Course 2: Week 5

How did we get here? How did we [the education system] create such a disconnection between how teens spend their time outside of the classroom and the learning materials and experiences we often give them?

While we may recognize the power of social media we may not always know how to harness this power. Teachers aren’t always good at ‘giving up’ control and policy may not allow flexibility, healthy boundaries guidelines, or positivity.

I love this collection of resources about getting shifting the perspective of responsible use policies to teacher empowered student use.

This week’s material was particularly engaging and one I will continue to reflect on as I plan for next year. The video below brings to life a solution to this dicotomy.

“We have to get rid of our fear, we have to go beyond this overriding need for control of everything that they do, we have to focus more on empowerment.”

Extracurricular empowerment: Scott McLeod at TEDxDesMoines

Scott McLean illustrations effective learning environments as robust technology-infused places, where students do meaningful work, and where we get out of their way and let them be amazing.

I love that: get out of their way and let them be amazing. I do find at my current school we allow student voice and opportunity to grow into leaders. Our current leadership listens to ideas and with proper rationale, is flexible toward change.

Take a look at our current policy, mostly make public, about social media usage guidelines. Positively speaking, we think of responsible usage policy as a community effort. Shifting wording to be more positive and reader-friendly could be areas of improvement. I’ve love to form a task force to revamp this. I note with appreciation, teachers have been asked feedback regarding this agreement about our entire operations manual.

Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

One project I’ve added to my curriculum that has organically empowered students to use social media is the 20Time Project, inspired by teacher Laura Randazzo. You can find the complete download for FREE here.

We just wrapped up students’ presentations last week and I had a variety of excellent work. Students created video games, blogs, make-up and food tutorial videos, etc.

Moving forward, I want to create more empowered student use policies and culture in the classroom and help others teacher do the same.

How can I continue to help students thrive in a participatory culture?

Course 2: Final Project

Course 2 accompanied a whirlwind in my personal and professional life, letting PD slip to the back-burner. I felt like giving up.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Luckily, I didn’t.

It wasn’t just me. A global pandemic set us all off course in an unprecedented way. Our lives are still far from pre-COVID normal but the following realizations I’ve made will carry on with me forever.

  • Radical educational reform IS possible, ‘school’ can be done differently.
  • Stop and appreciate what you have, especially those you love.
  • We are all more interconnected than we think.
Photo by Donald Tong from Pexels

Given I was WAY behind the others, it was going to be hard to fulfill the group project element for this final project. I had to creative but also realistic.

At my current school, social media/technology usage and regulations are either an appendix (filled with don’t and avoid) or sparse. (Basically, someone did something bad, and let’s add a line in our handbook so it doesn’t happen again.)

I took this project as a charge to shift the perception of social media usage in the classroom, from the ground up.

Aspirations/ guidelines for my final project:

  • Be worded positively
  • Encourage continued thought and commitment toward the desired goal.
  • Be standards-aligned.
  • Be applicable to different subjects in secondary, not just English.
  • View social media as an asset instead of a liability to learning

This is what I created with the help of 2 teachers outside of COETAIL, in Mongolia, and 2 cohort members. I will add this agreement to my course outlines for the fall and share it with my colleagues.

Course 2 Final Project- Social Media Agreement

Course 2: Week 4

Across many demographics, people are using social media on a daily basis. Social media has changed the way we consume information. Misinformation can be easily spread and negatively impact society. To explicitly address media literacy, our students are more empowered to filter commercialism, propaganda, censorship, media ownership, and stereotyping in the media. What is media? … Continue reading “Course 2: Week 4”

Across many demographics, people are using social media on a daily basis. Social media has changed the way we consume information. Misinformation can be easily spread and negatively impact society. To explicitly address media literacy, our students are more empowered to filter commercialism, propaganda, censorship, media ownership, and stereotyping in the media.

What is media?

