BlogWalker

Muddling through the blogosphere

April 14, 2019
by blogwalker
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Stories Matter – California AB 1393

“I was born on a mountain.

I tell my story to my daughter.

I tell her write it down.

I want her know how hard I work.”

Iu Mien refugee, Folsom Farmers Market, April 2019

Last week, I joined a group of Laotian refugees on the west steps of Sacramento’s Capitol building. We were there to march for CA Assembly Bill 1393.

Photo of Lao community gathering on steps of Capitol

A year ago, California legislature unanimously passed and signed into law SB 895 (Nguyen), a bill mandating the inclusion of the “Vietnamese refugee experience, the Cambodian genocide, and Hmong history and cultural studies in pupil instructions.”

The Hmong are the largest Laotian ethnic group to emigrate to the United States. But they are not the only ethnic group. SB 895 is missing other groups, such as the Lao, Iu Mien, Khmu, Phutai, Tai Lue, Tai Dam, and Tai Deng, who, like the Hmong, also supported American troops during the Vietnam War. Assembly Members Shirley Weber and Joaquin Arambula have addressed this oversight by introducing AB 1393. The bill would require the state’s Instructional Quality Commission, which develops and recommends curricula to the state Board of Education, to develop a curriculum that includes the history of Laotian refugees.

In my school district, we have almost as many Iu Mien students as Hmong, along with a significant number of Lao. I’m proud that my district recognizes the importance of documenting their stories of coming to America, starting with the role they played in the “Secret War in Laos,” a little known chapter of the Vietnam War. Thanks to district support, and in partnership with the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC), I’ve had the privilege of co-directing our Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project and expanding it to include a growing archive of Hmong and Iu Mien interviews (with more Lao and Cambodian interviews to come).

When I arrived at the capitol at noon on Wednesday, organizers Khonepeth Lily Liemthongsamout and Pida Kongphouthone gathered us together for some photo opps and then went over the plan for the afternoon. Pida talked briefly about the importance of this event as an opportunity to communicate why Laotian Americans are part of the American fabric. Lily added that the process of advocating for the bill would probably take the rest of the day.

March organizers Pida and Lily

We entered the Capitol with the possibility that we would be there till 5:30 pm. That was not the case. As we made our way through the crowded hallways to the doors of the Assembly Chamber, the news arrived that AB 1393 had just passed the Assembly Committee and would soon be moving onto the floor for a vote, as early as next week. Approximately 15 minutes later, we exited the building with lots of smiles, handshakes, and more photo opps.

Lao-American teacher Christie Jackson

Exiting the Capitol with fellow educator Christie Jackson.

A highlight of the event was time I spent with Christie Jackson, a Lao-American teacher in my district,  getting to hear about the trip to Laos she and her father will be taking in February. This will be her first time to Laos and her father’s first time back since the war. He joined the U.S. Forces as a child soldier. He survived not only the war, but also the challenging times after the U.S. pulled out. Christie and her dad will visit his village and then retrace his escape journey through the jungles and across the Mekong River to the refugee camp in Thailand, where he stayed until coming to America.

I should probably mention that I was actually the only non-Asian who came to support AB 1393. As I was leaving the Capitol, one of the women reached out to me and gave me a hug. Her English was limited, but she thanked me for my support. The hug spoke volumes.

Iu Mien women, survivor of the Secret War

I thought of her this morning, when I stopped by a booth at the Folsom Farmers Market, run by a young woman and her mother, to buy strawberries. When I asked the daughter if they were Iu Mien (based on the last name listed on their banner), her face lit up as she shared how much it meant to her that I even knew who the Iu Mien were. When I told her about AB 1393, she said how much she would value her children learning about their history, something she had never read about or heard mentioned in her school years.

Her mother then spoke up. In four sentences (listed at the start of this post), she confirmed the rationale laid out in AB 1393 for documenting the first-hand accounts of those who witnessed and survived the Secret War in Laos. Through these oral histories, our students will have access to the “complete and accurate history of the Vietnam War.”

Yes. #StoriesMatter.

March 24, 2019
by blogwalker
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SFJAZZ 2019 Concert – A tribute to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“In every freedom and social movement, music has been at the center as a tool for communication.” Marcus Shelby

On February 22, in honor of Black History Month, SFJAZZ Education hosted its annual School Day Concert, featuring award-winning bassist, bandleader and community activist Marcus Shelby and his quartet, along with vocalist Tiffany Austin and poet Paul Flores. This year’s theme was a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with a focus on the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement.

SFJAZZ 2019 Concert

Marcus Shelby and SFJAZZ Education are committed to bringing rich music experiences and appreciation into classrooms, especially in low-income communities, by providing interactive performances infused with history and social justice themes. This year’s performance featured pieces that played a central part in our nation’s struggle for human rights and for civil rights, showcasing the work of Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, and more.

Over 800 students from schools in the San Francisco Bay Area traveled to the SFJazz Miner Auditorium to attend this free event.

SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco

Thanks to an ongoing collaboration between SFJAZZ and California’s High Speed Network, three California middle schools were able to attend the concert virtually: Preuss Middle School in San Diego, Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland, and Elk Grove Unified’s Samuel Jackman Middle School.

Throughout the hour, the performers encouraged the audience to join them by clapping and singing along. They also intermittently called out to the Samuel Jackman and Preuss students and projected their rooms onto the large screen. (Brewer Middle School had to cancel at the last minute.) The performers ended the concert by inviting students to ask questions. Based on the number of students lined up in the SFJAZZ Center and at Preuss and Jackman, the concert organizers will probably want to allow more time for Q&A during their 2020 concert.

Setting up for the concert definitely involved a time commitment on the technology end, as the schools would be connecting with Ultragrid, a newly developed, high-quality video conferencing program from the Czech Republic. In Elk Grove, Technology Services and the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC) started testing connections weeks earlier and continued troubleshooting right up till the day before.

Their efforts paid off. From start to finish, both the audio and video connections were excellent, making it possible for close to 1,000 middle school students (in-person + virtual) to enjoy, learn from, and interact with a highly talented group of professional musicians.

