Social Media and Kids: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Social media is ruining childhood: Agree or Disagree

Yet again, another great debate topic.

There is no question that social media use has become a part of and for many the center of almost every adolescent’s life. The topic of social media is similar to all of the other topics covered in that it can be debated with the pros and cons of how it is impacting students lives either negatively or positively. Once again both sides this week did a phenomenal job of laying out the risks to our youth who are using social media as well as the benefits of using social media.

 According to the article The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families, “Using social media websites is among the most common activity of today’s children and adolescents.”Adolescents no doubt will be ready to jump into social media use before their parents are ready for them to take that next leap. As parents and teachers, we truly need to understand the dangers associated with social media and what our roles and responsibilities are as adults to keep them safe after we have provided children access and permission to use these sites. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of this debate!

The Cons:

 Social media was not designed for them: Although adolescents are drawn to social media because it allows them to communicate, be social and learn new skills social media sites were not designed for the use of young children. The article Why Social Media is Not Smart for Middle School Kids shares that middle school children’s frontal cortex of their brain is not fully developed making them unable to deal with the distractions of social media as well as the temptations that come with social media.

“While you start teaching responsible use of tech now, know that you will not be able to teach the maturity that social media requires.” – Media is Not Smart for Middle School Kids

 As teachers and parents, we need to look into the terms and conditions of social media sites to ensure that our students are ready to be using these sites effectively. Team agree shared the statistic that 50% of children between the ages of 10 and 12 years of age have a social media profile. Considering the majority of social media sites require students to be the age of 13 in order to have their own profile this statistic shows that parents are not taking these age limits seriously. This decision can have huge repercussions in that children will be using these sites inappropriately until they are older and able to make the age-appropriate decisions to use social media properly. This, in turn, can damage a child’s digital footprint in that everything online is permanent and if they are not mature enough to make decisions these decisions can damage their reputation for years to come.

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Cyberbullying: words do hurt: The article Teen Cyberbullying and Social Media Use on the Rise shares that “Cyberbullying occurs when individuals use technology to write aggressive, embarrassing, or hateful messages to/about peers in order to intimidate, harass shame, and control.” With social media allowing students to be in constant communication with one another anywhere at any time, it allows for more communication to happen than ever before. Social media also allows children to communicate online rather than in person. This site also shares that cyberbullies often feel that it is easier to get away with bullying online because it is not a face to face interaction.

cyberbullying is quite common, can occur to any young person online, and can cause profound psychosocial outcomes including depression, anxiety, severe isolation, and, tragically, suicide       -The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolecents and Families

There are many detrimental outcomes that can happen due to cyberbullying. The lines between students online lives and their real lives are becoming more blurred all the time and cyberbullying most definitely has an impact on their personal lives. Many studies share that students become depressed, sad and worried about going to school because of the bullying that happens online. Team agree shared that there is a link between cyberbullying and students having low self esteem. The most terrifying statistic for parents and teachers is the statistics that link cyberbullying and teen suicide rates. Statistics show that 1 in 4 students who have been bullied online have contemplated suicide before. These statistics are alarming and show just how serious the repercussions of negative social media use can have on kids.

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‘Facebook Depression’: Social media sites allow children and teens to follow and connect with many friends online. Being connected online is an important part of many teens lives. Although this connection can be satisfying for teens it also can be intense and trigger negative emotions within teens. With the connection online increasing the number of ‘friends’ teens have, teens are known to fall into what Nichols calls  ‘social comparison’ in the article How to Avoid Facebook Induced Depression. Social comparison is the act of being online and negatively comparing themselves to their many friends online. They become envious of what others are posting online and cannot understand that their friends ‘virtual identity’ may not be a true representation of their friend’s lives. They begin to compare themselves to that virtual identity that is not realistic. Because of this constant comparison teens begin to slip into  ‘Facebook depression’ which The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families states puts them at  ” risk for social isolation and sometimes turn to risky Internet sites and blogs for “help” that may promote substance abuse, unsafe sexual practices, or aggressive or self-destructive behaviors”. As parents and teachers, we need to be educated on and watching for the signs of depression caused by social media use in teenagers. It is important that students are educated about the risks of using social media and the negative impacts that it can have on their mental health.

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Team agree did a great job of identifying the risks involved with children who engage in social media. I feel that there are many risks to young children who engage in social media. As listed above social media was not made for children and by allowing children who are under the terms and conditions suggested age on social media apps can be very dangerous. Parents often feel that social media is harmless but they need to truly understand the risks and impacts that it can have on their children. It is crucial that parents and teachers are familiar with these apps and are constantly monitoring of their children’s interactions online. These risks need to be taken very seriously to ensure that children are safe and that their mental health isn’t put at risk.

Although there are risks with teens using social media there are always many reasons why social media when used appropriately and safely can be productive and useful for teens.

The Pros: 

Social Media allows them to do good: Social media allows students to have their voices heard. It gives them a platform in which they can connect with others and advocate for causes that they are passionate about and want to get involved in. Social media allows them to become empowered and allows them to get involved and stand up for things that they believe in. Student-led campaigns can be very powerful in that they inspire others and help work towards making a change. It is important for teachers to show students and demonstrate how social media can be used in a positive and productive manner. Campaigns such as the #Iammybeautiful campaign, or the #neveragain campaign were started by passionate teens who successfully spread awareness about causes near and dear to teens lives. It allows teens to take their feelings and have an outlet to turn these feelings into positive actions. Social media gives students an outlet to reach millions of people who are interested in the same causes and allows them to collaborate and be a part of raising awareness and making positive change. This is extremely powerful!

