Summary Of Learning: EC&I 831

For my summary of learning I decided to try the Explain Everything app since I’ve heard many people mention how much they like using it.  The video is a short snippet of my learning and where I am headed.  I’ve decided to highlight the most meaningful things to me.  There are many more things I have learned and things that I am going to try.  I didn’t talk about all of our wonderful guest speakers but what they said did have an impact on my learning, especially Richard Schwier’s talk.  I think this was a great way to get us comfortable with our online community. Thank you for sharing my learning journey!

Reflecting on my PLN

For my EC &I 831 class we were required to develop a professional learning network (PLN).

During another class I had a classmate and colleague tell our class that we needed to get on Twitter.  I didn’t know why we needed to and I didn’t know what was so important.  I signed up for Twitter and found that I “wasted” time and on it.  I didn’t have a purpose as to why or what I was doing.  I followed a few people and found a few interesting things but then I lost interest.  Another colleague of mine confirmed that Twitter was a time waster so why should we bother.   A person who I admire and who holds a position of power tweeted this:

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Well there I had it.  I shouldn’t be on Twitter.  I have young kids at home.  How dare I waste my time!

I am thankful that I had the chance to start using Twitter this term and I can now see why it is so important.  I have such a fabulous PLN that I can get information from.  They can answer my questions, encourage me, share their learning and so much more.  Who knew such a large and supportive PLN was right at my fingertips?   There are people who share the same passions that I do.  I get so many ideas and I am inspired.   I am connected with educators from all over the world.  No longer trying to make connections with only people at my school or division.  I have found new and exciting people to collaborate with and I will continue to network.  My PLN has grown and will continue to grow over time.

Telling staff to only tweet once or twice a day is like telling them to only read a paragraph of a page in a professional development book.  Tweeting is professional development anywhere, anytime.  Embrace it and tweet!

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Digital Media Project : Final Post But The Learning Continues

THE PROJECT

After our EC&I lecture on Digital Citizenship, Harmony McMillian and I decided that we needed to reach out to our parents at the school where we both teach.  We needed to share the information that we learned from class to help them raise connected caring citizens.  We decided to host a parent engagement night and present some of the good and some of the not so good.

photo(12)After getting our administration on board, the invitations were sent out to parents.  We had many positive responses saying that this was a wonderful topic and they wanted and needed to learn more.

THE BLOG

We started by creating a resource blog for our families called  Connected For Good.  The blog includes the following sections:

There are some fabulous websites and resources out there for teaching kids about media.  One of my favorite websites is Common Sense Media.  They make it easy for educators to host engagement nights and provide an outreach kit.   One part that I loved about this website were the Family Tip Sheets.  If you haven’t explored this website yet, please do!

THE PREZI

Our Prezi presentation was a combination of our learning from our Digital Citizenship class with Alec Couros and the Common Sense Media website.  We also added some personal pictures and shared our own stories as we engaged with our wonderful group of parents. The Prezi started out with a trip down memory lane and demonstrated the huge gap between parents and kids.  We then gave an overview of the presentation which were the reality, rules of the road, and the upside.

  • The reality deals with all of the not so good things happening online.  We discussed content, scale and searchability, anonymity.  Kids tech abilities are greater than their judgement.
  • The rules of the road focused on embracing technology and that ignorance is not bliss.  We encouraged parents to get in the game and share in their kids enthusiasm.  We talked about encouraging and modeling balance and establishing a healthy media diet.  Monitoring usage and family discussions were also talked about.  We encouraged parents to look at their own habits and to think about what they needed for their family.
  • The upside talked about creativity & collaboration, learning, impact and inspiration.  I encourage you to watch the Prezi,  I could write a whole other post just on the upside!

THE PRESENTATION

December 2nd was a snowy Monday night.  In the invitation we mentioned that an RSVP was not required but appreciated. We were expecting around 15-20 parents.  Throughout the day we had a few parents email and cancel due to illness and other commitments that had come up.   At 6:55 people started coming.  By 7:05 we had a room full of 21 people.  We started the night with an icebreaker activity about naming the icons while people were making their way in.  They were encouraged to work with the people beside them to see if they could name more.

