From Print to Pixel


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The article “From Print to Pixel: The Role of videos, games, animations and simulations within K-12 education,” discussed the 2015 national findings of the Speak Up organization. Speak Up is part of the Project Tomorrow initiative that is a nonprofit organization dedicated to student voices in education. Each year Speak Up conducts a survey of teachers, librarians, students, administrators and parents. The 2015 results were interesting and informative. I especially liked the student responses to the question, “What will school be like in 2020?” These quotes were scattered throughout the article and provided a good insight as to how students view technology and education.

“Five years from now, everyone will be using tablets and technology every single day. Students play online games to study. Students will also have a class blog, so if they have question, they can get help. Five years from now, we use technology every day in school.”  

Male student, 8th grade, Texas

Some of the statistics that I found to be impressive was the fact that in 2015 46% of high school students are using on line textbooks. Also, in 2015 68% of teachers are using on-line videos. Either videos that they have created or ones the have found from other on-line sources. This makes total sense because as stated in the article, the content rich videos from sources like the Kahn Academy, NASA, Ted Talks and You Tube will only enhance a lesson. The article also pointed out that students and parents do not mind watching videos. A number of people watch You Tube videos to learn basic cooking skills or at home “how to” projects.

The fact that 57% of principals felt lack of teacher training to integrate technology into a lesson is a problem was also relevant. I have worked in three different schools over the past twelve years and the schools that help train teachers and have a strong technology professional are the schools where teachers are using the most technology. It is essential that teachers receive appropriate training in technology that is relevant to their grade level. Based on the students quotes and the fact that our students are also socially connected teachers need to understand as much about technology as they can.

Gaming is an area where I have and will continue to incorporate technology in my first grade classroom. The article stated the 65% of K-2 glasses employ on-line gaming compared to 59& in grades 3-5, 44% in grades 6-8 and 31% in grades 9-12. There are a number of on-line educational gaming sites and apps that are appropriate for early elementary students. Some of these include Brain Pop Jr., Razkids, Splash Math and Starfall. What I will try to do in the upcoming school year is have my students become more creative with their on-line games.

04SplashMath                                              Brainpop-Jr.1


Five Myths About Classroom Technology (And What To Do Instead)


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I enjoyed the post “Five Myths About Classroom Technology (And What To Do Instead)” by Rebecca Recco. The post was written in a way that gives you solutions or recommendations to some of the myths/problems associated with technology use in today’s classrooms. Each myth and recommendation made sense to me and was something I could relate to or incorporate into my current first grade classroom.


Some of the points in the post that stood out to me included comparing technology to a tool. Ms. Recco indicated that a hammer is a very useful tool but you may not need one on every contracting job. Just as technology is very useful you may not need to use it in every lesson. The recommendation here was to have the student do a task (i.e. paint a picture) and then have them record themselves on an Ipad in the picture. The idea is that painting with paint is better then painting on an Ipad but recording yourself in the picture would be interesting and fun for the student. Recently, I received a similar recommendation from my professor for one of my own lesson plans. It was quite easy to incorporate and I can see how it would make the lesson more beneficial for the student.

The myth that technology is dangerous and we have to limit access also had a great recommendation. The idea of training our students to be digital citizens at home and in school is a fabulous one. Hopefully both parents and educators are teaching our students to be polite, kind and good citizens to one another in person. We also need to teach them how to do this on line. Explaining to children that the Internet contains some bad things from bad people, just like the real world, is an essential tool for them. The other myths discussed included technology and student success, educational gaming improving student achievement and that technology is less meaningful then traditional education. Ms. Recco’s recommendation on these myths all followed the theme of having students become more creative and move up the SAMR model. Once again, I agree with her recommendations and can see how they would be effective in the classroom.


After reading this I noticed that Ms. Recco’s post was part of the EdSurge Fifty State Project sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I did a Google search and saw that the project had posts from educators in almost all fifty states. The posts had to do with educators explaining how they are using technology in their lessons. This was quite interesting and a great resource for future research. Many of the articles relate to the topics that are being discussed in my current class ED554.

