Week Eleven: What specific policies will help your district prepare students for current and emerging technology use? How can you help lead your district in creating these policies?

The policies that are specific to technology in our district, follow guidelines that are safe, innovative and connects teachers, admin and students to quality learning. A specific goal within our district is to increase technology integration and improve instruction and learning through technology. By allowing educators and students new ways to access technology within learning environment, we give new opportunities to connect with material. Following along with the policies that are already in place within out district, my job is to help adhere to the policies.

My first goal as an elementary teacher is to help students meet their potential while keeping them safe. Through filters that are set up by our tech team and feedback from teachers and students, we can identify problems that may present issues where our students have access to material that is not safe or appropriate.

I am always an advocate for my students. When it comes to being safe, I am quick to speak up. I go to our administration and then to our tech team. These conversations are always taken seriously and remedied as quickly as possible. With the ever changing world, it can be hard to keep up on filters that keep our students safe, but being diligent and watchful allow these situations to be minimal.

Leading my district to keep kids safe isn’t necessary as that’s where they are headed anyway. I work in a very responsible place where the goal is always student’s first. However, if I needed to work in adjusting a current policy or creating a new policy, I have the necessary skills to advocate for that through conversations, letters, and attending meetings with research based information that would help to guide our district in a forward direction.







Week 10: How are electronics viable additions to “crafting” for today’s young person?

Yet again, I read about something that’s completely foreign to me. I didn’t know such a thing existed. However, I started thinking about the greeting cards my kids get from their Nana. They are always the musical kind, that once you open the card, a jingle starts to play. I also thought about the light up dresses you see designed for flower girls; just a twinkle at the bottom. These are all forms of electronic crafting. So while I didn’t have a name for it, I have had exposure to it.

I love the idea of circuitry with pen and paper. The ability to craft a circuit with a sticker and special paper and ink is first off, not scary. If you’d ask me to put together a simple circuit, I’d be nervous and probably put off as I have such a limited experience with this. But, if you gave me something low stakes, like a pen, paper and sticker, I’d be game to try it out! When we think of our students in this fashion, it likely would provide a great entry into discovery of circuits.

My daughter loves to make cards. She likes the pop up cards and as I mentioned above, she really enjoys the musical cards. Giving her the ability to make her own seems brilliant. It takes arts and crafts to a whole new level, giving a bit of trial and error as well as critical thinking a good go in the art arena.

So, circling back to the essential question….How are electronics viable additions to “crafting” for today’s young person? I think it takes an art and gives it a new level of depth; one that requires a different thinking style.





Week Nine: Does every school need a “BYOD” policy?

No. Not every school needs a BYOD policy….yet.

In my district, technology is given priority in most cases. We have close to 1:1 devices and with our scheduling of tech use, this is enough. We are also an elementary school where in the primary grades, students are still learning how to use devices.

What struck me about the articles that I read for this week was the idea of authenticity. I have seen 2 year old children navigate their parents smart phones or tablets with ease. The parent is not standing over them telling them, now swipe here, or tap here. The children have a comfort with their device that we are trying to teach! This is appealing. What if we got rid of that 20 minutes of “teaching” students to use a device? What would that afford us as teachers and them as students? I think it would provide more learning, right? Less time on the logistics and more time on the activities.

In my husband’s high school math class, he has allowed students to bring in their own devices to complete work. The district he works in does not have a BYOD policy in place, so it is up to the teacher to decide if they’ll allow students to bring in their own devices.

He has clear expectations for the usage of personal devices and encourages them to be used in a way that allows learning to take place. Every once in a while issues arise and the consequences are that the devices are no longer an option for the student. This is a small scale situation but if more teachers allow devices to be brought into school, then a BYOD policy should be put in place to protect students and their learning.

Circling back to the essential question, I still think that all schools do not have to have a BYOD policy, but I think this will be where our future is headed and these policies will be necessary.







Week 8: What game have you seen that could help students learn, and how might it be used?

The essential question lead me to think about different games for education but the assigned readings are all focused on Minecraft. So, on that note I want to mention that one of the best learning tools for primary students is to use games, especially in Math. I have worked to use games to help solidify concepts in my classroom, switching the worksheets for partners and dice. When students practice skills in a meaningful way those concepts stick, right? It helps make learning fun while allowing students to see how they could use a math concept in real life.

Switching gears to Minecraft….I have to begin at the beginning of my Minecraft story. I hated it. The intro music was like claws on a chalkboard. The time my kids spent playing it made me cringe. I mean, it was a video game. They could be reading instead! However, my husband who is very conscientious and thoughtful insisted they were learning and that this was a quality game. It wasn’t until Christmas Break, when my family and I were all together and they were all playing Minecraft while I was reading. My kids were begging me to join their adventure and out of guilt, I joined. To my genuine surprise, I really enjoyed playing. I saw how my 6 year old was able to barter with his sister for tools or food for survival. I saw how my 8 year old built her home, seeking the finer blocks which required a lot of patience and time. I saw how we had to work together to build a shelter to house us from monsters. I saw how this was a digital version of Legos, with critical thinking and problem solving coming to life. I saw a lot of value in this game.

Part of this assignment requires interviewing a young person and having them walk you though playing…my 6 year old son is one of the best teachers for playing the game! He has walked me through the perils of creepers, witches, skeletons and zombies. He taught me how to use the bones of my slain skeleton to tame my pet wolf while my 8 year old and I discovered we could craft the bones into meal in which we could use in our garden, growing our wheat faster which in turn we used to lure cattle into our fences. If you have not played Minecraft yet, I strongly encourage you to, especially with a young person. Not only to see how it’s played, but as a way to connect to your students who are already playing.

