Tuesday, April 25, 2017

7 Strategies for Addressing Digital Confrontation Via @MsCofino

Innovative educator Kim Cofino discusses the topic of digital confrontation via Facebook Live where she shares ideas about how to engage meaningfully and respectfully when encountering uncomfortable online interactions. Once we figure out (or don’t) how to react, she encourages us to share those experiences with young people. She reminds us students are having these experiences everyday. In many cases, they are more familiar with digital experiences than adults. but they’re not talking about them with a trusted adult very often.  It’s up to innovative educators to change that.

Despite young people’s experience and knowledge, with puberty behind us and maturity under our belts, adults can be useful partners to teens in figuring out ways to effectively deal with digital confrontation. Indeed we can learn from each other.  

Here are some ways to do this:
  1. Respect and value their digital spaces. They are a valid place to socialize.
    Cofino reminds us to respect and value, rather than to look down upon or dismiss, the online spaces of teens. She points out that in the overly scheduled lives of teens, young people have less “free time” with their friends than did previous generations. As danah boyd tells us in her popular book, “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens,” online spaces are the malls, drive ins, and streets, of previous generations. It’s where teens go to socialize without having their parents around. We don’t need to pathologize teen practices, rather adults must recognize what teens are trying to achieve and work with them to find balance and to help them think about what they are encountering.
  2. Recognize, learn about, confront norms.
    Teens have well  established norms when interacting online. Ones that adults should take the time to learn and understand. This NY Times article about social media rules from kids, will help.  However, byod points out that while there are accepted norms, that doesn’t mean that teens don’t find some of them deeply problematic. Discussing these norms that don’t work well for teens and addressing them with the guidance and support of adults is important in helping students deal with digital drama and/or confrontation.
  3. Find and reflect upon digital confrontation.
    Cofino pushes educators to think about our own digital confrontations / discomforts and reflect upon on how we handled them them, dissecting what worked and what did not. Confino provides one such example in one of her blog posts where she shares a specific example of how she felt and then what she did when a widely followed person on Instagram shared a powerful photo she took at an event without and mention or credit to her. When she reflected, she realized, she herself had taken and published the photo without permission from the people in it and that too could be considered unethical. She stressed over how to handle the situation. You can read her post to find out how she handled the situation and the outcome).
  4. Converse.
    After you’ve spent some time thinking about digital confrontations you’ve experienced, how you’ve handled that and what worked well and not so well, talk about it with your students. Sharing personal digital dilemmas with students like the one Cofino shared above will help them think more critically when they come across their own.
    Cofino offers this guidance.
    • Before telling them how you handled your situation, ask them what they would do and how they think it would turn out?
    • Share what you did and ask them how they think it turned out.
    • Tell them discuss how their ideas would have had better or worse outcomes than what you did. Then let them know the real-world outcome.
    • Encourage them to think about situations public figures have been in and how they’ve handled them then discuss what would have happened had this been handled differently.
  5. Write Scenarios.
Encourage students to think about situations they have been involved in or are aware of and have them write their own scenarios without naming names and without sharing the outcome. Have them discuss the scenarios and share if this happened what would you do and how might it be played out digitally or face-to-face if handled in various ways. Engaging in this type of dialogue and discussion opens up the space for such conversations to become common place both among peers and with trusted adults.
  1. Recognize resilience. Learn about how to recover from mistakes.
Preaching to students that they should pause before they post is a start, but let’s face it. It doesn’t prevent them, or us, from making mistakes. We also preach that students should learn from failure, but act like if they make a mistake with their digital footprint it may ruin all chances of getting into college and career. We may have gone too far in our advice potentially tramatizing a kid who's made a mistake. It's time to chart a new course and share realistic advice. Be honest. Let students know that everyone (even you) makes mistakes and that’s okay.  Share some mistakes you have made and how you were able to recover. Have students consider when they have seen others making mistakes and discuss what did they do to recover? Confino encourages us to discuss recovery strategies with students as well. For example, when you've made a mistake, who is your go-to core you turn to for help? Recognizing there are people each of us turn to, and identifying who they are, is a strategy used to confront mistakes.
  1. Recognizing role models.
    Ask student to share who they consider role models and examine their online profiles to see what they share, how they share, and examine the types of decisions they’ve made. As an innovative educator, you can also be open to the possibility that you could be a role model for your students too. Cofino acknowledges that many teachers opt out of sharing their lives online with students, but there are many high profile education leaders who share online. Chris Lehmann, Vicki Davis, and Jamaal Bowman are ones who immediately come to mind, but there are likely to be educators like that in your circles as well. Discover who they are, what they do, and consider if you too could be one of the few adults in their lives that would like to meaningfully engage about being social online.

If you want to check out Kim Cofino for yourself, go visit her on Facebook Live by clicking on the caption beneath the photo. In her well organized presentation, she kept her points in mind with her handy dandy cheat sheet which served as a terrific focusing tool. Good low-tech tip for others creating video content for learning.  

kim on digital conflict.png
Visit Kim's Facebook Live

Sunday, April 23, 2017

8 Tips for Being A Purposeful Poster

Innovative educators don’t like to waste time. That’s why it is important to remain purposeful when you post and remind others to do the same. Check out the tips below on purposeful posting and see what you think. Anything missing? Anything you with which you disagree? If you like them, share with students, families, or members of your online groups to keep conversations on track.

