Keep It Simple

Paper stackThese past weeks I have been feeling like the my goals have been foggy. I’ve been trying to make my goals for the unit and each lesson explicit, but it was only at the end of this week that I truly understood where I was going astray. I’ve been putting too much on my plate, I’ve been trying to connect to many ideas, and as a result, I’ve been lacking clarity. My new goal is to strip my ideas down and keep it simple.

I will be focusing on one goal and one big idea at a time. My cooperating teacher gave me the advice of setting three main goals and sticking to them. I think this will help with revising my plans for teaching Hamlet. I hope that this results in better and more thorough teaching on my part, as well as better learning for the students. I have been sensing confusion among my students, at times.

The other way that I would like to practice keeping things simple is too not get hung up on reinventing the wheel. One of the challenges I’ve been facing is making everything from scratch. I have to make the materials that students will use to guide their learning, materials to assess, and to differentiate the materials so I am not leaving the same learners out all of the time. This has been somewhat tiring. I have realized that everything can’t be a masterpiece and maybe for where I am right now some of the worksheets can be very simple.

I look forward to practicing keeping things simple in the next week’s activities. I will be looking to see the difference it makes in my students learning, in my energy levels, and the clarity of my vision. I am always searching for tips, advice, and information that can help me grow. As a new teacher the words of other teachers is something I’m constantly searching out, so please leave a comment.


Digital Storytelling

"Mystery Writer" by Nanagyei is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Mystery Writer” by Nanagyei is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Here is my first venture into digital storytelling. I constructed a simple six word story about a realization as a writer. I used a few tools to help me accomplish this image. First I used, which helped me search for an image that went with my story, with the copyright condition that I could edit it. I used picmonkey to edit the image. I added the text for my six word story and used a texture tool to brighten the spot around the text and fade the rest a bit to make the writing visible.

I really appreciate all of the resources and platforms available for digital storytelling in education. As an English major, learner and writer, I not only love storytelling of any kind, I see wonderful importance in the sharing and communicating of ideas through stories. Digital storytelling adds more possible layers to the practice. Learners can be creative in how they tell and showcase their stories. Learners can connect and collaborate with others, and an important part of learning is belonging to a community of learners. Digital platforms expand that community. Digitizing stories, can get students considering their audience and final product with more interest/investment if they know a large number of people could possibly view their work. It also differentiates how they can possibly tell their stories. Learners can use their own voices, images, computer animation, etc.

Digital Storytelling fits into the English Language Arts curriculum in many places, including:

CC A10.1: Compose and create a range of visual, multimedia, oral, and written texts that explore:

  • identity (e.g., Foundational Stories);
  • social responsibility (e.g., Destiny and Challenges of Life); and
  • social action (agency) (e.g., Human Existence).

CC B10.1: Compose and create a range of visual, multimedia, oral, and written texts to explore:

  • identity (e.g., Diversity of Being);
  • social responsibility (e.g., Degrees of Responsibility); and
  • social action (agency) (e.g., Justice and Fairness).

CC 20.1: Create a range of visual, multimedia, oral, and written texts to explore:

  • identity (e.g., Relationships with Family and Others);
  • social responsibility (e.g., Evolving Roles and Responsibilities); and
  • social action (agency) (e.g., The Past and the Present).

CC A 30.2: Create and present visual and multimedia representations including using photographs to explain a range of contemporary course-related perspectives or landscapes.

Digital storytelling is a great way to have learners create visual, multimedia, oral and written text, and is therefore a good tool to help learners to reach these outcomes and become engaged in the communication goals of the language arts curriculum.

What do you think of digital storytelling? Can you identify any other ways it could be helpful or tools that could be used in the activity? Have you used digital storytelling in your learning and/or teaching?

For and Against Using Social Media in the Classroom

An Argument Against Using Technology in the Classroom

     While the use of technology in the classroom grows, and can be a very positive learning tool, I don’t believe that there is a place for social media in education. I believe that there is a time and a place for social media. That time and place is not in the classroom during class time.

First, more often than not, social media like twitter, facebook, and instagram (among others) become a distraction. Students will stop listening and engaging in the material if they are able to chat with their friends and scroll through non-educational material. Allowing social media into the classroom is like asking for classroom management issues. How do you know who is on task and who isn’t? How do you know if students are using social media platforms the way you are intending them to be used?

If including social media in the classroom is about getting students to collaborate, why do we notice people engaged with their cellphones, but unable to carry on a conversation? There are more effective ways of getting students to collaborate — in person.

