Digital Portfolio

Work complete for Wilkes-Discovery Master’s Program as of March 12, 2010

EDIM 508 Digital Media – Instructor: Lance Rougeux

“Digital Citizenship – Internet Safety”

Use of Glogster “US Constitution Grade 5” glog

Google Earth Virtual Field Trip – “Rainforests of the World Grade 3”

Blog entries for this class posted on this blog site.

EDIM 507 Using Technology to Support Creativity Instructor: Luke Lyons

  1. Reaction paper: “Steering a Course Toward Globalization in Teaching
  2. Reaction paper: “Working as a Team in 21st Century Education
  3. Reaction paper: “A Path to Global Awareness
  4. Technology Product Assessment: Classblogmeister
  5. Creativity Lesson Plans:” Rainforests of the World” and “Canada- Latin America Travel Video
  6. Final Project: “A Challenge to Act

EDIM 514 Internet Tools for Teaching – Instructor: Jacqueline Derby

  1. Campus fusion blog posts (Sorry, the site is no longer available.)
  2. Digital Story with a Cell Phone – “A Teacher’s Path” (Sorry, no longer available on

Contact Info:

Twitter @patti211
Linked In
class website


Mission, Model, and Mirror

As the Digital Media course draws to a close, it is time to reflect upon the Five Minds put forth by Howard Gardner and how these minds can influence our current and future teaching practices, and in reality, our current and future roles as global citizens.

What is my mission as an educator? I feel that cellist Yo-Yo Ma, in his response to Gardner’s question about what constitutes good work (Chapter 6, The Ethical Mind) really laid out a formula for the teaching profession. To paraphrase:

– to perform as excellently as possible
– to be able to work together with others and develop common understanding and trust
– to pass on knowledge, skill, understanding, and orientation to succeeding generations so that the joy of learning may endure

I have taken liberties with his statement about music and applied it to teaching, but I feel the idea of “good work” spans all professions. I will take that a step further and say that, as a Catholic school educator, it is inherent upon me to model Christ-like action to all I meet. From our school mission statement come these words:

Welcome to Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, educating Pre-School to Eighth Grade students in the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania.  We are proud of our school and glad to have you here. We strongly believe that close cooperation between the school and the home is essential in promoting the education of the children entrusted to our care.

At Our Lady we strive to maintain a caring and peaceful environment in which all students can feel comfortable. We believe that this atmosphere will facilitate learning and nurture respect among students, teachers, and parents.

In his remarks on the ordering of the Five Minds, Gardner states that  “From the beginning one must begin by creating a respectful atmosphere toward others. In the absence of civility, other educational goals prove infinitely harder to achieve.”

With such a noble, and at times daunting, mission for educators, to whom do we turn for our models? Who are the leaders in our quest to meet the needs of today’s students, the students who need 21st century skills developed and nurtured with 21st century tools by educators with a 21st century mindset?

We cannot operate in isolation, relying solely on our own knowledge and creativity to meet the needs of our students. And so we develop our Personal Learning Networks, our groups of fellow educators, leaders in the field, gurus as it were, from whom we learn about the latest and greatest. These individuals point us to the cutting (or bleeding) edge, are often the first to try the tools or offer new ways to use old tools, who are willing to give it a go and let us know how it went. As the network expands and we participate in sharing opportunities, we ourselves occasionally may be the ones who offer a new twist, a fresh outlook, a way around a stumbling block.

Being an old-timer, I am reminded of a shampoo commercial  that showed a girl talking about a shampoo, and she told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so on…  And just like viral video, the good ideas spread. The more groups you are part of, the more opportunities you have to get in on what is happening. How have I picked up on “the buzz”? What constitutes my PLN?

I must start with the DEN. The Discovery Educator Network was the door-opener for badge-100x100_4me. Back in January of 2006 I applied to be a STAR educator and had some correspondence with one Lance Rougeux, who decided that I should not withdraw my application just because I felt I might not be able to do all that was expected of me. I am very glad he took a chance on me. Attending my first PETE&C that February was like opening the door from Kansas to Oz. There was no turning back.

