Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Week 4 Blog

Bullying has been around forever, but cyberbullying is a relatively new issue. Although this does effect adults, most victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying are teens, which makes this an issue for schools. The fact that kids have online access almost 24/7 has made cyberbullying more and more prevalent. Recent research has shown a slow but steady rise in cyberbullying. 25% of kids have been cyberbullied. 15% had been cyberbullied within the previous 30 days. Being in the online realm, which almost feels anonymous, causes many people to be less inhibited in what they post and teenagers are not immune to this. Many say things online they would never say in person.
Being involved in cyberbullying (whether the bully or the victim) can lead to an assortment of psychological issues including poor self-esteem and suicidal tendencies. It is also related to poor school performance, behavior problems, and substance abuse. 
So what can we do about this?
First of all, parents and teachers need to be involved. We need to be aware of our children’s online activity. We need to be observing their online use. Some teachers and parents are intimidated by their kids’ online abilities. We can’t let that stop us from helping them. While it is important to honor their privacy, children need to understand that parents and teachers can and will check their emails, browsing history, etc. if they feel it is necessary. 
If your children or students are victims of cyberbullying there are some immediate steps to take. Keep evidence of the cyberbullying. Report cyberbullying. Do not respond to the cyberbullying. Many sites have advice on how to deal with this. For example, has resources that give kids tips on cell phone, social media and password safety, in addition to tips on coping with cyberbullying. They also have tips for adults on handling cyberbullying. 
Signs that your child may be a victim of cyberbullying may consist of:
Being very upset after being online
Being extremely secretive about online activity
Failing grades
Changes in mood, behavior, or sleep patterns
Choosing to stop online activity
Being edgy when receiving a text or email
       As I read this list, I realize that many of these can be signs of multiple issues, not just cyberbullying. I believe that as teachers our first job is to build a relationship with each student. That is extremely hard with large numbers of students, but kids aren’t going to tell us cyberbullying (or anything else) is going on if we don’t take an interest and build a relationship. These kids need to feel safe coming to us when they need help. 
A few years ago at my school, we had an issue where several girls were cyberbullying one girl through Facebook. The victim was brave enough to come forward and report it to the school. Since it was not taking place on school grounds, there was little we could do about it. All of the involved students’ parents were contacted. In this case, all parents agreed to rescind their daughters’ Facebook privileges. I wonder what would have happened if they hadn’t agreed? Would their daughters have continued bullying others through social media? Since proximity is no longer required for bullying, schools must have the support of parents to prevent and stop cyberbullying. If parents aren’t willing to provide appropriate consequences to these bullies, schools will be hard-pressed to stop it.
I never really thought about it before reading Ryan’s blog last week, but now I realize that we definitely need to be teaching digital citizenship to our students. We must model good digital citizenship. We need to teach the kids that there are online rights and responsibilities just like real life. Acceptable digital behavior is just like acceptable real life behavior in that kids need to be taught right and wrong. They aren’t going to just automatically know without modeling and instruction. Cyberbullying is an unforeseen and unfortunate byproduct of the digital age.

Cyberbullying Facts (n.d.). Retrieved on 9/20/16 from 

Report Cyberbullying (n.d.). Retrieved on 9/20/16 from 

Cyberbullying (n.d.). Retrieved on 9/20/16 from

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Utilizing Technology to Meet the Needs of Gifted Learners

Utilizing Technology to Meet the Needs of Gifted Learners

Instead of walking into a classroom and listening to your teacher talk, how would you like to enter your classroom and see this?

          So many of our gifted students are bored and estimates show that 20% - 50% are underachieving. One of the big challenges in gifted education is keeping these kids motivated and engaged. Powtoon is one easy way to motivate and engage ALL students. In under 45 minutes, I was able to use one of their templates, figure out how to modify it, and create the Powtoon linked above. And it cost me nothing! I think this is my new favorite website!
          Effective use of technology is one way to meet the needs of our much ignored gifted students. With the focus on the lowest 25% of students, our highest students are left to fend for themselves. Technology offers hope for these bored and frustrated students. In his article, Using Technology With Gifted Students, Neven Jurkovic delineates four ways technology can serve our gifted students. One way is to provide differentiated content for kids ready for more than the regular classroom can offer. Another way is differentiated assignments, which would allow gifted students to show their learning about the same topic the rest of the class is studying in a more challenging way. Additionally, technology can allow these students choices for what they want to explore in depth. Finally, Jurkovic praises technology’s communication opportunities which enable our gifted students to connect with like-minded peers across the world.
          As a classroom teacher, it is very difficult to appropriately differentiate for our highest ability students. I agree that technology offers a multitude of ways to successfully challenge these kids. Here are some more resources I have discovered. Many would be good for all students, but these offer gifted kids in particular the enriching opportunities they crave.
·        Powtoon: a great site for teachers to create fun ways to deliver content. I would have gifted kids use this site to create presentations for class assignments.
·        WebQuests: these are projects which require a great deal of research and problem solving, most of which is done online. For example, I found one in which students are given the task of designing and building a community park. This requires a multitude of cross curricular skills to complete. There are several WebQuests available. There are also templates and tutorials to help you create your own. This is the kind of learning project that many gifted kids love. I would offer this for kids who can pass a pretest on the topic and allow them to complete a WebQuest to go deeper into the topic.
·        Virtual field trips: many organizations offer this opportunity to visit far-away places without leaning your classroom. This allows gifted kids to pursue their passions without having to travel. These could be used to enrich so many topics and again, this would be good for all kids.
·        Online courses: there are a plethora of sites out there that allow gifted kids to take courses at their academic level as opposed to their grade level. Many are free. This could be a replacement of traditional homework.
·        Online Projects: there are projects to be completed online that require students to interact with other students across the world that are working on the same project. Gifted kids can choose a project they are enthusiastic about and interact with others.
·        I also discovered which takes educational content and turns it into an online game. Instead of passing tests, kids earn experience points and badges. Video games to learn school content??? What kid wouldn’t love that?
·        One other resource that many articles I read supported for gifted kids are some Web 2.0 resources. (Check me out! Before yesterday, I had no idea what Web 2.0 meant!!!). One type of scaffolding that gifted students need is interacting with other gifted kids. Blogs, social media, and other Web 2.0 content can serve that need well. I have used a blog in class before and it is definitely something I would do again.
Reaching and serving our gifted kids is something I am passionate about. I had a great time exploring some online resources to enrich the curriculum for them. Before this exploration, I didn’t know most of these resources existed. I am wondering what else I can make into a Powtoon….


How Gamification Works.  Retrieved on 9/13/16 from

Jurkovic, Neven (2012) Using Technology With Gifted Students. Retrieved on 9/13/16 from

Online Projects for Kids (n.d.) Retrieved on 9/13/16 from Resources for Teaching the Gifted and Talented (2008). Retrieved on 9/13/16 from

Van Sant, Joel "Brandyn" (n.d.). Gifted students with educational Technology. Retrieved on 9/13/16 from