April 22, 2020

Staying Connected

With or Without a Global Pandemic

Technology has become more important than ever for my second-grade students and me at this time due to COVID-19 school closures. Without technology, I wouldn’t be able to connect with my students in the same way that I have been in the past 11 weeks. Because my students have Chrome Books and the internet in their homes, I am able to see their faces and hear their voices every morning through Zoom.

I try to incorporate a movement activity into my Zoom sessions. Students really like treasure hunts. For this one, they had to find something they’d find at the beach.

If this global pandemic happened when I was in school (kindergarten-high school), I would not have had a computer at the time. I didn’t get a computer until I graduated from college! I can’t imagine what home learning would have looked like-probably a bunch of worksheets.

Maintaining Relationships

For second graders, a lot of their communication happens at school. They are not using social media apps yet (besides Seesaw and now Zoom). A few students have phones, but they mostly use them to play games, listen to music, or take pictures. Some students are connected to apps such as Kakao Talk or WhatsApp. When I asked the students about these apps, a few students did say that they can text their friends. Most of the students who use Kakao Talk are Korean and they text amongst their Korean friends. This is similar to the app Line, which is used by many of our Japanese families.

Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels

“The only way for me to talk to my friends during home learning is through Zoom with our class or using the school email account.”

Bi N.

During this time, it is difficult to maintain the same classroom community vibe that was there when we were physically together at school, but it is not impossible. Giving students opportunities to share during Morning Meeting sessions on Zoom, planning special Spirit Week activities, letting them chat using the chat feature in Zoom, and putting them in small breakout rooms has allowed my students to maintain friendships and feel apart of a community.

Special Events like Spirit Week give my young learners a way to participate in school activities from a distance.

Second graders love being able to use the “comment’ feature in Google Docs. They almost use it like a chat in the writing documents they are working on. They’ve figured a way to work around not having a phone or some sort of messenger to use. Clever!

Seesaw is another tool students use to communicate. Seesaw allows them to see what their classmates are doing and it allows them to comment on their classmates’ posts. My kids have added jokes they have written or short videos of their day. They post artwork they have created and dance videos they have created. Seesaw is a kind of introduction to other social media forms like Facebook and Instagram. Students are learning how to be responsible digital citizens in a safe environment controlled by the teacher. I love how these tools have allowed my students to maintain friendships and feel loved!

Seesaw has allowed my students to share their work and connect with their friends!

Now vs. Then

When I reflect on how my students are able to connect with each other; especially, during this time, it is quite amazing! As a child, I did not have a computer, so most likely I would have been able to call my friends on the telephone or write them a handwritten letter. If I was allowed to go outside, I would have been playing with my neighbors, but most children in the states cannot do that because of social distancing.

Even before social distancing laws came into effect, I still find that children connect differently than when I was growing up. I spent my summers outside playing in the neighborhood. Immediately after finishing my homework, I was out the door playing outside with friends, riding bikes to the park, and swimming in our backyard. Neighborhoods are not the same anymore. I think kids spend more time inside-connecting with friends through video games, chats, and social media.

Social Media was definitely something missing from my childhood and I am not sad about that. I can’t imagine how different my middle and high school years would have been if teens were using social media when I was going through school. However, I did make mistakes as a developing human. We all did-every generation. It is important to remember that and instead of looking at social media as a negative tool for children, prepare kids to be responsible digital citizens and how to make good choices. Inevitably, they will make mistakes and hopefully, they will earn from those mistakes.

In Keegan Korf’s TedX Talk she speaks about how we’ve given kids the impression that they can’t ever make a mistake online. Adults have done such a good job planting this seed of fear, that instead of helping our children by empowering them to use social media for good, kids truly believe they have the power to destroy their own reputation. But kids aren’t always able to distinguish what could be harmful.