In addition to the fabulous learning opportunities afforded by the DEN, I have a blogroll listed here that is just a microcosm of the ed tech blogosphere. I must admit, however, that during the school year, and especially now taking a course, my opportunity to read my favorite bloggers’ thoughts has shrunk due to time constraints. I find it hard to choose just one to recommend. If I had to narrow the list I suppose I could choose two that have expanded my horizons more than any others. First is Steve Dembo’s Teach42 blog. Steve is known as a guru of Web2.0 tools, but he is passionate about empowering teachers and improving education. His post on Feet on the Ground or Head in the Clouds is a great example of what he is about and what he tries to do. An interesting conversation developed in the comment section as well. And I truly do agree with him that little tricks and tools may be just the thing to get a teacher energized, get the kids excited and engaged, and it may not solve the mysteries of the universe, but if it makes a difference in some classroom for some child, then why not give it a try?

And if I had the chance to get an autograph or choose someone with whom I would love to have conversation over dinner, it would be Vicki Davis, aka Cool Cat Teacher. I could write several paragraphs on what I have learned by reading her posts. She shares the successes and failures, the tips for beginners because she remembers being one herself. She never lowers her standards and expects the best from her students and gives her best in return. How she finds time to sleep I have no idea, but it is obvious from her posts that her family comes first. I loved her post about burning three different colored candles, each representing a different facet of her life, and if one was burned down farther than the others she knew things were not balanced in her life. Can’t find the actual post, but it was very thought-provoking.

So now when I look into the mirror (the dreaded mirror test?) I must ask myself if I am living up to my potential as an educator. Am I producing “good work” and encouraging others to do the same, both students and fellow teachers? Some days it is hard to motivate, and sometimes teachers are harder to motivate than students. And yet, aren’t we all students? Shouldn’t we all be life-long learners? That is the underlying theme of my Blackberry Alley blog. I began as a student, and went on to become a teacher, who has realized that she will always be a student, even as she continues to have students of her own. What I see in the mirror needs a little work (and I don’t mean just the wrinkles) but there is some promise.  As I continue to develop my “five minds” perhaps I can be a model for my students of respect, good work ethic, and a touch of creativity. With periodic innoculations from my PLN as well as my students, I may yet pass muster.

Man Plays Cello. Jupiterimages Corporation. 2006.
Discovery Education. 13 October 2009

Buyer, Elizabeth. mirror.jpg. May 2005. Pics4Learning. 13 Oct 2009 <>

Blackberry Jam

I have returned to my Blackberry Alley blog site to introduce myself to my fellow learners in the Digital Media in the Classroom course at Wilkes University.  I say “returned” since lately I have been using my DEN STAR blog located at For this course I will post in Blackberry Alley. The name is derived from the narrow alley that ran behind my childhood home, and down which I trudged, at times reluctantly, and frequently late, to my little grade school.

For the past ten years I have been the technology coordinator at my school. What exactly is a “technology coordinator”? I wonder if there is an actual definition. At my school it means that anything remotely related to a computer is my responsibility.  In addition to teaching technology classes at my school for grades 3 through 8 (the librarian does K-2), and meeting with teachers to help plan the integration of technology into the curriculum,  I built and am maintaining the school website, do  the E-Rate applications, write and update the technology plan, serve as the PowerSchool administrator, train the teachers in after school tech sessions, upgrade and maintain all the PCs and laptops in the building (small school, just under 100 computers in all), manage the network and content filter, supply users with swipe cards for the security system, unjam printers, connect DVD players….you get the picture. If it has a plug, they call me.  For the past 3 years that is all I have been doing although for 7 years before that I also taught Spanish classes for K-8 in addition to the tech work. It got to be too much to say the least.

