Small Deliberate Steps

This blog goes over #COETAIL13 Week 5 readings which centered on the following questions

  • How do we thrive in a participatory culture?
  • How do we teach (and learn) empathy?
  • How can we empower students and other stakeholders to use technology to positively impact the world?

The blog tends to cover more of the first and last question.  For content more related to the idea of empathy, I suggest my previous posts The Importance of Staying Positive and Think Twice Before Posting.

Small, deliberate actions can have a positive impact.

Don’t Believe Me? Read this ->>>>

Powerful Technologies, Powerful Youth 


  • stories of youth who were able to do incredible things to add voices and ideas to the online world
  • sparks creativity and plants the seed for students to understand the contributions they have
  • helping students dive deep to geek out and mess can spawn a litany of learning situations for them.

If this weeks  ISTE Standards for Educators is



3.a. Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behaviour online that build relationships and community‘,


then part of the need in creating the experience is giving them the confidence they can do it. I wrote before in previous posts, Learning Not to Lurk and Scared of Learning, about the importance of building confidence before someone posts and the fear of feeling stupid when learning something new. Yet the idea of having students looking at topic that they can have a passion about and make contributions would help lesson some of these fears as it is a topic they already know well.

What stands out to me about the list of powerful youth is that they are ‘small, deliberate actions‘.

Scott McLeod’s (@mcleod) TedEx video on Extracurricular Empowerment highlighted how taking a photo of school lunches and rating them, include amount of human hair found, was enough to lead to a conversation about school lunches in her area.

Linking it back to my recent experience, I recently co-ran a week long IDU on Social Justice with a group of Grade 9 students. While hard to complete or give justice to such a topic in one week, what struck me was the difficulty students had in identifying HOW they could make an impact in their area. They all were aware of big overarching problems but had trouble brining it back to them and how they could make an impact. Many acknowledged that social norms around racism and sexism needs to be addressed head one, or that we need to stop using plastic

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

to help the environment. But they could not think of actions they could take to make a difference. To me, it speaks to a need to relate ideas back to the students reality each day to build those connections. Then, any tasks should be about looking at those connections and showing students how they can have an impact.

In thinking how I could work towards this, my thought is not to have one lesson dedicated to looking at the list compiled by McLeod, but rather taking some time each week to highlight different actions and ask how we could do something similar. In essence, I want to take small deliberate steps to show my students how to take small deliberate steps to make positive changes and contributions.

Responsible User Agreements- I Never Knew I Had it So Good

My first teaching job was in a small school in China. I had

  • my own laptop
  • a small printer at my desk
  • a big smart board
  • two big whiteboards.
  • My students did not have laptops for school

This is all to say we did not need a Responsible User Agreement (RUA).

Fast forward to my current school. I have mentioned this in previous posts, but the head of my schools educational technology is a former COETAILer (@Holtspeak). The more I go through the course and think about conversations I have had with him or our school policies, the more I understand the reasoning behind it. The RUA for our schools is no different as it focuses on how students participate, namely that they participate:






Looking at the list McLeod compiled of different RUA to help question if they are inspiring student empowerment, I feel that I never knew how good our RUA was until comparing it to others. That it focuses on how students will participate means that it has built into it an assumption that students will participate. My favorite line  is from the section on Responsibility:

“I create positivity”

Having that set as a responsibility for students sets up a host of behaviours that will lead to positive contributions and build more small, deliberate actions that can have a positive impact.

How do we train the trainers?

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Each week, the readings by Jenkins always cause me to pause and think. What I look at objectively as an hour of reading usually takes longer as I end up going off in thought, sometimes reading the same section a few times to let the words soak in. This week was no different and a thought that has come up a fair amount was raised again. I feel it is important for you as the reader to understand what influenced my mind-frame, so for that reason I am sharing this passage from his work:

Much of the resistance to media literacy training springs from the sense that the school day is bursting at its seams, that we cannot cram in any new tasks without the instructional system breaking down altogether. For that reason, we do not want to see media literacy treated as an add-on subject. Rather, we should view its introduction as a paradigm shift, one that, like multiculturalism or globalization, reshapes how we teach every existing subject. Media change is affecting every aspect of our contemporary experience, and as a consequence, every school discipline needs to take responsibility for helping students to master the skills and knowledge they need to function in a hypermediated environment.” (page 57)


To me, this is a great summation of the overall idea of the course to this point. However, while we can change how we teach to include media literacy or rather center around it, the question to me is where do we find time to train the teachers to make this shift?  If we agree that we can not just tell a student to do a blog, create a website, or do ‘technology’ without first exploring it with the, then we need to find time to train teachers to do this. If we accept that it is a paradigm shift in how we teach our subjects, or to consider moving away from the notion of a separate subject, then concerted effort is needed for schools or districts to allow for more development in this. A thought out and gradual process is needed to implement these changes over several years. Unit plans need to be rethought, teachers need to be trained, and the ideas and skills need to be introduced at a young age and developed slowly. I would venture a guess that many school are already looking for ways to cram in time for different activities and projects. That PD days are already accounted for. Instead, perhaps the best way forward is to take small, deliberate steps.

Question for the reader- How has your school worked to support teachers in gaining new understandings of media literacy?

