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

Living in a Digital World

Living in a digital world can be exciting as well as intimidating. It is exciting because everything is literally at our fingertips. However it is intimidating because it feels like corporations are “Big Brother” and they are watching. For example, when I purchase something from Amazon or any other online shop, I immediately see advertisements for similar items or for these same stores or brands in my Facebook feed. It can also be intimidating because anyone can find your address or your phone number through a simple google search. Our digital footprint is also important in our professional lives. In recent years teachers have been fired for things they post in social media about their personal lives or their jobs. Professionals have to be careful about what they post on their social media accounts. 

I recently checked my digital footprint and found that it is clean and semi-professional. When you search my name, most of the results are for class and school websites I have created. My Google+ posts are all related to my EdTech Masters; my Facebook posts are almost entirely personal, but nothing to be ashamed of. My Twitter account was almost unused until I began my EdTech social networking class, so it is mostly professional. I have a LinkedIn account, but other than creating my profile and endorsing people for skills or jobs, it is unused. As far as being confused with other people as sometimes happens on social media, I am the only Kjersti Withers I can find in the world. This is most likely due to my Swedish first name and my English surname. I could probably make it more professional, but I would have to consider how to do that. At least it is reputable. 

Twitter as part of my PLN

This week I began following several education hashtags (#) on Twitter. Following these hashtags will allow me to keep up with new ideas in my educational areas of interest. Here are the hashtags I’m currently following: #GTChat, #kidlit, #midleved, #Engchat, #educhat, #edchat, and #edtech. This is a picture of the Tweetdeck I set up on my laptop.

And here is a picture of how it looks on my tablet – which is what I am using while on vacation for two weeks.

 Following #GTChat has already led me to a great article on the tie between emotions and learning. This article, on MindShift, is an a excerpt from a book by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang. According to the author, we only think deeply about things we care about. We only understand deeply when we “make emotional connections between concepts” (Immordino-Yang, 2016). This is why intrinsic motivation is so important. Students must be interested and emotionally invested (interest is an emotion) to make learning effective. Of course we know that students learn better when they are engaged, but this article shows the neurological reasons why. I am fascinated and may have to buy her book, Emotions, Learning, and the Brain, (c) 2016 by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang.

A resource I have discovered through my Twitter PD is an article discussing, and listing, the research behind Maker education. The author, Benjamin Harold, argues that Maker Ed is underreasearched, but briefly shares a list of sources with summaries on some research. Since I am new to MakerEd, I plan to check these articles out when my schedule slows down a bit. I’m glad I began to follow #MakerEd on my Tweetdeck.

Following #Engchat has given me a great idea for my classroom this coming school year: paint my tables with dry erase board paint and my students can use those surfaces for group brainstorming, etc. Thanks to @MrFerguson85 for sharing this great idea. Here is a screenshot of his post :

So far, Twitter has been very useful for my professional development. I can see how following specific hashtags will allow me to discover all sorts of previously unknown resources and ideas. My previous use of social media for PD was not very purposeful. Basically it involved Pinterest and the random articles about education my friends shared on Facebook. Now I can be more purposeful about my learning. I like that Twitter allows me to follow specific topics. It seems easier to look for ideas by searching a hashtag than by googling the topic. I can also participate in the discussion and receive feedback. I am looking forward to this new way of learning!


Harold, B. (2016, Apr 27). The “maker” movement: Understanding what the research says. EdWeek Market Brief. Retrieved from

Immordino-Yang, M. H. (2016, May 31). Why emotions are integral to learning. MindShift. Retrieved from

Nonverbal representation of connectivism, communities of practice (CoP), and Personal learning networks (PLN)

I created this nonverbal representation of connectivism, communities of practice, and personal learning networks on Explain Everything and uploaded it to YouTube.

The visual begins with Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) because that seems to be the basic unit of connectivity. The learner chooses her own network of people with whom to interact to learn about a topic. This type of learning is often informal and functions best when done informally. One benefit to PLNs is that students self-regulate their learning (Dabbagh & Kisantas, 2011). One skill that learners (hopefully) master as they create PLNs is the ability to create, cultivate, and activate connections with appropriate people (Rajagopal, Brinke, Bruggen, & Sloep, 2012). I chose an image showing the interconnectedness of social media because most people now rly on social media, like Facebook groups, Twitter, YouTube, and forums to crowdsource ideas and get just-in-time information to complete projects and assignments.

The next slide shows groups of people working together because the overarching goal of a community of practice is to improve some type of work function (Hoadley, 2012). In a CoP, members often work together to complete some project they have in common. While they work, inexperienced members may learn from more experienced members (as in a quilting bee) or all members may grow in knowledge as they seek to solve a problem (Smith, 2003 ; Wenger & Snyder, 2000). Each member, experienced or inexperienced is an important part of the community.

