Please Tell Me A Story!

One Tuesday night I had the privilege in hearing Alan Levine @cogdog talking to my Social Media class about Digital Storytelling.  His presentation was so engaging and after the class was over I couldn’t help but, reminisce to my favourite memories and stories…

Growing up telling stories was always a huge part of my family’s routines and traditions.  One of my parents would always read or tell me a bedtime story every night.  I always looked forward to this time! It was fun to use your imagine while meeting new characters and going on adventures in new places.

bedtime story

  Photo Credit: sean dreilinger via Compfight cc

Growing up we also had another very important tradition.  Damon and I both have discussed that when we have children one day of our own that we will continue to carry on this tradition with our family.  Everyday during supper time it was family time.  It was a time when the television was turned off (now cellphones are left in another room) and we as a family would tell each other about our day.  I enjoyed listening to what my brother and sister did at school and how their activities were going.  I loved hearing my parents stories about work!  My favourite stories were when my parents would tell us about when they were growing up.  It was interesting to know what school was like for them and learning about what they did when they were young.  I still remember my mom and dad telling me about buying a candy for only a penny! I only knew those candies as five cent candies.  As a young girl I was so shocked with how many things had changed since they were young.  Now in Canada they do not make pennies anymore! I am looking forward to one day when my own children are shocked when they learn about how many things has changed since I was a little girl.

supper time conversations

Photo Credit: OakleyOriginals via Compfight cc

My favourite family tradition growing up is going to the lake! (We still carry out this tradition every year!)  During the day we would have a blast boating, tubing, kneeing boarding, wakeboarding, and swimming at our beach in White Bear.  Our home away from home!!  After supper almost every night (as long as it wasn’t raining) we would go outside and have a campfire.  Again the evening was filled with reminiscing about family adventures and what we did when we were younger.  We also had fun telling our own make believe stories!  Yeah for campfire stories! It was even more fun when my extended family would come down to the lake.  When my one aunt is at the lake she would often led us into singing campfire songs! For example you could hear us jamming out to Row Row Row Your Boat often in a round.  Even this year one night we broke out singing many great songs around the fire.  So much fun and great family memories!


Photo Credit: Jim Larrison via Compfight cc

roasting marshmellows

   Photo Credit: WesTheYeTi via Compfight cc

What family traditions do you have?  Do you tell stories with your family? 

Now getting back to Alan’s presentation on Digital Storytelling.  His presentation pointed out the value in using storytelling in the classroom and how it could be done through using technology.  He did point out to our class that the story is more important than the tool.  That really stood out in my head!  Sometimes I worry more about if I am using the correct tool when I need to keep focusing on the story/lesson with my class.  Good storytellers hook their audience and engage them through their excitement.  I think that is one reason why I love hearing my family’s stories!  Educators can engage their students in the classroom through adding enthusiasm to their lessons, allowing their students to make connections to what they are learning about, and through storytelling.  When I was reading my fellow classmates blogs.  I really enjoyed reading Danielle’s (@deedegs) blog post “Don’t Like It? Flip It?”  I am very happy that my teachers had more enthusiasm than the teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  This video proves the importance of engaging students!

I agree with my classmate Cortney (@cortney2894) that “Throughout history storytelling has been an important part of the human experience.”  Storytelling is a part of my everyday life.  My students and I tell stories in the classroom, my colleagues share stories in the staffroom, I can read stories online or in the newspaper, watch stories on the television, Damon and I talk about our work day, and I call or Facetime with my family to share what happened in our day.  In Cortney’s blog she also discussed reading her students blogs.  My students are beginning to share their learning with others through blogging, but I could relate to Cortney discussing that she has “enjoyed the engagement that my students and I have experienced in there narrations of their learning in their blogs.”  My students and I have had so much fun exploring our blog entries and reading other classroom blogs!  I am looking forward to seeing my students continued growth with blogging!

