Contribution to Learning

This class has introduced me to a lot of new things. Due to the fact that I took ECMP 355 with a different instructor, the use of blogs and twitter was a new experience for me. At the beginning of the course I was hesitant with commenting on blogs, I honestly did not know what to write. However, once I began to think about how my comments on blogs could be similar to comments I will give to my students, I think my commenting began to become more sincere, and I tried to pose questions that would extend the thinking of others.

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I will openly admit I often find it hard to come up with stuff to tweet out. I enjoy using the tool to see what other educators are doing, and I enjoy looking through all the resources that twitter can provide. This class was my first experience with twitter, and I think I’ve tried very hard to utilize the tool. As a class we participated in the STARS chat, I thought it was a very interesting experience, in a short period of time you are able to see so many different opinions. Twitter was also a good place to engage in conversation, and it was an easy way to reach out to people.

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Twitter was also a great place to share tools that you found online, and that you thought could be useful for classmates.

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I would say that Google Plus was useful if you wanted a question answered by someone in this class. The use of Google Plus allowed me to see how I could possibly incorporate it into my future classrooms. I used Google Plus a couple of times, and I found that my questions were answered very quickly and that people were very eager to answer questions posed within the community.

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Overall I would say that I was helpful in the contribution of others learning and I think I was most active with commenting on others blogs. I found that commenting on blogs was the most sincere for me because I was able to voice my opinion and hopefully present new ideas to my classmates. To see more of my participation check out my Log

 

 

Navigating Online

This week we had the pleasure of having Carol Todd speak to us. She is the mother of Amanda Todd the young woman who ended her life because of the online harassment that she was receiving. The first thing I did after listening to Carol speak was watch “Stalking Amanda Todd: The Man is the Shadows” from the Fifth Estate.


I googled the term Cyberbullying and got the definition, “Cyberbullying is the act of harming or harassing via information technology networks in a repeated and deliberate manner. According to U.S. Legal Definitions, “cyber-bullying could be limited to posting rumors or gossips about a person in the internet bringing about hatred in other’s minds; or it may go to the extent of personally identifying victims and publishing materials severely defaming and humiliating them.” via wikipedia.  I also found that in Canada, suicide is the second highest cause of death for youth aged 10-24. Each year, on average, 294 youths die from suicide. Many more attempt suicide. Aboriginal teens and gay and lesbian teens may be at particularly high risk, depending on the community they live in and their own self esteem. (Canadian Children’s Rights Council) This is an astounding number, I think many youth similar to Amanda Todd get sucked into these online communities and then are blackmailed and can’t escape them. These people who are online harassing youth are manipulative and conniving and they know how to get under peoples skin in order to get what they want out of people. One of the things Carol talked about was educating our youth and how to safely using technology, she had the example of we would not just had a set of keys to a 16 year old and let them drive without teaching them, similarly we cannot hand a cell phone, an Ipad or a laptop to a young person without teaching the how to properly use it. With all of the apps and social media networks available it is crucial that youth know what is and is not appropriate when using them.

The following video by The National talks about how social media is affecting teens.


With how prevalent social media is within our society it is important to help students understand how to develop their digital citizenship. It is also important to show youth that social media does not need to consume their lives and that life does exist beyond their phones and computers. Not only is it important to show youth how to appropriately use technology but I also think we have the responsibility to educate our students on supports that are out there if they are being harassed online. I think information is key when talking to our youth about technology. They need to know the dangers that exist and they need to know how to navigate online in a safe way. If we can effectively do this then I believe we can hopefully prevent tragedies like Amanda Todd’s death.

Coding

My experience with coding up until last week was seeing it in t.v. shows and movies. It had always seemed like an ominous topic and I thought you needed to be a genius to do it. I learned that coding can be difficult but it is also very manageable and can be a great tool to incorporate into classrooms. Because this was my first time using Code, it took a bit of playing around with to figure out what I was doing. At first I struggled understanding how it was relevant to the classroom, especially at a secondary level, however I discovered that much of it involved angle relationships, which is applicable at the high school level.

This was also my first time doing a screencast, I have to apologize because the first part of my screencast seems to have disappeared somewhere into the universe, however I do have the second and third part of my screencast.


Like I said earlier I did struggle to see how you could incorporate coding into the classroom, I do think it is possible, but I still believe it is more relevant at an elementary level.

What do others know about you?

With all of the facets of the internet it is very easy to discover information about an individual. In this week’s ECMP 455 class within a matter of 15 minutes we were able to find plenty of personal information about people, such as, where they work, age, addresses, and hobbies. Cybersleuthing is defined as “a person who does any kind of detective work using the internet.” It can be an eery feeling to know that so much of yourself is available to the world. For example, when Googling my own name my facebook account was the fourth account listed and my blog was the 9th result listed on Google.

Due to the fact that so much information can be available to employers, students, peers and complete strangers it is important to establish and maintain a professional digital identity. We need to be aware of what we post, tweet and blog about, and we also need to be aware of what others are posting about us. A lot of people think they are invisible because the have the highest privacy setting available, unfortunately it is very easy to get around these privacy settings. As Katia Hildebrant  demonstrated to our ECMP 455 and ECMP 355 classes, and with her post The Curious Case of Srkj Rife, “Victim”-Turned-Harasser, within less than an hour you can easily find a lot of inforamtionnabout a person, good or bad.

Ironically when I google the term Cybersleuthing the majority of the information that comes up is about Digimon. However this cannot make you naive to the power of the internet, thus it is important to be aware of how you are represented on the internet, because people will search for you, and it is in your power to either show them a positive or negative picture.

