Cyber Bullies

I think everyone can agree the internet is an amazing thing but we cannot deny it has its weaknesses. One such weakness is cyber bullying. The month of November in the UK is anti bullying month and this year there is an added focus on Cyber Bullying. Cyber bullying involves unwanted messages, images, audio or video sent by electronic means to threaten, abuse or harm someone. (Spunout.ie) Some examples of cyber bullying include:

  • Abusive messages or slagging on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram  etc.
  • Offensive comments on videos or posts.
  • Spreading rumours online.
  • Hacking into your online accounts.
  • Posting offensive images or posting doctored images of victims

While the idea of an Anti-Bulling week or month is highly commendable it is important to highlight anti-bullying in schools all year around. Bullying happens everyday in every school and every playground no matter how much we fight against it. Before cyber bullying the person being bullied got an escape once they made it through the school day. Today with the advancing technologies and the wide access to internet bullying can occur 24/7 which makes it more dangerous than ever. So how so we fight against it?  In my opinion EDUCATION

Bullying happens we cannot stop it completely but by making students understand what bullying is and the effects it has on people we may be able to stop potential bullying incidents. Often bullies do not realise when they are bullying. I have often heard people who I went to school with who did bully people claim to hate bullies and everything related to bullying. They do not realise bullying can take small forms as well as big. It can be something as simple as whispering so a person cannot overhear, laughing when a person enters the room, asking questions which make people awkward, excluding a person from a group or including them just so you can make fun at their expense. Students need to understand that the little things make just as much of an impression as the big things.

Students need to be aware of the amount of support that is out there for people who have been and are being bullied. Schools should have a support system in place and students should be made aware that there are people to talk too. If students are uncomfortable talking to someone they know there is a whole world of support online. Childline, Spunout.it, Samaritans, webwise, anti bullying ireland, and reachout.com all offer a mountain of support and this is only a number of organisations that are available.

In today’s cyber world a big part of the problem is not seeing the reaction bullying can have. It is not a personal interaction. It is done by phone or through a computer screen. Students need to develop empathy with others and be able to see what the effects of bullying can be. To tackle this problem there are a lot of online videos that talk with people who have experienced bullying and who still are. People are often available to come into schools to chat in person about the effects of bullying and what you can do.

Bullying is not going to disappear any time soon but awareness, support and responsibility can help tackle the problems in our schools. Below I have links to some videos that can be used to highlight the issue that I hope people find useful.

If you are reading this and are a survivor of bullying or it is occurring now do not be afraid to talk to someone, a friend, relative online etc. You are not alone and help is out there even if it does not feel like it.

Video Two

Video One

Video Three

Team Teaching

Team Teaching is ‘a group of two or more teachers working together to plan, conduct and evaluate the learning activities for the same group of learners.’ (Goetz, 2000) Team teaching is becoming more popular in education today. The advantages of team teaching include: students have two teachers to ask for help and support, students can connect with a different personality, different teaching and learning styles will take place, there is support for the teachers, lessons are planned together incorporating different ideas and creativity and teachers working together model teamwork and cooperation for students to experience. However there are also difficulties with team teaching. These can include a conflict of interests, clash of personality, an unfair distribution of the workload, different teaching styles, marking tests and classwork, different discipline methods and a feeling of unease teaching in front of a peer. The last one I think is a very real fear for some teachers. This week I was asked by a teacher to co-teach a lesson on minority religions. I agreed straight away but when I was planning what to bring to this lesson I found I was much more critical of my resources and approaches than I normally am. This got me thinking about this blog post and how we can overcome these fears of judgement in order to utilise team teaching to its maximum potential. From researching about team teaching I have compiled a list of ten ways to overcome any fears or hesitations you may have when it comes to team teaching. Feel free to add to this, agree or disagree below in the comments.

  1. Be prepared: Get together with your co-teacher and plan the lesson together. Talk about what resources you will use and the approaches you will take. Will you split the class or take turns teaching?
  2. Get to know the Co Teacher: Establish a rapport with the person. You will be working very closely with them for a number of weeks or months it is important to try to get along as much as possible.
  3. Know your content: If you know what you are talking about you will find you are less nervous. No body wants to make a fool of themselves in front of a peer (or anybody for that matter).
  4. Know your classroom: If possible go to the room you will be teaching in. Make sure there is enough space and you can both walk around to interact with students. No body likes an awkward side step or to fall over each other.
  5. Communicate: Talk about your teaching and learning styles with the co-teacher. What are your opinions on discipline? How do you reward students? Try to co-operate and merge your styles to create something that works for both of you.
  6. Be honest: If you are nervous before the class tell the other teacher. More than likely they feel the same or they will understand if you do happen to make a mistake or two before settling in.
  7. Observations: Sometimes peer teachers decide to observe each other teaching first in order to see how they can merge together successfully. Only difficulty is deciding who goes first 🙂
  8. Take it for what it is: The aim of team teaching is not to judge each others teaching abilities but to offer support for the students and each other. Realise that the focus of the lessons is not you it is the students.
  9. Reflections: Meet regularly with your co teacher to talk about what is going well and what needs to be looked at in a different way.
  10. Just do it: No better way to get over a fear than to jump straight in 🙂

These tips have helped me prepare and calm down for my first team teaching experience. I hope they can do the same for somebody else.