Social Media: The 5 Key Concepts

  • Key Concept #1: All Media Messages Are “Constructed”
  • Key Concept #2: Media Messages Shape Our Perceptions of Reality
  • Key Concept #3: Different Audience, Different Understanding of the Same Message
  • Key Concept #4: Media Messages Have Commercial Implications
  • Key Concept #5: Media Messages Embed Points of View
Image by tiday from Pixabay

At times, I’m overwhelmed by the amount of information I have access to on social media. It feels right to know the life of George Floyd and advocate for justice. His story and the tragic killing, at the hands of a police officer, should be made known. But this week has been tough. From George Floyd to Black Lives Matter, knowing some of my family members’ views on BLM are openly racists to witnessing, in real-time, peaceful and disruptive protests happening. All along the backdrop of a Global Pandemic. It’s a lot to deal with. I’ve been vocal about my anti-racist sentiment which has sparked some emotional debate. I’m emotionally drained, to be honest.

How can social media be used for social progress?

How do you help your students process the vast amounts of information on social media and identity misinformation?

How can teacher guides students through the 5 key concepts of social media mentioned above?

Course 2: Week 3

Protecting Data in Education

The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data claims the Economist. Is teacher and student data at risk? Who profits? How can our data be protected? These are just some of the questions I’ve considered this week.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

This is a big topic and one I didn’t have much background knowledge of. But this paragraph from the Educator Toolkit for Teacher and Student Privacy helped give me some context.

“So what is privacy and why does it matter? Privacy refers to the ability to protect one’s own personal information and control with whom and how the information is shared. It matters because even if you’re not doing anything illegal or feel you have nothing to hide, the standards and norms by which judgments are made about behavior that’s “right” versus “wrong” today could easily change tomorrow. Moreover, the freedoms of expression, association, and assembly — all of which are necessary for a free and functioning democratic society — are underpinned by the
right to privacy.”

Context Matters

The Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) was established by the U.S. Department of Education as a one-stop-shop for education stakeholders on all things data privacy, confidentiality, and security practices for student data. Even though I work at a WASC accredited American-style school, it’s located outside of America. This week’s materials led me to search for the Laws of Mongolia on Education.

Truth is, I’ve experienced some cringe-worthy moments as an educator in Mongolia: ranking students by exam scores, public grade comparisons, and shaming, grade changing, unashamedly preferential treatment for high scoring students, etc. All of which, violated student data privacy. I have seen a shift in recent years; progress in Asia is well underway.

According to this blog post, Mongolia doesn’t have legislation to criminalize violations of privacy breaches. Only in 2011, Mongolian Data protection Law (adopting a Law on Personal Secrecy 1995 and a Law on Personal Secrecy/ Privacy Law) was first approved. The author, Badamsuren Batchuluun, Mongolia, mentions more training should be conducted to inform the public and government about data protection law.

More needs to be done. I see a huge gap in protecting student data and confidentiality in Mongolia and I hope the final project for this course can help me discover ways to close it.

Further Resources:

Common Sense Digital Curriculum

Making Sense of Data for teachers and Google for Education Trainers

The Privacy Project by The New York Times


Protecting Student Privacy on Social Media

Lingering Question:

How can I advocate for legislation in Mongolia to protect student data and privacy?

Course 2: Week 2

Has anyone else been called a #boomer before, by a student? In a joking way, of course, but as a millennial, I take slight offense. I know I’m older but I’m not a baby boomer (my connotation/ not theirs)!

This video spoke to me. In instances where my students let me into their world, they often show me a thread of memes which I may or may not get. Honestly, I don’t even feel confident pronouncing ‘meme’ and ‘gif’ and I’m not old.

(Maybe I am a boomer…?)

Teens today use memes, hashtags, and emoji’s as advanced and sophisticated tools of expression. Within social media, there is an added layer of building on trends to further deepen the connection with others. Example: #ME RN.

Mongolia has one of the highest stats for Facebook users. And while the trend ‘Facebook is for old people’ may be true here too, Messenger is still an essential app for all. Amongst the teens I talked to, over Messenger no less, they said they mostly talked to their friends in group chats. These chats can have upwards of 20 people in them. Also not a surprise as students in Mongolia graduate to the next grade with their same cohort and homeroom teacher, forming tight-knit social networks for life.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Social Media Market Share

I also asked them how quarantine has impacted their frequency of communication with their friends. All said it has increased significantly.

