How can Digital Citizenship Evolve?

Today’s students are more technologically savvy than any generation before them. As a quick aside, I have been thinking about my major project and how to incorporate Snapchat into the classroom so I took the question to my students. Immediately, they provided me with numerous ideas and scenarios for me to access Snapchat in a safe and meaningful way.


[Let’s embrace Snapchapt as a teaching tool and not let it scare us]

However, one key idea that we need to remember is that even though our students may be technologically superior to us, they still are young people who occasionally make mistakes and need to understand the repercussions of their actions. As Alec and Katia’s blog pointed out, the appetite for shaming anyone who has made a mistake remains hungrier than ever. Therefore, I want to teach my students to become more digitally conscious moving forward.

As Robyn Shulman points out, “Digital Citizenship is more than just a curriculum to be taught in a classroom; it is an ongoing process to prepare youth for a society immersed in technology, personally and professionally.” Digital Citizenship is not something that can be placed in a box, taught for one week and put away. It needs to be a lifelong commitment if we to best prepare our students for the future.

So what does digital citizenship look like going forward? I believe it is a combination of a need to embrace the technological knowledge our students possess while still reminding them of the dangers they face and the potential repercussions if they are not mindful.


Fight the Distractions? Or Embrace Them?

As a high school teacher, so much of my time is spent reminding/encouraging/demanding students turn off their phones and focus on the learning that needs to take place. However, the videos from this week are making me consider the issue somewhat differently. If our students are digital natives, then can we truly expect them to turn off a part of themselves?

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With some critical recollection, I am aware of the fact that a lot of my teaching methodology is based upon the way I was taught as a student, direct instruction with the teacher as the primary source of knowledge. The line of thinking states that if students are facing forward with pens in hand, there is no basis for distraction and the knowledge will flow freely. However, as my pedagogy has evolved I am starting to question the basis of this information. If the students are most comfortable with technology in front of them, will they be able to focus by simply writing notes?

I think back to when I went first attended university, maybe 5% of students brought a laptop to class, while during my postgraduate work, at least 95% of students bring some form of technology to work with. If we embrace this level of technology with our colleagues in university, should we not allow the same level of freedom to our Digitally Native students?

Of course, the pushback to this thought process always starts with the question of distraction. If the students are freely allowed to access their phone in class, what’s to stop them from playing games instead of learning? As I researched cell phone distraction, the results were disappointing. Too often websites focused on physically removing the device from the student as the only way to maintain their attention.

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So my goal this semester is to make a fundamental shift.

Instead of fighting a losing battle to remove the phone from their hands,I am instead going to focus on making that device a tool which enhances their learning, rather than leading to a distraction.

The method to achieving this goal is yet to be determined. My major project will focus on how to incorporate Snapchat into the classroom and before I can proceed any further, I want to talk to my students and learn from them as they are more knowledgeable in the app than I could ever be.

Major Project: Searching for Inspiration

Greetings and Salutations!

For those of you that have read my blog before, welcome back! And for those of you new to the class, strap in you’re ready for a treat!


EC&I 832 is my third class with Alec, so I generally feel quite comfortable with the expectations surrounding the class.  However, after our first class I found myself struggling to choose a direction for the major project.  After some deliberation, I have decided to take a risk and venture into some media apps that I am not comfortable or familiar with.

Personal Social Media App Choice: Snapchat

Is it time to embrace Snapchat in the classroom?

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While I am quite comfortable with Facebook and Twitter, I have only a cursory knowledge of Snapchat.  While I do have the app on my phone, I rarely use it (usually only to send annoying workout pictures to my friends and family haha).

However, since Snapchat is such a craze for the students I teach, I’m beginning to wonder if there is an effective and safe way to include Snapchat in the classroom.  I’m not sure what this will entail, but I will enlighten you throughout the semester as I learn more.

Educational App Choice: ShowMe

Is it time for my teaching to evolve past the Abacus?

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At the beginning of this school year, I became a Connected Educator which means that I have a set of laptops that stay in my classroom to allow for 1-1 technology integration.  These laptops have been a tremendous help to me and my students as it has allowed us to take on outcomes and indicators in less traditional methods. However, my technology integration is far from perfect and it especially lacks in my Math class.  Therefore, my goal for this semester is to find an app that will effectively allow me to include more technology in my math class.  After some initial reserach, ShowMe appears to be an interesting place to start, but I will review some other media apps as well.


Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  One of the benefits of taking this class is learning from fellow students as well as the instructors.

So if any of you have ideas or experiences using Snapchat in the classroom or technology apps that you have used with a math class, I would love to hear about them in the comments.


Final Blog Post….. (for now)

Hello and welcome to my final blog post for EC&I 834.  This class has been a whirlwind of assignments, information, and relationship building and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Photo Credit

Our major assignment for this course was the creation of a curriculum unit that could be taught online or in a blended classroom.  Together with my partner Nicole Brown, we worked to create a version of Macbeth that would be more accessible to learners of all abilities and language skills.  If you are interested in looking over the material yourself, the link can be found here.

Overview of the Creation Process:

I have found this aspect of the course to be the most rewarding because it allowed us to create something that is meaningful AND will allow us to use it in our classrooms.  With the (likely) decrease of PD money in the future, it is hopeful that I can use a Masters class to create projects that will further benefit my students.

Nicole and I used Canvas as our LMS for this particular project.  The first few forays into the site were focused on getting comfortable with the layout and understanding how we could use it to create a cohesive unit.  Once we were more comfortable we created assignments (some new, some we already had) and organized them in such a way so there was a logical flow to the play and the accompanying work.