Secondly, it can be an invasion of privacy and a risk to personal safety. Some students parents will not allow them to participate, because they do not agree with their child accessing social media. Students may post information that will come back to haunt them. The internet can be dangerous and young students can make poor choices about what they post on social media sites. Students can view and post inappropriate material that at their age they are not ready to handle. It would be better for students to limit what they share within the school building. This way the teacher can see exactly what information the student is sharing and the student is not risking their privacy or safety by being connected to people all over the world and making permanent decisions about what they share.

Thirdly, we all know that bullying is an issue. When bullying is happening in the school or class, the teacher is able to stop it from continuing and monitor student behaviour. When social media is used in the classroom, there is the opportunity for the bullying to become a cyber issue. In fact, cyber bullying can be a really troubling issue. The teacher is less able to notice, prevent, and stop bullying. Bullying is a serious issues that can be perpetuated in cyber spaces such as social media platforms.

Social media can become an issue for anybody. It distracts us from true communication as well as other priorities. The internet can be a dangerous place; social networking sites can lead to the sharing of inappropriate information. Additionally, cyber bullying is becoming a very common occurrence. Do we want to invite all of this into our schools. Children go to school to learn. Social media sites cause distraction, disengagement, and can even endanger them. Students should focus on their studies and not be subjected to these negative aspects of social media.

You can join the discussion here.

       An Argument Promoting Social Media in the Classroom

      From homes to school hallways social media is booming. Although society has seemed to create an era of antisocial phone zombies, there are good uses of social media. Perhaps, if students were taught proper uses, considering digital citizenship and sparking meaningful conversations about topics relevant to the world, there would be less negativity attached to social media. I believe there should be a place for social media in education and in the classroom.

First, technology and social media is everywhere, it surrounds students. To remove such a relevant part of their lives out of their education should not make any sense at all. When a student is taught to use something such as social media, they are being gifted with knowledge that they will actually use outside of the school doors, and in their daily lives. Teachers from all over the world are incorporating not only technology in the classroom but also, social media. Students, parents and teachers are thriving with a new exciting way to connect and share their educational journeys,

Kathy Cassidy is a primary teacher in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan who incorporates social media into the classroom in the form of twitter and blogging. Check out what her students have done and what she has to say on her classroom blog.

Second, there are a lot of preventative actions that educators can take by teaching students about the platforms they use. There have been tragedies all over the world rooted in cyber bullying and misuse of social media. There is, without a doubt, a dangerous aspect to social media. This should be a driving force to educate our learners when it comes to their online lives. Our online lives unfortunately are no different from our offline lives. Providing knowledge and lessons on proper use and skills is crucial to today’s students. Consider the social learning theory, and the importance of teachers setting an online example. When live in a different world where social media cannot be escaped. Students need to learn how social media can benefit them instead of bringing harm onto them.

Its just like knives, we need knives to cut and while we cook things. If we didn’t have knives in our kitchens people would hate cooking even more than they already do. Without knives life would be a lot harder. However knives can be used in the wrong way and even when taught proper use, some people will still misuse them. When looking at an innocent child a knife can be dangerous, until they are taught how to properly use them, it is then that a knife becomes useful.

Thirdly, connecting to educators, and student from all over the world is something that can only broaden the minds of our young learners. When the world can collaborate, think, and create together there is a lot that can be accomplished. Educators can share ideas, bettering the lessons for their students. Students can learn new things, such as culture and ideas. Most importantly parents can easily access and see what their child is learning and accomplishing. I believe there is a lot a parent can learn about their child from a simple blog post or a tweet.

See how students have benefited from social media here:

Art student launches career

Studies on social media in the classroom 

For argument by:

I also discuss specific ways social media can be used in the classroom, including ties to the curriculum, here.

What are do you think about using social media in the classroom? Would you consider using it in your class?

Teaching Digital Citizenship

The Ministry of Education is working on integrating the teaching of digital citizenship into the curriculum. As the use of technology becomes commonplace for our students it is necessary that we all learn how to be good, safe, and responsible digital citizens.

The nine themes of digital citizenship are considered, as outlined by Mike Ribble, to be:

  1. Digital Access
  2. Digital Commerce
  3. Digital Communication
  4. Digital Literacy
  5. Digital Etiquette
  6. Digital Law
  7. Digital Rights and Responsibilities
  8. Digital Health and Wellness
  9. Digital Security (self-protection)

Several outcomes and indicators, which support teaching digital citizenship, can be found in the Saskatchewan Curriculum. I have chosen six outcomes, from a range of grade levels, to use as specific example of places where digital citizenship can be incorporated. However, there are many more areas of learning that could also incorporate the ideas and learning of digital citizenship.

