Classroom Playground

The metaphor I chose to do was comparing a classroom to a playground.

I want my students to be able to explore and learn and have fun doing it. Like on a playground, the children in my classroom will be able to move around, be creative, be innovative, work together, and have fun!

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Being an Unlearning Innovator

When asked how I have been an innovative learner or thinker this semester I read and took notes on The Mindset of an Innovator. Here’s a quote I really liked from the article: “I am an educator. I am an innovator. I am an innovative educator and I will continue to ask “what is best for learners”.This quote made me think about and realize that I want what is best for the learners that will be in my classroom some day. According to this article, innovation is not something that is new to education, but it is something we can improve. One way in which I was an innovative learner and thinker this summer is by thinking about the things I could accomplish in one day, and thinking about how I could improve it or change it the following day. For example, when taking my pictures and writing my blogs, I would write my blog and place my pictures, but I would not submit my blog yet. The next day, or even later the same day, I would move my pictures around, edit them, and see where my blog needed fine tuned. I was thinking about what I knew I was good at, and improving my learning by realizing what things I needed to change.


Throughout the semester when doing my independent learning project, I would use the tools that I knew were available to help me edit the pictures, but at the same time, I was also looking for new tools that would challenge me and offer more editing options. These tools encouraged me to be an innovative learner and an innovative thinker as well. When reading and viewing other blogs, I was open to their ideas, and I used their ideas to learn myself and also to encourage others to learn .


This class has helped me build on some of the facts that I already knew. I took an online early childhood literacy class that encouraged using online sources to create our own stories and to build games or lessons on stories, and this class added to it. The entire summer semester I was open and willing to learn new things through this class. Innovation in learning looks like this: a teacher or student will do anything and everything they can in order to improve their learning and what they already know. They will keep an open mind, encourage the learning of others, help others learn, add to what they know, continually look for ways to improve learning and thinking, they will try connecting with other peers, and they will question certain thinking because they want to find new ways to learn.


Unlearning is a different term, but it did make me realize that I have unlearned this semester. From reading The Steep “Unlearning Curve”, I discovered that I have unlearned a few things. I already knew that I was not the sole expert in the room, but as I was learning to unlearn, I learned a lot of things from other students in the class, from other Twitter accounts, and from other bloggers. I realized that some people knew more about certain subjects and issues than I did. I also unlearned the idea that learning is an event. I know that there are a lot of other things I could unlearn, but this is what I have unlearned so far.

When it comes to teaching and learning, I think I still need to learn how to work around certain obstacles. I want to learn how to take my classroom from one day to the next. I can successfully do this with myself, but I would like to be able to do this with a classroom full of children. From here, I will look up articles on how to work with certain obstacles, and how to help my classroom with those. I will also try taking classes that might add or build off of this class. I refuse to let my children or my classroom reach a dead end.


I will continue to use drawing tools and possibly even Daily Creates. Another thing I would definitely like to use is the Canva website. I think children could use it to introduce themselves to a classroom and it could also be used to create projects for multiple different classes.


This semester I surprised myself with my creativity. I have never really had the chance to be creative in school, and I guess I have never really ventured out to be creative because it was never encouraged. This class helped me to see that I can take great pictures and do great things with pictures even if I am just doing it for fun. It also showed me that I am different than other students, I learn differently than other people, but I am also open to what they have to say. I will continue to take pictures, and I will continue to see how others learn and learn from them as long as I am in school.

Attention Journal

I learned a lot about my attention this past week. I started my journal on Monday the 18, and ended it yesterday, the 22. I was to document these 9 things:

  1. Date
  2. Description of Physical Space and Device
  3. Duration of session
  4. What occurred
  5. What you did
  6. How you felt
  7. What worked
  8. What did not work
  9. Other comments

The first two days it was kind of hard to pay attention to how I was feeling and what I was thinking. I realized that when I am shopping or searching for something, I get excited when I find things that I like or want, and I kind of get irritated when I find things I do not care for. I searched for liquor bottles on the first day, and the more specific I was, the more I found. If my search did not have satisfying results, I would just try something different, if the results were satisfactory, I would click on a website and browse through it until I found a bottle I was interested in. I prefer glass bottles that still have the liquor in them; I do not consume the contents of the bottle. Glass bottles are pretty hard to find, and it does not tell you whether or not the bottle is glass or plastic online, so that annoyed me.

