Sunday, November 29, 2009

Miracles, Milestones and Magical Moments

Click on the picture to see my family blog!

I can honestly say that I am REALLY enjoying my digital writing project thus far! I am working on creating a family website that my family and friends can access to see the 'happenings' of the Davis household. When I started it, pretty much right after our first day of class, I sent the link out to family/friends that I thought would be interested. (That was a little nerve racking...I know that it is by no means formal writing, but it is putting your self out there!) Initially I got a few notes/emails from people saying "good job" or "thanks for sharing" but to be completely honest, I really did not think too many people were paying attention. None the less, I keep adding things and enjoying the creativity that comes with it!

This past week, my husband, son and I had 3 Thanksgivings to attend. I was very surprised at how many family members commented to me about the blog! More were paying attention than I had imagined, or even hoped for! None of them have created accounts and show up as followers on my page, but they all bookmarked it and check in every now and then to see if I added new things! I love it!

I have done a lot of picture adding, and refection on what the pictures show. I have even added a video that I a pretty proud of! My next step is going to be to create a video/slide show with photo story. I took tons of pics over our 3-day Thanksgiving adventure between MN and WI and thought I could use all them to make a show. I downloaded the program, but now can't seem to find it on my computer. I will get it though. I am hoping that will be done by this weekend. We will see though! I am also very excited to add items from the information given to us by our guest speaker the last time we met. (,, I have looked at all of these and think they will be great ways to add to the blog with more pictures but in a different creative way!

In regards to my writing, I decided to add more than just my writing and reflections. As a mom, and a teacher, I love ggod quotes. Whenever I come across one, whether it is inspirational as a mom or a teacher, I write them down and put them somewhere that I can see them. I am going to add favotire quotes (from my family or from a different source) to my blog as well. I am also a collector of poems. I think that these will add another interesting piece to my blog.

Overall, I am loving this project! My only wish is that I had more time to work on it each week. I would love to be able to add daily or weekly posts. It is a way for me to reflect back and enjoy some of those family moments amid all our crazy schedules and hectic days!

Here is a link to my site: Miracles, Milestones and Magical Moments: The Davis Family Website

Saturday, November 21, 2009

And The Award Goes To...

I think that reading my own writing is one of the hardest parts with writing. I am my worst critic, but at the same time, I find it VERY hard to recognize the flaws or "areas that need improvement" in it. Just looking back at my professional blogging over these past months, I can see that it is hard for me to get outside the box. I have a tenancy to take each prompt or guiding questions so literally and answer them in a way that almost seems formulaic to me. Most of my blogs follow the same pattern; reflect on the question in relation to my classroom, discuss how I can or can't use it, and then find an example or resource. Blah..blah...boring.

I really enjoy reading other peoples blogs and seeing how they took the guiding question and brought it to another place. Maria's blog is a perfect example for that. I know that we are supposed to choose a blog that encompasses voice, thoughtfulness and multimedia components and she is amazing at this. Maybe it is because I usually sit next to her in class and hear her voice all the time, but when I read her blog, it is like she is talking to me. Her creativeness and ability to link one things to another is very engaging and entertaining! I am a little biased in that I can honestly say that I have spent most of my time interacting with blogs from teachers in my curriculum group, but I do believe she is the best.

As for myself...the hard part begins! Lets just put this out there from the start. I do not feel that any of my professional blogs are stellar. I find it much easier to blog about things that touch me, such as family experiences, than professional things, that most of the time I am nervous to write what I really want to write for fear that it will viewed by someone who interprets it in a negative way. But here is my attempt.

1. --Professionalism
I chose this post because I feel like I really thought about article and reflected on how I could see myself in it. As teachers, we need to admit our fears about taking on new things. This will only help us to "jump in" and conquer the new adventures before us.

2. --Creativity
My blog posting on my voice thread experience wins for this! Not because I feel that it is all that great, but because I impressed myself with how fun and easy it was to create a voice thread. I was absent that day in class and thought for sure I was going to be struggling to figure it out and I was happy to be wrong.

