21st Century, Communication, Digital Life

What’s Up With WhatsApp?

Note: This post was written by me and was originally posted on all Grade Four class blogs at my school following inappropriate use of WhatsApp group chats by a small group of fourth grade students (outside of school hours but impacting life in the classroom). I chose not to provide a link to the Harvard issue as the nature of the inappropriate use by those students far exceeded what is necessary for a fourth grade student to know about. If you are curious about that event, look here


What’s Up With WhatsApp?

cultureAt MIS we hope to empower our students to make good choices. Every choice made, both in and out of school, is a chance to show people who you are, what you believe in, and what is important to you.

We know that technology is powerful. We also know that educating our students on appropriate use of technology is just as powerful. We believe in developing responsibility through education instead of banning technology through fear.

With that said, we are also mindful that the interactions that occur between students outside of school via technology, have an impact on what happens in our classrooms during the school day. Specifically, this is happening with some students via group chats on WhatsApp.

Are there regulations for WhatsApp?

Let’s start with looking at two key points from the terms and conditions that are agreed to by WhatsApp users:

Age. You must be at least 13 years old to use our Services (or such greater age required in your country for you to be authorized to use our Services without parental approval). In addition to being of the minimum required age to use our Services under applicable law, if you are not old enough to have authority to agree to our Terms in your country, your parent or guardian must agree to our Terms on your behalf.

Legal and Acceptable Use. You must access and use our Services only for legal, authorized, and acceptable purposes. You will not use (or assist others in using) our Services in ways that: (a) violate, misappropriate, or infringe the rights of WhatsApp, our users, or others, including privacy, publicity, intellectual property, or other proprietary rights; (b) are illegal, obscene, defamatory, threatening, intimidating, harassing, hateful, racially, or ethnically offensive, or instigate or encourage conduct that would be illegal, or otherwise inappropriate, including promoting violent crimes; (c) involve publishing falsehoods, misrepresentations, or misleading statements; (d) impersonate someone; (e) involve sending illegal or impermissible communications such as bulk messaging, auto-messaging, auto-dialing, and the like; or (f) involve any non-personal use of our Services unless otherwise authorized by us.

In a nutshell:

  • you need to be 13 or have parental permission to use WhatsApp
  • you may not use WhatsApp to send messages that are obscene, say things that are not true, are trying to make someone feel bad, are lies.

There are many examples of people who have been in chat groups and who have violated agreements such as the one for WhatsApp, and the content of their group chat has been made public. This is embarrassing for these people but more than that, it has cost them in other ways: the most recent being students who had their acceptances to Harvard University revoked after posting inappropriate content on a group Facebook page for incoming students.

Be Internet Awesome

There is a new online curriculum called Be Internet Awesome.

The parts of this program that relate to appropriate use of services such as WhatsApp are: Be Internet Kind and Be Internet Smart. Full details of the Be Internet Awesome program can be found here in the resources section.

Be Internet Awesome is a self-paced, game-based approach to reinforcing awesome behavior on the internet. We should not need a separate code of behavior depending on if our interactions are online or in person. As our children are becoming more active on the internet we need to ensure we are guiding them in a way that educates them to make better choices.

Make it a Family Affair

A family commitment to safe digital citizenship starts with a conversation at home and is reinforced with a pledge to practice being Internet Awesome—smart, alert, strong, kind, and brave—when online. Consider working through the Be Internet Awesome program as a family. It is never too late to make a change to the way we do things.

If you have any questions about appropriate use of the internet or how to build an ‘internet awesome’ culture within your family, please reach out – we would be happy to hear from you!  Please contact your child’s homeroom teacher, Junior School Learning Technology Teacher, Junior School Assistant Principal, or our Junior School Principal.


 

How do you handle misuse of technology/internet by students? 

As I left school today, I was talking with a parent who doesn’t have 4th grade students but children in higher and lower grades. I was explaining about this issue and another parent chimed in, “See! I told you Grade 4 was too young for a phone!”.  This really bothered me. I don’t think age determines whether or not you should have a phone. I think we have to remember we are not just “giving them a phone” – we are handing them 24/7 anytime, anywhere access to EVERYTHING. If it were “just a phone” – a device to make calls on – there wouldn’t be an issue. There has to be education that comes with getting a phone and how “the phone” is used by parents will have a huge impact on what kids think is and is not ok. A colleague with small children suggested that simple things such as seeing parents plug their phone in to charge outside of their bedroom or in a shared space and not taking it to bed would be a simple step to model for kids before they even get their own device.

