Thursday, January 11, 2018

Encouraging Student Voice Through Social Media

     The following is an IGNITE-style presentation I created for my Internet for Teachers course.  We were tasked with selecting a topic of our choice related to education and technology that could be presented within the framework of an IGNITE presentation.

     If you are not familiar with what an IGNITE presentation is, speakers are essentially asked to discuss a topic within a 5 minute time frame using a series of visuals that automatically advance every 15 seconds.  The result is fast-paced presentation that "ignites" the audiences' thinking while requiring the speaker to think critically about their topic in order to effectively summarize their thoughts. You can read more about IGNITE presentations and see some examples HERE.

     The slides showcasing my visuals are embedded below. To see a transcript of my talk you can select "Open Speaker Notes" by clicking on the cog-wheel at the far-right.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Using Social Media for Online Learning

     The following is a newsletter I created for my Introduction to Educational Administration course regarding the significance of social media and how it can be used by educators (specifically administrators) as a professional learning tool.

Reflecting on my Professional Learning Network (PLN)

     When asked to reflect on my Professional Learning Network (PLN) for our Internet for Teachers course I must admit... I was frustrated and a little stuck on where to start. As someone who very purposefully began developing their PLN while in their undergrad degree I see my online networks as simply regular aspects of my life.... it was like asking me to reflect on the value of conversing with my colleagues while at work.

     So I started delving back into my blog posts to see how my PLN developed over the years and how my experiences may have changed. If you are interested in following along with that journey, here are a series of links to some "prominent PLN milestones through the ages":

January 12, 2012     Welcome to Twitter
June 10, 2012          Leibster Award
January 4, 2013       1 Year Blogiversary Celebration!
February 20, 2013   Twitter... 1 Year Later
February 24, 2013   ManACE TIN & BYTE
July 11, 2013           300 Follower Giveaway
January 2, 2014       2 Year Blogiversary Celebration!
April 19, 2014         MTS Awakening Possibilities Conference
August 1, 2015        Digital Literacy & the ICT Curriculum
October 7, 2015       #TRSD32 is on Twitter!
February 26, 2016   Building Your Digital Literacy Tickletrunk - BYTE
September 17, 2017 Back in the Blogging Game!
                                 Room 132 Info

     As someone who lives in a small rural setting I don't have a lot of colleagues in my building, or even in my division, to connect with. Add in maternity leave(s) and busy schedules and I find myself even further removed from opportunities to connect with others face-to-face. Tools such as my blog and various social media outlets have allowed me to develop connections with other educators in the province, across the country, and even around the world. I have been able to build relationships that have led to in-person friendships as well as exciting opportunities such as presentation offers. I have been able to share and learn in ways that never would have been possible without the use of technology. The value that these tools have added to my life is the reason why I continue to maintain utilizing them.

     If you are just starting out with developing a PLN, I'd like to offer the following pointers. These are adapted from my experiences shared in the posts above:

1 ) Find Platforms that Fit Your Style/Needs/Comfort Level
- There are countless platforms online that are designed for networking,
  learning, etc and it can be a little overwhelming at the start. Find one
  or two platforms that fit what you are looking for or that you are most
  comfortable with and begin developing your PLN from there.
- If you choose too many it is easy to get bogged down and not gain anything
  meaningful from them. If you have been online for a while, start going through
  the multiple platforms that you've signed up for, update the ones you want to
  use and disable the ones you don't use anymore.

2 ) Pick Your Standard Identity
- Determine how you want to represent yourself online and keep it
  consistent across whatever various platforms you decide to use. This 
  ensures that when someone searches online, they can determine if they
  have found "Jane Doe" the teacher, or "Jane Doe" the dancer.
- Your name, picture and location are all part of your identity. Whatever
  you decide to use with one platform, you should use with all of the others
  to maintain consistency. 

3 ) Include Your Professional Contact Information
- Most schools have webpages that include teacher's names and school
  contact information. If applicable, we suggest including this information
  in your online profiles to establish your professional identity and ensure
  you are not mistaken for someone else.
- This can be as simple as including the school name or as detailed as 
  including full school contact information depending on your comfort level.
* Remember to review your school/divisional online sharing policies before
  posting full school contact information. 

