Digital Citizen Advocate Knowledge Constructor Learning Designer

InstaEdu: Instagram for Teaching and Learning


When I scroll through my professional social media accounts, I see wonderful examples of creative and engaging lessons that utilize a social media platform. I have often wondered how educators utilize social media with their classes given the concerns over privacy, security, and transparency. For these reasons I kept my engagement with social media separate from my work with students in the classroom. I never used social media for teaching and learning, but various social media platforms were central to the lives of many of my students. Social trends became a common talking point in class and many of my students used social media to obtain information and also express themselves creatively. As educators, we must understand the significance of social media and its influence with students. Teens are using social media more than ever before, and in 2018, roughly 70% of students reported they use social media more than once a day. That’s an increase from 34% reported back in 2012 (Knutson, 2018). When contemplating ISTE Educator standards for Citizen and Facilitator, I feel that social media must be part of that conversation. Specifically, I’d like to focus on Instagram. Created in 2010, Instagram is a photo and video sharing social networking service. It is the second most widely used social media platform in the United States and fifth most used in the world, but the platform has received only limited attention from educational research (Carpenter et al., 2020). Largely due to how it presents information visually, Instagram distinguishes itself from other social media that are more text-focused. This visual appeal has led to both students and educators to leverage the tool to communicate knowledge and ideas in very engaging ways.

My Questions:

How can educators leverage Instagram to facilitate learning to support student achievement while modeling and mentoring students with managing digital identities? 
What are some best practices for teachers to minimize risk and privacy issues who would like to use Instagram for educational purposes with their students?

ISTE Educator Standards:

3: Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world.

6: Educators facilitate learning with technology to support student achievement of the ISTE Standards for Students.


According to a study conducted by Common Sense Education in 2018, most teens ages 13-17 are checking social media every hour and with over 50% saying that social media is very to somewhat important in their lives (Knutson, 2018). This reinforces what most already know: social media is a significant corner stone in contemporary culture especially for young people. These are powerful platforms of information however, the data also shows that very little of this time for tweens and teens are spent focused on creation rather than consumption (Higgin, 2017). We must not social media from school given how prevalent it is in the lives of our students. To support our students in becoming digital citizens, we as educators must provide opportunities for students to use social media for creation and to build a learning community while modeling responsible engagement and management of digital identities. 

Do’s and Don’ts of using Instagram with students:

Common Sense Education offers a review of Instagram’s privacy concerns and tips for teachers on protecting student privacy. This is helpful in presenting some of the barriers and considerations of using any social media tool as well. Overall, Instagram scores a 57% warning rating because of possible safety and privacy concerns. Instagram collects a broad range of personal identifiable information. Some of this information, like access to a user’s contacts and facebook friends, can be blocked. Although Instagram’s terms state they will not rent or sell user’s information without consent, they still may share non-personal information with third-party organizations and advertising partners. It’s possible Instagram may use information from a user’s mobile device to be used by Instagram or a third party affiliate to track and target content. An additional concern that is common for most social networking platforms is the interaction among users. Instagram does have a compliance policy that governs what users can post and say, but this still could be deemed inappropriate for the age group of students you teach. Users can choose to make their content private, but this also does not allow for their own posted content to be more widely shared and searchable. There is also space for private messaging (direct messaging) that is problematic in an educational setting. Parallel to using other popular social platforms, using Instagram responsibly requires awareness, dispositional thinking, and sound judgment (Common Sense Privacy Evaluation for Instagram). 

The reality is that most teens already have accounts on this platform (or ones with similar risks) and are engaging with it outside of an educational context. Using a platform like Instagram in your classroom can not only be a great opportunity for students to express themselves and practice key communication skills, but it can also support students’ digital citizenship skills that can be transferred to their personal uses with social platforms. It is also crucial to note that using Instagram for educational purposes qualifies it to be reviewed as an educational record under FERPA. The following are a list of best practice “Do’s and Don’ts” for teachers to use Instagram safely and transparently with students for educational purposes:


  • Review your district’s social media guidelines.
  • Communicate with your administration, families, and students how you will leverage Instagram in your class. Explain clear parameters to all stakeholders. 
  • Create an account strictly for professional use. Share your account information with your administration so that there are multiple adults overseeing the account.
  • Use parental consent/op-out forms
  • Instruct students to create a separate, private-account strictly for educational purposes that is also not tied to any identifying information, like email. 
  • Instruct students to never share personal identifiable information in their posts. Links to their posts can be shared through your school’s LMS so that you know who created which post.
  • Use and teach basic photo-editing tools to remove sensitive information should there be a need.
  • Take inventory and possibly remove any visible student/class information in your classroom. 
  • Be mindful of how your posts could commercialize your classroom.
  • Closely review any picture/caption before posting. Model this skill for your students.
  • Turn off location services.
  • Consult with your district’s legal time to be mindful of FERPA related information. 
  • Teach healthy digital habits and anti-distraction techniques to support students healthy digital habits.


  • Start using Instagram without consent/opt-out forms
  • Share students’ faces or names without parental consent. It would be best to never share them at all. 
  • Make any grades, assessment, or any part of students educational/PI record public (FERPA)
  • Forget that handwriting is personally identifiable information (FERPA)
  • Communicate with students through private messaging on Instagram. Share any communication initiated by a student with your administration. Sharing your classroom professional account with your admin helps make the use of this platform transparent. 

There are other potential barriers that need to be considered before using Instagram in your classroom such as:

  • Access/ADA compliance is a major barrier educators need to be aware of when considering apps like Instagram.
  • Distraction from ads and browsing. 
  • Spam followers or suspicious accounts. You may consider encouraging your students’ professional accounts to be private to limit this (they would need to approve your follow request for you to view their posts). 
  • the algorithm of some social media networks could also provide unwanted links. 
  • Potential publicizing of content where accounts outside of the classroom could interact with student accounts. Private accounts would help combat this. 
  • Lack of institutional support. Be sure to develop and communicate clear parameters to your administration as well as highlighting the benefits of using Instagram. 

(Higgin, 2017)

Using Instagram to facilitate learning with technology to support student achievement:

Students increasingly want their instructors to use social media as a learning tool while students are also reporting an increase in use of social media as a learning tool (Coffin & Fournier, 2015). When students use social media for educational purposes, they build connections with educators and peers that fosters a supportive learning community (Coffin & Fournier, 2015). Instagram, for example, has shown to “enable students to create a cooperative, collaborative and sharing atmosphere, supporting the formal classroom setting in addition to sharing class materials” (Erarslan, 2019). This same study supports the increase in students’ interaction time outside of the classroom and that students regard Instagram as a motivating tool fostering learning (Erarslan, 2019). So how can educators utilize a social platform like Instagram to create meaningful learning experiences, promote creative expression, and communicate learning effectively? Here are just a few examples to inspire you:

Instagram Portfolios: One way to leverage application is to consider a student’s professional Instagram account as a portfolio of learning. Throughout a unit of study or course term, students can use Instagram to convey their ideas and demonstrate competency-based learning. Students can create visual slides to communicate their learning while the caption of the post can provide additional context about the topic, assignment, or pose thoughtful questions related to their content to facilitate discourse in their comment sections. The limits for the number of photo slides and character length in the caption challenges students to convey their information concisely rather than a more long-winded medium like a formally written essay. Tips like these teach students how to curate their posts to attract more traffic and engage their audience; a useful skill applicable for branding and marketing. Educators can also use current trends for styles of posts to provide a scaffold for students to work off of similar to an essay outline. For example, “so you want to talk about…” has been a popular scaffold for instagram posts concerning a wide range of issues. Modeling different types of instagram posts teach students particular professional skills for the growing job market for social media managers.

Teaching literacy: Social media writing does not match standard classroom English norms, but they do follow patterns of language development. Instagram posts, and social media writing in general, is a great medium for teaching tone, conventions, and varying levels of formality. Just as we code-switch our language for different audiences we’re speaking to, Instagram can be used with other digital mediums to teach students code-switching their online language to fit the various audiences they aim to engage. Activities like Flip the Switch and lessons designed to analyze punctuation’s impact on tone can help students translate their knowledge of social media writing to the classroom and vice versa (King, 2017). 

Instapoetry: Instapoetry is starting to carve out space for itself as its very own genre. Taking advantage of the visual elements of the Instagram platform, Instapoets contain short, free verse poems that are often paired with symbolic sketches or shared on images. Themes, colors, and images are the visual art considerations that enhance the poetry. Instapoetry can be interdisciplinary and empower students to express themselves creatively. Classes can study Instagram poets for common themes to help inform their own instapoetry (Gray, 2019). 

Re-creation: Explore moments in history by challenging your students to imitate photographs or paintings.Consider a particular theme to drive student research and give students choice on which photo or artwork they’d like to investigate. Their posts can provide additional context about the photo or art.

Photojournalists: Students can attend and document a particular event. They strategically select pictures for their post that convey a particular tone for how they want to present their story. They can supplement their pictures with short video interviews and even write an article about the event that they can link to from their post.

Persona Posts: Students can take on the perspective of a particular individual or group to create a post from their point of view.


Instagram can serve as a powerful tool to foster students’ creative expression to communicate their ideas as well as build skills useful for the potential workforce they will enter. To do so appropriately requires educators to be transparent with all stakeholders, set clear parameters for the use of Instagram, and consult their institution’s policies. In addition to its varied uses for teaching and learning, what I did not explore in this module is how popular Instagram has become for educators’ professional use. Similar to a previous post I wrote about Twitter, educators are engaging with Instagram in similar ways for professional learning, networking, and identity construction  (Carpenter et al., 2020). Instagram (and Twitter) can be employed to acquire and share knowledge as much as it can provide emotional support and develop community to combat isolation (Carpenter et al., 2020). While there are a growing number of studies examining educators personal and professional use of social media, there are less that explore Instagram use by students as a required part of coursework for secondary levels of education. I suspect that this will increase as Instagram use among young people continues to rise at a rapid pace and educators use of the platform for teaching and learning grows in response. State level and district policy makers will need to rethink how they can support these popular tools while protecting the safety and privacy of the students they serve. 


