Good Grief?

“Hello Cats and Kittens”

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image credit: Angel Of Grief via free images (license)

 

I struggled with our readings for class this week.  The content seemed very hard to deal with, maybe it is because I am having an “off” week as education week was very busy at our school; but I don’t think that is why.  I am sure that I am having a hard time because we lost a staff member at our school this year, on the second day of classes.  Needless to say, the year did not start off the way we planned.  Maybe I am having a hard time too because the staff member who passed away was our vice-principal, a good friend of mine, and now a position in which I am currently occupying at school, acting vice-principal.  This is the most personal post that I have written, and I am surprised that I am okay with writing it, but I am.  One required reading for this week, Split Screen, really struck a cord with me as did She’s Still Dying on Facebook, both of these posts ignited in me a wonderment of grief and if there was a good way to grieve via social media? Is social media a healthy avenue for allowing the bereavement process to take place?  In the video below, one statement made by Amrah Braha 5:32 resonated: “Grief is done in isolation often”, she explains that social media creates a community of those grieving for the same person, a connection.

Although both Split Screen and the above video, In Memory,  have to do with someone whom has chosen to end their life due to suicide, it was the social media aspects that resonated, each in their own way.  In Split Screen we saw that nothing as it seems, most times we only post the happy / perfect moments on social media (I know that I do and I really feel that that is the norm), In Memory shows us how real connections over grief can be comforting.

I went digging on-line to see how many articles/videos there were on death and social media.  I often wondered what happened to social media accounts such as Facebook when one dies.  As educators, we will unfortunately bury at least one student over the course of our career.  I am one of those whom already has, and her social media accounts are still open and active.  This student died 5 years ago, there are current posts from her friends on her site today. She has become somewhat of a celebrity, just because she died.  The article Facebook and Death explains how we can all die like celebrities thanks to social media.  When someone died pre-Facebook, we would receive a phone call, now we are often finding out  via social media when someone has passed away.  I knew that our vice principal passed away before I received the “phone tree phone call”, in fact I had a staff member call me to ask if this was true and I was shocked.  But since his death many have been posting to his page, and if not posting to his page, they are looking at it to see who has been posting and what has been placed there.  I agree with Mrs. Braha, social media really has brought together a sense of community for those grieving the same person, it has shortened the distance between everyone and created a common area to share our memories with his family as explained in the article Positive Technology.  In my case, social media was good for dealing with my grief of my friend and co-worker, as I am sure it is for my former students dealing with the loss of their friend.

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Houston, We Have a Problem…

Well, to say that my class blogging is going well would be an understatement!  Everything started out very well, in fact better than expected!  Until my students began to lose their blogs, poof!  Vanishing into thin air!  What was happening?  This was puzzling and upsetting for our students.

I am working alongside another teacher in our school whom is trying to blog with her students as well.  I decided that it would be best to use the same blog site that she had decided on just to make it easier on our students.  She and I began to notice that our students were losing their blogs, but not too sure why.  So, we began to ask our students to save their blogs into a word document first before hitting the “publish” button – you know, just in case everything was wiped away.  So, this project has hit a tiny bump in the road….  The intent of blogging was to make connecting with my students on their projects easier, a single step process, but not it has become a multi-step process and actually no different than having them type up a word document each week and e-mail it to myself.

Until, the solution to the problem was found!

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By Arlindi1999 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, neither the other teacher nor I, realized that we had only signed up for a trial period on kidblogs – we were both under the impression that it was a free site, similar to wordpress, for school usage.  NOPE!  Once,our trial periods were over (without warning), our students work began to vanish as did our comments to their posts.  Once we both paid for our subscriptions our students blogs began to stay published.  Unfortunately, some posts are gone and will not be found again.  A little bit frustrating, and in retrospect, I am glad that this happened near the start of the blogging process (only one month in), rather than near the end.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

The title o256px-Spidermanf my blog this week may seem a bit confusing, but it really does hold meaning towards what we are discussing in class thus far, and it has caused me to observe my surroundings both inside and outside of the classroom.

By Cristian Bortes / bortescristian ([1]) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Watching the video below titled “Kids React to Old Computers”, within the first minute of the video we note that the students are very confused with the computer in front of them.

