Sunday, November 3, 2019

Do You Have a Creative Classroom? Here's What You Need to Know about Copyright

Click the image above to see ConnectSafely's full guide
and quick guide to Creativity and Copyright.
Both were co-authored by Larry Magid and Kerry Gallagher.
Design work by Maureen Kochan.

The article below is cross posted from the ISTE Blog.

When it comes to plagiarism, teachers have no trouble identifying it and dealing with it. But copyright law is another story. It’s an area where teachers are a little less confident. But it is something they need to know, not only to stay on the right side of the law, but also to help students protect their own work, says Kerry Gallagher, assistant principal for teaching and learning at St. John’s Prep in Massachusetts.

“We think of plagiarism as it’s our ethical obligation to give credit for work done for ideas that have been put down in printed form,” Gallagher said. “We do this by adding a bibliography or a work cited to any product where we use those things. …

“When it comes to copyright though, the law part, this really has nothing to do with us as the user, it has to do with the rights of the creator. … It’s the legal right of the creator to determine how their original creative work will be used by others.”

Copyright holders have wide latitude in placing restrictions on the use of their work. They can decide that children can use their work but not adults. Or that copies can be made digitally but not on paper. Or vice-versa.

“You can decide whatever you want,” Gallagher said. “There are no government guidelines about what you decide here, as long as you share it really clearly.”

And it’s not just about the work itself. Anything that is inspired by a copyrighted work is subject to the law. Gallagher cites the case of “Joey,” the sitcom that was spun off from “Friends.” The producers of “Joey” had to get permission to make it from the creators of “Friends.”

However, there’s an exception to copyright law and it’s called fair use, which allows use of a protected work if certain conditions are met. There are four factors to consider:

1. Purpose and character of use.

“Are you using it to do something new, or are you using it because you want to get credit for that idea as a part of some other thing?” Gallagher says. “You don’t want to use it in a way that’s going to insinuate that you should get any kind of credit for that creation.

2. Amount and substantiality of the portion taken.

If you use a whole chapter of a book, that’s probably going to be copyright infringement and will not qualify as fair use.” Gallagher said. “If you use just a small quote or something, then that’s OK. That’s going to be fair use.”

3. Nature of the work.

This just establishes what the creation actually is – fiction or nonfiction and whether it has been published.

4. Effect on the potential market.

Has the person retained their rights to profit from their original creation if they want those rights? That’s really important.”
Gallagher says these “are not boxes that you check, this is a balancing test. If you hit two factors really hard, then you’re probably going to get fair use.”

And just to be clear, Gallagher says, “there is no factor that mentions that if you’re an educator, it’s automatically fair use. Educators aren’t even mentioned in the factors. It’s really, really important for us to share that with our colleagues.”

Learn more about how to apply copyright law in the classroom by watching Kerry Gallagher's ISTE19 presentation below:

Jerry Fingal is a freelance writer and editor who covers education, finance and business.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Technology & Student Health: the FEAR, the REALITY, the FIX

I had the amazing opportunity to be part of an Ignite session with 9 other ASCD Emerging Leaders this past weekend at the Empower 2019 conference in Chicago, Illinois. Each of us focused our talk on one of the five Tenets of the Whole Child from ASCD. My tenets were SAFE and HEALTHY.

According to the official Ignite organization, an Ignite talk is defined as:

  • a series of presentation that happen one after another without breaks
  • each presenter uses 20 slides
  • each slide auto-advances after 15 second
  • the result is 5 minutes and high energy!

Watch my 5 minute Ignite below. Let me know what you think in the comments. And contact me if you want me to visit your school to work with parents, students, and teachers on health, wellness, and technology use.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Why Cooperative Learning Works

This post was first published on the St. John's Prep
GOOD to Go blog and was authored by Chad Konecky.