A huge shoutout to SF Jazz! Their Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights Concert was a remarkable event and a powerful example of using technology and bandwidth to bring innovative learning experiences directly into the classroom.

 Spending the morning with Jackman band teacher Benwar Shepard and his students was as inspiring as the concert itself. As the concert came to a close, Shepard summed up the importance of bringing jazz into our classrooms:

“Jazz education…and jazz as a style itself… is America’s truest art form. The seeds of jazz have led us to where we are today.”

March 19, 2019
by blogwalker
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#CUE19 – So many great takeaways!

CUE 19 header

Question: What’s worth a 1,000-mile round-trip drive?

Answer: The opportunity to attend the #CUE19 Spring Conference, well worth every hour (9 each way) from Folsom to Palm Springs and back!

This year marks my 10th year to attend CUE. Every year offers new opportunities for learning about powerful strategies and tools for extending teaching and learning. With hundreds of sessions to choose from, it’s always a challenge to narrow it down to a single one per time slot. Below are a few of my #CUE19 takeaways.

Thursday

In the past, Thursday has always been a full day of workshops and sessions, with Saturday being a half day. This year, the CUE team reversed the schedule, offering two sessions, starting 3:00 pm.

Session 1: How to Google Like a Pro An Wren and Corey Mathias

I enjoyed An and Corey’s media literacy approach to helping students become more effective with their online searches. If you scroll through their slideshow, you will find a number of helpful tips and resources, such as Catlyn Tucker’s Got Credibility spreadsheet and an excellent list of Chrome extensions. My favorite is Wakelet, “a free platform that allows you to curate and organize content to save and share.” I’ve been meaning to explore Wakelet ever since my friend/CUE co-presenter Rob Appel recommended it to me. The link to the handy Wakelet guide included in An and Corey’s slides is exactly the piece I needed to actually sit down and get started building my Wakelet account and collections.

Session 2: General Session & CUE Duet

To truly do justice to the energy level of Thursday’s general session, I recommend listening to moderator John Eick’s brief podcast introduction to the CUE Keynote Duet.

#CUE19 Keynote Duet

This session was filmed, so if it’s made available to the public, I will definitely update this post with the link. Bringing Alice Chen and Martin Cisneros together on stage was a very good idea. As they tackled topics like a “fixed mindset vs. a growth mindset,” “equality vs, equity,” “achievement gap vs. engagement gap,” and the importance of student voice, you could feel the audience’s energy levels rising. Veronica Godinez beautifully summed up the Duet keynote in a single Tweet:

CUE general session duet

Alice Chen has been a source of inspiration ever since we met at the 2012 Microsoft Innovative Educators Seattle Summer Conference and then again at the 2012 Google Teacher Academy in Mountain View. Technology tips from an outstanding middle school English teacher are always gems.

This was my first time to hear Martin Cisneros present. His passion for equity and inclusion, combined with his humor and a dose of Spanish all contribute to his ability to 100% pull in the audience.

So the secret to organizing a thought-provoking, engaging duet is to have a hilarious moderator working with a dynamic duo. I hope CUE will build the Duet Keynote into future conferences.

Friday

Session 3: Got DigCit? – Ben Cogswell and Norma Gamez

I almost skipped this 8:30 am session (to do a little last-minute prep for my 10:00 session). I’m glad I joined Ben and Norma. Digital Citizenship is a topic near and dear to me. As the co-director of my district’s digital citizenship program, I really value opportunities to hear about ways other districts are weaving #DigCit into the school day, starting at the elementary level.

If you check out their presentation, you will see that in addition to pulling lessons and resources from Common Sense and other organizations, with a little help from some second graders, they even create their own:

They also brought up a good point on the two ways we need to be rolling out digital citizenship:

Chart showing two times we need to teach digital citizenship; planned lessons and in the moment.

Attending Ben and Norma’s session was a great way to start day 2 of the #CUE19 Conference. I appreciated the reminder to attend and present at Monterey Bay CUE’s May 18 DigCit Summit in Salinas.

Session 4: Saving Democracy – Educator’s Survival Guide to Fake News Across the Curriculum – Glen Warren and Alan November

Having Glen Warren do your introduction would be a great start to any presentation. And Alan November kept Glen’s momentum and humor going throughout the session. I’ve been a long-time Alan November fan. I even have a signed copy of Who Owns the Learning. I frequently reference his Internet search tips in my own workshops (including Thinking Critically about the (Fake) News). So it was no surprise that I left with some great takeaways:

  • Are cats smarter than dogs?/Are dogs smarter than cats? – What a great activity to bring back to the classroom. Have students partner up and each put in one of these opposing search terms. Students will quickly get the message that if you give Google enough information to indicate what your opinion is on a topic, Google will give you things to inform that opinion.
  • Eliminate adjectives, adverbs, and verbs from your search terms. Stick to nouns – The less information you give Google, the better your results will be. Example: dogs, cats, debate would have been way more efficient in the above search.
  • Use country codes – I learned this tip from Alan many years ago when I was teaching 5th grade. Students felt empowered when they realized they could research historical events from two sides of a revolution via country codes. Alan demoed the importance of country codes and search operators for finding information on the Iran-Contra events. Using “site:ac.ir conquest of the american spy den,” for instance, will bring up better results than “Iran Contra investigation,” which is equivalent to searching “are cats smarter than dogs?/are dogs smarter than cats?”
  • One last suggestion – Dig deeper in to search strategies by taking Dan Russell’s Power Searching course.

Alan ended his session with a shout-out to Wikipedia, our “most important crowd-sourced resource.”

Session 5: Thinking Critically about the (Fake) News – Rob Appel, Kelly Mendoza and Gail Desler (me)

We wondered if we would have much of a turn out for our session since it was following Alan November’s. We did. The room was packed.

Kelly Mendoza, Gail Desler, and Rob Appel.

