What is right or wrong? You have to speak

Digital citizenship, online activism, slacktivism, privilege, marginalization, racism, discrimination, social justice, human rights, and silence. These are all topics we must consider throughout our everyday lives. As we sit down with our morning coffee and complete our morning ritual of the Facebook scroll, we must consider these topics. Why? You may ask. Because it is a privilege. It is a privilege to be able to scroll through Facebook and have that morning coffee without being attacked. How many times have you scrolled through your news feed and saw/read something unsettling or aggravating? I assume pretty often. But how often to you make a response to this? Do you share this unsettling or aggravating thing? Do you reply or respond in some way? Or do you remain silent and just keep scrolling? If you just keep scrolling you are most likely pretty privileged. Is your newsfeed full of cooking videos or funny memes? Or is it full of political injustices in the world? These questions in itself are indicators of how you use your privilege.

We keep scrolling because it is comfortable. We want to remain silent because then we are not judged, ridiculed, or even questioned. Instead, we remain neutral. But are we ever really neutral? I think not. There is a definite line between what is right and what is wrong. Take this video that appeared on my Facebook newsfeed this morning for example. Was this right? I think not.

Yes, this mother in this video probably wanted what was best for her child. I understand that. What I don’t understand is how race comes into play. Why are these Doctor’s being marginalized for their race or ability to speak English (Heck maybe some of these Doctor’s first language was English, but again why was that questioned? Because of their race?).

If we remain silent on issues such as this what does that show? Does it show that we are appalled by the inequities of the world? No. Now, I’m not saying if you don’t share or respond in some shape or form to these inequities that you are a bad person. I am saying that by not sharing or replying you are guilty. Guilty of being silent. Of not giving the marginalized your support or agreeing that they were wronged in any way. You were simply remaining neutral, but there is never neutral when it comes to right and wrong. No, liking, sharing, or responding on social media doesn’t change the world but it does help get rid of the stigma. It starts a conversation, it starts an opportunity to learn.

The Secret Code

CraigTaylor74 Flickr via Compfight cc

Coding. An interesting part of educational technology. For some, it is scary but for others, it’s exciting; it’s a new way of thinking. In class, we were introduced what is referred to as the ‘hour of code’. When implemented in the classroom students are given a device where they can practice the skills required to code or even practice coding!

For this blog post, I chose to do what is referred to as the “Hour of Code” for a few reasons. One because it is FUN, two because it makes you think, and three because it is something I would really like to do with the students in my classroom. So needless to say I started playing around with this website. It is terrific, both student and teacher friendly! Watch this video to see how anyone can learn to code.

To show my progress I took a screencast in student mode. While I did do a full hour of code these screencasts are only snippets of my overall learning. The screencast of the beginning of my hour of code (click on the link to view my screencast) is Puppy Adventure in student mode.  During this I learned as the student progresses, more options will be made available. Such as unlocking new puzzles or coding scenarios to try out based on the level they are at. Which is both neat and somewhat disappointing. If you are anything like me then you always like to finish what you have started, which could be an issue for some students. On the other hand, it is also good because you want your students to be improving their coding skills as they do their ‘hour of code’ instead of staying at the same level.

Underneath is a YouTube video the is an introduction to coding for the Frozen Hour of Code scenario:

Through this website, I also learned that students are able to create their own profile and save their learning! How great is that! Not only are students able to save their learning and track their progress but they are also able to personalize their account, save projects, and most importantly learn to code! Also, when you are first deciding which coding scenario you wish to go on there are categories that help you to find what you are looking for, for example, what grade you are in, what subjects you are interested in, the length of time you will be coding, what classroom technology is made available to you etc. Overall, this is an excellent resource to introduce to your class to get them started on coding. Happy coding everyone!

Sextortion and The New Culture of Public Shaming

fmgbain Flickr via Compfight cc

A few decades ago the idea of public shaming was basically limited to three things the newspaper, TV, or radio; as mentioned on Monica Lewinsky’s Ted Talk. Today, public shaming can be everywhere, especially if you are the one targeted. With social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Instant Messaging etc. it is no wonder that the battle to get away may seem endless. Then there is the topic of kids. The access to the internet and all it contains is easier to access than ever before. All you have to do is enter in what you want to look up into a search engine and almost instantaneously you get results.