4 ) Keep Your Profiles/Information Updated
- Your profile is often the first thing that is reviewed when you have new
  visitors to your page and it is a direct reflection of you. Out-of-date 
  information can lead to misrepresentation or might even suggest laziness.
- Make sure that whatever information you include matches the standard
  identity that you maintain across all of your online platforms. 

5 ) Manage Your Privacy Controls
Privacy controls help determine who has access to your information and
  can also help prevent your account from being hacked. Set privacy controls
  that work for you and ensure that your information is only shared in a way 
  that you approve.
- Privacy controls are especially important if you are using certain platforms
  for personal use and others for professional use. It is one thing to have a
  public Twitter account which you use professionally to develop a PLN and
  having a public Facebook account which you use personally to post pictures
  of your weekend activities.
* Use your professional judgement to determine what privacy levels your
  platforms need. 

6 ) Keep it Small (at first)
- It is really easy to get sucked into signing up for multiple tools once you're
  online but it can quickly get overwhelming to maintain. Until you feel very
  comfortable with the digital identity that you want to establish, try to limit
  yourself to a few platforms that you use well as opposed to signing up for
  everything and letting your digital identity suffer.
- Remember to use your standard identity each time you create a new account.

7 ) Establish Your Network 
- Once you are comfortable with the platform that you have chosen and have
  "lurked" around for a while you should begin making connections and building
  your network. Think about what you want to get out of your experience and
  connect with people who can help you reach your goals.
- For example, if you are on Twitter and teach high school Chemistry, you may
  begin to follow other educators, chemistry departments from various universities,
  chemistry resources for students and/or find applicable hashtags like #education,
  #chemistry and #chemchat.
* It is okay for your network to change as your needs and goals change.

8 ) Remember the Golden Rule
- Interact positively and enthusiastically with those who are in your network.
  If someone responds/shares/likes/etc  one of your posts/tweets/pins/etc 
  make sure you respond back, engage in conversation and thank them for
  their interest.
- If you want to have a positive online experience and get the most out of your
  network make sure that you use proper etiquette and pay it forward whenever

9 ) Contribute, Don't Be Just a Consumer
- To get the most out of your online experience and help solidify your PLN
  it is not enough to simply be a consumer of information. The best
  networking opportunities and learning experiences occur when you are an
  active part of the process and contributing to the experience.
- This can be as simple as passing along helpful resources to others in your
  network or as complex as creating your own videos/blogs/podcasts/etc.

10 ) Re-Familiarize Yourself with Your Code of Professionalism
- One of the most important tips to remember, online and offline, is that your
  behaviour must reflect the standards outlined in your Code of Professionalism.
  It can be easy to assume that you are anonymous when it comes to online
  behaviour but in order to develop a professional digital identity and have a
  positive online presence then your Code of Professionalism must always be
  in your mind.


     Now that you have those tips in your back pocket it is time to determine what online platforms you are going to use to help create or re-vamp your professional digital identity. We compiled what we believe to be the "Top 4 Social Networking Sites for Educators" as well as some how-to guides to help you get started.**

1 ) Google+
- We recommend Google+ For Educators: LiveBinder created by
   Steven Anderson
- To read about an educator's experience with Google+, see Will
   Deyamport's post (with video!): Google What? Google+
  My MECA 2013 Presentation
2 ) Twitter
We recommend Twitter for Educators: A Beginner's Guide created by Amber Coggin
3 ) LinkedIn
We recommend Social Networking Part 3: Teachers Guide to the Use of LinkedIn
  created by Med Kharbach.
4 ) Facebook
- We recommend the Facebook for Educators Guide put out by Facebook themselves
  and The Complete Guide to Facebook for Educators by Lisa Nielsen.


     Now if you've found yourself at the bottom of this post because you scrolled through quickly (I know, its text-heavy). Here is a short summary video from Common Sense Media on the use of PLNs by educators. 
Good luck with developing your own PLN!