Thinking about the skills needed in order to play Minecraft in the classroom, I recognize the parallels in a regular classroom. We teach social skills in primary. The social cooperation in Minecraft becomes necessary when students are asked to work together to create a scene or structure. The critical thinking for building and the problem solving are also major goals for us. These things can be attained with gamifying learning.

Bringing Minecraft or any other game into your classroom would require a lot of pre teaching and providing expectations so that these games didn’t become mindless play. Using them as a way to help students achieve goals not only promotes student engagement but it leads learning into a path students are already on.






Week 7: How can 3D printing change the way we think about education?

I have had some experience with a 3D printer as my husband houses one in his classroom. He has brought home ‘creepers’ from Minecraft, cubes, snowflakes, etc. for our kids to play with made by the 3D printer. It’s fun. It’s exciting and they ask for more. When I think about our essential question, and how 3D printing can change the way we think about education, my mind goes to my first grade class. How can it change education for them?

I see the engagement of students being increased by designing and making something you’ve created. The technology piece of this is enough to make students want to participate. In the article 3D Printing in First Grade the process included students working to design their own snowman and having older students come in to help with the digitizing process. My students have reading buddies from older grades, and again the engagement in reading simply by having older students around is significant. But I also appreciate the idea that older students are helping younger students. This cross grade assistance works. This process also begins to give students access to new knowledge that is technologically current.

As I read through the article 25 Useful Things you can Make with your 3D Printer I was struck again by our essential question…3D printing can change the way we think about education by shifting the mindset of students to begin critically thinking about how their designs that can make the world a better place. What creation will be useful for yourself or for mankind? How will this tool better someone’s life? Those are questions to have your students ask themselves to begin thinking about a global society where citizens are trying to make the world a better place.

So while I don’t think 3D printing is the next big thing that will change education, I do think it’s a useful and fun tool that can help shape how we guide our students in thinking broadly and globally.






Week 6: What are the compelling arguments both for and against computer coding in schools?

In the Article Should We Really Try to Teach Everyone to Code? I was struck by a few things…. The title made me think that the article was preparing the reader for a YES answer, but that isn’t what happened. While the author recognized the importance of coding, especially in present times and stated, “coding is a new type of literacy that should be available to everyone, starting at a young age”, the argument didn’t stop there. He stated that really the focus shouldn’t be on coding per say, but on critical thinking skills and on learning a wide range of technology skills so that they can best meet needs however that may look.

This makes sense to me. Coding shouldn’t the be the goal, just the tool. Learning the tool and it’s literacy is important as a piece to the puzzle. Critical thinking above all should be the ultimate goal and giving tools to aid in this area is what needs to be taught in schools.

In the article 20 Resources for Teaching Kids to Code the author briefly mentions Legos being an introduction to code. The reasoning behind this is that it is teaching those critical thinking skills and using manipulatives to get to an end goal. That’s what coding is – a manipulative to get to an end goal.

A quoted source in Kid who Code: states, “Students who code have the ability to transfer the knowledge from one particular solution to another, which students who don’t code often lack. This transferability of skill is vital to critical thinking and problem solving.”

So, going back to the essential question, the arguments against teaching kids to code revolve around dated thinking or around the idea that coding should not be the end goal. The arguments for coding being taught in school are based on critical thinking and problem solving, which is what we want for all students.

The video I’ve included below shows how coding has shaped lives and gives a real life perspective on how coding works.






Week 5: Design an object that could be classified as belonging to “The Internet of Things” and describe how it could contribute to your classroom.

Wow! Going into this week’s reading I had never even heard the term “The Internet of Things”. I feel like I start a lot of my blog posts with that statement 🙂  I began by reading the article, What is the Internet of Things and why does it matter? Seemed like an appropriate place to start as I have zero background knowledge of the subject. As I read through and followed some of the examples I thought about my husband and his desire to track how much time he spent at the school. Using an app and his phone with GPS tracking, he set his coordinates and every time his phone entered into the coordinates, a timer began. When he left, the timer quit. This process tracked how much time he was spending at school each day.

This led me to think about my students and the time they spend in my classroom vs the bathroom, PE, Music, the office, the lunchroom, playground, etc. I’d be very interested to see the amount of time my students are actually spending in my classroom versus the time they are doing other activities. While I realize the other activities are necessary, I do think this would help create an awareness of how little time I have with them and try to be more purposeful and aware during the actual classroom time. A little noninvasive band tracking this would be perfect.

After reading the article, Can the Internet of Things Make Education More Student Focused? I was intrigued at the thought of cognitive tracking. Being able to see when my students are engaged and when I need to switch gears would be incredibly useful. Would I allow something like this to be used on my own children? Sure. As long as it was not invasive, you bet I would. I would love knowing my children’s time was being utilized as best as possible.

A simple version that I have thought would be valuable many times before reading this article would be to have student bands that vibrate. When a student is off task the teacher cues up a signal, the vibration is given to the child with the idea being a non verbal redirection is given.

Using this idea with my own children, a watch with a GPS tracker that sent notifications to me when my children moved outside designated areas would be incredibly useful.

While none of these are my design and these are already available, I see a lot of value in them. I understand security and hacking breeches are always a concern, especially when children are involved, but that aside, I can see how The Internet of Things could have it’s place in the classroom.

I’ve included a simple youtube video that gives a general explanation of the Internet of Things.