Digital Literacy in the Classroom

The American Library Association (ALA) defines digital literacy as “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.”  Why is digital literacy so important?  Today’s students are looking to the internet as a key source of information.  Renaissance states that students who are digitally literate know how to find and consume digital content and they know how to create, communicate, and share digital content.  Understanding digital literacy is critical in today’s society as our world encompasses a wide range of “new” technology all of the time.

I am in currently enrolled in Elementary program.  I would ideally like to teach any grade from K-6.  I think digital literacy in an Elementary classroom is going to look a lot different than digital literacy in a high school classroom.  Although, younger students may not have cellphones they are still using computers, Chromebooks, iPads, YouTube, Raz-Kids, Mathletics, and the list goes on.  I think students need to be introduced to the importance of internet safety and “fake news” as young as Kindergarten.  The EdCan Network states “Teachers therefore play a crucial role in ensuring that their students develop the skills to decipher the many streams of information available to them.”

Fake News is a type of hoax or deliberate spread of misinformation with the internet to mislead in order to gain financially or politically.  It is important to understand that fake news is not a new phenomenon.  It is imperative to teach students now because fake news is easy to create, it gets around quickly, and it is seen often in our 24/7 news cycle.  Students need to be aware that not everything they see online is true.

Fake news is easy to fall for, for a number of reasons:

  •  A growing decline in trust of the media and government
  • people can now create content unburdened by the layers of editing and fact-checking that news organisations adhere to
  • content is aggregated into a single “news” feed – mixing updates from friends and family with identical-looking links to stories across the web
  • lower attention spans
  • fake news stories appeal to our emotions
  • proliferation of internet bots

The following strategies and ideas can help students identify fake news and become critical readers of the world around them: 

  • Move beyond traditional – and often ineffective – information evaluation checklists
  • Prioritize helping students develop investigative techniques
  • Teach students to identify bias
  • Bring real – world fake news examples that we encounter everyday into the classroom

Helping Students Identify Fake News with the Five C’s of Critical Consuming is another resource that you could show to your students.  It is a quick and powerful video on explaining fake news.  The five C’s are:

  1. Context (When was it written and where did it come from)
  2. Credibility (Does the author cite credible sources)
  3. Construction (What is the bias and is there any propaganda)
  4. Corroboration (Make sure it is not the only source making this claim)
  5. Compare (Compare to other news sources and find other sources)

Digital literacy relates to the Saskatchewan Curriculum in many subject areas.  Primarily in English Language Arts, as students are often using technology to find information.  Students are constantly learning.  Digital literacy connects to nearly all subject areas.  Science, maybe you are learning about animals and their habits, or in health perhaps students are learning about nutrition, social maybe you are looking up Canada’s symbols, in P.E perhaps you are doing a warm up “Just Dance“.  It doesn’t matter what subject area, digital literacy can exist in each one.  Students are always around technology.  The best way to teach this in the class is to be honest with your students.  Make them aware of the internet and show them how to use it safely.  Provide fake news and see if they can distinguish why it is fake.  Teach them internet safety.

In an article written by the NCTE students used e-portfolios, digital media, the blackboard, digital storytelling, mobile devices to assist them in learning that delivering inaccurate information is dangerous.  You could incorporate these into the classroom through presentations, blogs, reports, and discussion forums.

It is essential that students learn the importance of digital literacy, but is is more essential that they know how to engage in using it safely.

Teaching Others To Knit Stitch

This week I used both Pinterest and the Appstore to challenge myself to help others learn.  On Pinterest I found some great step by step instructions and decided to use them to create an instructional poster.

The things I liked about this website are: the instructions are easy to follow and the pictures are big and easy to see.  One thing that I did not like about this website was that you had to scroll down to find “How to Make a Knit Stitch”.  When you initially click on the link it takes you to “Nemsok Farms.”  At first I thought I clicked on the wrong link, but the second time I scrolled down and sure enough I found the steps.

I also downloaded an app this week that is called “How to Knit-Knitting guide.”  It is available at the AppStore.  An advantage of this app is that it has a lot of good information, but a disadvantage is that it is not free.  I paid $1.39 for this App, but for myself, it was worth it.  I have found the app to be more useful than not.

When you open this app it takes you to the screen that is below.  First, you may pick from any of the coloured circles below.

For this post, I selected the orange circle “How to Knit for Beginners”  Once you click the circle this is what will pop up next.

