All posts by William

About William

Author and teacher in Atlanta, Georgia. I like going on adventures and eating pizza.

Participate Reflection

How has the Participate module prepared you to meet each standard listed below? Link to or provide specific examples from your work in Participate. Provide screenshots of artifacts that address each standard (Standards C, E, and J) individually, and that support the Participate capstone reflection.

Standard C: The online teacher plans, designs, and incorporates strategies to encourage active learning, application, interaction, participation, and collaboration in the online environment.

[ artifact here ]

Useful Lessons:

Key Strategies:

Application to Future Teaching:

Standard E: The online teacher models, guides, and encourages legal, ethical, and safe behavior related to technology use.

[ artifact here ]

What I Gained from the Lesson:

Key Strategies:

Application to Future Teaching:

Standard J: The online teacher interacts in a professional, effective manner with colleagues, parents, and other members of the community to support students’ success.

[ artifact here ]

What I Gained from the Lesson:

Key Strategies:

Application to Future Teaching:

Participate 4 – Digital Health

Create: Create a digital calendar containing scheduled appointments designed to improve digital health. Embed the calendar (or include a screenshot of the calendar) in your blog.

I don’t have/use a digital calendar. I prefer to rely on paper/pencil calendars, as constantly checking my phone drains the battery. However, I do use a calendar for my job at Fulton County Schools. I will not place a screenshot, as some of the information is sensitive. However, I can give you a look at what an average June day looks like for me.

For VT

I take my calendar with me everywhere I go, and I use digital resources to supplement it. At work, we use the Outlook calendar. I also use my phone’s digital calendar as a backup if I don’t have my calendar.

Answer: How did you modify your technology habits? What is the most proactive means of ensuring the most balanced blend of technology and well-being? What can students and teachers do to make sure they get the most from technology while simultaneously safeguarding good health?

I have set times for working at the computer. I try and set prescribed times for answering emails, applying to job openings, performing research, and planning lessons. Teachers and parents need to work together to help students find a comfortable balance between online and IRL activities. There’s nothing wrong with gaming for a few hours on the weekend, but excessive gaming during the week can lead to loss of sleep and productivity. Sitting for too many hours, in whatever position, is unhealthy. We need to teach students to take time every day for some sort of physical activity. Physical activity doesn’t have to mean strenuous exercise. It can be as simple as going for a walk, cleaning the house, or constructing models.

Participate 4 – Digital Safety and Security

Feel free to share this video in your classroom or on your DLC webpage, blog, or other social media sites. 100% Iron-Man approved!

Here’s a couple things Iron Man missed:

  • Remember never to download anything from a site that is not 100% legit. Make sure you know exactly what files you’re getting and that the site is reputable.
  • Beware of phishing attempts. Con-men love to send out emails claiming to be from a business or bank, asking for your passwords or other forms of identifiable information. Always double-check before sending anything private or personal over the Internet.
  • When in doubt, look up at the URL bar. Do you see “https” at the front of the address? If so, you’re on a secure site. If not, beware.
  • Always keep your security software up to date. That includes updating your OS.

Participate 4 – Digital Rights and Responsibilities

Artifact: Formulate a plan for supporting and protecting a Digital Learning Community through Digital Rights and Responsibilities.  Share your plan in your blog.

At school, we support our digital learning community by making sure all students have access to technology whether at school or at home. We also teach students expectations for behavior online, offering yearly seminars during advisement to train students how to be good digital citizens. This training includes an examination of copyright law and lessons on safety.

1. How can a DLC ensure that citizens within the community have access to an environment where an AUP protects members as well as the community itself, where individuals uphold laws, and a cooperative/collective venture provides robust, safe, and ethical resources and opportunities for learning?

DLCs can offer resources to citizens so that they are properly educated on the laws and expectations regarding digital rights and responsibilities. Moderators in forums as well as moderating educators can discuss with students on their choices in content and presentation.

