Author Archives: Tayler Cameron

Digital Project Summary

Wow! I can’t believe how fast the time has went by! I’ve learned so much in the last few months and have definitely utilized social media in the classroom more than ever before.

socialmediabutterfly pic.jpg

My original project was implementing a classroom Twitter account and involve students in sharing their learning. However my project quickly began to evolve after I realized how little my class knew about digital citizenship and responsible online use – and yet nearly every student was using social media platforms, whether it be Snap-chat or Facebook, in some way or another. I was shocked and knew that before I just hop into using Twitter, we needed to have some important discussions and lesson around responsible internet use. What seemed to work well was using Twitter in authentic moments, while having regular lessons each week that evolved around …

  • Twitter etiquette – The language, the hashtags and all that jazz
  • The use of private and personal information
  • The power of words online
  • Keywords to give you the best search results
  • Plagiarism, it’s consequences, and when it’ acceptable to use people’s work – including citations

This wasn’t the initial direction of my project, but I quickly learned teaching about digital citizenship was going to be essential and almost more important than simply using social media in the classroom. Having conversations around appropriate internet use is going to be where most of the learning takes place this semester for my students. How could I expect them to jump in and know how to use social media without preparing them with background on responsible internet use.

As I look at our use of Twitter in the classroom I was happy about the growth I made and the lessons learned. I do believe this will become a staple within my classroom as it is a quick, easy way to share what we are doing in the classroom and connect with others in our community and around the world. There was a learning curve associated with transitioning the Twitter account from me onto the students and some difficulties associated with not having a classroom iPad. Instead students used my phone for the photo and then we drafted the tweets together from my computer projected onto the whiteboard.

Drafting Tweets:
Students learned Twitter etiquette though modelling and practice on our “Twitter Board” which involved students writing their Tweets, editing mistakes, and creating hashtags before they actually tweet it out online. This also helped us to THINK before we TWEET – something we discussed many times this year.

twitterboardpic

Here is how I see our progression of learning based on our Twitter history. At the start of this project, I set up our Twitter account, it was very little used and I was doing most of the Tweets. I was using Twitter to share our learning to parents and the community but not really giving students any ownership until my project really got started.

twitter pic 2

Slowly but surely students began taking ownership of the Tweets, at other times it was a combined class Tweet. We talked and decided as a class to use “Quotation Marks” to capture what the student said about their picture and “signed” the Tweet using first names only. I think this process of taking baby steps and working together to compile tweets, in unison of the digital citizenship curriculum made an impression on students and hopefully how they will use social media independently moving forward.

I’ve really enjoyed the flexibility within this course to learn about something I’ve always wanted to do, but have never had time to explore and try. I’m confident that this project has helped me lay the foundation for making Twitter a staple in my classroom for future years.

Check out my summary of learning here!

 

Thanks for an rewarding and enjoyable learning experience!
Tayler


Story Telling Tool Review: Explain Everything

I’m having a very indecisive week because although I knew I wanted to explore new online storytelling tools, I just couldn’t narrow it down and pick one to write my review on. After watching a short online tutorial of Touch Cast, I was instantly excited as it looked like something I would be interested in using to record my summary of learning. Unfortunately my personal iPad software is too out of date to download and my iPad “Too Old” to upgrade to the required IOS 10.0. I got excited about Blabblerize because of how comical, and although it was simple to use I felt as though I should explore a tool both my students and I might both use in the future.

After many of days of indecision… https://giphy.com/embed/VKtsOAHDx1Luo

…I finally chose to review the app: Explain Everything! And I’m glad I did!

Explain Everything is a great app that could be in all classroom, although it definitely requires some teacher help in the younger grades.  The best part is – this app can be

Image result for explain everything logo

literally used to explain anything and everything! It’s a tool used to create and design. Both students can explain their ideas, generate stories, and create presentations with voice overs. I can see this being a great tool for teachers to explain new content to students and would definitely benefit a flipped classroom environment as everything you do on the screen (both audio and visual tracks) can be recorded. Can’t find that perfect video for the content you’re teaching – create exactly what you want using Explain Everything! Draw, change and manipulate objects on your screen, or import or your own slides and record your own audio and visual over top. There are so many way to use this app, I give it two thumbs up!


Pros:

  • Flexible Tool – Bring to life any topic you want to in virtually any way you want to use a template or blank canvas.
  • Easy to understand tutorial videos
  • The video-cast ability allows voice over when looking at websites online, voice over drawings made within the app or any image or file you import.
  • Easily export video as an mp4 file which can play on any device or drop right into your google drive.
  • Easy to use with Google Classroom – students could offer feedback recording over classmates projects as informal assessment.

