BlogWalker

Muddling through the blogosphere

July 5, 2019
by blogwalker
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Unpacking #ISTE19

Oh my, #ISTE19, so many great sessions, presenters, and takeaways! Due to a fractured right hand (the result of a bike accident in Holland), my notes are a little sketchy, but, hopefully, will provide you with a window into this year’s amazing annual technology conference for educators.

Day 1 (Sunday)

Listen to This! Tech Tools for Listening/Speaking – Katherine Goyote: This year, a conference priority was to bring back resources and tips for boosting students’ speaking and listening skills (which are now included in my district’s new elementary report card). Katherine’s session was outstanding and her presentation is one of my top takeaways.

Did you know that, via your device’s microphone, you can now enable closed captioning while presenting with Google Slides? What a powerful option, not only for hearing impaired students, but also for our ELs.

Throughout the session, Katherine stressed the importance of listening as an active activity and that listening must be purposeful, with opportunities to interact. She encouraged us to explore speaking and listening tools such as Screencastify and resources like Eric Palmer: PVLEGS. How about a YouTube video to illustrate what active listening does NOT look like:

Be sure to checkout Katherine’s blog: WonderExploreLearn.

B.Y.O. Digital Citizenship: Hands-On Pathways to Drive Change – It was a privilege to join Dr. Mike Ribble (author, ISTE DigCit PLN), Dr. Marty Park (Chief Digital Officer, Kentucky Dept.of Ed.), Dr. Kerri Stubbs (BrainPop), Mike Jones (Illinois State University- Lab School), and students from Kentucky’s Bourbon High School for this dynamic panel discussion on digital citizenship resources. What a great audience we had, including teachers from Mexico City and Guadalajara.

My big takeaway was Kentucky’s Digital Driver’s License program. Thanks to Marty Parks’ vision, teachers and students in Kentucky school districts need to complete the DDL requirements before signing out a school laptop. The goal is for students and staff to move from digital literacy to digital fluency. I’m excited to learn more about the collaborative efforts of Marty and Mike Ribble to seamlessly integrate digital citizenship into the school day and subject areas.

Beyond the Slideshow: Unleashing Student Creativity With Google Slides – Eric Curts: I’ve been a long-time fan of Eric Curts. His generosity in sharing and posting technology tips and resources is much appreciated by a broad national audience (34.4K followers on Twitter). Eric’s session slideshow is the most complete walk thru of Google Slides I’ve ever seen. Did you know Google has recently made it easier to embed audio in a slide? Yay!

When are Facts Not Facts? Media Literacy in 2019 – Susan Brooks-Young: Susan’s ISTE 2018 session on media literacy was one of my favorites, so I hurried across the convention center to join her 2019 session. Although she did not share her slideshow, here’s the link to her resources. Just added CBC Deep Fakes Explained Video to my #MediaLiteracy bookmarks.

Day 2 (Monday)

Creative Storytelling With Adobe Spark – Claudio Zavala: I became an instant fan of Adobe Spark earlier this year when I realized this free, high-quality Adobe presentation product automatically attached Creative Commons licensing to any images inserted from their Unsplash/Pixabay/Noun Project collections. Claudio Zavala, logically and stunningly, used Adobe Spark for his session presentation. He is a wonderful presenter and is right up there with Eric Curts in sharing and posting resources and tutorials on his website. Here is the link to his Adobe Spark tutorials playlist.

Becoming an Awesome Digital Citizenship Leader – Dr. Mike Ribble and Dr. Marty Park: The link to Mike and Mark’s presentation will give you an idea of the scope and sequence of their session and their combined wealth of knowledge and resources. I’m looking forward to conversations back in my district on how to promote #DigCit leadership at our school sites. Kathleen Watt (co-director of our #DigCit program) and I are hoping that by opening our Digital Citizenship workshops to faculty and staff (not just our site coordinators), we will leave no grown ups behind in understanding and tapping into what it means to be a contributing citizen in a digital age.

