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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The little things

Mama's birthday was yesterday. Three years a go we didn't know if she'd live to see another one.

Somehow all my other worries are little things.

My present is her presence.

Take a minute to think about the big things and how sometimes the many things we get so stressed out during the day aren't quite as big as we make them out to be.

Perspective helps.

I just had to say this before November turned into December. It was on my mind.

The Sweet Smell of Success Starts at Home (part 1)

A cross post with my blog over at the Balancing Act on the Lifetime Channel. (View part 2 life on the Lifetime blog)

The fact is that student success is more highly correlated with the parent than the teacher. A 2005 study through Harvard (Parental Involvement and Student Achievement: A Meta-Analysis) that looked at all research studies about parenting and school success found that:

"Two of the patterns that emerged from the findings were that the facets of parental involvement that required a large investment of time, such as reading and communicating with one's child, and the more subtle aspects of parental involvement, such as parental style and expectations, had a greater impact on student educational outcomes than some of the more demonstrative aspects of parental involvement, such as having household rules, and parental attendance and participation at school functions."

Have you ever heard the statement:

"How do children spell love? T-I-M-E"

Well, you can now say:

How do children gain success: T-I-M-E.

Is it any surprise that it is the same answer?

The Sweet Smell of Success

After the football game Thursday night I smelled horrific. Not just bad but locker room bad. Three days in a gym bag bad. My sweaty 6'6" almost 200 pound junior got to play in the second half of the game. Not just play but he had a great game, opening up a hole for a touchdown run and playing as part of our team. (I later found out he got a “pancake” sticker for putting an opponent on his back.)

The other team is from a school twice our size and in a higher division. We won by 1 point last year in the last 2 seconds. Every game with them is a killer and it is a great rivalry. We are 14-0 from last year and this was our 15th win -- WE WON! My son was part.

My son has to work hard for what he gets in football. It has been very hard the last two years seeing him give every thing he had just to be a practice dummy for our state football team.

It is hard seeing your kids work hard and not get what they desire. But not once have I or my husband discussed playing time with the coaches.  I am convinced that is NOT what good parents do.

  • Good parents help their kids prepare.
  • Good parents help their kids see that hard work and goal setting does show rewards.
  • Good parents help their kids see that life isn't always fair.
  • Good parents believe in their children to work through things.
  • Good parents seek wise advice and step in only when necessary and in that case, very rare.
  • Good parents never quit.

So, that sweat smelled good to me. It meant that his hard work has paid off and he got to play and contribute on the team.

Bring it on. I'll take that sweat any day.

Because when I see my children when they are 40 (God willing) I will think they are successful if they are doing WORK worth doing and contributing to a team. Do they make the world around them better? Do they stand up against injustice? Are they making a difference in the world? Are they investing their lives long term in their own children? Are they willing to work hard today for a payoff next year or in ten years or later?

Research, life experience, and my time as a teacher have helped me help my children succeed. How can a woman who is wildly busy (I run a blog, 4 businesses, a non profit, author of 2 books, presenter, and full time teacher and I run 7 miles a week) still take time to help her children succeed? How do we balance it all?

This is what the balancing “act” is all about and yet it can’t be an act. It has to be real balance or your children suffer or you suffer. Let’s take this journey together.

In my next post in this series, I’ll share with you 10 tips for starting student success at home.

Other posts relating to this topic:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

5 Ways to Cure the Common Crank

It is hard for a fussy teacher (or parent) to teach. Our negative body language is hard to overcome. Kids need to know we care. When I find myself going down this thorny path, this is what I do:

1- Start smiling
You feel better and somehow forget about the reasons you had to be fussy in the first place.

2- Do something kind and totally random
Find a stewardess or service person and call the company to give an honest compliment. Call a product support line of something you love just to tell them.

3- Give a public compliment to a person who has no clue it is coming.
Blog or tweet about someone. (@angelamaiers' hashtag #youmatter is a great one to include!)

4- Go "Little House"
This is what my family says I do. When I overload and I go home, I put on my favorite soft socks and sweats and crawl in my bed to watch a few episodes of Little House on the Prairie on the Lifetime Channel. I let myself go to sleep early. This uplifting show gives me perspective. The extra rest helps too.

Have a favorite feel good show or movie? Use it to help give you perspective.

