Digital Citizenship in the classroom

brunette woman in red with girl in yellow on lap before laptop
Photo by Pixabay on

Digital citizenship is a very new concept for me. It is something my district offers through our tech coaches. They offer to come in and do a lesson with our students. This was essentially my introduction to the idea. While I am grateful for the offer I have never taken them up on this offer. For one our coach is a bit disconnected from early childhood and doesn’t seem to understand what we do. Also each time I have received his help with something he actually sent me into further disarray and I ended up with a new problem. With the last couple classes I have taken involving this concept I want and need to teach this myself.

Recently my sister and mother both forwarded a message about the “Momo Challenge“. Knowing my daughter uses Kids YouTube form time to time. This video is explained as a video of a disturbing face encouraging kids to commit suicide and threatening if they don’t their parents will die. Since I was sent this articles have started appearing quite frequently and even Kim Kardashian has pleaded with YouTube to get to the bottom of this.

Initially I was inundated with fear as a mother. After a bit however my teacher brain has sort of turned on and with thinking about digital citizenship I also feel this is an opportunity to teach. Parents and teachers alike should be taking an active role in their kids YouTube use and tech use as a whole.  As the article I linked above states parents need to “take an interest in their online interactions”.  Even in the classroom I have set appropriate site my students can use. However, I do use YouTube for their brain break videos and I so mindlessly turn on brain break videos without explaining why I do what I do or what to do if you get somewhere you don’t need to be on it. I now see this as a teaching opportunity for my students because I know they use YouTube a lot. I even have an aspiring You Tuber in my class (his mom keeps it on private).

Just as I sit here typing this message I received a message from a parent asking if I heard of this and explaining it to me. It was such interesting timing to receive this.  I am finding more of my parents need advice and reassurance involving not only technology but these sort of special situations as well. It is making me consider creating something to hand out to parents with tips and advice for home use of tech. This will definitely

be something I start to think about and would like to gather more information about.


Girls Who Code Discovery

This week’s reading had me thinking a lot about the opportunities our students receive to support their future use of technology. Maybe it is because I am a millennial who grew up on technology and embraced it but I am constantly frustrated with the negative views about technology. Since working in my district and in the educational field I have really felt a strong push and support for technology in my district. This has been refreshing and uplifting. Recently my district sent out an email district wide for teachers that would be interested in facilitating an after school or lunch club called Girls Who Code .


I had a moment where I felt like my district read my mind and was peeking into my life right now considering I am taking this class. Looking into this further I discovered this would be a club for any student that wants to join not only girls as the name implies and it would be for 3rd-5th graders. The idea of this club also aims to encourage girls to close the gender gap in computing and to begin considering jobs in one of the fastest growing fields. I also like that to participate students need no prior experience or knowledge about coding.

I think I often spend so much time thinking of inequalities and gaps with people of other races and social class that I forget about gender. I don’t think our schools address this enough as well. I think this opportunity for our district is a great one and I would like to attend the informational meeting to learn more details about the curriculum. I think this club could be a great starting point for our students and embracing technology as a important beneficial part of their future and not simply a means of entertainment.

The App Gap

” Yep for those who may want to put the genie back in the bottle: there’s no app for that. There’s no going back to a less connected age.” -TAP, CLICK, READ  by Lisa Guernsey and Michael Levine

I can relate as well to that feeling of “needing” to get your young child a device. We choose to get my daughter a kid kindle when she was just 2 years old because we were going on vacation to Hawaii. I have a large fear of angering people on planes with my child’s behavior and actions. Living in a society that is very quick to judge, especially parents. I looked into it and decided this might be a large source of entertainment for her. While it was entertaining for a small bit of time. She really didn’t take to it like I thought she would and didn’t understand many of the apps. I was using Amazon’s Free Time App which comes with a yearly subscription price. It filters apps out there based on not only what is kid appropriate but it tried to filter close to their age as well. Honestly while it is not perfect especially when it comes to age it has helped us as parents tremendously. When having this great experience on the kindle because of this subscription it has been the opposite when using a phone.  The free label that appears when you search make you initially happy but the in app purchases are a parent’s nightmare. I learned the hard way when letting our daughter play on one of my old phones and she purchased $60 worth of in app purchases on our credit card. The play store is a pretty miserable place for a parent to search for an appropriate app.

With recent “app explosion” in the last 5 years it is not too surprising that parents are struggling to keep up with which ones are best for their children. Parents are struggling to find apps that actually work for their child age wise, interest wise, and learning wise.  It seems developers have kept it vague purposely. Reading more of Tap, Click, Read this read week I take away a few things parents need to know about app shopping before they start.

  1. Free doesn’t mean free for its entire use. Many come with in app purchases that severely limit its use. (learn form my $60 mistake)
  2. Age descriptors are vague or unidentified. Requiring the parent to use it for a large amount of time before deciding on their child’s use.
  3. Developers attract customers with popular characters (Disney characters in particular) which attracts your child but doesn’t mean quality.
  4. Educational apps won’t always teach your child that skill or contain successful teaching strategies.