Image result for prosCons:

  • 30 day free-trial (whoo-hoo!) but will have to pay when the free trial is up
  • Kind of a pain that this app doesn’t work with my work laptop – but I’m sure I’ll get over it

This doesn’t have to be used just to record video, but could be used in place as an interactive whiteboard when teaching lessons. If you can hook your device up to your projector this app could potentially allow your boring old projector to become an interactive whiteboard by mirroring the work done on your device and projecting it to the whiteboard for others to see.  Import a lesson, a poem, a picture, a document etc. and allow students to use the Explain Everything pen or other tool options to edit, add or manipulate your document during a lesson, in the moment – right in front of your students eyes. Don’t just tell them about something – show them!

This app has tons of options. At first it may seem overwhelming if you’ve never really used a  tool before. However, it is an app that is relatively easy to use, with plenty of tutorials and a thorough help guide available when you get stuck! The way in which you choose to “Explain Everything” is endless. I think this tool allows for endless creativity for both teachers and students. My only frustration was not knowing exactly what I was creating or what I could really do with program at first – but after a few tutorials I was able to play around and could quickly see the potential of these learning tool.

If you are completely new to this concept like me, I found this webinar very helpful. It’s a bit longer but very thorough and walks through the key things you need to know!

 


Is this app worth checking out? That’s a big yes from me!

Until next time,

Tayler


Connecting With Others Via Twitter

Follow my learning journey of bringing Twitter into the classroom by following our class @CameronsCorner1

We have been primarily using Twitter as a communication tool with our families. Students have been very eager to share what they are doing in the classroom on Twitter and caption their photo.

I’ve personally tried to connect with other teachers more by following another teachers tip given to me on Twitter – connect with teachers in your division by following Regina Public School’s as they often share other teacher’s tweets, allowing me to follow how others use Twitter in their classroom.

After one of my students found a rock (in the music room of all places) students began wondering what kind of rock it is. This was the perfect opportunity to reach out the Twitter Universe – and of course we learned a few things by making some mistakes!

 

twitter pic 3

twitter pic 4
First Mistake – We should have tagged some geologists or geology related Twitter pages to help us with this question – oops! Rookie move! After realizing this, my wonderful intern Jessica Weber who is teaching science right now re tweeted our question with some key geology related hashtags.

Twitter pic 5

Second Mistake – When taking pictures of rocks – take focus your camera on the rock (duh!). Although this seems like common sense, we took the photo without thinking too much about it but our photo focused more on the background item then the rock itself. Lesson learned….

Since we haven’t been on Twitter long, I was surprised and really happy that we actually got some responses and guesses by others – and my students were too! One person even shared a resource chart which led us to a flow chart to use on the projector. It felt really neat to bring the outside world into our classroom and see who responds to our question.

I’m excited for the next question that lends itself to a classroom tweet!

Tayler


Sharing for Growth

In my opinion of the advancements in education, technology and many important areas have to do with sharing.  In fact, when I think about the advancements I have made in my career, I can relate almost everything I have ever learned to the concept of sharing and open communication with others. This isn’t limited to the sharing of lesson resources alone – but on a larger scale that includes the sharing of ideas, feedback, problem solving and open communication with friends, colleagues and and other grad students.

Steve Johnson’s Ted Talk titled,  Where Good Ideas Come From speaks to the importance of collaborating with others and sharing ideas. He draws attention to the importance of not only sharing good ideas, but how sometimes talking about problems or what my kids and I call in the classroom “speed bumps” can often lead to new and noteworthy ideas or innovations.

Image result for sharing

I believe a popular misconception, at least for me, is that often a good idea is a sudden light bulb reaction that happens out of nowhere, or so it seems. However, Johnson’s Ted Talk addresses the fact that often good ideas are built over long periods of time. Johnson had me thinking about the push companies like Google make for employees to have 20% release time from their regular duties just for to focus on generating new ideas. It’s an interesting concept but one I can really see the value in. When I think about my own workday, I am so stressed for time and literally make too many minute by minute decisions to think about much else. That is why I can really appreciate the common prep time given aside from teaching to share, discuss new teaching resources and problem solve with other grade alike teachers within my school. It’s not google – but I always walk away learning something new from someone else.

