Course 2 Final Project: Our future Digital Footprint

I love the Grade 5 Who We Are unit because I always see the students grow in maturity over the unit. The Central Idea is:

Knowledge of the changes that occur during adolescence helps us become more responsible.  

To begin with the students believe that it will all be about puberty and they giggle nervously when ever the unit is referred too. Of course we include the physical changes but over time the students realise that the social, emotional and mental changes are equally important. What also comes with this unit is the learner profile of responsibility and seeing the changes that occur throughout this unit as the students take more responsibility for their learning ( We give them the responsibility of tracking and assessing their learning throughout this unit) is amazing.


In the past we have included Digital Citizenship very much as a small part of the unit, mainly as homework, and it has mainly focused on safety and privacy using the kidszone and Common sense media sites.

Thanks to this collaboration with Jen and Stephanne we have been able to really focus on the digital citizenship and make this an integral part of the unit. We have been using a vision board as a way of the students thinking about how they will change over the next 10 years and we try to make it a positive way of them looking at their future and the responsibilities that they may have. But adding in the digital citizenship and getting them to think about their impact digitally in 10 years is very powerful. This way we can focus on both the safety aspects and the positive digital impact that they can have.


We had some difficulties collaborating, purely because of the time of year I think and all having very busy schedules. The use of a Google doc made life easier as we could add things in our own time and make comments. If we could have pulled off a Skype meeting that would have helped but it just wasn’t to be this time around. I enjoyed collaborating in this unit as it really helped me to see the possibilities and as with any collaboration 2 or in this case 3 heads is way better than one.

Empowering student voice

“Get out of their way and let them be amazing.” Scott McLeod at TEDxDesMoines

This quote from Scott McLeod in his TEDX talk on Extracurricular empowerment stood out for me. There are so many examples of students who have great ideas and are trying to share these with the rest of the world through their blogs, their websites and their actions. And yet still in so many schools and in so many national curriculums we hear that students are not being given the opportunities to share their ideas globally or even locally. They have to take tests, revise for tests, spend time learning and practicing skills that I question the need for. There are schools that pride themselves in not allowing students to have much access to technology. Where more time is spent on handwriting practice than on exploring and sharing ideas. Last week I saw this video by Curran Dee that highlighted the importance of learning through inquiry and kids being empowered:

In this video he talks about all the exciting ways he is able to find information and link with others through  his blog. At first I thought he was saying that there were no computers or tech at his school but really he was talking about the ways in which he could use technology and being a digital citizen. Through Twitter and blogging he can access information, experts and other students. He can share ideas and develop his own ideas. He is not restricted to just the facts in a book or on 1 or 2 websites that the teacher allows him to use. It is not the availability of technology that is important it is how we allow our students to use it. How much we empower them.

As an IBPYP school we have to include Action as one of the key components of our curriculum. My Grade 5 students have to include Action as part of their Exhibition and we spend a lot of time looking at examples of how people, particularly young people take action around the world. Some good examples I use are:

My invention that made peace with lions

How I built a windmill

Emily’s Hair


My personal favourite is this one which features Australian Grade 5 students doing small actions that take 5 minutes a day. This clearly shows the impact small actions can have, relates to what students can actually do and shows the power of being able to share your ideas and actions online.

This takes us full circle back to where we started with COETAIL. We need to develop our students connectivism and their personal learning environment. For me the next steps will be to develop their blogging and our Class Twitter so that when we get to Exhibition it won’t just be using computers to share their ideas with a local audience and as a way of presenting. It will be being able to share their ideas and actions with a global audience.


Social Media Tweenies and digital citizenship

“Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behaviour.” NETS.S

According to NETS this is what students need to do in order to become digital citizens. They have also produced a four stage plan for teaching digital citizenship:



As teachers we should be teaching:

  1. Awareness- This is where students have a knowledge of technology and also know what is appropriate behaviour and what is inappropriate behaviour when using technology.
  2. Guided practice:  This is giving students the opportunities to use different technologies. Also the opportunity to take risks in a safe environment.
  3. Modelling and demonstration: Teachers should  be aware of correct practices and model these for students. Teachers must be digital citizens themselves.
  4. Feedback and analysis:  There should be opportunities for discussion with students to look at how they are using technology appropriately and to help them be aware of ways of improving their practice.

