Digital Footprint, Something to stress over or just another dust collector on a shelf?

Is a Digital Footprint is it becoming like an old photo album gathering dust on a shelf? I had this thought when the question came up because I thought, “Should a Digital Footprint something that we should be stressing over or should we know it is there like an old picture album”. I think that in this day and age we have to be proactive but we have to work on making sure that we don’t become reactive about our Digital Footprint.

I see many people who are so stressed about their security that they have little or know Digital Footprint, yet they want to get into social media. When they ask for help and give me their criteria about how they want the security set up, I have to tell them that it isn’t possible to be on social media the way they want. They ask why and I generally answer with “because it’s SOCIAL media”. If everything is private then there isn’t very much social about it.

I think that a lot of this fear comes from articles like the one I read by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras published in Time Magazine. This article is only based on partial data and limited information. Dr. Kardaras equates digital device addiction to heroin addiction because MRI scans show that the same parts of the brain are active. Well since the brain is only so big and the parts that control things like doing something that satisfies you are in only a few locations, I am sure that they are all firing the same way.

This fear mongering is why I created my Powtown video. I face this every day with teachers, parents, administrators and sometimes students. It is the part of my job that I like the least. But it is part of the job that I try to spend time educating myself on in preparation for the times when it comes up. Like reading this article from The Verge in rebuttal to Dr. Kardaras. This fear mongering also keeps people from separating out social media use from technology use. They are not one and the same.

Back to the question for this week, Should educators have a digital footprint, my answer is absolutely, YES. If you don’t have one of any kind, how can you teach kids about it effectively? You don’t have to have a large, extensive footprint, but no or very little digital footprint is going to be hard to relate to.

As a Tech leader in my school, I may have one of the largest digital footprints, but that doesn’t mean I don’t monitor and control it to the best of my ability. While I might be “techie” I am not interested in everyone knowing every small detail about everything that I do!

The Great Unknown: Copyright Rules

 

2000px-Copyright-uncertain.svg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Copyright-uncertain.svg

This week’s assignment asks that we look at our old blog posts for copyright issues. This is something that I have tried my best to be very aware of since reading the article Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued for Using Pics on Your Blog – My Story. I am not sure when I read this article but it did make me rethink the use of images that I use in my blog posts. I have tried very hard since reading this to use images that come from Wikipedia when I found out that they are free to use (mostly). The biggest headache I find with copyright law is that it is so difficult to understand and use because there are so many different rules. Much like English grammar, I guess!!

I am also aware of infringement issues, as I have an acquaintance with an extremely famous mother, who often faces copyright and trademark infringement issues. I have even been out and about and spotted some of these myself.

So, when I looked back on my blog post I found two uncited images. I realized that while I used “free to use” images I did not cite them as I should have. I will have to go back and find the citations and update the images. I also know that many times teachers do not take the time to do this in presentations that they make to students in their classrooms. It is generally because they do not take the time to do it, but what are we teaching our students if we do not take the time to cite our sources?

Because of this, I have tried over the years to either use more of my own images or to cite my sources, I will continue to try to take the time to do that. I do use the Google Image search tools to help find images with the correct usage rights but I have to remember to go the extra step and grab the URL at least to cite the source. I know that there is more to citing sources than just posting the URL but just like the maze of Copyright rules, citations are as if not more complicated!

One of the things that I would like to share with teachers is @langwitches Copyright Flowchart. This gives teachers a visual that they can use to start the conversation with students. I do worry though that when I suggest visuals to teachers they print them, laminate them, say something like “look, students, here are our rules for copyright, be sure to read them.”, then hang them in their room and never refer to them again, but expect students to follow them as law. Or they expect me as the Tech Integrationist to come in, teach a lesson on it and then the students to remember everything I said and practice that daily without any reinforcement from the teacher themselves.

Another question proposed for this week is how do we teach Copyright rules in countries where they are not respected. When I lived in Thailand copyright infringement was a common occurrence, even encouraged many times as a way to save money.I taught grade 1 students in Thailand so this was not as much of an issue, but I think that it is important for international schools to respect these rules and not teach students by doing. Many students in international schools will go on to jobs that copyright will play a role in. It may only play a small role but it may also play a huge role and if the students in the schools were not asked to respect copyright then it will be much more difficult for them to respect it as adults. It won’t be just about images or text at this point but also about ideas and designs.