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Allows them to connect with others and strengthen their own identity: Social media has the power to allow teens to connect with others from all over the world. This provides students who may feel alone or isolated an outlet to be social and meet others who can encourage and inspire them. In the article, 5 Reasons You Don’t Need to Worry About Kids and Social Media Knorr shares that students who feel isolated “report feeling less isolated and have actually become more socially adept, partly due to an increase in technology use.” It allows them to meet people who share their same ideas and values, in turn, helps them to strengthen their own identity. Students can gain acceptance from others who understand them and are interested in similar subjects and hobbies as them. This is powerful for students as it allows them to be themselves and find acceptance and support in these online communities.

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Enhanced Learning Opportunities: Social media is a great aid in helping enhance learning opportunities. It allows students to learn from and connect with others outside of their immediate classroom. Technology allows students to move beyond their geographical location and allows them to reach all around the globe for collaboration. Students can reach out via social media to learn from and connect with experts, authors, and professionals on any given topic. Social media also allows students to connect with others in their classrooms to work and collaborate on projects and learning opportunities. Social media provides students with an audience that extends their purpose and pushes them to share their learning with others. Social media also allows students to start a dialogue about topics with other students and professionals. The use of hashtags can bring like-minded people together where everyone can collaborate and communicate about topics they are passionate and knowledgeable about. Social media most definitely breaks down boundaries and provides unique learning opportunities for students.

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My personal opinions:

Do I think Social Media is ruining childhood? I do not. I do, however, believe that the adults in charge of introducing and monitoring teens and children on social media are allowing social media to negatively impact children’s lives. Here is why:

There are age restrictions on these apps for a reason. I feel that many parents and children ignore these age restrictions and kids are on these apps to early and are not mature enough to make the age-appropriate decisions that they will need to know. Parents need to value that these age restrictions were set for a good reason and comply and set the expectations that their children cannot be on social media before the required age. We do not let students drive a car before they are 16 just because they want to. The reason being is that it is a rule that needs to be followed to keep us all safe. Parents cannot be afraid to delay access to their children until they truly feel that they are mature and ready to act appropriately online. Children’s safety should always be the number one priority and social media requires a level of maturity in order for them to be safe online.

Many parents will admit that they feel they are out of the loop and do not know how to supervise or monitor their children being on social media appropriately. Parents need to do their homework, do their research to learn about all of the apps and how they work so they can fully understand what their children are doing online. It is impossible to set appropriate boundaries if you are unaware of what boundaries need to be set. Parents should follow their children online so they can help coach and monitor what and when they are posting. Parents need to understand the apps so they can set boundaries and can investigate their children’s social media use if they are suspicious of anything unsafe or inappropriate. Children need to understand that parents want to keep them safe online and these boundaries and rules will help do that.

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Parents and teachers need to work together to teach children about social media and how they can positively use it in their lives. There is no question that teens will at some point be on social media so simply ignoring it is not the answer. Teachers can teach students about social media safety by incorporating social media into the classroom in their teaching practices. This allows students to use social media in a safe and monitored environment. Teachers can help students navigate the social media world and teach them how they can begin to build a positive digital footprint. This allows teachers to set expectations as well as coach the students in using these different apps appropriately. This teaches students how they can use social media for education, connecting and collaborating as well as sharing their work and knowledge. Social media can be an extremely powerful tool when used appropriately and monitored by an adult to ensure that students are safe online. I believe that with the guidance of adults as well as positive role models students can successfully navigate social media to use it in positive ways. With all this being said I am all for social media for students once they have reached the required age and have successfully demonstrated that they are aware of the negative and positive impacts that social media can have on their lives. Once again it comes down to setting expectations, monitoring and finding balance!

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Another great debate, another thought-provoking week! Great work teams!

 

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Green Light!

Sharing online: yes or no for educators?– the chat room was hot with debate this week!

I feel that the idea of sharing online in schools has become a hot topic over the last few years. Team agree did a great job of presenting the possible dangers associatiated with posting online as well as the privacy concerns that teachers need to be aware of. I feel that privacy has become at the top of the priority for many people as well as the education system for good reason. With many of the tools that educators need and want to use being online or connected online, privacy, no doubt needs to be a huge priority when considering what is safe and what is needed to accomplish the goals that we have set out. Team agree did a great job of proposing what teachers need to truly be mindful of when posting online with students. Though they outlined some great concerns I truly feel that the educational benefits and learning opportunities that students recieve from the digital world far outway the concerns.

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As teachers, although we may feel nervous and unsure about sharing online within our classrooms we must acknowledge the fact that we have a responsibility to really look at the pros and cons of helping students to navigate the online sharing world. Esther, Kari, and Shelly outlined in their debate introduction video that sharing online is truly a reality of childhood in today’s generation. As adults, we need to embrace the fact that students will no doubt exist online and that we can either safely help them navigate their new world or we can turn away and allow them to potentially dangerously navigate the online world independently.

In the article Building and Keeping a Positive Digital Identity: A Practical Approach for Educators, Students, and Parents, the authors share:

” as learning becomes more digital, educators at all levels
are instrumental in building students’ understanding about how
technology impacts both their personal and future professional
lives. Educators are also instrumental in helping students develop lifelong habits to create and maintain a positive online identity.”

