Welcome! This website is created to demonstrate my learning, possibly play host to some lamenting, and eventually showcase my journey through the Master of Educational Technology program at Boise State University. Like all things great and worth coming back to, this will be a work in progress. I invite you along with me on this expedition as it is surely going to be worth the bumps and switchbacks we’ll travel over and around on the way to a polished final product that will be useful not only in my own classroom but hopefully in many others as well.
Well here we are, the tail end of what will be my last summer session as I am on track to graduate next spring. I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed this class, even though I finally had to join the world of Twitter. I was forced to work beyond my comfort zone, to make products I never would have thought to create or include in my teaching repertoire before this class, and put me into the shoes of my own students with the mandated group work projects.
Something that I was exposed to during this class that I plan to continue was the professional development via social media. I have always been fairly savvy at finding information and ideas online but I was completely unaware of all of the PD that is available out there via avenues such as Twitter and real time webinars. I feel that I’ve found a whole new world of like minded educators that I am thrilled to become a contributing member of.
I also plan to incorporate the use of Google Classroom into my upcoming school year. I have flirted with the idea of doing this in the past but never really decide to sit down long enough to figure out how to do this successfully. With the completion of our group mini unit I was able to see just how easy and useful this platform is to use.
Upon reflecting on my blog performance I feel it might be an example of some of my strongest work of the course. With an ELA teaching background I tend to find that writing, especially reflecting upon my learning through writing, is not only something that is a strength of mine but is something that I truly enjoy. Due to the appealing nature of these tasks I usually go quite in depth into my explanations and reflections. If I were to assess the content of these blogs as well as my participation in them I would assign myself a 70 out of 75. I do not give myself a perfect score because I know that there are always things in writing that could be improved, and because at this point in the program I feel I should start incorporating more multimedia elements into my blogs to make them stronger than the words that I pour into them.
Neither my school nor my district has a specific social media use policy so I decided to create my social media policy specifically for my classroom. As an ELA teacher there a are a variety of ways in which we could successfully use social media and social networking if adhering to the policies listed below. In addition to the policy I have made a Social Media Use Policy Reporting Form that parents, teachers, staff, community members, administrators, and students could all use to weigh in the policy itself and/or the use of social media in the classroom.
Bridgewater Social Media Policies
For the purpose of the social media use in this classroom for the upcoming year social media will be defined as media in which students may communicate online in a public environment including but not limited to: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, Skype, message boards and any other new and upcoming social media platforms.
Furthermore, this policy will pertain specifically to sites in which the student represents the Cougar Community. The purpose of this policy is not to regulate the student’s personal social media sites but students should recognize that following these guidelines outside of class help one to ensure appropriate digital citizenship.
- Each social media account that is used in conjunction with this class must be registered with Ms. Bridgewater prior to posting content.
- When posting content, identify yourself. It needs to be clear within the posting who you are. No anonymous posts or posts using screen names/avatars that are not registered with your account.
- Keep specific information about yourself and others confidential. Do not post or share last names, birth dates, addresses or phone numbers.
- Use good judgement and general respect when posting content. Do not say anything online you would not say out loud or in front of your parent/guardian or an administrator. This includes everything from sarcasm to put downs and or threats. Anything intended to make someone else feel negative, inferior, or fearful will not be tolerated.
- You are personally responsible for everything you post. This includes not only original content but links to other content as well. If you are concerned with the appropriateness of material check it with Ms. Bridgewater prior to posting.
- Own up to mistakes. If you post something that is incorrect or inappropriate be the first to acknowledge it and work with Ms. Bridgewater to rectify the situation or minimize the negative impact this may have on you or others. Remember, anything posted on the internet is forever. Simply deleting material does not mean the situation is fixed.
- Be a participant, “listen” as much as you “talk”. Read the posts of others and use your interaction to continue a conversation or discussion not simply to prove a point.
- If you come across any material that is in violation of these policies or makes your fear for the safety of yourself or others bring it to the attention of Ms. Bridgewater or an administrator immediately. Take a screen shot or print a hard copy of the material.
- All school rules, featured in the school agenda, regarding the conduct of students in person are the same for conduct online.
- Violations of this policy will face disciplinary repercussions including but not limited to: loss of technological privileges, loss of additional school privileges, suspension, expulsion, filing of legal charges, and/or additional consequences as administration sees fit.
This social media use policy is not an exhaustive list. With the ever changing dynamic of social media it is on you, as a consumer and user of such technology, to use your best judgement and represent yourself in the most positive of manners.
