In October 2006, thirteen-year-old Megan Meier hung herself in her bedroom closet after suffering months of cyberbullying. She believed her tormentors’ horrid insults, never thought she could find a way to stop them, and killed herself. She’s not the only one. In fact, according to the anti-bullying website NoBullying.com, 52 percent of young people report being cyberbullied and over half of them don’t report it to their parents.
Everyone knows what bullying is — someone being taunted physically or mentally by others — and there are endless resources devoted to educating both students and teachers on how to combat bullying. But what about cyberbullying? Wikipedia defines “cyberbullying” as:
the use of information technology to repeatedly harm or harass other people in a deliberate manner
Cyberbullying occurs on not just social media like Twitter, Facebook, and topical forums, but multiplayer games and school discussion boards. Examples include mean texts or emails, insulting snapchats, rumors posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing photos or videos.
How serious is it?
The National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center estimates that nearly 30 percent of American youth are either a bully or a target of bullying. 7% of high school students commit suicide, some because of cyberbullying:
On October 7, 2003, Ryan Halligan committed suicide by hanging himself [after being cyberbullied by high school classmates]. His body was found later by his older sister. Click for his story.
I get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m going to take a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.
K-8 Digital Citizenship Curriculum–9 grade levels. 17 topics. 46 lessons. 46 projects. A year-long digital citizenship curriculum that covers everything you need to discuss on internet safety and efficiency, delivered in the time you have in the classroom.
Digital Citizenship–probably one of the most important topics students will learn between kindergarten and 8th and too often, teachers are thrown into it without a roadmap. This book is your guide to what children must know at what age to thrive in the community called the internet. It blends all pieces into a cohesive, effective student-directed cyber-learning experience that accomplishes ISTE’s general goals to:
- Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology
- Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity
- Demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning
- Exhibit leadership for digital citizenship
Teaching used to be based on textbooks used by millions nation- or worldwide. They took an entire school year to finish leaving little time for curiosity or creativity. Some subjects still do fine with that approach because their pedagogy varies little year-to-year.
In my classes, though, that’s changing. I no longer limit myself to the contents of a textbook written years, sometimes a decade, ago. Now, I’m likely to cobble together lesson plans from a variety of time-sensitive and differentiated material. Plus, I commonly expect students to dig deeper into class conversations, think critically about current event connections, and gain perspective by comparing lesson materials to world cultures. That, of course, usually ends up not in a library but on the Internet.
Before I set them loose in the virtual world, though, I teach them the “rules of the Internet road” because make no mistake: There are rules. The Internet’s Wild West days are fast disappearing, replaced with the security offered by abiding to a discrete set of what’s commonly referred to as “digital rights and responsibilities“. It boils down to a simple maxim:
With the right to discover knowledge comes the responsibility to behave well while doing so.
The privileges and freedoms extended to digital users who type a URL into a browser or click a link in a PDF or scan a QR Code require that they bear the responsibility to keep the virtual library a safe and healthy environment for everyone.
Here’s a nice infographic on how to evaluate websites for authenticity, reliableness, and usefulness. Feel free to grab it and share:
EasyBib, the first name most educators think of when citing sources, has created a useful summary on MLA guidelines for citing sources. Best of all, it’s an infographic you can grab and post on your wall (with proper citation, of course):
Click here for the original post.
Man is a thinking creature. We like evaluating ideas and sharing thoughts. That’s a good thing. The more we collaborate, the smarter we all become.
Implicit in this is that we don’t claim someone else’s ideas as our own. In fact, it’s illegal to do this. Read through this rephrasing of American copyright law:
“The law states that works of art created in the US after January 1, 1978, are automatically protected by copyright once they are fixed in a tangible medium (like the Internet). BUT a single copy may be used for scholarly research (even if that’s a 2nd grade life cycle report) or in teaching or preparation to teach a class.” –Jacqui Murray, Ask a Tech Teacher
When we claim someone else’s work as our own, be it text, artwork, movies, music, or any other form of media, it’s called plagiarism:
“[Plagiarism is the] wrongful appropriation of another author’s language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions”
The rules and laws surrounding plagiarism aren’t nearly as well-known as those that deal with, say, driving a car or illegally crossing a street. The Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics surveyed 43,000 high school students and found that:
A note: The links won’t work until the articles publish!