Image result for collaboration
Image via Personal Outcomes Collaboration

This common prep time set aside regular work, or even regular prep times is built with sharing and collaboration in mind. We often share and develop new teaching projects, ideas, problem solve or share interesting PD resources with one another. We may be in a different category then Google, however this time does benefit my learning as an employee and as a result has an impact on my performance which is in turn good for my employer. A key factor in creating a culture of sharing between educators is providing time and opportunity within the school day to do so and exploring online avenues to explore PD opportunities, including developing your PLN (Professional Learning Network) outside of the school day using tools like Twitter.

Image result for shy
Image via 30daybooks

However, many teachers are very reserved when it comes to sharing  – many who do not share at all – at least in front of an audience. Non-sharing, in my opinion, limits one’s growth and creates a culture of non-collaboration. Why do some people believe not sharing is best for them? Perhaps it’s not an issue of believing what’s best for them, but rather a fear of being ridiculed or judged for their work or ideas. Is it merely an issue of self-confidence? I was once guilty of not sharing my ideas in front of others unless I was literally asked or absolutely had to. I was always open to sharing my resources and what I knew, but avoided being put on the spot in a large meeting to “share” at all costs. As Marley mentions, “There is no need to reinvent the wheel” but rather lets build upon what we already know and whats already out there to take our work to the next level. I preferred to blend into the crowd until a mentor of mine began to highlight my skills and strengths and encourage me to share what I’m doing in the classroom with other teachers. For me, it was the fear of what others thought. What if others don’t agree or like what I have to say? With age, this notion of “What will others think?” became less and less important and my thinking shifting towards the importance of sharing from others. If I could help just one teacher by sharing what I am already doing in the classroom was more meaningful to me then worrying about what others would think.

I think confidence in one’s self is a key issue regarding one’s level of comfort in sharing. Also the more one seeks information to learn, the more like they are to establish a similar sharing attitude. When I began teaching several years ago, I was so grateful for new information, ideas and resources that were shared with me – both by colleagues I

Image result for collaboration
Image via Teaching Culture

knew, and strangers online from different education resource platforms. The more things I “borrowed” from others, the more obligated I felt to share what I had with other teachers who are looking to learn about a certain subject or needed help. I was much more willing to make suggestions based on what has been shared with me when I noticed a colleague struggling with the same issues I may have already experienced before them. I think of this as my “duty to share” and given the amount of great ideas that have been shared with me, it is my duty to pass them along to others. As Amy so nicely put it in her most recent blog post that “A big part of openness is being adaptable” and I think this is so true. We must be willing to be flexible in our thinking and actions as we learn and grow. I believe that in order for that to happen there needs to be a willingness to accept new ideas and in turn share with others.  A culture of sharing is just so critical to developing in our profession.

Speaking of the culture of sharing, as leaders within the school I think sharing is a big part of building your team up and highlighting the strengths of others within the school. Not only does Parkland School Division’s website titled 184 Day of Learning highlights the great work of teachers, but they are also sharing ideas of what quality teaching with their employees. Whether it was their main goal or not – this website makes learning visible and but it always demonstrates the value they place on creating a culture of sharing.

Heather Duncan’s Ted Talk makes reference to the need so “share our secrets” as teachers with others. Within the day, it can feel isolating within our classroom and the need for collaboration and sharing is more important than ever. She emphasizes the need to “break out of our comfort zones” and initiate these conversations with students within our grade groups and then venturing further to meet other teachers.

I enjoyed Christina’s most recent blog post which stressed the importance of focusing in on the basic needs of the student and collaborating with an entire team to ensure the individual student succeeds not only in academics but also in terms of social growth and having their basic needs met. So often I think of sharing in terms of resources for academics, when often the need for sharing entails a holistic approach that addresses the whole child. I spoke about many in-house “key players” in collaboration and appreciate Christina’s reminder about the outside agencies that are often needed to provide proper supports with students – it truly does take a village to raise a child.

Until Next Time!
Tayler


The Amazing World of Open Education Resources

Last week the course content and my blog post led me in the direction of MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) and my mind was pretty blown. I’ve heard people talk about these online courses but it wasn’t until I started looking deeper into the countless options available that it really struck me – WOW this is SO cool!

This week I explored TEDEd and Open Learn and I’m here to offer you my personal realizations, reactions and most importantly evaluation of these sites/resources.

First up to the plate..