My classroom experience goes back 25+ years teaching grades 4 though 8.  I think I always was drawn to technology, though. Does anyone remember something called Systems 80? So old even Google didn’t have an image of it. 0826destinationI also begged to be the one to get the Destination computer in my classroom. Nod if that sounds familiar. I once did a summer internship with a major local business in their MIS department and one of my assignments was to use Lotus 123 on this new device they had just obtained, put in a little glass room all by itself…something called a “PC”. Sounds funny now, doesn’t it?

One of the ways I have grown as an educator has been to expand my personal learning network. The best way I have found to do this has been with the Discovery Educator Network. Since I became a STAR educator in 2006 I have learned so much, and made so many friends among educators all over the country. It is Vita Demina in SLwonderful to be able to share ideas and practices, to learn new things together, and sometimes just commiserate. I have become especially active in the Second Life group for DEN educators and am a recent addition to the DEN in SL Leadership Council. Besides it being a great vehicle for professional development it is also a lot of  fun and the tech aspects of it are quite appealing to the geek in me.

What I hope to learn in the Digital Media course is not only a more in-depth understanding of some of the digital tools at our disposal, but how to best make use of them by listening to the ideas and comments of my classmates and pondering the writings of some “experts” in the field, though we are all experts at some things and beginners at others.  The DEN slogan is “connecting teachers to their most valuable resource – each other” and I think we will learn far more from each other than we can from any textbook. Let the games begin!

P.S. A shameless plug, but if anyone wants to visit our classroom tech blog, we would love to see more red dots on our Clustr Map. I keep telling the kids that, “Yes, people do read what you write. It does matter.” They will begin next week and will be excited to see how the map has changed since they left in June.

Smart People

Following a winding path through various links and blogs, I came across the post by Seth Godin on June 5, entitled When smart people are hard to understand.

Mr. Godin mentions two strategies for handling the situation of hearing a “smart person in your industry”  use a term with which you are unfamiliar. The first is to ask. “Wait, I was with you until a second ago. What does that mean?” The second is to write down the term and then later that evening research it, not giving up (or going to bed) until you completely understand it.

Every industry has its buzzwords, special jargon, tools of the trade.  Since I am in the “education industry” that is the jargon with which I usually am faced. Which strategy do I employ?

I feel each has its place, and the determining factor for me is the setting. If I am in a one-on-one conversation with a colleague, and an unfamiliar term or acronym or Web 2.0 tool comes up, I have no qualms about using strategy one. I am not putting my lack of knowledge out there for the world to see (hence I am only uninformed in front of one person). In a larger group such as a conference session or workshop, I am guilty of feigning understanding at the moment as I make either written or mental notes to find out later what the heck they are talking about. It is my “afraid of looking dumb” position, but also I feel that if the majority of the group understands and I do not, far be it from me to drag down the conversation and take up the group’s valuable time. Of course, there is always a sigh of relief when some other bolder person asks aloud what I was asking mentally. (Thank you brave person!)

I would like to think of those colleagues using the terms I don’t know as more experienced, rather than call them smarter than myself. I assume that is really what Mr. Godin meant. I am finding more and more opportunities for personal learning these days, and so many people who are willing to do the explaining. But one of the things we hope to instill in our students is the 1)the desire to keep learning and 2) the strategies for how to go about it. Okay, that’s two things. Do we give them enough opportunity to ask questions without feeling that that they are not one of the “smart ones”? Are the students most in need of asking the questions the ones who are the most worried about looking foolish? The chances they are making mental or written notes of what they want to look up later are rather slim. Maybe I need to be more open and encouraging in that regard, and not take that head nod to mean, “yes, I get it”.

On blogs and bloggers

Although the assignment was to create a blog using Blogger, I am hoping that this will serve the purpose as I began this blog back in the summer as I was exploring what it was like to be a blogger before I asked my students to do the same.

I spent much time coming up with a title. I tried to be clever, but everything I thought of had already been taken by another more clever person. The title of my blog relates to a place near and dear to my heart, the little alley behind the home where I grew up. I would leave my back door each morning and head down that little alley to my grade school about 1 block away. Even that close to school I was often late! Some things never change.

