As much as I look forward to opportunities to showcasing good teachers and good teaching, this year’s Eddies deadline kind of crept up on me. I am therefore not nominating in every category, just the ones where a nominee jumps right out at me.
If you are planning to submit nominations for the 2012 Edublogs Awards, I hope you will consider #UnfollowBullying as a candidate for the Best Twitter Hashtag category. #UnfollowBullying, a student-created, student driven initiative, is “in recognition that students are the ones who will lead the charge in their online communities to ensure that all students are treated with respect and kindness.” Past winners in the Best Twitter Hashtag category have (simply) created a stand alone hashtag. One of the many distinguishing features of #UnfollowBullying is that the hashtag comes with a dynamic online student toolkit to help students everywhere stand up, speak out and be the change.
Almost a year ago, NWP colleague Natalie Bernasconi and I began creating and co-curating the Digital ID wiki. Initially a collaborative project for gathering digital citizenship resources and best practices, the project has evolved into a platform and global microphone for student-created content.
This week, we will begin showcasing student content from #UnfollowBullying. Yes, this student-led campaign is from my school district, and in my role as a tech integration specialist, I am supporting the project. But the evolution of this project has been dynamically student-driven and is resulting in some amazing samples of students addressing and crafting the topic of cyberbullying in ways that challenge issues at their own school sites. From T-shirt signing events, to wall signing events, to newscasts, the students are broadcasting across the district and beyond a call to action.
Note: Be sure to listen to the entire newscast to learn about the many ways Toby Johnson Middle School students are challenging cyberbullying.
What Natalie and I have witnessed over and over through our respective teaching assignments (Natalie, middle school ELA/AVID teacher; Gail, K-12 tech integration specialist) is that, although teachers play a pivotal role in initiating the shared conversations on the ethical use of the Internet and social media, it is students who must lead the charge in confronting cyberbullying.
What makes the #UnfollowBullying campaign so likely to have an impact on how students regard both their rights and their responsibilities as (digital) citizens is that all sites across my district will be rolling out a digital citizenship curriculum (mainly from Common Sense Media), ensuring that, with teachers joining in, a week-long campaign can continue on throughout the school year, woven in multiple ways into advisory periods, computer lab classes, and, most exciting, into the core curriculum.
As National Writing Project Teacher Consultants, Natalie and I have a deep respect for the model of teachers teaching teachers. In our daily work with students, however, we stand back in awe at the power of students teaching students. It is truly the full circle of digital citizenship.
I’m back from a 5-day trip to Las Vegas, host site for the 2012 NCTE Annual Convention: Dream, Connect, Ignite. The opportunity to hangout with and learn from NWP and NCTE colleagues more than made up for having to traverse the ultra smoke-filled, incredibly noise-filled casinos that lay between the MGM Grand rooms and convention center.
I arrived in time for Thursday’s NWP Plenary session, where I joined a room full of educators “writing together, writing in the moment.” What better way to start a conference than with Tanya Baker’s words, which came to life each of the five days, that “I am smarter and better because of the many NWP mentors who continue to push me ahead, as a writer and as an educator.”
A few take-aways:
Sunday (ACE workshop)
There is nothing like the power of five days spent with 9,000 English teachers to truly “push me ahead.” What I learned in Vegas will be reflected in my upcoming workshop.
I’m already looking ahead to next year’s event…in Boston!
This post is meant for educators who are new to Twitter, or are trying to bring colleagues on board with Twitter, or are somewhere in between. After you read this post, I encourage you read Bill Ferriter’s 3 tips for teachers new to Twitter. It’s one of the resources I’m sharing in a series of Twitter 101 workshops I’m doing in my district and region.
Based on teachers’ and administrators’ questions, as well as lessons learned from student Tweeters, I’d like to add a few tips to Bill’s three – but I think they should go first, kind of a pre-primer for Twitter. Once educators understand the power of Twitter as a tool for building their PLNs, as a classroom (short form) writing tool, and as a global microphone (for good or for ill), they will definitely benefit from Bill’s recommendations.