Over the past year, we have continued to update and add to our resources, with the goal of providing tips for helping students (and ourselves) to step out of “filter bubbles,” to use effective search skills, and to become fact-checking pros (and lateral readers).

If you didn’t make it to our session, here’s the link to our session resources: bit.ly/MediaLitResources. (Note: You will need to login to your Google account to access our Google Site.)

Media literacy: It’s not a course that you teach once a week. It’s a way of thinking.” Jennifer Kavanaugh, co-author of Truth Decay

Session 6: Climbing the SAMR Model with Adobe Spark – Susan Millan and Marco Arellano

Attending an Adobe Spark session was high on my #CUE19 to-do list. What I love about Spark is that it’s a copyright friendly tool. Any images you add from Spark are licensed for reuse via Creative Commons – and come with the attribution embedded. Oh, and copyright-free background music is built into Spark voice recordings. Love it! I’m hoping my district can roll out the premium version of Adobe Spark, which eliminates the 13+ age requirement.

Besides a very complete presentation, this session was also recorded via Periscope.

Saturday

Session 7: General Session & Keynote – ET, The Hip-Hop Preacher – Eric Thomas

If you read the session description, you might wonder why a preacher would be keynoting at a tech conference.

Eric’s message was for everyone who works with students, especially in high-poverty areas. He had all of us up on our feet chanting “I can. I will. I must,” with the hope that this chant will lead us to giving our students a personal aim to motivate them to succeed. “Students need to understand why they are in education and they need to establish their ‘AIM’ for their life.”

AIM slide from Eric Thomas's #CUE19 keynote

“We need to give school meaning for our students…. and convince them they want education as much as they want to breathe.”

Session 8: Can I Use That? Exploring Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons – Kelly Mendoza and Gail Desler (me)

If you were one of our participants, thank you for your great questions and your interest in the topic. Just wish this had been a 90-minute session.

As essential as this topic is to media literacy/digital citizenship programs, many educators are still not feeling fully confident of their understanding of copyright, their ability to flex their fair use muscles, and their understanding of Creative Commons best practices. It was exciting at the end of our session to have a number of participants ask if they could use our presentation … on Monday. If you missed our session, we’ll be submitting a proposal for Fall CUE. In the meantime, here is the link to our resources.

Kelly Mendoza and Gail Desler presenting on copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons at #CUE19 Conference.

Session 9: BookSnaps – Tara Martin

So what’s a BookSnap? A term coined by Tara, “a BookSnap is simply a digital, visual representation used to annotate and share reflections of any excerpt of a book or text.” BookSnaps are also a powerful way for students to synthesize their thinking and “to draw connections based on what’s meaningful and relevant to them.” Even though Tara demonstrated how to create “booksnaps” with Snapchat, which is blocked for students in many districts (including mine), you can easily create and share BookSnaps in other programs, such as Google Slides, Google Drawings, the Book Creator App, or VoiceThread. BookSnaps have three elements: title, author, and what you’re thinking. The student samples below are from Tara’s website

Sample of a BookSnap Sample of a student BookSnap

 

Tara has also included lots of videos to get you and your students BookSnapping. I’m pretty sure if BookSnaps were included as part of a literacy study, the research would show that, besides being a fun way to motivate student writers, students will also be able to recall more about books, articles, and passages they’ve read.  #LoveBookSnaps

Session 10: Google for Education Certified Innovators Panel

Loved ending #CUE19 with 10 amazing teachers that were allowed 5 minutes each to wow the audience with ideas and tips for taking tech tools to new levels of awesomeness.

So many great sessions…all going on at the same time…so hard to choose – but, for sure, every session I attended was a good choice.

Exhibit Hall

I don’t think I’ve ever included the CUE Exhibit Hall in my end-of-conference reflections (although I deeply appreciate every vendor’s support of CUE). This year, I want elementary and intermediate teachers to know about Cram Jams, music videos created by 3rd grade teacher Amelia and musician/husband Andy to help teach students about a variety of writing rules and tips. I’ve signed up for the free trial, but I already know I’m ready to commit to a $39 annual membership fee. Don’t let the intro video overwhelm you. Each topic comes with a 2-3 minute video, posters, and an accompanying lesson.

Screenshot of Cram Jams, online videos to help elementary and intermediate students understand writing rules.

#CUE19 Comes to a Close 😞

Start to finish, #CUE19 was a fantastic three-day experience and learning journey. A huge thank you to the CUE Board and team members. You definitely delivered on your promise of “Dozens of Workshops * Hundreds of Sessions * Countless Memories.”

If you have anything to add to my session descriptions, please leave a comment.

Already looking forward to #CUE2020!

 

 

 

Snapshot of Gail Desler and Natalie Bernasconi at Microsoft celebration in Seattle

February 24, 2019
by blogwalker
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How Can a Distracted Generation Learn Anything? – An Interview with BBC

Two weeks ago, via my district email, Nicholas Mancall-Bitel contacted me with a request:

“I’m a freelance writer working on an article for BBC Capital about the challenges of teaching Gen Z (ages 10-24) and Gen Alpha (ages 0-9) students.

The basic premise of my piece is something like ‘How to Teach a Distracted Generation,’ focusing on how teachers can engage young digital natives who are accustomed to app engagement, video, screens, social media and other digital platforms. I would love to learn more from you about the particular obstacles teachers face today in teaching digital natives, as well as the ways teachers have integrated digital citizenship and new educational media into classes in order to engage these students.”

He also explained that he was on a tight deadline. We connected for an interview on February 11; on February 20, How Can a Distracted Generation Learn Anything? was posted to the BBC website.