5- Make a gratitude guide

The old wagon trains out west left deep ruts that others followed. This is using a rut in a positive way. Keep a page in your planner of the thoughts that get you back on track. Make it hard to get too negative.

I list the things I am thankful for. As a Christian, I take these to My Father in thanks. I was having a pity party just this past week about having 4 stitches from some very minor skin surgery when I remembered that just 3 years a go I didn't know if Mom would survive her cancer- it puts life in perspective.

It is easy to get cranky and tired this time of year. Students are ready for the break and teachers are too! Take time to save your thoughts from taking you away from all the good times you can have this season.

Your present is your positive presence. If you are always cranky you aren't leaving a good legacy for others to remember.

Live well! Have a great day.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 11/29/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Top 8 Most Read Posts on Cool Cat Teacher 2011

As I think about being thankful, I'm grateful that I get to write. Here I am sitting in the den, watching the screensaver on my Roku box paint the plasma into a rainbow because I'd rather write than watch.

As I look back over this year, there are some blog posts that I'm thankful to have written. These are the posts that help people. In case you missed them, here they are, in order of most traffic:

  1. QR Code Classroom Implementation Guide - May 5, 2011
  2. Facebook Friending 101 for Schools - May 25, 2011
  3. Finding Your Beautiful Moment the Last Week of School - May 21, 2011
  4. 10 Ways to Be a Terrible Teacher - October 20, 2011 (trending to be one of my most popular posts ever)
  5. Top 10 Coolest (mostly free) things for Teachers - April 15, 2011
  6. iPad apps for Teachers - January 25, 2011
  7. 50+ Fantastic Tools for Schools - November 11, 2011
  8. 11 Lies Social Media Hides - November 21, 2011

Some older ones that are still very Popular this year:
Of course 2011 isn't quite over yet, but I get a bit sentimental this time of year as my blog birthday approaches. While we're talking edublogging, the nominations for the edublog awards are open until Friday, December 2, so make your nominations.

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 11/28/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday Ponderings from a Panting Mom

The holidays arrive
and I wonder how I'll survive.
So many things to do
how will I every get through?

Grading period ending
and holidays are pending.
Red rover, red rover, send her right over
right over the top pushing up clover!

Mom of three
teacher of many
I'll take some holiday cheer
if you've got any.

But, I must stand back and look
these times are too short.
Life is so fleeting
and life's not a sport.

In three years,
I'll have two off at school
my house will seem empty
and the car will be cool.

I will take time to enjoy the time
where life is just nuts
the joy's in the busyness
and there are no ruts.

Though I often long for a moment
to breathe and be me
it is best if I take the time
to see the joy under my tree.

Christmas started with a Person
and it continues with four more
my biggest present is their presence
coming through my door.

Family is the present
their laughter is my bow
I'll rejoice they are with me
and enjoy the holiday's glow.

Photo credit:
Big Stock Christmas Tree Cutting Family

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 11/27/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ripped Game Pants and the School Improvement Dance

Shocked and agast, my son's pants were agape. Last night was the final game on the season and, the 26th straight win for the Westwood Wildcats and my son blocked a 270 pound behemoth with his pants flapping in the breeze.
My Westwood Wildcats Football Team
2010, 2011 State Champs
winner 26 straight football games

We were picked to lose by 13 or 20 points depending upon who you asked. They had 10 boys over 200 pounds and one over 300 and we had barely 2, maybe.

My son's pants ripped during the last football game. When I say rip, I mean a big old tear from crotch to way up the back. My son's gray sliding pants were his only salvation from indecent exposure.

Last week I had snatched up the pants and was preparing to mend them when my son interrupted emphatically:
"We're wearing the orange pants for state, Mom, don't touch 'em. They'll get fixed in the off season when they send them in to the shop."
OK, so the word "shop" should have let me realize that I was being taken to the cleaners. Imagine my shock when I look at those boys coming out of the locker room and there I see my son's grey sliding shorts and those pants and the big old rip traveling quietly up towards the waist band in the back like spilled syrup on my kitchen counter.

Isn't it funny how we're not shocked at our children as much as we say,
"What is everyone going to say about his Mama, not fixing his pants like that?"
But after the game. After we won a second state championship in a 33-21 nail biter (it was tied 21-21 with 2 minutes to go in the fourth quarter), he sheepishly said,
"Mom, it would have been bad luck for any of us to fix our pants. We all agreed to leave the tears in our pants. When you're winning, you keep doing what you're doing until it doesn't work any more."
At that point, I didn't care what anyone said about his Momma, I was just glad they won (and very glad he was OK.) But his words echoed in my ears.