1. Twitter has evolved beyond “What are you doing?” – If you have dismissed Twitter as a valuable communication tool because you assume that Tweeting is all about “stopping at Starbucks for a latte,” for instance, I think you’ll change your mind when you see how Twitter can provide a platform, accessible 24/7 , to share articles, classroom activities, suggestions, humor, and more – in 140 characters or less. Once you have set up an account, you can follow, learn from, and connect with education visionaries such as David Warlick, Vicki Davis, Will Richardson, Larry Ferlazzo, and, of course, Bill Ferriter.
2. Understand that students need guidance and modeling – In districts that have not yet woven digital citizenship into the core curriculum, it is all too common to find even college-bound 12th graders who assumed that only their “followers” can read their inappropriate Tweets…posted to their Twitter accounts …that include their full names and school names… and that include links to their tumblr and instagram accounts…and on and on – and online:-(
If students entered high school already understanding the need to build a positive digital footprint that will enable them to “Google well,” fewer districts would be dealing with issues such as “When does shaming racists kids turn into cyberbullying? With so many excellent, free resources for teaching students about the importance of their online persona (e.g., Common Sense Media, Netsmartz), starting classroom discussions on the smart and ethical use of Twitter and other social media could easily have a profound and positive impact on students’ (digital) citizenship skills.
3. Consider the power of Twitter as a classroom tool – When you think of the role of Twitter in the “Arab Spring,” for instance, it seems unimaginable to teach current events without access to Twitter. Yet many districts block both teacher and student access to Twitter during the school day. I am co-presenting the case to unblock Twitter in my district, and I think it’s going to happen:-). The tipping point in our argument has been sharing KQED’s Do Now project. “Do Now is a weekly activity for students to engage and respond to current issues using social media tools like Twitter. KQED aims to introduce 21st Century skills and add value to learning through the integration of relevant local content and new media tools and technologies. The project gives students a chance to practice civic engagement and digital citizenship skills while they explore ways to connect topics in their classes to the present day.” The site even includes a video to show how a San Francisco high school is using Twitter and Do Now as a starting activity for the school day. There’s nothing like having an example only a few counties away to push administrators to revisit filtering policies.
If you have other tips for teachers new to Twitter – or for advanced users, please leave a comment. I would love to add them to this blog post as well as to my Twitter 101 workshop resources!
I’m back from my first Fall CUE Conference. Two wonderful, jam packed days of connecting with colleagues and attending great sessions!
Here are my Friday take-aways:
The Personal Is Political: Remix and Fair Use – KQED’s Mathew Williams gave an awesome session on “learning opportunities for creating remix videos using found video footage online with an emphasis on fair use and critical thinking skills.” Mathew presented remix as as research method – and a critically important skill.
It’s been a while since I last visited KQED’s website, but I plan to make time to explore their awesome Quest page.
Designing Online Communities of Practice with Brokers of Expertise – I’m a huge fan of Brokers of Expertise (have even given a few BofE workshops), but couldn’t pass on an opportunity to hear Jon Knolle present. News flash: If you’d like to provide the California Department of Education and State Superintendent Torlakson’s Task Force with some feedback, here’s your chance, through Brokers, to share your vision for Education Technology in California Schools, share your vision for visual and performing arts and creative education in California Schools, and share your vision for STEM education in California schools.
Prezi Primer - Christine Olmstead and Randy Kolset did a great job of touring the newest features of Prezi to both those familiar with or new to Prezi. I really like the greater variety of themes as well as the option to easily upload PowerPoints.
KQED Do Now: Engage Students with Topical Issues Using Twitter - My second workshop with Mathew Williams was equally excellent. Check out the rich ways KQED’s Do Now program engages students with current issues using social media tools such as Twitter. I’ll definitely be including this site in my upcoming district Twitter workshop for administrators.
Feedback Machine: Using a Mail Merge with Google Spreadsheet for Student Communication – If you’re impressed by Flubaroo (as I am), then you will be in awe of how Alice Keeler takes instant online feedback to the next level with her Google spreadsheet tips and tricks. She’s posted the session links and tons of extras to her tech page.