Today: Update Your Online Presence
For most teachers I know, life zooms by, filled with lesson planning, meetings, classes, collaborations with their grade-level team, parent meetings, and thinking. There are few breaks to update/fix/maintain the tech tools that allow us to pursue our trade.
But, that must happen or they deteriorate and no longer accomplish what we need them to do. Cussing them out does no good. Buying new systems takes a long time and doesn’t fix the problem that the old one wasn’t kept up. If they aren’t taken care of, we are left wondering why our teacher blog or website isn’t accomplishing what it does for everyone else, why our social media Tweeple don’t answer us, and why our TPT materials languish. There’s a short list of upkeep items that won’t take long to accomplish. The end of the calendar year is a good time to do these:
Every day it seems, the world gets smaller. Studies show that 244 million people worldwide live in a country other than their birthplace. Doesn’t sound like a lot? In fact, it’s a 44% increase from the year 2000. Where it used to be sufficient to teach students how to thrive in their home country, that falls woefully short in a world where the internet reaches everyone, anywhere, where geopolitical borders have little effect on international activities, where the customs and culture of a country have a significant impact on student learning. Today’s challenge is to teach kids how to accept other worlds without judging, preaching, or rejecting.
I’ve been on the hunt–for a long time–for resources that help students develop global awareness and perspective-taking while learning to reject the judgmental attitudes that seem to fester unchecked among those who don’t know the truth. Enter Empatico, an initiative of The KIND Foundation, with a goal of connecting 1 million students in twenty-five countries from disparate socio-economic backgrounds.
Their thinking is that the more empathetic children become, the more in tune they can be with the needs of their peers, the more they will collaborate and find creative solutions to global problems. Developed by teachers and using a free online learning tool, students broaden their worldview through meaningful interactions with peers across the globe. Teachers are provided everything necessary–lesson plans, materials lists, a video conferencing platform, and more–to make this happen. Activities range from 2-3 hours, spread over multiple meetings (called ‘Short Spark Activities’) to 8-12 hours (called ‘Longer Fire Activities’).
In 2013, 71 percent of the U.S. population age 3 and over used the Internet
- 94% of youth ages 12-17 who have Internet access say they use the Internet for school research and 78% say they believe the Internet helps them with schoolwork.
- 41% of online teens say they use email and instant messaging to contact teachers or classmates about schoolwork.
- 87% of parents of online teens believe that the Internet helps students with their schoolwork and 93% believe the Internet helps students learn new things.
Since so many kids come to school with a working knowledge of the Internet, teachers feel comfortable using it as a teaching tool but just because students use the Internet doesn’t mean they do it safely and wisely. In fact, despite that the UN considers access to the Internet a human right, many adults and even more kids don’t know how to act as good digital citizens when visiting this sparkly and exciting world. When they first arrive, all of life’s rules seem to be upended. Users can be anyone they want, break any cultural norm and even be anonymous if they’re careful, hiding behind the billions of people crowding around them.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Started in 2006, it aims to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention around the world and is supported by hundreds of schools, corporations, and celebrities. While schools can sponsor month-long events, the most popular is to wear orange on October 19th, designated Unity Day.
Why is this so important? Check these statistics (from Pacer.org):
- One out of every four students (22%) report being bullied during the school year. (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2015)
- 64 percent of children who were bullied did not report it. (Petrosina, Guckenburg, DeVoe, and Hanson, 2010)
- More than half of bullying situations (57 percent) stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student being bullied. (Hawkins, Pepler, and Craig, 2001)
- School-based bullying prevention programs decrease bullying by up to 25%. (McCallion and Feder, 2013)
- The reasons for being bullied reported most often by students were looks (55%), body shape (37%), and race (16%). (Davis and Nixon, 2010)
Bullying doesn’t just occur in the physical world. Online bullying (called ‘cyberbullying’) is a growing and insidious activity that is proving even more destructive to children than any other kind. It includes not only websites, but cell phones, Nintendo, and Wii, as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. Examples include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, and fake profiles. Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to:
- Use alcohol and drugs
- Skip school
- Experience in-person bullying
- Be unwilling to attend school
- Receive poor grades
- Have lower self-esteem
- Have more health problems