Then incorporate the topic of kids. The access to the internet and all it contains is easier to access than ever before. All one has to do is enter in what one want to look up into a search engine and almost instantaneously you get results. One can see how easily this may become a problem especially with the sexualization of children, teens, adults, etc. that is apparent in the marketing, and media, these days. As mentioned on the documentary Sext Up Kids (there is sensitive content), this market is targeted directly at kids and their desire to look ‘older’ and ‘sexier’. Younge children go from wanting to be the ‘prettiest princess’ to the ‘hottest girl’ in a number of years. It is the effects of marketing, such as these, that pressures and influences are surrounding our students at ages as low as nine to things such as watch porn, sext, or a variety of other things. Ultimately, those acts when noticed online can lead to detrimental effects on children, teens, and adults through things like sextortion and public shaming. Which makes it so crucially important to address the situation if it ever occurs. Teachers and parents must teach their students and children what is appropriate/not appropriate, but most importantly how to be safe online.

As educators, it is our responsibility to be aware and to teach kids about the dangers of being online and what protective measures we need to take to ensure our students are being safe online. In order to do this, we must talk about subjects that are ‘taboo’ or uncomfortable to talk about. But if we don’t have these difficult conversations with our students we are basically telling them to deal with it on their own. It is our responsibility to teach our students to make smart decisions, that it is okay to make mistakes (article thanks to Kim Thue’s, twitter handle @thuekim), and how to be safe online.

Digital Citizenship: Learning about the World

Stefans02 Flickr via Compfight cc

People of all ages are online today. From young to old and everything in between the world as we know it has become forever increasingly an online space. There are Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook posts for just about everything. We are becoming an increasingly online world. It is in these times where educators use social media to increase classroom engagement amongst other things.

After reading this article I couldn’t agree more. Students need to live one life, not two. Meaning that, as educators, we should promote the use digital tools such as social media in our classrooms instead of banning them. Incorporating technology into the classroom means letting students have one life where digital citizenship is encouraged. Incorporating technology means bringing in learning from around the world into the classroom.

When thinking about digital citizenship it can be broken down into many sub-sections. Though digital citizenship may not be explicitly implied, it is part of the hidden curriculum. Meaning, even though digital citizenship is not listed it should be taught. Just like how in the early years of education we learn to tie shoes, share, and treat each other as you would want to be treated. Though things such as these aren’t listed in the curriculum they are still taught in schools. It is the same with digital citizenship.

Digital Citizenship includes:

  • Safety and Security
  • Balance
  • Cyberbullying
  • Sexting
  • Copyright and Plagiarism
  • Access
  • Etiquette

Safety and Security: Have students question what is right, what is wrong, what a good source is, what an unreliable source is, how to evaluate digital sources, and how to be safe online. It is classroom experiences such as these that help create digital awareness, a positive digital identity, and digital literacy in today’s world. As well as how to keep devices safe.

Balance: There needs to be a balance between time spent on and offline. Like everything time should be spent on a multitude of things (i.e. learning on an iPad, playing outside, etc.).

Cyberbullying: As unfortunate and cruel as it is cyber bullying does happen. When it does or before it happens it is important to take the right measures, to have an action plan. As I’m sure you all know bullying (online or offline) can detrimental effects on children, teens, and even adults. I wanted to point out this resource, a twitter/ online community, that is a bullying prevention campaign designed to influence social change. It is a great place to start for parents, teachers, or students. Their account @i_am_stronger posts numerous resources and influential posts. As well, there are also many ways to contact (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, email, etc.) listed on their website for anyone who is wondering what to do to take the next step in addressing a bullying situation.

Sexting: A taboo topic with startling statistics. But an important one to address. It is our job as educators and parents to talk about this topic even at a young age. With the introduction of things such as Snapchat, instant messaging, and apps a picture sent is only a click away. It is of the utmost importance that we educate our students and ourselves in the best way we know how in order to reach our students before something, like a sext is sent out.

Copyright and Plagiarism: With tools such as copy and paste on the computer copying someone else’s work is very easy to do. For some students they may not know what they are doing is plagiarism, which is why defining what is and is not is so important. For example, googling an image and copying it and pasting it somewhere else is technically illegal, even if no one came hunting you down. However, when you select the creative commons option on search engines such as Google or my now personal favorite CompFight, as long as you cite the picture it is okay to use.

Access: Who is able to get online and when they are able to use it. It is essentially the digital divide. Not all students have computers, iPads, or phones use at home. What happens when those students go home? How do those students connect at home? For some students, the only place they may be able to use technology may be at school. Which is why it is important to consider all students accessibility to the online world before assigning homework that requires an internet connection. As educators, we need to find a way to make technology accessible after school.

Etiquette: When it is appropriate to do certain things online, what to do vs. you shouldn’t do, when to use social media, etc. For example, when in the middle of a physical conversation it probably isn’t appropriate to be texting someone else at the same time.

Digital citizenship is about so much, but it cannot be accomplished without tech integration. Which is why I plan on incorporating not only the use of technology in the classroom but also digital citizenship.