Carpenter, J. P., Morrison, S. A., Craft, M., & Lee, M. (2020, November). How and why are educators using Instagram? Teaching and teacher education.

Coffin, T., & Fournier, J. (2015). Social Media in the Classroom: Opportunities, Challenges & Recommendations. University of Washington Information Technology.

Common Sense Privacy Evaluation for Instagram. The Common Sense Privacy Program. (n.d.).

Erarslan, A. (2019). Instagram as an Education Platform for EFL Learners. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 18(3), 54–69. 

Gray, K. (2019, July 8). Using Instagram to Teach Poetry. Edutopia.

Higgin, T. (2017, March). Protecting Student Privacy on Social Media: Do’s and Don’ts for Teachers. Common Sense Education.

King, M. (2017, July 21). Social Media Posts as Exemplars. Edutopia.

Knutson, J. (2019, September). What New Research on Teens and Social Media Means for Teachers. Common Sense Education.

Data-Driven Decision-Maker Learning Designer

Virtual Academy Considerations: Course Providers, Data, and Roles of Stakeholders


I was recently assigned to a project to support my district in designing a virtual academy. Although teaching and learning has been excruciatingly challenging for both staff and students, there is a need to provide an online learning option for students. Feedback from families and students show that some have really thrived from this environment. It is our responsibility, especially considering equity, that as a district we provide that option for students. I personally don’t have much experience with virtual academies. My understanding is limited to having taken a handful of online only courses in my undergraduate; my graduate program is all online. I taught social studies remotely at the start of the pandemic and continued into a summer learning program. 

My district is strongly considering using an online course provider (OCP) to deliver curriculum in some capacity. Many virtual academies across the country do use online course providers, but they are limited to ones that have been approved by their state. In WA where I work, for example, there is a short list of online course providers that are approved by OSPI.  I have never taught with nor been a student who has used online course providers. My student experience with online only courses has been that the instructor builds and delivers their own curriculum through the learning management system. It was never self-paced or adaptive. For this module, I chose to focus my research on OCPs and how they inform the roles of educators, students, and families who are enrolled in online academies. 

My Question:

What type of data do online course providers offer? How does this data inform the roles of educators, students, and families to support student achievement?

ISTE Educator:

Designer (5): Educators design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability. Educators:

5a – Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.

Analyst (7): Educators understand and use data to drive their instruction and support students in achieving their learning goals. Educators:

7a – Provide alternative ways for students to demonstrate competency and reflect on their learning using technology.

7b – Use technology to design and implement a variety of formative and summative assessments that accommodate learner needs, provide timely feedback to students and inform instruction.

7c – Use assessment data to guide progress and communicate with students, parents and education stakeholders to build student self-direction.


The Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has approved 23 online course providers (OSPI). I decided to focus my initial research for this blog post on 3 that are popular among neighboring public school virtual academies. This includes Pearson’s Connexus, K12 Inc., and Edgenuity. Some of the most helpful sources for my research were the product’s support website, FAQ videos either produced by the product or from a school district, and the product’s very own website. Each of the OCPs websites were quite general as it was intended to showcase the product’s flexibility, so it was challenging for me at times to get a detailed picture of the data they produced and user experience for both educators and students. To my surprise, each of these three OCP’s offer roughly the same flexibility and customization to fit the needs of the virtual programs that schools/districts are trying to offer. This can range from fully online instruction to blended learning options with some sort of brick and mortar support consideration. Each provides an expansive course catalog and also offers virtual teachers should there be staffing challenges. I did uncover some differences that would be worth consideration for developing a new virtual academy.

Pearson highlighted a feature for educators to create student groups in order to differentiate content across different courses their students were taking. This allows teachers to more easily insert Pearson created resources into the curriculum or create and upload their own lessons/resources to fit student needs as they are progressing through their course. Furthermore, teachers could create “multi-outcome” scoring that allows assignments and assessments to be designated to additional categories that identified 21st century skills. One of the categories shown on their support page was “Grit”, though it was unclear as to how the student was assessed for grit based on the assignment/assessment. 

While Pearson promoted teachers modifying courses to address student learning needs, K12 Inc and Edgenuity both emphasized adaptive learning built into their products. Adaptive learning is an education technology that can respond to a student’s interactions in real-time by automatically providing the student with individual support. K12 Inc offers a digital library that includes rewards-based adaptive learning tool through games. Similarly, Edgenuity offers adaptive learning through assessment and instruction that responds to students in real time. 

What types of data are available in these OCPs?

In a virtual academic environment, students can self-select courses or be assigned courses for reaching graduation requirements from the OCP course catalogue. As they work through the lessons/units, OCPs record assessment data that tracks student’s progress on specific standards, course completion, and grades. They also show an activity log that shows when students are logging in, how much time they spend on an assignment or question, and when they start/turn-in assignments. Pearson’s Connexus provides the opportunity for students to give feedback to the instructor about the course. They can self-assess at the end of each unit giving a rating of their own understanding of the content/skills, their interest level, and effort. 

How does that data inform the roles of educators, students, and families in a virtual academy?

Educators in a virtual academy are no longer primarily responsible planning and delivery of content. Their role instead focuses more on managing students and providing them the necessary support they need to be successful largely informed by the data. Teachers should be conferencing with students at least once a week where the OCP data can inform the conversation. Weekly conferences can be used to go over a struggling skill, review learning to check for understanding, or alert teachers to ask questions about what supports a student needs who is falling behind. It would also be wise to determine a threshold, based on activity data, that informs additional communication and intervention between education staff and family for students who are falling behind the pacing of their course. In addition, this data can help inform differentiation appropriate to different student groups. Likewise, families get access to their student’s assessment and progress data. Families can support their students by monitoring course progression, due dates, and use assessment data and teacher feedback to help their learners. Students get access to both assessment and instructional adaptive feedback from the OCP. This data would be helpful to inform office hour opportunities to drop in and meet with their teacher or tutoring support. 

What is Enriched Virtual learning and why should virtual academies offer this option? 

Enriched Virtual school models are built upon students receiving instruction and content online. These students are then only required to attend the brick-and-mortar school on designated days if at all. This model of school is great for students where the traditional style and seat time of school do not work for them. The physical face-to-face time of this model serves to enrich students’ learning experiences through social learning, teacher-led instruction, or as-needed support for students to check-in with teachers and advisors. Many early adopters of this model emerged from fully virtual schools who shifted to blended learning to provide stronger support for students who otherwise struggle to stay on track in the online only model. Enriched Virtual models of school provide learning opportunities where students control time, path, pace, and the place of their learning to a degree. The Enriched Virtual model can also help to support social learning opportunities for students. Educators can facilitate small group discussion so that students have an opportunity to present their stance and hear from the perspectives of their peers. This is a very compelling option to consider for my district’s first ever virtual academy. We know we have to design a highly flexible school that can meet the wide diversity of needs of our students. For some students, this may very well mean a fully online experience while others may need the flexibility of online learning, but desire in-person learning and support to a degree. We should consider the following when considering an enriched virtual environment: 

  • Are the online, offline, and off-campus learning connected and mutually reinforcing? 
  • Are students staying on track to earn core academic credits and demonstrating authentic mastery of learning to their teachers, mentors, and peers? 
  • Is the required face-to-face time used to intentionally engage students, helping them grow both academic and social-emotional skills?

(White, 2019).


My initial research into a few common OCPs approved in my state was helpful in gaining a general understanding for how these products work and what kind of data they provide stakeholders. The data generated from OCPs shift the roles of educators from primarily responsible for delivering curriculum to more of an interventionist and coach. The time gained from not having to plan curriculum allows for teachers to focus on relationship building and analyzing assessment data to provide personalized and targeted support for their students. I am still left with some lingering questions that I may pose to the design group of my district’s virtual academy and/or representatives of the OCPs:

  • How do we support our educators in providing culturally responsive pedagogy for a virtual school?
  • How do we build in social learning and collaborative opportunities for our students? 
  • What opportunity is there for inquiry-based learning with use of an online course provider?
  • How do we support our students furthest from educational justice to ensure they have reliable access to their courses and their teachers? 

I also recognize that a virtual academy isn’t appropriate for all of our students. Some have really struggled with remote learning. Technology issues, self-discipline, lack of social interaction, and communicating and collaborating online are just some challenges that have negatively impacted student learning over the last year (Klein, 2021). However, it would be inequitable for my district to not offer this option for the students who really thrived with online learning. These students want more control over the time, pace, and place of their learning. The push to create a virtual academy isn’t a temporary solution to address challenges caused by the pandemic. This is an option we must always provide our students moving forward. After learning more about OCPs and Enriched Virtual learning, I am convinced that part of this option must involve a brick and mortar school to some degree. 



Approved Online Course Providers. OSPI. (n.d.).

Klein, A. (2021, May 3). How Virtual Learning Is Falling Short on Preparing Students for Future Careers. Education Week.

K–12 district partnerships. Pearson Connexus. (n.d.).

Online Curriculum & Coursework for K–12 Education: Edgenuity Inc. Edgenuity Inc. (2021, April 12).

Online Public School Programs: Online Learning Programs. K12. (n.d.).

 White, J. (2019, July 25). Is the Enriched Virtual blended-learning model the future of high school? Blended Learning Universe.


Twitter: Personalized Professional Development

Twitter: Personalized Professional Development


Since its launch in 2006, Twitter has dominated the social media landscape. Boasting hundreds of millions of followers, this free microblogging, social networking app is more popular than ever. Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, settled on its name based on one definition of the word: a short burst of inconsequential information. Dorsey believed that this definition described exactly what the product was (The Street). In some ways, Twitter can be exactly that, but at the risk of sounding grandiose, Dorsey’s original motivation for the name downplays the significant impact of Twitter. Look no further than its critical role in the Arab Spring; you can even relive those events as they unfold through Al Jazeera’s Twitter account demonstrating Twitter’s role as a significant record of history. Twitter allows people to stay in constant contact with each other through short bursts of communication that are ideal for the consumer of The Information Age. And while I am not prepared to compare the influence of Twitter on the Arab Spring and academia, I do want to highlight, and hopefully persuade, educators on the benefits of engaging with Twitter for professional learning. 

