Online harassment exposed

The internet is full of many great resources and tools that are useful to teachers and other professions but this week I have spend time time learning about another side of the “world wide web” that we don’t talk about enough… cyber bullying, internet trolls, email spams and online racism.

After reading an Australian study,  “Online harassment of women at risk of becoming ‘established norm’ study finds” I was quite shocked and disappointed at the statistics given about women being harassed or abused online.  Nearly half of the 1000 Australian women who were surveyed had experienced some type of online harassment in the past year. This graphic shows the type of harassments found.

The RCMP defines cyber bullying as:

“The use of communication technologies such as the Internet, social networking sites, websites, email, text messaging and instant messaging to repeatedly intimidate or harass others.

Cyberbullying includes:

  • Sending mean or threatening emails or text/instant messages.
  • Posting embarrassing photos of someone online.
  • Creating a website to make fun of others.
  • Pretending to be someone by using their name.
  • Tricking someone into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sending it to others”

Source: RCMP Bullying and Cyber Bullying, 2015 

Last year Facebook introduced a new feature that would hopefully reach out to users who are victims of bullying (online or elsewhere) who may have feelings of self harm or suicide. This feature (find more information here) extends the “report post” button and allows the concerned friend to flag the user if they believe they might be at risk for self harm. Facebook then reviews the post and provides the person with help resources. I do this this feature is moving in the right direction towards helping users who are victimized but I definitely think more needs to be taught pro actively instead of only using reactive measures.

John Oliver, once again, provides an informative video on the topic of women being targeted online  in a humorous fashion.  John speaks about how awful online comments can be and after viewing this video I scrolled through some of the Youtube comments to of course find several people picking apart John’s words and bullying each other over a difference of opinions.

The internet can be a mean and scary place.  Let’s all be sure to educate our students, children, friends and family about the impact cyber bullies and online trolls can have on victims.


Children on social media

This week we read about parents sharing pictures of their children on various social media platforms. I am most active on Facebook and Instragram, and while I do not have children of my own, it seems like my feeds are often full of pictures of my friends adorable children (and I don’t mind one bit!)

Several classmates have wrote great blog posts about parents over-sharing pictures of their children online.  I enjoyed reading Amy’s, Brittany’s and Carla’s recent posts about this topic.  Brittany included a small guide to posting about your children on Facebook.

While further researching this topic beyond our class readings I found a blog post wrote by Roma Kojima (other posts by her found here). Kojima wrote an article titled “Why my baby won’t be posted on social media” I found this article interesting because at the time of writing this post, Kojima was not yet a parent. She was pregnant with her first child and had very strong views on why her child`s image will not be on social media. She explains that it is a fine line when posting appropriate photos of children, “I also understand it’s a fine line I’m attempting to walk here. Family pictures might be one thing, but posting cutesy photos of baby’s first bath are another. I don’t know where my kid’s pictures might end up some day—surely the last thing a parent could want is for a darling photo of their kid to show up somewhere totally inappropriate.“   I am not yet a parent and am not sure exactly what I will post of my future children`s lives. But I do know they will have a presence on social media. I will post respectful;y and carefully and always limit my friend list.

This week I decided to go far beyond my comfort zone and post a question on Facebook regarding how my Facebook friends feels about sharing pictures of their children online.

children in social media post

I was quite apprehensive about posting this status update for three main reasons.

  1. I rarely post anything on Facebook besides a “Happy Birthday” or a fun picture from a trip or special activity
  2. I have many friends who constantly post pictures of their kids online. I did not want my inquiry to sound negative towards parents who post, I simply wanted to hear some of my peers feedback about this topic.
  3. I was also concerned that nobody would even respond to my facebook post… ending in me deleting the post and pretending it never happened (I worry too much) Thankfully 10 minutes after posting I already had three friends respond.

I am glad I reached out to my friends on this topic.  I received comments and feedback from nine different friends.  These friends explained that they post photos of their children so that their friends and family can watch them grow from afar.  One mom explained that she always asks other moms permission before posting a photo online with her child and her friends (during sporting events).  Another mom commented that she tries not to show her son and daughter`s full faces on her public sites (she is an upcoming popular blogger!).  She commented that she wants her children to only have respectable photos online that she wouldn`t mind a future employer seeing one day. I had several other friends weigh in on this interesting topic. I was happy all feedback was positive.

Here are a few more articles that I found interesting on the subject of sharing or over-sharing photos of your children online.

