Course 2 Final Project

This final project is a cross-grade level collaboration between a fourth grade teacher, Cheryl Terry, and me (in kindergarten). Our librarian, Tara Ethridge, and tech coach, Chrissy Hellyer, were instrumental in our conception of using GoAnimate for our project. Cheryl and I were able to play around on GoAnimate alongside Tara and Chrissy.

The Acceptable Use Policies (AUP) in our two respective grade levels are drastically different in format and language. Even at our grade level, some of the ten AUPs are beyond the scope of a kindergarten life at school. I focused mainly on the first five, with a special focus on the first AUP due to the frequency of use and application.

I introduced the project to my students by showing them the AUP that each had signed with their parent(s) earlier in August. Most had no idea what they had signed. Using the Smartboard and a document camera, I read the 10 AUPs to them and focused their attention on the first one which states:

“I will use the computer and other electronic equipment (cameras, microphones, headphones, Smartboards, etc.) carefully.”

As a class, we defined what electronic equipment kindergartners used and made a list and places we would find each (ex: computers in class and in the Tech Zone in the library). My assistant and I modeled a short skit on what a conversation between us would sound like to show how to use a camera. We practiced this skit 3 times and were now ready to film using the video feature on a camera.

Students partnered up and were given the task of choosing an electronic equipment and deciding what they would show that would exhibit respect and responsibility towards it.

Here is a sampling of some of their ideas:
*How to share a camera/iPad
*How to take a picture with a camera
*How to turn on/off the iPad
*How to orientate the SmartBoard

Once the pairs were ready to film, they presented their skit to an adult for recording.

The plan is once we have finished all the video skits, I will upload them to the 4th grade class’ YouTube account in order for them to preview before meeting with us. The goal for the 4th graders is to think of how they can sketch out the skit using a 10-frame Storyboard and be ready to work with the kindergartners on transcribing and if necessary, teasing out parts that need more conversation.

In the second visit, the 4th graders will demonstrate GoAnimate and help Kinders to choose characters and setting to reenact their skits. They will use the transcriptions of what the kindergartners said in the skit as the characters’ dialogue.

In the third visit, we will celebrate and view the videos that were created. How+to+use+a+camera by jaclynnm

Like it? Create your own at It’s free and fun!

For more information about the UbD for the 4th graders, please check out Cheryl Terry’s blog,

Six Degrees of Separation

The more I learn, the more I see the interconnectedness of the things learned. That’s a good thing (I think). We’ve led more active online lives in the past decade and my guess is that it will only ramp up for the future. Look at how far we have come from 1974 when visionaries developed TCP/IP (Internet Protocol) which allowed computers to “talk” to each other. The foundation of the “web” that was built has allowed us to continue to grow and still stay connected. Seeing how things are connected will help us in our future endeavors in cyberspace.

Crediting those that came before is part of the process. Curator’s Code makes a good case for crediting not only the author/creator but also those that follow that indirectly discover or inspire further developments. With an introduction of codes that can help standardize how we attribute these differing contributions, we can extend the respect and courtesy to those who played a significant role directly and indirectly along the way.
= “via” = indicates a link of direct discovery
= “Hat Tip” = indicates an indirect link of discovery

This is akin to the food chain. We might only see that the whale ate the fish but in reality, the fish fed on other fish, plankton/krill, etc. We can and should acknowledge most (if not all) parties involved in the “food” chain or discovery. Marcel’s graphing application ingeniously shows how interconnected everything is. It’s remarkably beautiful how these connections are presented. Who would have thought my “little” blog for this course would have these many connections!

We live in exciting times! It is a World-Wide Web after all! The possibilities are endless. The sky is the limit. Let’s hope that we never get “lost” in this virtual world and are able to follow the breadcrumbs back to the origin within six degrees of separation.

Takes Two To Tangle

Student safety and bullying did not originate or are restricted to cyberspace. The original proverb “It takes two to tango.” is very applicable. This made me wonder about how, where, and when we as educators can and should address the issue of cyberbullying and student safety online. Teaching kindergarten, this poses a different level of complexity due to the students’ literacy skills and their developmental readiness for the subject matter.

Students in this age group are rarely online by themselves. They play video games or online games where the forum for cyberbullying and safety is less than say, a teenager texting or being on a social network site. Still I think that even at this age, students can be more aware of their digital safety. At home, parents can and should monitor the child’s use. At school, for example, teachers can use the Common Sense site for lessons on digital safety and security, like Go Places Safely. Teaching students how to navigate and rate sites is another important skill.

Reading Dana Boyd’s post about bullying made me more resolute as an educator to take time to teach social skills and character education in the younger years. It is far too easy in school schedules and curriculum to bypass “social studies” and only teach the “core subjects” of reading, writing, and math. Socially, students (and adults) gravitate towards relationships that are easy or familiar. For example, on the playground, I see kids group themselves into those who are from similar backgrounds, speak the same language, or who went to the same preschool. The cliques start early. How do we build empathy towards others that might not be like “us”? Two new students joined our class in April. One was well received and one not so much.

Building students to be empathic is critical to building a peaceful society. Our basic needs (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) have to be met in order for us to feel safe. Assuming our basic needs for shelter and food are met, we all want to belong and feel loved and safe. One of my favorite books for teaching empathy in the early years is Fill A Bucket. The basic concept is that when we fill someone else’s bucket (of life) with kindness and understanding, we in turn fill our own bucket. So when we “tangle” with others that might be similar or different than us, we can empathize and “tango” with them in and outside of cyberspace.