So there is quite a lot of responsibility here for the teachers. They should be teaching digital citizenship and giving the students a lot of time to develop their skills, have time to take risks ( and possibly make mistakes in a safe environment)  and to reflect on their practice.

But is this really happening in schools? How necessary is it?

I read the article What are teens doing online? and noticed that according to their data collection 

 37% of teens own smartphones

91% post photos of themselves on social media,

24% post videos.

Only 60% have their settings set to private

These are figures for teenagers. The students in my class are only 10 and 11 years old. So the figures for them would be lower presumably and so less to worry about. But looking around the students in my international school class, counting the Apple watches on display, the MacBook Air’s that many of them bring to school and knowing that out in their school bags are several iPhone 6’s I have to ask myself how protected are they. 

I decided to do my own survey and discovered that:

67% of my students own a smartphone (20% also have Apple watches)

47% post photos of themselves on social media,

40% post videos.

Only 43% say they have their settings set to private

Although these children are under 13 many of them are using social media regularly; including What’s App, Instagram, Facebook, Viber, Twitter and Youtube.

It seems to me that not only is it important that we are teaching Digital Citizenship skills but that also we may need to go further than the existing programmes that are available online for students their age. We also need to make sure that the parents are on board as well, as they are the ones who realistically set the limits for what their children are allowed to do online.

Quite a few of my students understood the importance of privacy settings, especially when it comes to giving out email addresses, phone numbers etc. Several of them said they had good privacy settings on social media but a quick check on FB clearly showed that was not the case for all of them. 

It is vital that we teach the students how to be safe and responsible on line. There are plenty of good resources out there that will help us to do that. This website gdst has a lot of good videos that deal with digital footprint, cyber bullying, staying safe and secure etc. Here is an example of one of their videos. This one is looking at Security and privacy

They also have videos and advice for parents which as I noted before I believe is vital if our students are to really become digital citizens. We obviously can’t tell parents what to do but we can help them be aware of what they can do to help their children be safe and responsible on line.  I thoroughly enjoyed looking at Janell Burley Hoffman’s website and fully intend to share this with the parents of my class. Her suggestions for iRules may be helpful to some of my parents who are unsure of what to do to support their child in this area.

As a school I think we need to address digital citizenship and really build it in to our curriculum. We need to be building these lessons into our curriculum and having these conversations as a staff and with parents in order to help our students be become digital citizens of the future.

Fair Use or not?

After a lot of reading, watching videos and discussion with colleagues I now have a much better understanding of what copyright means in the digital world and how little notice I have been taking of it.

I guess I have been suffering from what many teachers in the International School bubble suffer from. We kind of think it sort of doesn’t apply to us! Of course it does and more importantly we need to communicate the ideas and teach our students about it. I think as an elementary teacher I have neglected this area because it didn’t seem to apply. I do think that International schools seem to have a less rigorous approach to copyright laws etc and that means that the teachers and consequently the students see it as not that important.

So I need to begin with my own understanding before I can help my students. I understand that K-6 students do not have to rigorously follow the guidelines but they need to have some understanding. I started with Rachel Fryer’s mnemonic:


H = Homegrown- your own photos or photos, videos that friends and family have given you permission to use.

P = Public Domain- may have always had permission to use or their copyright has passed. Can be difficult to determine.

C = Creative Commons- you have permission to use this media but under certain conditions. Anyone can share their work under Creative Commons License. This can increase the likelihood of collaboration.

F = Fair Use- when it can be shown that what you have used without the permission of the owner is fair use- e.g quotations, short clips from videos and music.

This helped me develop my own understanding of the different parts of the issue. I was particularly interested in the Creative Commons and Fair Use parts because this is where I have the least understanding and where I am possibly breaking the law at times.