Copy of autographed book

Digital Citizenship: 3 educators, 2 frameworks, 1 shared visionDr. LeeAnn Lindsey, Dr. Kristen Mattson, Nancy Watson: Loved having three of my major #DigCit role models presenting together, with each posting a page of great resources. I recommend starting with Nancy’s Everyday DigCit App:

An important session takeaway: Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and #DigCit should go hand-in-hand across the school day.

”Not all adults in our students’ lives are positive #digcit role models. We can be that role model.” Nancy Watson

Real or Fake? Strategies for Truth Finding – Dean Shareski: Although Dean did not share his presentation, the websites he shared for teaching media literacy were some of my best #ISTE19 takeaways:

  • simitator.com – Facebook Status Generator: “Build your own fake Facebook Status and prank your friends. You can change ANYTHING, use emoticons and even upload your own profile photos for post and comments. This generator is in no way associated with Facebook. All graphical material is protected by the copyright owner. May only be used for personal use.”
  • Crap Detector Resources – From Howard Rheingold, inspired by Ernest Hemmingway’s words: “The essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, bullshit detector.”
  • Science VS – “Science Vs takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between. Science Vs is produced by Gimlet Media.”
  • Pixomatic.us – “Whether it’s removing the background from an image, making a double exposure, adding in text or retouching a favorite pic, Pixomatic photo editor has everything you need to customize your images.”
  • FotoForensics – “Submit a JPEG or PNG for forensic analysis.”
  • Media Bias/Fact Check – “We are the most comprehensive media bias resource on the internet. There are currently 2800+ media sources listed in our database and growing every day. Don’t be fooled by Fake News sources. Use the search feature above (Header) to check the bias of any source. Use name or url.”

Monday Night Highlight: National Writing Project Reunion

A wonderful #ISTE19 memory: An after dinner walk with Troy Hicks, Sandy Hayes, Erin Wilkey Oh, me, and Christina Cantrill = 13 years of a shared #NWP digital writing learning journey.

Day 3 (Tuesday)

Going Rogue With Microsoft — Complete With Tips and Tricks – Leslie Fisher: I’m excited about the multiple ways MS Office 360’s new tools take Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to new levels for accessibility, creating, and presenting. Thank you, Leslie, for sharing your session presentation.

I recommend clicking on every single one of Leslie’s hyperlinks for insights into extending teaching and learning via MS Office 360, starting with the immersive reader tools for Word and the Presenter Coach in PowerPoint:

Beyond SAMR: 6 Design Questions for Empowered Teaching and Learning – Alan November: Over the past 10 years, I’ve had the privilege of hearing Alan November present at a number of conferences…and every time I leave with new takeaways:

  • Bing VS. Google – Just a reminder not to limit searches to Google. Try using http://bvsg.org/ to see Bing and Google search results side-by-side.
  • MathTrain.TV – Students teaching students has always been the most powerful model for learning. “The evidence is overwhelming that students will watch student-created videos over & over.”
  • PRISM – “Prism was created by novice student developers in the Praxis Program. Prism is a tool for “crowd sourcing interpretation. Users are invited to provide an interpretation of a text by highlighting words according to different categories, or ‘facets.’Each individual interpretation then contributes to the generation of a visualization which demonstrates the combined interpretation of all the users. We envision Prism as a tool for both pedagogical use and scholarly exploration, revealing patterns that exist in the subjective experience of reading a text.”

Common Sense Education #ISTE19 Booth – As a Common Sense Ambassador and long-time fan of the innovative, continually updated ways Common Sense “supports K-12 schools with free, timely, research-based tools that take the guesswork out of teaching in the digital age,” I loved joining the team in the vendor’s hall for a couple of hours to meet and greet the many educators who stopped by to learn more about Common Sense resources or who just wanted to thank this dynamic organization for its on-going commitment to supporting digital citizenship and media literacy education.

Common Sense Team #ISTE19

Day 4 (Wednesday)

Hey Google … Take Me on a Trip – Tricia Louis: I loved this session. Tricia Louis delivered on her program description: “Explore tools that focus on how to use maps and other geographical-based information in any content area. Tools that will be shared will be Google MyMaps, Google Tour Builder, Google Earth, Google Tour Creator/Poly, Google Story Speaker and GeoGussr.”

