Safety

As I have been trying different techniques, examining digital storytelling, and in general ‘broadening my horizons’ in regards to digital citizenship and literacy, I have been constantly challenged with the nagging question of how to keep children safe.

I do not deny that using technology in the classroom and teaching children to do the same is essential, however, I do think that we need to worry about their safety. I don’t think that we need to filter every last thing on the internet, but I also don’t think that children, especially young ones, should have free reign and the ability to do what they want when they want.

In high school, and even middle years you can explain to kids the reality of using the internet, you can explain to them how someone could ‘use’ them, or how they could be lying about their real identity, or a whole list of other possibilities. But how do you explain those frightening possibilities to young children? Do you even discuss them?

I took this opportunity to look up Internet Safety for children on the Internet, and I found a few resources to help:

1. http://www.badguypatrol.ca/ A game for children to play (needs a bit of debriefing with the children)

2. http://www.wsd1.org/internetsafety/ A compiled list of resources for internet teaching internet safety

3. http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/games/index.cfm Games for middle years students on the realities of the internet.

There are many more resources out there for educators, parents and children to access. I guess I have realized that you can and should address the issue of what could happen if children aren’t safe on the internet, even if the children are young! It is more challenging, and no, you can’t say all the same things as you might to older children, but if we don’t start teaching children from a young age, then we are not doing our jobs as educators.

 


Youtube used Well

Alec Couros put a link on Diigo to this blog, which discusses an effective way to use Youtube, and I loved this idea!! I used Youtube a lot in my classroom, but obviously not as efficiently as I could have! I had a number of students who actually learned better when they were in front of a computer with an interactive site or game. Had I known about this kind of Youtube video, I would have created a lot more for my students to really meet their needs and differentiate my teaching.  I am excited about using this, but I do wonder how long it would take to make a video like this. I will definetly be trying it, and checking it out, if anyone has had any experience doing this, please share!


Grading

Just a thought!


A bit of Humour!

This article was shared with me from a friend. It comes from the Chronicle Herald in Halifax, and was written on Monday February 7th. It was meant to be funny, but really it is kind of sad.  Enjoy!



Click on the picture to access the article


Blogging Struggles

After watching Micheal Wesch’s video on Youtube, I was thinking about how vlogging for those students has been posing the same problems as blogging for me.  I have found myself finding it hard to find things to talk about, because I am writing to ‘no one’. Although I know that someone will read this, I don’t know who it is, or anything about them! I know that it is supposed to be for me, and that this is a way for me to work through some of my own thoughts, and that I shouldn’t be worrying about anyone else. I just can’t help but wonder what people will think of me based on what I write, and how I write. I don’t want people to gain a false perception of me, but how can I avoid that? If I am having this many difficulties with blogging, how could I ever effectively teach my students the use of blogging?

Not only is this difficult, but, as I mentioned before, I am struggling with some self esteem issues. I have never really considered myself a person who cares what others think of me, but in the face of this new form of conversation and self expression, I  find myself struggling with the desire to express myself in a way that others will appreciate me for me. When you have a face to face conversation, people can read your body language, your tone of voice, and you can tell if they have taken offense to something you have said. However, with blogging you can not do any of those things. You can not see me, you can not hear my tone of voice, nor can I tell if you are offended or upset with me. This is what worries me. I want people to understand that sometimes I have strong opinions, but it doesn’t mean that I will push them on anyone else, or try and force them to agree with me, but  how do I make that more than just words in a blog?

Even as I write this, I can’t help but think of only one thing; comments. Comments become the essential aspect of blogs. Without comments there would be no way to support someone, clarify a misunderstanding, or disagree with someone. Yet, as essential as I believe comments to be, I also think that many people misuse them. On Youtube or Facebook, or even a couple of normal blogs that I have read, people leave some disgusting comments. It seems that with some people comments act as a way for people to say terrible things that they would never say in person, without worry of how it will affect their personality or reflect on their character. Yet as I look on other blogs and Social networking sites, I see that people who have had more experience with the internet, and with Social Networking seem to be acting on an unspoken set of standards.

Despite my initial reactions, I feel as though blogging could be helpful for students. However, before I would ever teach my students to blog, and to use this tool effectively, I would need to feel comfortable myself. I am going to attempt to keep going, I want to make this a worthwhile experience, but I need all the help I can get.

If anyone has any thoughts, or tips, I would to hear them!


“Schools kill Creativity”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this TED Talks video, Sir Ken Robinson, discusses how our schools kill children’s creativity. He argues that we need to start fostering creativity in our children through school, and that we need to stop teaching to just one type of child.  He begins by making general statements such as all students are exceptional, and they all have tremendous talent which we squander.  He claims that creativity is now as important as literacy, he says that naturally children are not afraid of making a mistake or being wrong, and that they will try something regardless of what might happen. He says that all these things are changed through school. These are all big statements, and I don’t think I agree with all of them.

