Monthly Archive: April 2019



After surveying 40 ninth and tenth grade students, that’s the number of hours per day on average they spend in front of their phone.

However, these are my stats for the last seven days. While it isn’t so far off from our students, I might add that a huge chunk of my “Reading & Reference” category is Google Maps, which I use for car navigation and I’m not sure that counts as true screen time.

To narrow it down a bit further I asked the students what their top used app was for the past seven days:

Instagram and Snapchat are a huge part of our students digital usage and are impacting and influencing them in many different ways. Recently I had the pleasure of presenting a workshop with Adam Clark, one of our counselors and COETAIL grad, about teens and their digital use/presence. He shared some of the top 200 Instagram comments and almost all were positive messages about looks. What kind of identity expectations are we setting for our children? Why are these themes normalized in social media? How can adults help shift this?

However, as adults, and educators in particular, I think we are quick to jump to the negatives of this new social connection, but I think it’s fair to also look at the positives. I like to remind myself often that US graduation rates are continuing to increase – it’s not the end of the world and we are certainly still doing something right. Our students recognized the positives as well, they commented:

  • We are able to communicate with friends family very quickly, we are aware of any change in school programs or world events.
  • It is easy to socialize and contact people, as well as there is a wide array of resources available for academic purposes that expand our knowledge.
  • Maintains personal connections and relationships
  • Being a global citizen and knowing what is going going around in the community and the world
  • Although technology can seem antisocial, it is actually one of the most common ways of teens and kids socializing in the modern day. It provides an alternative to actually going out and spending time with that person as you can still “hang out” in the virtual world. It’s an alternative that can be used to avoid external factors that can’t be controlled when hanging out with friends (such as bad weather).

We also asked our students about the negatives of always being connected. This is what they had to say:

  • Can be tracked
  • I’m not focused enough during school.
  • That we can lose track of time and not spend physical time with friends and or family cause were always being our phones.
  • No privacy
  • It can be hard to keep track of time when using technology, so you find yourself overusing your devices at times.
  • It can influence you in ways you don’t realize especially your confidence in your body image, capabilities, etc.
  • Missing out on what’s going on in front of you
  • You are not disconnected
  • I get glued to my phone
  • You get attached to your phone and procrastinate
  • Cyberbullying which is a current problem due to the birth of social media.
  • decreases real life communication and socialization opportunities
  • That any information you put up there is published forever, and your personal information is always tracked by online companies to show you the ad that you will most likely be interested in.

The self awareness among our ninth and tenth graders is quite amazing, actually. I think it shows that they are very aware of some of the challenges with social media/phone usage, but likely lack some of the strategies they need to solve the problems they face. It’s a challenge that doesn’t have an easy one-size-fits-all solution, but I’m encouraged by the steps we are making to combat the challenge.


Starting small to tackle intellectual property rights

This weeks post is quite timely as I just had a conversation today a passionate group of teachers about digital citizenship, and the topic of intellectual property came up. Katy Vance, our amazing librarian and COETAIL graduate, shared some of the challenges she sees as she oversees the grade 10 Personal Project in regards to student understanding of intellectual property rights. One of the challenges she’s faces is that our grade 10 students haven’t been properly scaffolded in understanding intellectual property rights. they realize the importance of it now but they were never really concerned when creating ‘regular’ school work. As teachers and leaders, we haven’t done a great job of being consistent with and insistence on respecting intellectual property rights. We haven’t laid a strong enough foundation of intellectual property.

Starting small (really small)

Developing students who respect intellectual property rights isn’t just about teaching a few lessons and hammering home some concepts for the next big project, PYP Exhibition, Personal Project or Extended Essay. We need to start small. And it needs to start with the smallest members of our school.

Nelle, one of our fantastic kindergarten teachers, describes well how she teachers intellectual property to kinder students. She teaches that just the same as how she teaches sharing in her class. Her students always ask before they borrow something from their peers, and using digital works is no different. I love that approach because it isn’t about making teaching intellectual property rights something too abstract for a kindergartener, but instead bringing it to their level. Then, with that solid foundation, we can scaffold students and develop them to grow into grade 10’s as they work on their personal project.

Unfortunately, I think a large number of educators themselves don’t truly understand copyright and intellectual property. Many are even lacking a basic understanding of intellectual property rights to be able to adequately practice what they preach. A number of teachers understand that taking an image from Google is not okay, but struggle with the intricacies of fair use and an understanding of the various Creative Commons licenses. So, while I think it starts with our youngest students, it also starts with our teachers. That’s one of the reasons why I think the infographics shared in this week’s resources are so valuable. They take something that’s actually quite complex, like intellectual property laws, and make it easy to digest by your average, busy educator. I already plan a few to share a few of those in my weekly ‘learning with technology’ post to teachers.

What about my posts from course 1? After a quick review, most of my images were either used with permission or cited royalty free images. I also used a few purchased images. I have a NounPro education subscription which is well worth the 20 USD a year. Occasionally, I also purchase graphics from GraphicRiver – a great selection of graphics for those design-challenged, like myself. I did use the iBooks Author icon and one of my posts. I’m not sure if an educational post about using iBooks Author in the classroom warrants fair use of the icon, but I certainly should have cited its use, which I didn’t.

What I haven’t used in a COETAIL post yet, but love is Photos for Class, I learned about Photos for Class at Learning2 last year and it’s been a great tool I’ve used with both teachers and students to help in finding images that can be used and correctly citing them – making it easy to respect intellectual property rights.