Selection Principle – Presidential Requirements — October 16, 2016

Selection Principle – Presidential Requirements


My 8th grade students will be using this image when beginning the unit on becoming president.  They should understand who the president is in relation to the U.S. government.  In addition, they should be familiar with vocabulary such as “natural born citizen” and “residency.”

When considering how to complete this image I originally thought of a table.  However, after reading the chapter on selection, I came across Figure 5-3 on page 104.  This image showed how the table lines can sometimes skew the focus of the learner.  This helped me to design this image, by making sure to emphasize the main points of the graphic, without distraction, like a table.  I also tried to focus on the 3 c’s for this section.  I used a blue background for the title to draw attention and concentrate the image focus.  I also kept the information concise to help maintain the learners focus and emphasize the key points without distraction.  I was torn about using an image or not.  I find the seal of the president to be an important piece of the presidency so I wanted to incorporate it into the image.  I wanted to make sure it did not distract however, like in the clock image in the text book.

I asked my fiance to review the image.  He liked the simplicity of it and told me to make a few changes with centering of the title and the image overall.  He also noted to fade the seal so it was less distracting, which I think was a big change.

Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance: Lessons in visual literacy. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

EdTech 506: Universal Design — September 4, 2016

EdTech 506: Universal Design

Universal Design and Visual Literacy

As I read through the chapters on universal design and visual literacy, I couldn’t stop thinking about where I see images that follow these principals.  Usability and accessibility to all is an important principal to follow.  Lohr explains that the “goals of universal design focus on making information and learning accessible in the broader sphere of life for all people (Lohr, 2008, p8).” So as a designer, it is important to think of who your audience is and what their various background might be.  

Crosswalk - imageswalk-dont

I chose a safety image because I feel like these images must be universal to all languages and educational backgrounds.  I chose to provide both of these walk, do not walk signs as examples.  The image on the left utilizes images and no words to express when it is time to cross the street.  These images are efficient and simple in design.  Lohr discusses how efficiency vs. appeal apply to universal design.  If instructional goals (like crossing a street) are the goal of the image than it is important to maintain simplicity and efficiency (Lohr, 2008, p51.  The design on the left shows symbols that should be universal to all backgrounds, in addition they are very simple, allowing the user quick response time (which is a necessity when crossing the street).

What also struck me during my reading, was the question “are pictures worth a thousand words?”.  While the image on the left contains no writing, I believe it does help the user understand the goal (Lohr, 2008, p51).  The image on the right, which is also often used at cross walks, uses the English language instead.  While this sign is simple in design, it is not universal to all languages or educational backgrounds.  In many cases, words help make an image more understandable, however, images such as the hand or the man walking apply to more users.  
Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance: Lessons in visual literacy. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Burgstahler, S., Dr. (2015). Universal Design of Instruction (UDI): Definition, Principles, Guidelines, and Examples. Retrieved from

Social Media Policy — November 8, 2015

Social Media Policy

Social_networking_servicesSocial media has become an essential part of our students lives outside the classroom, but why can’t it be more essential in the classroom.  Currently, my district promotes sharing student work in digital spaces, allowing for authentic learning experiences.  The encourage students to create positive digital footprints while in school, and to continue the same when they are at home or with friends.  In addition, it promotes students to engage in 21st century skills, that will be important as they continue through school and enter the “real world.”  My district has some basic guidelines for posting online, which are positive and do promote the use of social media.  According to Steven Anderson, we want to create guidelines that won’t “handcuff” teachers, but instead provide them with some “best practices (April 11, 2012 ).”  It would be easy to create a do’s and don’ts list for teachers, but my research helped me to understand that it is more important to encourage use of social media, than to scare teachers and students away from social media in the classroom.  I have also learned that it is important to create these policies collaboratively.  Steven Anderson also notes that including both teachers who use social media and those who do not is important.  This allows for a more rich conversation regarding the guidelines being created.  

I sat down with my 8th grade team on Tuesday and asked if they had any ideas to share on social media use.  My team consists of one science teacher who uses social media, a math and english teacher who do not use social media, and then myself.  It was interesting conversation that helped lead me to some good ideas for my guidelines.

