Archive for October, 2015

Treaty 4 Project, Here I Come

Posted on October 23, 2015. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, Eci832, eci832finalproject, educational, First Nations | Tags: |

This project of mine has been in the works for months now.  Every week after school, a colleague and I run this free PD session called Appy Hour (#rbeappyhour) at W.S. Hawrylak.  Each week someone brings an app/ website or another tech tool to share. It’s kind of like a mini Edcamp every week. Sometime last year I shared this app called ARIS. It’s a GPS enabled app that uses your location to give you updates and information when you get to the right spot. Watch this little video to see it in action.

I was inspired, and I wanted to create an ARIS experience/game. At first, I was thinking about making some literature/book characters come alive, but nothing inspired me enough to start. Until…

This summer’s anti-oppressive ed course. It was here that I really had my eyes opened to the oppression and systematic racism that I am a part of.  I read parts of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation’s Call to Action and I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to make an ARIS game/experience that allowed participants to re-live the signing of Treaty 4.

I had visited Amsterdam when I was in Europe, and I got the chance to see the Anne Frank House. The story of Anne Frank came alive as you travelled through her house.

It was a very moving and engaging experience, and I wanted to create the “Anne Frank House” of Saskatchewan. I wanted people to be able to experience and really engage with the racism and oppression that existed at the signing of Treaty 4, and is still prevalent today.  This is the proposal video I made talking about my ideas for this project.

Fortunately, I have been challenged by people who have my best interest at heart on the idea of me being the “white knight.”  Is it really my place to swoop in and try to create an experience that liberates First Nation’s people’s history? Am I really any farther along if I, like Dr. Duncan Campbell Scott, am just trying to “get rid of the Indian problem?” What is my end goal here? Did I read the TRC and then decide that I am going to “solve this racism issue”? In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Friere suggests that it’s not the dominant group that can “free” the oppressed. It is actually the oppressed group themselves that have to free the dominant group AND themselves.

As I have been working on this project, it is very clear that my role needs to be as an ally. I need to come alongside other First Nations people who are working towards the same goal. I need to bring my gifts and talents to the table and see where they can be used to support the work of anti-oppressive education.

Today I started by learning the technology behind the ARIS app. The ARIS Global Jam (#arisjam) is happening today and tomorrow around the globe. (October 23/24, 2015) People from all over the world are putting together games and experiences using this app.  Some people I have interacted with today are creating virtual tours of schools/museums.  Others are making GPS enabled experiences at cemeteries to learn about the different famous people who have died and are buried there.  I was even shown some games that are similar to mine in that they are working towards anti-oppressive education. One game allows participants to experience life as a refugee, and another is an American Indian language revitalization project.

All of these projects take a lot of work and a lot of behind the scenes programming.

First I spent all morning following ARIS’s step by step demo guide.

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It is here where I became familiar with how to add objects, start conversations, and provide choice within the app. The ARIS developers provided blue instructions if you just wanted to copy their demo game, and orange instructions if you wanted to start developing your own.

The hardest part about this was getting familiar with the language. I would often have to read a direction three times to really understand what it was asking me to do.

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The next problem I faced was at the end of the demo instructions.  It technically only showed me how to do three things: 1) start a conversation, 2) pick up an item 3) add a little bit of media.  Once I had done those things, I had to decide where I was going.  I don’t plan on telling the story of signing Treaty 4 myself. I am going to consult with aboriginal advocates, elders, and other key players whose voices need to be heard through this.  My only problem is that until I have this future script, I am guessing on the framework of the game.

I have decided that I am going to keep it simple by having the tech specs ready for whatever my Aboriginal allies decide. Perhaps we need to focus on the side conversations and way of living the First People’s were experiencing in 1874.  Maybe we look at the pipe ceremony or the treaty medals as “items” within the app.  Maybe the focus will not be on the “signing” of the treaty, but the promise and spiritual significance the chief’s word held.

As I progress, I am going to create flexible spaces within the app that can be adapted and added to as necessary. My fingers are crossed that this will continue to be a successful, eye-opening journey for myself and all the others involved in the creation and participation of this experience!

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This was one of the fill-in pictures I used today because I didn’t have a picture of my game’s character yet!

TRC Poster Project pdf < My full proposal from this summer if you are interested in some “light” reading.

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Moralism and Digital Citizenship

Posted on October 16, 2015. Filed under: cultural, digital citizenship, Eci832, educational, Masters, online safety, parents, Social Networking, teaching and learning, Technology |

After reading Jason Ohler’s Character Education for the Digital Age, I was intrigued by the idea of moralism in schools. He explains that before the 1960’s, it was common to teach moralism in schools.  Post modernism enters, and “what’s right for you may not be right for me” comes into play. We are now in a place where no explicit moralism is taught in public schools, but we still know that each teacher is teaching their idea of right and wrong. It’s the hidden curriculum after all!

