In My (Summer Vacation) Feelings

Concluding this year has brought a multitude of emotions ranging from pride to anxiety and just about everything between the two.

The myriad of headaches that come from being a public school classroom teacher were really digging deep in my nerves this year. The struggles of my school and district combined with the pressure to pay student loans drove me to question staying at my current position. This led me to doubt and despair as I exclaimed to family members (and some colleagues) that I was ready to leave the field of education. I saw no reason to stay. My mind was focused on the emerald shining grass on the other side.

In past jobs I have reached the point of no return. That moment when you realize that you will no longer be working with that company much longer. This felt different. I was exhausted and deterred; regardless, I turned my attitude towards empowerment and engagement. I was determined to do all that I could to prove my skills with or without assistance. For those of you that have been following, my assistance came in the form of a pilot program. I took on this pilot and integrated it into my classroom immediately.

My reward for taking on the pilot was a leadership conference and a live filming of one of my classes. The consequences of my decision reaffirmed the valuation of my skills and refocused my sight on my goals within the field of education. This led to the realization that the majority of problems I faced were self-created. Accepting this enlightened my mind to creating positive solutions for the problems I would encounter in the next school year.

Over the summer I have the chance to reflect on the past years struggles and victories, and I realize that there is an incredible amount of work still to be done. I became determined to get right into busting the myth that teachers have the summers off; I began developing a year long curriculum of professional development. The curriculum is aimed at assisting educators in my school earn their Google Educator certifications. This professional development will provide teachers with ideas for implementing digital tools in the classroom and will transform the way teachers address collaborating with colleagues and students. The next project was to build an Applied Digital Skills curriculum for my English 2 and English 3 courses to take in the following year. I do not want to reveal any more about that being that there will be surprises hopefully coming for the classroom in the form of a co-teacher. This brings me to the end of June and a project with the district.

One of the struggles of this year was working while being unsure if we would be compensated for the raises earned the following year. The union and the school board had been struck at impasse for the entire year, and salaries were froze where they were concluding the end of the 2017-2018 year. I watched the school board meeting regarding solving the impasse while working on this project for the district. I found myself stuck between a rock and a hard place. I was supporting and working for the district that, at the same time, was vastly underpaying me (I have a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in education and make almost 10 thousand dollars less than the average salary in the district). My thoughts on the matter will be further explored as I continue through the summer building curriculum and collaborating with colleagues to prepare for the next school year.

I am most certainly Buzz in this meme. I cannot help but be excited for the opportunity to build new relationships, teach skill and develop my craft. If you haven’t seen Toy Story 4 yet, I highly recommend it. I do not want to spoil anything; however, for those that have, I will most certainly be listening to my inner voice the rest of the summer in preparation for 2019-2020 school year.

A New Tool in the Shed

As I moved into the second semester, an opportunity presented itself in the form of another building block to my Google Classroom. The district that I work for has currently partnered with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to provide students with a Collection of resources including a print-based textbook via the classroom, an online textbook that includes a multitude of resources to assist in writing and reading, and now, a writing platform that promotes peer collaboration in the writing process.

Writable links to both my students online textbook resource as well as my Google Classroom. Writable provides students with the prompt, writing space, and online word processing tools of a traditional online document. It also provides a side-bar of guiding tips to help students focus their writing to the task and audience. The textbook is a click away in another tab or a swipe away if accessing from a tablet or mobile device. My students got their first practice with the tool while completing the performance task to a unit on Survival.

Previous to gaining access to Writable, my students had developed a draft of their essay on a Google Doc. The next assignment would be to retype their essay into Writable, revise as they go, and submit their essay to be reviewed, anonymously, by their peers. Being that my students had moved through the planning process and rough draft process at different speeds, I was able to provide direct instruction with students that requested support. My role shifted from instructing on what components are contained in a formal, argumentative essay to a real-time reviser and editor. It must be impressed that writing independently must be the focus of this exercise. By answering questions with questions, the student must use extended thinking skills to think through their questions using my questions to focus their stream of conscience. One-by-one students finish retyping their drafts into Writable.