So we must teach digital citizenship. Teaching digital citizenship can be tough, but educators and parents can help support kids. We can do this by listening, educating ourselves, making students aware of laws, or seek our digital opportunities to do with children. Adults need to understand the platforms kids are using so we can make sure they are using them responsibly. Set limits and boundaries. It takes a village, but it can be done. Educators and parents can all do their part to help keep kids safe.

Remember Raising digital citizens is no different than raising in real life citizens.

Keegan Korf Tedx Omaha
This Tedx Talk by two teen girls is a great reflection of young teens use of social media.

Understanding Copyright

This week’s topic was something I had to go back to the basics in. Copyright is something I think about when creating, but not necessarily something I completely understand. This is one of the reasons I am loving COETAIL! COETAIL forces me to learn. The topics each week allow me to dive deep into a new topic and explore new tools and resources I have never used before.

So this is what I did this week, when learning more about copyright. I started with the basics. First, I took a look at the Copyright Flowchart (Rosenthal Tolisano) and You Can Use a Picture If: Guidelines for Image Copyrights. Then I read some of the resources from this week’s readings, but after I found myself still not completely understanding how it all works. I went to YouTube and found a few informative videos that left me feeling more knowledgeable.

This video helped me understand some basic guidelines that are useful as a teacher.

One of my big takeaways was from The VCG Blog-that image usage can be boiled down to four main ideas: copyright, fair use, creative commons, and public domain. Understanding those four main ideas really helped give me a clear understanding of how it all works.

Copyright Changes?

Copyright change was something I have never considered before, but after watching Copyright is Brain Damage (Paley, TEDxMaastricht), I started to wonder if there should be some changes made. Paley’s message is compelling and I could understand why she would claim that copyright doesn’t benefit us or artists, or the works in question. It benefits the people who bought the rights or so it seems.

It’s too bad that while copyright laws were put in place for a reason, it can also threaten an artist’s creativity flow. When artists start asking, “Can I use this? Will I get in trouble?” a roadblock is put up in the artist’s mind.

“If you have to ask, can I use this? We close a little more. Information flows a little less. Innovation stalls. Permission culture. It stopping the brain from working.”

Paley, TEDxMaastricht

My Role

As an educator, I want my students to be creative. I don’t want to be the one stopping that flow. However, I do think it is my job to inform my students of copyright laws and how to use others’ media responsibly. For my second grade students, I do this by teaching them how to search for images online that can be reused or modified. Or when making presentations, I taught them how to add music to the background using YouTube’s Free Audio Library.

As my students grow older, they will need to know more about copyright; especially, as they create more. It is important that there is a culture of responsible digital citizenship use in schools. This must be taught explicitly or students do not necessarily know how to determine what is okay to use or not.

This short video gives students a good overview of copyright.

Remix Culture

Teaching students the rules of remix is another idea I never considered much. Remixing songs and video is so commonplace today. Students love creating TikTok videos, memes, and GIFS. These videos and images are fun and entertaining, but it is also important to consider the copyright licenses for the material being remixed.

I had some fun remixing the song, “Senorita” by Camila Cabello for my students. One of my colleagues and I were looking for a way to bring some cheer to our students who had been doing home learning for several weeks at the time (now we are on week 11!). We sat down and rethought the original lyrics and made them fit our current situation. Then we filmed clips of the teachers and other school staff members dancing. Finally, we recorded the track with teachers singing along to the karaoke version of the song that we found on YouTube. Students and parents really appreciated the video! Check it out!

Now that I consider what I’ve learned this week, I am wondering if I followed all of the copyright guidelines though. The article from the Moving at the Speed of Creativity about the school who remixed the song, “In the Jungle,” was helpful in deciding. The only thing I may have needed to add to the video is credit to where I got the karaoke version from. I’m not sure though. What do you think? Is there anything else I should have done? I considered these helpful tips below as well.

Is it fair use?

