Innovative Learning

When people think of the classroom they think of students in desks and the teacher at the front of the classroom giving a lecture. Homework usually consists of worksheets or reading assignments. But why does this have to be the typical norm for when people think of the word “classroom?”It doesn’t. As future teachers, I believe it is our job to be as innovative as possible. Sure, it’s okay to assign a worksheet or reading assignment once in a blue moon, but the classroom would be so much more fun and exciting if we used different resources. One thing I have unlearned this semester is exactly that; how to make the classroom a more enjoyable and exciting environment for students.

One of the tools introduced during this course that I really enjoyed was TedTalks and podcasts. There are so many TedTalks to choose from and they have videos on any subject/topic you can think of. Personally, I would have loved to watch TedTalk videos in middle school and high school. I think a lot more students would pay attention and become more involved with discussions and their school work if more teachers introduced podcasts and TedTalks into their daily curriculum.

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As teachers, we should encourage out students to become more innovative themselves but it’s also important for us to become more innovative as well. Teachers always need to be looking for ways to make learning more enjoyable for students and accommodate to their learning needs and abilities. One of my favorite quotes from George Couros’ article is, “I will utilize the tools that are available to me today and I will continue to search for new and better ways to continuously grow, develop and share my thinking, while creating and connecting my learning.” If we want our students to be innovative, we must be willing to learn new skills and utilize different tools to help our students learn better.

As a teacher, I plan on using many of the tools and resources that we learned about during these short 2 months. One of my favorite resources was the blog post. With this resource, I am able to share my experiences and advice to fellow educators around the world. I can also follow so many different blog posts from educators and learn from their experiences as well. I will undoubtedly use TedTalks in my curriculum. I also think Twitter is a great way for teachers and students to interact and is a great PLN resource as well.

This course has taught me so much about who I am as a person, learner, student, and future teacher. I have expanded my knowledge on technology and resources to use in the classroom when I become a teacher. I can’t wait to become a teacher so I can use these amazing tools and resources I have learned about in this course to become a more innovative and effective teacher!



An Unhealthy Addiction

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Repeat. I often find myself completing this monotonous cycle daily. But what attracts everyone to social media? Is it the fact that people can stay in touch with loved ones with just a click of a button? Is it because people can share their feelings/emotions at any point of the day with their followers? Is it because of the game invites? (Probably not).


Photo CC by mkhmarketing

So what is really so attractive about Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc? I found myself asking that question just last week. Before learning about mindfulness and the internet, I had contemplated deleting my social media accounts. I spend entirely way to much time on Facebook but for what reason? I rarely update my status (unless I share a cat video or some other funny meme), I don’t post a lot of pictures, and I am “friends” with people I’m not really friends with in real life. Another reason why I should probably delete Facebook is because I am always so annoyed when I get done scrolling through my timeline! I get so tired of seeing people use Facebook as their diary and it’s also annoying how political everything is getting.

So in other words, I DO NOT use social media mindfully. Like Paul Miller said in his TedTalk “Quitting the Internet for One Year”, I’m scared I’m going to miss out on something. I’m afraid I’m going to miss out on someone’s Instagram picture or Snapchat story. Isn’t it sad? How we get wrapped up in the world around us and pay more attention to people who don’t think twice about us? I honestly regret creating most of my social media accounts. I waste so much of my day scrolling through everyone else’s lives that I don’t pay enough attention to my own life and the people in it. With the time that I waste I could be reading a book, working out, picking up a new hobby, finishing my homework, etc. The possibilities are endless!

I really found the article “Simplify the Internet” by Leo Babauta very helpful. Leo gives many different tips to help simplify the usage of social media websites.The first advice he gives is to quit Facebook and choose 1 or 2 networks to use. I like this idea because I would like to delete my Facebook account but would like to keep my Instagram account because I love looking at other people’s pictures and love taking and sharing my own pictures. Another tip he gave was to use social media sparingly. I would like to make it a goal to check social media sites once a day at the end of the day and only spend 20-30 minutes on all of them combined. I always have my phone with me but if I were to make it a priority to not touch my phone through out the day I could accomplish this goal.

My goal for this upcoming week is to not let social media consume me. There is so much more to life than sitting on your phone/laptop scrolling through various timelines. I want to spend more time reading and being in nature so I think going “off the grid” will be for the best!

Digital Activism

Most of the time the media only talks about the negative things that happen on the internet that involve teens and young adults. Cyber bullying is a huge problem in today’s society and is something that continually happens every single day. I agree that these stories should be on the news to create awareness but I also think that the media should talk about the positive things these teens are doing for these types of problems.

