Course Profile: A high school prep course for youth entering the trades

I think the reason why I keep coming back to Alec’s courses is because his lessons are relevant to what I do in my classroom. When he gives a project I can see where it fits in my class, and how it will be beneficial for my students. This is important because I want classes that will push me as a teacher and make my classes better.

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I was excited when we received the Online/Blended Course Prototype Development because I had just been asked to present Sask. Youth Apprenticeship (SYA) to the Welding and Advanced Construction class. I find that Sask. Youth Apprenticeship (SYA) is important for all students to know about. We often push university on students without really preparing them for other routes.  As most teachers, I was apprehensive about having another interruption and being away from my class, but I know that I can do a good job of the SYA presentation because I am passionate about it, and I think I explain SYA in a way that allows students to understand.

When Alec explain the assignment, SYA came to mind, but then I started to think about how there is not enough time in my ELA class to prepare my students for graduation in general. They still have so many questions. My class was created to prepare students for the workforce, but students still did not understand things like what apprenticeship was, how to apply for school, they were not demonstrating employable behaviour. They didn’t know where to go to apply for jobs, they didn’t have a proper resume, and didn’t know how to write a proper email. I don’t fault my students. Some of the knowledge (like what Sask. Poly is), and basic skills fall by the wayside in high school. We have so many other outcomes to reach that it is hard to fit in these real life lessons.

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I started to think about having a place for students to go where they could work on this on their own… when they were caught up in my class, or wanted to do homework… I know farfetched. More importantly, I thought about how cool it would for all teachers and students in my school to be able to access this. The information is beneficial for more than just my students… so that is what I am going to do!

Course profile:

Overview and description of the course:

My course will essentially be a prep course for high school students entering the trades. In my course students will investigate and learn about Skills, Apprenticeship, Graduation Prep, Career Pathing, Certifications, Skills Saskatchewan/ Canada, Workplace Health, Sask. Youth Apprenticeship, and Portfolios.

Many high schools focus on university. My objective will be to prepare students to go into the trades. Make them aware of their rights and responsibilities, and ensure they do the correct steps to prepare them for their lives after high school. Students will also gain many certificates that will help them in the future and obtain Sask. Youth Apprenticeship.

Target student population and demographics (age, grade, etc.):

My students are in grade 11 and 12 and attend Campus Regina Public. They range from 15-18 years old. CRP is a school focused on careers. We have over 15 programs that prepare students for the workforce. Students range in demographics, but usually have access to technology, if not, students can use the technology within the school. This course would be useful for anyone entering the trades.

 Course format (blended/online, synchronous/asynchronous, etc.):

The goal for this course is to create an asynchronous class so if the students do not have access to CRP, they can still learn and earn the benefits of the course.  My true intention, and my implementation will be blended learning. I will primarily use online tools so it could reach all students all over the school. Ideally, teachers would take the information and apply it to their course; using blended learning to instruct, and use my course to support them.

Course toolset (e.g. platform as well as instructional, communication, and assessment tools):

My platform will be Google Classroom. I have some experience using it, but have recently (the start of this class) researched how to use it to it’s full potential. I like that Google Classroom allows you to assess online (formative and summative), hand back work and how it stores everything in one place. This way students have one place to go to find information and assignments.

There will be instructional videos where students will watch combined with assignments and activities to ensure learning and understanding.

I will also use Edpuzzle for students to watch videos and activities to check for understanding.

I will investigate how to use Zoom and screen casting tools. I will communicate with students through classroom, on specific assignments or have the students come to me in person if they attend Campus Regina Public.

Course content and learning objectives:

My course will be divided into 9 Modules: Skills, Apprenticeship, Graduation Prep, Career Pathing, Certifications, Skills Saskatchewan/ Canada, Workplace Health, Sask. Youth Apprenticeship, and Portfolio. Each will Module will have lessons designed for online and blended learning.

Many of the lessons and assessment objectives can be found in the ELA 20/ A30/ B30 curriculum. It is a relevant and creative way to meet outcomes and indicators.

Students will also gain knowledge about employable skills, apprenticeship, graduation prep, workplace health.

Students will earn the benefits of Sask. Youth Apprenticeship.

Students can complete over 10 certifications to help them get into the trades.

Assessment strategies:

Formative and Summative Assessment can be completed on Google Classroom. Rubrics and expectations will be provided to each student.