Fixing What Works Breaks What Works
Sure, it was to the point of superstition and but all I could think of was some teachers I know caught in very nonsensical situations.

For example, in the state of Georgia, there were some schools that were climbing in Math scores but the state required them to move from Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, etc. to Math I, Math II, and Math III and many of the best math teachers were lost in some districts.

They tried to fix what wasn't broken for some schools to fix what was broken for others.

In the south the saying goes,
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
But we don't listen to that in education. Here are just a few examples I can think of:

  • An amazing teacher does a great job at a certain grade level. She hits her stride and is really doing a great job after a year or two. But "they" decide it is time for a change and give her a new grade level even though she's already taught that grade level at another school and knows it isn't a great fit for her.
  • A reading program works incredibly well but there is a new curriculum director and she wants to change it because she's "heard" another one is better.
  • A history teacher has a phenomenal history program and has a book he loves. He's aligned the book with videos and has written quite a bit of content to go along with the book for his students. It is "time' to update the book and "they" go with another program and he looks at the new curriculum to decide if he really feels like starting over. The new book isn't just a new book but a whole new way of teaching it.
  • A school decides that everyone is going to now be "on the same page" so the teacher who loved to quickly teach more "boring" topics (which were mastered, by the way) to accelerate into some great things that are more advanced is held back because the other teachers in the group don't want to do it that way.
  • A good teacher is now given a script so administrators can know exactly what is being taught in every classroom over the complaints of those teachers who feel scripts stifle the good teaching they've been doing for more than 20 years. These teachers are told they will be replaced if they can't go with the new turn teaching has taken.
  • I teach keyboarding with a class average of over 70 words per minute (or gwam as we say.) I use the same textbook my Mom did and teach it the "old fashioned way" because it works. We don't go into software until after I've taught them all the keys. My friends in other schools who were forced to move to a software-based approach run about 30 words a minute and the kids look at their fingers. Many don't care about the right way to teach typing, only that software makes it easier. I'm happy with my circa 1994 textbook and don't want a new one! I'll do it the old fashioned way because it works but in many schools, I wouldn't be allowed to be so "backwards." My students are still blogging, making videos, using QR Codes and doing incredible things but I just need a book to teach typing. (See my 8th Grade keyboarding portfolio using QR codes)
If you wonder why the US education system is spiriling downwards, I think we've spent the last 10 years breaking what worked and not fixing what was broken. As an advocate of teacherpreneurs (see my Washington Post oped The Freedom to Teach,) I personally think that you hire the very best teachers, give them the freedom to teach, and hold them accountable.

I'll be accountable for what I do in my room. If it goes well or awry, I'll take credit. Good teachers feel the same way.

Sure, there are some teachers who aren't behaving like professionals. But in many ways, people who are real professionals go running the other direction when they are treated like some sort of robot who has a job to tighten a bolt.

The classroom isn't about making copies, it is about making originals.

It is time to start acting like it.

Sure, my son's air-conditioned game pants are quite an extreme example of wanting to keep the status quo, but his words are wise.

"When you're winning, you keep doing what you're doing until it doesn't work any more."

We need to focus on fixing what is wrong about our individual schools and leave what is right. Just help improve what is right. Treat those who are doing a good job with the professionalism to be part of their improvement process. Kaizen is important, we must all be improving all the time.

A great teacher will fight an administrator who wants him or her to do the wrong thing in the classroom. A great teacher believes in the nobility of the "cause of teaching." Yes, teaching is a calling and a cause. If you don't teach, you wouldn't understand. If you're in love with those crazy, fun, exhausting, hormonal kids that pile into your classroom every day, you know exactly what I mean.

You want to do what is best for your students. Yesterday, my Dad wrote on my son's "game poster" for our player poster wall (where every player had an encouraging poster.)

"Get better and better every day in every way."

It is time to stop listening to the argument that to go forward we must first go backwards. That is completely preposterous. Unless you have leukemia it isn't true and neither is it true in life. There are a few schools horribly broken that need a complete overhaul. But many schools become disabled as they overhaul the wrong thing and try to fix what isn't broken.