2. What is the best way to establish and maintain a flourishing DLC where citizens understand, observe, and are inclined to willingly support and ultimately benefit from Digital Rights and Responsibilities?

In the classroom, teachers foster a culture of safety, responsibility, and respect. They can do this through offering resources and teaching expectations to students. In the same way, DLCs can make their expectations known and have consequences for violation. Students must understand the options they have for exercising their rights and not violating the rights of others.

Participate 3- Digital Resources and Netiquette

Should I post it? This is the thought that must run through our minds whenever we put something on the Internet. Here’s a handy diagram to get you through most online discussions with your reputation intact!

shouldipostitBut what does it all mean?

Be polite, avoid embarrassing yourself or others, and post with kindness. If you want to share something trivial or funny, that is ok, but you need to make sure it is appropriate to the audience and situation.

For more information on when and when not to post, check out these resources:

Netiquette Guidelines from Edutopia: A good introduction to the basics

Core Rules of Netiquette from Colorado State: Reminders to use proper grammar, spelling, and mechanics; be aware of your cyber-surroundings; and adhere to the same guidelines for proper behavior online as you do in the real world.

Educators Technology: This site provides many of the same guidelines but ALSO has information for other educational technologies and online tools. This site also contains handy infographics teachers can use to help share this knowledge with their students.

Participate 3 – Accessing Digital Learning Communities

What types of barriers might impede students’ opportunities to access digital learning? What might we do to eliminate such barriers?

Many types of barriers can impede students’ access to digital learning. As a special education teacher, I’ve noticed most of my students access the Internet primarily on their phone or tablet. Few have Internet access at home, and fewer still have access to printers. In keeping with the Pew study, my students belong to minority groups, have learning disabilities — including autism — and come from families which are economically-disadvantaged.

Increasing accessibility, in the long-run, may require some type of federal, state, or local government action. Decatur, Georgia — along with some other cities nationwide — offers free wifi to the public. The connection is spotty, but it works pretty well. Fortunately, there are some things teachers can do to increase accessibility of their online tools. Providing captions and transcripts for videos and proper formatting to allow for e-readers are two small things that make a big difference.

I confess I had never considered how to design a website for students who have trouble with motor skills (paraplegia, muscular distrophy, etc.) or who are visually-impaired. How can we make sure students who can’t use a mouse can still access the lesson? I’m not sure about that one. Using “tab” and “shift + tab” works pretty well, but sometimes there are road bumps. I just tried to access the TOOL website using just the tab key. I was able to open lessons, play videos, and mark them completed, but I could not close the windows to advance to the next lesson. I’d have to talk with someone who knows much more about coding than I do.

A simple fix for accessibility is to keep checking the links from class to class. Make sure all your links still work, so that students can easily access the material. I could not access the Broadband map on my home laptop. Not sure why. It’s unfortunate because it looks like a very cool tool! Not sure if it’s a computer issue or a website issue.

Participate 2- Collecting Reputable Digital Resources

Hey, so I’ve been collecting a treasure trove of online resources for both teachers and students to use in the classroom and on the go. You can find it on my teaching portfolio.

I still have to update some sections, so browse with caution!

What were the three most useful tools or resources resulting from the web walkabout? How can students be taught to safely collect tools and resources that can help them maximize their learning? What policies or procedures might need to be in place to make this possible?

I always make an effort to teach students the proper domains to use. (Websites that end in “.gov” or “.edu” tend to be better sources for academic research.) In order to help students maximize their learning, it’s best if students have some ownership over the technology. Whether that means students have to bring their own or be provided with one-to-one devices, the students have to have some idea that the technology is theirs. Otherwise, they’ll abuse it by mistreating the hardware and downloading inappropriate software. (That last bit will happen no matter what. Efficient firewalls can block some, but not all.)

