Open education but closed personal profile..

In my last post, I reflected about what I have recently learned about open education.  I believe in the benefits of open education for both students and teachers. I hope one day soon I can contribute to some of the resources I have created to some sort of open education outlet.

Last week we discussed open education and this week we are focused on reputations and monitoring our online identities.   This week’s reading “Reputation Management and Social Media” and “What your new years facebook posts really mean”, got me thinking about my own online identity. As I have mentioned before, I do not post a  lot on social media.  I believe this is partly because of my profession and that I do not want want students and their families finding me on facebook and knowing every detail of my personal life. I also think my lack of posting on social media outlets has to do with my belief that if I want my friends and family to know something, I will tell them individually instead of posting it online.    Although I do not post on facebook frequently, I really have nothing to hide.  If I had to, I would be comfortable with my students parents seeing my profile and pictures.  It is, of course, a completely G rated, positive page full of great memories with my family and friends.

I understand that facebook and Instagram are “private” and only assessable to my friends, but I know that at anytime a friend of a friend could show my profile.  Through blogging, twitter, facebook, instagram and other places I appear on the web (school division website and local news) I am creating my digital footprint, or as Luke Braun explained, more like a digital tattoo.

Bonnie Stewart from the Theory Blog discusses what might happen in 1000 years when people are trying to research our generation.  We are no longer writing our stories in stone of course, but many of us do not even bother to print photos and keep record of our lives off line.

In the past few years, while going through both of my grandmothers things after they passed away I caught myself in awe with the rich stories and photos they both kept.  Although they are both gone, their legacy lives on through their diaries and extensive photo albums that they both kept. During these times I thought to myself and my family, when I pass away what will my family members go through? How will my story continue to be told and remember?  I am guilty of not printing any pictures of my trips and day to day life in the last four years!  personal and professional overlap

Bonnie Stewart states that “…. a thousand years hence, should archaeologists or aliens dig up the remnants of bourgeois North American “civilization,” such as it is, they will be sorely challenged to understand a damn thing about who we were and how we lived without our Facebook feeds”    If all I have when I am gone is my facebook feed and instagram posts then my future family will not get to see my full self!

Madden and Smith’s research shows that I am not alone in wanting to keep my social media sites private. Their research found that 44% of young adult internet users are limiting the amount of personal information they post online and 71% of adults aged 18-29 change their privacy settings online to limit their audience (Madden & Smith, 2010).

Here I am exciting and very much for open education, yet I do not share very opening in my personal social media accounts. Then I am also worried about not leaving enough of a digital tattoo behind (both professional and personal)!

I may sound crazy and may be contradicting myself but is anyone else out there identifying with similar struggles?


Well that was interesting..

This week was a slight disaster in the Grade 2 blogging world.

I will begin with some positives.

  • All of my students are able to get on our class blog successfully. They can log in and write a short post.
  • My students are also commenting on each other’s posts. The comments continue to be very positive (or else I would not approve) and some are also constructive example: “that is good, write more please”
  • Parents are accessing our blog!  We have had a few parent comments on student’s individual posts. This is great to see!
  • I found and paid for a great app called “Draw and Tell” The can be used to create an addition and subtraction story while the students record their voice. My students have seen examples of this on Mrs. Cassidy’s class blog and they were excited to create their own!

My goal this week was to have my students post something beyond just writing about a personal experience or sharing something we have learned about.  I wanted my students to use an app to share their learning by posting a quick video of themselves creating and solving a math story problem. Of course things do not always go as planned.

I have three desktop computers in my room (plus my own computer) and two ipads. Once  a week I have our laptop cart booked.  For about one hour we bring in the laptops and I teach them a new skill on the computers or recently we have been writing a blog post.  This week I needed my students to work independently on the laptops while I worked in small groups on the ipads.  I took this time to teach two students at a time how to create their word problem on the ipad using the app “Draw and Tell”. This app came recommended by Mrs. Cassidy.  We had about 1 hour and 10 minutes and I only got 5 kids through on the ipads!  I was so disappointed! We do have a class set of ipads but I really thought we needed to do this in small groups so I could show them step by step how to create this video.3986997574
I was already feeling frustrated that I did not get to work with enough students but then I realized I was mostly going to have to post the video to the blog by myself. I tried to get the students to help but I was frustrated and knew it would be quicker if I just did the clicking on my own 😦