Happy Teaching 🙂

Last Day of Term

Well following on from my last blog the last two days of term went down well. Everyone was in good spirits at the thoughts of a week off and most joined in with dressing up and having fun. We had a large range of Halloween costumes including Marty Mcfly, Michael Jackson before and after, Iphones, Monsters, robots, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, geeks, ET, zombies, The Village People, The Joker, Where’s Wally and so many more. The Halloween themed lessons I had planned went down well and students were happy with a change of direction after the first eight weeks of term. My two favourite lessons had to be the Halloween quiz and the Horror Story Session. The students were very engaged and we all left feeling in the spooky spirit.

Yesterday afternoon the school took part in a whole school table quiz. Students were in their form classes and questions were read aloud over the intercom. In groups students answered the questions and answer sheets were collected and brought to the office at the end to establish a winner. I have never experienced this before but I thought it was an excellent idea. Students were engaged and there was a sense of healthy competition around the corridors. For the last two periods it was movie time as a celebratory treat for surviving the first quarter of the year. Teachers had a list of movies they would be showing on the notice board and students got to choose which room they would go to for the afternoon. This meant classes were mixed together and there was a relaxed fun filled vibe around the whole school.

Overall I think the first quarter of the year ended on a high note. There have been highs and lows over the eight weeks but I think for my first full term in a school as a qualified teacher I have had a positive learning experience. As a substitute teacher I have had the chance to connect with almost every class in the school and I now know the students and staff extremely well. Although I have enjoyed the experience I cannot deny I will enjoy the week off and the chance to catch up on some well needed sleep. Once I am rested again I will be looking forward to the second quarter of the year and the experiences that will bring. So for now I am off to watch some Halloween movies and enjoy the break. Hope everyone reading my blog has a Happy Midterm and a Spooky Halloween.

Spooktacular Classroom ideas

ThPumpkin_Head_clothing_icon_ID_1095is week most schools are preparing for the Halloween midterm break. Most of the students in my school are hyper already at the thought of a week of freedom and today I found it quite hard to get full concentration if any at all. This has left me drained and I was beginning to dread tomorrow but instead I have decided to embrace the crazy. Since it is the last two days of term I am going to have two Spooktacular days.

Tomorrow I plan on setting the Halloween mood with spook filled lessons. I do not want to go over board with games and quizzes before Friday or the students will be completely nuts with excitement  so I will use comprehensions, group work and project work to create a fun filled learning zone. Education.com have an amazing selection of Halloween themed comprehensions and handouts. Two I will definitely have in my bag of tricks tomorrow will include the History of Zombies and The Story of Big Foot.

On Friday our school is having a fancy dress competition so students should definitely be in the spirit. As it is my first year teaching in a school for Halloween I will obviously be embracing my inner child and dressing up too 🙂 I will have pictures on twitter I promise.

In regards to classroom content for Friday I plan on using group games and quizzes to allow students enjoy the last day of term as much as possible. I will call on my old friend Kahoot for come classes but I will also play games such as Pictionarie – Halloween themed of course and History of Halloween quizzes. The Teacher’s corner has a great selection of ideas including a list of Halloween riddles which could be fun. For the senior students I have downloaded documentaries on the history of Halloween from The History Channel (all available on you tube). I am excited already and I will post a blog to let you know how the students react. So for now I will leave you with a spooky riddle see if you can work it out 🙂

What is a ghosts favourite direction?

The ‘Free Class’

subapplelogoFor the last couple of weeks I have been working as a substitute teacher in an all boys school. Most of the time I am covering for subjects which I do not teach. This has proven to be difficult at times for a number of reasons.

  1. I do not know what classes I will have until 8:30 am so I am unable to prepare a full lesson.
  2. Teachers get sick unexpectedly and don’t leave material which needs to be completed.
  3. I do not know the content of subjects that are not my usual subjects so I am not confident in the classroom.
  4. The students see me coming and immediately think ‘YES Free Class’.

The ‘free class’ mentality is in every school I have ever experienced. Students love a substitute teacher who lets you do homework, study, watch a movie or have a chat. Students do not love a substitute teacher who enters the room with a pile of work or notes to copy into their notebooks. Principals and other teachers however expect a certain amount of work to get covered in this ‘free class’ so what do you do?

I have started to create my own sub folder. I have spent the last number of weeks searching the internet for resources and ideas that can be adapted to fit all classes, subjects, ages, genders etc. I have found students respond best when you have something fun that they can actively engage with. There are so many websites teachers can use to create quizzes and games. My favourite has to be Kahoot.  Kahoot allows teachers to log on and create a quiz. Students then use a device or computer to log onto the student site Kahoot.it to enter and compete with each other. Quizzes are easy to make and you can save them and use them over and over again.

Only last week I was introduced to studyclix. This is an online site which creates tests on any subject and topic. It is free for teachers to join and tests can be printed and used for group learning. There are so many websites that have handouts ready to print for emergency classes I could not possibly list them all but two I definitely frequent are StudentHandouts and SuperSub.

