Conversations In Ed: The Complexities of BYOD

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) agreements are being developed in many school districts across the province, and although they vary in content from district to district, there are many similarities. I am currently working on developing a draft BYOD agreement for my district and I wanted to take the time to share my learning.

What are BYOD agreements?

Agreements to support the use of student’s own devices in schools, to educate students and staff on the consenting use of devices, and explain the consequences of misuse of the networks which support the devices. There currently exists a wide range of different BYOD agreements; some brief and others extremely lengthy. It appears as though no one BYOD agreement is a best fit for all schools, so make decisions that best fit the unique needs of school or district.

Why Do We Need BYOD?

We are in a time when so much of the research, inquiry, and collaborative learning students complete in a day are enabled by the use of devices such as a smartphones, laptops, or tablets. Schools and school districts do not have large enough technology budgets to accommodate the seer volume of devices required, so a well thought out BOYD agreement would enable students to engage in 21st Century Learning, and at the same time alleviate some of the budgetary concerns facing many schools. In addition, it is important to acknowledge the efficiency benefits of BYOD agreements. Without BYOD, students may need to spend unnecessary time learning unfamiliar software programs pre-installed on school devices before they are able to complete the required learning task. In contrast, students who are permitted to bring their own devices to school are already familiar with them and can attend to the learning task right away.

“By allowing students to bring in their own devices for learning–rather than insisting that they learn both content and device in school–there is an important opportunity to connect with not just their personal lives, but their natural way of doing things.” Terry Heick (teachthought.com)

Pros:

  1. Students are familiar their own devices and can concentrate more on creating, responding to, and reflecting on their learning, rather than learning how to use unfamiliar devices and software
  2. Helps to address the problem of schools trying to provide the necessary hardware for 21st Century learning with limited technology budgets by allowing students to bring their own devices to school
  3. Excellent learning tool to gain access to information, create content, respond and reflect on own learning
  4. Potential to widen the student learning networks from traditional classroom based networks to global networks

Cons:

  1. BYOD does not address the equality differences between students and schools residing in low socioeconomic areas
  2. Theft and misuse of devices
  3. Time and money spent on educating users on device etiquette
  4. IT and network considerations

Communication

It is critically important to clearly communicate the rationale of BYOD with all partners in learning; students, teachers, parents, and guests. Including the BYOD in a general acceptable use policy (AUP) is one option, but a more targeted approach might be more successful. Listing the BYOD agreement on the school district website, emailing it out, or adding it to each students’ school registration process might be more beneficial.

Education and Training

Teachers, support staff, and students may need ongoing training with the decision making process of when and when not to use devices to enhance learning. It is also important to spend time educating students on device etiquette. Students may not be able to establish boundaries between work and play. Educators use a variety of expectations around device usage in their classrooms, some of them include:

  • Silent mode unless being used
  • Device stays in the backpack unless a member of staff asks you specifically to use it
  • Students must not use devices to record, transmit, or post photographic images or video of a person or persons on campus during school hours or during school activities, unless otherwise allowed by a teacher – see more
  • Students should only be using the devices to access files, information, images, or video that are directly related to the content of the lesson or assignment

Network Access Requirements

It is important to clearly communicate what type of devices are permitted under your BOYD agreement: smartphones, tablets, netbooks, and laptops, and what the minimum hardware/software requirements are needed to gain access to the network. No teacher wants to spend their morning trying to get an outdated netbook connected to the school wireless.

District/School IT Responsibilities

In my school district when I, or when students in my class, have hardware/software issues we submit an IT helpdesk e-ticket, but what happens when the number of devices in my class increase with BYOD? Will the IT department be overwhelmed with additional requests? Will the IT department be expected to provide students with service level agreements? What will happen when student data is lost, and will more infrastructures be needed in school? I think students will need to charge their devices in the middle of the day, and schools/districts may need to consider charging stations at some point in the future.

 

Network Security:

Network security is an important feature of BYOD. We asked ourselves questions such as, how will you manage the network with respect to restricting access to certain sites at certain times? Would we continue to use Ministry filters from PLNet, or would consider using our own internal knowledge to program our own filters?

