Final Project

For our final project, Mary and I wanted to create something that would be useful now at our school.  A RUP was recently created for the elementary school, but we continued to wonder how we would address the teaching that needed to happen to support this document and how we would ensure that all areas were being met.  We decided to create a scope and sequence of guiding questions that can be used by teachers in grades K-3 to help them implement lessons that support the RUP.  In our research, we came across Common Sense Media, an organization that supports families with information and resources about media and technology.  They have a great section on their website dedicated to educators that includes lessons on privacy, safety, and more and several scope and sequences to help guide educators.  We used some of their images and information, along with our own school’s RUP, and our own ideas about the way kids learn to come up with a first draft of guiding questions for K-3.  We believe that this is just the beginning of a process and hope that our elementary school will pick up the work and continue to build a program that supports our RUP.

Here is our project:  Responsible Use:  Guiding Questions K-3

Class 6: Understanding Web Connections

I, like many others, take the world wide web for granted.  I don’t often think about how it works or where it came from.  I love the internet and all that it provides.  I spend hours reading email, reading news articles, checking out Facebook, and more, but to be honest, I’m not that interested in having an in depth knowledge of how it works as long as it keeps on working.  20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web provides a little history and a good bit of information about the origins of the web.  It’s formatted as an online book, making it more readable.  I think this is a good resource to use with older kids to provide some background information to students who are interested in the origins of the web or how it functions.

One of the greatest benefits of the web is the opportunity for collaboration.  Crowdsourcing and mass collaboration are an incredible opportunity born from the connection of the internet.  When I really think about Wikipedia and the amount of reliable information that can be found there, I am in awe.  You used to hear all the time about how Wikipedia isn’t a valid source of information, but it has become an incredibly powerful tool fueled by it’s users.

In class, we brainstormed a list of the benefits of mass collaboration.  When asked how our students can benefit from collaboration, these same ideas come to mind.  I think the biggest benefit of collaboration to our students is the bouncing of ideas off each other and the opportunity to grow an idea together as students share information and resources.  The power of students working together is far greater than one student working alone.


Class 5: Student Safety

Issues of student safety are not new, but they are changing as available technologies change.  When I was in middle school, mean girls did their damage using notes and phone calls.  Now, bullying happens through texting and social networking sites. The more kids disconnect from face to face interactions, the easier it seems to be to write or message more and more hurtful attacks.  I appreciated the article, When Dad Banned Text Messaging, because it brought up a lot of the issues that come with texting in particular.  Yes, texts are an easy way to stay connected, and I personally wouldn’t want to live without them, but what do we lose when we text?  It seems like a time saver to send a quick text, but I can think of many examples when multiple texts were needed to clarify my point.  A phone call is often easier, quicker, and more effective.  A major problem I have with electronic communication is the inability to convey tone, feelings, or sarcasm.  There is a lot more room for interpretation of intention and miscommunication.

Who’s job is it to teach kids to be safe online?

I think it is both the school and the parents responsibility to teach kids about online safety.  We need to teach kids about technology and repercussions of use, but first and foremost, we need to help kids become good citizens.  Being a good “digital citizen” relies on being a good citizen.  If we teach our students to think critically, understand consequences of choices, consider how they treat others and how they want to be treated, and problem solve and resolve conflicts, then these skills should translate to the internet.  There are additional lessons to be learned about our digital footprint, the longevity of information provided on the internet, and e-security, but we have to start with developing the skills that will help our students find success on and offline.

In schools, when and where should we be having these conversations with students?

In school, we need to start these conversations early.  Conversations about citizenship start as soon as students start school.  We need to start discussions specific to technology as soon as students are using technology.  I think one of the great challenges is how to have these conversations in early elementary school.  Our students are certainly using technology, but how do we scaffold understanding around some of these big ideas of safety so young students are protected?  Mary and I will be working on a scope and sequence for responsible use lessons for our final project, so hopefully this will be a starting point for this discussion in our elementary school.

It is very important that parents take on a responsibility for educating their children about online safety.  In school, we have very specific assignments and resources and students are monitored when working online.  We talk about safety in reference to the projects we are working on, but often students have a broader access at home.  It’s important that parents and students have an open dialogue about safety at home.

Class 4: Privacy Online

Husna Nejand’s, Beware: the Internet could own your future, reminds of us the privacy dangers that come along with the use of social networking sites like Facebook.  I personally try to hold back what I can from the general public and keep as much as I can private.  On facebook, I am only “friends” with people who are actually my friends in real life and these are the only people that can access my photos, wall, etc.  This makes me feel more protected, but does not stop some of the situations, especially about photos, that Nejand shares in this article.  I can stop people from tagging me in a photo, which I do often, but I can’t prevent all pictures of me from being on the internet.  How many pictures of me are out there that I don’t even know about?  I would guess hundreds.  This can not be prevented.  A person could have no active presence on the internet and that would not stop pictures of them from being on the web.  Friends post photos with you in them.  Strangers post pictures with you in the background.  We can only control our own posting and try to influence the posting of pictures we know about.