Each student was then be required to read, analyze, and evaluate at least three of their peers essays. Writable software provides each student a rotation of their peers’ essays without revealing the author. Students in the review portion of the assignment could not edit the text; however, they are required to use a star-scale along with comments to assist their peer in revising the essay. Writable even goes the extra mile and provides students that score a category of their peer’s essay a one or two out of three stars a list of stems to comments to guide the feedback process. Once a student has finished reviewing three peer essays, they can view what their peers provided as far as feedback on their essay. Helpful hints are liked earning the reviewer Revision Points. Editors that take advice and make appropriate changes get Editor Points. Students become rewarded for positive digital citizenship through the act of honing revision skills. After students make their revisions, they submit their Final Draft by exporting their Writable Doc straight to the Google Classroom into a Google Doc.

There was immediate, evident buy-in from the students even within the first cycle of the revision process using Writable. Using Collections paired with Writable offers my classroom the opportunity to use digital tools to catalyze the learning process. Built in Collections assignments that can be dropped into my Google Classroom cut down on the time necessary to prepare for class which rewards itself by opening up more time to provide meaningful feedback to the students that engage in the assignment. I would like to thank Lisa Davis for getting my pilot of this program up and running, and I would like to thank Marla Banks for providing an excellent webinar that guided me through the programs features.

The New Dual Citizenship

Before the digital age, dual citizenship connotated that you were a citizen of multiple countries in the global community. Dual citizenship has taken on new meaning for me and hopefully, for all digital citizens. I would be willing to bet cold, hard cash that the clear majority of schools mention educating and promoting positive citizenship in some amount of words within their mission statement. I am curious as to how many of those schools include digital citizenship within that mission statement. Throughout my education positive digital citizenship has been implied through the concepts brought on by traditional citizenship, so it seems somewhat backwards that my first formal “digital citizenship” course was not taken until the concluding moments of my graduate program after using digital tools and resources for more than a decade.  This class provided me the opportunity to hone my practices to ensure that I continue building a positive digital footprint that assists my life as a digital citizen and as a traditional citizen.

The amount of information that was necessary to cover, providing that this class was my first formal class in digital citizenship, handily became my greatest challenge. This challenge demanded that I adhere to a weekly schedule, a zero tolerance for procrastination, and a mind void of previously held views on the topics while analyzing text . Answering the challenge, I created a surplus of artifacts that can be recycled and revamped for future uses. The creation of these artifacts provided me the outlet necessary to mold preconceptions into new conceptions that emphasize digital leadership through practice. The presentation that I created as my culminating project will see more light than the other artifacts created because I intend on preparing similar presentations of the same content using different digital tools. I believe that these different presentations could then be brought together to form a singular, diversely created presentation that demonstrates the elements of digital citizenship while informing the audience of each element.

I have only the small beginnings of my digital footprint intact. This class placed a spotlight on the minuscule nature of my digital footprint through a variety of tests: unveiling the digital population’s size and diversity, performing a Google search on my name, and setting up the Google alert application for myself to name a few. This class also reminded me of the goals I had previously set for myself in the digital community: develop digital resources, organize digital resources into an online curriculum, and present at a TED conference. For the revival of my digital goals and for the push to create a number of digital artifacts, I recommend that digital natives of all ages take this course in a format proper to the maturity of the student. The sole activity that I had a problem with, the 2-5 minute video presentation within Week 2, was accepted in another medium. Therefore, I have no qualms with any of the assignments as they provided ample opportunity to practice the digital citizenship I will now promote throughout my organization.

While I created both aspects of my culminating project, On and Aware and A New Citizenship for a New World, specifically to be implemented within my school, I will patiently wait until I have completed my program and have an arsenal of artifacts at my disposal to bring it to my administration. It is my hope that this class has provided me the beginnings of what I will implement as effective professional learning within my innovation plan.