Some activities within Sask. Youth apprenticeship will involve online quizzes.

Considerations for common concerns (e.g. low bandwidth, student access to devices, EAL learners, attendance concerns, cultural considerations, socioeconomic status):

My concerns are that students will not understand the importance of this course without some teacher instruction. It is important they understand the terms and their rights once they enter the workforce. I think by applying the information to their chosen career will make it more relatable and understandable. Students must also have access to the internet and some sort of technological device (computer or phone) in order to complete the course.

Some learners will need subtitles, and a combination of instruction and visuals in order to make the information useful.

Rationale for choices made in the design of the course prototype:

Most of my students have access to technology. Once they know about the benefits of SYA, and the course, students will see the benefits of completing the course.

Google Classroom was a good choice for my school as all RPS students have access to it and are somewhat familiar with the platform.

I want my students to understand the importance of the content and complete it in order to be prepared for their futures.

Many of my students work at a different pace. By having lessons asynchronous, I can allow students to work on the course when they have time.

Many of the teachers in my school do not find time to teach their students about their options regarding the trades.  By providing them with a course I am making their lives easier, and allowing their students to benefit.

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Obviously I have some tweaking to do. I need to investigate good tools to make quality videos. I want to make this course as interactive as possible in order to keep students engaged. I will need to fine tune these ideas in the next couple of weeks.

If you have any good websites/ tools/ apps that you use, please let me know! Any advice is welcome and appreciated!

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Technology brings success to my classroom! … And maybe some challenges.

As a young (okay, kind of young) teacher I think I have always incorporated technology into my classroom. We were taught in university that technology was the way to engage students.  In the online text Teaching In a Digital world, Chapter 9: The continuum of technology-based learning They explain blended learning as

  • technology-enhanced learning, or technology used as classroom aids; a typical example would be the use of Powerpoint slides and/or clickers;
  • the use of a learning management system to support classroom teaching, for storing learning materials, set readings and perhaps online discussion;
  • the use of lecture capture for flipped classrooms;

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In my class, I think I hit those bullet points and I try to incorperate as many relevant videos and ways to puttechnology into assignments as much as I can. I often find it useful to have a few shorter videos, combined with questions in between to get my point across. This way it is a mixture of instruction and discussion from me, an expert from a medium they love (YouTube) and their own thoughts and feelings. In the text book, they explain that “Means et al. attributed the slightly better performance of blended learning to students spending more time on task” but my immediate thought was does that mean they are interested?

When I do this type of lesson it is usually one of the better days in a grade 11 and 12 ELA classroom. I find that I can evoke emotion through discussion, I engage them with the videos, and then usually force them to do the questions. But even thinking back to my last lesson on Waymo (Google’s Driverless Car) I had the most success with that assignment in that most of my students handed the assignment in, we had lengthy discussions, and my favourite part… opinions!


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I have taken two other classes from Alec and each time have tried to implement his teachings into my class. The first semester, I fully embraced Google Classroom. I was very hesitant and honestly struggled a bit. At first, it was annoying for me to figure out how to post things. I had so many sections of ELA, and it seemed redundant to have to post in so many places… Then I saw the feature to copy it to multiple classes. I didn’t like that I didn’t have a paper copy of assignments to make edits on, so I found editing harder….But then I learnt how to comment and highlight. Lastly, I didn’t like that their parents didn’t have physical evidence of their work so they could help them… Then I realized I could add them as guardians and they could get a weekly memo about my class, automatically, without me doing anything.

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I feel like Google Classroom has changed my classroom for the better. I purely use it as a management tool. I can post with attachments, whether they are an assignment, a video, or a resource. Students can make a copy of the assignment and add their answers right on document, they can hand the assignment into me on Google Classroom, and from there I can edit their work and send it back for edits and improvements. This has been a great tool for me to use for Formative Assessment. I am able to work w

ith students on their writing and show them how to fix it instead of rewriting their whole answer on paper, or having them take a glance at all my hard work, only to be put in the back of their binder without the improvements. It has also allowed me to keep in touch with parents. There is some accountability on them, but mostly the students. They don’t have anymore excuses about not handing things in, or not getting an assignment. It can be accessed anywhere which is perfect.