In his article, Jason Ohler suggests that there is still a place for teaching moralism when it comes to digital citizenship.  I know I believe there is a right and wrong thing to be doing online at school.  If we truly believe that students aren’t living two separate lives: a school life and a home life, then teachers can play a part in shaping the student’s moral compass when it comes to online behaviour.

Jason Ohler has 5 digital citizenship issues that are easily addressed in the classroom:

Balance. Understanding past, present, and possible future effects of technology. Cultivating a sense of balance that considers opportunity as well as responsibility, empowerment as well as caution, personal fulfillment as well as community and global well-being.

I like that he addresses the past and future of technology. We can’t look forward without looking back to where we have come from and the technological advances we have seen thus far. When classrooms only used slates/chalk and quills/ink, I imagine there would have been some very upset people at the prospect of moving beyond that. It was probably the way things had always been done, and it was opening these children up to the new “horrors” of technology. To me this parallels what I am seeing with some parents now.  This year I had a parent send me an article that basically says technology is one of the causes of mental health issues in children. Some parents still believe there isn’t a place for technology use in schools.

I also like that Ohler addresses the future, as we do not know what jobs/careers the next generation will have. We have no idea what technology will look like, and in what ways it will play into people’s day to day lives. I think he offers wise advise when he suggests “cultivating a sense of balance that considers opportunity as well as responsibility.” Without that balance, the pendulum swings too hard one way or the other.

Safety and security. Understanding how online actions might lead to harm to yourself or others. Includes protecting your own privacy, respecting that of others, and recognizing inappropriate online communications and sites (such as sexual material and other resources intended for adults).

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Photo credit: Eric Constantineau

Though teachers should be teaching digital citizenship and technology as a tool for learning throughout their practice, not everyone is that comfortable.  If a teacher is wanting to find a way to teach a digital citizenship “unit,” the health curriculum is a perfect way to do that.  Digital safety ties so well into the Health curriculum’s safety outcomes.

Students need to understand how vast and awesome the internet is, but they also need to understand how to navigate through it safely. I don’t think I would show the video below to my primary age students, but I think it might be good for middle year’s students to watch this social experiment:

The ease at which these children are willing to meet with strangers is terrifying.  In my opinion, children need to hear from their parents and teachers about how to be safe.

Cyberbullying. Understanding the potentially devastating effects of cyberbullying and how it violates ethical principles of personal integrity, compassion, and responsible behaviour.

There is a great online game from Digizen that helps you learn about and scores you on digital citizenship. It plays through a cyber bullying scenario and you have to make decisions based on your friend’s actions.

Bullying can happen at any age, and though my students aren’t as active online as some of the older students in my school, cyberbullying can be addressed in any grade.  It won’t be long before my young students will start messaging each other through their phones/iPods/iPads. In fact, since I have been using Twitter in the classroom, I have seen a rise in how many grade ones/twos have their own Twitter account. This is not something that I have encouraged them to do, but at least a few of my students every year ask their parents if they can have their own Twitter handle… and they get one! I’m not saying this is good or bad, the fact of the matter is that these students ARE ALREADY on social media, or WILL BE SOON.

There has been a push to address bullying in schools the past few years, and though that’s great, Stephen Carrick Davies (former CEO of Childnet) makes it very clear in this short video that we can’t forget to include cyber bullying in those conversations.

Sexting. Understanding the negative consequences of using a cell phone to take and transmit pictures of a sexual nature of oneself or others.

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Photo Credit: Mike Licht

Our society is getting more and more ok with nudity/sexual content/pornagraphy in general.  Sexual pictures are becoming commonplace, and people are more open to the idea of taking/posting pictures of themselves naked, or close to naked.

For example, a couple years ago I was at a girl’s night out get together where there were about 20 women ages 20-30. Some of the ladies were playing a drinking game called Never Have I Ever. How the game works is that one person says a statement, and anyone who has done what the first player has not, has to drink.  One of the women said, “I have never taken a nudie.” (I’m not even sure if that is spelled correctly! I feel so old!) And every one of the girls playing the game drank. I was kind of shocked. Looking back, I am surprised at a few things: 1) That every single gal there has taken or transmitted a naked picture of them self. 2) That these types of pictures are commonplace enough that everyone felt comfortable admitting to it by drinking. 3) That something/someone in their life has encouraged these women to openly exploit themselves with such pictures.