On the second day, I did homework. I was able to keep pretty good attention for about an hour. I watched the TEDTalk video we were assigned and took notes while I was watching. I normally write my blogs at my house, but I do a great majority of my homework in my moms office where she works. She works by herself in the bookstore at the college in McCook; I just find it so much easier to concentrate there than at my own home.

The rest of the week while I was on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine, I was able to really concentrate on how I was feeling and what I was thinking. While I was browsing Facebook, I often did not care about anything I was looking at. In fact, most of the stuff I saw either angered me or made me think about how fake people are online. On Twitter I follow a couple of funny pages and some friends, I tend to look at the funny accounts rather than my friends. I don’t really care about Instagram, to be honest. I just got it last year and have only shared two pictures. Sharing my life online is not something I am willing to do. People use Instagram to share so many things; I follow just friends on there, but I do not get on very often. Vine is seriously one of my favorite apps ever. There are several videos that are absolutely hilarious. I have never Vined myself, but I have liked about 900 Vines. I also do not follow anyone on there, but I have over 100 followers, none of which I know. When on all of these social media sites there were things that made me smile and laugh and then there were things that upset me.

To conclude my week I must say that I realized that my concentration and attention is kind of all over the place. It is hard for me to concentrate on things that I do not enjoy or do not feel like doing and it is easier for me to concentrate when I am doing something that interest me and makes me laugh. My breathing would accelerate whenever I found something I liked, but otherwise it was pretty normal. The biggest thing I noticed was that when I am looking or shopping online, it can literally last hours because I zone out and concentrate on that and nothing else. I am going to try to be more mindful from now on when I am doing homework, shopping, and doing homework.



Summer 2016

When given the task to choose an online creation tool, I tried a couple of the sites out. I was going to use Piktochart, but you had to create an account, so I did, and then I was going to start making a presentation, and certain things that I wanted to use were not free, so I decided to try out Canva instead.

Canva worked a lot better for me! I set it up really simply with my email address and got started right away! There were a ton of different layouts that you could use, some cost money and others were free. All you do is pick the layout you want, either upload or search for photos, and then drag and drop the photos in the spot that you would like them to go.

The dragging and dropping was a bit of a challenge for me to figure out at first. I tried just dragging and dropping it without selecting a photo box, which places it as a separate photo box over the layout. After I figured out that you had to select a box and then drag and drop, it was smooth sailing. You can change the filter on each picture once you have it placed correctly, you can adjust it the way you want it, and you can add text or whatever you want to it.


At first, I could not really decide what information to include. I wanted to present my personal learning project in a way that showed a little bit of everything I have done and feel like I have accomplished. I chose on a photo collage layout that allowed me to use 6 different pictures. When choosing my pictures, I though about everything I have tried or experimented with this summer. I felt like I needed to use the dandelion sun picture, a picture of fireworks, and one of the sunset over the lake; the other pictures I chose because I like them and feel like they represent what I spend my summer doing. Going to the lake, going on vacation, spending time with my loved ones, and thinking about all of the things that are important to me. I thought about adding little captions to each picture, but then I decided it would take away from the collage look I was going for. I decided for a simple title on the collage because that is what my summer of 2016 looked like.

I would use this tool in the classroom for kids to create visual presentations of any kind. A history presentation could work because you can add pages and make it a slide show, this would make it easy to show to the whole class. I would more than likely also have the kids do the same thing I did; think about the things that are important to them or things that they enjoy, and place them in a collage with a title. I would have them explain why they included the pictures they did and why they gave it the title they chose.

I feel there is value in presenting these visual graphics. It is getting children familiar with how to use online tech tools and the Internet, and it is also encouraging them to be creative. It not only helps guide them and gives them practice, but it also allows kids to show what they can do.