Licensed to Drive … Google Style – Loved Mark Hammon’s humor, injected throughout the hour. Glad to know that when inserting images to Google Drive, the citation is automatically included. Cool.
Do You Flubaroo? How to Use the Auto-Grading Script Effectively – I’m pretty familiar with Flubaroo, but I really liked presenter Roni Habib’s suggestion to use it at the beginning of the school year to build online communities – and take it to a Wordle.
Digital ID Project - My project co-creator/curator Natalie Bernasconi and I were at first a little bummed to see our session was scheduled at the end of the conference. That soon changed, thanks to the opportunity to spend our session with some pretty incredible teachers:-).
Will definitely plan to attend next year’s Fall CUE Conference. It’s not often that a fabulous conference is within driving distance of Placerville;-)
The most painful parts of watching Netsmartz‘s powerful video Your Photo Fate are the last three clips, where we watch the facial expressions change on the boy who is a target of cyberbullying, followed by the his mother’s fallen expression, and his father’s heart-sick look.
In my job as a district technology integration specialists, I am often invited to give parent workshops on digital citizenship, with cyberbullying being the topic parents most want to discuss. I’m grateful to be able to direct parents to excellent free online resources, such as Common Sense Media’s Standing Up, Not Standing By – Cyberbullying Kit for PTA leaders. The kit includes one of my favorite tip sheets for parents, providing both background on cyberbullying and boiling it down to five essential tips to prevent cyberbullying before it happens:
Teach your kids empathy. Nothing drives home a point faster than walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. If your kids truly understand what someone else is going through, they’re less likely to bully someone — or passively witness others being bullied.
Help kids understand the line between funny and cruel. Kids’ online communication is often purposely ambiguous or accidentally cruel — both of which can lead to misunderstandings. If drama starts brewing, ask your kid to call or speak face to face with their friend to clear it up.
Make sure they talk to someone (even if it’s not you). As kids enter the middle school years, their circle of friends and trusted adults widens. Kids need a responsible adult to confide in — their school counselor, their music teacher, even the parent of a friend.Talk to your kid about who they can go to if trouble is brewing.
Help your kid be an upstander — not a bystander. Kids are hesitant to get involved, in case the bully turns their sights on them. But there are ways to allow your kid to work behind the scenes to reach out to the victim, get an adult involved, and prevent more cruel behavior.
Show your kid how to stop it. Tell kids not to respond or retaliate. Not feeding the bully can stop the cycle. And — if anything does happen — save the evidence.”
This morning, thanks to an email from Natalie Bernasconi (Digital-ID co-curator), I read Esther Cepeda’s Defining ‘bullying’ Down article. Just as Common Sense Media has articulated the importance of teaching empathy, Cepeda identifies an equally key concept parents – and educators – should be promoting: resilience.
More and more scientific evidence is pointing to resiliency — the ability to overcome adversity by using learned personal strengths such as independence, initiative, creativity and humor — as a key factor in reducing risky behaviors and increasing academic achievement in adolescents.
But we don’t teach resiliency in schools. Instead, society consistently reinforces the notion that every slight, every discomfort, every put-down or rejection is worthy of an outpouring of sympathy for a wronged victim. We’re teaching that mantra in schools and in workplace harassment seminars, and it encourages people who feel uncomfortable to turn on a perceived oppressor.
Guess who this harms? Not those who crave attention, sympathy or the spotlight, but the quiet among us who haven’t yet found a way to stand up to the honest-to-goodness bullies in their lives”
In looking over the Digital ID project’s Digital Citizenship Glossary, we have defined empathy (Common Sense Media’s first tip), but not resilience. My goal this week is to add not only the definition (text and audio file), but also find a short video or two to make this abstract concept more tangible.