TEDEd
Although I have heard of TED-ed and watched the odd video that pops up on my FB News Feed, I have never truly taken advantage of the site itself or used it for my own classroom. I was instantly drawn into the engaging setup which allows you to visually “preview” the videos. The wide range of topics had me instantly excited as I could see this being a solid “go to” site for educational resources and short video clips to either introduce or review curriculum content.

ted ed pic
Although the videos were of extremely interesting topics and fun facts, I found it difficult to find content that directly related to the outcomes I’m working with. This isn’t to say this site doesn’t offer anything of value – it truly does. But perhaps it doesn’t fully align with outcomes in the way I had hoped for and I need to adjust my view of this sites purpose. Will I be able to consistently find a video to support my lesson specific to a certain strategy or content?  Maybe not. But will I be able to find an engaging video to stimulate discussion within my classroom? Absolutely!

I was instantly excited about the well organized theme menu along the left hand side (Health, Literature, Mathematics, Science and Technology etc.). I used the search bar to locate different learning topics “rocks and minerals” or “Agriculture” but didn’t have much luck finding content related to learning outcomes.

All in all, I think this is a good site filled with quality educational videos. Each video is designed with a lesson and offers a “Watch, Think, Dig Deeper, Discuss” links that provide interesting discussion questions and prompts for teachers to use and to support this video portion of the resource.

Image result for pros and cons gif
Image via Traffic Challan

Pros: 
Fun, engaging, quality videos on a variety of interesting topics
Great conversation starters and videos to facilitate student discussions
Easy to use menus and toolbar
Easy to navigate – filters to access age appropriate videos
Flipped classroom resources

Cons: 
Challenge to find content that relates to curriculum topics
Wide range of topics result in narrow focus rather than deep learning

Next up…
Open Learn

Open Learn is Moodle based learning resource through the UK’s Open University. 

One of the pro’s of Open Learn is the easy to use user interface and of course the free content which includes over 1000 courses. The site is easy to navigate with menus that allow you to access a wealth of different courses. I wanted to get a grasp of what this site could offer me as an educator. Clicking on “Education and Development” I am was impressed with the variety of courses I could explore for free in terms of professional development. I’ve attached a list (although it’s not a complete list) of some of the topics offered within the Education category alone.

open ed pic 1

open ed pic 2open ed pic 3

Image via Open Learn
Another benefit of open education is quick and cost effective way to access information as opposed to the using textbooks which quickly become outdated. “Open Learn allows users to download, modify, translate and adapt to their culture to the material to enhance its usefulness. They provide the opportunity for people to work together to co-modify, co-produce, test and co-produce again, retesting derivative material which generates a cycle of rapid continuous improvement. Using technology Open Educational Resources aim to remove access barriers to knowledge and educational opportunities around the world.” (Wikipedia, 2017) The idea of collaboration and sharing is strong in the world of open education.

Open learn allows you to choose differing levels of courses from introductory to advanced and provides a multitude of different course lengths from 4 hours to 100 hours depending on the course you take.

openlearnpic

Image via Open Learn

I think this is a great resource for anyone who wants to grow in a specific skill and develop themselves personally and professionally. I feel like this is a quality resource and was unable to find many flaws or cons towards this site or it’s content. One question that comes to mind is how content relates to us in Canada. Does being based in the UK impact the content for me personally? I tried to find the answer for myself, and being it is an Open Ed site there are many wide open courses however in the area of business some courses are specific to to certain locations – for example “Why are Public Companies Vanishing in America?”  Would it be somewhat difficult to find Canadian content?

After a quick search in the Open Learn search bar, I was quickly directed to a large amount of courses that touch on information about Canada across many subject areas. Clearly availability of Canadian content is not an issue in  the UK originated Open Learn platform.

Pros:
– Large variety of topics and courses to choose from
-Easy to use interface
– Options to connect with other users and ask questions in a comment field within the course
– Courses available computer, mobile phone or tablet
– Easy to understand Copy Right Info (See image below)

Open learn copyrightinfopic
The free content in which Open Learn owns copyright is available to use under the
Creative Commons licence ‘Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike’ .  Open learn tries to release to as much information as they can under an open license as cost is usually the most common barrier for those seeking higher education.  Open Learn  also created a sister website called OpenLearn Create which allows users to take Open Learns content and ” rework it or adapt it for your own use and then contribute it back into the OpenLearn community by placing it in OpenLearn Create.” (Open Learn FAQ’s). Open Learn is a neat resource to keep in mind regardless of your profession. I believe with the wide range of courses available, the only problem you may have is narrowing your choices down to one course!