A Case for Independence

There is one idea that I have heard and read in most the information on this topic that sticks out and frustrates me: The law is having a hard time keeping up with the constant growth of the technology. The inability of the law to keep pace with the technology it governs poses a problem with instructing and abiding the law. How can we expect students to value and abide a law that they know will be reconsidered and revised within a year? If law is to effectively adapt to the technology it presides over, then a proper law-making body must be given the resources and autonomy to effectively create that law. The (Hudson Institute) White Paper makes the acceptable and fair case that the U.S. Copyright Office needs to be released from underneath the Library of Congress to ensure that intellectual property is managed properly and effectively. The success of the system’s past does not guarantee the system’s success in the future.

The Library of Congress may have spread its resources effectively to handle the U.S. Copyright Office in the past; however, the present and the future demand a change. I take one major idea away from this week: a large amount of assumptions are made concerning intellectual property and copyright law due to preconceptions of an outdated system. When addressing this issue from a growth mindset, it becomes difficult to side with staying in the same location. Adapting the U.S. Copyright Office practices within the constraints of the Library of Congress seems more like a sustaining innovation that is failing to effectively innovate. Allowing the U.S. Copyright Office to move out and begin practices with autonomy seems more like a disruptive innovation that holds immense potential to effectively create and implement law. Laws regarding plagiarism and copyright infringement along with the enforcement of said laws must be the sole purpose of the governing organization.

The U.S. Copyright Office must be able to provide the guidelines for understanding and enforcing copyright laws. Once those guidelines are in place, with a certain freedom to adapt, intellectual property can be created in an environment that values authorship which will result in increases in speed of information being transmitted and the validity of the information being transmitted. When the information being transmitted sees these increases, the development of societies with access to the Internet will exponentially rise creating a global community in which human rights can be acknowledged and granted to each of its citizens.

References:

The Hudson Institute. (2015). A 21st Century Copyright Office: The Conservative Case for

     Reform. Washington, D.C: Author.

The American right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of Internet access

Students and educators alike must adapt to the truth that our society demands Internet access. The potential for the gap between the impoverished and wealthy stands to grow out of an attitude that technology is not a human right and should be treated as any other business: pay to earn access. In the argument of healthcare versus access, (Fung) critiques those in favor of the idea that Smartphones are a privilege that should be addressed after achieving proper health care. Recent studies show that the low-income and impoverished population of American citizens depend on Smartphones for access to banking, job research, and personal medical research. (Fung) While healthcare may be at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, access to the Internet is rapidly rolling down the side of the pyramid. This need for access reaches into the classroom in the demands for teachers to use digital tools. Teachers that assign their students digital work must ensure that each of their students have access to the digital tools and resources necessary for the task.

Beginning to instruct students how to use their access responsibly at an early age greatly increases the chances those students mature into responsible digital citizens. (Heitner) addresses the issue of training our students/kids to use digital sources correctly through proper analysis and evaluation in her article When the news intrudes, helping kids make sense of the media. Students not only have to understand how to properly and effectively filter information found on the Internet, they must understand the process of creating a digital tattoo. Students can be informed and guided on how to ensure they are building a positive digital tattoo as early as they are provided access. The consequences of intentional and unintentional digital tattooing are an essential part of the mandatory conversation over Internet access.

Two of my baseball players added to their unintentional digital tattoo this season by posting a picture of themselves with bottles of liquor to Snapchat. The picture got to me and the athletes’ consequence was suspension for one game. One of the things that digital natives seem to understand, yet lack regard for, is the digital tattoo. Students comprehend that what they put on the Internet can remain there forever; however, true to their teenage mentality, they do not comprehend the scope and magnitude of their digital tattoo. Students should be taught to create both a professional and public ePortfolio in an attempt to provide practice creation under both lights. Students that engage in activities revolving around positive digital citizenship will consistently “think before they post.”