If you have feedback regarding this policy or find that someone is abusing the policy please feel free to use the form provided at the link below to communicate with me suggestions, concerns, or violations.
Montana State University Athletics Communications Policy, Appendix A. 2010 http://www.msubobcats.com/documents/2010/7/6/Social_Media_Policy_final_approved.pdf?id=412. 16 July 2017.
adidas Group Social Media Guidelines. http://blog.adidas-group.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/adidas-Group-Social-Media-Guidelines1.pdf. 16 July 2017.
Dunn, ByJeff. “An editable social media policy for schools that works.” Daily Genius. N.p., 10 Jan. 2015. Web. 16 July 2017.
My initial thoughts after completing this assignment is that it was much easier to find suggestions for including social media into the classroom than actual narratives of ways in which it was currently being utilized. However, after some tenacious researching and a few perspective changes I was able to create a curation of tools that I believe could not only be useful to my classroom repertoire but also fairly easy to implement.
Through my research I found a diverse collection of ways to engage my students in the English Language Arts environment. Instagram was used in several ways including students reporting out their learning for the day as well challenges to represent specific passages within the classroom novel in picture format. I consistently struggle with ways for students to complete projects tied to their independent reading novel that are authentic to learning standards and more engaging than the traditional book report. I think having the students create and share out pictures that exemplify various elements of their novel could add a new dynamic to this project for the upcoming year.
I also found teachers using the writing and performing of podcasts to share research and increase storytelling ability, student creation of YouTube lists and Google+ communities for collaborative study opportunities, and Twitter used for a variety of platforms including class discussions and debates as well as back channel video viewing commentary. One use of social networking challenged student perspective of situations by connecting students from different part of the world to one another for classroom discussions. All of the resources in my curation naturally lend themselves to an ELA classroom without much additional support.
One resource that a viewer of this collection may question in regards to the connection between the activity and an ELA classroom is the use of social media to track mathematical inferences about a post. In the resource I found for this activity the students posted a joke onto social media and then tracked how and where it was shared. Though this is a statistical assignment on the surface there could easily be a cross curricular element added to this assignment. In my class we explore the use of figurative language and the idea that it does not always transfer across cultures. These jokes could be analyzed not only for their mathmatical inferences but they could also be analyzed based on their communicative ability. Were they shared by certain populations who were able to understand the joke? Was the joke itself grammatically flawed? ELA students could pose questions about the content of the joke, or how it was written in connection to the mathematical findings of its social media success or lack thereof.
The main take away that I have after completing this assignment is that any inclusion of social media must be purposeful and authentic in its application. If we want students to see the use of social media in regards to their learning and the power they have over their learning using such tools we must make sure they understand the power and purpose behind the technology instead of just hoping they remain engaged with the newest shiniest tool in our teaching bag.
When looking through the myriad of examples of the PLE diagrams of others I found myself quickly overwhelmed. I am not, in any way, a designing genius when it comes to graphics on the computer nor am I a skilled illustrator. Examples of my classmates such as Tim Rocco who fashioned his diagram to replicate the water cycle and Joanna Lieberman who’s visual depicted the categories of: curating, creating, and sharing as three different interchangeable clouds of her PLE vision gave me some amazing visual direction as to intricate diagrams that could be fashioned for this product. I found Tim’s water cycle that replaced the science terms of the water cycle with the verbiage of his PLE to be very clever and appreciated the personal connection he made to the subject when creating his diagram. Additionally I found the spin that Joanna placed on her collection being “in the cloud” to be quite witty and again, specific to her learning.
Then there was Sofian Ahtchi’s soccer related diagram with the 4-4-2 connection to Martin’s gathering, processing, acting model; the same model I chose to use for my product. I found his ability to group these resources into the positions of defense, midfield, and attack and link them to the three categories of Martin’s model to prove a deep level of synthesis in creating the product. As an avid lifelong basketball player and lover I couldn’t help but be smitten with Natalie Burr’s diagram representing an athletic bracket. I immediately thought about March Madness, underdogs with Cinderella stories, and powerhouses that suffer heartbreaking losses. However, the powerful thing about Natalie’s bracket is that there are no losers. Instead, collectively all the resources listed pool together to create a PLC winner. I admired Natalie’s reflection upon her use of the various tools and found her narrative to be authentic, which I used as a model for my own reflection.