One of the ways that I do this has been to change my language. A few years ago I realized that part of the reason that the elementary students I was teaching didn’t respect copyrights is because their teachers always told them “don’t plagiarize”. While that is the right word, the students didn’t really understand what it meant. So I started using the word “stealing”. I would ask the students to raise their hands if they had ever stolen anything from the internet, to which one maybe two students would raise their hands. Then I would reword it and say how many of you have done an image search and then saved an image from a search and used it in a project. To which they all raise their hands and I would say, “Well, you have all stolen from the internet.” Their mouths would drop open and they would argue, “No we haven’t.” See because they understand “stealing”. They don’t understand “plagiarizing”. Since I started using this work with elementary students I have noticed that they do make more of an effort to cite sources in their work and take pride in doing it.

 

Google Sites Website Creation in G4 – Coetail Course 1 Final Project

Unit Planner

I started out writing this unit based on an idea I had for our Grade 4 Sharing the Planet unit. This is a unit that the Grade 4 team had always written a nonfiction report as their writing integration. This year we looked at ways to develop that into something integrated technology beyond the student’s typing their report. Since I had been using Google Sites this year to build several websites, I suggested using a Google Site as the product of the writing unit that integrated with this unit of inquiry. I choose to develop what we started this year into a more fully realized unit for my final unit. One of the reasons is that am developing this lesson further is because I can see it being used with several grade levels and several units. I wanted to make sure that I had a fully developed lesson so that when I discuss integration with teachers I can give them a fuller understanding of what is involved in a project of this nature.

One of the struggles that I find is that teachers severely underestimate the amount of time needed to complete a unit like this. Also, they don’t always see all of the ways they can incorporate elements of this unit into what they already do within the course of a unit. Writing it out in this much detail allows me to show them all of these things.

Most of the changes that I made were to break down the lessons in more detail to include both the integrationist role and the class teacher role. I also had to think of the unit differently than I was originally thinking since my role is fully integrated into the classroom, I had originally started to plan this unit using the original Unit of Inquiry. Then, I realized that I needed to think of it as a sub unit within the full unit. Once I realized that I began to see more clearly where I needed to develop the unit and how to explain the steps and elements necessary to complete it.

One element that could make this unit link into the coursework that we have done so far would be to try to create a global collaboration with another school/class doing a similar unit for their Sharing the Planet theme. We could work together on the websites with each class member having different pages/roles with the creation of the website. This would also allow students to do peer editing with peers that may have different perspectives. Because of this, I have already contacted a fellow teacher about this possibility. So hopefully that is something that we can develop further.

The biggest influence I think has been making sure that the unit plan clearly identifies both the integrationist and class teacher’s roles so that they have a clear understanding of the plan. It also gives me a good understanding of the amount of time it takes to teach the lesson effectively as well as the level of commitment that the teachers will need to give to make sure that the unit is a success. In my unit plan, I tried to make the roles and time needed clear for everyone to understand. I also tried to show areas where elements of this unit can be integrated into lessons and time commitments that the teacher will have already set aside for the unit of inquiry. All of this is part of the planning process which is what I talked about in my third week.

In the end, I hope to see student created websites that show many different ways for information to be shared with others. I hope that students will take some of their time and think of interesting ways to add to their website. I look forward to seeing what creative ways they can share their knowledge with others in interesting ways. I would like to see a progression of student’s skills in regards to their research skills in their ability to find information, site information and rewording of the information for their audience. As well as a progression of their skills with using the G Suite apps. Especially students who were using them heavily in previous years.

I look forward to sharing this unit plan and to teaching it in the next school year!

Is Global Collaboration Easier?

EQ: How can we embrace globally collaborative projects in our curricular areas to address this facet of 21st Century Learning?

When I read this question I think it is actually written backwards. It should be “How can 21st Century Learning help us to embrace globally collaborative projects?”

First, let me start by saying I don’t like the term “21st Century Learning” because in my head I think back to classrooms that were around when I was in university. Each “21st century class” was given one of the latest iMacs. I always thought that these were a waste of money because all I ever really saw them used for were Accelerated Reader tests. To be fair the tech was slow and the training for teachers was nonexistent. I think that we need a new term because I think a lot of teachers have images of pre-2000 things when they hear that term too. As George Couros mentions in his blog post 21st Century Schools or 21st Century Learning have schools really changed? He has seen some great physical changes but has the teaching and learning changed? We need a new term that isn’t associated with “stuff” that is thrown at/into schools.

