Digitally WHA HUH??? Just…..WHY?

Digital Literacy. Love it? Fear it? Point blank, it doesn’t really matter. The digital world is here to stay. As our amazing content catalyst authors from last week pointed out, digital literacy is the new literacy…. and folks…. It’s here to stay.

This past week, I got a little twisty turvy in excitement for ALMOST being a graduate, and I tied into my blog, a couple of the amazing content catalysts of Dani Hackle and Luke Braun. In effort to “NOT” repeat myself, I’d like to take a slightly different twist on things this week (forgive me for entertaining you in advance).

I’d like to bring up this article.

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I came across it last night as another educator had posted it, stating “I totally agree with this, I don’t think that cellphones need to be in the hands of any elementary students, if someone needs to get ahold of them they can phone the school! And if they need technology for an assignment they should be using what is provided by the school”. As a whole, are we missing the boat? I read the article and then…..

You get the point…. My husband however….still needs some work at getting this. Sigh.

So onto the theme of this week’s blog topic. Digital Literacy. What is it? Media literacy is “the knowledge, skills, and competencies required in order to use and interpret media”. Literacy, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is ” the ability to read and write”. Therefore, one might conclude that literacy in a digital world is the ability to read and write using the knowledge, skills and competencies required in order to function in the real and/ or digital world.

This causes me to wonder how we as educators can consider taking a stance to forbid outside device usage in a school, which, as we know, is intended to be, a place of learning. While I will absolutely agree that we have kids running wild using their devices without proper guidance, I still don’t believe that forbidding them is the answer. Clearly, we still have work to do.

If we are to forbid children from bringing their devices to school, perhaps, we should instead, spend more time educating our educators on how to support students to use devices appropriately within society, instead. The reality is that many of us are guilty of using technology mindlessly and in time consuming, wasteful ways. So how can we be role models to stop this time-consuming warp zone? Well, as Erin Wiley stated in her content catalyst, “our first line of defense is an educated citizen, someone who understands how the mediated world works.” (Kamerer, 2013). So what does this mean? It means we need to start taking action. We need to teach students what good usage looks like. We model this. We correct them when they make wrong choices and have discussions about wrong doings. This past week’s Brain Pop and TED Talk by Andrea Quijada have offered up some practical suggestions.

So, what do we do? We engage in digital existence in schools. We engage in real conversations about the whats, why, and how comes of digital engagement…. and we work alongside our students, picking them up when they make mistakes, educating them so they make less of them, and holding their hands as they explore a world that can be a scary one. This is how we succeed. Closing the door before it opens, only perpetuates the terrifying reality that today’s humans as a whole, need guidance in existing in an ever-growing, ever-changing digital world.

Taking a step to becoming digitally literate is the first step.


Building A Community of Digital Citizens

In my role as a first grade teacher, I often reflect on my lessons and try to make sure that I am using best practices. This week, we were challenged to consider what the school and teacher’s role is in creating digital citizens.



When I think of digital citizenship, I often visualize the middle years students. They are often the ones that have cellphones in an elementary school, and they are often the ones we hear of making choices that have the dreaded repercussions.

This week has reminded me how important it is for me to consider how my current practices with the littles, can have an impact on how they interact with technology as they grow. Of course, there are many factors that play into this equation, but my technological role as a first grade teacher is possibly more important than I give credit to.

Being part of a new school this year, has been an exciting but challenging endeavor. There is so much more that needs careful consideration, when you are setting routines, building a school culture, and developing the school to be what a staff and community envisions. I am thrilled to be part of all of this! However, combine this with 3 grad courses over two semesters, 2 children 5 years and under, and everything else that comes with this, there isn’t much time left for the “extras”. Don’t get me wrong, I give my ALL, all day, every day…. but I could easily tack on 5 extra hours each day, to make time for creating what I had envisioned before this year started.

The incorporation of digital citizenship is an area that I feel I can always dive deeper into. Through careful reflection, I think that my colleagues and I are guiding our students through the daily practices that we surround ourselves with. But I don’t always feel like I am doing ENOUGH.

When I think about my interactions with technology in my class, it currently involves using SeeSaw to share student learning, Tweeting, using Raz-Kids, the interactive whiteboard, iPads, inquiry based Coding Club, GreenScreens…. hey, wait a second…. maybe I AM doing this??!!!! There is a lot of digital interaction in my class, for a variety of purposes… and these purposes, are definitely growing my students into digital citizens. Maybe what is missing, is the digital teaching with intention. Proactive consideration, that helps me to reflect on how utilizing these practices can help my students to become independent, critical, citizens that are able to interact with the digital world safely and with confidence.