If sexual pictures are being taken and sent with such ease by adult women, I can only imagine what is happening at the pre-teen/teen age.

Feeling brave? Take the poll!

Copyright and plagiarism. Respecting others’ intellectual property rights and reflecting on the legality and ethics of using online materials without permission (a complex and murky area of the law, bounded by “fair use” guidelines).

At the U of R, plagiarism is unacceptable. If you are caught plagiarizing, you are at risk of losing your place as a student and erasing your academic standing. This “tough on crime” attitude is a must in such a high level of education.  What would happen if we adopted such high standards for our elementary and high schools?  Is it that easy? Where does copyright law fit into student assignments? It may sound cut and dry, but it’s not.

In fact, just this week I was informed that I was impinging upon copyright laws! I received this email from Pinterest:

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When I tried to click on the link, it was broken! So I literally don’t even know which pin was removed! How many times does this happen with students? We can teach them how to cite and how to give credit, but like Uhler says, “it is a complex and murky area of the law.” Sometimes we are breaking copyright without even knowing it!

I have enough trouble teaching primary students how to even search for an image, is it reasonable to try and get them to find a creative commons image on top of that? Obviously we need to teach students about plagiarism and copyright, I’m not denying that… I’m just admitting that I don’t have all the answers on HOW to do that just yet!

Jason Uhler sums up digital citizenship into those 5 issues. I offered some ideas of how I think these can be incorporated into classrooms. There may be a time where teachers are not going to have the platform to share with students what things they should or shouldn’t do digitally, so until then, I hope to try and instil some of the ways I think they can be digitally responsible and… hope for the best!

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A Digital Citizenship Lesson at it’s Finest; Watch out for Online Shaming

Posted on October 12, 2015. Filed under: digital citizenship, Ed800, educational, online safety |

I just watched Monica Lewinsky and Ron Johnson’s TED Talks, and it made me think of how often digital shaming happens in today’s society.


Public shaming/bullying happens to all people, but it seems like people in either very affluential/power positions, or those in weak vulnerable positions seem to get the brunt of it. These TED talks made me think of Jimmy Kimmel’s segment called celebrity’s read mean tweets. These celebrities seem to be handling it ok, but who knows! Anyone can put on a nice face for the camera.

Though this clip is meant to be funny, I think of Robin Williams’ death.  Even people who look like they have it all together, are good humoured on the outside, and have the physical means to buy/purchase anything they would like can still be struggling. As soon as there is a screen in front of some people, they somehow forget any and all tact or manners they learned as a child.  Here is a clip from a video my friend and I made last year.  I guess you could call it, “Cheerleaders read mean tweets.”

One of the tweets that didn’t even make it into that clip is from a Rider fan who took a picture of the cheerleaders on the sideline, posted it to Twitter, and tagged it #homeofthewhopper  I laughed pretty hard, but WHY ARE PEOPLE SO MEAN!!?

Speaking of mean, you should see some of the YouTube comments written on a video my students made a few years back.  In my grade one/two class, I had the students take part in a debate.  Before we learned anything about animal’s needs/wants, how animals fit into our ecosystem and how animals help/support humans, I had my students debate whether they thought hunting was good or bad.  We did a live debate in class where the kids chose a side, argued their points, and listened to the other group’s point of view. Before we went on, I allowed each child to videotape themselves sharing their opinion and I compiled them into two YouTube videos… One called Hunting is Good, and one called Hunting is Bad.

Check out the video, and then read below for some of the comments! (I get at least one or two comments a month on this video)

First, there are quite a few people who have something to say about my teaching…

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Then there are people who want to personally attack the 6 and 7 year olds!

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Then there’s some that will attack us both.

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Or each other… (Careful of the language)

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Honestly, I have thought about removing the comments section of this video, but the fact of the matter is, it is such a great learning tool for everyone. (Plus it supplies me with some comic relief every now and again.)  I have actually deleted some overtly offensive comments, but this is such a great example of how something so simple can get blown out of proportion and be used for hate on the internet. Digital citizenship lesson anyone?

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The 3 best blog posts I’ve ever read.

Posted on October 3, 2015. Filed under: Blog on Blogging, Christian, Ed800, teaching and learning | Tags: , |

There are so many influential blog posts out there. Probably millions. BUT if I were to choose my top three blog posts that have made the biggest impact on my life so far, it would be these three. I am going to summarize them, critique them a bit, and tell you how they have impacted my life.

