Digital Citizenship Today

Digital Citizenship: A concept where, according too Digital, a person uses information technology in society. When I first heard of this, I immediately thought how much good technology has increased our research and communication world. Then I started looking at a few resources that talked a lot about behaving ethically online and cyber bullying. This made me realize that there is a whole different side to digital citizenship that I was going to be learning about then I thought. The more I researched, the more I realized that people not behaving ethically on the internet is a really big problem in today’s society. Many of those people are children whom are acting in a way that will have a lasting impact on their future without them even knowing it. While continuing to research I all of a sudden thought that this is going to be a major concept that I am going to need to be informing my future students about and I am going to need to be well educated on it! So my research goes on…


PhotoCC: immsm

According too What Is Digital Literacy Video, it is important to begin approaching digital citizenship with an ethical core. “Students should be active, creative, knowledgeable, and ethical participants in our globally networked society (U.S. Dept. of Education,2010).” They should not be using social media and the internet to post inappropriate content, or to use it as a way of bullying. Many kids and young adults are acting in this behavior because, I feel, they look at it as sort of like a game. They can act and do whatever they want, but when it is shut off it is done and does not exist. That is certainly not the case. In this video below, it talks about how permanent your online life really is and the damaging effects it can leave.

Here are a few of the key issues that are with kids today and digital citizenship that stood out to me the most:

  1. Lack of education on consequences of bad online behavior (also lack of consequences)
  2. The amount of time kids spend on social media
  3. How simple it is to put something inappropriate online
  4. Lack of parent or guardian knowledge of what their child is doing online

I have been learning and researching a lot about how to become a successful teacher in the 21st century. The concept of digital citizenship is going to be so important for me to understand, especially because of how much technology is expanding. It is heart braking for me to think about a student ruining years and years of hard work academically by a social media post, especially if they were not educated on the consequences of it. I feel like as teachers we can help prevent a lot of students abuse of the internet by educating them on ways to be more cautious and ethical, and also inform them on all of the consequences of their actions. I am excited to keep moving forward on expanding my knowledge!


Literacy in the Digital Age: 1st 8 Weeks

When I first saw that I was enrolled into the class Literacy in the Digital Age, my expectations for it were nothing too spectacular because I am not a huge fan of online classes. I thought that it would just be another online class where the professor does not communicate well and the assignments will all be pretty generic and easy. When I first started on Module 1, I learned that this was not going to be my average online class. I had a question so I emailed my professor, and she had replied within 30 minutes of my email! That NEVER happens! I was a little overwhelmed at first because I will be the first to admit that I am not the greatest with technology. I have never blogged before, I had no idea what “widgets” were, and I have never really been an avid Tweeter. Although I was timid and a little afraid of the unknown, I took a leap of faith and dove into the digital world!

I have learned so many new things these past eight weeks it’s crazy! When I look back at the 7 modules that I have completed throughout the last 8 weeks, I see challenges, successes, failures, and feel so many different emotions about them. The most challenging module, for me, would have to be Module 5: Building Your Personal Learning Network. This module was not challenging in the aspect of the assignments being difficult, it was challenging in a thinking way. What I mean by this, is that this module made me sit down and think long and hard about where to begin with my personal learning network, and who all I wanted to be involved with it. I spent much more time on this module than the others simply because I wanted my network to be as close as perfect as possible, and I wanted to try to include everyone and everything that was going to be beneficial. I found myself being a lot more picky than I ever thought!


Photo CC: Globalona Game Design

My favorite module, and one that I thought was the most interesting, was Module 4: Passion Based Learning. I loved this module because I really learned a lot about how I want to teach my future students. Researching passion based learning and reading articles on it really opened my eyes to a whole new outlook on education. This module also helped strengthen my Individualized Learning Project immensely and really made me remember why I am going into education.

At the beginning of this class I realized that I am going to be going into a whole new world of teaching full of technology, which scared me. Now, this class has also made me realize that I can do this, and that I can be confident in learning new things! The more I learn and experiment with digital learning, the more excited I am to becoming a 21st Century teacher. This class is giving me the tools that I need to become educated on how to best educate my students, using all resources that will be available. What I am looking forward too learning in the next eight weeks, is hopefully continually learning new things each module, and more class discussion! I am so excited to see what else will be in store for the future of this class.