1-Get Real
By now most people know it’s important not to spread fake news. If something sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. If it supports your beliefs and ideas perfectly, take time to research the other side of the issue. If you’ve learned the "sky is falling,” look for evidence before sending out the warning. Do your research or get your information first-hand, from the source. Make sure what you are sharing is real. These five tips can help.

2-Be Focused
You have something you are excited about and want to share. That’s great, but don’t share it in ten different places all at once. Start by sharing in the one place you are caring about most. Be present there. Personally connect with others. You can’t do this effectively when you post in multiple places at the same time.

3-Serve Others
Think about ways you can serve and support other people. When you do, you will learn in return and also gain insight into helpful techniques for yourself should you need support or guidance.  

4-Get Personal
Don’t share that joke, photo, video, meme, or story that everyone else is sharing unless you have personal insights or commentary to add. Melissa Emler, community manager over at  #ModernLearners shares this advice, “Try telling a personal story about your work or asking a question.”

5-Link with Intention
Don’t post a bare link. If you have a link you think others will find interesting, take the time to let them know why. In response to someone who posted a link without much explanation as to why, Emler advised that for a group that is based on discussions, a good way to engage is to...start a discussion of your own.

6-Be Aware of the Purpose
Know the purpose of the place you are posting. If it is to your personal account, that goes to being intentional about sharing what it is that supports what you stand for. If you are sharing on a page, group, timeline, or site that is not yours know the guidelines, purpose, and norms and follow them. I If you have a question or problem, try contacting the organizer / moderator / owner to determine what is appropriate.

7-Be Interesting
When you post think beyond what’s in it for you and toward, considering why others would find this interesting.

8-Targeted Promotion, Advertising, or Fundraising
Raising funds and/or promoting your business or cause doesn't mean asking for money or support in every place you can think of. It is rarely effective when there is not a personal connection, outreach and/or relationship between the person asking and the one giving. Rather than making general outreach, make the personal contact. Build relationships. Reach out to only those you know are invested in your cause. You also should check where you are posting because if it is on a page, group, or site, many don't want such posts or if they do, they may request a fee.

Ultimately, remembering that often it is better to give than receive, will go a long way. Be helpful and share your advice, ideas, strategies, and different ways of thinking to others in need. When you do, you will be surprised by how willing others are to be there when you do reach out with that personal request for support or guidance.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

3 Hottest Posts Most Popular On The Innovative Educator

Haven’t been keeping up with The Innovative Educator? Don’t worry. That’s what this wrap up is for.  Here are the three hottest posts that you don’t want to miss!

What’s hot this week? 
1.     Teen brains - it's not what you think 
2.    Fake News
3.    Formative Assessment

At the top of the hot list is a post about the teen brain and some myths that should be reconsidered when engaging with them. Next up is a post that highlights a fantastic media literacy toolkit from Common Sense Education.  Rounding out the top is a post highlighting a handy infographic that can be posted in your classroom. It was created by an #NYCSchoolsTech teacher to makes it clear and easy to see some ways tech can support assessment.

So what are you waiting for? Now's your chance. Take a look at the posts below and click the link to read one(s) that looks of interest to you.

Mar 28, 2017, 
Mar 26, 2017, 
Apr 16, 2017, 

If you like any of these posts, I hope you’ll share with others using the buttons below on Twitter, Facebook, email or whichever platform you like best.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Need To Write Recommendation? Use This.

Innovative educators are often asked for letters of recommendation from students as well as colleagues.  This can become a little overwhelming if you don't have a few good strategies. Lisa Buitekant, Kris Karlson, Steve Warre, three teachers at Horace Greenley High School in Chappaqua, NY have a useful strategy that others can customize for their needs.  They are high school teachers and each year they several requests from students for college letters of recommendations. When they do, they have students fill out a questionnaire evaluation form. 

The form requires certain answers to questions to even be eligible to receive a recommendation i.e. they must answer "No" to if they have ever cheated or had an unexcused absence.  It also asks students to share their feedback around experiences they had in this teacher's class. The answers provide useful information to include in the recommendation.  You may also want to ask students to complete a strength's profile from Thrively which will provide additional useful insights for a recommendation.

Here is a screenshot of the self evaluation and you can see the whole thing here
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For recommendations for professional recommendations, you can change the eligibility and feedback questions to be appropriate for that audience. For example an eligibility questions such as: "Have we ever worked on a professional project together?"  I do not write recommendations for those who I have not worked with in an official capacity, so that would be a disqualifying question. A feedback question might be something like "Share what we have worked on together and why you felt it to be a memorable experience."  For career recommendations, instead of using a tool like Thrively use one geared toward careers such as Myers Briggs

What do you think? What is your process for drafting recommendation letters? Do you ask for self-evaluation questions? Are there ideas here you feel would be helpful? Aniy other useful strategies?