Another questions raised by middle/high teachers were related to bandwidth. In one particular school, the WiFi bandwidth was seriously impacted as soon as buses started to arrive at school. As a 1000+ students started to walk through the doors and their phones started to auto detected the network, the network slowed to a crawl.

In our discussion we decide to limit the number of devices a student can use to connect to the network, block certain sites during recess and lunch, and have several different wireless networks in school to accommodate different users such as staff, students, and guests. We are currently looking into Bradford Networks to assist us with providing the software to manage our networks. They will be able to register IP address, track infractions, block access to network and sites, and manage security threats.

 

Unanswered Questions of BYOD Agreements

Along the way to developing an agreement, we came across many questions we have yet to decide solutions for. For example, what happens if a device is lost or damaged on school grounds? Who covers the cost of fixing the problem or replacing the device? Schools simply cannot afford to replace the cost of damaged devices, so the sole responsibility needs to lie with students, but will this result in students, who have devices, deciding not to bring them to school in fear of damaging? Perhaps students will need to purchase a type of insurance to cover the costs of damaged devices in schools.
What happens to students who misuse the networks they are accessing?
Will sites be blocked during recess and lunch? If so which ones, and will this decision be made at the district or school level?
Will a BYOD agreement mean unexpected and additional work by IT departments?

 

Sample BYOD Agreements:
http://education.alberta.ca/media/6749210/byod%20guide%20revised%202012-09-05.pdf
http://www.allenisd.org/cms/lib/TX01001197/Centricity/Domain/1654/BYOD.pdf

Great BYOD Links:
http://www.teachthought.com/technology/11-sample-education-byot-policies-to-help-you-create-your-own/
http://www.classlink.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/BYOD-Guidebook-v13.pdf?9e9d1c
http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/07/what-teachers-need-to-know-about-byod.html
http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2013/06/we-have-a-byod-program-but-now-what.html
http://darcymoore.net/2013/06/04/byod-in-a-post-der-world/
https://www.diigo.com/user/cyberjohn07/BYOD
http://www.bradfordnetworks.com/

What Does It Mean To Be An Open Educator?

In my last #tiegrad class we discussed what it means to be an open educator.  Since then, I’ve been developing my own understanding of ‘open practices.’

 
 

According to Wikipedia:

Open education is a collective term[1] to describe institutional practices and programmatic initiatives that broaden access to the learning and training traditionally offered through formal education systems. The qualifier “open” of open education refers to the elimination of barriers that can preclude both opportunities and recognition for participation in institution-based learning. One aspect of openness in or “opening up” education is the development and adoption of open educational resources.”

My understanding of Open Education is that it represents a mindset – a way of thinking of others instead of ourselves.  Educators who engage in ‘open practices’ create a culture of sharing, collaboration, and cooperation.  They work together toward a common goal.  Each one offering a unique perspective, or enriching the process of collaboration with their past experiences and knowledge.  It can start local with team teaching or grade group collaboration within a school, or it can extend beyond the boundaries of the school to the virtual world.  Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), for example, are readily available online, and cater to a variety of subjects areas and topics.  These courses allow learners to connect via the web, share their knowledge, and better their understanding of the subject matter being discussed.  There exists technologies, which allow educators to connect in more informal ways but many of them are hidden behind passwords and usernames.  When we adopt a mindset of open practices, as educators, our practice can flourish and our students thrive.

One of the most exciting aspects of open education, as it relates to my own practice, is the ability to participate in my own personalized professional development.  I don’t always feel like I connect to the professional development opportunities that my school district hosts or those offered by my school, but I do get excited knowing that I can connect with other educators in subject areas of interest, and create, share, and adapt content, which I can then used to enhance the learning experience I have with my students.

Open Education also has real and meaningful impact outside of my own classroom practice.  It has huge implications from a social justice perspective.  I spend a lot of time engaging my intermediate students in service-learning projects that help them to understand, and create awareness around, local and global issues.  Our many discussions over the years always lead back to the root cause of many social justice issues, education.  Institutional-based education is not readily available for many children around the world, particularly girls, so access to education via the Internet is critical to helping us solve this problem.

What Limits Open Practices?

