In my household, we are now onto week 4 of online-only learning. It has been a huge learning curve for our family, highlighting our complete reliance on our devices as learning tools (and entertainment powerhouses!), but also the value of spending time together – both on and offline.
I hope that Media Mentor Month 2020 provides an opportunity to engage in experiences that celebrate positive uses of technology, explore some creative pursuits, and encourage you to take time for important conversations about how we best use our devices. Let us be the media mentors our children need us to be.
When I was first asked to speak with G12 students about Internet Safety and Security, I’ll admit I died a little inside. One thing I knew for sure was that G12s wouldn’t want to be lectured about “Digital Citizenship” from a teacher who would probably point out that some students got kicked out of Harvard for something they posted on Facebook!
I had to think different.
The reality is that there are lots of positives and negatives about the ways people choose to use technology, and we want to ensure students (and teachers) are aware of how they can get the best out of it. Awareness of the risks and rewards. Essentially, I’m talking about Digital Wellness.
I used Keynote and iPad with Apple Pencil to create my presentation, and followed up with a set of resources shared via Padlet. The video and Padlet are below. I hope you find them useful!
My colleague Daniel Johnston and I spoke to parents last week on the subject of Parenting in the Digital Age – a topic close to both of our hearts. We reminded those in attendance that we are personally invested in this topic and learning alongside them, as we are parents, as well as teachers.
For this presentation, we based a lot of our information on content available from the following sources: Amy Blankson– an author and speaker, focusing on “Leveraging technology to help us be more productive, keep our sanity, and boost our happiness.” Dave & Blake – presenters and speakers for My Life Online which aims to “teach kids to be safe, smart & kind online.”
We encourage you to explore these sources, as they are full of great ideas to support students and parents.
Below is our presentation to parents. Please click on the cog below the presentation to access the speaker notes.
We also collated some resources on a Padlet, which you can see below, or access via tinyurl.com/gwas2019. We hope you find them useful!
Dave and Blake are two presenters of My Life Online a series of workshops for schools around keeping kids safe and positive in their online interactions. The pair have recently released a 3-part video series aimed at parents, incorporating strategies that aim to improve conversations with kids and present information in a calm, non-sensational manner.
First up, is a video entitled “The 3 Habits Every Kid Needs to be Safe & Responsible Online.” In this video, they focus on helping kids make safe and good choices, on increasing empathy and on considering their online legacy. You will appreciate the easy to remember strategies to pass on to your children, and the fact that it is realistic advice, not the “Guess the right answer” type of advice that has kids cringing on the inside.
Kids are losing their ability to socialise in person, and
Kids need online monitoring
Again, what I appreciate about their approach, is they are not demonising social media (which is not helpful in our digital world), but instead are giving parents approaches to improve communication and foster positive relationships with their child(ren).
One of the most practical tips they share in this video, is considering online posts on the following continuum: Helpful to Hurtful; Self to Others. This can be a great way of encouraging kids to see the impact of their posts may have.
Each video is about 15 minutes long, and well worth the time. I hope you find them useful!
What is it? Media Mentor Month is an initiative to help parents develop a positive relationship with their children around digital technologies. Just as we want to be mentors for our children in reading or having a healthy lifestyle, we also want to mentor them in their digital world too (see more details about being a Media Mentor here). The trouble is, sometimes we don’t know exactly how to go about that. Media Mentor Month provides parents with some ideas and strategies to help foster and develop that relationship.
Who is it for? Anyone, really, but probably best suited to parents who are looking for direction to connect with their children around technology. Especially the ones who feel they only ever battle with their kids about being on screens too much (see more about that here).
When is it happening? Ideally, March, so we’re all on the same page. Realistically? Any time that fits in to your family schedule.
What do I need to do?
You can participate as much or as little as you like. Personally, I would love to see you share some photos of your family engaging in the challenges. Make sure to add the hashtag #MediaMentorMonth so we can follow your progress!
One of many data projects happening at GWA Chicago, is a year-long research project in collaboration with Apple on data collection in the field, which they will present this December.