During the class I learned about some neat tools.  One tool was called PechaflickrIt allows people to have fun talking about a topic using images they have never seen before.  A few classmates tried it out this tool during our class and they did a fantastic job! I think it would make an awesome speaking activity in ELA.  Katia (@kbhildebrandt) shared with us some resources for Alan Levine’s session.  Wow! I was amazed by all the terrific resources.  There was so much to discover and learn about!  I am looking forward to exploring this resource more during the Christmas break when I have more time to try some of the tools that were showed in this resource.  In my classroom I have an iPad and I was curious about good apps that I could use in the classroom with my students.  Under a link called 50+ Web Ways to Tell a Story there were more excellent resources!   Under this link I found a resource created by Karen Bosch called Digital Storytelling with an iPad.  I encourage you to check it out! There are so many great suggestions of apps to try, description of the apps, and it even gives ideas and samples with links of what students have created using the aps.  I also encourage everyone to read and have a look at Raelynn’s (@raelynnsmith) blog post called “She was burning the midnight oil again when suddenly…”  The post is a creative story about her exploring digital storytelling and creating videos using digital media.  She did an excellent job and gave me motivation to try using one digital media tools in my summary of learning project. Thanks Raelynn!

I am looking forward to continuing my storytelling journey!


Photo Credit: giulia.forsythe via Compfight cc

Have you used digital storytelling in your classroom? What tools have you used to help students tell their stories?  I really want to give my students to opportunity to tell a story using an app like Puppetpals, but I find it is hard giving everyone the opportunity when I only have one iPadHas anyone else experienced the same thing?  I would appreciate any advice and suggestions in what I could do!   I am looking forward to reading what you think a my post and if you have any ideas or suggestions for me. Thank you very much! 🙂


Who’s Excited For This Week??? This Teacher Is!!!

After a weekend of rest and now that I am feeling healthy I am very excited for this coming school week!

excited teacher
Photo Credit: Lotus Carroll via Compfight cc

I spent a lot of time this weekend looking at my classroom blog and reflecting about what I see when I look at our classroom blog.  I asked myself what have I done so far???

1. I began this journey by starting our Miss Stephanson’s Classroom Blog and each of my students have their own secret agent blog linked onto our blog to showcase their learning.  I also got permission forms back from each family allowing them to participate in the blog! (Insert happy dance!)

2. I created an about our secret agent classroom page.  It gives details about our school, classroom, and about myself professionally.

3. I also added in a blogging guidelines page.   It allows people who look at our blog to know what my expectations are and what the guidelines are when leaving a comment.

4. Finally I created a contact me page.  I thought it would be a good idea to have a contact me page so people can ask questions and get a hold of me privately through e-mail without having to post my personal e-mail address online.

5.  As a class we have created a few posts together.  When we wrote the posts about Remembrance Day and what they know about germs my students told me their ideas and I typed them out.  Since we did not have a lot of time those days I quoted my students ideas and in brackets I wrote what secret agent gave the idea.

pic of germ blog entry  remembrance day entry

When we blogged about the Firefighter Presentation and when they participated in the Missoula Workshop my students helped me create the introduction.  My students also added their own comments onto both blog posts to showcase their learning.

Does anyone have any ideas about what else I need to add to our classroom blog? Is there any pages that I should add onto our blog?

After reflecting about our classroom blog I started to look at my student’s learning blogs.  When you clicked onto my student’s blogs some of them have their artwork as their picture on their own blog page.  While some students still need to post their artwork.  Most of my student’s personal blog pages look like the picture below.agents blog page 1

The only thing my student’s have on their learning blogs is an about me page.  When people click on the page link they are able to get to know my amazing and intelligent students!

about me blog page 1

So what’s next?? Why am I excited for this week??

I sat down and started to create what I do best….a to do list!!  I am going to get my students to add some posts to their personal blogs.  Then their pages will not be empty anymore!

to do list

Photo Credit: Rob Warde via Compfight cc

1. My students have made fantastic self portraits already so I thought that would be awesome to add their portrait onto their blog page.  All I need to do is scan their work or take a picture of it.

2. My students just finished learning about increasing patterns.  I thought it would be perfect to upload a picture of an increasing pattern they made in class.  Then they can describe their pattern and tell everyone what they know about increasing patterns.