Teens today, like generations before, use the tools to make life easier and/or more fulfilling. I talked to my best friends every day after school for hours. Teens today do too, but instead of talking, they text, instead of needing to charge the cordless phone or ending the phone call to complete a chore, it’s always available.

Social media has a high impact on society. I think it’s important for parents, admin, and teens themselves, to understand and make it work for them. We need to use social media to benefit our life instead of diminishing it.

As a teacher and Google for education trainer, I can create &/or instruct people:

  • How to create a shared calendar for students and parents
  • How to automate life with Add-ons
  • Share Google Extensions like Screencastify or Kami

What I’m left with is this, school administration doesn’t like it (or prohibit it) when you befriend students and parents on Facebook or use Messenger for communication. I get it. But knowing it’s more effective than other Apps for communication, what should we do?

Course 2: Week 1

Giving credit where credit is due isn’t new in ELA. As an English teacher, in a small school without a trained librarian, it is often seen as my job to teach students about academic integrity and ways to avoid plagiarism. An expectation for most English classes is to develop students’ability to research and evaluate online resources as well as the know-how to cite them.

Much of the research and citation skills practiced (and assessed) are done through the means of writing academic-style essays. The more I read, the more I’m discovering this practice may limit student preparedness to respect the intellectual property of others.

In this occasional paper on digital media and learning titled Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century, a study cited the majority of teens have created media and many have shared their produced content online. With new apps like TikTok, I imagine that survey is outdated and the number has increased further.

Tiktok“Tiktok” by TheBetterDay is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

I’m also seeing more and more English teachers adding TikTok and memes to engage and assess student knowledge. Is this an example of us teachers choosing student engagement over copyright infringement? How can we keep student engagement, add new creation tools, while modeling respect toward the intellectual property of others?

Part of creating an informed response to those questions, I suggest watching this video. Don’t get turned off by the political divide like I almost did.

Lawrence Lessig Re-examing the remix

Key Takeaways:

  • Our lives are all about sharing, in part.
  • The ecology of sharing should allow freedom to create.
  • We need to respect the creator through copyright.
  • Enable tools for sharing such as Creative Commons.

Awesome educators have made making these decisions easier by creating flowcharts and other visual communications. You can find such awesomeness here and here.

If you are like me and looking for even more resources to feel more comfortable in your ability as an educator. Check out this Coursera MOOC Copyright for Educators & Librarians.

Course 1: Final Project

As a COETAIL community member, I’m pursing the GET certification and have decided to create a single learning experience as a trainer for my final project. The audience for this lesson is my PLC (professional learning community) at school that consists of the secondary English and humanities departments.

I’ve facilitated SEL classes during PD days but I’ve never organized a workshop that uses Google tools to support student learning. This learning experience is different from other experiences because I want it to be possible to conduct in-person or online using Google Meet conferencing tools, or the like.

Since teaching entirely online, it’s made me rethinking unit plans. In the process of seeking inspiration to make lessons more online-friendly, I’ve spent significantly more time learning from my PLN. One thing that’s impressed me lately is how people are using Google Slides. Just a few months ago, I was nearly bored with Google Slides and even required students last semester to use alternative platforms for their presentations to increase engagement and rigor.

Course one has impacted me a lot as a learner and future GET. I hope to use this lesson plan in the future. This learning experience is reflective of Course 1 in that it’s evidence of Connectivism. Through my connections with my PLN it’s helped me rethink a Google tool. I want to connect the branches of my PLN by sharing and reflecting on new skills. I was inspired by this resource, this article, and this presentation to create my learning experience.

Final Project

From theory to practice.

Learning theories to support student learning.

Much of our current education system was developed without the knowledge that learning is a brain function. I’ll never forget the impact Sir Ken Robinson’s animated video about Changing Education Paradigm had on me, both as an educator but also as a human, since much of my life has been spent in the classroom. It made so much sense ( and not in the best way). If the origins of our education system were created for a world that looks vastly different than it does now, what learning theories should influence reform?

