Privacy, Please? A reflection of digital personal settings and personal safety.

This week I chose to watch the Doc Zone episode titled Sext Up  Kids.  I chose this particular video to watch for a few different reasons:  First – I teach high school, Second – I have teenage boys (17 and 19 – one living at home and one away at school).  While I was watching the video I began reflecting on why I have my social media privacy settings set as I do.  More importantly, why I have set them and why I am so choosy as to I accept as a “friend” on social media.

As a teacher, I make it a rule that I will not accept any Facebook friend requests from my students until they have graduated.  I do this for three reasons:

1.  I do not want to see what my students are doing privately (either inside or outside of school) while I am in an educator role with them.

2.  I do not want to have preconceived ideas of what my students are like as an individual before they come into my classroom as I believe that all students have the right to an unbiased education.

3.  I need to protect myself as an individual – I really do not want my student to know about what I am doing on the weekend (unless I choose to verbally share this with my students), nor do I want them to be able to see what I post as my posts are just that – mine.  And, just like point 2 above, I don’t want my students to have a preconceived idea about me as a person – having a preconceived idea about me as a teacher (she’s tough, or she does wacky things to get our attention, etc… are ok) before they enter my classroom. I also do not want them having my personal information as I have been stalked before by a former students which required police involvement for the safety of me and my family – it (the stalking)  still continues to this day even though I have blocked this student and changed my privacy settings on all social media accounts.

In my room at school, my students must “rest and recharge” their phones during class.  This is done for a variety of reasons – students live in a rural town and many drive – I want them to have a fully charged phone before they leave my class and are on the highways or grids.  Also, when I am instructing, I want their attention.  Quite often I will ask my students to be on their phones researching topics, but when they are not to be on their phones, they must be on the lab benches.  Also, I have never wanted to be accused of allowing a student to send a text, message, etc… that may be harmful to another.

Before I began this class I was very leery of Twitter and Facebook as tools in the classroom – but as of two weeks ago, I now have a school Twitter account and now use Hootsuite.  Originally I did not use Hootsuite – for about one day – until I was seeing what my students were posting that was not related to school, I really do not want to see what they post.  Personally, using Hootsuite has been a way of protecting myself!  What if one of my students posted a sext and I saw it – would I be charged if I did not report that?  No, I did not even want to venture into those waters!  Especially after watching Sext Up Kids.

I researched how many wireless subscribers there are in Canada currently – 29,062,796!  Along with the 29 million wireless subscribers, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunication Association reports that  one in five households only have wireless phone services in their homes – we happen to be one of those households – no land line!  I was a bit surprised that Canadians sent an extraordinary amount of texts per day – 270 Million! But it isn’t just texting that draws us in to communicate wireless with one another.  92% of teenagers go online daily due to the ease of access they have to smartphones.  With Facebook being the most popular form of social media platform being used by teens, 71% of teens use more than one social media platform to communicate with one another.

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat Top Social Media Platforms for Teens


Analyzing the above statistics, I began to research the number of teenagers that sext.  I found the following information from PCs N Dreams:


“Here are Some of the Shocking Sexting Statistics:

The percent of teenagers who have sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves:

  • 20% of teenagers overall
  • 22% of teen girls
  • 18% of teen boys
  • 11% of young teen girls ages 13-16

The percent of teenagers sending or posting sexually suggestive messages:

  • 39% of all teenagers
  • 37% of teen girls
  • 40% of teen boys”


Venture Academy‘s research found the same as the Doc Zone episode, teens find that sexting is simply  fun and flirtatious,  but our students do not really realize that once they have hit the “send” button, they can not undo the sext – it can follow them around forever and may even impact them for future careers.  

I invite you to watch the following video about parents whom went to the authorities when they found out that their child was sexting – would you do the same and do you agree with the panel?

Now, with everything that I have researched, I must go and look over my privacy settings again to ensure I have the tightest security possible!


Start Your Engines

Photo Credit: Raphaël Belly Photography via Compfight cc

I have expanded the due date on my students science fair projects – they were just needing more time to complete at the level in which I expect from my students, this means that my students will finish their blogs after this project is due – which isn’t idea, but I will make it work.  I have expanded my quest of blogging to all of my classes because I have begun to feel very comfortable with this process throughout the semester.  This is a good thing because I can see myself using blogs from here on out, and collecting less paper!  I have asked all students to create one blog instead of multiple blog posts for major projects (science fair, SDS, etc…) – although students could just hyperlink their blogs, the students felt comfortable with editing one long blog post and I am fine with this.  My students have stated that one long blog post feels more like handing in their scientific papers, the feeling I had with this discussion is that the students do not like their work (especially because it is one large project) chopped up into smaller pieces.  I wonder if they felt that their work did not have a flow if it was hyper-linked?  This is something that I will need to explore further with the students.

