Friday, May 23, 2014

The Importance of Teaching Digital Citizenship

This week I am giving some guest bloggers the opportunity to share their ideas with you. This is a guest post from Salima Hudani. 

With technology playing a central role in education, teaching Digital Citizenship I believe, is a foundational and non-negotiable message that should be taught explicitly to all students. Digital Citizenship not only teaches students the etiquette involved in being a smart and effective participant in a digital world, but it empowers and equips students with essential life tools to help them navigate challenging digital based situations. I am a strong believer that until this becomes a natural and intrinsic process ingrained for our students, Digital Citizenship should be taught.

Visiting and connecting with different classrooms over the last four years, I’ve seen that students do not understand the basic foundational principles of Digital Citizenship and are often in awe when I share with them why it’s important to safe. I believe students need to know that they are not alone when they post something online into a chatroom or onto a forum, even when it’s done in the privacy of their own home, it is visible to others. They need to know that a friend online, isn’t necessarily a friend to be trusted. Students also need to know that personal information can become public information extremely fast. Creating a positive Digital Footprint online is something that I encourage, but how do we teach students how to decide what’s valuable material to place online? How do we teach our students to become effective critical thinkers who question and critique not only their own actions but also understand how their actions may affect the Digital Footprints of others?

As a school authority, we began teaching Digital Citizenship explicitly. We commenced by introducing the concept of the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship to all students from K-12. Displayed in classrooms, is a poster that identifies and defines each of these elements and includes a statement for each element as well as a statement that brings the element into child friendly language. We adapted this poster based on Alberta Education’s Digital Citizenship Policy Guide, as well as Mike Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship. What I love about this poster is that it is divided up into 3 parts that highlights the importance of Digital Citizenship to students.

1. Respect and Protect Yourself, Digital Wellness
2. Respect and Protect Others, Digital Interactions
3. Respect and Protect Intellectual Property, Digital Preparedness

The contents of this poster is taught to students and readily connected to authentic experiences. For example, when logging into a website, a teacher would mention “Digital Security”, one of the Nine Elements, and why it is important to keep information safe. Teachable, authentic moments are key. As a system we also developed a working Framework of Digital Citizenship Targets that we felt would be important for all students to understand. These targets are what teachers use to help guide them in teaching Digital Citizenship.

In addition to teachers teaching Digital Citizenship, I personally have taught one Digital Citizenship lesson to EVERY classroom from K-8. In the hopes of delivering at least one foundational message that builds common language across our system. The lessons have been adapted for each level but have the same underlying theme. I rely heavily on lessons from Commonsense Media as this site has lessons and activities which easily match up to our system’s Digital Citizenship Targets.

As transformative a force as technology can be, I agree that fixating on danger isn’t the way forward, but we must take measures and owe it to ourselves to better prepare students to greet the many positives and challenges the connected life brings, by preparing Digital Citizens.

Salima Hudani, is the Director of Educational Technology, at Foundations for the Future Charter Academy in Calgary, Alberta Canada. She is well known for her passion, insight, and enthusiasm for working collaboratively with educators to develop the best possible educational technology integrated learning environment that promotes innovation, creativity and digital know-how to help reinvent teaching and learning. She advocates the importance for students to learn how to use technology wisely and safely, with awareness and compassion so that they can become informed and productive citizens in a global digital society. She holds a BA, B.ED, and M.ED from the University of Calgary. 
Personal Blog- http://salimahudani.com 
Twitter- @salimahudani 
Resource Site for Teachers Developed by Salima- http://ctiresources.ffca-calgary.com

Google Rocks Hawaii! -- A Weekly Hangout-on-Air for Collaborative Professional Development

This week I am giving some guest bloggers a chance to share their ideas with you. This is a guest post from Linda Lindsay. 

All you need is an enthusiastic group of educators who want to learn together and Google Hangouts on Air. Boom! You’re set for informal, spontaneous and fun professional development, with a local and global reach.

Google Rocks! Hawaii airs on Tuesday evenings at 7:00 PM Hawaiian Standard Time, when most of the rest of the United States is sleeping.