Yes, that is what we need to do, Dad. In the game, in our classrooms, and in our lives. We need to get better and better every day in every way.

If it is working, we make it better. If it is broken, we fix it.

Westwood Wildcats State Champs, Vicki Davis

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 11/26/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 11/24/2011

  • This across the globe wiki was created as a result of the "Create the Future" workshop in Japan in 2010 as a result of the work of Kim Cofino and Julie Lindsay. This wiki is still active and full of recommended books for middle schoolers.

    tags: education flatclassroom

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Keep Cranksgiving out of your Thanksgiving: Use it as motivation towards #success

Five years a go I was working with Julie Lindsay to create the first Flat Classroom wiki. Now, I'm proofing the final chapters of the book.

Twenty five years a go I was laying in tanning beds and doing "jazzercize" to get in shape for the beauty contests I entered as a senior in high school. Now, I'm sitting here getting ready to proof the book with four stitches just next to the smile line that runs between the corner of my mouth and nose where a small skin cancer was removed. (Yes, it hurts. Yes, when we feed everyone tomorrow I'm going to hide in the kitchen. ;-))

A year and a half a go I got fed up with myself when I couldn't even jog to the mailbox and started running. Then, I did weight watchers. Now I'm 50 pounds lighter.

Six weeks a go I became too busy to work out with a crazy schedule so I've gained five pounds.

Most Saturday mornings, I like to go see my Mom and have coffee with her. I try to call her as much as possible, so I am close to my Mom.

Every holiday season we will get together with family. Often it is stressful because we look at ourselves and say, "Hey, I don't like this about myself" or we look at someone and they look at skinny and we are jealous. Or we get with our family and wonder why we don't do this more often.

The holidays can be hard because we often feel the tug of a misalignment in our lives. We also miss those who aren't with us any more.

Sometimes it makes us be thankful: I have my health. I have my family.

But sometimes it makes us be cranky. We feel like we don't measure up. We feel like our family isn't proud of us. We feel misunderstand. We feel like we were happier a long time a go and can never regain that joy. If we focus on ourselves it is easy for Thanksgiving to become cranksgiving and that is no fun for anyone.

When you're cranky at Thanksgiving the only turkey is you. 

A different kind of crank.
I'd rather us turn it into a different kind of crank. Here you are one year later than last year, ten years later than ten years a go, twenty years later than twenty years a go.. and to state the obvious, you are a product of the decisions you have made up until this point. Whatever you crank into your life day in day out is who you become.

Take a Good Look at Yourself
The first step to improving yourself is to look at yourself for who you are and what you have become. Take a good look. What do you like? What do you not like?

What is one habit, if you start it now, you would be so thankful that you did it next year? What is one thing that you're tempted to quit but if you stick it out it can have powerful results?

Let me give you some examples:

  • My youngest son has been struggling. I couldn't get a handle on why he was making the grades he was, so I changed my schedule, cancelled some things and now he and I do his homework and studying together 2-3 hours a night. His grades are improving and I'm better understanding what is going on. It has made a huge difference in his life.
  • Because I rearranged my schedule, I haven't had time to speak as much lately and it has tightened up our budget. I have to balance my checkbook every morning to stay on top of it.
  • When you take the time to be kind and help others with their dreams, they help you with yours.
You reap what you sow. It is a fact.

You are a product of your habits. (See the Routine of Being Amazing.) How you think. What you do with your time. What you read. Who you associate with. These are all things that make you who you are.

This Thanksgiving, the moment you find yourself turning it into "Cranksgiving" look at that turkey and decide you're not going to be one. Write yourself a note of what happened the moment you took a turn towards being cranky so you can figure out the trigger.

Maybe Old Uncle Frank sets you off. Think about him. Why does he set you off? Does he not know you love him? Do you not love him? Is there something you can do between this year and next to help the relationship with Uncle Frank to help improve that relationship?

Maybe your plate is incredibly full and you're pigging out on your second helping of pumpkin pie and you look at lean trim Sally out there throwing the football with the kids in her size 4 blue jeans and you just can't stand it. Decide you're going to be the talk of next Thanksgiving and realize that you can lose weight and eat food you love if you're smart. (I lost 50 pounds on weight watchers while having a Dairy Queen blizzard once a week.)

