Offline = Online – Does it really matter?

When I checked the verbs “to mob” (mobbing) and “to bully” in a online dictionary, I got very strong verbs in German that I haven’t used for years in my active vocabulary: belästigen, anpöbeln, tyrannisieren, schikanieren, einschüchtern, piesacken, drangsalieren, etc. Thinking about those verbs and about my experiences as a teacher, the connection to the article “Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers came in my mind and the following quote of a person who commented:

Technology is not to blame. Bullying has been in existence since there was civilization. Technology has escalated and changed how bullying occurs.

I agree bullying happened / is happening in the offline world as much as it is happening in the online world – then called cyberbullying (German / English). You can observe the same kind of actions (to bully – belästigen, anpöbeln, tyrannisieren, schikanieren, einschüchtern, piesacken, drangsalieren), just in different environments and with different impacts.

This week’s questions were:

Who’s responsibility is it to teach students to be safe online? Who’s job is it to teach these skills? When and where should we be having these conversations with students? Are we taking this seriously?

Cyberbullying has to be taught but in my opinion it doesn’t start with kindergarten or school and in the first row it doesn’t have anything to do with “cyber/being online”.

I had a situation in Grade 3 last week. There is student A who is always late. When he came in the classroom, another student B said: “Finally!” with a very derogative voice. There it starts already. I asked student B to think about what he just said and how student A might feel to hear something like that. Children no matter what age need to get aware and be aware that words and actions can hurt another person. As adults, as parents, as friends, as teachers we need to model how to feel empathy for somebody. (“Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers)

STOP TALK WALK HELP
Photo Credit: Kevin (blahoblaho) via Flickr

It also reminded me of a unit in Grade 1 called “Use your words” where the students learn a strategy to deal with conflicts. It’s called STOP – TALK – WALK – HELP and gives children a tool to say NO to something, to ask WHY somebody is doing something, to have the courage to walk away and to ask for help. And again children no matter what age need to get the self confidence to stand for their own whenever they feel to be in a wrong situation. As adults, as parents, as friends, as teachers we need to get involved into strategies so we can again model for the children.

Does the strategy STOP – TALK – WALK – HELP would help for cyberbullying as well? Will a teenager be able to say STOP when he or she gets bombarded with mean or even worse text messages? Will he or she be confident enough to ask for reasons? Will he or she be strong enough to ignore or ask for help? It’s probably something you can learn no matter what age but the earlier the better. And again – as adults, as parents, as friends, as teachers we need to encourage our children.

Growing up in a small village, being a daughter of an unpopular teacher, being a teenager at that time let me experience how it is to live with gossip around me (and our family). Students of my father talked behind my back and in a very direct way as well. Since then I hate gossiping and it’s hard for me to stand people who a big gossiper. And again, the article “Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers came in my mind, because it says:

I hear teens’ dramas reflected in their stories about how their parents fight – with each other, with their friends and family and colleagues, and with them. What teens are doing is more coarse, more direct, and more explicit. But they’re witnessing adult dramas all around them and what they tend to see isn’t pretty. Parents talking smack about work colleagues or bosses. Parents fighting with each other or ostracizing their family members over disagreements. And it’s not just parents…Teens are seeing fights and dramas all over the media. Celebrity fights and dramas aren’t just in their face; they’re glorified! And even if MTV comments on domestic abuse after airing Jersey Shore, the way that the housemates treat each other sets a standard for what’s societally acceptable. Teens are seeing drama everywhere – they’re seeing it as a legitimate part of adult society that can often lead to notoriety.

And again – as adults, as parents, as friends, as teachers we model an integer life with communication skills which let us treat each other with respect.
We are ALL responsible whenever a situation comes up.
When children grow up and experience the world around them in a very safe and loving environment offline, don’t you think their behavior and their experiences will be similar online?

 

Creating a Wikipedia to share our knowledge

Using technology for teaching has always been a goal for me. First it’s my personal passion since I can think of and second it is, it will be the future of the children I teach. Last but not least it is motivating for the children and gives them the chance to be an independent and creative learner.

It’s the second time my students of Grade 4 create a Wikipedia about a brain. As a German language teacher the focus last year was writing, only writing. It was less about being connected, creating and sharing knowledge and learning from other. That is probably part of the Coetail Effect. Thanks to everybody, it’s so important. My mind works already differently. As you can see in my planner, of course it is still about language. Most of the students in class are native German speakers and the few Germans as an Additional language speakers could get differentiated support to improve their written language skills.
To support the students I produced for the first time some instructional videos in advance. I wanted them to use the help instead of asking me constantly. As differentiation few students got the chance to produce an additional video by themselves. It was a great possibility to create and contribute something for the help section.

