Responsible Use In Japanese 日本語

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My final project has taken some unexpected twists and turns in the past month.  I think this is why I love “teaching technology” and why it’s so exciting to be a teacher in the 21st century.  As most of us know, it’s important to teach, explore, talk about issues, concerns, and opportunities that are occurring RIGHT NOW.  So, this often means I have a great idea or read an article at 10 PM and then I plan a lesson before bed, then develop it over my morning coffee, and deliver it a few hours later.  And the cycle repeats.

First off, a few months ago, a company in Japan, CA Tech Kids, came to visit our school.  We were looking for ways to develop our programming curriculum and provide opportunities for our students outside of school and they offer workshops all over Japan for programming and gaming/app creation.  The elementary tech coordinator at my school spent all day hosting CA Tech Kids, showing them what we do at Canadian Academy and how we integrate technology.  I spent an hour with them that day, sharing student work and how I use technology to enhance my instruction.  They were particularly interested in how my students and I use social media in my classroom and they were also intrigued by our Responsible Use Policy.  These are two things that are presently not very common in Japanese schools.

To make a long story short, they invited my colleague, Kae Shigeta, and I to present last weekend and be a part of their panel discussion on technology and programming in education.

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It was an amazing experience.  My Japanese is not up to par to present (that’s a bit of an understatement) , so Kae had a massive part in our presentation – not only presenting her own examples but translating all of mine too!  She is really helping make our Responsible Use Policy reach more people in our local community than I could have imagined.  Since we had limited time to share, we decided to focus on: Communicator & Balanced.

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Balance by carolynprncss via Flickr

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Gloomy Hard at Work by Inga Pylypiuk via Flickr Creative Commons

I think the most valuable parts of this presentation were:

1. The Responsible Use Policy is partially translated into Japanese !!!  (We only focused on parts of it because we only had 30 minutes and we gave examples of how we were teaching/embodying the attributes in our classes).  I am asking students to help me translate the rest (both the document and the presentations), and I’ll ask Kae to proofread it in the end.  This will be a great resource to our community.

2. Kae and I carved out a lot of time to brainstorm, design and create the presentation and then revise it.  We both have heavy teaching loads, so this doesn’t happen as much as we’d like, so it was fantastic.  She’s an amazing colleague to work with.  It also made us really think about our digital citizenship articulation – where we are and where we need to go.

Presenting or Singing Karaoke?

Presenting or Singing Karaoke?

3. Presenting in-tandem English/Japanese added another whole interesting layer to our presentation.  I have never presented like that and it was a bit tricky.  I didn’t want to read straight from cards, but I didn’t want Kae to have to work extra hard to translate my off script tangents, either.  Not knowing the audience (about 100 Japanese parents/teachers from the area), was really difficult too.  Japanese audiences are often taciturn, so it’s hard when you are speaking to a group and not getting much feedback from them.

4. The owner of CA TECH Kids, Tomohiro Ueno, at the end of the presentation, said he really was impressed with our Responsible Use Policy and he wants to create one for his company.  He not only has professionals in his company, but he also “employs” interns from the top technology universities in the area and they work with thousands of students per year.

5. The Japanese government is starting to publish a lot of press releases lately about technology in schools, primarily programming and the use of iPads.  In general, Japanese schools are behind the times with their technology with little to no technology resources/instruction for most public schools.  One of the concerns is that the government is paying for devices for schools, but there is no real curriculum or professional development structure to support the teaching and learning.  There were a few teachers in the audience and it was great to hear their perspectives.  I think it would be a great opportunity for us to share with schools in our area.

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Overall, this was a fantastic experience.  Kae and I have talked about doing this again possibly for teachers at the Apple Store in Osaka, as they often have teacher nights and allow for presentations.

And now, this again leaves me with these thoughts – I love how connected I am with so many different people.  This truly is the spirit of teaching and using your PLN.  This idea was started as a project between Katy, Ju and I and now has become so much more.  And, it keeps growing.  There seems to be more opportunities to share and grow,  every time I stop and listen to teachers, students and parents around me.

Next post, I will be back to reflecting on what’s going on with my students:

How is the implementation of the Responsible Use Policy impacting them and our community?

Rude < Mean < Bully

Photo Credit: pasukaru76 via Compfight cc

Bullying has occurred since early man roamed the Earth, even though the term is almost always connected with the word: students today.  We all know it’s horrible and it’s damaging.   The term cyberbully has become more popular in the past few years, but really, isn’t it just bullying?  Most of our students don’t separate their lives or time between being online or offline.

It’s just life.

While it has the potential to be more permanent and to impact everyone much faster than before, it’s just as nasty.  Fortunately, usually when bullying is done by digital means, there is proof.  It is possible to find out who said what, rather than it just be whispered in the hallways, making it less speculative.

In Japan, teachers have a huge responsibility for student behavior outside of school.  If a student is caught doing something bad, the police, store keeper, or train conductor will contact the student’s school, not their parents.  Even if it wasn’t part of the culture, in my opinion, it is our job as educators to get involved, even if the bullying happens outside of school.  While reading, School heads called parents in cyberbully case: Harassment occurred off campus so jurisdiction unclear, officials say, I was thinking about all the different perspectives and all the community members who chimed in on the case.  It is all of our responsibilities.  Even if the bullying happened outside of the school walls and after 4:00 pm, it becomes our issue.  An issue we need to step up and deal with, because it does impact the students’ learning.  If a child feels unsafe or is unhappy due to bullying, there is no way they can be successful as a student.  With our staff of teachers, administrators and counselors, we usually know all the kids involved, understand their different personalities and family situations, have the ability to deal with concerns like this, therefore, need to be involved.

