Anti-Bullying Day Flash Mobs 2012 Edition!

Last year, on Anti-Bullying day, David Loyd George Elementary and Churchill Secondary School combined to create a moving and powerful flash mob to bring awareness and understanding to Bullying issues in our schools today.  This amazing video went viral, with over 800,000 views! Everyone was talking about the impact of this flash mob and their video, and how much awareness it brought to this very important issue that effects all of us.  There were pink shirts everywhere and there was people talking about what we can all do to help eradicate bullying wherever it might pop-up.

Well, not to be out-done, but this year, the same group of students and teachers combined with more schools from around the lower-mainland, BC and even New York to create this years Flash Mob!  Please, watch (and share!) this fantastic video that involves more students, more schools, and more people in helping share the knowledge and understanding that if we all work together, in unison, we can defeat the bullies around us!  When is Anti-Bullying day?  Its tomorrow, Feb 29th, 2012!

You can view the video directly on youtube by clicking this link

Also adding to the momentum this year for Anti-bullying day is the Richmond, BC School District, as they combined over 500 students, staff and teachers from the whole district to show their united front against bullying.  Their video was filmed in a local mall, over 3 levels and is a very powerful demonstration of what we can all accomplish by working together to achieve something great!

You can view this video directly on youtube by clicking this link 

 

Also, not to be left out, I’ve just found a third flash mob, this one performed by students from  Reynolds Secondary School, Arbutus Middle School and Cedar Hill Middle School in Victoria, directly in front of the Legislature.  They found a way to work together, in unison to show their support and efforts at eradicating bullying!  Way to go!

You can view this video directly on youtube by clicking this link

Please, watch these videos, share them with your family and friends, and talk about these issues about bullying with everyone you can.  Don’t let bullying go by without intervening and letting the bullies know that you are not “OK” with this!  Stand up for your fellow students, help eradicate bullying and get your dance on!

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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.

Cyber-Bullying: A Student’s Perspective

As today is “Wear Pink” day in order to bring more awareness to Bullying and Cyber-Bullying, I thought it would be valuable and important to hear about these issues from a Student’s Perspective.  Rebecca Gorgitza, a student with the Vancouver Learning Network wrote this Guest Blog Post for the BUZZ to share her feelings, suggestions, advice and experiences with Bullying.  This powerful piece of writing is straight from the heart and I encourage you to share this far and wide today, to raise awareness about this important issue. LETS ERADICATE BULLYING TOGETHER!

Hello bloggers!

Now, you all know its Anti-Bully day (I know you know because I can see all the pink shirts through my computer!), and I hope you realize what it means.  Think about it, if you will.  To me, Anti-bully day isn’t just a day for everyone to be nice to each other; it’s a step towards a total change for the better.  It’s just a taste of just how nice being nice can be, if that makes sense.  Getting along with each other is a lot easier than you’d think.  The thing is bullying isn’t just the stereotypical mean kid making rude comments when you pass in the halls.  It’s a lot more than that- it’s even on the web…. And it can be much worse when you’re being cyber-bullied rather than bullied in real life. (Key word, can) Cyber-bullying is like bullying in person, except it can be taken too far, too fast, and without much notice from anyone except for the kid being bullied.  It’s little things like harsh comments on statuses, or nasty chat messages on facebook or big things like constant outright rude comments on pieces of art on deviantart.  I honestly don’t know what goes through cyberbullies heads’ when they do such things, but I wish I could understand.  I do know, however, the effects of it.  It takes away confidence, tears away self-esteem, makes you feel worthless.  Makes you ask yourself “am I so unlovable and worthless that they have to attack me over the internet!?” (The answer to that question is always no, you are not unlovable or worthless) It makes you want to fight back, but when you do, you realize you can’t win, so you give up.  It puts you in a Slump (yes, just the like one Dr. Seuss talks about in Oh The Places You’ll Go).  Now, my recommendation for you to get out of that Slump is to have an epiphany.  Unfortunately, not even Walmart sells those, so maybe you should tell someone about the trouble you’re having.  Now, if you’re like me, you’ll have a few teachers who don’t seem to care too much.  Avoid them.  Go to your counselor (they became counselors because they wanted to help!  They’ll definitely care.), or that really nice, motherly teacher.  Or tell your parents, though that can be a bit harder to do since most parents are totally over protective, and you, being a teenager, don’t want to make a big deal about it.  Maybe you’re really shy about it…. In that case you can start by saying something like:
“So, hypothetically, if someone was getting cyber-bullied,
what should they do?”
Or
“I have this ‘friend’… he/she’s getting cyber-bullied.  What should this ‘friend’ do?”
Then, progress to talking about yourself. The most important things you, a student, need to know are that a) the bully will probably not stop “just ‘cause.” Remember, there are “Report Abuse”, “Flag” and “Block” buttons which may start to solve your problem! And b) The only way you are guaranteed to get help is by telling someone who cares.   Oh, and if you have a friend who is being cyber-bullied/bullied and they tell you about it…. Don’t just say “oh”.  Please, please don’t.  Stand up for them.  Tell them they’re amazing.  Help them- it’s your responsibility as a friend.
Now, to the edumacators and ‘rents:
NEVER IGNORE A KID WHEN THEY ASK FOR HELP, AND NEVER BRUSH IT OFF.
It happens too often, and it’s sad.  I don’t care whether it’s cyber-bullying, bullying, or issues that don’t have a single cause.  Help the kid.  You may not know exactly when a kid is being cyber-bullied/bullied, and you may not be able to stand up for them… but thinking about it from their point of view, helping them, talking to them, giving them ideas and positive escapes from the stress and hurt is a lot better than doing nothing.
If you would like to learn more about “Pink Shirt Day” please check out this CBC news article about the two young men from Nova Scotia who stood up to bullies and created this North American movement!  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2007/09/18/pink-tshirts-students.html

Also, be sure to check out our own “Cyber-Bullying” Page here @ THE BUZZ as we have many tips, resources and places for help if you or anyone you know is suffering from Bullying or Cyber-Bullying.  If you are an educator looking for a powerpoint presentation to use with your class, be sure to check this one out from our Planning 1o Teacher Brenda Kvist! Anti-Bullying
Happy Pink Shirt Day!

Social Media: A Presentation for Educators

Tomorrow, Friday, Feb 18th is a District Professional Development Day here in Vancouver, BC.  The District team has put together a great day titled “Supporting Learning Through Technology“.  There are workshops on all kinds of interesting tools, strategies, support groups and ways to innovate and utilize technology in your classroom.

I will be giving a workshop tomorrow afternoon titled: “Social Media: How to get Started” and will be in the ‘Barn’ @ John Oliver Secondary, Room 209 from 12pm to 1.15pm.  In this workshop, I hope to really show why using Social Media as a part of your classroom and learning environment can be a simple and easy way to extend your classroom, while teaching and demonstrating appropriate usage of Social Media tools.

The presentation I will be using is available here:

This presentation will cover the basics of Why use Social Media?  Why Now?  How can I safely use these tools with my students?  I will also be covering best practices when using tools like Facebook, Twitter and WordPress.  I hope that this presentation will also be ‘hands-on’ and will allow educators to try some of these tools out where they can ask questions, explore without fear, and share possible ideas about how to implement.

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