Digital citizenship ties in perfectly with digital activism. In order to be an engaged citizen on social media sites, you must first learn to do so respectfully. A person needs to learn when and where it is appropriate to engage in conversations and put their two cents in.

To my surprise, teens are taking activism on the internet very seriously. It’s great to read about this kind of stuff! With all of the negative in the world today, it is nice to know that teens are trying to make a difference, even on the internet. The best part about this is that most of these kids are learning about activism in the classroom. I think it is so important to teach students about being respectful online and teach them how they can be the ones to be the positive light in the world.

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I really enjoyed readying the blog post My Kids, A Cause and Our Classroom Blog by Bill Ferriter. Surprisingly, this blog was about raising awareness for eating healthy. I think this is a great activism idea because there are so many children who are not eating correctly and that affects their ability to learn in the classroom, in my opinion. Having a healthy lifestyle is something that should be taught at a young age so it can be engraved into children’s daily habits.

The Teen Activist nominee that I would vote for is Hope, which was founded by Jason Harris. The thing I liked about this was because not only does Jason raise awareness for bullying, self harm, and suicide, he is also always available for his followers to talk or just listen to their problems. Just by listening to his followers’ problems, he has saved 29 lives! I think this is incredible and Jason sounds like a genuine student who cares about others.

Digital activism is such an important thing to teach our students. I don’t think the age matters, I believe anyone no matter the age can make a difference.


The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

From everything we have learned in this class, we have already established that the internet is a very fascinating and useful resource. There are so many things one can do when “surfing the web” but sometimes those things can get us into trouble. Everyone should be careful about what they put on the internet because anyone can access their personal information.

As educators and professionals, we need to educate our students on proper and appropriate digital citizenship. If they are being introduced to numerous social media websites in the classroom, they should be taught how to correctly post and manage those social media accounts.

So what are the downfalls of students, and others, having numerous social media accounts where they share everything about their personal life? Well for one thing, they share everything there is to know about their personal life. The article Exploring a Teen’s Digital Footprint In 6 Clicks or Less  shows a video on how easily it is for future employers, educators and even people to access students personal lives’ online. What was surprising to me was that the guy first went to their Facebook page and then googled their email addresses and usernames. When he did this, he found so much information! I’ve googled myself before but I have never plugged in my username and email address so I’m kind of nervous/excited to see what pops up (this will happen later on in the blog).

6988486459_071dd8ed8c_n Photo CC by PRO Thomas Galvez

But what’s so bad about sharing all of this information on social media? Like I said before, future employers and educators literally have access to all of your personal information at the tip of their fingers. They can see every photo you are tagged in, every place you have checked in at, and so much more. If any of these findings are inappropriate it could lead to serious problems with employment and even problems with being accepted to college.

So are there any positives to social media? The answer is yes! There are so many ways to be positive and kind on social media sites. George Couros talked about this in his video “140 Characters of Kindness.” His dog had just passed away and he received numerous replies on Twitter from people he didn’t even know. He was comforted by strangers who cared about his situation. He experienced the positive side of the internet. While we are teaching our students how to appropriately use social media, we should also be teaching them how to be a kind and make a difference on these sites as well.

Finally, I googled myself. I went to images and typed in ‘Tessa Benson Alliance NE’ and found one of my senior pictures but it was actually linked to BHSU, where I attended my freshman year, and pulled up all the scholarship information that I had received that year. I then went to the main google page and it pulled up all of my athletic awards in softball during my high school years. I also found an article from the local newspaper about my friend’s wedding that I was in last year. I thought this was crazy because it included that I was a bridesmaid and also included everyone else that was involved in the wedding party. This just goes to show that anything can be found on the internet and it really doesn’t take a lot of searching to find this information.

I really enjoyed the lesson this week. By watching all of the videos and reading the articles, it really opened my eyes to how important and crucial it is to teach students about proper digital citizenship.



Podcasts and Digital Stories

I am just overwhelmed at how much we have learned in this class! It’s crazy how many things there are to learn about technology when it comes to technology in the classroom. I’ve heard of podcasts a few times before reading the article but I have never heard of digital storytelling. I learned so much from reading these two articles and watching some of the example podcasts and digital stories. I listened to a couple episodes of “Serial” and was instantly compelled by the story line. The music and voice is what really drew me in and kept me interested, along with the story line of course. I plan on listening to the rest of the story in the weeks to come!

