I’m not THAT Emily Roth!

I am super pumped about this course and digital citizenship. This is an area I’d really like to help develop at my school. As digital immigrants, sometimes we can be so afraid of what can happen that we resist change which can propel us forward. And by ‘us’, I’m talking about student and teacher learning (teachers are lifelong learners, right??).

When I read “Your Online Reputation Can Hurt You,” I have to admit that I quickly googled myself. I discovered 2 things: 1) I have a pretty common name, and 2) I really need to get busy creating a positive digital footprint for myself. When I googled myself, I did so in the mindset of being an employer. When I encountered a multitude of “Emily Roth”s, it scared me—especially because some of those “Emily Roth”s, I don’t want to be, like Emily Roth, the pregnant teenager, or Emily Roth, the band member who co-wrote the song, “The Last Time I Committed Suicide.” Yeah, those Emily Roths are not the ones I think employers are dying to hire:)                                        So how will my prospective employer know those other Emily’s aren’t ME?? That’s how I discovered #2, that I need to really put in some energy creating my digital footprint.

This past Tuesday I was so disappointed, because I came down with a nasty strep throat infection (3 days before spring break–SERIOUSLY??!?!). I was disappointed because I was really looking forward to participating in the Bigmarker session (by the way, has the recorded session been posted yet, and if so, where is it?). I had fallen asleep, and when I awoke, it was over. Doctor’s orders had me quarantined these past 2 days. One huge plus for today was that I was able to watch the EARCOS Course 5 presentations. I remember thinking at one point during the presentations how cool it was that in this day-and-age, I can be sitting on my bed in my jammies correcting math tests while watching some inspiring colleagues on the other side of the world present their ideas. Pretty amazing. One in particular, Ben Sheridan, caught my attention. I missed the first couple of minutes though and therefore failed to hear where he was teaching and his name. I quickly logged in to the chat and asked Jeff. Jeff gave me his name, so I googled him. BAM. Within seconds, I was on Ben’s site following his journey with some pretty stellar lower elementary projects and stealing ideas along the way (Thanks, Ben!;).

To end this post, I’d like to share my favorite quote from this week’s readings. It comes from “Positive Digital Footprints” when Ferriter is talking about tech guru Will Richardson. Richardson is expressing his views on his children being googled. He says,

“One of my worst fears as [my children] grow older is that they won’t be              Googled well…. Or, even worse, that no links about her will come up at all.”

This particular quote really spoke to me. Ferriter goes on to mention how in schools, we are terrified of being “found” online, and then you have Richardson who is saying the opposite! Times have really changed. What a great discussion starter in schools…

Help please

I think the correct forum for question/answer is actually Twitter (is it?), but I don’t really know how to tweet, so I’m asking for advice here;)

I have a couple of questions and would love any wisdom you can offer. Thanks!!

For people with class websites, how do you get parents and students to read them? (Background knowledge: Our elementary school is looking to get away from our static Moodle page which is very difficult to navigate from a parent’s side and difficult to update on a teacher’s side. We are thinking of using Google Sites as it seems very user-friendly, and we are already using Google apps and email in our school.) So back to my question, if I update my site only once a week or so, how do parents know when to check back without having to check the site everyday? Do your parents use RSS readers? I looked into it for our students, but with the educational Google gmail, I don’t believe RSS reader is an option (only for personal gmail accounts).

Also, as a school moving away from monthly grade level newsletters and into dynamic class websites, which do you recommend using: Google sites, WordPress, Edublogs, or maybe something else?? Please note that unfortunately, our school works in a walled garden, so we would need it to be private. We also need something easy to use as this will be a BIG change for our teachers and parents.

Thanks for the help!

Course 1 Final Project

This course is just what the doctor ordered. 