This article outlines the important role that teachers play in helping and teaching students to navigate the online world safely. The article shares ways in which teachers can help students to understand what their digital identity is and how they are creating that identity maybe unknowingly each and every time they connect online. As teachers and parents, we cannot forget that our students are no doubt growing up in a digital world and they will need guidance and support to help them understand how to interact appropriately and safely online. The article reminds us that, “for teachers, this means understanding, advocating and modeling appropriate online behavior to help students effectively navigate this complicated landscape as well.” I do feel that schools have a responsibility to teach children about digital citizenship and their digital footprint.

Digital Playground

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I feel that in order to teach children about digital citizenship and being safe online teachers need to be role models and give students the opportunity to practice their digital citizenship as well as building their digital footprint within the classroom in a safe place where they are guided by a teacher. Programs like Seesaw allow children to share their work with their families and others in the classroom, post videos, and pictures of positive things that they have been working on at school. It also allows students to view each other’s work and comment on one another’s work leaving positive feedback allowing them to learn how to effectively interact socially online. Programs in the classroom such as these allow teachers to teach students about appropriate posting and allows teachers to model and guide students so they can learn to positively interact with their peers and others online. Seesaw gives students a safe and closed starting space to practice and foster these digital skills.

Team disagree also shared how technology can be used to engage students. Students today are familiar with and interested in technology so by incorporating this into their education we can use these as engagement tools to engage our students. Online tools allow students to both become engaged due to interest as well as this gives students who are not necessarily comfortable with expressing themselves in class an outlet that they may be comfortable with to express themselves online. The article Exploring the Potential Benefits of Using Social Media in Education shares how social media can help and encourage students who are non-participators in class and how it can encourage them to participate,

A student who hardly ever participates in class may get actively engaged in co-constructing his learning experience with his teachers, collaborating with his fellow colleagues, and may feel more comfortable to express himself and to share his resources and ideas on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

The article also shares the benefits that social media has in helping people get connected. It allows students, teachers, and families to connect with one another. This can be powerful in enhancing communication between all parties involved in the education of a student. I do see this as a benefit but completely agree with what Kristen shares in her blog post that students do need to learn to have good and confident communication both online and in person. As it does help students who are shy or quiet it is also important that they foster the skills that they need to communicate in person as well.

Esther, Kari, and Shelly also share the benefits of getting connected with the wider community. They share how social media and online tools give students voice more agency and in turn propels them to become more active participants in their learning. This allows the students to have a platform outside of their immediate classroom and allows them to engage with others from around the world that have the same interests. Technology allows students to collaborate with others that they may not have had the opportunity to do so without technology. When surveying my class about our happiness project most students commented that their favorite part of the project was the fact that they could connect and share with others outside of our classroom. They felt empowered to do their best quality work to showcase their learning for others. I found this to be very powerful in motivating and inspiring my students.

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This week was a great debate and a hot topic for conversation in the chat on zoom. There were lots of great questions, examples of real-world experience and fears shared around this topic. I agree with the Dani, Joe and Amy’s team and many of my classmates when we discuss the concerns around privacy and how conscious we as teachers need to be when it comes to supervising students as they navigate the online world as when we share students pictures and work. As teachers, it is crucial that we are aware of our school divisions policies on posting students pictures and work online. I think teachers should not fear to post online given they have taken all the correct steps in order to have permission slips signed and parents are aware of what platforms as well as what types of pictures and work will be shared. Team agree shared the article Posting Student Photos on the Web which has great advice to teachers of the precautionary steps that need to be taken prior to posting any work online.

Schools should solicit parents’ permission to post photos of their child on the Web. The permission form should clearly describe the anticipated ways in which the school will use student pictures. When posting photos, schools should try their utmost not to post accompanying names at all – the next best option probably is to post students’ first names but not last names.

We cannot let the fear of technology and the fear of change stop us from incorporating new technology and 21st-century skills and lessons into our classrooms. We need to embrace the change and take all the appropriate steps to ensure that we are preparing our students the best way we can for their future. Great debate friends! I feel that this one really allowed us all to question some uncertainties and fears we have around this new and quickly changing world of technology in the classroom! Great work teams!

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Educating The Google Generation

Why teach anything that can be googled? Though this may seem like a bizarre question to consider as a teacherit makes you think about what would be left to actually teach then? But once we actually sit down and really dig into this question and begin consider all angles of this question it really is a good and deep one!

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These debates, I feel are a great way to allow teachers to look at their current teaching practices and begin to challenge themselves to really consider if they are in fact using practices that are in the best interest of our current students and the skills they need for their future. With technology helping advance our world at a rapid rate we as teachers really need to begin looking at our teaching practices to ensure that they are keeping up with these changes and meeting students needs with current and best practices.

Below is our introduction to this debate. We agree that schools should not teach anything that can be googled.

Our arguments: 

Knowledge Is Becoming Obsolete 

Pavon Arora in his Ted X video Knowledge is Obsolete, So Now What makes the argument that we are living in a world where knowledge is becoming obsolete and the value of knowledge continues to decline. We know that knowledge is changing faster than ever before. All knowledge now has an expiration date and we need to find ways to stay at the top of the knowledge food chain. In traditional schooling, memorization has often been mistaken for learning. In today’s world, there is no more need to memorize facts as they change so often. Not only does knowledge change so quickly but students often forget memorized facts as they memorize them to regurgitate them for an exam and promptly forget them after.

