Copyrights and wrongs

A few years ago someone stole my photos. Full disclosure, it happened on Facebook. Nonetheless, a “friend” reposted a collection of my photographs as one of their albums. In some ways, I suppose my ego should feel a little inflated by this, however, I have no delusions of grandeur when it comes to my ability as a photographer. Instead, I felt a little hurt that I didn’t receive any credit for my original photographs or at least a message asking if he could repost them.

A little skewed but that adds to the charm, right?

I always share this anecdote with students during our (now revamped) digital media unit when we explore a creator’s rights and responsibilities. Common Sense Media has an excellent lesson plan on this subject that serves as a great introduction to plagiarism and giving attribution. In the past, I had relied heavily on photos for class as photographs from this site come with attribution embedded. Moving forward, however, I want to start teaching students how to use advanced Google Image searches to help them find photographs that they can use and give attribution to.

In all honesty, I had never really considered the importance of giving attribution to internet resources until I participated in professional development by Project GLAD. At the end of this training, I and the other members of staff who completed the course were given access to GLAD’s resource bank. We were encouraged to share any resources that we created and given free access to other teacher’s work with the proviso that we give credit to the creator. At the time I was still very new to teaching and I remember thinking that I didn’t mind if people used my resources and didn’t give me attribution. My feelings towards this have changed over time though, now I feel that when I share a resource and sign my name to it I feel as though I should receive credit for it. This is a feeling I want to instill in students too.

Times are a-changing

As mentioned in Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation) “57 percent of teens who use the Internet – could be considered media creators.” I am very curious to see, after a few months of distance learning, how this number will change. I would expect to see a huge increase as students adapt to online platforms and start messing around with the tools at their disposal. Equally interesting will be how students perceive themselves as media creators. This census by Common Sense Media in 2015 found that teens felt as though they spent far more time consuming, as opposed to creating, media.


I wonder if more students would now see themselves as media creators or if they simply see themselves as students completing work for their teacher? Over the past few weeks, my Fourth Grade students have been creating and sharing stop motion videos about the rock cycle. Using a combination of Stop Motion Studio and iMovie, the students have been sharing their videos with their classmates and giving each other tips during our daily meetings. Many have been inspired to make their own videos on subjects ranging from penalty shootouts to the woes of having a slow internet connection.

I would like my students to know that they are creators, directors, writers, and editors. As such they are the owners of their intellectual property. Nobody has the right to simply take their work and claim it as their own. As an addition to my unit plan, I think it will be important to look at remixing work and how this affects copyright.

My role

I think that schools have a huge responsibility in teaching students about ownership of intellectual property. Educators need to serve as role models for students in order to reinforce the importance of copyright. Last week I was called out by one of my students for a PowerPoint I created as none of the images had attribution. On the one hand, I felt a little embarrassed as he was completely right, however, on the other hand, I took this as a sign that my students were beginning to take action and apply their learning to the world. We need to ensure that schools are also modeling copyright protection even if the country the school is located in does not have strict copyright laws. I think this is important in order to dissuade students from plagiarising work, even unknowingly, not because it is illegal but because we want students to think for themselves and concentrate on developing their own skills.

End of Unit 1 Project – An Inquiry into how responsible use of digital media can enhance connections with others.

I chose to revamp my How We Organize Ourselves unit of inquiry for my COETAIL unit 1 final project. I really wanted to review this unit as I felt it connected with so many of the elements from course 1 and, although I was proud of what we achieved, I felt I could have done more to integrate more tech into our unit. It was this paired with my recent experiences of teaching distance learning that inspired me to revisit this unit. On the one hand, it’s a shame that I won’t have the opportunity to teach it until August. With the current uncertainty of when we’ll get back into the classroom, however, I feel as though this will mean I am able to get the new school year off to a tech-filled start. My unit plan can be found below and here.


The planner I used does not really have a space to include the ISTE standards. Seeing as my school is moving towards using them I wanted to include the standards that I have tried to incorporate into this unit below. I chose these standards as I felt they best fit this unit of inquiry and would benefit students most at the beginning of the year.

1cStudents use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.

1dStudents understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.

2aStudents cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation and are aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world.

2bStudents engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online or when using networked devices.

2cStudents demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.

2dStudents manage their personal data to maintain digital privacy and security and are aware of data-collection technology used to track their navigation online.

3bStudents evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources.

5bStudents collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.

Photo by sylvie charron on Unsplash

Differences from other units

I suppose the biggest difference between this unit and others I have designed is that I intentionally reviewed this with the aim of including as much authentic technology integration as I could. I kept the central idea and lines of inquiry the same, however, I really questioned how I could add technology without making it feel tacked on. I believe that by adding more tech integration I will see students make stronger connections to the central idea but also see students starting to take action even more than they have done this year.


While the inclusion of the Common Sense Media units remains the same I wanted to try and extend many of the tasks so that students could have more experience with using technology. Much of the tasks students did after completing the Common Sense Media units earlier this year were done on paper. I found the Google training inspirational and felt G suite integration would be highly beneficial for students. Through the use of Google forms, for example, I believe students would feel more comfortable answering questions about cyberbullying. The addition of a collaboration with the Mandarin department was an idea I discussed after the unit was over this year. I think that by adding this, however, I would be in a stronger position to support language learners with some of the technical vocabulary of filming.

As students have been completing many of their tasks digitally over the past two months of e-learning it has become apparent that students are in need of an online portfolio. One of my objectives is to have students create and maintain an online e-portfolio for the whole year. If introduced at the start of the year I am anticipating there will be much geeking out as students learn how to customize their site.

Relating to course 1

I think my biggest take away from course one comes from Living with New Media  (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation) and that is the necessity for giving students the opportunity to geek out and mess around with tech. I want to give students ample time to experiment and try out new things in a safe environment. My hope is that this will build students’ resilience when facing issues with technology and equip them with strategies they can implement independently. Once they have some skills in their toolbox I plan on giving students search quests where they can further hone their computer literacy skills while being supported by their peers. I also want to help students feel empowered through technology and give them a sense of ownership over their creations. This is something I really hope comes through over the year as they build their e-portfolio.


My biggest aim in terms of outcomes is to help students feel as though they are equipped to show resilience. I want them to feel confident in solving problems independently and know where to look for answers. I also, rather selfishly, hope to instill a love of creating and editing video in each of my students. I have hyperlinked the rubric I plan to use here as an adapted Summative Evaluation Rubric. I feel as though this would give students plenty of opportunities to find success and also to start learning about the importance of collaboration.