THEN the videos did not even upload correctly.  See some examples here and here.  I hoped the video would show right on the blog instead of directing viewers to a separate link. I will work on this to figure it out! In the second link I shared, his audio worked but the video did not 😦

Although I am frustrated, we will try this again! I suppose it wasn’t a huge disaster, but I had it in my mind that it would go one way and nothing seemed to go right  I have a pre-intern in my room now for the next three weeks so it will be helpful to have another set of hands when we bring in the laptops and computers!

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!  Does anyone know any other ways I can have my students post a video? Maybe I should have just started smaller and had them post a picture of their work from an ipad first.

Oh well, you live and learn!

I am pro open education!

Before reading this post, it is important to clarify my post title.  I am unfortunately not a “pro” at open education, but I am most definitely for open education!

Before this class, I did not have a clear understanding of what open education was.  I have learned now that open education is the sharing of resources and information for teachers and students that is easily accessible and often free.  Tony Bates defines open education as “…primarily a goal, or an educational policy. An essential characteristic of open education is the removal of barriers to learning. This means no prior qualifications to study, no discrimination by gender, age or religion, affordability for everyone, and for students with disabilities, a determined effort to provide education in a suitable form that overcomes the disability (for example, audio recordings for students who are visually impaired). Ideally, no-one should be denied access to an open educational program. Thus open learning must be scalable as well as flexible. – See more at here ” (Tony Bates, 2015)

Why Open Education Matters, is a quick but informative video which states why open education is so important and beneficial for our students.  An eye opening quote from this video was, “education as we know, is failing millions around the world.” As a teacher, I truly hate that I have had too many conversations around this topic over the past few years. I am a successful product of our Saskatchewan school system (or so I like to think.. 🙂 ) But I know our “old fashioned” schooling does not work for all learners.  Yes we are “teaching in the 21st century”, but I don’t believe enough change has been done in education.  Open education is definitely a step in the right direction!  I only wish I had more time on my hands to enrol in a mooc (massive open online course) in a topic I am interested in! I’ll put that on the bucket list for a later date!


As a primary teacher, I hoped to find some open education resources for early elementary students.  I came across Oer commons .  This open education resource allows you to search for open resources by subject and grade level.  I did some quick searching, hoping to find some material I could use with my Grade 2’s.  I did not search for long, but I did end up finding two social studies/health lessons that used Berenstain Bear books as their focus.  I could definitely see myself using this teacher friendly resource but I hoped to find more than just those two lessons.   Did any other primary teacher find any great resources to experiment using open education?

It is unfortunate to see many people against open education.  Aaron Swartz and Danah Boyd are pro open education.  Danah Boyd spoke out against online academic journals that are not open to the public.   I identified with this author and post because I too have felt frustrated with not receiving access to online journals.  We are fortunate at the U of R to have access to 100’s if not, 1000’s of journals online.  I have felt annoyed when I was in between my Inclusive Ed certificate and masters program and was not a current U of R student.  While I do not spend my free time reading academic journals on the U of R website, I do fine myself from time to time finding current research articles to support what I am teaching in the classroom. I understand that publishers do not want to post their full journals online to the public free of charge… but when they are “hidden” away, their audience is much smaller. In Grade 2 I teach my students to always reflect upon the purpose of their writing piece.  Are you writing to entertain the reader, or are you writing to inform the reader.  I hope academic publishers and authors would put more importance on informing their readers over making money.


The good,the bad and the ugly

The Good

I really enjoyed reading article “What does it all Meme” . I found it the lightest of the recommended readings this week. I liked the background info on various the meme “One does not simply.. ” It encouraged me to find out the background info on more popular memes. Check out this link which shows an update on where our favourite meme stars are today!

