Archive for November, 2015

Digital Citizenship in Grade One

Posted on November 29, 2015. Filed under: behaviour, collaboration, digital citizenship, Eci832, edublog, educational, Grade 1 & 2, Masters, online safety, parents, reflection, Social Media, Social Networking, teaching and learning, Technology |

There are a few ways that I try and teach digital citizenship in the primary classroom, and after my #eci832 class, there are some new things I am going to try now. In this post, I will share what I am doing, and what I want to try to incorporate into Health later this year. I will bold each tool or instruction method I am discussing.

Twitter– For the past 3 years, I have been using Twitter in the primary classroom. (@mrsmaleysclass)  I use it to teach sentence structure, grammar, and conciseness.  BUT, Twitter is good for more than that! In fact, Twitter is a perfect tool to talk about online safety. Every time someone follows our class, we look at their profile and decide if they are a) safe b) someone we can learn from c) a company.  We have decided as a class that we are only going to follow other classes or people that will be posting stuff applicable to grade one.  We don’t follow individual teachers, and we don’t follow every class that follows us. We look at their profile, their profile picture, their bio and their tweets, and we vote on if we should follow them.  You wouldn’t believe how many times kids choose not to vote on a class because their profile isn’t interesting enough, they don’t have a profile picture, or they haven’t tweeted consistently or often enough.  This in itself has shown students what a creative/positive online identity can look like.

The students have also learned about hashtags through Twitter. This is a year long learning curve as they don’t always understand the contextual underpinnings or language play that happens with hashtags, but they have learned some hashtags that are safe to use, and some that aren’t as good. For example, one day one of my students wanted to wish another student a happy birthday in his tweet. He wanted to use the hashtag #happybirthday.  We decided against it after checking out the hashtag and realizing that there was some inappropriate content there.  We decided we didn’t want to promote that content to other classes that might be following us.

Twitter is also an excellent avenue to look at advertising.  Since 2013, Twitter has used targeting advertising towards its users. This has been a great opportunity to show kids the difference between our regular home feed tweets, and those used as promotional tools. Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 7.07.13 PM The children can easily recognize the little yellow “promoted by” arrow and we often talk about what they are trying to sell us.  My goal is that students (even in grade one) should be taught critical thinking. They should be questioning what they see and who they follow. They can’t assume that everything is safe or trustworthy because we have a class account.

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An example of a tweet we got last year where students were encouraged to think critically.

That being said, I do have MULTIPLE students who have joined Twitter since being in my class. I haven’t encouraged any children to get their own Twitter account, but once they have used it in the classroom, they like it so much they ask their parents if they can get Twitter. At that point, it’s out of my hands, and all I can do is be a good online example for them.  I must say, it is neat to watch them interact with each other online though!

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Here’s a few examples of kids who have joined Twitter since being in my class. You make your own judgment. Do you think I exposed them to it too early?  Or perhaps are these the type of kids who would have joined anyways? I think we have moved beyond the question, “SHOULD students this young be on social media?”  The fact of the matter is, THEY ARE. Payton, Bayan, Greyson, Rayka, Minwoo, Justin, Maguire, Brody, Jed,

Research– Even though the students are young, I still think one of the best skills I can teach six year olds is how to research.  Gone are the days where the teacher is the giver of all knowledge.  Children need to be good at finding the information they want to know at the click of a button. A useful skill for student of all ages is Googling information and finding research that is safe, informative, and appropriate.  Why wouldn’t we start teaching this skill as young as possible?  We do Genius Hour in my classroom, and the kids get to learn about any topic they would like.  This involves gathering information, and researching their topic. I have tried different kid friendly search engines, (Safe Search Kids, KidRex etc.)  and I have come to the conclusion that Google is actually easiest and has the best results.  A lot of the time the kid safe search engines have pre-set filters that try and sway results to things that have to do with kids, but that aren’t always helpful.  For example, if a kid is interested in cars, these are the top results the child would get if he/she typed “cars” into KidRex’s search engine:

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The top results have to do with car seats, and buying and selling cars.  If a child typed “cars” into Google, these are the top results:

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Google’s results are already more appropriate and easier to navigate than the kid friendly search engine.  Google’s results bring up the movie Cars, which many children are familiar with, and it provides the Wikipedia entry that would have lots of information about the history and the make up of cars.  This is just one tiny example of how Google outdoes the other kid friendly engines, but there are many.