ILP: Autism and Learning

This week for my individualized learning project I decided to focus differentiated instruction around Autism. I chose Autism because as a future Special Education teacher, I most definitely will need to be educated on this disorder and different learning techniques that go along with it! Of course, no child will learn the same and will have the same severity of any disorder, but I feel it is crucial for any teacher to be as prepared as they can so they can start write away learning about their students and figuring out what is going to be best for them educationally.

Autism Speaks gave me a ton of great information on educating students with Autism and tips and tricks that have worked for others in the past. Educating students with Autism can be intensive, while spending many hours a week working on students behavioral, developmental, social, and or academic needs. According too Educating Students With Autism, a few skills that should be emphasized are:

  1. Target Skills: Skills should be broken down into small steps and taught by using prompts
  2. Communication Skills/Verbal Behavior
  3. Social Skills

Before you start focusing on these skills though, I learned that you should always start by setting appropriate academic and social goals, and work on them daily at an appropriate 14427662170_b46581bdfa_kpace. Another very important aspect of any teaching is focusing on positive reinforcement. Motivation and praise for good behavior is critical to students motivation and attention! Something that I have learned while reading teacher blogs and other education articles written by teachers is that even if you are having the worst day of your life, it is so very important that you put on a brave and positive face for your students in your classroom. I am a firm believer that your mood as a teacher is contagious to your students!

Another interesting resource that I found while I was researching Autism and ways to become a better Special Education teacher was Assistive Technology. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this in the first place, I am literally learning about how to become a better learner using technology in a couple of my classes that I am taking for college this semester! I found that many parents and teachers of students with Autism use iPads and other tablets because of all of the wonderful education apps that are available. Using an individual tablet allows the student to put their focus and attention on one single thing and drown out the confusion around them if they start to feel overwhelmed. There are also a ton of different online resources and games for any student learning at any level of academics. I am very excited for the future too see what sort of new technology we will come up with for education!

The last thing I am going to talk about on this blog will be how important using a team approach is to any child’s education. Parents, teachers, and even peers should all be involved in helping make every student feel accepted, while giving them the best opportunities possible academically. Yes, one person can make a huge difference in a student’s life, but if the people around them come together, ideas could turn into an even more amazing outcome. The more people communicate and come together, the less time will be wasted, and more time could be spent on learning that will be most beneficial to the student! I am so excited about continuing to broaden my learning spectrum, and absorbing all of the information I can before becoming a teacher.

ds106: What???

When I first heard of “ds106” I had no idea what it meant or what it was. When I clicked on the link I was pleasantly surprised. Ds106 is an online class that lets students choose how they want to complete their assignments, either by making a video, recording, or writing about it. Students are not forced to complete an assignment any specific way. This class is tailoring to how students want to learn and what will be most beneficial to them, which is AWESOME! It is an outlet for anyone to showcase their creativity by learning and technology.


PhotoCC: Flickr

While exploring ds106, I found a multitude of great ideas, learning techniques, and dozens of great learning experiments and assignments. One of the things that stood out to me the most although, was a video that I watched that was created by students telling viewers why they loved this online class. One of the students explained that she loved how much feedback she got from other students around the world. This stood out to me because I have learned while taking on the journey of blogging that positive feedback from other people really boosts my confidence and makes me want to do more. The student explained how she has tried many things on her blog and on her online class that she would never of even tried if it were in the form of in class learning. When a student starts to build up confidence, there is no limit to what they can do!

I will most definitely be implementing this type of learning/teaching technique into my classroom. I feel that students will get more excited about learning if they have some sort of choice or say in how they approach the material. When constructing a project, a student is going to be more willing, motivated, and focused on topic when they get to create it using the learning style that they are most comfortable and confident with. If I had the choice in high school to complete some projects by writing about them instead of making videos of them, I feel that I would have done a much better job, and I would have been more interested in the project instead of being nervous about creating a video. I am the type of person who would much rather write a story than make a video or audio of it.