Arora shares that human knowledge now doubles every 1-2 years. This has increased significantly over the last hundred years. With knowledge doubling every 1-2 years, it is crucial for teachers to consider how they are keeping up with this change in knowledge. Every 1-2 years the facts that they have been focusing on in their curriculum are likely already out of date. Teachers and the ministry need to begin considering how we as educators of the future generations can adapt our curriculum and teaching practices to meet these changes.

Teachers also need to begin to consider how access to technology changes the way in which we approach teaching today’s generation and the way we approach knowledge. Today with smartphones and the internet most everyone has immediate access to human knowledge at any time in any place. With this access, it really changes the way in which students need to learn. No longer is memorization of all facts necessary as students have access to a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips.

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How Are We Preparing Students for Knowledge Change?

We understand that knowledge is changing in our world and with this, we need to ensure that we are preparing our students for this change. As teachers, we need to look at our teaching practices and understand what changes we need to make to make the shift in our teaching to ensure that we are making room for the competencies that our students will need in order to be successful in the 21st century.

Joe Ruhl in video Teaching Methods for Inspiring Students of the Future shares his thoughts on ways that teachers can inspire students of the 21st century. This allows teachers to really begin to reflect on their teaching practices and begin to consider if we are providing our students with the essential skills that they will need to be successful in their futures. This most definitely requires teachers to consider a shift from the traditional teacher-centered classroom towards a student-centered classroom. Traditional education focuses more on the idea of teaching rather than learning. Instead, we need to move towards allowing students to explore learning on their own agenda.

Teachers need to begin moving towards allowing students time to foster the skills that they will need in order to be successful in their professional lives in this generation. We need to make room in our teaching practices for students to have a choice, collaborate, communicate, foster their critical thinking skills and be creative. This framework allows students to engage in topics they are interested in allowing authentic learning to happen. As teachers, we need to consider what skills employers will value in the 21st century to ensure that we are setting our students up for success.

Choice allows students to choose the topics that they want to learn about. This allows students to create meaningful knowledge as they are able to choose where they want their learning to go rather than told by the teacher where their learning needs to go.

Communication allows students to share their thoughts, ideas questions, and solutions. Technology allows them to communicate their understanding in many different ways.

Collaboration allows students to work together to reach a common goal. Technology allows students to collaborate much differently than in the past. Technology allows for collaboration in areas that before were not possible.

Critical thinking allows students to look at problems in multiple ways across all subject areas. Technology allows students to move away from memorizing facts and allows them to dig deeper into learning reaching areas of learning that are much more in-depth and complex.  

Creativity allows students to try new ways of learning and completing assignments. It allows them to be innovative and allows them to use technology to create new ways of learning and showing their learning.

Photo Credit: The 4Cs of the 21st Century Skills 

Technology Efficiency 

” the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting” -Plutarch 

Moving away from traditional ways of teaching we must move away from teaching students what they need to learn towards teaching students how to learn. Traditionally teachers lecture to students at the front of the classroom and then expect them to regurgitate those memorized facts back to them on a test. With the change in technology and skills needed to be successful in the 21st century this way of teaching is no longer effective. Instead, we need to provide our students with meaningful learning opportunities that allow students to gain knowledge through meaningful learning situations and that knowledge, in turn, will stay with them for life. Meaningful learning allows the students to be active in their learning and fully engaged in the learning process. This process allows students to remember information because it is important to them and not just because someone told them to remember it. It is time to consider and think about your teaching practices to consider if you are allowing your students to learn in meaningful ways.

When we allow students to access technology tools this allows them the opportunity to gain knowledge through meaningful ways. It allows students with access to a wealth of knowledge and allows them to construct knowledge in their own way and allows them access to building knowledge in areas that they are interested in and not just in areas the teacher decides they need to know. Technology allows students to move beyond rote learning and allows them to access all types of knowledge. In the article Advent of Google means we must rethink our approach to education they share,

Teaching in an environment where the internet and discussion are allowed in exams would be different. The ability to find things out quickly and accurately would become the predominant skill. The ability to discriminate between alternatives, then put facts together to solve problems would be critical. That’s a skill that future employers would admire immensely.

We need to provide our students with an environment that allows them to create and answer questions that engage them as learners. This would challenge learners to consider questions that spark interest them and use new technologies to find the answers. This would transform education from teachers providing students with knowledge towards students learning to find, create and analyze information to create their own knowledge.

This debate no doubt has allowed me to dig deeper into what skills education of the 21st century is lacking and what we as teachers need to begin to consider in order to make change within the education system. This is a loaded topic that is much beyond just looking at whether or not schools should be teaching anything that can be googled. Let’s just say this topic has inspired me to look at my own teaching practices as well as the curriculum and begin to consider how I can begin to reform my teaching to fully meet the needs of my 21st-century learners.

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For or Against Tech to Enhance Learning: Where do you stand?

Technology in the classroom–this most definitely can be debated on whether or not it enhances learning or distracts from learning. Like many things when it comes to education, there are pros and cons to almost everything. I do however heavily favor the idea that technology most definitely does enhance learning in the classroom– that being said, when used appropriately. Like anything in education, there is always a time and place for everything and I feel that teachers need to consciously consider when technology should be introduced and used in the classroom.

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One reoccurring point that was brought up on both sides of the debate this week was the importance of the teacher’s role in implementing the positive use of technology in the classroom. Teachers need to be aware of their goals in using technology and consider what routines and procedures they need to set out in order to ensure that their goals are met to enhance learning. I agree with what Dani states in her blog post Post Disputandum Week 1:

“regardless of how much or how little technology we have available in the classroom, without the direct support and guidance of the teacher, there will be no opportunity to enhance learning or deepen learning for our students.  Teachers play an integral part of ensuring that technology is used properly and safely for students.”

