Inserting Pictures, Copyright and Copyleft, and some Free Write Time!

This week on our blogs, we learned about inserting pictures, giving attribution, and we had a work period to catch up on posts and write an optional “free write post” for those that are all caught up.

We started our pictures lesson with a discussion about copyright and the creative commons. We talked about how everything is copyright by default and discussed why this is the way our society worked. We discussed Napster and I realized how long it has been since Napster was a thing as none of my Grade 9s  had even heard of the file-sharing site! We watched the first few minutes of the video of Metallica‘s Lars Ulrich speaking at the Senate Committee and discussed why he felt so passionately about his stance.

Once we had a good idea of copyright and the rules around it, we talked about copyleft and the creative commons. I showed them the different licenses that the creative commons website can help users hold and what each of the different parts means (such as non-commercial, attribution, share-alike) and why some internet users decide to allow others to use their materials. We then went looking for pictures to post!

I had all of my students use Compfight for their images and we learned out to insert an image of their choice into a blog post and use the caption area of the image to put in the photo credit. I also had students define copyright and copyleft on their posts so that I could check for understanding. When I was going over their submitted posts to publish them, however, I found that some had “copy and pasted” a definition of each of these two words into their post….I am going to have to have another conversation about using one’s own work next week, and not copying off of others.

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Screenshot of Google Images tools

I also briefly showed my students the search tools on Google Images. On this, you can search for different usage rights on images. I have used this in the past when I find that Compfight is not bringing up what I am looking for but I did stress that Compfight is a little easier as it is better stream-lined (in my opinion) and relatively user-friendly.

Once we were done images, students were able to work on their Current Event, catch up on other posts, or write about something that they were interested in. This gave me time to go around and help some students more one-on-one with using the Edublogs platform and fix up any posts that they either hadn’t submitted or that I would like them to make some edits to. I encouraged my student that, now that we know how to link to other websites and insert pictures with attribution, they should be integrating these skills into their future posts.

This week, we will be starting a research project on First Nations locations in the prairie provinces. They will be required to insert pictures into their posts and link to their sources…I can’t wait to see the results!

Making International Connections!

This week was very exciting in my Social 9 class and for my Learning Project. We have been working on making some handouts in a jigsaw activity and this week students shared them on their blogs (except one group…more on that a little later), we linked our group members’ blogs to our own, and we had a small reflection that was to be posted. I modeled how to link, and how to attach our handouts on my SMART Board and some of my students helped to support their peers one-on-one. Some of my students, such as Sydney, did an amazing job by already linking her summary to various other information in her post, some were still at a beginners level. I shared my reflection on our progress so far to Twitter and the magic happened!

I would like to send a HUGE thank you to Sue Wyatt who runs the Student Blogging Challenge on Edublogs as she went in and commented on many of my students’ blogs. Not only that, she asked questions and provided some additional information via links or videos, and she related our knowledge of First Nations culture and history in Canada with that of her home country, Australia. I am honestly not sure who was more excited, my students or myself. This was what I had hoped for when starting blogging with my students and it was happening, and a lot sooner than I had hoped for!

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via GIPHY

So this week, we replied to comments on our blogs (after a conversation that went Students: “But what do I do if someone asked me a question?”, Me: “Answer it!”), we finished up our first “true posts”, and we started our Current Events assignment for November, which I will be requiring to be posted on the blogs by November 30 (our regular due date). This upcoming week, we will be completing a Location Research Project and learning how to cite our sources for information and for images when blogging as it is different than if they are sourcing in print. We will also be commenting on our peers’ blog posts for this assignment.

I learned a few different things about using Edublogs this week that I wanted to share as well:

  • Once I have reviewed and published each post, students cannot go back in and edit it. I have the security setting set so that I have to approve all posts and comments before they are “live” and one of my groups was not quite done their handout when I published some of their posts. This is something I will have to keep in mind for the future and will be looking into maybe I just didn’t find the correct button to allow this.
  • Once I have approved a comment, students were able to respond to comments and they were published without my approval. This is something I am okay with but I will have to ensure I watch the comments while we are still learning how to be appropriate online.

I am so excited with how well this project is going and I am hoping to continue it for the entirety of the year with my class and continue into future years. Outside of my next few planned assignments, I hope to find another class that we can start to interact with. Has anyone done pen pals or blog pals? Is there a specific site that helped you find a buddy-class or do you have any suggestions on how I can get started?

Setting the Stage

This week, I have been up to a few things for my digital learning project. I started with creating a few documents to help organize my students for their upcoming units, have been working on a “Getting Started with Blogging” cheat sheet (I will post this once I have it fully tweaked the way I would like it), and have made my first post on the classroom blog.

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Screen shot of my classroom blog

I have decided that I will model how to use a blog with my students for a unit before letting them go free and have them put basic, fairly common posts initially so that they can become comfortable with the platform. I am also waiting on permission forms to come in so I cannot get rolling too fast with having them posting away until I receive a form from each student.

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Screenshot of Edublogs form to add student blogs

Today, I sat down and created blogs for each of the students in my class. It was a little of a tedious task as I had to create a username and blog URL for each student. Thankfully Edublogs has a great support page on Choosing Student Usernames, Blog URLs and Blog Titles and, with a little planning and thought on how to maintain the privacy of my students but have unique usernames, I was off! For now, if you are looking at my page, you will see their usernames/URLs on the right side bar of the post but, as we log in this upcoming week and name our blogs, this should change to be [Student name]’s Blog or Learning, that I have not quite decided upon yet. What do you think? Should this be uniform or should I allow the students to choose?

We started a jigsaw activity last week on cultural aspects of various First Nations’ groups based on their geography and students are to create a handout on their region in our next class. Once these are complete, they will be posted on the classroom blog, I can’t wait to see how they do, they were already excited and talking about how their product will look!

I would love to hear your thoughts on the theme I chose, the layout, or anything else!

Digital Identity and Schools

We were asked this week to talk about one of a few different things and of the list, I chose Digital Identity. I chose digital identity because I feel like it relates to my learning project as it will be a topic that I discuss with my students while we are blogging and considering when we are presenting ourselves online.

Maintaining your digital identity is a complex task. This has a lot to do with the ability to take things from the internet and claim them as your own along with the fact that once it is online, there is no way to take it back and it will always be documented on the internet.

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Photo Credit: Oliver Dunkley Flickr via Compfight cc

When I look at my digital identity, some of the things that I do to manage it is to do regular checks of my security settings on my various social media accounts as well as mediate and go on what I call an “unfriending spree”. I go through those who have the most open access to my accounts every 2-3 months and consider if they still need to be my friend or connection on my social media account and often unfriend quite a few people every time I do this. I have also become more selective on who I will be connected to.

Not only do I limit and restrict who has access to me on certain accounts, I also censor what I share, like, and comment on. I recognize that every time I engage with certain content online, others online are able to see what I have engaged with. When I go to share a video, like a photo, or comment on someone’s status, I always take a moment to consider how this will affect me as a teacher if someone sees it, can it be “used against me” in some way? That teacher hat never comes off and therefore I need to ensure that I am always acting “on duty”. I also have to consider my division’s procedure for Use of Social Media.

When talking with students, or when I see students interacting on various forms of social media, I try to share the risks of sharing online. My division has a policy on what students are allowed to share and I have dealt with some issues of inappropriate use of social media as an acting administrator in my building but I feel that more needs to be done in order to help students understand the effects of them sharing personal information online. This is part of the reason why I have chosen my major project to involve interacting online through blogs. The blogs will allow me to bring digital citizenship and some of the laws and regulations of sharing images, photos, and the work of others into the classroom in a real and applicable manner where they may demonstrate more “buy-in” to the ideas of being a citizen of the digital world and not just someone who uses it.

Do you have personal rules or procedures you use to ensure the security and appropriateness of your social media accounts? Do you add your students (current or past)? Does your division have a policy around social media that you are required or recommended to follow?