Closed practice educators may be more concerned about claiming ownership of knowledge, protecting intellectual property, or simply feeling like they have nothing to offer others.  I get it!  It is not easy to be publicly visible about your practice because you open yourself up to the possibility of criticism and critiques.

Fear can also limit open practices.  Recently my school district adopted Sharepoint as tool to better connect students and teachers in the district.  It is a step in the right direction but the tool is only really meaningful in the closed environment of our school district.  It’s not possible to share documents, and create content with anyone outside of our group.  Why?  Perhaps schools feel anxious about privacy and the potential dangers of open practices, or maybe they feel the need to exercise control over knowledge and information.  My students can definitely learn a great deal from the skilled students and staff in the district, but I am certain they can learn an awful lot from those outside of my district, as well.

What Tools Do Open Educators Use?

Educators who engage in open practices often need specific tools to help them connect with like-minded professionals.  Some of these tools may be described as Open Educational Resources (OER’s).  In order for an educational resource to be classified as open, it needs to meet four key criteria.  OER’s need to be intentionally created for others to redistribute, reuse, revise, and remix.  Creative Commons work meets many of these requirements.  Unlike a research paper or a textbook, which is created once and is static, OER’s are dynamic.  They are always a continuous work in progress; much like the educator I strive to be.

Keywords relating to the topic of Open Education:

MOOC – Massive Open Online Course – MOOC List

OER – Open Educational Resources

#ETMOOC – Educational Technology Massive Open Online Course

#openedu – Open Education Twitter hashtag

#ceetopen – Community of Expertise in Educational Technology

What Do We Need In Order To Create Change In Education?

BE THE CHANGE

 

 

I don’t claim to have any answers to the above question, but when Heidi (@h_james18) from my #tiegrad Master’s class asked this question on Twitter recently, my mind began to wander.

When I’m wrapping my head around big picture ideas it sometimes helps to look at the situation from the opposing direction. With that in mind, I think I know what we don’t need. We don’t need sweeping changes laid forth by a panicked government trying to play catch-up, nor do we need top down directions from our school districts, and I’m pretty sure that throwing money into technology for technology’s sake isn’t the answer either.

Maybe we need to start small… We can’t change the face of education tomorrow, next month, or even next year so let’s not panic! A little self-talk for myself there… We can, however, start to make small changes by connecting, and sharing ideas, with like-minded educators in our buildings, our school districts, and our learning networks.

I think we need to become creative at finding the necessary time to connect. Time, built into our daily work schedule, where we can meet with colleagues and grade groupings to hash out best practices and create authentic learning opportunities for our students, outside of the four walls of our classrooms. In Will Richardson’s book, Why School, he talks about the importance of unlearning and relearning in our teaching practices. Unlearning and relearning doesn’t always happen in the confines of our four classroom walls, nor does educational change.

Most importantly we need the confidence and the support to make changes in our own practice. Change not for sake of it, but change based on empirically sound research. We need to practice in ways that students learn best. Tom Schimmer, a BC educator and an expert on assessment, talks about the four stages of changes; new ideas start off being marginalized, then ridiculed, often criticised, before finally being accepted. It serves as a good reminder for me that we need support for educational change to take place.

What are the impediments to educational change?

I suppose this could be a standalone topic by itself… Sometimes I think students themselves may represent impediments to change. I wonder if they have the skills to fully embrace a model of personalized inquiry-driven learning? I know so many of the students I work with have become so ingrained with the stand and deliver model that there is sometimes confusion or anxiety toward a different approach.

Could our school buildings be impediments to educational change? Sometimes, I wish I could knock down the classroom walls and join my kindergarten buddy class for the day. Would a major restructuring of the physical space in our schools send a clear message that we value multi-age working groups that are based on interest level over groupings based on age and associated grade level?

Are our current data gathering and reporting methods impediments to change? When I am required to give my students a standardized math assessment at the beginning of the year that I know full well they are going to bomb, I question the validity of some of our methods of gathering data. When students are excited to receive their report card, not to celebrate the learning that has taken place or hear about areas of growth, but to count the number of A’s and B’s they received, which they can later transfer into cash from their parents, there is a clear problem.

What are you thoughts on educational change and its forces of resistance?