I got a dose of “tech fever” at Kim Cofino’s NESA workshop and have been wanting more ever since. However, once getting back into my classroom, I fell into the chaotic nature of being a teacher buried in work. Course 1 has allowed me to explore and fill in some of my tech knowledge gaps. For example, I had always heard of an RSS reader and seen that little symbol all over the place, but I never understood how it could simplify as well as enrich my life. And it has! I had also known of WordPress but just never had the need to go and try it out myself. Even though some days are more frustrating than others;), I’m slowly but surely learning how to navigate and change my site as I wade through this course. There are many other things that I look forward to discovering as we go: like how you actually tweet, and how to embed that world revolver map in my WordPress site–it looks so cool on other COETAILers’ sites!!, and how to more efficiently navigate the COETAIL site. Then I think about more in-depth things I am eager to learn, like: How can I help to create an emerging technology vision for our school who is in desperate need of one? And, how do we get people ‘on board’ when making big change (and sometimes scary change, as many people at my school are slight tech-phobes)? How do we make sure that teaching is actually changing with the use of emerging technology, and not that we are just doing “old things in old ways” or “new things in old ways” as Prensky so wisely told us. And when your school is just embarking on this tech journey, WHERE DO YOU BEGIN???

One of the learnings from this course that has been most significant for me is the idea of connectivism. This is why I chose our current social studies unit on entrepreneurship for this project. This is the first year we’ve taught this unit, so we’ve made a lot of changes as we’ve gone along. This is also one of the first times we’ve really used technology not just for the sake of using technology. The technology actually served a purpose!:) Because many of us (including our tech integrator in some cases) were new to implementing some of the tech pieces, some of the lessons took a LONG TIME, like the one teaching them how to make a google form and then how to share it with the entire grade 4, or the lesson teaching them how to turn their advertisement into an iMovie. We, the teachers, definitely learned from some of our mistakes and already know how we could teach this more smoothly next year.  Failure is the foundation of success, right???;)


So here’s a brief overview of this particular unit:

Who: Grade 4

What: Social Studies unit: What is an Entrepreneur?

Tech Integration: Students first brainstormed ideas for their particular product or service on a Google document. Students then created market surveys using Google forms and shared them with their peers. Next, students filmed each other’s advertisements with Kodak PlaySport cameras and then used iMovie to produce commercials. Students uploaded their commercials to a Google document in order to share with Grade 3 and 4 students for viewing and voting purposes.

Final product: “Mall Day” is on March 21st. This is where all companies will fight their competition for ‘Viper Bucks!’ We have invited grade 3 students to come and shop. Each student will get 10 Viper Bucks for each category (food good, durable good, service, and entertainment). After “Mall Day” students will tally up their totals and pay the mall owners (teachers:) rent and taxes. Their profits can then be used to purchase incentives like extra recess or eating lunch outside, etc. Next month at our ES assembly, we have Viper statues (made by our awesome art teacher) that will be presented to the winners of the advertisement votes (3 categories: best ad, best communication/persuasion, and best teamwork).


A company filming their advertisement

A company using iMovie to make their commercial

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The technology used in this unit was purposeful and essential. The students were always engaged and even wanting to stay in from recess to work more on their ad or answer more market survey forms. I even had parents telling me how excited the kids were at home about this project. I felt really good about this unit, and I look forward to continue authentically integrating technology across all curricular areas!

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KONY 2012

When I opened up my facebook today and saw KONY 2012 (below), I kept thinking back to the enduring understanding for this week: Collaboration, on a global scale, is a key component of 21st Century Learning.


As soon as I shared this amazing video on my wall, I got a few people writing back to me right away saying that I should read this article, and that KONY 2012 may not be all it’s crack up to be. Then, another friend came back with another article from Invisible Children that seemed to clear it all up for me. I really don’t care if a few numbers were fabricated, the bottom line is that this guy is bad news and needs to be put to a stop.

Strictly speaking from the standpoint of using technology to bring about global collaboration…WOW. It’s amazing how 1 person can really bring about change. I remember always hearing that as a kid–that 1 person can change the world. (Right now I’m thinking back to my mom and I karaoke-ing to “We Are the World.”) But it always seemed impossible and daunting to even think about it. However, nowadays, with the technology we have access to, we truly are empowered to make a change. And when I think about teaching this concept of speaking up for what you’re passionate about to my students (and now sincerely MEANING it, knowing that it can really bring about change), it fires me up.