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After the icebreaker we introduced ourselves and met the people in the room.  We had a very diverse crowd which provided for an interesting and engaging evening.  We had stay at home moms, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a guidance counselor, a librarian, and some parents who had just immigrated to Canada.  One thing that we had in common was that we were parents (or we worked with kids…Harmony!) and we knew that this was an important topic.

We reminded our parents that this was an engagement night and to please stop us to ask questions or comment on a topic.  I really enjoyed watching their faces throughout the presentation.  The laughter at the beginning and the looks of shock when we discussed the reality.  The parents seemed to respond to the rules of the road and that they needed to figure out what worked best for their families.  We all have different rules and ways to raise our kids.  The upside was inspiring and a great way to end the presentation.  The parents were equipped with new information to get discussions going with their families and new tools such as the media agreement.  They also had direction about some positive things that they could do on the Internet with their child. We had some media agreements and handouts for the parents to take including this THINK sheet.

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At the end of our presentation, one of our parents who is a high school guidance counselor shared some of the mistakes and problems her students were dealing with surrounding social media.  She deals with these issues on an ongoing basis.  She stressed to the parents that ignorance was not bliss and that many parents thought their kids did not have social media accounts when in fact they had more than one account .  If kids want it bad enough they will find a way.  She also reiterated our points that keeping the lines of communication open was key.  Kids will make mistakes but kids also need someone to go to when they do make mistakes so that they can help and try and fix it.  Her perspective opened my eyes even more to to the importance of educating these kids.  I feel a sense of urgency in educating our youth..it needs to be done now.  One of the parents asked what grades do we start teaching this to kids.  I feel like parents assume that their kids will be taught this in school so that they are off the hook when in fact this isn’t the case.  Parents and educators need to work together now more then ever.

When reviewing our comments from parents I could see that there is need for more of these types of engagement nights.  How can I do this?  I think that I need to host some Media Engagement Nights with parents and kids in my grade 2 classroom to get the conversations started.  We often have literacy nights and math fair nights but I think we need to have media engagement nights where we can learn together.  I love the idea of the SOME summit that was held in Kelowna.  Youth educating youth on social media for change.  We need this in Regina.   I am still thinking about how I need to make things like this happen!

Comments from Parents:

I feel that our parents were inspired to talk more and explore more with their kids.  Parents spent the time to fill out a feedback sheet for us.  Some of the comments were:

  • “One thing that I will take away from tonight is that it is NOT all bad.  It was a good reminder that social media can be used for good things.  We must just all be aware and present and teach our kids the rights and wrongs just as we do with all things in life.  And also, that it goes both ways-my kids can usually teach me more than I can teach them and I can be open to that.  Thank you!”
  • “Fun activities for imagination activities online.  (right now I don’t do anything online with my kids but there is great stuff on there)”
  • “I would be interested in more sessions like this.  Anything that can help me feel more comfortable with the technology my child is exposed to is greatly appreciated.”
  • That as parents we need to be good role models not just in life but in the social media world and to help kids make good decisions.  Also, to establish a healthy media diet.”
  • “Likely to biggest point I will take away is that “Ignorance is NOT Bliss!” I am afraid of social media but your presentation has inspired me to become engaged and learn more about these sites along with my children.  They are just starting to be interested in signing up for these accounts so we will learn together.  I plan to use the Family Media Agreement to begin the discussions.  Thank you for this!  Your blog will be a great resource!”

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 THANK YOU

Harmony: I want to thank Harmony for being such a dedicated and hard working partner.  She is a passionate and creative educator who pushed me out of my comfort zone.   Public speaking is an area I continue to work on and Harmony recognized this and worked with me to ensure that I was comfortable.  She put the room at ease and is a fabulous presenter.  She continued to invite people even though I said I only wanted to present to five people!  Thank you Harmony!