Natalie and I came together as co-creators and curators of the Digital ID project through as long-time affiliation with the National Writing Project and our 2011 participation in the Krause Center for Innovation’s MERIT program. As educators, we are both committed to teaching for social justice, and, therefore, frequently ask ourselves and colleagues, “How do you teach resilience?” If you visit the Curriculum Collaborations page on the Digital ID wiki, you will see that we believe one important step is to provide our students with many samples, both fiction and non-fiction, of heroism and survival. And from there, the next step is help students see how the ability of real-life or fictional characters to actively take steps to overcome often insurmountable challenges might help them deal with the very real challenges so many of them face before, during, and after school hours.
Any suggestions for short videos or other resources for teaching about resilience would be much appreciated!
Five Octobers ago, I gave a Saturday workshop for our Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC) on A Case for Filmmaking in the Classroom. On October 20, I’ll join SECC videographer Doug Niva at the Alliance for Community Media’s Regional Conference: Merging Local Voices and Digital Technology. Our session is on …. A Case for Filmmaking in the Classroom. This morning I visited the original 6-slide presentation to see what has changed over the past few years and what remains the same.
Slide #1 – Addressing the ethical use of the Internet – needs updating. Although students are still filming and uploading locker room and school yard fights, the “ethical use of the Internet” now has a broader title: Digital Citizenship. Five years ago schools were starting to address “Internet safety, ” with “stranger danger” at the heart of new legislation. Legal mandates have evolved over the years to CIPA’s July 2012 requirement that all districts applying for e-Rate discounts must now actively be teaching students “about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking sites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response.”
Slide #2 – Promoting critical media consumption – needs an additional resource. The images below are from a 2007 keynote address from the National Council for Teachers of English’s Ernest Morrell, who elaborated on the NCTE’s then newly released definition for literacy in the 21st century by explaining a critical need to provide students with first-hand opportunities to explore and manipulate media so that they might become as skilled in reading and interpreting images as they are with decoding traditional text.
Today, I would add to the mix Renee Hobb’s research on the importance of media literacy:
“To fulfill the promise of digital citizenship, Americans must acquire multimedia communication skills that include the ability to compose messages using language, graphic design, images, and sound, and know how to use these skills to engage in the civic life of their communities. These competencies must be developed in formal educational settings, especially in K–12 and higher education, as well as informal settings. The inclusion of digital and media literacy in formal education can be a bridge across digital divides and cultural enclaves, a way to energize learners and make connections across subject areas, and a means for providing more equal opportunities in digital environments.”
Slide #3 – Providing students with multiple ways to access the core curriculum – I’ll be leaving interviews with an elementary school SEVA film producer and a middle school SEVA film producer, who share their perspectives on how the process of filmmaking translates into learning venues. But I’ll be replacing CogDogRoo’s (Alan Levine) 50+ Ways to Tell a Story with first graders explaining a math problem via video and 12th grade AP Stats students filming and editing their teacher’s lectures and then uploading them a class blog to provide students, and a worldwide audience, with 24/7 access to the lesson. Wonderfully, the sample bank of student-created core curriculum content and concepts continues to grow!
Slide #4 – Supporting a collaborative learning environment – I’ll be replacing reference to filmmaker Nikios Theodosaki’ (The Director in the classroom: How filmmaking Inspires Learning) quote that “Filmmaking is a collaborative art, requiring dozens of passionate craftspeople to bring about a focused vision onto the screen. Each brings with them their own experiences and insights and makes the final film richer and truer than the director originally imagined” (p 7) with Common Core Anchor Standards for Comprehension and Collaboration:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.”
Slide #5 – Responding to current research – Will be eliminating this slide. Between the research of Renee Hobbs and what’s gone into the Common Core in defining what students need to be career and college ready, I will have already referenced the research several times.
Slide #6 – Engaging students – I’ll replace the original SEVA Awards night clip with a more recent one. The new clip shows a student stepping up to accept an award – and having to give a completely impromptu acceptance speech….a student, who within one school year “walked the red carpet” for the first time… and also moved from “Far below basic,” almost passing beyond “Basic” and into “Proficient.” If I were limited to one justification for filmmaking in the classroom – including Title 1 sites – it would be for the impact of taking student voices beyond the walls of the classroom. When student see their work as valued by and having an impact on a genuine audience (beyond) their teacher, they are empowered and motivated to created and share content that makes a difference.
