Sunday, October 25, 2015

True Confessions of Your Teacher


If you were any animal, what would it be? 

While I would love to say a cheetah for its stealthy ability to run and its sleek body movement in the wild, the fact that I am a wood duck proved more accurately after a recent field trip to a Botanical Garden and boat ride on the bayou.
While I've gone with classes in the past on this same field trip, ridden this same boat through the bayou, and heard about the wood duck nesting boxes erected along the side of the bayou- I guess I had never really given much thought to the special nature of the baby wood duck and the mother duck who calls her babies to literally fall out of the wooden boxes since they are unable to fly.
I think the mother wood duck must feel like a teacher most days of her motherly life in her little nesting box. Why?
Because as a teacher I worry and fret about what I'm doing in the classroom to help my students be successful. Sometimes as a teacher you feel like your kids have automatic hearing they can turn off and on when they only hear half of what you've said... You wonder if they know how talented they are or unique and you want them to know there is something special about them- not their neighbor or their best friend who sits on the other side of the room, or the student they think has it all together. Each student provides something special to the overall class dynamic. Sometimes their persistent personality may challenge your patience. Sometimes it makes you consider other career options. Sometimes it makes you wonder if you're the only positive voice that child will hear so you should be choosy with your words; and some days you've reached your own limit and just need some space from them to regroup. As a teacher you're always wondering if you're providing the content in a challenging, yet understandable way so students can apply it to their own learning. I'm always second guessing myself. Always. I'm never satisfied with the year, sadly, until it is over and my students leave me for the last time to enter the world of junior high. At that moment, I know they will be ok. They're ready. Some will wobble when they get there. Others will soar, but either way- they will make their way into the world and hopefully remember all we did, learned, practiced, and loved. 
So why am I the wood duck and not the sleek, stealthy cheetah I long to be?
Because the mother wood duck pops out of her nesting box when her babies are just a few days old, still unable to fly, and calls for them to come out of the nest also. Each baby pops its head out of the hole, teeters on the edge of the opening, and falls into the water or to the ground below. Baby wood ducks have been known to fall up to 50 feet. .....think on that for a moment... 50 feet. The mother sits below and watches, without helping the baby wood duck. I guess she trusts she did a good job in the nest and the babies will be just fine. And I guess that's where I need to do a better job as a wood duck- trusting I did a good job; trusting my students know love, know positive thinking, know that pushing themselves is a good thing, know there are consequences to their actions, know that they have the power and ability to make our world a better place, know their words matter, know how to write a logical response to a question or prompt, know the differences between genre and how important reading is to their lives. I hope they know they have improved in their personal achievements from the years before and believe in themselves enough to carry those ideas to the next grade and beyond.
And one more just because I like the different personalities as they pop out of the box. Definitely reminds me of some of my own little wood ducks.....

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Fake Tweets Ethical?

Ok I admit it, I've been in a slump. Since life has had more distractions this school year I promised myself I wouldn't feel loser-ish over not making regular blog posts unless something just jumped out and grabbed me, thus feeling compelled to sit before the computer screen spending an hour or so pondering over the issue. (Yes.... I am a slowww writer.) So fast forward to this morning when I'm browsing through some Diigo links a friend posted. One that caught my eye was for Fodey's newspaper clipping generator. I like this one and have used it before personally- my children needed to know that throwing grapes at our Elf on a Shelf, Darby, was not appropriate and a danger to elves' health according to the "North Pole News"...
The next link listed was for Lemmetweetthatforyou. This site generates fake Tweets from any user name you type in. It uses their profile picture, their background from their Twitter page, and worst of all, you can type anything at all you want. In an effort to make the tweet even more authentic, it will appear as if this fake tweet has been favored and retweeted.
I decided to try it out before I got my Edupanties in a bunch and see how "real" it looks and how much further damage this site could cause by creating a fake tweet using my own profile.

So this is my real profile picture, with my real background image, and a real message appearing to come from my Twitter account, and yet.... It's not. The crazy thing is that anyone can create what I just did with a few strokes of the keyboard and instead of filling in the blank with "....", write something truly devastating to my career, family, friendship, etc. And to make things even better worse, you can actually tweet your fake message using your real Twitter account. 
I tweeted my fake tweet from my Classroom Twitter account. See picture.....

 I'm sure some will say I'm being "over the top" and silly. And I could definitely see how using this site in educational settings for educational purposes could be awesome, but I also think it teaches our kids a message of low standards in regards to media literacy. Students are already struggling so much with face to face interaction, I just feel like this site gives an additional array of tools to make poor choices and cause havoc that isn't really needed. On top of that, teaching students how to verify simple facts can be daunting, much less verifying if a tweet or a text message (yes- there is also a fake text message generator that looks eerily authentic. You can even choose your carrier, battery life, etc. of your generated fake text) is real or not. 
So, I give this site an F for #fail. It fails to give my students substance and good ethics. It fails to add value to what they are learning. It fails to stand up to the sites and apps that help my kids make good choices when creating using technology. 

Ok- my small rant is over. I will step off my soap box now. :)

PS- and yes- I do see some similarities in the newspaper clipping generator as far as creating things that are fake and pawning them off as "real" but for some reason the Newspaper Clipping Generator isn't as menacing as the Fake Tweet. I don't know why. I'm still grappling with it. Feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts on either.