Thankful for… Bumps in the Road
Lesson plans organized and thought out to a T, my grade two students and I embarked on an adventure to explore what we are thankful for… but I couldn’t have predicted what happened; sometimes things just don’t go as planned!
We started off by reading “The Thankful Book” by Todd Parr then brainstormed ideas of what we are thankful for, and why. My students came up with a ton of awesome ideas: big and small, detailed and not, crazy and ordinary, and some even quite silly. Next, they were inspired to write and went straight to work. Before long, each student had at least 3 things that they felt thankful for that they wanted to share. We had already been down the “make a class book” route several times this year, so we decided to mix things up and use the Green Screen in order to make a video. I felt it important for my students to pick their own pictures for our backdrop while filming, so the students and I discussed how to properly and safely search for images on the Internet. We also discussed copy write rules as well as the importance of using appropriate key words in our searches. As a class, we read everyone’s thankful pieces and worked together to make a list of key words to use in our searches (and it was at this point that the student who had written about being thankful for underwear decided to change that sentence seeing as searching for underwear could lead to finding some very inappropriate content). Our list of key words were written on the board so that the students could reference them while typing them into the search (spelling is so important and I didn’t want to risk a student forgetting a crucial letter turning something like shirt into the same word without the r). We were prepared, had well thought this through, and I was just about ready to hand over the reins to my students. Pixabay.com wasn’t new to me and I felt it to be a good option for this type of project seeing as we wanted high quality images that were free to use without having to worry about citing our sources. Next up, model how we are going to search. The students sat around as I showed them how to pull up Pixabay on the iPad and then how to type into the search bar. We decided to search “house” together, which was one of the words on our list, but as we scrolled down our results, we came across an inappropriate picture mixed in with pictures of houses…gulp… teachable moment!
Although the students very briefly saw a picture of a woman’s breast, we had a very good conversation about what happens when we find inappropriate content, how it makes us feel, and what we should do about it. We discussed that we, as a class, hadn’t done anything wrong. We chose appropriate words to search and had them written on the board, but inappropriate content still came up. We agreed that if this ever happened while the students were searching for their pictures, that they should come and tell me right away, without making a big scene in order to protect the other students. I encouraged the students to always tell a grown up if they come across something that makes them feel uncomfortable so that we can help them deal with their feelings.
It’s unfortunate that this happened in class, and it hurts even more because I felt as though I was prepared and therefor could avoid such a bump in the road, but truth be told, I’d MUCH rather a situation like this one happen when students are in a safe learning environment and have support than for it to happen while they’re alone, and exploring content, without anyone to guide them through the appropriate way to deal with such a thing.
Over the lunch hour that day, I e-mailed parents to let them know what had happened and how we dealt with the situation. I really appreciated the support that I felt from parents which proves that the “negative mindset” that often accompanies social media is starting to shift. Here is one e-mail that really made my heart sing, because it is EXACTLY the kind of change that I believe needs to happen (and if you want to know more about why I believe this, you can read about it here and you should read “Social LEADia” by Jennifer Casa-Todd which is a fantastic book that really lays it all out when it comes to digital citizenship):
“Thank you for the update Annick. That was a funny story (not for you I’m sure) and yes I’m glad it happened during a teachable moment in a safe environment. It is a gentle reminder for me to ensure that electronic devices *student* has access to at home have the proper parental controls in place. However, instead of focusing on controls I much prefer what happened today where he is taught proper techniques on how to deal with it if it happens. Well done.”
I also truly appreciated a long detailed e-mail that I received from another family that had questions and concerns about what had happened. This forced me to reflect even deeper on the situation and share more information with the parents that I had in the first e-mail. I was reminded in reading this e-mail that other parents who didn’t speak up probably had some of the same concerns, and I appreciated this family bringing them to my attention so that I could address them.
This bump in the road slowed our project down just a little, and we ended up switching over and using kiddle.co instead of Pixabay to find the rest of our images, but we didn’t give up and finally finished last week. I am truly proud of my students for how this project turned out, but even more than that, I am so happy that they (and I) learned so much during this process together! Take a look at the final product below!
So, what am I thankful for? I am thankful for an environment where I am encouraged to take risks, enabling me to embrace the bumps, learn from them, and move forward. What are you thankful for?