There are many complaints about the privacy policies of social networking and other sites.  I debate with myself about these concerns.  What responsibility do these companies have to protect our privacy?  As consumers, we opt into these sites.  If we don’t like the privacy policies, we can choose not to participate.  I think many people would give up an enormous amount of privacy to keep access to these sites, but should they have to?

How do we best teach students about issues of privacy online?

We need to start with very young students to talk about privacy in general.  We can make parallels between “real life” and life on the internet to help students understand the need for privacy online.  As I mentioned in my last blog entry, I think it’s important to help students understand the permanency of images on the internet and the consequences of posting pictures.

Class 3: Digital Footprints

This week’s readings are all about managing your online reputation to make sure you’re not sending the wrong message to future employers.  In Your online reputation can hurt your job search, the author, Kim Komando, urges readers to search for themselves, see what is out there, and manage the material, trying to limit the negative and create more positives.  There is not much out there when I search my name, but I am very conscious about how I am perceived on the internet.  I try to limit my exposure as much as I can, as I like to maintain some privacy.  On social networking sites, I keep to the most strict privacy settings and try to keep only pictures and information that I wouldn’t mind future employers or my mom seeing.  The most interesting advice I pulled away from Komando’s article was to create profiles on the social networking sites, so future employers would not search and find another person with your name with potentially pictures or information.

How can you manage your digital footprint as an international educator?

As an educator, I think it becomes important to manage your footprint, not only to help with a future job hunt, but because your students are out there checking out what’s online.  We teach by example and want to keep our private lives private.  My personal management technique is not to increase the positive info on the web, but to limit all information as much as possible.  I don’t want a big online presence.  Even blogging for this class makes me uncomfortable sometimes, as I wonder if these blogs about tech are what I really want representing me on the internet, given how little I try to put out there.
How would a digital profile help or hinder you if you went looking for a new job?

You digital profile can have a positive or negative impact on a job search, and the impact depends on the job you are looking for and the type of profile you have created.  As a teacher, evidence of projects, research, classroom blogs and websites can help in the job search, as employers can see the technology you are using to teach and communicate.  Alternatively, inappropriate material could prevent you from being hired.
What then are the implications for students and how should educators be teaching them to have a positive digital footprint?

Students today have a whole new set of responsibilities that I did not have when I was a kid.  Silly things you do as a child, when done online, can follow you around for a lifetime.  We have a responsibility to help our students understand information on the internet, how media travels online, and the permanency of our work and the things we do on the internet.  We need to be talking about what is appropriate, privacy and privacy settings, and the possible consequences (positive and negative) of posting on the internet.

Class 2

What is our obligation as educators?

As a second grade teacher, the word copyright doesn’t come up too often in class.  That does not mean that I have less responsibility to help my students understand this concept and its impact on their life in and out of the classroom than a teacher in middle school or high school.  Second graders love to talk about what is fair and what is not, which is the perfect launch for a discussion of copyright and plagiarism.  If Mary creates a poem, is it okay for Sam to copy her poem and call it his?  Of course not.  They get that.  If Mary creates a video, can Sam use a part of that video in his own video?  When the area becomes more gray, it is important for students young and old to talk about what is okay and what is not okay.

As a teacher in a technology class looking at copyright, I am realizing not only the misconceptions of my previous understanding of copyright, but also the narrowness of my thinking.  There are many scenarios I read about in this week’s readings that I wouldn’t have thought twice about before.  One article mentioned sharing a song from my a personal collection with the class.  I paid for that song, and I’m a teacher.  Copyright infringement would have never crossed my mind.  I’m definitely starting to take a closer look.

Our biggest obligations as educators are to lead by example and follow copyright laws to the best of our ability and to model how to give credit to others and follow fair use guidelines.  We are also obligated to hold our students accountable for thinking, being reasonable, valuing others art and thoughts, giving credit where credit is due, and contributing to the greater good by supplying ideas, thoughts, and creations.

Class 1: Thoughts on Copyright

Image Source:

Our class discussion on copyright has been well timed.  Just this week we are in the midst of the SOPA and PIPA debate, and this week’s reading provided some background on the discussion.  I realized that I, like many others, had many misconceptions about copyright and its purposes.  My first thoughts when hearing the word copyright were of the protection of the owners and their profits.  I knew little of the history and the intention. Check out Lydia Pallas Loren’s article, The Purpose of Copyright, to learn about the history of copyright.

Do we as a global society need to rethink copyright laws?

Yes!  The original intention of promoting creativity and information that benefit society while offering some incentive to individuals to continue to come up with ideas has been lost.  I was not alone in my misconception of copyright, and it is understandable why this confusion abounds.  The result of the changes in US copyright laws is the opposite of their original intention.  They are stifling the creative process.  We all get inspiration from that which has come before us.  For us to wait 70 years after the death of the creator to use and build upon their work, opportunity is lost and we all suffer.

