Social Media Policies

In an ever-growing world full of bureaucracy, sometimes we tend to question if all the rules, guidelines, and policies are really necessary. However, when we take a second to think about WHY they are in place, a great deal of clarity and understanding emerges, and hopefully, this appears before we do anything to harm ourselves or, in this case, our digital selves.

In examining how to create a set of guidelines for educational social media use, I have created the set of online parameters given below to use within secondary classrooms.

 

Due to the vastness and availability of the Internet and social media tools, students can reach a broader audience, which entails responsibility from all users. Students in the classroom should adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Students participating in the district’s 1:1 Initiative are responsible for their online behavior and must comply with the Student Handbook, Code of Conduct, and the Internet Acceptable Use Policy.
  2. Be respectful and responsible when online. Please follow appropriate netiquette guidelines.
  3. Present your best social media presence by posting thoughtfully. Be positive nd avoid posting disparaging, discriminatory, or confrontational remarks/behaviors.
  4. Adopt and maintain careful privacy settings for all your social media accounts. Be sure to review and adjust accordingly on a regular basis.
  5. Respect classroom instruction time and do not access social media for personal reasons during school hours unless directed otherwise.
  6. Practice online safety. Do not share your personal information or passwords with others through social media posts or messaging.
  7. Follow copyright rules. Verify that images and content are designated as permissible for your purposes, and please be sure that any images or content you choose to use are properly attributed to avoid plagiarism.
  8. Avoid content on social media that promotes profane, obscene, illegal, violent, or dangerous activity. If you mistakenly access inappropriate material, immediately report it to your teacher.
  9. Think before posting on social networks. Digital footprints last, so be mindful of your online habits.
  10. Remember that you are representing yourself, the school, and the district. Present yourself as capable, resourceful, and supportive through all social media channels used for educational purposes.

 

Remember that access to technology resources in the classroom are a privilege, not a right, and they may revoked if abused.

 

Guidelines are necessary and seemingly ubiquitous, but often we take for granted the process of creating them. It is an involved process requiring the consideration of an organization’s culture, needs, and future direction coupled with feedback from stakeholders.

This list would serve students for the entirety of their secondary years, but before implementing any new set of rules in a public setting, it would be wise to seek feedback and input from all stakeholders involved. Often one person can consider many angles, but just asking one person is rather shortsighted. Asking others who may be affected is not only an effective strategy, but it can bring issues or aspects to light that had not been previously considered. In this case, I would seek input from faculty, administrators, parents, and a selection of students. It would be very easy to gain input from either a survey tool for easy data analytics, but I would also like to gather a few persons involved in providing this data for a focus group-style meeting to discuss the wording as well as the way to implement them for the new year.

Bibliography:

11 Sample Education BYOT Policies To Help You Create Your Own. (2017, July 6). from http://www.teachthought.com/uncategorized/11-sample-education-byot-policies-to-help-you-create-your-own/

Anderson, S. (n.d.). How to create social media guidelines for your school. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/edutopia-anderson-social-media-guidelines.pdf

Athens City Schools. (n.d.). Digital citizenship. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://www.acs-k12.org/Page/480

Just-in-Time PD

Professional Development (PD)…two words that can trigger frustration and eye rolls among working adults. This is not to say that PD has nothing to offer but rather that PD is often doled out in a one-size-fits-all fashion. We all have our own unique situations, skills sets, and issues, so, often, PD tends to become monotonous and irrelevant, making it feel like a waste of time.

However, technology has brought forth a way to relieve this negativity. Many professionals are utilizing webinars and social networking sites like Twitter to engage in more meaningful and relevant PD conversations, while also expanding their professional learning networks.