The post of Beth Queeney Dressler: Tapping into Collaboration made me think about using the Wikipedia in class. She questioned whether it is doing old things in a new way.

I didn’t write a single post. The students chose a topic to read about the human brain, showed their understanding by filling out a attached sheet and created then a post for the wiki. I also asked them to comment on each others posts and reflected about what is a appropriate comment.
But I agree – what will be the follow up? Will the wiki die now? For me it would be already a lot if they understand the purpose of a wikipedia. And who knows, maybe one day, sooner or later somebody will be an editor on one of the countless wikis that exist online. Or they will start commenting on each others blog (portfolios). It is/was about getting them aware …
Here now my planner:

It’s Already Happening – Online Collaborative Projects

When I for first time read about “online collaborative projects” this week I was reminded of a conference (European 1-1 Learning Institute) last November at the FIS (Frankfurt International School). One of the keynote speakers was Ian Jukes. He spoke of a new book and mentioned that he wrote that book with two other people who he has never met in person. The whole process took place online as a collaborative project. I was impressed and I remember thinking: Probably that is the future.

It is not the future – it’s already happening. Last week I asked around mostly non-teacher curious about whether they are working somehow collaborative online. Several examples in a business or programming environment came up and I was confirmed that it’s already happening. Additionally my mother sent me by old-fashion mail an article Die Ungeduldigen. Eine Geschichte über Neugier und Fragesteller (in English: The Impatient. A Story about curiosity and questioner). The article describes three young teenagers who are already involved in programming projects. The author also ask what impact it has for teaching (Yeah, also in Germany is a mind-shift going on!) And guess how they are working: online and collaborating through their network. It’s already happening.

Of course I was curious what is going on in education:

  • How are teachers involved in online collaborative projects?

So far I know about two groups of teachers at our school. Both collaborative projects are happening within their professional development. They are inquiring into new concepts, exchanging their findings, their opinions and conclusions, their learning as a group at school but then also and as much as important online on a specific platform. It’s already happing.

  • How can we involve students in online collaborative projects?

It’s also already happening. There seems to be endless websites already to create projects and to find projects. Teachers and classrooms from all over the world create, inquirer, find out, exchange and a lot more. Here are some websites: CIESEtheteacherscorner.netKidlink, … There are tons of projects already going on. I even don’t know whether those links are the most popular amongst all options. So please feel free to add links you explored and you want to share.

So how is technology changing the learning landscape and global education?

Using technology for online collaborative projects gives students the possibility to get meaningful and authentic learning and live experiences. It allows sharing knowledge and experiences with other students from all over the world. Automatically they are having an audience that is like-minded and driven by the same interest. Learning doesn’t happen exclusively in the classroom anymore – it’s global. And it should be global because we have to solve global issues locally. Students get the chance to be involved in something. It will be the start for being active and creative for a network, for a community or for the whole society. If students/people get to know each other, if they know from each other their way of living, the obvious and the hidden part of culture (The Cultural Iceberg), we can take responsibilty together for our world like Plant for the Planet.

I definitely see myself being involved with one of my classes in an online collaborative project. It’s just a matter of time and opportunity. I will make it happen.
Inspired by the fact that I’m working at an international school, by the video Where is home?, by the phenomena of TCK (Third Culture Kids) and a project called Where do I live? I could imagine a project called Who am I? to let the students get to know each other and themselves better, to get a deeper understanding of their family background and their own identity.

The next question came up immediately: What tools are already out there? There is a List of collaborative software, collaborative plattforms, and a List of Wiki Software … but that goes to far for me at the moment …

 

The Totally Underestimated Network

It’s amazing and I can’t describe how thankful I am how the network works and how much I am learning. It seems to come all together at the same time. Just a few examples:

  • All the reading difficulties my German –  and German as a Additional Language – speaker have led to a conversation with my ICT colleague about our Reading Curriculum and how reading on the internet is integrated. At the same time Jeff asked: “What are the strategies for reading on the web? Are we teaching these to our students?” So important. And we want to pay more attention to it.
  • I’m thinking planning of implementing to implement a Tech Tuesday at our school and then Katy Jean Vance posted about her setting and her experiences. Thanks again!
  • It’s my goal to explore Google for professional use with colleagues or/and other networks as well as in classroom more often and this morning I got the chance to experience a shared google document with an very interesting article called 5 examples of how the languages we speak can affect the way we think. Following I had a long discussion with my colleague. Thanks Lissa Layman.
    And there are more examples … I couldn’t ask for more …
    And Jeff … the Coetail Effect … I had to check what “to wordsmith” actually means … 😉
    For me it is about getting aware what is possible. Yes, I observe, I try, I realize that it works, I try old things in a new way and hopefully sooner or later new things in a new way …. I’m getting encouraged and more courageous. There are more chances and possibilities than we think which gets me highly motivated.
    And now I would love to get more into “Online collaborative projects” and other technology innovations (The Horizon Report) but today is my computer-off-evening … Tomorrow. No, I still have some reading time during my commute home. 😉

I can’t live without it anymore …

How did using technology change my learning and me as learner?

Technology gave me and gives me the chance …

… to be an independed learner. I have ownership about what I want to learn, how and when I want to learn and who I want to follow and listen to as well as my improvement and development.
… to learn with my own pace and depending on what kind of learner I am.
… to view beyond my local learning environment – colleagues and also in Germany – by using Twitter to follow people who I’m interested in, by using a RSS Reader to channel all the interesting and inspiring thoughts which are out there, etc.

But since I’m with Coetail there is even more. I have the possibility …

… to learn through the exchange (connect, collaborations) with like-minded people.
… go a step further and do action (following the Inquiry Cycle by Kathy Murdoch) by writing a blog, commenting on blog entries of others to reflect and asking questions as well as by sharing experiences face to face to encourage others. Once I created a cycle as a reflection for the job application (Reflection – PYP Verena Zimmer). It’s time for a new one …

In future I vision myself as a learner who  …

…  creates and contributes to the network in a confident way – even though this is still a little bit undefined for me how this will look like in my case. I’m getting there. Just explored a little bit code.org – there will never be boredom.

By the way I hope to improve my writing skills in general, my English as a second language, my deeper thinking skills as well as how to demonstrate my thinking.

 How did using technology change my teaching?

Since 6 month Evernote is helping me immensely to organize my planning, my observations, my assessments, organizing my different areas of professional development, etc. I don’t use it to it’s fully extend yet, f.e. sharing notebooks, web clipper, sending an email to a notebook – is there a possibility to integrate an RSS Reader? I’ll google it later.

Using new tools gives the students the possibility to show their understanding and learning by CREATING. Here are some examples:

  • iMovie / Garageband (Grade 5 – Students create a advertisement jingle for their products during the “Shop until drop” unit)
  • Apps for StoryTelling (Grade 1 – Students show their imagination by telling a story on StoryWheel focussing on details.)
  • iStopMotion (Grade 5 – Students show their understanding of “Der Zauberlehrling” of Goethe)
  • App Book Creator (Grade 3 – Students create a simple Picture Dictionary.)
  • Storybird / ComicLife for creating stories
  • Filming with the iPad for Reflection purpose
  • Producing an instructional video (Grade 4 – Producing a video which explains how to insert a picture)

PARTICIPATING / CONNECTING to others allows them to experience learning as meaningful and authentic. Again few examples:

  • Students publish their PSA (public service announcement) on Voicethread to the Humankind about inventions, students reflect on each other
  • Wikipedia (Students write for a wikipedia about “Our brain”.)
  • Writing blog entries together with the students.
  • Skype Interview with an expert (Thanks mum!)

Okay, above I just listed few examples of using technology during my last 1 1/2 years. I realized I still do a lot of new things in an old way but my focus was always that the students create something. Just consuming has never felt right. Searching skills have to get way more attention. As a language teacher I got only once the chance on how to find good search words. The internet provides endless resources and allows me to tailor them depending on student questions / each student, there is no need for following a book anymore. Regarding resources and apps for the iPad the German market seems to be not so developed yet. Hopefully the learning gets more meaningful for the students. Often through using technology I realized that there is an audience for student’s learning and it becomes more authentic. I really want to avoid creating a gap between time in school and time outside of school. There is a huge difference regarding documentation of formative and summative assessments compared to few years ago. Documented assessments and observations allow me to tailer the instructions and the learning even more. It also gives students a better way to reflect on their own learning. Students can overtake ownership for their own learning.

If I want the students to be independent and self organized life-long learner I still have to figure out and be a risk-taker what using new things in new ways in teaching exactly means and how it looks like. That’s why I’m here. I’m getting there sooner or later.