#EmpoweredDigitalLeaders – Empowering Others and Promoting Important Causes

Week 3 of the Empowered Digital Leaders course focused on Empowering Others and Promoting Important Causes. I am continuing to work through the course materials whilst reflecting on the last week in school where I worked with different classes to brainstorm ideas for their digital portfolios (see last blog post). The children had so many different things they were passionate about changing. It was inspiring to hear their views. Using a cooperative learning approach, the learners discussed their passions in small groups, taking turns to ask each other challenge questions to support deeper thinking. Having just recently returned to full-time face-to-face teaching (during a pandemic) after months of online learning, this activity really made me reflect on how lucky I am to be in this job. I can’t wait to see what these children do, what they create, what they share.

My class are currently reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio and, this week, they spent time thinking about, and explaining, their own personal precepts. Some found this concept quite challenging and needed quite a bit of support, choosing a precept from a given list and writing about why they chose that one. Others reflected on a quote / phrase that their parents and other family members say to them. Many wrote their quote in their home language and the explanation in English. This was a really valuable, yet somewhat unexpected, community building lesson. Learners shared that they valued looking for the positives in any situation, others shared their motivations for working hard related to their career aspirations. Discussing the novel, we’ve been talking about empathy and the importance of seeing things from a different perspective. This activity gave us an insight into what other people value.

Slacktivism vs Activism

Jenn (@JCasaTodd) shared this blog post on the difference between activism and slacktivism, along with a helpful lesson plan for us to use in our own settings. In R.E. (religious education) this week, my class were researching organisations that are helping to prevent suffering around the world. They have chosen different charities, mainly, and have created posters or presentations to share their learning. The idea of activism / slacktivism should spark an interesting discussion in class and bridge the link between their digital portfolios and their R.E. learning. Unsurprisingly, the children continue to express their distress regarding the George Floyd murder and their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. BlackoutTuesday is a relevant example which I expect will draw out some thought-provoking discussion.

Critical Literacy

Jenn defined critical literacy as “being critically aware of the biases and assumptions that texts make”. She stated that this takes regular practise and we need to teach our students this skill, as well as sharing this helpful graphic for questions we should ask ourselves when we encounter a media text:

Various resources were shared, including a link to this Edutopia article with a focus on younger children. I think this is an increasingly important lesson for us to teach learners as it is very easy to publish something online. They need to learn how to recognise credible sources and critically question what they are consuming.

Curricular Opportunities

Lastly, course participants were encouraged to consider this question:

“How might students empower, celebrate or advocate for others within your teaching and learning?”

We added ideas to a shared doc and offered suggestions to each other. It’s great to be part of a cohort of educators around the world supporting people we haven’t met before! There are lots of things that I’d now like to try out. Personally, I think this also links into digital portfolios as I’m really passionate about these being an authentic tool to support learning. I work in a Catholic school, with links to our local nursing home, Cathedral homelessness project, and wider charity fundraising. I’m also a big advocate for pupil voice. I think linking these areas together to spark class discussions will be one of the biggest impacts of my undertaking this course.

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment if you have any thoughts on this. I’d love to hear them!

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