3. --Design
This was hard. Design is an area that in my professional blog I am not sure that I even touched. I am working more on this in my digital writing project than in my professional blog. But, since I have to chose one, I went with this. It is not an amazing designed post, but more a great resource that I found for designing blogs. Does that count?? I think that my blog page would be my design choice. Even though it was my professional blog, I added family pics, a favorite quote and a few other touches that made it my own. :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I am admitting up front that I am a little stumped on tonight's (or this weeks post). I usually look at what we are asked to write about over the weekend, do some research, spin in my head what I am thinking I want to write about and then write on Tuesday night when Kash goes to bed...and although I am a MAJOR creature of routine and habit, that is not what happened this week.

In my defense, although not an excuse, I have spent the last hour and a half working on my digital writing project, my family blog. No lie. I am really enjoying it. When I can steal that few extra hours in the day to retreat to the basement, and work on the computer, I find myself being drawn to my family blog. I have been called a momerazzi, as I take TONS of pictures, and I love sorting through them, uploading them and then writing about the stories that go with them. You will have to forgive me that I am not drawn to thinking about Wikis...I am trying though.

Shall I get on with it??
One of the things that continues to show up in my blog postings and links is resources (and examples) of each of the media we are learning used in other classrooms and schools. Teaching first and second grade, I struggle to find ways to connect this to my own classroom. Blah, blah, have heard this all from me before.

Anyway, here is a link to examples of how elementary school teachers are using wikis. Although not really focusing on collaborative writing, I thought this first and second grade teacher used the wiki in a very interesting an clever way! Although I am not sure that I would do the same, I will share it with my first grade math class.

Side Bar Note
As I have been sorting through the lists of educational wikis that are out there, it amazes me how many teachers put in their description "Just trying this out" of "This is an experiment." It is if they are all nervous to put themselves out there. This is irrelevant to what I am supposed to be writing about, I just noticed it and wondered if anyone else had noticed it as well.

On to what I am supposed to be writing about...Collaborative Wiki writing.
I think that in a first and second grade classroom it would be interesting to do a collaborative writing wiki with another first and second grade class. Although it would be amazing to do one internationally, or just with a class from another state, it could be as simple as class in a different town. For first and second graders, the town they live in seems like their entire world. I have a friend who teaches first grade in Burnsville for example. Her and I could create a wiki together that both of our classes could interact with. We could post letters back and forth to each other, talking about who we are, what our school is like, information about out town, etc. We could make it private so that no one else could see and post pictures as well. It could be an ongoing thing throughout the year...tied to our regular writing workshop. Kids could pick their favorite pieces of writing to post and know that other kids (whom they have never met before and most likely never will) will be reading it. I looked around and did not find any examples of this, but it was an idea that I started spinning during my own writer's workshop today. (Although to be honest, I was originally thinking more of a shared blog.)

Anyway, that is my thoughts on collaborative wiki writing in my primary classroom. I am off to head back to my family blog now...I am psyched that I figured out how to add video!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Consider Me Inspired!

I feel like although I have had many great experiences in this class, I personally struggled to find inspiration in how I was going to apply these amazing new ideas to my classroom. It seemed like with each new experience, voice thread, blogging, and ning (online role-play),in the back of my mind I kept thinking "first and second graders can't do this!" Well, I was wrong.

I was looking for links for my last post and came across this site. It is from a school in Georgetown, Kentucky and it completely flattened my pessimistic attitude. There are amazing examples of digital storytelling done by first and second graders. Watching the great work these kids have done inspires me to want to do this with my kids! The project called "What is love?" by a first grade class is heart warming. The project titled "Are you proud to be an American?" is also done by a first grader! Again, amazing. I want to know what software they used. It seems like a voice thread of some sort, but it is different. Does anyone know?

In my Writer's Workshop we have sharing time. It always seems to be the same kids who want to share and the same kids who don't. Using a program like this, would allow kids to compose a piece, use their voice to share and present it to the class in a way that would be less stressful. Students would need to think about who their audience would be and could come up with topics that are meaningful to them. I have students in the past who do not like to illustrate their work. Using digital storytelling would allow them to bring in photographs and other images. This could eliminate the frustration of adding drawings. On the flip side of that, I have also had many struggling writers. I often find them spending hours on these elaborate illustrations, filled with so many details, but no words to tell the story. Using digital storytelling, they could show their images and tell the story instead of stressing about getting it down on paper.

I would be very interested in seeing where my kids would take this...I think that I would be surprised at what their interests would be.

