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My Digital Footprint

digital footprint

Thoughts about living in a digital footprint world

I never really thought about my digital footprint until I became the Digital Integration Lead at my school. I had to learn what the laws were so that we could protect our students. First, due to COPPA laws students under the age of 13 should not be on social media or have an email. However, so many parents allow their kids to create accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Snapchat, as I found out last year, is the worse social media source kids can access. Whenever a student leaves a comment, it disappears within a few hours. A friend’s daughter was threatened on Snapchat, but there was no proof he said it. Cases like that scare me for my students and anyone that uses it, because they can’t do anything about it. Last year, I discovered that the district can reprimand teachers for comments or pictures that they post. I have always, and will continue, made my Facebook account as private. I also use my nickname so it is more difficult to find me on their server. My dad taught me to protect my identity and I continue to live by his example.

My digital footprint

So the first thing I did was searched my name on The first site it took me to was Facebook. However, I discovered about 100 Suzy Birds (which is the name I use on Facebook) and 100 Susan Birds. I found my website that I have for my school district that we have to have for our parents and students. I did not find any embarrassing pictures or videos that I need to be concerned about. In fact, I did not find any in my search. I think the reason for that is because I am careful of what I write or post online. I am aware that what you post on social media can ruin your reputation as an educator. Last summer, a teacher’s spouse posted an inappropriate picture of her on his own Facebook and that cost her her job. I do not want to do anything that would jeopardize my career, a job that I love to do everyday.



This is from website.

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Twitter for Professional Development


Below is a list of hashtags that I am following on Twitter. This is the first time I’ve used Twitter as a social media outlet for professional development. Each hashtag lists three specific things, resources, or ideas that I have learned by following them. Finally, I will share my thoughts for using Twitter an outlet for professional development.

#STEM I chose the STEM hashtag so I could find resources to incorporate STEM into my science curriculum. I’m also changing my History Club into a STEM Club. The first resource I found interesting is called “The absence of internet at home is a problem for some students” by Matthew Lynch. It discusses how the lack of internet at home has caused students the inability to complete homework. This is a real problem in my classroom, so this resource was quite helpful. Another great article I found is called “Early- grades science: the first key STEM opportunity” by Madeline Will. It proposes that students should be exposed to STEM at an earlier age. Finally, I found an article called “Women are closing the participation gap in science, but slowly” by Kyle Plantz. This week I helped out at a STEM camp at my school. Out of 24 students that attended, we had six girls. The article includes an animation that predicts when the gender gap will disappear in specific fields. Computer science, for example, will take about 300 years at the rate we are going to disappear.

#6thchat I am a sixth-grade teacher and I’m always looking for new ideas or resources that will help improve my teaching or classroom management. The first resource I found was a blog called “In the Middle” where the author discusses what to do or not do on the first day of school. As I read through the DON’TS, I realized that I need to change things up a little for next year. Another post that I found interesting was a discussion about a new book that has come out called “Breakout” by Kate Messner. I’ve had a class library in the past, but the books kept disappearing. However, after reading the review I might want to start it back up again. There are many posts about trying new websites, like, or someone will post a question to the group and anyone can answer the question to help others find resources.

#middlesci Since I teach science in a middle school, I wanted to be able to connect with other middle school science teachers. One resource that I found from Amplify, a science book publisher, Amplify, was a webinar on treating reading as an act of inquiry. Next year the students will be assigned textbooks that they can write in and this method would be a great approach to approach reading. Amplify had another webinar resource that helped teachers bring argumentation (part of the NGSS), into the classroom. This helps to build on what the students are learning in ELA. Whenever we can help make connections in other subjects for our students, they will succeed. I found free virtual field trips sponsored by the Nature Conservancy. One of the field trips was from the America’s rain forest to America’s deserts. Another trip was through the grasslands and deserts of Africa.

#NGSSchat This year my school district has approved the Next Generation Science Standards and I am interested in finding resources that will help me teach the standards more efficiently. One resource that I found was through Stanford Education. They have created NGSS-aligned project-based learning units. Through a resource called “How to avoid known pitfalls associated with culturally responsive instruction” by STEM teaching tools, I learned that I need to make connections to the students’ cultural knowledge and experiences to give the students a voice. I found resources for teaching Ecosystems that have been aligned to the NGSS that are project-based learning units from the Teaching Channel.

