Grade 1 & 2

Construction Room Transformation

Posted on November 5, 2019. Filed under: educational, Grade 1 & 2, room transformation |

Last June, I did a construction themed room transformation, and I am just getting the time to blog about it now! It was a great success! I encourage other teachers to try it!

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The idea came from the outcome- CC2.4-

Write stories, poems, friendly letters, reports, and observations using appropriate and relevant details in clear and complete sentences and paragraphs of at least six sentences.

The indicator was “Polish at least eight pieces through the year.” So the I can statement was- “I can polish at least 8 pieces this year.”

In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have left ALL the students’ editing to the end of the year, but I did… So I decided to turn it into a 2 day construction site, where we were going to be doing a lot of CONSTRUCTION on our writing.

This was the feel for the classroom environment; I had bought caution tape from the dollar store, I borrowed orange pylons from our gym, the two big pylons from our caretaker, and the orange scaffolding was what held our Phys Ed mats.  I had borrowed construction books from my local library, found some free printables from Pinterest and that was all I had! This classroom transformation cost me a total of $4 for the construction tape. The best part was the concerned students from other classrooms asking what happened to our classroom and if everyone was ok!

Photo 2019-06-12, 12 50 16 PMWe started off the first day by reading/looking through the library books to get a feel for what construction is, and all the different tools a construction worker might use.

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I decided to have the kids start editing their oldest writing projects first. The ones from the beginning of the year needed the most work, and at the beginning of the first day, the students had the most stamina and excitement. By the end of the second day, we were finishing up the most recent writing project. This writing was considerably better than what they wrote in September, (duh) so there weren’t as many edits.

I used little construction writing cards to help them edit. Photo 2019-06-12, 11 46 13 AMWe talked about all of the different things that needed editing: Sentence structure/content, uppercase/lowercase letters, punctuation, spelling, Photo 2019-06-12, 11 46 18 AMletter sizing and spacing. They had to look at their writing, identify what needed work, and then choose the correct “tool” for the job. These cards were literally pictures of tools. The kids loved the choice of what to edit. When they were editing written work, I had them staple the tool into their book so I could see which page/writing piece they had edited. Photo 2019-06-12, 3 27 03 PMWhen they were editing their Book Creator books on the iPads, they took a picture of the tools they used, and the book they were working on.



I was shocked at how much they got done in those two days. By the second day, the students were wearing their own construction gear to school,Photo 2019-06-13, 3 35 48 PM and they really bought into the whole idea! Who knew editing writing could be so much fun?Photo 2019-06-12, 1 34 57 PM I had borrowed my friend’s ‘real life construction vest,’ and once the students had edited their work, we had a sharing time, where they were allowed to come up to the front, wear the construction vest and share with the class what they had fixed.

Again, who knew so many kids wanted to share their editing process! But as soon as they got to wear the vest, they were ALL OVER IT.

At the end of the second day, we worked on another construction project. Father’s Day was coming up that weekend, and so we made our dads little string hearts. Photo 2019-06-12, 7 27 22 PM The students had to pound the nails in themselves, and they loved using real hammers. (I had borrowed the kids hammers from my dad who runs a kids club at his church where they make wood cars as a project.)

They drew on the heart, wrote dad at the top, and then pounded in nails in the shape of the heart. I’m not exactly sure what the dads will do with these creations, but the students loved making them and using real hammers to pound in the nails!

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Upon reflection, the biggest thing I would change about this experience would be not leaving all the editing until this day. Even though they did awesome, it wasn’t as comprehensive as I would have liked!

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The Doll People Room Transformation

Posted on April 22, 2019. Filed under: educational, Grade 1 & 2, room transformation, teaching and learning |

“Room transformations” have been going on for a long time, but Hope and Wade King, authors of the Wild Card, have popularized it in recent years through their book and workshops. This is how I turned my classroom into a dollhouse for two full days of themed adventures in grade 2.

First, our class read the novel, The Doll People for the last two months. I would read aloud one chapter during our classroom “Quiet Time” three times a week. The students, both boys and girls, were really into it. It’s very Toy Storyesque but with a female protagonist. 🙂

the doll people

Once we had finished the novel on the Friday, I surprised them by letting them watch Toy Story on the afternoon of the Monday. We used Mentimeter as a backchannel during the movie, and they compared similarities and differences between the two stories. We are 1:1 in my grade 2 class, so everyone had an iPad that they could type their answers into. We would pause every 30 minutes or so to look at some of the answers that had come in to give others ideas if they hadn’t written anything yet. The answers weren’t always super clear, but after the movie was over, we went through each answer and the child was allowed to explain what they meant.