"True Adventures of Students Writing Online"

Reading this article, I found myself imagining myself in the teacher's role, holding this type of digital writing workshop with my 27 eager kids and I could almost hear the voices of the kids who would play the roles of Kevin, Krystal and Mario. It is funny to read these types of teacher experiences and know that you could pinpoint exactly what kiddos are in your own class that would have these same attitudes, comments and mentalities in this situation.

When thinking about what direction I wanted to take this post in, I was/am confused. Although it is a very interesting article, filled with what sounds like a great project/supplement to the Writer's Workshop, I am just not sure how to reflect on it. I hold a Writer's Workshop in my first and second grade classroom three days a week, and each day I am inspired by the amazing ideas that stem from these little people. They work hard to use their best handwriting, place the capital letters at the beginning of each sentence (and for some write a complete sentence), assign the correct punctuation, all the while expressing their most important 'small moments' that they have experienced in their 6-7 years of life. For many of them it is a celebration to see that they have written any words down, and for others, there are pages and pages filled with colorful words and detailed illustrations.

When I think about taking my kids into a digital Writing Workshop, my initial instinct tells me "We are not ready for that!" But what makes me even more uneasy is that little voice in the back of my mind that is telling me that my kids can do this and that it is MY fear that is standing in the way! Being a relatively new teacher (7 years), I have prided myself as being someone who will try anything new and take on any challenge. So why am I so apprehensive to try this? I know that my kids are whizzes on the computer. They pick up skills and master different software light years faster than I do. The technology piece is not my fear. I know that it would be a way to engage them in writing better than I can do with my colored folders and different kinds of writing paper!

My worry is that I will not know how to manage it all. How do I keep track of what 27 kids are working on? How do I make sure they are writing and not just playing on the computer? How do I track all of their work, find a way to share it with parents and all the while assure the parents that this is safe? Is there a right time to start this? What if my developing first grade writers move to a digital workshop and do not learn to write the old fashioned way, on a good old piece of paper with a pencil?! But in reality, this is where the future is taking us. Am I doing them a disservice by not making sure that I expose them to this digital world? After all, although it is ever changing, it is not going away.

These are the questions that I have left lingering after I read this article. I do not have the answers to any of them, but am determined to find them. My quest for answers will either come from my own personal experience or through continued research on what other teachers have done. We will see what happens... I am seriously thinking about heading down the 'digital workshop' road in the spring. I have always felt that they best way to conquer fear is to jump in.

These are just a few quotes that I took from the article. They are just a few of the ideas that made me stop, think and apply to my own kiddos.

"...struggling readers who are focused on correct spelling and grammar often spend less time focused on gaining meaning from the texts they read and write."

"Many teachers I have talked with hold to the notion that young children and their writing are egocentric and that they don't consider their audience until after they get the chance to share their work with others."

"Children's writing is not made socially sensitive by the response of others; it is itself, a social act, a way of interacting with each other."

I found this great site from a school in Georgetown, Kentucky. It is examples of first and second grade digital story telling projects.

This is an inspirational page. A first grade teacher who created a blog and uses it to post her kiddos writing. I would be interested in contacting her and talking about the work she has done. I wonder if the kids are writing on paper and she is posting their writing, if they are writing on-ling and then posting...or just how she has it set up. It is really interesting to read about what the kids wrote about blogging. She has them explain what blogging means, what they liked about it and a short reflection on their blogging for the year.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I created a vioce thread, linked it to my blog and now I am not sure why it won't let people see it!! Any help would be great! :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Reflecting on the Voice Thread...

I thought is was going to be hard and it was actually amazingly easy! I did not have access to a microphone so I used the phone method and it was great. I know that I will use this software again to create family stories for my digital writing project and my family blog. I know that my next project will be to collect pictures of my son, upload them and then record my voice reading his favorite story. I can then post it on our family blog to share with others.

Although I still think that this might be advanced for my first graders, I do think that I would attempt it with my 2nd graders. We do a unit on families and what a great way to create a family album. The kids could take pictures of their families, upload them and then use their voices to tell about each picture. Discovering how easy it is to use this software has also inspired me to share this with my teammates who teach 3rd and 4th graders. They would LOVE this!

Voice Thread Attempt #1

Voice Thread Attempt #1

Well, I have been out of the loop for what feels like an eternity! I have been working hard at getting caught up on all that I have missed in these past weeks and I will admit that I was really nervous about attempting this voice thread thing without the pre-tutoring from Candace.

