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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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?”
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
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.
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
Lisa Nowakowski: Hidden Gems in Google Draw – Google Drawings still seem like the overlooked stepchild of the G Suite for Education, yet Drawings offer so many practical and creative options for students and teachers.
Nancy Minicozzi: Speech to Text and Translation in Docs – As you can see from Nancy’s slideshow, there a many classroom uses for the Voice Typing option (Tools dropdown). My favorite is not included: Voice Typing is built into Docs and, therefore, does not require downloading as an Add-on or extension. In my district, although teachers can download any Add-ons or extensions, students cannot, due to a school board policy that does not allow students to enter into contracts with 3rd party developers (it’s that part of the download that requires the student to agree to the developers’ terms and conditions). Thank you, Google for integrating this powerful tool directly into Docs!
Matt Vaudrey: Teacher Report Card – Here’s a great conversation starter for your next faculty meeting. I’d love to see a companion piece where students create what they would consider a meaningful student report card 😉.
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.
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.
#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.
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.”
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
“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
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.”
“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.”
From Common Sense
Grade 3 The Power of Words – What should you do when someone uses mean or hurtful language on the internet?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
MediaWise is part of the Google News Initiative, funded by Google.org, and aims to teach 1 million teenagers how to spot fake news on the internet by 2020, with at least half of them coming from undeserved or low-income communities.
The centerpiece of the project is a new curriculum being written by grant partner Stanford History Education Group that will be available to schools across the country in the fall of 2019. Stanford is writing this curriculum after studying how professional fact-checkers, college students and historians navigate digital information. The foundation of the Stanford lessons is built on skills that professional fact-checkers use after Stanford discovered that fact-checkers and journalists are more critical and think very differently about what they read on the internet and how they sort through misleading or flat-out false information.”
Students-teaching-students is a powerful teaching model. We have included a video in the Explore section of a teacher talking to other teachers about fact-checking and lateral reading. We would love to replace this video with a student-created video, slideshow and/or infographic to show what lateral reading looks like from the perspective and experience of a student fact-checker. Go for it!”
We extend the above invitation to students across the globe.
Media Literacy / Digital Citizenship 4 Themes by Elk Grove Unified School District is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
I’ve marked my calendar for 5:00 pm (PT), February 6, to join Kristen Mattson for the #michED Tweet chat on digital citizenship.
Tweet chats are public conversations, via Twitter, connected by a unique hashtag (#). If you haven’t participated in a Tweet chat before, I can promise you it’s a fast-moving hour! For that reason, I’m drafting my initial responses to Kristen’s seven questions in advance so I can fully focus on the chat. Thank you, Rachelle Wynkoop, for posting and sharing the questions a week ahead via the graphic below.
Each of the seven chat questions invites discussion at a global, national, district or school site level, starting with Q1. The challenge is to limit your answers to 280 characters (the maximum number of characters allowed by Twitter).
Q1: To help develop a shared understanding of ‘digital citizenship’ as a concept, please complete this sentence:
I want my students to be digital citizens who can/are ____________.
A1: I want want my students to be digital citizens who are ready and willing to confront hate speech & other acts of intolerance by crossing the line from bystander to upstander, changing school culture and climate where/when needed. #michED
Q2: Who “owns” digital citizenship lessons in your school or district? When/where are students receiving these lessons?
A2: We are hoping to see a shift in our district from #DigCit lessons being taught as stand alone lessons during advisory period or computer lab time to a more integrated approach. We are also reaching out to see if/how other districts evaluate #digcit on report cards. #michED
Q3: A lot of digital citizenship curriculum focus on personal behaviors over skill development. What are some of the skills digital citizens need to be successful in global communities? How are you helping students gain those skills?
A3: Using technology to take student voices beyond the classroom and zip code is a priority. Today thru tools like blogging,videoconferencing, VoiceThreading, etc., students can effectively read, write and communicate with authentic audiences on topics they care about. #michED
Q4: Digital citizens should have opportunities to explore digital ethics. For example, “Should the government be able to access data collected by private companies?” What areas of digital ethics do you think students should explore?
A4: Although protecting online privacy is one of four main themes for our district #digcit program, this year we’re putting a focus on protecting student data privacy. The sample question is a great one to spark classroom conversations and drive interest-based research. #michED
Q5: A hot topic in digital citizenship right now is balance. How do you balance time online and off? What does “balance” mean to you? How might you help student reflect on their digital practices and achieve a healthy balance?
A5: I’m trying to find that balance myself. If I were in the classroom, I might share my “screen time diet” plan, which starts with cutting back on the number of times I check my phone. Will also be using iPhone’s screen time weekly stats. #michED
Q6: Reflect on your own knowledge and abilities as a teacher of digital citizens. What is one way you can grow this year? How might you go about improving your content knowledge or practice?
A6: In 2018, #MediaLiteracy for students was a top priority. In 2019, #MediaLiteracy/#DigCit for adults is a priority. We could all benefit from a #MediaLit skill set. Would love to hear what others are doing on this topic. #michED
Q7. What are some of your favorite resources for teaching digital citizens? Hit us up with links to activities, blog posts, books and more.