As co-director of my district’s digital citizenship program, I am always looking for opportunities – like Nicholas Mancall-Bitel’s request – to showcase the work of colleagues who develop innovative, meaningful ways of meeting their students’ needs. I immediately reached out to four outstanding educators for feedback:

Natalie Bernasconi – Natalie teaches in the Salinas Unified High School District and also mentors future teachers through UC Santa Cruz’s credentialing program . We met about 12 years ago through the National Writing Project. It has been my privilege to learn from and collaborate with Natalie on numerous projects, conferences, and summits (e.g., MERIT11, CUE, ISTE, Google Teacher Academy, Common Sense) and to co-author Driving Without a License, Digital Writing Without Digital Citizenship, the opening article for Using Technology to Enhance Writing. Although Mancall-Bitel referenced one of Natalie’s strategies in the article, I wanted share all of her thoughts on the topic:

  • If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em is one response. I use a lot of short video and music clips to augment my lesson plan. Youtube can be a teacher’s best friend
  • Technology can provide creative alternatives to traditional methods for students to demonstrate their learning. as well FlipGrid is one – which mimics the selfie/video world our teens inhabit.
  • I actively seek to empower my (Title 1) students to recognize their addiction using naming and questioning strategies.  It doesn’t work to just take away their phones – there are liability issues that make that an unwise action, and it makes them jones for it even more. Instead I ask students about the choices they are making and the priorities they have for themselves.  I remind them of their goals for themselves.  As a last resort, I have a plastic tub that I invite repeat offenders to place their phone in if they find themselves unable to control their fomo.  This is an ongoing battle that I face daily with some of my students.
  • We adults are struggling with the same issues. I found my own weekly iPhone summary to be shocking and then highly motivating to decrease my own screen time.
  •  I also try to leverage mindfulness strategies. There’s a series of soothing scenes you can choose from Calm.com, which my students love. Sometimes, we will take 1-2 minutes at the beginning of class to enjoy a scene and intentionally set our minds to focus. Students will even request this when they come in to my class when they feel a need to calm themselves.  We also do a few breathing techniques from time to time to help them be fully present in the room.  This has a measurable impact on the amount of distractedness in my students.
  • Students are aware of the addictive grip that tech has on their lives. Last semester, students  worked in groups to research and present on a contemporary issue, and several different groups across my class periods chose to research nomophobia, and its impact on people.
  • Above all, the most impactful way I am able to keep my students engaged is through culturally relevant pedagogy.  Just this morning, in my news feed, an interview came up  with the author of The Hate U Give, which I can powerfully connect to the district-mandated curriculum I am teaching on the American Dream. Infusing these types of texts helps connect students to the world and to their own lives.
Photo collage of Natalie Bernasconi and Gail Desler

A few photo opps with Natalie

Erica Swift – Like Natalie, Erica chooses to teach at a Title I school, and is committed to leveling the playing field for her students by using technology to bring experts into the classroom. In this videoconference, for instance, students are learning from a California State Parks ranger (through the PORTS program) about the monarch butterfly. From videoconferencing to video production, she offers her students opportunities to dig deeper into topics they care about and to share their findings with an authentic audience. Erica spoke directly with Mancall-Bitel, who included several of her quotes in the article.

Cathe Petuya – Cathe teaches with Erica and shares the same commitment to teaching for social justice. Cathe is also the PORTS poster child, with her Gold Rush videoconference posted to the PORTS landing page. If you listen to the videoconference, you will understand why I try to visit Cathe’s classes whenever possible. I leave every visit energized by her passion for teaching and her ability to build a learning community where every voice matters.

I forwarded Cathe’s response to Mancall-Bitel… just missing his publication deadline. Darn. Every thought Cathe has shared below is a conversation starter:

Yes, our students today are distracted.  They are used to fast-paced programming without time for reflection or even polite debate.  This practice has left them with a strong desire to bond with others on a more personal level but without the skills to do it in a healthy way.  Emotions run high and give way to outbursts frequently.  Or students are so used to being in the background or left on their own that it’s very difficult to get them to participate. Both extremes lack the social skills to solve interpersonal challenges and get their needs met. So my teaching is all about the relationships I build with my students.  Nothing matters until they know they matter to me.

Today’s students have been fed a steady diet of “fast food” in every facet of their lives.  The gift of time has been cast aside for the misguided goal of accomplishing more sooner.  We have to realize that children’s physical and emotional development can’t be rushed, but it can be derailed. And that is what is present in my classroom every day.  I have many, many students who have been exposed to a myriad of grown-up concepts without guidance or discussion to help children process all that they experience.

Deeper learning occurs during periods of reflection.  More information is retained when it is connected to a story.  It is how humans are wired.  So I try to embed opportunities for students to talk often, listen to others, and respond with a personal connection.  By focusing on these needs, I know I can create an environment where students trust me and their classmates so they feel safe to take risks and try again when they stumble.

VoiceThread and Seesaw, the Learning Journal, are my top go-tos  for getting students to reflect and respond. They work perfectly for any age group and on any topic and on any device. The point of those options is for students to tell their story and connect with others beyond the classroom.  It is the perfect way to expand their vision of what could be and practice kindness and consideration for others – a key component of learning digital citizenship. Adding in video production reveals many more layers of skills to be built through collaboration, planning, and performance. Kids want to do and share and be known.  Tech used in the right way can make all that happen and so much more.

Photo of Gail Desler, Cathe Petuya, and Sandy Hayes at ISTE 2018 Conference in Chicago.

Celebrating #ISTE18 with Cathe Petuya (left) and Sandy Hayes (right)

Conrad Bituin – I had the privilege of co-presenting with Conrad at my district’s Digital Kids, Digital Classroom Saturday Seminar – and am looking forward to more opportunities to collaborate with and learn from him. I sent Conrad’s response along with Cathe’s, again, just missing Mancall-Bitel’s deadline. Each of his five suggestions is a gem:

  • Most important thing for me is to try to incorporate their “outside” interests into assignments, or even just into the class discussion. This starts with relationship building, and ends with authentic differentiation.
  • More technology related – I use what some would call “app smashing” (See https://k12technology.weebly.com/app-smashing.html). I try different combinations of technology tools to create an experience for the student. Youtube is great, until you get to the 10th video – then it’s “just another youtube video.” Combining various tools and technologies allows the student to experience content in different ways.
  • I try to keep in mind that just because many of our students are digital natives that have only known life with a device, this doesn’t translate to being successful in every aspect of technology. We still have conversations about appropriate use, class expectations, and effective use of technology (just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should). I also keep this in mind when introducing new applications – many students still need to be instructed on how to use the system, and when.
  • The old educational adage “voice and choice” can also be harnessed in limitless combinations through the use of technology!
Photo from Saturday Seminar session with Gail Desler and Conrad Bituin

Saturday Seminar Twitter session with Conrad Bituin

Teaching to a “distracted generation” is a reality and an ever-changing challenge. I am pretty sure if you read the BBC article and the additional insights shared in this post, you will start the week with new ideas to best engage your easily distracted students in whatever topic or subject you are addressing.