My previous misunderstandings include:

  1. Not realising that just crediting the author when quoting wasn’t necessarily enough
  2. Believing that I could use music excerpts for my own videos as long as I didn’t use the whole song
  3. That there were limits to how many photos of one person you can use
  4. That you can’t necessarily use the whole poem- if it is more than 250 words.
  5. That there is a long line for some source credits and that it can be really hard to find the original source.

This poster helped me to understand more about when I can use images and when I need to ask permission etc


Image taken from

This video Get Creative helped me understand Creative Commons better.


We expect our students to be principled and that includes understanding ethics. I am a firm believer in practicing what I preach so first I need to model the correct ways of citing and giving credit and then I need to teach my students what to do.

I have learned how to reset my Google search so that it will look for items that are free to use, share or modify. I have found a number of sites that allow the search for images that have Creative Commons. They are:


Creative commons



Britannia Imagequest

There are lots of videos that can be used to teach students about Fair Use and Creative Commons. This video from Common Sense Media for Grade 5/6 students on Fair Use had a great idea for teaching students how to find the evidence as to whether a video was Fair Use.

So I am  going to stop assuming that I have covered the bases just by getting the students to site the websites and books they have referenced. From now on we will also consider the images and videos we have used and check that they are sited, use where possible images that are free to use,share and modify and try to follow the Fair Use guidelines.


To be safe and out there!

I read with interest  The myth of online predators. The online world is no more dangerous than the real world. There is probably truth in this. We teach our kids to not accept lifts from strangers etc and many years ago this proved to be a good lesson to me, when as a nine year old I was able to say NO to the man asking me to get in his car and show him the way to the next town! My parents, teachers and the local policeman had all managed to get that message across to me. We still teach that type of message to students nowadays though we are now aware that it isn’t necessarily strangers that we have to worry about. In the same way we need to teach our children the same messages about being safe on line. If someone asks you questions or says things that make you feel uncomfortable say no, don’t reply. In fact in some ways it is easier as you can just disconnect or leave that online space.

On the other hand being aware of how to keep yourself safe is also quite tricky. What information is it ok to share and what isn’t. I tell my students to only share basic information when they are using social media; a username, preferably not their real or full name. No birthdate, address, family details etc. But we often assume that our own social media is private but by downloading apps on Facebook etc we are giving lots of information about ourselves to 3rd party users like advertisers. This leads to a false sense of security. 

This creepy app really got the message across to me about privacy settings. The Girls around me app was accessing any girls/ boys in the vicinity that didn’t have good privacy settings and this meant that anyone could view whatever they were sharing including photos, location and details about family and friends. If you were a stalker this would be an app that you would find extremely useful.

This video shows how easy it is for someone to find your location through your photos that you have put on FB, even if you don’t mention the location.


At the beginning of this post I referred to an article that said that we are in no more danger online than in the real world but you could also say that we have more to worry about now as we have to worry about our safety both online and in the real world- and the safety of the children in our care. Though I agree that we should not become paranoid and that we need to be realistic there are now new crimes that did not exist before.

A member of my family was cyber stalked a few years ago. She was a local TV presenter and a member of the public sent her many emails threatening her and her family for over 2 years until he was caught. The power that he had over her was terrifying because she had no idea who he was and more scarily where he was. Fortunately he was eventually arrested and sent to prison. She then decided to take matters into her own hands and become the  head of a stalking charity. The aim of this charity was to draw awareness to cyberstalking, particularly from the police and the government.


Cyberstalking has now been defined by law in the UK and the police  are being trained in how to deal with it better. But development in technology means that more people are now being cyber stalked as it is very easy to buy spyware that will allow people to access peoples email accounts and social network sites. There is a very real fear that the development of drones will also exacerbate the problem. Unlike real world stalking, where most of the perpetrators are known to the victim, cyber stalkers are often strangers or only a casual acquaintance. Also 40% of the victims are men.

Websites like Getsafeonline give advice to people to try and protect themselves from cyber stalkers and also what to do if you are a victim. Being a victim of this crime is devastating as it is hard to ever feel safe and it can damage self-esteem and confidence irreparably. We are fortunate that in our family the victim was able to make a stand and help to make a difference.