I think podcasts would be great to use in the classroom. From the article What Teens Are Learning From ‘Serial’ and Other Products, it seems like students are really enjoying this type of classroom work. Students are used to the monotonous schedule of everyday school life and I think by including podcasts into the daily classroom curriculum, it will liven up the environment of the classroom. As a student, I find I become very bored of continuously listening to my teacher’s voice over and over again. I’m sure there are many students just like me out there who are tired of the same thing. By introducing podcasts in the classroom, students can take a break from listening to the teacher and the teacher can take a break from teaching.

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I found digital story telling to be very interesting as well. There are so many different uses for it and categories that digital stories can fall into. I watched one on health and another one on the meaning of life. I really enjoyed watching these because they were personable and interesting. One thing I like about the digital story categories is that the videos can be anywhere from motivational to controversial subjects. I watched one video on bullying and how it can be dealt with. I thought this was a great video especially for students to watch. Another thing I like about digital story telling is that students can create them. This would be a great project for students to do in anything classroom.


I think both of these resources would be great to use in any classroom. They would be beneficial to both students and teachers in many different ways. I wish I would have had these opportunities when I was in high school because I’m sure it would have made some of my classes much more enjoyable!


“Branching Out” With PLN’s

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We all know that there are many ways to expand your PLN. But according to Howard Rheingold there are eight simple steps to cultivating your PLN. The first step is about being open to new ideas.When searching on the internet, you have to be open to new ideas and be careful to not get stuck in your ways. Being open to new things expands our learning and that is especially important when having your own PLN. The second step talked about what tools to use to cultivate your PLN and what tools work best for certain things.

One of my favorite steps Rheingold talked about was step 4: Always keep tuning your network, dropping people who don’t gain sufficiently high interest; adding new candidates. This is one thing I love about Twitter. If one of your followers is sharing “junk” or sharing too much of something, you can unfollow them. Another thing I like about Twitter is that when a follower retweets someone else’s tweet that you aren’t following, you have access to their tweets and profile (sometimes these profiles are locked/private). I’ve experienced this this past week when following some people I added to my PLN. As I was scrolling through my timeline I noticed retweets from people that I do not follow and some of their stuff was super interesting so I just clicked on their profile and followed them. It was that easy!

Another thing that I liked about this article is that Rheingold focuses on being kind to one another. Even though we can’t see our followers face to face, it is still important to show them gratitude and kindness over the computer screen. People are willing to share their experiences and ideas so we should show them how thankful we are for doing that. Another thing that he brought up was watching our tone while conversing with people. I am a pretty sarcastic person and sometimes I don’t think about what I say when talking with people who don’t understand my sense of humor. When talking with people online, it is hard to show your sarcasm without seeming rude. So I think it is best to keep sarcasm away from social media unless your are really good at sarcastic typing!

I really enjoyed reading this article and learning more about how to cultivate my PLN. I will take these tips and hopefully expand my network and connect with more people!


Personal Learning Networks- What Is It?

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PLN’s are totally new to me. I had no idea what it even meant before this week. But as I began reading what they are and how to create them, I realized that it’s exactly what we are doing in this class; we are creating our own PLN’s!

So what is a PLN? A PLN stands for Personal Learning Network. The main objective of a PLN is to make connections and relationships with fellow educators and experts anywhere in the world. Making these connections can give you access to many different educator’s ideas, advice, expertise, and so much more. Just as you can soak up other people’s expertise, you can share your own as well. Sharing each other’s ideas is what PLN’s are all about.

So how do you create your own PLN? First, you should make a list of your interests as a teacher. Maybe you are interested in Special Education or Early Childhood or maybe you are more interested in teaching HighSchool and want to learn more about Health, English, sports, etc. (The best part about PLN’s is that they are all online. They come in many different forms; Twitter, WordPress, Webinars, etc. The classroom is so technological now days and it is very easy for any teacher to create an account and get starting on creating their own PLN.) So the next step is to create an account using any of the social media websites mentioned above. Find people on Twitter and WordPress that have the same interests as you and check daily for new tweets and blogs. Contact them and create relationships with them so you can feed off each other’s ideas. There’s really endless possibilities when it comes to PLN’s and you can’t really go wrong.

I am VERY happy I learned about this great resource. I know without a doubt that I am going to use it as soon as I become a teacher. Honestly, I am very nervous to graduate and be in charge of a classroom at such a young age but this resource gives me more confidence that I will be prepared when that day comes!

I found this great article/tweet about why every teacher should have a PLN. Check it out here:

Here’s a video that explains what a PLN is. It’s pretty fun to watch and makes it easy to understand!