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A screenshot of some of the answers I was getting throughout the movie.

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On the Tuesday, I gave the students a “clue” to what was going to be happening on Wednesday. I photocopied the page out of the novel that looked like Auntie Sarah’s journal entry with spiders drawn all around the outside of the page. I handed it to them right at the end of the day and told them it was their “clue.”

The next morning when the students showed up, I didn’t even let them in the classroom. I was dressed as Tiffany Funcraft, and I took them right upstairs to the art room to paint their doll people. My principal had let me buy some wooden dolls off of Amazon. We used water soluble acrylic paint and little paint brushes. There were 40 dolls in the package, and I only have 22 students in my class, so most students got 2 dolls each.

When they finished, we came downstairs. I had turned my classroom into Kate’s (the human character in the book) dollhouse. I made the classroom door into the front door of the dollhouse, and set up five rooms; the parlour, the bedroom, the kitchen, the library, and the attic. In our school we have accordion dividers in each pod. I borrowed three and moved them into my classroom, partitioning off each section into a dollhouse room. The breakout room connected to our classroom became the attic.

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I knew the kids were going to be excited, so I gave them time to just play around and pretend. They went through each room and were just giggling with joy. They loved it.

While the students were playing, I had my friend Jann, a retired colleague of mine, pull students in groups of 4. I had brought some dress up clothes for the kids to dress up in, and she was taking pictures of them in front of a green screen.

Then the students used the app, GreenScreen by DoInk to insert themselves into some dollhouse pictures. Jann said she didn’t do any of it for them. She just gave verbal instructions, and they did it all. That’s the nice thing about the app. It is very child friendly!


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The results were awesome, and I actually printed these pictures out and glued them onto black construction paper and gave them as gifts at the end of Thursday as a little reminder of their time as dolls over the two days.

Before lunch, we went back to the upstairs art room and worked on acrostic poems with our new wooden doll’s names. I used an example with Annabelle, the protagonist.  The rest of the students came up with their own doll names and wrote about what their doll was like through the acrostic poem. Some were very creative!

On Wednesday afternoon, Auntie Sarah went missing, and the students had to complete a variety of tasks to find her. There was a code they needed that they could only get by doing double digit addition, they had to get past “The Captain” (the cat from the story) by creating a cat on the Osmo tangram app, they had to find the rhyming words from the story in a bunch of other words that didn’t rhyme using iCard Sort, and they had to go on a QR scavenger hunt (we use the QR reader app Inigma to eventually find clues that would lead to Auntie Sarah. The kids had a blast completing all the activities. It was sort of like an escape room, but not…

On Thursday, I showed up as Uncle Doll. 🙂

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We spent the entire day preparing our own doll stories and then recording them. To storyboard, we used the app, Paper. This app is amazing because it still works on the iPad 1s.  Each child was responsible to create 5 “pages” for their groups’ story. 1) Beginning: Introduce characters/setting. 2) Beginning 2: Character traits and goals 3) Middle: The problem 4) The problem continued 5) The resolution.

The students could draw and/or write in this app which made it perfect for differentiation as some kids found it way easier to type… as they don’t love art.  Others hate writing and so they were able to draw their scenes out. Because every member in each group was writing out their story in a different way, they could use everyone’s storyboard to piece together what was going to happen in the group’s story.

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This drawing was done on an iPad1 where there is only one drawing option available. It is the calligraphy pen highlighted on the left hand side of her iPad.

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When they were done collaborating and co-creating their doll people stories, they got to take a doll house. (I had borrowed 7 from friends and colleagues for the day.) They went to a quiet corner of the school and recorded their doll people stories in the doll houses.

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The trickiest thing for them to learn was to keep the iPad close enough to the doll house so that they didn’t get each other in the shot. They had a blast using their own wooden dolls that they had created to act out the stories. Some of them used Seesaw to record and post their videos.

Others used the iPad’s camera roll, and then iMovie to splice the clips/scenes together.

By the end of the day, everyone was so excited to share their stories with the rest of the class.  Since this was the last day before Easter break, I took the last half hour to get the students to help me take down our dollhouse classroom. The students were heart broken that we were taking it down, and they kept asking if we could set it up like that again sometime.