In the video we see students seemingly becoming impatient trying to figure out how to turn the computer on – no instantaneous screen “popping up” once the cover (or lid) is opened on our modern devices. We also see a girl who taps on the screen and waves at it.  These are just a few examples of how integrated technology is into the lives of our students and communities.  It seems apparent that digital citizenship is alive and well within our students everyday lives, which leads me to the ponder why some schools and/or teachers are not integrating this into our classrooms.

I was very intrigued with Jason Ohler’s article, Character Education for the Digital Age, and began to dig into the one life vs. two lives perspectives. Students who are asked to live two lives, live with technology at home – being “plugged in”  to social media and digital resources, but once they enter the school/classroom they are asked to unplug.  In this case, schools are asking students to live two separate lives simultaneously.  On the other hand, students whom live one life are in schools where technology is present, and students are taught responsible ways of using technology.  This speaks to digital literacy and social media awareness that Branelle posted on the class discussion board.  If we, as educators, are simply integrating technology into the class to simply “check” a box, why not ensure that technology is being integrated properly? Following the SAMR model helps to ensure that as we allow our students to live one life, they are able to use technology to expand their learning – in one sense moving away from the traditional “lecture based” classroom model towards one of holistic project-based, inquiry, and collaboration among peers with the teacher facilitating their learning.  I really liked Genna’s poster on the SAMR model, as it is very easy to understand to those whom are unfamiliar with it.

By allowing students to actively live one life, and embrace all that technology brings to them, they must be taught to respect the power that they hold in their hand – literally, their smartphones are held and operated in one hand!  Let’s be honest, most of our students are on one form of social media or another, and most of them, if not all, post in the spur of the moment onto social media.  After viewing Ron Johnson’s Ted Talk, How One Tweet can Ruin Your Life, I reflected on why I shy away from tweeting, and why some people do not. Honestly, Ron’s Ted Talk hit the nail on the head regarding my apprehension of actually using twitter.  I am an avid social media reader but not poster as I am afraid that I may post something that could get into some trouble – better yet – my social media post may hinder me from a future job position or get me in some sort of trouble with my employer.  But do our students understand this?

Earlier this week I was listening to a radio show that I enjoy.  On this show, the hosts were discussing three women journalists whom were not allowed entry into a locker room after the Jaguars-Colts football game because the men may not have been appropriately clothed.  One of the journalists, Graham Watson, immediately took to twitter and posted her frustrations stating “I was just blocked from a locker room by an old, out-of-touch geezer who wasn’t sure women were allowed because “you know how guys are.””  This statement really got me wondering how she would feel is someone called her grandpa an “old geezer”, and was the tweet really necessary?  Eventually (really only 90 seconds later), the women were allowed into the locker room, but her tweet was out and damage was done just as was Justine Sacco’s.  Incidentally, Graham’s tweet was re-tweeted 309 times and favourited 150 times, and not all comments supportive.  I wonder how she felt after her tweets that night?  Keeping in mind that once you hit send, you can’t un-send.  Is social media allowing us to be impulsive creatures?

According to Medical News Today, research is being done and indicating that negative tweets may increase your risk of heart disease. Makes sense that social media may have the power to induce negative feelings leading to stress, in turn leading to medical conditions.  Look at how the internet impacted Monica Lewinsky!  Do you really think that if we did not have the power of social media, the dentist who shot Cecil the Lion would have been as hated as fast as he was?  But, the opposite is also true!  If used for good, social media has the power to induce positive feelings!

To end off I thought I would induce a positive feeling via Kid Snippet, enjoy!

Slowly but Surely….

Well, I have been having some success with my students blog posts, but only have about half of the class blogging on a regular basis.  I do allow for a lot of time for my students to work on their science fair projects and to blog about them, but not all of the students are doing this.  What I have found is that my top students are blogging and inserting links to resources, I even have some inserting videos successfully!!!!  Yay!!!!  What has surprised me though, is that two of my students whom have DNP’s or IAP’s are actually very good at blogging.  I am unsure if this is because they feel comfortable with the platform of having a computer to help them get their thoughts down and they do not have to worry so much about their spelling (thank goodness for little red lines 🙂 ).  Or that they find it easy to copy and paste a link into their blog to help them get their ideas through to me in a more articulate way than they are able to on their own?

What I am now going to try to do is to implement some of what we are having to do in this course into my own class.  I have put a due date of every Monday at midnight to have at least one more blog post done, with at least one more resource added to their growing lists. My hope for this is that the blogging process is not too overwhelming for my students.