The Do`s and Don`ts of Sharing your Family`s pictures , Kids and Social Media



Successful week of blogging in Grade 2

This past week was a great week in my Grade 2 classroom!  We had a much more successful week learning how to add more to our individual student blogs.   This week I taught my students how to upload a saved image onto their blog.   We are using Edublogs and I found it quite easy to teach my students, step by step how to insert their saved image.  Now, since this was a very new territory, I had to do the first few steps on my own.   I took a picture of each student reading one of their books from their book bags. Then I saved each image into a file on our school’s “Global” network.  My students then only had to log in to their blogs, click “Add Media”, find their image, and upload.  I asked them to write 3-5 sentences about the book they are reading.  This might sound extremely simple to some of you up there but the student part of this process took almost an hour.  If we had no laptop log in complications it would have been less time!  I have lucky to have a 3rd year University of Regina pre-intern in my classroom right now doing her three week teaching block, it was extremely helpful to have  helping had with this task!

Check out some of my students posts about their books:




I just finished a round of Student Led Conferences with my Grade 2’s and their parents.  I am a little embarrassed to state that my students are still using paper portfolios to share their work with their family.  George Couros, blogged this week about “The (Nearly) Invisible Portfolio”. George discusses how many portfolios being created in schools are made to be shared with the school, home and teacher – the sharing stops beyond that. He also mentions that when using open digital portfolios, that he believes the student should have the power to decide what work will be shared with the world, not the only teacher.  I love this quote that George found by Rushton Hurley.

I would love to try to using digital portfolios in the near future with one of my future classes. I would like to use SeeSaw as my platform instead of Edublogs. SeeSaw seems to be better set up for students to share photos, videos and drawings.  This year, with this learning project, I am more focussed on having my students learn to love writing and write for a larger audience and Edublogs has been fine for such.  

I love reading about how a fellow classmate, Erin Benjamin, is using SeeSaw with her Grade 2’s to create student blogs and digital portfolios. From the reading I have done, I believe SeeSaw would be more kid friendly than what my class is currently using.  SeeSaw has several twitter hashtags started for teachers to follow and learn more from each other about using SeeSaw (#SeeSawchat) This would have been a great way to network with other users.  Today I tweeted to @edublogs and @Suewaters asking them if they knew of any great Edublog hashtags I could follow to learn more about using their service and find other teachers to connect with.  I have not heard anything yet, but hope to soon! 

 I enjoyed checking out another ECI831 classmates, Nathan Bromm’s  blog this week because he is also using Edublogs to blog with his students. I enjoyed looking at some of his students blogs to see what older elementary students could do using Edublogs. I will show my Grade 2’s this week what they could do on Edublogs once they become better writers! 

As a pondered this week whether I chose the best blogging platform for my students, I came across a great comparison chart made by Richard Bryne- Free Technology for Teachers .  In his post, 7 Blogging Platforms for Teachers Compared and Ranked, he shares a great chart which compares the features of many popular blogging and digital portfolio platforms.  He also summarizes each platform at the end of his post and ranks them. He ranked Edublog #4 and SeeSaw #5.  I look forward to becoming more comfortable with Edublog this year and possibly trying out SeeSew next year!

What are your preferences for student blogging platforms?




Open education but closed personal profile..

In my last post, I reflected about what I have recently learned about open education.  I believe in the benefits of open education for both students and teachers. I hope one day soon I can contribute to some of the resources I have created to some sort of open education outlet.

Last week we discussed open education and this week we are focused on reputations and monitoring our online identities.   This week’s reading “Reputation Management and Social Media” and “What your new years facebook posts really mean”, got me thinking about my own online identity. As I have mentioned before, I do not post a  lot on social media.  I believe this is partly because of my profession and that I do not want want students and their families finding me on facebook and knowing every detail of my personal life. I also think my lack of posting on social media outlets has to do with my belief that if I want my friends and family to know something, I will tell them individually instead of posting it online.    Although I do not post on facebook frequently, I really have nothing to hide.  If I had to, I would be comfortable with my students parents seeing my profile and pictures.  It is, of course, a completely G rated, positive page full of great memories with my family and friends.

I understand that facebook and Instagram are “private” and only assessable to my friends, but I know that at anytime a friend of a friend could show my profile.  Through blogging, twitter, facebook, instagram and other places I appear on the web (school division website and local news) I am creating my digital footprint, or as Luke Braun explained, more like a digital tattoo.

Bonnie Stewart from the Theory Blog discusses what might happen in 1000 years when people are trying to research our generation.  We are no longer writing our stories in stone of course, but many of us do not even bother to print photos and keep record of our lives off line.