Until next time!
Tayler


Teaching Students How to Show Respect for People’s Work.

Learning project update!

My Twitter project has slowly morphed into implementing a more thorough digital citizenship education for my students. Instead of waiting for issues to raise or addressing things like copyright when we come to a new project, I want to be proactive about it and have these conversations and teach these lesson now to set us up for a successful year using technology.

Whose is it, Anyway?

Image result for respect online
Image via MHC Training Solutions

My students have also been learning about plagiarism, its consequences and how giving credit is a sign of respect for people’s work. I continue to use suggested lesson from Common Sense Education as I find it has the most thorough and kid friendly resources. I found this video helpful to explain to students about when it is okay to use others work and how to cite this. Citing was a new concept for my students so I used this lesson a an introduction and although they will not yet be able to do this independently until they have had much more practice I’m glad we’ve had this conversation so they understand what is respectful and what isn’t.


The Power of Keywords:
A big conversation as of recent was how to use keywords properly when searching. The need for this lesson was very helpful timing for starting our inquiry projects on rocks and minerals in science, as each student is doing online research to answer their own inquiry question.

The learning objects of this lesson, which I found in the common sense education lesson plans included:

  • Experimenting with different keyword searches and comparing results
  • Refining their searches by using multiple words, synonyms and alternative words and phrases
  • Draw inferences to explain their search results

Although my students are beginning to learn more about how keywords impact search results, this was relatively new territory for them, especially my grade 4 students. This is something that some students grasped after one lesson and others did not so I will be revisiting and modelling this with students on the project in the upcoming weeks. I want to continue to focus on refining our search. For example, we compared search results like “dog” as compared to more specific searches using two keywords, then of course adding the additional key words necessary to find the information they are looking for.
Check out this teacher video explaining the importance of the lesson and how they teach it.

We continue to use Twitter, but I’ve let go of my “Must tweet once a day” philosophy because I want our Tweets to be authentic, in the moment and revolve around exciting things happening in the classroom. Sharing for the point of sharing is not authentic and feels like work for students which goes against what I wanted this project to become.

twitter pic 1.png

twitter pic 2.jpg

Until next time!
Tayler


Social Justice in the Online World

Social activism or social slacktivism?

The burning question this week (drum roll please)…

Can online social activism be meaning and worthwhile? 

I think the short answer is yes! Of course. There are meaningful examples of social activism online however I do feel this can quickly become overshadowed by social slacktivism which is becoming more and more visible on my own social feeds now that I’m more aware of armchair activism and tuning in.

Unnamed image

Image via Google Definition

Take the #bringbackourgirls movement for example. Maclean’s article “The Problem with Slacktivism” argues the #BringBackOurGirls campaign is the” latest disgrace from slacktivists, those who support good causes by doing very little, and achieving even less.

A slacktivist is someone who believes it is more important to be seen to heImage result for bring back our girlslp than to actually help.”  It’s become very common to simply comment or share a post of a genuine cause and believe we are helping when in reality it is achieving nothing but a trending hashtag. Is tweeting out a particular hashtag really going to help the cause? The Maclean’s article makes the point that if people really wanted to help, they would simply donate instead of pinning a pink ribbon to their jacket, or not shaving their face in the month of November, claiming “These things are not the talismans of empathetic supporters. They are proof that you care more about yourself than
Image via mirror                                    the cause.”
This leads me to question how many people draw attention to themselves during the Movember campaign or the Ice Bucket Challenge actually fail to donate to the cause, while gaining the positive attention they are looking for.

Image result for social activism online
Image via @ROSAPRINCEUK

To counteract this, I do believe in many of these causes that go viral and explode on social media draw an impressive amount of attention and awareness, and as a result of the buzz generate more donations than they perhaps would have without the use of social media and doesn’t that account for something?

And then there is opposite side of the spectrum – people who demonstrate fear of judgement for sharing their opinion on hot topic issues and social justice causes. This is something many teachers can relate to in the fear of judgement from parents and most often their employer. Katia Hildebrant makes a compelling argument on her blog post that  “In Online Spaces, Silent Speaks as Loudly as Words”

What message do we send when we say nothing at all?  Katia explains “If we are online, as educators, and we remain silent about issues of social justice, if we tweet only about educational resources and not about the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report in Canada, or about the burning of Black churches in the southern United States, we are sending a clear message: These issues are not important.”