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At the same time, I was learning about Blogging and I was very excited. I was having fun with learning the new tools, but having a hard time motivating my students. I thought if I could teach them how to do their assignments online, they could add pictures of vehicles and write about the fun things they were reading about and watching. Instead it was an uphill battle. My students hated all of it. I think I had one student actually enjoy it, but gave up after a bit. I had so many comments about wanting to read and write about cars, but not wanting to find pictures and learn about attributions. My students honestly slowed down and seemed less engaged in my class. I think with blogging it was a case of reading my audience. My students are hands on learners. They love to work on vehicles and solve problems physically. Most of them hate reading and writing, so adding another element did not bode well for me.

MyBlueprint is another way I have implemented technology with my class. There we complete goals, learn about the trades, but most importantly, we create a portfolio of their learning in Auto. Students are able to post pictures of work they have done, make goals related to employable skills and essentially set up a portfolio to show future employers. I like the idea of MyBlueprint because it is accessed by my students homeroom teachers who can see what their students are up to. Eventually I would like to put Sask. Youth Apprenticeship on MyBlueprint to make it easier for students to access and learn about.

In Teaching In a Digital world, Chapter 9: The continuum of technology-based learning they say that “blended learning, should be deliberately introduced and gradually increased as students work through a program, so by the time they graduate, they have the skills to continue to learn independently – a critical skill for the digital age.” I feel like I would be doing my students a disservice by not making them do these types of activities. Plus, you can’t ignore the evidence. In the article The Myth about No Significant Difference They describe “Learning is an active process. In fact, the more active the learning is, the more likely the student is to learn. Simulations allow students to learn by doing. Visualizations enable students to see information that may have been hidden in tables of numbers. Students use technology as a key enabler in problem-based learning, searching for background information, conferring with team members, and using the tools of the profession to develop solutions.” I preach all the time that my class prepares students for the future. I want them to be ready to work when the time comes. I need to implement this type of learning so I can make productive members of society.

I think this semester in Alec’s class will be great because I will be exploring sites that allow me to create whole units online. Make interactive lessons that can be accessed anywhere. Also, my lessons possibly recorded so students can access information (flipped learning… I just learnt this term). I feel like it will be Google Classroom on steroids. I am really excited to see how I can take my class and make it more interactive and interesting for my students.

Good things come in threes!

Hello!

My name is Amy Ranford and I am a grade 11 and 12 teacher with Regina Public Schools. I teach at Campus Regina Public which is one of my favourite places. I teach in a career oriented school. Follow us on Instagram @crp_campusreginapublic

My class focuses on Auto Mechanics. We not only prepare our students for their chosen career, but also how to be employable. CRP has industry partners who help us train our students in real life situations which helps them gain employment. You can read more about me and my school in my very first blog post for Alec.

Over the last few semesters I have become so much more comfortable with technology.  Every time I have taken Alec’s class I have not only been successful, but I have always learned something useful for the classroom, more importantly, the classmates are always willing to help each other and I guess those are the reasons so many people take his classes over and over again!

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I can genuinely say I am excited to be part of this class. Technology is taking over the world, and as I get older, I realize that my students know way more than I do.


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This class is a way to collaborate with fellow teachers, get outside perspectives and try out new tools in order to engage students. The other thing I love is that technology can also make my job easier. I have implemented many tools I have explored in Alec’s classes like Google classroom, and I never look back. Google Classroom has allowed me to post assignments, edit assignments and even communicate with students. Through this class I have also learned skills like blogging where I can import Giphys and link to other websites. Most importantly, I have learned about internet safety and health which has helped me become a better teacher to my students.

This semester, three goals I have for this semester are:

  1. Learn a new tool for creating online videos. I have previously used PowToon and loved it, but it is time to expand my knowledge.
  2. I would like to make Twitter a part of my daily life. I have made this a goal before, but I need to be more active, find more useful educators and maybe some funny comedians to make Twitter more useful and engaging. You can follow me! @amy_ranford
  3.  I want to create resources that are not only good for me, but will help other teachers as well I have a couple of ideas about issues. I see in my own school division. I would like to create online presentations that will help other teachers help students with their transition from high school to post secondary or the work force.

I feel like I have never been busier. I am currently working two full-time jobs, I will be helping my school organize Skills Canada, the CRP Car Show and I would like to rock this class. I have a two-year old niece that I am obsessed with and would like to go on a trip this winter! The only reason I feel like I can do this is because of the support Alec and the classmates have given me in the past.

