Friday, April 29, 2011

Why you need to control your digital footprint

I tell students to be wary and cautious about their digital footprint. Yikes now there is even more proof to be cautious.

Reading students like an open facebook, or how social media is reshaping college admissions
Courtesy of:

Make them aware of the perils of acting out on line.  Like an elephant the internet does not forget many things.

Teaching Citizenship Part 3 25 Cents a Day

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Royal_Rivers

Welcome to 25 Cents a day.

This project was inspired by a email I received from Brian Metcalfe.

He had run across this post from 2008. All about one youth and 25 days to try to create change.
I challenged everyone who read my blog to TRY to do something every single day during the holiday season to make a SMALL difference in his or her world. I explained that whoever made the “most difference” in December would win a $25.00 donation to the charity of his or her choice on Christmas night. I SAVED ALL OF MY ALLOWANCE ($25) FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER, AND I WAS REALLY SURPRISED AND EXCITED WHEN SEVERAL PEOPLE  GENEROUSLY OFFERED TO MATCH MY DONATION (OR MORE)!

At Sargent Park we do many things over the holiday months. We have done

This year it was time for the Grade 8 Students to do something different.  

What happens when you challenge students to give up something for a prolonged period of time.  You get many groans and moans.  If you keep it simple enough the groans turn to cheers and hope.  25 cents a day asked students to donate THEIR OWN MONEY so that we could give it to charity.  The goal of this project was to empower students to learn how to give.  Over the 3 weeks of the project the goal was to raise up to $600.  140 students at .25 a day means $35 a day and over the 15 days that would mean about $525.  Of this money half would go to a local charity and the remaining would be donated to Kiva.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by charbeck10

The students were asked to bring in a quarter every day.  A quarter of their own $$ not to ask their parents for it.  The quarter symbolized giving up something for someone else.  It was not a large sum of money but perhaps 1 less chocolate milk a week so that the could help out others in need.  

Can you do without something.  Something small but can you sacrifice for the common good of all.  Students were at different levels of giving.  Some struggled to bring in the quarter while others donated $5 more than once during the campaign.

One might ask did all students participate equally.  The answer would be no.  Just like with society some gave more than others.  I will say this that all students did participate.  All gave at least $1 and felt good about it.

Does this fit here?
Not surprisingly, people who belong to online communities having to do with local matters are more likely to say that the Internet has gotten them more involved with their cities or towns.  One in seven members (14%) of local online groups say the Internet has helped them become more involved in their local community.  Nearly one in five (19%) of people who joined local online groups after first having Internet contact with them say the Internet has increased their involvement with their community.

I sent out a tweet and asked if other schools wanted to participate.  I received 4 responses.  2 of them did not pan out because of their own school policies.  I did get a positive hit from Karl Fisch.  He is an Algebra Teacher at Arapahoe High School in Colorado.  He challenged his students to participate and they raised $ 77 in two weeks.  He then had his father and a friend from Afghanistan join in to top it off at $300.  Having a global connection during this project spurred my students on more.  They started to dig deeper into their pockets and donate even more. Not exorbitant amounts but they did bring in more in.

The hardest part of this project for me was to remember to pass the hat around every class.  The students however would remind me and continue to donate.  In the end we raised $519.  That is close to our goal of $600.  I donated some extra to Agape Table on their behalf and topped up the Kiva fund.  

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by charbeck10

Here is the twist.  When I introduced the students to Kiva they became even more attentive.  On the last day of school I had them all in my room and we were watching the Smartboard.  At Kiva we started to choose the recipients for our donations.  The kids really were interested in the small write ups about each recipient.  We would read a possible recipient and the class would erupt in cheers of yes fun him or her.  It started to become contageous.  By the time it ended we had funded 12 micro loans.  Each being $25.  Here are some profiles from Kiva of people we helped.
Alex is from the village of Rizal West San Isidro. He is 46 years old. Alex is single. To make a living, Alex owns and operates a business venture in the agriculture sector raising livestock. While not the only means for generating revenue, the main source of income for the business comes primarily from raising chicken for sale. Alex has been engaged in his business for more than two years and earns approximately 2,000 PHP a month for these activities.

Dominique owns a business that sells soft drinks. She is 40 years old, married and has five children who are between four months and eighteen years old. Her husband is a driver.
Dominique has been selling soft drinks for sixteen years. Her loan will be used to buy more milk, bread, mineral water, and juice to sell.

She hopes to use the new profits from her business to buy living room furniture. She dreams to have a supermarket in the future.   

Gungaabuu Ulziibat, 35 years old, lives with his wife and four children in the Bayanhongor province of Mongolia. The family lives together in a ger, a traditional Mongolian nomadic tent, in his brother's enclosure. All of his four children attend a local school and his wife is currently unemployed. Gungaabuu supports his entire family by operating a taxi service in his town. At first, he started a coal and firewood sales business in 2006 and stopped in 2009 due to bad sales. Since May 2010, he has been managing a taxi service after purchasing a car. For the future, he hopes to buy his own enclosure and grocery shop. He is requesting a 300,000 MNT loan in order to purchase necessary tools and parts, such as 4 tires, for his car.  