Image result for tech pd for teachersI am a firm believer in setting out expectations with familiar routines and procedures. I feel that when it comes to technology many teachers do not understand how to set appropriate expectations as well as feel lost when guiding students to use technology to enhance their learning. I do feel that teachers need to be trained in ways that they can use technology in their classrooms and not just provided technology to use. This will ensure that technology is being used to deepen learning and not just used for surface level learning.

I feel that the disagree side in the debate did a great job of presenting concerns with technology enhancing learning. I feel that as a teacher it is important to consider what negative impacts technology could have on learning to ensure that you are able to positively use technology to its full advantages. Team disagree shared the article Negative Effects of Using Technology in Today’s Classroom. This article is a great article that outlines aspects of technology we as teachers need to be considerate of while planning to incorporate technology into learning opportunities for students.

One of the negative effects that this article list is student distraction when using technology. As we are well aware technology can be very distracting to students. In many cases, students become more focused on the technology itself than the actual learning. The article shares how many students are consumed with creating their presentation and in turn, the research and learning falls to the side as they are putting more time into creating a presentation with tech tools than using the technology to dive deeper into learning a topic. This is a good reminder to teachers that we need to set the expectations to focus on the learning of the information prior to the presentation so that the technology is in fact used to enhance and deepen the understanding of a topic and the learning.

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As stated above I do believe that if used appropriately technology has the opportunity to enhance learning. The article Teaching in a Digital Age: How Educators Use Technology to Improve Student Learning as shared by team agree shares many pros to using technology to enhance learning. One pro shared in this article that I completely agree with is how technology improves access for students. Technology allows us to access the most up to date learning resources at any given time. This allows students to develop a deeper understanding of topics as they have access to up to date information and access to a variety of information on any given topic. In a time where information is changing and progressing at a rate where many can’t even begin to keep up with, technology allows students to access the most current and up to date information. This allows us to more than only having access to textbooks that unfortunately in many cases are outdated quickly due to the permanency of information in print.

Another way technology enhances learning also listed in the above article is that technology extends purpose and gives an audience for student work. I find this aspect of technology to be extremely powerful and beneficial for students. This allows students to be a part of a larger community beyond the four walls of their classrooms. They are able to collaborate with students and experts from all over the world with the use of technology. It is known that students will put greater effort into their work if they know that the will be published online.

This past term my classroom launched a large project. We called it the The Happiness Project. For this project, my classroom launched a classroom blog. Each week different students had the opportunity to be a guest blogger and share what we were learning about in our happiness project. This project allowed students to use the blog as a platform to share their learning with others outside of our classroom. It was an extremely rewarding experience for my student and they felt extremely empowered to be able to share knowledge with others. The students commented on how they would ensure that they put great effort into writing on the blog making sure they use their best possible work as it is published for others to view. This project allowed them to connect and learn from others that would not have been possible without technology. This was a great experience for me to see how powerful the use of technology can be in my classroom.

I feel that both sides of this argument are very important to consider when looking at how a teacher can effectively incorporate technology into the classroom. One major barrier that I feel teachers have to work with is the access to technology and how costly it can be for schools to purchase the appropriate technology so all students have access to the technology that they need. I agree with what Shelly in that the access to technology can be an extremely frustrating challenge for teachers.

 “due to the limited funds available and therefore limited access to technology in our schools. Many of us as teachers seem to have a willingness to embrace technology, and move teachers and students along the SAMR model, however, regular accessibility is a feat in frustration.”

I feel that this was a successful debate and both sides provided lots of great points that allowed us all to consider the pros and cons of using technology to enhance student learning. I feel that as a teacher we need to deeply understand both sides of this topic in order to effectively incorporate technology to enhance learning in the classroom. Great job team!

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Nothing but smiles for #thehappinessproject

#thehappinessproject. Wow! Talk about a rewarding experience. This term I knew that I wanted to do another project that would allow me to include my students and looking back I can say I am beyond proud of the hard work and dedication my students (and families) demonstrated this term. Below I will outline for you our entire journey of the happiness project from beginning to now because the end hasn’t happened yet!

1.An idea and a plot twist: Originally I had planned to focus on teaching about digital citizenship by incorporating social media into our everyday classroom. I had an idea to use a classroom Facebook page where my students could learn about appropriate online behavior as I modeled for them throughout this term. You can read about my original idea here in my blog post Let’s do this! After some careful consideration, I just wasn’t feeling this choice was the right one and I felt like I was being pulled in a different direction. Along came my plot twist, with this I decided that I was going to launch a student activism project within my classroom. I shared my original idea with my classroom and let me tell you they were beyond excited. You can read about the beginning brainstorming sessions with my students here: Plot Twist… Major Project 2.0.

2. Settling on a project: after much deliberation and brainstorming sessions, we decided that we were going to do some exploration around the topic of happiness in our classroom. In honor of International Day of Happiness, we launched a happiness project to explore inner happiness. We decided that over the next few months, we were going to participate in daily activities that encourage mindfulness, self-regulation, self-care, gratitude, with the end result of finding internal happiness. During this time we talked about ways that we could share our project with others and how we can reach out via social media to invite and encourage other classrooms to follow along and participate in our project. We decided on a classroom blog as a way to document our learning and a place for others to follow along, participate and collaborate. You can find our happiness blog here!  Our classroom blog is written by students who share their learning journey as well as updated with teaching resources by myself for these lessons so others can use them easily in their classrooms. You can read all about the fine details of our project at We present to you… The Happiness Project.