Another favourite with almost all students is creative writing competitions. What ever class you are in pick a topic and ask students to explain the topic as creatively as possible. You could have a small prize for the winner. Food usually goes down well 🙂 This week the first year class I was supervising produced some pretty amazing ghost stories for Halloween.

An idea I came up with on the spot for foreign language classes is as simple as they come. Hangman. Students have to use their dictionaries to find the word and the meaning and be able to put the word in a sentence to gain the point for their team. This game can be simplified for younger classes.

This is only the start of what I hope by the end of the year will be a pretty impressive arsenal of resources. If anyone would like to contribute please feel free. Having these ideas has helped me as a substitute with my classroom management and with my actual teaching. They are also fun for students and teacher. My students know now when they see me coming there is no ‘free class’ but it can be a fun filled class. I hope this can be of use to somebody else too.

Teaching Symbolism

This weekend I attended a Christening of a family friend. The ceremony was very touching and the church was decorated beautifully. As I got talking to people afterwards I soon realised that some of what had happened at the mass and the beautiful decorations went completely over some (most) people’s heads. No one had connected the colours used to represent water and rebirth or the sand on the altar to symbolise a new journey. One person was disgusted that the priest had not got to know the family because he was mentioning the support available from the large family the child was entering into and my friend comes from a very small family. He was of course speaking about the family that is the church community. It was a shock for me to see how many people missed the symbolism and meanings behind the metaphors which in the past would have been obvious to the church community.

This got me thinking about the importance of teaching symbolism to students in an increasingly secular society. Symbols are used in all the religions and in non religious aspects of life. Symbols can change the meaning of something or make you see things in a new way. They give information that is not always obvious. I think if students are aware of this and can understand the importance of symbolism we are giving them a new way of looking at the world.

So this morning I started to look for resources that could help me teach symbolism to students in Religion class. Below I have links to the top three I managed to find. Please comment below if you have anymore or would like to share your opinion. I look forward to your suggestions 🙂

  1. Symbol Diaries – This idea I found on Tes.co.uk (one of my favourite resource banks) It is aimed at primary and junior level students but could be adapted depending on the class. Students spent time researching and learning about symbols in religious and everyday life. Each week they chose new symbols from different religions and noted their importance and if they are used in different ways and if they related to their own lives. All information was stored in a journal which was then displayed in the classroom.
  2. I found two very good introductory pieces for the religious educator on LOGOS by Mater Dei. Logos is an online resource collection for junior certificate RE. The section on sign and symbol has two essays explaining exactly what sign and symbol are and how they should be explained to students. I found this to be very informative and useful when planning my symbolism lesson. There are also worksheets available. These are quite simple but could be modified for higher ability classes.
  3. Religious symbols is a website that focuses only on religious symbols. Students can click on the different traditions and see the history behind the symbols. It is a basic website with easy to understand language. This website would be a great resource for junior cert or as a starting point for leaving cert religion projects.

Twitter as a Learning Resource

As I mentioned in a previous post I am relatively new to the world of Twitter. I have set up my new Twitter account for my Digital Learning module as part of my Masters degree. The purpose of my new Twitter account is to connect with as many people as possible from the world of education in order to learn and grow as part of the education online community. Before being set this task I would never have thought of Twitter as a place where I could find resources or advice on teaching. But I was unbelievably wrong. Twitter is a goldmine for the educator if you know where to look . In order to discover how to make the most of twitter I began looking up tutorials and articles to see how to use twitter and how it can improve my work as an educator. The first article that stood out to me is written by Megan McPherson, Kylie Budge and Narelle Lemon. This article talked about twitter as an informal learning space. I immediately liked how they described twitter as this informal learning space as I think it takes away some of the pressures usually related to learning and educating. They speak about twitter broadening the conversation from the hallways and staff-rooms into the global sphere. You have control over the type of profiles you follow to ensure the news you want to see comes up onto your profile. The 140 word maximum tweet also provides a quick vies of the story and then if you want to research further you can use the hash tag to search for more opinions and discussions. ‘Twitter efficiently filters information through’ (McPherson 2015) so we can see what we need to see.

The second author that spoke to me was a fellow blogger, Tom Barrett. Barrett, in a blog about twitter for teachers, describes twitter as a constantly flowing river (Barrett 2008). When we open up our twitter accounts or feeds we are at the banks of the river looking at the ever flowing water. Some people stay here looking on taking in the new information or some people dive in and eagerly contribute. Whether you are on the banks or in swimming you need to be involved to see what is happening. If you are away and miss a tweet it has been washed downstream and unless someone re tweets it is likely gone forever.
I think what stood out to me as an educator from both these articles is the possibilities twitter holds for people. It is a mass collection of information, resources and opinions that can help you form opinions and gather ideas. At the start it is ok to sit back and watch the flow but I think for educators to get the most from twitter they need to learn to swim. It is important to share opinions and begin discussions in order to learn and grow. I think it is time I put on my armbands and go for a swim also. If you have read this and have anything to add please find me on twitter and join me in discussion 🙂 5j16MsDunne is my twitter name I look forward to hearing from you.
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