3. I am going to ask my student’s what they want to add to their blog.  After all it is their learning page and their opinions and ideas are very important!

4. I am going to have a discussion with my students about comments and teach them the 3 C’s + Q model that I discussed in my “Just Keep Blogging…” post.

5.  On Tuesday and Wednesday it is our Student Led Conferences. I am going to have laptops in the hallway opened up to our classroom blog.  Then students can show their parents our blog and it would be a great reminder to parents to check out our blog weekly.  By having our blog open it will also allow for other parents and students in the school the opportunity to check out our blog too!


Photo Credit: AJC1 via Compfight cc

I am hoping to have everything checked off my to do list by the end of the week!

Does anyone have any advice in how they got their students to blog more independently? Do you upload the pictures yourself or do you get your students to upload their own pictures?  Do you upload work onto your student’s blogs only during school hours or do you upload work after school too? 

I am open to any ideas or suggestions about our class blog or advice what has worked great when blogging with your class!!   Please share!!

Just Keep Blogging…Just Keep Blogging…Just Keep Blogging…Blogging…Blogging

“Life is a continue learning process.  Each day presents an opportunity for learning.” ― Lailah Gifty Akita

I am someone who finds quotes very inspirational.  I know that may sound very cheesy, but it is the truth.  I find that quotes can help spark creativity and can give me a lot of motivation.  I have quotes posted in my classroom, house, my agenda, and I even have a calendar that gives a motivational message everyday.  I thought this quote was a fitting way to begin this blog post about my digital project and EC&I831 Social Media class.  This class has been a huge and exciting learning curve for me!  Everyday I have been reading everyone’s posts and I am so impressed with my fellow classmates work!  They are all fantastic educators and have great ideas to share!! My #eci831 classmates rock!!  I have learned about so many great websites, apps, tools, blogs, videos, and resources from everyone.  It has provided me with so many opportunities to learn, reflect, and grow as an educator.  Thank you so much everyone!

When I was looking for a blogging quote for inspiration to begin this post I stumbled on this website that discussed Blogging with Elementary Students.  While I was exploring through the website I came across a link that took me to a post on Ms. Naugle’s Classroom Blog.  Her class posted a video to teach their parents how to leave a quality comment when they visit their blog.  I really liked the idea of having the students create the video to explain to their parents how to leave a quality comment! This reminded me of the comment that Jenn Stewart-Mitchell left me on my Digital Citizenship Webinar blog.  She told me about a great model to keep the conversation going called “the 3 C’s + Q model.”  I have talked a little bit about commenting on blogs with my class, but I want to continue discussing that topic and go more depth.  My goal is to discuss giving positive comments on blogs with my students next week and look at the model that Jenn told me about more closely with my class.  Then once my students understand the process I want to get my students to help create a digital story or video to explain to their parents how to leave a quality comment when they visit our classroom blog.

While exploring Ms. Naugle’s blog I saw that her students created a math journal post to showcase their learning about a math concept they were learning about.  My students journal their math thinking in their pause and think journals, but I like the idea of students blogging about math.  They could take pictures of their work or manipulatives that they used during math class and then explain their thinking.  When I clicked on Bennett’s blog I saw a post that he had created a post about trapezoids and how he used Glogster to help showcase his learning.  Has anyone ever used Glogster before?  This is the first time that I have ever heard about Glogster so I am going to continue to look more into it and try it out.