Over the past three weeks, I “attended” and participated in four live webinars and four Twitter chats of my choosing. (see table)

Webinars Twitter Chats
The Intersection of Design Thinking & Leadership #engagechat
ISTE 2018: The Game Plan of What You Can’t Miss #flipgridfever
Project-Based Learning with Agile Project Management #21stedchat
Why Are We Learning This? Strategies to Help Students Find Relevance in School Work #aplitchat

Interestingly enough, the topics suited a broad audience of professionals from all over the country and even internationally. It is an interesting dynamic that online PD presents…almost paradoxical. Face-to-face PD delivered to such a broad audience can sometimes fall flat or seem irrelevant due to the lack of contextual examples or applications of the content; however, the online sessions delivered to us affords this same broad audience the opportunity to be comfortable, to interact with one another, and to share personal experiences without being “disruptive” or monopolizing the time allotted for the training. One major difference is that participants in these “just-in-time” sessions, such as webinars and chats, choose to be present (even in pjs) and are allowed to interact as little or as much as desired. Their feedback and input is valued and adds to the richness of the conversation.

During my webinar and chat sessions, I started out by making my presence known through introductions, answering moderator questions, and gradually built up to sharing personal experiences. I have made some new connections with teachers within my content area, and I look forward to collaborating with them and sharing ideas. I gained a better sense of professional community by seeking out what best worked for me. As selfish as this may sound, when we seek out solutions and ideas for our personal gain, we strengthen our skills much more than any prescribed “sit and get” session. Moreover, the convenience of the real-time sessions were flexible and plentiful, so I felt more comfortable in choosing what would best “work” for me and, in turn, serve my students best. I foresee many more online PD sessions in y future, but I would also like to see a wider acceptance of this form of PD from employers in lieu of the traditional and often mandatory sessions. Whether tangible credit will be accepted as such is still unknown, I will continue to seek out new and engaging ways to prepare my current and future classes.

“Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.” — Bruce Lee

All different, and yet the same…

Our daily immersion in the digital world is often taken for granted. Sometimes we really don’t see how much we have taken in and learned, whether inadvertently or purposefully, until we take a step back and reflect upon it. As we focused upon our personal learning environments (PLEs) this week, I was astonished at how mine has grown over time. I began by making a list of the technology tools I have used over the past year or two, and it included far more than ten. In fact, my final diagram included 25, but this was after eliminating tools and technologies I do not use very often.

I chose to utilize the 4 Cs model: Create, Collaborate, Collect, and Communicate. As I tried to categorize my tools, I found that the majority of my go-to resources fit into multiple categories. With this in mind, I felt the best way to illustrate my PLE growth was a tree. In essence, I feel that my use of digital resources are all solidly rooted in the 4 Cs, and all of my growth has been achieved over time with the use of the resources I placed in the tree. The “fruits” of my industry from the Cs are the resources.  I tried as best as I could to place the elements in a section of the branches that aligned with the most appropriate Cs, but, again, many are multi-faceted. This would explain why my “tree” is composed of are intersecting collections of circuits and nodes, and since most of the resources are Internet based and accessible whenever and wherever, I placed my “PLE tree” in the clouds.

All different, and yet the same…

In comparing my PLE to my classmates, I noticed that the 4 Cs model was trending and that we tended to utilize several of the same tools/resources. We all listed at least one social networking tool, a blogging tool, management tools, and curation tools. Google, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress, and Diigo all appeared in the diagrams I reviewed. These are all popular platforms in general, and through this reflection, I see why: versatility. Though each of classmates come from varied fields and backgrounds, we all converge in our utility of our PLE technologies; however, I noted that despite our choices in tools, we all tended to place them in different categories, which truly shows the beauty of personalized learning.  We can seek out what we need, not what has been mandated or suggested as one-size-fits-all solution. We find support through our common choices and collaboration with other like-minded people. We take what we learn, and we turn around and synthesize it to create ideas and solutions four our personal contexts. Therein lies the power of technology and PLEs coupled with our own unique voices.

Classroom Communication Poll

We all know school is about to start for a great many of us, and one aspect of teaching is extremely important: communication.

Please participate in the following poll about classroom communication tools. Thanks!

Classroom Communication

Literature & Art Blended Beautifully

So, of course, I am bit biased where books are concerned, but I had to share my favorite new way to keep literature at the center of my classroom decor: Litographs. 