The fourth slide shows people holding hands around the world. This represents the interconnectedness of the entire world, and the importance of connections over personally stored  knowledge. The connections people make will allow for further learning and growth (Duke, Harper, & Johnston). Stored knowledge is static unless acted upon by new information, which is received through the connections people have.

The final slide is a drawing I created to show how these ideas are related. The person in the center is related to all of the people on the outside through his personal learning network. The people on the outside can be part several different communities of practice with other people in the circle, including the person in the middle. Finally, everyone on the world is now connected through the Internet, so the people in the circle have access to knowledge through their connections with any of the people in the circle. Each person just needs to create, maintain, and activate his own connections.

Note: I mislabeled the puzzle picture in slide 3. I will fix it soon and reupload the video.


Dabbagh, N. & Kisantas, A. (2012). Personal learning environments, social media, and self-regulated learning: A natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 15(1), 3-8. Retrieved here.

Duke, B., Harper, G., & Johnston, M. (2013). Connectivism as a digital age learning theory. The International HETL Review: Special Issue 2013, 4-13.

Hoadley, C. (2012). 12 What is a community of practice and how can we support it?. Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments, 286. Retrieved here.

Rajagopal, K., Joosten-ten Brinke, D., Van Bruggen, J, & Sloep, P. B. (2011). Understanding personal learning networks: Their structure, content and the networking skills needed to optimally use them. First Monday, 17(1). Retrieved here.

Smith, M. K. (2003) Communities of practice. The Encyclopedia of Informal Education. Retrieved here.

Wenger, E. C. & Snyder, W. M. (2000). Communities of practice: the organizational frontier. Harvard Business Review, 78(1), 139-146. Retrieved here.

Social Media as a Teacher

For this summer’s EdTech course, I am taking EdTech 543, Social Network Learning. For our first assignment, we had to create a Facebook account using our BSU emails, tweet using the class hashtag, #EdTechSN, add our favorite website to the BSU EdTech Diigo group, and write this blog post. When I am finished, I will share a link to this post in the Facebook group. At first, I was annoyed that I had to create a new Facebook account. This would require signing out of my personal account, which I use regularly. However, once I did it, I realized that it wasn’t that big of a deal. I will just leave my phone signed in to my personal account, and have the new account in my tablet. I was a little concerned about Twitter, because I couldn’t remember my password, but it was easy to retrieve. As I checked over Twitter for the first time in 3+ years, I realized that I have tweeted in the past, but not anything very interesting. I also noticed that one of my students is following me…and thought, “maybe I should actually tweet.” 

One of the questions I was asked was what experience I have had with using social media for my own professional development. Over the past couple of years, I have used Google+and Diigo in various EdTech classes. However, I have primarily used Pinterest and Facebook. Many of my friends are teachers, and I have discovered several great websites, blogs and news articles relevant to my teaching in their posts. I have also used Pinterest. One of the reasons I love Pinterest is the pictures. I generally go to Pinterest when I am looking for visual teaching tools, like anchor charts.

While I have used social media somewhat as a tool for my own use, I have not used it very well as a strategy in my classroom. In the past, I hosted a class website for communicating with parents and students. After site traffic nearly disappeared, I stopped using the site. In the past couple of years, I have tried Edmodo, MyHaikuClass, and Google Classroom. I have chosen to stick with Google Classroom. It allows my students to collaborate on projects and submit assignments without a lot of extra effort on my part. 

This summer, I hope to learn strategies for using social media in my teaching. Currently, almost all social media is blocked by my district, but I have begun testing Slack With several other teachers at my school. It will be interesting to see what strategies I discover.


Character Traits.fw

Assumptions: Seventh grade students often need help organizing their thoughts. They also have trouble identifying character traits because they look at current emotions rather than trends in the character’s thoughts, feelings, actions, and words. Finally seventh graders generally do not support their conclusions with reasons, generally giving incomplete answers in incomplete sentences.

Solution: This tool, which will be used with a list of possible character traits, walks students through the thought process of analyzing character traits. It requires students to map the characters words, thoughts, feelings and actions as well as mapping other characters’ words, thoughts, feelings, and actions. The tool then walks the student through an analysis of the characters’ traits and provides space for the students to explain their reasoning. The tool uses whitespace to create symmetry and to separate sections of the visual (Lohr, 2008, p. 274-275). Students should be able to take notes in the white space on the left and fill in the blanks on the right.

User Test: I will be testing this tool with my students and making changes based on their feedback and my observations of what is and is not working for them. I anticipate maybe needing to enlarge the headings over each section.

Sources: Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.