Anyway, after this past weeks experiences for me, I thought what better thing to create a voice thread about than my son. After all, he has spent the last week reminding me just how much he means to me and how I, a person who plans for everything, can't possibly plan for somethings.

My husband sent me this quote one day over email.

To make the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide to have forever have your heart go walking around outside your body.

I imagine that he got it in some random forward, and decided to pass it on to me. For some reason it has always really stuck with me. I printed it out and have it hanging above my desks amongst my collage of family pictures.

As I was scanning through our tons of pictures on our computer, I came across the very first pictures that we have of my son. He was born via emergency c-section after three days of very hard labor. As I looked at the pictures, that quote jumped into my head. After all, having surgery like that is having a major part cut out of your body. And thinking now on my first time traumatic mommy experience of this last week, I have just been reaffirmed more of just how vulnerable I am to him. He is my heart and I do not know what I would do without him.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Here I am...

Click here to read about April Anderson. She is my 16 year old character for the online role-play, who is deaf and uses digital media practices to interact with her friends and family.

Taking Imagination to a Different Level...

When I was going through my graduate classes a few years back, I was working with a group of kindergarten teachers who shared their concerns about their students lack of understanding on how to use their imagination. They told a story about the day they took out the kitchen play center tools to introduce for the first time. Kindergartners usually jump at the chance to get free-time and dive into a world of make believe cooking, chopping, mixing and serving. Not this group though. The 3 teachers shared that this group of kids went into the kitchen and started climbing all over the play stove, throwing the plastic food and making a huge mess. After a few days of observing this behavior, the teachers had a realization that this group of kids did not know how to use their imagination to play kitchen. They were confused by the toys, the set-up and had no idea how to gather a group of friends, to each get a role in the imaginary family that needed to cook dinner. What they ended up doing was taking all three classes of kids and setting them down in front of the kitchen. Each teacher took on a role, one a mom, one a kid waiting for breakfast and the other a dad. The teachers interacted with each other, all three playing their make believe roles and modeled for the kids how you could pretend to be a family that needs to use a kitchen to make food. The teachers then switched roles and went on to play restaurant for the kids to see. It was only after the teachers showed the kindergartners how to 'pretend' did they start to engage in imaginative role play games.

As a teacher, and a mother, that is incredibly scary for me to hear. Although I find the idea of online role-plays very interesting and I am sure engaging for older students, at the first grade level, I am going to continue to work hard and see that my kids can make play make believe in person, before I have then do it on the computer. Many kids are already exposed to the world of make believe all too much with computer games and video games. I understand that they need to have the ability to play in this way and it is vital for their growth and development. With the ongoing pressure to get kids farther, faster and at a younger age, I think it is important to make time to imagine with kids. We do not do that enough. The technology that we have is amazing and a gift that I can honestly say helps me to reach more kids, but it should not replace a child's ability to create and imagine on their own. I am fully aware that to teach my Main Street unit in Social Studies I could somehow create a virtual city that we could all claim residence and create a business, but why would I? The kids enjoy using cereal boxes brought from home, construction paper, and anything else they can dig out of my room to create our own model of our city street. This is the time when some of the kids who don't normally shine, come out like a beechen in the night!

Monday, September 28, 2009


I have been wanting to find a way to change the background of my personal blog and fancy it up a bit...and I finally figured it out. Below is a great website Leelou Blogs. A friend of mine introduced me to it. When you go to the site, there are TONS of different blog templates that you can have/use for free! When you get to the site, go to 'free stuff' and then blog templates. Find one you like, then follow the directions to change yours. It is fun and lets you personalize your blog! There are some REALLY nice ones, but you have to pay for them. I changed my professional blog template (what you are looking at) and my personal one as well. The only thing that I am not please about is that my links are not highlighted or a different color. In order to tell that I linked to something, you have to move your cursor over it...bummer, but give me time and hopefully I will be able to change that!

Leelou Blog Templates

Now, I just have to figure out how to add video...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

You Mean There is Life Outside of Google??