Every week, we educators choose a current topic, not necessarily Google-related. Topics vary widely: Hawaii STEM , Infographics, The Flipped Classroom, Hōkūle'a’s World Wide Voyage, Special Interest Groups (SIGs) in ISTE, and TEDxYouth, to name a few. Here’s the complete YouTube playlist. We’ve had several Google Apps for Education “Show and Tell” episodes. Our shows always start with short, informal presentations, followed by Q&A and discussion.

Our view count is typically small, ranging from 20-100, but our Google Cultural Institute and Paperless Classroom hangouts have been popular, garnering 400+ viewers so far. These numbers aren’t impressive by YouTube standards, but our philosophy is that every viewer is important. If we have made a difference for at least one educator each week, we consider our mission accomplished.

Our conversations are informal and informational. Our discussions are light-hearted and celebratory. Our pets bark, meow, and crow in the background, and family members stop in to say hi. We look forward to each week, and we love to learn.

Google Rocks! Hawaii began off air. My 2012 Google Certified Teacher (GCT) action plan was “to develop a Google HELP session or a Google Hangout series that meets the needs of Hawaii school librarians.” So I worked with Michelle Carlson Colte, a fellow Hawaii school librarian and a GCT as well, to bring a Google Rocks and So Do You! workshop for librarians in April, 2013. We offered a followup HELP hangout in June.

That one hangout turned into more. Michelle invited educational technology specialist Michael Fricano II on, and a few weeks later Michael suggested that we try a Hangout on Air. So our show went LIVE on August 20, 2013 and we’ve been hanging out weekly ever since. School librarians Anne Torige and Jody Brown round out the regular panel, and other Hawaii educators join in as guests.

We’ve been fortunate to have three continental educators on so far: Matthew Winner in Maryland to talk about World Read Aloud Day, Alexandra Riecke-Gonzales in Ohio to talk about Google Glass, and Brent Catlett in Nebraska of Connected Classrooms Workshop to talk about Virtual Field Trips. We also connected internationally, with three Maui students now on exchange in the Czech Republic, Italy, and Spain. Our target audience is Hawaii educators, but everyone is welcome to come and learn with us.

The hangouts are automatically uploaded to YouTube. We share our show notes in the video’s YouTube description and via Google Drive. Almost all of the videos have a clickable index, to accommodate busy viewers.

Two other weekly Hawaii educational hangouts started around the same time as Google Rocks! Hawaii: EdTech Mixed Plate, with “EdTech ideas, tips, tricks, and #EduRockstars to add to your plate”, and GEG Hawaii ACE21 - Q&A and Training, a Google Education Group.

Anyone can run a Hangout-on-Air for their colleagues and the world. The only requirements are a thirst for learning, a burning desire to share, and a little technical training. I recommend reviewing the always-current Source, Google support: Get started with Hangouts On Air.

Good luck hanging out on air and learning, and have fun with it!

Linda Lindsay is a teacher-librarian at Seabury Hall, an independent middle and high school in Makawao, Maui, Hawaii, and host of Google Rocks! Hawaii. She is a Google Certified Teacher. She blogs at mauilibrarian2 in Olinda and posts regularly on Google Plus, Twitter, and Facebook. She is always looking for interesting guests to come on Google Rocks! Hawaii.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ideas for Using Augmented Reality in Elementary School Lessons

This week I am giving some guest bloggers the opportunity to share their ideas with you. This is a guest post from Louise Morgan and Jan Hodge. 

In a very short time, my second grade classroom has changed drastically, due to the introduction of 10 iPads. My students were already proficient at blogging, skyping, and even tweeting using the few computers we had in the classroom, but adding the iPads changed everything. Classroom routines had and procedures that had been well-established had to be revisited and tweaked in order to accommodate our new tools. Simple housekeeping like handling the headphones, closing out apps, and keeping the screens clean were just as important for my 2nd graders to learn, as well as, how to navigate creation apps, the camera roll, and curating their work. Specific instructions and examples can be found on my blog: www.frugalteacher.com

The goal for my classroom has always been independence and creativity. I want my students to be able to create freely without being bogged down with the technicalities of technology. Teaching students how to blog and use our class Twitter happens early in year along with digital citizenship so that our days are seamless. That way, we are able to create, collaborate and experience learning at the highest levels.