Kiva is a site where you can donate and create microloans for people in around the world.  Once you invest in Kiva and your loan is paid back you get to reinvest the origional donation with other groups and individuals. Here is more information about what Kiva does.

Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva was born of the following beliefs:
  • People are by nature generous, and will help others if given the opportunity to do so in a transparent, accountable way.
  • The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity.
  • By connecting people we can create relationships beyond financial transactions, and build a global community expressing support and encouragement of one another.

Kiva promotes:
  • Dignity: Kiva encourages partnership relationships as opposed to benefactor relationships. Partnership relationships are characterized by mutual dignity and respect.
  • Accountability: Loans encourage more accountability than donations where repayment is not expected.
  • Transparency: The Kiva website is an open platform where communication can flow freely around the world.

As of November 2009, Kiva has facilitated over $100 million in loans.

When we do 25 cents a Day next year I will show the faces of the people we could be helping and share their simple stories.  Stories of people wanting a loan so that they can make their  lives better. We will use last years money to start the program off.  This will show the faces of the people we have helped and encourage the donations to start coming in.

To take this project school wide I plan to include the Grade 7 team.  They study Developing Countries.  They will choose a country and go to Kiva to find a possible recipient of their fundraising.  The site and profile of the recipient will give great background information about the country and of the people who live there.

 So as I presented to a crowd of educators I mentioned the following stats....

500 of us in this room teaching approximately 15 000 students.  If each one of them brought in $5 over the campaign we would have raised $75 000 dollars.  If half of that goes to local charities and the other half goes to Kiva $37 500 becomes 1 500 micro-loans of $25.  Pretty powerful math.

Now I challenge the online community. There are just as many of your reading this post and what could you and your students do? Kiva is a fantastic chance to take student philanthropy to the next level.  Through the use of Social Media we now have the ability to help people with a click of a mouse.  Using microloans allows kids to take control. $25 makes a difference,  Contact me and we can create a movement that will change peoples lives.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Teaching Citizenship Part 2 Pay It Forward

Part 1 Pay it Forward (what can you do to make someones life better, Random act of Kindness)
How important is a single act of kindness? For most teens it can be the first step to becoming a better citizen.  How can we teach this and why should we bother?
Inspired by a teacher.... this is important.  We need to be real not just standing on a stage.  Powerful actions come from leaders who inspire.  The events of kindness will start small but once one kid realizes what can happen they all start to join in.
How many of you have seen the movie?
Read the book?
Pay it forward was a 2000 Movie starring
  • Helen Hunt
  • Kevin Spacey
  • Haley Joel Osment

The story was about a young teen boy who takes a Social Studies assignment to Heart.  His teacher Mr. St. Clair put this up on the Board THINK OF AN IDEA FOR WORLD CHANGE, AND PUT IT INTO ACTION.
When confronted by Trevor’s mother in the movie he describes the project this way...
"First of all, it's a voluntary assignment. For extra credit. If a student finds the idea overwhelming, he or she need not participate. Second of all, what I want is for the students to re-examine their role in the world, and think of ways one person can make a difference. It's a very healthy exercise."

Trevor’s idea was as follows
"You see, I do something real good for three people. And then when they ask how
they can pay it back, I say they have to Pay It three more people. Each. So, nine people get helped. Then those people have to do twenty-seven." He turned on the calculator, punched in a few numbers. "Then it sort of spreads out, see, to eighty-one, then two hundred forty-three, then seven hundred twenty-nine, then two thousand, one hundred eighty-seven. See how big it gets?" 
This is how I start to imprint citizenship on my Grade 8 Students.  In November before the winter holiday season we as a group (140) students sit and watch Pay It Forward.  In the 3 years that we have been doing this at Sargent Park the movie still pulls at my heart.  Students watch the movie, brainstorm ideas that can be their random acts of kindness.

140 x 1 is 140 acts of kindness if people kept on doing or thinking about these acts over a period of time they would be sustained.  (Not exponentially like in the movie but increased non the less)  Students have 2 weeks to complete their act of kindness.  They are expected to write about it at their blogs and to document their act somehow;
    • picture
    • movie
    • note
     Every set of students provides a different set of solutions to this assignment.  The first year we did this was the year of the snow storm over the Winter break.  1 out of 3 students decided that shoveling the snow was their act of kindness, not someone else’s walk or driveway but their own.  Disappointing yes but still a first step.  In the next years students chose to do more interesting acts of kindness.  They searched out opportunities to do work in the community to make lives better.  Students chose to

    In the two years that have followed less students have done the babysitting/chore tasks and looked for larger ones. Every year it continues to get better.  this year we had one group of girls go and sing carols at a local supermarket.  It was amazing.  The girls caroling raised $210 in 90 minutes
      The girls did an amazing job.  When we took them to Siloam they were welcomed and admired by the adults who run the shelter.  The girls were gracious and enjoyed their trip.  Yet on the car ride home the conversation they were having demonstrated to me that they still "did not get it".  The larger picture of poverty and why we were doing this assignment had not yet sunk in.  They are amazing kids, and are on the road to being a better citizen but still have a distance to go.