When I need to to know more information about something I usually just hit up google, type whatever it is I want to know about, and then I am overwhelmed with amounts of information. Sorting through everything that is brought up, I generally find what I need or refine my search to something more specific. Google has never really let me down so I can't say that I have much experience anywhere else.
As I prepped to write this entry, I started to question what in the world I was going to write about. You certainly can't go on and on about the magnificence of Google without boring people to death in just a few words.
The more that I thought about it, the more I realized that I really did not have much experience with any other search method than Google....what other ones are even out there? I decided to use my trusty Google method and typed in 'List of Search Engines' and was instantly connected to this great site that lists more than I ever could have imagined existed. Who knew there was a search engine that you can use to find out information on more specific categories? There are probably millions of people who knew that, but this Google addict is not one of them.
In our class we have been talking about all these wonderful blogs and how we should be finding ones that connect to us, read them and learn from them. I was stumped on how you find them!
Using my 'new' searching skills I have discovered a few different sites...

Now, I have not had a chance to fully look through and use all of these, but they will be something that I explore as I get farther into my professional and personal blogging. I feel like I could easily get sucked up into this blogging world and have to force myself to come up for air! I really enjoy reading about other people's life experiences and through these search engines, I know that I will be able to submerse myself in reading!

When searching for information, although the web has made it that much easier, it is also frustrating to know what information is good and what information is bad. I recently did some research on autism and became frustrated at the amounts of information out there and a lack of understanding what was credible and what is not.

When teaching my first and second graders about research, the topic of credible sources on the web does not really come up. We have certain 'kid friendly' search engines that are linked to our website and the kids use these when learning to research on the web. This is their first taste of researching on the internet at school and it is heavily guarded. We do teach internet safety (somewhat) to the kids and we talk about how somethings on the internet are not safe, but we do not address that some information is not true. Reflecting on it, I think it is something that we could easily add to a lesson. Why shouldn't we plant that seed in their head now for later when they are exposed to larger, less protected searches?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Started!

I started my family blog and I must say that it is SO MUCH FUN! I am completely taken in by it and get frustrated that I do not know how to do all the things that I want to do! I think I might need a private tutoring lesson Candance! I am linking to it below...Please remember, I just started!

Miracles, Milestones and Magical Moments: The Davis Family Website

Consider Me Unexperienced...

I have no experience with Blogging...Unless you consider my random snapshots of what is going on in my head, at the time I update my status on Facebook, blogging. Using FB has allowed me to connect with many people that I otherwise would never have talked to again. It is not that I did not want to talk to them, it is more that our lives took different paths. I recently reconnected with a friend of mine from highschool and saw her family blog. I was instantly drawn in by her stories of her daily life as a stay at home mom and the trials and tribulations that go with that experience. By reading her random stories, it was like I was reconnected with her in the way we used to share with eachother at 16.

Here is her blog: Shades of Motherhood

It was through her blog, that I developed the dream of creating my own for my family. I feel like this is an amazing way to connect with family and friends who would love to share in our family experience of becoming (and surviving) first-time parenthood! I have realized that most parents LOVE to talk about their kids. I know that I could go on and on about what he has done, what I have done and what amazing things we have learned along this path together. Writing about it and chronicling this tremendous chapter in our lives would not only give other people a glimpse into our ever changing life, but it would serve as a tool for myself to reflect on and share with my son later.

Here is another family centered blog that I love to read...Sickler Family Website

I have decided that creating a blog, much like the ones I have linked, will be my digital writing project. It will be a gift to myself and my family. I welcome any ideas, experiences, or pieces of advice that anyone has to help me get started!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hopes and Dreams for Learning

I hope to leave this class with confidence in digital writing. Mostly, at this point, I think of how I would use it in my personal life, but know that it could benefit my class of first and second graders as well. I would like to develop a greater understanding of tools that would be simplistic enough for first and second graders, yet complex enough that they would be challenged while using them. What instantly comes to mind is a digital story tool that my kids could use to tell their creative stories. At this point I would not know where to start. I found an online resource for great lesson plan/units of study for digital storytelling. Although I have just skimmed through it, it seems to have great ideas for teaching students about digital storytelling. The site does not specify a grade level, but a teacher could pick and choose and change what they needed to in order to suit their grade level.

Lesson Plans for Digital Storytelling

As a writer, I would like to create a family blog that chronicles the life changing experience that I am going through in the journey of being a mother. It seems like each day in my son's life brings momentous experiences that I want to capture and share with family and friends. Creating a family blog would allow me to tell those stories through my eyes and share them with the people that mean the most to us. It will also work as a gift for my son that he can read as he gets older. (Assuming it is still available.)

I look forward to this class and am excited about the personal learning I will have.