Twitter is a fantastic digital tool for building professional networks through which the sharing of ideas and discourse can take place. I have been regularly using Twitter for quite some time now, but only recently within the last year have I intentionally engaged with Twitter for the purpose of professional development. Some of my colleagues  dismiss Twitter when I share my positive experiences with the tool. Common criticisms I hear are that it is another “thing on a screen” for me to look at or that their Twitter’s timeline is too vast and random for them to dedicate time combing through information relevant to their current search. For this module, I hope to persuade educators to see the value in using this tool to improve their professional practice as well as offer tips for how to streamline and curate your Twitter to make your interactions more self-serving and efficient. 

My Question:

How can educators leverage twitter to learn from and with others to improve their own practice and student learning?

ISTE Educator 1: Learner

Educators continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning.

1b. Pursue professional interests by creating and actively participating in local and global learning networks

1c. Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.


Twitter’s character limit and the ability to organize Tweets under common hashtags make it a useful tool to elevate discourse especially during a live event. Some of the early compelling research on Twitter has been around the use of backchannels. Backchannels are a fairly new way for both educators and students to enhance their learning through a stream of online communication simultaneous to a lesson or a professional development opportunity such as a conference (Alderton, Brunsell, & Bariexca, 2011). If you have been to an education conference in the past few years, it is likely that conference promoted a hashtag to further conversations, share resources, and create more active engagement from participants.This is another way of learning conducive to large events where there would be otherwise limited opportunity for interaction between attendees and presenters. This is supported by a growing body of research showing positive results for conference attendees who were able to view and learn from Twitter streams occurring in other workshops they weren’t able to attend due to scheduling conflicts (Reinhardt, Ebner, Beham, & Costa, 2009). It is because of these early positive results that other studies were conducted to examine the ways educators use Twitter outside of scheduled professional development and the impact of this use on their professional practice. 

In 2011, a study focused on a group of k-12 educators that used Twitter regularly. Tweets were categorized and studied according to: professional practice, resource, question, social (non-professional relevancy), and unknown. Tweets were also analyzed for dialogue as opposed to “unidirectional broadcast of information” and the relationship of the interactions. The research provided insight that educators who use Twitter lead to results of change in teachers’ knowledge beliefs, and attitudes towards their practice, which they argue is the main objective of professional development. The educators also highly engaged in true dialogue over 61% of the time. This is an opportunity often left out of large, organized professional developments such as conferences (though this trend has been changing with backchannels more recently). In addition, over 82% of educators chose to follow other educators or content experts that created “a personal learning network meaningful to their professional needs”. Majority of the Tweets were practice, question, and resource sharing in nature. When participants were asked to reflect on how Twitter benefited them professionally, four theme emerged: 

  • Access to resources
  • Supportive relationships
  • Increased leadership capacity
  • Development of a professional vision

(Alderton, Brunsell, & Bariexca, 2011)

Are these not the desired outcomes of quality professional development? Twitter empowers educators to continually improve their practice by learning from others, pursue professional interests, and stay current with leading research at a time and place convenient for them. Furthermore, educators can create professional learning networks (PLNs) that are highly collaborative that can feel more fulfilling that traditional professional development (Ross, Maninger, LaPrairie, and Sullivan, 2015). 

For some, using Twitter can feel overwhelming and time consuming. As a user’s following base expands, Twitter timelines can become disorganized. This can make it challenging to use the tool effectively for building PLNs and resource sharing. Here are a few ways to efficiently use Twitter for professional purpose:

1. Create multiple Twitter accounts – this is especially helpful when you’d like to use Twitter for personal/private and professional purposes. My longest running Twitter account is my personal account. Only recently did I create a professional account representing my role in education as well as following my colleagues, peers, and other education professionals. You can have 2 accounts under the same email address which makes it easy to switch back and forth between the two on the Twitter app. Having separate Twitter accounts allows you to better compartmentalize the types of information you want to see and who you want to interact with. Although, as your professional account grows, it can still be challenging to curate your timeline to view the kinds of  information you want at the time. 

2. Hashtags – these are tags (#symbole + word/phrase)  that you can add to your Tweet. The benefits of hashtags are that you can potentially broadcast your Tweet to larger audiences. For example, if you compose a Tweet and use #BlendedLearning, then any user including users who don’t follow you, may come across your Tweet when they are searching Tweets with that hashtag. This also increases your chance of your Tweet becoming a trending topic. The most popular trending topics will get highlighted by Twitter for all users. 

3. Collections – these are an editable group of Tweets that are curated by a Twitter user. Each collection has its own public URL that makes it easy to share with others or embed them. This is a great way to collect Tweets you find useful and share them with colleagues and/or students (Twitter Developer). 

4. Lists – these allow you to organize people into interest groups, and they can even include people you’re not following. In short, Lists provide an efficient means of reading Tweets. This allows you to customize, organize and prioritize Tweets you see in your timeline. You can create your own lists or even join Lists created by others (Goldman, 2015). You can even pin lists to the top of your Home Timeline or create a column for them in TweetDeck (more on that below). 

5. TweetDeck – This is a browser based tool that allows you to organize and build Collections, keep track of Lists, search, track, and refine topics or hashtags, and manage multiple accounts. It is the ultimate platform for curating your Twitter to be more focused and obtain information more efficiently. You can do everything you could do in the Twitter app and then much more. You can customize your notifications, the size of columns, fonts, and even themes. Educators could create columns focused on strategies they are interested in like #BlendedLearning or organize columns around higher education professionals to stay current on new research and work to name a few ideas. When you add a column, you can then choose to show all Tweets or Tweets with specific media like images or videos. They could also organize columns around higher education professionals to stay current on new research and work.. I learn so much just by seeing how others are approaching how they teach the same lessons as me. Some educators are even using TweetDeck to track weekly discussions with students. Twitter’s Help Center has a How to use TweetDeck and there are also free tutorials and examples on youtube and other various websites to help get you started. Best part of TweetDeck…. It’s free! 

(State of Digital)

There are other products out there that do similar things as TweetDeck (Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer), but most of them cost money and are more designed to help brand awareness and support a business. For the educator who is a new user with Twitter, or just a casual user, I would recommend starting with creating a professionally focused account if you haven’t already then leveraging TweetDeck, hashtags, and lists to curate your timelines. The questions that still remain for me are what educators should do with the discourse and information they receive from Twitter? How do you share this information with staff who don’t use Twitter? How might info and discourse from Twitter support PLC goals? I may explore this later in the DEL program.


Alderton, E., Brunsell, E., & Bariexca, D. (2011). The End of Isolation. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7(3).

Goldman, J. (2015, April 1). 9 Ways You Can Take Advantage of Twitter Lists. 

Reinhardt, W., Ebner, M., Beham, G., & Costa, C. (2009). How people are using Twitter during conferences. Creativity and Innovation Competencies on the Web. Hornung-Prähauser, V., & Luckmann, M. (Ed.). Proceeding of 5. EduMedia conference, p. 145-156, Salzburg.

Ross, Carrie R.; Maninger, Robert M.; LaPrairie, Kimberly N.; and Sullivan, Sam (2015) “The Use of Twitter in the Creation of Educational Professional Learning Opportunities,” Administrative Issues Journal: Vol. 5 : Iss. 1 , Article 6.

Twitter. (n.d.). Curate a collection of Tweets. Overview | Twitter Developer.

Collaborator Most Recent Post

Project Management and Collaboration with MS Teams


Project Management and Collaboration with MS Teams

When Microsoft (MS) Teams was first breaking ground in the spheres of education, a few colleagues and I had the opportunity to pilot the platform in use with students in a classroom setting. At the time, my district and school were not ready for a platform like this to be used with students in a classroom setting. Our students did not have their own devices forcing educators to reserve laptop carts or computer labs to provide students access to computers. I spoke with professionals who used Teams in the workplace and they were ecstatic about its collaboration and communicative functionality. We tried utilizing the platform for online discussions and collaboration, but it wasn’t the best tool to do that at the time. It is also quite possible that I and other staff members were not trained enough to get the most out of it. I do recall the students’ feedback about MS Teams was that it was unreliable and disorganized, which makes sense given how new it was and how our building and students were not equipped with the technology to leverage the platform to its full capabilities. 

Fast forward to present day, teaching and learning in my district looks a lot different. The pandemic forced an acceleration of investing in technology for staff and students. We are not a 1:1 student machine district, every educator is given a laptop, and we are obligated to almost exclusively use Microsoft products. MS Teams is the sole telecommunications platform that our district uses with staff and students, and although we have experienced significant issues and unreliability with the product at the cost of serving our students furthest from educational justice, MS Teams is here to stay for us. An emerging issue is the blurred line between using Teams more like a Learning Management System (LMS) when educators are being told that our existing LMS is not going away. With all that being said, MS Teams has come a long way since I first tested it in my classroom with students. 

Our school district has made a commitment to continue to use the platform moving forward as we work to figure out how to bring teaching and learning back into the classroom safely. MS Teams is still evolving with constant updates in features and  new apps. My department in our school district uses Teams in combination with Office 365 to plan, work and collaborate with each other. Additionally, Teams is also used by educators to host class meetings with students and foster peer to peer collaboration. MS Teams is still evolving with constant updates along with new features and apps. I haven’t necessarily had the time to explore all of these, so for this module I’d like to dig deeper into how to best leverage Teams for collaboration and project management. 

My Question:

How can specific features and apps in Microsoft Teams support the collaboration of resources and ideas between educators and students?


ISTE Educator Standard 4: Collaborator

Educators dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems


If you have never used MS Teams in an educational setting before, then I recommend checking out the Microsoft Education web page and/or Common Sense Education’s review. I decided to organize this solution into two separate categories: features and apps. Features include characteristics that are inherent to MS Teams that don’t require an additional add-in, app, etc. I want to consider ways educators can collaborate using the existing functionality of MS Teams. On the other hand, apps have to be manually added by the user and can be added to different locations within the Teams platform. Apps can help educators stay informed, simplify workflow, and find new ways to work together. Finally, my solution is tailored to my current role and what features and apps are available in my school district. I wanted to investigate ways that Teams could better support project management and collaboration for my colleagues and I. Our district leadership has decided to not make available the full functionality of MS Teams for Education. Your version of Teams may be different from our experience.  