  1. A Professional Blog Post 

Dear Parent: About THAT Kid by Amy Murray

What It’s About: This is a blog post that has gone viral in recent years. It has showed up on my Facebook wall, I have seen it tweeted about and newspapers like the Washington post and Huffington Post have picked it up. It’s just that good. This post is about THAT kid.  The kid who bites, hits, and has to sit by the teacher’s feet during carpet time. You know the one. We all know the one.  Amy talks about how her hands are tied as a teacher when it comes to talking with parents about THAT other family’s child. She enlightens her readers about the struggles of THAT child’s home. She shares some heart warming moments about THAT child’s life. She explains how she isn’t able to tell parents what she is doing “about” that child, but that if their child ever becomes THAT child, she promises to keep their privacy and information confidential.

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Photo credit: Natesh Ramasamy

Why I like it: I joined a Twitter chat called #kinderchat my first year of teaching.  Amy @happycampergirl was one of its moderators and I learned so much from her.  I even stopped by her classroom for a visit that year when I was in Calgary. She is awesome. This post is an outflow of Amy’s pedagogy and beliefs. It challenges all of us as teachers, parents, and gossipers! It hits home with every single one of its readers.  The comments on her blog have gone over 1000. She has parents who consider their own child, THAT kid. They thank her and tell stories of THAT kid becoming a successful adult. This post gives people hope and it gives me perspective as a primary teacher.

What it makes me think about: When I was taking part in the #kinderchat world, some of us would reference “THAT kid in Kindergarten.” Someone ended up making a hilarious twitter handle @THATkidinkinder which would speak from THAT kid’s point of view. Maybe you just need a primary teacher’s sense of humour (because my husband didn’t think the tweets were that funny), but I remember loving them and laughing so hard.

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Photo credit: Jim Benton

More seriously, Amy’s blog post makes me think about one of my own blog posts I wrote when taking part in a #kinderchat challenge. The challenge was: “Imagine that a parent of one of your students, stumbling around the internet, happened to land on your blog. Not your class blog with your cute photos of all your munchkins and their amazing brilliant work. Your personal teacher-reflection blog, the one where your intended audience is mostly other teachers. Pretend that parent managed to figure out exactly who you were, and that you were their child’s teacher. What would you want that parent to know? What would you say to that parent? Write the letter that you would want that parent to read.” I remember really enjoying this blogging challenge as it made me really question what I was posting. It challenged me on what digital citizenship looks like for teachers. Is what we post safe? How are we protecting or putting ourselves out there? We probably shouldn’t be naive enough to think that parents AREN’T Googling us and reading what we write, right? After all, Henry Jenkins says that it’s the average citizens who have the ability to seize control over the media technology of today.

What I think this blog post could do better: The only thing I think Amy could have done to make this post better, is give credit to the teddy bear image she used in her post… unless it’s her teddy bear picture? Since her post went viral, she wrote an addendum at the bottom asking for others to give her credit or ask for permission before using her post. This is a completely valid request, and one that should be listened to. That said, unless she is the teddy bear’s photographer, maybe the person who took that picture would want credit given to them as well.

2. A Thoughtful Blog Post

Police and Media… A Wife’s Point of View by Brittany Klassen

What It’s About: Brittany writes a touching piece about what it’s like for her to watch police featured in the media. It’s different for her after all, as an RCMP officer’s wife.  She eloquently describes what it’s like to watch live video of shootings on repeat. She explains her horror at seeing images of police cars with bullet holes as headlines. She challenges how media outlets now allow here-say into their stories when explaining the character of a criminal.  She explains how police officers are not allowed to comment publicly on a criminal’s character, and she feels it undermines what the police have to say. In a culture where there are many articles, videos, and blog posts that offer information to distrust police, she sides the other way and examines the absolute humanity of police officers. She questions if the media has just jumped on an already visible distrust of police, or if the media is fueling our society’s distrust for police.

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Photo credit: Jamie McCaffrey

Why I Like It: I like how Brittany “takes on the internet” in supporting police in a digital space that hasn’t been very fond of police over the past few years.  I like how she has brought a voice to police officers and their families.  She states how the police can’t publicly comment on lots of these issues because they are bound by their jobs to secrecy, privacy, and professionalism.  In their silence, she speaks up.  Her post emotionally connects with every person who has ever loved someone in a first responder’s uniform. She even has to defend her post because of all the hate she received in the comments.