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I feel like I am still new to the world of online tools, but I am more than willing to help people with the things I do know, so please feel free to ask me any questions. I look forward to this semester and seeing everyone’s Prototypes!

 

 

Summary of Learning EC&I 830

I cannot believe that this semester is over!

I had such a great semester in EC&I 830. I did not really know how Alec’s class would be different from 832, but honestly, it was a whole new ball game.

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The idea of debates was so engaging that I had a hard time not thinking about the topics all week long. I was very interested in the fact that we were forced to research both sides of the topic whether we agreed or not because most classes are spoon fed to you. Although there is usually room for discussion, it is easy to tell the objective of a class.

By allowing us, the students, to research what we wanted, what meant something to us, it allowed us to dive into the information in a relevant and very interesting way. I loved the fact that I was forced to think about the other side and formulate an opinion, whether I was on one side, or in the middle.

Thanks to everyone involved this semester. I had such a blast. I am sure I will see you again in one of Alec’s classes. Have a great summer and I hope you enjoy my Summary of Learning for EC&I 830.

Technological Equity

To be honest, I did not know what to expect from this weeks debate: Technology is a force for equity in society.

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I had one immediate thought…. when everyone has technology, it can be a force of equity, but I quickly learned there were so many more details to this issue.

When the debate started, the agree side, Jen, Dawn, and Sapna presented three main points:

Technology removes barriers- they explained that technology can act like a bridge for learning, students can have a voice, and technology has features like assistive technology that help students who have issues reading and writing.


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Technology connects the world- the agree group explained that most people have access to technology and therefore it is the perfect tool to connect the world. It also provides fairness in regards to gender, socioeconomic status and ethnic background.

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Technology is accessible and can be affordable.


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A large part of the agree’s debate was the idea of the digital divide. The group wanted to ensure that the audience understood that this is an issue, but technology is not to blame. The divide comes from the corporate sector who decides the price of technology. Technology should be accessible to everyone because it has become essential to live.

Another great point made by the debaters was that online classes have opened the doors to many people. In the video What We’re Learning from Online Education, Daphne Koller explains that research has found that lecture based classes place half the class above average, and half the class below. When students were given personal tutors, 98% of the students were above average. Koller is acknowledging  that it is financially impossible to provide every student with a personal tutor, but we can afford to give everyone access to technology. Technology has many benefits such as personalized learning… and it doesn’t get tired of marking like a teacher.

This idea is also reiterated in the article How OER Is Boosting School Performance and Equity From the Suburbs to the Arctic: where they explain that OER, which is freely available high quality materials that can be downloaded and edited to support teaching and learning, has opened up so many worlds to students in the Arctic who do not have access to all of the classes they might need to be successful.

The agree group did a great job of explaining the benefits of social media, but was immediately challenged by Amy S. and Rakan. They explained that there are many reasons why technology is not a force for equity in society. Their four main points were:

Gender- the disagree side stated that the internet is a place where women encounter a lot of sexual harassment and they are often abused online. Technology perpetuates men’s dominance whether we notice it or not; for example: how most voices on recognition sotware are female, giving the idea that women are meant to be ordered around. Furthermore, most graduates going into the technology field are men.

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Racial-The second reason why technology does not promote equity is because AI has been found to be racist. The group quickly points out that humans are racist, not AI, but that AI is learning racism from humans.  Even the facial recognition software has been found to be racist. Darker skin is hard to recognize which is clearly racism.

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    1.  Technology and colonialism- In some places, free internet is available, but only certain sites are shown. This is seen as sites like Facebook controlling what information is put out there.
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      Inequality was the last point raised by the disagree group. They explain that no matter the country, English is the primary language seen and heard on the internet. Also, in Canada, only 62% of families with lower-income have access to technology. This directly affects them because without practise using these tools it is harder for them to get hired for jobs in this ever growing field.

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I was very interested in the Artificial Intelligence statistics. I did not know that the AI programs had so many issues regarding race. The article AI programs exhibit racial and gender biases, research reveals that AI is learning our racism.  No only that, but “the words “female” and “woman” were more closely associated with arts and humanities occupations and with the home, while “male” and “man” were closer to maths and engineering professions.” These facts are really disturbing and whether it be the testing pool or not, it should be the responsibility of the companies to fix this issue.

