Final Reflection of Student Blogging experience

I started my class blog as a major assignment in my EC&I 831 class but it have evolved to more than just an assignment.  I am thankful we had a lot of freedom when choosing this what we wanted to focus on this semester because I was always interested in blogging with students but I hadn’t yet had the push that was needed to get me started.  Even though this class has concluded, my Grade 2 students will be continuing with their blogs for the remainder of the school year.  It feels like we are just getting started!

Last week my class was asked to blog a short post about spring. Their prompt were “what do you like about spring?” “what do you do in spring” “What does spring look and feel like?”  Many of them also had time to insert a picture on their post that I had previously saved on a file in our school’s global drive.  I am SO happy to announce that this was the most stress free hour of blogging we have had yet! This tells me that students are becoming more independent bloggers and I have two “blogging experts” trained to help out as well.

I am happy that I learned about blogging with young students over this semester and happy that I involved my students and their families in this project.  Not only did I increase my knowledge but I increased 21 seven and eight year olds knowledge about blogging, typing and digital citizenship as well!

I feel I chose a topic directly related to social media, open education and networked learning but I also want to reflect upon “What I learned about learning online”.  I connected with Kathy Cassidy early in the semester to ask for some tips and help with setting up my student edublogs.  I was very thankful for the free upgrade to the Plus account on Edublogs, it would definitely be worth the $40 next year though.  I also used Twitter to connect with two other teachers using classroom blogs (edublogs and seesaw) and I tweeted to Edublogs to see if they had any great hashtags I should follow.

I am not nervous to use Twitter any more which I think is a huge accomplishment!  Next year I hope to get my students tweeting more, once I create a classroom account!

Last week I created a short video about blogging with my students.  It is quite candid, as a I did not give them any prompting. I think it is easy to see that they have really enjoyed this experience as well!



Summary of Learning

We have just completed a busy and exciting semester learning about open education and social media.

Amy and I completed a “news cast” interview for our Summary of Learning project.  We had a lot of fun using a green screen to share highlights of what we learned!

check it out below!


Slacktivism… better than simply being a slacker!

Slackivism is defined by Techopedia as “a term that combines the words “slacker” and “activism” to refer to simple measures used to support an issue or social cause involving virtually no effort on the part of participants. Slacktivism is most commonly associated with actions like signing online petitions, copying social network statuses or joining cause-related social networking groups”

Photo credit

I was personally unaware that this social movement, which is impossible to ignore on various social media outlets, had a name before learning about it this week.  I have actually thought about slacktivism before (not knowing there was a name for it). Several of my friends on social media are constantly sharing, liking or updating their status’s to reflect and “support” various issues and causes. As I have mentioned before, I do not post a lot on social media, especially on Facebook where I most commonly see the “slackivists”.  I have nothing against people who tweet hashtags like #bringbackthebees  , #blacklivesmatter , and #yesallwomen or people who dump ice on their head to raise awareness for a little known about disease or who like and repost the latest cause on instagram or Facebook. I just do not tend to take part in these things too often . (yikes…. does this make me even worse than a slacktivist)

Many people have blogged about their views on slacktivism, both for and against.

Scott Gilmore writes that he believes the problem with slacktivism is that people are only caring about themselves like growing a mustache for Movember instead of taking time to maxresdefaultvolunteer and donate money towards  a cause to help the bigger picture. Gilmore writes “A slacktivist is someone who believes it is more important to be seen to help than to actually help. He will wear a T-shirt to raise awareness. She will wear a wristband to demonstrate support, sign a petition to add her voice, share a video to spread the message, even pour a bucket of ice over her head.”   Critics of slacktivism believe that participants lack engagement and commitment to the cause.

While I am not “Anti-slacktivism” a concerned member of  my communiy has recently set up an online petition  that I have yet to sign because before even learning about slackivism I didn’t think these signatures would actually make a difference.  Even though I do agree with the cause, I am not sure I will add my name to the list, but I am also in no hurry to write  letter to our mayor. (Another slacker move.. oh no!)