  1. Is the video transformative (brings new meaning)?
  2. Does it feature original lyrics that are written by the teachers?
  3. Does it include an original performance of the song by our own students?
  4. Was it created and shared for an educational purpose?
  5. Is it shared non-commercially, where the school is not making any money from the performance or sharing of this creative work?
  6. It is not denying the owners of the copyright to the original song arrangement from any musical royalties or other performance rights income.

Course 1: Final Project

Moving to a Virtual Poetry Unit

Background Information on this Unit:

This Second Grade Poetry Unit was planned for students who are currently learning from home due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. I adapted this unit so that students could still access the mini-lessons from home. I started off by recording the mini-lessons and then half-way through began teaching the lessons live through Zoom.

Links to Resources and Unit Plan
Poetry Unit Video Tutorials & Slides
Poetry Unit Plan

For my final project, I decided to use my Writing Poetry Unit for grade 2 because I adapted it to meet the needs of our Home Learning program. Because I needed to adapt this unit to meet the needs of my students learning from home, I was able to experiment a bit more with the original unit plan. I wanted students to be able to access the mini-lessons from home, receive feedback from their teachers, and use their network of teachers, parents, and peers to support their learning process.

For this unit, I adapted the Teachers College Writing Unit of Study: Poetry Big Thoughts in Small Packages book. In doing so, I wanted to create a tech-rich unit that would promote learning from home. I decided to use the ISTE’s Empowered Learner standards. These are the two areas I focused on:

  • ISTE Empowered Learner 1b- Students build networks and customize their learning environments in ways that support the learning process.
  • ISTE Empowered Learner 1c – Students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.

Changes to Unit

The content of the unit did not change when planning for home learning. What did change was how the material was delivered and how students received feedback. When I began teaching this unit to my students (who were learning from home), I was recording all of my mini-lessons and having students work through the videos independently or with the support of an adult at home.

Teaching a small group through Zoom.

As I received feedback from the parents and students, I realized the writing was difficult for them to grasp without my support. Therefore, I adjusted how I delivered the material and started meeting my students on Zoom each morning for a Live Writing Lesson. The live sessions were accompanied by slides that I could share as I walked the students through the lesson. Doing Writing sessions with the students was a huge relief for both the parents and students!

The biggest change in this unit plan was that the learning environment changed. I did not want this factor to hold my students back from learning. I wanted to set them up with a network that could support this change and promote student agency. In order to do this, students were assigned to small group breakout room sessions during Zoom, given Poetry Tutorial Slides to refer back to, and given a resource list of poetry structure choices (slide 23).

Another change to the original unit was that students uploaded their poems to their Poetry Books each day. This allowed students to get feedback from me or one of the support teachers each day. It also allowed students to utilize peer feedback since they weren’t able to do this in person. Students were also able to get feedback and support through my Office Hours block each day.

Post-Unit Reflections

After completing this unit, I hope to see that my students have found the best way to learn from home. That they are able to utilize their network (teachers, peers, and parents), to continue learning considering the circumstances. Students should be comfortable giving and receiving feedback. Most importantly, not only receiving feedback but using feedback to improve their practice. My hope is that students also feel that I deeply care about their learning, even if I am not physically with them. I do believe this is felt through the time I spend on Zoom with them, making individual calls to support them, or through the tutorial videos and slides, I have made.

I can feel that since I made the switch to Live Writing Lessons using Zoom a huge weight has been lifted from the parents’ shoulders. It is extremely difficult to teach your own child, let alone in a foreign language (for the Non-Native English speaking parents). Through surveys to the parents, I can see that they truly appreciate the time I spend working with their children remotely. The students’ reactions to the end of our Writing sessions on Zoom, also show me they enjoy doing the Writing together. When I tell the students they are done with Writing for the day, they cheer! It is one less thing they have to worry about figuring out on their own.

I have one more week of teaching this Poetry Unit. We will end the unit with peer-editing, self-editing, and learning how to spruce up the poetry books using Google Drawings. I am so proud of their dedication to learning, using their network, and utilizing feedback to improve their practice. This is truly a learning experience for everyone!