Saturday, December 08, 2007

Keeping on the straight and narrow

Many of our students have their own wikispace. For some it is their digital portfolio. They create much of the content in class and convert to digital form and upload it to their wikifolio. Some of the younger students create their digital portfolio in powerpoint and all of those students have their own wikispace ( a private one) and are enjoying adding things little by little. Even though all these spaces are private, which means that only those who are invited can see the space, many of the students have invited their friends and teachers to be part of their space. Many of the children also use their wikispace account to email each other.
Yesterday something happened though that scared the living daylights out of me. During lunchtime I was in The Edge ( one of our learning spaces) on computer room duty and one of the Grade 5 students came to me and showed me a couple of messages that she had received through her wiki account. The messages said things like, "I know who you are" and "I'm coming to your house to get you" . Immediately my heart stopped. I thought OMG this child is being stalked or approached by some creep. My first response though was to say that she did the right thing by letting me know and not to worry, that we would try to sort it out. As it was lunchtime I asked her to stay logged on so that I could send a message to wikispaces and then asked her to come back at half time so that we could talk about it some more. She came back a few minutes later and said it was okay because she knew who it was. After breathing a slight sigh of relief I asked her to tell me who is was and after a little bit of gentle probing we established the perpetrator as another student. The rest of lunchtime was spent having a chat to this student and as it turned out a couple of other students who were in on the prank. We talked about the consequences of this type of internet bullying and I tried to help them realise that although they may have initially thought it was funny there were very serious consequences for the victim and for our school. The kids were very contrite and I really don't think knew the possible consequences of their actions. I don't believe there really was a vicious intent. I think however it was a good lesson for them to learn and I certainly let them know how disheartened and frightened I felt. After all I feel responsible for them.
But for me it reminded me that we must constantly be vigilant. It also reminded me about the code of conduct that I plan to introduce next year. Although we do have a standard form that parents sign to allow internet access for their children, we don't have a form or agreement that our students sign. It's an oversight that I plan to address at the very start of next year. In the mean time I'm going to do a little research over the holidays to ensure that I find just the right voice and style. I want it simple and easy to understand, as it will be for all students, and I want it to be positive and affirmative yet very clear about the consequences and reasons for making such a code.
I hope that there are some teachers out there who will be willing to share their ideas or examples.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Women of the Web2.0 & Digital Storytelling

I have recently joined the Fernwood Gym in Bendigo. I felt like it was time to give myself sometime to get fitter and healthier. But for me ( I live in a small country town) it means an hour & 15min drive each way to get there. A big commitment I know but so far so good. I'm getting there at least two times a week and often I can manage three by staying overnight and going in the evening and then in the morning before driving the hour to work.
As I am driving so much I have been taking the opportunity to listen to podcasts along the way. For pure pleasure I listen to Hughesy and Kate from Nova100, a Melbourne radio station that I normally can't pick up. It's a lot of silly fun but it makes me laugh and what better way to start or end the day.
For stimulation and inspiration I listen to a number of different podcasts created by teachers from all over the planet. The one I listened to today as I was travelling to Bendigo to put in a step and a pump class was created by the Women of Web2 who are Vicki Davis, Sharon Peters, Cheryl Oakes and Jennifer Wagner, four inspirational women who are challenging us all and leading the way in using Web2.0 in the classroom. Although recorded a few weeks ago, I listened to an interview with Ewan MacIntosh and David Jakes. What particularly interested me was the discussion around Digital Storytelling and the purpose, pedagogy and learning opportunities around this particular type of narrative. The way that David Jakes described it was it begins with a story, created, written, told. From that narrative a script is distilled. In other words the meaning is finessed through drafts. Then once the script is created, the student creates a storyboard which includes the use of words, images, video, music. At this stage the students may have not even used a computer. Then once the narrative is storyboarded, they begin to search for or create images, music, short videos that will enhance and add meaning to the story. This is where the array of web2.0 tools can add to the potential and power of the story. The final and perhaps the most important part is the presentation or sharing of the story with fellow classmates and hopefully the online world. I can see that I have a lot more researching to do, but it has piqued enough interest to know that this is something I want to know more about.