand recommendations and education to parents, regarding the apps. Road Block. I did not anticipate how uncomfortable downloading one of these apps would make me feel. Even though my purpose for doing so was educational, I felt like a big elephant in a virtual room… and I did not belong there. Not only did I feel uncomfortable being present on the app, I was also uncomfortable having any risqué app on my phone. Soon after some deep reflection, and though a very worthwhile cause, I just decided that this project (though beneficial on many levels), just wasn’t for me. And that’s disappointing, because I felt many of my classmates had the same curiosity in learning more about these apps as well. I just couldn’t do it.

Sooooo…. back to the drawing board I came. And this time, I had a little better understanding of what media literacy meant. I thought long and hard about an area of ed tech that I was interested in but knew nothing about. I’m generally an adventurous person, so I knew it had to be something that would allow my creativity to be incorporated, as well as the ability to drift off into a few different directions. Alas, CODING!!! I have been curious about coding for a really long time, but just haven’t had the time, nor reason to delve into what it really is. So, I decided to take the plunge into this digital area, knowing that I knew nothing about it, but that there was a plethora to learn….

So, it began. I really wanted to just spread my wings and navigate around, but I didn’t really know where to start. So, I started with a google search. I looked up terms such as “Top educational Coding Apps for kids”, “how to code”, “coding for dummies”, “coding for idiots”…. and I landed on a great link to a list of wonderful coding Apps for kids. The list was long and I scratched a few of the top apps down on a paper and downloaded them (freely and with ease this time) onto my iPad.

When I woke up the next day, I decided that maybe a coding club at the school would tie in my learning, with student inquiry, and then also some tech based learning (which I feel should be a focus at the new P3 school that I am working at). Bingo… I had a plan.

But then, this thought came into my head. What would the blind leading the blind in coding result in? hmmmm The more I thought about it, I figured the result would be something like this analogy.

So, I reconsidered this plan. Next, I decided that maybe what would be a better plan, would be to have an inquiry based coding club that I could learn from, that would also foster student leadership, and creativity. I would email out a request for the coding keeners in our school, and have them teach me the best parts of coding, while also spreading their wings to code something that interested them. We had access to a few programs, as well as computers, and I figured we were a go. I emailed out the request and to my delight, I received the perfect amount of interest from staff. Not only that, but I had some amazing educators willing to jump onboard with me to help in any way that I needed. AWESOME! I put together little invites and invited 9 super sleuth coders to a “special coders meeting”. And there we were. Now, this coding club plan seemed a bit better than just allowing anyone to come to the coder meeting, since I really had no idea still at this point.

This club has been extremely beneficial to me, and I believe that the students have enjoyed it too. The only problem with this club, is that my lack of knowledge means that the students are really driving their projects and coding adventures… and I don’t really have a ton to offer them, as they still know more than me. But, I am learning a ton!

Check out a few of the awesome little projects that these guys have been making!

So now, this coding club is still underway and it is going well, but it seems to me that this analogy is accurate of what is happening in this coding club at this time.

So, this is causing me even further reflection… I needed to take this plunge to begin learning… and learn I have. However, my thoughts into the future are this…. What would help these kiddos to learn even further? The answer is this. If I were more media literate in Coding. Which I am NOT. So, my focus for the remainder of this project has shifted a bit again. When I consider what would make the best coding experience for my students and I, it would be if I were absolutely coding literate, along with my super sleuth coding club students. Then we would both have some experience to guide us, and I would be better able to push them in the right direction. The result I would anticipate to be something more like this analogy. No longer would the blind be leading the blind, nor the seeing leading the blind, but rather the seeing working along with the seeing to create something creative, innovative and exciting. See this analogy:

So what does this mean? Well, this would mean that I spend even more time truly understanding the world of coding, so that I am literate, and able to push my coding club to learn even more. This has redirected my final product of this journey to be a series of mini lessons for teachers, that would help them to go from where I was, to being coder literate…. and in a place where they could knowledgeably begin coding with confidence.

