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.


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.

Jim Benton Crayons

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.


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


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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Does Digital Dualism Exist?

Posted on September 26, 2015. Filed under: digital citizenship, Ed800, educational |

After reading and watching this week’s #Eci832 videos and articles, I want to have a little discussion on digital dualism. Is there such a thing as an offline and online self?

First, I want to address Marc Prensky’s idea of a digital native.  I, for one have used this term. I think I may have even used that term in my class blog or on notes to parents. This is the first time I have heard of someone not agreeing with it!  To be honest, I really liked their arguments. I liked that people such as beard man and David White, argued that it has more to do with the person, familiarity with tech, and individual context then a child’s age in what makes a digital native. I actually agree. That said, I don’t think I am going to retract my words to parents.  The students that I am dealing with now have plenty of access to technology, and from my experience, I have not come across any 5-8 year old student who didn’t know how to fluently use the hardware in my class. By addressing my students as “digital natives,” I want the parents to see that there is a place to teach these digital natives how to use technology as a tool for learning since they are already so comfortable with using the device.

Maurizio Pesce Digital Native

Maurizio Pesce Digital Native

What I find I have been fighting more, as of late, is the idea of digital dualism. I have some colleagues and parents who don’t agree with using technology at my grade level (grade one). Some are under the belief that it is pedagogically inappropriate, and others feel like their kids are too tech obsessed, so more access to technology in schools is a bad thing. I feel like we have reached the pendulum swing. When vaccines were new, people were very excited about them and happy about this new breakthrough. Enter the anti-vaccine movement.  When technology in schools was first an option, it was written into the curriculum and the computer lab was born. Some have now swung to the other side and are against it. Meet the Neo-Luddites.

After reading this article, I now agree with the author, and believe that digital dualism is a fallacy.  I do not believe that there is an online and an offline self. I don’t believe that just because the students are in a classroom that is not using technology, that the students are not thinking of it, being shaped by it, or posting things applicable to their lives later. (Ok maybe not a ton in grade one, but you never know!) I have parents who tell me that they want to protect their children, and so they don’t let their kids use technology at home.  I often want to ask them if they really think their kids aren’t watching YouTube videos or playing Minecraft at their friend’s houses. Is there really a way to “protect” your kids from technology, and is it something to be protected from?

Let me be straight. Balance is key.  I don’t think I would be a very good grade one teacher if the only learning tool we used was technology. I love the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood, and I think Sweden’s outdoor school is fascinating… I definitely wish we did more teaching/learning outside! I want to be a balanced teacher that shows students how to be balanced as well.  But while I am teaching my grade one students how to be digital citizens, I am also spending the first two weeks of our social unit teaching them how to be good “in person” citizens. Guess what? That’s not in the curriculum! But I’m not blind.  I also see how all of us can be guilty for not holding eye contact during conversations, or showing impolite habits of checking phones at inopportune times. But why throw the baby out with the bath water? Why not take this opportunity to teach children how to engage in “old fashioned” conversation.  I explain how to introduce themselves.  They learn how to answer a question and then throw the ball back and ask another one.  We even spend time looking at how to exit and enter conversations. We are learning how to be a good citizen and person all the time.

Do I think that technology has a part to play in these student’s lack of traditional conversation skills? Yes probably! But I don’t think that trying to “live offline” is the answer either. Furthermore, I disagree with Sherry Turkle when she says that “We need to focus on the many ways technology can lead us back to our real lives, our own bodies, our own communities, our own politics, our own planet.” I actually think technology connects and captures our real lives, our own bodies, our own communities, our own politics, and our own planet.” That is why I am going to continue using it as a learning tool in my classroom.

Troy Fleece

Troy Fleece

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Do You Have “Culturally Responsive” Classroom Management?