I would love for this post to be an ongoing discussion on tips and best practices for building and maintaining student engagement. You are warmly invited to leave a comment.

 

February 19, 2019
by blogwalker
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Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066

Today marks the 77th Anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of over 120,000 people of Japanese descent, many of them citizens, from the West Coast.

I work in a school district that was once home to a hard-working community of Japanese-American farmers, who transformed the region into beautiful, productive strawberry fields. Following the signing of Executive Order 9066, the history of the Elk Grove-Florin region was abruptly and forever changed. The forced removal and incarceration of over 120,000 citizens marked a chapter in our nation’s history when justice failed an entire group of people. To document their stories, colleague Kathleen Watt and I developed and maintain the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project.

At a time when media literacy is at the forefront of our district Digital Citizenship workshops, lessons, and resources, we appreciated that a Facebook post from @DayOfRemembrance, and the accompanying Never Forget poster (by #StopReapeatingHistory), led us to the Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066 website and documentary trailer. This one-hour film, directed by Jon Osaki, confronts the false information and political influence which led to the World War II removal and incarceration of Japanese-Americans:

“The film exposes the lies used to justify the decision and the cover-up that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court.  ALTERNATIVE FACTS will also examine the parallels to the current climate of fear, targeting of immigrant communities, and similar attempts to abuse the powers of the government.” AlternativeFacts.com

Alternative Facts Social Media Trailer from Jon Osaki on Vimeo.

We look forward to an upcoming screening of the Alternative Facts documentary. As always, when new resources surface, we revisit our current lessons and resources to decide where they can best extend teaching and learning on issues of social justice.

Alternative facts are not new…but today they are difficult to spot, easier to spread, and harder to control. We are always looking for curriculum ties that will make history relevant to our students. Students would be hard pressed to go a single day without hearing the terms “fake news” or “alternative facts” on social media or in the news. Additionally, they often view history as something that happens in history books, not in their communities. We are predicting that the above resource will connect our Executive Order 9066 lesson to media literacy, and in the process, help students make the connection between what was “then and there” to “here and now.”

With much appreciation to my district’s Board of Education for annually recognizing February 19 as a Day of Remembrance: Resolution #42 – Day of Remembrance.

February 18, 2019
by blogwalker
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Protecting Students from Hate-Motivated Behavior

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Ruby Bridges and marshals leaving William Frantz Elementary School, New Orleans, 1960. Image in Public Domain.

What resources does your district make available for “protecting students from hate-motivated behavior”?

Kathleen Watt and I were recently asked this question by our district’s Educational Equity Specialist, in preparation for the March 5 school board meeting. The board will be addressing current board policy, which calls for “providing professional learning to staff in recognizing and preventing hate-motivated behaviors and providing instruction to students and families to do the same.”

Below are the resources we shared. Like many large districts, our district departments often operate in silos, not necessarily aware of the work Kathleen and I do. So we prefaced the list with a quick introduction:

“EGUSD is a Common Sense District. This designation is due to 76% of EGUSD schools teaching Common Sense lessons as part of their required digital citizenship curriculum. CS lessons are designed and developed in partnership with Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Hate Speech is included in one of the six topics (Cyberbullying, Digital Drama & Hate Speech) addressed through CS curriculum.These lessons meet standards for Common Core ELA, CASEL and ISTE.”

Online Resources

From Common Sense

Grade 3
The Power of Words – What should you do when someone uses mean or hurtful language on the internet?

Grade 4
Super Digital Citizen – How can we be upstanders when we see cyberbullying?

Grade 5
What’s Cyberbullying? – What is cyberbullying and what can you do to stop it?

Grade 6/7
Upstanders and Allies: Taking Action Against Cyberbullying – How can you respond when cyberbullying occurs?

Grades 6-9
Upstanders, Not Bystanders – I created this lesson on what it means to cross the line from “bystander” to “upstander” several years ago for Common Sense.  Note: Although the lesson is designed for grades 6-9, the Upstanders Not Bystanders VoiceThread is an invitation to Kindergarten – Senior Citizens to share an “upstander” story. The project was inspired by Margaret Mead’s above quote.

Link to Upstanders Not Bystanders VoiceThread: https://voicethread.com/myvoice/share/4134620 (you must be logged in to view)

Grade 8
Responding to Online Hate Speech – How should you respond to online hate speech?

Grades 9-12
Breaking Down Hate SpeechHow can you create a community culture in which hate speech is unacceptable, both online and offline? Several years ago, I had the privilege of observing how a high school English teacher and a history teacher wove this lesson into a unit on the Holocaust, making a powerful connection from “then and there” to “here and now.”
Turn Down the Dial on Cyberbullying – Which factors intensify cyberbullying and online cruelty, and what can you do to lessen them?
Taking Perspectives on Cyberbullying – How does online cruelty affect the people involved?

Other Resources

In addition to Common Sense resources, we share other national resources addressing hate motivated behavior and strategies for confronting all forms of exclusion and intolerance:

Teaching Tolerance – In addition to lessons and resources for confronting hate and intolerance, Teaching Tolerance also offers online professional development through webinars. Teaching Tolerance is project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which also offers a variety of resources, including 10 Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response.

Media Smarts – Media Smarts, a Canadian organization for promoting “digital and media literacy,” offers excellent, vetted resources, including a guide for educators on Responding to Online 

Anti-Defamation League/Crossing Lines Summer Seminars – The organization has expanded its resources and lessons beyond its initial mission of combating anti-semitism to include all forms of exclusion, hate and intolerance. We’ve connected with staff members of ADL through No Place For Hate workshops over the years.