Meanwhile we must continue to make sure that our students are aware and know how to safely be online as well as being aware of what to do if there is a problem. Sites like kidsmart can help them with this. Teachers have a job to try to ensure that our students are aware of their presence on line, of their privacy and how to protect it and their ability to be as safe as possible both online and in the real world. It is vital that we keep up to date and aware but at the same time make sure that both our students and their parents realise that being online can have many positive outcomes and that it is better to be out there but ‘streetwise’ rather than hidden and unseen.



Considering my own Digital Footprint

Every year we talk about how we can keep the students in our Grade 5 classes safe online. We worry that despite being only 10 or 11 at least half of them have Facebook and although I am not a friend of any of my present or former students ( under 18’s that is) I can still see much of what they are sharing with the world. We have discussed online safety with the students and use the material from Common sense media to help them be more aware. We have had incidents of inappropriate chats or emails and have dealt with these on an individual basis but at the same time highlighting with the students what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour. But I have always felt that we are not doing enough to keep them safe.

The readings that I have been looking at this week have made me realise that perhaps I have been looking at their behaviour online from only 1 perspective- how to keep them safe, an approach that many parents and teachers also share.  The  Youth and Media project at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University focused their research on two categories: the risks and the opportunities. While the risks are important we mustn’t lose sight of the opportunities that a digital footprint offers. The access they have to information and learning and the opportunities to share their voice, beliefs and values are immense. They also have the opportunity to make a difference in the World in so many ways.

Todays students are truly digital natives and they have a digital trail that started with their mother’s first visit to the doctor when she realised she was expecting. This video about a young person’s Digital Dossier makes you realise just how big our digital footprint really is and especially those born in the last 10-15 years.


In order to help students understand the impact of their Digital Footprint teachers (and parents) need to also understand the impact of their own Digital Footprint. So this week I have been looking at mine. I was quite pleased with how protected my Facebook was and my other networks such as Linked in and Twitter were in good shape from a security point of view. But bearing in mind that 91% of employers screen prospective employees social networks usage I feel that I need to work more on the opportunities side of my Digital Footprint. Obviously Coetail should be a big help with this, especially as I try to build my PLN.


There are a whole range of resources to help both teachers and students become more aware of their digital presence. Our job is to ensure that we maintain a strong, positive professional digital presence and guide our students to do the same.




How the World Works – Course 1 Final Project

I decided to work on the How the World Works unit for this Course 1 Final Project. The reasons for choosing this unit are:

  • Very little technology in this unit as it stands
  • A unit that needs more depth to it
  • A unit that we could make some collaborative connections with other classes in the future.

In this unit we will be including more opportunities for the students to do hands on science than previously. We will be beginning with some experiments and an investigation that involves water sampling at a local lake, using the water testing equipment borrowed from the secondary school.


I have been looking at Seesaw which uses a Chrome Extension that is a classroom blog that can have student folders attached to it. I want my students to have the opportunity to start blogging but our school is looking very carefully at how public we are with our online spaces and at the moment we are being more careful about how much the ‘public’ can see. Seesaw has the option of being public or password protected and the teacher can choose whether folders are shared or not. This means that I can be very secure to begin with and then maybe more open later on, depending on the direction the school decides to take. I also like that we will be able to connect with other classroom blogs through Seesaw. They will be able to use Seesaw to make reflections and post their findings throughout the unit.


I want my students to build their own PLN’s but to begin with I feel that we need to take small steps. We will begin by collaborating with the other Grade 5 class at our school and then try to collaborate through Coetail, Seesaw and Skype in the Classroom. That is the other focus I want to make in technology with this unit. I have never used Skype much in the past but I think that this would be a good way of collaborating with other classes. It also allows us to access experts in science that we can set up virtual field trips with or interviews.

For their final summative assessment the students can make a video if they want to. We will explore some of the possibilities for this- Animoto, video for YouTube, and the students can choose what to share through video. We will include some time during the unit to work on video skills. Many of the students already make their own units so I hope that we will be able to use in class experts to support other students.

At our school we have not adopted any particular standards for ICT at this point but I have looked at the ISTE Standards to help guide me with this unit.

