Week 11 Reflection

This week we looked at technology policy and discussed how to help our district in creating these policies.  I did not address the second part of the question in my first blog post.  After reading blogs and leading our Twitter chat this week, I’ve realized there are many ways to help the district in creating policies.  Probably the most helpful would be to volunteer to be a part of the committee that drafts the policy.  But as Genevieve pointed out, we can also help to make change by writing letters.  Finally, I think stepping up in our building as a technology leader is an important place to start.  This includes not only sharing success with emerging technology, but also stepping up to offer “training” or help to new teachers or other teachers not as  proficient with technology.

Sarah did a super job breaking the Learning and Technology Policy Framework for Alberta into it’s 5 parts–and explained that any policy that covers these 5 parts would have a sufficient policy in place.  Their policy’s 5 main components are (1) Student-Centered Learning; (2) Research and Innovation; (3) Professional Learning; (4) Leadership; (5) Access, Infrastructure, and Digital Learning Environments.  At the start of class, I had contacted our IT director and she directed me to the Strategic Plan for the district for 2016-2021.  Though the plan is not specifically for technology there are technology plans cited within.  The district is has identified 5 goals: student learning, stakeholder satisfaction employee development, support systems, fiscal responsibility.  Technology mainly falls into the support system area, but can be found referenced in other areas too.  As I read through this I thought of Melissa’s post on the difference between a plan and a policy.  It seems to me that our district would benefit from having a Technology Policy in place, a policy that follows the 5 components listed on the Learning and Technology Framework for Alberta. The one policy they do already have is an Acceptable Use Policy in place.


Technology Policy

Essential question:  What specific policies will help your district prepare students for current and emerging technology use? How can you help lead your district in creating these policies? 

From the  Learning and Technology Policy Framework:

“Ultimately, the power of technology should be harnessed to support innovation and discovery, not simply to aid teaching. We need to engage learners to use these new technologies as designers and creators of knowledge.”

Technology is a huge part of our society and our lives.  It has changed the ways we communicate, work, and live.  Technology has fueled innovations; for these reasons it should also be a part of the education of our students.  Technology has the potential to help us make our learning more student-centered, engaging, and authentic (Learning and Technology, 2013).  However, technology cannot do this on it’s own.  Technology is a tool and should be used to help implement changes that allow learning to be student-centered, engaging, and authentic.  Mark Edwards from Mooreville School in North Carolina explains that his district focused first on learning solutions, “and then used technology to implement them in an affordable way.” His schools saw great success.  He says, “We are not trying to add on to old ways of teaching and learning. Rather we are trying to ‘rethink school’ from the ground up, enabled by today’s technologies and guided by the demands of the 21st-century workplace.”(Hess, Hochleitner & Saxberg 2013)

To do this, we must first consider our school/district vision and use it to help us make policy that will enhance the educational experience of our students.

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Source:    Learning and Technology Policy Framework:


When considering technology policy the  K-12 Blueprint offers some questions and ideas worth consideration:

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In her article Tips for Creating Technology Policies for K-12 Chrissy Winske spoke with Jennifer Jenson PhD, Professor of Pedagogy and Technology at York University to offer some interesting ideas to consider:

First, an acceptable use policy needs clear guidelines on cyber bullying

Then Jenson says, don’t block Youtube and Facebook, instead discuss appropriate use and time.  Her argument is that kids understand these sources of media, because it’s what they access at home.

Finally, “The first best practice from the policy and the teacher side is the same thing. You have to let go of control. You can’t know everything and you have to be willing to have difficulty conversations. The second one is that using those types of technology [tablets, smartphones, laptops] literally changes your pedagogy and instruction. I think sometimes you can say close your laptops. Turn off your devices. We’re going to spend 20 minutes with no screens.”

This research has led me to believe that technology policy has much more to do with than just technology.  We must be willing consider and rethink the culture of the classroom to create policy that will allow us to create a learning environment responsive to student needs, as it is student-centered, engaging, and authentic.


Clarity Innovations.  K12 Blueprint.  Retreived from:  https://www.k12blueprint.com/toolkits/policy

Hess, Frederick M.; Hochleitner, Taryn; & Saxberg, Bror (2013, Oct 22). E Rate, education technology, and school reform. American Enterprise Institute. Retreived from:  https://www.aei.org/publication/e-rate-education-technology-and-school-reform/

Learning and Technology Policy Framework

Winske, Chrissy (2014, F.eb 17).  Tips for Creating Technology Policies for K-12 Retrieved from:  http://www.k-12techdecisions.com/article/creating_an_acceptable_use_policy_for_mobile_learning_initiatives#






Week 10 Reflection

When I read and blogged on the topic of electronics and crafting, I focused mainly on circuits, but Daysha and Melissa reminded me of the sewing option. This might just capture another student’s interest in electronics! It was fun to read about different ideas for circuits on their blogs, as well as on Tricia’s and I was able to share a great resource for squishy circuits that would be so fun, and inexpensive, to create with young children! (http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/apthomas/SquishyCircuits/videos2.htm)

Finally, Camille’s blog post really put an idea that has been circulating in my mind into words. If we had the option of adding this (crafting with electronics) to a MakerSpace or a STEM classroom-making it a STEAM classroom-we might have the chance to hook the interest of more female students, who might then go on to explore more in the STEM fields. If that’s a possibility, it seems like we’ve definitely got to give it a try!