What I have learned is that for the students to be great researchers, they need to know how to type key words like +kids/ for kids when necessary.  Depending on their reading level, usually the BEST option for them is to click right on the Videos tabs so they don’t have to read at all.



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One thing I haven’t ventured into yet is copyright.  It was hard enough to teach grade one students how to find a Google image, save it to camera roll, and then use it in their Genius Hour presentation.  If anyone has any great ideas or kid friendly tools on how to find creative commons images that would be easy for grade one, I am all ears!

Blogging– Another way I try and promote a positive online digital identity is through our class blog.  I use the student blogging platform, Edublogs. (Mrs. Maley’s Class Blog) Every couple of weeks the students blog.  We talk about not sharing personal information in their posts like address, phone number etc. Sometimes the students are prompted with writing tasks, but a lot of the time they are allowed to blog about whatever they want.  I have found that this type of writing becomes much more authentic than students only printing in a journal for me to see.  The kids know their audience is global, and their writing improves drastically over the year.

Last year I also started a blogging buddy program with grade 11 students from Campbell Collegiate.  The grade 11’s would comment on my student’s blogs and in turn, my students would grade/rate their narrative essay assignment where they wrote a children’s book. The collaboration between both classes was neat, and through specific feedback, my students were able to improve their writing and digital identity.

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Things I want to do: After watching Sext Up Kids a couple weeks ago,
I decided that I wanted to address some of the gender, body image, and sexual content issues mentioned in this documentary with my grade one class this year.  Obviously I can’t address a ton of the sexual content that Sext Up Kids talks about, but my eyes were opened to the fact that kids in grade one are definitely not immune from this type of exposure even at an early age.  In the documentary, Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter, suggests that it’s not a big jump to make between girls wanting to be “the prettiest little girl” to “the hottest little girl.” And THAT is something that we can talk about.

In the Saskatchewan Grade One Health Curriculum, one of the outcomes is based solely on Pedestrian Safety.

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Though I will definitely cover this during my Health class, it already seems a little out of date to me. How much time do kids really spend outside crossing streets/dealing with traffic without an adult?  My guess would be not as much time as a child might spend unsupervised on a device/computer inside the home. I have decided that I am going to devote a large chunk of time during my Health block to explicit digital citizenship/sexualization/gender lessons.  We know that digital citizenship must be taught all throughout the year in different ways/contexts, but I also think this might be something I need to add into the curriculum on my own.  I plan on using puppets to help create dialogue on this sensitive issue.

I plan to look at different children’s books and movies as a starting point.  The students will look for different gender/sexualization themes.  I want the students to have discussions and think critically about what it means to “be a boy,” or “be a girl.” I want them to start unpacking their own identities and discuss how this might affect online behaviour. Today’s Meet is a great tool I have used in the past to create a back channel for students to share their ideas while watching a movie. They can be recording what types of stereotypes they see as they watch.

I have a colleague who teaches older grades who has shared with me that she doesn’t talk about sexting much during her digital citizenship lessons because she is worried about what the parents of her students will say.  This is a very real concern at our school because we have high parent involvement.  Often times parents at our school have very strong opinions about what happens in classrooms, and sometimes what they say or want goes.  Obviously I will have to be very careful about how I address these issues.  In the past, my daily class blog post has been a great place to debrief parents on certain conversations we have had throughout the day. Sometimes grade one students ask questions about death, war, or school shootings and we have to gently address those issues without scaring them or giving them more information than they need to know.