It’s a classroom technique that goes by a number of aliases—peer-to-peer, small-group and team-based learning, to name a few—but at its core, the concept is rooted in 
cooperation—a classroom priority at St. John’s Prep that’s been proven to work.
A synthesis of 168 studies conducted over the course of 73 years by researchers at the University of Minnesota found that cooperative learning is almost 150-percent more effective than instructor-focused learning in terms of greater academic achievement, increased persistence throughout courses and programs, and more favorable attitudes toward learning in general. Another Harvard-published study showed that students working in teams ask more questions and are more engaged than non-grouped students. Kerry Gallagher, St. John’s assistant principal for teaching and learning, knows the research well, but says that seeing is believing.
Cooperative Learning
“I think peer-to-peer teaching and learning is a hallmark of an effective classroom and very much aligns with our ‘no one walks alone’ mindset here at St. John’s,” says Gallagher. “Research shows that adolescents and young adults are affected as much by feedback from their peers as feedback from parents and teachers. Students’ primary role is to learn, but we encourage them to understand the importance of their stepping up and seeing themselves as teachers as well. And when their teachers model that kind of growth for themselves, conveying that thirst for lifelong learning, everybody wins.”
For Eddie Amodeo ’19, his classroom experience reflects many of the attributes Ms. Gallagher highlights.
Prep teachers recognize the fact that being able to work with others is a very important skill to take with us into the real world,” says Amodeo. “By working directly with classmates in my Spanish conversation, cinema and literature course this year, not only have my comprehension skills improved, but also my ability to better express emotion in a different language.”
Andrew Behling ’20 reports that he’s reaped the benefits of collaborative work in his calculus class. “Collaboration has been a heavy focus in this year’s class, and it’s helped me adapt to the challenging pace,” he says. “Many times this fall, I’ve been able to consult a classmate about a specific lesson or computational function. When we were learning about implicit differentiation, I was struggling to complete the problems quickly enough, but a classmate provided me with a method to work more efficiently, and that carried through to our test on that unit.”
Gallagher points out that peer-to-peer learning carries benefits beyond pure problem-solving and subject-specific advancements. A cooperative, small-group or team-based component to classroom learning fosters broader perspectives that often result in students making cross-disciplinary connections.
“I think there’s a focus at St John’s on broadening the horizons of every student, and for me, that’s helped me to think outside the box,” confirms Amodeo. “That approach has made me more aware of wanting to learn the next thing. For instance, group work has encouraged me to learn more about topics and ideas that are less familiar to me as opposed to continually focusing a specific subject that’s always interested me.”
“I feel like the teachers give us the freedom and space to tap into knowledge from another class and bring it into their own classroom,” adds Behling. “That’s taught me to look at the bigger picture, and I’m now able to see connections across many different subjects. For example, in English, when we discuss a certain time period of literature, I’m now able to see the direct relationships between the literary themes of that time period and the topics we’ve discussed and debated in history class.”

Friday, February 8, 2019

Tough Topic: How to Teach Your Students to Stand Up to Hate Speech

Hate speech is spoken or written words that are used to insult or belittle a person or group of people based on an element of their identity. Hate speech can targeted based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or other identifying factors.
Hate speech is ugly and can be hard to talk about with children and adolescents. It can also be hard for children to relate to hate speech. While many have seen it online or in other media, they likely have not been on the receiving end. While this is a good thing – because we don't want our children to have to experience this hardship – it can make it difficult to convince children that they should act to prevent hate speech. Often our students – especially those in middle or high school – find it easier to scroll past it on their screens or walk by it when overhearing it in the hallway. After all, stepping in could result in them being targeted by the person saying the hateful things as well.

At Safer Internet Day earlier this week, ConnectSafely put together a panel of two women who bravely shared their stories of the impact of hate speech and how they stood against it. We call them upstanders. You can use these stories to engage your students in a discussion about hate speech. Here is a lesson with conversation starters and learning goals.

Click here to see the full lesson.

Heller and Khan's stories are a key part of making hate speech real in this lesson. Their stories can help inspire all of us to be upstanders as well. Click PLAY on the video below to watch the 30 minute interview of Brittan Heller and Hani Khan.

