Cyberbullying in the 21st Century Classroom

Cyberbullying is an issue that effects all members of the 21st century learning environment. Students struggle with peer interactions that allow communication 24/7, whether positive or negative. Educators struggle to keep up with ever-changing social networks and manage behaviors that are happening outside of the school day. Parents struggle with allowing students to participate in online networks while teaching them to be safe and smart digital consumers and producers. Fortunately, there are a great number of resources available to guide educators and parents to creating a new generation of smart digital citizens.

Check out this VoiceThread I created to address the topic and its effect on 21st century learners, and my DIIGO list of resources I collected while researching. Digital communication can open doors for students, and with the right instruction they can see the internet as a bully free zone!

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Where in the World?

Using Mapping Tools to Enhance Social Studies Instruction

Engaging 21st century learners can be a challenge for teachers today. I explored and reviewed several map tools to evaluate their possibilities for classroom use. My favorite of the group was Google’s My Maps.

I used this digital tool to create a Social Studies review activity for my first grade students. As part of our second Social Studies Unit, students must:

  • Use geographic tools to locate and describe places on Earth.
  • Describe places in the environment using geographic characteristics.
  • Explain how transportation and communication link people and places by the movement of goods, messages, and people.
  • Describe economic choices people make about goods and services.
  • Describe the production process.
  • Describe types of markets in the community.
  • Describe how goods and services are acquired.

From a media perspective, this map activity also allows students to work on these AASL Standards (among others!):

2.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information.
2.1.5 Collaborate with others to exchange ideas, develop new understandings, make decisions, and solve problems.

I plan to use this map to review and make connections between Social Studies concepts near the end of our unit. Students will have built prior knowledge of map skills using atlases and globes, they will have an understanding of goods and services vocabulary, production processes, and how transportation makes our neighborhood markets possible! Check it out here! 

Google My Maps was ideal for the creation of this activity, because it allows students to share their knowledge of our Social Studies concepts while making connections to their own neighborhood and businesses they visit. It also allows students to build digital map literacy: I plan to model with the starting point (at PRE) for the group, and then allow students to check out the other dropped pins in small groups to facilitate review discussions. Students can also use the “Draw a Line” tool to map out routes to the pins I’ve selected, or to a location of their own choice. Students can differentiate this tool for themselves easily using the map features: they can zoom in or out for better viewing, or view the points in a list to ensure that they’ve seen them all. I selected the map privacy setting as “Anyone who has the link can view.” This allows students to navigate freely, but not make any permanent changes. When sharing with other teachers (before or after students have access), I would switch it using Google’s Collaborate feature: I can share so others have access to view and edit when I share the link. The possibilities for editing and expanding my game are endless!

Though I would like to expand this project to student production, I’m not sure I would try it out with first graders. I could easily adapt my tool to meet third or fourth grade indicators, however. Google’s My Maps was easy to navigate and fun to explore. I think older students could easily create their own model of their neighborhood and create their own pins to demonstrate their new learning. Thanks to the Collaborate feature, the student sharing possibilities are also exciting. Groups could split responsibilities for creating and personalizing a more advanced map.

Google My Maps allows educators to create and share maps that are motivating and engaging to students while being incredibly user-friendly. There are so many possibilities for this great digital tool! Enjoy exploring the world of maps!

An Education in Elementary, Middle, and High School Bloggers

Education blogs are everywhere! I had already explored many primary -specific blogs thanks to Pinterest before this class, but was looking forward to the task of expanding my range for my future in media. These bloggers were a great introduction to their varying grade levels- check them out for yourself!

I chose to highlight Teaching is Elementary as my elementary education blog thanks to author Nancy Carroll’s enthusiasm for technology. I was originally drawn in by her eye-catching Glogsters. She has linked to one on her “About Me” and she shares both teacher and student-created Glogsters on her Favorite Resources page.  This mix of shared work is consistent throughout the blog and is incredibly helpful as Carroll explains her projects. She is able to give tips as she explains how she incorporates each tool and also shows photos of students at work and a finished product in most of her posts.

I think this mix of work widens the possibilities for use! I could share the student work samples as examples for my own students. Carroll also includes many other professional resources that would be helpful tools for colleagues. As I worked on my own project, I found Carroll’s link to her “Begin2Blog” site on the My Other Websites tab to be a great resource; one that I’d happily share with teachers as an encouragement to get started in the blogging world.

I also found lots of resources that I can start using right away (one of the staples for me when deciding to follow a blog)! I currently use SCOOT games in my classroom of first graders, so this post was a great, timely resource. I also appreciate the link to TeachersPayTeachers, a site that I’ve found incredibly user-friendly. Having bloggers like Carroll recommend tools like these that they’ve already used is a great time saver that keeps me coming back to check on their posts regularly!

Making It As a Middle School Teacher was my first exploration into the middle school level of blogging. Although author Michelle Lundy does not post as regularly as some of the other bloggers I follow, her posts are very good at pulling in resources from other educators. This one allowed me to get to know some other middle school specific blogs with convenient click throughs.

I also appreciated the system she uses to organize her posts by subject. Math, Science and Social Studies each have their own tab full of projects she’s tried out in her own classroom. This post pulls in a math topic, a kickstarter promotion, and a give-away! Lundy’s organized set up allows the extras like the give-aways and links to other blogs to be helpful additions rather than distractions. Plus, who doesn’t love a giveaway contest?

Within these sections, there are also many resources that could be adapted for sharing with a wider audience. I browsed her Social Studies section and found an idea that could be applied to any grade level, and really any subject: part of her Thrifty Thursday theme. Ideas that everyone can use are easy to share in a newsletter format. I’d eagerly include a link to Lundy’s blog in a suggestion or tip newsletter to my future colleagues!