Over the past few years, I’ve dabbled a bit with most of these tools, but Tricia’s beautiful presentation is the motivation I need to revisit some of my travel posts, such as Holland with Hannie, and transform them into interactive explorations.

Conscientious Creativity: Where Creation and Copyright IntersectDr. Monica Burns, Kerry Gallagher, Kristina Ishmael, Lynn Kleinmeyer: Copyright and fair use are topics I teach and follow with great interest, always on the lookout for new resources and insights. I’ve been sharing Kerry Gallagher’s Educator’s Guide to Creativity and Copyright in my workshops, so it was fun to hear her present this resource. And I’ve become a big fan of Monica Burn’s work with Adobe Spark – a free program for teachers and school districts that automatically includes Creative Commons licensing with any images uploaded from their collections (drawn from Unsplash, Pixabay, and the Noun Project) – a built in digital citizenship lesson.

Besides the infused humor, pace, and inter-activeness of their presentation, I loved the simplicity and design of their session slideshow.

ISTE Author Spotlight: Fighting Fake News: Teaching Media Literacy in the Digital Age – Darren Hudgins: I ran across 3 buildings to catch the last few minutes of Darren Hudgins‘ ISTE Authors Spotlight session. I left this last #ISTE19 session not only with an autographed copy of Fact VS. Fiction: Teaching Critical thinking in the Age of Fake News but also with a copy of the Fighting Fake News Jump Start Guide. (Note to Self: Find funding to purchase the Jump Start Guide as a give-away for upcoming Media Literacy workshops.)


 


Thank you to the ISTE Team and all who presented and generously shared  insights and resources – and especially to Sandy Hayes and my @WritingProject colleagues – for making #ISTE19 an unforgettable learning experience. Philadelphia, I miss you already.

July 1, 2019
by blogwalker
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Holland – 2019 Bike & Barge Trip

We can see; we must begin
To honor all who came before…
I am like you and you’re like me.
TOGETHER
WE
Saw a world no eye should see
Which I as yet may not forget.

               Hannie J. Ostendorf Voyles

I’m in Holland for the week, my 4th time to join Hannie Voyles for a bike & barge trip across this beautiful country. Knowing that Hannie intends for this to be her last bike & barge excursion, I think it’s important that this time I document her insights into the history of Holland, the impact of WWII, and how targeted populations can move forward from the past.

Day 1 – June 8, our start date, was the rainiest, windiest day I’ve ever spent in Holland. No matter. Hannie was already on board the Liza Marleen barge when my Sacramento travel companions Cathe Petuya, Marianne Deming, and I arrived.

We dropped off our suitcases and headed out with Hannie and the rest of our bike & barge team for a rooftop lunch at the beautiful Amsterdam Library.

We were back at the barge in time for our first dinner on board. Dinners on the Liza Marleen are a wonderful dining experience and an opportunity to get to know your fellow travelers, to reflect on the day’s adventures and to plan for the next day.

 

After dinner, I joined Hannie, her granddaughter Jennifer, and fellow traveler Carol for an evening stroll. Although I’ve walked past the landmark Basilica of Saint Nikolas on every trip, this was the first time to enter the Basilica – just in time to hear a beautiful performance by a choral group, made even more spectacular by the acoustics, domed ceilings, stained glass windows, and carved arches. No photos allowed, so thank you, StephenCDickson for sharing the one below.

Day 2 – Following breakfast, we were off for our first day of biking across Holland. Our destination was Leiden, via Haarlem, where the barge would be waiting for us. Change of plans. Due to a draw bridge malfunction, the Liza Marleen could go no further than Haarlem.

Our guide, Anita, quickly came up with another bike route: a 50 mile trip through Haarlem, up sand dunes, out to the North Sea, and back through Harlem.

 

This was my first time to explore Haarlem’s  Grote Market Square  and the Cathedral of St. Bavo (thank you, Deemster, for sharing the photo).

Day 3 – Off to Leiden – It’s always a toss up on a bike & barge trip between the beauty of the next town and the equally spectacular stretches of villages and pasture lands in between towns. According to the tag on my iPhone, this fun-to-climb tower is located near Zandvoort.