I might do another classroom transformation before the end of the school year… I will see.  Upon reflection, I think I would find a way to keep the tables together and not partition the classroom so much though. I found it difficult to manage all the children in different rooms at one time. I needed to have some type of perch where I could see all students at once. Something to think about for next time.

Any comments or suggestions? Please comment below!

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Princess Culture and Early Childhood Education: Application

Posted on April 11, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, eci814, First Nations, Grade 1 & 2, Kindergarten, Masters, Privilege, Race, teaching and learning |

In my last post, I ended with some questions about what we, as teachers or early childhood educators, could do to combat the racialized and gendered messages that our


“Disney princesses” Photo credit: Ricky Brigante via Flickr

students are being bombarded with in their Disney princess/superhero culture. We need to remember that racial understanding makes its way into our classrooms without effort. “Race is a structuring principle that must be interpreted in classroom interactions, not as a naturally occurring phenomenon but part of the assumptions that ultimately inform how people construct their world” (Leonardo, 2009, p. 233).

Our students have racial constructs already formed by the time they get to school, and many of those constructs have been influenced through their parent’s opinions, and the movies and shows the children have been exposed to. Unfortunately,


Photo credit: Disney UK

we can’t wait for Disney to change their ways and disrupt the dominant discourse, because even though they are starting to try, by releasing movies like Moana, there are still many issues with movies like these portraying Indigenous people. It is going to require educators to take a critical look at the hidden and lived curriculum students are stepping into school with, and learning how to deconstruct these narratives with their students.

In my grade one class last year, we had talked a lot about male and female ‘gender roles.’  I didn’t have to give many examples before the students started chiming in with what the “world” tells boys and girls they can or can’t do. During our talking circle, students were giving examples such as, “People say boys can’t have long hair,” or “Girls like pink.”  I don’t think there was one student that day who didn’t participate in the talking circle; every child had experienced some type of gendered scenario where they knew how boys and girls were supposed to act.  It was neat watching them agree and sympathize with each other as each child gave examples of what they knew about gender and how it didn’t sit right, even in their little six year old bodies.

I decided to take this lesson a step further with my students because “to children, the boundaries between reality and fantasy life are often unclear (van Wormer & Juby, 2015, p. 591).  Kids don’t always understand that the behaviours on TV shows or in movies shouldn’t be imitated in their own lives. I wanted to try and help my students look critically at the gendered and racialized scenarios they see in movies, and deconstruct the message while relating it to their own lives.

The first clip we watched was Gaston’s song from Beauty and the Beast. Take a look if you need a little refresher.

When I chose this clip, I knew it would have a lot of the gendered physical characteristics  of males, and I was hoping the children would notice.  After we watched the clip, I asked the kids what Disney was telling them about men/boys. Sure enough, the kids picked up on so many of the physical qualities.

“Boys have to be strong.”

“Boys have to have big muscles.”

“They are hairy.”

“Boys eat a lot of food.”

“They drink beer.” (Oops, I may have forgot about that part of the movie!)

Then one student pointed out something that I hadn’t really thought about, but was so prevalent.

“Boys like to fight.”

Wow. How had I missed that obvious behaviour from the clip? Clearly Gaston was fighting with the men in the parlour, but I was more focused on the kids finding physical characteristics of what men “should be like.” This led us into a great conversation about violence and how boys are pushed into more of a violent social construct than girls.

We then looked at a couple other princess clips; one of Snow White, and another of snow whiteCinderella. The students were even quicker to find gendered stereotypes of women which included body image, a woman’s “roles,” and standard of beauty.  Unfortunately we don’t have to look far to see the media pushing women in one gendered cinderelladirection, and it mostly has to do with the beautification and sexualization of girls/women.  Our class had a really good conversation around this topic, and it even led into how they can be safe/protected online.  Many children recognized that inappropriate images of women are scattered everywhere on the web, and many children openly admitted to seeing these while they were using the internet in their own home. We discussed how “the world” sometimes treats women’s bodies as objects, and that is not fair or right. I reminded them of what they could do if they ran into inappropriate images/videos while online (close it immediately, tell an adult etc.) I try my best to incorporate digital citizenship lessons throughout the year as we use quite a bit of technology in my class, and I know students run into these situations at home as well.