Ds106 is such a cool concept and I think that everyone should go check it out!

Here is the link to the website: Ds106

Experiential Learning

I chose the experiential learning approach to research about, because it is the one that caught my eye first and made me the most curious!

What is experiential learning? According too UTexas, the definition is any learning that supports students in applying their knowledge and conceptual understanding to real-world problems on situations where the instructor directs and facilitates learning. Once I read this definition, I knew this was the type of learning I wanted to lean about. I believe that relating a child’s education to real world situations is crucial to their success academically as well as socially and professionally. Experiential learning teaches students the tools they will need for tackling real situations that will come across while learning to create a life for themselves. It motivates students which is so important. If a students sees a relevance in their learning, that will help keep them more engaged and focused on a goal. Below is a TedTalk that I found that shows how experiential learning helped a student become successful.

I have a certain vision of what a classroom would look like while using this specific learning approach. There would be learning visuals all around it in an organized manner, multiple group tables, and a lot of color and excitement! Yale.Edu states that while using experiential learning, classroom time is spent by:

  1. Case and problem based studies
  2. Experiments
  3. Art Projects
  4. Simulations
  5. Students being engaged in asking many questions
  6. Investigation
  7. Being curious

A classroom using this approach, I imagine, comes with a dull roar for noise from the students because of all of the conversation in groups, and a lot of hands on participation. This form of learning is great for everyone to be involved with hands on experimental education!

Another concept to think about that involves experiential learning is field trips! I love the idea of teaching children students something, and then taking them on a trip, even if it is somewhere simple like the grocery store, to see in person and to experience what they just learned about. I know that I absorb information so much better if I personally experience or see first hand what I am learning or have learned. It also helps me remember it longer. Grant Wiggins, author of an article called “Examples of Experiential Learning” in Teach Thought, wrote about how he visited Thedford Academy in Vermont. He observed a design tech course where students were learning about soil types, prior to a wetlands field trip. Learning information prior to the trip will help students be more educated on what they are seeing and it is more likely that they will be more engaged!


Photo CC: Noble High School

I am not saying that experiential learning should take up an entire students day, but I am definitely an advocate for incorporating it into every child’s education. I believe that it will allow students to use experiments as lessons for success and failure, which every student needs. As a future teacher, I will for sure be implementing experiential learning into my classroom!

Here are 3 teachers/experts that I found whom you should follow for great insight on this type of learning!

  1. @ROMlearning
  2. @JulieWedgwood
  3. @servicejunkie

Here is a teacher blog to go follow as well.


ILP: Differentiated Instruction at Home

This week, I decided to focus a little more on how parents can differentiate every day tasks and instruction for their children at home. I thought about this because lately my main focus on my individualized learning project has been on how teachers can help benefit students at school educationally and personally, and then I started thinking about how much more children could be helped if their parents learned to differentiate too! By this I am meaning, if a child is struggling at home doing a chore, listening, or completing any task at home, parents should be educated on other ways to approach them about it. This does not go for only children with special needs, but for average children as well.

This topic triggered my interest because the other day when I was at home, my brother refused to clean his room when my mom told him too. I thought, oh man here we go, Jake is going to get into trouble. Instead, my mom calmly went into his room, told Jake that if he cleaned his room he would be able to invite a friend over later and she would make him one of his favorite foods, spaghetti. Jake snapped out of his bad mood and cleaned his room. I thought my mom had magic powers or something, but then a light bulb went off in my head. She used a form of differentiated instruction! Even though it kind of involved bribing him, it worked and she knew what she had to do to make him complete the task he was asked too do.


Photo CC: Emily Kidd 2012

Parents can help with their children’s education as well by using differentiated instruction at home. Getting Involved was a great source that showed my many different ways parents can get involved with their child’s education, while helping differentiate. Examples would be:

  1. If your child likes to have a steady routine, make sure to maintain the same routine every single day.
  2. Show your kids the value of learning by encouragement.
  3. Show interest in their school work, and listen to your children when they tell you how they learn best.
  4. Have good communication with your child’s teachers, it shows your children that you are connection with the school and that you care.

