What If – infographics and digital creation/consumerism.

Practicality set in today, and our emergent inquiry took on a more structured framework today. I wanted to be sure that our current cyberbullying inquiry actually investigated some strategic tools that kids can use when facing cyberbullying. It’s an extension of the question “what do we do if we are really being cyberbullied?”

We practiced using keywords to google specific images and we reminded ourselves how to filter images from news, videos, maps, and websites using google as well. Our goal was to find an image, an infographic, that helped us streamline what we need to do in the case of cyberbullying – a quick visual reminder. These were the ones we like best.

This launched us into an exploration about copyright, fair use, and the rights and responsibilities of a digital creator. We revisited the commonsense.org/education curriculum and they had several engaging lessons helping us better understand what media we can use, and how we can use it. Links to the lessons are HERE. I think we’ll try using Canva to develop our own infographics (and I use the term infographic loosely in the particular context, ha).

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This could be a fun way to practice being thoughtful digital creators (we are SO excited to have new iPads to help us with our learning!), to develop our understanding of the cyberbullying content, and a way for us explore the complexities of digital consumerism by considering how we’d feel if someone plagiarized or misused our own hard work.

I am…

We’ve explored cyberbullying in more depth; SO much more depth. The kiddos are finally able to differentiate between rude, mean, and bullying and can even give descriptive reasoning why they’ve classified a certain way – Its progress! It’s even had an unintended, but positive, effect on our community.

The kids are being nicer and more polite with each other, and more mindful to apologize when they realize they’ve been rude. What’s more, the parents have become more mindful about which words they use, and accusations of bullying have decreased (been eliminated?) I didn’t realize how desensitized our community had become to the word bullying, myself included. When a parent said “my kid is being bullied” I always listened, but was also (unintentionally) weary. The word Bullying had lost its impact, and upon realizing this, I knew it was time to intentionally address this with the kids.

We circled up about this challenge and chatted freely:

  • when do we misuse it?
  • why do we misuse the word?
  • why do we stand by when others misuse it?
  • how do we give the word ‘bullying’ power again?

And it was here that our focus changed slightly. The kids talked about how ‘bully’ has become synonymous with ‘mean kid’ but that the two were really different. They also felt that bullies aren’t born, their made. They wondered why some kids become bullies, and this launched us into an exercise in perspective taking through poetry.

We explored the “I am” poetry framework by “Rundi’s Room” on TPT and worked to uncover what bullies might feel in order to better understand why they might bully others. It was difficult at first so we ‘paused’ and took on the P.O.V. of the person being Bullied, the Bystander, the Brave, and then the Bully again.


We worked in triads to create poetry from each perspective, and when we read the poetry outloud to each other, the kids started to make connections between the different roles. They quickly realized that both the bully and the bullied felt similar things, and maybe weren’t so different after all. This spawned some compassion for kids who bully others, and a desire to develop tools to help change the cycle of bullying.

My hunch, was bang on. The kids wanted to take this poetry and bring it to the masses via their twitter account @corecandids. They want to film a ‘public service announcement’ and share it with the world on ‘Pink Shirt Day.’ It’s not specifically connected to the core competencies like the initial plan, but I think we’ll get there pretty quickly. I heard one of the kids saying “this is social responsibility right? I can…. I can consider the perspectives of others. Or, I cannn… I can identify how my choices and actions impact others? I think those might work?” I think all I need to do is fan the flame of that ‘wonder’ and the Core competencies will come alive. I am mindful that we should be uncovering the competencies, not covering them.

So, stay tuned…

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We’ve discovered there are 9 ‘big ideas’ that make up Digital Citizenship and we have explored two of them so far – Online safety and privacy/security. We’ve learned the difference between private information and personal information, and how to secure accounts with appropriately complex passwords. These were relatively simple concepts for the kids, and an easy entry point to the bigger (and more complex) ideas that we’ll explore later.

