Sunday, March 23, 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Today's voicethread is all about how I use social media directly within my classroom.  Walled gardens or closed ecosystems that are used by our educational systems to try to control information and access to the web are done with good intent, however, I believe that any learning envirorment can benefit from using social media approapriately.  Let's open the walls and teach the students.



John Benson. "Social media in the classroom: Why and how to use it | Voxxi." 2013. 23 Mar. 2014
"Social Media In Classroom Has Benefits | Dominican University." 2013. 23 Mar. 2014

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Internet Safety - An Open Letter to Parents

Chase using Google Earth
Dear Parents of Students in my Class,

This year I will be sharing my passion of integrating technology into our classroom.  Creating a classroom community with our blog, engaging students using Google Apps for Education and showing students all the exciting learning tools we can use with devices in our classroom will enhance our learning experiences.

As always, I want to explain internet safety to my students as well as their families. Our school’s first priority is safety for all students, whether it is in the physical classroom, recess or online.

During the year, I will continually be providing information for your child to be safe online, how to have proper netiquette as we blog, and how important it is not to copy pictures and material that we don’t have the right to use. I’m a very conscious user of the internet and will model that continuously.  I have an active YouTube channel, which I post videos that showcase our learning, yet always following guidelines of safety and netiquette.

There are many safety tips for internet use with children, and below are some key points to consider:

1.  Establish expectations and limits - Many parents in my past few classes have noted an increase of interest in the technology world as I share my passion.  Within our classroom, we establish expectations about what sites we are allowed to go to as well as what our limits are online.  It’s important to do this at home as well.  Your child playing MineCraft for 5 hours online doesn’t give them ample exercise that is needed to stimulate brain growth.  

Please see Family Media Agreement as a great start.

2.  Be a good cyber citizen and role model! As I post in our classroom blog, I remind the children that I wouldn’t post something mean or hurtful and that they shouldn’t either.  This should be modeled at home as well.  Also, remind students that if they ever are uncomfortable with a post because it seems hurtful or unkind, they should report it to their parents or myself right away.  
Please watch this video of Advice for our Classroom Blog made by my students last year.  

And please visit this site to see how I will be teaching about Blogging Netiquette.

3.  Search safely - Many students love the idea of searching for pictures and information that they are interested in.  

Please watch this great video that shows how to LOCK safesearch on your home computer.

4.  Keep Computer/Tablet/Device in an open area in your home where adults are present - This is important because children are naturally curious and aren’t as fearful of touching a wrong button as some of us are.  Even in my classroom, I have had students try to play a math game online during reading time.  A natural consequence is given, which is not being able to use a device for the rest of the day.  

As I continue teaching and training your children in our digital classroom, I will strive to show them how to become a great digital citizen. Please watch the following video for parents provided by CommomSenseMedia.  

Thank you for reviewing this letter and I look forward to having your child in my class this year. Please take a moment to fill out the form below to let me know that you have read this letter and understand its content.


Rebecca Muller
2nd Grade Teacher
W.T. Elementary

Credit to: for their wealth of knowledge and resources for students and parents.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Relative Advantage of Using YouTube in the Classroom

Educational companies and websites are creating content videos using Common Core standards as fast as they can.  Online videos are the most consumed content format, not just for students, but for everyone globally.  The number of videos watched online has seen an incredible increase over the past 6 years.  As the places to currate educational videos continues to grow, I wanted to share with you my favorite place to find videos to use in my classroom.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Google Forms and Sheets in my Classroom

If your school has adopted Google Apps for Education, all students have a great spreadsheet application that Google now refers to as Sheets.  This Google spreadsheet program is a useful tool for the students as they gather data, observe and analyze this data, make predictions and decisions on this data as well as interpret the data and report results using Sheets.  This tool is a very important one as we move to educate our 21st Century learner and integrate the ISTE technology standards into our everyday teaching.

Many educators in the primary grades might be apprehensive in using Google Sheets because many focus on the mathematical data format used in spreadsheets that is used by other educators in the upper grades.  I felt this at first, but quickly altered my opinion as I’ve read about so many uses for Google forms and sheets in the primary grades.  One of the first times I used forms and sheets in my classroom was when we voted on the President of the United States.  This gathering of information was very valuable as they witness a small form of what everyone in the United States was voting on September 18, 2012.  

As we continue to work on gaining input from all students, Google forms and sheets help provide for everyone to have a voice.  As you gather information on a form or share a sheet for students to collaborate on, the teacher will know who has participated.  Many schools, districts and classroom are going 1:1 with devices, the collaboration on a sheet would get the information in one place faster and everyone would be able to see it as it is happening.  This working document can be helpful in many areas that teachers usually make charts for in front of class.  Brainstorming ideas, a KWL chart, a OWL chart, class discussions and creating a place for children to chart their progress are just a few ideas of things primary teachers can use Google forms and sheets for.  

For the past 25 years, I have had a lesson plan book to document and plan my instruction with my students.  Every year I’ve tried perfecting my lesson plan book.  The more I was integrating technology, the harder it became finding what I needed online as well as documenting what I needed in a traditional lesson plan book.  In the event and goal of going paperless, a spreadsheet and it’s tabs helped me achieve a working lesson plan book that helps me plan my instruction.  Many times during the day, we are watching a clip from YouTube, reading from our classroom blog, or doing a shared reading with Lyrics2Learn.  Instead of having many tabs open and trying to find what I need when I need it, I place the links in a cell on my lesson plan.  I created a lesson plan template that you are free to copy and make your own.  As I created copies, I titled them the month and used tabs to create additional weeks in the month.  

Using Google Forms and Sheets in the classroom are just a few ways that integrating technology can be beneficial to students and educators.  Please visit Sharing With One
for additional ideas and a lesson plan.  


The Impact of Spreadsheets in Education

Keeler, Alice (2014) Retrieved from: