Friday, July 6, 2012

Avoiding Cyberbullying

In today's digital era people are more susceptible to being harassed, victimized or otherwise affected by certain individuals through digital means. It is important not only to understand what it is but how is being used against kids. As parents and educators, the need to work together is paramount in stopping Cyberbullying and keeping our kids safe. 

What is Cyberbullying? 

Cyberbullying is defined as “actions that use information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm another or others”. This can be done through using the Internet and building websites or starting discussion groups that are completely aimed at harming other people. The same can be true through the use of texting or instant messaging as well as using social networking groups such as Facebook or Twitter. What comes from these sources is deliberately meant to put down, control, intimidate, de-face, and discredit individuals that they may or may not even know. It is scary either way! Either it is someone with whom you are direct contact or someone you may even call a friend. Worse still, it could be a stranger that has found you online through any number of media connections and targeted you for the express reason of doing you harm through the same technology. What ever the reason and from whatever the source, parents, students and teachers need to know what they can personally do to stop it or hopefully even prevent it. 

Why should we care? 

In most cases people tend to think this won’t happen to me. Why bother educating myself or my child on something that doesn’t affect us? The fact is, it can happen to anyone at anytime and without the proper education you won’t know what to do. With a little foresight you may even of been able to prevent it or maybe you or your child is doing it right now but don’t even know it because you don’t truly understand what Cyberbullying is or how the way you are using the digital technology available may be harming another. 

Tips for students and parents


1. Don’t engage in or support mean material, gossip, or rumors posted online, or talk about it at school. 
2. Be supportive of classmates or friends that are being bullied online by posting positive comments and encouraging words. 
3. If you have the proof that someone or yourself is being targeted, make a copy and tell a teacher or a parent. 
4. If you know the person that is doing it and you feel safe and comfortable in doing so, confront them and let them know what they are doing is wrong and that it is harming the person(s) involved. 
5. Take personal responsibility in what you are posting yourself and really take a look at what you post before you post it. 


1. Communicate with your child to help them understand what Cyberbullying is and about Internet safety and the appropriate use of technology. 
2. Do onto others as you would have them do to you does not apply to person-to-person communication; it applies to digital space as well. 
3. Set family guidelines when it comes to the use of Internet or their cell phones if they have one. 
4. Build your communication with your child that gives them the confidence to come to you and report any occurrence they have seen of bullying towards themselves or anyone else.

Resource links

Here are several website links that can help with general education on Cyberbullying with ways you can begin to help educate yourself, your child or student on how to deal with or prevent these issues.

Activities to help with starting dialogue and educating teens can be found at the Cyberbullying Research Center.

Get help if you need it through this site.

To aid in stopping or preventing Cyberbullying.

This is an ABC family movie on dealing with Cyberbullying:

High risk behaviors including dealing with online bullying at Parent Further, a Search institute resource for families:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Technology of Choice - Creating Comics for Education

 Creating comic strips through online programs are a great way to depict educational topics, news events or historical characters, really anything that you want to tell a story about.  You could also use it show timelines, depict historical events and do character or plot analysis, all in a comic strip format.  This is a great tool for teachers and students because it engages the students and allows them to use their own creativity, works on their writing skills and hones their navigational ability through an online source/program.

 Image used from

Teachers can easily instruct students on the layout and how to drag and drop, characters, add text and make creative changes. This type of tool not only is a way o share educational topics but can also be used to help kids understand situations such as bullying and how it can be handled properly.  It brings students together in a collaborative effort all while making it fun and engaging.  The best place to find information on these types of programs is at: create-your-own-comics, which is a site that gives you 6 different locations that give you the ability to make comics for free.

Note:  There is a sliding scale on how easy some of these programs are and picking the right one for the grade level you are teaching will be up to your own personal assessment of the students.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Wanna Know How to Fix the Schools? Ask a Student!

This article encompasses more than just the profile of one student; it embodies the belief that we need to be listening more to kids.  There is a difference between listening and hearing and Michael DeMattia speaks out on behalf of fellow students.  He runs the mobile devices program for his school and sees first hand what it means to his fellow students.  Trust was one of the key components of this article and the use of restrictions and filters when it came to using the Internet.  As he puts it, kids are no different than adults in that they don’t want or need someone looking over their shoulder.  He uses a great analogy when it comes to technology and teachers reluctance to embrace it; “you need to fill the pool up and patch it as you go.”  Unless you give it a try, how will you know what you can or cannot do?

I’ve seen many teachers over the span of my education that talked at kids instead of to them.  While looking at my own teaching style I will try to find a way to do the later.  The Internet and the technology that is seen today was not around when I first went thru school and as things change you have to be willing to change with it or fall behind.  That especially rings true when it comes to utilizing new technology within education.  Seeing how technology can help you reach the children of tomorrow can only be achieved by actually trying it out.  If it doesn’t work try something else or do it a differently.  I read a great article recently that ended with, “Learn to fail or fail to learn” and I think it speaks volumes when applied to using technology in teaching.  I will be implementing both these types of practices when teaching and actually talking with the students about what is working or not working can be a great resource.

This article models part of the NETS-T number 1 by promoting open communication collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students.  We are together in this process and if we allow our students to see that and believe it, maybe then it can become truly a collaborative effort in the thinking, planning and creative process of education.

Fingal, Diana (August  2011).  Copyright:  Wanna Know How to Fix the Schools? Ask a Student!  Learning and Leading with Technology, 39 46.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

PLN Reflection

What is a PLN?   PLN is an acronym for Personal Learning Network and began with basic email communication in the early 80’s until the 90’s when the Internet was accessible for information gathering and mass communication.  Now, in this new century, it has grown in astronomical proportions in which people can socialize, access information on almost any topic or build communities in which to learn and share information on topics such as how students learn or even ways to become a better teacher. While learning and creating my own PLN I have had to define what I wanted to learn and how I could share the information obtained through new digital media with my students of the future.  As an educator I will be able to use many digital tools such as RSS feeds, Diggo, Twitter, Classroom 2.0, Promethean Planet and even my own Blog, to obtain and disseminate information to peers, students and parents, in new and educational ways.  It will continue to help me grow as a life long learner and in turn transcend information into the classroom by incorporating new ideas with new ways to teach or share them.  I have already read and seen many interesting blogs, tweets and videos that will aid in my future teachings.

In order to streamline information to me, I use RSS feeds from such sites as Education World, KPBS News: Education and Discovery News, to keep up to date on news about education in the classroom and how it affects us globally.  For example, I get updates about classroom organizational tips or gaining insight about what can be gained by offering choices to students.  In Discovery News I get access to scientific discoveries about unprecedented blooms of ocean plant life and how that could affect people around the world. 

By using Twitter I can further my reach but in a quicker way, sharing tidbits or links to websites.  These can then be saved in social bookmarking sites such as Diigo to share with individuals or groups that share a common interest.  In my opinion Twitter is just a fast way to reach a lot of people globally to get the ball rolling to find information on a particular subject.  It is also a great place to help others by sharing the knowledge I have or gained through other networking arenas so they can grow and share, basically pay-it-forward.  Currently, I am following Education Week that gives me a unique insight into some of the major issues and solutions that are happening with education throughout the country.   Oceana sends me wonderful “tweets” on the latest news that is affecting our oceans, which also incorporates policy and science.  I think through following both of these sites I will be better suited to educate my students by keeping up to date on current and ongoing issues.

Diigo I have found to be a great resource for compiling large amounts of information gained over the Internet.  I am able to bookmark any sight into my own library or share it with other groups I have formed.   It’s basically a hub that you can fill on the fly and access later to look for the information you need.  It has several tools for highlighting and making descriptive notes or TAGs that others can use.  I will definitely be using this in the class as not only a research tool but also a means for social networking and collaboration on projects that students can do together. 

Using classroom 2.0 or Promethean Planet is another great way to build your PLN through social networking sites for educators, which connects teachers with common interests or needs.  It is an area where you can share and discuss hot topics in forums, share videos or blogs and even form groups for cooperative learning through online activities, even attend a conference if you can’t make it in person.   I have subscribed to Classroom 2.0 and through it researched blogs and videos on building your own network.  Being new to PLN’s I need help in the understanding of how all the resources available can be used together to build such a network and to clarify what resources I want to use and be a part of.  The video I watched had great insight on how all these tools can be used and managed once streamlined and linked together.  She explained twitter in greater detail and helped me further understand how it can be helpful in filtering the useful information from all the extraneous information that is flowing through the Internet.  I also found Promethean Planet, which is an interactive whiteboard community that was created “by teachers, for teachers”.  With no effort at all I found a great article on how to teach the scientific method to kids in High School.  Within the same location there is what they call the teachers lounge which has great resources for all levels of education but for me, has much more resource for science teachers than I have seen else where.  I’m still exploring all it has to offer and will share what I find in future posts.

Being a relative newcomer to the world of PLN’s and social networking, it has been difficult in the beginning to understand how it can benefit me now or even in the future.  After countless hours of reading blogs and watching videos, I have started to truly understand and appreciate how these tools can benefit my students’ and me in today’s digital era.  It puts specific areas of information of my choosing at the tips of my fingers in a manner that gives me the control I need to organize and share it.  The key is to figure out what tools you want, more importantly that you have the time to use and maintain them all.  It seems with all the social media out there, that everyone just joins to extend their networking range.  I think the opposite is a better way to go.  Start with a couple of key areas, grow a network that you can learn from and contribute to, then expand into new areas when you can or need to.  It will be interesting to see how my PLN grows and contributes to my learning and teaching over the coming year.  I will share updates to my growth, good or bad, as I move forward.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Reading Redefined for a Transmedia Universe

The idea that in today's digital world there is little need to actually carry books anymore is not only interesting to think about but becoming the norm.  What is considered reading? Does it only involve the written word or does it more encompass additional stimuli such as graphics, interactive displays, audio or motion.  It also makes us re-define what is considered a book.  We know that today books are displayed through digital means but what about additional artifacts.  Does it even need to have pages, be linear or kaotic?  Just a few differing thoughts brought up in this article by Anette Lamb.   A book now is considered to be a published collection of related pages or screens.  It's interesting to see how reading through an e-book could be so appealing today.  It gives readers control over the way it is presented, changing font size and text, background color or even the entire layout.  Within the "book" itself you can hear audio having words pronounced aloud,  glossary of terms or even hyperlinks to other texts, images or video is useful for all ages but has even more of an impact on English Language learners.