If you want to learn more about Sir Ken Robinson and his work, check here.

The 3 main learning theories are behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. Connectivism is the latest to be added to the bunch as a response to learning in the digital age. Since I’m such a visual learner, I wanted to add the chart below to show these four perspectives on learning, instructional methods associated with each, adjacent to the respective quadrant. The orange quadrants represent a student-focused learning approach, blue instructor-focused.

Diving more into Connectivism, this article highlights significant evidence to support the need to lean into this theory more heavily as the original three present limitations. It was often said that we learn by experience but since we can no longer personally experience all that may be needed to act, our competency for learning comes from the connections we form.

Karen Stephenson states:
“Experience has long been considered the best teacher of knowledge. Since we cannot experience everything, other people’s experiences, and hence other people, become the surrogate for knowledge. ‘I store my knowledge in my friends’ is an axiom for collecting knowledge through collecting people (undated).”

If I’m being honest, I mix all four learning theories. And I think that’s a natural response.

What’s different in my classroom?

As much as possible, I try to be student-centered. I’ve found that it’s not always easy depending on social and cultural contexts. I’ve worked in environments where the students weren’t used to student-centered or active learning approaches and it left them feeling vulnerable or they suspected I wasn’t a competent teacher (or both).

I want my students to be problem-solvers, prepared to tackle the social and environmental issues of the 21st century. I hope they have practice considering multiple perspectives when making decisions, and taking risks, in our classroom.

I think it’s important to model learning, to admit when you are wrong or when you don’t know and be transparent about how to acquire the desired knowledge or skills.

One thing I have a big problem with is grading. I think it’s helpful to communicate expectations but it presents many challenges. When students are solely motivated by grades and not through personal or collective inquiry, it can degrade learning. My year spent in university counseling solidified my discontent. I love this new digital age model of a high school transcript called the Mastery Transcript Consortium. If you aren’t familiar, please check it out.

Final Thoughts

What I’m trying to say is, education should be changing and adapting new practices to reflect the ever-changing world. More than ever, isolated content knowledge holds less significance in the digital era. And the alignment between curricula, classroom learning theories and collected evidence of college and career readiness seem more disjointed than ever. I know that idea needs to be more fleshed out, maybe my connections online can help me do that!

In the meantime, I’ll be reading these key findings and implications of the science and learning of development to further my learning about this topic.

Here are some innovative schools I’ve always admired for their application of learning theories.

Are there any other schools out there that take theory to practice in such an authentic way that truly works for their community?

Planning for Tech-Rich Learning.

This is a timely topic: planning for tech-rich learning. Around the world, some schools have been closed for weeks or months to slow the spread of COVID-19. What more than a global pandemic to springboard us all into planning tech-rich experiences? Not just tech-savvy teachers, but most teachers have been forced to transition online, often overnight.

BUT right now, instead of ‘tech integration’ as trendy jargon, as something we aspire or dabble with, I’d argue the global educational climate right now is tech integration in the trenches. Our world has been turned upside down; similar to war times, there is a sense of collective grief. The beautiful part of this new collectivity is the sheer amount of teachers around the world willing to share their resources, companies offering free subscriptions to premium services and students genuinely doing their best.

There has been much debate about the best way to plan for tech-rich learning. Going back to the SAMR model as a foundation, technology shouldn’t be added for the sake of it. Technology shouldn’t replace traditional learning materials such as books, pens, or pencils but should transform and elevate what is capable, in terms of how we are able to collaborate or interact and what we are able to produce or create.

We may not know the full outcome of COVID-19 on education but past education emergencies tell us to expect a social and emotional impact. It has been important for me to explicitly address this impact. I found this UNICEF article with 6 strategies to help teenagers protect their mental health during this new (temporary) normal to be insightful.

