SafeBook – How to be Safe on Facebook Infographic

How do you stay safe on Facebook, and other Social Media sites?  This is an essential question that many are asking, hoping to avoid cyber-bullying, identity theft and loss of privacy.  Yesterday, I found this excellent infographic that simply explains some of the key attitudes and behaviours that everyone should use when setting up and interacting on Facebook.  The infographic was designed by Fuzion, a marketing and PR design company that wanted to help educate students on how to use Facebook safely and easily.

Safebook%20-%20online%20guidelines

The Fuzion team have provided this excellent infographic that clearly outlines the best practices and usage of a social media tools like Facebook, with insightful advice, helpful settings, and excellent strategies for dealing with bullies!  They also have some strong advice for parents and teachers, and how they can be involved to help make Facebook and Social Media safer and friendlier for everyone.  There specific advice for parents is:

We owe it to our kids to show them how to:

  • Set up their personal accounts properly

  • Maintain their privacy settings

  • Connect with “friends” safely

  • Think about what they post

  • Post appropriately

  • Spot and deal with inappropriate behaviour

  • “Unfriend” and Block certain users

  • Report Bullying

If you would like to use this poster in your classroom, and to share with your students, parents and wider community, please, visit this page here, as they have a larger PDF version you can print out.  Thanks Fuzion for this wonderful tool that can help educate and make Facebook Safebook!

How can we all help to end Bullying? (Cyber or Not!)

Please see this cbc news  article to learn the heartbreaking story of Amanda, a young woman whose bullying tragically led to her taking her own life.

I, like many of you, have been very upset with the news of Amanda’s passing.   She struggled with horrible, inexcuseable bullying, and she took her own life rather than face her tormentors anymore.  She tried changing schools, she tried making new friends, yet, her bullies followed her online and continued to make her life a living hell.  What did Amanda do to deserve any of this?  Nothing.  No student ever deserves any of these attacks, nor insults, nor mental and physical abuse.    Amanda wanted to live her life, to enjoy this world, to make friends and to feel good about herself.  Why would any student want to take that away from her?  How could this have gone on for so long and led to such a tragic ending?  What can we do to help end this so no one else has to go through what Amanda has?

We all need to step up and confront bullying WHENEVER and WHEREVER we see it.  If you see someone bullying someone else in the hallway or the street, STAND UP.  Tell them its not ok!  If you see the same bullying done online, STAND UP, help them, confront the bully and let them know it is NOT OK to bully anyone else.  We can’t turn a blind eye, we can’t just tell them to “Stick up for yourself”.  We need to all come together and really STAND UP when we see bullying.  It is not something we should condone, or allow to happen in our presence, online or offline!

PARENTS and EDUCATORS:

We need to role-model and monitor our students, not just in school, but out of school.  There is a saying that many people are familiar with, that “it takes a whole village to raise a child”.  We all have a role to play in guiding and monitoring our students and children, and it needs to happen wherever we are!  We cannot standby and abdicate the online world and let students run around without any guidance, supervision, or role-models online.  We need to be online with our students and our children.  We need to stop and confront students and children when they are misbehaving!  We have no problem doing this in shared public spaces like malls, libraries, or other community centers.  Why do we not do the same online, in Social Media?  Why do students have free reign to privately do whatever they want on Facebook and other social networks?  Why do parents avoid connecting with their children online?  Why are teachers so afraid of role-modelling appropriate citizenship in online environments?  If we, as parents and educators don’t teach students how to behave well in these online (and offline) environments who will?

If you are a PARENT:

  • befriend your child on Facebook and other Social Networks. Use your account to keep an eye on their activities.  Would you let your child take your car without first going over all the safety information and rules, and lots of practice with you, in the car?  Why would online social media be any different?
  •  Ask them to signin in front of you, show you what they’ve been doing and saying online.  Demonstrate to your children what friendly, respectful behaviour looks like online.  Talk to them about what you are seeing in their “news feed” that is innapropriate, or dangerous!  Communicate often about whats happening in their own social networks.
  • talk to your children about the permanent nature of anything online and how anything they put online will be there forever!  There is no ‘delete’ on the internet!
  • Ask your child if they have been bullied online.  Talk about resources and strategies that they can do to help it stop!  (see the Cyber-bullying page)

If you are an EDUCATOR:

  • There is no question, you need to be involved in new social media tools as a professional.  Its time for you to become familiar with these environments. If you saw bullying in the schoolyard, you would stop it immediately. If you saw bullying at your local mall, or dairy queen, you would stop it immediately.  Educators NEED to be online with students.  We have an obligation to teach proper behaviour no matter what the environment.  To pretend its not our place is to abandon our most needy students.  The ones that have no one to stick up for them. If Educators cannot lead the way on proper social media usage, who will?  We cannot let students have a private club online with no adult supervision. We are starting to see the results of our abdication so far.
  • This does not mean we need to cross personal boundaries.  Consider setting up a professional Facebook account for interacting with students.  Use it to role-model and to supervise.  Let students know that they have adults in their social network. They are not hidden away anymore.  They have to be responsible for their online activity.
  • Use Social Media in your classes!  Students need a safe, supervised environment in order to learn!  We need to create these safe spaces online that encourage respectful, polite and friendly connections.  Students need feedback on their behaviour to learn.  Students need instruction on what is appropriate or not.  Students need discpline when they cross the line.  We can’t continue pretending that students are not on these tools, or are invisible when online.  We need to teach them.