Dani Hackle‘s content catalyst explains the need for students to have the skills to be responsible, safe and literate in the spaces that we are putting them in. This is key. We must give students the necessary coping mechanisms to be successful when they are in the virtual world. We cannot just allow them entry and assume they will be “fine”. After all, we wouldn’t give our kids keys to a vehicle and say “you can learn while you drive”. Would we?



Luke Braun‘s content catalyst was also very informative. He mentions that teachers should not be afraid to tell students that they don’t know the answer. But rather, he encourages teachers to work alongside students to find out how they can find the answer. Jacque‘s content catalyst furthered this idea by also suggesting that we continuously and critically think about what we are reading, and consuming with our online interactions. We need to ask ourselves what lifestyles, values, and points of views are being represented in the advertisements, videos, and posts that we read online.

Our course readings this week also provided some great food for thought. The Brain Pop video encouraged us to ask the following questions when interacting with social media:

  1. What is the message of this piece of media?
  2. What biases might they hold?
  3. What affect might they hope to have?

By stopping to consider the context that something is coming from, we might better be able to deconstruct and hidden messages that are coming along with it. We have to remember that social media is flooded with sensationalist stories. In order to get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, we might just have to do like Shaun T says and “DIG DEEPER”. As Andrea Quijada states, “when students learn to deconstruct media, they learn a super power”. This is something that I look forward to doing a better job of moving forward, both in my personal life, but also alongside my students when I am leading them in learning.



So…. now let’s look at being digitally literate from a teacher perspective. Recently, our class was fortunate to have Patrick Maze visit in our zoom room. He took the time to visit with us to remind us of our responsibilities online as teachers. He offered many great pieces of advice. My take aways were this:

  • teachers will always be held to a higher standard online. Be ready for this when you sign up for this job.
  • you cannot separate your personal and professional lives online… educate yourself about what this looks like, how it works, and what it means to you!
  • Always consider the risk versus the reward. Ask yourself if your post is going to change anything long term…. or is it going to get you fired?

Patrick also spoke about how the STF is working to help teachers to educate themselves with the digital world. He shared this document with us, explaining that it was filled with many helpful tips that we can use as teachers in guiding a safe practice in and outside of the school.

This was a heavy week for a lot of deeper thinking about what digital literacy means, how we go about creating it, and what our roles are as educators in a digital world. I hope that everyone else found some great take aways for their personal and professional growth, just like I did!

Thanks for tuning in!

Because They Simply Can’t Do It Without Us….

Times are changing. They have always been changing. But now, more than ever, we are experiencing the impact of changes in the digital world. . . and the reality that this has on our youth is enormous.

Like Brittany, I remember the good old days when we were kids, and the excitement you could find in getting invited over to someone’s house, to really get to know them. I remember looking at the posters on my older cousins walls, and hearing them rewind the tapes as they listened to Spin Doctors over and over and over…. and It. Was. Thrilling!  Fast forward to today though, and this thrill has changed. With the click of a button, a person can get to know anyone, anywhere… The face to face interactions in getting to know others has been replaced with an interactive screen. It is amazing, spooky, and concerning all at once.



Children today, are interacting with technology at younger ages than one might expect.

Mike Ribble said it best when he explained that kids today, are coming to school having interacted with technology, but whether they have a knowledge of how to use it appropriately or not is another question. Clearly, there is a need for teaching digital citizenship starting at a very young age. This has changed so much since when I was a kid hitting up the tech savvy black and white Gameboys with my sisters.

The need for digital citizenship education became apparent to my study buddy Bree Arguin and I this summer when we began interacting with the Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools document. Together, we took the time to look at the amazing continuums in this document, that clearly laid out what youth today NEED to know, at different grades. We felt that it was important to make this document even more live by developing an interactive continuum for teachers to use that would help them to know what to actually teach at different grade levels… so we invented THIS!! Check it out!

Our Interactive Digital Citizenship Continuum

Over the past 5 years, it has become evident to me that we need to help students to create their digital footprint. This needs to be done in a way that would make students proud as they mature and grow into young adults.

Perhaps Jocelyn Carr said it best when she began looking at digital footprints as digital tattoos. I too see a digital footprint as something permanent like a tattoo. I remember being 16 and thinking that a tattoo on my big toe would be a good idea… I was 16!!! Thankfully my mother threatened to disown me, and I made the wiser decision to stay a blank canvas. Digital tattoos are no different, the only difference is that we do let children, at much younger ages, drive the vehicle that navigates their digital footprints…. and we don’t seem to worry about the permanence of their actions. Something seems wrong with this… It is essential that we support our youth as they embark on developing a digital footprint, so that it is reflective of the image they want to create long term, rather than creating a digital tattoo that cannot be erased years down the road.

