Pixar’s Lesson on Bullying: It’s For The Birds

It is a very well known fact that I am nothing if not a massive Disney nut! I love everything about Disney and the Pixar branch of the studios is no exception. From their shorts to their full-length features, there is a wonderful lesson to be learned.

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Pixar’s short film “For The Birds” teaches viewers a fantastic lesson on bullying. Check it out!

Here we have a group of birds choosing to shun an outsider. From there they learn, a bit too late, that their actions against someone else can have some pretty serious consequences for them!

This video can be used in a number of ways to teach a lesson to students (even adults) about the consequences of bullying!

Have you used this video in class? I’d love to hear the results in the comments section below!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Social Networking in the Classroom: Facebook

Last week I introduced my all new blog series and in the introductory entry I talked about the pros and cons of introducing social networking to the educational environment. The series continues, looking at each network and it’s uses in the classroom!

Facebook, for all its flaws, is still on top when it comes to the world of social networking with over 1 billion users (665 million daily active users). Facebook isn’t going anywhere. It is even predicted that within the next two years Facebook will have created and introduced Education Accounts. But why wait?

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Bringing a social networking site into the classroom can, understandably, be a difficult decision for any educator. There are many factors to take into account including your own safety and privacy. The number one rule I will provide: Never use your personal account!

There are very easy ways around having to provide your personal account information to students. Creating a Page or Group for your classroom allows you to have conversations and share with students without giving them access to your information. They can send private messages through the page or hold conversations on the Page’s newsfeed.

I suggest taking the time to understand the ins and outs of both Pages and Groups to find out what works best for your classroom. From there it’s just a matter of what you choose to do!

Communication: A Facebook page or group opens up a common line of communication between students and the teacher as well as other students with questions. The digital environment can encourage more conversations and less cliques. Wallflowers are more likely to contribute and work together with others in this environment, allowing them a time to shine.

A page also allows for absent students to stay connected and up-to-speed with what it happening in the classroom while they are gone. The can participate in online discussions as a potential way to earn class credit without being there (establish and enforce a rule on this early on and stick with it! Students may abuse the right!).

A Page or Group on Facebook also allows parents to stay connected with what is going on in their student’s classes. Groups allow you to upload files so forgetful students have access to permission slips and other important documents via the internet and don’t have to stress about looking for it! This also allows you to share photos from class trips, classroom activities and other on goings! Parents won’t need to pry information from their kids in order to have a conversation about their day.

Apps: Facebook offers a large variety of apps that are perfect for the educational environment. There are 200 available apps, some developed by Facebook, others by outside developers. To save you from searching I found some great one’s through Brian Jenkins’ blog post at TeachHub!

Study Groups: Students use this popular application to work together outside of the classroom. They collaborate on group projects, share notes, discuss assignments, and help each other prepare for tests.
SAT Quest: This application prepares students for the SAT with short, five question SAT prep games. The questions become more difficult as students move to higher levels.
Quizlet: This handy tool is on of tne of the largest and fastest growing flashcard websites. Over 1 million registered users have uploaded tens of millions of flash cards. Flash card sets are available for a variety of topics including standardized test prep, languages, math, and science.
To Do List: Students use this application to organize their school assignments. Students can make multiple lists.
Zoho Online Office: Although it’s designed for businesses, this application is used by students to store their documents and class presentations online. They can then share their documents with other students. It’s a great way for students to manage their information.
Quiz Monster: Students create their own quizzes with this very popular application.
GRE GMAT SAT Vocabulary Flashcards: This application includes 5000 words students should be familiar with before taking the SAT. It also includes 1100 words for the GRE and GMAT tests. Students mark a word based on its level of difficulty. An easy-level word repeats after nine days and a medium level-word repeats after three days.

Once you’ve established how you plan on using Facebook in the classroom it’s important to keep with it! Educator Dr. Rachel Baum of Wisconsin describes Facebook in the classroom as a ladder approach:

Baum also offers up her own list of Do’s and Don’ts of using Facebook in the classroom:

Post Frequently: This keeps the conversations fresh and keeps them going. It begins to feel more like a discussion rather than notifications that can get lost in a student’s regular newsfeed.

Post More Outside Information Then Class Announcements: Though many students won’t read these, those who do are invited to deepen their experience in your class.