In the course of learning about Web 2.o over the past 2 years, I realized that I would be a student until the end of my days. I don’t think a day goes by that there is not an opportunity for a new learning experience. Teachers know they must prepare the material, know it inside-out, if they are to teach the material to students. How can I expect students to be bloggers if I have not traveled the road first?

Well I have to admit that, although my intentions were good, I failed in my first attempt, because I allowed myself to be intimidated. What I mean is, I had been reading other blogs for some time, some people with very good ideas, innovators, movers and shakers, people with a very large following. Occasionally I would come out of the shadows and change from a “lurker” to a “commenter” but I never provided a link back to my little blog because I convinced myself that I really didn’t have anything of interest for anyone else to read. It was more or less an outlet for my own reflection. As anyone can tell from the date on the earlier posts, this little blog has been dormant for some time.

I then turned my attention to classblogmeister as a tool for student blogs. My goal was to establish the blogging routine, the parameters and guidelines, and then have other teachers begin to use the tool in their classes. Well so far, the only topics have been tech related and I have not managed to hand the baton. But that’s okay because the students have taken to it, and we are working on “continuing the conversation” rather than just commenting “Hey, I love your blog!” Of course, we may need some meatier topics, but …baby steps, baby steps. I have also posted on our tech class blog as the “writing prompter”. It has been somewhat overwhelming to have a class full of blogs coming in for approval at one time. My biggest concern is the difficulty in accessing the site during the school day when we need it most, but many students blog out of school hours. In fact, some have started to go to their blog and post their thoughts on any even that happens. In only 2 cases have I asked a student to re-do because of inappropriateness, and it wasn’t anything really bad. I do plan to check out the other site mentioned for student blogging, though I wouldn’t change until a new school year. Students have network passwords, wiki passwords, blogmeister passwords, and some grades have others as well. I can’t throw anything more out there at this point. I also deal with the issue of the quality of the writing and spelling…how much editing to do before allowing a post to be published? How to maintain standards without sacrificing creativity?

A very valuable resource I would like to share is a post by Vicki Davis who writes the coolcatteacher blog. It is Ten Habits of Bloggers that Win and it provides very good tips to those starting on the blogging road. She is in the trenches every day teaching her students and still finds time to share so much with educators everywhere. I truly admire her. In fact there is a great group of women who are encouraging teachers in their use of Web 2.0 tools and that is the WOW group (Women of Web2.0)

So I finally wrote a post that other people (the online class) may read. Let me cut the eye holes out of my brown paper bag.

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Congrats, Alabama!

I found the Alabama Best Practices Center site after reading a post on The 21st Century Learning Project by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. I have only gone into a few of the resources there and I plan to go back and discover more. Sheryl and her colleagues in the project were seeking an answer to the question:

How do education leaders effectively promote the knowledge, skills and sense of urgency for 21st Century teaching and learning among all the teachers in their schools?

It was interesting to read Kristi Stacks’ Letter to Parents about using email in the classroom and the obstacles that surfaced. There are so many fabulous resources and ideas at the site. But the area I most want to investigate is the professional development/teacher training techniques. Obviously in our little school of 9 classrooms and 12 full-time teachers (including myself) we cannot hope to set up the kind of “team” structure as in the ABPC. This weighs most heavily on my mind as the new school year looms ever closer. I feel the “urgency” but most of our faculty does not.

This year I hope to be able to spend more time with classroom teachers as a coach and also as a co-teacher to help with technology integration. (That is, if there is a Spanish teacher other than myself for the next school year!) If there is no support structure in place, teachers will not want to take risks. When the wireless laptops aren’t connecting, or the United Streaming video won’t play and the “tech person” is teaching a class, there is not much to encourage them to keep trying. So I will delve further into what worked for Alabama teachers and see if I can glean some strategies that I can adapt for our situation. There are also many success stories on that site that can be shared during our afterschool weekly tech sessions. Professional development and teacher support are critical. I really would welcome any advice or resources that can help with teacher training when the “human” resources are so limited in the school. (I feel like Bartholomew Cubbins!) I can’t entice them into the boat and then leave them without oars.

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