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Social Media Projects for 7th Grade ELA

I recently curated several resources for projects that use social media in the classroom. It can be found here. This project took me several hours longer than I thought it might. While there are several resources out there with ideas for how to use social media in the classroom, there are surprisingly few blogs or websites that discuss teachers’ actual experiences with it. I managed to find 10 good resources that I could modify for my classroom. 

The main applications I discovered for Language Arts involved writing. Students could use Twitter to practice summarizing, or writing concisely. They could use blogs and Instagram to write essays or stories (or photo essays) in this way they could explore themes and plot structures. Students could also use Instagram to share examples of poor grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Pinterest can be used to curate articles or photos related to novels we read in class. 

My favorite use of Twitter was having students participate in class discussion through Twitter in addition to speaking their thoughts aloud. The professor projected these Tweets during the discussion and was able to engage 10 times the students who would normally be able to participate. I like this idea because so many 7th graders want their ideas heard, but they are afraid to speak up in class. 

I also liked the idea of using Snapchat to send students examples of concepts outside of class. This makes the ideas more accessible and reminds students of the topic at a time when their minds may be more relaxed and receptive.


A Social Media Policy

Even though we have talked about the importance of teaching students to be careful with their social media use, my district has no social media policies except one that is listed under unacceptable uses in our Acceptable Use Policy: Using the District Network, which includes applications like Google Apps, for personal communications and social networking. This is number three in a list of 10 unacceptable uses. Because of this, I have chosen to revamp the policy with the terms I would like to see included. Then, I will have to become more proactive than simply speaking up in our tech team meetings. If we are truly going to prepare students for the world outside of school, then we need to arm them with social media skills that will benefit them, not just put our heads in the sand and ignore the fact that our students are using social media.

Here is my district’s Acceptable Use Policy, and here is our Bring Your Own Device Policy. Finally, here is our staff Acceptable Use Policy.

Here are my proposals for social media to be included in the student Acceptable Use Policy in lieu of the statement that using district accounts for social networking is an unacceptable use. In a previous class, I had the chance to study the NYC’s Department of Education’s Social Media policy. I was impressed by their approach then, and I have drawn largely from their policy


Social Media Definition

Social Media is any online publication, or presence, that allow interactive communication between users, including blogs, social networks, photo sharing sites, curation sites, website, forums, and wikis. Some platforms include Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Edmodo, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Flickr, etc.

Create a Positive Online Reputation

1. Align your online image with your goals.

  • Think before you post, share, or comment. Once you post something, there is a permanent digital record of it, even if you delete it. Before you post, decide how your post would come across to family members, friends, colleges, and future employers.
  • Begin to create a reputation for yourself. For example, comment thoughtfully and knowledgeably on articles. Or, share inspiration memes with your own commentary.

2. Take responsibility for your posts.

  • Create an appropriate user name that reflects who you are.
  • Use your account, not a fake account for all online interactions. If you are going to engage in online interactions, you need to be accountable for your words. Remember that fake accounts can be traced back to their creators.

3. Assume that everything you post online is open to the general public.

  • It doesn’t matter what your privacy settings are, anyone can take a screenshot of your post, or share it. Any information or images you share online are accessible to the public. You lose control once you post, so be sure that what you post is something you wouldn’t mind everyone seeing.

4. Ask your parents, or teachers,  what is appropriate to share.

  • While you are a minor, your parents are ultimately responsible for you. They should have a good idea of what information to keep private for your safety or simply for good sense. Ask them before posting, especially if you are not sure how the post will affect your reputation.
  • If posting at school, ask your teacher what is appropriate to share.

Be Responsible

5. When using social media for school, behave as you would in school.

  • Treat your classmates, and their ideas, with respect.
  • If you wouldn’t say something in person, don’t say it online.

6. Don’t tag without permission.

  • Tagging posts, people, or photos, opens them up to a broader audience. Respect your classmates’ privacy and don’t tag them in school related posts. You don’t know who you could endanger.
  • Ask friends before posting photos of them, or before tagging them, in non-school related posts. They should be allowed to control their online reputation, not you.