  1. Students and teachers should create school-based social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram, Blogs, etc.). It is important to keep personal and educational accounts separate.
  2. Students should create a positive digital footprint by posting examples of their work on school-based social media accounts.
  3. Students and teachers should use social media to communicate about classroom activities and assignments.  This communication should occur only using the school-based social media accounts.  
  4. Students and teachers should follow copyright laws when posting work online by providing appropriate attributions and citations.
  5. Students and teachers should not post personal information on their school-based social media accounts.  This will ensure the safety of our school community
  6. Students and teachers are encouraged to post pictures of students in the classroom, exemplifying the positive school culture we have at EMS.  Be sure to leave out any identifiable information.  
  7. Students and teachers should contribute to educational discussions using their school-based social media accounts.  Remember to use our P.R.I.D.E. Netiquette as a guideline.
  8. Students and teachers are encouraged to work collaboratively, with other classes, schools, experts, etc. using school-based social media accounts.  
  9. Students and teachers should report any abuse of social media accounts that affect the school culture at EMS.
  10. Remember using social media is a great tool to enhance the classroom environment and expand beyond our classroom walls, but what you post online can be permanent.  Double check your posts before you post them, consider having a friend or colleague check your post first!

I plan to share these guidelines with my 8th grade team on Monday.  Their feedback will be helpful in revising these policies.  In December, I will be participating in our second EMS Tech Summit to discuss technology in our school and its impact in the classroom.  I plan to present these policies/guidelines to the summit to receive feedback. My administrators and school board members will be at this summit so it will allow them a chance to review and provide feedback for these policies as well.  I hope to use those revision to polish up the policy and help prepare it to be included in our 2016-2017 handbook.  


Anderson, S. (April 11, 2012). Social media guidelines. Edutopia. Retrieved from

Ellington Middle School Handbook (2015). Student privacy and sharing and public work. Retrieved from

Owens, M. (2014, October 23). Using Social Media in the Classroom: There’s A Lot to Like. Retrieved from

Varlas, L. (2011, December 1). Policy Priorities:Can Social Media and School Policies be “Friends”? Retrieved from£Friends£¢.aspx



Social Networking for Teaching and Learning — November 1, 2015

Social Networking for Teaching and Learning

Social media is a big part of our student’s lives.  They want to feel connected with the world and share everything that they are doing.  So why don’t teachers utilize social media in the classroom?  If this is central to our student’s lives outside of schools, it would be easy for them to transfer these skills to the classroom.  I have to admit, I was hesitant to incorporate social media and networking tools into my classroom.  I felt like it was a big responsibility as a new teacher to take this on and ensure student safety.  But incorporating digital citizenship lessons, encouraging internet safety, and  modeling proper social media use, I am now more confident in integrating these tools into my classroom.  I have started with blogs and Diigo, but through my research in this project I can see the power of Twitter, Facebook, Padlet, Skype, and more.  I also have found even more ideas for tools I am already using.

I used PearlTrees to curate and annotate my materials, and separated my findings under their specific tool.


Social Media Tools for the History Classroom – Key Learnings

BackChannels or chat rooms to use during a lecture, video, or discussion give voice to students.  I can see how backchannels can enhance a movie shown in class.  Students can carry on a student led discussion while watching a movie.  For example, students watch Cinderella Man to learn more about the Great Depression, they could discuss the historical elements they find using something like Today’s Meet.

Twitter is a great tool for the classroom that many students are already using outside the classroom.  I really like the idea of a Twitter essay.  This will force students to find the most central idea of a topic to share with their classmates.  I also think it is great that there is a “peer review” concept to this.  It not only gets the students sharing, but also using social media to collaborate and give feedback.

I found a variety of ways to use Facebook in the classroom.  The use of fan pages and event pages is a great interactive activity for students.  Using Facebook as a timeline and place to collaborate with experts and other schools is something that is interesting and exciting for students.  I also think creating fan pages and having a “virtual salon” is a great way for students to uses 21st century skills and immerse themselves in the content area.