If we all seriously look at social media and online environments as extensions to our communities, not seperate spaces, we can begin to demonstrate safe, responsible and respectful usage of these new tools.  If we don’t take the time to learn and teach students and children how to interact online without bullying, we will have so many more problems in the future.

Amanda, I’m so sorry we all let you down.  I will think of you and your experience often, and I hope that your legacy will amount to a genuine change in how we teach children and students how to be better citizens, online or offline.  We will all miss you Amanda.

Stop A Bully! Canada-wide anti-bullying program!

http://www.stopabully.ca

I wanted to profile an amazing anti-bullying resource that is available to help any student who is a victim of bullying, any student that witnesses another student getting bullied, and any school that needs help addressing bullying in their school!  This website, while Canadian, offers a lot of extra resources, links, helpful advice, real contacts for students getting bullied and how to MAKE IT STOP!  Anyone can report bullying (cyber, or face to face) anonymously to this website and they will follow up on anything reported to them, by getting in contact with your school.  Their mission statement is:

STOP A BULLY strives to promote and enhance social wellness among youth by empowering them to address bullying. STOP A BULLY is committed to providing any student, parent or educator opportunity to report bullying and cyberbullying in a safe and anonymous manner by giving them an effective online reporting system. STOP A BULLY aims to enhance and foster a schools ability to address bullying incidents in a proactive and timely manner by providing detailed reports of bullying incidents, as well as education and prevention strategies.

They provide many services and resources to help any student, parent or educator dealing with bullies and the effect of bullying in their schools.  They can provide:

  •  safe and anonymous reporting of bullying
  • help understand what bullying is and what it might look like
  • assist schools to become proactive in preventing bullying from even starting
  • encourage and engage students in helping fight bullying at their own schools
  • provide anti-bullying materials for any school that would want them
  • are available to help ANY Canadian student who might be experiencing bullying and needs help.

Another service Stop A Bully provides is to help understand what bullying can look like and the many forms it comes in.  They have created this graphic that shows how many different ways bullying occurs.

So, please, take a few moments to check out this fantastic website and hopefully, if we all work together to understand bullying, what it is, what it looks like and how we can avoid it, one day we won’t have to report bullies anymore as they will have become extinct!

So you’re thinking of blogging?

Blogging 101

So, have you ever thought about starting up a blog?  Wondered where to start?  What type of blog to use?  What would you blog about?  This introductory post is aimed at helping you understand how blogs work, what types of blog systems are out there, and see some examples of how people are already blogging!  Since blogging first got started in the early 2000s, there are many different reasons why you might want to start a blog.  Some blogs are personal, some are professional, some represent schools, districts, libraries, or even organizations.  Blogs have been used by english, humanties, art,  and science teachers to extend their classrooms, and they have been used to reflect on their practice.  Blogs have been used by students to share their thoughts, to practice their writing and to reflect upon their lives.  Blogs are used by Superintendents (and other Superintendents, and even Associate Superintendents), Principals, Teacher-Librarians, Teacher LeadersPeer to Peer ConsultantsDistrict Resource Trainers, and by student support personalParents can Blog! Blogs can be fun, blogs can be political, and blogs can be a call to arms.  Blogs can be used to organize groups, create conversations, and to distribute information.  The power of blogs is that they become personalized and focused on the author and their audience.  What your blog is about is entirely up to you!

What Blogging systems can I use? (and how easy are they?)

Tumblr is a very simple and very easy to use blogging platform.  It started off as a simple way to share images, but has grown to allow you to publish text, imagery, videos, documents and anything else you might want. Tumblr is a system that allows your subcribers to easily see if you’ve published new posts and is very simple in its design and features.  Most users will not have any difficulty creating and maintaining a tumblr blog. (example of a tumblr blog I created – http://mrmuellervln.tumblr.com/)

Blogger is a Google based blogging platform that connects your google email address with a google blogger account. Once you create your blogger account it is very simple and easy to post new blog posts.  It has a lot more features than tumblr and allows you to customize your look and feel of your blog a lot. Visitors can subscribe to your blog, there are many extra “widgets” you can add to your blog, and one of the best features is the intergration with the rest of your google account, allowing you to embed your google calendar as part of your blog. (example of blogger blog I created – http://mrmuellervln.blogspot.com/)

 EduBlogs is an education specific version of a WordPress blog (see below).  Edublogs  are education specific and allow you, the teacher, to publish and monitor classroom blogs and student blogs from within their ‘systems’.  Teachers can even lock down access so that students blogs are not public, and only available to the teacher and other students in the class.  There are many features that are removed in the free version, limiting the usefulness of this service.  (example of a EduBlogs blog I created – http://mrmuellervln.edublogs.org)

 Wordpress is the most featured, customized and useful blogging platform out there,  but it can also be very intimidating and a little complicated.  WordPress.org offers free hosting of a simple blog, but if you have your own hosting and domain name, you can download and install your own WordPress server!  This allows complete customization and individual personalization.  WordPress allows any number of “plugins” and “widgets” to extend the functionality of your blog.  WordPress can also be used in a multi-blog environment, hosting dozens of individual blogs and can be a very useful tool for an entire school-wide blogging initative. The BUZZ, this blog you are reading is an example of a WordPress.org blog.  I have made a couple of tutorial videos to help you get started with wordpress and to also see ‘behind the scenes’ what a wordpress blog looks like.