7. Protect yourself from predators and other ill-intentioned people.

  • Only accept friend requests from people you actually know, and check before accepting requests from someone with whom you are already friends.  There are people who clone or hack people’s accounts with the intention of imitating them online so they can take advantage of people.
  • Never share personal information like your address, phone number, or school.
  • Do not share your current location (by “checking in”) and be sure location is turned off before taking photos that you will share online. You don’t want to give someone the exact GPS location of your bedroom.

8. Protect Passwords

  • Do not share any of your passwords with friends, family, etc.
  • Create appropriate passwords (that are complex and can’t be easily guessed/hacked), and if you must write them down, keep them in a secure place.

Consider the Consequences of Your Online Interactions

9. Remember that your online interactions, even if you only participate from home, can have consequences at school.

  • If your posts, emails, comments, etc. could be considered bullying, threatening, or disruptive at school, then you will face consequences at school. Be sure to keep your online interactions with fellow students, teachers, administrators, and other school staff positive and appropriate.

10. Report inappropriate online interactions to the proper authorities.

  • Inappropriate interactions include, but are not limited to:
  • Offensive text messages or emails.
  • Posting or sharing untrue statements that create rumors.
  • Sharing embarrassing images of classmates.
  • Sharing images that could be considered pornographic.

11. Take appropriate steps if you witness inappropriate posts, etc.

  • Do not retaliate.
  • “Unfriend”, block, or remove who post, share, or send inappropriate content.
  • Save messages, posts, etc. that could provide evidence of inappropriate online interactions so that the proper authorities can deal with the behavior.

Plans for Sharing and Receiving Feedback

Because my district currently blocks almost all social media use on our network, and informs students that they may not use school email accounts for social media, a policy involving the responsible use of social networking FOR school may be a hard sell. My first step will probably be a survey of my students asking them which social media platforms they use and for which purposes. Then I will share my policy with them and ask for input. The second step will be to determine how my colleagues use social media and which platforms they use. I will probably ask the tech team and the leadership team for feedback before taking my policy ideas to the entire staff. If I see s consensus that teachers and students see the value of social media in education, I will take my ideas to the district tech team, because they write the policies for technology use. Before the policy can be made official, the district attorney’s will need to review the policy and the school board will need to approve it.

Making the policy official is a long and involved process. Before presenting information at the district level, it is important that I have a team, and statistics, on my side. For this reason, I plan to start by surveying students, staff, and probably parents. I will also need to find a team willing to see the possibilities of social media in learning. I am willing to do the work if I can establish a need.


My PLE (a diagram, an explanation, and an analysis)

An explanation

One of our assignments this week was to create a diagram showing at least 10 online communities that make up the digital portion of my PLE. Because of an article I discovered on Facebook recently, I chose to draw my diagram by hand to allow my brain time to process my ideas. I felt more relaxed than when I use a digital tool, even though I do not draw very well. 

I chose to represent my PLE as a recipe because I really like to bake. Before taking this class, one of my favorite parts of social media was the recipes! Now I have expanded my use of online communities far beyond recipe swapping! I represent the online community ingredients by the amount they currently contribute to my PLE both in terms of time, and influence. The largest communities/tools (x4), Facebook, Pinterest, Google Drive, and YouTube, are ones I use in every aspect of my life, almost without thinking. These communities are well-established. I include Google Drive as a community because I collaborate with people in my family, at church, at school, and at work on Google Docs and Google Slides. These resources would be the main ingredients in the cake, the ones that give it substance and bind it – flour, eggs, butter, sugar.

The medium sized communities (x2), Twitter, Google +, and Weebly, are smaller because I use them for fewer facets of my life, and I have devoted less time to them. These are current representations. I see them growing in influence and use in the future, especially Twitter. I include Weebly because it is where I host my websites, which are currently my primary online contributions. I intend to open the comments section on some of my pages when I have more time to moderate them and respond. These resources would be the flavoring in the cake – chocolate, vanilla, etc. I might not use the same flavors each time, but they all get used.