Diigo has been a huge addition to my classroom.  I have had my students share articles and comment on each others annotations, starting discussions that dive deeper into the article and content.  What I learned from the article on found on Diigo, is the use of the forum within Diigo groups.  This is a feature I have not tried yet, but can see how students can start a discussion, share a thought, ask a question and more.

Skype is a tool I have not used in my two years of teaching, but would like to begin using more.  Skype allows for conversations with experts, students, authors, survivors, all over the world.  It provides students to connect and ask questions they would normally have left unanswered.  The articles I clipped on Skype explain the power connecting, once with a survivor of the Holocaust, and once with a similar class in a different country.  Both experiences offered different perspectives for the students, beyond the classroom walls.

Blogging is an important piece of digital literacy, which also allows for student connections and sharing.  The projects I found helped students connect with authors, teachers, parents, and classmates.  The authentic audience, beyond the teacher, motivated the students to write more effectively and ask deeper questions.  I also see blogging as a way for students who may be timid or nervous to share in class, to voice their ideas and ask questions.

All of these tools can have immediate impact in the classroom.  Viewing all of these great ideas has helped me plan my lessons for this week using blogs and Twitter.  It is important to make sure the tool is being used to enhance and optimize the classroom experience and motivate students to grow as learners, preparing them as 21st century learners.

My PLE Diagram — October 25, 2015

My PLE Diagram

Leone - PLE Diagram

I chose create my diagram on a baseball diamond.  I was looking for ways to make my diagram creative and unique, and decided to go with something that has always been an important part of my life.  I chose to use a baseball diamond, more particularly the bases and base path.  All of my online learning environments enrich my teaching career and help me grow as a teacher.  I am able to move around throughout my communities to explore, share, and collaborate.  For my diagram, I put Facebook, Twitter, Moodle, and LinekdIn as my “home base.”  These are the places I go to first when I head online.  I can use these communities to create my “brand” and be a platform or jumping off point for my online connections and work.  From my home base, I move to first base.  The first step in my online communities, the places I explore.  I use Pinterest, LiveBinders, and Youtube as great resources to learn new ideas, watch tutorials, and explore new topics/ideas. Once I gain momentum from exploring these environments, including Twitter and Facebook, I move on to second base.  This is where my learning environments allow me to share some of my ideas or resources I have collected.  I use Blogger, WordPress, Diigo, and to share with the people I have connected with.  Blogger and WordPress allow me to share about things I am learning in the Ed Tech program and what is happening in my classroom at school.  I just started using Peartrees and for this class, but I can see how powerful it is to curate and share resources with other professionals.  Diigo has been a great addition to my online environments.  I introduced Diigo to the teachers at my school and we now use it to share resources we find online.  One of the greatest aspects of online learning environments is the ability to collaborate and receive feedback.  Third base is the collaborative space of my PLE.  I am able to use tools like Google Drive to work with other professionals, classmates in the Ed Tech program, and even my students to create projects, tutorials and more.  My curriculum partner and I use dropbox to work on text sets with out students, and this year we have introduced our students to have a stake in this collaboration as well.  They can now add to our class text sets.  Currently, I am using Padlet to create a space for an upcoming professional development session.  I am working with another 8th grade teacher to run a PD on Blogging.  Finally, I have recently joined several Google Plus communities.  In these settings, I am able to work through problems with other teachers and post lessons and receive feedback.  These experiences have been very beneficial.  By reaching all of these “bases” I am able to improve myself through professional learning, share new discoveries and useful information, and create meaningful materials through collaboration.

Reflecting on my PLE helped me to reflect on how it has grown in just the few months since this course began.  I was able to see how they all work together to help me grow.  Using social networking and online learning environments was something I had not really explored until taking this course.  Twitter has been a huge part of my PLE and has helped me to discover some of the other learning environments I mentioned in this diagram.

It was very interesting to look at classmates diagrams to see what tools they value most and how they would categorize them.

Courtney Kaul’s diagram caught my eye because of her daughter’s artwork.  When looking at her diagram I noticed she used the categories collaboration, communication, and professional development.  We had similar collaboration tools, with Dropbox and Google Drive.  I had not thought of Gmail as part of my learning environment, however, once seeing Courtney’s diagram I recall collaborating with an educator I met on Twitter through email.  I like the title of professional development.  I agree with all of the tools Courtney has there as resources for PD, I might have also included YouTube in that area.  Courtney and I share 9 communities.  Courtney and I are also a part of a literacy PLN for this course.