As a public school teacher, this might be dangerous to say, but overall, I think the best thing I can teach students is how to look at/listen to their heart. As Jen Stewart Mitchell discusses in her blog post, citizenship is citizenship.  It doesn’t matter if it’s online or offline. Children and students young AND old need to listen to their conscience, and make choices based on what they know to be right and wrong; and that, I believe, is what makes you a good citizen. Sure we are all going to screw up and make mistakes, but our job as teachers isn’t to make or limit the student’s choices for them, but rather give them opportunities to reflect on, and learn from their mistakes.  And if we as teachers don’t give students an opportunity to peel back the layers of their heart and critically look at the reasons they struggle or desire certain things in life, how can we expect them to do this on their own? Are they supposed to “just know better?” It’s something to think about…

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My Own Story of Remix

Posted on November 23, 2015. Filed under: cheerleading, Eci832, Masters, remix |

I watched a couple different documentaries this week. One of them was RIP: A Remix Manifesto.

RIP : A Remix Manifesto from Laurent LaSalle on Vimeo.

It was such an interesting video that took a look at how intense our North American copyright laws are. It followed the story of the band/DJ/songwriter Girl Talk. Gregg Michael Gillis (Girl Talk) took music and remixed it to create new beats and songs. Technically, he is under a ton of copyright infringement because he is using other people’s original music. The documentary discussed the vast amount of money he would have to pay if he went through the right copyright avenues.  It also discussed that copyright infringement laws don’t benefit the artist who wrote the songs, but the companies that have signed the artists.

Speaking of companies. I was blown away when the documentary explained the media flow.  I had no idea it looked like this:

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Photo credit: Screen shot from RIP: A Remix Manifesto

Notice the 6 companies that own all media outlets.  Two words come to mind; power and control. That’s what these copyright laws are about.  When these 6 companies have control over the entire market, it’s no wonder they also control the government and have influence over the law and how strict it is here in Canada and the USA.

In the past 10 or so years, I too have been dabbling with remixing music… (Illegally I guess!) I have been involved with the cheerleading world, and when I was in high school, I learned how to cut cheer music for my team’s cheerleading routines. It’s similar to what I did with garage band for one of my last posts: Remixing Education A Report Card Rant. The only difference is that Garage Band allows you to do a lot more original creation because they just supply you the chord and beat options, and you put them together. With cheer music, I was literally using other artist’s songs, adding voice overs, sound effects (whips, dings etc.) and layering them over each other.

My goal with making Garage Band music was to create a piece of background music to compliment the words I was speaking.  With the music editing software program GoldWave, my goal is to create music that will enhance the cheer routine.  For example, when a stunt hits, it’s neat when there is a sound effect to go with it.

The oldest piece of music I can find that I have remixed is from 2009. Take a listen. I uploaded it from my computer to SoundCloud, and then embedded it in my post. You can hear how the sound effects still feel a little awkward at some points.

When I am making the music, this is what it looks like in the Goldwave music editor. This would be what the full song you just heard looks like.

screen shot gold wave


This next video is a cheer routine I choreographed using the above music.  The choreography starting at 1:45 goes along with the music you just heard. You can see how I tried to fit the music to the routine and vice versa.

As I have continued mixing music, I feel I have improved on the technical side. I’ve learned to zoom in, splice and edit tiny sections of music. I know my own musical background has helped me to know the counts/half counts and be able to “read the music.”  Typically when someone says “reading music,” it means looking at notes and knowing what pitch to play on an instrument:


Photo Credit: Michael Summers

That isn’t actually what I meant when I said reading the music though.  Reading the music for me is this:

Grey cup routine

This is a zoomed in screen shot of one of my remixes. This pic only shows 10 seconds of the entire piece.  In fact, this screen shot isn’t just one song. It shows two pieces of music getting spliced together. The timing has to fit into the 8 count rhythm, and the little blip you see in the middle is where Kid Ink says “Kid Ink” in the song Delirious.