ADL representatives have also been regular presenters at our Crossing Lines Summer Seminars.

Media Literacy Workshops
As part of our media literacy workshops, district and statewide (ISTE, CUE and CA League of Schools), we include resources such as The Dangerous Speech Project, strategies for deconstructing URLs (Stormfront and other hate organizations) and confronting bias (our own filter bubbles) and hate.

Literature

Never underestimate the power of a single story to change hearts and minds. I’ve read and loved many of the books on Common Sense’s Books That Teach Empathy list. I strongly believe that promoting empathy through stories can be an effective strategy in derailing hate speech.

Anne Frank, Montessori School, Amsterdam

I often think back to 7th grade, the first time I studied about the Holocaust. The staggering statistics were unimaginable to me. But a single story, the Diary of Ann Frank, provided a window into the genocide of over six million Jews.

Although I probably did not recognize it at the time, Anne’s story was life-changing, starting me on a journey that led to attending the Shoah Institute (back when it was on a back lot of Universal Studios), joining the TOLI Holocaust Educators Network, making the pilgrimage to Manzanar, bike ‘n barging across Holland with Holocaust survivor Hannie Voyles, initiating the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project, and joining humanitarian Carl Wilkens for a journey to Rwanda.

Hannie Voyles,, Montessori School, Amsterdam

I hope to return on a regular basis to update this post with additional suggestions. For now, here’s this list:

I doubt there has been a time in history when hate speech did not exist. A downside of the digital age is the spread at which it can now be spreed.

But we can make a difference. The many stories shared in the Upstanders Not Bystanders VoiceThread stand as testimony to our ability to make a difference, whether through a group effort/movement or by a single individual. I am looking at my copy of I Am Malala and thinking about the incredible difference a single child can make and the power and pull of education to inspire action. Next to Malala’s book is my copy of I’m Not Leaving, Carl Wilken’s story of how respect, compassion, and empathy were the driving forces that kept him in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide.

I have more room on my bookshelf. Please keep the upstander stories coming, along with curriculum and resources we can bring into the classroom to protect our students from hate-motivated behaviors.

February 16, 2019
by blogwalker
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Navigating Digital Information: John Green’s Fantastic Crash Course

I am a huge fan of author John Green. I’m currently reading Looking for Alaskaand The Fault in Our Stars has a permanent space in my bookcase. So I don’t know why it even surprised me that John Green would also focus his creative talents on developing a fantastic media literacy resource: Navigating Digital Information. This 10-episode Crash Course series was developed in partnership with the Poynter Institute MediaWise project:

MediaWise is part of the Google News Initiative, funded by Google.org, and aims to teach 1 million teenagers how to spot fake news on the internet by 2020, with at least half of them coming from undeserved or low-income communities.

The centerpiece of the project is a new curriculum being written by grant partner Stanford History Education Group that will be available to schools across the country in the fall of 2019. Stanford is writing this curriculum after studying how professional fact-checkers, college students and historians navigate digital information. The foundation of the Stanford lessons is built on skills that professional fact-checkers use after Stanford discovered that fact-checkers and journalists are more critical and think very differently about what they read on the internet and how they sort through misleading or flat-out false information.”

If you have colleagues who ban the use of Wikipedia, be sure to share with them Using Wikipedia: Crash Course Navigating Digital Information:

A year ago, after reading Mike Caulfield’s What Reading Laterally Means and watching this Common Sense video, my colleague Kathleen Watt (co-director of our district’s Digital Citizenship program) and I wanted to include a lesson on lateral reading in our Media Literacy Resources. We could not find one. So we created Flex Your Fact-Checking Muscles – Lateral Reading. In the Media Literacy Vocabulary section, we included a video for each term – except for lateral reading because, again, we could not find one. Yesterday I revisited our lesson/hyperdoc and added  John Green’s Check Yourself with Lateral Reading:

If you visit our Flex Your Fact-Checking Muscles lesson, be sure to scroll to the bottom, where you will find an invitation to your students:

Students-teaching-students is a powerful teaching model. We have included a video in the Explore section of a teacher talking to other teachers about fact-checking and lateral reading. We would love to replace this video with a student-created video, slideshow and/or infographic to show what lateral reading looks like from the perspective and experience of a student fact-checker. Go for it!”

We extend the above invitation to students across the globe.

Media Literacy / Digital Citizenship 4 Themes by Elk Grove Unified School District is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

photos of students using devices.

February 5, 2019
by blogwalker
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Digital Citizenship – Joining the #michED and #DigCit Tweet Chat

I’ve marked my calendar for 5:00 pm (PT), February 6, to join Kristen Mattson for the #michED Tweet chat on digital citizenship.

Tweet chats are public conversations, via Twitter, connected by a unique hashtag (#).  If you haven’t participated in a Tweet chat before, I can promise you it’s a fast-moving hour! For that reason, I’m drafting my initial responses to Kristen’s seven questions in advance so I can fully focus on the chat. Thank you, Rachelle Wynkoop, for posting and sharing the questions a week ahead via the graphic below.

Each of the seven chat questions invites discussion at a global, national, district or school site level, starting with Q1. The challenge is to limit your answers to 280 characters (the maximum number of characters allowed by Twitter).

Q1: To help develop a shared understanding of ‘digital citizenship’ as a concept, please complete this sentence:

I want my students to be digital citizens who can/are ____________.

A1: I want want  my students to be digital citizens who are ready and willing to confront hate speech & other acts of intolerance by crossing the line from bystander to upstander, changing school culture and climate where/when needed. #michED


Q2: Who “owns” digital citizenship lessons in your school or district? When/where are students receiving these lessons?

A2: We are hoping to see a shift in our district from #DigCit lessons being taught as stand alone lessons during advisory period or computer lab time to a more integrated approach. We are also reaching out to see if/how other districts evaluate #digcit on report cards. #michED


Q3: A lot of digital citizenship curriculum focus on personal behaviors over skill development. What are some of the skills digital citizens need to be successful in global communities? How are you helping students gain those skills?