Katia’s argument made rethink my own use of social media and social justice issues. Although I visit my social media feeds often to check the news and occasionally share special events to stay connected to friends and family, I seldom use it as a tool for social activism.  Could I be doing more? Clearly the answers is yes.  Although I will sometimes share a post outlining a cause I believe in, I very rarely involve myself in political posts and discussions. But why? Was I worried about whether people would disagree or judge? I’m not sure – I think partially yes. There is an aspect of fear of judgement. I haven’t made the choice to use social media in this way.Image result for don't speak monkey I could relate to blogger Debs post Why I’m Scared to Express my Opinion Online who commented on the “barrage” of tweet replies a friend received after voicing her opinion online. Although I’ve never experienced this barrage, I often choose not to comment to avoid it. She speaks about avoiding the Twitter drama, which is something I feel holds me back from posting my opinion. I don’t want to get caught up in an online battle and it seems as though people love getting into these heated online debates that really aren’t my personality or style. Do I need to become braver? Do these online battles of opinion make a difference?

Katia’s post made me consider my privilege, along with the responsibilities I have as an educator to model active digital citizenship online. In our second reading from Katia’s blog posts titled “What Kind of Digital Citizen?” was an informative read for me, particularly reading into  Joel Westheimer’s framework about “Kinds of Citizens”. as I immediately thought of my learning project which combines social media use in the classroom using a classroom Twitter account and implementing a digital citizenship curriculum.  I do believe we have a responsibility to teach students how to be responsible citizens and move them along the continuum of being a “Personally Responsible Citizen” who volunteers to someone who advocates organizes, and seeks answers to areas of injustice.


Image via Westheimer’Article as cited by Katia Hildebrandt

Right now, my project is focused on issues such as “The Power of Words” online and more basic, yet still important, aspects of technology use. I think it’s important to remember that students don’t have to stay in this “box” of general citizenship and to think outside the box in terms of also teaching more justice driven citizens.  I think I model digital citizenship but in terms of social activism in an online space, I’m not sure I’m there yet and to be honest I’m not exactly sure how to model this well.

Parting Thoughts & questions
I believe all teachers should share responsibility as educators to provide experiences for students to explore issues of injustice and ways we can help both online and offline. This should happen across all grades so once these students have a foundation of citizenship they can continue to build on this and push outside the box of a personally responsible citizen towards becoming “Justice Oriented”  leaders in the community. This is an exciting prospect and I would like to see some examples of how classrooms and teachers are doing this.

Do you keep your opinions to yourself or are you an open book online?

How do you model social activism in the digital world? 


Social Media for Change?

Now I’m not one to be a Debbie Downer, however I feel as though my last post focused on the negative issues surrounding social media. I addressed a lot of my concerns regarding social media in the classroom including issues of privacy, and cyber safety just to name a few. But overall, I’m much more drawn to the positive aspects social media has to offer. This week, I chose to counteract the negative and dig into the positive aspects of social media and how it can be used in  ways – and in some cases make a very positive impact on our world! There’s pro’s and con’s to everything and just as social media is capable of doing a lot of damage when not careful, it is also capable of helping those in need and spreading a whole lot of love, happiness and positive vibes.  Today – let’s focus on the GOOD!

confetti blog pic

Response to Natural Disasters

Not only does social media provide immediate information when it comes to natural disasters but it significantly contributes to disaster relief – anything from raising money to locating survivors.

social media blog pic
Image via Trendhunter

Heather Lessen  explains the use of digital responders during disasster response. She states “Digital responders can immediately log on when news breaks about a natural disaster or human-created catastrophe. Individuals and teams are activated based on skill sets of volunteer and technical communities. These digital responders use their time and technical skills, as well as their personal networks in an attempt to help mitigate information overload for formal humanitarian aid in the field. These digital humanitarians will help close the gap in worldwide disaster response.”  Aside from the importance of digital responders, think of how quickly word can spread about world disasters today compared to 30 years ago.

socialmediadiastersblogpic.jpeg
Image via Trendhunter

Healthcare and Public Health

Social media has helped many people suffering from the same condition seek support, ask questions, and connect with others experiencing the same condition. Yes, there is a flip side to this as we all have friends who rapidly self diagnose using Web MD and convince themselves that they only have days to live. There is of course the positive side which allows instantaneous information to medical information at the quick of a button. “28% of health-related conversations on Facebook are supporting health-related causes, followed by 27% of people commenting about health experiences or updates.” (source: Infographics Archive). Don’t even get me started on the positive aspects of fitness and healthy lifestyle apps! Amazing!

intheknowhealthblogpic.jpg

Image via National Prevention Information Network

Check out this link here for “24 Outstanding Statistics and Figures On How Social Media Has Impacted the Health Care Industry”. Interesting read!