I think all in all I would advice parents to look at the apps your children use before letting them use them and allow time for the search process. Even when it has been decided that is will be beneficial or a good use of their time play an active role in their use of it. Ask questions about what they are doing, reading, and hearing.

woman and girl using tablet computer
Photo by Michael Morse on

Speed Geeking: Padlet

Padlet is something I have used before as a student in a college setting and at my job usually in a professional development opportunity or meeting. One thing I noticed in those moments is that it was often used successfully and usefully when the Padlet was formatted well and the starting columns or text could lead to many responses. Recently in a staff meeting Padlet was used and it ended up being a formatting disaster for the task at hand and seemed to be a time filler because it was quickly abandoned.

I decided to play with Padlet and think of an example that I could do with my kindergarten students. I was looking to see if it could meet the needs of a variety of students and provide me with information to improve or influence my teaching. We have recently started word families in my classroom and I thought a word family check in could be beneficial for my teaching.

I initially thought you were only able to post pictures and write text as a response. There were so many more options. I particularly liked that my students would be able to draw, record video/audio, post pictures, and write text. That serves so many more of my students than just typing a response would. I could see my non-readers using the drawing or recording features the most. I was also thinking an alternate option as the starter to the column would be to record myself saying the word family. I have at least 8 children this year with speech issues and this would allow them to hear the at sound instead of having to read it on the screen and potentially getting a bit off with their own pronunciation.

I had a hard time seeing the downside to this tool. I find many downsides are often user error or the creators formatting choice. My kindergartners or other young children may go a bit wild with all of the answer choices and I think I would need quite a bit of time to introduce the options. With enough practice through out the year I think they could remember the different options well because of the symbols and colors associated with each choice.

As for the privacy policy  for Padlet I did find it to be pretty standard and expected. They highly encourage you to think before participating in a Padlet that shares personal information as third parties may get access to it. Again this is information you are choosing to share. Considering also that I would be the administrator and I would not be using it to gain personal information from my students I think this would be a safe tool for my students. I would probably post the link to the Padlet on my 3×3 link page so my students could go straight to it and couldn’t accidentally stray into other places.

Speed Geeking: Book Creator

This week I played with Book creator after being inspired to try out an example that I gave in my previous post about the behaviors of media literate 5 year olds.

You can take a quick look at my example about Tigers.

There were quite a few feature to Book Creator that I loved from the start. I loved that it was laid out so simply. I could see it being early childhood friendly with out a doubt. I also loved that you were able to search for pictures with in the import tab in addition to uploading your own pictures. Also without a doubt the recording feature for my kindergartners would be very beneficial. It helps my kids that are unable to write especially at the beginning of the year. They are still able to participate at a high level. After students create a book it will also read the story for them. Boy is this great for my student with learning disabilities and my students who are not ready to read yet.

I am actually struggling to think of cons with this tool. I think the only thing I could see as difficult would be the pen feature on certain computers. If the computer is not a touch screen or you do not have a pen that can be used with your computer this feature is difficult. I had to use my mouse pad which is why my page “diet of a tiger” is very wobbly and a bit messy. There is a part of me that likes that however because it reminds you that a child has worked so hard on it and was able to personalize it. Also when using the text feature I wish you were able to change the font size. Being unable to make the title larger was a bit disappointing.

The privacy policy for this was probably my most worry some. They are honest in saying they collect quite a bit of information. Essentially anything you provide in signing up, through email to them, or in your books. These means if you have your students make a book about them that could be collected as well. It says this information is used to make improvements and analyze use that maybe illegal which is understandable. I guess I just didn’t like how much is said “may” and “might”.

Overall this tool allows students to get so much further than on paper. Students are able to personalize and add their voice and write in their own hand writing still. They can find pictures and draw pictures. Without this tool students would only be able to draw and maybe print pictures. If they are unable to write that also means they must remember all the parts of their story to tell orally. Recording on the tool allows them to practice over and over without judgement from peers.

I am so glad I was introduced to this tool.

The behaviors of Media Literate Kindergartners

Finishing up Part 1 of Tap, Click, Read this week I found the section about the Six Behaviors of Literate Five-year Olds to be most helpful in getting me to consider all that a kindergartner must be able to do and could be able to do in my class. I wanted to think through the steps and think about my own experiences with these young students and what I feel this might look like.

  1. Routinely ask relevant questions about ideas and information and use at least two different strategies for finding credible answers.

This one was difficult for me while I could see 5 year olds asking questions about ideas and information because they do ask a lot of questions already. They are also very open to sentence starters and it is simple to implement into the classroom by helping them rephrasing and think out what they are trying to ask. The part I struggle with in this step is using at least two strategies for finding credible answers. I could think of ideas for older children but struggles with 5 year olds. Is it as simple as asking them “How do you know?” then they say because I read it in a book or my mom told me?