Another great point brought up this week was Regina Public School’s decision to reallocate technology last year. My school was directly affected by this, and to be honest, I was a little mad about it. I understood that they did it to be more fair, but I never really thought about the reasons before this weeks debate. During the debate it became clear that some schools have more technology than others. By reorganizing the computers/ laptops and tablets, they were trying to create a smaller divide. After tonight’s debate, I found myself, for the first time, sympathizing with the decision.

As in most of these debates, I found it hard to choose a side. It was the first week that I was actually unsure of what side I would pick at the beginning. I chose to go with agree because I honestly believe that technology has the ability to create opportunities for people including learning, reaching out and giving them a voice. But I have to admit that there are many inequalities with technology, even in Canada. The disagree group was so close to changing my mind. Their informationw was explained well and it really made me think about the divide that technology can create between people.

I really think we have a lot of work in order to ensure technology creates equity throughout the world, but  we cannot ignore that it has advanced the world, and opened up so many doors.

Is social media ruining childhood?!… a GREAT debate.

This week’s debate topic was the one I was most excited for.

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I think I was the most excited because I truly believe that social media has an impact on lives, not just during childhood, but at every age. Don’t get me wrong, I love my social media. If I look at my cell phone’s homepage right now, I have: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Pinterest, and my Google Classroom. ALL ON MY HOMEPAGE. They are just a click away anytime I open my phone, and most of the time I find myself checking them. I think there  can be so many negatives to social media. I think people are obsessed with showing how “great” their lives are, people worry about the amount of likes or views they get, how many followers they have,  and getting the”right”picture. It is exhausting.


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When I think about my childhood, I really love the idea that I was outside so much. I would either be at a campsite with my family, or at the park with my friends. I was out in the community, interacting, until probably grade 9. Then it started to slow down. At this point, if I wasn’t at a house hanging out, I would be driving around with my friends, but there still wasn’t too much social media use.


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Now when I think about my students, who are in grade 11 and 12, their whole life is surrounded by social media. I have to remind them, and sometimes fight with them to get off their social media apps. They feel a constant need to be connected to their friends. They do not think it is rude to tell me to “hold on, while the send this quick” and they can’t seem to pry themselves away, even to meet a deadline.

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Before this debate, I wondered if their constant technology use (mainly social media) was leading to the decrease in productivity. Are they so accustomed to sitting there, surfing the net (doing nothing) that they find it hard to complete anything else, such as assignments? I also wondered if it was having an effect on their emotional state. Many of my students do not cope well, cannot understand how to improve, or do not have the motivation to do so.

I was very interested to see what research both sides could come up with, and if I could be swayed.

Melinda, Alyssa and Lori came in hard with some great issues regarding mental health, sleep issues and digital health in general. I was very interested in their point about Facebook depression. They explained that this could occur in adolescences who used social media too much. When I read the article  The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families It was explained that “researchers have proposed a new phenomenon called “Facebook depression,” defined as depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression.” It is disturbing to think that some depression may be triggered by social media use. Is there a correlation between maybe seeing someones perfect life compared to yours, or just the amount of media we take in daily? The article also explains that “According to a recent poll, 22% of teenagers log on to their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day, and more than half of adolescents log on to a social media site more than once a day.2 Seventy-five percent of teenagers now own cell phones, and 25% use them for social media, 54% use them for texting, and 24% use them for instant messaging.3 Thus, a large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cell phones.” I already explained that I check my social media apps almost every time I open my phone. I do not know if I would be able to be as connected as my students are. They have a million more friends that are on their phones just as much as they are. The fact that they are so immersed is scary.

I  do worry about the negatives of social media. This particular article still defends the other side stating “Social media sites allow teens to accomplish online many of the tasks that are important to them offline: staying connected with friends and family, making new friends, sharing pictures, and exchanging ideas. Social media participation also can offer adolescents deeper benefits that extend into their view of self, community, and the world.” They point out that it is important to understand that it is not all bad, but my question still remains, is so much social media healthy?

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In their opening statement the agree group explained that students feel anxiety when they do not get enough likes, and that they thrive on the instant satisfaction that social media provides. One of my favorite parts of the debate was the example of tide pods. This was mind blowing for me. I never understood why people were completing the challenge but, as explained, the idea of risk taking behavior would get them likes; therefore it would make them feel good, like they belonged and that they were “cool.”