English Language Arts

CR5.2: View and evaluate, critically, visual and multimedia texts identifying the persuasive techniques including promises, flattery, and comparisons used to influence or persuade an audience.

The following indicators can show this outcome as it relates to digital citizenship:

  • Gather information from a variety of media (e.g. web sites, advertising, and or videos).
  • Recognize point of view and distinguish between fact and opinion.
  • Identify the values underlying visual messages and recognize persuasive techniques and purposes in oral presentations and various media (e.g., promises, dares, flattery, comparisons).

Teaching about digital literacy could be integrated into this outcome by having students look at information on websites and construct ways of gathering information and knowing how to read into the information provided. Students can learn how they can judge the quality and source of the information in ways that make them literate and informed digital citizens.

CC B10.4Create a variety of written informational (including a business letter, biographical profile, problem-solution essay) and literary (including fictionalized journal entries and a short script) communications.


  • Write a biographical profile that: includes key ideas learned about the person, begins by sharing some important background information, describes the subject and explains what he or she accomplished, ends by leaving the readers with something to think about and consider.
  • Experiment with and explore a variety of written text forms (such as letter of complaint, obituary, brochure) and techniques (such as figurative language, literary devices, anecdotes).
  • Write fictionalized journal entries

This outcome and these indicators could integrate digital etiquette and communication into the curriculum. I think that students could learn and become good digital citizens by creating blogs and using what they learn to show and practice good digital citizenship. Blogs could allow students to create biographical profiles (a safe and positive digital identity), students could explore writing blog entries as a varied text form while using techniques that they learn, and students could use their blog for creative works such as character writing as well as blogging as themselves. I think this hands on approach would allow students to learn and practice digital citizenship and ELA subject matter.

Wellness 10

W1: Evaluate one’s understanding of wellness while participating in various learning opportunities that balance the dimensions of wellness (i.e., physical, psychological, social, spiritual, environmental).


  • Examine the consequences of neglecting or over-emphasizing any of the dimensions of wellness.
  • Analyze individual and civic responsibility in nurturing well-being and examine the social factors (including expectations of self and others) that influence personal wellness.

This outcome and these indicators could integrate the themes of digital health and wellness into the curriculum. Students could learn about moderation, while using technology for social and leisure purposes can be good for our overall health it must be part of a balanced lifestyle. Being a digital citizen means making sure you aren’t using technology in ways that can damage your health physically or mentally.


WA20.6Demonstrate understanding of personal budgets and their importance for financial planning. [CN,PS,R,T,V]


  • Explain considerations that must be made when developing a budget (e.g., prioritizing, recurring and unexpected expenses).
  • Explain, using examples, the advantages of creating personal budgets.

As part of learning digital commerce, students in Workplace and Apprenticeship 20 could integrate this theme of digital citizenship into financial math. As part of being good digital citizens, learners need to know how to budget for buying digital content as digital consumers.

Health Education

USC6.1: Analyze the factors that influence the development of personal standards and identity, and determine the impact on healthy decision making (including cultural norms, societal norms, family values, peer pressures, mass media, traditional knowledge, white privilege, legacy of colonization, and heterosexual privilege).


  • Identify sources of, and evaluate information about, personal beliefs and values.
  • Examine the connections between affirming personal standards and developing identity.

With this outcome and these indicators the idea of digital identity could be learned and discussed. Students could learn about digital security and communication. What do students do and say on the internet and how does that form their digital identity? How do they know what is appropriate to show on the web? How can students make healthy decisions about digital identity?

USC6.6: Develop and demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and personal standards necessary for establishing and supporting safe practices and environments related to various community activities.


  • Investigate and analyze the intent of the rules, regulations, and laws related to safety practices for common and local adolescent activities.
  • Defend the statement “community safety is everyone’s responsibility”.

While this outcome and these indicators can be considered in terms of “local” activities, the common activities done by adolescents on the web can be included in the promoting of personal safety. As the web becomes a common community for adolescents to belong to it is important that they learn how to be safe as digital citizens.

These outcomes show how there are places in the current curriculum where digital citizenship can be incorporated into the teaching and learning. The web is a common community and platform that students are using, so education must reflect their activities and needs. In order to be able to use the web and be safe on the web, we must be educated about using the web.

Here’s a video about what digital citizenship curriculum can look like. What ideas do you have about ways to teach students how to be digital citizens?

Source Citation:

Ribble, Mike. “Nine Themes of Digital Citizenship.” Digital Citizenship: Using Technology Appropriately. n.p., 2014. Web. 09 October 2014.



The Saskatchewan Curriculum