To wrap up my independent learning project this week, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. My boyfriend and I went on a drive this past weekend, ended up getting lost (I was driving), and stumbled upon a couple of donkeys and this church. The Stone Church is believed to be the first church that was built in Hitchcock county in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s. I thought it was pretty cool, it is a historical landmark about 5-10 miles south of Culbertson, NE. It is literally right off of the highway and there is nothing around it. The donkeys were just at a random farm and we were lost anyways so we got out and talked to them.

Being Mindful


On May 1st of 2012, Paul Miller quit the Internet. He quit all social media, emailing, texting, surfing, everything; he did not know what life was like without being constantly connected. I am sure many people can relate to this. I, for one, am excellent at texting people back because my phone is always on me, but don’t count on me to be constantly checking my emails, Instagram, and sometimes even Twitter and Facebook. Back to Paul, he had the desire to get things done; if he quit the Internet, he would have more free time. He asked himself “How does the Internet use me, and how do I use the internet?“. I have been thinking about this, and think I know how to answer it for myself.

I use the Internet like this–  I will be innocently scrolling through my Facebook, or even when watching a Youtube video for class or something – the Internet uses me like this –  and ads will show up on the sidebars or as random posts. The ads will be of online stores I visit often. (*Time for a confession, my name is Ashton, and I am a shopaholic*) My Internet tracking is off, yet the Internet and social sites still know where I go and what I do! Clearly they will track me whether I want them to or not. When shopping, I don’t even check for sales or anything, I just look for things I like. This is where I am not very mindful. If I see something I really like, and I feel like I have to have it, I block out everything around me, find my card, and get it ordered. I don’t think about who could have access to my credit card number, my address, my name, even my license (I collect miniature liquor bottles -not for consumption-and one site required that I scan my license when I paid)! Recently I have been trying to be much more careful (mostly because of dig lit class).


When surfing the Internet, I am typically not doing anything productive (notice the picture above has a phone and a pen in it!) unless I am working on my classes. Basically everyone in my family multitasks. At night, we all sit in the living room with the TV on, and we look at our phones, iPads, or laptops while trying to watch TV and have conversations. Do we really need to try doing all three things at once? It did not used to be that way. I feel like this would be a good time to stop multitasking. We need to put our devices down and either watch TV or have a conversation.

Paul Miller said that the Internet is valuable and awesome, but we take it for granted. We rely on it way too heavily; socially, we are connected and disconnected at the same time. Connected because we can see and talk to people online, disconnected because we forget to talk to the people we see in public. We forget what is important; we are not as emotionally available, we do not truly listen to people. This is when we need to be more attentive. At a social gathering, put your phone away! You are there to socialize with the people around you, not look at your phone to see what your friends are posting. I feel we are truly present when we are able to turn our phones off or put them in our pocket, not worry or think about them, and then really listen and have a conversation with someone.

We lose so much by being permanently tethered to our devices. We need to recognize that technology distracts us from important things such as connecting with our peers and our families, and it prevents us from enjoying a moment or being creative. Without our devices, we would be more ready and willing to connect with our friends and families, children could even become more dependent on their parents for answers and advice, because often times, they turn to the Internet for answers rather than a real person.

Everything above is an example of what can be learned from the 2 readings and TED talk this week. The most important thing that was learned is that, if we were to take a step back and limit or even eliminate some of our Internet use, we would be able to connect with people on a different level. We would lose some stress, feel a bit of freedom, and be able to really, truly connect with someone.

If you need help simplifying your life using the Internet click HERE.

Dandelion Sun’s

When the week started, I really had no idea what I was going to try to get pictures of. I knew I wanted to try something different that I have never done before, but I still just didn’t know what that would be.

My sister decided she wanted to go to the lake, so I thought I could do something with the sand while we were there. I wear two rings every single day; a gold pinky ring from the 1930’s that I bought for myself from an antique downtown where I live, and the promise ring that my boyfriend got me a year ago. I used my sisters camera, which is much better than the camera on my phone, and changed some of the settings. The focus needed to be on one thing, so I had to change the focus from a wide shot to a single object. One of the more difficult things about getting the shot was getting the camera to focus. If I was too zoomed in, it wouldn’t focus, and if I got it to focus, it would be on the sand rather than on the ring. I finally found all of the right settings (after changing several things several different times) and got what I think are pretty good photos.