EDCI 338: Media Clip on Research Background and Interests

This post marks the start of a new educational related journey for me.  I’ve decided to go back to school and further my understanding of the best practices available to engage and motivate my learners.  I’m part of a small cohort #tiegrad and our first assignment is to create a media clip based on our educational interests.
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I’ve been involved in education in Chilliwack since 2007 and I currently work at Central Elementary Community School.  I am looking forward to the program but I am a little nervous about being able to juggle life, work, and school, especially with my first baby on the way.  The last few years have been extremely satisfying as an educator.  I’ve have started to develop a voice in education, continually try to improve my craft, and started to myself questions like, “What kind of learning environment am I creating?” “Does the activity I’m asking students to do relate to the learning outcome?” and “Am I feeding my students knowledge or posing questions to which we can discover the answers to together?”

I have several areas of interest I’d like to share with.  One area of interested is a part of my weekly schedule I have coined CHOICE – Children Have Ownership In Choice Education.  You might know it as genius hour, enquiry learning, or personalized learning.  I think it’s important to create time in the weekly schedule where students are encouraged to find their passions and explore them.  During CHOICE, I don’t plan to have too many answers for students, but plenty of questions.  I can visualize what it looks like, to some extent, but I’m having difficulty creating a framework to suit all my learners.  I wanted to include it in my schedule last year but couldn’t find the right time.  Perhaps the right time is not when everything is aligned, but now.  I read Will Richardson’s book “Why School?” last year and I loved Larry Rosenstock’s quote:

“We have to stop delivering the curriculum to kids.  We have to start discovering it with them.”

I get it!  It makes sense to me, but I still wonder what it looks like for all my students.  I am looking forward to reading Angela Maiers, “The Passion-Driven Classroom” which I believe speaks to this type of learning.

Another area of interest to me is self-regulation.  I work in an inner-city school with a disproportionately high number of at-risk children.  Many of these children are either too stimulated or not stimulated enough to partake in the learning process.  The need to develop students’ ability to self-regulate has become glaring obvious to everyone who works in my school, so this year I’m working with a new program called MindUP curriculum developed by the Goldie Hawn Foundation.  MindUP teaches social and emotional learning skills, brain science, a positive mindset, and mindful awareness.  Right now we’re working on deep breathing techniques, and will soon be learning about important parts of the brain, and how signals in our brain get blocked during times of stress and over stimulation.

I‘m an avid Twitter user and have found real value in Twitter over the years, particularly when developing learning networks, making connections, and working to improving my craft.  I like to explore student-learning networks in more depth.  The thought of my own students making connections with other students, teachers, professionals from around the world who work in fields they are interested in excites me no end.  I’ve tried them with students with mixed success but never with a whole class.

Game-based learning is an area of education that fascinates me.  I’ve just finished reading Now You See It by Cathy Davidson and in her books she talks about designing lesson in a gaming format where lessons allow for risk taking, meaningful creation, nonlinear navigation, problem solving, and an understanding of rule structures  So many of my students play video games and are engaged, motivated, and incredibly creative with them.  Nothing would please me more than to transfer some of those experiences into the classroom.

Finally, I have to let you into a little secret.  All the areas of professional interest I’ve mentioned already pale in comparison to what gets me up in the morning.  Four years ago I took my grade 6’s to Free The Children’s We Day in Vancouver, and that one experience change my views on education and what’s really important in school.  Building positive healthy relationships with one another, exercising tolerance, forgiveness, and above all else caring for one another is what really matters.  Thanks to We Day, my classroom has become a hub for social justice issues both globally and locally.  We fight hunger, stand against inequality, educate our local community about homelessness and water issues, and advocate for human rights.

I look forward to learning and sharing with you.

Student Vote: Giving Youth A Voice

Photo 2013-05-05 07.49.37 PM

It is never too early to empower our youth.  As an elementary school educator in Chilliwack, British Columbia I have been involved with Student Vote for 4 years.  In 2009, my principal at the time called me into his office and handed me a box that he had ordered from Student Vote and asked me if I wanted to run an election with my grade 5-6 class.  In the back of mind I could hear my dad’s familiar rhetoric, one he used to inspire my siblings and I around voting time, “Women chained themselves to fences for the right to vote…” He was trying to impress upon me the need to honour those who have gone before me in the struggle to have their opinions recognized.  I took the package from my principal and started a journey to demystify the election process and remind my students that their voices need to be heard.