Having a multitude of resources to choose from when it comes to educating our children seems to have no limits in the digital age.  Through the use of e-books, interactive video lessons or assisted programs using different Technology tools, kids have more resources than ever before.  The trick is to make sure that with all these bells and whistles that kids don't get distracted and off topic and actually take away from their learning experience rather that contribute to it.  I think whatever the media, any way to get kids excited about reading or learning would be considered a good thing.  Since not all children have the same resources we need to be cognisant of that fact and be sensitive to the individual needs of each child.

As Lamb talks about, as kids catch up with the possibilities of what the digital age can do for them with regards to reading ad learning, teachers will be exploring ways to use the same technology to inspire their desire to learn.  Within the ability to get and read books online teachers and students alike need to take great care in knowing where the information is coming from.  In doing so meeting NETS-S standard number 5 engaging in professional growth and leadership.

Lamb, Anette (November 2011).  Copyright: Reading Redefined for a Transmedia Universe. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39 13-15.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Students Strike Gold with Bowling Alley Webpage

This article, written by Tasha Candela, was a great representation of the incorporation and implementation of the NETS standards and their application in the classroom.  Her thoughts were that in today’s world, having a web presence and standing out is a way to separate you from the rest of the world.  She is a teacher of an advanced web design class and asked students to create a website for the local bowling alley.  She had them apply the knowledge they had learned so far, such as HTML, CSS and Photoshop and present a finished website to the owner by the end of semester.  She allocated 35 hours or 13 class periods to complete their project.  In preparing for this project she used the NETS standards as her guide.

As a future educator I can see how applying these standards while preparing for projects can ensure that students get the full experience and walk away with a well-rounded education and experience.  Building a website, first allows kids to be creative and innovative using digital tools and resources.  Working in pairs she was able to form a collaborative effort between students building on their personal excitement and creativity.  Further more, she used a business that was close to school that the kids new about and could relate to, making gathering resources more accessible and easier to access.  In the process of taking a project of this magnitude, students inevitably wood face many challenges.  These hurdles made students use problem solving techniques as well as decision-making skills needed to successfully finish their project. Finally, throughout the process she taught the students about copyright laws, plagiarism and Internet safety and felt it was “imperative to model understanding of social, ethical and legal issues and responsibilities related to digital culture”.

As per this article, the project Candela put forth for her student really met all the NETS-T standards.  It is quite interesting to see how a project at the higher grade levels and one with such magnitude and scope can truly encompass education in this digital age.

Candela, Tasha (February 2012). Copyright: Students Strike Gold with Bowling Alley Webpage. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(5 40-41.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Copyright: Do it Right the First Time

In digital times, infringement of copyright has been easier to break than ever before.  Songs, music, photos and art are all online an available for anyone to grab.  This article makes a great point about how if we are to afraid of breaking these copyright laws we can stifle the creativity of students and disallowing the collaboration use of all the media that is available.  Sum educators believe that if it is used under the name of education than everything is fair game.  Both are misleading but understanding what copyright is and how we can collaborate using the technology legally is the first step in helping our students get creative the right way.

Copyright law protects the Constitutional rights of citizens giving them exclusive rights to their prospective works whether it be an artist, writer or inventor.  It prevents one from reproducing, playing, distributing or slightly altering the original form of that work.  It is a common miss belief that if you are using it for personal or educational use than it is ok.  Using even a copyrighted sound for personal use or a school project would be considered a violation of copyright law.  Wells shares a great story about a class project that where students used original soundtracks in a history video that was originally intended for the classroom only.  The video was so good it ended up on local television and was immediately shut down do to copyright violations.  If he had a better understanding of copyright laws he could have educated his students on how and where they could obtain and license the media they needed or wanted without breaking these same laws.  His research led him to Creative Commons allows you to create your own license and where the Artists have already given their express permission to use their work as long as credit is given.  Sites where you can find these works include, Google Images and Flicker and students can use the digital resources found there to create the project they are working on.

This article is just another example of NETS-S standard number 5 for students.  It not only advocates for the safe and responsible use of information and technology but implements a positive attitude towards using that technology as well.  In addition, it supports collaboration within the school and students that promotes personal growth in learning and responsibility within the technology itself.

Wells, David (May 2012). Copyright: Do it Right the First Time. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(7) 35-36.

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