Jill Miller’s diagram was very large and interconnected.  While it seems “busy” it gives a great portrayal of the connections and importance of each tool.  She broke her PLE down to personal, professional, volunteer, and educational.  I had not thought of this approach, since expanding my PLE through this course I have focused mostly on professional and educational purposes.   I noticed a lot of crossover between those four areas.  I wonder if there can be times when it is hard to keep all four separate.  Four example, I worry about using Twitter for personal reasons, so I have decided to keep it strictly professional.  Jill and I share 8 communities.

Kelsey Ramirez and I shared the sports connection!  Kelsey had a “create”  and a “share” section in her PLE.  I had WordPress and Blogger in a “share” category, but can see how they are also places to create.  Possibly making a section as “Create and share” would help show the power of these tools.  Kelsey and I had 8 similar communities in our PLE diagrams.

Hannah Clark used an image of herself as the center of her diagram.  This helps symbolize that she is at the center of her connections, learning, and collaboration.  I notice that she shared Instagram in her connection section.  I did not include Instagram in my PLE because I don;t find myself using it to “connect” as much, but seeing this has made me realize I should explore how to better utilize this tool.  Hannah and I have 11 similar communities in our diagrams.  Hannah is also a part of my PLN for this course.

Dalia Juran broke her PLE into Personal, Spiritual, and Professional, similar to Jill.  There were a few crossovers between her three categories.  I noticed that her Professional PLE was the largest and was similar to mine, other than WebEx.  Dalia and I had 8 similar communities.  I noticed that she has Second Life in her personal category.  Second Life is not something I have explore a lot but I did notice it in a few of my classmates communities.

David Mato’s diagram shared two categories I had in my diagram: explore and collaborate.  We both had Google Drive and Dropbox in our collaborate section. His explore section differed by having flickr and Diigo.  I had placed Diigo in my “share” section,  but it is also a place to discover and explore.  David and I had 12 similar communities.

My evaluations of classmates PLE Diagrams helped me see how so many of these tools can be used for multiple purposes.  All of these communities allow us to connect, share, create, collaborate, and more.  It was interesting to see how differently we interpret our PLE and how chose to organize our diagrams.

Real Time and Live Virtual Professional Development — October 19, 2015

Real Time and Live Virtual Professional Development

Teachers are always looking for new ideas or places to share their own.  Often these opportunities only present themselves a few times a year during professional development days or at faculty meetings.  Technology and the internet allow for this to happen everyday, at any hour.  By using Twitter, blogs, Google Communities and more, teachers are now able to connect instantly for real time feedback and professional development.  In the past 3 weeks I have participated in 4 Twitter chats and 4 live webinars.  I was able to learn, share, and collaborate on multiple different topics.  I participated on topics I had never used in my classroom and ones that I use regularly.  It was a bit intimidating at first, especially in the Twitter chats which move very quickly.

Twitter Chats –

‪#‎engsschat‬ – This chat usually involves secondary english and social studies teachers.  The conversation the night I joined, revolved around using genius hour in the classroom. I have always wanted to provide students time to share their interests and show their personality, but have not incorporated something like genius hour into my classroom yet. The educators involved in this chat provided great insights into what a genius hour project might look like, as well as, help people new to this idea problem solve. One participant mentioned how she uses a genius hour model every Friday with her students. Another educator explained how she has students share their genius hour projects in a talk show format. I have already began creating my next unit building off of her idea! I was able to participate myself by sharing ideas for how I could use genius hour in my curriculum, as well as sharing some of my reservations for this idea. I was happy to see I was not alone in wondering how to fit such a great idea into the curriculum and welcomed all of the suggestions from those who have used it. This was a great chat that helped further my interest in online PD and also helped me build my PLN. I am looking forward to participating again this week.


