Media and Collaboration Fluency

As media and student learning are changing at an ever quickening pace, educators must continually be striving for media fluency in their classrooms. In a district that is not well equipped technology wise it is difficult and takes a lot of imagination to succeed. In some ways teaching kindergarten gives me a few advantages. Crockett, Jukes & Churches (2011) stated, “essay writing is still important, but so is being able to communicate in a number of media collage forms, including narrated reports, digital stories, blended blogs, movies and PowerPoint presentations”. Being that kindergarten children are just learning to write and read, expressing their responses to reading and such are done more through pictures and drawing.

In the past couple of years I have used a variety of media collaboration tools in different ways to help my students, read, write and collaborate. I began with Skype. One of my team members moved from our school in Texas to North Dakota. We wanted to keep in touch and decided to have our students become “digital pen pals”. Each week we would Skype between Texas and North Dakota. We used the time to do different activities. We practiced sight words, read and discussed books together and other activities.

For a collaborative platform between myself, student and parents I use Raz-Kids, Happy Numbers, and Lyrics2Learn. All three of these I use for optional homework and I find my students log on at least three times a week and parents are frequently messaging me if progress beyond assigned level is ok. I try to go in once a week and monitor students and adjust for fluency. I can also have students who are challenged repeat certain sections if necessary.

The three platforms I have begun using just this year are by far my favorite. I have used VoiceThread with a colleague at another school in the district a few times for different activities. We started out by reading both of our classes the same book, then pose questions to be answered or acted out and our students would post them on voice thread and receive questions and comments on the answers. I have used Padlet as a collaborative way to discuss a topic such as the difference between night and day. I would have the poster divided into two columns and students have to find pictures of night and day online and put them on the correct side. Storybird is probably my favorite. At first I found it in order to use it as an online journal platform, but as I explored it didn’t work out that well (I moved to Penzu). As I was exploring I found Storybird and my kids love it. Students can write by themselves, or as a group through art. They can print them and make them into books or share them with friends. They can turn their writing into games and play them.

The last one I use in my classroom is SpellingCity. Students can use if for spelling, vocabulary, take quizzes. Students can log on as a group and play in teams or students can play individually. This can all be done at school or at home. All of these platform are great for students to learn and work together and as I said above, perfect for kindergarten students because they don’t need text. They also use the student’s creativity and imagination. Ohler (2015) stated, “Most of Gardner’s intelligences, from the linguistic and the musical to the kinesthetic and intrapersonal, are important in new media if we understand how to teach new media production effectively”.



Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st-century fluencies for

the digital age. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Ohler, J. 2015. (2015) Beyond words. Retrieved from


Of all courses in my educational background this is one of the most thought provoking I have encountered. To be a successful educator one must get to know how each student learns best, and from there use observation and theoretical knowledge to fit the best strategy to each student. “A theory is a hypothesis that describes, speculates, or defines a relationship between a set of facts or phenomena through a body of principles, policies, beliefs, or assumptions” (Leonard & Orey, 2007, p.4). There are many documented educational theories describing how students learn. Educators also develop their own theories based on certain students or classrooms.

My personal learning theory from week one maintains that depending on the approach used in managing environmental factors, the brain can be trained to compartmentalize stimuli in order to focus on a number of tasks at one time. This course didn’t change my learning theory at all, I just have a deeper understanding of the technology the multitasking student would be most successful at. Game based, problem based, collaborative and cooperative learning are just a few. Game based is sometimes a fast past game where students need quick thinking and reflexes to be successful. “Cooperative learning provides and environment where students can reflect upon newly acquired knowledge, process what they are learning by talking with and active listening to their peers, and develop common understandings about topics”(Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2012, p. 73). For active students their brains need to have technology activities where the body does not have to be still, but the mind can still focus.

One immediate change I intend to make in my classroom is I plan to incorporate VoiceThread as much as possible. I found it to be such a great tool and the list of things that can be done with it is long. I will also have the students contribute to the class website. I am going to add a special page for them to write, draw and publish their work. Actually, it is very hard to narrow it down to just two. I have made a list of things I want to do differently this year. I know I need to take it slowly, especially with a new group of five year olds. My plan is to completely revitalize my instruction. It has become routine and boring for me to teach at times so I can imagine how my students feel at times. I also have a very technology reluctant team so I have held back a bit for this reason. This year I am giving it one last try to bring them with me and if they still don’t want to embrace the technology I am moving on. There are too many amazing things out there my students deserve to be exposed to.