The last part of the student’s assignment was to re-iterate a stereotypical message they knew about boys and girls, and then offer an alternative. For example, “boys CAN have long hair,” or “girls can wear blue and boys can wear pink” etc. The students left empowered, and I had a student come back the week after and tell me how his sister was telling him something about a “girl colour,” and he told her there was no such thing as girl or boy colours! What a precious example of social/gender de-construction.

Unfortunately, I did not dive into an extension of this lesson that included race… but I wish I would have.  I think deep down, challenging gender constructs was more comfortable for me than challenging racial constructs, and so I left it at that.  Now that I have more anti-oppressive grad classes under my belt, and feel a little better versed in my understanding of Whiteness, identity, and erasure, I am willing and hopeful to tackle more lessons of this sort when I head back into the classroom after mat leave.

However, Leonardo (2009) does warn us that “whites must learn to be racially sensitive about contexts when race seems a legitimate theme to invoke and ask why it was relevant to them then and not other times… Whites can participate in building an antiracist pedagogy against white mystifications, and displacing white racial knowledge from its privileged position of classroom discourse” (p. 239). This makes me wonder what it looks like to challenge the “princess/superhero” culture in specific lessons, but support it on something like a school dress up day.

Last year we had a dress-up day called “Disney Day,” where, you guessed it, students were encouraged to dress up as their favourite movie character.

Not surprisingly, all students either dressed up as a character, or wore a shirt that had a superhero logo or character on it.  Looking back, I’m again reminded at how prevalent and engrained the Disney culture is in these children’s lives. I would never consider boycotting the Disney day, as I know these types of days are extremely fun for students.  But if I could do it again, I would choose to have some critical discussion around gender/race as a reminder before the day. The children can learn to spot Whiteness, erasure, and cultural appropriation. This type of day would be the perfect time for them to practice their awareness in this area.

Furthermore, an asset-based, positive way teachers can disrupt the princess/superhero IMG_2265culture in their classroom is by offering other cultural/linguistic alternatives. Mary Caroline Rowan in her article, ‘Resituating Practice through Teachers’ Storying of Children’s Interests’ explained how she used Aotearoa/New Zealand learning stories to impart traditional Inuktitut words to preschoolers. It “could serve as a means of first recognizing and, second, deepening Inuit cultural and linguistic approaches to early childhood education” (2013, p. 180). Incorporating First Nations, Inuit, and Metis languages through storytelling is a valuable pedagogical tool teachers can use to help combat ‘White ways of knowing.’ Rowan emphasizes that using Indigenous methodologies

“facilitated the development of a practice of making learning stories that I hoped would make Inuit knowledge(s), patterns, and meanings accessible and, in so doing, make spaces in ECE practice for Inuit ways of knowing and being” (2013, p. 180).

In what other ways can we make spaces in ECE practice for Indigenous ways of knowing and being? How can we disrupt the dominant discourse of princess/superhero culture and acknowledge the ways in which it directly influences student’s understanding of themselves and each other? I am only entering the beginning of this journey, and am hopeful to walk beside other early childhood educators who believe in this work as well.


Joseph, A. (2016, Dec. 2). With Disney’s “Moana,” Hollywood almost gets it right: Indigenous people weigh in. Salon. Retrieved from:

Leonardo, Z. (2009). Reading whiteness: anti-racist pedagogy against white racial knowledge. In B. Ayers, T. Quinn, & D. Stovall, (Eds.), Handbook of social justice in education. (pp. 231-248). New York: Rutledge.

Rowan, C. (2013). Resituating Practice through Teachers’ Storying of Children’s Interests in V. Pacini-Ketchabaw & L. Prochner, Resituating Canadian Early Childhood Education (172-188). New York: Peter Lang Publishing.

van Wormer, K. & Juby, C. (2015). Cultural representations in Walt Disney films: Implications for social work education. Journal of Social Work. 16(5), 578-594

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Bound by the Clock

Posted on March 20, 2017. Filed under: eci814, educational, Grade 1 & 2, Masters, teaching and learning |

This week’s reading talks about how since the clock has been invented, people, families, institutions- including schools, have been bound by time. I have felt this in my own life, and in my own classroom, and I know others feel this tension as well.


In their chapter, Valuing Subjective Complexities: Disrupting the Tyranny of Time, Sherry Rose and Pam Whitty discuss how student freedom can be felt when their teachers do not strictly adhere to the clock. Even though teachers may pedagogically disagree with stringent teacher led behaviours, their classrooms tend to run strictly by time and schedules:

The schedule and its component parts become taken for granted scripts for organizing time. Passed on from one year to the next, ritualistic routines such as calendar time, snack time, outdoor time, and field trips remain embodied and unchallenged” (Rose & Whitty, 2013).