In last week’s discussion the element of access was discussed as the most prominent of the elements of digital citizenship. Students must understand the ramifications of being a positive and negative digital citizen. For that reason, unavailability of an Internet connection and a misuse of an Internet connection are the two greatest threats to effective accessing and sharing of content on the Internet. If we want our students to prioritize digital citizenship, then positive digital citizenship must be practiced from an early age. Guiding how they share and communicate through assignments provides an ideal opportunity to blend in aspects of digital learning forcing the students to acknowledge the standard for creating a digital footprint.

Resources:

Fung, B. (2017, March 8). The luxury of telling poor people that iPhones are a luxury. The 

Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/

Heitner, D. (2017, March 8). When the news intrudes, helping kids make sense of the

media. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/

First Impressions of Digital Citizenship

Week One’s introduction to digital citizenship came as reinforcement of currently practiced ideas. After reading and watching the week’s resources, I realized that everything my parents taught me about being a positive citizen in the “real world” parallels the meaning of being a positive citizen in the real world. The intriguing and somewhat scary conclusion drawn is that in the near future citizenship and digital citizenship will be 100% synonymous. We still seem to be in a transition period between the culture of “two worlds” to the culture of “one world” (Ohler) On one side of the educating world is a tenacious group of traditionalists desperately desiring to cling to their storied practices. The other is made up of chameleons that are constantly absorbing information and adapting their practices to best fit their target audience. Educators must hold themselves accountable to model proper digital citizenship to promote a digital world that benefits each citizen that engages with it.

One of my favorite studies conducted in the field of education is the “Hole in the Wall” experiment. Sugata Mitra discovered that humans will adapt their practices to learn how to use the tools they are provided with. Humans are naturally self-directed learners. They only become stagnant when unchallenged and provided for. The largest problem in my organization my students face concerning the use of digital tools in their learning experience is access to the digital tools they desire to employ. Unfortunately, the lack of access stems from school policy and not lack of resources. My school was build less than a decade ago and has a multitude of computer labs, laptops carts, and a phenomenal media center. However, the technology policy states that all students must put all devices “Off and Away” through the entirety of the school day. My organization operates under the “two lives” approach described by Jason Ohler. Students must separate their digital lives from their educational lives, because the importance students place on their digital lives is distracting to their educational well-being (Ohler). This deliberate restriction of the students’ access cannot be maintained efficiently and more importantly, cannot create a learning environment conducive to 21st century learners. Digital literacy, an essential component of digital citizenship and citizenship in the 21st century, suffers under the restriction of access. By providing the students of my school with the access available to them, the student will learn to use the tools they are provided with and can improve within each element of digital citizenship.

Digital citizenship can be defined as engaging within the digital realm to ensure the positive development of the realm and those who occupy it. Citizenship during the 21st century demands digital citizenship. The qualities of digital citizenship demand digital citizens to demonstrate the equal parallel qualities of citizenship while participating within the digital world. Digital citizenship will not be completely synonymous with citizenship until all members of the global community have equal access to the digital global community. However, the two concepts will join under an equal definition through the employment of the second most important element of digital citizenship: digital literacy. Those who do not have access to the digital world and those who are not digitally literate cannot achieve the remaining elements of digital citizenship. I cannot expect my students to excel in the digital world if they have never been given access to hone their skills when using digital tools. I cannot expect my students to understand how to effectively use digital tools if they have never been introduced to those digital tools. It must be the responsibility of schools to provide their students with access to digital tools with proper instruction on how to operate using digital citizenship.