I have now also asked students to reach specific Milestones throughout the course.  For example, I want all students to have their Hypothesis’ chosen and written into a blog post by the end of next week.  This way I feel that I will be able to monitor the quality of the projects that they are producing.  Since this is not the first science fair that my students are participating in, and that I have had quite a few students in the past few years attend Canada Wide Science Fair, my expectations are quite large.  My students are aware the I expect high rigor with this.

I have also added two more classes to my blog and am now having my grade 11’s blog their SDS projects.  Why not jump in with both feet?  Let the learning begin!

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Is There a Right and A Wrong Way to Enjoy a Moment???

I am intrigued by the photos and posts about disconnecting with technology on our class site this week.  These articles take me back to reading Nathan Jurgenson’s article, IRL Fetish, and digital dualism. I reflected back on my interactions with others and how I have seen others interact with one another while out for suppers.  In our family, we have a “device free” supper, or we did until my oldest son moved away to college, now we try to maintain a family meal by connecting via FaceTime while eating…. Which brings me back to the title of this post, Is there a right and a wrong way to enjoy a moment?  Am I going back on our family rule and now allowing us to connect during mealtimes?  I am a little bit torn on this as on one hand I am trying to maintain a family meal, and am very thankful for the advancements in technology to allow for this to happen, but on the other hand, am I breaking my “no cell phones at the table” rule?  Really, I had not given it too much thought until this week, now I find that I am struggling with this.

A few weeks ago, I was enjoying a lunch with a friend.  During lunch, neither of us pulled out our smart phones out of our bags and used them, we were enjoying the conversation that we were having with each other, living in the moment you could say..  Our phones were not on the table, not in sight.   Next to us, however, was a couple that did not speak to each other except to ask what the other was ordering, they were not connecting with one another during that moment, rather they completely enthralled in their smartphones.  Once their lunch was brought to their table, I was enamored at their capability to eat one handed while still remaining connected to their devices.  Have we lost empathy?  Were the couple next to us less connected to each other simply because they were not having a physical conversation? Sherry Turkle spoke of this in the video below:

Who am I to judge?  The couple could have been having a conversation with someone via text that meant just as much to them as our son does to us.  Instead of FaceTime, they could have been having a silent conversation.  Or, they could have been crushing candies for all that I know!

I reflected on this as I read Ashely’s post.  How by putting our phones down we can capture the moment with our five senses.  But, sometimes a picture that I have taken on my phone recalls those feelings and senses of that experience.  For example, I remember exactly what I was feeling, how all my senses were engaged at the very moment this picture was taken (especially my sense of smell).

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Without having the use of my phone (simply because I do not carry a camera around anymore), this moment – although remembered through experiencing the moment, will always remain and allow me to experience my feelings again whenever I look at it.

In her article, It’s Time to Put the Phone Down, Vanessa Lynch states that we need to start putting our phones away and begin actively participating in life.  But do our phones really hinder the active participation, or can they enhance it?  In class, I have a rule for my students.  I call it “rest and recharge”.

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 Photo Credit: starkej2 via Compfight cc

 Students walk into my room and must put their phones on the lab benches to “rest and recharge”, I do this for a few reasons.  The first being that my students drive, and I teach in a rural area. I want to make sure that my students phones are fully charged before they leave the school just in case there is a problem on the way home, and they need to get a hold of their parents.  But, I also want the students to take a rest from social media while in the room and open themselves up to the experiences of what I am teaching in class.  I want them to live in the moment and be an active participant in class.  But this is not always true.  I AM that teacher whom would rather my students use their own devices in my classroom than get the laptops for them just to Google something.  We are not a school in which Bring Your Own Device is in play, yet.  But it is so much quicker to have the students use their devices to search up a concept than to go down the hall, book out the laptops, bring them back to the class, log on (which takes a long time), search, etc… Just for something that can be quickly done within 30 seconds on their smartphones.  At this point in time, I am asking them to engage in social media – sometimes even asking them to look up a post on Facebook.  I believe that there is a time and a place for cell phones in the classroom, and that students must be taught how to use this tool within the school in an appropriate manner.  By allowing cell phones, I do not believe that I am taking away, rather enhancing, the point of my lessons and that they are aligned with the curriculum.  Sometimes, the simple act of looking a concept up is a brain break for some students.  I feel that this is another way to enjoy and build upon a learning moment within the classroom, making an exception to the school rule that cell phones are not to be used within class time, giving my students permission to learn new things using social media and the use of digital citizenship.