The smaller sized communities (x1 and  x 1/2), Diigo, WordPress, PearlTrees, and LinkedIn, I do not use much, or I have only recently begun to use them. I use WordPress for my EdTech Learning Log, so it could probably be bigger, but I only use it for school. I do not blog there for personal or professional purposes. With time, some of these communities will undoubtedly increase in influence on me while others will decrease. At that time, the recipe will need to be adjusted for flavor and consistency. These resources would be the leavening in the cake – they are used in small amounts, but have a large impact. If you leave them out, your cake will be flat and unappealing.

An analysis

One thing I learned by completing this assignment is that I participate in more online communities than I previously thought. After participating in Live Twitter sessions, I know that I will use Twitter much more frequently in the future. I’m not sure how often I will post outside of chats, but I really enjoyed the experience. I can also see myself increasing my use of PearlTrees, and even using it in my classroom.

Part of our assignment included analyzing at least 6 classmates’ diagrams. The main similarity was the communities. Most of my classmates included the same tools as me. I noticed that the tools used primarily for connecting and collaborating with other people were pretty much the same across the board. Our differences really showed in the tools used for publishing and collecting/curating resources. 

The main difference in diagrams was not in resources, but in organization or presentation of the resources. I chose to express my PLE metaphorically. The recipe shows how I currently combine the resources to personalize my learning. Several of my classmates also used metaphors to represent how they feel about their PLEs. Amanda represented her resources as a meal. The resources are organized by how they nourish her. Kimmy represented her resources as balls she was juggling. This shows her current feelings about her PLE. Brian created an expanding circle with himself at the center. Surrounding him are his digital resources as well as his human resources; something that I did not include in my hyper focus on the online communities requirement for the assignment. If I were to add my human resources, they would be the sugar because that ingredient is included in the cake as well as the icing šŸ˜‰ Joanne created her diagram like an unfamiliar wooden beach chair she discovered on vacation. Each part is linked, but she is currently unfamiliar with most of it. I can relate to this. I didn’t want to use Twitter, even though I’ve had an account for years, because the communication style was so foreign to me.

 Other classmates organized their resources by purpose. Megan followed the “PLE model” of connect, collect, publish, and reflect. Katie’s organization was slightly different. She used the following categories: network and collaborate, reflect and share, discover and organize, and filter. 

To recap, all of my classmates included similar resources, but their representations of their PLEs were completely personal. This is appropriate because PLEs are our PERSONAL learning environments. We can make use of the same resources, but how we access and utilize the tools available to us will be entirely our own.

Content Curation continued…

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the curation checklist my group created. The next week, we each used a curation tool and curated our own topics. Here is the link to my curated topic: Resources for teaching critical thinking. I created it in PearlTrees, which was a really good experience. I was able to organize my content into subcategories, and make meaningful annotations for each source. I also like PearlTrees because it allows you to write explanatory paragraphs outside the annotations.

Webinars and Live Twitter Chats

Over the past three weeks, one of my assignments was to actively participate in 4 webinars and 4 live chats. At first I was not excited about this assignment. I was in Utah for family events and getting ready to leave for the UK. The assignment began just two days before I left for the UK – where I spent 2 weeks on a road trip through England and Scotland. When it was first assigned, I thought it would be due less than a week after my return home. My family had decided to do family pictures and have a brief reunion, besides there was the 4th of July and my sister was in town from Texas and I was still facing an 8 hour drive back to California. Basically, I was not thrilled to have an assignment that I couldn’t complete on my own time. Because the required events would all be in real time, I had to be available when they were scheduled. Keeping all of those stressors in mind, imagine my surprise when I found a virtual conference with several interesting webinars on the same day! I was able to participate in these webinars in the morning on the day of my flight! My sister thought I was just giving them lip service, just participating to get credit. I finally had to ask her to stop talking to me because I was actually interested in the content.