A list of countless YouTube videos to pick from (all pertaining to knitting for beginners).  I went on Youtube to see if I could find any of the videos from this app on Youtube, and I could not.  These videos can only be seen when using this app.  I scrolled down until I found the video “How to Knit for Beginners: How to make the basic knit stitch.”  From here using the rest of the app is simple.  You just watch the video and do exactly what the girl in the video does.  This app is wonderful if you are willing to pay.  In fact it even has a knitting sweaters circle that I plan on checking out to see if it can be helpful for the remainder of my final project.

Here is my instructional poster that I created to help you learn how to do “The Knit Stitch” (the most basic stitch in all of knitting) this week.  I hope all of my instructions are clear and easy to follow.  I provided a picture and plenty of  information beside each step.

Step one:

Step two: 

Step three:

Step Four: 

Step Five: 

Step Six: 

Cybersleuthing @missparcher

This week I had the opportunity to Cybersleuth Rashelle Parcher.

For me, this experience was slightly different from the activity that we did in class.  It was different because I already follow Rashelle on nearly all of her social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).  The one account that I did not follow her on is VSCO.

I noticed that each one of Rashelle’s accounts attracts a different audience.  According to an article I read this week, “Think of it this way: Would you invite everyone you’ve ever met to your birthday party?,” boyd said. “To your office? To your wedding? Different events involve different segments of your network and involve different protocols and behaviors. The same is true online.”

I agree with Rashelle’s decision to keep all of her accounts separate and open to different audiences, as I do the same with all of my accounts.  Rashelle’s Twitter is intended for a teaching audience, her Instagram account is for her friends, and her Facebook account is also for her friends.  I scrolled through Rashelle’s VSCO and it is clearly intended for a friendly audience as well. I found pictures of her dog and the things that she loves here. “Different sites, different audiences, different purposes.” she says. “Very simple.”

I found that Rashelle was least active on Facebook.  She does not post very often.  She is active on both Twitter and Instagram.  Her most recent post on Instagram was for her dog’s birthday a few days ago.  I would say that Rashelle moderately posts on social media.  She had no photos that are out of the ordinary.  Her WordPress is highly professional and inviting.

This week I watched the video How one tweet can ruin your life.  As future educators, we need to have conversations about posting on the internet.  Once you put something out, there is no going back.  I think conversations about bullying need to be addressed.  It makes me sick to my stomach that people hide behind their screens to say hurtful things to one another on the internet.  Such words things would not be said in face to face conversation.

Below is some information that I found when Cybersleuthing Rashelle this week:

Name: Rashelle Parcher

Professional (job-related):

Special Education Teaching Assistant at Regina Public School Division

Goes to the University of Regina

Biographical (age, birthday, location, appearance, etc.):

Birthday: December 16, 1996,

Location: Carrot River, Sk and Regina, Sk

Appearance: Average height, long brown hair, green eyes

Personal (relationships, family, hobbies, activities, likes/dislikes, etc.):

Boyfriend: Brycen Mccrea

Hobbies and Activities: Walking her dog, cooking, spending time outdoors

Where are they on the web? (social networks, job profiles, etc).

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress, VSCO, Pinterest

Based on their digital footprint, what are your overall impressions of this person?

My overall impressions of this person are: loves her dog, loves cats, loves her boyfriend, is enrolled in Education at the University of Regina.

Based on their digital footprint, do you trust this person? Would you hire them? Would you be their friend? Why or why not?

Based on her digital footprint I trust this person.  There is no extreme ‘red flags’ with anyone of her social media accounts.  I would hire Rashelle/be her friend because her profiles are all age appropriate, she loves pets, and takes pride in the things that she loves.

Is this person an oversharer or undersharer? Why or why not?

Rashelle is neither an oversharer or undersharer.  She posts to all of her accounts, but posts to Facebook the least.  I think Rashelle posts a normal amount.  Her posts are appropriate.

What advice would you give this person about their digital footprint?

All accounts are very professional.  It looks like she even took the time to go back and clear out old posts and pictures on Facebook.  One of the things that I did notice about Rashelle when I googled her was that one of her Pinterest boards consisting of alcoholic beverages comes up when you search her name.  I don’t think this is a bad thing, but I don’t know if it is a ‘key’ feature that she wants popping up when others search about who she is.




Sweater Update

This week I continued adding to the sleeve that my boyfriend’s mother got me started on last week.  The picture below on the left hand side is from last week, and the picture below on the right hand side is from this week.