It was this love of data which ignited our latest collaborative project between Innovation Leads at GEMS World Academy schools.
ForPeg Keiner(GWA Chicago), data is an opportunity to notice patterns and uncover new information; to make the invisible, visible. Andy MacRae(GWA Switzerland), loves showing others how data can inform their practice and help them identify trends. For me (Keri-Lee Beasley at GWA Switzerland), I love how data visualisation encourages curiosity and engagement with information and simplifies people’s understanding of sometimes challenging subjects.
Peg, Andy and I drew inspiration from the Dear Data project, created by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec. The pair collected and illustrated their personal data and sent it to each other in the form of postcards over the period of a year.
Every fortnight, we will attempt to collect some data in our lives, visualise that data, and share it with each other (and the world!). The twist is we are collecting and visualising the data digitally, with the use of the Google Forms, the iPad and Apple Pencil.
Very soon, we aim to bring this project to our students, so we can get to know friends in different global locations, and also strengthen their ability to analyse, interpret and present data themselves.
Our first data collection topic is one close to the hearts of teachers everywhere: Coffee and Tea. We used the app Procreate to visualise our data, and it was wonderful to see the different approaches and styles.
Andy incorporated his love of cycling into his data visualisation with the use of bike wheels. The circular format helped show the time of day he drank his coffee. By going through this process, Andy realised, “I tend to drink more coffee while I’m at work. It’s nice to feel focused and alert when I’m doing something. The more challenging the task, the more I seem to have coffee with the task.”
He also noted, “I drink too much coffee! I was more self conscious about how many coffees I had when we were tracking them. Now that we’re not tracking them I think I’ve probably had about 6 coffees today!”
Peg designed her data visualisation in the car on a road trip. Watching her video (Procreate tracks brush strokes, which you can export as a video), it was interesting to see the process she went through in deciding how best to represent the data. A fan of iced coffee, Peg was shocked to see how frequently she purchased coffees. Since doing this project, she has returned to making more coffee at home, which no doubt helps the bank balance!
Looking at our combined data, I was amazed to see I was the biggest consumer of caffeinated beverages among the 3 of us. I realised that I drink tea because I seldom have a water bottle with me, and have since tried to be better about drinking water instead.
Creating the visualisation made me really dig into the data, think about what I wanted to share, and how I could make it engaging for the audience.
We hope you enjoy our data project and we are happy to receive any suggestions of topics for the weeks ahead.
If you want to join us in our data collection, let us know!
One of the biggest challenges parents face is how to approach potentially sensitive topics with their children. What age should they be? What should I say? How much detail do I go into?
As we know with parenting, there are so many different approaches to choose from. But before you go down that track, it might be best to examine your own experiences, beliefs and values, so you know where you’re starting, at least.
Here are some results of questions we asked parents at our recent workshop:
Here are some questions for you to ponder: How did you learn about sex?
Where did you get your information from? Did you feel well-prepared? What do you wish you had known?
Furthermore: Did your sex education focus on mechanics and how to avoid pregnancy? Did it include aspects such as touching, pleasure, consent, emotions and feelings?
Did your sex education include sexuality education?
Did it include information about gender identity, sexual orientation and relationships?
Director of Wellbeing Daniel Johnston and I have teamed up again to put together some resources for parents about How to Talk to Your Kids about Sex and Pornography.
Our presentation to parents is below. Please view our slide notes (via the settings cog directly under the presentation) to see the points we try to raise throughout.
We also collated a fairly comprehensive set of resources for parents about common discussion points, which we encourage you to explore.
Regardless of the content, we encourage you to keep lines of communication open and make the most of those teachable moments that crop up, e.g. when watching TV. If your children don’t feel comfortable coming to you, then they will seek answers to their questions from elsewhere.
Have lots of small conversations, rather than one big “sex talk”. Let’s also make sure we have appropriate, reliable resources for them (books, websites, videos) so they have access to quality information if and when they choose to explore further.