Mobile learning coach, Jennifer Scheffer goes as far as to help her students create LinkedIn profiles so that by the time that they finish their senior year, they understand and have the digital tools to market themselves so that they may craft a professional and personal profile that will help them achieve their dream jobs. To me, this couldn’t be a better step in the right direction. When we look at the sad realities of students taking their lives as a result of poor choices online, and other depressing realities that result from one wrong click of a button, Scheffer appears to be headed in the right direction.



As we move into the future, I think that we are being called to action, to help youth from the youngest ages to recognize their digital identity. To me, this identity is as important as understanding one’s culture or ethnicity. Without understanding how one’s choices will impact themselves online and in the face to face life, beyond the screen, we cannot really guide our youth safely. As Megan shared in her Content Catalyst, we must be aware of the policies and regulations that lie within the apps we use, because if Apps such as SnapChat suddenly changed their terms of usage, we want to rest assured that a photo we never thought twice about before sending, does not become our next biggest nightmare.



Let Them Teach… And YOU Shall Learn

Getting into my major project has been like prepping for a major paint job…  I have changed paint colors so many times, and there are so many little things that I have needed to do to get this project off of the ground… but each little job needed to be completed before I could actually get things started. Alas, it’s happening and we are ready for take off!!!



For those of you who have followed my major project journey so far, you can keep on keeping’ on and read on ahead. For those of you who are just stopping in, you may want to deviate over here first, to catch up on my latest plan!

This week we have been encouraged to take some time to reflect on our projects and their connections to Ribble’s Nine Elements. When I think about my project, 3 main elements come to mind.

First, Digital Literacy. This is the process of teaching and learning about technology and its uses. I have now got my “coding club” established. I sent out an email to the teaching staff looking for techy students or ones that were familiar and possibly interested in code.  What did I get? 7 staff identified students who either have a passion for technology or whom have tinkered with coding in the past. YES!!! Step one… check. Step two… the meeting. We had our initial meeting where I explained my purpose for the club to the students. I shared with them that I know nothing about coding, but that I think it is an important area within the digital world that I “should” know about. I explained that my goal would be to learn from them and to collaborate together by coding, to see what they could teach me and to see what we could create when given the green light to go for it! I believe that by working with this group, we will all advance quickly and appropriately in the ever evolving world of coding,

While embarking on this project, we will also address Ribble’s fifth element, Digital Etiquette. While I may not know all of the processes of coding at this point, I am confident that through the exploration that I will do alongside my Coding Club, we will encounter opportunities to reinforce how technology is to be used and what qualifies as appropriate. I intend on working with these students, demonstrating confidence in them,  that they know what is appropriate, allowing them to be trusted that they will code with caution and within the parameters that we will set out together.

Finally, I am curious about Ribble’s ninth element, Digital Security. We’ve all watched the movies as heroins save the world by putting the right code, into the right computer, at the last second, saving the world… and usually saving the girl too. Well, I don’t anticipate that this will be the case with my kiddos, however, I am looking forward to understanding further connections between coding and digital security. I believe that some pretty amazing things can be done through code, and I look forward to being exposed to what this includes.  I am looking forward to making connections on a very elementary level between coding and digital security. For us, this may simply include understanding how to keep our projects safe, how to back up data, and ensure that projects are stored appropriately when using school devices on a public server.



And that is where I am at. I am enjoying this project as it unravels. I meet with my coders Tuesday at lunch for an hour. I can’t wait to see how Day 1 goes! In the mean time, I’m off to Youtube, to find a video or two on the simpler side of coding…. so that I start to wrap my head around what’s coming Tuesday!

I’ll leave you with this question. Have you used coding in your classroom / school? If so, how did you incorporate it, and what words of advice would you leave me with! Thanks for popping by!


Ed-volution? Can We Keep Up?

What is the REAL future of education? Well, that’s a loaded question. In this week’s readings we were pushed to consider how technology has and continues to change the world of education. I think back to my elementary days, and that feeling of excitement when it was finally my 15 minutes to play on the Commodore 64 in the little work room. Ahhh that was the good life.