When you are finished, as the lesson suggests, challenge your students to use online programs such as Adobe Spark, Microsoft Sway, or Google Sites or Slides to create their own digital messaging about how to stand up to hate speech and why it is worthwhile to do so. Some great examples from students who have tried a similar activity at schools where I've visited are below.

When they connect with the personal stories of others, you will find your students inspired to take action and flood the internet with positivity in an effort to counteract hate speech. What will your students come up with?

Share their creations with us at and We might share them on our Twitter feed and feature their great work!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Three Social Media Starter Tips

Note: This post was recently published on the St. John's Prep GOOD to Go blog.
Chad Konecky interviewed me and wrote the post based on our discussion.

Demonstrating and reinforcing common-sense social media engagement is important, especially when it comes to adolescents and teens. Kerry Gallagher, St. John’s assistant principal for teaching and learning, is leading the Prep’s emphasis on developing best practices when using social media.

“Mentoring healthy guidelines like ‘Think before you post,’ ‘be kind and respectful’ and ‘be mindful of who you friend’ are key, but we need to foster—and the boys need to hone—an even keener sense of their life online.”

Interestingly, the challenges of building an online identity can become even more difficult if students and their parents choose not to use social media, explains Gallagher. Alternatively, when students do create an online presence, it can become an opportunity to learn how to act appropriately and with accountability.

Gallagher offers three “startup” principles for students and their parents as young people reach the age of 13 and wade into the wellspring of social networking. These principles revolve around being authentic online, understanding that anything you post should be considered permanent, and learning to discern the accuracy of what you read online.

Be you, for you

“Ideally, whenever they engage with social media, the boys should be asking themselves: ‘How am I helping my future?”, advises Gallagher, who is also chair of the EdTech Committee at St. John’s. “In other words: ‘Think of social media as an online resume of your interests and activities.” She notes that students’ online identity should be one of kindness, respect and an authenticity.

“Showing yourself as a whole person is important. It’s also important to be real,” says Gallagher. “Don’t try to make yourself look like you’re something you’re not. It’s not just disingenuous, it’s a disservice to yourself in the long run, and at some point, people will see through it.”

Remember: it’s a permanent record

“Middle school is a time when there are many teaching moments available to us in the digital age,” says Gallagher. “At some point during our boys’ grade 7 year, certain federal rules and requirements for online services regarding adolescents no longer apply to them because they’ve turned 13. So, grade 6 is about preparing them for that transition. Once they’re legally permitted to access social media across all platforms, we want them to be able and accountable as they manage their own reputation.”

St. John’s goal is to reinforce that message at every available opportunity, particularly when it comes to communicating that anything you post is permanent. An array of tools, tips and classroom examples underscore the notion that online activity is indelible.

“We stay consistent with that and other healthy messages,” says Gallagher. “Once they grasp the basic concepts, they are better informed as they access all the resources that we provide them along the way.”

Separate fact from fiction

In addition to taking ownership and responsibility for what they post online, users should always carefully assess the content and context of what they share, avoid posting on the fly, and remain sensitive to any perceptions or misperceptions that might result. But there’s a deeper layer.

“Urban myths, meaning ‘facts’ or stories that aren’t true, can spread easily on social media when users don’t verify the details,” says Gallagher, who has partnered with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence to create strategies for building fact-checking skills into the classroom experience at the Prep. “Research consistently shows that when we see a ‘fact,’ we tend to believe it if it supports how we’re feeling at the time. That’s our emotional intelligence as opposed to logical, critical thinking.

“This is a challenging concept to teach adolescents because at that stage of development, they’re not always able to distinguish between the two, but it’s very important,” she continues. “To help students learn, we present scenarios that allow them to see how they’re making decisions in real-time and whether their conclusions are based on an emotional response or logical thinking, or, ideally, a healthy mix. We are actively walking students through how to research, evaluate and parse the information they’re absorbing.”

The overall teaching and learning goal is to educate our students about developing and evolving an online reputation that showcases who they really are, while chronicling some of the great work they do throughout four years here as students. “That doesn’t necessarily occur to everyone right off the bat,” notes Gallagher. “We encourage students to recognize those opportunities and take advantage of them.”