My students and I have now participated in the 2009 provincial election, the 2010 federal election, the 2011 Chilliwack-Hope by-election, and will be joining thousands of schools voting in the 2013 Provincial election.

When I host an election at school, I like to invite all candidates to present to my students before they make their final decision on student voting day.  If you are considering hosting a Student Vote election I would say the opportunities for authentic learning experiences are second to none.

Here are my top 9 tips for hosting a Student Vote election:

  1. Contact candidates early – their schedules can fill up quickly

  2. Stop by campaign offices and introduce yourself.  Candidates are more likely to agree when they hear you are reminding students of their rights and responsibilities as Canadian citizens

  3. If you need contact information for your candidates try contacting your local newspaper

  4. Use Ustream to stream your presentation live to participating schools in your riding

  5. Encourage parent participation by inviting them to watch the candidates speak.  Here is a sample letter I sent out this year

  6. Engage your students in the process by collecting campaign materials and information on party platforms

  7. Debrief what each candidate has spoken about and display the information so students are able to make their final decision

  8. Recreate a polling station in your classroom/school and have your students use election resources like privacy screens, ballot boxes and ballots to recreate voting day

  9. Compare and contrast the results of student voting day to actual results in your riding

Student’s getting excited about the election buzz:

Photo 2013-05-05 07.45.47 PM

Photo 2013-05-05 07.46.45 PM

  • “We have to stop delivering the curriculum to kids.  We have to start discovering it with them.” – Will Richardson.

  • Two Great Ways To Improve Blogging In The Elementary Classroom

    1. Edublog’s Student Blogging Challenge

    http://studentchallenge.edublogs.org/

    This is a 10 week challenge facilitated by Edublogs and is designed to improve the quality of your student’s blog postings, give a framework for leaving quality comments and offer an opportunity for students to connect with other students from around the world.

    The challenge occurs twice a year in September and March.

    Steps to participate:

    • Register your intent to participate.
      • Classes register here
      • Students register here
    • Register your email address with Edublogs here so you can receive weekly blogging challenges directly to your (or your students) inbox.
      • You can do this by entering your email address in the top right hand corner of the Student Blogging Challenge website under the heading, ‘Subscribe For Free.’

    Students who use class blogs (teachers blog) are just as welcome as well as those who have individual blogs.

    2. Quadblogging

    http://quadblogging.net/

    Quadblogging is designed to increase the amount of traffic to your student’s blogs, enabling them to write for a wider audience.  It also enables students to connect with teachers and students from around the world.  Opportunities like these really open up your classroom to global perspectives.

    Steps to participate:

    • Sign up here.
    • Keep up with tweets @Quadblogging.
    • If you choose to lead a quad, then once you have been assigned your group, you will need to contact the other three schools and arrange a start date.
    • If you choose not to lead a group, once you been assigned a blog, wait for the quad leader to contact you.
    I share the following two documents with my students which are designed to improve their blogging and commenting skills.  You may find them helpful with your students:
    I Can Statements: Blogging
    I Can Statements: Commenting

     

    If you chose to take part, then please feel free to let me know how the project(s) went for you.  Also, if you are aware of any similar projects please leave a message in the comments section.

    Conversations In Ed Series #1: Advocating For Co-Ed Sports Teams:

     

     

    This post is the start of a series of postings which are designed to create conversations on a variety of educational topics. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section.

    I have been thinking about this topic for a couple of years, because I have yet to hear valid reasons for segregated our students when they play on school sports teams?  Is it really necessary to separate girls and boys for team sports, at the elementary level?

    Developing co-ed sports teams at the upper elementary level can create more harmonious classroom relationships between girls and boys, and may even lead to a deeper sense of gender equality later in life.  Those that play together learn to live together. I have often been dismayed by the lack of respect boys and girls show each on the playground, occasionally in the classroom, and frequently on the field of play. These offences are usually gross-generalizations passed down through generations. I have lost count how many times I have heard these quiet murmurings on and around the soccer, “They are just girls,” “We should score lots of goals today, they have girls on their team,” “You can’t skip with us you’re a boy.”