One of the toughest challenges for new users, whether they be students or staff, is navigating new digital platforms, especially one as robust as MS Teams. A common critique of Microsoft tools is that novice users may find it busy and daunting to learn how to use them (Common Sense Education Review). With thoughtful planning, thorough training and onboarding resources, and practice, MS Teams can be a powerful collaboration tool. It is also critical for an institution to develop consistency in how they organize their online spaces and their workflow. To get started, I love these pre-generated templates from Bind Tuning (Griffin, 2021). They also work with existing Teams that you may have already created. Here is an description of what a K-12 template starts with:

Teams, Channels, Files, Tabs and Chats:

Teams are online hubs that can facilitate collaboration and sharing of information more efficiently. It is my belief that how your Teams are organized is critical for effective collaboration. Teams can be generated for classrooms and used with students, but it is also a helpful tool in supporting staff collaboration. Teams can be created for classrooms, PLCs, all staff, or clubs and other interests groups. Various channels can be created inside of a team, and this is a great way that the tool can facilitate focused collaboration around projects, activities, committees, and processes as needed (Microsoft Teams for Education). They also recommend best practice for channel creation should be based on the Team’s different needs like topic, discipline, or subject (Microsoft Teams for Education). Each channel can then house files that are specific to the intention of that Team. Instead of attaching files to email threads, collaborators can now access every document that they need within their Team and specific channels. Each channel also includes a General channel where OneNote Notebook are accessible within the Teams platform  or you can add them as tabs in other channels as you wish(if you’re curious about how to leverage OneNote for collaboration, check this resource out as a starting point). Here are some ideas for using channels with staff and/or students:

  • Private channels for small-group work
  • Channels themed into units, topics, or projects
  • Q&A or resources channels
  • Channels for collaborative study spaces for students
  • Channels organized around support topics: software, devices, trainings
  • Social channels for networking or building community

(Miller & Clark, 2021)

Tabs are built-in pages that can be customized within each channel. Tabs support collaboration by allowing team members to access services and content in a dedicated space inside of a channel. This allows the team to work directly with tools and data, and have conversations with each other, all inside of the channel or chat (Microsoft Tabs page). For quick access to any Office 365 collaborative doc, web page, or app, tabs help streamline access to important documents instead of sharing them through email or hunting down files in large Sharepoint spaces. 

Another valuable feature of the Teams platform is Teams Chats. They ways in which we communicate has evolved alongside the evolution of communication technology. Similar to current texting and messaging on mobile devices, Teams Chat provides a quick, less formal space to communicate and collaborate with individuals or in groups. A user can create a Chat from scratch and a chat is generated for all Teams meetings and channels. Chats are great for informal and quick communication for collaboration with students or colleagues. A strategy that works well for me is pinning the chats I frequently interact with the most. Chats don’t get deleted, so you may start to have your chats pile up and this can be challenging to manage and find the chat you’re looking for (there is a search feature that you can use to find buried chats as well). For example, I pin the chats of all of my 8 team members that I communicate and collaborate with on a daily basis. I also pin chats with educators that I am in frequent coaching practice with as well as the chats from channels that I am collaborating on projects in (Microsoft Teams). 

The inherent features of the MS Teams platform offers a wide range of flexibility and customization. The challenge then becomes organizing those online collaborative spaces in a way that is organized and promotes an easy and efficient workflow. Here are just a few examples of how education staff can work together that transfers well to Teams:

  • School Improvement Advisory Committees: effective school improvement programs and initiatives require staff access to rich data analytics and easy collaboration among diverse stakeholders that include administrators, faculty, and others across the district.
  • Incident Response Plans: when an incident occurs, fast and accurate communication helps to ensure an effective response. Using TEams, incident response teams can easily draft and share timely and appropriate information with students, parents, the community, and coordinate additional resources.
  • Social and Emotional Learning programs: SEL programs can promote academic success and positive behavior while reducing emotional distress and general misconduct. Channels in Teams can be organized, for example, around the five key SEL competencies: self=awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. 
  • Teacher evaluations: evaluating teacher performance is a time-consuming, but important regular activity. Using Teams, administrators can share professional development resources with all teachers in the General channel, and manage private communications (in Conversations) and content (for example, using OneNote Staff Notebooks) with individual teachers in separate channels. 

(Microsoft Teams)

Apps to Support Collaboration:

Users can also add apps to their Teams platform to further support collaboration and streamline workflow. Apps can be added to the app bar (located on the side of the Teams platform), to a tab within a channel, or as an option in a chat box. Not all of these apps are specifically designed for educational purposes, but they are still effective tools inside of the platform that you can add. These apps are organized into 4 categories:

  • Productivity apps – increase productivity with workflow and process automation
  • Project management apps – easily navigate complex projects using process automation apps and tools
  • Industry-specific apps – address industry-specific needs with custom-built apps
  • Business department apps – execute everyday responsibilities with job-specific apps

The apps that are designed for education are organized into 4 categories:

  • Student engagement apps – make learning and teaching more fun and interactive, stay on course and track class progress easily, and boost student morale and teamwork
  • Content aggregation apps – consolidate all learning resources in a single online library, and embed and share videos with others; this includes apps that set up LMS within a Channel
  • Virtual classroom solutions – set up meetings for your online classroom directly
  • Whiteboarding – brainstorm creative ideas together

Here is a slideshow that shows apps relevant to these categories.

(Microsoft Teams)

My district only uses Teams as a telecommunications platform with students, so for this solution, I will not be covering apps that help educators track and collaborate with students. However, this slideshow does a great job of categorizing and explaining apps that do just that should your district or school use Teams more like a Learning Management System. It is possible that your IT Admin may have blocked apps from being used like my district has, so this may explain why I may not cover an app that may seem obvious in supporting collaboration. 

Here are just a few education specific apps that I wish were available to my team and my district:

  • Freehand by Invision: draw, plan, and collaborate with your team on an infinite whiteboard in real time
  • Wakelet: save, organize, and present content. Great for resource gathering, newsletter sharing, and portfolio building. 
  • Stormboard: collaborative workspace to generate ideas, prioritize/vote, and organize. Includes templates to support more productive and effective collaboration of projects. 
  • Interested in apps that provide LMS kinds of services within Teams? Check out LMS365, go1, or Beedle. Note – Your existing LMS may also be integrated with MS Teams like Canvas, Blackboard, and Schoology to name a few. 

(Microsoft 365 & Security for Partners)

Apps that are currently available to my colleagues and I: 

  • Insights in Teams – provides analytical data about your students progress in your class that can be shared with colleagues. This app requires that you have some features like assignments and assessments available in your classroom Teams. 
  • Viva InsightsA project management, productivity, and workplace analytics tool. You can schedule focused work time to be undisturbed, schedule coaching time with your manager, and reflect on your social and emotional health. The stay connected experience of the app helps you maintain relationships with people in your network, follow up on communication, and track meetings. 
  • Roadmap: Microsoft Project – an app designed for project management, this app allows managers and their teams to keep track of multiple projects at once. You can share and collaborate on your roadmap, update the status of projects and provide timelines. 
  • Project Another Microsoft project management and workflow tool however, this is more comprehensive than the Roadmap app that focuses solely on timelines. This app does include a timeline feature, but it also allows for better management of tasks and personnel as well as different views to examine the progress of projects.
  • Tasks by Planner and to Do (Tasks app) – The Tasks app in MS Teams combines your individual tasks from the To Do and Outlook with your team’s tasks from Planner. This is basically an individual and collaborative to do list that is ideal for project management. This is one of the more straightforward collaborative apps produced by Microsoft for Teams.
  • Approvals – easily create, manage, and share approvals directly from a channel or in the Teams platform. My colleagues and I create staff and student facing projects frequently, and they must be approved by our supervisor before they can be published. Typically we do this through email, but I love to try and keep my Outlook inbox focused on formal communication with staff. Using this app would allow us to more effectively submit projects for approval within Teams and streamline our workflow.  
  • Employee Ideas – A Team’s app that allows managers to review, manage,and vote upon team’s ideas. Managers and employees can create categories for ideas around common themes. Employees can then submit ideas and attach images, notes, and files. These ideas can then be voted on. This particular app is advertised for manufacturing, retail, and hospitality, but I can see this app being applicable in any team collaborative setting. For educators, this could be a great app to pose problems of practice to generate ideas of solutions.


My research for this module was focused on digging deeper into a digital tool that is used by every staff member and student in my district. Specifically, I set out to learn more about different ways to organize and leverage this tool for collaboration. Since my district has limited the accessibility of some of the features of Teams for educational purposes, we do not have access to many of the education specific apps that support collaboration. This also made it difficult to consult sources of how teachers were using the MS Teams platform. The restrictions limit the ways educators in my district can facilitate collaboration with students and they are challenged with using other collaborative tools that are approved for use. However, many of the corporate and professional apps that are designed to increase productivity, collaboration, and workflow are available. I believe that many of these apps are still useful for collaborative work amongst colleagues, administrators, and managers. Furthermore, the inherent features of MS Teams including channels, tabs, file storage/sharing, and chats are features that are widely leveraged to support collaboration with students and staff. In reviewing survey data and anecdotal experiences of staff and students, it is critical that these features are organized and simplified in a way that is most easily accessible and understood by all stakeholders. Teams are thorough and flexible, but can be extremely overwhelming for some. We must keep this in mind and be intentional about the ways in which we organize and interact with one another to build competency and effective collaboration. 



Griffin, L. (2021, January 25). How to enhance an existing Microsoft team using a Template: Blog. BindTuning. 

Hellerich, K. (2020, December 3). Using Microsoft Teams in a Hybrid Classroom. Edutopia. 

Microsoft 365 & Security for Partners. Microsoft 365 for Partners. (n.d.). 