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The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

After reading the article by Michael Godsey, “The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher,” I was taken back and sad about how a teachers role may be changing. Thinking back on my own education I remember the teacher and their personality before I remember what they actually taught. I can say that about my earliest years in elementary school to my current classes at Marymount. I believe some of the best teachers I had were good storytellers who had amazing life experiences. Take for example, Dr. Nasr, who currently teaches the graduate course “Foundations in Education.” The life experiences that he shares in each of his classes are amazing and I feel blessed that I was able to sit and listen to his lecture in person instead of watching it on a video. Once again, I am not saying that there is not a need for technology in the classroom but the balance of personal relationships and technology is essential.

student driven learning

As I reviewed the article a second and third time I looked at Sugata Mitra’s diagram that Mr. Godsey included. I agreed with it but thought that the teacher should not only facilitate these skills but be engaged in them too. I saw a You Tube video with Sugata Mitra where he comments on the role of the teacher.

I was happy after watching it that Mr. Mitra believed the role of the teacher was very important and their job was to ask the engaging question. He explained that the answer is easy to get due to the Internet and current technology. The difficult thing is asking the right question for the appropriate age level. I believe these questions would highlight the teachers’ skills and knowledge of the subject along with bringing out their personality.

tim kaine


Our own education stays with us for a lifetime. I was reminded of this when I watched the Democratic Convention last night on television. Tim Kaine, the vice presidential nominee of the Democratic Party stated that his high school education at a Jesuit all boys high school helped shape him into the person he is today. His school motto “Men for Others” is something he has never forgotten. As I stated in earlier blogs I currently teach at a Jesuit elementary school in Washington D.C.  Mr. Kaine’s school motto is the same for all Jesuit schools at the elementary, secondary and college level (Men/Women/Children for Others). Jesuit schools do use technology in all aspects of their mission but the teacher student relationship is still a top priority.  I have attached a Jesuit blog/post that highlights this.

The personal side of education is an important component. I hope that most educators go into the profession not only to educate but also to make a difference in a childs life. This can be done with or without technology. Of course, with that being said, children rely on technology and to be relevant in their lives we should use it. We have stated many times in class that having a balanced approach to technology is essential in the 21st Century classroom – I hope it stays that way!

The Digital Divide


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Recently, I was given the assignment to comment on equity in the classroom and bridging the digital divide. I found it quite appropriate given the times we are currently living in. The recent shootings of black men and of police officers have left the United States facing racial issues that have been going on for generations. Also, the tragedies that have taken place all around the world lately and a nasty presidential campaign seems to have everyone on edge. It could be depressing but the only thing that gives me hope is that education is the key to changing a lot of these problems. Also, the fact that social media is present in all of the above examples makes me believe that technology can help bridge the divide and be used to spread peace instead of violence.

After I watched the videos “Black Girls Code” and “BYOD to Bridge the Digital Divide” I was happy to hear that at least we recognize that there is a problem and realize that not all students have access to the Internet.

The statistics show that children from lower income areas and communities of color have less broadband access. I believe Mr. Mill’s idea in “BYOD to Bridge the Digital Divide,” is a great way to start. Allowing students to bring their own devices, including smart phones, levels the playing field somewhat. I see how BYOD, especially at the high school level, could work. My own sons school allowed the students to do this including smart phones. I remember asking him if it was a distraction and he commented that it actually helped him focus more because he used his phone openly in  class.

My concern would be for the students who do not have phones or computers. There should be a way that schools are able to provide this. I understand that there are budget restrictions and lower income schools may not have the money. This is where administrators and educators need to inform and educate the politicians that these children need technology to bridge that gap. The burden also lies on the classroom teacher. As a classroom teacher, I need to know what my students have access to at home. This is easy for me because I teach first grade and my students will tell me without being embarrassed. At a different grade level it may be more difficult but you still need to find out. If I know a student does not have access to the Internet at home I need to modify the assignment just as I would for an ESL learner or a student with an IEP. I believe one of the most important aspects of being a teacher is knowing where your children are coming from.

As I researched information regarding the digital divide I came across an interesting article in Newsweek. The article, “Is Google Making the Digital Divide Worse?” discussed Google’s initiative called Google Fiber.

This service promises”superfast connectivity,” “endless possibilities” and “goodness.” The article explains that when Google went into Kansas City, MO with this service the affluent side of the city was able to sign up for it and the poor, elderly and minority neighborhoods could not. Google is a $400 billion company that does in fact have many charitable programs, however, this does not excuse them from not working harder to get service into all neighborhoods. I believe educators, administrators and politicians need to work with corporations and educational institutions to close this digital divide and provide children with all the tools they need to learn in the 21st century.