    I have heard the argument that the physical differences between boys and girls should be reason enough to separate them, but I disagree.  In my experience, boys and girls aged 10, 11, and 12 (the age which students in my school district typically join sports teams) are very similar in bodyweight and height. Sure, there are times when the opposition towers over my smallest boys and girls, but they know its safe to play and nobody will intentionally hurt them.

    Playing on co-ed teams teaches children to be more socially responsible.  One of our school’s goals is social responsibility. We learn social responsibly in different ways throughout the day, and one way is through play. What better way is there to learn these skills, in a truly authentic way? The power of a great play between a boy and girl on the soccer field cannot be understated, especially when that moment of mutual respect is later transferred to the classroom in terms of working together in harmony. I would even go so far as to say that later in life that single moment could lead to a deeper sense of gender equality.

    Our schools should mirror society’s move towards greater gender equality.  We don’t have public schools for boys and public schools for girls in British Columbia.  In fact, we activity encourage our students to work in mixed gender groups in the classroom, so why not on the sports field?  Working and playing with the opposite sex is a skill and a necessity in life.  The sooner we close the gap by developing co-ed teams at the elementary level the better.

    Is it really necessary to separate girls and boys for team sports, at the elementary level?  Co-ed teams foster a sense of mutual respect, they teach social responsibility, and they mirror what happens naturally in the classroom.

    Further reading on gender bias’ in education:

    View of single sex public education:

    Could We Have Done Better?

    Could We Have Done Better?

    I work at the best school in the District.  In fact, I would go as far as to say that my school is the flagship school in the District.  Aside from the completely renovated heritage-style three storey school, the grounds are tastefully landscaped, and the exterior has been beautified in recent years with colourful murals which reflect our diversity and our community spirit.  The brand new enclosed hockey rink combined with a relatively new soccer field makes me proud when I arrive at work each day.

    You can imagine how I felt when, on Tuesday morning, I arrived at work at 7am to find three separate messages spray-painted on the concrete at the south entrance to the school.  I was outraged!  The messages read, “@#$% the world 666”, “We rule this town,” and “Ho’s legs are as wide as the hallways.”  I could not stand the thought of students seeing the messages when they arrived at school, so I covered them up with garbage bags and masking tape.  Shortly after school started, I used the experience as a circle discussion in class, which led to a writing assignment.  A selection of student writing can be found below.  I assumed that someone would be on their way to school soon to remove the paint.  I was wrong.  72 hours later, two of the three messages remained.  Not only that, but since Tuesday afternoon when the first message was cleaned, the other messages were uncovered and left visible for all to see.  Could we have done better?

    There exists an unfair stigma attached to my school.  Some people call it an inner-city school, others call it the downtown school.  In non-educational circles, it has been described as the rough school, and the troubled school.  It is a myth.  Granted, my school has its challenges, but the labels are unnecessary and unfair.  By not acting swiftly enough, have we perpetuated the myth?  A local elementary school visited our school twice this week for soccer games.  On both occasions parents, teachers, and students from the visiting school have accessed the south-entrance and encountered the disturbing messages.

    Students at my school are some of the most socially conscious students I have encountered in the District.  We engage our students several times a day on the topic of social responsibility.  It is even one of our school goals.  We use restorative circle practices, teach and reteach our school matrix, and have committed to a year-long program called, “Play Is The Way,” which teaches children social responsibly through play.  In a nutshell our students, and in particular, our grade 5-6 leadership students, have a good sense of right from wrong.  Could we have modelled a socially conscious attitude ourselves and worked to remove or cover up the messages so our students were not exposed to such filth?  Could we have done better?

    I wonder if parent pressure in a different school might have resulted in a quicker clean up effort of these disturbing messages.  If parents are not advocating for such things at my school, surely the school and the school district needs to be.  I am not aware of our District protocol for such events, but I would like to see it reviewed.  Disturbing messages need to be covered up before they are cleaned.  72 hours and counting, is too much time to deal with such issues.