Microsoft Teams. (n.d.). Apps and Workflow Automation: Microsoft Teams. Apps and Workflow Automation | Microsoft Teams.  

Microsoft Teams. (n.d.). First things to know about chat in Microsoft Teams. Office Support. 

Microsoft. (n.d.). Microsoft Teams: Online & Remote Classroom: Microsoft Education. Microsoft.   

Microsoft Teams for Education. (n.d.). Best practices for school leaders creating teams and channels in Microsoft Teams for Education. Microsoft Support.  

Miller, M., & Clark, H. (2021, January 27). Microsoft Teams Education: How to manage it like a pro. Ditch That Textbook.

Rogowski, M. (2020, August 25). Microsoft Teams Review for Teachers. Common Sense Education.  

Creative Communicator

Express Yourself!: Comparing Frameworks to Foster Creative Communicators

Express Yourself!: Comparing Frameworks to Foster Creative Communicators

When I first formulated my research question for this module, my intention was to explore digital tools for students to communicate their learning that would also help ease teacher workload especially for the current remote learning environment. This seemed appropriate for our Module 4 focus which is connected to ISTE 6 Creative Communicator. I do love learning about new digital tools or considering how others use the same tools in different ways for effective teaching and learning. However, I feel like there are already plenty of resources online that already explain what a tool is and how it can be used. I then struggled mightily to formulate a question that wasn’t so tool focused for this particular ISTE standard. 

I started to read Carol Ann Tomlinson’s work about the differentiated classroom, Katie Novak’s writing on Universal Design for Learning, and the Danielson Framework for Remote Learning and noticed strong connections between the three. Each promotes designing flexible learning pathways that address ISTE 6. This helped me generate a meaningful question which focused on pedagogical design rather than tool summary.

My Question: How do Tomlinson’s differentiated instruction, UDL, and the Danielson Framework for Remote Learning support student learning of ISTE 6?

ISTE 6 Creative Communicator: Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.

  1. Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
  2. Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
  3. Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.
  4. Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

Developed by Charlotte Danielson, the Framework for Teaching is an evolving framework that outlines a roadmap for effective teaching. After the pandemic hit in 2020, The Danielson Group reevaluated their framework to fit the environment of remote teaching and learning. The Framework for Remote teaching has a focus on fewer components, updated components and elements, and no rubric. In addition to the components, the group also designed a recommended pathway to implore users to gain a deep understanding of students to build responsive learning environments in order to plan and facilitate engaging instruction to meet students where they are at. Component 1e of the framework concentrates on designing learning experiences that provide flexibility and are student-centered. This includes tasks and activities that encourage student agency, create authentic engagement opportunities, and are tailored to individual student needs (The Danielson Group, 2020). This component is directly aligned with ISTE 6. Designing opportunities for students to choose platforms and digital tools that suit their needs and interests empowers student agency while also creating learning tasks that are authentic and engaging to the individual. 

Katie Novak’s advocacy for Universal Design for Learning (UDL) also emphasizes choice and flexibility when designing learning experiences. UDL is an educational framework that is intended to create learners who are purposeful and motivated, resourceful and knowledgeable, and strategic and goal-directed. At its core, UDL emphasizes student-centered learning experiences that embrace learner variability. Kim Schiefelbein, a guest blogger on Novak Education, stresses educators to focus on key learning goals or standards when designing lessons for remote learning (Schiefelbein, 2021). When a clear target for assessment is in mind, educators can design more opportunities for students to communicate and express themselves that is meaningful to them. Schiefelbein offers reflective questions for teachers to consider when designing a remote learning lesson with UDL in mind: 

  • What are the key takeaways for the lesson?
  • How will all students express they met the goal of the lesson?
  • What methods and materials will be used?

These questions are important to ask when considering which digital tools to utilize in a lesson or unit. In the words of Novak, “students have choices… [a]nd those choices allow all students to access rigorous, standards-based curriculum” (Novak, 2021). The patterns of choice in UDL can show up in goal settings, methods for instruction and learning, materials, and assessments. This correlates to ISTE 6 by affording students to use digital tools creatively to fit their learning needs and lesson objectives throughout the learning process. Novak specifically calls out designing multiple means of action and expression that allow students to use technology to express knowledge which cuts to the core of ISTE Creative Communicator. 

Carol Ann Tomlinson’s ideas about differentiation also adhere to the standards of ISTE 6. Tomlinson explains that students in a differentiated classroom “have multiple options for taking in information, making sense of ideas, and expressing what they learn. In other words, a differentiated classroom provides different avenues to acquiring content, to processing or making sense of ideas, and to developing products so that each student can learn effectively” (Tomlinson, 2017). Another way to consider this is differentiating by:

  • Content – input or what students learn
  • Process – how students go about making sense of ideas/information
  • Product – output or how students demonstrate what they have learned. 

Therefore, learning in a differentiated classroom must be student-centered. The connection to ISTE 6 again is clear: leverage digital tools to allow students choice in the content and product of their learning. Teachers can offer different tools for different approaches to what students learn, how they learn it, and how they demonstrate what they’ve learned or this can be designed by the students themselves. 

The common thread amongst these authors works is student agency and choice. By designing multiple means of engagement, representation, and expression, students can then think creatively for how they wish to communicate their learning. We can even promote students to design their own learning experiences when there are clear learning targets and aligned assessment rubrics. In order to support ISTE 6, we must build learning partnerships with our students. We must get to know our students to better understand their readiness, interests, and learning profile. This information can then be used to design richer learning experiences universal for all students, differentiate to respond to student differences, and prioritize effective teaching practices for remote learning. Doing so allows students the freedom to be creative communicators. 


The Danielson Group. The Framework for Remote Teaching. Danielson Group.

Novak, K. (2018, December 11). What is UDL? . Novak Education.

Novak, K. (2021, February 25). Million Dollar Question: What Does UDL Look Like? Novak Education.

Schiefelbein, K. (2021, February 3). Remote or Not, UDL Lessons Still Apply. Novak Education.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2017). How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms. What Differentiated Instruction Is-and Isn’t.’t.aspx.


Decomposing Computational Thinking within Social Studies


The classic definition of computational thinking was created in 2006 by computer scientist Jeanette Wing. According to Wing, computational thinking (CT) involves solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior, by drawing on the concepts fundamental to computer science (Wing, 2006). CT isn’t just for computer scientists, but a fundamental skill for everyone. It is a way humans solve problems and it is not trying to get humans to think like computers (Wing, 2006). We all practice CT in some capacity even without computers. Packing your bag with things you need for your trip or retracing your steps to find an item you lost are problem-solving strategies relative to computational thinking. Wing’s hope is that CT competencies become more widely recognized and spread to other disciplines (Wing, 2006).  

In 2012 , ISTE and Computer Science Teachers Association developed an operational definition of CT to help K-12 teachers introduce it in their classrooms. The timing of generating these standards is consistent with growing employment opportunities in the United States. According to the National Science Foundation, more than 600,000 high-paying technology jobs are open across the US, and as of 2018 more than 51% of all STEM jobs will be in computer science-related fields (Lindstrom et al., 2019). Therefore, teaching CT as a critical problem-solving process will better equip our students to be prepared for the job market that they will be entering. Not all our students will enter a computer-science related field, but CT is universally important in solving and understanding complex problems. 

ISTE recognizes that bringing CT to K-12 classrooms faces challenges of introducing it to the curriculum to getting teachers fully onboard. Many teachers don’t yet know what computational thinking is and get hung up on the definition (Fingal, 2018). I can recall the day I attended an ISTE training put on by our district and thinking how irrelevant CT was for social studies. I didn’t realize at the time that I had been teaching facets of CT, but I didn’t have the knowledge and understanding to communicate these processes to students. 

Fast forward to my role as a digital education coach, I wish to help educators understand that they are already engaging their students in CT, find new ways to integrate CT into their existing curriculum, and foster a better understanding of the characteristics of CT so that it is explicit for our students and to empower them transferring these processes to other problems. More specifically, I want to investigate how CT is integrated into social studies to better support some of the teachers I work with. 

My question – What is computational thinking and how can it be integrated into social studies?

ISTE 5 Computational Thinker –  Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.


Computational thinking forms links between computing and the real world including a set of problem-solving processes that builds on the power and limits of computing. The focus is on thinking skills or processes and the four most commonly cited of CT are decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithmic thinking. Many social studies educators may realize that they are already fostering these thinking skills in their curriculum and with their students. The following includes a breakdown of CT thinking skills as well as examples of how they could be integrated into social studies curriculum:

Decomposition is the breaking down complex problems into smaller parts or tasks. Decomposition is great for breaking down essential questions or historical topics/processes to better analyze and understand. Students can break problems down into smaller tasks to work at one at a time to limit the chance of being overwhelmed (Güven & Gulbahar, 2020). This is a common skill in social studies as historical events and periods are broken down into parts such as causes and effects or varying perspectives. For example, while investigating The Great Depression, students could look into the main causes for the stock market crash and how the results affected the country, its economics, and people. They could then analyze the different parts to infer why the period is known as “the Great Depression” (Güven & Gulbahar, 2020). Similarly, there is a common social media trend where large topics are broken down into simpler and more easily digestible parts. These posts often begin with: “so you want to talk about _____”. This is a great example of decomposition that can be engaging for students to leverage digital tools to communicate complex information in a way that is appropriate for a target audience. It is common for educators as the drivers of this thinking often categorizing or breaking up topics for students. Instead, educators should consider empowering students to participate and collaborate in this process as much as it is appropriate.

Pattern recognition concentrates on finding similarities and differences in systems that can also be used to make predictions. Like decomposition, pattern recognition is common and easily integrated into social studies curriculum. We can study history, for example, to identify patterns to make better decisions in the future. Investigating change over time or compare/contrast already lends itself to pattern recognition that can then be used to make predictions or arrive at conclusions. For example, students can investigate maps of settlements or population distribution, investigate the rise and fall of civilizations, or examine primary source data to study patterns of voting rights in a nation (Hammond et al., 2019). 

