Why Your Elementary School Needs A Blogging Mascot


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Our brilliant librarians have a few cute friends who make appearances through the year and who I personally have enjoyed interactions with.  I still feel terrible about the bacon joke I made in front of Rita the Pig, but she has a great sense of humor.

In teaching what a blog is to younger kids, they’ve often heard the word “blog”, but have little chance to interact with a blog in an authentic way.  Last year, I showed the blog from “Dog with a Blog” and they enjoyed it because many have seen the TV show.  But, still, I wanted to something more personal.  Someone they could relate to, post comments to, and interact with on a more personal level.   Someone whose videos and writings could be what a good blog post is.

Meet Pearl.  Yes, she even has an adorable PreK smock on.  Seriously- just like the kiddos wear.  And now? Pearl’s going to start blogging.  While Pearl is feeling a bit sheepish about joining the blogging world, she’s ready to exercise her voice and model digital citizenship, or what I like to call “global citizenship,” because Pearl is just as kind in person as she is online.  For starters, and what Pearl can help emphasize:

  • She never uses her last name.eh1
  • She never tells the name of her school or home address online.
  • She only shares comments when they are kind, honest, responsible, and respectful.
  • She is hoping she’ll receive comments from around the world, so that our students will understand that a global network means the school, the neighborhood, the world.

Pearls of Wisdom (Thanks for that amazing idea, E.H!) is launching soon to an internet near you.  For now, Pearl is enjoying her last few days of summer lounging by the pool with a good book, The Portait of a Sheep, a book ewe would love.

So, does your school have a mascot that could blog?  Older students could help write the posts, younger students could learn about commenting and interact with the blog.  You could even have a paper version of the blogger that could travel the world to show true global interaction.  The best way to teach our global citizen’s skills is to model for them, and what better way to model them than through a fun blogger that kids will enjoy, written just for them?

Pearl’s hoping she can leave comments for other friends and is going to be building a blog roll.  We hope you’ll join us!







Let’s Do Better Than This

stolenI want to share three stories with you.  Three different times in my life when I realized that understanding copyright is a really serious issue, and too important to ignore as we prepare our students to navigate the digital world.

1.) My first year of teaching, a friend of mine was in her college class when another teacher presented her “new” classroom website to the class.  It was an exact copy of my classroom website. She had borrowed every last .gif file (it was the early 2000’s afterall) and even the title.  She received an “A” becauseher professor said “nobody can prove she copied it.

2.) When I first started making posters, I discovered one evening that one of my originals was on Amazon for sale.  I was shocked. I emailed the company and asked them to take it down.  Theresponse?  “Oh, I’m sorry, we have a very young graphic designer and he didn’t realize it was wrong.”

3.)  More recently, I’ve found, more times than I can count, stolen posters for sale on a very popular teacher selling site. I always notify, and typically receive one of a few responses: “I didn’t know it was yours, I got it from Pinterest.”  or “I made it myself.”  Even though it’s an exact copy.

I have had people insinuate that I should put “Do Not Steal” on my stuff I don’t want copied.  I have had teachers tell me, over and over, that they didn’t know it was wrong. I’m not here to make a profit from my posters.  I have even had people say, “Well, you need to put your name under the quotes.”  I think it’s a bit, um, self-righteous to quote myself in my own art.  That’s not how I roll.   I consider what I do art, it’s something that I take the time to create, putting a bit of my heart into each one. I know I’m not VanGogh or Monet, but the words I write, the colors I choose, and the layout come from experiences I have had in the classroom. Personal experiences.  Just like photographs I take, things I paint, and words I write here on my blog. As corny as that sounds, that’s what hobbies are.  We pour ourselves into them.  My wish is that other teachers can use the posters in their classrooms to brighten their days. I have everything on my site licensed under Creative Commons Non-Derivative, Non-Commercial, With Attribution.  This means you can’t change it. You can’t sell it. You must provide original credit. End of story.  It’s free, to be freely given, shared.