So a few days after I took the pictures of my rings, I was scrolling through Pinterest and decided to look up new ideas for pictures. I absolutely love watching sunsets, so I thought I would start there and see if I could find anything I could try. I found what I thought would be an impossible photo to capture. It was a dandelion in front of the sun during a sunset. I went out one night and tried doing it myself; it did not work at all, I couldn’t hold my arm out far enough. I tried holding it closer to the camera, but the camera focused on everything but the dandelion. After trying to capture it, I decided to try again another night with some help. I asked for my sisters assistance, and we got the picture! I got an upclose photo and one that was a little farther away. It was nearly cloudless, but it is summer in Nebraska, so a night without clouds of any kind is kind of hard to find. I also just capture the sunset, I went out onto a country road and watched it set over a corn field.

The last thing I tried this week was getting an unclose and detailed picture of a dandelion. I got frustrated, asked for my sisters help, she got frustrated, so we both gave up. I decided to try again the morning after we had tried, and got a couple of decent pictures. I also put the dandelion in an empty wine bottle, and messed around with the focus settings, the lighting, the color, the aperture, and the flash. In my opinion, the dandelion’s almost don’t even look real, but I like the pictures and the way they turned out!

A side note: If you are going to try this, take more than one dandelion, make sure it is not windy, don’t move swiftly while it is in your hand, make sure it is not raining, don’t breath on it, and try to be as patient as possible because it takes quite a while to get the shot you are looking for!


Digital Activism


When I saw that I was to blog about digital activism, I was unsure of what to think. I am not into things like this; I will try keeping my opinion out of this as much as I can and try focusing on the facts, but just know that I do not know where to stand quite yet.

2 in 5 adults engage with social issues online, and 2 out of every 3 millennials believe that a  person on a computer being aware and spreading the word is “capable of sparking more change than” a person on the street rallying and protesting”. This is where I cannot decided where I stand. Sometimes these people online are not really as aware as people think they are, but since it sounds passionate and creates all of these feelings, people believe it and hop on the bandwagon. So, I wasn’t quite sure what a millennial was; I decided asked my 18 year old sister, and the first thing she said to me was “Not you”. I then asked her how she knew, and she told me I was born in the wrong generation, but I looked it up and could not really find a definite answer. I found a fun little quiz that tells you how millennial you are!


After reading The 6 Activist Functions of Technology, I feel I can say that I am in no way, shape, or form, an activist. The 6 key functions are:

  1. Shape Public Opinion: Start a resistance, protest, advocate, and use activism. One way to explain how this happens or what this means-  people have a  collective perception of injustice coupled with the belief that there is a possible alternative. People will become educated and cause awareness of the injustice by curating and rebroadcasting news stories. Everyone has a mutual awareness of their mutual awareness. (I have seen plenty of opinions posted on Facebook, personal and news related, that are not thoroughly researched, but just simply what they feel in their heart and mind. While there is not thing wrong with this, I feel a personal opinion should be based off of the facts, not whatever opinion article or partial video we find posted on the Internet)
  2. Plan an action: If there are enough people, they will take action. Social media makes it pretty easy for groups to plan what action they will take and who will play a part in that action. (Pokemon Go– not an issue, just an example–my town has a Pokemon Go Facebook page where they discuss where they might meet up, where certain Pokemon are, etc. I have yet to join the Pokemon world, and I do not plan on joining any time soon).
  3. Protect Activists: Social media can provide anonymity. The social world provides a safe place for plotting. (Police officers and the Government can easily hack into anyones computer system to see what is going on–if they find out who to watch or get a tip, they will watch that site, page, or group. Also, even though it may be “anonymous”, I know that police officers get on social media sites and watch certain protest groups to see where they may be going, and they can figure out who is in charge of the group quite easily, so it may not be as safe as people think. It is not just police officers and the Government that can figure this out, but any hacker. It can be rather dangerous in my opinion).
  4. Share a Call to Action: Send mass text messages, direct messages, and emails. Broadcast an online catch-22 of sorts.
  5. Take Action Digitally: Sign a petition, donate, change your Facebook status/avatar/message to promote a cause, email congressmen, and carry out distributed denial of a service attack. Don’t demand much of the opponent, demand little of the activist in terms of time/personal risk.
  6. Transfer Resources: Find new organizations, shift the balance of power–example: take an unlikely political candidate away from an organization threatening state power.