Posted on September 18, 2015. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, cultural, Ed800 |

I have been at the University of Regina’s internship seminar for the past couple days with my intern.  It has been ok.  I don’t want to be too critical, because I know  a lot of work goes into these seminars and I so appreciate the time that people have given to try and make these things happen. I do however consider myself a critical person/teacher, and so without sounding too jaded, I am going to tell you just a few things I have struggled with these last couple days.

Today within the IPP (Internship Placement Profile) I found some questions that pushed a few of my buttons.  The internship placement profile is a document where interns are supposed to be evaluated by their co-ops. They are supposed to be given a mark of outstanding, very good, good, fair, unsatisfactory, and not rated in the different teaching categories.  After taking an anti-oppressive education class this summer, my eyes have been open to ways in which I perpetuate systematic racism, and how I need to interrupt these ways of thinking and speaking.

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The first professional target under the heading, “Interaction with Learners” is Respect for ALL Students. (Note the manual’s emphasis and caps on ALL). An outstanding intern is gauged as, “Demonstrates a caring professional manner with all children regardless of developmental level, intellectual capacity, appearance, health, exceptionality, socio-economic status, gender, religion, race or cultural background.” Unsatisfactory is gauged as, “Discriminates or stereotypes or acts on personal preference.” The marks in between would be a balance in between those two extremes. At first look, this target seems like a great way to challenge interns on how they interact with and perceive race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. But thankfully, my anti-oppressive ed class has opened my eyes to ways this target is re-enforcing “colourblind racism.”

What intern or co-op in their right mind would rate themselves or their intern as discriminatory? How harsh is that! No one would seemingly admit to being racist! In fact, I bet if I went back and looked at all the other co-op’s books today, I wouldn’t see anyone who marked their intern as unsatisfactory in this area…  And there lies the problem. If the highest level of assessment is to not discriminate, we teachers are definitely not going to admit to acting on personal preference! We are all rule followers after all, aren’t we? That alone stops us from looking critically at ways we are all a part of systematic racism.

From what I could see/tell from the last couple days, the majority of our seminar group seemed to be white, upper-middle class, heterosexual, settler women. (Including me.)  Statistically speaking, most American/Canadian teachers are as well. Unfortunately, this produces a system that struggles to tackle racism.  This produces a system that allows well meaning teachers to participate in “White talk.” This also produces a group of teacher educators that create resources that might systematically reinforce racism.

Another category that I thought might reinforce racism is one that says “Culturally Responsive Classroom Management Approaches.”  The idea is that as a white teacher, you need to be culturally responsive to other, different cultures in your class. See what I did there? (I italicized “other” for emphasis if you are wondering.) The internship manual almost seems to be written from the white teacher’s point of view.  Everyone else gets “othered.”  It seems that white culture isn’t a culture, it’s the norm, and so we need to be culturally responsive to the OTHER cultures in our class. We need to be looking for classroom management approaches from THEM.  I want to challenge this understanding.  I want to challenge how we are writing about “culture/multiculturalism” in our teacher manuals and assessment books.  I want to be critical about racism being hidden in the well meaning multicultural days at our school, or the way we talk about EAL students in the staff room, or the way we casually suggest that First Nations children will not perform as well as our normal white students.

In what ways are we trying to impede racism within our own classroom walls?  I was challenged this week to read between the lines in the internship manual.  In what ways have you seen systematic racism permeate our education system? And how are you planning to confront it?

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From Homelessness to Abandonment: Solving the World’s Problems 1 Blog Post at a Time

Posted on January 8, 2015. Filed under: cheerleading, Ed800 |

Watch this video first. This blog post is a response to the video for my Ed800 class. These were the…

Questions to ponder while watching videos

  • Are you surprised that these videos can be the outcome of “research”?

  • Which did you find touched you most?

  • What is your interest in research methods?

  • What do you fear most?

Seeing the interviews as research resonates with me more than “book/article research” because these are the types of human interactions that I am comfortable with. Talking with people and hearing their story is a way that everyone finds a place for “research” in their life. I truly believe the best part of the human experience is about connecting with people and finding a deeper moment when sharing one another’s lives. I really appreciate that these two videos were the first in our look at research.