Connect What You Post To What You’re Teaching: In a few words, connect what you are posting (videos and articles) to what the class is learning and make it a part of the next class discussion.

Let Students Know You’re Looking At Their Work: A fine example:
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Don’t Make Facebook A Requirement: Many students may not be on Facebook either as a personal choice or the choice of their parents. Be sure to think of alternative ways to connect with students who may not be on social networks.

Don’t Be Afraid of Inappropriate Use: By introducing an educational aspect of Social Networking to students many educators have found that it has become less of a distraction and allows students to understand how to responsibly use this technology.

There is so much more to be discussed! Please use the comments section to share your own ideas, secrets or even do’s and don’ts you’ve discovered by introducing Facebook to your classroom!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Social Networking in the Classroom: An Introduction

With more and more schools moving towards having a 1:2:1 environment, educators are trying to find the best ways into incorporate popular social networking sites into the educational environment. This entry marks the first in a weekly series to give teachers some ideas on how these web sites can be used in the classroom.

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Today, over 60% of educators are using social media in their classes in an effort to better relate and connect with their students. Rather than trying to keep students from accessing social media in schools, educators can take advantage of these site to enhance the classroom setting.

There are many schools of thought when it comes to integrating technology into classroom and it’s important to pay attention to the pros and cons when planning to do so. Many advocates feel that it is the natural evolution of education to begin to enhance learning with technology and social media while critics are calling for strict regulation and even reject the idea all together.

When considering to go ahead and use social media in the classroom it’s important to decided if the benefits outweigh the risks. To give an idea of what people are saying, I’ve compiled some of the pros and cons here.

PROS

Using the Tools They Know- Our students are already walking into the classroom with a working knowledge of the world wide web. They are already using many of these social  networking sites and by adding these site into the educational setting it may help aide them in creating smarter decisions online and create a positive digital resume.

Real World Uses- The internet has become a part of daily life along with the many social networking sites that are out there. By integrating these sites into the classroom environment, educators are helping students develop the skills they will need in the real world by way of effecting communication skills both online and in the real world.

Preparing Students- As students are preparing to enter the world of higher education or the workforce, a working knowledge of social networks can be a big help! With many colleges and universities engaging potential candidates through social networking, students who are savvy in the online world are at an advantage. Ditto for moving into the workplace. Many site today allow you to create you educational or professional profile to broadcast to potential educational institutions or employers.

Improving Student Communication- Students who may not be the most talkative in class may be inclined to participate more in an online forum. In this environment they are able to organize their thoughts and present them to their peers. Students may also be more inclined to ask for help through digital communication means.

CONS

Cyberbullying- With any technology the issue of bullying is a major concern. By bringing technology into the classroom there also the risk of bringing this behavior right along with it. Critics of social media integration argue that educators are inviting trouble into their classes by allowing students to be so connected. This is also an issue that can be easily avoided by educating not only ourselves about these issues but the students as well. Establishing rules and regulations from the word “go” is key.

Techno Distractions- Critics feel that instructors are inviting students the opportunity to goof off an not pay attention. Tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can be a major distraction for students if not properly regulated. It is up to the instructor to make sure that the technology is being used for the purposed intended and not abused.

Social Interaction- I mentioned in my post yesterday about cell phones and the potential to stunt regular social interaction. The same arguments can be made for social networking. While the digital world can help increase communication from quieter students, it may also be stunting their abilities to interact in the real world. Students well-versed in the online world may find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to college or even professional interviews.

IN THE END

While this debate will more than likely continue for quite some time, there’s no arguing the influence that social networks have over students today. Many of the most tech-savvy are already using these networks to collaborate and develop relationships. It is only natural that their educational environments get on board and embrace rather than reject these learning tools.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Should Cell Phones Be Allowed In Schools?

I stumbled across a poll this morning that asked this very question. It wasn’t the poll itself that piqued my interest but the comments that followed. The issue seems to be a hot button topic among parents and students and some of the posts really had me surprised! Students that said “no, cell phones shouldn’t be allowed” and parents saying “Yes, they should be!”

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This is a head scratcher.