‪#‎gafechat‬ – This chat is for Google Apps for Education and this particular week was on Blogging! I was excited to be a part of this chat because I have recently introduced my students to blogger. Since I am in the beginning stages with this integration, I was eager to hear ideas to use. A great question was about the kids who may not find writing as their best avenue for expressing ideas. Even though I allow choice for student projects, I hadn’t thought about “choice” in the format students were blogging. This was a great idea that helped spark some new ideas for my classroom. Overall, it was a great chat and I was able to connect with many educators who are also using blogs in their classroom. My hope is to find a class to “share” my kids blogs with! Great for authentic audience.


‪#‎edtechchat‬  – This chat discussed digital citizenship. I was excited to be a part of this conversation since my school is trying to set up some standards for this. There was a great conversation about having digital citizenship as a its own class, or making it weave into our current curriculum. In addition, people wondered about how it could be assessed. There were great ideas about incorporating digital citizenship standards into already created rubrics.  Since this chat, I was a part of a tech summit at my school.  I was able to share some ideas from the chat and begin the discussion around how different classes incorporate technology.  My hope is to help my school begin incorporating digital citizenship into our regular classroom routines.


#inquirychat – This chat was on innovation.  It was a great chat with a lot of ideas.  Teachers explained ideas on how they innovate in their class and provided specific examples.  I was able to connect with a teacher about a new resources, Aurasma.  She sent me an email with her latest presentation to help me learn more about the tool and how she uses it in history class.  I left the chat with some great ideas that I have already incorporated into my current unit.


Webinars –

Primary Sources –  This was put on by Ed Web. This webinar shared some great ways to have students “unpack” difficult primary sources, which is a something many of my 8th graders have a tough time doing. I was happy to walk away with some great strategies I could use right away. I got a great idea of using putting a primary source into a Wordle and seeing which words are used the most. This could help the students generate questions or come to conclusion prior to reading the difficult texts. It could also identify important vocab terms to look up before reading. I already used this strategy and my kids took a lot of great ideas away.

Refreshing your PLN – This was put on by PBS Learning and the hosts provided a lot of great information on ways to connect. One teacher suggested a Google Community where teachers across her district shared technology successes (and even failures). This allowed the teachers to learn from each other and gain valuable feedback. It helps keep teachers in different schools connected.

Primary Sources and PLN

Build Some Content!  Virtual Worlds – This webinar was provided by ISTE Mobile Learning Network.  I have no real experience with virtual worlds, so this was my first exposure to the topic.  Carolyn Lowe shared her personal virtual space and explained how she has set it up for teachers and students to use.  You could essentially rent virtual classroom spaces.  These classrooms were in space, in the forest, underwater, etc.  Carolyn also explained how students could give their presentations in these spaces as well.  She provided many resources and ideas for getting started.


The Mindset of a Maker Education – This webinar was also provided by ISTE Mobile Learning Network.  Our professor, Jackie Gerstein led the webinar.  This was the most interactive webinar I had participated in.  It gave a chance to reflect on my current practices and really envision how I can incorporate a maker mindset in my classroom.  The visuals and ThingLinks were helpful in gaining a better understanding of how students can be “makers.”  The science teacher on my team and I work very closely and I was excited to share all of the resources with her.  We have had several discussions on how we can give the students more time to create and lead their learning, as well as, make it relevant to both of our courses.



All of these chats and webinars were informative and have helped me grow as a teacher.  I am in only my second year as a teacher and I am always looking for new ideas and ways to improve my classroom.  Participants were very welcoming and supportive.  I was encouraged to continue participating and asked clarifying questions.  I was excited after each chat and webinar to see my PLN grow and even begin collaborating with them outside of chats.  Currently, I am participating in the TEAM beginning teacher program in Connecticut.  It requires me to set goals, attend pd, review resources, and implement changes in my classroom.  I plan on finding webinars and Twitter chats to help me in this process.