Then continuing my journey through exploring the website when I clicked on a science blog I came across another link that I have never heard of before.  It was called Thinglink! It allows people to create interactive images! Very cool! I wanted to try using this tool so I signed up for Thinglink and started to explore the tools features.  (I now have so many new accounts and passwords that I had to write them all down in a book so I do not forget what passwords I used for each account).  On the website I began to search through all the different creations that people had made.  I liked the creations that used a variety of images to link to, but I have no clue how they added in so many images. Yikes! But, yahoo for being able to find the answers on the internet.  I am someone who learns best my watching someone show me the steps so I turned to YouTube.  On YouTube I searched how to add multiple images in Thinglink and I found this video on youtube.  I never would have thought to use publisher to create my college of pictures to help me create what I had envisioned in my head.  I decided that I would keep it simple for my first time using this tool so I created an all about me page.  I took different photographs of my stuff to help make my creation come to life.  I was impressed that it did not take me long to put together once I collected all of the pictures that I wanted.  I insert my photographs into publisher and placed them how I wanted the images to appear.  After I grouped the images together like the YouTube video instructed me to do and I saved my image.  It made it easy to insert my image into Thinglink and then all I had to do was insert the links that I wanted for each of the images.  Check out creation that I made using Thinglink and let me know what you think!

I am glad that exploring through the blog gave me some new ideas to use in my classroom to help my students continue to add to our classroom blog in different ways.  I was getting a little bit frustrated with myself because I did not get everything accomplished for my classroom blog like I wanted to and discussed in my previous blog post about my digital project.  But, I should have remembered that during report card time our classroom gets so busy so I should have set out smaller goals for myself.  This week I was looking forward to getting everything done on my list, but I was out of my classroom sick Thursday and Friday with a chest and sinus infection.  I did not know who my substitute was going to be so I did not want to plan my students to blog since they are still learning the blogging routines and not every substitute knows about blogging.  I love using technology in my classroom, but it is hard to carry out routines when you are away from the classroom when you are sick or attending different meetings.  There are lots of people do not know about the different tools and how to use them so I would not want them to be uncomfortable and it can be very hard to explain what to do as well.  I often try to only have my student complete tasks using technology when I am in the classroom, but I have left Smartboard and laptop tasks for the substitutes before because my Smartboard and the laptop cart gets used everyday in my classroom.  My fellow colleagues use their Smartboards and the laptops everyday as well so we help each other out when someone is away from school.  We each write in our sub plans to talk to our fellow colleagues if the sub is having any technical problems with the Smartboard or laptops.  What does everyone else do when they are away from their classroom? Do you still have you the students complete technology tasks when you are away or does it depend on what the task is?

When I saw the image below I thought it was a very fitting way to end my blog.  I just need to take a breathe, keep working hard, and carry on blogging.  This weekend I am going to reflect by reading the last blog post about what I wanted to accomplish with my project and make a new game plan for the week.  To end on a very positive note I was very happy that my students helped me create a new blog post last week about Remembrance Day.  This week we also created a post that discussed what my students have learned about germs.  So I thrilled that we did add more posts to our classroom blog!  I also made sure this week that all of the pictures that were used in our classroom blog posts were cited! Very important to teach to our students to properly give credit to others for their work.

Happy blogging everyone! Stay tuned to what I am planning to achieve this week for my digital project!

keep calm and blog on

  Photo Credit: hgjohn via Compfight cc

Marking, and Reporting, and Blogging…Oh my!


 Photo Credit: Pkabz via Compfight cc

The end of October is always a crazy busy time for me in my classroom! This is the time that I am finishing off my units and I begin to assess my students in a variety of ways to show their growth in all of the different subject areas. I know fellow educators can relate to this crunch time.  I am a little bit worried about this report period because my division is in the process of transitioning to a new tool to create our report cards. Our technology consultants have been AMAZING with providing us with Webinars, support documents, and answering e-mails to get us through this process!!! Since I have been so focused on my student’s assessments and report cards that I feel bad that I got a bit behind in my blogging for my graduate class.  But, this weekend I am glad I had the time to begin to get caught up! I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist and sometimes that quality can be a bit of a weakness for me. The blog post that I created earlier today took me over a week to get all my thoughts together.  When I posted my blog to our #eci831 class Google Plus Community page and I discussed my frustrations with finding the correct words and having to edit it so much throughout the week I really appreciated the comment that +Jennifer Stewart-Mitchell told me. She said, “Justine, I can relate! I find that sometimes I might publish a post, then realize that I forgot to add this or that… I guess that’s the beauty of a blog… You can submit, but you can also change if you need to…”. Being able to edit my posts once they are published is something that I can keep forgetting! Sometimes I focus too much on finding the exact words and when I am still unsure about something that it is okay to tell everyone that I am still pondering the topic. Then once I know the answers I am then able to go back to add to my blog post or create another post discussing my findings and changes to my opinion.