A3: Using technology to take student voices beyond the classroom and zip code is a priority. Today thru tools like blogging, videoconferencing, VoiceThreading, etc., students can effectively read, write and communicate with authentic audiences on topics they care about. #michED


Q4: Digital citizens should have opportunities to explore digital ethics. For example, “Should the government be able to access data collected by private companies?” What areas of digital ethics do you think students should explore?

A4: Although protecting online privacy is one of four main themes for our district #digcit program, this year we’re putting a focus on protecting student data privacy. The sample question is a great one to spark classroom conversations and drive interest-based research. #michED


Q5: A hot topic in digital citizenship right now is balance. How do you balance time online and off? What does “balance” mean to you? How might you help student reflect on their digital practices and achieve a healthy balance?

A5: I’m trying to find that balance myself. If I were in the classroom, I might share my “screen time diet” plan, which starts with cutting back on the number of times I check my phone. Will also be using iPhone’s screen time weekly stats. #michED


Q6: Reflect on your own knowledge and abilities as a teacher of digital citizens. What is one way you can grow this year? How might you go about improving your content knowledge or practice?

A6: In 2018, #MediaLiteracy for students was a top priority. In 2019, #MediaLiteracy/#DigCit for adults is a priority. We could all benefit from a #MediaLit skill set. Would love to hear what others are doing on this topic. #michED


Q7. What are some of your favorite resources for teaching digital citizens? Hit us up with links to activities, blog posts, books and more.

A7: Common Sense is at the top of my list. I love the range of relevant resources, for parents as well as for students and teachers, covering all areas of #DigCit. #michED

A7: For the latest research on cyberbullying,  I appreciate Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin continually updating the Cyberbullying Research Center website. #michED

A7: For tips on protecting student data privacy, I like the Connect Safely’s Parent Guide  and Common Sense’s Tips for Teachers short video. #michED

I’m looking forward to joining and learning from Wednesday’s #DigCit chat. If you would like to join the chat, but need a little guidance on how Tweet chats work, here is a great guide from Janet Fouts. If you cannot join the chat live, you can always follow up on the questions and answers by putting #michED into your Twitter search bar.

Hope to see you Wednesday.

Photo from Twitter stream of keynote speaker Glen Warren and teachers Cathe Petuya and Gail Desler

January 31, 2019
by blogwalker
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#SatSeminar19 – Celebrating Powerful Teaching

If you have read any of my recent blog posts, you know that I’ve participated in a number of state and national technology conferences. I welcome the opportunity to learn about new technology tools, activities and strategies teachers across the state and nation are excited about. But I also believe in the power of offering an annual technology conference within our own school districts. Hence, last Saturday I joined over 300 teachers and administrators for Elk Grove Unified School District’s 4th annual Digital Kids, Digital Classroom Saturday Seminar.

Elk Grove USD's Annual Digital Kids, Digital Classrooms website

Like any well-thought out conference, it’s always a good idea to bring in an inspiring, energizing keynote speaker who can set the tone for an exceptional day of learning, sharing and networking. That speaker was Glen WarrenEncinitas Union School District‘s “Director of Literacies, Outreach, and Libraries, in other words, he is the LOL Director.”

Photo of #SatSeminar19 keynote speaker Glen Warren

Keynote speaker Glen Warren kicks off #SatSeminar19 .

Last May, my colleague Kathleen Watt and I attended the California Department of Education’s first Media & Information Literacy Summit here in Sacramento. Minutes into Glen’s keynote, Kathleen and I turned to each other, nodded and gave each other the thumbs up, meaning that Glen Warren had to be the keynote speaker for our 2019 Digital Kids, Digital Classroom Saturday Seminar. Mission accomplished.

Following Glen’s awesome, pull-the-whole-audience-to-their-feet keynote (captured by Julianna Hedstrom), teachers headed to whichever sessions seemed relevant to their teaching levels and subject/interest areas.

Session 1

My goal for Session 1 was to circulate around the Cosumnes Oaks High School to make sure all our presenters were good to go on the tech end. In addition to 13 sessions to choose from, 12 lucky teachers, on a first come/first served basis, signed up for one of five Escape the Bus experiences, a collaborative group break out challenge.

Escape Bus – Team 2 #SatSeminar

What the Escape Bus participants did not know was that, at the end of the day, we would be raffling off 3 tickets to bring the bus for a full day to the winning ticket holders’ school sites.

Session 2

For Session 2, I joined our Director of Technology Services for the What You Should Know Before Clicking “I Accept” workshop.  Below is our session description:

Balancing new technologies with the need to protect student privacy and data might seem like a daunting challenge, but it is also a must-have skill in an age when data privacy issues are increasingly in the headlines. Come learn the legal requirements, explore free classroom resources, and leave empowered to safeguard student data and to help your students do the same.

Thank you Common Sense for all the tips, tools and resources to help teachers and parents protect our students’/children’s online privacy. We hope our attendees left the session with better understanding of why, as a district, we block apps or websites that are not FERPA, COPPA, or CA AB 1584 compliant.

Session 3

I had the privilege of joining the incredible combo of Erica Swift and Cathe Petuya for their Amplifying Student Voice Through Videoconferencing session. When teachers open up the walls of their classroom via videoconferencing, this is when tech integration becomes transformative, enabling learning opportunities in ways not possible without the technology (as explained in the SAMR framework). I’ve been a long-time advocate of videoconferencing, which, today with free programs such as Skype, Google Hangout, and Zoom, can easily connect your students with NASA scientists, authors, subject matter experts, other classrooms and California State Parks. Via the PORTS program (California Parks Online Resources for Students and Teacher), we were able to bring Ranger Jenny Comperda, live from Calaveras Big Trees State Park, into our session. 