#PBL Last semester, I took Project-Based Learning and became interested in finding and creating more PBL, so following #PBL would give me more resources to reach my goals. One resource that I found provided a list of 15 sources of digital content for my classroom. One source was an international children’s digital library that contains over 4500 books in 59 languages. I found an article called, “The key to STEM achievement: answering the question.” It helps to answer the question that many students ask: when am I going to use this? Another article that I found was called “The 5 steps to implementing an app in the classroom.” It is an easy approach to consider if a teacher is trying to find an appropriate app for their classroom. I liked that it reminds us not to use apps just to add more technology, but to do your homework to see what will fit best.

I find the use of Twitter as a Professional Development tool quite useful. It is a one stop shop where I can go to find resources to help my teaching. It is a good resource to share with other members of my PLC so that we can help each other as we create common assessments or create a student-centered classroom. “Making professional connections via social networking can not only result in a lot of great sharing of ideas and resources, but also combat the sense of isolation that many teachers experience. It’s like having a professional development seminar at your fingertips 24/7, ready to discuss the educational issues that matter to you the most” (Caron, 2011). I also like the ease of use with the Tweetdeck, because I can search through the topics that interests me and not all over Twitter. This will be a resource that I will be using more frequently in the coming years.


Caron, S. (2011). Using Twitter for professional development. Education World. Retrieved from


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Connectivism, Personal Learning Networks, and Communities of Practice


(As I was trying to figure out an image that describes the concepts learned in this module, I had to go back to the beginning. That really helped to bring it all together).

Betsy Duke, Ginger Harper, and Mark Johnston (2013),  quote Stephen Downes, one of the developers of connectivism, stating that connectivism is “…the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks” (pg. 6). For me, a map of a city reminds me of connectivism. The person traveling from one place to another is like the learner traveling the internet superhighway, trying to make connections in his or her mind as they are learning. As cities are being built, streets are forming network of connections to get the traveler from one place to another. A personal learning network is “a network of trusted connections with whom an individual interacts (and learns from) on a regular basis. In other words, your PLN is where you gather, collect, communicate, create and also share knowledge and experience with a group of connected people, anywhere at any time” (Gutierrez, K., 2016). Personal learning networks are similar to malls. They are connecting individual shops into one place, where shoppers (communities of practice), can gather to purchase (collect) items or meet with friends (communicate). “Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Wenger-Trayner, E. & B., 2015).


Duke, B., & Harper, G., & Johnston, M. (2013). Connectivism as a digital learning theory. The International HETL Review. Special Issue. Retrieved from

Gutierrez, K. (2016). What are personal learning networks? SH!FT Disruptive ELearning. Retrieved from

Wenger-Trayner, E. & B. (2015). Introduction to communities of practice. A brief overview of the concept and its uses. Retrieved from


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EDTECH 543: Introduction to Social Networking

WOW! I can’t believe I’m almost finished with my MET. This semester, I am taking Portfolio and Introduction to Social Networking. I am looking forward to the class as it is taught by Dr. Gerstein, one of my professors from last semester. For my first blog of the semester, we were asked several questions. Below you will find the questions and my response to each question. First, I would like you to know that the only experience I have with social media is through my personal account on Facebook. However, second, I would love to learn how to use social networking in my classroom.

  • What are you initial reactions about joining these social networks for use in this course?

I don’t have any problems about joining the social networks for this semester. I’ve never had a Twitter account, so I had to start a new account. It will be a big learning curve because I’m not used to this form of social media. I already had a Diigo account because we had to set it up in EDTECH 501. However, we didn’t use it much. I had the opportunity to use it last semester, but I didn’t use it.

  • What is your experience in using social media for your own professional development?

I haven’t used social media for my own professional development. However, our district is beginning to use Microsoft Office Teams as a way to collaborate. It is just in the beginning stages, but next year we will be using it more, especially in our PLC groups.

  • What is your experience in using social media as an instructional strategy in your learning environment?

I haven’t used social media as an instructional strategy in my classroom. However, I am interested in getting started. I teach sixth grade and the district is against teachers using social media in the classroom. However, there is one program that they will allow us to use and that is Edmodo. I’ve looked into the program a little, but haven’t made the commitment to use it quite yet.

  • What are your expectations for this course?

I would like to learn how to use Edmodo effectively. I would like to also learn other areas that I can use social media for my six graders that will still be in compliance with COPPA.