3.  Ribbles 9 Elements: We were encouraged to consider how our project meets Ribbles 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship. You can check out my project goals and how I planned to teach my students about Digital Communication, Digital Literacy and Digital Health and Wellness through the happiness project. You can read about these goals in my blog post #projectgoals. 

4.  The Launch: After the February break, we hit the ground running. We launched our happiness blog, used my social media including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to reach out to other educators to see who would like to be a part of our project. Students also drafted an email to send out to any teacher who had expressed interest from my social media accounts. This email outlined our project and how they can follow along on our blog! You can find our happiness blog here! This is where my students shared and documented their learning. My students also narrowed down and picked their organization of choice. The students decided on the Make a Wish Foundation Saskatchewan. They picked this foundation as they wanted to spread happiness to a kid who may need a little bit of extra happiness. They decided to raise money for their cause by selling rainbow loom bracelets for International Day of Happiness. You can read all about the launch of our happiness project here at The Launch! 

 5. Getting Started: You can read about week one of the happiness project below! This outlines our happiness journals, our first few lessons as well as breaking the news to our school about our project in a school assembly! In this post, you will also find links to the updates on our classroom happiness blog for the first week! You can read all about our first week in the blog post #thehappinessproject is underway! Here is the video that my students created to share our happiness project with our school community at our assembly!

6.Feelings Week: Mid-March we focused on feelings for a week. We did several lessons around feelings. We also had Trina Markusson the Mindfulness guru come in to speak with our class about tips and tricks for mindfulness. You can read my blog post Feelings Week to see what lessons we did around feelings! This will also share the links to our happiness blog where you can read the updates from my students.

7. Charity: Students picked the charity Make a Wish Foundation Saskatchewan to raise awareness and money for. Over the course of a few weeks, students shared our project with all of the classrooms in our school and shared how students can get involved by purchasing a happiness bracelet for International Day of Happiness to support our cause. The school community was so excited about this fundraiser. Our students worked so hard to make and fill all of the orders for our school. We even had orders from other classrooms around the province that were following along with our project! That was very exciting for our students to have other schools also purchase for our cause! One of the students in my classroom also went above and beyond doing her own personal fundraiser for our cause. You can read the blog post Giving to Charity Makes us Happy to see how we prepared and fulfilled our fundraiser!

8. Mindfulness: Building on Trina Markussons presentation we spent a few lessons looking at working on ourselves. You can read the update about these lessons as well as find the links to my student’s reflections on their happiness blog about these lessons. You can read about this at Working on Ourselves.

9. #thehappinessprojectyqr: Using social media I was able to reach out to someone within our community that has branded #thehappinessprojectYQR. I reached out to Makayla to see if she would come and speak with our classroom about how she uses social media in a positive way to spread awareness about happiness. You can read about how we reached out to Makayla and our afternoon spent with her at #thehappinessprojectyqr.

Over the past few months, we have accomplished so much with this project and I am so proud of the direction that it took. My class was able to spread awareness about self-care, self-regulation, mindfulness, and gratitude. They were able to use the classroom blog as a platform to share with others from outside our school community. They were so excited when others would comment on our blog and let us know that they are following along with our journey. I feel that this update is just a snippet of what we actually accomplished over the last few months!

Students worked so hard to make all of the bracelets that we sold to our followers. These bracelets were sold to raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation Saskatchewan. It was such a great way to raise awareness for both our foundation as well as International Day of Happiness. The school was excited and it was so amazing to see all of our students united in wearing their bracelets on March 20th to show their support for our cause! Our fundraiser was beyond successful. Although this total is still a top secret from our school until our April Assembly check out the photo below to see how successful our classroom was in our fundraiser! Shhh… don’t spill the beans!

We gratefully raised $1500 for the Make a Wish Foundation Saskatchewan. We are blown away by the support our classroom received from our school community as well as our followers for this project. We are extremely excited to share this with our school at our April assembly and then proceed to make our donation to the Make a Wish Foundation.

Throughout this project, the most rewarding experience for myself has been to watch my students blog about their learning and the fundraiser. Allowing my students to reflect on their learning on a public forum has empowered them to dig deeper into their learning and share their work to inspire others. We had a class discussion about the benefits of using social media to share our work and they felt very proud that they could use the blog to share happiness with others. They shared how if we didn’t have our blog our learning and ideas would have just stayed in our classroom but because they put their work on the blog they were able to share happiness with others. This was extremely powerful.

All in all this project was extremely rewarding and I am excited to share that we are not finished yet! We have moved on to celebrate Grateful in April which is a great way to wrap up our project. We are extremely grateful to everyone who followed along and supported us along the way. Thank you to all who took the time to read our blog and comment for my students to see that their work has gone public! This was by far their favorite part. Also, thank you to any teachers who tried some of our activities in their classrooms as well as supported our fundraiser. We are beyond grateful.

I feel like this project is hard to wrap up and summarize in one blog post. Please head over to our Happiness Blog which can be found here! This is where the true happiness lies and you can see the full scope of how much work my classroom did over the last few months. Make sure to subscribe because there is still more to come!

Thanks for following along on our happiness journal!

We will meet YOU at HAPPY!