Another game themed model I found to be captivating was Kathleen Johnson’s in which she uses a theme of connect four to demonstrate the levels of collecting, reflecting, connecting and publishing in her PLC. What I found the most useful when exploring Kathleen’s reflecting was her realization that she started the project with the idea that she would have four main categories but realized as she completed the project that a lot of the categories were interchangeable. This helped me to validate my own thinking in regards to the maneuverability of many PLC resources. There were numerous other classmate’s PLE Diagrams that allowed for me to mull over how I wanted to approach this task but in the end I found myself a bit lost and abandoned the task for some time to reflect upon what I wanted to include in my diagram and knowing that eventually the how would work itself out.
Finally, upon perusing through the work of my peers one last time I found the diagram that spurred my creative genius. It was Scott Fledderjohan’s hand drawn highway diagram that set the stage for my move from the slow lane of completing this project to the fast track of the commuter lane, or better yet the autobahn. In my district we have been working tirelessly on making learning visible for the students and thinking maps have taken center stage in my classroom. However, in an effort to make learning fun, because life is fun and I enjoy teaching when it is enjoyed by the students, I’ve worked to make sure my learning maps are not only user friendly and purposeful but also have an element of novelty to them that increase motivation for their use. My latest creation for this came to me at a summer PD when the need for novelty side of me connected with the slightly competitive side of me that wanted to have the best thinking map of the conference and thus the “treasure map thinking map” was born! I had kept this map in the forefront of my mind for incorporation of my upcoming school year but it wasn’t until I explored Scott’s PLE diagram that I realized I had a ringer of an idea sitting in my teacher tool belt and I hadn’t even given any thought to using it. Reading Scott’s reflection about moving and how these experiences shaped who he was and then seeing the connection he made between these events and his PLE journey provided me the path to my how that I had struggled with at the start of this project.
For my PLE diagram I decided to use the Martin model of gathering, processing, acting. I feel like these three steps most accurately represent my use of the resources I’ve included which begin with my gathering of what turns out to usually be an overwhelming amount of ideas through avenues such as: Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google and YouTube. I then set out on the seas to my next destination, Processing. When processing I begin to mentally and internally organize my resources from the gathering phase. I know that I am a person who likes to “talk through things” so in this phase I use various written modalities such as WordPress and Google Docs to begin to make sense of my resources. Next, with my written ideas and plans in hand I travel to the destination of action in which I implement the inclusion of Google Docs, Google Forms, Google Slides, Skype, and YouTube to create products that I implement in my classroom and/or use to collaborate with other educators. Ultimately from the phase of action I sail into the sunset of my personal PLE paradise, a place in which I like to believe the work through my three previous phases will lead to an authentic and successful learning environment for my students.
If I’m being completely honest I find it terrifying to be living in a world where digital footprints are almost unavoidable. Our children are growing up in a world where they document EVERYTHING! As a teacher in middle school I am consistently trying to communicate to my students that social media should not be their sounding board nor diary and that no matter who promises them what regarding the pictures that they send or what app they use to do it, there will always be a way for someone that has ill intentions to get a hold of such material if they really want to. Looking back I am so incredibly thankful that the majority of my upbringing did not include any form of technology and that while I was in that every so fragile phase of adolescents AOL was just in its infancy with that awful dial up tone being something that we still got excited about. However, even now as an adult I see posts that my peers or friends from the past make and I wonder if they even realize how they are branding themselves or even worse, their children.
While gallivanting through various search engines using my name to track down elements of my digital footprint I found not one, but two old Twitter accounts that I had forgotten I’d started and barely used. Neither are too incredibly damning but neither represent me as the woman that I’ve worked so hard to become over the past few years. I also found links to my Facebook and Instagram, both of which I have fairly stringent private settings on and am quite selective of who I add and what I post. I also found several pictures of myself under images. All of them were appropriate and either linked me to current or past employment entities or my social media account. I also found that there are several women across the world that share my same name including more than one college athlete and a blogger in the UK.
The element that I found to be the most disturbing when performing this search was the amount of resources that are available for other people to create accounts and access my information. There was one website that featured my current address and my last three addresses. The entire house number and street name were not published publicly, you had to create an account to do so but as I looked into it you also had to create an account to have this information removed. Sites such as these unnerve me a great deal though I know that even without such sites someone who really wants to know this information would get it someway or somehow.