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Topic 10: Final Reflection

So it’s the end of the semester and I have to reflect on what I have learned during my PBL course. First, I can’t believe it is over. At the beginning I thought that creating a PBL was going to be difficult. I had a hard time at first thinking of an area that I wanted to focus on for this course. However, that was short lived. I knew I wanted to do something with my social studies, because we have access to laptops since our curriculum is online. I thought about what unit was the shortest and not as interesting for the students. I narrowed it down to our Early Man unit and decided to do a survival project. After that, all my assignments fell into place.

Task number two was the most difficult to develop, so I looked at other areas that I could design a task for and that was looking at possible achievements that a civilization would invent as they continued to grow. I rearranged the tasks to fit in a better place to learn about the achievements. I am glad that I changed the task and rearranged the tasks. I am very proud of my first PBL.

Also, when I started the course I wasn’t sure what a PBL was or how to design one. Each week’s assignment built upon the previous one and it became more clear how to complete the PBL. I am not sure if I would have had such a successful PBL if I chose a science concept as I did this one, but I am prepared to write my first science PBL after this semester. In fact, next year I won’t be teaching social studies, so this PBL will be put on hold for a while, but I plan to write others as I become more familiar with the new science standards.

Here is a copy of my first PBL: Survivor PBL

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Topic 9: Peer Review and Assessment

Peer reveiw and assessment can be difficult at any level, because they don’t want to hurt their friends’ feelings or they don’t know how to do it. I feel it is important for teachers to teach the students how to peer review another student’s work. I found a resource that I would use to help instruct students become better peer reviewers. It is called “Peer Assessment Ideas for Secondary” by Nicola Davison. It provides a step-by-step guide that the teacher can use to incorporate peer review into the classroom.

One resource that I would use from the site would be Peer PARA Marking. Students are given the opportunity to praise their peer, make some suggesting to improve their grade, and then the author of the work a chance to respond to their peer. The teacher is the last part where she or he acknowledges what is said to give the student more direction for their assignment. I like how it has speech bubbles with topic starters to help students write a good review based on the work.

Another resource that I found on that site was the Peer Production Line. This allows more than one reviewer to review the paper, especially if it is a longer writing assignment. There are six students that work on the production line and each has a unique role to help the author improve his or her writing. I really like this idea, because it gives the writer more of an opportunity to get reliable feedback.

These are just a few ideas that I would incorporate peer review in my classroom. It is different than what students have seen in the past and it provides a fresh look at peer review. Also. reteaching students how to peer review helps them strenghen as a writer too because they can see some of the mistakes they have done, and fix them before the review process.

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Topic 8: Post Project Reflection

For today’s blog posting, I am looking into the future, the day after my students and I are finished with the Survivor PBL.  I will need to determine the effectiveness of the PBL, if I need to make any changes, and students’ performance. To do this, I must ask myself a series of questions:

Who will you involve in the process? What will your process look like?

The students and I will be part of the process, afterall, they were part of the PBL and they could provide me with their view point of the project. Students will take a survey that I generated (see Link) to get their perspective. They are asked questions like: What was their favorite task that they completed? and why? and What was their least favorite task that was completed? and why? I feel that these questions will help me find the tasks that the students might have found too difficult and needs to be revised. It will also tell me which of the tasks the students really enjoyed and I do not need to revise for student success.

As part of my reflection, there are a few questions that I would answer and they are:

  • Timeline of the project: Was the pacing of the project too much or not enough time? Where should the teacher make the changes to compensate for the pacing issue? I want to know this because I want to make sure that the timeline wasn’t too rigid to allow some flexibility and time for the students to complete all the tasks on time.
  • What areas did the students struggle with? What task was too difficult for the students? What mini-lessons did the teacher have to create in order for the students to be successful? I added these questions as part of the reflection to look at how successful the students were during each task. If a task is too complicated, then I need to revise it and add more resources. My intention for this project to be “busy” work for the students, but another means to the end. I want the students to be engaged in their learning and challenged along the way. 
  • Do the students need additional resources? What were those additional resources? That is part of the reflection on the difficulty level on each of the tasks. I might need to add more resources without any major revision.

Is it just a one-time assessment?

I don’t feel like it is a one-time assessment. I like to change things up each year, so at the end of year two I would have the students complete the surveys and i would answer the reflection questions. This would allow me to continue to make improvements where ever it is needed.

As a side note, next year I will not be teaching social studies so I won’t be using this as a PBL. However, now that I have learned how to create my own I will begin working on one or two for science.