Litographs is a company out of Boston that takes favorite works of literature and turns the text into art.  They use the text to create and shape beautiful images out of the words. I started out by ordering one poster for my classroom, and now that collection has grown by eight. The students comment on them frequently, and it gets them talking about certain books. Not only does the company create posters, there are also tees, totes, and tattoos (temporary) in an array of colors.

Here are the posters that started it all!

Othello

Romeo & Juliet

Check out my new birthday tees. (Jane Eyre of the left/The Princess Bride on the right) What a wonderful present for the book lover in your life!

Like most teachers, I am busy now prepping my classroom for the new school year, but I just wanted to be sure to share my love for Litographs.

FYI: They do offer a teacher discount if you send them an email and verify your status!

References:

Othello poster. [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved July 31, 2017, from https://www.litographs.com/collections/othello/products/othello

Romeo & Juliet poster. [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved July 31, 2017, from https://www.litographs.com/collections/romeo-and-juliet/products/romeo

The Technophilic EdTech Skeptic

This guest blog post is written by Dr. Dave Mulder. Dave is a teacher educator at Dordt College, where he takes his work very seriously, but himself decidedly less so. His professional interests are related to preparing pre-service teachers for technology integration, online teaching and learning, and social presence and community development in online settings.


I have been a professional educator for all of my adult life; I’m beginning my 20th year of teaching this fall. I have always been a “techie” teacher, and I definitely have a love gadgets and learning about the latest tech toys. I was often (and continue to be) an early adopter of various educational technologies on the various faculties I’ve been part of, both when I taught in K-12 schools and also now in higher education.

But…

The longer I’ve taught, and the more technologies I’ve tried out in my own teaching practice, the more skeptical I’ve become of the claims made of the value of many potential educational technologies. I am a technophile, but I’m also an EdTech skeptic. I am simply not convinced by the claims made by many companies touting a particular educational technology that they will have the promised impact on student learning.

I wonder sometimes about the supposed need to become certified in using various EdTech tools. Do I need to become an Apple Distinguished Educator? Should I invest the time in becoming a Google Certified Innovator? If I want to use tools like FlipGrid, or VoiceThread, or Edmodo, or a SMARTBoard, do I need to pass some sort of course first?

Let’s back up for a moment and think about what EdTech tools are supposed to be doing in the classroom.

Actually, let’s back way up, to the 1700s.

What, you thought EdTech began with the advent of the personal computer in the 1970s? I suppose it depends on your definition of “educational technology.” I prefer Neil Postman’s thinking about what makes a “technology” from his 1992 book, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, where Postman suggests that technologies are tools devised by humans to solve particular problems. This broad definition goes far beyond the typical conception of “technology” as something digital.

Postman uses examples as “low-tech” as the practice of assigning letter grades in school: “This procedure seems so natural to most of us that we are hardly aware of its significance. We may even find it difficult to imagine that the number or letter is a tool, or, if you will, a technology; still lets that, when we use such a technology to judge someone’s behavior, we have done something peculiar” (Postman, 1992, pp. 12-13). Postman goes on to elaborate the beginning of the assignment of letter grades to judge the quality of students’ work at the suggestion of a Cambridge University tutor in 1792. This use of a technology–a tool, even if that tool is really just an idea–to evaluate the quality of students’ work is so taken for granted today, it almost sounds a little odd to think about letter grades as an educational technology! But…should we require “Letter Grade Assignment Certification” as a prerequisite for allowing teachers to wield this technology?

Do you see what I’m getting at here? Do teachers need to be certified to use tools in their classroom to ensure that they will result in students’ learning? Should teachers be “textbook certified,” or “chalkboard certified,” or “pencil-and-notebook certified” if we expect them to use these tools?

You might argue, “Well, Dave, digital tools are different! They are more complicated and have more features than these analog tools. So teachers need training and support!”

You’re right about that. I think that the tools are often more complex, and if we really do want teachers to use them to their utmost, the will likely need training and support.