This was also reiterated in the article B.C. expert weighs in on why kids are eating Tide pods for fun.They explain that “An underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain that moderates social behaviour and decision making. Mix that with how quickly gratification can be gained on the internet – in the form of likes, shares and views – and it’s the perfect equation for a challenge that makes little sense but carries serious shock value to spread quickly.” The article goes onto explain how “Social media is simply a tool by which they can do this and gain gratification by other people. So it amplifies some of the effects of young people’s natural tendency towards risk but it’s not the actual cause of risky behaviour.” Young people just want to be accepted, that has been an issue in schools for years, now we have a tool that can receive likes from anyone, anywhere. When you think about wanting to be accepted, it is no surprise that social media is the “go to” for that feeling.

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One reason expressed, I never even thought about. In the article, Whatever Happened to Childhood? Rebecca Sweat explains how ” Children are under tremendous pressure to ‘be mature’ and to ‘grow up’ when they have not had the chance to develop emotional maturity. Children in the 8- to 12-year-old age bracket are becoming more like teenagers, leaning more and more toward teen styles, teen attitudes and teen behavior. It used to be that kids would have to go out of their way to find these sorts of materials, but now they just need to turn on their television or go to the Internet.” The fact that some children are overexposed to social media could be impacting how fast they group up. They are no longer experiencing childhood because they feel the need to be popular and look good at such a young age.


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This point was also supported in the article Kid Complicated: Childhood Isn’t What It Used To Be. They say that in “today’s children now live in three worlds: the real world, the imaginary world, and now, more increasingly, the virtual/mobile screen world. When used mindfully and sparingly, this third world can add a whole new dimension of creativity, education, and delight. But when used mindlessly or as a default, we run the risk of this new virtual world creeping into the time kids would have spent using their own imagination and creativity.”  But that great point was also backed up with “It’s easy to look back and say, “Gosh, things were so much better/easier/simpler when we were younger” or “Tech is ruining these kids’ lives” – but it’s time to change that thinking. Things are different for children growing up right now. They’ll be totally different again in another ten years.” and it was at this point in the debate that I started to see the good in social media.

To be honest, I was a little bothered that I fit into the article, Hey parents, stop romanticizing your 1970s summer so much. Although I was born far after the 70’s, I found myself in the same mindset. I just want children to be out playing, when in reality there are a lot of reasons why children might not be out so much. The article explains how “In contrast to our vision of the 70’s, parents today feel pressured to over-schedule their kids’ entire summer, with classes and activities galore. Worse, the story goes, we’re afraid to indulge those simple, iconic pleasures, like drinking from the hose or building a fort in the backyard.” They also explained that “Families now, are more fearful and would never allow a 9- or 10-year old to spend the day, unsupervised, at the pool. It’s tautological, she explains. Adults weren’t around as much in the 70’s, so they worried less; and they didn’t worry as much, so they were around less.” Both of these reasons are valid. I hear and think these reasons all the time. Maybe it is not so much our children’s fault, but the limitations and perimeters we put on them. Maybe we are forcing them to be on their devices more because we are so worried about them.

Erin, Brooke and Daniel argued that there were many positives to social media. They said that social media had the power to strengthen relationships through a sense of belonging, it could encourage them, inspire them and make them feel like they were not alone. This can all be accomplished by staying in touch with friends and finding people with similar interests. By participating in social media, the group explained that this increases confidence because they make new friends, and are able to find genuine support groups… who could argue with that? It also allows students to stay anonymous about their thought and feelings…. This is huge for teenagers. They hate expressing themselves, but feel good when they do it, so being on social media has helped many students have an outlet that they wouldn’t normally have.

This was also studied in the article 5 Reasons You Don’t Need to Worry About Kids and Social Media They explain that “As kids begin to use tools such as InstagramSnapchatTwitterand even YouTube in earnest, they’re learning the responsibility that comes with the power to broadcast to the world. You can help nurture the positive aspects by accepting how important social media is for kids and helping them find ways for it to add real value to their lives. It lets them do good. It strengthens friendships. It can offer a sense of belonging. It provides genuine support. It helps them express themselves.”