Maybe you look at a certain member of your family and you know that he/she probably won't make it to another Thanksgiving. Decide to treat that person like a king or queen TODAY and figure out how you can live this next year with no regrets by really going over and beyond for that person. Realize that sometimes people in their final days are uncharacteristically cantankerous and "cut them some slack." 

You set the pattern for future generations
And know this if you have children or nieces and nephews: they watch everything you do. You reap what you sow more than you can understand because one day you may be Old Uncle Frank or that person who won't see another Thanksgiving. You are setting a pattern that the children will follow in future years.

Thanksgiving is a great word. But it is our actions that matter as we celebrate.

Words without actions are just hypocrisy. Be real. Be thankful. Set yourself patterns for this holidays that are noble, kind, loving, and will make you and those around you better people.

You have choices today that will determine how tomorrow will go. "I" turns thank into think. When you think only of yourself you often lose the ability to be thankful. Be giving, be thankful, be unselfish. Then, you'll have a very...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo: Bigstock

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 11/23/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Flat Classroom is 5 years old today! Join the celebration! #flatclass

Today, November 22 is a big day in my life. The birthday of something big for me and for others who have joined into this.

There are days that change everything. Wedding days. Birthdays. Well, for me, this is a very special birthday: the birth of Flat Classroom (tm) projects.

Today was the day we created our first Flat Classroom wiki, five years a go in 2006. So many things have happened since then.

But today, we're getting together for a little drop in birthday party and have a few announcements about our future direction with things in light of our book (Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds) coming out in January. (Available on Amazon - it has kind of been cool to see a few days a go it broke one of the 200K top selling books on Amazon - don't know how many are listed but it was cool nonetheless since it hasn't been released yet. You can preorder now to get it in time for our global book club that will kick off February 1.)

For those who have been involved as a judge, teacher, student, or expert advisor we invite you to share your Flat Classroom memory on our Voicethread.  We're also posting memorabilia and you can expect our video to be released next week in K12 online to include some of our past keynoters and students as we talk about leading ahead in flat world education.

Drop by and see us at 5pm in our Blackboard Collaborate room for about 30 minutes of memories, awards for those who have participated so faithfully, and some announcements about where we are heading..

Thank you to all of you who read my blog and support the many Flat Classroom projects. You are the heroes that make it possible for these projects to happen. You also are part of this story as I wrote in October's post I don't wanna die with this music in me.

Thank you all for what you've done over the years. Every tweet, blog, and share helps global projects grow.

Here is our video from our Qatar conference in 2009 which gives a great explanation of who and what we are. We have ASB Unplugged happening in February in India. Join us!

Current Projects.

Photo credit: BigStock

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 11/22/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

11 Lies Social Media Hides

Searching for Facts image from Bigstock.
Social media impacts lives. When you have someone in a controversial matter like the wrong thing or say the wrong thing it can cause a snowball that can influence and even harm.

I've seen this first hand. I know people who've lost jobs, seen marriages destroyed, and organizations teeter on the brink of nonexistence through poorly thought-out likes, unfriending, and comments. Perhaps it is because I live in a small town where there are no secrets.

It makes me angry when people who should know better casually post or comment and assume things that just aren't true. So, I'm going to get these lies out on the table. Every one of these 11 has a example  that I have personally witnessed. This is real and real life. Please wake up and understand what social media is and is not.

#11 Social media is free.
Everything comes with a price. Facebook is funded by advertising. In the advertising model they need to sell advertising and need to have happy advertisers. To have happy advertisers the advertisements need to "work" so Facebook must make sure that the ads served on their site hit the proper target. Good companies know the ages, genders, and even more details about their target market. This means that as you use Facebook you are being tracked through the use of cookies (a tiny file on your computer that stores information) and your profile data (all that data you give your "friends" also belongs to Facebook.)

Although the FTC has now required Facebook to allow users to "opt in" for Facebook privacy changes, you are giving up quite a bit of freedom as you surf, particularly when you log into Facebook. What I've seen happen to students is that if a student surfs to a somewhat inappropriate site or goes to a site that they would never go to for research projects, it can effect the kind of ads they start seeing on their page.

Ads on my Facebook page today.
So, for example, a child logs into Facebook with parents over shoulder - now the child is getting seedy ads or things showing on their page that aren't age appropriate because of some iffy searching habits from earlier in the week. Parents should notice the ads coming up on Facebook pages because it tells you a lot about your child's interests. The same is true for us adults.