Things have sure evolved since the 80s. If someone had asked me, as a kid, what education would look like in the future, I don’t think I would have been able to anticipate the realities we’ve achieved today. For example, today, (you betcha Anne, I have one in use in my class) I use an Alexa in my classroom… She interacts with my kids and answers their research questions. She challenges them to questioning games that encourage them to think outside of the box… She activates timers, so that my students can rotate through stations without needing teacher direction… My classroom has an audio broadcasting system that amplifies my voice, just from wearing a necklace with a voice box on it. It switches zones as I move through the school, so that my students can hear me clearly, no matter if they are right beside me or around the corner. My voice amplifier, even knows when to cut out, so I am entitled to my own privacy, should I head to the washroom, leaving the device button activated. It’s amazing. We have an enormous screen that rolls down from the ceiling at the bottom of our presentation stairs, turning the staircase into a theatre space. iPads, laptops, interactive whiteboards that allow students to work simultaneously and interactively on it. Children interact with their own devices, that they bring to school to incorporate technology into their daily learning.

Technology is absolutely changing the world of education. It’s exciting. It’s invigorating. It’s engaging…. and it’s terrifying.

With so many technological advances happening in the world that we are living in, it can be challenging to keep up. As teachers, we need to keep up…. so that we can act as catalysts for these technological changes in our classrooms… We have a duty to be educated in areas that we need to teach our students about… but are we digitally educated, to guide our students to becoming the most educated digital citizens possible? This week Bree and I used a Powtoon to share some helpful hints at how we can work toward creating better digital citizens. Brittany and Kyla, also shared their ideas on Sklar’s digital hygiene and Heick’s understanding the definition of digital citizenship in different situations. There is a lot of information out there that is ready and willing to lend teacher’s a hand in getting caught up to speed on the digital world.

But what about the future? As with all technology, it is ever evolving. What is new today, is old news tomorrow. Yet it is no longer okay to resist technology because one fears it. It is an essential lifeline in our world today. Laura McClure shares an article about the future of education… and quite frankly, it made me nervous. While the suggested ideas in the article point toward more creativity in the classroom (which I agree with), the insinuation that the physical four walls of the classroom will begin to disappear, made me very uneasy. I do agree that technology is an asset to education, but I do not believe that technology can replace the need for educational institutions.

Like Amy Ranford suggested in her blog post, we need to adapt to the world around us. We need to teach students the skills that they need while protecting their wellbeing. As educators, we have a large hill to climb if we are going to make it out on top in this fast paced techno world. We must evolve to meet the needs of our youth today, so that we may continue to scaffold them in attaining goals that will create a better tomorrow.

….for tomorrow, is a new day….and we can only imagine what it will bring.






Talk {code} to Me!


Photo Credit

After much thought and deliberation I have decided to jump ship on both of my previous major project ideas…. something about both just wasn’t doing it for me. For the “Teen Apps for Parent Dummies” proposal, I started to jump in, and I came across two hurdles. First, I wasn’t comfortable having these apps on my phone at all… and secondly, I felt like a creeper just downloading the app onto my phone. What would it look like if I used it (even though it was professional growth and development)… it just wasn’t sitting right. I knew that I could still achieve a digital awareness of these apps youth today are using, but I didn’t feel that learning about them, just through research, would give me the understanding I was looking for. So, final verdict. NOT HAPPENING.

Second up….. Alexa in the classroom. Well this one was just plain and simple. I’m already using Alexa in the classroom…. and although I’m likely not using it to it’s full potential, I felt that I would be cheating myself of the “full experience” by tackling this one…. So, second verdict. NOT HAPPENING.

Alas, after many hours of thinking, rethinking, and a bit more thinking, I came up with something I have been curious about for ages. Coding. What is it? I don’t really know. Can it be used personally as well as educationally? From what I understand yes… but again, I really don’t know much! What better time and place to tackle figuring out coding, then now! So here it is. I’m on a mission to code! What does that mean? Not sure! Where will I end up? Dunno. But I’m excited! Like really excited!

My journey? Hmmm ….I am going to kick off this project by researching what coding is. Once I have a better understanding of it, I plan to research a few ways that I can begin to code, and I am going to try to code something, or create something by code…. or do whatever it is that one does when they are coding. Like I said, I am shooting in the dark here into unchartered waters…… oh it excites me!!! For those of you who know me, I’m sure you can picture that look I get… (insert it here!! )

How will I document this journey? I will use the 832 Major Project category to document the progress I am making in this area. I plan to share this growth through Vlogs, blog posts, and maybe even a few Screencastifies. The final product will be a documentation of my growth along with whatever I learn about coding. I also understand that the school division that I work for has some neat “coding” resources to use with kids. I plan to get in the know enough that I can begin to use this coding for future learning in the classroom or for an extra-curricular learning opportunity with students!