As I have been getting a little better at remixing, I have started to do bigger projects. While I was on the Rider Cheer Team, I edited and mixed their routine music for them. Here is a video of us at last year’s Grey Cup. (FYI I was able to download this video from my coach’s Facebook page using’s instructions. Even though she is my FB friend, I wasn’t able to download it normally because her FB page is set to private.) Using this website, I was able to download it to my computer and then upload it to YouTube.

Surprise, surprise! While I was uploading this video to Youtube to show you all, I received two emails letting me know the audio in the video is infringing upon their copyright. They kindly muted it for me. 😐

nelly copyright

Youtube copyright

Well hopefully Vimeo doesn’t catch me as fast as YouTube. When my video lost sound on YouTube, I decided to sign up for Vimeo and try it there. Here it goes!

Rider Cheerleader Performance at Grey Cup 2014 in BC. from Danielle Maley on Vimeo.

Here is one more quick splice of video from the Grey Cup the year before. (You know, the year we won the Cup!) That year the coaches sent all of my spliced pieces of music to a DJ who edited them together.

Grey Cup 2013 Rider Cheer Performance from Danielle Maley on Vimeo.

Honestly, this post might just end up being a social experiment to see how many copyrighted materials I can put into this blog post before someone asks me to take it down. Wait- should I even be posting this?! Maybe I will be the next person to get a lawsuit summons at my door. Yikes!

I don’t want to take this post down because I, like the directors of the documentary want to show how “illegally remixing music” can be beneficial. I have done all my music editing on a volunteer basis for cheer teams.

ONE MORE STORY before I conclude this post. Speaking of POWER and CONTROL…I help my own school’s cheerleading team by mixing their cheer music for them. I had downloaded Goldwave’s free trial onto my teacher laptop and mixed the music from there.  BUT since my school division just got a technology refresh and we all got new teacher laptops, guess what happened? Our IT department wants complete power and control over what teachers are allowed to download on their laptop.  Goldwave does not fit into their approved program list. Apparently because it’s a trial version, and unlicensed, our board won’t let me download it.

Unlicensed version

They want me to use another program from their approved list. They don’t quite get that it has literally taken me about 13 years to learn and master the Goldwave program. This is super frustrating for me as I am using the program for the benefit of staff and students in their division, but it is just one more way that the copyright laws of Canada have everyone’s hands tied.

What about you? Any stories of copyright infringement?

This is a story of a wedding videographer who got sued for using copyrighted music in his weddings videos.

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The Journey

Posted on November 20, 2015. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, cultural, Eci832, eci832finalproject, educational, First Nations, personal, Privilege, Race, reflection |

Yesterday I met with my friend, Tamara Ryba at Scott Collegiate. It was a great meeting where we covered a lot of ground on my final project. She has agreed to have her students help with research and language connections for my final project. It’s great to have all hands on deck when it comes to this Treaty 4 project, as it’s a big one.

However, today’s post isn’t going to be about the specifics of my project.  Today’s post is going to be about the mental and spiritual journey I have started that relates to this project. It’s going to be about the embarrassing, sometimes painful journey I have experienced as I work through these discourses.


Photo Credit: Carlo Scherer

Through this summer’s anti-oppressive master’s course, my eyes were opened to the oppression and racism that is systematically infused into our culture and society. My mind and heart were changed as I began to see the world in a new way.  I began to recognize how I see the world through a female, privileged, white settler lens. My ideologies slowly began to change, and I started a path that is working towards anti-oppressive education.

Though the process isn’t linear per se, I am going to walk through the timeline of how I have seen my views change, and how I have seen my comfort challenged… even today.

Summer 2015- I took an anti-oppressive education summer institute. I read a plethera of articles about Canada’s unfortunate racist history. I had great discussions with colleagues about the TRC (Truth and Reconcilliation Commission of Canada) documents. I began seeing things in new ways.