A7: Common Sense is at the top of my list. I love the range of relevant resources, for parents as well as for students and teachers, covering all areas of #DigCit. #michED
I’m looking forward to joining and learning from Wednesday’s #DigCit chat. If you would like to join the chat, but need a little guidance on how Tweet chats work, here is a great guide from Janet Fouts. If you cannot join the chat live, you can always follow up on the questions and answers by putting #michED into your Twitter search bar.
If you have read any of my recent blog posts, you know that I’ve participated in a number of state and national technology conferences. I welcome the opportunity to learn about new technology tools, activities and strategies teachers across the state and nation are excited about. But I also believe in the power of offering an annual technology conference within our own school districts. Hence, last Saturday I joined over 300 teachers and administrators for Elk Grove Unified School District’s 4th annual Digital Kids, Digital Classroom Saturday Seminar.
Like any well-thought out conference, it’s always a good idea to bring in an inspiring, energizing keynote speaker who can set the tone for an exceptional day of learning, sharing and networking. That speaker was Glen Warren, Encinitas Union School District‘s “Director of Literacies, Outreach, and Libraries, in other words, he is the LOL Director.”
Keynote speaker Glen Warren kicks off #SatSeminar19 .
Last May, my colleague Kathleen Watt and I attended the California Department of Education’s first Media & Information Literacy Summit here in Sacramento. Minutes into Glen’s keynote, Kathleen and I turned to each other, nodded and gave each other the thumbs up, meaning that Glen Warren had to be the keynote speaker for our 2019 Digital Kids, Digital Classroom Saturday Seminar. Mission accomplished.
My goal for Session 1 was to circulate around the Cosumnes Oaks High School to make sure all our presenters were good to go on the tech end. In addition to 13 sessions to choose from, 12 lucky teachers, on a first come/first served basis, signed up for one of five Escape the Bus experiences, a collaborative group break out challenge.
Escape Bus – Team 2 #SatSeminar
What the Escape Bus participants did not know was that, at the end of the day, we would be raffling off 3 tickets to bring the bus for a full day to the winning ticket holders’ school sites.
For Session 2, I joined our Director of Technology Services for the What You Should Know Before Clicking “I Accept” workshop. Below is our session description:
Balancing new technologies with the need to protect student privacy and data might seem like a daunting challenge, but it is also a must-have skill in an age when data privacy issues are increasingly in the headlines. Come learn the legal requirements, explore free classroom resources, and leave empowered to safeguard student data and to help your students do the same.
Thank you Common Sense for all the tips, tools and resources to help teachers and parents protect our students’/children’s online privacy. We hope our attendees left the session with better understanding of why, as a district, we block apps or websites that are not FERPA, COPPA, or CA AB 1584 compliant.
I had the privilege of joining the incredible combo of Erica Swift and Cathe Petuya for theirAmplifying Student Voice Through Videoconferencing session. When teachers open up the walls of their classroom via videoconferencing, this is when tech integration becomes transformative, enabling learning opportunities in ways not possible without the technology (as explained in the SAMR framework). I’ve been a long-time advocate of videoconferencing, which, today with free programs such as Skype, Google Hangout, and Zoom, can easily connect your students with NASA scientists, authors, subject matter experts, other classrooms and California State Parks. Via the PORTS program (California Parks Online Resources for Students and Teacher), we were able to bring Ranger Jenny Comperda, live from Calaveras Big Trees State Park, into our session.
Note: The signature PORTS videoconference, Carroll Elementary & Columbia State Park, features Cathe and her 2nd graders, and the Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly videoconference features Erica and her students. In both examples, which are from a few years back, we used a $6,000 Polycom camera. Today, our classrooms connect via a $35 webcam. I cannot imagine a subject area or topic that could not be extended through the power of videoconferencing.
Session 4 was my first opportunity to co-present with EGUSD 6th grade teacher Conrad Bituin for our Twitter: The Absolute Best PD on the Planetsession. What a fun session to end the day with! Kind of amazing, but if you click on the live Twitter stream below (from Julianna Hedstrom’s session Tweet), from across the globe, Edublogger Kathleen Morris replied to the Tweet…Welcome to the Twittersphere! Love the many ways Twitter helps us become connected learners and educators.
As in the past, we ended our Digital Kids, Digital Classroom Saturday Seminar by bringing everyone together for a raffle. This year we went a little over the top with prizes. As I mentioned above, three very lucky attendees had the winning tickets to bring the Escape Bus to their school site for a full day of digital age collaboration and learning.
Start to finish, #SatSeminar19 was a wonderful district-based event and day. Because our own teachers are the presenters, attendees will leave each session truly able to implement their seminar takeaways on Monday – without running into filtering issues or mandated student privacy laws followed by individual districts and/or specific states (which can be the downside of national tech conference takeaways).
Thank you to all who attended #SatSeminar19. Thank you to Glen Warren for the wonderful keynote + 3 break out sessions. And a big thank you to Julianna Hedstrom (Roseville Joint USD) for being our Honorary Librarian of the day.