What also surprised me was that the another question was “Were they sending messages at school?”. I explained that the messages were all sent and read outside school hours but the impact of these messages was playing out in the classroom: distracted students, students not wanting to work with each other, withdrawn students upset at the content of the chat. This seemed to genuinely surprise the parent I was talking to. It is possible she was going to ask why we were getting involved if the messages were not happening on school time – I don’t know. What I do know is that we have to work WITH parents to help kids navigate their online world. We can’t have two sets of rules for home and school and it can’t be a list of “things that you can/can not chat about”. It has to start with a big picture understanding of choices, respect, and who we are. What we believe shouldn’t change between home and school. Our beliefs should run through everything we do and reflect the person we are and this includes online behaviors.

If you have thoughts as a parent or teacher (or both!) or have links to other sites that promote responsible internet use, I would love to hear about them in the comments below.

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21st Century, Change, Creativity, Innovation, Inspiration

Imagine A Teacher

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Imagine you are a teacher.

The school year is about to begin – it’s the first day for teachers to arrive at school.

You walk into your classroom and there is a letter for you. From your students.

Dear Teacher,

The most important thing you can do for us this year is to teach creativity. Consider yourself no longer our teacher but be our ‘Captain Creative’ and we, your eager cohort of innovators, curators, makers, and thinkers.

To teach creativity is to equip us with the skills to think critically. To examine, debate, discuss, agree, argue, dissent, come to a consensus, and to think.

To teach creativity is to question. To make sure you ask questions you don’t know the answer to and let us ask questions too. Let’s solve them together in short, frantic bursts of excitement and long, drawn-out wondering that go far beyond the lesson plan.

To teach creativity is to teach us that ideas are treasures, to be gathered and cherished with pirate-like pleasure! We need to come to school each day more curious than the day before and should know that our actions have an impact that goes beyond our classroom walls.

To teach creativity, one can start with empathy. When we know that to empathize is to arrive at the starting point for change and possibility, that to try and to trial and to test and to try again are all part of process, and that there is never a ‘one way’ of doing (but always your guiding hand should we get stuck down a wrong way), you will be a teacher of creativity.

To teach creativity, is to allow us to bloom. To nurture each of us through the learning process at a different pace and in a different space, feeding our quest for knowledge so that new ideas can flourish. Teach us to connect rather than simply collect the dots.

To teach creativity one does not need to be creative (but you are). To teach creativity one does need to rethink ‘school’ (and you will). To teach creativity is to respect us as individuals, to seek the ‘so what?’, and to be authentic in all that you do.

What are you waiting for? The creativity revolution begins with you. And with us. And it starts now.

Sincerely,

Your students

What would this inspire you to do? What does it tell you about your school leadership team? And where does this school exist?

21st Century, Action, Change, Innovation, Inspiration, Leadership

Rethink Everything

And start with rethinking worksheets.

I believe that in 7 minutes, you will never look at a worksheet in the same light ever again. What are we doing to our kids when we don’t take the time and effort to breathe creativity and agency into our classrooms?

If you are interested in taking this discussion further, take a look at The Ten Principles For Schools Of Modern Learning. This Whitepaper is the best thing I have read about education and change since I read Seth Godin’s Education Manifesto.

I have just started a course in Creative Teaching and Learning as (a final) part of my Masters Degree and my hope is that we will come up with practical ways to inject greater creativity into schools. One of my classmates shared this video and in it, the speaker tells of the need for knowledge in order to fuel creativity.

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The idea being that having knowledge helps you build creative ideas to problems  and challenges. Do you agree?  I certainly side with Tony Wagner’s thought that “it is not WHAT you know but what you DO with what you know” and believe that the ‘knowing’ and the ‘knowledge’ are important parts to being a creative person.

It comes as no surprise to me that Tony Wagner is an “Expert Education Advisor” for the award-winning film “Most Likely to Succeed”. A ‘grown up’ version of the animated ‘Alike’ this film is on my list of things to watch (when I write up my grant proposal to get the money for a screening).