Fair Use Is Messy

I always thought that Fair Use laws were very generous when it came to the education arena. 30 seconds of music here and there, videos clips, quotes from books, thumbnails from searches, all for the purpose of making education more engaging. But not all educational use is covered under fair use policy.

The purpose of Fair Use as defined in Wikipedia is “To justify the use as fair, one must demonstrate how it either advances knowledge or the progress of the arts through the addition of something new. A key consideration is the extent to which the use is interpreted as transformative, as opposed to merely derivative.”

I thought that surely copyright laws and fair use policies were of recent developments within the last couple of decades since the economic and technology boom and necessary in our lawsuit-happy society. It was surprising to find out that the first conception was in 1709 in the United Kingdom with the Statute of Anne. To this day, lawsuits examine fair use through the lens of the four factors determined in the 1841 case of Folsom v Marsh, 9 F.Cas. 342.

To be fair, we (as a society) have to place ourselves in the shoes of the artists/authors who should have rights to their intellectual property. They deserve acknowledgement in the form of monetary royalties or at the very least credit for their creative process. Unless the artist has specifically stated that the work is public domain, we should try our best to assume that everything has a default copyright and be respectful in our use, even for the benefit of educating students.

As educators teaching copyright and fair use, we should model how and when we encounter situations that fall in these categories. To better understand from an artist’s point of view, classes can Skype with an artist/author and ask questions about how and why “we” should heed copyrights/fair use policies. Very recently Amy Krouse Rosenthal visited our international school. We wanted to surprise her with a song using the words in her book, Plant a Kiss. Our librarian and the music teachers contacted Amy Krouse Rosenthal who gave her permission. Our kindergartners serenaded Amy in our community garden. It was a lovely way to welcome her to our school. (I have second thoughts about sharing the video of this moment. Is it covered under her copyright permission to broadcast this in a public forum like a blog?)

In the end, fair use rights may be applied when there is no profit involved or the use is not for commercial purposes. In a school setting, this is tricky when it comes to fundraising ideas, theatre/musical or celebrations such as yearbook/graduation that use some sort of media in this digital age. In any case, it is always good to check with the author(s) or see if the work is under contract or license, which would supersede the fair use rights of the property.

Privacy? What privacy.

Privacy online is an oxymoron. Since the digital age, it seems nearly impossible to erase what was once online or on the computer. The paper trail was much easier to get rid of than the technology trail. Even once the published items are erased and trashed, there are still ways to retrieve information. Husna Najand said it well…what you post publically could come back in the future to haunt you privately and professionally.

This makes me wonder about what we are doing in our coursework online. Will what I say now be misconstrued or misinterpreted out of context in the future? I was almost thankful to see “no results” for my search on Rate My Teacher. But yet I know that when I search for jobs internationally, I looked at ratings of potential schools that interested me. Just as we search online for information, schools/organizations could/would possibly do an online search of potential candidates for school/jobs.

What we do personally can affect us professionally now and in the future. Michael Fertik, CEO of states, “The data keeps getting edited in ways you never expected because the social networks change their rules.”

How many times have Facebook changed their privacy settings since you have signed up? There seems to be new posts from friends and friends of friends to remind us to reconfigure our privacy settings on a regular basis.

What’s disturbingly eerie about online privacy is that you think you have taken proper precautions in regard to your own safety online when someone, somewhere could write a program/application that mashes certain key components from different applications together to make something with ulterior motives to invade your privacy. John Brownlee wrote about Girls Around Me app and how this app mashed up data from Facebook, Foursquare and Google Maps. Individually these three appear harmless on the surface and intent when collecting information for its own use. Together this data threatens one’s safety by revealing too much personal information. We are at companies and software writers trust and mercy. I only hope that they think of their own friends and family when they write programs that could potentially be used in harmful ways. I have high hopes for social media and all things technology to have positive intent and purposes (however, I am not naive and have taken the blindfold off).

How Times Have Changed…

It’s been an interesting reflective process from the start of Course 2. Some hard questions and some digging (into personal past history) was necessary.

Life before the computer was a bit simpler. There was a paper trail. We worried about the documents being in the wrong hands. Case in point in the early days of computers, I was mistakenly sent a packet of personal information to do with insurance claims. In the wrong hands this could have easily led to many stolen identities. Nowadays, our information from our digital footprint and digital profile is available if you know where to look.

In my class, the kindergarten students or I often say “Let’s Google it.” when we need more information about a topic. I love using google images to communicate new vocabulary with non-English or developing English students. The students’ digital footprint (probably from their online game presence) is minimal in this grade due to their literacy skills.

Personally, I know I “Google” myself periodically, just as Kim Komando has suggested. I started doing this because my identity had been compromised before and it took a lot of effort to get things straighten out. (Granted this probably stemmed from my wallet being stolen from my classroom.) These days with pre-approved credit card applications being sent to addresses, I can’t imagine it being hard for others to find out more information about you and falsifying information to obtain credit cards in your name sent to them.

Most of our banking are done online now. You can get an instant update from your bank on any transaction. We can also apply for many different things online, from credit cards to jobs. A hacker or a masher could figure out how to get information from our different digital profiles and footprints. Luckily Reputation Defender is a service that can help manage and clean up one’s online presence.

I think it has to be a conscious decision to put yourself out there in cyberspace. It’s imperative to know your current digital footprint and limit information in your digital profile. Information is so readily available and it’s a matter of knowing where to search. Companies are constantly collecting data about its customers. Where and how is this information is being used? I don’t mean to sound paranoid but the more I read about privacy in this digital age, the more weary I am to disclose personal information. I am not sure where the fine line is yet for me professionally.