I have two very firm SMART goals for myself in the long term. I will be integrating technology in at least one subject per day as a teaching tool by December, 2016 and in 3 subjects per day by May 2017. This goal I feel is easily reached as long as I plan well and get routines in place. My second states that I will be integrating technology into 3 subjects a day as a learning tool by December, 2016 and in all subjects by May, 2017. Again, planning, routines and classroom management is the key.  Children are so technology literate by five that it should be no problem getting them started.

Theories guide educators in finding best ways to teach students. Teachers follow these theories and sometimes arrive at their own, but at the core, the goal is to do what is best for the student. Technology can reach students in so many ways that we never thought possible. We as teachers just need to keep learning about new and cutting edge technology.




Leonard, K., Noh, E.K., & Orey, M. (2007). Introduction to Emerging Perspectives on Learning,

Teaching, and Technology. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning,

teaching, and technology.  Retrieved 2016, from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that

            works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Collaborative Learning

Preparing 21st Century learners in today’s classrooms technology has saturated every aspect from teaching, to learning,  to the job market itself.  “The use of technology such as online learning requires collaboration among the students, other schools and other countries. “Technology can play a unique and vital role in cooperative learning by facilitating group collaboration, providing structure for group tasks, and allowing members of groups to communicate even if they are not working face to face” (Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2012, p. 74). There is a wide variety of collaborative learning platforms to choose from.

Social Media

Facebook is making itself education friendly. They have a rules and guidelines for students to follow to ensure security. Students can use it as a collaboration and cooperative learning tool. It is relatively new to education social media. Google+, Twitter, Fakebook, can all be used in the same way as cooperative learning tools.

Tackk is an excellent tool in that a project can be created collaboratively in Tackk and then viewed and commented on there as well. You can also pair Tackk with Thinglink, Prezi and other applications to create phenomenal presentations.

Wikis are a great collaboration tool. Students and educators from around the world can collaborate on it. Having students create a Wiki makes them experts on the topic at hand.

Skype is also a great collaboration tool. It is one I have used many times not only across campuses, but across country as well. With a webcam and microphone students can see and speak to each other one on one or as a class.

Twitter can be used as a student or teacher. I use it more myself. I have found it helpful to collaborate with educators in order to keep up with new technology or new things being done with existing technology. Up to the minutes tweets keep me informed so I know what to use for what lesson.


Simulation/Game Based Learning

Minecraft ( MMORP games are a great way to provide a collaborative experience in the classroom. Minecraft can be used with Tackk, and Thinglink. Minecraft players can interact and collaborate.  To learn more about using Mine craft in the classroom  go to this link

World of Warcraft (

This site has information on many different MMORPG’s and how they can be used in the classroom. All of the materials are included.  Go to this link


Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that

            works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Project Based Learning in the Classroom

With the multitudes of technology available, project based learning offers a wide variety of options for teachers and students to use when generating and testing hypotheses. “Technology plays a vital role in generating and testing hypotheses because new developments in probeware and interactive applets allow students to spend more time interpreting data than gathering the data” (Pitler, Hubbell & Kuhn, 2012, pp 205). Project based learning puts the learning in the students hands and gives them the control to demonstrate their knowledge in their own way. “Project-Based Learning offers many advantages and challenges when implemented in the classroom. However, there are strategies to successfully meet these challenges. Some of the advantages in PBL learning include but are not limited to: Increased motivation, problem-solving ability, media research skills, collaboration, resource management skills” (Orey, 2001).

There are two vastly different examples of constructivist learning experiences that I feel are extremely valuable to students. The first fits in the category of generating and testing hypotheses to an extent. It is an old game for the X-Box but its value is immeasurable. The premise is of an orphan boy in a fictional nation who realizes his dream of becoming a hero.  Players go through the game at the boy and each decision the player makes changes the way the citizens of the nation perceive him and also change his appearance to mirror the good or evil deeds he has done. Each choice has consequence and the player must live with the consequence. The player can go through the entire game making only a couple bad choices, but the marks of choices remain. There are a few online games that resemble Fable, however this is the best there is of this type. This is a great real world example of constructionist learning theory. Players learn that in the game, as in life, with every choice comes a consequence whether it be negative or positive. In the game the consequences are visual as in positive choices are  depicted as a halo, shaft of sparkling light, butterflies, etc. Negative choices are depicted as red haze, draws flies, red eyes, grows horns etc. There are other real life consequences of choices such as over eating, drinking too much alcohol, among other things. Students are creating their own learning as they play the game and realize that it mirrors life in that their choices all have consequences and once they are make they must live with them.