The result is that the ads that show on your Facebook page tell a lot about you. Shown to the right are the ads I have on my facebook page today. First of all, I'm a coupon clipper and a Mom and I do shop online - so I have two ads relating to the fact that I shop. Another ad is for an event in Tallahassee - I do like cultural events and I live close to there. Finally, I am a bit of a health conscious person and I have recently shopped for some new vitamins online and do buy green matcha tea online. I have acupuncture atlanta showing up. See how this works?

Of particular interest is an article that will be in Forbes magazine on December 5, 2011 (Facebook's new advertising model: You) that talks about how your likes of a product will now be shown in ads for your FRIENDS. So, a movie ad may show a friend who has liked that ad. Or, a store may actually show someone who "likes" that store. Their research shows that a person is more likely to remember an ad with the name of a friend in it! I see a whole new set of privacy concerns coming with this advertising model.

Just how deeply they will dig into your shopping and buying habits or if this is just being generated off of likes is anyone's guess. Personally, I don't want my "endorsement" on anything without my permission. Just because I buy it doesn't mean I "endorse" it. I buy male sports garments for my 16 year old athlete, for goodness sakes - I could only imagine how that would turn out.

#10 Social media is just social
Jane Hart's Top 100 Tools for Learning survey results
Social media has a real impact in all areas of our life. Professional, personal, educational. In fact Twitter was listed as the top educational resource for the last two years in Jane Hart's annual poll of the top 100 tools for learning.

You may use a website socially but if you go home and make a comment about a bad day (See how to lose your job in 140 characters or less) or obnoxious client or sucky boss or give out private information and everyone knows who you're talking about you will have very real consequences in your life that can extend to your pocketbook, where you live, your job and all aspects of your life. The sooner people realize that social media is life media the better off we'll all be.

Likewise if you learn something powerful or make a connection, you can reap big dividends in your life both financially, personally, and in positive learning experiences for your students.

#9 People understand context.
Imagine kids doing a project about cyberbullying and they take a photo and upload to their Facebook to grab a screenshot and film (instead of using photoshop.) It gets uploaded in school, looks like an awful event, and everyone thinks it is really happening. The students take it down but the damage is done.

Every photo you use should be real. Be careful about using your social media sites for a "project" especially on a controversial topic. If it isn't real, don't upload it. Period. Don't experiment in places where you can do permanent damage. This is why people studying to be doctors operate on cadavers not real people as they begin.

I know a student who posted a fake status update to "see what would happen." Another student posted an April fool's joke that his house was robbed only to have the neighbors show up at their door 10 minutes after the post was made from his cell phone.

This is especially important for teachers to tell students if you allow the use of social media at your school.

#8 Profiles are accurate
People use photos from 10 years a go. They lie about their age. They may even lie about who they say they are or what they are doing for a living. Be a smidge wary when you first "meet" people particularly if you don't "know" them and decided to friend or follow because of mutual "friends." (See #2.)

I have students who are presenting at the Global Education conference who are filming an expose called "Cute little liars" where they created a fake profile and friended kids they knew to be under 13. Over half the students accepted the request. They are doing investigative reporting to uncover why.

Facebook Terms of Service
Right now, people can make fake profiles and enter fake data, but interestingly, here in the US, the Department of Justice wants to make it a federal crime to violate a website's terms of service. If that is the case, they may have to lock up half of the 10-12 year olds I know who are all lying to get a Facebook profile. (In my opinion, this is a slippery slope- who is watching those who write terms of service to make sure that they are fair to users and how many users take the time to read the TOS anyway? They are important they are just so long the average person doesn't read or understand them.)

#7 People not on that site don't see your stuff
In fact, I've seen things people posted printed out and handed around. Just because someone is not on Facebook or Twitter does not mean they cannot see your stuff. Someone can print it out or screenshot it and everyone can see it as it is handed around at the local gas station. The fact that someone is social media illiterate gives you no protection at all from their prying eyes. (See also #2.)
Reporting requires a Facebook account.

#6 You don't HAVE to have a page on their site to be treated fairly.
In fact, you do if you're going to protect your identity. I had a student here at Westwood who didn't want to get on Facebook. However, someone on Facebook with lots of pornographic links snagged her photo from a project and uploaded it as his profile picture.

