Posted in Uncategorized

Mission Skepticism

What does it mean to be literate? Well to a lot of people, especially older generations, being literate means being able to read and write.  Now being literate means so much more.



To be literate in today’s world students need to be able to be able to do more than read and write to be literate .  Literate individuals need to be able to understand not only what they read, but also what they see and hear, and add media literacy to their bag of understanding.

In my video on media literacy, I explain that media includes a variety of forms such as books, TV, social media, and text messages.  Common Sense Media explains that “media literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending.” Just like being able to read and write, students need to be taught how to be media literate.

An important part of this is being skeptical, not believing, everything we read, see or hear.  Sometimes the messages that media is trying to send may be bias or even incorrect.  Students need to be able to be critical and evaluate whether they can trust the message and/or author of the message. An example of this is the “North American House Hippo” video created by Concerned Children’s Advertisers Canada to bring awareness to the importance of being skeptical.  If you haven’t seen this video, or if you want to relive wanting to own a house hippo, check out the video below.

The North American House Hippo

Students need to be able to disifer between truth and fiction, which in today’s society often means deciding if it’s “FAKE NEWS!”


It’s not just youth that struggle to figure out if something is fake.  In Kyle’s video he shares an example of people spreading fake news about a “beer bandit” in Nova Scotia.  This “news” was posted to Facebook and it quickly spread, so much so a song was even written about it.  It turns out that the story was completely false, confirmed by the original author of the post.  Luckily in this case it just turned into a wild ridiculous rumour, however sometimes the belief in the untrue can lead to darker consequences.  In Jamie and Jocelyn’s video they discuss the importance of fact checking in a fake news world.  They talk about  a man who shot a gun into a pizza parlour after reading a fake new article.   Instead of doing some digging and fact checking the article he read he believed what he read and chose to make a terrible decision.

If adults can’t figure out fake news than how can we expect youth to be able to? Adults did not grow up with such wide spread examples of fake news to have to deal with, so many are needing to learn to be more critical as adults.  This is why it is vital to teach students how to be skeptical and become fact checking detectives. One strategy to help students with evaluating is “The Five C’s of Critical Consuming” shared by John Spencer:

Context – When and where is it written? Have events changed or new info available?

Credibility – Is the site credible? Are the sources cited credible? Is it satirical? Is it an advertisement?

Construction – What’s the bias, facts, opinions, propaganda?

Corroboration – Do other sources claim this too?

Compare – Find other credible sources to compare it to get a larger more rounded picture of the information.



Posted in EC&I832

What do we want? Digital Citizens!


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Can you imagine any parents or teachers saying that they want kids to grow up to be irresponsible citizens online or “in real life”? I certainly can’t. Even before the need to worry about students actions online, education was part of teaching the next generation to be responsible productive members of society. Now education is realizing that now also includes needs to include an online society, that as we have learned throughout our ECI832 course, “never forgets”. So we need to teach students early so that they can create a positive digital footprint.

Students need to understand what it means to be a digital citizen and what it can mean for their future. We want students to choose to act responsibly, but we need to teach them what that actually means online.

DigCit poster

image from

My school division definitely promotes digital citizenship. We have a great set of digital citizenship resources collected and created by teachers and technology leaders from our school division we can access. They are even broken down into grade level lessons, making it easy to take and teach about digital citizenship.

Another important thing to understand is that students should not only be responsible, but they can use their voice to stand up and be digital leaders. When we listen, students have a lot to say and want to make a difference, but often don’t know how to do so. As teachers we can help them to make choices that can promote and create positive change.

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One important aspect teaching digital citizenship is being a role model. If we want youth to make positive choices we need to show them examples of this.

Now where this gets interesting is to the extent that teachers are expected to showcase role model behaviours. As my classmates and I were reminded during one of our night classes, teachers are expected to be on their best behaviour at all times, including online. Even our code of ethics says as much, looking at “6.2.1 To act at all times in a way that maintains the honour and dignity of the individual teacher and the teaching profession.”

STF Code of Professional Ethics from

We were joined by STF’s president Patrick Maze for our night class on March 6th and we discussed the STF’s position about teachers as digital citizens. During the class the code of ethics was discussed and depending on the interpretation of this document ones actions could be interpreted as following or not following these rather vague statements. For example, posting or being tagged in pictures or videos that depict activities that some believe to be not fitting of “6.2.1” could potentially get a teacher in some hot water. We talked about some cases in which teaches got in trouble or even lost their job, typically in the US, from activities that adults are legally allowed to do, such as consuming alcohol.

Even photos of teachers at the beach can potentially be an issue. A 2016 article from the Ottawa Citizen from shares that “A guideline on personal social media use handed out to some teachers in Ottawa’s public school board last week[November 2016] warns against posting pictures involving drugs, alcohol or “scantily clad” photos on the beach.” Although the article explains that a teacher posting pictures at the beach may not end up getting the teacher in trouble, it’s safer to not post as there is potential for problems. Patrick Maze also warned against posting or being tagged in these types of photos as Saskatchewan teachers.

Part of our discussion with Patrick Maze that stuck out that night was “If students are not allowed to do something should teachers be allowed to do it?” Students are not of age to legally consume alcohol, but adults are, however for teachers this may be iffy especially if this is posted on social media. Should teachers be expected to only do things students are allowed to even if adults are allowed to? What is fair to expect of teachers?

image from GIPHY

Another interesting aspect of our discussion that night was teachers sharing and standing up for their beliefs online. It’s important to stand up for what is right, but when others have differing views this too can put a teacher in the hot seat. What I took from this portion of our discussion is for teachers to be choosy and stand up for things that they feel are important enough that they are willing to potentially deal with blowback for.

It’s important to be role models as teachers, but also important to be careful in what we chose to share online.