How do you keep track of all these blogs?

That is the million dollar question!  Keeping a ton of bookmarks on your computer can work for a little while, but eventually, you won’t be able to keep track of them and might end up missing some really good blog posts!  So, there are a couple of good strategies for you to keep on top of what everyone is blogging about.  The first way, is to follow these bloggers on twitter.  Almost all bloggers, especially education based blogging, are also active on twitter.  They include a link to their blog in the bio, and they regularly use twitter to “tweet” about their latest blog post!  This can be a great strategy for finding new blogs to read and follow!

But how do you know if there is a new blog post to go read?  Well, thats where the power of RSS comes into play.  RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and it is a set of technologies that allow anyone to “subscribe” to a blog, by adding their RSS ‘feed’ into a RSS Reader!  A RSS Reader is a program that collects all your blogs in one spot and then alerts you when you have new blog posts to read at their blog!  So, it takes all the guess work and bookmarking away from you.  The best and easiest Reader is Google Reader and it can track and inform you about new blog posts to read!  It lives in your browser and it is always up to date!  See this screenshot below for what the Google Reader looks like:  I only warn you not to get discouraged with how many blog posts you should read sometime!  Don’t feel guilty about not being able to keep up.  No one can.

Students WANT Social Media!

There is no doubt that Social Media is quickly embedding itself into all aspects of our 21st century lives.  We are increasingly looking at new ways of connecting online, using technology to bridge time and distance that keeps up apart.  This is no different in Schools, where students are desperate to find and use Social Media tools, and to further develop their skills and knowledge on how to best use these new tools and communication avenues.  Many of the tools we explore help students search, find, connect, produce and then share their experiences, knowledge and understanding! So why not at school?

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) is described as “an educational leadership organization dedicated to advancing best practices and policies for the success of each learner. Our 150,000 members in more than 145 countries are professional educators from all levels and subject areas––superintendents, supervisors, principals, teachers, professors of education, and school board members.” They have produced this amazing infographic that outlines the many different ways that Students want to, and already are, using Social Media! (click to embiggen)

Flash Mobs & Social Media: Working together to Stop Bullying!

Please watch this AWESOME YouTube video of a large group of students from David Loyd George Elementary and Churchill Secondary in the Vancouver School District.  They created a wonderful Flash Mob at Oakridge Mall in Vancouver, BC to help fight against Bullying and to celebrate International Anti-Bullying Day.  This huge Flash Mob successfully gathered in an open area and performed a fantastic dance number to a powerful song!  This video was very well done and captures some of the crowd’s reaction [amazement] as well as the pure joy the Churchill and David Loyd George students were having.  They’ve issued the challenge to all other schools:

USE SOCIAL MEDIA AS A POSITIVE TOOL!

Also, be sure to check out our “Cyber-Bullying” page along the top toolbar if you would like to check out more resources, tips,  and links.  Don’t forget about Pink Shirt Day! Coming up soon, Feb 23rd!

#askshakespeare – A Panel of Experts brought to your classroom

Today’s post is about an “ah-ha” moment I had yesterday.  I have been using twitter for just about 2 years now, and only really using twitter for about the last 6 months professionally.  Yesterday, I saw a tweet annoucing “Ask Shakespearian Experts anything you want using the #askshakespeare hashtag today only!”.  I thought, WOW!  What a wonderful way to use Twitter to extend your classroom and learning opportunities out into the world.   Here is how the event was described on Blogging Shakespeare:

“On 2, February 2011 Shakespeare organisations, enthusiasts, scholars and professionals worldwide joined us on the AskShakespeare panel through their twitter accounts and answered all the questions that were posted on the #askshakespeare.”



This simple use of the Twitter platform, a hashtag to organize the questions (#askshakespeare), and the volunteer time of these experts, scholars and professionals created a virtual ‘panel’ that could be accessed by any teacher, student, enthusiast or citizen to learn more about the Bard.  I asked two seperate questions:



Within minutes, I had 6 responses from 3 different experts, each weighing in on the questions regarding Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathway, and also whether today’s copyright laws would allow a writer and playwright such as Shakespeare to borrow and adapt from many sources to produce a new, yet derivative, product. 

So, overall, this was an opportunity for me to really see how Twitter and Social Media can be used in a very effective way to enhance your educational environment, whether it is face to face in a classroom, or online, via distance, you can implement simple and easy tools to bring experts and knowledge into your classroom!  You can find and access experts from around the globe, interact with them and use their knowledge and expertise to help your own students. 

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