Recently we’ve had to revamp our Pinterest account, which after some debating back and forth, it was decided to completely make a new profile. We are losing so many followers by creating the new account, which makes us sad! But hopefully over time, it will grow again.
I had a lot of fun going back to our old posts and re-pinning them to our new account. It was a good flashback to posts our previous writer, Mary, wrote, as well as reflecting on my personal articles. It sparked a few ideas for new subjects and made me miss other subjects I’ve written about. What’s the record for the number of book lists on one blog? We may break it someday.
Do us a favor and give us a follow on our new account. We would appreciate the support and always promise to create the best content for our readers.
Thanks for the follow and thanks always for being here!
Let’s dive into the older grades right now. What is one of their main focuses outside of school? Friends, and social media. Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are not going away anytime soon, so why push them away when we can embrace it, utilize it, and have our students more involved and intrigued? While using actual social media may not be ideal in a classroom, let’s look into different, safer ways to recreate social media in your classrooms, or even during remote learning!
Twitter:Create a Twitter handle and bio for characters in books, historical figures, or current politicians, and more! Let the students create the tweets for the character using the language of the book mixed with current language. For example: What would Macbeth’s Twitter look like? What would his status updates look like in specific scenes? Who would he be following, and what pictures would he post?
How do we do this in a safe way? Create a shareable google doc and have students create the twitter profile on there. It can be as extravagant as adding in pictures and formatting it to look similar to Twitter, or more simple with just text on a page. This is useable for distant learning as well because it can be created all online and shared between students and teachers.
Instagram: What would Instagram posts and stories look like for characters, historical figures, or politicians? Let’s give those math teachers some love. Have your students make an Instagram story, “Math Concept for Dummies” with someone giving a funny, quick tutorial on how to do the latest concept learned. Use google slides for Instagram stories and docs for posts.
Facebook: Status updates, friend requests, pages they like, etc. Again, Google’s shareable documents are great for this collaborative project.
TikTok: Facebook most likely seems out-of-date for many of today’s students. TikTok is where the trending is happening. (I’m not even sure if I’m saying that right, I’m still stuck in the Facebook era myself). Have your students make content relevant videos on iPads and use the built-in movie maker to create TikTok like content.
Social media is a big part of our lives, and especially our student’s lives! Let’s embrace it! Pull it in close and bring it to every relevant classroom! There are so many other social media outlets and ideas we can be creating every day. My intention with this post wasn’t to give you already made lesson plans but to get your wheels turning for how you can easily implement this in your classroom, especially during this distant learning time.
If you have or are going to use this in your classroom, share it with us! We would love to see how social media is being used in classrooms. If you would like more direction/ information on this, please reach out to me directly.
First, let me be clear. I am not in favor of kids spending excessive amounts of time on their devices. The addiction factor, sleep issues, and even growing risk of depression/suicide are all well-known issues for me.
7th grade teacher Pernille Ripp has even recently gone #phonefree in her classroom for these last couple of months, a move her students seem to love as it allows them to more comfortably share vulnerable learning processes.
What I want to discuss is the impact of rationing screen time for our kids. I’m talking about bargaining for behavior, tallying minutes, and otherwise keeping such a tight grip on the amount of time our kids spend on screens that they begin to fixate on it.
It reminds me of what happens when we focus so thoroughly on “forbidden foods” that we end up binge-eating.
What if, instead…
…we regularly discussed the importance of balance?
…we explicitly taught even our young kids that tech can be a tool for empowerment, rather than just an device for entertainment?
…we created reasonable default screen time allowances our kids can count on so they don’t have to spend their days worrying when they will next be allowed to watch a movie or play a video game?
…we talked honestly with our kids about our screen time habits — both how we use it for practical and/or positive purposes, and how we are trying to improve not-so-positive habits?
…we set up rules and limitations in a shared manner, learning together about what helps us achieve balance and healthy lifestyle?
Our kids have been born into an remarkable and unprecedented age of technology. Let’s find ways to work alongside them as they work to develop healthy, positive, and balanced habits.
This is part of a series of inquiry-based provocations for essential elements of the PYP. For more, click here.