How to Escape Education’s Death Valley



After watching the TED talk “How to Escape Education’s Death Valley,”

I felt inspired and hopeful. Sir Ken Robinson who gave the talk is a British creativity expert who outlined three ideas that drive the human mind to excel. His principles are as follows:

  • Humans are naturally different and diverse
  • Humans are naturally curious
  • Human are inherently creative

Sir Robinson pointed out that the education system in the United States does not necessarily follow or promote these principles. No Child Left Behind, for example, focuses on STEM courses. Sir Robinson explains that our children still need the arts and physical education classes. He also indicated that children are natural learners and that we are DE professionalizing the roles of teachers in our country. He noted that teaching is a creative profession and that teachers should mentor, stimulate and engage their students. The primary role of the teacher is to facilitate learning. He argued that standardized testing should not have a dominant role but a supportive role.


When Sir Robinson explained his principle that humans are inherently creative he challenged teachers to awaken cultures of creativity in their students. He stated that the top school systems have the following things in common:

  • Individualized learning
  • Attribute high status to the teaching profession
  • Give individual schools more responsibility

He believes that education is about people and that the culture of a school is essential to learning. Sir Robinson gave the example of when it rained in Death Valley, California in 2004.   After the rain stopped flowers emerged. He explained that Death Valley is not actually dead only dormant, just as education could be in our country at this time.

The reason I am hopeful and inspired by this talk is that the ideas Sir Robinson is putting forth make total sense and do not seem that difficult to achieve. I believe some existing schools are creating cultures of creativity. The second video I watched “Education is Broken,” was given by Chris Lehman the principal of the Philadelphia school Science Leadership Academy.

Mr. Lehman gave wonderful examples of creative programs that are being used in his school. I am also fortunate enough to work in a small private Jesuit based school that does embrace the principles that Sir Robinson discussed at the beginning of his talk – diversity, curiosity and creativity. I have attached my schools mission and philosophy statement.





After listening to some podcasts on Bam! Radio, I would definitely consider using this for professional education. The fact that there were a number of topics presented by various individuals in different professions was intriguing to me. I have been in the classroom for a number of years and have attended many professional development classes and lectures. The ones that I enjoyed the most and were the most useful were the ones when a dynamic speaker was involved. Realizing this could be costly for some school districts maybe listening to a podcast of a good speech could work.

One of the podcasts that I listened to was “Is Challenging Student Behavior on the Rise? Or is it Just Me?

This was an interesting podcast that interviewed two individuals who discussed young children’s behavior in the classroom. Barbara Kaiser has worked with the Nova Scotia Department of Education for over three decades. She has co-authored a book “Challenging Behavior in Young Children: Understanding, Preventing and Responding Effectively.” Amanda Morgan has over 20 years experience in teaching, she also writes a blog, Not Just Cute.

These two individuals gave interesting reasons on why some challenging student behavior may be on the rise. Ms. Kaiser indicated the financial crisis of 2008 led to stress in parents that was then conveyed onto the child. Also possible job lose of either parent. She also indicated that the fact that parents are on cell phones and using technology so much there is a lack of real communication between parents and children. Ms. Morgan indicated that we might be putting unrealistic expectations on children. For instance, requiring them to sit too long or giving them work that does not match up with their readiness. Ms. Kaiser agreed with this and felt that some children may become frustrated by higher expectations. Kindergarten is the new first grade in many areas.

Both individuals agreed that teachers should provide young students a safe, caring nonviolent classroom and should model appropriate responses to poor behavior. Teachers should help students respect one another and appreciate the fact that they may be different. They also indicated that a teacher should not be afraid to seek clinical services when necessary and not wait to ask for those services.

I could relate to the topics discussed in this podcast being that I teach first grade. I agreed with all of the points these individuals brought up and was able to get some good insight and advice.



I was asked to review or create a product for my technology class. I initially chose Wordl but had some difficulty getting the program to run on my computer. I chose Wordl because I thought I could use it in my “Back to School Night” presentation for the first grade parents. I would of taken all the words from my power point that dealt with what to expect in first grade. I still plan on doing this after I am able to get Wordl to run on my computer.

After my setback, I then tried to do a Powtoon. I was successful at this and found the site fairly easy to navigate. I used one of the existing movies and modified it to my needs. I chose the movie that discussed classroom rules. Every year my first grade class comes up with a set of rules to follow for the year. After we make the rules they are posted in the classroom and everyone signs them.

The movie I made uses my class rules from last year. When I go back to school in August I will have this years class generate some new rules and modify my movie once again. I feel that my students will enjoy the movie. I may also try to have them sign or type their names on a slide that can be incorporated into the movie.

Like I stated earlier this site was fairly easy to use. I did have some trouble getting the images I wanted but I think if I spent more time using the site it would become easier. Time is the biggest challenge for me and I am sure for many other teachers. As I go forward in this class, I will try to incorporate one or two things I have learned instead of trying everything and running out of time!