Abstraction can be described as reducing detail to make a problem or analysis more understandable. Another way to think about CT abstraction is the filtering information to glean the most relevant information. In other words, can I remove details to make it easier to see patterns or connections? For example, students discern the most important details shared in articles they research to write informatively about the subject. In civics, abstraction can be used to filter data to be analyzed then generate conclusions. Build in time for students to continually ask questions as this will help them consider new ways to analyze data and patterns. 

Algorithmic thinking/design is developing processes through logical, precise, and repeatable steps (Güven & Gulbahar, 2020). It would be helpful to preface this CT with some basic knowledge of coding including vocabulary like sequence, selection, and repetition, but it isn’t critical. Students can develop their own algorithms to teach processes. Students could be empowered to research and create algorithms for how a bill becomes a law or the process of gentrification. Generally, students may use algorithmic thinking to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes developments, and turning points throughout history (Güven & Gulbahar, 2020). Simulation games like Mincraft or the oregon trail really exemplify this particular CT skill when the user is creating or playing through a narrative.  


To be clear, computer science is an academic discipline involving the study of computation and application using computers while CT is a way we go about tackling problems using big picture processes (2016). CT helps increase student confidence with ambiguous, complex, or open-ended problems. Many social studies educators are naturally teaching CT though it may not be explicit. There is crossover between common historical thinking skills and CT. It is then critical to teach students the vocabulary associated with CT to support a deeper understanding of the thinking skills as well as increase ability in transferring those skills to other problems. In addition, providing space for students to choose, evaluate, and discuss their CT process can support higher level critical thinking. Encourage students to generate questions. Questions ignite the thinking process and also redirect the thinking process. Students may start with a driving question that evolves into other questions that affords a much deeper learning experience. New questions also may determine different ways to manipulate data or look for alternative patterns.


Fingal, J. (2018, November 27). Teaching computational thinking more important than defining it. ISTE.   

Güven, I., & Gulbahar, Y. (2020). Integrating Computational Thinking into Social Studies. The Social Studies, 111(5), 234–248.  

Hammond, T. C., Oltman, J., & Salter, S. (2019). Using Computational Thinking to Explore the Past, Present, and future. Social Education, 83(2), 118–122.,-Social%20Education&text=The%20incorporation%20of%20elements%20of,for%20analyzing%20discipline%2Dspecific%20data 

Lindstrom, D. L., Schmidt-Crawford, D. A., & Thompson, A. D. (2019). Computational Thinking in Content Areas and Feminine Craft. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 35(3), 126–127.  

What is computational thinking? (2016).

Wing, J. M. (2006). Computational Thinking. Communications of the ACM, 49(3), 33–35.

Knowledge Constructor Most Recent Post

The Process of Knowledge Construction


Information literacy is the ability to identify, locate, evaluate, and use information effectively (Information Literacy, 2017). A now necessary skill because of how abundant and accessible information is. If we, as educators, are to address the rampant spread of misinformation, then we must support students’ development of information literacy. To avoid being duped, students must develop skillful research habits, but the landscape of research has changed over the last few decades. 

In 2012, Pew Research Center conducted a survey focusing on how teens do research. Pew concluded that the internet has changed the meaning of research (Purcell et al., 2020). Today’s digital environment has had a significant impact on student research habits. Both teachers and students reported that research equals “Googling”. The process has shifted. What was once a “relatively slow process of intellectual curiosity and discovery” is now a “fast-paced, short term exercise aimed at locating just enough information to complete an assignment” (Purcell et al., 2020). That isn’t to say there isn’t any value in locating information quickly, but without a focus on an information problem-solving process, students will struggle to develop the crucial skills and habits to successfully construct meaning for themselves and others. 

The general perception is that the internet and digital technologies have a “mostly positive” impact on students’ research habits. Although, teachers are still concerned about students’ expectations and use of “instant information”(Purcell et al., 2020). Deficits include using multiple sources effectively to support an argument, recognize bias, and the inability to judge the quality of information. The latter being a skill the majority of teachers in the Pew survey deemed “essential” for their students’ future success (Purcell et al., 2020).

So how can we support our students with the habits and skills to be successfully curious and combat the side effects of instant information? How can we empower students to be knowledge constructors who actively explore real-world issues to develop ideas and pursue answers? To address these large questions, I contend that an educator’s energy should be invested towards information skills instruction that focuses on the process and is supported by cooperative learning structures. 

ISTE 3 – Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.

My Question – “How does an inquiry process model support critical information literacy skills? How can this process be supported by culturally responsive, cooperative learning structures?”


One process that could be used to teach information literacy and support inquiry is the Big6 and Super3. The Big6 is a student-centered research process that can help anyone solve problems or make decisions by using information. The process can be applied across subject areas and age levels. The goal is to teach the process, to have it be habitual, so that students can become systematic problem solvers who successfully curate, evaluate, and synthesize information.   Included in its name, the Big6 has 6 distinct stages that align to the ISTE Knowledge Constructor standards:

  • Task Definition – this first part involves the ability to recognize that information is needed, to define a problem, and to identify the types and amount of information needed. Some framing questions include: what is my current task?; what are some topics or questions I need to answer?; what information will I need? Here, a digital KWL thinking process may be helpful (Borrero Blog). Students could leverage digital communication tools to consult with experts locally or globally. Additionally, The Question Formulation Technique, created by the Right Question Institute, is a research-backed process to help students generate questions that could be used as a strategy to create questions based on a problem or another stimuli (What is the QFT?, 2020) .
  • Information Seeking Strategies – once an information problem has been identified, students brainstorm to consider all possible information sources and develop a plan to find the sources. This step is crucial in addressing some of the issues caused by “instant information” gathering as mentioned earlier. Some framing questions include: what are all the possible sources to check?; what are the best sources of information for this task? Students should explicitly evaluate pros/cons of each source and assess for relevance. There are plenty of mnemonic devices available to scaffold this, and the Big6 website offers CAARS and CLAAASS. Collaborating with your school’s librarian is also essential in identifying what source libraries are available to your students that don’t cost money. Lastly, allow students to plan a reasonable timeline for the information problem-solving tasks.
  • Location and Access – After students determine their priorities for sources, then they must locate and access those sources. Access is key and teachers should help students understand what credentials they need and where they can access the sources (at home, at school, or both). Some framing questions include: where can I find these sources? Where can I find the information in the source? Another critical step here is to support students with understanding how to effectively use appropriate search terms when they access online databases. Teachers in the Pew survey rated only 24% of students above average or excellent in this skill. Using the Four NETS for Better Searching website can be used to support this skill. We can also leverage digital tools to help students collect and organize information. Digital tools like Zotero and Wakelet are just a few of many examples. 
  • Use of Information – Students then engage with their information to extract relevant information. Some framing questions include: what information do I expect to find in this source?; what information from the source is useful? We can continue to use digital tools like Zotero and Wakelet to support this work. Another idea would be to create a Form template that students can copy and fill in to generate an excel sheet of their research. Sites like citationmachine or easybib can also be used to build references data based and then copied to a document. I can recall from my experience that this step would often happen at the end of the research process with my students. Too often would sources get lost or forgotten, so focus on building a habit of this as you go. 
  • Synthesis – learners organize information from their multiple sources in a way to construct knowledge, make meaning, and present. Framing questions include: how will I organize my information?; how should I present my information? It is valuable to make this thinking visible. Synthesizing thinking routines from ProjectZero’s toolkit can help scaffold the cognitive process. Digital whiteboards and sticky notes can help make that thinking visible. Not specifically called out, but this would be the appropriate stage for students to then use digital tools to present their understandings and arguments. Student agency can be increased by allowing for learners to self-select their medium/tool they want to construct their information with.
  • Evaluation – the final stage focuses on how well the final product meets the original task. This is a judgement phase examining not only the product(effectiveness), but more importantly the process(efficiency). Framing questions include: did I do what was required?; did I complete each of the Big6 stages efficiently? It is important to allow students the opportunity for self-assessment here. 

(Eisenberg et al., 2017)

The Big6 is applicable for all age levels, but there is also the Super3 that condenses the Big6 into 3 major steps written for the youngest age groups.

At first glance of the Big6 website and overview materials, the process suggests that it is mostly an individual undertaking by the student who receives feedback from the instructor. This isn’t true, but cooperative learning is an integral component to inquiry. We can then look at the tenants of the Community of Inquiry (COI) framework and fold that into the Big 6 process. Also referred to as the Practical Inquiry process, there are 3 overlapping presences that support inquiry and critical thinking especially in remote/distance learning. The authors of COI define it as “a group of individuals who collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding” (Bektashi, 2018). In addition, COI describes how learning occurs at the intersection of social, cognitive and teaching presence (Bektashi, 2018). I would recommend K-12 teachers consider the characteristics of these presences and how they fit into a more appropriate age-level, and student friendly, framework.

  1. Teacher Presence – design inquiry opportunities and organize classroom learning communities, facilitate discourse, and direct instruction.
  2. Social Presence – the ability for students identify with the community, communicate purposefully, and develop interpersonal relationships 
  3. Cognitive Presence – the way in which students construct and confirm meaning through activities, reflection, and discourse.

The social presence is the collective learning space that is indispensable to include in the inquiry process. A learner’s construction of knowledge and support is thoroughly elevated when an individual is able to comfortably engage in social and communal collaboration. Fostering successful social presences builds classroom community, provides beneficial peer-peer technology support (a time consuming and difficult challenge for teaching online), presents healthy discourse and multiple perspectives, and better supports critical thinking and cognitive development. This is especially helpful in the remote learning environment to support the social and emotional well-being of students who often feel isolated and depressed (Curtis, 2020). What might the social presences explicitly look like in the Big6? At each stage students would be moving “iteratively between private and shared words… between critical reflection and discourse” (Garrison et al., 2004).  In other words, one should plan to allow for a opportunity in small professional learning communities (PLCs) with peers to: set goals, share, discuss, provide feedback, and connect their learning. 