References:

Ohler, J. (2012). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital

age. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 77(8), 14-17. (PDF:

Ohler_Digital_citizenship_means_character_education_2012.pdf)

A New Era Deserves a New Education

There can be no denying the transition to a digital age in America. Over the past two decades, Americans have seen the birth and growth of the internet along with adaptations to technology aimed at inclusion of the “online experience” in all tools available to the average American. Americans have seen the introduction of “smart” phones, cars, refrigerators, watches, etc. If our culture continues to move forward into this digital age, then it seems appropriate that our schools do the same. The book Teaching in a Digital Age supports this idea, “Technology is leading to massive changes in the economy, in the way we communicate and relate to each other, and increasingly in the way we learn. Yet our educational institutions were built largely for another age, based around an industrial rather than a digital era” (Bates).  Creation of online and blended learning programs is the first step in achieving an education system that parallels the job market in the digital age. According to (Standards for Professional Learning), the creation of an online course must address all needs of a student’s learning process: knowledge and skill acquisition, reflection, refinement, assessment and evaluation. Educators must aim to achieve success in each part of the process as well as create an engaging atmosphere that inspires action.

The four learning theories; behaviorism, cognitivism, contructivism, and connectivism; must each be addressed in the learning process. If the argument that knowledge has evolved out from limitations of the past, it is fair to deduce that behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and connectivism evolved out of each other. Therefore, it is imperative to include each learning theory in each student’s academic growth. The use of a LMS facilitates the learning process by allowing the opportunity to move through each step of the learning process at a personalized pace with guidance from their teacher. The use of a LMS will also provide the platform to create a learning community that uses collaboration to promote learning gains. In all online courses, educators must comprehend that they creating a learning community through the use of a virtual classroom/course (Morrison). Students will be able to view materials, complete assignments, collaborate with peers, gain insight and advice from their teacher, and create meaningful learning gains through the use of the LMS schoology when completing the course designed by myself. For more information on the development of my course please view EDLD 5318.

References

Bates, A.W. (2015) Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning (Chapters 1 & 2). Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/

Morrison, D. (2013, May 7). Why Online Courses [Really] Need an Instructional Design Strategy. Retrieved from https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/why-online-courses-really-need-an-instructional-design-strategy/

Standards for Professional Learning. (2015) Retrieved from https://learningforward.org/standards/learning-designs#.VzHxq2MWVlI

Do You

The single most valuable opportunity in creating an eportfolio is the ability to “do you.” There are various platforms that can be used in creation of the eportfolio, but each allows you the freedom to creatively assemble the portfolio to reflect your persona and philosophy. The eportfolio creater and manager must take full advantage of this ability to personalize. The job market for educators is continually growing more competitive. What better way to set yourself apart from the competition by developing your own personal eportfolio. I recommend not only adding your personal experiences, creations, and ideas, but format the page to represent yourself. Add color, pictures, videos, and any other visual displays that can connect the viewer to who you are as an educator and citizen. The eportfolio also offers the ease of a digital platform. Your eportfolio should grow, adapt, and evolve along with you. Long gone are the days of the porfolio that becomes out-dated and stored on a shelf collecting dust. The eportfolio offers the creator creative freedom, convenience and ease in maintenance, and a platform that allows it to be viewed from any computer with internet access. So as fellow educator, I urge you to create your eportfolio and most importantly DO YOU!

Who Owns This Eportfolio?

After reading the article found here, I am still undecided on who owns the eportfolio. Today’s current state of pedagogy and practice would lean towards teacher or professor ownership. The student creates the portfolio for the teacher or professor; therefore, the portfolio is a replication of what the teacher or professor wants. This is the type of the ownership is what should occur in high schools across the nation. High school students need the structure and discipline of creating for another before they can create for themselves. High school students should be given the opportunity to create an eportfolio and manage that eportfolio over the course of their high school career. This will result in the product being used as a collector of data, assignments, projects, and essays. While this practice is not using the eportfolio to its full potential, it is a place to start for students that will need direction and practice before having the ability to create and own for themselves.

Once the high school student becomes the college student or the working citizen, ownership should transfer. Now that the basics have been learned and a structure is apparent, the eportfolio can be altered to fit the unique persona of the creator. The manager of the eportfolio has the knowledge and ability to transform what was a display into a constantly changing, adaptable, and digital extension of themselves. The manager of the eportfolio can now make those deep and meaningful connections between the assignments of the past and present to instill a deeper learning within themselves. It is within this time that the manager can master their skills and continue their digital growth.