This year, the students loved working with the Chromeville App. Students visited the website, read about the history of the villages, and selected their favorite character to experience in 3D. After using the Chromeville.com coloring sheets and Augmented Reality to bring the characters to life, my students are now creating stories about them with the writing process. We were also able to Skype with the Chromville Creators all the way from Spain! Students learned that artists and programmers collaborate to create 3D animation, stories and the app. Because of the students’ interest and excitement we were treated to a demonstration of another project @Imascono #AR Apparel! T-Shirts with Triggers! My students loved the power ranger and the gorilla!

Another wonderful, free app that my students enjoyed was Tellagami. During our study on African American Inventors, my students researched an inventor, wrote a blog post & created a “gami” of their inventor. The students loved being able to configure their avatar’s appearance and backgrounds to fit their vision of chosen inventor. They also loved recording their voices and hearing them in the finished product. Using Tellagami brought history to life for my students in an engaging and meaningful way. My students were proud of their learning and love being digital storytellers!

We have also used ColarApp very successfully. Our District Library Media Specialist, Jan Hodge, collaborated with us as we used the ColarApp for #dotday. Students loved creating and bringing their dots to life!

What I’ve learned from having iPads in the classroom is, with good management & using them in Daily 5 and centers, I am actually able to meet regularly with my students. I am able to get off the stage and work alongside them mentoring and encouraging their journeys. Implementation of technology in the classroom should not be feared. These devices turn my classroom into a 21st century learning environment!

Louise Morgan @mrsmorgansclass is a 2nd Grade Teacher in Crowley ISD, #2ndchat Moderator, #globalclassroom lead teacher, #TCEA Presenter #ISTE 2014 Presenter www.frugalteacher.com

Jan Hodge @janhodgelibrary is a District Elementary Library Media Specialist in Crowley ISD, #TLA Presenter, #TCEA Tots & Techology Presenter 2014, www.2techsavvylibrarians.edublogs.org

How Technology Has Engaged All Learners

This week I am giving some guest bloggers the opportunity to share their ideas with you. This is a guest post from Scott McKenzie

Every student can succeed.
That is what I want to talk to you about.
Every. Student. Can. Succeed.
We just have to find the way to help them do it.
This year… technology has leveled the playing field in my class for all students.

When I was young I didn’t fit in at school. I dreaded Valentine’s Day. Everyone would bring in cards for the people they liked. I would bring in one for each classmate and go around and hand them out. Then I would sit back at my desk, and try to hide the fact that my bag was empty. I would quickly stuff it into my desk. I didn’t fit in, and I wasn’t engaged in school. Later in high school I was told that I wouldn’t be able to pass advanced courses, and that I would never go to University. I eventually graduated with an Honours degree and went on to get my Bachelor’s of Education.

I share my story with my students every year, I mention that I didn’t feel like I fit in, that I was told I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my dream and go to university. I try to share with students that everyone is important, everyone has a voice, and their dreams are always worth pursuing.

As educators we have to be open, and willing to seek out alternative ways to enable learners and foster success in our students. If we show we believe in them, and give them tools to truly become successful, then we have earned the title "educator".

Have you ever felt like you didn't fit in? Imagine being 2 to 3 grade levels below everyone else in your class, and trying to fit in. Imagine how hard it would be to disguise that fact in class every day.That was the reality for several of the students who came into my class this year. They struggled in school, and everyone knew it. They didn't fit in.

This year technology was our secret weapon. With technology my students could get past the hurdles of not being able to read, or spell at grade level. I brought in BYOD, so everyone could use technology, and everyone looked the same. Things were going better, but technology is not perfect, and the motivation dropped off, as they sometimes still struggled. I was searching for the key, but I forgot to ask the most important people in the room. I never asked the students I was trying to help. One day I assigned a task in class. I offered them the choice of several ways to complete the task. Many of the choices involved technology.