Something we need to do collectively (me and my school included) is be more proactive in talking about bullying and digital citizenship with our students and our community.  I think we should make sure our emotional and social health skills are developed well in our curriculum and that we provide workshops for parents so we can work together to create a common language and understanding, therefore, promoting a healthy environment for our students.  We need to address bullying proactively rather than always reactively.

Last week, when Robyn Treyvaud presented “Growing Up Digital” to our school, she presented The Different Tiers of Hurtful Behavior, which is outlined well here on A Platform for Good’s How to Talk to Your Kids About Bullying.  The following definitions are simple and clear.  I hope we will use them as a school community to identify and reflect on behavior:

  • When someone says or does something unintentionally hurtful and they do it once, that’s RUDE.
  • When someone says or does something intentionally hurtful and they do it once, that’s MEAN.
  • When someone says or does something intentionally hurtful and they keep doing it—even when you tell them to stop or show them that you’re upset—that’s BULLYING.
I have been in situations where parents have a knee-jerk reaction to someone being rude or mean to their child, and have come into school wielding the bullying word.  I get it.  I’m a parent.  We want to protect our kids.  With a better understanding of  what bullying is, as a community, we will hopefully have happier, more successful students.  We will never eradicate bullying, but we can empower victims and bystanders and help foster a happy, healthy community.
Here’s an example of a community working together to stand-up to bullying.  If you haven’t seen this video, check it out, We Are All Daniel Cui:

So Much to Say, So Much to Say, So Much to Say…

Creative Commons Image by WarzauWynn
“32::3 – A messy room”

Today I finished the last section of the report, Living and Learning with New Media by the MacArthur Foundation, which summarizes findings from a three-year study of teenagers and how they use media.  Over the past few weeks, this article has really made me think and reflect on what my students are learning and how they are using their laptops and other devices, both in and out of school.

It states that, “contemporary social media are becoming one of the primary “institutions” of peer culture for U.S. teens, occupying the role that was previously dominated by the informal hanging out spaces of the school, mall, home and street.”

This is maybe obvious, but I hadn’t thought of it like that before and it is so true.  This mall metaphor brought me back to my middle school and early high school days with my braces and horribly permed hair.  My mother would drop me off at the mall for a few hours to hang with my friends.  Even though she wasn’t there to monitor my behavior, there were rules I was expected to abide by for this privelege – not running around, yelling or being otherwise disrespectful or rude to other shoppers.  There was also the obvious expectation of not stealing or participating in any other sort of illegal activity.  While, I pretty much followed these rules, I’m sure in a group with six other teenaged girls with equal amounts of Aqua Net in their hair sporting pegged Guess jeans, that we were at times loud and took up the whole walkway trolling for cute boys.

I totally looked like this back
in my “mall” days

Have our students explicitly been told expectations for social media/screen time at home or in school?  

I wish I could say “YES!” as the MS Tech teacher and curriculum integrator at our school, but I can’t.  I think sometimes I feel those skills and rules are obvious, but they are not to most young adults.  Most of their parents and teachers do not participate in social media, but they allowed to sign up and then need to figure it all out on their own.

What I’m finding now in my classroom is that while kids use social media A LOT, no one has ever taught them how to use it.  Most teens figure out the general rules and learn what is expected in these “hangouts”, but many don’t and then many are brought to the attention of the school because of inappropriate use or their inability to manage their time well.

I was doing a lesson in my class this week on “Keeping Our Computers Happy”.  I spent a whole hour class on giving my seventh graders some general guidelines and then just giving them TIME to – do a software update, clean off their desktop, clean out their emails, organize their Drive and even physically clean their screen and keyboard.  I have to say it was one of the most valuable lessons I think I’ve taught recently.

As I moved around the room, I was shocked at what little my seventh graders knew about basic maintenance of their laptop and the systems/software we use.  For example, when I was moving around, I noticed THOUSANDS of emails in their inboxes.  Many of them had twenty-plus email notifications from Facebook per day.  They had no idea how easy it was to turn those off and unsubscribe from other mailing lists.  They were almost in awe by this and were generally relieved to know that their inboxes weren’t going to get full as quickly.  These little nuggets of information are something very easily I can pass on to my students.  I’m also thinking that I will provide PD time for the faculty and staff to do the same sort of activity.

While I found the report interesting and it overall gave me a lot of examples and everyday metaphors to use when explaining today’s media to faculty and parents, I didn’t agree with everything that was written.

I don’t agree with the part of the article that states:

” we don’t believe that educators and parents need to bear down on kids with complicated rules and restrictions… about how they should engage on line.  Simple prohibitions, technical barriers, or time limits are perceived as ill-informed exercises in power.”

I’m not sure what they mean by “complicated rules”, but our kids need rules, they need boundaries on their tech use. I see so many kids floundering because they can’t get organized, they try to multi-task too much and they are online into the wee hours of the night.  As educators, this is maybe where a big shift should be happening.  We all know that content acquisition is shifting, we aren’t the beacons of knowledge in our classroom anymore, but we do need to model and teach our kids how we manage our content and our resources, so they successfully can do the same.

In our advisory/middle school block time, there is frequently time carved out for study skills and organization, but only recently has it started to include digital organization, in combination with locker and agenda checks.  Even though many educators don’t have the knowledge or comfort level to teach these skills (YET!), I hope we start to teach these crucial learning 2.0 productivity and balance skills to our students, as they may be the most crucial.

Image Courtesy: KarenSaraGaches on Flickr
“Organize Me Please”