Category Archives: 3.1 Media Utilization

School Social Media Policy

tempted_by_social_media_by_haakonlie-d68insiI have a love hate relationship with student having cell phones in class.This is mostly because they haven’t been taught to use their personal electronic devices responsibly or for educational purposes. I teach middle school and cell phones can be very disruptive. My students love to text, usually not very appropriately, and are distracted by the running conversations with other students who also are not supposed to have or be using a cell phone on campus. I have been making an effort to use my phone between classes to highlight how apps on a phone can be educational, not just recreational. Before the latest network blockade, my students would come and gather round me while we read the latest news headlines, checked the weather (always a fascination for some reason), or I showed them how email, Evernote, or blogging worked on a cell phone. It amazed me at just how curious and shocked they were that you could actually use the phone as a tool.

I have long argued that we should teach students how to use their phones, iPods, and such responsibly instead of having blanket bans. It is similar to student use of the Internet, as many students don’t realize that it is a powerful tool for learning not just an entertainment portal. We need to choose our battles and funnel student enthusiasm so they are consuming technology wisely, not abusing or misusing it. As for social media, it is currently all blocked, with the exception of Edublogs. Students enrolled in computer apps classes have closely monitored/moderated access. Other than that, there is no authorized access to social media by students, and very limited access to blogs and lesson sharing resources for faculty. Building on that supposition, and after reading several different organizations’ policies, I crafted my social media policy. I have two direct quotes in my policy. The first is statement 2.a.vii in my document which is from line 3.5 in Calgary Catholic School District’s Electronic Social Media policy and my item 2.e from line 2.8 of that same policy (2012). I could not find a way to say it better. I did try to stay somewhat true to my district’s current district policy (which doesn’t address social media) as far as general technology use.

8718123610_09e70f6d90Introduction to this policy could be done in the technology and Internet safety training classes that parents are currently taking. To solicit specific feedback and input for this policy I would do the following:

  1. Post the proposed policy on the school/district website with options to post comments
  2. Have a round table discussion with teachers at one or more PLC sessions
  3. Hold class discussions with students during social studies classes
  4. Have students post their thoughts and concerns as comments to a blog post
  5. Send a copy of the proposed policy with the school newsletter soliciting community input
  6. Have an open forum during parent/teacher conferences.


Alberta. (2012). Digital citizenship policy development guide. Edmonton: Alberta Education, School Technology Branch.

Baboquivari Unified School District. (n.d.). Use if technology resources in instruction electronic information services ueser agreement (I-6431 IJNDB-E). Retrieved from

Ben-Avarahm, Y. (n.d.). Solving jigsaw puzzle [Graphic]. Retrieved from Catholic School District. (2012). Electronic Social Media (NEPN Code: GC). Retrieved from

HaakonLie. (2013, June). Tempted by social media [Drawing]. Retrieved from

Livingstone Range School Division No. 68. (2013, June). Electronic Social Media. Retrieved from

Melrose Public Schools. (n.d.). Electronic Communication and Social Media Use Policy. Retrieved from

Scope & Sequence | Common Sense Media. (2012). Retrieved from

Willow Creek Composite High School. (2014, October 1). Student Owned Devices in School. The Navigator [Claresholm, AB], p. 3.