“How We Express Ourselves” was always a tricky PYP unit theme for me. I struggled finding ways to help our students weave it in a transdisciplinary manner, and it almost always just came back to the obvious art.
But similar to how my view of the PYP key concepts has broadened over time, so too is my view of this theme. I have come to better understand that expressing ourselves is a basic human need that is woven into all we do. I’ve also found that authentic self-expression, which engenders passion and joy, is more readily found when we embrace imperfection, cultivate a growth mindset, and are given opportunities to own our learning.
With that in mind, here are a few resources that might help you invite your students into a How We Express Ourselves Inquiry. Don’t forget about the provocation questions at the end (and add a few of your own if you’re so inclined)!
“The Big Orange Splot” by Daniel Pinkwater has been a lifetime favorite of mine. Read with your students about what happens when a bird drops a bucket of paint on Mr. Plumbean’s house that used to be just like every other house on his neat street.
I love the mysterious whimsy of Annabelle’s box of yarn that never runs out, and how she uses it to transforms her surroundings.
What does it mean to express ourselves?
Why do we feel the need to express ourselves?
How is general expression different from self-expression?
How can one person’s self-expression help someone else see the world differently?
How does the way we choose to express ourselves impact our lives? How does it impact the lives of others around us?
What is the connection between self-expression and individuality?
What is the connection between self-expression and perspective?
What does the growth mindset have to do with self-expression?
How can self-expression sometimes be unexpected?
Why is perfectionism the enemy of self-expression?
The attention-grabbing headline pulled me in, but nothing seemed terribly unexpected as I scrolled through the article. I nodded through passages like, “hanging out alone in her room with her phone…” “dramatic shifts in behavior…” “proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone surpassed 50 percent…”
Until I got to one phrase that made me stop short.
“I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones.”
It was the identification of my own child, born in 2010, as a member of this iGen group.
In a brief episode of primal fear (after all, this article says the iGen are in mental health crisis), my mind flicked through every contact my child has ever made with a smartphone, like some kind of frenzied mental Rolodex.
But as I slowed, regrouped, took a few deep breaths, I remembered something: exposure is not the issue here. It’s connection.
This, of course, requires purpose, balance, and prudence on adults’ part. And with the very real and weighty issues presented in The Atlantic in mind, I would like to share 5 ways we can cultivate a sense of opportunity over fear as we teach our iGen kids digital citizenship.
#1: Recognize that their childhoods won’t mirror ours — and that’s ok.
As some neighborhood kids recently got together to play in our backyard, I noticed them huddled around a smartphone:
If I were to share such a photo without any background, people might jump to the same conclusions they did when the photo below was shared of kids in a museum (ie, “Kids these days!!” or “Look at them glued to those devices!!”)
But the context they’d be missing would be that this is what it looks like when digital citizenship becomes woven into the fabric of daily life. Right before I snapped the photo, these kids were darting around the yard creating a stop-motion movie of their make-believe play (and the context of the above tweet is that these kids were using an interactive museum tour app).
Of course, this can also be what zombie-land phone addiction looks like, but that’s why it’s so important to seek out and be aware of context.
#2: Model appropriate balanced use.
There are those who feel the need to altogether keep devices out of their young children’s physical sight-lines — and while this may be a temporary solution, it removes the opportunity for open dialogue with our children about how we use our devices. They need to hear not only what we do with our phones, but what strategies we employ to keep obsession at bay, especially in the face of social media.
#3: Make the good you do with your device louder than the bad they hear about.
Speaking of modeling, educators Edna Sackson and George Couros have inspired my thinking time and again about this concept:
Cyberbullying, white ribbon week, internet safety — these are all good and important concepts to cover with our children. But if they are exclusive, then we are missing a huge opportunity.
#4: Emphasize creation over consumption.
Videos like the one below help convey the incredible ways we can view, express, and share the world around us.
And resources like this might help them comprehend the sheer creative potential they hold in their hands (and to appreciate how far we’ve come in a short period of time):
Of course, consumption has its place and we should have honest conversations about our sources and habits there, too. But an important part of citizenship in general is that in a community, people need to both give and take.
#5: Emphasize the personally meaningful ways you are using tech to enhance relationships.