She had named her picture her first name so it turned up in google search when her name was typed. Facebook would not let her report it and would not respond to her until she had a profile for a month with multiple pictures of her on it proving that she was that person in order for them to get the other person to stop using her photo. In effect, you have no right to complain about content unless you are on that site and a "real person" to them.

It says that you can have your friend report it and her friends did report it. However, they said because my student wasn't on Facebook and didn't have any photos of herself uploaded, that they couldn't verify that those photos were actually stolen from someone because she didn't exist to Facebook.

I heard an 80 year old woman call into Leo Laporte "the Tech guy" complaining that people were making things up about her on Facebook and his answer was that if she wasn't online and didn't use the Internet that there wasn't really anything she could do about it.

#5 You have a license to your work
Screen snipping software comes with every operating system I know of. It is easy to take photos. It is easy to PhotoShop off watermarks. Licenses should be respected, yes, but know that there are always pirates. It is no reason to run to the hills but remember that if you don't want it stolen that you should take some steps to protect it - especially photos of you and your children. Those are photos that you may have problems with people taking (at least I would.) I take steps to protect those photos.

Also, if you use just about any site that lets you upload photos, you may have lost the license already. For example, did you know that on Facebook according to their Terms of Service:

1. "For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it. 
2. When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others)."

This was brought to light when a woman who shot a picture and video of a shuttle launch from the air was surprised to see her video used without permission. They had contacted Twitpic, the place she uploaded the content, an according to their terms of service if Twitpic gives permission - they can have it without contacting the user. Sites like flickr support and have licenses but remember that you may not have the license you think you have if the terms of service claim rights for the service.

#4 Your password is secure
Many people use the same password for everything. Some websites have protection measures in place and others do not. You are only secure as the least secure website you have used that password on. You should have unique passwords for banking, Facebook, and email in my opinion. So what if it is a pain. What is your identity and reputation worth?

See also Lifehacker's Guide to Sniffing Out Passwords and Cookies (and how to protect yourself against it.)  If you're not logging in using https, your password is easy to intercept. Also make sure your web browser is updated. Many sites don't support https and if they do not, your password can be easily intercepted. (One suggestion worth taking in the article is: "Everywhere is that it only redirects sites in its list, so if you'd like to be able to redirect any site to HTTPS, you may want to check out Force-TLS for Firefox or HTTPS Everywhere for Chrome. Both of these extensions allow you to add new sites to the automatic HTTPS redirect.")

#3 Delete will delete something
Delete doesn't really happen. Some companies (like Facebook) keep the original photo and just delete the link to your account. The permalink is still there. Plus you have the fact that files when deleted are still there - either in the recycle bin on on that hard drive or on a backup. Someone on this planet can always get to it.

Friends photo from Bigstock

#2 Your friends are really friends
Just because Facebook calls them friends doesn't mean that they are. If you tick the wrong person off, they'll screenshot your "private" rant faster than you can open and shut your back door.

A companion to this statement is that "your friends friends are really their friends." Overfriending is a problem and many people got online and started friending. Although they may be more selective now, people tend to not want to unfriend people. Just because you have mutual friends doesn't mean a thing. If you accept on the basis of "mutual friends" you are leaving your vetting up to people who just may not care or were uneducated at some point about how to friend.

#1 You have privacy settings
Yes, you can "lock down" your account, but truly nothing is really private. If anyone besides you is on your page, you still have all those anonymous administrators or hackers who can get to your account through the back door or a security hole. Sure, set your private settings and "lock it down" but remember that if you don't want it shared that you shouldn't share it.

Plus, it is easy to cross post from one platform to another. You may have protected tweets on Twitter but if you cross post to Facebook and are set to Friends of Friends EVERYONE can read your tweets.

Nothing is private if it is online.

Why use social media at all?
All this being said, I am a huge social media fan. My life has been improved by social media. I have received book contracts, new friends from around the world, new best practices for my classroom, and trips to incredible places. Social media has been a very positive influence in my life. I've had my own share of gaffe's and mess ups -- that is a fact!

But I think it is time to wake up and realize that this stuff is for real and that offhand comments can crush and hurt people.

Be careful what you say especially when it is in writing or electronic format. A like can have just as much impact as if you said it yourself. Like means you agree in the eyes of many because of the word that Facebook chose to use.
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