 

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#thehappinessprojectyqr

When my class launched our happiness project we were looking at different options for sharing our project. I debated starting a classroom Twitter or Instagram account to share our journey with others. At this time I was looking around on social media to see what may be out there for others already using the happiness project as their name. During this search, I found on Instagram The Happiness Project YQR. I was intrigued so I checked out her page and started following along on Makayla’s happiness project page. You can read Makayla’s blog about her inspiration and journey to starting the happiness project here.

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Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to follow her story and see how she has branded #thehappinessprojectyqr. Makayla runs a very successful and positive social media site that helps spread positivity,  and guidance to happiness online. Over the past few months that I have been following Makayla’s page, she has had many local Regina guests take over her Instagram to share their successes and their daily rituals to help them be mindful and happy. I have enjoyed following her positive page and learning about her journey to happiness.

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I feel that Makayla is a great role model to show students how social media can be a platform to spread awareness about your cause in a positive way. Since I teach in a Grade 3/4 classroom I feel that it is a crucial age for students to understand the power of social media and how it can be used positively. I reached out to Makayla to see if she would come into our classroom and help me speak to my class about her happiness project as well as the importance of being kind online. She was so excited that I had reached out and we made plans for her to come into our classroom yesterday!

While Makayla was here she shared what her happiness project was all about focusing on daily rituals of gratitude and being kind to others. We also talked about being kind online and students made kindness pledges to pledge to be kind! I updated our classroom happiness blog with all of the activities that we did with Makayla. You can find the update here!

I am so grateful for Makayla taking time out of her busy schedule to come and visit us. The power of social media is amazing as a teacher being able to find others in our community that can come in and support our teaching giving our students another perspective.

Thanks for checking in! Stay tuned for our reveal this week of how much money we raised for the Make a Wish Foundation! You won’t want to miss this!

 

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Adios EC&I 832

Since I just returned from Mexico for spring break, and I am practically fluent (not) in Spanish I will prepare to say Adios to my new friends and colleagues that I have met through this course. Thank you all for another amazing semester of learning. This course for me was a great building block to the content that I learned in EC&I 831. I feel that combined these two courses have allowed me to fully understand the importance of educating our students on the importance of Digital Citizenship as well as Media Literacy.

This course has allowed me to reflect on my current teaching practices and encouraged me to consider how I can change and adapt my teaching to ensure that I am fully preparing my students for the world that they are entering. Technology and media are here to stay and as teachers and parents, we need to be committed to helping our students navigate this world appropriately and safely. I feel that I now have a great understanding of the topics that I need to begin to explore deeper into my classroom and from this class I have the confidence to know how to begin that.

Thank you all for the great discussions, feedback, and support. You can find my summary of learning below!  Take care all!

 

Adios, my friends!

Channing

 

 

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Working on Ourselves!

The last two weeks of #thehappinessproject have been taking time to focus on our minds and working towards understanding that big concept of mindfulness.

Mindfulness Wheels:

Two weeks ago the mindfulness guru Trina Markusson came to talk to our students about Mindfulness and different strategies that they can use to help with mindfulness and dealing with big emotions. We read her story Good Morning Sunshine and talked about the different mindfulness strategies that she suggests. Students then made their own Mindfulness wheels with all of the strategies that Trina gave them for their happiness journals.

You can find my student’s blog post on the Mindfulness Wheel here.

You can find my post including resources for the Mindfulness Wheel here.

Positive Self Talk:

This past week we have been focusing on our minds as we looked at helpful and unhelpful thoughts and how those impact us. The first lesson we focused on Positive self-talk and the idea that if you plant positive thoughts in your life positive things will happen. Students then had to think of 7-10 positive self-talk mantras that they can use. Students created positive self-talk shields to help protect themselves from negative self-talk.

 

You can find my student’s blog post on Positive Self Talk here. 

You can find my blog post including resources for Positive Self Talk here.

 

SA TA NA MA Meditation

This week we also looked at the idea of taking care of our minds and learning how to focus on the present moment. We watched a video that suggests we need to take ten minutes a day to do absolutely nothing. In this lesson, we looked at the SA TA NA MA Meditation and how it can help people work on being in the present moment. Ten minutes does not seem long but it can be very difficult to stay focused without our minds wandering for ten solid minutes. Using the SA TA NA MA Meditation helps students focus on the present moment of the meditation.

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You can find my students post on the SA TA NA MA Meditation here.

You can find post including resources for SA TA NA MA Meditation lesson here.

 Thanks for stopping in! I wanted to give you all a little glimpse into what #thehappinessproject has been up to. To see our full project and lessons head over to our blog at http://www.thehappinessprojectdp.wordpress.com

We will meet YOU at HAPPY!

 

 

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Local News Bubble…

News. To be honest, this is one thing that can completely overwhelm me. Media, in my mind, has allowed the access to and the spread of news, true and fake to become so widespread. In today’s society information and news is always visible and present and that to me has become overwhelming. Because the access and amount of news overwhelm me so much, I have found that for the most part, I try and put myself in a bubble of staying local with my news intake. By doing so I feel that I am able to stay informed about what is happening in my immediate community and up to date with the news that directly impacts myself and my community. Amy shares the same feelings I do about news in todays society, she shares,

I can’t make sense of my world. What I learn about in the news constantly tells me that there is so much going on that I can’t understand and have no way of even beginning to understand.  I feel overwhelmed by the complexities of the moment we’re in, politically, socially, humanitarian-ly, and environmentally.

 With acknowledging these overwhelming feelings I feel about my news intake, I do acknowledge that it ultimately is a privilege that I have in that I  am able to choose which news I concern myself.