This “Dear Sophie” video inspired me so much back in 2011 that I decided to do the same with my own kids. This is a beautiful example of how we can leverage the technology to connect with our loved ones in historically unprecedented ways.
Our iGen kids are part of an exponentially shifting period of history — and of course, this is just the beginning. Our best bet for helping them navigate safely is to embark on the journey together.
Not only did he do a fabulous job fielding ordinary customer service questions, but he interacted with customers in a way that definitely caught Twitter’s attention. And young as he is, several interested parties already appear to be trying to poach him for their organizations:
This is definitely one young digital citizen that has his 4 C’s down: communication (fielding hundreds of comments), critical thinking (figuring out helpful responses), creativity (engaging with people in a fun way that got the attention of thousands), and collaboration (working with Neil).
Ultimately, this thread brought me back to reflecting on digital citizenship and literacy yet again. While we know that the jobs of the future will little-resemble the jobs of today, we still often treat the very devices and platforms that will carry our students toward that future — as nuisances. Banning phones, blocking Youtube, insisting on a single way of note-taking.
But here, we have an example of what happens when our students are given authentic opportunities to engage with those devices and platforms and audiences instead.
The fact is, digital citizenship empowers students to amplify their voices for good. Shunning it for fear of the distraction, cyberbullying, etc. perpetuates the very mentality that encourages abuse of these resources: namely, that they are not part of the “real world” and are therefore relegated only for entertainment purposes.
So next time you encounter a blanket ban of a digital resource that seems to favor adult convenience over student ownership, here are a few questions you might ask:
How might teaching digital citizenship help students treat the resource with more responsibility?
What are alternative courses of action to remove the nuisance factor?
How often do you personally treat this resource as an opportunity to create, share, and connect, vs. simple entertainment?
How often do you share with your students the ways that you use this resource to create, share, share, and connect?
How can you re-envision my students using this resource in a powerful, meaningful way (both now and throughout their lives)? How can you help your students see themselves using the resource in that way?
Will this ban help or hinder students in their development of the 4 C’s of 21st century learning?
This is in response to the #DCSDblogs challenge prompt, “What is the best thing you’ver ever learned from another teacher?” (Note: While I’m not associated with the Davenport School District, I’m grateful for the warm invitation to participate in their blogging challenge, which is a wonderful initiative to encourage teacher blogging)!
A couple weeks ago, I had the following opportunity:
It was delightful to share with those first graders my pantry and the school lunch I’d packed for my daughter, describing what fresh vs. processed foods we eat and why. They had some incredible questions that really made me stop and think, too!
When I was still in the classroom, one of my favorite ways to learn was to pop into other teachers’ rooms. Whether I was there to observe instruction or simply to drop in after school for a chat, I felt like I almost always walked away with fresh ideas or perspective.
Now that I’m away from the classroom for the time-being, this ability is no longer available to me. But at the same time, thanks to my amazing PLN, I can still “pop into classrooms” all over the world.
This small Skyping experience is just one of many opportunities for me to “connect where connection would previously have been impossible.”
Take my RSS feed for instance (I love Feedly because I can neatly organize all the websites I like to follow without flooding my inbox with email subscriptions).
As I was finishing up browsing the latest posts from my PLN in my feed a couple days ago, my mom came by. I was casually explaining to her about how thrilled I am to learn so much from so many incredible educators around the world, citing a thought-provoking post I was reading at that moment by A.J. Juliani:
Four in a row! Writing that made me feel, think, and reflect — each tugging me a little further along a path toward change. Pleased with the ready confirmation of what I’d been explaining to my mom about my PLN, I kept exclaiming to her, “See, here’s another! Look!” reading excerpts, and just geeking out in general.
Then, there’s Twitter. Every day, I get to browse photos of classrooms from India, Australia, Canada, Vietnam, and more. We exchange tips, share aha moments, and lend support. In this way, I still almost always “walk away” with fresh ideas or perspective as I did in my old building.
This ability to connect where before, I would have been completely cut off from the teaching world is nothing short of a miracle to me. I am grateful every day to be a “global citizen” and feel confident that when the day comes to return to the classroom, I won’t have too much catching up to do!