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Internet for Teachers - Summary of Learning

     The following is the summative project I created for my Internet for Teachers class. This narrative briefly summarizes some of the discussions we had throughout the course as well as highlights various tech tools that were shared through the semester. I can't believe that the semester is already over as it seems like only last week I was sharing my thoughts on the beginning of the semester. 

     What I enjoyed most about this course was being able to discuss the purpose behind educational technology and analyze aspects such as appropriate pedagogy, purpose, and affects. When I eventually complete my Masters degree I plan to pursue opportunities to work with other educators on how to incorporate various technologies with purpose to expand curricular opportunities; I definitely feel more prepared after taking this course. I appreciated being able to keep up-to-date with my peers' learning as our cohert (and the associated NET class) represented a wide spectrum of comfort towards technology which I feel is reflective of situations I will encounter as I pursue new opportunities.

     Thank you Mr. Nantais for another great learning and networking opportunity!

Made with Padlet

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Why I Replaced Myself With A Machine

*This post has been written as part of my journey through my Master's Degree in Curriculum & Planning through Brandon University

This week our Internet for Teachers (#BU755) class looked at four different readings, two of which got me thinking about a recent change in my own classroom:

JoolaLMS. (2017). Top experts predict what will transform elearning in 2017. Retrieved on November 21, 2017 from

New Media Consortium. (2017). NMC/CoSN horizon report > 2017 K-12 edition. Retrieved on November 21, 2017 from

     The first article identifies predictions from 14 different "ed tech" experts who share their thoughts on the future of educational technology; everything from authenticity and differentiation to MOOCS and augmented reality. The second article drew my attention with a section on "Challenges Impeding K-12 Tech Adoption". As someone who is often a supporter of tech in the classroom I like to see what difficulties are being identified so that I can help think of ways to potentially overcome some of the hurdles. 

     As I mentioned previously, these articles lead me to reflect on a recent change that I made to my Gr 7 Social Studies classroom; both because I am continually thinking to how this change will play out in the future and because I am now faced with some challenges on how to adopt similar models in my other classes.

     Earlier in the course Chelsea and I presented on two articles and one concept has really stuck with me as we have progressed over the past month: "never send a human to do a machine's job". Let technology do what it can do within your learning context and allow it to free up your time to really focus on those aspects of teaching that you wish you had more time to do. 

     This made me really evaluate my current teaching practices and forced me to ask myself, "what aspects of me are replaceable?" Mr. Nantais shared a quote when I was in my B.Ed degree that mentioned that, "If your teaching can be replaced by a machine then maybe it should." With that in mind I sat down over the weekend and figured out how to do exactly that.... how to replace myself with a machine.

ed tech in the classroom, differentiated instruction, manitoba teaching blog, canadian teaching blog
Inspirational Robots to Begin Replacing Teachers in 10 Years. (2017). Uploaded by Henry Bodkin. Available online at:

     What I was left with was a system that allowed me to easily differentiate, provide choice, cover course content, and allow me to have significantly more one-on-one time supporting the students in my room. My students walked in on that Monday to a new system that centred around one bulletin board and our iPad cart.

ed tech in the classroom, differentiated instruction, manitoba teaching blog, canadian teaching blog, Ste Rose School
Gr 7 Social Studies Bulletin Board. (2017). Uploaded to Teaching in a Fishbowl. Available online at: 

How it Works:
- I sat down and re-identified the four essential questions of our unit on Africa & Asia.

- I then developed three or more potential assignments to explore each of these questions. (these are seen in the red, yellow, purple, and pink folders on the bulletin board) I made sure that each assignment contained ALL of the necessary instructions for completion, including the essential question that we were working towards.
     - This has replaced any "large-group instruction" I was previously doing

- My next step was to find online resources (videos, charts, apps, articles, etc) that would be needed to complete the assignment and curated them in our classroom website using Symbaloo. When necessary, I named them using abbreviations that aligned with the names of the assignments so students could easily find the resource they needed.
     - This has replaced any "lecture-based" or "large-group instruction" I was previously doing

ed tech in the classroom, differentiated instruction, manitoba teaching blog, canadian teaching blog, Ste Rose School, symbaloo in the classroom
Gr 7 Symbaloo. (2017). Uploaded by Kirsten Thompson. Available online at:

- For the purposes of differentiation, I then grouped my students into five different "teams" that they would be working with as we explored this unit.
     - Team members also circulate through different roles such as "tech coordinator", "gopher", "time keeper", etc.
     - This has replaced any time I spent handing out materials and reduced the need for me to provide management prompts

- When students come into the room our agenda on the SMART Board displays the colour of the folder and the assignment for the day/week. In some instances I state which assignments have to be completed. For example: the red folders were the introduction to the unit (vocabulary, mapping, etc) and I asked students to complete all three assignments. In each of the remaining colours, students now have a team choice of which 2/3 or 3/5 assignments they want to explore.
     - This has replaced any "large-group instruction" I was previously doing
     - This provides choice for students

- Once students have their assignment and their iPad I am free to bounce from group-to-group for the ENTIRE class period working with students. This allows me to easily differentiate the assignments (shorten, lengthen, provide reading/language support, introduce assistive technology, etc).
     - I am able to effectively use small-group instruction knowing that my remaining 16 students are on-task and working
       towards their goals

- I have also moved towards using Quizizz for our weekly assessments after being introduced to it in this course by Chris B. Depending on the week I make 3-5 versions of our assessment based on what each team was working towards.
     - I requested that the free Quizizz app be added onto our iPads
     - This program allows me to differentiate by adding in visuals, shortening or lengthening the number of potential
       responses, modify the reading level of the questions, or providing a "read aloud" function for students to use.
ed tech in the classroom, differentiated instruction, manitoba teaching blog, canadian teaching blog, Ste Rose School
Teach Quotes. (2017). Uploaded by Picsmine. Available online at:

Moving Forward:
- We are currently on our third week of this model so I am interested in seeing how the long-term success pans out. As of our last two weekly assessments I have had 19/20 students increase their previous class average compared to our first unit; specifically for my students on IEPs or who were significantly struggling before. However, some of this could be related to the different content of the unit or the novelty of a new approach.

- Ideally I would love to be able to go paperless with this idea. We do operate using the Office 365 cloud but we don't have enough devices to guarantee one-to-one (or the broadband to allow it). This is, however, a divisional goal by 2020-2021.

- I currently have to book our iPads about a week in advance so I can ensure that I have them for every Gr 7 Social Studies period (a half hour Mondays, Tuesdays, & Fridays as well as an hour on Thursdays). So far I haven't run into any conflicts but having a class set would be ideal and allow more flexibility amongst staff members.

- I would like to be able to introduce this concept into my other classes, especially some of my high schools classes where the amount of content (and divisional exams) sometimes leads me more towards a lecture-based model of instruction.


ed tech in the classroom, differentiated instruction, manitoba teaching blog, canadian teaching blog, Ste Rose School
Teaching Quote. (2017). Uploaded by Unique Teaching Resources. Available online at:

What are you thoughts on this model?

Do you have any suggestions on how to change/improve it?

What aspects of your teaching could/should be replaced by a machine?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Internet for Teachers - Ed Tech "Meme"

T Erben, 2009, technology quotes, inspirational ed tech quotes, ed tech quotes
Ed Tech Meme. (2017). Uploaded by Kirsten Thompson. Available online at:

Source Picture:
Kirsten Thompson (Oct 12, 2017).

Source Quote:
Erben, T., Ban, R., & CastaƱeda, M. E. (2009). Teaching English language learners through technology. New York: Routledge

Quote Justification:
I chose this quote because I strongly believe that technology is capable of providing learning opportunities for students that were previously unavailable. Whether that is as simple as "hooking" a disengaged student, establishing cross-curricular applications, collaborating with others, or sharing original content.

Image Justification:
This is an original image taken from my Grade 7 Social Studies classroom.
Students were using our school iPads to compare map projections in order to analyze distortions in regards to size, shape, and distance using the MetroCosm interactive. This visual provided them with an effective analysis that was previously difficult to understand when comparing static projections on paper.