I still cannot believe that it is already November! Where did the two months go?!?! It is exciting to think about all of the tools and resources that I have been introduced to! I am glad this class has pushed me to grow professionally and has provided me the opportunity to connect with and learn from so many amazing educators. On September 15th I posted about my experience with participating in Kathy Cassidy’s Digital Citizenship webinar.  From participating in that webinar I got an email about another webinar that was on October 29th exploring Connected Formative Assessment. I used my cellphone to connect to blackboard collaborate to attend the webinar, but I experienced a lot of difficulty with staying connected through my cell. I was sad that I had trouble staying connected, but I was very excited when I received an e-mail letting me know that I was selected to receive one of their digital books for free. I chose Kathy Cassidy’s book called Connected from the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades. I cannot wait to receive her book and dive into reading it!  I encourage everyone to check out the Powerful Learning Practice website.  There are a lot of great resources and information available on the website or you could follow the Powerful Learning Practice on Twitter @PLPNetwork.

I was very happy on Tuesday we have the opportunity to be able to ask Katia and Alec questions about our class, blogging, and our projects.  I could relate to Clayton’s blog post! Do not worry Clayton I also relate to missing the boat on making sure I added photo credits to the pictures that I posted onto my blog.  This weekend I spent time watching Alec’s Basic Blogging Tips video that he created for our graduate class.

I encourage everyone to check out his video!  The part that I found most useful was when he walked us through how to cite photographs properly using CompfightI could understand how Clayton felt because I also found there was not as many options for photographs, but I am happy that I will not be going to “copyright jail” once I am finished going through all of my blog posts.  So far I have added in the photo credits to my more recent blog posts, but there are a few photographs I am having trouble to replace.  For example when I wrote a blog post about Twitter I found specific pictures that I wanted to share that represented my thoughts about Twitter.  Does anyone have any suggestions in where I could find similar pictures from a website that I could give credit to the person who created the picture?  In other blog posts that I created I also used pictures that were quotes.  Does anyone have any suggestions in where I could find similar pictures that I can give credit to appropriately?  My goal is to finish citing the rest of my photographs in my blog post by Wednesday.

This weekend I was also busy with adding an about me widget to my blog page.  On the about me website I made sure I connected people to my Google Plus page, Twitter handle, WordPress Blog, and my classroom blog that I created using Edublog.  I also worked on adding a page onto my home blog that explains my Major Digital Project about my classroom blog to everyone and then below there is a category page that allows everyone to read all of my blog posts that I created about my digital project journey.  I feel like I am heading back on the highway in my blogging journey and finally getting off of the detour that I was on over the past week! I am going to continue to work on my Twitter account @JNSteph87 and my personal blog.  If you can any suggestions in how I could make my accounts better and if I am missing anything please let me know! I appreciate your feedback a lot!!! 🙂

What Is Your Role Online?

On October 21st our class had the pleasure of hearing Bonnie Stewart @bonstewart present to our class about Networked Identities. This topic had me thinking and reflecting for the past week and a half. As Mark Zuckerberg discussed “back, you know, a few generations ago, people didn’t have a way to share information and express their opinions efficiently to a lot of people. But now they do. Right now, with social networks and other tools on the Internet, all of these 500 million people have a way to say what they’re thinking and have their voice be heard.” New technology and social media has changed how we communicate and express ourselves to the world. It has opened the doors to connect with so many people. I think it can be very exciting, but it also can lead to some misinterpretations. I believe now more than ever it is imperative to educate our students about digital citizenship and how they leave a footprint in the digital world. Students need to also learn how to keep themselves safe as well. Tammy Lee @tempeylee shared a video called Consequences: Assembly for 11 16 year olds with us on our Google Discussion page online. It is a very good video for middle year’s students and older students to view. We need to remember to keep personal information private to help protect ourselves. Many times we think that we are evincible and nothing would ever happen to us, but you cannot always guarantee that.