I’m having a hard time figuring out my own thoughts on this subject as I can think of many reasons for both the “for” and “against” arguments. And though I, as an educator, can think of many reasons to be against the idea, the reasons that fall into the “for” category are pretty solid. I came up with a list for both, rather than writing everything out here, I picked my top reasons and listed them below.

Against

Mobile Bullying Devices- Bullying through mobile technology has changed the face of the act. There is the obvious methods like being able to text hurtful things to fellow classmates or having access to social networking or apps that allow you to communicate throughout the day. Unlike the traditional bullying of the past, kids today have access to one another 24/7- at home, in the halls, in class, at lunch, everywhere. Having access to their mobile technology during school hours allows them more opportunities during the day to bring bullying into the school environment.

Mobile Cheating Devices- This speaks for itself. With phones today we have the entire world of knowledge in the palm of our hands. I can’t say I haven’t been tempted on trivia nights to pull out my phone and Google the answer- I never have because the trivia master watches us like hawks! As a student the temptation to cheat is a very real thing. I’d be lying if I said I never used crib notes (cleverly written on my ankle just below the sock line)  but today there’s more access than ever before.  Teachers do the best they can to curb this behavior but those magical eyes we have on the back of our heads can only do so much!

Social Interaction-  Back in the days of the walkman (read: when I was in high school) we weren’t allowed to listen to music in the halls between classes or even during lunch. The reasoning is simple- we want you to interact with the people and the world around you. I may have hated it at the time but I can’t help agree with the idea now. Our teenage years are important for developing the social skills needed to get through the rest of our lives. It’s difficult to develop these skills with music blasting in your ears or your face buried in a phone.

For

This list is a lot longer than the one reason I’m listing below but it’s the biggest one I can think of.

Emergency- I can’t ignore recent or past tragedies that have occurred in schools or businesses around the world. I can’t ignore natural disasters. I can’t ignore that when we hear the news of a major, devastating event our first instinct it to get in touch with the ones we love who might have been affected. I was in Boston the day of the marathon bombings and my friends and family knew this. My phone went nuts within minutes of the news hitting the social networks. With mobile technology being something we all have, it’s natural that it’s our go to in the event of an emergency. If something is happening at your child’s school- you can get in touch with them directly. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

However, when it comes to other emergencies, I feel that a student being notified via text message by a parent or family member is the worst idea in the world. Here’s what I mean:

Not too long ago a friend of mine was killed in a car accident. I was on the road at the time and hadn’t checked social networks that morning. I was presenting to a group of students when I came to the point where I bring out my phone to make a point. While I had my phone out, a text came from another friend about the accident. I felt paralyzed. It was the worst thing in the world because I wanted to know more information but the show had to go on and I still had 45 minutes to finish. In this instance, I would have preferred a phone call with a voicemail asking for a call back.

Now imagine having to deliver similar news to your child. Or even just letting them know that a loved one is in the hospital. Imagine getting that text in the middle of class? They are going to panic.

For some reason people are against the idea of calling the school. In the event of this type of emergency, calling the school is the best thing you can do. They will handle calling the student out of class and letting them know what’s going on in a controlled, private setting. If possible, they will have a guidance counselor on hand to talk with them while they wait to be picked up or to receive more information.

In The End

I feel like this argument is one that will never be settled. There are many schools of thought on this subject and each argument both for and against make perfect sense to me. I think the most important thing that can be done is that both parents and educators set expectations and standards for the use of this technology.

I’m also a big fan of anyone under 18 getting what I like to call a “dumb phone.” If the purpose of our kids having phones is to be able to stay connected in the event of an emergency, then let’s eliminate apps, web browsing, social networking from the equation. Give them a phone that makes calls and that’s it.

These are my thoughts on the topic. I’d love to know that ya’ll think! Feel free to share your comments!

Until next time,

Josh

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

How Much Information is Too Much Information? Take a Look!

One of the biggest things I caution my audiences about is how much information we give away without even thinking about it. Some people are amazed to find out that even the simplest status update or tweet can reveal so much more than we even intended. In my programs I give an example of how one profile picture and three status updates can tell you so much! It boggles the mind!
In a recent internet search I came across an interesting Infographic on the TrendLabs Blog that reveals The Risks of Posting in Social Networks. You can check out the entry by clicking here or checking out the Infographic below!

TrendLabs Infographic

 

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.