Here’s to heading out in a boat that I have no idea how to sail! I kind of feel like Moana at the moment… Hopefully I have better luck!

Digital Natives, Yea or Nay?

Are we doing our children justice?

This week we covered some great content in our weekly readings. One of the areas that got my attention was the idea of “digital natives” vs. “digital immigrants”. When I watch the following video, I question if parents today are failing our children by allowing acts like this to occur.

While iPads and iPhones certainly provide parents with a few minutes to wash their hair or get supper on the table, we must question if we are creating “well-rounded digital natives”, or stereotypical millennials. In today’s world, it seems that many people are looking for the shortest way, the quickest fix, the easiest solution to problems…. and with kids, that can easily resort to technology. But do we question these actions and their longterm results? Does giving an iPad to a baby mean that they will acquire the technological skills to make them a well-rounded, technologically savvy teenager or adult one day? Perhaps they will be able to navigate apps and surface level technology, but what about “smarter” technology like Microsoft Word, and other age old programs on computers that are used for academic purposes (or in the old days…. just plain kids!)? (Jocelyn Carr posted this video about millennials and it depicts an example of what could be seen as millennial’s “technological” intelligence…. And I found my self going “Oh yes, ugh… oh dear!” What do you think?)

This brings me to this week’s readings. When I watched the first video “Do Digital Natives Exist?“, I found myself constantly pausing and rewinding to repeat sections. There were some solid key points made.

First, Prensky’s definition of digital natives got me thinking. A digital native is defined as native speakers of the digital language of computers, video games, and the internet. A digital immigrant is defined as those who were not born into the digital world but later in their lives became fascinated by and adopted many or most of the new technology. Okay, so just to get this straight, if you were born after the internet became “a thing” you get to be a digital native… but if you are an “old foggy”, and were born before it came out (so … when internet was rolling out and one was competent to learn as it evolved…. you are still considered a digital immigrant). Apparently, I have a few problems with this.

First, I am one of those people sitting right on the cusp of that time transition… so what does that make me? An in-betweener? Do I have the unique ability to choose which one I want to be? hmmmm.

Additionally, just because someone lives in a certain place, does not guarantee that learning the native tongue will be innate if they are born there. What if their entire social circle continues to speak the language of their specific culture.  Similarly, just because someone is born as a millennial, does not mean that they will have access to technology, nor does it guarantee that those accessing it, will take their time to educate themselves on quality uses of technology. In my opinion, we have become a society that focuses more so on “social technology”, and finding ways to communicate with others, whether they are right in front of us, or millions of miles apart. Where does the guarantee of “quality technology” come into play?

While I agree that older generations may struggle to understand and immerse themselves into some aspects of technology, I find myself aligning my thoughts much more with David White, when he explained his continuum that rated one’s digital literacy based upon one’s motive to engage with technology.

White also takes the time to clarify what examples of learning technological literacies can include. He names “critically evaluating a range of digital resources, and having the capability to formulate and express cogent arguments online” to start. Understanding that there is more to engaging with apps on a phone is an area that may require further engagement for our future generations if we are to label them “digital natives”. Us “immigrants” best be figuring out how to teach them digital natives, how to be better educated “natives” if this be the case.

When examining White’s model of visitors and residents, we look at these positions through a lens. Those who are using the visitor lens, primarily use the web for tools that leave no footprint behind. These might include: paying bills online, searching for information, booking a holiday, etc.

In resident mode however, those interacting, use the web as a space where engagement does leave a digital footprint. Examples of these interactions include: commenting on posts, having social media profiles, and being active within known online communities.

Where one sits on this continuum, and whether the use is for personal or institutional goals, can change one’s level of experience. While I do think that millennials today tend to “use” technology all day e’ry day…. I don’t think this should be a qualifier to “native” citizenship.

Those who I believe are the most technologically literate and knowing, might possibly be those who indulge in some social media aspects, take the time to understand academic programming skills (Word, PowerPoint, etc.), are able to critically analyze digital resources, while also remembering some of Turkle’s suggestions of the need to disengage every now and again… to be “head’s up, eyes to the sky, left to ponder and appreciate”. Being immersed, knowing how to use technology, but also having the smarts to remember to disengage, is perhaps my ideal vision of the “ultimate” tech savvy profile in today’s day and age.

Where do you lie in the mix?


Photo Credit 

Sorry…. got a Snap Streak on the go…. I’ve got to run! See you next week! 🙂