Photo Credit: The Media Project

I read the TRC’s Calls to Action for education, and decided I wanted to use the ARIS app to create a Treaty 4 experience that allows participants to “experience history” rather than read about it.

September 2015- I started looking at the logistics of this project. I thought that I had a pretty clear vision of where I wanted to go with the project.  I was encouraged and challenged by a friend/mentor that I should not try to be the “white knight” and re-tell history through an app, because I still saw the world through female, white settler eyes. I learned that I was going to need to come along side Aboriginal allies/ key players who are already involved in anti-oppressive education, and whose views I am trying to depict through this experience.

November- Met with Regina Public School’s aboriginal consultant, Sarah Longman.  She dropped names of people and resources that I had never heard about. Meeting with her did two things: 1) Made me realize how much I don’t know. 2) Made me feel like I have an aboriginal advocate who will walk through this project with me.

Yesterday-November 19, 2015- I went to visit Tamara Ryba at Scott Collegiate.  As I was using my GPS to drive to Scott, I realized that I had no idea where the school was, and in my close to 30 years of living in Regina, I don’t think I had ever driven by this high school in central Regina.  As I was parking, I looked to my right.  In the front passenger seat, I had a 4 Operation Christmas Child boxes that I planned on dropping off later that day, and I had my lunch sitting on top of the boxes in a Lululemon bag.  Embarrassingly, I am going to share with you the thought process I had:

  1. I looked at the Christmas Child boxes and thought about if someone would steal them.  I then thought, “Well it might be ok if they get stolen, because the people who steal them will probably need that stuff anyways.”
  2. I looked at the Lululemon lunch bag and thought, “Hmm, someone might think I have Lululemon clothes in that bag, and they might want to break in.” I then moved the Lulu bag under the boxes where it was out of sight from the window.
  3. I then glanced into the backseat to see if there was anything else valuable that might be stolen, and left the car, being sure to lock it behind me.

After the great meeting with Tamara, I got in my car and started to drive back to my school which is located in East Regina.  As I got closer to the main roads, and closer to the East end, I physically started to feel more comfortable.  It dawned on me that I drive from Harbour Landing (where I live) to the east end every day for work.  There is an entire part of our city that I literally never see or experience.  As I continued to reflect on my morning, I got more and more disgusted with my responses. The very racism and prejudice I am trying to fight with this project is so ingrained in my thoughts and everyday life that it affected my behaviour as I was outside of that school. I was/am disappointed with myself, but I am also aware that this recognition of my behaviour is the first step to change.


Photo credit: Duncan C.

Next week I am going to be meeting with Noel Starblanket and Gramma Bear and learning how to offer them tobacco. This is a step I am excited for as it is a step out of my comfort zone, but something that is so valuable. They will be a giving me ideas and information that will help with the story part of my project. I am offering them tobacco as a ceremonial gesture that shows I value their knowledge and wisdom.

I know I will continue going through a process of “unlearning” thoughts and behaviours that I have grown up with. It is uncomfortable thinking about how I am not an expert in this area, and how much I have to grow. I know that sometimes it will be two steps forward, and one step back.  That said, I am committed to moving forward, and with supports in place, I know this journey is going to be good.

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Treaty 4 Project: Moving From Tech Specs to Story Starters

Posted on November 15, 2015. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, Eci832, eci832finalproject, educational, Privilege, Race, teaching and learning |

My final project is definitely a long work in progress. It is going to take layers of coding, story telling, and information gathering before there is a finished product.  Up until now, I have mainly worked on the tech side of the project.  I have been wanting and waiting to get in contact with some aboriginal advocates/liasons before I started the story component. This week I was able to meet with Regina Public School’s divisions aboriginal advocate, Sarah Longman.

For those of you who don’t know, I will give you a quick review of my plan for my final project.

  1. I would like to use a GPS enabled app called ARIS to recreate the signing of Treaty 4 in Saskatchewan.
  2. I will need to set up the web based code that allows participants to use a mobile phone for the video/game experience.
  3. I want to connect with First Nation’s allies and stake holders for the story part of the ARIS experience.
  4. I want this GPS re-enactment of Treaty 4 to be Saskatchewan’s equivalent to the Anne Frank House of Amsterdam.