So, I have taken to doing some research of my own. I have watched a few more youtube videos, and have downloaded the book Scratch Kids for Dummies to help me come up with the simple basics that every educator should take the time to comprehend before diving into Coding. Here are a few of the videos that I have been watching to get a better handle on becoming coding literate.

I have also spent substantial time trying to learn from my colleague Kelsie Lenihan’s coding project videos. Hats off to you my friend, you’ve done amazing with mastering Python!!!!

And, that is where I currently am. I am taking the time to make a web of lesson ideas that I feel are important for educators… I’m organizing and refining them to get the perfect fit for what I want to do with them and how I want these lessons to look.

I am struggling to choose just one specific app that I would like to revolve these lessons around. Thanks to my awesome coders, I have explored LitBot, Scratch, Scratch Jr., and Tynker. Now, Scratch Jr. is on all of the school board iPads by default. This is making me consider that this would be a useful app to base my lessons off of. However, I really like the format of Tynker and a teacher’s ability to set up a Tynker class roster… So I am leaning toward using this for my lessons. Either way, there isn’t too much that would change as the general coding lessons would not be Program specific. Soon, that brings us to here. Sharing my journey so far. My hands are numb from typing, and I have some work to do to take some screen shots of things I want to insert into this blog post before I can post it…

However, if you are one of less than 1% that actually reads this far into my project journey, I will likely have the videos and screen shots uploaded to this website (as I plan to do that before I post this blog). So, IF you read this far, go ahead and leave me a comment below. I would love to get your feedback on this journey as well as any recommendations that you might have in guiding me to the finale! The finale, I might add, will be the end of my graduate studies road. This is class 10 for me, and I am so happy to be finishing it off in an area that I am truly passionate about!

Thanks for sharing this journey with me and taking the time to read what I have been up to! 🙂

Digitally WHA HUH??? Just…..WHY?

Digital Literacy. Love it? Fear it? Point blank, it doesn’t really matter. The digital world is here to stay. As our amazing content catalyst authors from last week pointed out, digital literacy is the new literacy…. and folks…. It’s here to stay.

This past week, I got a little twisty turvy in excitement for ALMOST being a graduate, and I tied into my blog, a couple of the amazing content catalysts of Dani Hackle and Luke Braun. In effort to “NOT” repeat myself, I’d like to take a slightly different twist on things this week (forgive me for entertaining you in advance).

I’d like to bring up this article.

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I came across it last night as another educator had posted it, stating “I totally agree with this, I don’t think that cellphones need to be in the hands of any elementary students, if someone needs to get ahold of them they can phone the school! And if they need technology for an assignment they should be using what is provided by the school”. As a whole, are we missing the boat? I read the article and then…..

You get the point…. My husband however….still needs some work at getting this. Sigh.

So onto the theme of this week’s blog topic. Digital Literacy. What is it? Media literacy is “the knowledge, skills, and competencies required in order to use and interpret media”. Literacy, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is ” the ability to read and write”. Therefore, one might conclude that literacy in a digital world is the ability to read and write using the knowledge, skills and competencies required in order to function in the real and/ or digital world.

This causes me to wonder how we as educators can consider taking a stance to forbid outside device usage in a school, which, as we know, is intended to be, a place of learning. While I will absolutely agree that we have kids running wild using their devices without proper guidance, I still don’t believe that forbidding them is the answer. Clearly, we still have work to do.

If we are to forbid children from bringing their devices to school, perhaps, we should instead, spend more time educating our educators on how to support students to use devices appropriately within society, instead. The reality is that many of us are guilty of using technology mindlessly and in time consuming, wasteful ways. So how can we be role models to stop this time-consuming warp zone? Well, as Erin Wiley stated in her content catalyst, “our first line of defense is an educated citizen, someone who understands how the mediated world works.” (Kamerer, 2013). So what does this mean? It means we need to start taking action. We need to teach students what good usage looks like. We model this. We correct them when they make wrong choices and have discussions about wrong doings. This past week’s Brain Pop and TED Talk by Andrea Quijada have offered up some practical suggestions.