Webinars and Chats for PD


  1. TechEducator Podcast: High Tech Ways to Communicate with Students and Parents – This informative session focused on different technologies for mass communication with students and parents. The primary focus was on the use of Remind. It was cool to have my question posed by the host. I wanted to know if the messages used any cellular data. The answer is no. They are SMS messages only, which is great for where I live since data isn’t always available.
  2. Digital Storytelling – this webinar was strange as the portal was there and setup, but nothing happened. Other people came and went but the presentation never happened. I thought I was there at the wrong time but according to the screen, I joined the live session. Therefore, I am not counting this one…
  3. Digital Citizenship: New Roles and Responsibilities in the Digital Age hosted by OCLO WebJunction – This webinar focused on using Common Sense Media, a resource I was familiar with prior to the webinar. I did learn a lot as I didn’t know the extent of the materials available through this organization. The materials are free and easily downloadable. I did ask a question about the resources, but it was not answered. What I wanted to know was if the resources were available as a collection verses as individual downloads. On reflection, I think I should have posed my question a little differently to clarify what I was asking. Either way, I wish the moderator had answered my question. Another benefit of using this service was the certificate that they sent for my attendance and participation. A drawback of this webinar was the sound. I had a difficult time hearing the various speakers. Fortunately, the slides were helpful and I got the gist of what was said.
  4. Managing Google Apps Inside Your School District – This webinar was hosted by Tech Learning via New Bay Media. I had difficulty getting the Wi-Fi connection to work, so resorted to the audio option using my iPhone. This session used the same Webex portal as the Digital Citizenship session and again I had problems with the audio. I could not hear the speakers clearly and gave up halfway through the presentation. Since I couldn’t hear or participate, I am not counting this session even though they sent me an attendance certificate.
  5. I revisited the TechEducator weekly webinar for another session on Teaching Elementary Students to Code. This is a combination of a webinar and chat. I like that it is a free flow of information and sharing. I got more from others than I had to share – I was here mostly as a lurking learner. I teach middle school but felt I could still learn from this webinar, and I did. The Hour of Code and Kodable were the focus with mentions of scratch and hopscotch. One of the main points brought out was that coding is not only a programming skills, but it is applicable to academics and provides an opportunity for students to collaborate. Another thing that stood out was how the coding is building not only collaboration but also resilience. The presenters noted that the coding did not have to be done online; there are options for pencil and paper. This is great for those with limited connection. From the chat conversation, we discussed when to fit in an hour for coding. The answer was in bits and pieces. The misconception is that the coding must be done in one session, it does not. It is completed over the course of a week. That got me to thinking it would be a great activity for my homeroom, as we have 15-20 minutes daily that we could utilize for coding. The logic, critical thinking, and decision-making skills students develop would cross over into several areas. For this session, I was mobile, so I used my laptop to watch. The host pointed out that chatwing now had an app, so I downloaded it and used it to chat. I did have to refresh my chatwing connection midway through the presentation and reverted to my laptop. There was a lot of share of resources, so I figured I would pass them along.
  6. Discovery Education: Difficulty and Complexity in the Classroom – Doing Both and Saving Time. This presentation was informative and I learned a lot. I really could have used this more in previous years when I was a reading facilitator, but I can still use the premise in my classes. Since it will be available online in a few days, I will send the link on to the ELA teachers and reading facilitators. What I did get from this presentation is how to use a grade level excerpt with diverse learning abilities. The presenters gave suggestions on how to differentiate instruction so all learners can benefit. They also went over DOK and how it applied in various senarios. The meat of this webinar was in the presentation, even though some of the participants shared some resources. I liked that you had to take a quiz to get the attendance certificate. I took the quiz to get my certificate, and then just shook my head, because the certificate was for “What Should Students be Writing? Common Core Expectations for Writing and Best Practices for Meeting Writing Requirements.”
  7. Discovery Education: Leadership in the Age of Connectedness. This was a great webinar! One of the participants Rachel, started a shared Google Doc (this is a copy) that several of us contributed to. I think listening, chatting, and working on the document is what really stood out as a learning experience for me. The presenters were pretty awesome, and if you get a chance I would recommend their book The Relevant Educator. The conversation in the chat was good and I felt as I contributed. I was more tuned in to listening and then helping with the document. One thing that resonated with me is a closing comment by Tom Whitby and one we had heard before. He said start looking at the different streams for the organizations, and see who they are following, then check the people or groups out to see who you should add to your Personal Learning Network. The slides from this presentation will be available in a few days. I would strongly recommend that you look them over.