Poster from Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Note: The signature PORTS videoconference, Carroll Elementary & Columbia State Park, features Cathe and her 2nd graders, and the Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly videoconference features Erica and her students. In both examples, which are from a few years back, we used a $6,000 Polycom camera. Today, our classrooms connect via a $35 webcam. I cannot imagine a subject area or topic that could not be extended through the power of videoconferencing.

Session 4

Session 4 was my first opportunity to co-present with EGUSD 6th grade teacher Conrad Bituin for our  Twitter: The Absolute Best PD on the Planet session. What a fun session to end the day with! Kind of amazing, but if you click on the live Twitter stream below (from Julianna Hedstrom’s session Tweet), from across the globe, Edublogger Kathleen Morris replied to the Tweet…Welcome to the Twittersphere! Love the many ways Twitter helps us become connected learners and educators.

As in the past, we ended our Digital Kids, Digital Classroom Saturday Seminar by bringing everyone together for a raffle. This year we went a little over the top with prizes. As I mentioned above, three very lucky attendees had the winning tickets to bring the Escape Bus to their school site for a full day of digital age collaboration and learning.

Start to finish, #SatSeminar19 was a wonderful district-based event and day. Because our own teachers are the presenters, attendees will leave each session truly able to implement their seminar takeaways on Monday – without running into filtering issues or mandated student privacy laws followed by individual districts and/or specific states (which can be the downside of national tech conference takeaways).

Thank you to all who attended #SatSeminar19. Thank you to Glen Warren for the wonderful keynote + 3 break out sessions. And a big thank you to Julianna Hedstrom (Roseville  Joint USD) for being our Honorary Librarian of the day.

Photo from Twitter stream of keynote speaker Glen Warren and teachers Cathe Petuya and Gail Desler

 

January 24, 2019
by blogwalker
2 Comments

#EdTechTeam 2019 Summit Roseville – 3 Impactful Sessions

 

Time to reflect on my top takeaways from this weekend’s #EdTechSummit in Roseville (California). If you haven’t been to a Google EdTechTeam Summit, this is what they are all about:

The Summits are high intensity two-day events that focus on deploying, integrating, and using G Suite for Education (formerly Google Apps for Education) and other Google Tools to promote student learning in K-12 and higher education. The program features Google Certified Educators, Google Innovators, Google Certified Trainers, practicing administrators, and many local rockstars.”

I missed the Saturday sessions, as I was downtown participating in the #WomensMarchSac, but what a great way to spend my Sunday, starting with Jeff Heil and Ken Shelton‘s session: Equity and Inclusion – You Are the Binder. Before you click on the link to Jeff’s session website, you might want to pour a glass of your favorite beverage because you’ll be heading down a rabbit hole of  thought-provoking resources.

In the past year, I’ve attended a number of inspiring PD sessions within my district on the topic of equity and inclusion, but until Sunday, I hadn’t thought about the importance of “knowing our own identities to determine how who we are effects institutional inequalities that contribute to the predictability of who succeeds and fails on our schools …If you don’t know who you are (your cultural identity), then how can you know who your kids are?” 

Ten minutes into the session, two videos sparked emotions and whole group/table group conversations:

With Jeff guiding the discussion and Ken challenging us to dig deeper into the language of “isms” and racial inequality, we began to explore our own identities through the Personal History of Otherness slideshow. The task was to examine the major categories of isms and then determine whether you are part of the dominant or subordinate group.

Question: How do you tackle and present complex topics in a 90-minute session?

Answer: If you provide your participants with a window into equity issues, as Jeff and Ken did, via a website with powerful resources, such as the Equity and Inclusion – Be The Binder wakelate, participants can and will (I’m sure of it) continue a transformative learning journey beyond the session.

I would love to see the 90-minute session develop into a week-long workshop.

Jeff Heil #EdTechTeam Roseville

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I made another good choice for my second session: Projects with a Purpose! Ignite Student Interest with Google’s Applied Digital Skills Curriculum!  This was my first time to hear Natasha Rachell present and also my first time to explore Google’s Applied Digital Skills Curriculum.  The lessons are correlated to ISTE Standards and integrated with Google Classroom, with an emphasis on digital citizenship – three big selling points!

Lessons range from conducting research and writing a report to creating a budget spreadsheet. I started with the If-Then Adventure Story unit, which fits beautifully into both English/Language Arts as wells History/Social Science.  I love the relevance of the topics and the flexibility of each unit, both for subject area and grade level.

I agree with Natasha’s closing statement: “I think we are finally getting to the answer to all teacher’s favorite question: ‘When am I going to use this in real-life?'”

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I ended the day with Kimberly Lane Clark’s Blended Learning – Shifting the Paradigm session.  I appreciated Kim’s emphasis on student voice and student choice being central to blended learning and her accompanying resources:

Voice

Choice (Thank you, Kasey Bell, for one of many, many resources you freely share!)

Using the video below, Kim guided us through a whole-group discussion on the differences between three terms associated with blended learning: individualization, differentiation, and personalization and then gave us time to turn ‘n talk about how we might tap into some apps and websites to support a blended learning environment.

 

Spending Sunday at the #EdTechTeam Roseville summit was a rich learning opportunity, starting with Kim Lane’s keynote: Where my Girls At? Shifting the paradigm!  Following on the heals of the Saturday #WomensMarch19, what a timely message:

Computer science is foundational knowledge for all students in the 21st century but a shift in paradigm must happen in order to get ALL students learning about computer science. Even more so there is a huge gap in diversity of women that are learning about computer science. Did you know that Women make up 48% of the workforce, but only 23% hold jobs in STEM! Statistics have shown that there is a lack of women being represented in all STEM fields especially in computer science. In order to change this somber statistic there must be a shift in the mindset of who is represented in STEM fields by involving girls at an early age.”

Kimberly Lane – Sunday keynote – #EdTechSummit

I’m already looking forward to next year’s #EdTechTeam Roseville Summit. Thank you, Marie Criste, for bringing this event to the Sacramento region, and thank you, EdTechTeam speakers for sharing your expertise and inspiring all who attended to continue to “explore and connect.”

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