Blogging about Blogs

So I have been spending some time plotting the implementation of my major project. I started by looking at my goals and then seeing what tools I have available through the software on my school computers. We have access to laptops, desktops, and iPads and, in looking at the programs installed, I have access to various web browsers and Zoom to help my students contact experts. I have also found an expert. I still need to organize and arrange but, at a meeting I attended as Career Counsellor, an anthropology professor stated he would love to talk to high school students. I want to figure out more of a timeline before I contact him about “Zoom”-ing into our class but I hope to arrange a conversation.

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via Zoom

I have also started to set up blog accounts. I decided to go with Edublogs as it is based on WordPress but allows me to approve all comments, at least until my students get the hang of things. I have also sent home a parent information letter explaining how I will be using blogs in the classroom. I can’t wait until I can start setting up the blogs!

 

Open Education: To use or not to use, THAT is the question!

This week, we were asked to think about the consequences and complexities of learning “in the open”. This is something that I have often debated and dabbled in throughout my teaching career and I am excited to be jumping in to a space where I am a little more comfortable with implementing open learning in my classroom.

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How integrating open education has gone for me thus far… via GIPHY

I have seen student blogs done well, I remember taking ECMP 355 (I think that was the number) with Alec in my undergrad studies and commenting on the student blogs of a Calculus class, asking questions and encouraging the students writing them to think outside of the box and, ever since then, I imagined a classroom where I would do the same. In reality, I struggled with access to technology, bandwidth, and student and community support in implementing blogs. I also had to grapple with an experience that many of my students had where using blogs was not as well planned as it could have been and they had a “sour taste in their mouths” about the process.

What are the best possible outcomes of having students share their work with the greater world? I can’t even brush the surface of the benefits! Having students be advocates in their own learning, asking questions, and making connections to experts or others that are interested in a topic are just a start. In taking students to Europe on a tour of World War sites, I had the opportunity to invite a Holocaust survivor to Skype into our classroom and share her story. As a group, we had read her two books on the experiences she had at Theresienstadt, a concentration camp, and we arranged a question and answer period with her during the school day. To top it off, she happened to come to Regina and we were able to take some students to meet her face to face. The learning that those students experienced could never be replicated by me talking, them reading or us watching a video. What if every student could connect to an “expert” or someone who has spent their lifetime investing in a particular hobby and learn from that person? What if they could ask their questions to someone who was present at an event? This may not be plausible for all situations but there are many where an expert can take a lesson from “blah” to amazing in no time at all!

What about the dangerous side of the internet? The side that may harm our students? I agree with Nam that our students are vulnerable and we need to understand that there are those online that do wish them harm. Some of them (or their parents) may value their privacy of not being on the internet, such as Joe mentioned in his blog. Not only do we need to be aware of those who may try to physically harm our students, we need to be aware of trolls and cyber-bullying, not just from the outside but from inside our classroom as well. The key to supporting our students is to ensure that we start their “open education” with digital citizenship.

Digital citizenship encompasses all the ways that we interact with others, either actively (commenting, posting, sharing) or passively (viewing) online. Coralee found a great image that describes the aspects of digital citizenship below.

9 Elements of Digital Citizenship

Photo credit: http://www.fractuslearning.com and Coralee‘s post.

By ensuring our students have a deep understanding of what it means to be a digital citizen, we are teaching them how to interact and how to protect themselves online. It is not enough to teach students the aspects of digital citizenship, teachers need to model this and hold true to their teachings, not being afraid to talk about the repercussions of those that were not acting safely and encourage conversation about issues such as cyber-bullying and how to prevent it.

Overall, is having our students learn in the open worth it? I would answer a definite yes. Not all teachers may feel comfortable with using open education at young ages but, in looking at educators such as Kathy Cassidy, with the right framework and planning, I think that it is always doable. I think the key is to start slow and gradually add to your reptoire of teaching tools.

Have you integrated different types of open education in your classroom? What types of activities have you used? Let me know!