In the past few years, while going through both of my grandmothers things after they passed away I caught myself in awe with the rich stories and photos they both kept.  Although they are both gone, their legacy lives on through their diaries and extensive photo albums that they both kept. During these times I thought to myself and my family, when I pass away what will my family members go through? How will my story continue to be told and remember?  I am guilty of not printing any pictures of my trips and day to day life in the last four years!  personal and professional overlap

Bonnie Stewart states that “…. a thousand years hence, should archaeologists or aliens dig up the remnants of bourgeois North American “civilization,” such as it is, they will be sorely challenged to understand a damn thing about who we were and how we lived without our Facebook feeds”    If all I have when I am gone is my facebook feed and instagram posts then my future family will not get to see my full self!

Madden and Smith’s research shows that I am not alone in wanting to keep my social media sites private. Their research found that 44% of young adult internet users are limiting the amount of personal information they post online and 71% of adults aged 18-29 change their privacy settings online to limit their audience (Madden & Smith, 2010).

Here I am exciting and very much for open education, yet I do not share very opening in my personal social media accounts. Then I am also worried about not leaving enough of a digital tattoo behind (both professional and personal)!

I may sound crazy and may be contradicting myself but is anyone else out there identifying with similar struggles?

Well that was interesting..

This week was a slight disaster in the Grade 2 blogging world.

I will begin with some positives.

  • All of my students are able to get on our class blog successfully. They can log in and write a short post.
  • My students are also commenting on each other’s posts. The comments continue to be very positive (or else I would not approve) and some are also constructive example: “that is good, write more please”
  • Parents are accessing our blog!  We have had a few parent comments on student’s individual posts. This is great to see!
  • I found and paid for a great app called “Draw and Tell” The can be used to create an addition and subtraction story while the students record their voice. My students have seen examples of this on Mrs. Cassidy’s class blog and they were excited to create their own!

My goal this week was to have my students post something beyond just writing about a personal experience or sharing something we have learned about.  I wanted my students to use an app to share their learning by posting a quick video of themselves creating and solving a math story problem. Of course things do not always go as planned.

I have three desktop computers in my room (plus my own computer) and two ipads. Once  a week I have our laptop cart booked.  For about one hour we bring in the laptops and I teach them a new skill on the computers or recently we have been writing a blog post.  This week I needed my students to work independently on the laptops while I worked in small groups on the ipads.  I took this time to teach two students at a time how to create their word problem on the ipad using the app “Draw and Tell”. This app came recommended by Mrs. Cassidy.  We had about 1 hour and 10 minutes and I only got 5 kids through on the ipads!  I was so disappointed! We do have a class set of ipads but I really thought we needed to do this in small groups so I could show them step by step how to create this video.3986997574
I was already feeling frustrated that I did not get to work with enough students but then I realized I was mostly going to have to post the video to the blog by myself. I tried to get the students to help but I was frustrated and knew it would be quicker if I just did the clicking on my own 😦

THEN the videos did not even upload correctly.  See some examples here and here.  I hoped the video would show right on the blog instead of directing viewers to a separate link. I will work on this to figure it out! In the second link I shared, his audio worked but the video did not 😦

Although I am frustrated, we will try this again! I suppose it wasn’t a huge disaster, but I had it in my mind that it would go one way and nothing seemed to go right  I have a pre-intern in my room now for the next three weeks so it will be helpful to have another set of hands when we bring in the laptops and computers!

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!  Does anyone know any other ways I can have my students post a video? Maybe I should have just started smaller and had them post a picture of their work from an ipad first.

Oh well, you live and learn!

I am pro open education!

Before reading this post, it is important to clarify my post title.  I am unfortunately not a “pro” at open education, but I am most definitely for open education!

Before this class, I did not have a clear understanding of what open education was.  I have learned now that open education is the sharing of resources and information for teachers and students that is easily accessible and often free.  Tony Bates defines open education as “…primarily a goal, or an educational policy. An essential characteristic of open education is the removal of barriers to learning. This means no prior qualifications to study, no discrimination by gender, age or religion, affordability for everyone, and for students with disabilities, a determined effort to provide education in a suitable form that overcomes the disability (for example, audio recordings for students who are visually impaired). Ideally, no-one should be denied access to an open educational program. Thus open learning must be scalable as well as flexible. – See more at here ” (Tony Bates, 2015)

Why Open Education Matters, is a quick but informative video which states why open education is so important and beneficial for our students.  An eye opening quote from this video was, “education as we know, is failing millions around the world.” As a teacher, I truly hate that I have had too many conversations around this topic over the past few years. I am a successful product of our Saskatchewan school system (or so I like to think.. 🙂 ) But I know our “old fashioned” schooling does not work for all learners.  Yes we are “teaching in the 21st century”, but I don’t believe enough change has been done in education.  Open education is definitely a step in the right direction!  I only wish I had more time on my hands to enrol in a mooc (massive open online course) in a topic I am interested in! I’ll put that on the bucket list for a later date!