          Sammy the Success kid today Success



eric memes


Kay Oddone explains that the use of memes in the classroom can help engage students. I am personally not sure how my 7 year old students would respond to memes, they are not yet on social media so I am not sure they would find the humour in them. BUT a few of my awesome colleagues who teach grade 5, 6 and 8 are using memes in great ways around their room! My fellow colleague and friend, Eric Campbell, used memes this year to display his class expectations







The Bad

The next articles this week were not as light and fun as learning about the usage of memes. This week I learned about the app Yik Yak and the forum website 4chan. I was happy to discover that my school division has blocked 4chan from students using it at school.  Though I am unsure if students in my community are aware of this website anyways.  I did not want to ask of the students, because it might make them curious and I do not think it is a great website for students to check out.

It seems like there is definitely some funny and appropriate content on 4Chan but that it is very easy to find the inappropriate threads.  As I was reading the post about 4chan, I was constantly thinking “why would people post and share such horrible things”. Near the end of the article a section was titled “But why would anyone do that”. One of the reasoning was that 4chan gives people a place to vent and say rude things that may be on their mind in a acceptable (?) forum.

“I get a lot of e-mail messages from people who say thanks for giving them a place to vent, an outlet to say what they can’t say in real life with friends and work colleagues — things that they know are wrong, but they still want to say.” (Chris Poole, 2010 – 4chan founder)

I still do not fully understand why people would post such things.. but to each their own I suppose.

The Ugly 

Finally, the last thing I learned about this week was how some teens are self trolling themselves or bullying themselves for attention.  This was the most upsetting thing I have read all week.  My online use as a teen was so innocent. I used MSN almost daily for harmless chats with friends and boys.  In Grade 12 and the beginning of high school I started using Facebook. Facebook was a lot different in those days, I don’t think you could even comment on your friends individual pictures.

I am so sad to read that teens now a days are so obsessed with the amount of likes and comments they receive on social media that they would post fake comments from a “stranger”, who is actually them self, to then hope to receive compliments or support from their peers.

This phenomenon is known as cyber self-harm (Tanith Carey, 2016).

I admit, when I post on social media (Instragram or Facebook) it is always fun to receive likes and comments from my friends.  But it has gone too far if some teens are determining their self worth based on their popularity on social media.

What can we do as teacher to help change this? Or support students who are struggling or obsessed with their online identities?



Happy students = Happy teacher

Well my Grade 2’s have been blogging for two weeks now and I can happily say the majority of them are loving posting on our class blog.

I must approve every post and comment before it gets posted to our blog, every morning I have students at my desk shouting “Miss Gossard have you checked the blog yet? Can you approve my post? I commented on my friends blogs last night, have you seen it yet?”  I love seeing how excited they are to share their posts with their families, each other and the world.  So far the students have learned how to find our blog, log in, write a post and comment on a classmates post.  It doesn’t sound like much but it has been a lot of work!  Luckily I already have some “blogging experts” in the class who are can write a new post independently and are able to help their peers when I am busy helping another student.

On Thursday I will be teaching the students about an app called Draw and Tell HD.  This is a story telling app that we will use to create our own addition or subtraction stories using pictures, numbers and our voices.   We will create the short video on our school’s ipad’s and then hopefully successfully upload the short clip to each students individual blog.  I have my pre intern starting back on Thursday so I purposely chose to teach this new app when I knew I would have an extra hand in my room helping out! I found this app on Kathy Cassidy’s presentation notes page. Here is a quick tutorial video for this app. I love that students can record their drawing and story and narrate their image.

I had lots of successes this past week! My kids are happy, love blogging and they are excited to learn about new apps. In turn, I am happy that they are enjoying the experiences I am guiding them through!

Successes don’t often come with a few challenges along the way.   This week I am struggling with time.  This is a very busy season for all of us. Report cards are due in two weeks and student led conferences will follow. I am busy with basketball playoffs, catching up on university work, finishing assessments with my students, marking and writing report cards.   I know my students are enjoying blogging, but I am struggling  as to where I can do my teaching towards these new skills.  I already feel I do not have enough Time is tickingtime in my school day to teach math, reading and writing most effectively but now I am adding on blogging skills and teaching new apps.  I am trying to fit blogging into my ELA time and I have now made blogging a center during guided reading. This works well but it doesn’t give me time to explicitly teach and guide my students through the blogging process like I would like.