My final feat in blog exploration was a high school level blog: the area farthest from my own experience. I found Nicholas Provenzano’s blog The Nerdy Teacher to be an educational and entertaining read! Provenzano currently teaches and works as a technology education consultant, but his posts vary on everything from designing your classroom’s physical space to reviewing professional conferences he attends.

This post reminded me of our digital footprint conversations in our class discussion boards. We’ve all been brainstorming ways to create strong digital footprints for ourselves, and with this post Provenzano shares a hobby, creates a hashtag, and creates some positive buzz about an event he’s participating in! I am still working on ways to add personal touches to my digital footprint in professional ways, and this post inspired me to share some of my running experiences!

In addition to making connections to our classwork, I was able to connect Provenzano’s posts to current conversations I’m having with fellow educators. The education field is buzzing right now with the idea of incorporating technology in the classroom, so this post that shares a clip from Provenzano’s YouTube channel would be something that could provide more information for curious teachers, or give some perspective to teachers who are unsure of where they stand on all of the possibilities of technology in learning environments.

Educator blogs are everywhere, and the more I read, the more I’m inspired to add to my own blog! Is a YouTube channel in my future? Will I be hosting my own “linky party” sometime soon? I still have a lot to learn- but getting to know these educators through their blogs has certainly motivated me to improve my own!

Getting Lost in Library Blogs

As part of our immersion into the blog world, our first assignment is to get to know some librarian and educator blogs. The biggest challenge here was narrowing my selection down from the overwhelming amount of awesome library blogs that are out there! These three ladies made the top of my list right now, but my favorites are always changing!

The Daring Librarian blog is the work of Gwyneth Jones, a technology-teaching librarian with a talent for hilarious info-comics. I found myself easily lost in the visual appeal of her blog, and did some research on her About Me page to discover that her visual presentation skills are thanks to a career switch: she came to technology teaching after leaving a career in advertising…I’m sold!

I also enjoyed exploring Jones’s page because of how easily I connected to her posts. With our discussions of digital footprints, I’ve been on the lookout for ways to find myself online. I read through this post from the Daring Librarian on how to tell if your image is being used without your knowledge. Posts such as this one are where Jones’s teaching skills shine. In this post alone, she provided screenshots for how-to, detailed list format instructions, and also lots of fun (for example, the Urban Dictionary definition of “catfishing”).

In our assigned reading for class, Willmer’s article, “Managing Your Digital Footprint,” he suggests frequently reviewing your digital footprint to ensure that you know how you are being presented online. Manti Te’o’s story is a great tie-in for students who have heard his story and are curious about their own online image safety. Jones’s site had many more posts that could be helpful for students looking to become savvy digital citizens: I explored Identify Fake Profiles on Facebook, and How to tell if “shark in flooded city streets after storm” photo is fake in 5 easy steps and I found myself laughing as much as I was learning! I think this is the real beauty of Jones’ blog: it will have real entertainment appeal to students and fellow educators while still teaching them something: and that’s a motivating combination for anyone!

The second blog I explored was The Unquiet Librarian : the work of Buffy Hamilton. Hamilton’s blog immediately appealed to me based on the heavy amount of student work I saw. This post is another tie in to our digital footprint discussions: I was always told that sharing student images, videos or quotes was a big “no.” Hamilton’s blog was full of professional, appropriate student work that was completely engaging. I could see myself sharing the work her students were doing to relate to a specific project in my own media center, or as an example of a strong digital footprint: these students were sharing something they were enthusiastic about in a fun and safe way.

I also found Hamilton’s posts to be an inspiration professionally. She is awesome at providing an “inside look” at the conferences or other professional organizations she is involved in, and most of her posts provide direct advice for current specialists. This post  gave me hope for teaching future generations to manage the citation challenge. Seeing Hamilton’s strategies for “everyday” problems such as citation is just as helpful to me as a beginning librarian as her work on all of the exciting “extra” projects. I’ll definitely be coming back to her blog for updates in the future!

My next stop was The Adventures of Library Girl by Jennifer LaGarde. LaGarde is a teacher librarian who works as an “Educator on Loan” for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This was a position I’ve never heard of before, but one that sounds truly awesome! Basically, LaGarde travels around the state and acts a voice for all ways educators can improve their classrooms using media resources.  LaGarde’s blog appealed to me because of her rich social media presence. I recognized her name and face from Twitter explorations I’ve done in the past and was pleased to find that the blog lived up to her reputation! The first post I explored was on designing physical space in a media center. Setting up the physical space of a learning environment has always been a highlight of teaching for me (preparing for students in early August is such an exciting time of the year) but I appreciated LaGarde’s practical advice for making media space meaningful. I’m envisioning my future media center now… 🙂

This post and others like it (check out this post on creating a BYOD environment) led me to think of LaGarde’s blog as a resource to share with colleagues and other teachers rather than one to share with students. Her posts are easy to read and provide real suggestions for use of media tools. I would love to share a post from this blog as a way to persuade teachers to try out something new or include links to LaGarde’s posts in some sort of newsletter or tech tips as a way to give teachers more information about a topic. Similar to Jones from The Daring Librarian, LaGarde has a knack for creating infographics that are much more succinct (and fun!) than any faculty meeting handout I’ve ever received. I would feel very comfortable directing colleagues to her site- it’s easy to navigate and full of great information for all educators!

As I said before, these three are only the beginning of library blogs for me. I discover and follow new blogs all the time. They are the best source of information and inspiration I’ve found yet! The opportunity to get to know these specialists and get a glimpse into their media centers through the exciting world of blogging is a beautiful second best to visiting them in person. I’ll be eagerly awaiting their next posts!

References:

Willmer, Dave. “Managing Your Digital Footprint.” T + D June (2009): 84-85. Print