Lets start at the beginning, I agree that students are taught not to be creative in schools, I think that many teachers have taken away children’s ability to just relax and create something, whether that be a story, a picture, a play, a dance, or anything else they can think of.  I believe this because it happened to me. I have always enjoyed being creative, especially art, however, in school I was always scared of getting the wrong answer, I was scared that my craft would not be as good as the others, and that it would be ‘wrong’. I can’t pinpoint an exact moment or event that caused me to do this, but I do know that when I was at home, I enjoyed art because I knew it wouldn’t be criticized.  I agree with Ken Robinson when he says that we teach a certain kind of person, we teach in a way that works for people who will end up being University Professors, because we teach academically, and not creatively.  I also agree with Ken Robinson when he says that he believes all students are exceptional, and that all of them have tremendous talent, which we tend to squander. Through my own personal schooling, and throughout my placements in the last four years, I have seen teachers limiting creativity of certain children. I don’t believe that they were doing it on purpose, but I do think that their practices that came naturally to them, were practices that looked down on individual students and their abilities.

One thing that I questioned from his talk was the idea that children are not afraid of being wrong, and that they will take a chance no matter what. I think that that is a very general statement, and that it can not be applied to all children. Some children don’t care, they will take chances, and if they are wrong they will be able to take it in stride and move forward. However, other children, like myself, will always struggle with worrying about getting it ‘right’. I think that these children do well academically, school for them becomes natural, because they want to have the right answer, and they develop strategies to make sure that that happens. For the other students however, school becomes difficult, because teachers do not always accept their answers or creative expression as ‘right’ even though they generally make sense. I believe that these students get ‘educated out of creativity’, I believe this because my brother was almost one of them. My brother has always been a ‘free-spirit’ he is creative, and taking chances came naturally to him, however, he struggled in school, teachers often thought that he was misbehaving, and he was always getting into trouble. Over the years, his creativity started to dwindle, and it wasn’t until he got out of high school that he really started to regain that.

As a result of my experiences, I really appreciate this video, I don’t want to be the teacher that ‘kills creativity’ I want to use my experiences, and frustrations to guide my teaching, and I want to help all of my students to succeed, whether they get the ‘right’ answer or not.


To filter or not to filter…that is the question.

There is a constant debate between whether or not schools should be filtering content on their computers, and as with any other debate there are extremists on each side. There are arguments that discuss overblocking, and underblocking, and still others that say filtering is doing the same thing as communist governments did. Then there are others that say it is necessary to save children, youth, and even adults from unnecessary content. But what is the answer? Is it right or even beneficial for students  to have the content they can access filtered? Is it empowerment when we don’t filter their internet access, and teach them proper etiquette?  Why can’t we find a happy medium instead of drifting from one extreme to another?

One side of the argument says that we need to filter content in an attempt to keep students safe, from much of the inappropriate content on the internet. However, I think that many schools take this too far, and they start to over block their computers. Many schools block so much, in an attempt to keep their students safe, that they make it hard for students to learn how to use the computer, and also makes it harder for teachers to incorporate technology into their lessons.  By over blocking and by filtering much of the internet content to students and teachers alike, the schools are teaching students to be afraid of what is on the internet, and they are doing their students a disservice by not giving them the necessary skills to be safe when on the internet. If students are continually sheltered from the internet, and from the content, not only are they not learning how to be safe, but they are not learning how to use it in a positive way. Students need to learn how to safely navigate through the internet, to find the information they are looking for.

 

However, on the other side of the argument teachers and parents alike argue that, especially young students, need to be protected from all of the horrors on the internet. They don’t always see the benefit in using the internet, and other sources of technology to increase student learning. I understand the desire to keep children safe, and I think that, if taught incorrectly, using the internet could be a very dangerous activity for children. However, to deny students the ability to use the internet is to hinder them from being prepared for their futures.

I believe, that the internet and technology are both important factors used in teaching. Not only do they allow students to gain a larger worldview, but they also open up doors to a lot more information, and social networks that students would have have access to otherwise. While I do support using technology and allowing students to use the internet, I also think that they need to be taught netiquette. Students need to learn how to keep themselves safe on the internet, but they also need to be taught how to use and build their social networks. In younger grades I think that internet use can be kept to pre-chosen websites, and as students get older they should be granted more access and more ability to use the internet.  I think that by drifting to one extreme or another, concerning filtering is limiting students. However, if we can teach them a balance, they will be more successful, and more prepared for their futures.