Kids, teenagers, and even adults are doing all of these things! They are willingly and unashamedly putting their opinions out there and trying to gather others who feel the same way they do. As far as I can tell, digital activism is fairly effective. There are so many websites, Facebook groups, Twitter pages, Instagram accounts, etc. that are trying to help with a cause of some sort.

This video discusses the digital activism movement and what being a digital activist means and does, and the best ways to do it. I also found a website that goes along with the Youtube video that talks about the project, its purpose, people who are researching it, and people who are supporting it.

The team nominee I chose was Tony Cox. He founded the Free & Above movement and website. It involves issues such as mental illness and bullying, and reminds pole that they can one day be free from pain and above what’s tearing them down. It is spreading awareness and bringing people together.

Now that I have probably talked too much, I would like to conclude by saying that I feel we should all consider what the outcomes of digital activism could be (because there could be negative ones). I found it interesting that it mention anonymity in The 6 Activist Functions of Technology article because, even though it appears to be anonymous, people can still figure out who you are. My question: can anyone tell me exactly what a millennial is?

Editing (Sort of)

So my original plan was to work on editing pictures this week, which I did do, but the sky was just so naturally beautiful this week that I did not have to edit 4 of the 6 pictures I chose for my blog!

The first picture is of a canal that I found between Culbertson and McCook on this road that many people refer to as snake road (It’s really just this minimum maintenance road that weaves around the Republican River). I tried making the water stand out the most by blurring or smudging the other objects in the picture. I also sharpened the water to make it a little darker and noticeable. In the second picture, I did a little bit more editing. First of all, it was originally two completely separate photos. I cut out the background in my photo (I’m the one on the left) and placed myself in this photo. I also used some kind of lightening tool to make my sister and I kind of glow. Glow really isn’t the right word, but I lightened our figures so they would stand out a little bit more. I also smudged the edges of the photo, sharpened the clouds, and darkened the entire picture.

I got lucky with these pictures! On my way home from work one night I noticed that the sky was turning some amazing colors. I went out onto a country road and stood in the middle of the road watching this storm roll in over the sunset. The panoramic picture shows just how amazing the sky actually was. The second picture actually has lightening in it, but you can’t really tell because it just lit up the clouds. I did absolutely no editing on either one of these pictures. After taking these pictures, I decided to just sit on the hood of my car and watch the clouds; my sister was with me (she understands my need to capture the best photo possible, even if it means running into a storm). This storm lasted forever! It rained until almost 4 o’clock in the morning and around 2 o’clock in the morning I woke up to the sound of hail pounding on the roof of my house! It looks so beautiful rolling over the clouds though!

I took these two pictures on the same night about five or ten minutes apart. Once again, I did not edit these photos at all. These clouds were from a storm that I thought was going to go right over the top of us, but it ended up going just to the south of us. Luckily, we still got the beautiful clouds that came with the storm, and they decided to form just around sunset! Once again I was leaving work, saw the sky, and decided I just had to go out and capture the skies beauty.

After editing those first two photos, and then getting lucky with the next four, I have decided that I rather wait to get a lucky shot. With the four pictures of the sky, I tried standing in different spots; the lighting was different depending on where I was standing. I much rather base a picture off of natural lighting than try to change a picture to make it look more appealing. Editing is hard and frustrating; I don’t know how many times I accidentally chopped off a limb or made a picture too dark. In the weeks to come I may edit a little bit more, but I know that I will also be able to find some amazing shots on my own!

Googling My Life

Google is such an interesting thing. I did not even know what it was until I was in junior high. You can literally find anything on Google. If a potential employer or even a random person were to Google, they would find a few things.