    Letters written by our students:

    Vandalism
    Vandalism is impacting kids in many ways, and what just happened at our school is no acceptation.  Some of us think of school as home.  Meaning we’ve been here for a very long time and we feel safe here.  It gives the school a bad reputation.  When parents come to school with their kids, who are still very young, and it makes them think “wow what kind of community  would do something like that.”  It doesn’t feel very safe when you read some of the comments.   As in “_ _ _ _ _ _ _ was here” or “I’ll be back”  it scares kids.  And even for me it just doesn’t make the school feel like a safe place, like it should.  When I come to school and see nasty or rude or inappropriate writing somewhere where lots of people ( youth, elderly, etc etc…) can see it, I feel disgusted.  >:( – Bryanna

    Vandalism needs to STOP!
    Vandalism needs to STOP!  Vandalism is impacting our community.  They are writing nasty things to our schools.  Vandalism is a crime. It’s wrecking property.  It’s making other people want to do vandalism as well.  If you see someone do it then sometimes you feel like doing it to. it makes me feel mad. – Andy

    Vandalism needs to STOP!
    This “vandalism” needs to stop, because some people care about these places!Some people stayed at Central Elementary school for along time. kids don’t need to know these kind of words. That’s one of the reasons I don’t like school vandalism. I don’t like the idea that our school district has to pay for this “vandalism”. I think the people that did this, should pay for it, also pay the time for cleaning this mess up. I would be delighted, to know people are amazing enough to stop, this Vandalism! =:) – Jessie

    Dear Mayor Sharon Gates

    When I came to school and saw vandalism on the cement I know lots of people where impacted.  The children were impacted they see the things that were written.  If you think about it what if the little children see the vandalism and they say the words that they see.  Our custodian is impacted be cause he has to clean the it.  How do you think he feels when he can’t clean it because of the paint they used?  And the parents get impacted because their children go to the school that has vandalism on it.  The parents probably feel like something could happen to their children.  The vandalism makes me feel angry and it needs to stop. – Taylor

    Vandalism is wrong.  Little kids will be affected.  If it says bad words, little kids might say those words.  Vandalism makes the world look horrible.  Less people will want to go to that place.  Parents will be more protective of their children.  Parents won’t let their children to go outside very often.  Vandalism does not belong in this world. – Sereena

    Two Ways To Engage In Creative Writing

     

    1. The Progressive Story Project:  My teaching partner, @missbartel, stumbled upon this project last year.  Both our grade 5/6 classes participated with enthusiasm in the spring, and engagement levels were high throughout.  The Progressive Story Project was developed by Karen Ditzler, an instructional technology specialist, from Pennsylvania USA.  Groups of 5 classes, in schools around the world, work together to write a complete story.  Here’s how the project works:

    • The first class brainstorms and writes the intro paragraph(s).
    • Then the next class reads the paragraph(s), brainstorms and decides how they want to continue the story.
    • This will continue until the last class on the list writes the ending and gives the story a title.
    • Classes can edit their section of the story on the Wiki.
    • Once your class has finished the writing part, students can choose scenes to illustrate from their writing.
    • Once all illustrations have been submitted, a VoiceThread is created of the entire story.
    This is a link to the story my grade 5/6 class created last spring.

     

    2. QuadBlogging:  The primary goal of QuadBlogging is to increase the flow of traffic to a class blog or a number of student blogs in a particular class.  The project creates opportunities for classes, in different school across the globe, to develop their blogging and commenting skills.  If you are familiar with the Twitter hashtag #comment4kids, then QuadBlogging achieves a similar outcome but in a more formal way.  Here’s how the project works:

    • School A becomes the focus school for an entire school week
    • Schools B, C, D spend the week visiting school A’s blog(s), leaving comments and interacting with the content of the blog(s)
    • In the second week of the project, school B becomes the focus school
    • Schools A, C, D spend the week visiting school B’s blog(s), leaving comments and interacting with the content of the blog(s)
    • During the third week of the project, school C becomes the focus school for the week
    • Schools A, B, D spend the week visiting school C’s blog(s), leaving comments and interacting with the content of the blog(s)
    • The cycle continues until all schools have had the opportunity to be the focus school.
    If you are aware of other ongoing projects, which attempt to connect teachers and students across the globe please feel free to add a link and the title of the project in the comment section below.
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