Principals on Social Media: Why Should You Get Online?

     Schools can no longer be autonomous organizations that operate behind closed doors.  Schools are held accountable by a wide spectrum of diverse stakeholders that includes everyone from student family’s and community members to divisional administration and governmental departments.  As the leader of their building it is one of the principal’s primary objectives to communicate school information clearly and concisely with all stakeholders (Farrell, 1999, Parents & Community chapter, para. 7) (Ferriter, Ramsden, & Sheninger, 2011, p. 20) (Waxman, Boriack, Lee, & MacNeil, 2013, p. 191).  One indicator of a principal’s managerial effectiveness relates to their ability to select the most appropriate platform(s) to best meet their communication needs (Hines, Edmonson, & Moore, 2008, p. 278).  With 23 million social media users in Canada, representing 63% of the population, social media is quickly becoming one of the leading platforms for school administrators to communicate with their clientele (We Are Social, 2017, p. 27).  Due to the rising participation in social media and call for transparency by school administrators, it is essential that principals utilize technological tools like social media to communicate about their building, enabling a diverse range of stakeholders to receive information in a timely fashion and see into the world of the school.

            The Dalai Lama is quoted as stating, “A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity” (Student Affairs Berkley, 2017, para. 1).  A school’s stakeholders, whether they be student family’s, school employees, community members, or governing organizations, have interrelated goals that can all directly benefit from increased communication that provides more information about what is happening within the school (Farrell, 1999, Parents & Community chapter, para. 3).  With social media use in Canada rising 10% from 2016-2017 the quickest way for a principal to inform the most amount of stakeholders in one click of a mouse is through social media (We Are Social, 2017, p. 27).  Additionally, maintaining an online presence can provide an authentic model of the digital literacy skills that are becoming necessary for students, and all stakeholders, to develop (Johnson, Riel, & Froese-Germain, 2016, p. 9).

The Importance of Transparency through Communication
Transparent communication is a conscious skill that is vital to the health of the school community.  In fact, communication has been argued to be the most important job a principal can participate in throughout their day (Ferriter, Ramsden, & Sheninger, 2011, p. 20).  In 1999, Farrell stated that, “The school should aim to improve its links with parents and the community through clear communications and making systematic and full use of the community” (Parents & Community chapter, para. 19).  This sentiment is echoed by Ferriter who identified that, “With transparency being more important now than at any time ever, it is important that we use every means necessary to get out our message as schools leaders and get the feedback necessary to get our stakeholders invested.” (2011, para. 7).  While it can be easy for an administrator to default to only sharing information surrounding school schedules, events, and successes, a deeper sense of authenticity is required to build trust through transparent communication.  This includes sharing personal feelings during times of uncertainty, sharing news of what is known about various topics affecting the school and being open about what is being kept confidential, and clarifying that if information changes that updates will be provided (Student Affairs Berkley, 2017, para. 3).  It is important for administrators to recognize that a fear of negativity cannot warrant opting out of communication and in fact, negative feedback provides opportunities to change stakeholders’ perceptions (Reuban, 2017, p. 7).  With the importance of transparency through communication identified, a principal should then ask themselves what platform(s) should they be utilizing to communicate.

Why Should You Use Social Media?
As of 2017, 33 million users, representing 91% of the population, had access to the internet in Canada (We Are Social, 2017, p. 27).  Of the 23 million using social media, 88% of these users “checked-in” and interacted with the medium every single day (lbid.).  The network of school stakeholders can span across multiple geographical locations, be represented across generations, and follow a variety of different schedules.  Despite the communication concerns that arise from these logistics, social media can provide an effective means of targeting the masses in a timely fashion.  In fact, 74% of Canada’s internet users have access through some type of mobile device; meaning that a principal’s communication can most likely reach them at any time as opposed to relying on a fixed location (We Are Social, 2017, p. 31).  As opposed to more traditional communication methods such as phone calls or television announcements that rely on stakeholders being available at a particular time, tools such as social media are popular with stakeholders because they can be accessed and interacted with at any time; gone are the days of playing “telephone tag” (Hines, Edmonson, & Moore, 2008, p. 283).  In Canada, the top four social media platforms are currently Facebook (and its associated Facebook Messenger), YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram (We Are Social, 2017, p. 41).  Tools such as “HootSuite” and “If This Then That” can easily allow principals to post the same message automatically across various platforms; broadening their audience with minimal time requirements on their side.  With such prominent statistics, Reuban was inclined to state that participation in social media is no longer an option (2017, p. 11).