Alec: Thank you for inspiring me through your work and presentations.  The structure of our presentation was similar to yours and made a huge impact.  Start with the ugly truth and move to inspire.  We shared some personal stories which are parts that I enjoy most about your presentations.  Thank you Alec!

Classmates: Thank you to my EC&I classmates who shared resources and expertise.  When we needed something, we asked and you answered.  It has been fabulous meeting and learning from all of you.  Thank you!

My Administration: Even though they were unable to attend our engagement night, their support for this project from the beginning was appreciated.  Thank you Russ and Tracy!

Our parents:  Thank you to our wonderful group of parents who came to our engagement night and contributed to the rich discussions.

Thank you for reading and I will leave you with some inspiration from our presentation!

Exploring Passions: Moving Beyond The Minecraft Obsession

My daughters and many other children are addicted to Minecraft.  They play it every chance they get.  When their time on electronics is over, they are still focused on Minecraft.   They draw pictures, write stories, and plan what they are going to do the next time they log on.

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Without Minecraft they are bored.  I have read an article called Disruptions: Minecraft, an Obsession and an Educational Tool that discusses some of the good things about Minecraft.  It is a great article but I still think there is more out there for my children to explore and learn.  How do I help get them interested in other things?  How do I foster their creativity? These are questions that I struggle with as a parent.  I want my kids to wonder and ask questions about the world.  I want them to explore their passions.  Is this happening when they are on electronics? Perhaps, but I am still not convinced that letting my kids play Minecraft is the answer to developing creativity and discovering passions. With that being said,  I was pleasantly surprised to discover the DIY.org website.  A website for kids to explore passions and develop skills while completing challenges.  Every child has their own portfolio and they can earn badges based on they challenges they complete. There is everything from Lego Master, Bee Keeper, Astronomer, Chef and even Minecrafter.

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Once kids have completed a challenge, they can share it on the website for others to see.

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Sir Ken Robinson writes on his blog that “Individual creativity is almost always affected by the work of other people. In this sense, our own creative work is part of a much larger cultural conversation.”  By observing what others are creating and doing could foster my daughters creativity.  It could motivate them to explore other areas and learn new things.   I am excited to see which areas they choose and how this all works out.  I also think that this website could help me in my classroom when I am doing genius hour which I previously blogged about.

Another website that came to my attention is called curiositymachine.org.   I like the idea of having mentors in the field.   I am still exploring this website and am trying figuring out where to submit the projects and how it all works.

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Have you used either of these websites?  Do you have any other websites to suggest?

How do you help foster creativity in your child?

#Nerdlution

#Nerdlution starts tomorrow and runs until January 20th!  What is Nerdlution?  Basically you choose a habit and stick with it for 50 days.  You can share your journey on Twitter with other people who are doing the challenge. People are choosing to read, write and even making a point of being happy.

What is my Nerdlution?  I have been working on grad classes this semester and I have many professional nerdlution ideas.  I have been extremely focused on my mental health and I think it is time to focus on some other areas.

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My physical health and my family are two areas that I have not been as focused on.  My nerdlution will be to do one thing for my health a day (exercise, cook a healthy meal, etc) and do one thing that betters my family relationship or household (making time to go skating, cleaning a space in our home, etc).   I have missed out on some fun family times since I have been doing homework so I am excited to make a conscious effort to focus on my loved ones.   I have tried to maintain balance.  I know that at times I have let my work take over. I want to set realistic goals that I know I will achieve so if I do more than one thing a day it is a bonus!   I have one more week of grad classes and a few assignments to go.  I am excited to get this journey started tomorrow even though I am a bit nervous. It’s hard to find a balance at crunch time.

I know that becoming more mindful and having a like minded support group on Twitter will help me to succeed!

What is your #Nerdlution?

Want more information or to see how it all started?  Read Chris Lehman’s FAQ blog for all the answers!