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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How does parenting affect a child’s behavior?

Posted on October 27, 2012. Filed under: about me, behaviour, cultural, Grade 1 & 2, Nature vs. Nurture, parents, personal, teaching and learning |

I am now at the age where my friends are having kids, and my grade one student’s parents are getting closer to my age. My husband and I don’t have kids, so I admit lots of the parenting questions I will bring up in this post are all what I have seen, not experienced. But as I come in contact with more parents than I ever have in my life, I start to wonder some things…
(Warning: I have a feeling this post is going to turn into a nature vs. Nurture debate, but let’s see where it goes!)

The first thing I wonder is how much parent’s behavior towards their child affects the child’s behavior in school. When there is a child in school who just can’t seem to follow directions, I wonder where this behavior comes from. I have to admit, I don’t understand all the complexities of autism, ADHD, FAS, ODD, or other disorders that might cause defiance or lack of organization, so I will stick to the kids that have no visible or diagnosed disorder. Why does it seem impossible for some of these kids to listen and follow directions? Do they feel like these rules don’t apply to them? Do parents unintentionally teach these children to disobey by doing things for them, giving in to their every need, or allowing them to rule the roost at home? Yes, there might be developmental areas where the child is not as developed as other children in his or her grade, but then how do you explain the kids much younger who are able to follow directions and listen to instructions? Are these skills developmental or learned?

Anstruther Wedding 1950's - Arncroach School

Looking back on schools 50-100 years ago, we can clearly see that expectations were different and discipline was different. Were children able to follow directions and instructions better back then? I run a pretty tight ship in terms of classroom expectations and usually my routines and procedures work for most students. Why don’t they work for those few children? If I compared the kid’s parents who follow directions to the kid’s parents who don’t/can’t, would I see a huge difference in how they run their household?
Kids Cooking Squad
My second wonder is how parent’s behavior towards their child affects behavior in newborns. We have close friends who have a 2 month old, and I honestly feel sorry for them sometimes! Our poor friends try their very hardest to get their daughter to stop crying, but it seems like nothing works sometimes! My friend has read all the books with different opinions about just letting her cry it out, or trying to soothe the baby, but she still ends up asking, “What is wrong? Why won’t you stop crying?” I wonder how the parent’s behavior changes the babies. If parents run to their baby every time they cry, do they cry more often? If parents bounce and rock their babies, does it change the baby’s response and daily behavior? Seeing our friends parent sure makes me think about what I will do when I am a parent! Obviously it’s not as black and white as it seems. Will I be able to stick to one method, Baby Wise for example, or will I end up trying everything and anything?

If I’m completely honest with you, I err on the side of nurture.  I tend to think that parenting has a lot to do with how you behave in school or life.  I look at how I was brought up, and I see a direct correlation between my behaviour and my parent’s behaviour.  I think of what was tolerated in my home, and what wasn’t.  I look at the routines and procedures of our household and how they parallel routines and procedures at school. I like to think I was well behaved because I was raised to be!

This is me as a child. I am clearly well behaved- just look at me!

But honestly… I think it also just gives me an excuse and person to blame when I can’t seem to get some of my students to listen to my directions! Can’t be the teacher’s fault, must be the parents! LOL

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Looking at the Heart

Posted on February 26, 2012. Filed under: behaviour, Christian, edublog, educational, Kindergarten, personal, reflection, teaching and learning |

You’ve heard of a bandaid.  But have you ever heard of a behavior band aid? This is a term describing what people do when they try to fix a behavior by telling a child to stop something that they shouldn’t be doing, or by threatening them with some type of consequence and then possibly not following through. As a teacher, I have been learning the value of getting to the root of my student’s behavior issues and trying to deal with the heart of the issue rather than slapping on a behavior bandaid.
It all started when my friend Janelle was reading this Christian book called Shepherding a Child’s Heart.