So back to the topic at hand. “How can 21st Century Learning help us to embrace globally collaborative projects?”. I think that technology and the connectivity that comes with tech plays a huge role in this. I was recently given a Geography Journal from a fellow teacher who had been sent it. It was the sort of thing that was supposed to pass from person to person than before May be sent back to the student. While it was a paper and pencil notebook, not a single person who had added to the journal did so solely with paper and pencil. Every entry had images, maps, and facts that the authors had used technology to make or find. I know that I had to Google many facts about Moscow in order to give the student the geography information that she needed. I did enjoy the paper and pencil aspect of it but I also told her that I was getting a hand cramp by writing it all out since I spent most of my days typing now instead of writing!

I wonder what could have been done to add to the journal. For example, could the Journal have been electronic? A Google Drive folder for example with a doc that each person made a copy of and wrote their entry on. Then pictures and facts could have been linked to interesting pages about the area for the student to explore. For the paper/pencil aspect, each participant could be asked to send the student a postcard from the location that they are at. The issue with this method would be the amount of data. The journal I had, had only about 5 entries. That is a manageable amount of data for a middle school student to sift through. Opening this project up by using something like Drive could overwhelm the student with data.

Doing this project electronically could help the project’s speed and collaboration. Electronic work means you aren’t waiting for a physical notebook to be mailed around. Also, electronic projects can allow for collaboration. For example, if a group of geography teachers did the project at the same time but in different locations, they could have each of their groups of students participate with each other. This could be done again with something like a Google Slide, Doc or Spreadsheet. Even apps like Book Creator or Explain Everything would work to make this project collaborative. Students could share draft projects with each other and build different elements together for a final collaborative book or movie.

So back to the question, “How can 21st Century Learning help us to embrace globally collaborative projects?”. Most certainly the tools of 21st Century Learning have made global collaboration easier. But I think that we still have the same issues we have always had, getting teachers to agree to participate. I have done several collaborative projects with teachers in different schools and the hardest thing is always getting ourselves as teachers organized and giving up the classroom time needed to complete the project. The timing is always an issue because it never seems like the two or more classes plan to do the activity at the same point in the year. But with the tool we have now like G Suite, we can more easily organize and share work across the world.

This connects me to an article that I read this week, What Makes a Question Essential? This article gives some great examples of some questions that would make a global collaborative project a great way to look at not only the responses but the perspectives of the responses. If two or more classes in different areas were to inquire into one of these questions as part of their collaboration they would produce something that would allow the teachers who are supervising it an almost unlimited amount of material to build upon. After all of the data was collected and shared time could be spent looking at that information and asking more questions. The collaboration could continue for an almost unlimited amount of time.

Are New Tools Changing Teaching and Learning?

EQ: Have (and if so, how have) teaching and learning changed with the introduction of new tools?

This is a very good question. The answer to this question is both Yes and No. Yes, teaching and learning is changing when you consider that teachers are becoming less experts in their subject areas and more mentors. But No, because teachers are still a necessary part of the process.

Yes teaching and learning is needed for effective planning and guiding of experiences. No teachers are not needed to stand at the front of the room for every lesson and lecture.

I guess my point is that teaching and learning is transitioning from one “style” to another. That being said it isn’t a 100% switch. Teachers will still need to do things that are considered “traditional” at times, but the traditional system of teacher as expert standing at the front of the room lecturing even to young students will be less and less frequent.

Part of the reason for this is because educators are tired of seeing students not succeed simply because this system doesn’t work for them. Teachers intrinsically want to see all students succeed. To have a student who doesn’t succeed for no other reason but that the system is not ideal for them, is frustrating. Teachers in general hate that and try very hard to avoid it.

Education in some circles is moving away from one size fits all to everyone has their own size and we teach them what is best for them. I think that the tools that come with the introduction of technology can play a huge role in this. For example, a simple app Book Creator on the iPad and now Book Creator Web App on your browser are both simple apps that allow students to build resources for themselves to help throughout their schooling.

I have had classes use @BookCreator to create a math reference book. They started at the beginning of the year creating a page with each new math concept that they learned. The students would each create a page explaining the concept in their words, that they could reference in the future when they needed it. The first time we did this was with 5th graders but it could be started in any grade. This could absolutely be done to some level with a paper notebook. But the app allows this reference book to go into the modification level of the SAMR model, with the ability to add audio recordings and video recordings.