Extracurricular Empowerment

After watching the TED talk by Scott McLeod entitled “Extracurricular Empowerment,” I felt a little more at ease about technology and young children. Compared to the video “Generation Like” this TED talk gave more positive examples of how students are using technology outside of the classroom. The students profiled in the TED talk were using technology to help change the quality of school lunches, help others and send inspiring messages out on You Tube.

After viewing this talk, I was still concerned about kids coming home from school and getting behind a screen of some sort. However, I was reminded of a report that I saw in a Time for Kids article regarding some myths about kids and technology.

In this report it shows that kids are connected but also do some sort of physical activity. It also states that TV and music are an integral part of a childs day. Now, however, children are watching TV on computers and listening to music on their smartphones.

A good example of a student run blog that is used to present positive messages exists in the school that I teach at. The HTS Magis blog is done by a group of upper school students who work on their blogs during and after school. The word Magis is a Latin word that means doing more. These students attend a Jesuit elementary school that follows the teachings of the Society of Jesus, which includes doing more for Christ and for others. Another example, that I came across on You Tube, is an 8th grade boy giving a graduation speech while impersonating the major presidential candidates. This boy was extremely talented and presented his speech in a unique way. I am sure he will receive a number of “likes.”

Once again, as discussed in class, having a good balance between being connected and taking some time away from technology is essential for all kids. Also, a balance of technology in the classroom is important for the teacher and the student.


Generation Like

The video “Generation Like” discussed how important being accepted on social media is to teenagers. It also indicated what a big business the social web is for advertisers and marketing firms. It is important for us to be familiar with how students use the social web so we can create a balance in their lives. We should teach them about interaction through technology and human connections without technology. If educators do not know where these children are coming from we are at a disadvantage.

I was intrigued when the reporter compared “likes” to t-shirts or bedroom posters from years ago. I understand that children are expressing themselves and the things they are interested in, but I do not think they understand how much privacy they are loosing. Every generation of teenagers think they are invincible and it is not until they mature and become young adults that they realize they are not.

I also feel, coming into education with a business background, that we as educators have an obligation to teach these children that corporations for the sake of profits are using them. Ultimately, these companies do not care about our kids and children should know that. Marketing companies have been targeting the pre-teen, teenage and young adult age groups for years. It is only now through technology that the teenagers are actually doing the work for the companies and not receiving compensation for it. From a business perspective I found this quite interesting as an educator and a parent I found it scary.

The two children in the film that I felt were in the most danger due to social media were the skateboarder from Compton Los Angeles and the eighth grade girl at the end of the video. The skateboarder, “Baby Scumbag,” started out by posting skateboard videos but quickly progressed into rude, vulgar videos for the sake of attention (likes) and merchandise from the skateboard company. The eighth grade girl, with the help of her mother, was trying to promote her voice. I thought it was very sad that the mother stated when her daughter posted full body shots she received more “likes.” This is where young children and social media are sometimes not a good mix.

As I stated earlier, I understand children want to express themselves but they need to be taught limits and boundaries. The video indicated that getting likes feels good in the moment. Sometimes things that feel good in the moment are not always the best things for our children. I am fortunate to teach at a Jesuit elementary school where one of the core values is to be a person for others. This helps me direct my young students not to be so self absorbed and my hope is that when they get older they will not be so concerned with how many “likes” they have but what they can do for each other.thumb


I will be using a standard of learning from the Archdiocese of Washington DC. The standard I will focus on is for first grade Social Studies:

Social Studies Standard 4 – Economics

Students will explain how people in the school and community use goods and services and make choices as both producers and consumers.


Being that I am currently teaching first grade in the Archdiocese I am familiar with the routines of a first grade class. I know they are assigned an 8th grade buddy at the beginning of the school year. They meet with this buddy once a week for the entire year. The Economics project that I would assign to the first grade student would incorporate working with their buddy (collaboration) during the third quarter of the school year.

After reading about and watching examples of goods and services,

the assignment I would give the first grader would ask them to identify a good and a service in our school (critical thinking). Being that the school is located in an urban area of Washington DC, I would also ask them to identify a good and service in the community outside of the school. The students are familiar with many of the businesses around the school.

After identifying and reviewing the examples, I would have the first grade student work with their 8th grade buddy to film or photograph themselves using a good and service in school or the surrounding area (creativity).

Finally, I would have the first grade student and their buddy present the video or selfie to the class (communication).