Much of my attention as a digital learning specialist is concentrated on coaching work with teachers to address instructional challenges. I support teachers in implementing strategies to address instructional challenges, but every classroom is different, and my role is then to help teachers adapt those strategies that fit their environment while choosing the right digital tools that are supported. Teachers can then create their own inquiry model to fit their classroom context and still preserve the necessary components of the Big6, Super3, and/or COI framework. A great example of this is the Quest model, created by Dr. David Wicks, that is better aligned to the Seattle Pacific University’s Digital Education Leadership program (Wicks, 2018).  While an inquiry model is helpful to teach the process and skills of ISTE Knowledge Constructor, equally important is fostering a social presence in your model. Furthermore, educators should continuously assess and teach the necessary research skills to help students be successful at each stage of the inquiry process. These lessons should be folded into the timeline allotted for your inquiry assignment. Jennifer Gonzalez, Digital Educator and author of the Cult of Pedagogy, offers an example of this as a curation lesson (Gonzalez, 2017). Finally, in order for students to grow in their research skills, the inquiry framework must be a continuous routine in your classroom year round. Practice can then transform to permanence. 


Bektashi, L. (2018, July 9). Community of Inquiry Framework in Online Learning: Use of Technology. Go to the cover page of Technology and the Curriculum: Summer 2018.  

Curtis, C. (2020, October 13). Isolated Students May Struggle to Stay Mentally Healthy. Edutopia.  

Eisenberg, M., Johnson, D., & Berkowitz, B. (2017). Information, Communications, and Technology (ICT) Skills Curriculum Based on the Big6 Skills Approach to Information Problem-Solving. Library Media Connection, 24–27.  

Garrison, R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2004, May 4). Critical Thinking, Cognitive Presence, and Computer Conferencing in Distance Education.  

Gonzalez, J. (2020, June 13). To Boost Higher-Order Thinking, Try Curation. Cult of Pedagogy. 

Information literacy. (2017, August 7). Common Sense.  

Purcell, K., Rainie, L., Buchanan, J., Friedrich, L., Jacklin, A., Chen, C., & Zickuhr, K. (2020, May 30). How Teens Do Research in the Digital World. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech.  

What is the QFT? Right Question Institute. (2020, June 26).  

Wicks, D. (2018, May 21). The QUEST model for inquiry-based learning. David Wicks: Digital Education.

Empowered Learner

Rotations to Support Empowered Learners


Shifts to remote learning due to the pandemic has challenged educators to rethink and adapt pedagogy to fit the new environment of their classroom. Many experienced the urgency to prepare students to be successful in a constantly evolving technological landscape. As my district approaches 1 full-year of remote learning, preparations have begun to support the transition to back to in-person learning. Simultaneously, remote learning continues and we have to prepare for flexible learning environments customized to the needs of our students.

I have the opportunity to speak with both teachers and students of all different grade levels about these questions. It is really easy to focus on the negatives of remote instruction, so I often try to ask questions about what is working well. Small group instruction models and flexible learning options have been common conversations, and although whole group instruction has its purpose, teachers have been finding success in engaging students much more in smaller instructional settings especially when there is an element of choice. These interactions inspired my research question to address the ISTE standard for this module:

ISTE Student Standard 1 – Empower Learner

Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences. 

My Questions:

How can station rotation and other rotation models create custom learning environments that facilitate student networks of support? How can this design model be adapted to fit the needs of remote and in-person learning?


What is the station rotation model?

At first glance, station rotation doesn’t seem like a revolutionary pedagogy, but traditional rotations can fall into traps of teacher-led/paced instruction, focused on compliance, and lacks collaboration. This effectively forbids students of their choice and generates one-size-fits-all instruction. A station rotation model, however, can be described as a model that utilizes concepts of blended learning to create dynamic station activities that allow for more differentiation, individualization, and networks of collaboration. Blended learning implies that at least one station uses some form of online learning. To address the ISTE Empowered Learners standard, we should also consider flexibility in time, place, path, and pace.  

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Catlin Tucker, a digital educator and advocate of blended learning, highlights that the benefits of a station rotation model are that it creates smaller learning communities within the larger class, implements varied tasks, and provides teachers with space to work individually or in small groups to meet each student’s learning goals (Tucker, 2017). It is imperative to use backward-design to drive the planning of station rotation. Understanding your lesson goals and assessments will help you make better decisions about time, place, path, and pace of your lesson (Douma, 2020). 

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A key design model to support Empowered Learners is to build stations for collaboration allowing students to build networks with others to support the learning process. Here students could seek feedback from one another, discuss ideas, or collaborate on an activity together. In addition, provide space in stations for students to set personal learning goals and reflect on those goals. This could take form in an entry/exit task station where all students are participating simultaneously before/after rotating stations. 

We also can empower students to choose a station that best fits their learning goals or interests. This is especially useful with practicing or reviewing concepts and you could support students’ choice of station by using an if ____ then ____ board. Stations can be designed with different learning modalities in mind to allow for students to choose which station best suits their own needs. “Some students may benefit from beginning with small group instruction before moving onto practice. While other students, who are accelerated learners or tactile, may learn better by starting with a practice activity where they get to explore and practice before they receive direct instruction” (Tucker, 2017). Individual practice stations can also leverage online tools or adaptive software and empower students to make the choice that is right for them. The pacing of the rotation can also be chosen by the individual student and the rotation does not necessarily need to be finished within one class period or day. Planning rotations with these considerations in mind allow for students to leverage technology and to choose learning environments (stations) that best suit their learning goals (Staker and Horn, 2012). 

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4 Station Considerations for Remote Learning

  1. A station for independent learning/practice – The key here focuses on practice. Empower your students to set their own personal learning goals in this station. You can also consider utilizing an online learning platform that offers immediate data informed instruction.
  1. Teacher-led, small group station – this station is crucial to allow teachers to get to know their students and to better plan for and support their progress. Students could try out the learning with immediate feedback/support from the instructor. Or the teacher could be facilitating discussion and allow for more student-centered learning. 
  1. An offline station – provide a menu of options for students to practice SEL or engaged in non-screen activities with tactile learning. This could be using manipulatives, journaling, discussion of their learning with family, and/or reflection on their learning goals.
  1. A collaborative-learning station – provide opportunity for students to build a network of support and collaborate. It is critical to think about a deliverable piece for student groups to produce. For example, this could be students filling out student-created feedback forms or engaging in a cooperative learning activity that challenges them to submit something for feedback. This station is especially important in the remote setting because it can help support socialization during student learning to grow understanding. 

(Douma, 2020)


Planning Recommendations

  • Keep groups less than 5
  • Sketch out stations:
    • What is the objective of each station? Will students produce something?
    • How much time do students need at each station?
    • What materials are needed?
    • How will directions of each station be delivered to students? Will they be frontloaded or presented at each station (video or typed directions)?
    • Consider transition time – how will students know when/where to go? How can you support quicker transition to maximize time? (for example -use QR codes to direct students more quickly or support sign-on)

(Tucker, 2015)


Douma, K. (2020, September 28). How to Make Station Rotation Work During Hybrid Learning.  

Staker, H., & Horn, M. B. (2012, May). Classifying K-12 Blended Learning.

Tucker, C. (2015, July 20). Create Small Learning Communities with the Station Rotation Model. Dr Catlin Tucker. 

Tucker, C., Wycoff, T., & Green, J.  (2017). Blended learning in action: A practical guide toward sustainable change. Corwin.


Mission Statement

Mission Statement 

By Nick Rose 

My vision as a digital educator is to support the development of digital wisdom to foster healthy digital citizenship to bridge gaps in access, knowledge, communication, and cultural understanding. I want to help support the development of thoughtful and empathetic digital citizens who recognize their responsibility in a community with others. I believe in engaging both students and educators alike in learning that maximizes the possibilities that technology can afford. My pursuit is to support excellent teaching for each and every student that recognizes the inequity in our systems and assist in the closing of those achievement gaps with digital education.   

To properly act on this vision, my goal is to ground my work through three guiding principles: CommunityResponsibility, and Perspective. Doing so will help inform my practices to ensure that my approach as a digital coach is consistent and mindful of the implications of digital citizenship in response to a constantly changing environment.  


ISTE Standards: 

7a) Inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and to address challenges to improve their communities. 

7b) Partner with educators, leaders, students and families to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in their use of technology 

Without question, advances in technology have altered our environment and increased our level of connectedness. According to Floridi, a Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information, “we are not standalone entities, but rather interconnected informational organisms or inforgs” (Floridi, 2010). How we engage in the ever evolving infosphere is largely influenced by how we engage with each other. To maximize the potential of using technology in education, I must support educators and students in their understanding of their role as participants of a community to foster healthy and effective engagement. I must also support staff and students to engage with learning that expands beyond the classroom community. Through “more communal, collective forms of digital engagement”, I will help broaden student learning to collaborate with other classrooms (Selwyn & Jandrić , 2020). 

I will also help educators and students in the development of healthy digital habits to build a culture of respectful interaction with peers and healthy engagement with technology. Healthy digital habits, in my understanding, focus on the quality of the experience and not necessarily the time. This lends itself to the question of where institutions and their educators fit in all of this. Students will access technology through a variety of mediums and for a variety of purposes. Technology use occurs both at school, at home, and every place in-between. We also know that access to technology is not equal, and how/when students experience technology is impacted by socioeconomics.  We must be careful with considerations for limiting student engagement with technology as this presents equity issues for students furthest from educational justice. For this reason, I will encourage educators to support students’ reflection about their use of technology through dispositions as well as invite families into the discussion. Thus, reinforcing that we each play a critical role as entities of a larger information ecology.  


ISTE Standards: 

7b) Partner with educators, leaders, students and families to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in their use of technology. 

7c) Support educators and students to critically examine the sources of online media and identify underlying assumptions. 

7d) Empower educators, leaders and students to make informed decisions to protect their personal data and curate the digital profile they intend to reflect. 