In this case technology is changing elements of teaching and learning. But at the same time the math concepts may be being taught in a traditional method. I think that the issues that many forward thinking teachers get frustrated with the time it takes to get schools to move forward in the ways that they can see a school should. This goes back to my previous post that teachers can be hesitant to change. I think that admin falls into this as well.

I think it is very important for schools wanting to move forward to be sure to vet new staff for the mindset and attitude that will allow this to happen. I can think of several teachers at my school that I would like to clone because of their attitude towards change. These teachers see change as a challenge that they want to face head on, but that they want support while doing it. Which is where I come in, my role as the ES Tech Integrationist is to help support teachers so that they can use technology. But it goes beyond that I am often times helping teachers see new ways to deliver lessons, collect evidence for assessment and plan for new experiences.

It’s Not About the Tech… It’s about the Planning

EQ: How can we effectively, practically and authentically embed technology within our curricular areas?

Anne Karakash’s article 5 Steps for Planning Lessons Around Technology states that the steps for planning effective technology integration are:

  1. Plan – consider the content then pick the technology
  2. Research – take the time to explore the technology fully
  3. Engage – think about the interaction that the students will have with the technology
  4. Explore – expand the project beyond the initial task
  5. Synthesis – bring it all together

I agree with Anne in many ways. I often find that teachers contact me about using technology without having considered these steps. They contact me as an integrationist and expect me to come into their class and teach a lesson without them having gone through the steps above to consider how the technology will integrate.

Teachers often ask me teach something with tech by saying “I want you to come in and teach ____ app.” When I ask what they want to accomplish with that app they generally tell me. “Oh, I want them to know how to use it because I want them to make a ___ at the end of this unit.” My next question is always what will you require them to have in their final element? They then give me a list.

This is usually the point where I have to make them back track for one of two reasons. One they haven’t’ given the students anywhere close to enough time to accomplish this or two they have a very narrow goal for the technology. These two problems are mostly because they haven’t taken the time to become familiar with the technology for themselves.

Then they are surprised when I make them pause and reexamine the plan for the lesson. They don’t like when they are told that one lesson will not be long enough or detailed enough to accomplish what they want.

This is why planning with teachers from the beginning of a unit is essential. If I am there at the beginning of the unit planning I can help a teacher better gauge the student’s understanding of the technology along with the needs of the teachers and students. I can help the teachers plan how to more effectively use technology throughout a unit not just slap some in at the end. It also allows me to help teachers manage spreading out the learning of a new technology throughout a unit instead of trying to cram it all in before the project they want to complete.

Spreading the technology lessons out over the course of a unit, allows students to begin to synthesize their knowledge and understandings all of the way through the unit instead of waiting until the end. This gives them time to explore both what the technology can do as well as go deeper into their knowledge. By synthesizing along the way they see the holes and gaps in their research and are able to take the time to go back and fill those in.

It was pointed out to me recently that the way integrationists work is Design Thinking in action. Once we realized this we realized that one of the best ways to help our teachers is to help them use Design Thinking when they are planning for the use of technology within their lessons.

This leads me to the second article that I read. 16 Modern Realities Schools (and Parents) Need to Accept. Now. I think that teaching teachers how to think in a Design mindset will help them teach students how to think in a design mindset which would address many of the 16 realities mentioned in this article.

Learning2 – Day 3 – Breaking Out of the Mold

This session was lead by David Beaty

This session was fun and would be a good way to help with problem solving in any grade. Basically there was a box with four different types of locks on it and we had to break into it. The idea originally comes from Breakout Edu. There are so many possibilities for how this could be used in a class. There were clues around the room that we had to use to solve small problems. Each clue lead us to another clue or the answer to the password for one lock.

I think that the possibilities are nearly endless on ways that you could use this activity in schools. You could for example make it so that your class leaders could only test the locks, not solve the clues. You could put in rules that for the first 10 min only girls could talk. Or that the clues had to be solved on one side of the room by one set of people and the locks opened by another.

What would be super important is the observations that you as a teacher take of how the room flows. Looking for who is the most involved, lead involved, reaches frustration, etc. Then in further sessions you could design the directions around those personalities.

I think as well a small documented thinking session at the beginning and a long reflection session at the end are crucial. There were different perception from our group as to the level of participation for example that only came to light because of the reflection session. So it would be interesting for students to properly reflect after to see if they notice the same things that you did during your observations.

I think I would try this two ways with the same groups as well. First having them come together and plan, the second where they don’t plan. Not because one is better than the other, but so that they critically consider if this type of task is helped by a plan or if a plan has no effect.