So, what do we do? We engage in digital existence in schools. We engage in real conversations about the whats, why, and how comes of digital engagement…. and we work alongside our students, picking them up when they make mistakes, educating them so they make less of them, and holding their hands as they explore a world that can be a scary one. This is how we succeed. Closing the door before it opens, only perpetuates the terrifying reality that today’s humans as a whole, need guidance in existing in an ever-growing, ever-changing digital world.

Taking a step to becoming digitally literate is the first step.

Building A Community of Digital Citizens

In my role as a first grade teacher, I often reflect on my lessons and try to make sure that I am using best practices. This week, we were challenged to consider what the school and teacher’s role is in creating digital citizens.

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When I think of digital citizenship, I often visualize the middle years students. They are often the ones that have cellphones in an elementary school, and they are often the ones we hear of making choices that have the dreaded repercussions.

This week has reminded me how important it is for me to consider how my current practices with the littles, can have an impact on how they interact with technology as they grow. Of course, there are many factors that play into this equation, but my technological role as a first grade teacher is possibly more important than I give credit to.

Being part of a new school this year, has been an exciting but challenging endeavor. There is so much more that needs careful consideration, when you are setting routines, building a school culture, and developing the school to be what a staff and community envisions. I am thrilled to be part of all of this! However, combine this with 3 grad courses over two semesters, 2 children 5 years and under, and everything else that comes with this, there isn’t much time left for the “extras”. Don’t get me wrong, I give my ALL, all day, every day…. but I could easily tack on 5 extra hours each day, to make time for creating what I had envisioned before this year started.

The incorporation of digital citizenship is an area that I feel I can always dive deeper into. Through careful reflection, I think that my colleagues and I are guiding our students through the daily practices that we surround ourselves with. But I don’t always feel like I am doing ENOUGH.

When I think about my interactions with technology in my class, it currently involves using SeeSaw to share student learning, Tweeting, using Raz-Kids, the interactive whiteboard, iPads, inquiry based Coding Club, GreenScreens…. hey, wait a second…. maybe I AM doing this??!!!! There is a lot of digital interaction in my class, for a variety of purposes… and these purposes, are definitely growing my students into digital citizens. Maybe what is missing, is the digital teaching with intention. Proactive consideration, that helps me to reflect on how utilizing these practices can help my students to become independent, critical, citizens that are able to interact with the digital world safely and with confidence.

Dani Hackle‘s content catalyst explains the need for students to have the skills to be responsible, safe and literate in the spaces that we are putting them in. This is key. We must give students the necessary coping mechanisms to be successful when they are in the virtual world. We cannot just allow them entry and assume they will be “fine”. After all, we wouldn’t give our kids keys to a vehicle and say “you can learn while you drive”. Would we?

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Luke Braun‘s content catalyst was also very informative. He mentions that teachers should not be afraid to tell students that they don’t know the answer. But rather, he encourages teachers to work alongside students to find out how they can find the answer. Jacque‘s content catalyst furthered this idea by also suggesting that we continuously and critically think about what we are reading, and consuming with our online interactions. We need to ask ourselves what lifestyles, values, and points of views are being represented in the advertisements, videos, and posts that we read online.

Our course readings this week also provided some great food for thought. The Brain Pop video encouraged us to ask the following questions when interacting with social media:

  1. What is the message of this piece of media?
  2. What biases might they hold?
  3. What affect might they hope to have?

By stopping to consider the context that something is coming from, we might better be able to deconstruct and hidden messages that are coming along with it. We have to remember that social media is flooded with sensationalist stories. In order to get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, we might just have to do like Shaun T says and “DIG DEEPER”. As Andrea Quijada states, “when students learn to deconstruct media, they learn a super power”. This is something that I look forward to doing a better job of moving forward, both in my personal life, but also alongside my students when I am leading them in learning.

