Talking to Students About Ukraine
It is not hard to notice how much our OJCS students have been talking to one another about what’s happening in Ukraine. When they enter the classroom in the mornings, when they play outside at recess, and as they walk in the halls, they are talking about the things they’ve heard, the TikTok videos they’ve seen, and the news they’ve managed to see on tv or hear in the car with their parents. It is really important that we don’t ignore this show of concern in our students, but instead, try to offer opportunities to discuss the invasion sensitively with them so that they have an opportunity to voice their anxieties and other feelings, and to help them gain context and understanding. It is also a great way we can bring news literacy into the classroom by discussing the ways in which social media can lead to misinformation about what is going on.
Here are some resources you can use to help you navigate these discussions;
A great NBC news story about TikTok’s role in Ukraine. Appropriate for middle school and high school. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/tiktok-suspends-new-content-live-streaming-platform-russia-rcna18913
UkraineFacts.org is a great fact checking site to help combat all of the disinformation circulating about the invasion. Ukrainefacts.org
Relevant OJCS Library Nearpod Lessons
Using Social Media to Make a Positive Impact
Your parents and teachers (including me!) are often trying to educate you about the problems and safety issues surrounding social media. That it’s addictive, that some platforms are inappropriate, that it is full of ill-intentioned strangers. There is of course some truth to some of this, but there is also a bright and shiny flip side. There are a lot of positives that come from our ability to connect with friends and strangers around the world. Today’s lesson is about how we can use social media to make a positive impact.
Greta Thunberg is an example of someone who has used social media to spread the word about climate change. She has 4.1 million followers on Twitter and 10.2 million followers on Instagram. She uses these platforms to raise awareness and as a call to action in all of the cities and towns she visits.
We are going to look at some of the platforms people are using online to help make change in the world. I am going to use the example of environmental issues for this lesson as that is a topic that many of you have expressed is a big concern.
You can post photos on Instagram relating to an environmental issue that is affecting your community. Maybe it’s a photo of a pond near your house that’s full of garbage and needs to be cleaned up. Maybe it’s a photo of an amazing vegan meal you made. Maybe it’s a photo of a wild storm that is directly related to climate change. Whatever it is, share some information with the photo so that people who see it can take action in some way. Even if that means sharing a recipe! Use hashtags too. https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/environment/
You can even make Tik Tok videos that spread the word!
@lycheebee##vegan hawaiian inspired mac salad ##food ##recipe ##yummy ##foryou ##foryoupage♬ original sound – aniggawitadik
Twitter is a great place to tweet about these issues or retweet important articles. Also, be sure and follow organizations connected to the causes that are important to you.
You can produce your own short youtube videos that educate others about issues that concern you!
Write a blog post about it!
Activity: Idea Generation and Post Creation
Feeling like we are making a difference is very empowering. Create a post that can contribute to educating others about any issue that is important to YOU. Highlight an issue you’d like to address in a post and choose the platform you’d like to use that you have an existing account for. If you are not on social media or are not old enough to create an account, this could be a personal blog post or just an image you can share out that includes a caption. This can be done now or over the course of the next two weeks. Make sure to do some research and get your facts straight so that you are not posting any misinformation. If you are able to share it with me or screenshot it and email it to me I’d love to include them on this page. firstname.lastname@example.org
What is a Digital Footprint?
Today students were introduced to the concept of a Digital Footprint. We used the example of tracks left by animals and how we can use our own deductive capabilities to infer quite a lot about an animal based on its tracks.
The same is true for us when we go online. The sites we visit, the comments we post, the videos we upload, the games we play, all of those things create a digital footprint that can tell people about us and will exist online for a very long time. We tied this in to the concept of responsibilities and discussed what our responsibilities are to ourselves and to others online.
Our grade 3 and 4 students came up with some of the following ideas;
Our students are getting the foundation they need to navigate the sometimes scary world of the internet in a safe and responsible way.
Social Media and Our Relationships
Grades 6, 7, and 8 visited the library this week for a lesson on the effects of social media on our personal relationships. Whether they are allowed legally to be on certain platforms or not (most require you to be at least 13), the reality is that most middle schoolers are on Snapchat, Instagram, Tic Toc, or other social media. By grade 8 social media has become completely enmeshed with daily life and plays a huge role in friend dramas.
This workshop started off by having students discuss what are some benefits of social media. What they love about it. Many students mentioned their ability to connect with family and friends far away, as well as feeling like they are safe and can always get in touch with someone when they need them. Then we discussed what some of the drawbacks were that they or their friends personally experienced. This included feeling angry seeing snaps of friends out without you, feeling jealous that others have more followers, and being constantly distracted. Everyone was eager to share during these discussions.
We moved on to oversharing and how it can be harmful to post things in the heat of the moment, post things that will leave a permanent stain on your digital footprint, or post things that can even put your safety at risk.
The next concept was something called ‘Red Flag Feelings’ and was an important concept defined as follows;
A red flag feeling is when something happens on digital media that makes you feel uncomfortable, worried, sad, or anxious. It is a warning that something might be wrong. (commonsense.org)
We discussed how to approach these bad feelings by reflecting on their cause and trying to come up with strategic ways to cope with them. We divided into four groups. Each group was given a scenario and had to identify both feelings and possible responses and then share out their answers.
I genuinely hope that they will take the tools from this lesson with them into their daily lives and can better understand their feelings when difficult situations arise.
For resources on this lesson please visit common sense education.