Supporting Diversity in Classrooms

“While every refugee’s story is different and their anguish personal, they all share a common thread of uncommon courage – the courage not only to survive, but to persevere and rebuild their shattered lives.”  Antonio Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees

In my EPSY 400 class we have a group presentation on the topic of Minority Groups. I decided to research/ discuss about students who come from a refugee background. In an article by MacNevin it said “by 2016 25% of Canada’s youth will have arrived as immigrants or refugees.” The result of this is populations within schools are becoming more diverse which in turn means that the learning needs are also becoming more diverse. I’m sure we are all aware of the crisis happening in Syria, and as a result Syrian people are fleeing their country. Approximately 26,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada, many of whom are coming to Saskatchewan and will be in schools we work at or in our own classrooms. The process of bringing Syrian refugees to Canada has not been easy and has been met with much criticism and resistance, Premier Brad Wall made headlines when he wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to suspend the plan to bring refugees to Canada, over a concern that the screening process of these refugees would be compromised. Fortunately Mr. Wall’s request was not answered and we began to welcome refugees to Canada.


Canadian schools have students from different part of the world, which can provide challenges for us as educators. Refugee students are entering English content classes in which they have to learn complex content in a new language when they have only limited conceptual development and basic vocabulary due to limited schooling. They are also a particularly vulnerable population, in part due to their pre-migration experiences, which are those experiences they have had before moving to a new country. Depending on the culture, life experiences, and refugee camps students are coming from, they may, have a fear and distrust of authority figures like teachers. As classroom teachers we have to adjust our teaching to include both English language learners and students who have had limited prior schooling. As a secondary teacher I am aware of how challenging this can be because we would normally focus on content-based instruction,  but are now faced with teaching basic language and literacy skills. The following link has resources that can be used to assist educators: Student Resources on the Web.

It would be important for teachers who work with these students to know how to respond to what the students are saying as sometimes these stories can be difficult to hear. It is also important to know what steps to take, and other support services that are available to students and their families, such as The Regina Open Door Society.
Learning how to teach basic reading to youth is important when working with refugee students. In particular to facets are listed:
1) knowing how to teach basic reading skills and
2) finding age-appropriate materials that can be used to teach basic reading to students in intermediate and high school.

It is important to create an equitable environment for these students to learn the curriculum, in addition it is crucial that we create a safe environment for these students to learn and grow. In my research on this topic I found an amazing website called Teaching Refugees with Limited Formal Schooling, created by the Calgary Board of Education. This website has so many great resources, tips, and unit plans that can be used when teaching a refugee student. It is important to promote effective programming for students of this profile, with help of resources and colleagues it is possible to create a safe environment that promotes equity and success.

Social Activism or Slacktivism

In this week’s ECMP 455 class we looked at a template for planning an online social activism campaign. To start we reviewed some campaigns from the past, we looked at KONY 2012, and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Both of these gained strong media attention and filled up everyone’s social media feeds. However in the case of the Ice Bucket Challenge the real cause seemed to be lost behind the thrill of dumping ice cold water on your head. As exemplified in the below video.

In order to create a strong online social activism project it is important to have the following:

  • An important issue that you want to change.
  • A blog or website that is a source for people to view.
  • A hashtag that can gain media awareness.
  • A plan put in place to make the change.
  • A place for people to hear your voice, such as: Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.
  • Support from people who are also passionate about the issue.

I think with technology it can be much easier to have your voice heard and to make a change in the world. It is also easy to participate in activism projects, however it can also be very easy to fall under the Slacktivism category. as stated in The Guardian, “In the land of social media, the position of “armchair activist” is open to all. You can change your profile picture to raise awareness, share videos and articles and keep in touch with charities by liking their pages. Making a difference seems pretty easy in the digital age. But is your contribution any deeper than a click?” I think many people may think that they are an integral part in a change that is going on, when in actuality they may just be boosting the ego of the creator of the campaign, rather than donating to the cause.

Photo credit: Invisible Children

Creating an online social media campaign in a classroom could be a great way to get your students involved with making a difference within the world or their community. I also think that it is a great platform to talk about social activism with your student. Because social activism is not just liking a photo on Instagram or Facebook, it’s about being involved in creating a change and helping those around you. If you can, don’t just stop with liking that photo, get involved and be a part of the change.

 

The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair

Photo Credit: TRC

This week I had the pleasure of listening to a lecture by the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. He spoke of what we should do to help First Nations, Inuit, and Metis youth in order to succeed within our society. He said that it starts with answering these four questions:

  1. Where do I come from?
  2. Where am I going?
  3. Why am I here?
  4. Who am I?

One of the greatest issues he spoke about with First Nations youth starts with the child welfare system. He said that the current system is designed to fail those who enter into it. Instead of helping children and families before they enter into the child welfare system we are providing funds to people to foster these children, some of these families are not well suited to foster children and end up having a detrimental influence on youth. The Child Welfare system is flawed and if this system continues to go on in the same way we are just continuing the cycle.

One of the points he made that stood out to me the most was saying the forgiveness is not necessarily a part of reconciliation. Forgiveness is not always possible, and with Canada’s history it is easy to understand why some may not be able to forgive the events of the past. What he did say however, is that there needs to be a way to get rid of the anger that many people may still have. I think that because I will be a teacher, I have a responsibility to teach my students of Canada’s history with First Nations People in order to remove false perceptions and stereotypes that exist within our society. The implementation of First Nations education into the Saskatchewan Curriculum has been met with much hesitation, however we cannot allow those who are against this to stand in our way. We need to help educate our youth to move forward together and understand each other better.

What can we do to make a difference in our schools, in our community and improve the lives of our youth? One thing that we can do to make a difference is reading the Calls to Action of the TRC Report. We can pick one of these calls to action and do something to make it happen. I would like to leave you with one thought, as the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair said, “It’s like planting a tree, we may not see its growth but future generations will see the results.”