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I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but we stumbled into cyberbullying. The discussion was difficult, more for me than for them. They have the beautiful innocence, but infinite capacity and curiosity, and they asked a lot of questions. Some I was able to answer honestly in the moment, a few I needed to request a ‘circle back’ so I had time to think.

The idea of ‘circling back’ has become useful in our classroom. It’s really about holding space for thinking/processing that needs to be done. Its honouring that everyone involved in our classroom has their own internal learning timelines, and sometimes one of us needs a ‘pause button’ in order to honour the ‘collective good.’ Sometimes we need to pause so that everyone has the opportunity to do some difficult, uncomfortable, unanticipated thinking, reflecting, or planning. It’s a small tool we use to help us stay connected in meaningful ways.

It became clear very quickly that the kids have a misconceptions about what IS and what is NOT bullying. I searched out some supporting resources and we started to unpack the difference between rude, mean, and bullying. To get a more comprehensive baseline about what they know (and what we need to learn) we played four corners. Its a forced choice game where each answer is in a different corner of the room and they have to stand in the location and reflects their answer. I read out scenarios, and they answered, and I quickly realized that we needed to clearly define each of the words before we continued the game.


I found the resources at exploring school counselling really useful and really fun for the kids. The ideas and lessons are mostly game-based and I think that helped keep such a heavy topic manageable for us all. The kids went on to play “Upstander” which helps them practice how to be an upstander instead of a bystander when they witness bullying.Screen Shot 2019-01-23 at 11.44.35 PM.png

I pondering the idea of the kids using the new tech to create Cyberbullying PSAs… more to follow.

Digital Detour

Knowing that our Core Competency Candids inquiry lives, in large part, in the digital realm I felt duty bound to give the kids time and support to explore the possibilities and potential pitfalls of the internet. Knowing that the kids all access the internet independently at home (after daily check-ins at our morning meetings filled with stories of minecraft, roblox, fortnite, video chats, and more!) I anticipated that this would be a short exploration. In hindsight, I thought it would be more of a box-checking-exercise for my own piece of mind than a genuine area of required learning. I was wrong.

The kiddos’ internet smarts were…non-exsistent, collectively non-existent. Some of them had a tiny bit of fundamental knowledge but I was truly astounded how naive they were about even the most simplistic safety/security measures. I mean, they are technologically savvy but not internet savvy, and we needed to address that in a significant way if they are going to take over ownership of our twitter account  (and stay safe online beyond the school walls too!).

We started with “Digital Citizenship” – what does it mean? A quick 5 minutes think-pair-share yielded a pretty good working definition for us, and the work began.


I generally follow the kids’ lead, but I’m feeling the time crunch of this inquiry – we really only have 4 months left and I want to honour my commitment to SET-BC and my students. So, we have engaged in a more structured curriculum to ensure the kids develop much needed digital citizenship skills, and so we can move forward with our original inquiry safely.

Following a tip from SET-BC, I explored the Common Sense Education website, curriculum, and resources. The curriculum is really easy to follow, sequential but not stiflingly linear, and developmentally appropriate for the kiddos. After looking over almost everything on the site, I decided to utilize their new grade 3-5 digital citizenship lessons and interactive games to engage the kids.

Screen Shot 2019-01-20 at 11.47.27 PM.pngscreen shot 2019-01-20 at 11.51.00 pmI also thought that connecting this area of study with our initial inquiry was important so I devised a scheme where the kids would ‘earn’ badges on a digital passport, and would additionally ‘earn’ pieces of the Podcaster-Studio as the whole group completed passport badges.

The badges became a source of considerable conversation and an ‘anchor’ for classifying and connecting new, and established, ideas (and questions) about digital citizenship. So, I spent an afternoon trying to replicate them in order to make a new documentation board (see previous post about the fate of the old board). It feels bare right now but I know its just a matter of time before it’s a ‘hot mess’ of ideas, questions, connections, and the documentation of our progress and processes.