Hesitancy with Sharing

As part of the GET I was looking at Blogging this week and other ways of sharing student work. Within it was a video outlining how teachers use blogs themselves or with their students. I am thinking about one section where a teacher shares videos of her students presentations on her blog for their families and others to see. My initial reaction is that those videos are really property of the student and should not be shared for all to see. But then thinking about it more, if students knew the video would be shared for others it could increase their buy-in. However, there are clearly some privacy issues.





how do you feel about teachers sharing images or videos of students in the classroom on social media?

What steps need to be taken ahead of time so that it can be done authentically?

3 comments to “Small Deliberate Steps”
3 comments to “Small Deliberate Steps”
  1. David,
    Your focus on positive contributions and ” creating positivity” resonated with me. I like your RUA key concepts: Respect, Safety, Honesty and Responsibility, the emphasis being on HOW students participate. My school has a similar approach. ” Technology improves the lives of people who can avoid being dominated by it and forced into debilitating addictions to it.”, Frank Kaufmann, a scholar, educator, innovator and activist. It does improve our lives when used responsibly and respectfully.

    Just like you, I loved the stories of incredible achievements in Powerful Technolgy, Powerful Youth- absolute proof of small deliberate actions creating a wave of change. Your idea of taking ” small deliberate steps to show the students how to take small deliberate steps to make positive change and contributions” is something to be considered. Personal example and modeled behaviour will urge our students to follow.
    I believe that sharing experiences and stories can lead the way to a better future; it empowers regardless of position or authority; it changes us, contributors, and changes our audience. Like the tsunami, good stories pick up the pace and spread like the fire.
    The story of ” Shannen’s Dream” touched and changed the lives of many. Shannen used social media to draw attention to the conditions in schools in indigenous communities in Canada. There’s so much to do and our students are up for it! Let them fly!!!

  2. Hi David,

    I really enjoyed your post this week. I must say that I am a little jealous of how your school has set up your RUA. It’s wonderful that you are able to have a former COETAILER in a position to structure policies in your school. Having an RUA with a focus on students participating in a respectful, safe, honest, and responsible manner sounds ideal. I wonder if you would be willing to share a copy of your school’s RUA with me?

    As I was reading this week’s resources I got to wondering about my school’s AUP. I couldn’t recall what it said, and I realized that we hadn’t sent one out this year. I did some digging and wasn’t able to find a copy of it. When I search the school drive the best I could come up with was a mention of a technology use policy in the student/ parent handbook. But there wasn’t a link anywhere and when I searched for this so-called TUP, I couldn’t find it anywhere. It would seem that we don’t currently have a policy in place at all.

    This prompted me to set aside a lesson about a week ago to have my students help me create our own AUP for the classroom. We focused on respect, safety, and priorities. I wish I had read your blog beforehand, as I think having a point about honest would have been a wonderful addition.

    I took a lot of guidance from this article “Leading the Pack: Developing Empowering
    Responsible Use Policies”
    by Nicholas J. Sauers & Jayson W. Richardson. Particularly this part, “Martinez challenged educators to consider how the AUP could be used as a positive way to share a vision, communicate passion, and denote the beneficial ways in which technology can be used in the school.” which is based on a blog post by Sylvia Martinez entitled “What message does your AUP send home?”

    Since my school’s AUP or TUP is under construction, I’ve sent some suggestions along to my admin based on my learning this week. But I’d love to see your school’s policy for more inspiration.

    To answer your questions…
    My school has really only undertaking Google Educator training for supporting teachers with their media literacy, and even that was back when I started 4 years ago. The new teachers this year were not directed to complete the training.

    As for the social media posts, there was a quote in the resource “Educator Toolkit for Teacher and Student Privacy”, from week 3, that really spoke to me. It was, “Posting pictures on social media of students engaged in school activities or classroom projects may sound fun and exciting – especially as those “likes” roll in – but children attend school to receive an education, not to promote a school or teacher’s online profile. If you can’t justify the educational value of social media, then don’t use it.”

    Thank you for your great post!

  3. “Question for the reader- how do you feel about teachers sharing images or videos of students in the classroom on social media?”

    I’ve been in schools where sharing images and videos was encouraged – with some boundaries based on parent requests (consent form signed when enrolling) and no last names or identifying information – to a school that was very strict about sharing that I rarely shared images or videos unless I obscured student faces (used Prisma filtering app). However, I’ve recently considered how in general people share images or videos on social media with no effort to ask permission (especially of children) or even sharing something embarrassing of someone they don’t even know. There are even cases of kids now asking their parents not to share images or videos of them without asking (‘Sharenting’)

    I know there are benefits to sharing photos and videos of students as part of professional learning communities and documenting practice but we need to balance that with how we should also respect privacy and personal and cultural preferences. I think this is an important discussion to have within our schools. At my last school (when I was actually in a building with students and teachers), I was starting to ask students for permission to take their photos or record them. I would also explain why I was doing it. For the most part, they were fine and some even said they were used to it, but I thought it was important to let them know what I was doing and why.

    On a personal note, this came up for my family just this week. My nephew had a 5th grade continuation ceremony. Family members and friends offered to take photos and videos for me and my sister as we’re out of town with my other nephew for a baseball tournament. My sister is a teacher at the school and mentioned that there would be a student there whose image is not to be shared publicly. Fortunately, I know how to blur a face in a photo or video so we can edit any photos or videos before we share them with family and friends on social media. It is some extra steps, but it’s important that we respect this student and his family and their requests for privacy. As educators, I think this is important to address and discuss openly so all in our school community feel safe and respected.

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