Final Reflection for EdTech 543

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Image Credit:

I can understand why  people, especially educators, might shy away from social networks. There is a perception that social media is a place for celebrity gossip,  teenage banter, and making connections with old friends from high school. The potential for social networks to serve as a learning tool doesn’t reconcile with that view of social media. However, after spending a summer in a course designed to help me learn how to use social media to develop myself as and educator, I am not only convinced of the power of social networking, but I am also ready to spread the word about the power it holds for all of us.

As I reflect upon the coursework I completed and the connections I’ve made, I want to share my five biggest take-aways from the course with the hope that other educators will be more open to exploring these social networking tools.

You’re Never Alone- I work at a school where I am the only history teacher. Across my district, there are only six of us who teach history in the middle grades. And although I think they are some of the best educators I know, when we collaborate we are limited to the resources and knowledge of only 6 people. Social networks have allowed me to connect with hundreds and thousands of educators who share my interests and passions. By following a few hashtags on Twitter that connect me with other social studies teachers, I’ve been able to gather resources, learn more, and gain insights that I never would have learned about had I allowed myself to be limited to my team of six.

Emphasize the Personal Aspect of a PLN– Throughout the course, I’ve grown my Personal Learning Network. I am pleasantly surprised at how truly personal my learning has been. I joined communities of other educators who teach the same subject and/or age group as  I do. I follow hashtags of educational topics that interest me. As a result of social networking, I can target the communities I join to fit my personal learning needs. In another context, the word personalized carries a different meaning. Within these self-selected social networks, I have also made real connections with individuals. While social networks do allow me to connect with hundreds of educators from whom I can gather resources, there is an opportunity to develop deeper relationships as well. Personal Learning Networks are indeed personal.

Everyone Benefits from a PLN- When educators connect through personal learning networks, everyone benefits. Connected educators have immediate access to resources, support, and information. When teachers bring these learning experiences into classrooms, students benefit. It is truly a domino effect. Among the most important things I’ve learned in this course is that students – even young ones- can benefit from their own PLN and social networks. With proper safeguards in place, students can learn, share, and grow through connections with others in a digital environment.

Share What you Know– I believe in the power of collaboration. I also truly believe that everyone has something to share. Even people who are new teachers or new to social networks have something to offer. This was, for a very long time, where I would often fall short. I was certain that I couldn’t offer anything new to a group of well-connected educators. It wasn’t until I started answering questions on Twitter and sharing links on different platforms did I realize I was wrong. We truly do all have something to offer.

Proceed with Caution- Social Networks are powerful indeed. Based on the learning from this class, I will argue that claim with conviction. That does not mean, however, that we throw caution by the wayside. We must all manage our digital footprint with the utmost care in order to protect our professional, personal, and digital reputations. As educators, we must not only set the example for those we teach, but we must also give them the tools and knowledge to protect themselves. We have a responsibility to keep our students safe in every possible way.

As I continue to take on more leadership roles in my school district, I hope to serve as a resource for teachers who are growing their own PLNs.

Grading: My posts for this course have been thoughful, reflective, and published on time. After taking time to look back at the requirements and the specific writing tasks, I think it’s fair to say that I have met all of the expectations. 75/75

Social Studies and Social Media

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Image Credit:

I have recently discovered something that has made me rethink how I share my lessons. IWhile scavenging the internet for real life examples of how teachers have used social media in their classrooms, I have learned that very few teachers post reali life uses of social media. Most of what I discovered in my searches were “how to” guides or lists with ideas. While all of this is helpful, I began to wonder, “Where are the real life lessons?” As a result of finding few examples, I realized that I have only rarely shared anything beyond ideas, either. Perhaps it’s time to change that…