Here is the unit for Grade 5 How the World Works

Thinking collaboratively

I have found this post the most difficult to write because I have felt rather overwhelmed by the amount of information out there and by all the possibilities. There are so many things that I could do to be more globally collaborative. I found the Global Collaboration Day that Jen posted very interesting and I think for Elementary students this is a great way of sharing and collaborating with other schools and students. Maybe something that can develop and become more than a day. As I have mentioned previously I am also interested in using Skype Classroom and Twitter with my class and these are great ways of developing global links and possibly collaborative learning. Using these types of links will lead to deeper understanding and make learning more meaningful.


In the Horizon Report there is a section on collaboration. It talks about the need for it to be learner centred, interactive, involving group work and the importance of focusing on real life problems.

Technology empowers teachers to assemble global communities of practice and allows students to collaborate with each other, regardless of physical location.

The first part of those quote made me realise that I am making global connections all the time. And maybe this is where I should be starting. For the last year or so we have been trying to make our maths program more inquiry based and so have been exploring ways of doing that. One of the best sites I have found has been Graeme Anshaw’s fabulous Enquiry- based maths site. Graeme posts all the enquiry maths that he does with his Year 6 class and we have been using and adapting his ideas with our Grade 5 classes very successfully. Being enquiry based this gives the students the opportunity to focus on real life problems. They generally begin with a central idea and ask questions. They then form their own questions and inquire into them. This also generally leads to interactive work, group work and is learner centred.

I feel that by exploring and accessing sites like this I am giving my students the opportunity to expand their learning and to develop their skills and understandings in a more realistic and applicable way. By my learning new ways of teaching maths and by my learning from other teachers I am helping my students. But I now need to go further and stop just looking for ideas and to start sharing ideas and working with others to do so.


Wondering about Twitter

“There’s little question that the gap between school learning and life learning has become wider and more acute as the Web and mobile technologies continue to evolve as learning opportunities.”

This quote from 16 modern realities made me think about the discussions that are currently happening in our school. There has been a push by some teachers to try and develop more connectivity for the students and we are using Twitter, Instagram and Google Photos to share what we are doing in the classroom. There are some parents though who are questioning whether it is safe for our students to be portrayed on public sites and we have been asked to secure them so that only people with passwords or permission can access them.

I agree that it is vital that we keep our students safe but at the same time we have to recognise that they need to have access to information and other people if they are truly to become connected. A lot of what I have been reading this week is focused on older students and the importance of them being connected but what about the younger students? I am looking at starting blogs with my class but question the real purpose if they are only able to be looked at by people with passwords. I know a lot of the blogs, like this one, let you ‘approve’ comments but this still means that people can make inappropriate comments or try to access the blog that the students will see.

I think it is important that we get our students connected but what is the best way? Especially for elementary students? I am keen to try using Skype Classroom and am exploring different blogs that the students could use. I looked at Edmodo, which is very safe but I wanted one where the students would have their own blogs. Any advice is welcome!

Another area of my thinking this week has been about what Tom Whitby was quoted as saying in Time to redesign curriculum for the digital age

“When it comes to teaching students in the 21st century I have come to believe that it is more important to teach kids how to learn than it is to teach them what to learn.”

This led me to thinking about what we do when we have our all day planning. We tend to spend the time looking at what went well last year and then build on that. I came across this comment in When context overshadows concepts

‘As we plan next year, a more important question than ‘what worked in this unit?’ would be to ask ‘what’s happening in the world right now?’

How can we incorporate what is happening in the World to our units? Obviously we do in class conversations and discussions but how much do we incorporate this into our actual plans. In order to do this we need to build our connections so that we can be relevant and purposeful.

I think using Twitter in the class would be a good starting point. As I mentioned in a previous post we do have a Twitter account for Grade 5 but we have been struggling with how to make it more meaningful. I have been looking at different suggestions for using Twitter in an Elementary class and I think that we need to start with the students using Twitter for research and to share their ideas. I want to make sure that the students are in a safe environment so maybe to begin with it is through making connections through Twitter with other students. I want to find some other teachers who use Twitter with their students so that we can follow each other, ask for help and build our PLN. I am hoping that through COETAIL I can find some other teachers who would be willing to do this with me.