The second example is Thinglink/Tackk app smash. “ThingLink is an interactive media platform that empowers publishers, educators, brands, and bloggers to create more engaging content by adding rich media links to photos and videos” (Thinglink, 2016).Thinglink can be used to create interactive presentations using pictures, maps, posters, and catalogs. A single photo can tell a story. Students are given a topic or problem to research and guidelines to follow and they are left to their own creativity to demonstrate what they have learned. Tackk in the Classroom is a great tool as it is a social creation and collaboration tool. Tackk can be used as a blog, a school project or even a blank canvas to be used for teachers and or students to present information.  It is a cross between Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, allowing for curating, creation, collaboration, and communication. Conversations can be held between groups about presentations and for collaboration.The site connects users on a creative level, allowing for discussions on user-created content. The great thing about these apps is the student can take pictures, YouTube Videos, or any other web application and embed it into the Thinglink. Attached below is a link to a particularly creative project on Mary Todd Lincoln by a second grade student.

Constructivist learning experience and project based learning are the best ways for students to construct their own learning. There are many ways to accomplish this whether it be through simulation, web quests, and others. The important thing is the learning is active and the students are the facilitators of their learning.


Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved


Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that

 works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD




Advance Organizers

Technological advances have given educators many tools which were not available in the not so distant past.  Thanks to the internet our students can experience animals, people or places they could not otherwise experience due to distance or finances. “A virtual field trip is a web-based tool that can expand learning opportunities by allowing students to visit places they otherwise might not be able to” (Laureate Education,  n.d.). Virtual field trips have grown in popularity over the past seven years and the possibilities of destination are practically endless as are platform. Depending on the subject of the field trip there can be a great deal of information given throughout the experience.

This is where the concept map and summarizing and note taking are good strategies to use. “Concept maps are graphical tools for organizing and representing knowledge. They include concepts, usually enclosed in circles or boxes of some type, and relationships between concepts indicated by a connecting line linking two concepts” (Novak & Canas, 2008, pp. 1). Concept maps are a great example of and advance organizer and can be used throughout the trip.  Depending on the topic a KWL chart can be used, a four square, Fishbone, or a concept patter organizer. The most important aspect of an advance organizer is it should focus on what is important, and essential.  It should guide the learning in the right direction. Summarizing and note taking should be used throughout the trip as a way of remembering key points made during the field trip. Upon returning to the concept map the notes can be used to complete the missing key points.

Between advance organizers, summarizing and note taking and virtual field trips there is a complete learning experience for students of all ages. Technology plays an important role in the experience. This, however is just the minimum of what can be done. This activity could be taken so much further with more technology. Educators have such a vast tool box with which to choose from to insure their students become 21st Century learners.


Novak, J. D., & Cañas, A. J. (2008).The theory underlying concept maps and how to construct

and use them (Technical Report IHMC CmapTools 2006-01, Rev 01-2008). Retrieved

from  df

 Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.-j). Spotlight on technology: Virtual field trips [Video file].

Baltimore, MD: Author


Behaviorism and Technology


Behaviorist learning theory is concerned with physical behavior and the ways it can be modified by outside stimulus either positively or negatively, depending on stimulus. In and education setting the desired outcome is generally positive, as that is when the ability to learn is at its peak. There is a multitude of learning strategies available to assist learning, although now only two will be explored.

Success in anything does not come naturally. It comes through learning, practice and hours of effort. “To use the strategy of reinforcing effort effectively, teachers must understand the relationship between effort and achievement and the importance of consistently exposing students to information related to effort” (Pitler, Hubbell & Kuhn, 2012, pp. 57). The technology discussed for reinforcing effort gives the student a visual into exactly what effort encompasses. It also gives an understanding that he/she may not be in the same place as the next student academically, but putting forth the effort to improve. It sounds like the “NOT YET” mind set.

Classroom management is the key to a successful classroom. There must be a clear set of expectations and routines. Consistency is the most important part of classroom management. “Reinforcement is the cardinal motivator. Positive reinforcers like rewards and successes are preferable to negative events like punishments and failures” (Smith, 1999). Positive reinforcement alters behavior quickly. Stickers, badge and award generators, are great motivators to alter behavior.

Homework is important as long as it is relevant and grade level appropriate. The technologies described work well with behaviorism. They are active learning as many are game based such as BrainPop and BrainPopJr. and Battle Graph. There are repetitive, drill, flash card games. The number of websites and games online as well as multimedia, communication platforms, relevant engaging homework is easy to find.

Behaviorism is a theory which has a multitude of tools to engage the learner. From classroom management, to effort and recognition, to homework, technology can offer a number of alternatives.






Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that

 works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD

Smith, M. K. (1999) ‘The behaviourist orientation to learning’, the encyclopedia of informal