While thinking about social media uses in the middle school social studies classrooms, I realized that middle school is that age where most students have their own accounts without legally being allowed to have them until they reach the age of 13. As a teacher who likes to follow the rules, I looked for ways to use social media to help  students learn in a way that allows teachers to follow the law while encouraging them to connect and learn about the power of learning through social media. I found some creative ways to extend classroom discussions beyond the walls of the classroom with tools that teachers can moderate. Additionally, there was a real emphasis on having students share their learning with a public/semi-public audience. When publishing for an audience of peers, parents, and other members of the public, the quality of work can increase. So many good ideas can be found in these resources:

Social Studies and Social Media in Middle School Classrooms 

Social Media Policies

RISE Logo (2)

Many of my middle school students enter my class with social media accounts. Despite the fact that they are not legally allowed to have these accounts until the age of 13, many of them have them anyway (some without their parents’ knowledge). Because I teach at a K-8 school, I am often aware of the social media drama that takes place among the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. Yes, even kids as young as 8 have these accounts.

I absolutely believe that social media can be a powerful tool for good. In fact, as I have been reading about and learning about social media, I am more convinced than ever that social media is changing how we learn and connect. The questions that arise out of thoughtful reflection related to social media in schools must be addressed in order to capture the goodness in these connections and avoid the potential negative consequences that occur when users use social media improperly.

Unfortunately, I work in a district that has no policy whatsoever regarding the use of social media. While we do have an AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) that emphasizes the importance of following federal laws regarding children and the internet (FERPACIPA, and COPPA), no mention of social media can be found. Our district staff has been asking for such a policy to provide direction in how to appropriately interact with families and/or students with social media tools. Without this guidance, staff members are left to their own judgement about how to handle this world.

Because I know that I will be using social media in my classroom (Google Classroom, Edmodo, etc.), I want to make sure that I set my students up for successful online interactions and learning experiences. Without any kind of district or school policy in place, I have decided to establish guidelines specific to our middle school students on campus. I work closely with the other teachers and we have often discussed the need for a policy such as this. With the start of school only a few days away, it is the perfect time to introduce this to the stake holders and ask for feedback.

First, I will bring the policy to my teaching team and ask for thoughts and suggestions. Because we have discussed this topic at length over the past year, I feel confident that any suggestions for change will be minor. The next person I need to speak to is the principal. Because we have a brand new principal this year, I expect that she will be asking questions about how we currently use social media tools in our classrooms in order to gain insights about how and why this policy is needed. Upon her approval, I will be bringing this to district administration, specifically our Technology Coordinator. Because she works at all school sites in the district, she may have experienced issues with middle school students and social media that I have not had yet. With her feedback, I will present this policy to parents at our upcoming back to school night. I know that many of our parents have limited knowledge on how to help their children navigate the world of social media, and my hope is that bringing this policy to their attention will raise an interest in supporting their children and their online identities.

Social Media Guidelines –Franklin Middle School

RISE Logo (2)

As a student in the Loomis Union School District, you already understand that the adults in this district hold you to the highest expectations academically, behaviorally, and socially. As middle school students, there are additional expectations that you may not be aware of. You are living in a time of great technological change, and it is our job to work together to prepare you for those changes, especially as you learn to navigate your digital life.

Throughout the year, we will be using technology to connect, to share, and to learn from others both inside and outside our classroom.  There is power in these connections as long as we use that power for good. There is a famous line in Spiderman where Uncle Ben turns to Spiderman and says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Imagine for a minute that Uncle Ben is talking to you. Imagine that the great “power” you hold is the internet. Now imagine him saying to you, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Can you feel the shivers down your spine as you truly think about the magnitude of your responsibility? The power you have with the internet can help you do great and wonderful things. Let’s work together to make sure that you live up to that responsibility.

Franklin students are expected to abide by the RISE principles at all times- this includes your time online.