Sleuthing: Take One

Sleuthing. Not a word I would have known before today. But now I do! Sleuthing is, in a technological context, basically looking up someone online and digging around to find something, or as some of the younger generation would call it, “creeping”. Anywho, for today’s blog post I will be sleuthing a fellow ECMP355 classmate, Darren Brinklow. After doing some searching on Google and Duck Duck Go I drew the following conclusions about Darren’s online presence.

Professional (job-related):

  • Science and Math Teacher at Radville Regional High School in Radville, SK
  • Science Honours at Trent University (Dean’s List) in 2011
  • Bachelor of Education at Queen’s University in 2013
  • Athletic Director at Radville Regional High School

Biographical (age, birthday, location, family, appearance, etc.):

  • Born May 4th
  • Lives in Radville, SK
  • Grew up in Warsaw, a small farming community in Southern Ontario
  • Wife (Kayla)
  • Son (that is newer to the world)
  • Physically: blonde with blue eyes

Personal (hobbies, activities, likes/dislikes, etc.):

  • High School Athletics
  • Coaching Volleyball and Track and Field
  • Enjoys playing lacrosse, hockey, and baseball
  • Enjoying working on vehicles and drag racing
  • Enjoys spending time with wife (also an educator) and son
  • Outdoorsman

Where are they on the web (Social Networks etc.):

Overall Impression:

Very professional and positive online presence. I certainly have found more activity in the creation of your online presence in the last few months, as there was not too much before then. Great progress Darren and keep up the good work for the remainder of the course!

Quite an experience sleuthing is! I can see how some people may see it as an invasion of their privacy. Hence, why it is so important nowadays to have your privacy set as you desire. In today’s world where your digital identity is forever it is crucial that we have a positive online identity both for ourselves and to set a good example for our students. As educators, it is imperative that we take the preventative measures needed to portray the digital identities we want for ourselves.



Culture of Participation

On May 25th our ECMP 355 class had a guest lecture, Dr. Alec Couros. While our class was only an hour and a half long we discussed many things to do with technology such as online presence, digital identity, and the culture of participation. I would define the culture of participation, in a technological context, as the interactions/relationships one builds through online connection/communication. Thus, this culture of participation creates community. Michael Wesch’s YouTube Video:

Throughout this video, Wesch talks about his experience with his relationships and technology. He stresses that at the center of our mediascape (which are things like YouTube, blogs, email, Facebook, Myspace, etc.) that surrounds us is in fact us. He explains that media is not content but rather media is mediating human relationships. As a result, when media changes so do human relationships. Which is where the whole idea of cultured participation comes in. The world is changing. It already has. For example, look at the advances of these technological devices below:

Change is not always bad. It is simply different. Technology has changed the way in which we participate in the world, in our culture. During Alec’s lecture, he talked about how in previous years people lived in smaller communities, shopped at local stores, or when they wanted to talk to someone you either had to physically go and see them or call them up on the telephone. It is participating in examples such as these that had created a sense of community, culture. Today, you see more people living in larger centers, driving the extra hour to go to Walmart instead of local stores, and connecting online in multiple ways. This shift from then to now has impacted the ways in which we interact with one another. Thus, how we participate in the culture of the technological age.

Now, what does this mean for future classrooms you may ask? ALOT. The possibilities are neverending from using apps that help children learn to spell and write cursive to communicate with parents and so much more! Follow me on Twitter at @kplacatka to find more information on how you can integrate technology purposefully into your classroom!

Tick Tock Goes The Clock – Exploring 1-Click Timer

bintAdam Flickr via Compfight cc

For this blog post I decided to explore 1-Click Timer. This Chrome extension is essentially a timer, but rather than reaching for your phone, googling a link to find an online timer, or physically setting a timer (as in on that you have to turn) it is only a click away once installed.

After playing around with the extension I have to say that I LOVE the actual timer. I find the guitar chords quite relaxing/calming; which is different from the regular alarm/breaking out of prison timer. I think that timer the sound it is would be a nice way to bring back students attention slowly and calming rather than stopping students abruptly and in a hurry.

One of its weaknesses would be that it doesn’t go higher than 60 minutes 😦  I would have to say its most predominant strength is that it is convenient, quick, and easy to use! But most of all very user friendly! There is also a variety of sounds to choose from which is nice. Especially if someone didn’t care for this one, however I think it’s lovely!

As for potential 1-Click-Timer has in the classroom, I would say it’s limitless. I can’t think of a time when a teacher isn’t saying five more minutes, two minutes, one minute etc. 1-Click-Timer provides a clear visual that is easy for both teachers and students to use. It’s definitely something I will be including throughout my teaching practice. I would highly recommend this to other educators! Check it out!