In order to accommodate and have a completed blog post  before the end of this class, I have asked my student to blog their race car project and to have this blog emulate what their science fair projects would look like (I asked Josi and Kelsey for their permission first before I posted the link).  I have also asked my students to begin using Twitter – one more social media way to discover digital citizenship within our class, follow us @cooperscience1.  I have explained to the students that they will need to post videos of their projects to Twitter and hyperlink them into their blogs.  We have had a lot of fun with Twitter this week and I am happy to report that all of my students are on Twitter now (I actually decided to go with Twitter and get rid of Remind). Students have been posting thoughts and links to informative sites regarding the topics we are currently covering in class.  I have given each class it’s own # therefore making it easier for us to only look at our posts when we are discussing what we have been posting.

I have taken advice from several websites and blogs from teachers whom have implemented blogs into a science class before.  I found the site Top 50 Science Teacher Blogs to be very helpful in regards to blogging in general.  The article 4 Powerful Ways to Implement Blogging in the Classroom (Daily Genius, April 23, 2015) gave links to examples of students blogging labs and group projects.

Reinvention of Education


Photo Credit: Cheers Paralegal via Compfight cc

Last week everything began to click for me in this course, woohoo!  This week, I am having continued clicking taking place, but now am really beginning to re-evaluate where I sit in the continuum of educators and how we teach our students according to our own pedagogy.  During my reflection of the required reading this week, I began to wonder if I am really a “traditional” style teacher or not?  As the above paragraph stated – I really do not think of myself as a traditional teacher. I like to include my students in the learning process, not only within the learning of new content, or the scaffolding of content, but the assessment and extensions of the content itself.

The reading this week confirmed the style of teaching that I have naturally evolved towards – more socially responsible, rhizomatic teachings.  Although I am not completely at the rhizomatic teaching style, I feel that I am well on my way.  As a science teacher whom implements student inquiry as a way of learning subject matter quite heavily – rhizomatic learning appeals greatly to me.  I see that I have evolved along the Philosophy and Education Continuum chart from a realism philosophy to a pragmatism philosophy.  My students are not required to learn for mastery, but rather become masters of the learning through problem solving – connecting and networking with others either in person or finding and understanding information via technology.

Ashley’s blog, especially the idea of unschooling by Callie Vandeweil, led me towards reflecting on the way that students learn.  Students can learn in a multitude of ways – and I agree with Ashley – we should not get rid of the traditional school but as facilitators we can do just that – facilitate the way that students learn.  By allowing our students to become responsible digital citizens, and to learn effectively, we are only opening up the doors to the students own learning experiences.  Especially in the classrooms of today, where we may have 4 different curriculum’s to teach (modified, adapted, regular, alternative) – teaching our students to learn digitally and to be good digital citizens with the teacher being the vessel facilitating the learning will/may allow for a deeper understanding and supportive learning of the content material if we allow the students to take the lead of their learning and assessments.  Jennifer posted a great site to our google plus community, Digital Citizenship, which explains the importance of allowing our students to become literate digital citizens within our classrooms. Cultural Anthropologist, Mimi Ito – hit the nail on the head when she stated that our current educational practices are missing the piece of supporting engagement in learning via “geeking out” through social media and digital citizenship and proactively engage students.  We must break through the idea that the internet is a hostile place to learn, and teach our students that there are many opportunities to engage and learn effectively, and as educators we must give students equal access to on-line learning communities in a safe place (classroom) and teach them the responsibilities of on-line learning.

Students are digital outside of the school, so why not inside of the school – allowing students to create a knowledge cloud using media such as remixing, YouTube, creating websites and blogging, networking through Twitter and Facebook.  Katie Salen, executive director of Quest 2 Learn school in New York, explains that game design allows student to think deeper and more abstractly than they do in traditional schools.  Game design is how kids socialize, they also drive students to want to be better. The student must proceed from one quest to another, each quest getting harder and harder, to become better at problem solving through design thinking. All a video game is, is a set of problems that must be solved in order to win.  Students are encouraged to be in charge of their own learning, to become adaptive, problem based thinkers. Even watching the video – we see that some of the classrooms are designed in a way which allows for student to be a collaborative group – all of the desks are grouped together as one large conference table (I do this in my classroom), encouraging class discussions.

As this course continues to click for me, I will continue to re-evaluate, find and create a digital citizen ship based approach to learning.  Apropos blended education continuum just may be my major topic for EC&I 831 next semester, but it is alongside a growing list of technologies that I would like to implement into my teaching pedagogy.

Up, up and away!!!!

science fair picture 2.JPG

Blogging with my students has been very successful this week.  Almost all of my students have entered a blog and ON TIME!  Woohoo!  I really feel that we are well on our way to successful projects being created.  I have expanded my timeline for science fair, unfortunately this means that science fair will not have happened until after this class ends.