Webinars: Library 2.016Ā 

Defining the Library as Classroom

The first webinar in which I participated was “Defining the Library as Classroom”. This was the kick off webinar of the conference and was an hour long. I was fascinated to hear the presenters speak about the many learning functions a library (school or public) can provide for a community. I loved the library in my home town and was fascinated to realize how many of those same services it has provided over the years. I enjoyed being able to participate in the conversation. Since this was my first love webinar, I wasn’t really sure what to do, so I made comments about similar programs I had experienced. I don’t really love the library where I live, so I mentioned that it would be nice if they had the same type of expansive, inclusive outreach programs.

The Library MakerSpace as Classroom

The second webinar fascinated me. The presenters areĀ librarians at North Carolina State University. They discussed bringing classes to the library for students to create projects in alignment with the curriculum. I missed the first couple minutes of this webinar, and I thought, at first, that they were talking about a K-12 school with a maker space in the library. I was fascinated by the idea of including such a space in a k-12 school. Sadly, I was wrong, but my imagination was piqued. My school has 2 3-D printers, and I could see this idea taking hold in the STEM environment we have created. One of my questions in this webinar was the age of the students. One idea I particularly liked was that they lend maker tools. I’m not sure this would work in a k-12 environment, but it’s an interesting idea.

Building Learning Communities through LibrariesĀ 

The thirdĀ webinar was focused on using the library specifically for building learning communities. The presenter discussed how her library hosts several types of community ed classes. Sewing was one of the specific classes mentioned. One person commented that her library offers classes as well, but excludes anyone under age 14. I commented that I had attended a chocolate making class at age 12 and I stillĀ use the skills I learned then several times a year. This webinar didn’t have much participation in the comments. Most of the comments were questions for the presenter which were ignored until the end. Participating in this webinar reminded me of why libraries are so important in our communities. They offer the types of services that many people cannot otherwise afford and enrich a community culturally, socially, and intellectually. Participating in this webinar made me want to get involved with my local libraries.

Library Learning Community Webinar 1.1

Incorporating Making Culture into the Curriculum

This webinar outlined the process of creating a maker space and hosting a mini maker fair. It was an interesting presentation, but there wasn’t much participation. One idea I liked, was having students compete in a Shark Tank-type contest to decide who would be able to present at the mini maker fair. My comment was on that topic.

Making in Curriculum Webinar 1.1

Live Twitter Chats

Because of all the driving, I was unable to participate in Twitter chats until the past two days. I discovered that many of the chats listed on the Twitter Chat schedule I found are either no longer going, or have become “slow chats” instead of live chats. This made completing the assignment a little more difficult. So far I have participated in 3 chats. If I am able to participate in any of tomorrow’s chats, I will update this post. However, I will be in the mountains, volunteering at my church’s girl’s camp, so I’m not sure I will have reception.

Overall I liked the Twitter chats better than the webinars. They were more interactive and I felt like I was contributing to a discussion, rather than commenting on a presentation. One of the Twitter Chats in which I participated asked for volunteer panelists earlier in the week and live streamed their participation in the discussion.


One of the live chats I participated in was #EduMatch. This was a blended chat with a live stream on Google Plus. It is similar to a Webinar, but takes place weekly. This weekā€™s discussion was on student work ethic. The moderator asked panel member questions in the live video stream, and asked the same questions on the live chat for the Twitter participants.

I enjoyed this discussion because I was able to see perspectives from people from different parts of the country who teach students at all age levels, including university professors. I was able to make several comments about engaging students and making the topic engaging. One teacher mentioned moving the focus away from grades, so I asked how he accomplished that and we had a short discussion of methods.


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This Twitter chat was focused on what educators are doing to get ready for the school year to begin. One thing I liked about all of the chats was that the moderators asked everyone to introduce themselves. This way, I knew who I was talking to and I didn’t feel like there was an established crowd.Like #EduMatch, the moderator for #21stedchat posted the questions during the discussion, and we had a good chat. I got some ideas for flipping my classroom, and having an open design.