Overall, I enjoyed this structure. It was an efficient and effective use of my time. I could choose sessions that applied directly to my learning needs, instead of having to sit through a one-size-fits-all session. Sadly, the vast majority of the webinars I found were during the school day when I couldn’t participate. That was definitely a drawback. On the upside, most of them were recorded so I can see what I missed but you miss the collaborative aspect that way. I also learned that if you are going through a service such as Webex, be sure to join early as it can take a while to get through the sign in process and make sure your Wi-Fi connection is stable. I watched the end of the session on my iPhone and could still respond in the chat/twitter box.

Twitter Chats:

  1. #EdChat – this was session was pretty fast paced, but I did get a great suggestion from one of the participants on some different apps to help get more out of assessments: Nearpod, TodaysMeet, GetKahoot, and Socrative. There was an interesting infographic from this session shared by Jeff Noonan as well.
  2. #StoryCraft – this is a group of writers that have a discussion using twitter. I was hoping to get some tips on how to get my students engaged in writing. Instead, I was surprised that I was able to provide some advice on how to add subtext by suggesting ways to incorporate body language and intonation into the narrative to help the reader with inference.
  3. #21stEdChat – this was an interesting chat. The primary focus for my part was a discussion on collaboration. Specifically, how to blend instruction with collaboration and reflection time. This was interesting but not as flowing as other chats I followed.i dont know
  1. #MSMathChat – this is for middle school math teachers. Tonight’s discussion was two pronged. The first question was on fostering intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The conversation drifted at times but the upshot is many of the participants use extrinsic rewards such as tickets or fake money or using applications like Class Dojo. The intent is to build confidence so students begin to internalize success and become self-motivated. One of the comments that stuck was do we want students to be divergent or convergent thinkers, and based on that what motivation do we foster. The second was on how to redirect students without burning the relationship bridge. There were a variety of answers, some rather tongue-in-cheek, but overall respectfully was the message and to let each day begin with a clean slate.

I watched a couple of other chats such as #EdTechChat, but it went so fast I didn’t really enjoy it. I did get a few tips from it but prefer the slower paced chats that I can follow and contribute. As I get the hang of it, I have learned that by using my tweet deck I can participate in multiple chats at once – if they aren’t going crazy. Tonight I had #diglit next to #msmathchat and was able to pick up some good resources and contribute a few tweets in the digital literacy stream while I focused primarily on the math chat.

I think some of the weekly webinars, and definitely some of the Twitter chats are going to become a regular part of my ongoing personal/professional development. I wasn’t so thrilled with Twitter at the beginning, but the more I use it the more I learn from it.



Curation and Pearl Trees

For this project we were supposed to pick a topic and using our groups curation criteria select a tool to begin curating. I decided to choose a tool I was not familiar with for this project. It would have been easier to stick to familiar territory by using Scoop It, but I like to use assignments as an opportunity to explore new tools. I looked at Live Binders and a couple other tools and then settled on Pearl Trees.

Pearl Trees does have a lot going for it. You can choose an image for each category tile, and provide an overall description. I haven’t figured out if you can change the layout of the tiles, yet. You can rearrange the order but they stay in a column and row format. What I do like about this tool is you can search other user’s libraries and add their resources to your own, building a network. You can also invite others to join your network. I see this as a great way to build your PLN, especially going beyond the direct connections of people you know.

For this project my intended audience is middle school teachers and students. I used the criteria our group designed to evaluate the resources selected. As I worked through the categories, some of the resources I originally found just didn’t fit, so they were omitted. Most of the article and resources are the work of recognized institutions and organizations, with a few articles from individuals. Click here to view my reflection post.

I may have bitten off more than I ought to have, but once I started it was like a snowball going down the mountainside. I was going to just focus on what WICOR is, but then I decided that maybe each part needed some resources – so I have 6 different categories with a focus on the middle school population. My PearlTree an overview of WICOR, then writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization, and reading.

pearl tree



Digital Footprints – ones that don’t wash away with the tide…

I am a curious person by nature, so I track myself online every so often just to see how easy it is to find me. It is actually quite scary how easy it is, especially if you live in a small town. Sites like Instant Checkmate are quite accommodating; they provide an address along with a Google image, and map to the person’s home.

