Posted in Edublogs

Digital Citizenship

digital citizenshipEduBlogsClub Prompt #28:

Prompt: Write a post about digital citizenship

  1. How do you teach students about being good digital citizens and appropriate behavior on the web?
  2. Have you had any specific experiences related to students, behavior, and the web?
  3. How do you think that digital citizenship is related to in person citizenship?
  4. What would you add to the list of digital citizenship elements and why?
  5. How have positive and/or negative experiences online influenced your digital citizenship values?

Digital citizenship has always been important to me as an educator. I recall very clearly the last year I was in the classroom (2015), that I promised myself I would make digital citizenship a priority despite the lack of significant technology in my classroom. My students deserved it. They needed online skills. What I mean by lack of significant technology is that my classroom of 30ish 4th graders had 4 desktop computers and we had computer lab time for only a fraction of the school year when state testing or district testing was not occurring.

Despite the lack of a 1:1 or a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative, I was able to teach digital citizenship. A safe way to do this was the use of Edmodo. It was safe for me as an educator because it was a district approved site and designed for student use. I took computer lab time to teach my students the ins and outs of Edmodo and they were very excited to use it. Because of our limited tech situation during the school day I fully expected most of the true interactions to happen at home where students were free to use their own devices. And use their own devices they did! It amazed me how quickly some of my students became cyber-bullies. It was shocking really and a very teachable moment. I would monitor Edmodo anytime I had the chance to, which meant several times a day during the school day as well as during my own time. I would then deal with any troubling issues like cyber-bullying as well as praise students for their creative ways of using the online setting in a positive way and related to their studies. I would always take a bit of class time to highlight things on Edmodo I had observed, the good and the bad. Mind you, I was careful to avoid publicly shaming students who had succumbed to cyber-bullying, but I did not avoid talking openly about it. We had very healthy conversations in class about what was good online behavior and what was not. I think it helped students to better understand what was bullying behavior and what was productive online behavior. It also helped students connect online interactions to their educations and not strictly social places to goof off.

I have been an ISTE member for a long time and have even managed to attend a couple of ISTE conferences. I highly recommend membership for all 21st Century Educators. They have amazing standards for Administrators, Educators, and Students that truly and clearly outline what sorts of goals we should have in all of those roles in today’s educational landscape. It has been the ISTE standards for students that has guided my instruction and motivated me to be creative and not let my limited resources prevent the instruction of digital citizenship.

I have been fortunate to have had many incredibly positive experiences online. The various platforms that exist to broaden our horizons and truly make us all global citizens is astounding. I want my students to be able to partake in that digital and global community and not only benefit from it, but contribute to it. That is why I teach digital citizenship with every opportunity I get.

Since I no longer have my own classroom, I have one active and ongoing student, my son: a 7th grader at Connections Academy, a public online charter school. Digital citizenship is a daily occurrence for him as his entire school day is spent online. He attends live lessons daily, which look more like interactive webinars for those familiar with such things. He interacts with his friends online as well, largely via Skype and whichever online game they happen to be playing.

Choosing online school was a family decision and took some rearranging of our lives. First and foremost I did not feel he was benefiting from what I call a “traditional” schooling within my own school district. Others in the online schooling community call it “brick and mortar” schooling. Either way, my son was falling through the cracks and also had to deal with escalating bullying. To make matters worse, he was officially diagnosed with depression and anxiety. As an online learner myself (I completed my second Masters degree online and am currently working on my doctorate online), and someone passionate about online learning, I knew this was a viable option for my son’s education. I believe online learning has been successful for my son and my family thus far (we started this school year). It did require my mother moving back in with us (which she was going to do anyway) so that my son could have some supervision during the day while my husband and I are at work. However, I have never had his schooling be so transparent. I know exactly what he is working on and how to swiftly and easily reach his teachers. His current grades are only a click away and always up to date. My son is using technology all day long which is helping his digital citizenship skills tremendously and helping him work on the other standards that ISTE outlines for students.

I don’t believe the teachable moments I have with my son about digital citizenship are any different than I had with my students in the classroom. The only difference is perhaps I am a bit more direct with my son as the filter that teachers need to use with children that are not their own is not necessary when it comes to talking to my own child.

How do you teach digital citizenship to your students? How do you teach it to your children? Is it the same? Different?

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Posted in Edublogs

Celebrate and Reflect

celebrate and reflect#EduBlogsClub Prompt #40:

Prompt: Celebrate and Reflect

Some of the topics you might like to discuss this week include:

  • Goals: What are your blogging goals and how have these changed over the year?
  • Achievements: What are you proud of?
  • Benefits: What do you see as the benefits of blogging? Has it been worthwhile for meta-cognition? Relaxation? Building community? Gaining new insights?
  • The future: How would you like your blog to evolve?