Most Likely to Succeed Trailer from One Potato Productions on Vimeo.

 

 

21st Century, Inspiration

Slow Down!

After posting about Austin’s Butterfly, I entered into a discussion with a Twitter-friend:

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If you look, you’ll notice my tweet about a ‘slow-education’ was favorited:

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After following Joe, I checked out the website.  Similar to the concept of ‘slow food’ the principles of a slow education are:

  • Promoting deep learning in the context of a broad curriculum that recognises the talents of all students.
  • Believing that the quality of the educational engagement between teacher and learner is more important than judging student ability by standardised tests.
  • Supporting investment in education and in teaching as a profession as the essential moral foundation of society.

Further investigation led me to this video which is so cool and such a good reminder as to why we need to trust kids more, allow them more agency and freedom, and be prepared to let them take the lead in their own education.

I love the PYP Exhibition for this reason.  I am wondering though, if even this is something that we are sullying with our obsessive need to

1. be in control

2. checklist and rubric everything

3. keep learning on a tight, fixed schedule

What if…

  • ‘exhibition’ was a year round process
  • all units were designed with big ideas that allowed for individual inquiries
  • we created a space for kids to learn at their own pace

Imagine that school….

21st Century, Digital Life

2 Websites Worth Sharing

In preparing for the PYP Exhibition, I came across two websites that look like they could be really interesting to pursue with students:

The Wonderment

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The Wonderment, created by the non-profit Kidnected World, is a global co-creative platform that connects kids to make a difference and meet the world through the shared magic of imagination. Using the common language of wonder, kids and educators around the world can collaborate on creative challenges in an engaging and purposeful app environment that encourages self-directed creativity, global community and social-emotional learning.

The Wonderment: How it Works from The Wonderment on Vimeo.

The Kid Should See This

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The Kid Should See This is a growing library of smart & super-cool, “not-made-for-kids, but perfect for them” videos that can be watched in the classroom or together at home. 8-12 new videos are added each week, or you can search 1,800+ videos in the archives, curated by Rion Nakaya, with help from her 4 & 6 year olds. The video selections are driven by wonder, enthusiasm, and “wow!” moments and cover all topics under and beyond our sun, with a special focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, & math) topics.

This site would be a great ‘safe search’ place for kids to just go and explore.

21st Century, Change

Are You A Modern Teacher?

Thanks to Twitter (#pypchat) and my COETAIL course (#coetail) I came across this graphic from fellow Coetailer, Reid Wilson.

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I love it. I think it embodies everything I believe in when it comes to 21st learning. A quick look through Reid’s classroom blog (he teaches fourth grade at my old school, NIST, in Bangkok) shows that he is an avid user of technology in an integrated way to add value to his students’ learning.

Read this list.

Slowly.

Let in sink in and ask yourself if you are nodding along.  Or are you realizing that there are things on this list that you could embed in your own professional goals in the year to come? How could your mindset impact that you teach?

Grant Wiggins asked himself what it was like to be a student and this stunning, must-read description of ‘a day in the life’ and the changes he, a veteran teacher, would immediately make to his teaching, is a must-read for every teacher. If someone like Grant Wiggins (half of the Understanding by Design guys) is able to make thoughtful reflections on and modifications to his teaching practice, isn’t there room for all of us to make a change?

21st Century, Coetail

Connect, Connect, Connect

This post was previously published on my COETAIL blog as part of a five courseCertificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy.

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In The Connected Educator , Nussbaum-Beach and Hall write of the emergence of a new culture of teaching in which “conversations turn to topics of practice rather than staffroom complaints.” They go on to describe the evolution of the teacher as a process in which there is “a shift from seeing education as a series of things we do to students and instead as a dynamic learning environment in which learners take ownership for their own growth and pursue it passionately.”

I am so inspired when I sit with a colleague at lunch (as happened recently) and they recommend the ideas and passions of their former colleagues and it turns out they and I have long been connected, virtually.  I have stopped expecting someone else to take care of my professional development and I am dedicated to ‘passionately pursuing’ my own growth.