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Not only that, but it is allowing student to decide how they want to be portrayed, what they want to post which gives them a choice. It encourages learning and creates a better world because they are given a voice. The article How Social Media Helps Teens Cope With Anxiety, Depression, and Self-Harm  emphasizes that although there are stigmas to social media, “Most youth are interacting responsibly, productively, and in meaningful ways” For example “YouTube remains an innovative way for youth to reflect on their emotional and mental health against the backdrop of others who share similar experiences through the videos they upload.” While listening and reading, I found myself understanding their point of view. If students felt that they could be open, use social media for good and gain a voice, then maybe there was something important about what these children are going through and experiencing.

With ALL of this information, I wish there was an undecided choice because now that I have heard both sides, I do not know what the answer is. I still think there are so many negatives that come with social media, but there are so many positives as well.

What I have decided to do is teach digital citizenship every chance I get. Why? Well, because I feel like I need to embrace technology and social media. It is part of my student’s lives. I cannot just preach that it is bad, and expect them to listen… no teenager has really every listened no matter the topic, so why fight it? I should just teach them proper and improper use and they reasoning behind it. Allow them to learn about digital health and the impact social media can have, then allow them to lead their lives with the correct information. I really feel like this is the best option for me and my students because I can allow them to be aware and allow them to participate.

I want to thank both groups for presenting great research. I do not know where I fall, but I do know what I have to do in my classroom!

 

IS SCHOOL PUTTING YOUR KIDS AT RISK?!

This week was my debate!

And to be honest, I was really scared to be on the agree side of Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids. I have found nothing but success when using tools like Google Classroom, or the odd Facebook page. I think it is so easy to connect with parents because, like our students, they are always on social media! Along with that, I think it is great for schools to appeal to the interests of their students, and to be honest, they are mostly interested in their social media accounts. 


Photo Credit: Bovee and Thill Flickr via Compfight cc

Kari, Esther, and Shelly had great points in their debate. I think their biggest point is that social media and technology is the reality of our children. We need to stop telling students how to live, but instead empower them to make the correct decisions regarding technology. We want students who use their powers for good, we do not want passive students.  Teachers can have an influence.

Students often view the online world as less stressful because they are comfortable using it. We need to remember that our students are capable of using these tools. In the article, Exploring the Potential Benefits of Using Social Media in Education they explain that “Social media can also be used to promote students’ engagement. Students who often complain of being intimidated or bored in the classroom may feel comfortable to express their creativity and voice their opinion on a social network website. Another finding of this study is that social media applications foster collaboration as they allow students to work together to achieve a common goal.” It is our job to teach them how to use it correctly. As long as teachers are sharing with consideration, including the desires of the guardians we should be in the clear… right?

The disagree side also argued that it is the best way to stay connected. I think this was their best point. In the same article it “it has been shown that social media enhance communication and interaction among students and between teachers and students. Thanks to these platforms, instructors and students are now able to communicate with each other within or between classes.”  Many of my students find it hard to communicate in “real life”.  By using online tools we are allowing them to communicate in a space where they feel comfortable, and they have experience using.

Having guardians in the loop is another great benefit. It really is the best way to ensure student success in the higher grades. By keeping my guardians informed, I am creating a positive learning environment, and I cannot lie, it makes my job a lot easier. I give them a tool to use to see everything their student is expected to do. It keeps them informed and allows students to access assignments at their home schools, or home.  I also find myself sending a lot less emails with attached assignments!

The last point the group made was that we need to teach students how to create a positive digital footprint. Students are not born knowing what to post and what not to, what the rules are, or the ramifications. It is the teachers job (because if we don’t do it, there is no guarantee anyone else will) to help guide our students through this lesson. We need to create lifelong habits with our students. They explained that avoidance is unrealistic and we need to be proactive.

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The article Post no photos, leave no trace: Children’s digital footprint management strategies explains that “the last two years of primary school (when children are approximately 10–12 years of age) would be an appropriate time to educate tweens about good practices for the development of positive digital footprints” The go on to explain that “Children at this stage are clearly agentic and are demonstratively managing their digital footprint in strategic ways.”

The only negative the article mentioned was that “In some cases, however, it would appear that children’s agency to make decisions about their digital footprint is in tension with the actions of parents and carers who are posting about their children online, in ways that are not always seen as positive by children themselves.” Which was a large part of our debate!