From our Twitter session, I wouldn’t have thought of the option of recycling ewaste and using it to craft—what a creative solution to a problem that most schools have!



Using Electronics to Craft

How are electronics viable additions to “crafting” for today’s young person?

Using electronics to craft is a way to combine art, design, and science, further supporting the problem-solving attitude that so many of these emerging technologies promote. It allows students to use their creativity and imagination to create will learning and exploring with science and math.

I can really see using electronics to craft in a MakerSpace in my classroom. It would be fun to use circuit stickers from Chibitronics or using squishy circuits to introduce simple circuits to even the youngest of students and then offer them space to create within a Genius Hour or Maker Space setting. As Leah Buechley (2012) says in her Ted Talk on how to sketch with electronics, using a conductive pen and circuit stickers you can now play, build, an sketch with electronics in a new way—anything that you can do with paper you can now do with electronics. I can imagine my second graders really enjoying making a picture or card light up or play music!

If we were to bring electronics into the classroom as an addition to crafting, it would require motivated teachers that were willing to learn something new. On the Squishy Circuits website, they have a whole set of videos on how to get started with learning about and teaching young children about squishy circuits, including how to make the conductive and insulating dough, squishy circuit basics, hardware and fun projects. There are even more tutorials available on the CrowdSupply website, but both of these options would require the teacher to be motivated to seek learning on their own.



Jie Qi. Interactive Light Painting: Pu Gong Ying Tu (Dandelion Painting). https://vimeo.com/40904471


Ted Talks (2012, Nov 15). Leah Buechley: How to sketch with electronics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTBp0Z5GPeI


Squishy Circuits http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/apthomas/SquishyCircuits/videos2.htm


Bunnie & Jie Qi. Circuit Stickers. Retreived from: https://www.crowdsupply.com/chibitronics/circuit-stickers

BYOD Reflection

It was really interesting to me to read about different opinions on BYOD policies this week. When writing my initial blog post this week, I hadn’t fully formed my opinion.   However, after reading and reflecting, I agree with Daysha and Melissa that districts do need a BYOD policy, even if it’s to say that devices aren’t allowed in the classroom. If I were to further my opinion, I’d say that I agree with Sara, that it should be up to the teacher about whether devices are allowed in the classroom (following district/school policy). Something that really stuck out from the Twitter chat was the importance of TEACHING students how to safely and respectfully use these devices. I think this would help extend the classroom learning past the walls of the classroom as students would be more apt to use their devices to learn at home too.

Melissa had looked up her school policy and I thought it was an interesting thing to consider, so I looked up ours as well. We have a 1 to 1 laptop program for all MS and HS students, but this is what I found about BYOD:

Cell Phones

High School students may use cellular phones before and after school, and at the discretion of the Principal, during the student’s lunch period. Elementary and middle school students (grades K-8) may use such devices only before and after school. During school and school-sponsored activities, students will comply with administrative and staff member directive regarding use. Students are required to turn over cell phones when requested and those who refuse to do so are subject to disciplinary actions.

Students carrying cell phones to and from school and during the school day assume all responsibility for appropriate use and risk of loss. The district assumes no responsibility for loss or damage to cell phones whether in the possession of students or confiscated by school personnel. Parents/ Guardians needing to contact their child during the school day MUST contact the school and the student must call home from the office.

If a student is using a cell phone, including any of its functions, for any reason during restricted time, consequences listed under General Misconduct /Health Issues and those listed below will be imposed.

Electronic Devices

Electronic devices such as Blackberries, iPads, iPods, DVD players, and other electronic devices are not permitted in the school during class time. They are only for use during the lunch hour. NWABSD is not responsible for lost or stolen items. These items will be confiscated and held by the administration if used in the classroom. Repeated violations may result in disciplinary action under General Misconduct/Health Issues on the disciplinary chart.

Personal electronic devices may be used in the classroom when teachers have an assigned task that includes the use of electronic devices. Students must abide by the Internet Acceptable Use Agreement when accessing the Internet with allowed personal electronic devices. Any misuse of the Internet Acceptable Use Agreement will be subject to disciplinary action.