As you can see, I am getting the hang of the whole knitting thing.  I have actually started catching myself watching knitting videos on YouTube in my spare time.  Yes… I watched all thirty four minutes of this video for fun! Haha!  I am enjoying knitting.

The sleeve did not take me long at all.  I spent a total of an hour on it.  Once the cuff of the sleeve was made, it was just repetition from there.  It was the body of the sweater that challenged me.  (I am not so great at the Purl Stitch).  The bottom of the sweater took me three hours to knit.  But keep in mind that like the sleeve cuff, once I had the base it was easier to build up from there.

Enjoy these progress photos! See you next week!

Seeking Hands On Knitting Help

This week I was lucky enough receive some hands on knitting assistance from my boyfriend’s mom.  She LOVES knitting and she agreed to sit down with me for a few hours.  She got me started on making a little sweater.  This sweater is now what I intend to complete for my final project.  I changed my mind completely.  I am not going to have enough time to make a large a blanket like I wanted.  Plus, she has experience with making sweaters and she offered to guide me as much as possible.

She took me shopping.  I bought another new a set of yarn, and a few more needles.  (As she explained that for the first phase of this project I would need to use three needles instead of just the two that I am used to).

She also suggested the sweater because it will tie together all of the basics that I have already been teaching myself.  The knit stitch, the purl stitch, casting on, casting off, and binding off.  It was great to have some face to face interaction with knitting.  I learned so much from her.  She also had some instructions printed off from a sweater that she made a few years ago.  She said that I could have those to help me continue on my way as well.

I was worried about knitting in the round as that is the one and only thing that I have not taught myself how to do.  She assured me this was not something that I needed to spend a whole week teaching myself how to do. It turns out that knitting in the round is the exact same as knitting straight on, only you use round knitting needles.

Here is a progress photo of the first sleeve that she helped me get started on this week.  CHECK IT OUT! I USED THREE NEEDLES!!!  I thought using three needles would be hard, but it honestly wasn’t too bad at all.  In fact, it was mostly just to keep the other portion of the knitting in place.  I also used a set of her round knitting needles to make the opening of the sleeve.

I am so excited to continue working on this sweater, especially now that I have a project that I can roll with! Thank goodness I found a hands on source to help me.  I was starting to get frustrated with knitting, but she came to my rescue just in time! Now I am super pumped to show off more progress photos! See you next week!

Now Featuring: Binding Off with Powtoon

This week I decided to use Powtoon to aid me in my learning project. Powtoon is a free online tool that is used for creating animated videos.  I chose to use Powtoon because while researching, I found that many teachers use Powtoon in their classrooms to create short presentations for their students.  I thought this was interesting and possibly something that I could incorporate into my future classroom.

All you have to do is create an account.  The program is free, but there are some features that are only available to the Pro members.  All of your progress is saved automatically.  It is very simple to navigate.

There is a toolbar that is located on the far right and side of your screen.  The arrow in the image above is pointing at “Background” if you click this you may upload your own background, or pick from some of the ones that are available on Powtoon.  The T is your Text. Here you can add your own title, subtitle and body text.  Just below the Text is Characters.  Here you can select from different animated characters to put into your video.   Next is Props, or cartoon images of items that can be searched and added into your video.  There are also different shapes, images and videos that can be uploaded as well.  Powtoon provides a music feature that includes different tempos of songs that you can play in the background of your video (voice overs are an option as well).  The Magicians’s hat is a miscellaneous feature that includes a bunch of extra themes and items to select from.

This bar is located below your videos while you are editing and allows you to move different text and features you incorporated into the video around (this is all for timing).  You can add more time with the plus sign and decrease time with the minus sign.  The Black triangle is dragged around to start your video clips over from where you want.

This week I taught my self how to bind off and I also focused on being faster with making my stitches.  I followed a great step by step video on YouTube to help me learn how to bind off.  Binding off wasn’t easy, and I will need to keep working some more with it.  I got to use my tapestry needle for the first time.

Tapestry Needle – Binding Off
Progress Made Before Binding Off
Progress Made After Binding Off

My progress from my learning project thus far is little.  It took me three hours to make that final binded off rectangle!  I will continue to keep chipping away.

You can play around on Powtoon for hours.  There are so many different tricks that I learned just by doing.  If you haven’t used Powtoon before, check it out.  It was fun to work with.  Please find attached the little video I created this week using Powtoon.