I am wondering where other teachers are fitting in your learning projects with your classroom? Maybe there is an outcome (besides writing) that I am missing that this can slide right into!


The Snapchat takeover

This week’s readings focussed on teens in social media. Thr articles came to the same conclusions; teens are less likely to use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and more likely to use messaging apps like iMessage, kik and the ever so popular Snapchat. I found the first article the most interesting because it listed suggested reasons why teens are leaving sites like Facebook. The first reason listed was teens don’t want older relatives seeing what they are up too on weekends. Facebook is widely used by adults 40 and above, I see this to be true in my own life as well. My parents do not have Facebook but most of my aunts and uncles do. I share on Facebook from time to time but share on Instagram and snapchat more regularly. I personally like that these social media outlets only post to my closest friends or a smaller audience.

I can see this being a concern for parents though, who hope they can see a small part of their teens life online but then they may be frustrated to find that their teens and tweets are not using the same social media sites.

The data in the following articles showed that teens are not abandoning social media they are just using different sites then older generations tend to use. Teens are definitely using social media…. A Lot! I enjoyed the read: How to  snapchat like teens, I could really relate to almost ever sentence of this article! I use snapchat a little bit. I maybe have 20 friends on the app and mostly only send messages and pictures to a few people on a regular basis. I could really relate to the older brother in this article.   I recently took my girls basketball team into Regina (we live in Moose Jaw) to watch a U of R Cougar game. Us coaches sat behind the girls st the game and we shocked at how the girls we constantly on snapchat!! They watched the game from time to time but they mostly sent selfies to each other and 50 other people while giggling and laughing alongside one another. Because I sitting behind a few of the girls, I got the honour of being in way too many of these snaps…

The girls knew I had the app and starting questioning me about how many “streaks”I had and wanted to know my longest. They were baffled when I said I had none!  One of the girls on my team had a snap score of almost 200 000 and she just chuckled when I showed her that mine was a couple thousand.

I agree that young kids are spending a lot of time on these new social media sites and they should be interacting with one another more.  But I feel that is just how our modern times will be. As educators we need to teach our students when social media is appropriate and how to post appropriately and politely.

Excuse my errors and lack of posting, I’ve done this quick reflection in the airport waiting for my flight to Mexico! 🙂





We are bloggers!

Miss Gossard’s Grade 2 class has finally began blogging!

This past Thursday we invited our Grade 8 Learning Buddies (@CampbellClan78) to help us initially set up our student blog pages.  I created what I thought was a simple instruction sheet for the Grade 8’s to follow.  I wanted the Grade 8’s to help my students log, on, changelearning with buddies 111 their color scheme, theme if they wanted, add a tag line under their name and help them write their first post.  Overall this was very successful!  I was very thankful for the Grade 8’s help!

There were only  a few minor probelms when setting up our blogs, mostly to do with my students picking an “extravagant” theme and then my students not being able to pick a header image like my instruction sheet stated.

I struggled with giving up some control for the student blogs. I would have liked each student blog to look mostly the same besides the colours of their choice and header image. I just think this would make it more uniform and easier for me and others to look through. But it was my teacher buddy, Mr. Campbell who encouraged me to let go and let my kids be creative! My students had fun individualizing their pages.

On my easy instruction sheet, found here Student Blog Instructions, I asked the Grade 8’s to sure to have my students write their first post.  I asked the post to T and D bloggingbe an introduction post about blogging. All students followed this, but I should have made it more clear that I wanted the younger students to do the typing.  When I look at my students first blog posts, I can see that many of them had a LOT of help with spelling, typing and grammar! It does not represent my students abilities too well, but I do believe it was their own words, the Grade 8’s would have just been trying to help! Not a huge concern in my books!

After the break, my plan is to discuss with my students what I hope they will mostly blog about. I hope to give them blogging topics connected to our school work, such as “What did we learn about in science this week” or “write three questions you have about our read aloud today”.  I can already see that my students will want to have some “free” writing posts as well and I do not want to discourage this. I have one student who went home and blogged about his dog Lucy, and another boy who blogged about his hockey practice. I think is great!

Check out a few of my students blogs below!

Isla’s Blog , Marcus’ Blog,  Tylan’s Blog