With the current copyright laws in mind, many people have become so attached to the ownership of their work, that they lose sight of greater good that can come from sharing of knowledge, resources, and art.  Yes, we deserve recognition for our creations, but that recognition need not be at the expense of sharing and progress.  Check out Gladwell’s article, Something Borrowed, for an interesting case that provokes discussion about when copyright applies.  He gives several real life situations where discussions of plagiarism or copyright have been present.

How do we teach copyright in countries where international copyright law is not often followed?

I think we should teach copyright the same way we would if we lived in the United States.  I think it’s important to teach both the original intention and the laws as they stand currently, but more importantly our students need to have opportunities to discuss why these laws exist and who they protect, why it is important to recognize creators, and how one persons ideas can change the world around them and the ideas of others.

Collaborative Projects for the Classroom

The only online collaborative project I have had previous experience with is I have not used it in my own classroom, but at my last school, one of our teachers was a huge fan of the site and always encouraged people to get involved. I have been on there several times to check out projects and never find one that fits in perfectly with what I’m doing in my classroom. You want a project that matches your language, content, and goals. My goal is to initiate a project that will work for me. One thing we are trying this year in second grade is vertical gardens using Wooly Pockets. Using these is going to expand our plants unit as our planting space has grow considerably. I’d like to start a project that will allow schools around the globe to compare measurements and growth for different kinds of gardens in different kinds of light, location, etc. I think the kids will will get really into it, as they already get very excited about the plants unit, and it is towards the end of the year, so students will have more of the technology skills necessary to participate in this kind of collaboration.

Technology is definitely changing the look of global education. I came from a school whose mission was Global Ed, and students in each grade did in depth studies of other cultures around the world. The ability to connect directly with those cultures through projects on sites like iearn or directly through email, skype, etc. make the learning more relevant, the connections to other people more real, and make the world a lot smaller. Students are able to connect to people they only would have read about before. Students recognize similarities across boundaries while learning to celebrate differences.


I loved the speed geek sessions we did during our last to Coetail classes.  This format is the best way I have seen to expose teachers to a bunch of new resources, and I found so many new tools that I am excited to see more of.  I presented on Wolfram Alpha.  Wolfram Alpha is a “computational knowledge engine.”  You can search for anything and the results returned are organized and easy to use.  The engine will complete any possible computations and give options to change your parameters.  After exploring for a bit and showing groups in class, I think I have just scraped the surface of the many applications of this engine.  If it’s your first time checking it out, try clicking on “examples.”  You will be given a bunch of options organized by interest areas and can begin to see what Wolfram Alpha is capable of.  Some of my favorite searches were:

– India and United States:  When you put in two search items, the results will be a thorough comparison of the two. You can also compare people, foods, universities, etc.

– Big Mac:  inputing a food will result in the nutritional information

– Running:  putting in an activity will allow you to compute a variety of things.  You can input distance, time, gender, weight, etc.  to find out ho many calories were burned or equivalent activities you need to do to get the same amount of caloric burn.  (Great for PE teachers!)

– y = mx + b:  Put in an equation and the results will include the solution, a visual representation, in the case a graph and a number line, and alternate forms.

There are so many more uses.  Check it out!


Final Project – UbD Unit

Chad, Kelly, and Mary celebrating the completion of Coetail 1

Check out the UbD unit I created with Mary and Chad:  Communicating Computational Fluency.  This is a math lesson where students use Explain Everything to show and explain their mathematical thinking about computations.  The lesson was designed for a second or third grade classroom, but can be adapted for any grade by changing the type of computation. I don’t think doing this final project made me look at technology in my classroom any differently, but I really like this tech tool as a way for students to communicate their thinking.  Often, I think the technology we use just replaces something we used to do that was just as effective, but makes it a little cooler or more fun.  This is a case where the technology has enhanced the way students are able to communicate and the clarity of their communication, and it increases the audience they are able to reach.  Explain Everything allows students to record their writing and speaking and share the slides with their peers, teacher, and parents.

As I look back over the last few weeks we’ve been in Coetail, I’m most excited about my exposure to a bunch of new tools I can immediately use in my classroom and to conversation and discussion about where our classrooms should be headed.  I’m still struggling with the same big questions – what does tech integration look like in second grade?  What technology tools are really worth using in math class?  How and when do we make time for continued tech training that reaches all teachers?  I am beginning to collect answers to these questions, but it’s a journey that I will be continuing.  The best thing about being in this course is that technology is always on my mind and I am constantly thinking about new ways to use technology in the classroom.  We just gave the second graders blogs to use as e-portfolios in preparation for our student-lead goal creating conferences.  They created videos explaining their Needs and how they meet them, which became their first blog posts.  Second graders are not efficient typers, so this will mostly house pictures, videos, and recordings of their work.

Where do I go from here?  I keep exploring new ideas and applications, keep talking with my colleagues and tech facilitators, and keep using web tools to gather ideas that appropriate, relevant, engaging, and useful for second graders.  I try things out and see what works and what doesn’t.  We’ll see how goes!