These are just a few simple tasks for parents to follow when trying to help their children become successful educationally and at home. It is going to be different for every single child and parent. The more you know your child and their ticks, likes, dislikes, and personality, the more differentiation will come easily to you.

This was just a simple blog to remind people that differentiation is not just at school! I am so excited to research more about the connection between school and home, and how they correlate in a child’s life.

My Personal Learning Network

When I first heard of the term “personal learning network,” I was kind of confused. My originally thought was that it would be me researching information on what I wanted to learn about, and kind of combining it all into a file or something. Well I wasn’t quite right. According too TeachThought, a PLN is a way of describing the group of people you connect with to learn their ideas, questions,reflections, and references. While researching this topic, is started to realize that by finding experts and other people who are working in the same field of study as I am, I can create a whole new world of education for myself. As a major in Special Education, I could expand my knowledge by following people with more experience, helpful tools, and laws and information that I will need to know eventually.

I started with Twitter. I had to find 100 people to follow to help evolve my PLN, which was a task that was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. As I started finding different people and organizations that dealt with special education  and education in general, I found that I started to become pretty picky with who I was going to follow. It was kind of a struggle at first, trying to find people who I thought would benefit my timeline. As soon as I found a few really great ones, then the people they followed would pop up, then suggestions came along, and then the process started becoming a lot easier and fun! On Twitter, I found so many wonderful organizations, teachers, experts, and people who have the same passion as me, and who provide me with great inspiration and information every day.

Then, I went on to researching blogs to follow. This took some time, but I found it to be pretty entertaining! I found a few of them where solely they focused on politics… Next… Don’t get my wrong, politics are important, but while creating my PLN I would rather focus on learning about how I can make education fun and fulfilling for my students. I found many great bloggers who post every day, which is great for discussion!


Photo CC: Andy Kass

I found that building a PLN is kind of like putting a puzzle together. You are trying to find all of the pieces that connect together, to create something whole and wonderful! That is how I look at my personal PLN. While building and creating it, I plan to connect, contribute, and be patient with everyone that is involved with it. I want to utilize every resource that I can! To do that, I need to be active in discussion with other people that are trying to build theirs as well. I believe that building relationships in the education world is so very important, especially going into 21st century education. Personal learning networks are where these relationships begin and I believe that everyone should work towards either starting or expanding their own PLN everyday!

Why Are Gifted Students Failing?

When some people hear the concepts of “differentiated instruction” or “individualized learning” they most often think these forms of academics is based solely for ones who have learning disabilities or children who struggle academically. This is not true! Differentiated instruction can be formed to help any student, including the ones who are gifted. Let’s say that a gifted student finishes the class lesson’s homework and assignment early, what do they do next? As a teacher, it is your job to make sure that your students are continually learning, and not facing repetitive knowledge that they already know, and in some cases, boredom. I read an article in Are We Failing Gifted Students? that talked about how some very intelligent students will not work as hard in the classroom, and often fail many courses because the work is simply just too easy for them, and they get bored with it. This is a concept that not many people think of.


PhotoCC: Jeff Peterson

I found a wonderful article on Smart and Bored that gave me some really great insights on helping gifted students become as successful as they can. This article stated that not being challenged in school puts students at a very high risk of dropping out, and losing motivation towards education. They also explained that there are solutions, which are differentiated instruction and good habits! Teacher, Kim Tredick, agreed to share her successful habits on differentiated instruction, (on this website as well) and I found them to be very helpful! The habits included:

  1. Start as scholars
  2. PretestEncourage different learning styles


    PhotoCC: Vanderbilt University

  3. Group accordingly
  4. Leave it open ended
  5. Make it real
  6. Start slow
  7. Up to the challenge (or create challenge)


Tredick had also given a few examples of ways she differentiates her material. Her students all get an individual list of spelling words. Also, when is explaining a poem, she uses pictures with some of the students and with the gifted ones she explains them line by line.

I have learned by past research on this topic that many teachers dread words such as, “I’m done!” by their gifted students, because often times they do not know what to do! Many do not want to make certain students work load heavier, or make them help other students because that can seem unfair. That is why the concept of differentiated instruction seems to be the most reasonable answer. It will take time and a lot of effort by the teacher, but it will be so worth it when every single one of their students are working to reach their own full potential.