So we’ve taken a detour, but hopefully Theodor Reik was right when he said “It is always possible to approach a goal by a detour.


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We voted to take down our “The Six Cedar Trees” board. Having it there has been a source of tension for me; personally and professionally (see previous posts). It sat there untouched, unused, and unreferenced. It was time to reevaluate where we are, and were we want to go.

And so… the board came down…


The trees came down…


The mural came down…


And we (re)started where we are.




Photos, and colours, and badges – Oh My!

I work hard to be present with my kiddos; to be in the moment with them, to be responsive, and to embrace the emergent nature of learning. In other words, I strive to offer provocations and then let the kids’ natural curiosity guide the direction of our classroom inquiry. This shouldn’t be confused with “Mrs. K doesn’t plan,” as I DO try to anticipate all the possible ways I believe things MIGHT go and do my best to collect materials, books, websites, resources that will support the inquiry regardless of the path they choose. Every so often though, the kids take a hard left turn off the proverbial learning path, one I didn’t anticipate, and I find myself equally blindsided and delighted. This is one of those times.

It’s a curious thing, the power of the ‘official name badge’. It’s such a simple construct: plastic badge holder + polaroid photo +  identification information printed in colour… and VOILA; a new sense of purpose!

I want the kids to feel like I am taking their passion seriously, that this inquiry is more than ‘child’s play,’ and that their contributions (their voices and unique perspectives) are valued as an integral part of a larger conversation about the Core Competencies. I wanted to find a way to create a sense of urgency, purpose, and togetherness; I wanted to hold space in an intentional way for the ‘serious work’ that is unfolding. I also wanted the kids to feel as though they could step out of this ‘serious work’ as needed, to be able to walk away from the inherent vulnrability required, and to just be… themselves… kids… as well.

So these name badges are becoming/have become a way for the kids to communicate when they are engaged as ‘experts’ and ‘meaning makers’ and when they are learners searching for answers.

Armed with badges, curiosity, and a desire to be seen and heard… we’re off!

Documenting a Baseline

After our communication sorts (see last post) it was time to engage in a little self-assessment and activate our understanding of I-statements. We talked about what I-statements are (specific ways we can independently engage the competencies ) and how they are a strengths based way of sharing our progress; they are womb-to-tomb skills, right? There is always room for progress and growth. So we talked about the different facets (really quickly, thats a lesson for another day… tomorrow perhaps) and then got right into reading the I-statements.

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The I-statements we used were borrowed from the curriculum website a few years ago and translated into “kid friendly” language by one of my previous crews. For fun, I’ve included one for reference:

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Inspired the work of Jance Novakowski we considered how MUCH each I-statement sounded like us: A bit like me, quite like me, very much like me. We read each I-statement aloud and then shared some examples of what the statement might look like, sound like, feel like; we tried to root the statement in ‘real life’.

The kids self-assessed and decided how much the I-statement sounded like them (how frequently, or to what degree, we engage that particular statement in our lives). The kids were asked to be honest with themselves and were told that their sort could be just for their eyes if they wanted; no one else would look at it unless invited to do so. I was surprised that all the kids WANTED to share their sorts, and to talk about them with peers. I was also delighted to hear them co-assessing as well – “I would have thought that was VERY much like you, not somewhat! I can’t think of a time where you didn’t do that, can you?” Many of the kids reflected about how self-critical they were too; “we are probably our own worst critics hey? We are so tough on ourselves”.

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And here is out ‘baseline’ documentation, a starting point for us to revisit during the year in order to assess growth/progress, and areas where there is still room for growth. We also selected ONE statement from the “a bit” or “quite” categories and each wrote it at the top of our weekly planner – a goal for the week (to be reassess and ‘rolled over’ as needed). The kids have shared that having it visible reminds the about it as they write their planner message, and as their parents check it – it keeps the goal alive in the minds of our whole learning triad.

Tomorrow the technology arrives, and THAT is where the real fun begins – stay tuned.