Technology is truly transforming the way the world works. I love the first few minutes of the above video as it overviews how connected the human race is in this day and age. My parents recently got iPhones. Just last night we were showing them how to use Facetime. Once my 4-year-old’s toothless grin (yes, she already lost her front 2 teeth–long story) came up on their handheld screen, my mom could barely contain her excitement. Why? Because her only grandchildren live on the other side of the world, and now she feels like they are next door, because she has a sense of CONNECTEDNESS.

Moving this into the classroom, it thrills me to think about collaborating with other 4th graders from around the world. Who says you have to physically sit next to your book club members while conversing? Why can’t you take a virtual trip to China and meet people actually living there when learning about the Great Wall? This may sound odd, but for me, this conversation opens up Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (so many incredible ideas to explore) but also a can of worms (being in a ‘walled garden’). Being in the Middle East, the US embassy has enforced some security rules. One being that our kids must work in a walled garden. We can’t publish anything on the net. I’m wondering though, if this would prevent us from collaborating with other schools. I’m definitely going to look into it, but does anyone have any experience working in a walled garden, and have some ideas of how to still reach out to others beyond the wall?


Why have I been avoiding writing a post in the past 2 weeks?  I’ve been on COETAIL daily, reading and commenting on other blogs, but I just couldn’t make it to my own. Here are a few reasons:

1) Really heavy workload this week at school. I actually am the facilitator for our Elementary School Emerging Technology group (scary, I know), and I had (have;) a lot of organizing to do with that, including our first meeting last week.

Multi-tasking: dinner in the tub:)

2) 2 kids, ages 4 and 2. I have 2 full-time jobs. When my job as a 4th grade teacher finishes at 4:00 (who am I kidding–this job never finishes!!), my (more important) job as MOM calls me up to bat. When I finally get them to bed, I am just too dog-gone tired sometimes to get anything else done. (I often think about people who get to read for fun. Ahhhh, that sounds lovely. Does it count that I skimmed my new cookbook the other day in the car waiting at the stoplight?:)

3) Apprehensiveness. This actually may be the real reason I haven’t got to blogging these last couple of weeks. I feel like my daughter at ballet class. She loves going to class (even though she complains about it) and watching her peers dance. But when it’s her turn, she doesn’t like people watching her. She feels uneasy with all eyes right on her. I feel the same way sometimes in this course. I absolutely love checking everyone else’s blogs; I’m learning so much each day. However, when it’s my turn, I feel like I’m up on stage and I forgot the words to my song. I know that with more and more practice, I’ll figure WordPress and other minor annoyances out. It just takes a little time…which is why I’m so glad that this entire first course is dedicated to getting our feet wet.

Okay, now onto to my actual post:) As I read Marc Prensky’s  Shaping Tech for the Classroom 2 weeks ago, I cannot stop thinking about when he discusses the 4-step process of technology adoption. As I mentioned above, I am the facilitator for our ES Tech Pioneer group. I’m really trying to move this group into the 3rd and 4th steps,”Doing Old Things in New Ways” and then, “Doing New Things in New Ways.” We, as a school, have the potential to move forward as we’ve got a 1:1 situation with computers in upper elementary. Each student has their own computer, but the computers stay on a cart at the end of the day. The computers are not personalized. I remember Jeff telling us when we were setting up our RSS Readers to make sure we subscribed to sites that were of personal interest to us. And so I did–healthy/natural living and foods, travelling, parenting. The result? I actually go and read my RSS on a regular basis. It’s not to say that I’m not interested in Ed Tech, but my RSS Reader now represents me as a whole person. That’s why, as Prensky says, we need to let kids customize their computers, and I completely agree. Some people would disagree. They would say that they are school property and that letting kids personalize would get too messy. Kids may even think they can use the computers then to connect with others by chatting online or download their own music onto the machines. Absolutely not. To me, this is the thinking of a digital immigrant.

The concept of digital natives and digital immigrants is one that fascinates me. When I see my 2-year-old quickly navigate through the iPad or iPhone, I am reminded how normal it is for her, and not some new mind-blowing piece of machinery (as it is for many of us digital immigrants). Prensky is right. In order to truly reach our 21st century learners, we need to change our way of thinking and teaching. We need to let go of the old ways how we learned and move into the future. Now, just how do we do that? That’s where I’m going to need some more guidance…