But…

Here’s my real question: is it worth the tradeoff? If teachers need to devote that much time and energy to being able to effectively use a digital tool, is it worth implementing it in the classroom? Is “good enough” technology…good enough?

What do you think? What criteria should we demand for educational technologies we use in the classrooms of today and tomorrow?

Work Cited:

Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology. New York: Vantage.

THE LIST

It’s that time of year again: back to school season. It’s a time of mixed emotions. Parents are happy (and a little sad) for the kids to be back in the classroom. Teachers are sad to see summer go, but deep down, they’re ready to help your kiddos learn. But, before any of the learning begins, parents and students find themselves busy purchasing materials from THE SUPPLY LIST. You know, the list of all the required supplies needed for the respective grade of your student, the list that inspired Monica Brown to pen her blog post “Why I won’t buy one extra box of Kleenex for my kid’s school supplies; signed, a frustrated parent.”

Sure, the lists can seem long and sometimes overly specific, but trust that the items are there for a reason, even in the secondary grades.  While Brown addresses the list from a parental perspective (one I applaud), I’d like to clarify a few misconceptions about supplies in high school. (YES, students and classrooms still need supplies!)

No, high schools classrooms do not have a set supply list available, and while I admit that I can see how this might be frustrating, it’s due to the variability of a student’s schedule by grade and course selections. As a parent myself, I, too, want to buy supplies as cheaply as possible and preferably during the tax-free weekend, but without THE LIST, many parents find themselves at a loss and refuse to guess. Result: a classroom full of students with little to no supplies. Most teachers would agree that paper and writing utensils are must haves for the year, so start there.

Yes, high school courses often ask for more expensive items like graphing calculators, bigger binders, and sticky notes, but rest assured, these are tools of the respective trade, and often, the more expensive items will last the rest of high school. And, let’s be honest, those sticky notes make annotating texts helpful when you can’t write in the books.

No, class fees do not go to the respective teacher. Often, they pay for student access to the online materials, books, food/fabric (family and consumer science classes), etc. necessary for the class, which leaves basic supplies like paper, pencils, folders, copy paper to be procured by students at the behest of individual teachers.

Yes, most teachers do receive a small amount of classroom money, but it pales in comparison to the amount teachers spend on extra (much needed) supplies. Plus, this small classroom fund is typically not available until OCTOBER, well beyond the start of school. So, what is a teacher do? Well, simply put, we have to put it in the syllabus and hope and pray students come prepared.

Brown’s blog speaks volumes of the magic happening in classrooms thanks to THE LIST, and it even addresses community supplies such as tissues and cleaning implements. We still need these in high school, but all too often, when students are requested to bring these, they request extra credit points, as if these are items of requested luxury. Sure, we could send students to the bathroom for tissue, but that’s lost instructional time. See, we truly do care about delivering the best instruction we can, and we have to get by with a little help from a LIST. But, what about the classroom monies teachers receive each year you ask? Yeah, those, classroom supply money cannot be used to purchase items like band-aids, sanitizer, wipes, tissues, or anything else that might remotely clean, not even the whiteboard. Oh, and copies? Sure, teachers may have access to the machines, but often, teachers must supply their own copy paper, and yes, while we might have access to electronic copies, students may not always have Internet access. Besides, there’s just something about physically working with colored paper and pens and markers that sparks learning.

I’ve already completed my two daughters’ lists, and I’ve already bought new supplies for my classroom as well. Honestly, I’ve even bought supplies not on the list for the teachers my kids will have because elementary papers are always happier with stickers. As a parent AND secondary teacher,  I realize the cost of supplies adds up, but so does the cost of a daily frappuccino or fast food meal or even adding extra data or lines to your monthly mobile plan. All I ask is that before you question THE LIST (whether elementary or secondary), remind yourself that if it helps your child learn in a clean and comfortable environment, isn’t it worth the extra expense?

Sure, teachers are known for their willingness to go the extra mile to make sure students have what they need to learn, but let’s be honest, should they be responsible for ensuring THE LIST is fulfilled? Pay it forward, buy extra where you can,  and see unadulterated (and uninterrupted) learning happen.