Tweet Tweet I hear a Tweetie Bird

When I first signed up for twitter I did so because it was a mandatory tool used at an anti-bullying conference for the campaign I Am Stronger. I used it throughout the conference but never really touched it much after. I followed the people whom I came into contact with at the time and they followed me back. Besides the few tweets that followed the conference I think I tweeted a few times in regards to the achievements of the sports teams I was a part of. Once in university I used it for a class or to, but only to contribute a tweet or two to the class conversation using the class hashtag. Needless to say, I did not use twitter to its full potential.

Claude Bélanger Flickr via Compfight cc

Once the class, ECMP 355, started I really started to dive in; partially because were supposed to be actively taking part in twitter for the class and partially because once I found out who to follow I really started to do some learning. I followed educators, educational technology accounts, and a various others in regards to education. From there I was able to find link to articles that matched my teaching philosophy and start to build a professional learning network (PLN).

Last Thursday as a class we took part in #saskedchat which is a chat on twitter that allows educators from Saskatchewan (and some from out of province) to take part in a facilitated chat where everyone communicates whiles answering a series of questions. It is quite the event to take in. Take a look at Jordan Ingola’s tweet prior to the chat for example:

While the chat goes quickly and is intense, it is something I truly enjoy. Without leaving the comfort of your home #saskedchat (and Twitter) allows you to connect with educators from all over the world! By taking part of these chats and taking time to communicate by replying, retweeting, following, etc. you are engaging in the professional development experience AND building your own PLN. I love it!

Currently I use twitter as a way to connect/communicate with other educators, share resources, as well as on a personal level. While my account @kplacatka is a personal one, I use it professionally. I do not like/share/retweet anything that is vulgar or inappropriate. However, I think it is important for students to have a teacher that models what it is like to be an engaged citizen. With that being said, teachers are human and have personal interactions. As long as those interactions aren’t harmful or hurtful in any way and portrays a positive image for all teachers then I think it is okay to have a single account. Hence, my choice to continue my personal account instead of creating a separate account for students and parents to see.

An Intro to Feedly

Feedly is a website that collects feeds (articles, journals, that type of thing) and congregates it into one location based on the type of material you personally choose to follow. Basically its like a twitter in that it has a newsfeed where you can find the latest stories of the day. You follow people or organizations that are of a particular interest to you.

Here is a screenshot of what my Feedly account looks like:

I have currently subscribed to several blogs and other education related sources such as EdTech, Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, and Teach Thought. I chose to follow these sources because through this course I want to develop my educational technology skills. One tool that I can use to learn about Educational Technology through is Feedly. By reading these types of articles it then  deepens my learning.

EdTech, for example, consists of different stories that relate to education and technology. In particular, today I read this article. Within the article the author examines different statistics that relates to low-income families and their thoughts/feelings towards technology in the classroom. Meanwhile, a different source a chose to follow, Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, is a bit different. They offer articles directly related to educational web based resources. Along with bringing mobile apps to light for both teachers and students. Overall, they are both sources that I like and will continue to follow.

The Start to a Journey in ECMP 355

The statement, “who you are” is a daunting one. If your anything like me you probably look at it and think something like, “I’m not sure” or “I know what I like to do” or “I know what my beliefs and values are”.  All of those thoughts end with the question, “do these traits make me who I am” . The truth is, I don’t really know. I think that that is something we all have to figure out on our own. Who we all are as a person is ever changing , or at least I am.

So who am I? Right now I am Kaytlyn. I am 20 years old, going to university to be a teacher, and working for a provincial park. I like art, nature, sports, and LEARNING. I believe that everyone should have the right to be treated equally regardless of socioeconomic class, gender, race, age, etc. I believe that everyone should be entitled to education, which we know everyone isn’t (even in Canada- take Shannen Koostachin for example).  I believe that everyone should have access to medical care, again which we know isn’t true for everyone (People in Canada included- take Jordan’s Principal for example).  I believe in a lot of things. However, I think the trend is clear. I am an advocate for social justice, as to what I am doing about that I am still unsure. For right now I am doing ALOT of reading and starting to share some of my knowledge – we’ll see where that takes me.

As to how I feel about blogging… this is still new to me. I started my eportfolio about two years ago. I think I’m starting to get the hang of it but I know there is still lots to learn. I believe that blogging (or rather sharing what you know in any technological format) is important because it is a tool to use to connect with people from around the world. How crazy is that? In the past five years or so I have begun to expand in regards to my knowledge of the educational technology realm. The big jump start for me started in my Ed. courses within the University of Regina’s Pre-K- Five Program. Throughout my time not only in this course, but also through my teaching career I hope to continue learning about educational technology and I think here is a pretty good place to start!

TheBetterDay Flickr via Compfight cc