I will add a few resources  that could be beneficial in learning about this topic!

Gifted Students and Education

Testing, Boring?



Passion Based Learning

What do you think about when you hear the term, “passion based learning?” What I first thought of when I heard it, was that it is learning while working towards being passionate about the material, so that it would make learning easier. After doing some research, I found that I was not exactly right. Passion based learning is something that is going to be different for everyone. According to Edutopia Passion Based Learning, this is something that helps students successfully complete a goal that is meaningful to them. This website was a great source, and gave me a lot of understandable information. It talks about how we need to bring passion back into learning. Sometimes I feel like schools can get caught up in standardized testing, and really focusing solely on “raising the test score.” Realistically, the less a child is interested in the learning material, the less ambition they will have to succeed. Maybe if we included their own personal passions in what we are trying to teach them, they will be more excited about learning!


Photo CC: Hannah***

This article on Edutopia also gave two ways, as a teacher, to get a child passionate about something:

  1. Find out what each child is innately passionate about. (get to know them)
  2. Be an instructor that exudes passion for that topic, and infect your students with excitement.

These made me think, “Hey, I could do that!”

The next article I read was Guidelines for Passionate Learning. Angela Maiers gives great tips towards setting a foundation for passion based learning. She explained how important it is to show relevance to life outside of school. This is such a powerful statement to me. If you are not going to show students how they will use the material they are teaching in real life, or a real meaning to what they are learning, how do you expect them to grasp the concept? Maiers explains that passion is infectious! I can definitely agree with this, especially when you get students parents involved and active in their child’s education and passions, I feel that it could cause a great positive chain reaction in an entire school, or even world! When students start realizing that they can apply their passions to their education, which they are required, it could make learning a whole new ball game.

I really liked researching the topic of passion based learning, it is just another key concept that I will for sure apply to my future classroom. It is so great hearing other teachers and future teachers talk about how they have hope for our children’s academic future. I can’t wait to continue learning and evolving the definition of MY passion of helping make learning wonderful for students.


ILP- Components/Elements of Differentiated Instruction

Although there really is no way to categorize differentiated instruction, there are ways you can break it down into components.  gave me so much wonderful information about this topic that I will be using throughout my individual learning project. It explained that there are 6 main components to teaching differentiated instruction which are:

  1. Content Knowledge
  2. Knowledge of what your students know and what they need to know
  3. Knowledge of evidence based instruction
  4. Experience and practice managing instructional resources
  6. Flexibility

There was a reason why I put PATIENCE in all caps, and that’s because I believe it is one of the very most important qualities that you should have if you are going to be working with students struggling academically. Making time to get to know your students strengths and weaknesses, working on trial and accepting error, and not giving up on any student all requires patience. All of these components that I found on iris peobody vanderbuilt made sense to me, and really triggered new thoughts and ideas for me to apply to my future teaching.


PhotoCC: Vanilla55555

Differentiated Instruction includes making changes to one or more of these elements: (According to iris peobody vanderbuilt)

  1. Content
  2. Process
  3. Product

These elements correlate with the components, because in order to make a change you will need to follow the steps and be aware of all of the knowledge you need to have. Once you are aware of all of the elements and components involved in individualizing education, you will be ready to start creating, planning, and experimenting with how your students will be learning best!

The changes a teacher makes to each of the classroom elements depends on the needs of their students! Before changing the components and elements though, you need to educate yourself.

While researching the components of this type of instruction on, I found some ways that will help you as the teacher get to know your students better.

  1. Look at students academic record
  2. Examine results of informal/formal tests
  3. Administer a self report measure
  4. Use charts such as the KWL chart
  5. Discuss their interests with them
  6. Have them write a journal entry about themselves
  7. Create classroom icebreaker activities

Another really important thing to remember is have good communication with parents and guardians. Keeping parents involved will be beneficial to not only them, but you and the student as well.

I am excited to start going into more depth of finding ways to make education easier for students who struggle learning!