I honestly think the disagree side did a great job of outlining the importance of using social media tools and essentially sharing students work and photos… and if I wasn’t forced to do research on the agree side, I wouldn’t be so educated about the risks!

I think the largest concern I have is privacy. We can have all the privacy rules we want. We can get all the forms signed, but when it comes down to it, once we post those pictures anyone can screenshot and share the photo. My mother does it all the time on Instagram with my niece. In the article Dangers Of Posting Pictures Online | Is Your Child At Risk? they really delve into the issue. They explain that “It does not matter how innocent the photo is, if your child has got what a predator is looking for, they will take that photo.” The really disturbing part, is what is going on with those photos after we have shared them, whose hands are on them, and what are they doing with them? It was stated over and over again that guardians really enjoy sharing photos and knowing what their student is doing on a daily basis, but we are not really thinking about the long term effects?

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This leads directly into the safety aspect of oversharing in our schools. The disagree group stated that using technology is less stressful, but although it may be less stressful for completing work, or parents staying in touch, the long term effects of social media use has not been studied. This generation is the first generation to be fully immersed in technology. Recent studies, such as Social Media Use, Social Media Stress, and Sleep: Examining Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Relationships in Adolescents have stated that there is a negative influence of Social Media on sleep. The bright screens cause arousal in our youth and they have trouble falling asleep. This has proven to lessen melatonin, a sleep agent in our body. This in turn, causes high levels of stress because the students are tired during the day. They become stressed because they cannot focus and have poor coping skills. The fact is that students use social media and technology in every aspect of their life, do schools need to be part of this as well? Are the positives really out weighing the negatives? The true answer: We don’t know yet! But maybe it is important to be mindful now so we do not have so many consequences later in life. 

Photo Credit: tengenphoto Flickr via Compfight cc

Another important questions debated tonight was if the use of technology in our classrooms even effective? Social media for learning: A mixed methods study on high school students’ technology affordances and perspectives found that only 23% [of students] think social media helps them learn, 22% think its meaningful, and 13%  believes it deepens understanding. With such low numbers are teachers ignoring the facts and doing what they think is best for students?

Often times, teachers are unfamiliar with technology and can hinder students learning because they are not using it properly, or the sites they are using are outdated. The worst is when the school board blocks a website we need. I think a large argument is also that technology is often a distraction. No matter how hard I preach, I catch my students using their cell phones are laptops inappropriately. They are either chatting with friends, watching videos or playing games.

I remember being young and that I hated when my parents or teachers would compliment me. In the article Dangers Of Posting Pictures Online | Is Your Child At Risk? More than 1 in 4 children admit to feeling worried, embarrassed, or anxious when their parents post photos of them on social media. As a youth, I wasn’t prepared to hear any compliments because I did not believe them. The idea that my successes would be posted online would be so embarrassing. Even if I was okay with my photo being posted for the world to see, I think about the competition that this could create in a class. If you are celebrating some students,  but not others, this could be seen as unfair and damaging. I think a huge component of the agree side was that we are creating student’s digital footprint. We are choosing what it looks like, instead of them having a choice. We need to pick a side, either have students empowered and active, or for safety reasons, leave it in the hands of teachers.

Another great topic that was discussed tonight was the idea of consent. Do students really understand what they are giving consent to? I think some of my students pay attention, but many click boxes and sign forms without really taking the time to read and understand. I even think about their parents and how little some of them understand about technology. Are they aware of the dangers of posting or consenting?

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One thing that annoys me is the constant changing of rules regarding sharing. I feel like I will learn one thing, and someone will tell me it is changing. I do understand that some of it is safety, but things like sharing assignments should not be an issue. If the board supports using Google Docs, then we should be able to use it freely. Instead, earlier this year, we were told our students could no longer share assignments through email because their names were attached. I think many teachers revert back to old ways when so many changes are being implemented. It would be nice if new policies and databases were researched effectively and properly by experts.

The best part of tonight’s debate is that I was forced to choose the opposite of what I believed, and it taught me so much. I love using technology and social media in my classroom, but it is important that I am fully aware of the dangers that are ahead of me. I need to be mindful of the way I share information about my class for the safety and well being of my students, but that being said, I DEFINITELY see the benefit of using technology and sharing. I need that connection with home to ensure my students are supported!

Great debate everyone!