I’m not sharing this to be Debby Downer (Saturday Night Live Reference), but I am sharing this for a reason. If you teach, you need to understand the laws.  Our students are growing up in a world where intellectual property is going to become more and more of an issue.  Would you allow a kid to plagiarize from the internet? Cite Google Images as a source?  Paste word for word into their paper without credit?  No.  No teacher would.

When you are encouraging your students to collaborate with each other, would you allow one kid to “borrow” another kids work and sell it on ebay?  I know that sounds crazy.  It is crazy. But that is pretty much what’s happening.  “I’ll “borrow” this download, I’ll upload it to a site, and I’ll make money off of it.”

funnySo, I’m just not sure why it’s okay.  I will tell you that it’s not at all about money to me.  In fact, at least once a day I get requests from people who want to use something for a school tshirt, a website banner, or some other thing.  I have never said no.  I always say, please do and pay it forward. It’s about courtesy, kindness, and personal art that I’ve created.  And it being stolen.  I would feel the same if you broke into my front door with a credit card in the door and grabbed my art off the wall of my house, took it down thestreet, and I saw you selling it on the corner with your chevron banner celebrating teaching.

And I would pull the car over and politely ask you to take it down, reminding you that kindness, courtesy, and respect is what we should model for kids.  And I will continue to do the same.  I will share examples, like the ones in this post, in hopes that you will take what I’m saying, not as a whine or a complaint, but as a true statement about thinking before we share, sell, or “recreate” something that we don’t have the right to.

If even one person reads this and realizes that maybe they’ve made a mistake in the past, this was worth it.  We all make mistakes.  I’m sure years ago I grabbed something from Google images and put it in a presentation and didn’t think twice about it.  But then it happened to me.  And I realized just how wrong it really is.  And I want to do better as a collaborator among educators, and as a model for kids.

Let’s all try to do better.

Because we need to show them how to share…

teach1As educators, we pour our hearts and souls into helping students thrive, into encouraging them to find their passions, into providing tools that will enable them to leave our classrooms and schools and be whatever it is that they wish to be.

We also have an enormous responsibility to help them navigate the uncharted waters of the digital world. So if we have an opportunity to model it and be the kind of digital citizen we wish for our students, then I know that’s a chance we will all take.

copyrightWhen I create something to share, it’s not just a printable to me. Many times, it’s tied to something I learned from students, colleagues, and experiences. It’s art. It’s a piece of my heart. The words, the design, the entire product. And I love to share them. Because if I can make one teacher’s day more positive, then it’s worth it. I give the designs freely here, on my Flickr page, and provide high resolution printables that people can print. Because in my eyes, education needs more positivity, a lift, something that should be free? Inspiration. Sharing. Collaboration. Decorating Your Walls with Messages that Remind You Why You Teach and Learn. Printing a poster to frame and put on your desk. I love that.

I guess that’s why, when I see stuff that’s stolen, it’s awful. Often, the watermark is cropped off, sometimes, the very words I’ve written are lifted, and too many times… it’s for sale. Profit off something that was a piece of my heart? It happens. One quick Google search and it’s easy to find. TShirts. Posters. Printables for sale on teacher selling sites. Even the words with “Anonymous” under them.

So if there is something that you’d like to share, and I will continue to share openly, please ask yourself if you’re being the kind of digital citizen you want your students to be…




Become the Training Grounds for Social Media

dressIt’s blue and black. It’s gold and white. You’re wrong. I’m right. I’m right. You’re wrong.  It was crazy to watch as Twitter, Facebook, and even the National News became all about that dress.  That’s when it occurred to me… what if we look beyond the dress?   Schools, you have an opportunity to be the training grounds for the future and how sharing works.  Or, you could just block it and we could all continue debating clothing colors.   [Please, for the love of Sharpies, choose the training ground option… please.]