Author Archives: mikeyyyg

Project Post #1: And so it begins…

Basic Outline:

I have decided to have my students write weekly blogs. I am keeping it brief with a suggested length of one paragraph per writing prompt. I will also have students comment on three blogs per week, making sure each following week they comment on three different peers. When our unit concludes I will have students write a reflection on their experiences working in our “sheltered” social media environment.


It seems like half the arguments I deal with these days have occurred online. Students tease or troll each other in discord and often see comments as a way to rile people up. Many of their favourite influencers and creators are those who spend their time attacking others and causing drama. I am hoping a few weeks participating in a common activity, with constructive and supportive feedback will normalize the simple act of being kind online.

Photo by Katerina Holmes on


To keep our blog isolated and easy to oversee I have created a google classroom specifically for this unit. Each week will be a topic and each student will be an “assignment.” This assignment will be where I post their individual blog. This will allow students to open and view the post and use the comment option to participate. I reminded students that social media is a dialogue, so they will be participating in an online conversation.

Example of my blog setup.
Example of my blog setup.

While this is not a typical setup, google docs and google slides can be made to look like a blog. I made a few simple examples for my students and posted them in the classroom. We will also do one as a group so students can see the step by step process. I may make a video as well.

Example of using google slides to make a blog.
Example of a blog entry using Google Slides

To be transparent I told my class I would be discussing this assignment in my masters course. I made sure they were aware that I would not use any of their names. I did mention that if I found one of their entries interesting I might post a picture, however I would ask permission from them and their parents. I also let them know I would cover up any information that would identify them (names, pictures, etc.). Finally I informed parents of this new unit on Edsby and sent a letter home with my students.

This is also their blog so I wanted their input on what it would be about. I gave them a few proposals; Life as a first/second immigrant in Canada, Life as a grade 6 student in Canada, and What it is like to go to an Islamic school in Canada. I opened it up for other suggestions, but they were most interested in the last suggestion.

Going Forward:

Each week I will provide an open ended question for students to write about. They will create their response and share a copy with me. I will then upload this file to their individual assignments. Throughout the week, at home or at school, they will read and comment on three blogs.

Our first writing prompt.

By submitting their paragraphs to me I will be able to review posts before they go live. While they will be able to comment independently, our rule going forward is they ensure their name is included in each comment. I have also encouraged parents to get their children to login and show what everyone is writing. In our school especially this will encourage students to keep comments appropriate.

Wrap it up already:

I realize this entry was very dry, future entries should be more interesting as I observe how my students participate. They did seem excited, especially because I would be graded on my own reflections. While I am interested to see how they decide to write and present their blogs, I think I am most interested in seeing their final reflections. Will they gain any good habits, will this help them develop digital citizen skills, will they see this as a complete waste of time? Probably all three. Either way it will be an interesting road to travel. Hopefully I do not get run over by my ambition.

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Social Media and Me: A Reluctant Journey

I am old enough to have been around for the early years of social media. Before sites like MySpace and Facebook we wandered through chat rooms and early group chats in ICQ. It was very new and we were not ready.

For the first time we could speak to random people throughout the world without the need of ham radios or waiting weeks or months for responses through pen pals.

Photo by Changhee Kim on

For me the novelty wore off quickly and I was lucky enough to avoid some of the dangers from sheer luck (and the speed of dial-up in a small town). MSN Messenger took off in my social circles and for the most part social media was just a series of group chats. The only thing that was close was playing online games like EverQuest where other players would ask A/S/L (age/sex/location).

Years later Facebook emerged, just in time to connect with friends I had lost touch with from university. In my twenties the feed was full of pictures of bars, birthdays, and making your life look better than it was. At the time I was not overly concerned and saw the whole thing as something frivolous. It was an easy way to keep track of people who a few years before would have just become parts of my memory. We no longer said, “I wonder what….is up to,” we knew and they just posted twenty pictures of their vacation.

For a long stretch this was my interaction with social media, interspersed with YouTube and the odd twitter quote I read in an article. When I went back to school to become a teacher, YouTube became a valuable resource; videos simplifying math or science concepts, old Bill Nye clips, and dance or music videos when students needed a stretch. I have a distinct memory of showing an OK Go video to a class I was subbing in to explain Rube Goldberg machines.

OK Go- This Too Shall Pass

As time moved on and politics have become more populist, social media became more toxic for me. Anonymity gave people the same mentality they had in a car when they swore at someone who cut them off. Posts that could be disproved with a little bit of skepticism and knowledge where shut down with shouts of “idiot,” and “sheep.” I gave up trying to have rational discussions and started to hide feeds. COVID and lock downs poured gasoline on the entire internet.

Listening to my students interactions did not help. Thoughts you might share with friends in private are now broadcast to the world. I am forever grateful that the stupid things I said to friends have been left in the past as an embarrassing memory of who I used to be. As the age of those going online continued to drop, those that pray on them have reached out. As a child I remember warnings of who to watch for in the real world, but at least at home I was safe. My students now need lessons on how to be safe from people in the virtual spaces we open in our homes.

Last year I took a step back. I stopped going on Reddit, hid Facebook in a folder on my phone and found my news from “reliable” sites on the right and left political spectrum. Then I took a class called Contemporary Issues in Education Technology. We discussed and debated and I started to see some of the positives again of social media. Those that were isolated due to location or identity had somewhere to reach out. Support groups, organizations, and caring people were there. Imagine that, someone using the internet and social media to help people and not just attack.

I have still taken a step back, only delving deeper for this course. I am still cautious, but I am better prepared to help my students and care for my own interactions on social media. So I’ll dance with the devil, but my mouse is hovering over that close account tab.

Photo by Vojtech Okenka on


Welcome to my journey in introducing social media to my students; or more accurately helping my students use social media safely and effectively. As my students rush towards their teenage years, it becomes more important that they develop these abilities before the tumble into the mistakes that so many of us have fallen victim to.

As the epitome of the cliche’d “life long learner.” I will be joining my students on this adventure as I explore social media as an educator, not just a digital citizen.

Photo by Max Fischer on