I connected more with Abby Rosmarin’s post  about how yes, there are some slackivist haters but there are some positives to this idea as well. I agreed a lot more with Amy here when she stated how she enjoys seeing her friends post slackivist updates. She writes “It is a beautiful sight to see people come together over a cause, even if it’s as effortless as sharing a video or changing your profile picture. There is nothing I love seeing go viral quite like a social movement. Don’t give me your blue-and-black (or is it white-and-gold?) dress. Don’t give me “15 Things You Totes Do With Your BFF!!!!” I love seeing my Facebook and Twitter feeds flooded with something that can bring a little more peace, equality, or justice in this world. But that is only the start”  

I really agree with that last line… But it is only the start.  I am not against slacktivism.  I was happy to read that a study in 2012 proved that those who engage in slackivism are actually more likely to give back to causes (time or money).  My believe is that slacktivism is better than nothing. I think it is better to share your support for a cause, even it it simply means a retweet or a facebook share than to show no support at all.  At least all of the slacktivists out there are still raising awareness for the cause of their choice, it might just take one person to see their post to react and make a difference.

Throughout writing this post I thought I might be more of a “slacker” than a slacktivist because I don’t even take the time to share causes on social media! But after some thought, I realize that I help causes that are near and dear to me.  This past year I donated to the Make a Wish Foundation, Diabetes Foundation and the Cancer Society.  While I may not be donating hundreds of dollars at a time, I know my donations are still making  difference.

I am happy I have learned about the Slacktivism phenomenon, I will be more aware of this now and maybe even join in from time to time!  Better a slacktivist than a slacker 🙂



Student blogging update

Things are continuing to go well with my learning project of creating a class blog with my students.  My goals for this project were to create a class blog, post class updates and pictures on the main page, have my students write individual posts, have students post a picture and/or video and connect with another classroom.  I am happy to report that we have accomplished all of these goals!

I hoped to connect to another class who uses edublogs and have my students pair up with another student and become blogging buddies.  It took me a lot longer than anticipated to get my students comfortable with logging on and writing their own post that I haven’t yet had them comment on an outside blog.  I encourage my students to comment on my main post and leave comments for each other.  I taught my student to leave positive comments to their peers that might include a though provoking question or a question to encourage a conversation.   We were SO lucky to have one of my fellow classmates, Erin Benjamin’s Grade 2 class from Regina check out our blog.  Mrs. Benjamin and her class commented on each of my students blogs.  My students were over the moon excited! They were excited to have someone other than myself and their parents read and react to their posts! The next day we checked out Mrs. Benjamin’s class blog on SeeSaw and wrote a comment back to them.  I would like to try to write back to each student as well, but it would be easier to do so as a class.

I have about five students who are posting outside of class time to their blFullSizeRenderog.  When we are at school, I usually give my students a topic to post about that is school related. When my students are at home and choose to blog, they are mostly writing about a personal
experience such as a birthday party they attended or last nights hockey game. I love to see them so engaged that they are writing from home!  I even had a few students blog over the Easter break, one student even blogged from Phoenix, Arizona!



This week, a fellow colleague from down the hall shared a recent blog post he wrote about his students using Edmodo.  I connected a lot to what Alan said in his post, Edmodo for Authentic Writing.  Alan explains that he uses his students edmodo writing for a lot of assessment. He states “I catch them at their most eloquent, when they are engaged, and independent. Personal voice shines through.” Although my Grade 2’s have not been blogging as long as Alan’s Grade 4 and 5 students, I still believe that I am seeing very authentic writing with some of my students.  Alan also comments that he promotes his students writing on Edmodo because of parent engagement.  I am always excited when my students receive parent comments on their blogs, this week we even had an aunt from a different city comment on two of my students blogs (they are twin brothers).  It is great to see students and parents share our class blog with other family members. 


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?