At my introductory meeting, I basically explained my vision to Sarah Longman for this project. She was very interested, and she said she was definitely willing to help. She helped guide me with some future steps as I continue with this project. She also offered some of her own thoughts and wishes. I will discuss some of the things we talked about in our meeting:

  • Thomas Moore– Sarah would love to see an inquiry project into Thomas Moore and his story.  Below you can see Thomas Moore’s before and after pictures from the Regina Indian Industrial Residential School. Sarah was explaining to me some of the spiritual/cultural meanings behind the clothing and hairstyles Thomas Moore wore in the before picture. For example, his hair was in long braids.  In traditional First Nation’s culture, people only cut their hair if someone close to them passed away. The closer the person was to you, the more hair you cut off.  As you can see, Thomas Moore’s hair had been completely cut off. Without him speaking English, he would have had no understanding of why his hair was being cut. He most likely would have thought that his parents and family had been killed.  Thomas’s story and death is somewhat of a mystery, and Sarah would love to see an inquiry project into his life.  I’m not sure if Thomas Moore will fit into my project, but her explanation did cause me to contemplate incorporating Thomas Moore into the ARIS experience as one of the characters.
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Photo credit: Great Lakes Environmental Justice

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Photo credit: Great Lakes Environmental Justice

  • Tamara Ryba– Tamara is a teacher at Scott Collegiate.  I met her this summer through my anti-oppressive education class in July. Sarah suggested that I might be able to connect with some of the supports and teachers within the division.  In fact, Sarah thought that I might even be able to have some high school students (aboriginal and non-aboriginal) do some research about the signing of treaty 4. I have reached out to Tamara and will be meeting with her this week to discuss how her students might be able to help with this project. I will need help deciding who or what story to tell throughout the Treaty 4 re-enactment. Though I have done my own research on the signing of Treaty 4, my plan is to suggest that her students help create a timeline for my ARIS game.
  • Noel Starblanket, Alma Poitras, and possibly some other elders will help guide and direct my project.  It is extremely important that I am seeking the advice and council of Aboriginal elders throughout this process.  Sarah said that she can help me learn how to offer tobacco to some of the elders as I ask for their help and wisdom. There were Aboriginal ceremonies and rituals surrounding the signing of Treaty 4, and if I want to create an accurate representation/experience of history and honour the narrative of the people present, I will need to include the spiritual understanding that accompanied these ceremonies.

    Pipe ceremony Photo Credit: Provincial Archives of Alberta

    I also have to be hyper aware of my own place as a white female settler in this way. These ceremonies were and ARE symbolic, and I don’t want to downplay or showcase a ceremony that is meant to be experienced, not exhibited.

  • Residential Schools– Sarah and I discussed how residential schools might fit into this project or if they even do.  My Master’s project supervisor, Michael Cappello has suggested that I might want to consider doing a second, 2.0 ARIS experience that is around residential schools. I’m struggling through how much story I can fit into this mobile experience.  What is going to be the right amount of story that will carry participants through the history of Treaty 4 while not loading them down with vast amounts of information?! One of my main goals for this project was to keep it light on text, and accessible to grade ones, EAL students and tourists. If that is the case, where will I have to sacrifice information for engagement?
  • Next steps- Sarah said she would help me out by contacting some of the people I will need to meet with.  I will have to wait until she can set up a time for me to meet with the elders and teachers. During this time, I will continue digging in to find “the story” behind the signing of Treaty 4. My next step is really nailing down some of the misconceptions around the Treaty 4, and finding ways to overcome those through the ARIS story.
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Remixing Education: A Report Card Rant

Posted on November 9, 2015. Filed under: Eci832, educational, report cards |

This post was inspired by Larry Lessig’s TED talk video.

