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.

Author: Andrea Goodrich

I am an international educator working in Hanoi, Vietnam. I have been working overseas for the past 13 years. I started my career in a bilingual school in Guayama, Puerto Rico as a fifth and sixth-grade reading teacher. Then I moved to Guayaquil, Ecuador, and taught fourth grade for two years. While living in Ecuador, I met my husband and we moved to Seoul, South Korea together. In Seoul, I taught fifth grade for two years and then moved into a literacy specialist role. We are now teaching in Hanoi, Vietnam with our two Korean rescue dogs.

8 thoughts on “April 22, 2020”

  1. Love the focus on getting your students to be able to use these digital learning platforms to be able to connect with their classmates. “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.” Just goes to confirm that one of the most important elements of school and education is about social interactions and relationships. Thanks for putting that first!

  2. Hi Andrea! Very nice post! I enjoyed very much reading it. You are an inspiring teacher. It is impressive how your students can even comment and use google docs aside seesaw and other tools in communication. I was surprised that they even know ad use kakao talk and WhatsApp. In our school, children use mobile phones later.
    I have kakao talk too. I am living in S. Korea:). If you would like to connect I am happy to share my phone and email(sschultz@isbusan.org) with you. Actually I wanted also to ask you something related to COETAIL and I don’t know how could I contact you. I couldn’t message you on twitter.

    I totally agree that it is very important to teach the skills of digital citizenship and we should be a team with the parents to educate them on how to use safely the digital media skills and tools. We did a joint program and completed together with the parents two digital citizenship workshops.
    I can see that you and your school is using extensively seesaw in their teaching tools and you sound like an expert already. Do you know that there is a free program to become a Seesaw pioneer? I was interested too. I think the course should take only 3-4 hours online and you could have a certificate of acknowledging those skills. I attended a PD last week about Seesaw and I learned about that. I am thinking as well to attend the Seesaw Pioneer Program. ( https://web.seesaw.me/pioneer-program)
    Later on, you could be invited to become a Seesaw Ambassador.
    Good luck!

    1. Hi Simona. Thank you for your thoughtful response to my post. My email is andrea.goodrich@concordiahanoi.org or agoodrich28@gmail.com. Busan is a great city!

      I knew there was a free Seesaw pioneer program. I would like to do that, I just haven’t had much extra time these days. Thanks for sharing that information though. Seesaw has made life easier with Home Learning, but now I am afraid to open it because I always have so many things to approve. Haha.

      Thanks Again!

  3. Hi Andrea, I love the idea of incorporating movement into your zoom meetings. As a grade level, we tried to always post some workout videos on Fridays and had students share some workouts they made with others. The idea of having an online spirit week is super inspiring, I wish we had thought of that! We are back in school now so know that there is an end to distance learning, even though it sounds like you’re rocking it!

    I think when you mention how adults need to be aware of the apps students are using is really key. Knowing what students can be exposed to and equipping them with strategies they can implement to stay safe is really important. The downside is that it really starts to make me feel old and out of touch. I had to research what TikTok was just a week ago and last year I went down a Roblox rabbit hole. I consider myself fairly tech-savvy but I find it increasingly difficult to find the time to keep up with the most popular apps. Common sense media is useful as it reviews apps and gives them an age rating based on suitability as well as providing warnings about potential threats/ danger.

    1. Hi Simon. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. That is super exciting that you have gone back to school! In Vietnam, the MS and HS students went back this week. ES will return next week. I am really looking forward to ending the year in the building with the students. I know they are too.

      Also, I didn’t know that Common Sense Media reviewed apps. This is really helpful for educators and parents. Sometimes I don’t think parents know what their children are doing online or what apps they are using. I can totally relate to you having to research TikTok. Haha! I’ve been researching how to make a TikTok video. I still don’t get it, but I’d like to try it for fun.

      Have a great week!
      Andrea

  4. Hi Andrea!
    It’s interesting to see that even though we teach in two different countries, our Grade 2 students use very similar social media. My students really liked the “comment” feature in Seesaw, especially during Distance Learning. I like that you discussed the point that we adults have given kids the impression that they can’t make any mistakes online. This is definitely an eye-opener. I had not thought of it this way before. How do we find the balance between making kids aware that there are serious consequences for their behavior on social media but also letting them be kids?

    1. Hi Erika!

      I am looking forward to collaborating with you soon! Maybe we can do something on Digital Citizenship? This is definitely an area that is not taught enough at my school. Does your school do anything to teach Digital Citizenship? I just heard about beinternetawesome.withgoogle.com Have you used this at all? Looking forward to working with you soon!
      Andrea

      1. At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, my school purchases 1:1 iPad for students in the elementary division. Because the expectation is that they regularly use their iPads, one of the first lessons we teach them at the beginning of the year is about being a responsible Digital Citizen. With help from Grade 5 students, the elementary tech integrationist put together an Acceptable Use and Digital Citizenship policy in kid-friendly language (see Holly Marshburn’s blog post: https://hmarshburn.coetail.com/2020/05/07/course-2-week-3-finding-the-balance/). This kid-friendly graphic is now put on the back of each student’s and teacher’s iPad as a constant visual reminder (the person’s name who the iPad is signed out to is written on the infographic, so when teachers and students are looking on the back of the iPads to see who the iPad belongs to they see the statements for the Digital Citizenship policy). If a student has not used their iPad the correct way, the first thing we do is have a discussion with them again about these 8 statements, to remind them and to make them realize which one they did not follow.

        Holly and I can definitely help you with tips on how to teach Digital Citizenship to your students.

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