Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Gretchen Lund 20% Project for the Collaborating for Community Course

I spent a lot of my time perusing the linked websites and looking at lesson plans.  The Common Sense Media website in particular has a lot of good information.  I looked at those websites through a classroom EL teacher lens and found a number around which very helpful and relevant lesson plans could be built for ELs.
As I reflected in my 20% project reflections:
The resources on both sites having to do with avoiding plagiarism would be a perfect fit for an EL classroom.  For ELs in particular, copying work that the student understands but is unable to paraphrase well is not only tempting, but sometimes the only way a student can complete an assignment as given.  
I like how the resources on the sites talk not only about how to avoid plagiarism, but how to avoid it in a digital context.  I think I would add a component in which students learn to use an online citation generator (much more accessible and user-friendly to type in fields than to memorize format) and show the students how quickly a teacher using technology can find out that a student has copied work.  For this, I'd use "turn it in" and similiar resources.  I'd do this for two reasons:  one, to show students that "doing it right" is not as hard as they think, and that "doing it wrong" will almost never go unnoticed.
I really liked the lesson plan entitled, "Which Me Should I Be?" aimed at students grades 6-9.  So often assignments involving technology seem like an additional burden for ELs.  I really like how this lesson focuses on the freedoms that come with building an online presence rather than the responsibilities.  There are some particular benefits to ELs:  online you have no age, no race, and no accent.  With time to consider your responses and the use of spell and grammar check, to a greater extent than classroom or peer conversations, your ideas can matter more than your language proficiency.  

While I believe that lesson planning around helping students engage digitally in safe and ethical ways is extremely important, it is not what is most pressing within my current role. Therefore, the open-ended nature of the project was challenging, as I wanted to find a way to explore and learn the resources available on digital citizenship and also make it helpful and applicable to my current work situation, which was time-consuming.
However, I believe I was able to find a way to create a resource applicable to my current work situation that will help me and others become better digital citizens. Unlike my years in the classroom, suddenly a large percentage of my professional interactions are being conducted electronically, through google and e-mail, in particular.  I’ve done some online research on student data privacy and professional digital codes of conduct to clarify in my own mind  what best practice is when interacting with others in this way.  I have culled this information to create norms within the EL team regarding digital communication, particularly with regards to student data privacy.

To that end, I created a set of Guidelines around which the EL team can operate.  I’ve posted this set of guidelines within our shared EL handbook:

EL Digital Communication Guidelines
Student Privacy/FERPA
  • Do not include the name or student i.d. number of a student in the subject line of an e-mail.  Maximize privacy by including this information in the main body of the email.  Student initials are acceptable
  • When emailing student information, consider breaking the information up into more than one e-mail. This way, if one email is intercepted by hackers, not all data is disclosed at once.
  • Always double-check your recipients when sending student data, and be certain you think carefully about who needs the information.   Sending student information to the wrong recipient or too many recipients can compromise student privacy.
  • Use professional language  and appropriate content.  Digital communications regarding a student can be considered part of a student’s educational record, and as such can be requested by a student or his/her parents.
  • When in doubt, call or request a meeting.  With as many benefits as email has, the discussion of secure and confidential information can sometimes best be handled through old-fashioned means such as a conversation in a private space, or a confidential phone call between staff members.
  • When sending private student information, include a disclaimer at the bottom, such as this:
Confidentiality Notice
"If the information in this electronic communication relates to an individual pupil, it is a confidential pupil record under Minnesota Law and may not be reviewed, distributed, or copied by any person other than the individual(s) to whom it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, any further review, dissemination, distribution, or copying of this electronic communication or any attachment thereto is strictly prohibited. If you have received an electronic communication in error, you should immediately return it to the sender and delete it from your system."

EL Team “Netiquette”
  • Include the response for which you are hoping in the subject line.  For example, “response required” or “FYI only.” Particularly if this is difficult to do within the subject line, consider underlining or highlighting the question or action to which you are hoping your recipient will respond within the body of your text.  
  • Keep your e-mail brief.  Remember that long messages are rarely read with the same attention to detail as short ones.  
  • If you need to communicate on several unrelated topics, consider sending more than one e-mail so that your message isn’t lost at the end of a long e-mail.
  • Keep communication positive and professional.  Avoid blaming, negativity, or sarcasm as much as possible.  Doing so will help keep your interactions outcome-driven.


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