From links to articles, to ideas on lesson plans, my Personal Learning Network is a real time professional development network of educators that I rely on to help me do my job as an educator. –Jeff Utecht REACH, p 10.

I agree with Jeff wholeheartedly although I would go so far as to define ‘educators’.  I was intentional in the way I set up my Facebook and my Twitter accounts (although the lines in Facebook are becoming more blurred as educational organizations like Edutopia,Mind/Shift, Making Thinking Visible, and various PYP groups are pushing a more visible presence on Facebook). My intention was to keep Facebook for keeping up with friends and family and Twitter for education and educators.  And authors.  And humanitarians, poets, activists, innovators, ruckus-makers, and disruptors.  I made a conscious decision to not follow friends who tweeted about their coffee/dinner/workouts. I love these friends but Twitter was my sacred ground for teaching and learning.

I started my blogging life with a blog that was a little bit of everything – personal, professional, cooking, crafting, photographing.  Then I found myself leaning more toward the education side of things, buoyed by comments from friends and parents of children I was teaching or had taught. This blog evolved from there. I wasn’t sure if I had anything to say but I blogged anyway.

When Jeff talks of the time it takes to develop a PLN he is spot on.  There have been times over the course of the past two years when I have felt like quitting the blog.  Who would miss me amongst the excess of 200 million blogs already in existence? So I eased off and then I stopped (and had a baby) and then I got going again because I missed not being connected.

Recently my dad sent me a message on Facebook.  It read:

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Dads are great, right? But he touches on the same issue that Jeff mentions: blogging when no one is looking (or reading).  My stats indicate that I have a lot of ‘lurkers’ and I would confess that I too, am a lurker at times.  But when I get out there and post and comment and respond, that is when the learning happens.

A quote that has stayed with me since I first read it in his book, Creating Innovators is as follows:

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Who are you plugged in to?  How do you connect with other educators?

21st Century, Leadership, Reflection

What Is School For?

What is school for?

According to Seth Godin, this is a question we’re not nearly spending enough time asking each other.

Today, Seth posted on his blog: The wasteful fraud of sorting youth for meritocracy. His post his brilliant.  I know that I say everything Seth does is brilliant, but this is really worth reading. It challenges us to rethink the way we ‘do school’ and the way we ‘sort’ children in school.  Is this what school is for?  A giant institutional sorting hat?

 My husband and I watched this video (and by this, I mean I played it over and over and he kept asking when my “very exciting video” would be over).  It did lead to an interesting discussion that we have had before on the purpose of school and what sort of education we want for our daughter. We realize she is still a baby, but it is good to talk about it.  It makes me wonder how many others are having this conversation too.  When we think about what we want for our daughter the list reads something like this:

-to be inspired to learn

-to delve deeper into things she is passionate about

-to become a caring, kind, collaborator

-to learn about the world she lives in and the people she shares the planet with

-to have fun, to play, to try new things

-to ask if she needs help

-to do something interesting, to figure things out

 

Does that sound like your school? 

Take a look at Seth’s Stop Stealing Dreams TEDx talk.  

 

“If you care enough about your work to be willing to be criticized for it, you have done a good day’s work.” ~ Seth Godin

So, again, What is school for?

Will Richardson posted 19 Back to School Questions for School Administrators.  The list is thoughtful, engaging, and would produce some pretty interesting dialogue.  I particularly like the following four questions that pertain to my new line of work:

  • How do you use technology to learn?
  • What was the last artifact of your own learning that you created with technology?
  • What expectations do you have for your teachers’ use of technology in their own learning?
  • What expectations do you have for your teachers’ use of technology in the classroom?

He then went on to ask his readers for a suggestion to round the list out to 20. I started off by offering this:

Tweet One

and then after reading through all of this from Seth, changed my mind to this:

Tweet Two

If you have not read Seth’s manifesto Stop Stealing Dreams and you care about education and the future of education, then I implore you to find the time to read it.  It doesn’t have all the answers but it has a lot to get you thinking – and it led me to Imagine A School of my dreams. 

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21st Century, Tech

Teaching Above the Line

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My friend Brian recently posted his reflections on Technology Leadership.  One of his points regarded the use of the SAMR model which is an evaluative tool that helps teachers ‘push their teaching above the line’ from enhancement to transformation. This tool is, as Brian points out, very well known in tech circles.  But what about non-tech circles?