He discusses the history of copyright and the culture of remix. When I was listening to him, I noticed he had a beat and rhythm to his words. This inspired me to make my own spoken word video that talks about how we as teachers are often stuck in the past. I recently went to my division and asked if I could pilot e-portfolios instead of report cards. I was turned down. In honour of “re-mixing,” I made all the background music for this video myself using Garage band and some of the drum loops they provide.


I used my knowledge of music and chord progressions to turn it into something that I felt accompanied the video.  It took me a couple days to write the spoken word, and then a full day to video tape and edit the video.  It was a lot of work for just one blog post, but I had fun making it! 🙂

Here is the video script:

Report cards. A paper about pupils that’s produced primarily by the teacher. A century old practice that has judging kids as its main feature.

I asked if I could get rid of the report card, but I was told no. Why I asked? Because you said so?

No no, apparently it’s me who doesn’t understand. These rules come from the government, it’s those marks they demand.  What would happen to the system if every kid just learned? What would become of their structure if success was given and not earned?

Why do we only update parents three times a year? It’s almost like it’s their approval we fear.

I know there’s teachers like me… who get panicked three weeks before report cards are due you see. At this point we aren’t making educated decisions. In fact we’re just trying to get through the comments and revisions.

What if we didn’t have report cards on our plate? What time would be freed up to talk to kids, connect, relate?

But there’s a better way to do it I said.

There’s a way that I can show parents what their kids are learning daily. It’s a way that doesn’t just show your kids are failing.

These kids will still learn the skills and dexterity, but you’ll know how they are doing in much more clarity.

You see we live in the 21st century. We have cell phones with cameras and recording capabilities. These students can show us what they know in so many ways.  They don’t have to just write lame ass tests and boring essays. We’ve got e portfolios and apps galore, if you just ask them to help you, they’ve probably got more.

Why are we stuck in the years of our past? Just take a look around you and you’ll see that our world is moving so fast! We don’t have time to waste on these skills from 100 years prior. We need to prepare these kids for their future jobs, lets help these kids get hired!

Let’s look to the future, ask our students what they think is important. They might just be our boss someday, they might just take our curriculum and toss it someday.

Our students are so connected, sure it looks different to us, but their ways of knowing aren’t defective. We need to get fed up, stand up, woman or man up and take a chance on education. Despite what people say, I know you didn’t take this job for the vacations.

So teachers stand with me, lets fight for our students. Let’s teach them digital literacy, and stop thinking technology is a nuisance. Go talk to your leaders, let’s challenge the status quo, lets push for Genius Hours, pirate teaching, and all the new ways we don’t even know.

Let’s get passionate and back to our core… Why did we become teachers… rather than limiting kids, let’s start opening some doors.

I used quite a few photos in that video, and wasn’t able to credit them in the video. Photo credit below:

Flickr: Special Collections Toronto Library 

Pete Ashton

Rhoni McFarlane

Jonathan Reyes

Brad Flickinger

Bernal Saborio


Bowman Art Gallery

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The Century of Self: A Critical Look at Consumerism and Citizenship

Posted on November 1, 2015. Filed under: digital citizenship, Eci832, educational | Tags: , , , |

In last week’s #eci832 class, Alec Couros mentioned the documentary called Century Of The Self.

The Century Of The Self – Part 1 from AJ Mekky on Vimeo.

This week I watched part 1 of the show, and I am going to summarize and critique it.  I will use the same structure as my last post, the 3 Best Blog Posts I’ve Ever Read.

What It’s About: Century of The Self is a documentary about the shift in culture when Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory entered the thinking of the United States of America. He believed that “primitive sexual and aggressive forces are hidden deep inside the minds of all human beings. Forces which if not controlled, led individuals and societies to chaos and destruction.” His nephew, Edward Bernays basically took these principles and marketed them to America to create a culture of consumerism.  It was the first time in history where emotion and an act of will were connected to products. Advertising was no longer about rational logic and numbers, but rather emotion and desire. This premise has continued to permeate and drive marketing and advertising today.