This trip was also my first ride through the outskirts of Alsmeer and then crossing the Ringvaart Canal by ferry en route to Leiden.

You can feel yourself stepping/riding back in time from the minute you enter Leiden through its historic gates.

Leiden’s history dates back to the 15th century. Its university was founded in 1575, a right given the city for its role in helping end the Spanish occupation. The pilgrims lived here for a short time in the early 17th century before sailing to the New World. Leiden is definitely one of my favorite cities for biking, walking, shopping.

Day 4 – Delft – Today, rather than bike, I stayed on the barge with Hannie, who, unfortunately, had a bad fall coming into Leiden and needed some recovery time. Els, our barge captain, announced the night before that the canal ride from Leiden to Delft was her favorite part of the tour, as we would be sailing down the Vliet Canal. From windmills, to a wedding procession, to draw bridges – our deck provided lovely close-up views into village life.

We sailed into Delft ready to enjoy the magnificent Old Centre. In addition to outdoor cafes, restaurants, and shops to explore, a talented band from a local high school entertained and energized all who were fortunate to be at the Centre.

Oh, but the tower of the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), second tallest church tower in Holland, beckoned to/challenged all passers-by to climb the steep and narrow winding staircase (376 steps) to the top. Four of us could not resist (thank you fellow travelers Michelle and Joan and bike & barge tour leader Anita for leading the charge). Wish I could have captured the breathtaking views with a 365 degree camera.

I passed on a visit to the Delft factory, as I had been there on a previous trip. Having the day to kick back in the Old Centre, do a little tower climbing, check out the shops, and snack on bitterballen made for an amazing day.

On to Rotterdam.

Day 5 – Rotterdam / Kinderdijk / Gouda – Today’s route started with a ferry ride through Rotterdam. This major port city was heavily bombed by the Germans during WWII and has been almost completely reconstructed. Rotterdam is now known for its bold, modern architecture, which includes skyscrapers, a rare site in Holland. Although I’ve biked through Rotterdam before, the ferry boat ride provided a glimpse into the hustle and bustle of Europe’s largest port. Even Noah’s Ark is moored here.

Although the above photo (shared by nschaten) shows the port on a sunny day, our ferry boat was crossing the Nieuwe Mass, a distributary of the Rhine River, during a downpour that pretty much followed us throughout the day. As we approached Kinderdijk, it was time to put on rain jackets and grab our bikes.

Throughout Holland’s history, managing water has been an essential occupation in a country that is surrounded by water and below sea level. Canals and windmills initially served this purpose; today electric pumping stations are taking on the task. Stepping into one of the Kinderdijk windmills and seeing the multilevel, compact working and living quarters of a miller and family members is a window into an occupation critical to much of Holland’s early history.

BTW, the windmills of Kinderdijk have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

From Kinderdijk, we headed out on our bikes into the rain en route to Gouda. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, my front tire got caught in the rear tire of my Canadian friend Shirley’s bike. I don’t really remember the fall, but I might have outdone Hannie, whose wounds were quickly healing. Nevertheless. within minutes, I was back on my bike headed to Gouda, one of my favorite cities.

Thank goodness for flesh-colored bandages that kind of/sort of made us both presentable for dinner on the barge.

Day 6 – Gouda – Gouda is known not only for its cheese, but also for its stroopwafels, stained class windows, fairy-tale-like town hall, and iconic canals.

Understandably, Gouda is a top tourist destination. Thank you, Wikipedia, for posting the historical highlights and photos of Gouda.

Day 7 – Oude Wetering – The good news about day 7 was that Hannie was back riding again. The bad news was that, due my fractured right hand, I would not be riding. And our tour guide Anita informed us that Oude Wetering had absolutely nothing of interest to see and to prepare myself for a boring day. Even Wikipedia has nothing much to say about this little town, summarizing it in 3 sentences.

Oude Wetering is a village in the Dutch province of South Holland. It is located in the municipality of Kaag en Braassem, east of the town of Roelofarendsveen.