Platform for Change

Remember the ice bucket challenge? This phenomenon was likely the most obvious but impressive example of how social media can make a positive impact! “More than 17 million people [in 2014] uploaded their challenge videos to Facebook … watched by 440 million people a total of 10 billion times. It is now an annual event to raise awareness and funds to find treatments and a cure. By the end of September 2014, ALSA had received an incredible $115 million from IBC donators—in less than 60 days. This represented an increase of over 3,500% in funds raised over the same two-month period in 2013, equal to 375% of its annual revenue for the previous fiscal year. It consisted mostly of small donations (but with some ranging up to $200,000) and came from over 3 million donors, over 2/3 of whom were new. According to ALSA, more than $220 million was ” (CPAJournal). Don’t forget the hours of entertainment in blooper and Celebrity Ice Bucket Challenges videos.

Building Empathy

I really enjoyed reaBell-Lets-Talk-003-001blogpic.jpgding Dani’s post about many other positive aspects to social media. On her most recent blog post, she “celebrates and acknowledge the amazing work of organizations like Kids Help Phone or Bell Let’s Talk for opening the conversations about how important self care, understanding and empathy are, and for being Image via The Brock Press                  there to support youth and adults in our province.”                                                                      Social media widely contributes to the awareness of                                                                    these support for teens.
It seems as though everything has it’s pro’s and con’s and social media is no different. However, it did feel good to read about such great, powerful things happening around the world thanks to something that often gets a bad rap such as social media outlets. I think social media can have the power to transform many situations and the possibilities are difficult to imagine!

What are some of your favorite examples of social media being used for positive change?


Teaching in the Digital Age


Hey there teachers, parents, students – people of the digital age! What an interesting time to take on the role of teacher – parent – or student because our world is advancing at such high speeds that one’s experiences today are hard to relate to even 10 years ago and I can only imagine it will also be wildly different even jut 10 years from now. We can’t look model the way we teach, parent or learn based exactly on our own childhoods or educational experiences in the exact same ways because the context in which we learn, play and experience life  has changed so much. This brings up some concerns about teaching in the digital age.

blog pic 3

It is almost an overwhelming question:
How do you teach children to succeed in a rapidly changing world and an uncertain future?

Blog pic 1

When I think about this loaded question, I begin to think more and more about the importance of teaching transferable skills and can be adapted and applied to a wide variety of tasks and skills. In the Ted Talk titled “Knowledge is Obsolete, So Now What?, Michael Wesch claimed that “64% of school children will have jobs that don’t exist today”. Wow! It’s hard to even process that. It’s impossible to even know what kinds of careers we are meant to be preparing our children for if the chances are more favorable that they will have a job that doesn’t even exist, than a job we know of today. One of the biggest take away’s from Michael’s Ted Talk was when he said…

“Teach the application of knowledge, rather than knowledge itself.”

Most of my childhood education was spent studying and memorizing meaningless facts or pieces of information that I forget today. Although I feel there has been a shift away from this style of teaching, there are still students everywhere learning “google-able” facts.

blog pic 2

Image via Madan Neelapu

Should we be teaching information that can be answers by a simple google search?
blog pic 5Personally, if students are googling most of their information, I think it should almost be a requirement to teach students how to find accurate sources of information online and how to tell whether a source if fact or fiction. Many of my students, like many, are quick to believe everything they read online. Teaching how to filter through sources of information to find a reliable news source is in my opinion a critical step in helping children succeed in the digital age.

In Amy ‘s most recent blog post, she addresses the concern of student motivation with the advancement on technology. Amy’s question “How can we as educators have students motivated to learn and apply information when it is at their finger tips?” really got me thinking. My students are often so drawn to technology, but I wonder if living in a time where we have unlimited access to information has impacted our ability to think critically about the information our students’ read.

How can we engage students in technology while promoting critical thinking in the process?