Curating Resources – Blogging in the Classroom — October 10, 2015

Curating Resources – Blogging in the Classroom

PearlTrees was a great tool for curating my resources on Blogging in the Classroom.  I was able to create a board titled: Blog About It!  Using Blogs to Motivate Students.  This will be the topic of a professional development session I will be running in November.  I looked for resources that would help get the teachers started, motivated, and excited about using blogs.  I plan to use these curated resources to spark conversation and be guides for teachers once they leave the PD session.  PearlTrees allowed me to break the board down into sections.  I wanted it to be easy for the teachers to navigate through during and after the PD.  I was also able to annotate the resources.  This would help the teachers pick and choose which resources might be most important to them at the time.  To help me through curating these resources, I used my PLN’s curation criteria.

Click here to view my Blogging in the Classroom curated resources.

Blog About It

You can view my curation evaluation using my PLN’s criteria here.


Twitter for Professional Development — September 14, 2015

Twitter for Professional Development


Twitter is a great resource.  It can be accessed from many devices and anywhere with a connection to the internet.  This makes it a great tool for professional development.  It provides ease of access, continuous enrichment, instant feedback, and inspiring ideas.  In just the few weeks I have found myself back on Twitter, I have already found a wealth of resources to begin using in my classroom.

By following #sschat, I am able to learn about different ideas to use in the social studies classroom.   For example, the most recent chat centered on upcoming Constitution Day.  As an American history teacher, this was extremely relevant and helpful!  Professionals in the discussion shared ideas for investigating how current events relate to the Constitution, or exploring the Constitution from different points of views to learn more about political parties.

While scrolling through my #edtech column, I came across a great resource on getting students to innovate.  Mia MacMeekin made an infographic with 27 ways to inspire students to innovate.   I plan to use this to help my students understand what it means to innovate and challenge them to use these ideas throughout our next unit.

#gafe led me to a great resources on GAFE-friendly tools for evidence based writing in social studies.  The author discusses the Imagine Easy Scholar extension that helps students through their research process!  I also found out about a chat tomorrow on Creating Digital Awareness.  Looking forward to learning more about technology integration and tools!

My district has a partnership with Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.  We attend several PD’s each year and have a consultant visit our schools.  Using #tcrwp allows me to stay up to date with TC’s latest ideas, and also connect with other educators who use their protocols and ideas.  Scrolling through my TweetDeck led me to find some great ideas for mentor texts in the middle school writing workshop.

I have been working towards a flipped classroom and leading students to drive their learning by using technology.  I added the #elearning column to my TweetDeck.  I was happy to find some great ideas right away.  One article discussed the use of story telling when explaining new concepts.  This is something that I have gotten away from in the past couple of years, but am now inspired to begin adding this back to my classroom.  I am thinking that adding short animated stories as part of the flip videos my students can access will be a great addition.

In just a few short weeks, Twitter has transformed my classroom.  I have found great new resources and ideas that I have already began using.  While I have not participated in a chat yet, I am looking forward to participating and receiving instant feedback from professionals all over the world.  I think that Twitter is a great way to participate in professional development.  Whether it is through an organized chat, by discovering new resources, or by getting feedback on a resource you shared, Twitter allows for “just-in-time” pd that can transform the classroom!

Ed Tech 543: Initial Thoughts — August 29, 2015

Ed Tech 543: Initial Thoughts

Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere sign on white background.

I am very excited for what this semester has in store for me!  Social Networking is a huge part of my students lives, and even my life so why shouldn’t it be a part of the learning process?  I am looking forward to discovering ways to use social networking in my classroom.  I am already excited about using Diigo.  With inquiry being a huge part of my curriculum, providing a space for students to share annotated resources from their research will be awesome!

I have used Twitter and Facebook in a limited capacity for my professional development.  I know there are great resources out there, but I was not always sure of how to find them.  After setting up my TweetDeck, I was already able to find some great articles and resources on Educational Technology.

I really have not incorporated much social media into my classroom environment, truly out of fear.  I did not feel 100% comfortable having my students use social media because I was worried about the implications outside of school.  However, I can now see that using social media in the classroom can be a great way t motivate students to create a positive digital footprint.

I am hopeful that this course will help me discover ways to use social media in the classroom.  I look forward to learning new instructional strategies and collaborating with classmates throughout the course.  I am very excited about how Ed Tech 543 will transform my classroom and help my students drive their own learning!

Protected: School Evaluation Summary — August 2, 2015