2.  Exhibit the habit of linking answers to specific evidence. 

I could see this as children being able to actually watch and see this with their own eyes. So if they are watching a live feed of let’s say bald eagles taking care of their eggs. Then it comes up in class they would be able to say “Bald Eagles sit on their eggs because I have seen them do it before on our live feed.” Although I wonder if that is enough.

3. Demonstrate knowledge that media are made by people who make choices about what to include and what to leave out. 

One thing that immediately came to mind when I read this one is continuing the idea of authors of books and connect that to media in my own teaching. Making a point in both fiction and non-fiction read aloud to say the authors names in connection with information presented in the book. Pointing out in a book about butterflies what we didn’t learn in the book about the butterfly. Asking them “Why do you think the author (say their name) didn’t put any information about ______?” The same can be done with a  web page or site with the children. Later I could see my students using some of the language of the author says________or the author put in _________.

4. Choose appropriate pictures to accompany a story or report they have created and provide a basic explanation for their choice.

5. Create and share original stories and reports using images, sounds, and words. 

Now this I thought would be easily demonstrated in a research project about an animal of their choice. Using a tool such as Book Creator student could incorporate real pictures of the animal they are researching. I as the teacher would present multiple examples that have great use of pictures and poor examples of pictures. I find it helpful to show students examples and present it pretty dramatically. Presenting questions like ” Why is they a picture of tiger sniffing a flower on a this page?What is this page actually about?” I could also see my students getting further help with our big buddies to help aid in the researching and finding of pictures.

6. Identify media technologies as tools that people learning, communication, and persuasion, and that (with permission) they can use too. 

GROWTH MINDSET! I think with kindergartners it is important to give them the opportunity to use a variety of tools and help them understand that they do not know it all yet. As years pass if they continue to see it a beneficial tool then they could learn more and more throughout their life. Helping to paint it in a light instead of the light many older generations like to paint it in. Making it a normal part of your class to discuss what media was used and why they chose to use that instead of another. What was it able to do for them?


Speed Geeking Scratch Jr.

This school year my school received Cubetto’s for each classroom. This coding robot is pretty exciting for the kids but teaching coding to 5 and 6 year olds may not have been quite realistic given that they must know their right from their left on an entire route Cubetto makes. I chose to take a look at the app Scratch Jr. which helps young children learn to code. I was able to quickly get it on my phone and I decided to pick an activity from their website called “Run a Race”. I found the video below that I also used to introduce me to the app. The video was very helpful in getting me through evn though the example was not the activity I was completing.


Thinking about my students and those that would benefit from its use I do believe it meets redefinition in the SAMR model. Students would not have been able to previously complete a task like this with success in my classroom. We have been experimenting with our Cubetto but like I mentioned above remembering right and left has creating so many issues for use that we have been unable to complete a coding task with success. ON Scratch Jr. the code buttons are far more easy to use because for instance when you have something move forward in the program you can assign it a number like move forward 19 times. It save the children from needing to put in 19 pieces of code to compete the movement path.

This app also allows for a lot of imagination and creation because their are numerous background options as well as character options. I think this would allow my students that struggle with comprehension in telling stories to show it visually with a diverse selection of options but not so many that they get too wild with their programming activities.

I also found their privacy notice informational and reassuring for a parent and teacher. They only collect information to better their app and no personal information is collected.

One downside I could see with this app is that their are quite a few coding options and too many can often lead to confusion and strange coding in the programs for young kids. Their is no option to like hoover over the symbol to remind you its functions. I almost wish their was a small word below each or some easy way of reminding you what they do.

Overall I would highly recommend this tool in the classroom with 5-7 year olds as the app recommends. It could be very beneficial for young children looking to program and create in a new way.

Developing Readers and Screens


As I began reading Tap, Click, Read by Lisa Guernsey and Michael Levine I was thrown into those issues I have faced as a teacher and parent. Screens are all around us and our children. I am constantly faced with the question of when should my daughter use it and how much? One particular section of the second chapter peaked my interest. They explain a recent experiment in preschools throughout low income communities. Shows such as The Adventures of SuperWhy!, Sesame Street, and Between The Lions were used by teachers and accompanied with intentional learning activities. These teachers received additional training about how these shows could be integrated. As a result the children did much better on tests about early literacy skills. I was curious to see if I could find lessons to accompany specific episodes and with a quick search they were actually very easy to find. You can see them here.

While I do not know what types of activities were done I do know that these lessons provided on PBS had some really great ideas for activities to accompany the lessons. I was pleasantly surprised honestly.

With mixed research and opinions flooding the internet, television, and doctors offices parents often struggle to find common ground on what they should and should not be doing with their children and screens. With some studies finally concluding that screens can hold benefits depending on the content of what is shown now the focus has shifted to age of use.

One thing I take away from the beginning of this book is that we as teachers and parents have the right and responsibility to begin monitoring and filtering what our children are doing with screens. Is their a meaningful impact or is the screen a tool for distraction? Using media as a tool to benefit and accompany other activities that are hands on or active could greatly improve our fear of screens and ruining our children.