I feel that the success of this week has been from the comments of my classmates as to creating leading questions for the students to answer.  This week, I required all of my students to list their materials and write up their hypothesis in proper scientifically literate expectations.  This was done very well!  I have also dedicated 20 minutes each week to blogging aside from class time to work on their projects.  I think in the start of the semester, I just expected my students to blog on their own, but have realized that they were just as intimidated about the blogging process as I was at the start of this course.  Now that we are all becoming more comfortable with this process, blogging is becoming easier.

I will be asking all students to write up their procedures in their blogs for the next post.    I have also decided to use Carly’s blog as an example for my students to follow – especially for those still a bit intimidated.  Even for those students whom have been very successful with blogging, I will just ask them to keep adding onto their original blog instead of creating a new post, just to see what happens.  I would rather have one long running blog for this project than many short ones.  The idea with this is to create one blog per student per projects, so at the end of their high school experience with me they will be able to go back to their blogs and see all projects (big and small) that they have created.

Friend NOT Foe


Rethink Teaching to Remix Learning is a TEDx talk by Jared Stein in which he speaks about his journey to build a blended course for the benefits of his students.  He created a course in which students would participate both face-to-face and online.  The advantages of an online portion of the course is to allow for flexibility and full participation of all students within an asynchronous setting either with text or video.  Our lives are becoming increasingly blended every day; we use digital technologies to plan our day via a calendar to help us keep our physical appointments to collaboration with colleagues in the same room using an online document such as google doc.  He touches on the topic of adaptation towards the tools and technologies that are being created today as we are not going to go back to tools that were used in classrooms in the past.  This talk really spoke to me in regards to what I observe happening within my class each day:  more and more students are choosing to use their digital devises for communication purposes.  I am beginning to ponder how I can adapt my teaching practice towards enveloping this idea.  How can my science teaching evolve towards students learning via digital devices?13908545259

Linguist David Crystal’s talk: Texts and Tweets really struck a cord with me and I began to develop a sense of curiosity around this topic, especially with my students whom are adapted or modified within my classes.  Crystal stated that “texting gives students the motivation to read and write and that kids today read more than in the past simply due to texting”.  In fact, in order to text, one must be literate!  He also stated that “not too many people use abbreviations, texting or not”.  I went back to the exams that I have given this year, not one of the exams has an abbreviation on it!  In fact, there are less spelling mistakes on these exams than those that I recall in the past (with the exception of Health Science – some of the terms are misspelled, but phonetically correct).

Larry Lessig spoke of re-mixing to make something different – to take a topic and use media to help kids make sense of that topic – have the students do this to engage them in their learning experiences is not piracy, in fact, its empowering!  Students today are different than they were generations ago, we must do better for our students today and allow them to use the tools that they have been given, grown up with, and use on a daily basis already.  As teachers, we have the responsibility to help our students learn to the best of their ability; regardless of their programming  desc regular, adapted, modified, alternative.

The reading this week have really challenged and excited me all at the same time.  The readings/videos have lit a fire within my teaching pedagogy to create lessons which allow each student to use their digital technology to show me what they have learned, in their own way and at each students own learning capability, of the content within my courses.  I feel that I am on the cusp of turning science education at the high school level into a different, real word, more relevant experience for my students.  I already teach very differently than some of my colleagues – we role play scenarios for an entire semester – and I have found this to be an amazing experience for both the students and myself.  But now, I want to change the way students show me what they have learned, I want to assess my students on their understanding of the content materials differently.  I want them to re-mix their learned knowledge within the course into an elegant composition.  How I will do that, I do not  yet know… but it all about the journey and not about the finale. 

Slow and Steady Wins the Race…

By Moise Nicu (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Well, I am finding that the old tale of the Tortoise and Hare is well in play with our class blogging.

Some students have really jumped  into this project, while it is taking others quite a while to get going.

As of now, everyone has blogged at least one time.  I am wondering if the struggle with this project is that my students work on their projects independently or when I am out  of the classroom and have a substitute teacher in (its really hard for me to get a sub who is comfortable teaching science, so I tend to leave this project for the days I am out of the class)?  In the past, students have had verbal conversations with me regarding their science fair projects, I am finding this is how students are still interacting.  I am noticing more verbal and less blogging taking place.  This is where my struggle is, the verbal is immediate feedback, where as the blogging is not.  Sometimes it is best to have verbal in order to keep the “flame ignited” immediately within their projects.  On the other hand, blogging is written down – this allows students to come back to their posts and my comments to re-read what I have written to them.  This is a good thing!  If they forget or get mixed up in what I say to them, they can simply re-visit their blog post to confirm or deny what they recall me saying to them.

