A New Year Awaits

The start of a new school year is always exciting and exhilarating.  Teachers are filled with new ideas.  Goals are being determined.  Plans and activities are being formulated to achieve the goals and dreams that every teacher has spent the summer dwelling on.

Students & parents have goals and dreams for the school year just as teachers do.  Parents may want to be more involved in school activities. Students may want to make better grades or have more friends or investigate a new interest.

We all, teachers, students, and parents arrive at the beginning of a new school year with success as the ultimate goal.

There are so many wonderful additions to education.  Changes and innovations occur daily.  The advent of 1:1 technology in my district brings many new ways to achieve the success in which we are all invested.  Online student portfolios, digital assessments, Hyperdocs, blogs, Google Classroom, learning management systems, YouTube channels, iTunes U, Twitter, Instagram, and the list of tools available for success goes on and on.

Some of my favorite tools for my elementary classroom are:  Seesaw, Common Sense Media, and Epic Books.

Seesaw  is a learning portfolio that is student driven.  Students can showcase their learning in a variety of ways with Seesaw.  They can use and annotate photos.  Students can create video, take notes, upload files, create a drawing, and add links.  Learning journals for each student allows work to be shared not only with teachers, but family members.  Seesaw also has a blog feature.  As a new Seesaw ambassador, I have learned so much more about Seesaw and I can’t wait to use what I’ve learned to empower my students with skills that will transform their learning experience.

I am also a new Common Sense Media ambassador, as well as a Common Sense Media Certified Educator – Digital Citizenship.  Common Sense Media is free to teachers and parents.  The K-12 Scope and Sequence enables me to teach Digital Citizenship to my students in ways they can relate to and embrace.  For teachers, Common Sense Media offers tech reviews, professional development, and lessons to enhance the multifaceted role we facilitate daily in our classrooms.  For parents, Common Sense Media offers a variety of book and movie reviews, as well as tech reviews.  Common Sense Media should be a trusted and go to resource for every teacher and parent.

Epic books is a favorite with my students year after year.  Epic is free for educators.  There are literally thousands of books, videos, and quizzes available for grades K-6.  Epic also allows teachers to create groups and assign books.  My students always enjoy Epic just for the sake of reading.  I enjoy the love of reading that begins for many of them with Epic books.  I love the fact that I can assign books and use Epic in reading groups.  Epic is not free for parents, but well worth the investment to have 25,000 books at your child’s fingertips.

These are some of my favorite technology tools with which to begin each school year.  These tools allow myself, my students, and their families to begin accomplishing our goals right away.  As I look forward to all this year holds I know we will find the success we are all committed to for our young learners.

Teaching Students to Blog

I’ve been teaching my 2nd graders to blog.  Although, we didn’t actually start blogging until the second semester, I started the process of teaching my students to blog the first week of school.  There are some basic internet and online safety concepts I want my students to have an understanding of before we begin to blog.

My favorite site for teaching Digital Citizenship is Common Sense Media.  I use their phenomenal K-2 Scope and Sequence to begin lessons on digital citizenship.  Brainpopjr.com also has some great video lessons that support teaching students to blog.

We spend some time learning about online safety and what we should and shouldn’t share online.  The kids developed some Blog Safety Rules based on what we have learned about internet safety.

The most important lesson I hope to convey to my students is that they must not share personal information online.  We spend quite a bit of time learning what personal information is and why we shouldn’t share that information.  We spend some time developing concepts that teach once something has been shared online it is no longer in the blogger’s control.

We also begin to learn what a blog is and what we can blog about.  Most of my students had a rudimentary understanding of blogs.  I have some digital savvy students, many of whom spend time online daily.  They were thrilled with the concept of having a class blog.   We came up with some basic topics we would enjoy blogging about.

There are many formats and websites available to blog with students.  Many learning management systems allow for class blogs.  Kidblog, Edublogs, and Seesaw are my favorite sites for blogging with students.  I chose Seesaw for my class blog this year.

Seesaw allows me to add students to our class blog.  I can also add parents so that they can view their child’s blog posts.  Parents must request to join and login with a password.  I control what gets posted.  Students submit posts and I approve them and post them to the blog.  Seesaw also allows me to approve parent and student comments to the blog.  I also receive weekly updates informing me of our blog activity.

My 2nd graders are absolutely loving the opportunity to blog.  It has changed how they view journal writing as blogging is just another way to journal.  They have several options for how they want to blog.

Most of my kids love the ability to post video.  We are currently obsessed with How To video.  They love to post (with the help of a friend) a video showing how to make paper airplanes and various origami art work.  Some of them love to draw, and a few even love the “old-fashioned” type/text feature.

Blogging has become the most engaging response to learning my students have experienced this year.  They love to share what they are learning and how they are accomplishing that learning.  I’m not going to share our login information, but scroll down to see some images of our class blog.

I am proud of my students and the connections they are making to the world through blogging.  Do you blog with your students?  Please share your success stories in the comments.


What is Digital Literacy?

Digital Literacy is a broad topic.  What does it encompass?  What do we need to teach so that our students are digitally literate?

For me, Digital Literacy, has two parts, Digital Citizenship, and Digital Fluency.  I begin addressing digital citizenship with my students the first week of school.  There are some key criteria I want my students to know and embrace about responsible online behavior.

I always start with Common Sense Media’s K-2 Scope and Sequence.  The first lesson in this series is a video of a young boy telling about online Safety.  He teaches 3 rules for online safety.  After the video and lesson I have my students create posters for online safety.




These rules are a great place to begin teaching basic online safety rules and procedures.

The essential understandings of online safety I want my students to fully understand are:  Never share personal information.  We have a lesson on what personal information is:  name, address, phone #, birthday, school, town, etc.  I want them to understand that they shouldn’t share information that will allow someone they don’t know to know who they are and where they live.

We also talk about who we know and don’t know.  Online you can chat and play games with someone.  You might recognize their profile photo or avatar.  You might know their online name or handle, but you don’t know that person in real life.  This is someone we have to be especially careful of revealing information to.  This is tricky and a hard concept for some young children to understand.  We have to have many discussions about this issue over the school year.

The third key criteria I want my students to grasp is:  Always login to an account or game and logout when you are finished.  This keeps their work, information, and projects safe and secure.  This one is easy to teach.  The first time my students go into the computer lab and discover someone has altered their avatar or changed something they were working on, they suddenly “get it”.  I always point out that those things happen when we forget to logout of our Google accounts or our RAZ Kids accounts.

Online safety and digital citizenship are ongoing topics that we visit in my classroom weekly if not daily.  There are so many more important areas to cover.  Visit Common Sense Media for more information.  Here are some links to some other great resources for teaching digital citizenship.




Technology is everywhere.  Our kids live in a world where anything is possible at the click of their fingertips.  I them to know how to be safe in this 21st century in which they live, learn, and play.