Overall, I think if the teacher is willing to try it, BYOD may be successful in upper grade classrooms (if you planned to meet all the challenges including havving devices available for students that can’t afford them), but I wouldn’t want devices in my primary grade classroom.  I think we can teach the basics and really instill using technology appropriately and safely, but I wouldn’t be ready for 2nd graders to bring devices in.  (Although, I realize I am writing this from a district/classroom well stocked with technology!)

BYOD-yes or no?

Does every school need a BYOD Policy?

I’m not sure if I can truly answer this question, but I’ll start with the challenges and benefits to a BYOD Policy in schools.


  • Having access for devices both students’ and teachers’
  • Kids find away around security walls set up—need to block access to restricted applications and sites.
  • May not have large enough bandwidth to support needed services (TeachThought, 2013)
  • Viruses could be passed on from student devices. (Holeywell, 2013)
  • Economically disadvantaged students may not have a phone (Heick, 2015)
  • Educators need to be properly trained and have specific plans for implementation
  • Need to have proper and updated cyber bullying policies in place (Chadband, 2012)


  • Students without their own devices have more access to school owned technology, because there is less competition (Holeywell, 2013)
  • Offers students a way to solve problems that they are familiar with (apps, etc)
  • Saves time teaching students new software
  • Allows teachers to become collaborators with students in the learning process (Heick, 2015)
  • Provides a chance to teach students respectful use of devices.
  • Extends learning beyond the walls of the classroom
  • Helps to personalize instruction
  • Saves school money
  • Increases engagement
  • helps to make learning interactive (Wainwright, 2016)


Are electronic devices a distraction or a helpful tool? There are people on both sides of the argument. Proponents for BYOD say we must adapt our teaching methods to the way that students learn at this moment in time (Heick, 2015).  They say that with the proper policies and ground rules in place BYOD can work for teachers and students. Teachers and administrators must work together to create policies that offer a safe and constructive learning environment by educating students about online safety and security (Chadband, 2012).

What do you think?



Teach Thought (2013, Dec 22). 4 Challenges that cripple your school’s BYOD program http://www.teachthought.com/uncategorized/4-challenges-can-cripple-schools-byod-program/


Chadband, Emma (2012, Jul 19). Should schools ebrace “Bring your own device?” neaToday. Retrieved from: http://neatoday.org/2012/07/19/should-schools-embrace-bring-your-own-device/

Heick, Terry (2015, Feb 6). The Brutal authenticity of BYOD. Retreived from: http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/byod-is-shortest-path-to-student-centered-learning/


Holeywell, Ryan (2013, Sep 3). BYOD policies, growing more popular, create challenges for schools. http://www.governing.com/blogs/view/gov-byod-policies-create-school-challenges.html


Wainwright, Ashley (2016). Top 10 benefits of BYOD in school wireless networks. Retrieved from: http://www.securedgenetworks.com/blog/Top-10-Benefits-of-BYOD-in-School-Wireless-Networks

Week 8 Reflection

I totally missed the extra requirement of having a kid teach use how to use Minecraft, so after returning from our “unplugged” vacation, I downloaded the Pocket Edition to my phone and asked my little cousins to help me. When I asked them to help teach me they said, “Well you just run around and build things and mine stuff. You make swords and pick axes to mine. There’s spiders and zombies and stuff in survival mode.” They made it sound so easy.

They began by showing me that I can pick what mineral I want to use to build a building and how to clear open a spot to create something new. They showed me how to chose a weapon, kill animals to give me food (that you don’t really need in creative mode). But then, immediately upon taking over I got stuck in a hole. They showed me how to fly to get out. I was chuckling to myself because they were moving so fast and I was having a hard time keeping up. I think it will take me a while to really catch on. It really hit me how good kids are at picking up new games, etc on technology, because my 12 year old brother stepped in and took over on my phone, having never played before and was just jumping right in with no problem! This made me think that I want to be a little more comfortable with it before offering it in the classroom, BUT my students will always be able to teach me more!

Melissa brought up a point that has been on my mind too–whether young ones should be playing computer games in school. As I reflected on this, I thought it might be just the “hook” or tool that some students need to express themselves. I was thinking that it would be possible to use in a Genius Hour setting, with kids having the choice. She also brought up a great point about management—a teacher has to be active and present to keep students on task. I bet the interest hook in the game would help to curtail off task behaviors.  I’d still have a clear set of expectations though!

Daysha had some super applications for younger students including using it as an application and practice of phonics skills as well as using Minecraft for an end of the unit project on communities. Tricia had some super math applications for younger students including studying area.