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So…. now let’s look at being digitally literate from a teacher perspective. Recently, our class was fortunate to have Patrick Maze visit in our zoom room. He took the time to visit with us to remind us of our responsibilities online as teachers. He offered many great pieces of advice. My take aways were this:

  • teachers will always be held to a higher standard online. Be ready for this when you sign up for this job.
  • you cannot separate your personal and professional lives online… educate yourself about what this looks like, how it works, and what it means to you!
  • Always consider the risk versus the reward. Ask yourself if your post is going to change anything long term…. or is it going to get you fired?

Patrick also spoke about how the STF is working to help teachers to educate themselves with the digital world. He shared this document with us, explaining that it was filled with many helpful tips that we can use as teachers in guiding a safe practice in and outside of the school.

This was a heavy week for a lot of deeper thinking about what digital literacy means, how we go about creating it, and what our roles are as educators in a digital world. I hope that everyone else found some great take aways for their personal and professional growth, just like I did!

Thanks for tuning in!

Because They Simply Can’t Do It Without Us….

Times are changing. They have always been changing. But now, more than ever, we are experiencing the impact of changes in the digital world. . . and the reality that this has on our youth is enormous.

Like Brittany, I remember the good old days when we were kids, and the excitement you could find in getting invited over to someone’s house, to really get to know them. I remember looking at the posters on my older cousins walls, and hearing them rewind the tapes as they listened to Spin Doctors over and over and over…. and It. Was. Thrilling!  Fast forward to today though, and this thrill has changed. With the click of a button, a person can get to know anyone, anywhere… The face to face interactions in getting to know others has been replaced with an interactive screen. It is amazing, spooky, and concerning all at once.

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Children today, are interacting with technology at younger ages than one might expect.

Mike Ribble said it best when he explained that kids today, are coming to school having interacted with technology, but whether they have a knowledge of how to use it appropriately or not is another question. Clearly, there is a need for teaching digital citizenship starting at a very young age. This has changed so much since when I was a kid hitting up the tech savvy black and white Gameboys with my sisters.

The need for digital citizenship education became apparent to my study buddy Bree Arguin and I this summer when we began interacting with the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools document. Together, we took the time to look at the amazing continuums in this document, that clearly laid out what youth today NEED to know, at different grades. We felt that it was important to make this document even more live by developing an interactive continuum for teachers to use that would help them to know what to actually teach at different grade levels… so we invented THIS!! Check it out!

Our Interactive Digital Citizenship Continuum

Over the past 5 years, it has become evident to me that we need to help students to create their digital footprint. This needs to be done in a way that would make students proud as they mature and grow into young adults.

Perhaps Jocelyn Carr said it best when she began looking at digital footprints as digital tattoos. I too see a digital footprint as something permanent like a tattoo. I remember being 16 and thinking that a tattoo on my big toe would be a good idea… I was 16!!! Thankfully my mother threatened to disown me, and I made the wiser decision to stay a blank canvas. Digital tattoos are no different, the only difference is that we do let children, at much younger ages, drive the vehicle that navigates their digital footprints…. and we don’t seem to worry about the permanence of their actions. Something seems wrong with this… It is essential that we support our youth as they embark on developing a digital footprint, so that it is reflective of the image they want to create long term, rather than creating a digital tattoo that cannot be erased years down the road.

Mobile learning coach, Jennifer Scheffer goes as far as to help her students create LinkedIn profiles so that by the time that they finish their senior year, they understand and have the digital tools to market themselves so that they may craft a professional and personal profile that will help them achieve their dream jobs. To me, this couldn’t be a better step in the right direction. When we look at the sad realities of students taking their lives as a result of poor choices online, and other depressing realities that result from one wrong click of a button, Scheffer appears to be headed in the right direction.

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As we move into the future, I think that we are being called to action, to help youth from the youngest ages to recognize their digital identity. To me, this identity is as important as understanding one’s culture or ethnicity. Without understanding how one’s choices will impact themselves online and in the face to face life, beyond the screen, we cannot really guide our youth safely. As Megan shared in her Content Catalyst, we must be aware of the policies and regulations that lie within the apps we use, because if Apps such as SnapChat suddenly changed their terms of usage, we want to rest assured that a photo we never thought twice about before sending, does not become our next biggest nightmare.