Responsibility exists at the core of embodying a Digital Citizen Advocate. As an educator and a coach, I have a responsibility to equip students with skills and habits that encourage the development of their digital wisdom. According to Marc Prensky, an American author and speaker on education, there is now a greater need to support digital wisdom, “referring both to wisdom arising from the use of digital technology to access cognitive power beyond our usual capacity and to wisdom in the use of technology to enhance our innate capabilities” (Prensky, 2013, p. 202). Responsibility and digital wisdom are values important for media literacy. Information is an abundant resource, but it takes discernment and critical thinking to examine the sources of online media for their accompanying biases and assumptions. It is important to use and share that information in a way that is responsible to not mislead others. Our world today is fast-paced filled with instant gratification and access to information. Because of this, it is easy to fall into the trap of action without thought. A student can easily search for a news article or website that includes a buzzword for their search, but pay little attention to the source information or underlying assumptions. To combat this, educators should provide opportunity for students to discern online media for 4 dimensions of critical evaluation: 

Relevance – information’s level of importance to a particular reading purpose or explicitly stated need for that information 

Accuracy – the extent to which information contains factual and updated details that can be verified by consulting alternative and/or primary sources 

Bias/Perspective – the position or slant toward which an author shapes information 

Reliability – the information’s level of trustworthiness based on information about the author and the publishing body 

(Coiro, 2017).  

There is also a level of responsibility for how we construct ourselves online. We must present dispositions for students consider personal, moral, and ethical issues associated with their online personas. We have a responsibility no only for the impact of our actions on ourselves but also on our communities and the broader world. I must help educators and students consider the implications of their choices online that may not have a direct impact on themselves, but have indirect consequences on a larger audience that may be challenging for an individual to understand at first.  Common Sense Education, an organization dedicated to supporting the development of digital citizenship, identifies this dilemma as our “ethical blind spot” when we make choices online. Likewise, those who make decisions around digital education policy need to consider the responsibility of their choices in protecting the privacy and data of students.  



ISTE Standards: 

7a) Inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and to address challenges to improve their communities. 

7c) Support educators and students to critically examine the sources of online media and identify underlying assumptions. 

7d) Empower educators, leaders and students to make informed decisions to protect their personal data and curate the digital profile they intend to reflect. 

A good digital citizen considers their perspective as well as the perspectives of others when they engage in the information ecology. Perspective is a core value when supporting educators and students when technology is leveraged for civic engagement or cultural understanding. I hope to provide opportunities for those I am coaching with to consider the experiences of other. Considering perspective fosters healthy collaboration and understanding while building empathy. I will encourage educators to incorporate students learning  in digital education with strategies that are culturally responsive. Thinking routines and talk structures can be utilized to help students explore perspectives especially with dilemmas concerning how we use technology in ways that our healthy, how we interact with others online, examine online sources, and how we construct our digital profile. For example, we must support students to consider perspective as they “self-brand and re-appropriate [themselves] on various online platforms like blogs, social media pages, YouTube channels, and online multiplayer games” (Floridi, 2010, p. 26). Perspective consideration is a vital skill I must prioritize when supporting the work I do as a digital coach because our engagement with technology has modified our concept of reality. We need to get beyond thinking about technology simply as offline/online and recognize that our engagement with technology encompasses all parts of our constructs of reality.   

I am dedicated to helping educators and students to consider the moral, ethical, and civic responsibilities through technology thereby developing empathy and highly skilled digital citizens. I believe the best way to support perspective consideration is by focusing on authentic and relevant learning opportunities. Present problem-based learning that address challenges in local and distant communities. Engage with online sources by considering the perspective of the author or intended audience. Present dispositions for students to consider for how their decisions might impact themselves, their community, and the world. Having restraint and reflecting on perspective can deter impulsive and ill-informed decisions not characteristic of a good digital citizen.  



Coiro, J. (2017, August 29). Teaching Adolescents How to Evaluate the Quality of Online Information.  

Floridi, Luciano. Information a Very Short Introduction. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2010.  

Neil Selwyn and Peter Jandrić, “Postdigital Living in the Age of Covid-19: Unsettling What We  See as Possible,” Postdigital Science and Education (2020). 

Marc Prensky, “From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom,” in From Digital Natives to Digital  

Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin,  2013), 201-15  

Prensky, M. (2001, October). Digital natives, digital immigrants: A new way to look at ourselves  and our kids,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf 


Digital Citizen Advocate Most Recent Post

The Screen Time Fallacy


“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” “Observe due measure; moderation is best in all things.”

From the ancient Greeks to Oscar Wilde, this proverbial principle is timeless and endlessly applicable. However, in the case of screen time moderation, how we measure our engagement with screen technology may be more important than moderating our time.

In 2018, the Pew Research Center gathered technology experts, scholars and health specialists to consider how the rapid changes in digital life will impact peoples’ well-being. The largest percentage of respondents believe that our future digital life will be more helpful than harmful. Most believed changes in technology will improve the well-being and opportunity for people, but not without caution. Many experts also cited health, social, and security concerns (Anderson & Rainie, 2018). Like any medication, there’s always potential side effects. Screen time moderation could be considered the medicine in this metaphor, but the side effects of this issue have been overstated, as many experts are now shifting the narrative away from this oversimplified practice to a much more nuanced understanding.

In examining our current digital lives as it stands today, the current pandemic has intensified the debate around screen time particularly as it relates to education. Schools in remote or hybrid learning environments place a tremendous amount of stress on staff and student screen time. On average, teens spend 9 hours of screen time a day (Rideout, 2015). In Seattle, where I live and work, some families have been critical of the school district’s official schedule for remote learning and the amount of screen time it burdens students with. Some families devoutly subscribed to the screen time ‘shot clock’, limiting their student’s exposure to screens and encouraging “in-person interaction, time outdoors, and tactile activities” (Resmovits, 2020). These are necessary activities characteristic of a healthy lifestyle, but the early research and assumptions around screen time limits is outdated. A much more nuanced understanding of screen time has emerged, and as a result, a broader conversation around healthy digital habits and equity. 

Families who are more affluent and privileged typically have multiple devices at home with an ease of online access and greater access to resources and opportunity to create more in-person enrichment for their student. Students furthest from educational justice are less likely to have ease of online access and additional devices. If a student only has access to a mobile device at home, “they are less likely to go online to pursue an interest or engage in a creative endeavor” (Holland, 2019). Technology can provide multiple representations of content, accessibility, and opportunity for student-driven learning. When taken away, students of color can especially feel alienated and discouraged from learning because, for some, technology is viewed as an essential resource of utmost value (Resmovits, 2020). Thus, arguments for less screen time in school creates greater inequity. Health experts like the American Academy of Pediatrics (APA) have refocused their message around screen time. According to the APA, reasonable screen time limits should be considered, but it is much more important for families to develop healthy habits “such as sleep schedules and holding difficult conversations without interruption of scrolling through social media” (Resmovits, 2020).

This is where the understanding of screen time is shifting: healthy digital habits that focus on the quality of the experience and not necessarily the time. This lends itself to the question of where institutions and their educators fit in all of this. Students will access technology through a variety of mediums and for a variety of purposes. Technology use occurs both at school, at home, and every place in-between. We also know that access to technology is not equal, and how/when students experience technology is impacted by socioeconomics.  

My Question:

  • How can schools teach and support healthy digital habits that engages all stakeholders (educators, parents, students) especially as it concerns screen time? 

ISTE Standard for Coaches: 

  • 7b: Partner with educators, leaders, students and families to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in their use of technology.


Educational institutions need to support the shift in thinking away from screen time ‘shot clocks’ to empowering students, families, and educators in thinking dispositionally about the different ways of being, interacting, creating, and learning through screen-based technologies. 

Design considerations:

Technology use is interdisciplinary, and therefore the teaching of healthy digital habits should connect to every class and subject matter. Administrators can lean on committees and building leadership teams to plan curriculum and embed digital habits into their school’s mission and/or guiding foundational beliefs. Cultivate opportunities for students to learn and reflect upon the consequences of healthy and unhealthy digital lives. 

It is critical to consider context when engaging with screens. Not all screen time is created equal and varies by how it is used, the content that is engaged, and its fostering of relationships. Like a fitness journal, a digital habits journal could provide students a space to reflect upon how they are engaging with technology, connect it with their learning, and the effect that it is having on their health and wellness. This could also prove to be a valuable tool for discussions in 504/IEP meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and in building a culture of positive digital habits. There should be careful considerations for how students can share in their learning of healthy digital habits while protecting their choice and privacy for what they share. 

In addition, it is critical for staff to model and share in their own learning and struggles with how they engage in technology. This can also be powerful in building rapport and classroom community. Staff should also consider how they are asking students to engage with technology for school. I admit that this can be very challenging as each student engages with technology differently and has different digital habits. Predicting/planning for time may not be possible or worth it. Instead, educators need to consider if their lesson/assignment provides opportunity for students to engage with technology in ways that centers their interests and supports 21st century skills. As best as possible, limit rote and passive consumption of technology without personal purpose. There’s certainly still a place for designing learning opportunities that don’t require a screen, and there should be intention around cultivating that, but it may be better worth the effort to consider the context for how your students are engaging online for academics. 

Engage families:

It is imperative to invite families into this learning, but the purpose should not focus on telling parents what’s right from wrong. Any parent will tell you that telling someone how to parent their own kids isn’t going to be received too well. Instead, educators should manufacture opportunities that engage families into participating alongside their student(s) as they learn and reflect upon their digital habits and screen use. Encourage families to participate alongside with students as they reflect upon the how, where, and why they are using screen media. The goal here is spark conversation around screen technology use and how it is impacting personal and social health. Again, the point isn’t for educators to tell parents what is quality use, but to encourage them to move past the screen time fallacy and engage with their student(s) to think critically about their engagement with screen media to foster healthy digital habits (Blum-Ross & Livingstone, 2017). 


Anderson, J., & Rainie, L. (2018). The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech.  

Blum-Ross, A., & Livingstone, S. (2017). Screen Time for Kids: Getting the Balance Right.  

Holland, B. (2019). Changing the Discussion: From Screen Time to Digital Equity. 

Resmovits, J. (2020). Seattle-area parents want rules about screen time, but experts say off-screen interactions matter more.  

Rideout, V. (2015). The Common Sense census: Media use by tweens and teens. Retrieved from Common Sense Media website: port.pdf