What It Makes Me Think About: Her post makes me think about Danah Boyd’s article on Social Networks as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications. Boyd’s article talks about the structural affordances of networked publics. Boyd says, “Networked technologies introduce new affordances for amplifying, recording, and spreading information and social acts.” This is exactly what Brittany was talking about. With the technology that is out there, someone with a cell phone camera can videotape a shooting/bombing. That type of video is “juicy” for the average consumer and so bigger media outlets pick up the video and it is now amplified through standard media outlets and social media outlets. Boyd suggests that networked publics become “persistent, replicable, scaleable, and searchable.” Boyd even says “what spreads may not be ideal.” Brittany is furthering this idea by suggesting that it’s not just the physical video or image spreading that isn’t ideal, but perhaps an ideology.

What I Think This Post Could Do Better: I think Brittany’s post is very well written, and very emotionally engaging. I admire her for taking a stance on what she believes strongly in, and standing up for her fellow RCMP members, friends, and family.  What I think she could have done better was tried to see the other side of the argument a bit more openly. She definitely admits to being biased in writing this post, but in light of what has come out in the media in regards to police brutality, I think this post might have been a place to gently address it. She speaks to the humanity of the police officers, but what this post may be missing is the humanity in all victims; victims of racism, victims of criminals, victims of police brutality, and all of the families hurting behind any of those senseless acts. All in all, I know her post has touched many, and I am thankful I am included in that number.

3. A Personal Connection Blog Post

In God We Trust by Jeremy Echols

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Photo credit: Anna

What It’s About: This blog was written right after Obama became president of the United States. Because Obama is a Democrat, many American Christians were upset over the election results. Not unlike Canada, different religious organizations tend to vote for certain political parties and the line between church and state is sometimes blurred. Jeremy Echols, being a Christian himself, basically calls out the American Christians and reminds them about what the Bible really says about governing authorities. He quotes verses like Romans 13:1 that says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” He reiterates to Christians that the Bible says it is God who gives humans authority, and He is in charge, so stop freaking out if “your guy” didn’t become president.

Why I Like It: I like this post because it made a huge impact on my life. I stumbled across it shortly after the American election in 2008, and I was so impressed by his wisdom in this matter, I commented on the post.  I said, (typos and all)

“Hello! I am not from the Us, but Canada and I just want to say I am so pleased to hear you faith in the One who does control elections. Thank you for quoting scripture and bringing it back to God… because when it comes down to it, He is the one who gives men and women the authority. Thank you for blessing my heart today”

Jeremy was encouraged by my comment and ended up adding me to Facebook. At the time, he was interning at a church in Seattle, and over the next few months he really challenged my husband and I with what church looked like for us.  We had a friend’s wedding in Seattle the next spring, and so while we were in Seattle, we met up with Jeremy and his wife for dinner. We talked about God, church, church politics, and what it looks like for both of us in our respective countries.  My husband and I had driven to Seattle, and it was Jeremy and his wife who gave us a lot to talk and pray about on the long drive home.  In fact, it was enough, along with God’s prompting, that when we got home, we decided to switch churches and start going to a new church plant in the city called The Compass.  We have now called The Compass our home church for the last 6 years, and we couldn’t be happier. It has challenged us with what it really means to “be a Christian,” and though we are far from having all the answers, we have loved journeying with others who are trying to figure it out too. It’s hilarious because every time someone asks us how we ended up at such a small church like The Compass, I have to start with, “Well it all started with this blog about Obama…”

What It Makes Me Think About: The Canadian federal election is coming up, and I have been seeing many Facebook and Twitter posts about the election, and it has come down to some very disgusting campaigning. I loved this one article I read that pointed out all the religious intolerance, and how people are so willing to share and “like” racist articles that aren’t rooted in truth, but rather fear and misunderstanding.

Photo Credit: Kat Angus Buzz Feed Canada

Jeremy’s post has me thinking that I might be writing a similar post to his after this election if “the right party” doesn’t get in.  I know people are going to be mad no matter what the result, so maybe I should just start writing the post now! The thing I love about democracy is that whoever gets voted into power after the election on October 19th, will be our new leader.  It is our job as citizens to respect and support our government no matter what the party. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with all of the decisions, and it doesn’t mean we no longer have a voice, but the point of a democracy is that majority wins. After October 19th, we need to adjust our attitude and think about ways that we can help and support the government from the bottom up to make this country the best country it can be, regardless of who voted for, or didn’t vote for.

What I think this post could do better: I really liked that Jeremy used some “in text” visual citations that drew attention to the main points. I thought this made the post easier to read.  What I think Jeremy could have done better was use some video or images to make this post a little more visually appealing. His title is engaging and obviously enticed me to find his blog 7 years ago, but perhaps some visuals could have enticed even more people.

Well folks, these are my top three favourite posts. What do you think?

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