SAMR Model

There are three Learning Technology teachers at my school and we all agree that technology should be used to transform student learning in a way that would not be possible without technology.  But what about the teachers we work with?  Do they all share our philosophy? Do they know the SAMR model? Do they care to?

Take a look at this intro to SAMR in 120 seconds or a 4 minute version via Commonsense Media 

So, are we all committed to “teaching above the line”?  I watched this video and still wanted more.  More ideas about how to share this model with teachers in a way that would help them begin to integrate technology in a ‘teach above the line’ kind of way.  A quick search led to the following resources, including one that is really interesting to me on transforming classroom learning blogs:
  NOTE: I like this chart (above) but I am hesitant to label or box apps into one category.  A lot of it depends not only on the app you are using but the way in which you are using it and WHY you are using it.  I’m not saying the above mash-ups are wrong, I am just saying to use this graphic as a guide and think about what you are really doing when you start using technology to transform your teaching and learning. 

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Part of a four step model for lesson planning from Edudemic. Click image for website.

I still think there is a long way to go in working toward school ‘above the line’.  I still have conversations in which people don’t see the difference between Khan Academy and a worksheet.  Really? A website that delivers levelled problems that increase or decrease in complexity given the speed and accuracy of your response with the option of seeing a step-by-step play of how to solve the problem and an embedded, world-class explanation of the problem via video if you are still stuck, and instant feedback on your progress, versus a piece of paper that offers no feedback or differentiation until it has been turned in to a teacher, graded, and returned?

This graphic, while to the point, asks and important question:

Credit: Bill Ferriter @plugusin

I like the ideas in this graphic and the sentiment behind it as described by the author and by another blogger. For me, in addition to this it is a matter of thinking about Starting With Why – what is your why?

Why technology?

Why are you using technology in your classroom?

21st Century, Internet

The Internet – Friend or Foe?

Mind/Shift shared a photo via Twitter on my Facebook feed. The image was a modified London Underground Map.  The purpose of the map was to provide students with options for transitions when writing:

Map created by @jamieclark85 - click on image to visit his website for further information and to download the map
Map created by @jamieclark85 – click on image to visit his website for further information and to download the map.

 

I love it when people use slick design combined with relevant ideas to communicate with their students.  When Mind/Shift posted the photo, they acknowledged the source via his Twitter handle.  A quick search on Twitter, led me to his profile where I quickly made him someone that I will follow.  It also pointed me to his WordPress blog which I also followed so that when he posts more gems, I will be one of the first to know. Having done this, I perused his blog, downloaded some of his files for use in my classroom and then created this post. During all this, I found another link to UKEDChat, who had written about the use of maps in classrooms to help students make connections with ideas, given links to an online tool to create your own map, and provided photos from teachers around the UK who have already put this idea into practice.

And then I watched this:

 

“This media we call ‘social’ is anything but…”

Now, granted, I have not engaged in a conversation with Jamie, we are not friends – yet we are “friends”. I have watched this video three times today and I have been amazed by the number of people who have shared it. When I first started using social media I was a Facebook only person.  That has expanded over time to include my blog, Twitter, Pinterest…and more.  But how I use social media is also changing.  My feed is spattered with pictures of sunsets, plates of food, people’s kids, and snapshots of idyllic lives being lived. But it is also full of politics, world news, educational links, discoveries, ideas, passions, and things that make me think, wonder, and want to connect with others either by sharing what I find or by using what I find in my classroom.

I agree that we need to look up more. I wish I could embed a video of the giggles let loose from my daughter’s two-tooth filled mouth as we pushed her on the swings in the park today. But that would have meant I couldn’t be grabbing her little legs with my hands and staring into her adorable little face.  I didn’t want her to see a rectangular box as she swooped down, but our crazy, happy faces almost touching hers. And yet without social media, I don’t think I would be the same teacher I am today.  I don’t think I would have the ability to connect with people who are liked-minded, to make new connections, and to renew connections from years ago.

I am grateful that I get to add @jamieclark85 to my tribe. I am grateful for the reminder to look up.

Internet – friend or foe?  I am going to go with friend.