So five years later, filmmaking in the classroom remains alive and well – with Common Core Standards supporting the argument. I rest my case.
I’m thinking it’s time to fork up the $$$$ and buy an iPad. . . maybe. I’ve held off buying one, mainly because I seemed to be getting along just fine between my desktop, laptop, and iPhone.
I’ll admit to an attack of iPad envy last spring, on a trip to Europe. I opted to pay for a texting only plan to keep in touch with friends and family. Sometimes the texts went through, sometimes not. My traveling companions with iPads, however, definitely had many more options for sharing their trip, ranging from filming, to snapshots, to email, to Skyping.
Yesterday was almost the tipping point. With a Google Teacher Academy coming to California (Mountain View) in December, I was working on the last part of my application: a one-minute video. I teach in a PC district, and therefore use free, Windows-compatible video tools (MovieMaker and PhotoStory). I’ve resisted purchasing, for instance, Adobe Elements mainly because in the workshops I do for my district and region, I don’t want teachers to have to turn around and purchase software when they leave my workshops. But after watching a few teacher-created GTA application videos on YouTube, I was wishing I had access to the many nifty, full of bells ‘n whistles, incredibly professional looking templates that always come with any of Apple’s video creation tools.
The absolute tipping point for buying an iPad, however, will be finding at least 3 powerful apps for an adult English language learner. A friend recently returned from a trip to Africa. During her 3-week tour, she formed a friendship with a young man (Maasai), who would very much like to improve his English skills. She is sending him an iPad and would like to load it with a few apps for learning and practicing English. Overwhelmed by the number of available apps, both free and fee-based, she asked me for some recommendations.
Can you recommend any apps for my friend to upload to the iPad? Once I have 3 recommendations, I’m heading the nearest Apple store and buying my first iPad.
Despite cutbacks and more cutbacks and very shaky state funding for public education, teachers in my district continue to offer exceptional learning opportunities for their students.
As California voters head to the polls in November, if they have any doubts about the importance of Governor Brown’s proposed Temporary Taxes to Fund Education-Guaranteed Public Safety Funding (a constitutional amendment that would raise personal income tax on yearly earnings over $250,000 for five years, with most of the revenue dedicated to K-12 schools), maybe the video below will help persuade them.
Shawn Sullivan is a phenomenal teacher. I want voters to realize they could be paying big bucks to send their kids to private schools in the region, but I doubt they’ll be able to find an Animations class that matches the level of instruction, expectations, and opportunities afforded to Shawn’s students.
I want to further boast that the list of innovative, dedicated teachers in my district is a long one. A year ago, I posted the link to the Teach 21 wiki, with samples of teachers from across grade levels and disciplines, sharing best practices. Currently, videographer Doug Niva, who filmed Shawn’s piece, is helping me document the cross-curricular ways teachers are weaving digital citizenship into the core curriculum. I hope to post those samples soon.
Good things are happening in my district and across California public schools.
I’ve been home from the 2012 Partners in Learning US Forum for a week now, and my feet still have not touched ground. Amazing how much creative energy and innovation can be packed into a three-day event!
Over the next month or two, I will highlight some of my favorite projects, such as 2nd grade teacher Joli Barker, whose integration of gaming into the Magic Tree House series takes technology to a new level! What I already realize is that a huge part of the PiLUS experience is the way the connections, conversations, and inspiration impact the next school year.
For a glimpse into the energy levels present every minute/hour/day of the PiLUS 2012 US Forum, check out the Call Me Maybe video below (sorry U.S. Olympic swimmers to cut in on your video theme, but this one is about teaching and learning in 21st century classrooms:-)
As for our collaborative Digital ID project, my co-curator/creator Natalie Bernasconi and I are already looking at new ways to showcase student-created content – with innovation, extended learning, and teachers/students as agents of change (all rubric points for PiLUS judges) driving our decision making.