There were two points that resonated with me in the first video.  The first one was when one of the men talked about not having a peace when he was walking the streets. My first reaction was critical.  My initial thought was that peace is a word that defines something spiritual, and that the word he was looking for was comfort; he did not have comfort when he was walking the streets.  Then, I was convicted that no, in fact his struggle with homelessness was/is spiritual. As I started to think about what it would be like to roam the streets, I imagined the distress and unsettling cloud that would follow him. To pathetically attempt to connect this to my own life, I will give you an example; I can’t watch the movie Groundhog’s Day because I feel unsettled that the movie keeps repeating itself over and over. Every damn morning, Bill Murray’s character’s alarm went off, and I hated that it felt like there was no progression or resolution happening. I actually stopped watching the movie because I was so frustrated. So let’s think about this… I am UNSETTLED over a movie about a character repeating his day over and over. My best understanding of what the homeless man from the podcast’s unsettled feeling is a COMPARISON to a movie about a holiday. My FIRST reaction was to judge the man’s spiritual outlook and critique his word choice of peace. My thoughts changed. I entirely believe that the man in the podcast did not feel peace when walking the streets, and his day to day reality is probably my worst Groundhog’s Day nightmare.

The second thing that resonated with me in the first video was when one of the people brought up the fact that the Food Bank rarely has fresh fruit.  This was yet another time where someone who is in the “other” category has brought something to my attention that hasn’t ever crossed my mind.  If you chose to interview me ANY day of my life from birth until today, and you asked me what struggles I was having, or what was one thing that sucked about my day, I guarantee you a lack of fresh fruit would have never made that list.  I struggle with my body image, and I honestly feel better on the days when I have fresh fruit for lunch or breakfast.  When I go a day without my banana, or if we don’t have any apples in the house, I start to feel a little gross about myself, and I make sure that even if it’s just a quick stop, I’m sure to pop by the grocery store so I can pick some up for the next day. What a powerful awakening it is to hear that something as routine as my banana and apple in my lunch can be a treasured commodity in the life of a man or woman who is homeless.

What do I fear most? After reading the question, I didn’t know if it was actually asking what my biggest deepest fears were, or if he was talking about my biggest research fear. My simple research fear is the academic nature of research. I have been out of the academic world for long enough that I start to get scared thinking about the journal articles and research papers.  If I am Little Red Riding Hood lost in the University of Regina forest, then journal articles and research papers are definitely my Big Bad Wolf.

BUT… I think the real question, “What do I fear most?” is actually way more fun to answer. (Yes, I have a twisted sense of fun.)  I would have to say the thing I most fear is abandonment. Deep. I know. I actually have no logical reason to fear being abandoned. I was never left at a gas station when I was little, and neither of my parents left or took off. All I know is that it is a real fear of mine.  Now that I know this, it is easier to spot in my life, and it has made for some funny after thoughts when I have come to the root of it. For example, one time I was making cheer posters in my kitchen. (I coach a couple cheerleading teams in the city.) My kind husband was helping me make the posters. I started freaking out at him because he was cutting something wrong, or placing the letters incorrectly or SOMETHING. Basically, I was having some type of irrational control freak moment. I was later talking through this situation with a friend who has some background in counselling, and she had me go to the root of my mini freak out to see where it was coming from.  Are you ready for your mind to be blown? Here we go.  This was my thought process that she helped me map out.

1) If he made a mistake on the posters, they would look crappy.

2) If the posters looked crappy while the children were performing, everyone would be looking at me sitting in front of the cheerleading mat.

3) If everyone was judging me because of the crappy posters,

(here she asked me how it would make me feel…)

4) I would feel alone and abandoned.

RIGHT? Crazy I know. Anyways, apparently abandonment is truly one of my biggest fears, even though I doubt my prof was really wanting to know THAT much about my life. But in the spirit of honesty and straight sharing too much information,

What’s YOUR biggest fear?

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