As a primary teacher, I hoped to find some open education resources for early elementary students.  I came across Oer commons .  This open education resource allows you to search for open resources by subject and grade level.  I did some quick searching, hoping to find some material I could use with my Grade 2’s.  I did not search for long, but I did end up finding two social studies/health lessons that used Berenstain Bear books as their focus.  I could definitely see myself using this teacher friendly resource but I hoped to find more than just those two lessons.   Did any other primary teacher find any great resources to experiment using open education?

It is unfortunate to see many people against open education.  Aaron Swartz and Danah Boyd are pro open education.  Danah Boyd spoke out against online academic journals that are not open to the public.   I identified with this author and post because I too have felt frustrated with not receiving access to online journals.  We are fortunate at the U of R to have access to 100’s if not, 1000’s of journals online.  I have felt annoyed when I was in between my Inclusive Ed certificate and masters program and was not a current U of R student.  While I do not spend my free time reading academic journals on the U of R website, I do fine myself from time to time finding current research articles to support what I am teaching in the classroom. I understand that publishers do not want to post their full journals online to the public free of charge… but when they are “hidden” away, their audience is much smaller. In Grade 2 I teach my students to always reflect upon the purpose of their writing piece.  Are you writing to entertain the reader, or are you writing to inform the reader.  I hope academic publishers and authors would put more importance on informing their readers over making money.


The good,the bad and the ugly

The Good

I really enjoyed reading article “What does it all Meme” . I found it the lightest of the recommended readings this week. I liked the background info on various the meme “One does not simply.. ” It encouraged me to find out the background info on more popular memes. Check out this link which shows an update on where our favourite meme stars are today!

          Sammy the Success kid today Success



eric memes


Kay Oddone explains that the use of memes in the classroom can help engage students. I am personally not sure how my 7 year old students would respond to memes, they are not yet on social media so I am not sure they would find the humour in them. BUT a few of my awesome colleagues who teach grade 5, 6 and 8 are using memes in great ways around their room! My fellow colleague and friend, Eric Campbell, used memes this year to display his class expectations







The Bad

The next articles this week were not as light and fun as learning about the usage of memes. This week I learned about the app Yik Yak and the forum website 4chan. I was happy to discover that my school division has blocked 4chan from students using it at school.  Though I am unsure if students in my community are aware of this website anyways.  I did not want to ask of the students, because it might make them curious and I do not think it is a great website for students to check out.

It seems like there is definitely some funny and appropriate content on 4Chan but that it is very easy to find the inappropriate threads.  As I was reading the post about 4chan, I was constantly thinking “why would people post and share such horrible things”. Near the end of the article a section was titled “But why would anyone do that”. One of the reasoning was that 4chan gives people a place to vent and say rude things that may be on their mind in a acceptable (?) forum.

“I get a lot of e-mail messages from people who say thanks for giving them a place to vent, an outlet to say what they can’t say in real life with friends and work colleagues — things that they know are wrong, but they still want to say.” (Chris Poole, 2010 – 4chan founder)

I still do not fully understand why people would post such things.. but to each their own I suppose.

The Ugly 

Finally, the last thing I learned about this week was how some teens are self trolling themselves or bullying themselves for attention.  This was the most upsetting thing I have read all week.  My online use as a teen was so innocent. I used MSN almost daily for harmless chats with friends and boys.  In Grade 12 and the beginning of high school I started using Facebook. Facebook was a lot different in those days, I don’t think you could even comment on your friends individual pictures.

I am so sad to read that teens now a days are so obsessed with the amount of likes and comments they receive on social media that they would post fake comments from a “stranger”, who is actually them self, to then hope to receive compliments or support from their peers.

This phenomenon is known as cyber self-harm (Tanith Carey, 2016).

I admit, when I post on social media (Instragram or Facebook) it is always fun to receive likes and comments from my friends.  But it has gone too far if some teens are determining their self worth based on their popularity on social media.

What can we do as teacher to help change this? Or support students who are struggling or obsessed with their online identities?