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This chat for California educators was focused on how to tackle tough topics with your students. We discussed how to get teachers to tackle the topics, how to introduce them, how to distinguish between fact and fiction, etc. I really enjoyed this chat, because I was able to contribute what I have done in my own classroom. I learned about resources for current events.

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Content Curation

This week my mini PLN group worked on creating a content curation checklist. Content curation is the process of gathering content related to one topic, annotating it, organizing it, and sharing it. I’m glad this sign,net was completed as a group, because I have been on a road trip in the UK for the past week and a half. One group member left on vacation after setting up a Google doc and proposing some questions we could choose for or checklist and choosing some of the sources. Another group member fleshed out some of the questions and created the resource list for most of the sources. When I was at a stable place in my travels, and had Wifi, I was able to read through the sources, flesh out several of the questions, and add a couple of sources to the resource list. Our 4th member finished fleshing out the questions and we all looked over the final product. One member went back and reorganized the list and added check boxes. It was great to be able to work on this assignment from various places and find unity in our work. It seemed as though most of our group was on vacation, or preparing to leave, yet we were all able to contribute.

Here is our checklist. I will try to embed it directly on here when I have access to my computer. I can’t get an embed code from the iPad app.

Managing MY Digital Footprint

We live in an ever-increasingly digital world, and what our digital footprint shows about us can affect our relations with students, coworkers, and our future job prospects. It is important to know how to manage our reputation and to put forth a professional image. Here are some steps I will soon be taking to professionalize my online image: 

1. Take inventory. This involves searching for yourself on several search engines, looking at 3-5 pages of search results and classifying each page as positive or negative (McGinnis, 2012). This should be done when you are signed OUT of the search engine to give you the best idea of what other people see about you. 

2. Set up Google alerts. Lowenthal and Dunlop (2012) recommend optimizing search engines to control your online presence by setting up Google alerts to let you know whenever new content is posted about you. To maximize the effectiveness of these alerts, you should include all variations of your name that may be used.

3. Utilize Twitter Effectively. Make sure your Twitter account is your name or initials, not a nickname. Be sure your profile is brief and high-level. Follow people and subjects relevant to education and participate in the discussion (Taub, 2012).

4. Create (or get) a professional website. This creates a centralized location for all of your professional papers, lessons, etc. regardless of where you are employed. This will drive people to your site, allow you to track visitors, and allow you to blog in a centralized location (Taub).

5. Use a professional photo. This will create a professional atmosphere on your website and blogs (Koekemoer, 2012, slide 20). 

6. Purchase your domain name ( This will protect your reputation by giving you control over the domain, and will give people an obvious place to look for you online (Lowenthal and Dunlop, 2012).

7. Create a brand or UVP (unique value proposition) for yourself. This will show who you are and what is important to you. It will show prospective employers, parents, and students what unique skills you bring to your classroom (Kujawaski, slide 21).

8. Maintain a blog. This should be used to let readers know what you are doing and will allow others access to your ideas (Lowenthal and Dunlop, 2012). 

9. Share teaching materials online. This will show the quality of your ideas (Lowenthal and Dunlop, 2012).

10. Be good users of others’ work. Read and comment intelligently on other scholars’ works. This will show positive interactions with colleagues and promote your online presence (Lowenthal and Dunlop, 2012).

Koekemoer, A. (2012, Jul 2012). Your digital footprint in a social media world: Protecting and building your digital resume online. Slideshare retrieved from

Kujawaski, M. Tools and tips for managing your personal digital footprint. Slideshare retrieved from

Lowenthal, P. And Dunlop, J. (2012, Jun 5). Intentional web presence: 10 SEO strategies every academic needs to know. EducauseReview. Retrieved from

McGinnis, Sean. (2012, Aug 23). Online Reputation Management: A How-to Guide. Spinsucks. Retrieved from

Taub, A. (2012, Jun 7). 5 key things needed to improve your digital identity. Forbes. Retrieved from