When I did the search today, it didn’t matter if I used my married name or maiden, PeepYou still found me. It could be because my first name is not very common. I did notice that it had me living in two places in Iowa. I have lived lots of different places, several not listed, but never in the state of Iowa. That bothers me, a lot… Google, on the other hand, didn’t have very much information on me using my married name, and some fairly old work information with my maiden name. The only thing Google Alerts had listed were a few comments I have made on other student’s blogs, a board agenda for an out-of-state travel request, and LinkedIn. There was one more, but that is definitely not me! Fortunately, the person does not even closely resemble me, so I am not too worried about a case of mistaken identity. One thing I did notice that is a bit different is you can now do a reverse lookup and track someone using email addresses.

Maybe it is just me, but I find the whole notion rather unsettling. If I felt so inclined to spend money, I would actually pay for some of the reports just to see what these reports have to say about me. Overall, I just find it quite disturbing; no wonder people think they are being watched!

I did run the digital foot print app. It placed a cute green foot with a rapidly moving counter on my screen. Based on my little green foot, based on a conservative estimate when I started this post, my footprint is size 313,430,327,304-bytes. That is just for this year alone.


Delmen, N. (2011). Maldives 00147foot print on earth [Photograph]. Retrieved from:



Twitter, Hashtags, and PD oh my!

Twitter and I are getting more closely acquainted. I was introduced to Twitter, kicking and screaming, this summer. I can’t say I have jumped in to the blue pool just yet as I am still trying to adjust to this form of communication. As I sat here working on my portfolio video script on my big screen, on my laptop’s screen the columns of my tweet deck were scrolling along as new posts came in. It occurred to me just how “now” Twitter really is. I read the slide share presentation and such but watching the posts go by on the monitor was more impactful.

The hash tags I opted to follow for this course are: #symbaloo, #infolit, #flipclass, #edutech and #edtechchat. I may decide to change it up some if I see that there is too much overlap, or a category just doesn’t suit my needs. That is one of the great things about this forum, we have control over what we choose to vest our time in.

From following these hashtags I have found:

  1. A cool quote generator from #edutech called Quozio. You simply type/copy a quote and then select the background settings from a gallery.
  2. #edtechchat had a posting of the 25 edtech terms a connected educator should know that included a great infographic.
  3. From #infolit, courtesy of Emerald Library, I found 15 Lesson Plans for Making Students Better Online Researchers.
  4. #flipclass had a great resource on how to set up a flipped classroom
  5. Through the #fetc stream I added, I found this article at Daily Genius that fits very well with this module How to use Google Classroom for professional development.

Just in time PD does not and should not mean a throw-it-together-10-minutes-before-the-meeting-professional-development activity. It does mean that it is the training a person needs when they need it. As a former leader of professional development, I like the notion that each person can be responsible for their own learning, tailoring it to suit their own specific needs. The canned presentations where one size/style really doesn’t fit all is ineffective and often a waste of time. Yes, you can usually pull something out of a presentation that is useful, but that isn’t the point. Time is a valuable and non-renewable resource, so why squander it sitting through a workshop that doesn’t apply to you? Stop and think about it…we try to differentiate our instruction to meet the needs of our students, but how often is the instruction we get differentiated to meet our professional needs? Using Twitter and other such sources for on demand PD makes more and more sense. It not only provides a cost effective solution, it is timely and meets each person’s specific needs. Monitoring participation and learning is feasible, we are doing it for module 3, so why not for professional development? The more I read and learn about real-time learning, the more I think it is just want we need “now.”



Communities of Practice, Connectivism, and Personal Learning Networks

Here is my non-linguistic view for Module 2 – A Creative Expression of Your Understanding of Communities of Practice, Connectivism, Personal Learning Networks.

Communities of Practice are groups we learn from, either as an active participant or an observer. For example, take the first image in my Prezi it is of women of various ages quilting. These women not only are teaching others the craft of quilting, but more than likely sharing some wisdom as well. As the less skilled quilters watch and practice, they develop greater skills. Another example could be a new girl at school, she may often stand back and observe how the students dress, interact, and behave before engaging in activities or conversations. This behavior is also common for students who are learning the language. They are learning by observing. Whether we realize it or not, we are involved in and learning from many “communities” throughout the day (Smith, 2009).