During Bonnie’s presentation she had many interactive slides that allowed for us to provide our feedback and reflect on different topics.  It is amazing that even though we are not in a face to face classroom setting that I was able to interact with my fellow classmates and learn from them as well.  While we were adding our opinions to a question on our chat Katia @kbhildebrandt said, “Lots of digital dualism coming out in this slide.”  That was the first time that I have ever heard of the term digital dualism.  Alec @courosa provided us with a link to a website about digital dualism.  I could see the point that the author Nathan Jurgenson was trying to get across. Jurgenson points out that, “Digital dualists believe that the digital world is “virtual” and the physical world “real.””  Technology is so ingrained in our daily lives that the virtual and physical worlds now overlap and Jurgenson argues that “the digital and physical are becoming increasingly meshed.”  I learned that many people see the physical world and the digital world being separate from one another, however, with social media now it connects people in both worlds.  The line of the separate worlds have now become smudged and they merge together with one another.  Do you think the virtual work and the physical world are separate or linked together?

The exciting part of our class is getting the opportunity to read fellow classmates blogs.  In one of Jennifer’s  blog posts @jstewiestewie she commented that, “As teachers we look at encouraging our students to be readers who are able to effectively interpret, summarize, analyze and synthesize what they read. But do we?” I think so many times adults skim the material and share without thinking the quality of the source and what is purpose behind sharing the post or story. Will sharing this it hurt others? Is the message true? Is it important to share this post? Many times the whole story is not told or maybe the story is only one sided, therefore, it is important to be critical thinkers while we are reading and what we are sharing.

In another blog by Jennifer she made the connections to the movie “The Breakfast Club” and social identity. I have never seen the movie before, but after reading her blog I want to watch it to see how social identity is portrayed. She mentions, “In today’s terms how have the roles changed? In the on-line world, what are the new roles? Could they be the: “Citizens”, “Trolls”, “Victims”, “Hackers”, “Users”, “Creators”, “Tweeters”,  and “Curators” …” Her comments and connections really had me thinking. What are the different roles that I have seen while participating in Social Media? Most importantly, what is my role online? I never heard some of the terms before like trolls until our class. I believe everyone cares about their identity and want to feel included. I’m glad that I did not have the pressure of an online identity when I was young. When I was young I know I made a lot of mistakes and I am glad the evidence of my mistakes are not living on the Internet. When I was in high school msn online chat was very popular and social networks were just getting started like MySpace and Hi5 where you create a profile. When I started my undergrad degree at the University of Regina I joined Facebook. I am glad I was older when I joined Facebook because being older allowed me to understand a bit more about the Internet and how information can be spread and shared with others. Even with being older I still needed some friendly reminders from my parents in how to keep safe. Facebook was one of the only Social Media accounts that I really used. Around last year I joined Pinterest and now this September I joined Twitter. You can followed me on Twitter @JNSteph 87.  I find I am usually the person who does not join things right away.  It even took me a while to join Facebook because I like to sit back and check them up first before I join.  While reading other classmates blogs I could relate to Andrew’s post because I am on Facebook everyday as well, but I do not post comments or update my status often. I like the opportunity to see how my family and friends are doing through looking at pictures and reading their statuses. I agree with Andrew that I think if it was not for this class I do not know if I would ever joined Twitter or the other different communities online either. Now that I have joined these online communities I am beginning to wonder what role I fit into when I am online. What does my online identity portray?  We all have a lot to offer to the world and we can learn so much through one another. What role to do see yourself in when you participate in online communities?  As Bonnie asked us, “What DO you want to contribute?” I think that is a very important question! Our professional identity is very important, but we can also contribute to the world in so many different ways.  What will you contribute to your family, friends, students, and communities that you belong to?

bonnie's presentation

(Photo Credit: I took this picture with my iPhone of Bonnie Stewart’s @bonstewart slide during her presentation that our ECI831 participated in.)