While we won’t keep publishing weekly prompts, anyone is still welcome to respond to any of the previous prompts. We will still be monitoring comments so would love to hear from you and read your posts.

Happy New Year!

I have been spending the past several weeks thinking about how I wanted to use my website and getting back on track with the posts from the EduBlogsClub challenge that I have not completed. It seemed fitting to take the last post in the series and use it at the start of a new year. I am not one for resolutions, but I do enjoy reflecting on the the year and thinking about what went well and what could have been done better. I have to say I am going to miss the regular challenges, I did enjoy the prompts, but I guess this is sort of a training wheels moment…off they come! I will remain a follower of EduBlogs of course, I think they do great work and while I never got to use them with my own students, I would recommend them to any educator looking to blog with students or to start their own blog.

What are your blogging goals and how have these changed over the year?

My only blogging goal last year was to complete the EduBlogsClub challenge. While I did not complete all the posts in 2017, I will be completing all the posts as I move into 2018, so I won’t count that goal as a fail. 😉

What are you proud of?

I am proud that I made it through the majority of the EduBlogClub prompts! As of this post I was able to complete 29 out of 40 prompts. I am very pleased with that and I know the other 11 will be complete in the coming weeks. Once this post is live I will only have 10 more prompts to complete!

What do you see as the benefits of blogging? Has it been worthwhile for meta-cognition? Relaxation? Building community? Gaining new insights?

I think blogging is very beneficial. It has certainly been worthwhile for meta-cognition, relaxation, building community and gaining new insights. I highly recommend blogging to anyone…not just educators and their students. I have always been one inclined to journal, but I have never been consistent with it. Perhaps I needed an audience to engage with and to learn from.

How would you like your blog to evolve?

That is a great question, and one I have given a good deal of thought. I left the classroom in 2015 and for the ten years before that my blog had been a communication tool I used with my students and their families. Once I left the classroom, I was unsure what the purpose of my blog would be and it was dormant initially. I then realized that my leaving the classroom was an opportunity to give my blog a new purpose and that is when I began the EduBlogsClub challenge. I am very grateful to them for posting such interesting prompts and for allowing me to be a part of their blogging community. As I transition from educator to aspiring administrator, I will continue to blog about topics related to education and continue to build my virtual professional learning community.

Thank you for reading and I wish you a 2018 full of opportunities and growth.

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Posted in Class News

Here We Are!

Thank you to all the parents who signed and returned the photo release form! It allowed me to take this great class photo with my selfie stick. I look forward to posting more photos of the students and their work as the school year progresses.

MrsRuizs4thGrade2015

Looking forward to a great year,
Mrs. Ruiz

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
 Mahatma Gandhi

Posted in Competitions, My Opinion

Thoughts on Women’s History Month

womenhistorymonth

My class has recently begun to investigate women for women’s history month. As a teacher, much of what I do is based on my own experiences as a student as well as my professional training and work experience. One topic of importance to me is choice. As a student the ability to choose was huge for me. A teacher being interested in my thoughts was important. I did my best in those sort of student centered classrooms. As a result I often ask my students for their opinions and their thoughts on what we study, and take those into consideration when planning. I have always preferred democracy in my room, but it certainly isn’t a pure democracy. I am the teacher and I have to decide on what is best for my students even if it goes against the popular opinion of the class. It would be foolish of me to do whatever they want to do, as clearly not ALL ideas from 9 year olds are the best ones.

So here we are on the subject of women’s history, and like I typically do, I allow my students to choose, after a class discussion on the topic and a couple of Brain Pop videos to give them ideas. I was immediately bombarded with requests for Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Zendaya, Becky G, Jessie J…and I was immediately concerned. My knee jerk reaction was to not allow those and I did reject only one (Nicki Minaj) because I felt she would pose content that may be inappropriate for children. On the whole I was conflicted about it considering contemporary entertainers. It is false to think that only women from the past who have made social change in some way are the only ones worth studying. Entertainers have done many great things and I did not want to rule them out. At the same time I wanted to be sure my students had a subject who would have published material about her life and her accomplishments. I ruled out a few others who, while I did not recognize their names (and I am pretty hip for an old lady) a brief search did not provide much detail on them.

The theme of Women’s History Month 2015 is “Weaving the Story of Women’s Lives.” Students need to recognize a woman’s contributions to the past or present. That is pretty broad. We are in the beginning research phases of this project and I have already had some students change their subject, mainly because they could not locate enough information on the person to complete the planner I had given them.

At the moment we still have a rather interesting combination of women, that include Katy Perry, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Helen Keller, Hillary Clinton, Danica Patrick, Judy Blume, and Eva Peron. I enjoy supporting the choice of my students and I am looking forward to their writing and projects.