She has three kids and this book was really challenging her to be purposeful and consistent in her discipline. It was challenging her to actually spank her kids EVERY TIME they disobeyed. Sounds harsh, but hear me out; if she asked one of her sons to do something and they didn’t, she would have a talk with them, explain why it’s important to be obedient, pray with them and then spank them. At first, she felt like she was spanking them constantly, and then after about 2 weeks, she noticed that they would obey her without questioning her or putting up a fight. They were starting to become obedient and their household was getting more peaceful. She actually found herself disciplining in love rather than anger because she would correct their behavior before it got to the point where she was angry and fed up, and the children understood that she was discipling them because she loved them, not because she was angry and they had screwed up.
This inspired me to try and be consistent in my own classroom for the very reason that I too wanted to correct my student’s behaviour in love, looking out for what is best for them rather than giving consequences in anger. I was going to be teaching kindergarten at the time and I decided that at the beginning of the year, our class was going to make up rules that everyone was expected to follow, and WHENEVER someone broke a rule, I was going to try and be consistent with discipline. Now, I obviously can’t spank my students, THAT would be awkward! And I also decided that I couldn’t give timeouts every time one of my 39 students broke a rule, or I would have no instruction time and the whole classroom would be filled with kids in time outs. Instead, I decided to give three chances. First time they broke a rule was 1, 2nd time was 2, and when they reached 3, I walked them over to the time out chair (while still teaching the lesson) and set the visual timer for about 5 minutes; when the red was gone, they were allowed to come back and join the group on their own. Sometimes they had to draw a picture of what they did wrong and what they should have been doing, and I would try my best to talk to the child one on one afterwards to discuss what had happened. At first it was hard to be consistent, I would forget how many chances each kid had, but thankfully the other little tattle tales would usually help me out! Forcing myself to be consistent was one of the best things I could have ever done in my career. To this day, it is helping me so much with classroom management. I have never once had a kid question why they had to go into the time out. They know my expectations, and they know the consequences… Every time.

Now, that’s all fine and dandy, and I’m sure many other teachers have come to this conclusion long before me, but what I am excited about this year is how consistency in discipline is merging with the heart issues of my students behavior. Let me explain; it began when my husband Jon and I went to a marriage retreat this September. We watched a series of Paul Tripp videos, and one of the analogies he used really stuck with me. He says:
“If I shake a bottle of water, spilling some, and ask you, “Why did water spill on the floor?” you might say, “Because you shook the bottle.” In other words, the shaking is to blame for the water on the floor. If I ask you, “Why did water spill on the floor?” you might say, “Because there was no milk or pop in the bottle. Why does anger, hurtful actions, and vile language spill out of people? It is not because they are shaken or the fault lies with whatever did the shaking. No, the problem is that there is anger and vile language inside, waiting to be shaken and spilled.”

I explained the water bottle analogy to my students in language they could understand, and gave them a chance to find a spot by themselves in the classroom and look into their water bottles/hearts. I wanted to give them a chance to see if they could find any anger or “darkness” that was already hiding in their hearts; whether that was mean thoughts or actions towards a sibling or friend, parent or teacher. Before we came back to the carpet, I told the kids that if they needed to make anything right with another person in the classroom, they could do that before they sat down. About 3 kids took me up on that offer, and talked one on one with another student before sitting down. When we came back to the carpet, I asked the children if anyone wanted to share what they “saw” in their hearts. A few students told me about hateful thoughts toward others, or about a fight they got in earlier that day.

As the year has gone by, I have continued to give the students chances to look into their heart to find out WHY they acted they way they did. I am trying to not only train their behavior, but help them realize what is causing their behavior and what they can do to deal with it BEFORE it comes out in hurtful words or actions.
This is a difficult task to do for anyone, including adults, but I have learned that if I expect my students to be changing their behavior from the inside out, I need to be doing it myself also. Now, as a Christian I believe I can’t actually change my own heart, but that Jesus can work in me and change my evil heart into a loving, caring one that can show mercy and kindness, so I pray for help! 🙂

I have also found that recognizing my attitude and my heart has really helped me be transparent with my students. I have had to apologize to them on more than one occasion this year when I have acted in anger, or tried to discipline not in love. I don’t tell them that I am sorry for disciplining them; if they are not following the rules, and the kids are creating an environment where it is not easy to learn, they need to know that I have the right to discipline them for that, AND change that behavior… BUT, the problem is that my heart tends to do this in the wrong way… surprise surprise! What I do tell them is that I am sorry for getting angry and mad at them. I explain it to them by saying that my heart gets kind of black and hard towards them and I start getting mean and trying to control the situation through anger rather than love. They are always very forgiving, and they show me grace. Isn’t it funny how children are so quick to forgive, yet as adults we hold grudges and can carry bitterness with us for days, months and years?  I am so thankful that I work with children who are so young, so tender, and so willing to open their hearts.  I am definitely blessed.  And the plan is, from now on I will only be handing out REAL bandaids for paper cuts, scraped knees and microscopic owies that the child seems to need a bandaid for… No behaviour bandaids here!

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