  • Maintain a level of respect that reflects a strong character.
    • Only say things online that you would say if you were sitting face to face
    • Consider how others might feel reading your posts, comments, and thoughts about them
    • Respond to others’ posts, especially when they are asking for help, in a timely manner


  • Be honest in all that you do
    • Always use your own work and ideas in your assignments. Claiming someone else’s without giving proper credit is a serious issue.
      • Follow the copyright laws you learn about in class- this includes giving image credit to any images you use in your presentations and other work
    • Think about the consequences of the ideas and thoughts you post. Your posts can can bring negative consequences that you may not expect in your future. What will colleges, future boyfriends/girlfriends, or employers think about you if they were to view your social media accounts?
    • Be aware of the fact that what you put on the internet stays on the internet. Unfortunately, there is often no way to remove negative images or posts.


  • Protect yourself in every way possible
    • Keep your personal information (phone number, address, etc.) private. Don’t share this anyone online
    • Keep your Password Safe Space Safe. Keeping track of your usernames and accounts is not only important so that you can access web 2.0 tools for class, but it is also important to protect this information so no one else can access your accounts.
    • Communicate any concerns or worries with your teachers and/or parents. We are here to help!


  • Give every effort to showcase your best academic self
    • Use proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar when communicating with others online. While many classroom discussion may take place online, it is an academic environment that requires academic quality work.

Remember that school rules do apply. Instances of cyberbullying and plagiarism are not unlike bullying and cheating that we experience inside classroom.

Many of you will be using social media for first time in this class. Some of you may have had accounts for some time. Each year, students ask “What if….?” Here are a few“What if” scenarios our Franklin students have experienced in the past.

  • What if…I posted something that I now regret?
  • What if…someone posted something that really hurt me?
  • What if…I see instances of cyber bullying or mistreatment of others?
  • What if…I lose all/one of my passwords and usernames?
  • What if…I know someone cheated?

As a middle schooler, no one expects you know how handle these challenging and difficult situations on your own.Believe it or not, the best thing to is to talk with your parents and/or teachers. Even if you think you’ve been involved in something that is impossible to fix, we will help you. We expect you to make mistakes- it is what you do after you make the mistakes that truly speaks to your character.

The teachers at Franklin have helped students with some very difficult social media situations. We know that it is not always easy to bring your problems to us, but please trust that we will help guide you through any issues that arise. We care about you, your online reputation, and your future. Let us help.


Anderson, S. (2011, May 15). Blogging About The Web 2.0 Connected Classroom Sample Social Media Guidelines. Retrieved August 1, 2015, from

Anderson, S. (2012, May 12). How to Create Social Media Guidelines for Your School. Retrieved August 2, 2015, from

Catapano, J. (n.d.). Laws, Policies for Using Social Media in the Classroom. Retrieved August 1, 2015, from

Fisher, C. (n.d.). Creating Social Media Guidelines for Educators. Retrieved August 1, 2015, from

FrontPage. (n.d.). Retrieved August 1, 2015, from

My PLE Diagram

My PLE Diagram
 I love looking at visual representations of information, and I believe I learn best when abstract and complicated topics are displayed in a visual format. Ironically, I have little ability to design visually appealing graphics. Designing anything is tough, but if you want me to display abstract ideas in ways that convey information clearly….watch out. I have the hardest time coming up with an idea. I ask my self questions and post a variety of visual analogies. When none of them seem to work, I do what I tell my students. “Just try something. Once you have something, you can make it awesome.” I found that following my own advice was the only way to get this assignment to move from endless possibilities swimming in my mind to something visual. I tried several tools, some of which I am familiar with, and others I am not. I finally decided to use LucidChart. It was not nearly as easy to manipulate as I expected, but l know that powerful learning comes from persistent struggles. And it was through the struggle that I learned to use a tool I have never used before.

The tool itself was one aspect of learning, but more importantly, I realized how interconnected my PLN learning experiences are. With each group, I share, learn, collaborate, and organize-  all of which allow me to be a better educator. Some of my PLN resources and groups are better for served for some purposes than others, but in reality they all help me grow as an educator. What I might learn in one learning community might be transferred to another learning group or curated in another. What I decide to curate in one learning community might be shared in another group.  The overlapping ideas shown in the Venn Diagram are intended to show the interconnections of each learning group I associate with. No one group is too far from another.