Next we created a series of modules (short videos) to teach our students about different important aspects of Macbeth.  A further explanation of the modules can be found here.

Response to Feedback:

Upon completion of our course project, we were tasked with evaluating and providing feedback to our classmates’ projects as they did the same with ours.  These were certainly anxious times as we had no idea what other projects looked like and how ours matched up.

Thankfully, the feedback we received was extremely positive.  The reviewers appreciated our varied use of assignments and our creative modules.  One of the most positive pieces of feedback we received was about our modules and how they appreciated our plan to create several shorter modules, which would allow us to keep the attention of our students.

Another important piece of feedback was the positive response to our course rationale.  Unlike most projects that I examined, Nicole and I decided to create a video for our rationale rather than in essay form.  Universally, this choice was appreciated and perhaps more students will choose to do so in the future.

Now the feedback was not all positive, there were a few small issues to point out.  First off, it appears the Youtube version of the play was taken down for copyright violations since we decided to use it.  This is an unfortunate turn of events but it is a reality you have to endure when deciding to use Youtube as a teaching resource.  As well, the reviewers had issues accessing the “Quizzes” section.  At first, we were unclear why this was an issue, but after we discussed it further we realized it was because the reviewers were viewing the course from the outside, rather than being invited and working through it as students.  This is something that we are thankful they found and now we can address it before the course is evaluated for marks.

Finally, here is my summary of learning, in case you were wanting to watch an excellent Slam Poem.  This slam poem was created by myself and Nicole Brown. Enjoy!

This concludes our final blog post.  Hurray we did it! I hope you have enjoyed following me along on my journey and I hope to reconnect with all of you in a future Couros/Hildebrandt class!

Closing Scene of Macbeth Prototype

Today’s blog post will focus on the process of finishing our course prototype.  Together with my partner Nicole, we worked hard to create a blended unit for teaching Macbeth in an ELA B10 classroom.

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If I were to sum up the process in one word,  I would describe this assignment as rewarding.  My favourite part of this assignment was how well it translated to my own classroom.

Too often in university, work is given that while it may be enlightening, it does not often translate to the classroom.  However, this assignments works perfectly, because upon completion of the course project, I am ready to integrate it into my classrooms.

Another enjoyable part of the process was creating the video modules.  After watching a number of examples, we decided to create five different modules in the form of a Crash Course video.  I found this process to be quite enjoyable and easy to edit with the iMovie program.  In fact, in the future I plan to have my own students create teaching sections using iMovie or MovieMaker.

Finally, I look forward to viewing the course prototypes of my fellow students to see where we are similar and where we differ.  Thankfully we get to do this in the upcoming week to see how my fellow classmates chose to set up their course profiles.

Until next time,



Classrooms as an Open Book

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Greetings all,

Today’s blog post focuses on the use of discussion forms in the classroom and how “open” our classrooms are for our students.  I feel confident in admitting that the classes that I teach in high school are not as open as they could be.

Therefore my blog will focus on where my classroom is now, and the available options I could take to move my class to where I want it to be.

Before starting EC&I 834, I never truly considered the openness of my class and how easy it was for students to give answers in a traditional classroom setting.  When I taught, I would ask questions for feedback or opinions on the subject matter but I tended to talk to only a select few students all of the time.  One way to improve that is explained very well in the following article, which highlights the need to clarify your expectations for participation and to model meaningful expectations yourself.

One possible solution to improving classroom discussions is through the use of discussion boards.

As we move towards a more technological society, students may feel more comfortable commenting in a written forum, rather than speaking in class.

While there is certainly still a need to develop oral language skills, a discussion board allows students in your class to engage in meaningful debate, rather than remaining silent.

Certainly the subject area we teach has a great deal of influence on the amount of openness and discussion forums that we have in class.  I am lucky in that I teach both English and Math, so I am able to see both ends of the spectrum.


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However, despite the perceived lack of discussion in a math class, I need to work on creating an environment where discussion is more prevalent.  As I researched the subject, I came across this article, which gave a number of interesting solutions to adding discussion to math classes.

A final point to mention is the importance of safety in your online forum.  Nicole does a great job of highlighting this effort parent/student permission forums.


Let’s Discuss Discussion Boards


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Welcome back!  Today’s blog prompt wants to discuss what type of interactions will take place in our course project.  My partner, Nicole Brown and I are utilizing Canvas as our Learning Management System and within Canvas we will be focusing on the discussion board.

We are quite happy that Discussion Boards are a feature on Canvas, because, as the following article states, “discussion boards can serve a variety of purposes and can be used to meet a wide range of instructional objectives”.

The article also states that discussion boards can help create a community of learners, a community that is difficult to create if all answers are submitted only to the teacher.

A great feature of the Canvas discussion boards is the option to hide student responses until you have written your own answer.  This should allow for a wider variety of responses and should spur further discussion, instead of students just copying what their friends may have written.


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There is some trepidation that a discussion board can never truly match the type of discussion that can be had in a traditional classroom. Richard Schwier states that “technology facilitates virtual learning communities, but also may inhibit their growth”. As a solution, he offers that we must “employ technology that allows meaningful communication and is easy for participants to use”.

We believe that the Canvas discussion board is very accessible for students and can certainly allow meaningful communication.  Furthermore, to the idea that a true discussion cannot be held in an online form, I believe the opposite.

Traditional classroom discussions are often dominated by a few students who feel most comfortable sharing with the class.  The discussion board allows a voice to those students who may not feel comfortable sharing in class.

I look forward to the opportunity to use this course project with my high school students and to truly get a read on how effective the discussion board is.  In the comments, I would love to hear about what types of interactions you are using for your project and what I can learn from all of my knowledgeable colleagues.