I am honored and, yes, thrilled, that my colleagues in the independent school educational technology community selected me to receive the 2015 International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) Independent School Outstanding Educator Award. It recognizes my work connecting colleagues as the founder and moderator of the Independent School Educators’ Listserv (ISED), my experience mentoring classroom teachers at Georgetown Day School and technology colleagues around the country, the work I do supporting the parents of digital kids, and, of course, my blogging.
In the video below, Larry Kahn, the Director of Technology at Iolani School, presents the award.
Part of becoming a strong 21st Century digital learner is mastering the art of writing and sharing comments online.
If you read comments at the end of articles or blog postings — even at some of the respected newspapers and magazines — you have surely discovered more than a few inappropriate and sometimes distasteful remarks. Sometimes people leave these comments anonymously— individuals who do not understand why websites invite visitors to share thoughts and ideas. Sadly, many unfiltered remarks are permanently attached to websites — personal indiscretions (digital footprints) waiting for the whole world to discover. Even leaving an anonymous comment is not particularly secure, though many people — kids and adults — think they are off the hook and hiding when they leave comments without a name attached.
Helping your child avoid public website blunders, not to mention future humiliation, is one reason to discuss commenting etiquette on a regular basis. Children don’t know or they forget that all comments leave digital footprint trails, little paths of information that last much longer than a child’s pre-adolescent and even teenage years.
Confusion arises because many children first encounter commenting opportunities in places where adult supervision is scarce. As a result, an impulsive idea can beat out good common sense even when a child knows better. Bottom line — response and commenting areas are not places to leave nasty, sarcastic, rude, or hateful conversation.
I’ve been following a well-written blog by a young man named Josh, in his teens, who describes his experiences during the discovery of a brain tumor, the surgery to remove it, and his subsequent chemotherapy treatments (still going on). Believe me, these posts, on his blog calledJosh’s Journey, are compelling and riveting to read, largely because he is a careful observer and a good writer.
Josh assumes the role of a journalist, focusing on details, experiences, and his reactions as his medical team goes about providing his care. Readers learn what it’s actually like to proceed, step-by-step first with surgery and then with subsequent medical treatments at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Writing must be helpful, perhaps even therapeutic, as Josh confronts uncomfortable medical procedures, but it’s extraordinary that he sustains his writer’s voice, objectively sharing observations and perspectives about the challenging process of fighting a tumor.
Recently I led a workshop at my school about blogging. One question I am always asked when I talk about the wonders of blogging, my blogs, and the huge body of writing I am creating is, “What got me started?”
In October 2009I began work on AsOurParentsAge.net, with lots of encouragement from my husband. His mother, Betty, was near the end of her life. Essentially, helping to care for her filled up our non-work times and had for over two years. When we were not at our jobs, we were assisting Mother in some way. I started writing, initially, about topics that we wished we, as adult children, had known more about before we became caregivers to an elderly parent.
About a year later I began writing for MediaTechParenting.net, a blog that reflects my professional interests and work.
One blog relates to my vocation, the other to an avocation. Bottom line? Nearly 1000 posts later — a few of them posted on more obscure blogs — I still seem to have lots to say as I use this 21st Century learning and communication tool.
I have the honor of working with a small group of amazing third-grade teachers — my colleagues — and last summer they decided to begin blogging with their students. This past fall each of the teachers set up a classroom blog at KidBlog. This student-oriented blogging site is designed to offer maximum privacy to young writers, but it also offers the opportunity for more access — and more readers — if desired. Interestingly, while the three classroom blogs are all similar, each has slight variations that reflect the personalities of the kids and the ideas of the teacher.
After orienting their students to the idea of blogging — discussing appropriate tone, privacy, and respect — the teachers let the children write. Third graders have learned to read one another’s work and make comments and suggestions. Sometimes they share complete stories, and at other times they write more spontaneously.
When a super storm event like Hurricane Sandy occurs, digital kids and their families get a good, and sometimes sobering opportunity to learn a lot more about the work of journalists — professional and citizen — as well as first responders. Much suffering, as well as amazing feats of service to others, occur during these events, so it’s important to view and consume the most authentic of resources available.
Lots of Hurricane Sandy coverage can be found in newspapers, blogs, and other social media, offering us opportunities learn together as families — as we share the content about the storm, the terrible damage it caused, and the ways that people responded. Children and adults will also use these resources in the coming days to figure out how to help, and in the process we all strengthen our media literacy skills (important in today’s world) by identifying the best and most reliable sources of information.
The other day I discovered an amazing blog as I searched for coverage of the storm and its effects on Ocean Grove, New Jersey (where I spent many happy summers as a child). Run by Paul Goldfinger and colleagues, Blogfinger.net offers me on-the-scene hurricane reports from the little beach town, so dear to me and my family, and now without its own newspaper.
Blogfinger — I discovered it thanks to my cousin, also know as Sandy — turned out to be a terrific resource. It has solid information, great pictures, and well-written narrative. The picture to the right, shows the damage to the Great Auditorium, a structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a place where I’ve attended dozens of worship services and concerts. You can check out many other Ocean Grove photographs at the Blogfinger site.
… because some officials decided to make an impromptu rule — the young blogger cannot take any more pictures of her school lunches.
So let me get this straight. A child or adolescent starts writing about an issue or a topic and doing it well. She offends no one as she points out that change is necessary — in fact, she writes rather respectfully while taking a stand on making the meals better. People are short-sighted enough to try to stop her?
How long will it take adults in today’s world to understand that life, 21 Century skills, and communication have fundamentally changed — people can create good-quality digital content just about anywhere. They can share it and other people can also share. Reminder to Adults: Stopping this type of creating on a mere whim doesn’t work. Continue reading “British Girl’s Blog: Why Make Such a Big Deal About It?”→