Connectivism is all about cooperative networks. Each person may learn or take away something completely different from the same learning experience. According to George Siemens learning begins at a cellular level and builds from there. It is a social process about “how we connect, build, and improve” (Siemens, 2013). While the learning may start with face-to-face interactions, it is not limited to physical connections. The learning environment has expanded with the advent of communication technology into the global mainstream. For example, going back to the new girl, as she adjusts to her new school she begins to make friend and adds them to her social media network, sharing her outside connections and information with her new friends. As the new friends can now see the old friends, they too begin to interact blending information and forming new connections.

Personal Learning Networks (PLN) are the connections we make to enhance our learning. Going back to the quilting example, suppose one of the women in the picture is reading a quilting blog one day and learns there is a quilting expo in a town nearby. She attends the fair and meets another quilter who shows her a new technique. They exchange their contact information and begin to share patterns and information with each other, which they each in turn share with their quilting circles.

As you can see from the two examples, these three concepts do not exist in isolation; they are interwoven with shared connections. Each of our communities of practice are impacted by how we are connected to and learn from others, which builds our personal learning network, which in turn is build more connections to others PLN and communities of practice. Learning is ongoing and ever expanding process.


Smith, M. K. (2003, 2009) ‘Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice’, the encyclopedia of informal education,

University of the Sunshine Coast. (2013, August). Overview of connectivism – Dr George Siemens [Video file]. Retrieved from



Module 2 diigo posts

For this module one of the assignments included finding at least ten resources that would further our understanding Communities of Practice, Connectivism, Personal Learning Networks concepts. These are the 10 resources I found:

  1. Helping Students Develop Personal Learning Networks

    Technology is changing the face of education. The Internet and communication technologies are rapidly expanding learning networks for educators and students alike. The article explains why learning no longer needs to be linear but can take on whatever shape suits the learner.

  2. Helping Students Develop Personal Learning Networks

    Interesting article on how PLNs relate to self-directed student learning. The author,Bernard Bull, provides some background on learning theory and self-directed learning to clarify how PLNs could be incorporated into any curriculum. The article includes a few how-to tips at then end.

  3. Connectivism

    This article has several videos explaining what connectivism is and the relationship to personal learning. The author also includes a reminder that learning isn’t done by an individual in isolation but through networked connections.

  4. elearnspace. Connectivism: Learning as Network-Creation

    An explanation of a the basic components of a network – nodes and connections and how the relate to learning. The article explain how connections can grow stronger or lose relevance over time.

  5. 20 Tips for Creating a Professional Learning Network – InformED

    A quick view of how technology is changing our world making it much smaller by allowing for global communication that is changing how we network and learn. The article includes two list of 10 different tips for using and establishing PLNs.

  6. Understanding personal learning networks: Their structure, content and the networking skills needed to optimally use them

    I read this article awhile back and found it informative. The authors provide insight into how and why we build learning networks. The illustrations throughout the article are helpful as they summarize the narrative sections that describe the PLN model.

  7. Grow Your Personal Learning Network: New Technologies Can Keep You Connected and Help You Manage Information Overload

    Personal Learning Networks are nothing new, they have been around since the beginning ofcivilization. This article highlights how communication technology enables the expansion of your learning networks without going into overload.

  8. Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age

    This article was written by George Siemens the father of connectivism, focusing on how learning occurs through networking especially through the use of technology. The article also explains the differences between connectivism, behaviorism, constructivism, and cognitivism in a simple to read manner.

  9. Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice

    Detailed article that describes the communities of practice philosophy that Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger developed the in the late 80’s that proposes learning comes from the social interactions in our daily lives. The article further explains how the interactions with various groups causes the learning, whether it is as a core member or a bystander.

  10. Introduction to Communities of Practice

    An introduction by Etienne Wenger-Trayner on the theory of communities of practice, the components of a community, and what a CoP looks like in various settings.