Currently, the strategy that I use in order to stay informed and away from the fake news is that I try to primarily ready and watch local news, listen to local radio and also browsing online local news sites in order to stay informed with my communities news stories. I try and make sure that I cross-check facts between different local news stations as I find even between local news stations the stories that each station shares can present different facts and different information. I feel that in today’s world no matter what the source of news that you are reading it is important to always cross-check the information to truly guarantee that you are getting truthful facts of the news stories. If we do not cross-check the facts we then risk becoming part of the problem in spreading of ‘fake news’.

  

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There was a time in my life when I relied on my social media platforms to keep myself informed with news. Many people use their social media accounts to share stories of news that is happening around the world. It is hard not to click on the catchy headings and read stories of what is happening around the world. The problem with relying on social media platforms is that there are many fake news stories floating around on these sites. This is why it is concerning that in today’s society many people are using social media as their primary news platform but in reality, this is where the majority of ‘fake news’ stories begin to circulate.

It is just in the last few years that I have learned to become skeptical of reading news stories circulating on social media and have become aware of the idea of fake news and how to begin to decipher if a story is real or fake. In Jocelyn and Jamie’s video this week, they share a study done by Ofcom that polled 12-15-year-olds and half of the students shared that social media is where they get their news stories from.The following is a video that Jocelyn and Jaimie’s shared about the importance of fact-checking news stories found on our social media feeds.

As an educator, we have a great responsibility in helping our students understand fake news and helping them build the skills that they need in order to understand and think critically about what they are reading. I can see after reflection this week that this is something I need to work on myself to become more comfortable with reading news and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone to become more informed with what is going on around the world. I need to work towards becoming more comfortable with reading online and being able to confidently identify what is true and what is fake news. Jocelyn and Jaimie shared the following picture which I think is a great starting point for myself as well as my students when looking at classifying news.

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Although I think this is a great start to helping students identify ‘fake news’ we need to remember what Alec shared last week in class. Nicole shared on Twitter how Alec quoted that”no checklist is going to make your student’s media literate.” Sharing tips that students can work through is great but even beyond this, we need to ensure that we continue to have conversations with them and provide them with real experiences to help them truly understand and be confident in the skills they need in order to become media literate citizens.

So my question to you is how are you committed to helping your students become digital literate citizens in this fake news world? For me, I acknowledge that my first step needs to begin with continuing educating myself and becoming more confident in my media literacy skills.

Thanks for stopping in!

 

 

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Giving to Charity Makes us Happy!

It has been another exciting and busy week for #thehappinessproject in our classroom. Last week we hit the ground running with our fundraiser for the Make a Wish Foundation Saskatchewan! The students were so excited to begin to raise money for our charity. They are feeling very inspired by the fact that they can work together for a greater cause and be a part of something so great within our province. Children are so caring and giving and this week allowed my students to take on leadership roles in our school in order to inspire others to jump on board with our fundraiser.

Small groups of our students went around to each and every classroom to spread awareness in our school about our fundraiser. They worked together to count out and deliver all of the order forms to the classrooms. On Thursday we received all of our pre-order forms and from there we were able to begin to fill our pre-orders with the bracelets that we had made for our fundraiser. We also have other classrooms from other schools around Regina that have been following our blog. They also purchased bracelets so we filled those orders and sent them to their schools! The bracelet sales were a huge success and all the students who purchased bracelets are encouraged to wear them on Tuesday, March 20th for International Day of Happiness. Here are the bracelets our classroom ordered!

Another fundraiser our class has planned is on Thursday, March 22nd students in our school can also participate in a mindful day where they can pay $1 to chew gum for the school day. Did you know that chewing gum is mindful?

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I also had one very caring and generous student who went above and beyond and did her own fundraiser to raise more money for our cause. You can check out Addie’s blog post on our happiness project to read about how she raised $145 for our project! Her blog post can be found here!

At our school assembly in April our classroom will be doing a happiness presentation for families and our school as well as at that time we will have the grand total for how much money we raised for the Make a Wish Foundation Saskatchewan! Stay tuned as they have already way surpassed what our original goal was!

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Feel free to check out our blog here to read up on what we have been learning about this week! My students have been working hard at keeping our blog updated so the classrooms who are following along can continue on with the project.

We are so grateful for the classrooms and others who have been following along with our project. Many classrooms and others have left us comments on our blog which has been very exciting for our students. Last week we took time to read all of the comments that have been left on our blog posts. We took time to read each comment and students took time responding to these comments. We talked about why it is important to comment on others work and also how we can use positive comments to encourage others in their work. We also talked about the importance of taking time to reply to comments and why it would be important to take the time to reply to these comments. The students learned so much from this short lesson. We are grateful for the classrooms who have been following along and commenting to encourage our learning. Thank you to all who have taken the time to read and comment on my students learning.

It has been another happy week for #thehappinessproject! We have lots of learning left to do so continue checking our blog! I have also reached out to Makayla who runs thehappinessprojectyqr.com. She has branded #thehappinessprojectYQR in Regina and I have been in contact with her about collaborating. I plan to make arrangements to have her come and talk to our class about her journey to happiness as well as her experiences with social media and how she has used social media to spread happiness to all of her followers! I am very excited about this collaboration! Stay tuned to hear what we decide on!

Thanks for checking out our update! It has been another busy week and this is only a snippet of what we have been up to! Make sure to browse our blog to see the details! Leave us a comment and let us know you stopped by!

What are you doing for International Day of Happiness?! Join us in our pursuit of happiness!

We will meet YOU at HAPPY!

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