Finally, Sara L helped me reflect about the importance of using student interests in school. Using things students are interested in and have schema on helps them buy in to the project and also helps to make students willing to take more risks and show more perseverance with problem solving. This being said, I still think that Minecraft might be the right tool for some kids in some situations, but not across the board. For this reason, I’d probably have it as an option during a Genius Hour setting.


Minecraft in the Classroom

Essential question: What Minecraft game could you create that would help students learn?

To answer this question, I had to start at the beginning. What is Minecraft? According to the website, minecraft.net, “Minecraft is a game about placing blocks and going on adventures. Explore randomly generated worlds and build amazing things from the simplest of homes to the grandest of castles. Play in Creative Mode with unlimited resources or mine deep in Survival Mode, crafting weapons and armor to fend off dangerous mobs. Do all this alone or with friends.”

I’ve heard of teachers using Minecraft in the classroom, so next I searched MinecraftEdu. Minecraft Education Edition is a separate edition of Minecraft that was created by teacher for use in the classroom. Some benefits to the Edu edition that I really like are that the teacher has the ability to limit student interaction with the world, or to permit it. We often discuss the difficulties of internet connection in the bush, but Minecraft Edu can function offline after it is installed. Minecraft is an open”sandbox” game, which allows players to roam and create. The Edu version allows teachers to set assignments for students.

 After finding out about the educational edition, I wanted to see what else was already out there. Andrew Miller (2012) has an article on Edutopia with ideas for using Minecraft in the classroom:

  • Explore real life buildings
  • Practice Ratio and proportion
  • learn about survival
  • visualization and reading comprehension

The MinecraftEdu World Library (http://services.minecraftedu.com/worlds/) has a list of already created lessons that are ready for use, including ideas for students to experience the setting of the Magic Tree House books, learn and practice coding, fractions, etc.

For use in a 2nd grade classroom, I can see great benefit is using Minecraft as a space for students to make their visualizations from reading “come to life.” Like anything else, I know this won’t work for every student, but it might be just the ticket that some students need to get fired up about reading.  Giving students a space to express themselves is very important.   It would be really cool for students to then share their visualizations with others and discuss the similarities and differences.

Another idea for a game that I thought of was to go with themes that I teach around. For example when we are reading and learning about penguins, students could create a “perfect” habitat for a penguin using the knowledge that they’ve gained and expressing that through the game. I would want collaboration in the game, so somehow design the space so students could interact with each other and request/trade items and ideas. In the same way, students could create a setting from a certain time period we are studying, including recreating important buildings from the time.   Collaboration is very important to me and it would be neat for students to create these settings and environments in partners or small groups. This way they learn how to share ideas and work with others in a respectful and safe environment.


Miller, Andrew (2012, Apr 13). Ideas for using minecraft in the classroom. Edutopia. Retreived from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/minecraft-in-classroom-andrew-miller

Minecraft. http://minecraft.net

MinecraftEdu World Library. http://services.minecraftedu.com/worlds/

What is MinecraftEdu? http://services.minecraftedu.com/wiki/What_is_MinecraftEdu)

Week 7 Reflection

Wow, what a powerful week for learning about another emerging technology for use in the classroom! As I reflect on my learning this week, I think one of the most important ideas I am taking away, is that 3D printing is a great option for another tool to offer students as Tricia said so well it’s another aide to offer students “in their pursuit of knowledge.” Sara also mentioned in her blog that 3D printing fits in well with the maker movement and philosophy. And, to me, that is exactly where it fits. I can see it as a tool for students to use in a Maker Space or during Genius Hour (in the upper grades at least). Like so many pointed out in their blog posts, including Genevieve, Gerald, and Sara, 3D printing has the potential to really push a growth mindset. The teacher would have to be careful to praise and reinforce the idea that improvement is important, not necessarily getting the right answer.

Josie mentioned using a 3D printer to make missing pieces. This in addition to making artifacts that the students might not usually have access to is where I see it working in a 2nd grade classroom for now. However, Daysha mentioned in our Twitter chat using a 3D printer to make adaptive gear for Special Education students, which is such a great idea!

Another idea that came up in our Twitter chat that I wouldn’t have usually thought about is getting others on board that might be opposed or pessimistic about the idea of 3D printers in the classroom. Instead of trying to explain to them-just invite them into the classroom. SHOW them and they’ll believe. I love this idea! Someone also mentioned the idea of hosting a family night maker space to showcase the 3D printer. All super ideas!

Overall, I think it’s the environment that the teacher creates that is most important element in the classroom.  3D printing is just another tool that we can offer students to help in their construction of knowledge.  When the teacher sets up a classroom in which mistakes are okay, and improving is what’s important, not necessarily getting the 1 “right” answer, we will see our students grow, learn, and become invested in their education.