      During this assignment I was interviewd on the radio.  The local public broadcaster CBC was having a Pay It Forward Day.  They asked me questions about the project and why we do it.  Here is the interview.  

      Some things I remember from the interview are being asked do other teachers do this? I answered... I am not sure? I do know this our parents are proud of their children doing these acts of kindness.  Lets just imagine some numbers.  In my school division there are:
        • 2307 grade 7 students in the Winnipeg School Division
        • 2295 grade 8 students in Winnipeg School Division (Sargent Park is only 6%)
        • 4602 both in the Winnipeg School Division
        • 2535 grade 9 in the Winnipeg School Division
      That is approximately 7000 for 3 grades in one division.  If one out of every 10 students or 10% were to do a “Pay it forward” act of kindness that would be 700 students for one division alone.  If you factor in the Province there are 180 000 students. If 1% did this project that would be 1800 students doing Random Acts of Kindness!.  
      In the audience at the conference where I gave this keynote there were 500 teachers  and each with at least 30 students each. That is 15000 students... imagine if get the picture.

      If we could plan to do Pay it forward in December 2011 that would really bring to light the notion of Citizenship and the potential of you to the public eye. If you are interested in doing this next year email me and I will start a wiki where we can collect all the stories of kids making a difference in their communities.  If you want more information about Pay It Forward you can go to these two websites.

      Pay it forward Movement 
      Pay it forward foundation

      This is a great project for teachers to promote the goodness of teens.  Teens can be helpful, fantastic and amazing.  These are the stories we need to get out not the ones the news shows often of teens violence and apathy.

      This is the first step. The students get into the “Mood” by doing this act of Kindness.  This is the first responsibility that brings about better citizenship.  Doing good things just BECAUSE.  Not for money or attention just because it is right to help others who need help.  This activity  bridges nicely into the second project.... 25 cents a day.

      Teaching Citizenship Part 1 The WHY....

      This is an attempt to recreate my keynote from Byte 2011.  I really want to get across why it is important to teach citizenship or to model being a good citizen.  It is in all of our best interests.

      I am not going to lie to you.  I am a lucky person.  I love my job, I love my students and I do not have any problem going to work every day.  I teach in a rather large Nursery to Grade 9 school in the west end of Winnipeg.  Sargent Park School has a population of about 1000 students of which the 140 grade 8 students are all mine.  The majority of them are kind courteous and kids you would bring home to meet your family. 

      So why am I so concerned about teaching Citizenship to students.  Think about the news lately.  What is the dominating theme in popular media...

      Facebook is bad. Bad Bad Bad? Yet..

      Yet around the world things are happening because of Social Media... but it is bad please remember that!!
      Youtube gets cute kids noticed.

      Kids should not be on the computer just learning reading writing and writhmatic.

      If you were to ask my parents who live across from Ecole Robert H Smith (a large elementary school and popular teen late night hangout)  they might describe teens this way:

      1. “Hanging out late in public places”, 7/11, play structures
      2. lazy just give me the answer please
      3. naive fragile unique
      4. Not go getter's “do I have too?”

      Not the most flattering light to see the next generation of leaders in is it?

      On the other hand

      Teachers see:
      1. Self-absorbed; indulged; multi-tasking
      2. decent, grounded and optimistic
      3. entitled, distracted, perplexed
      4. impulsive, impatient,  collaborative.
      5. hopeful, restless, connected
      6. connected, curious, social
      Let's Define Citizenship.

      "Active citizenship" is the philosophy that citizens should work towards the betterment of their community through economic participation, public , volunteer work, and other such efforts to improve life for all citizens.
      Citizenship was equated by Virginia Leary (1999) as connoting "a bundle of rights

      But lets look at this another way.  Perhaps citizenship is not a bundle of rights but a bundle of responsibilities. Kids especially teens do not just wake up and understand these bundles of responsibilities.  They have a hard enough time waking up!!

      cc licensed flickr photo shared by Ollie Crafoord

      I think that the vast majority of teens are trying to find themselves. They need a push them to go in positive directions.  A favorite analogy of mine is that teens are clay creatures that have been molded into who they are by their previous experiences but the clay is not cured yet.  We still have time to mold some important imprinting into these creatures before it is set.

      Teens have a hard time seeing past their out-stretched hand.  Their world view is only as far as their hand can reach to the next french fry or meal.  (Imagine Linda Carter and Wonder Woman). 

       These students will be adults soon and need to be shown how they can become better citizens, to do their part in making life better for others.

      As educators we all need young adults to wrestle with these ideas or responsibilities before they take their rightful place as leaders in our communities and our world.

      I think you can create better citizens by empowering students to become better people.  At Sargent Park we do three projects a year in Grade 8:
      • Part 1 Pay it Forward (Individual Random act of Kindness)
      • Part 2 25¢ a day (the power of the click. In just one click you can help people from all over the world.  Now local is global)
      • Part 3 2 Minutes to Make a Difference (Student initiated go out and make a difference video)

      When do we have time to do all of this.... Creative time-tabling and homework kids WANT  to do:) Believe it or not there are lots of curricular connections to all of these projects.  I will point them out to you during this brief talk.