Not only is our school day run by clocks and bells, the curriculum is actually designed through subject minutes. Each subject is designated by a certain amount of minutes, and some subjects are clearly at the top of the academic hierarchy because they have more minutes imposed. This contrasts Ken Robinson’s creativity TED talk we watch last week:

Thankfully, since the Saskatchewan curriculum has moved to outcomes and indicators, I have noticed that teachers have more freedom with how their day can be organized. (Although I have heard this can change depending on which principal you have.) The principal at my school was pretty relaxed when it came to day/week/year plans. We could schedule our days pretty freely, and the only way our day was bound was to our prep times where other teachers would come and take the kids for Music, Phys Ed, or French.

On the other hand, my friend who works at a different elementary school had very strict timetable checks done by her principal. That principal wanted his teachers to tally how many minutes each subject was getting and total them at the bottom of their weekly plans. Each total had to be in line with the Sk curriculum document subject minutes, and their plans had to be handed in to the office and checked by the principal. Yikes!

I feel like Pre-school/Pre-K has a little more flexibility in how they structure their day than a grade one class, but I am going to share a couple things I do in my grade one class so that I am not as bound by the clock.

  1. I have a routine run by familiarity not time. Every morning, the very first thing we do is Morning Carpet Time. This title is more for the space we are using rather than the
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    This is a slide from my Morning Carpet Time Smart Notebook File.

    structure or content of what we are doing. I have a Smartboard file called “Morning Carpet Time” that has around 30 interchangeable slides that I use throughout the year. My students get used to going through about 8 slides every morning.  Sometimes I switch the slides up daily, sometimes weekly, and sometimes monthly. They range in subject matter, but I have to admit, they do tend to have a math and literacy focus.  When there is a new slide, I teach them what they are supposed to do with it, and then from that day on, the helper of the day leads the class in all the Smartboard activities. This “Morning Carpet Time” does not have a time limit. Whenever we finish the slides is when we move onto our next activity.

  2. The students have come to learn that the bell does not dismiss them; the teacher does. Though I know young children have a desperate need for Recess, (as they should,) my class has learned that just because the bell goes, does not mean that they get to jump up and run outside… Especially when another class member is talking or sharing. The students have learned that if one of their classmates has the floor (or the teacher), they need to show respect and wait until that person, or that activity is finished. We have ‘worked’ through Recess in the past, and it is not a big deal. I can always take the students outside for a movement break later, or we can do one in the classroom when needed. Please don’t think that I am saying Recess isn’t important. I think it is vitally important. Students NEED to move, and have freedom of play, and be OUTSIDE… all I am saying is that the bell for Recess should not drive our interactions and emerging activities.
  3. I have mostly changed our visual schedule from subjects to activities. Rather than writing “math” on the visual schedule slip, I write “table activity.” This allows
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    Very similar to what my visual schedule looks like. Photo credit: Michelle, a special ed teacher

    freedom in navigating the ins and outs of the day.  If one activity goes really well, and I would like to continue it rather than moving to the next activity, I can use the next “table activity” time on the schedule to have the students keep working. The students are none the wiser, and I don’t have any ‘schedule loving Sally’s’ who say, “Teacher! Why aren’t we doing Health right now? Aren’t we supposed to be doing Health?” I also don’t have any times in front of each activity. The only thing on the schedule that would give students a sense of what time something is happening would be the Recess and lunch strips.

These are just a few things I have found that work for myself and my classroom. Are there any tricks that you know of that help your classroom not have to follow the clock to the minute? Please share in the comments below!

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Treaty Misconceptions and Facts

Posted on December 12, 2015. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, Eci832, eci832finalproject, educational, First Nations, games, Masters, Privilege, Race, Technology |

As I have been developing my Treaty 4 ARIS game/experience, I have been thinking about what content should be included, and what misconceptions should be addressed through this experience.

I have looked at some information from the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, and they have a lot of great resources when it comes to the history, story, and misconceptions of Treaty 4.

I am going to use some of their misconceptions through my project.  I want to find a way to incorporate the facts clearly by having my participants learn them through story and experience. Here are some of the things I want to address:

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When I meet with the Aboriginal elders and allies helping with this project, I will discuss how they think we can address these myths through the game’s story.

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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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