One boy approached and asked if he could use Minecraft. It was a game he played regularly at home on his iPad. It was something he was confident doing. I took a chance, and said yes. The speed and efficiency he worked at was literally stunning. He completed the same work as the others, in the same time limit. Letters that were often formed backwards, or even upside down were perfectly written for all the key points. Visual images explained all the concepts he had learned, and he even shared!

Since that day Minecraft had become a viable option in my class. All the students who struggled with reading and writing were proficient at Minecraft. Visually they could map out how to show their work in the 3D landscape. Other students worked with it as well, and that is when the magic happened. The students who were used to being the lowest were suddenly helping others in the class. They became our experts, working with others to help them be successful. They gained the esteem of their peers, but more importantly, they gained their respect.

Now when students are given a challenge, every hand goes up. Everyone feels empowered. They never miss class, even when they are sick! They have become fearless, they tackle every situation with this new found confidence, and work away at problems until they are solved.

Through technology we were engaged as a class, working together. We had built a community that everyone felt a part of. where every student is successful.

The Design Of Information - Empowering Students To Create Authentic Visuals

This week I am giving some guest bloggers an opportunity to share their ideas with you. This is a guest post from Mercer Hall and Patricia Russac. 

Students with access to tablets, laptops, and digital devices today are blessed with a wealth of visual resources at their fingertips. At the same time, they are inundated with graphics from smartphones, streaming media, and video games. As a consequence, rightly or wrongly, most children think of themselves as visual learners. The potential is steep for apps and web tools that invite students to create their own educational images. The risk, however, is that these pictorial projects will fail to actually illuminate any information and will instead result in a mess of colors, layouts, and fonts.

We’ve been experimenting this year with a few specific iOS and Internet resources to emphasize visual design as a way of adding context to content. We abide by the strict saying, “Content first, pretty second.” At the same time, we try to introduce students to the importance of visual displays in communicating information cleanly and effectively. These visual skills center on decoding and encoding. Students can “read” images to comprehend the essential meanings, and they can also generate graphics themselves to demonstrate thematic mastery.


Our middle schoolers, for example, use the Smore website to create digital portfolios of their work. They curate their creations across all of their subjects, storing them in a sharable digital archive. Smore is a free, flexible, open-ended resource originally billed as a tool for designing posters and flyers. Its user-friendly nature to embed and link media, however, makes it an ideal space for students to collect their visual projects. Teachers, too, can use Smore for cataloging class portfolios, to share electronically with parents and to maintain safely in a cloud-based platform.

Infographics also make for elegant visual presentations to arrange facts and figures. Although infographics have saturated the modern business climate, they are still emerging in the educational world as canvases for student work. Our students use the Visualize and PicCollage apps on their iPads to fashion social studies graphics about country statistics. Because they blend words, pictures, and data, infographics can be key tools to simplify and reimagine course material. They also make children aware of the media potential for bias in advertising. Even elementary learners enjoy the practice with color, fonts, and layout as they refine the clarity of their images.

Sketchnoting can offer another avenue for marrying class content with students’ individual learning preferences. Our students combine multi-sensory note-taking with the interactive possibilities of Thinglink. Sketchnoting by hand is an expressive, higher order process of capturing information that offers choice in exploring the visual metaphors of a day’s learning. Then, students can photograph their drawings using the iPad and upload their images to Thinglink. They annotate their illustrations with Thinglink hot spots, featuring paragraphs from their class blogs. These dynamic designs can be embedded or shared via social media like Twitter.

Overall, our students appreciate that well-designed visuals are rewarding in personalizing the understanding of content. As teachers, we see improvement in the way children internalize content and look carefully at their creations. This literacy in rendering optical inputs speaks to the interrelated nature of our students’ visual world.

Mercer Hall and Patricia Russac are K-8 teachers and media specialists in Roslyn, New York. They are also the co-founders of The American Society For Innovation Design In Education and co-editors of the ASIDE blog (@theASIDEblog), whose work has been featured in Edutopia, EdTech Magazine, and other outlets. They write about technology and literacy in publications such as ISTE’s Learning & Leading With Technology, Edsurge, and Al Jazeera.