After reviewing a number of classmates’ diagrams, I realized that I could benefit from a graphic design course. But all joking aside, I realized that many of us shared of the same ideas about our PLNs and the manner in which they connect. The ways in which we show those relationships differ, but it is certainly clear to me that we all recognize that each PLN group serves its purpose in relations to the other groups we learn from and share with.

Many of my classmates opted to label their diagrams much like I did. Some tools and groups are used for very specific purposes (i.e. connecting, curating, etc.) while other communities serve several of these purposes at once. One diagram in particular caught my attention. Megan Gooding’s diagram showed the cyclical nature of these learning communities with a simple circle of arrows in the middle of all of her learning communities. That is exactly what I was trying to capture with my Venn Diagram!

Through the process of the creating this diagram, I realized that my PLN is much wider than I realized. I am connected to many communities, each of which provides me with tools, resources, and a platform to share that allow me to grow as an educational leader. I am just now realizing how much of a powerful influence my PLN has been on my development as a teacher.

Curation Criteria – A Group Assignment

I know many people may feel differently than me about this, but I love working with people on assignments. I know that there are obvious challenges to group work, but I learn so much more when I work with others. Overall, our group assignment creating the curation checklist was a success. Melodie took charge, started a document, and the collaborative efforts from the team followed her lead.

I am amazed at the variety of tools we  have that allow us to communicate. Facebook chat, Google Docs, and email were being used to share ideas, ask questions, and clarify information. Interestingly, I don’t think that there was a time that all there was a time when our three person team was working on the assignment at the same time. Sometimes we worked alone, only to come feedback upon our return the document. Other times there may have been two of us working at the same time. I loved that we were able to question one another’s work. When working alone, there is no one to question what I produce except for myself, and that is very limiting. Ideas were put on our list that I never would have considered, nor did I come across in my readings. As result of group work, the checklist covers a number of items that would have never been on a list had I worked alone.

Each member contributed time, effort, and energy to assignment. As a result, I think we have a polished product to be proud of!

It’s like I always tell my colleagues at school…Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!

An Action Plan: My Digital Footprint


1. Establish My Personal  Mission Statement – When thinking about my online presence, I am very much in the mindset of a youthful adolescent trying to figure out who he is, how he fits into the world, and how he establishes himself as an individual. Until I was asked to create a plan for establishing my Digital Footprint, I was wandering a path of uncertainly about my online identity. Who am I? How much of myself is and should be made public? What do I really want people to know about me? And perhaps my own struggle results from me not knowing whether the online me is and should be the same as the professional me. In a powerful blog post, Eric Stroller (2012) )writes, “The manner in which we engage, share, promote, and present ourselves online has become a major facet in many of our lives. No longer seen as being separate from ‘real life,’ an individual’s digital identity is intricately connected to their overall identity.” This statement made things clear to me. My mission statement for life should be the same one for my digital identity.

2. Conduct a Personal Audit – I’ve Googled my name. From what I can tell, I am the only Cinnamon Johnsrud in existence. And the first several links after Googling my name were all directly related to me- my Twitter account, my personal (and private) Facebook account, my Boise State work, etc. The images were also pictures of me, but they also included pictures of my co-workers and Will Smith. Yes, the Will Smith. What I want to do is to find out exactly how and why these pictures are associated with my name. Taking an inventory with a “dig deep” approach will be beneficial as I work to establish my name as a professional (Ragone, 2006).

3. Purchase my Domain Name – Over and over, I found advice that emphasized the importance of having a personal domain name when establishing one’s professional web presence. Perhaps among the most important reasons for purchasing and creating a personal website is the ability to have some control over the content that appears on the web. With my domain name as a central location to house my digital identity, I can take greater ownership of my digital footprint (Lowenthal & Dunlap, 2012).