The Case for Digital Literacy
Defining the important and essential role of ICT education within the vast curricular network of public education has been the focus of recent initiatives undertaken by provincial and territorial governments within Canada.  As of 2015, 11 of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories have established ICT curricular policies that range from infusion and dispersal amongst pre-existing curriculums to structured cross-curricular models and specifically assessed benchmarks (Hoechsmann & DeWaard, 2015, pp. 15-17).  Regardless of the format in which an ICT curriculum is organized, one of the best ways to model the digital literacy and citizenship skills required by students is for principals and other educators to get involved online (Jackson, 2011, para. 18).  In a 2016 study of Canadian teachers, it was identified that the top five digital literacy skills related to social media that students should know are: (1) how to stay safe online, (2) appropriate online behaviour, (3) dealing with cyberbullying, (4) understanding online privacy issues and settings, and (5) verifying the authenticity of online information (Johnson, Riel, & Froese-Germain, 2016, p. 9).  It is time for educators to not only “talk the talk” but to also “walk the walk” when it comes to applying the digital literacy skills we expect from our students.  Furthermore, modelling appropriate use and keeping up to date with new technology programs and tools allows for principals to more effectively support their teaching staff in their technological development as well (Waxman, Boriack, Lee, & MacNeil, 2013, p. 193). 

            In conclusion, it is necessary that principals utilize social media platforms to effectively practice transparent communication with their diverse range of stakeholders.  All principals have several different stakeholder groups that can include everyone from student families and community members to divisional administration and governing agencies and it is their responsibility to create and deliver information in ways that not only allow their message to be accessed but to also establish trust (Ferriter, Ramsden, & Sheninger, 2011, p. 20).  As identified by Reuban, social media is no longer a spectator sport and principals need to recognize this and jump on the bandwagon to reach their stakeholders through mediums they are using daily (2017, p. 11).  As leaders within their building, a principals’ use of social media can provide an effective and appropriate model to both students as well as other teaching staff.  Like it or not, a school’s stakeholders are already creating a story about the school on social media and principals need to get online so that they can be involved in the narrative.

Farrell, M. (1999). Key issues for primary schools. London, UK: Routledge.
Ferriter, W.M. (2011). What you are saying about social media in schools. Tempered Radical.
Ferriter, W.M., Ramsden, J.T., & Sheninger, E.C. (2011). Communicating & connecting with
            social media. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Hines, C., Edmonson, S., & Moore, G. (2008). The impact of technology on high school
            principals. NASSP Bulletin, 92(4), 276-291.
Hoechsmann, M., & DeWaard, H. (2015). Mapping digital literacy policy and practice in the
            Canadian education landscape. Ottawa, ON: MediaSmarts. Retrieved from
Jaxson, C. (2011). Your students love social media... and so can you. Teaching Tolerance 39.
Johnson, M., Riel, R., & Froese-Germain, B. (2016). Connected to learn: teachers’ experience
with networked technologies in the classroom. Ottawa: ON: MediaSmarts. Retrieved from:
Reuban, R. (2008). The use of social media in high education for marketing and
communications: A guide for professionals in higher education. Retrieved November 5, 2017, from
Student Affairs UC Berkley. (Upload date not stated). Communicating with transparency and
Waxman, H. C., Boriack, A. W., Lee, Y., & MacNeil, A. (2013). Principals’ perceptions of the
            importance of technology in schools. Contemporary Educational Technology, 4(3), 187-
            196. Retrieved from
We Are Social. (2017, January 26). Digital in 2017: Northern America. Retrieved November 5,