A second concern I have with educating children in the digital age is cyberbullying. Although technology can open the door for extended socialization and can make some students more comfortable to voice their opinion behind the “shield” of their phone or computer, it can also open the door for negative interactions to happen more freely. It shouldn’t be up to young students to navigate these issues alone. Having these discussions at home and school are really important. Mary Hertz, author of Edtopia’s article titled “How to Teach Cyber Safety to Younger Elementary Students” states “With children spending time online at younger and younger ages, it’s vital we explicitly teach young children how to protect themselves online.”  I can remember learning about talking to strangers as a young student, however, now we are having the same conversations about privacy and stranger danger in the online world.
blog pic 4
As part of my learning project which involves using Twitter in the classroom, I’m using the K-12 Common Sense K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum to overcome many of my concerns with cyber safety. If you haven’t checked out the Common Sense Digital Citizenship Curriculum, I highly suggest you do as it is a very well laid out, easy to use curriculum complete with specific lessons and units for every grade level!

The curriculum is designed to empower students to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in our digital world. From lesson plans, videos, student interactives, and assessments, to professional learning and family outreach materials, our turnkey Curriculum provides schools with everything they need to take a whole-community approach to digital citizenship”

What are you’re main concerns with teaching in the digital age & how do you plan to overcome these challenges?


2 First Days of School & a Learning Project: Follow the Journey @cameronscorner1

This has been a very unique start to the school year and it all began the day my school gained a teacher halfway through the month of September. What does this really mean? Well all of our kids re-shuffled grades – including myself. I went from teaching a group of 3/4 students to a new group of 4/5 students and experienced 2 “First Day of School’s” in one school year. I’ve taught grade 4/5 before so I wasn’t too thrown off by the sudden grade change, however I am feeling a tad bit behind in my teaching and where I would have hoped to be at the beginning of the October in terms of classroom routines, teaching content, and of course my learning project which involves my students & bringing Twitter into the classroom.  The positive side is this minor set-back in time has allowed me to explore Twitter behind the scenes apart from my classroom and begin to read – read – read!

Welcome to our classroom at the new Connaught Community School!
back to school pic.jpg

The end of September was spent establishing routines (again) with my new group of kiddos , attending the internship seminar and getting to know my new students learning styles areading picnd personalities. Since this was a hectic 2 weeks in the classroom I spent my learning project time focused on setting up our classroom Twitter account, researching the “Do’s and Don’t’s” of using Twitter in the classroom, collecting parent permission for social media use,  exploring how to use Twitter in general, informing parents of my intentions of using Twitter in the classroom.  along with brushing up on issues of student privacy.

I have a rarely used personal Twitter account from my bachelor degree days – so the basics were a much needed review but were fairly straight forward. What bring me anxiety was reading the hundreds of ways to use Twitter. Ah! Where do I even begin??

So to wrap my head around it – I browsed the many possibilities Twitter has to offer and decided to focus on my own classroom Twitter and get my feet wet by sharing our learning. Currently to get started, I’ve Tweeted out the first few updates and will slowly transition to a point where students will take over the responsibility of sharing and creating tweets.

I have also explored Alec’s recommended documents with suggestions of educators to follow, education related hashtags and the tips and tricks demonstrated within class.
Learning the Basics!
twitter-cheat-sheet
Photo via edudemic

Inform & Connect with Families
I came across an educator online from Windsor, ON by the name of Kristen Wideen. Mrs. Wideen’s blog provided a very helpful starting point for me and it’s definitely worth a visit!  I also adapted her Parent Letter, as seen below, as my own starting point for a letter. I pulled key points and adapted her letter to fit my own situation. I took her advice regarding following only other educators – not necessarily following parents back as I hadn’t considered the repercussions of others personal twitter content popping into our classroom news feed.

Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 3.47.44 PM

I really enjoyed reading about other teachers mistakes using Twitter and what they learned in hopes to avoid any trouble and start rolling with my project smoothly. For example, Kristen identified the following rather helpful “mistakes” which you can explore in further detail here.

#1 Classroom Twitter Mistake
The Teacher creates and publishes the tweets.

*Rule # 1 and already an Oops in my project 

#2 Classroom Twitter Mistake
Jumping right in without laying the ground work first.

#3 Classroom Twitter Mistake
Leaving the parents out of the loop

#4 Classroom Twitter Mistake
Keeping the Class Twitter Account Locked Down

These common mistakes were a great starting point to lock down areas of focus during the first two weeks. My priority has been connecting to families, following educational accounts, and sharing our learning. Basically – jumping into it and building upon my learning each week. From here I would like to continue to explore issues of students privacy and check out how other classrooms are using Twitter within the classroom.

Now time for my shameless plug – follow our classroom on Twitter @cameronscorner1 🙂

Wish me luck!
Ms. Cameron