4. Complete my Profiles on Social Media Accounts – After Googling my name, I learned that many of my social media sites have incomplete profiles. My Google+ profile, for example, only has my picture and my name. This certainly leaves an incomplete picture of who I am. Some of my  accounts that have no profile whatsoever- I certainly have some work to do (Lowenthal & Dunlap, 2012).

5. Create a Professional Blog and Publish my Work- Establishing myself with a domain name and a professional blog can not only provide me with a place to showcase my work as a professional, but it can also give me greater control over my digital footprint. I know that I have ideas, lessons, and resources to share with others. In fact, some of my colleagues have asked me to establish a repository of resources for them. I am not one who likes to put myself out in the open, but because I am convinced of the power that I can have over my digital footprint in doing so, I am ready to take the leap (Carozza, 2012).

6. Protect What Needs to Be Protected -I know that there is a fine balance between making information about myself public while maintaining some personal privacy. Reviewing my privacy settings on social media accounts and identifying ways to maintain personal information private is important (“Protect your privacy on the internet”, n.d.).

7. Be Consistent with my Blog and Social Media Posts– There have been many times that I have come across blog that may have captured my attention, only to lose interest once I realize that the blog hadn’t been updated in quite some time. While many components of my plan to establish and maintain my digital footprint require only minimal time, this is an area that will require a consistent and concerted effort. Given the fact that I only have so much time on any given day, I need to establish a realistic routine and set up reminders (Taub, 2013).

8. Set up a Google Alert and Monitor- It’s one thing to be cognizant of what I write and say about myself when I post online. It’s another thing when someone else writes about me. Fortunately, setting up a Google Alert will keep me informed any time my name is put online. This is a powerful tool that will keep me aware of what is being written about me by others (Hart 2011).

9. Establish an Intentional Web Presence with SEOs- In many ways, the workings of the internet are are still a mystery to me. While reading about ways to improve my online presence, I did learn quite a bit about how to increase the visibility of my established websites using Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. After purchasing my domain and creating a blog, I plan to review these steps to increase the visibility of my site (“SEO for Teachers”, 2014).

10. Be Human. Be Me. – Bonnie Stewart’s article (2012),”Digital Identities: Six Key Selves of Networked Publics” left me wondering about how authentic some people are online. Depending on the task or purpose when roaming an online world, we many not always present a complete, accurate  picture of ourselves. Sometimes this  intentional, and sometimes it isn’t. I have no intention of ever presenting myself as something I’m not. Opening up the more personal aspects of my life (without making myself too vulnerable) will simply make me more human, more relatable, and more me.


Carozza, B. (2012, June 9). 5 Reasons Educators Should Blog. Retrieved July 13, 2015, from

Hart, S. (2011, October 11). Monitoring Your Name and Your Brand with Google Alerts. Retrieved July 7, 2015, from

Lowenthal, P., & Dunlap, J. (2012, June 6). Intentional Web Presence: 10 SEO Strategies Every Academic Needs to Know | Retrieved July 5, 2015, from

McGinnis, S. (2012, August 23). Online Reputation Management: A How-to Guide by @seanMcGinnis. Retrieved July 7, 2015, from

Protect your privacy on the Internet. (n.d.). Retrieved July 7, 2015, from

Ragone, A. (2006, April 15). Google “Your Name” = Your Resume… or Your Life. Retrieved July 6, 2015, from

Ramspott, B. (2013, January 15). 2013: The Year of Digital Identity Development in Higher Education. Retrieved July 7, 2015, from

SEO for Teachers: How to Get Your Website Ranked Highly in the Search Engines. (2014, June 26). Retrieved July 7, 2015, from

Stewart, B. (2012, May 6). Digital Identities: Six Key Selves of Networked Publics. Retrieved July 7, 2015, from

Stoller, E. (2012, September 12). Digital Identity Development | Student Affairs and Technology | InsideHigherEd. Retrieved July 7, 2015, from

Taub, A. (2013, June 7). 5 Key Things Needed To Improve Your Digital Identity. Retrieved July 8, 2015, from