What I Like About It: I liked that this documentary gave credit to Bernays and Freud where it was due. Their ideas more or less changed the face of North America’s goods market. The documentary gave specific examples of ways that culture began to change as a result of Freud’s theory; for example, the way cigarettes were advertised to women as torches of freedom.


Photo Credit: Classic Film

I also liked how the documentary used pictures and videos from a specific time period to help visualize what the narrator was talking about.  Even if the narrator was describing something specific, the directors used other black and white videos from the past to help those watching stay engaged.

What It Makes Me Think About: I found it interesting that after the first world war, the world essentially “flipped.” During the war, people were stressed, unstable and unsure…committed to only thinking of their survival.  Advertising was used as a practical measure to supply needs to users. An example of needs based advertising is:

shoe ad

Photo Credit:

However, after the war, people began to calm down emotionally; they were given the opportunity to relax and think of luxury.  They entered an emotional state where their feelings and desires could be capitalized on for profit. In what ways have we evolved since that time? Have we moved even further into luxurious thinking? Will our society ever get to a point where as a whole, we are not considered a consumeristic society?

I would argue that with the entrance of the digital world, our identities are now multifaceted in even more concentrated ways. Nathan Jurgenson’s article helped me to see that our phones are just digital extensions of ourselves. Companies are no longer advertising to just our emotions and desires; they are using our analytics, our spending, our memories and our social lives for profit adding to Bernay’s ideas. At the same time, we are advertising, promoting, and advancing products and ideologies through our usage and the ways that some products become part of our identities – for example the iPhone or Facebook.

As the “Century of Self” documentary went on it explained how Bernay’s efforts allowed democracy to shift. It quoted an American journalist who wrote this in 1927:

“A change has come over our democracy. It is called consumptionism. The American citizen’s first importance to his country is now no longer that of citizen, but that of consumer.” 

After hearing this quote, I thought, “Wow. That could have been written in today’s newspaper!” This quote made me think of the Google+ conversation that began after Jenn Stewart-Mitchell wrote a blog post about how there’s no difference between citizenship and digital citizenship. She got me thinking about how citizenship has become less about others, and more about the “self.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 7.00.01 PM

Democracy used to be, at least in part, that people made decisions by thinking about what was best for the people/the need/the greater body. Now democracy seems to be limited to “majority wins.” The interesting part is that it is seemingly a majority of “singles”- those looking out for their own best interest.

In light of these thoughts, it is interesting to think about whether our culture’s digital obsession with “self” affected our recent election?  Have politicians shifted their political stances to include ideologies directed to individuals rather than groups? The documentary described Hoover as being the first American politician to connect money/advertisement with politics. How does that fit in today’s Canadian or American politics/digital identities? Who runs who? How much money was involved in advertising or connecting emotion to political ideology throughout the campaign?

Were Canadians swayed to vote for Trudeau because of social media? (Maybe he is ready!) Or was it an emotional push to not vote for Harper? Does this align with Freud/Bernay’s idea about aggressive inward emotional forces and how Canadian voters thought?


I saw this Newsroom clip today, and near the end, the actor (Jeff Daniels) has a speech that seems to idolize the old American understanding of citizenship. His claim that America isn’t the greatest country in the world is counterintuitive to the answer the situation seems to call for.

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Click to watch the video on YouTube. Embedding features are disabled.

I think Daniel’s speech seems to push for a “country-first” attitude over a “me-first” attitude.  In the video, you can see that halfway through the character’s speech, audience members start taking out their cell phones and recording his answer. This is a perfect example of how today’s ideas are shared and transmitted the world over. While the argument could be made that we are living in a more individualistic society, this is a perfect example of how we are sharing and connecting with people in a way that has never been done before.

While Bernays’ ideologies redefined our consumeristic worldview and with it the way we perceived citizenship, perhaps we’ve reached a time when citizenship is being redefined again.

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