A bridge connects the village to the village of Weteringbrug in the Haarlemmermeer.

Waving good-bye to my fellow travelers, I set off on a walk. I pledge to find out more about the tiny historic building, the only photo I took, and then upload it to the Wikipedia page.

Oh, but the boat ride from Oude Wetering to Amsterdam was wonderful, with a full day of sunshine. It was also the last day to travel down the canals on the Liza Marleen.

Day 8 – Amsterdam – Day 8 was the icing on the bike & barge trip: a tour of Amsterdam with Hannie. I have walked the streets of Amsterdam with Hannie before and every time is a personalized learning journey.  Her insights into the war years are through the eyes of a Holocaust survivor, who, as a child, lived on the 2nd floor (above the Brood sign) in an apartment building just around the corner from Nazi headquarters (formerly a girls Catholic boarding school). The apartment entry staircase still has the step down at the top where, as a youngster, out foraging after curfew, Hannie often hid from Nazi patrols.

She played in the same neighborhood as Anne Frank and, for a time, attended the same Montessori school, a few years behind Anne.

We stopped at the 1st Montessori School to remember the children who did not survive the war – and are now honored by a plaque inscribed with Hannie’s commemorative words.

Not far from the school, a monument stands in honor of 100+ Dutchmen, ages 15-50, who were  executed during a razzia (Nazi round up of Jews) in retaliation for the burning of a home occupied by a Nazi officer.

There is a peacefulness about Holland’s WWII monuments. They are beautifully maintained, in plain site, and stand in honor of and as visible reminders of the past.

As we headed back to the Liza Marleen, we made one more stop, our last chance to share a plate of bittenballen and toast to the beauty of Holland and a fantastic trip. We ended the evening with a boat tour of Amsterdam.

I love Holland.

I don’t think there could possibly be a better way to tour Holland than with someone who was born and raised there, witnessed and survived WWII, returns annually, and is also a gifted poet and writer. To bike & barge across Holland with Hannie Voyles is an unforgettable opportunity to experience the past and to celebrate our shared humanity.

Holland with Hannie

We Ride
Under sun-filled skies, ever-shifting clouds, downpours, soaring grey herons

Across bridges, through fields of flowers, cattle, and sheep, village lanes, and city roads – we ride

We walk
Down boats ramps, into city squares and shops filled with  savory cheeses, rich, rich chocolates, espressos, cappuccinos, and blue & white treasures – we walk

We bond
Over spicy hot bitterballen, steaming bowls of soup and more, freshly made just for us, sharing stories of the day’s ride, and with glasses raised in celebration of an extraordinary journey – we bond

We ride

#HollandWithHannie


One last…photo opp, trip to the Flower Market, puppy snuggle, sunset over Amsterdam

 

May 19, 2019
by blogwalker
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Social Media, Cyberbullying and the Role of the Bystander – Change Is Coming

Throughout history, the role of the bystander has been attributed to inciting countless bad things to happen. Today, bystanders are involved in most cyberbullying incidents – with no consequences for their actions or lack of action. Change is coming.

Thursday evening, my colleague Kathleen Watt and I headed over to Joseph Kerr Middle School to attend a Parent Night presentation from the Organization for Social Media Safety (SMS).

Ed Peisner, who founded SMS in 2017, opened his presentation with a short video to explain the organization’s mission.

In response to the 2017 vicious, debilitating attack on his son Jordan, which was filmed by the attacker’s friend and then uploaded to social media (Snapchat), Ed took action. In addition to forming the SMS, he dedicated himself to working with public policy. Within the year, and in collaboration with California Assemblymember Matt Dababneh, Ed spearheaded the passing of AB 1542, AKA Jordan’s Law. The law makes it a criminal offense to deliberately record an attack for the purpose of posting it on social media, and, in some cases, the person filming and posting the video (bystanders) could also be charged.

Speaker Ed Peisner

Peisner views AB 1542 as a step forward for change. But he’s not stopping there. He is currently working on “groundbreaking social media safety legislation at the state level and with local school boards on enhancing social media safety policies.”