Another great idea is to sign the technology out to the teacher. Each class can have a full set of iPads and/or laptops which stay in the room at all times. Kids can save their work to a school drive that they can access from home if they have to. This way nothing gets lost.

We’ve been using one-to-one devices at my middle school, and most of our issues have been hardware issues. Namely, kids losing their power cords, breaking their laptops, or otherwise abusing the technology. Because we’re Title I, many of the parents cannot/will not pay for replacement or repair. This puts us in a pickle when we want to use the technology. My biggest struggle as a special ed teacher has been trying to get kids to look beyond the front page of Google, Wikipedia, and Google Images for their research assignments.

As for the most useful resources, I couldn’t say. It depends what you’re trying to do.

For everyday use, I’d say go with ClassDojo for classroom management, Blendspace for keeping all your digital resources in one spot (without having to switch windows), and Information is Beautiful for helping students separate fact from fiction and truth from distortion. Plus it makes everything pretty with colors. AND they cite their sources!

One word of warning: I’ve noticed Blendspace sometimes has trouble with PowerPoint. Not sure why.

Participate 1 – Ideal Digital Learning Communities

Consider what would be needed to create an ideal digital learning community.

An ideal digital learning community would need to combine something student-driven with teacher supervision. Ideally, a place where students would be free to pursue their own interests and, in doing so, arrive at a true liberal arts education. Diving into science fiction feeds a hunger for scientific knowledge. Once you get to a certain point in science, you need math, so you go back and learn algebra, calculus, and trigonometry on your own.

What would be needed to bring such a vision to fruition?


What can one do to make an existing DLC more attractive to and welcoming for students and teachers?

Having some degree of choice makes things more attractive on principle. It’s hard to get excited about something someone from outside says you have to do. But choice, even minimal choice, gives teacher and student alike an element of power, being able to pick the DLC they feel more comfortable with. After all, we have to be able to choose our own communities.

Participate 1 – Joining a DLC

UPDATE: Sorry! I found it. The list of DLCs, I mean. Here is what I use:

I use Symbaloo to organize all my bookmarks for school. You can see it at this address:

You may have to log in to view it.

I use Edutopia and Edmodo in the classroom. Edutopia is great because I’m able to find resources and also seek feedback and support from fellow teachers near and far.

My co-teacher and I use Edmodo to share PowerPoints and Prezis with students, as well as to provide a place for students and teachers to seek instant feedback and information from each other. Sadly, most of my resource students either don’t have computers or don’t bring them to class charged. We only have three desktops in the back, and they run very slowly. Also, it’s a struggle getting them to actually DO the lesson instead of logging on to a VPN and playing Superfighters.

As for the tagging part. Still no idea how I’m supposed to do that. You mean tagging this post? I can do that.

Side note: Has anyone else noticed how so many of these websites have the same layouts for their homepages? Are they all owned/created by the same company? It’s bizarre. Seriously, check it out. Edmodo, Symbaloo, Thrively. They all have the same design! Live-action photo of a happy kid overlaid with links for registration and sign-in. Contact info on the bottom, description and title of site off to the side. Maybe that’s just the fashion now?


Participate 1- Character Traits

Good digital citizens exemplify a number of positive character traits including:

  • Awareness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Good judgment

Awareness means being alerted to the various forms of danger which exist in the digital world, including phishing and other types of email scams. It also means familiarizing oneself with copyright law and being mindful of using third-party media in a professional manner.

Conscientiousness refers to one’s behavior on social media. For example, conscientious digital citizens avoid flame wars, trolling, and other forms of online bullying. Digital citizens must also be aware of when and where to use humor, as oftentimes humor — and especially sarcasm — does not translate well in written form.

Good judgment refers to protecting one’s physical, social, and financial well-being while on the Internet, including remembering not to give out passwords and checking to make sure sites are secure before entering any type of credit card information. Exercising good judgment also includes knowing when to notify an adult or cease communication when the student suspects criminal or other dangerous behavior is taking place on social media.