This video about Twitter in the classroom gives some good ideas for Twitter-quette and ways of using Twitter

I am going to spend some more time teaching the students how to write Tweets and the language of Twitter. We also need to explore the hashtags that will help us the most. We will then look for some classes to follow and who will hopefully follow us so that we can start to exchange tweets.

The 4th Industrial Revolution and our students

I have never been so blown away by a video as the one that I just watched; The Fourth Industrial Revolution from the World Economic Forum.

YouTube Preview Image

Part of me is terrified by what I heard and the other part of me is excited by the possibilities.

So we are already in the 4th Industrial Revolution and the possibilities are unfathomable. The pace at which this change is happening is fast and will encompass all that we know. The possibilities that will exist for humans including radical changes to how we treat our bodies, our life expectancy and what science will be able to do for us require us to have a complete mindset change from the mindset that we have had previously. Examples are given such as using 3D printers to create body parts and to change the ways in which we produce things, even food.

But all this comes at a price- not so much a monetary one though that will have a big impact- but at a possible cost to our humanity.

The changes in what skills are needed by the workforce and the jobs that will exist in just a few years could have huge impact on equality both in the workforce and between nations. The gap between rich and poor could get even wider as the nature of jobs changes and the opportunities for those with low skills become fewer as those jobs disappear or become less needed.

David Denning has mapped the jobs and the skills of the future. There will be more demand for high skills/ high pay jobs and less demand for low skills/ low pay jobs. This will lead to greater disparity between the rich and the poor  and between developed and less developed countries.

David Dennings map of jobs of the future

What does all of this mean for us as educators?

David Denning identified that the skills that will be required the most are mathematics and social skills. I believe that means that we will need to change our approach to teaching to allow students to develop these skills.

I do not believe that by maths skills he means rote learning, isolated skills development and testing. Students need to be taught maths that has application to real life. They need to learn how to problem solve and to enjoy problem solving so that they have the stamina to keep trying and keep looking for solutions. They need to have a deep understanding of mathematical concepts that allows them to apply their understanding in many different contexts. Jo Boaler from Stanford University has been spear heading work on maths mindsets and how you can teach students maths in ways that makes them feel successful and motivated. Her youcubed site has many great ideas for helping students become more confident and to change a negative mindset into a positive one.

The other area that we need to teach are social skills. It seems that many if not most jobs in the future will require people to work together. They need to be able to cooperate with one another in order to achieve their goals. At the moment we are working on cooperation skills with our Grade 5’s. This year we are hoping to do a lot of STEAM projects with the students but we have found that cooperation and communication are areas that need a lot of work. Particularly expressing an opinion in a positive way and active listening. The students themselves are very aware that these are areas to work on and we trying hard to focus on aspects of this in our everyday work as well as through specific activities. We are using this chart to help students keep focused on the goal

Being a cooperative person 

Of course much of the communication will be through using technology and it seems we are constantly coming across new apps and ideas that will help us to communicate more effectively but at times it can be overwhelming. How do we best utilise all these ideas in  the classroom? This week I have been exploring different apps like Google MyMaps. I let the students play with this. Some of them mapped the route taken in Kensuke’s Kingdom.


We have done this previously with a picture and lines. Now they can add photos of the places visited, identify the top attractions in each place etc. You can instantly share your route with others, your experiences and plans. These types of apps are all around us now and the potential for the class room seems mind blowing. I have also been looking at Skype Classroom. There is the opportunity to Skype with other classes so sharing our learning and being able to exchange ideas. There are also online field trips and experts to interview. These open up our classes to the World so easily- a real draw for those of us working in countries where English is not always offered for field trips of museums etc.

There are so many opportunities out there for using technology to enhance our learning and our lives. But we want to make sure that the children we are teaching today are able to access those high skill/ high pay jobs and to do that we need to prepare them well. We need to make sure that students are allowed to share in this 4th Industrial Revolution and that they are ready for it.