In Jordan’s case, only the perpetrator, who did not even know Jordan, was charged with a crime. The bystanders, including the young woman partnering with the perpetrator to film the attack, were not. Typically the perpetrators commit the act of bullying/cyberbullying and recording/posting to social media for the purpose of gaining “likes”, more important to them than the consequences of their actions. Without the bystanders, the attack on Jordan would likely not have happened. It is because of bystanders that history all too often repeats itself.

I recommend visiting the SMS website and signing up for their newsletter. I’m also following the organization on Twitter to help keep on top of the ever-changing social media issues that impact the lives and safety of our students and their families.

I look forward to future Parent Nights and student rallys with Ed Peisner and enthusiastically support the work and goals of SMS:

SMS is the nation’s first non-profit that serves as a consumer protection organization focused solely on social media safety. SMS protects families from all social media-related dangers including cyberbullying, violence, hate speech, human trafficking, and propaganda through innovative educational programming,legislative and regulatory advocacy, and technology development.” 

If your state has legislation in place addressing possible legal consequences for cyberbullying offenses, please leave a comment with the information. I would love to see a national movement in confronting cyberbullying and the role of the bystander spread to all 50 states.

May 6, 2019
by blogwalker
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Storming the Tulips – #HollandWithHannie

Next month I will return to Holland for my 4th Cycle Tours bike & barge trip with Holocaust survivor, author, and community activist Hannie Voyles. Having recently turned 86, Hannie has proclaimed the 10-day tour/ride/learning adventure to be the last she will lead.

At a time when anti-semitism is on the rise and findings from a recently released survey show that many adults, especially millennials (18-32), lack basic knowledge of what happened during the Holocaust, supporting Holocaust education is more important than ever.

I’m proud that my school district includes the Holocaust in their history/social science curriculum, and that many middle school English/language arts teachers introduce the topic to their 7th graders through the Diary of Anne Frank.

I too was a 7th grader when I read Anne Frank’s story. Sixty years later, Anne’s story, words, and images remain in my heart. Her diary made visible to me the impact of propaganda and hate in ways the staggering statistics of  the Holocaust could not. They were too unthinkable, unspeakable, unimaginable to a 12 year old – and still are.

In many ways, Anne’s story was life-changing, starting me on a journey that led to attending the Shoah Institute (back when it was on a backlot of Universal Studios), joining the TOLI Holocaust Educators Network, making the pilgrimage to Manzanar, initiating the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project, joining humanitarian Carl Wilkens for a journey to Rwanda – and, of course, inspiring me to join Hannie for three previous bike & barge journeys.

And there is a direct connection between Anne’s story and Hannie’s story. In 1940, when the Nazis stormtroopers “stormed the tulips,” Anne and Hannie lived in the same neighborhood and attended the same school.

Anne Frank, Montessori School, Amsterdam

Hannie Voyles, Montessori School, Amsterdam

“Anne Frank was just a few years older than I was. I remember seeing her on the streets and at school, laughing and playing like ordinary children did before the Nazis invaded our country and stole our neighbors, our friends, our food, our hope, and our dignity. She was just another student, just another girl, just another child of our community.” Hannie Voyles

To bike across Holland with Hannie is an unforgettable experience. There is not an hour that goes by that she does not share an insight or a memory from a town, a street, a building, a field, a monument, etc. In a way, Hannie’s sharing her stories of survival and resilience is like “reclaiming the tulips” by not allowing some of the darkest hours of Holland’s history to be forgotten.

Our journey will begin on the evening of June 8, when we board the Liza Marleen barge, have dinner and unpack, and then take our first ride, a short one around the Amsterdam port area to make sure we’re good to go with our bikes first thing in the morning. Each evening, in a different port and after a full day of biking across the southern part of Holland, we’ll return to the Liza Marleen for dinner, spend a little time recapping the day, plan for the next day, perhaps take a short evening walk or ride, and eventually head to bed – with much anticipation for the next day’s ride.

Cycle Tours Liza Marleen barge

This year, I promise to post a daily photo journal of my 2019 Holland with Hannie adventure. #HollandWithHannie.

 

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.

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