In Mongolia, classes have been canceled since late January with rumors not to open until September. I’ve been teaching 100% online, using Zoom and Google Classroom on a daily basis. I’m trying to address the social and emotional impact as well as boost the number of Digital Citizenship lessons I normally would facilitate, due to the increased screentime. I highly recommend Common Sense’s Digital Citizenship curriculum for the secondary level.

See Common Sense’s lesson plan on Countering Hate Speech Online here.

I’m not new to adding technology to my classroom. But never before has it been like this. Even for students, this has been an adjustment. It may be dangerous to stereotype our digital natives, they need explicit instruction on how to rethink education.

Since COVID, I’d added the following tools to rethink education. I’ll add the tool link and also an example activity that I think has been effective.

  • Host a vocabulary jam live in our Zoom meeting to gamify learning words for our novel units.
  • Google Classroom, but amplified: I used it before but now it’s my rock, my base. I find with planning for tech it’s important to use what students already know and build from there. Quality over quantity with assignments.
  • So much can be said about using G Suite for online learning. One example is having a silent discussion in a Google Doc during our Zoom meeting, where we are all talking and contributing to a list of discussion questions collectively. They all have a voice and can contribute to the Doc where and when they can. For me, this has replaced in-class whole discussions (the bread and butter of ELA). I also want to try out Parlay to achieve the same purpose.

We are seeing so many disruptions to the traditional model of education that I’m wondering what can just be thrown out entirely: IB examinations no longer being held, suspended requirements for major higher education institutions, etc. I am left thinking about what really matters.

How are we addressing the equity issue for digital age learners?

What tech integration strategies have worked and should be kept once brick-and-mortars reopen?

We know the world’s institutions can function without high stakes tests, why add them back?

How will my classroom change for the future?

Daily Yoga: Yes, Please.

No one likes New Year’s resolutions. If, and especially when, they are set up for disappointment. Instead, my best friend and I (both teachers) talk over a coffee date. We reflect on the past year and set hopes and goals for the coming year. We go through each branch of our lives: family, relationships, self-care, spirituality, professionalism, etc. With each branch, we brainstorm a few aspirations. This is our way of being reflective, intentional but also a way to help each other stay accountable.

This is often a time where the idea of learning a new hobby pops up or when we reflect on habits we want to change. “Stay realistic but also give yourself grace,” her voice rings in my ear.

We usually write it down in journals or Google Keep. Recently, when thinking about this week’s assignment, I came across my notes from years past and noticed an unfulfilled ambition: start a daily yoga practice.

Why? It’s a simple answer: to be good to my body and mind. This NY Times article is a good place for all the basics, including learning yoga online. The article suggests, “Ten or 15 minutes a day of yoga may be more valuable than going to one class a week.” I plan to keep this statement close.

Yoga is great because it’s a practice that can be done by anyone, at any age and at any time- even during a global pandemic. This may be an especially important opportunity to learn yoga during the COVID pandemic. Yoga, and the breathing practices associated, can reduce anxiety and stress. I can also incorporate yoga at home under quarantine and with my kids.

Below you can find a family favorite for yoga at home.

These are my steps of action for a daily yoga practice.

  • Follow inspirational yogi’s on social media
  • Ensure I have the necessary equipment
  • Practice yoga for at least 15 minutes a day for 1 year
  • Take a photo or journal my journey at least 1x per week.
  • Use online videos available on Youtube or consider a subscription
  • Seek out tips from my relative who’s a certified yoga instructor

Mindfulness: Yoga in Schools

As a teacher, yoga can be incorporated into school life. Maybe, power poses before individual presentations or debates? Or as an ECA (extra-curriculum activity)? Yes, please. See the video below for how a teacher brings meditation into her classroom culture.

So what could be bad about all this good? Well, there is this.

Yoga isn’t anything new but it has become wildly popular, or even trendy in the Western world. It may quality as cultural appropriation or could be insensitive in the way it is deconstructed by the West and regurgitated as the latest health trend, available for purchase and consumption. But with all that being said, there are ways to mitigate the colonization of yoga.

I’ll stay here in a child’s pose thinking about that one.