I have taken advice from my classmates and colleagues and have asked the students to blog their hypothesis, in detail, by last Monday.  Only three blogs were posted.  I think where the students and I are struggling with this is the lack of time to blog in class.  I am going to dedicate a minimum of half an hour per week just to blogging.  The students are always given time to work on science fair each week and this may be what is hindering the progress.  Reflecting on this has been a good thing for my pedagogy – re-thinking and re-vamping the way I teach, and learning from my colleagues and classmates is always a good thing.  I have viewed videos about engaging students in blogging.  The Extraordinary Teaching Project really, really excited me – honestly I wish I would have seen it sooner as I feel it may have been a better major project.  In fact, I think I will employ this in my health science 20 and physical science 20 classes this week!

In other news, I have reached out my social media “feelers” in my other classes.   All of my students in all classes are now blogging, not just the science 10 class that I am focusing on for my major project.  Last week I had my health science 20 class create social media “Did you Know” bits for their patients.  This worked out very well as I had some using a fakebook, while others used a piktochart and others chose to blog!  The confidence I have in myself to introduce social media and the comfort level that I have has grown ten fold!  Not only am I growing as a student and educator, my students are growing as responsible digital citizens.


Does This Hat Make Me Look Transparent?

How many identities does one have?   This week I wanted to focus my research on my social identity, namely how vulnerable am I on-line, who has access to my personal data, am I being careful enough in regards to what I post on Facebook and what I like on Instagram or Twitter?  I watched Pernielle Tranberg’s TEDxOxford talk titled Fake It, which proved to me that although I feel I am very careful in regards to my digital footprint, there is room for improvement.

In her talk, Pernielle Tranberg indicated that she has three identities:

  1. Pernielle Tranberg (Twitter, Linked in – professional posts)
  2. Pia Thomassen (facebook. pintrest – personal posts)
  3.  Nanna Bach (pages and apps asking for personal identity)

All three are one within the same, and she has chosen to do this so that she can manage what information about herself is out for the public to view, what personal data she is giving out. It is easy to create a fake identity.  I went on to Fake Name Generator and instantly had a new identity, please don’t call me Carla anymore, I now prefer Georgia Clarke.  You can view my  “new” data here:

Georgia Clarke

See, we share so much information inadvertently via social media with one photograph:  who took the photo, where the photo was taken and who has been tagged in the photo. There are risks to sharing including:

  • social profiling – almost every employer will socially profile you – they are looking at social posts, friends, over sharing (confidentiality), constantly complaining or gossiping. 9/10 companies are socially profiling.  7/10 are rejected due to social profiling.
  • Insurers – robbers are following your online profiles – you post pictures of yourself on holidays and have advertised that you are not home – insurance companies do not want to insure you if your asking to be robbed.  May even come down to health insurance being affected as well.
  • social profiling does not only happen on the web, but with any apps that we download onto our devices – they ask our personal info.  Location monitoring, access to our contacts
  • identity risks – use fake email addresses – Jennifer’s post Felicia Day had this happen to her by internet trolls.  Her message, similar to Pernielle’s, PROTECT YOURSELF, censor your world in a way as to not be vulnerable.
  • tracking devices, cookies – pricing will depend on our form of social behaviour in the future (will buy more when depressed – consciously and unconsciously advertise this on Facebook).

Everything  that is being posted on social media is being stored in personal identity banks.  Pernielle Tanberg introduces the topic of Data Sex, and that there are two main types of individuals:

1. 100% private person, never share anything.

2. Datasexual – Shares everything!  Even when they run, how many steps taken, etc. Completly transparent and “authentic” self.    Some people actually get something intimate out of this.  23 and Me is an example of this.

Tanberg explores the idea of Radical Transparency being where we, as a society,  are heading, but really this type of transparency would  only be preferred  if you were on your last job, or position where personal opinions, posts, etc would not inhibit further employment opportunities.

We have a right to control our transparency, Facebook wants us to be very transparent, very thin!  Some people are giving in to Facebook,  giving everything including their cell phone numbers.  I don’t, in fact I feel that I sit somewhere in the middle of the Data Sex population, I am not Datasexual, but I am not 100% private.  I do share happy occasions, but not occasions in which I feel that I could be so transparent as to cost me my job or hurt my loved ones.  One easy trick, wear a hat to protect your facial recognition – apps and websites have a harder time with facial recognition when we have a hat on in our on-line pictures.

image credit: Young Woman With A Fancy Hat via free images (license)

Other than changing your identity to protect yourself, there are apps and websites that allow you to see what others see of your information Kristina posted , I Shared What.  But I have to be honest, I didn’t try it, simply because after researching this week, I have found that I am more cautious than ever about entering personal information into sites or apps or posting thoughts onto social media that may be read wrong as Ron Johnson discussed.

I now wonder, if Justine Sacco has more than one social identity, would she have been dismissed from her job?