Setting up the Tweetdeck, by far, proved to be the most difficult part of this assignment for me. Somehow I missed the memo that I would need to specifically navigate to Tweetdeck and instead stared at my Twitter homepage for at least five minutes saying various unmentionables under my breath as I searched for anything that remotely resembled the screen in the tutorial video. Have I mentioned I’m not very Twitter savvy? Nonetheless, after finally figuring it all out the five hashtags I chose to follow were: #projectbasedlearning, #edumindset, #engchat, #learningpit, and #writingworkshop. As a 7th grade English teacher #engchat and #writingworkshop are the most specifically related to my content and the other three hashtags collectively support the move my district is making in regards to making learning visible to students.
One idea I gained from the #projectbasedlearning column featured a project that had students create Shark Tank presentations for their unique food truck creations. I’ve watched Shark Tank numerous times and my students present to the class at least once per quarter throughout the year but never thought of combining the two to increase student voice, choice, and motivation. We complete a disaster/survival unit during our year and I think a Shark Tank presentation on a unique survival tool would be something the kids really enjoyed and learned a great deal while completing.
An additional resource I came across in my new Tweetdeck was from the #edumindset column. Here, I found this link to an activity that featured students writing a positive mindset poem using pre-selected words such as: abundant, blessings, creativity, courageous, friendship, understanding, and many others. I think this would be a great back to school activity to help build community in the classroom and begin talking about mindset. It would make a great project to continue throughout the school year or come back to for revision and edits, especially in times that positive mindset may be waning such as testing season in the spring.
A third resource I was really excited to find was this webinar featuring James Nottinham describing the Learning Pit. This webinar is from the Corwin Institute which just finished putting on a three day summer training for my district. The Learning Pit is something I’m very excited to share with my students this coming year. I teach honors and have found that these students, more so than my other students, tend to have the hardest time with “failure” and struggle greatly during the first quarter of my class when I provide them with challenges that don’t always have a “right answer.” I find that these students are used to being right and thrive on perfect scores rather than perseverance through difficult tasks. I feel if I can give them a visual and work with them to understand the Learning Pit in addition to Growth Mindset we will have a more positive introduction to our year. Also in this Tweetcolumn were multiple visual examples of student generated Learning Pits that I found very resourceful in reflecting upon how I will be communicating this idea to my students.
I have to admit that I was very resistant and not at all excited about having to create a Twitter account for this class. I had almost prided myself on my ability to avoid being sucked into this social media. However through this assignment, which I quite enjoyed, I do see the usefulness of Twitter. In regards to using Twitter as a “just in time” form of professional development I may be beginning to change my mind about Twitter almost completely. As a single mother on a mission to provide and full and well rounded life to a very active and involved little boy my time is very precious. Being able to attend or seek out professional development in a way that allows me to continue to balance my life so that I’m both a successful educator and present mother is an invaluable opportunity.
When exploring the various components that can be connected to successful social network learning three areas of focus include: communities of practice, connectivism, and personal learning networks. In an attempt to capture the essence of these in a visual I’ve created this slideshow.
As stated by Kimble (2008), “What binds and defines the CoP is a shared practice, a way of thinking that helps to make the abstract idea more concrete.” (pg. 24) It is with this in mind that I selected the image of the mannequin like people pushing together the puzzle pieces. The efforts portrayed in this visual require the people involved to work together, collectively, to correctly piece together the corresponding ends. This visual represents the shared practice or way of thinking presented in the quoted example above. Furthermore, the creation of a puzzle is the concrete production of an visual that was once nothing more than a pile of individual abstract pieces.
Building upon this visual is theory of and representation of connectivism. As learning increases in complexity to keep up with our rapidly changing social and technological world I choose a visual that epitomizes the choices that we have literally and figuratively at our fingertips in regards to our learning. Not only is this demonstrated by my selected visual but the picture also supports the ideas presented by Nair (2011) in which the traditional brick and motor classrooms of today are challenged through the theory of connectivism. In this challenge, traditionally enclosed classrooms are replaced with environments that more closely resemble suites or studios conducive to the vast network of thinking and learning associated with this theory.
Rounding out the the three theories is the representation for personal learning networks. For this image I thought that the group of people, who I assigned the role of educators in my mind, standing in front of a blank book most accurately represented a PLN. According to Novak (2015) PLNs enable educators to, “decide what they learn, when they learn, where they learn and with whom they learn allows teachers to determine their own learning path.” With this explanation the blank canvas of the book demonstrate teachers determining their own learning path that has yet to be written by authors that have chosen to improve their expertise in a PLN and clarify concepts as a CoP through whichever collectivist strategy best fits them individually and as a whole.
Kimble, C. (2008). Communities of practice creating learning environments for educators: volume 1. Charlotte NC: Information age publishing.