First of all, they would see some pictures at the top. Most of them are pictures from my Facebook or personal Twitter page, and a couple from my Pinterest page. If they clicked on images from my Twitter page, they would first of all be asked to login, and once they logged in they would see that my Twitter page is locked. I know there are ways that they could see everything that I have tweeted or liked and whatever else, but if they went about it the simple way, they would be unable to see most everything. My college Twitter account is fully visible to anyone who wants to see it. They could see everyone I follow, everyone that follows me, all of my tweets, likes, and retweets, and all of my media.

Once again I know someone could access the information if they wanted to, but if you go to my Facebook page, I have it pretty well protected. You can see my basic information, but that is about it. On my account, I have certain things that are visible to just me and no one else. I have my Pinterest visible for anyone who wants to take a look or follow any of my boards. I do have a couple locked boards (full of lama stuff and food), but that is about all you can find there. On my other boards and throughout my likes, I have quotes, lots of wedding stuff, piercings, tattoos, food, and much more.

Another thing someone would see is on the NSAA (Nebraska Schools Activities Association) website (there are actually two separate things). When I was a junior and a senior in high school, I made it to state journalism for yearbook theme development. I was the editor my senior year and the year before I helped the editor with the theme development. A wedding website also pops up (I just found this out myself!!). One of my friends is getting married and I will be a bridesmaid in her wedding; this is stated on the website.

An article from when I was in 4th grade also pops up. Personally, I wish this would disappear because I looked like a little nerd. I got glasses and braces between 3rd and 4th grade so it was kind of a double wammy in my opinion (SUPER NERD!). Thankfully, the picture is not very clear at all. The article includes pieces on several different students who wrote about their heroes. We all won savings bonds, which take forever to amount to anything by the way.

Articles that involve high school track and field are also found. I was a decent track athlete from the time I was a sophomore to the year I graduated, so the websites and articles just talk about results, progress, heats, lanes, etc. A few articles from when I attended college at McCook Community College are also found. Articles on PTK (Phi Theta Kappa), the President’s and Dean’s lists, and an article that talks about the kindergartners that came to my graduation.


The Importance of Being an Ethical Digital Citizen

Digital citizenship is a concept which helps teachers, technology leaders, and parents to understand what students, children, and technology users should know in order to use technology appropriately. Teaching about digital citizenship is a way to prepare our students and our own children for a society that is full of technology. In my opinion, it is not just children and students who need to be taught the norms of appropriate and responsible technology use, but adults as well. Everyone needs to know and understand what is appropriate online behavior.

Ethics. This is what digital citizenship starts with. An ethical person is one who treats others with respect, care, and dignity. There were many quotes stated in the video, but I thought this was one of the most powerful and meaningful ones mentioned:

“…students must be active, creative, knowledgeable, and ethical participants in our globally networked society.” (U.S. Department of Education, 2010).

This statement could not be more accurate. It is our job to ensure that children are active in the digital world, that they are creative with technology, that they are knowledgeable about technologies uses and the ethics and responsibility that it involves, and most importantly, that they are ethical participants online and in society. This video has a lot of great information in it, and it also include information about a free digital citizenship curriculum. I feel this curriculum should be used in every classroom, at some point in the school year, starting very early on in education. The essential first step for digital citizenship is become media liberate in the 21st century.

Digital cruelty is so real. People literally hide behind their computers and become digital trolls. Social scientists say that we tend to fixate ourselves on the negative. We must understand, and make our students understand, that we are that ones that are ultimately in control of our thoughts, feelings, and comments. I know of way too many people that will willingly post and comment the nastiest things on peoples pictures, statuses, videos, etc. It really disgusts me. I do not understand why some people think that the life they have online should be different from the life they live in the real wold. You should be the same person in front of the computer or phone screen that you are behind a desk or standing at the front of a classroom. Digital cruelty is very real to me. A trash talk page was made for my town. It was anonymous, so apparently people felt they could say whatever they wanted. In March, a kid that was in my class committed suicide due to comments and posts that were being made toward him. Things such as “Why don’t you just kill yourself” and “No one even wants you alive” were directed towards him. He was a marine, he was living in California, yet people from his home town still found a way to hurt him so deeply that he could not take it anymore. Digital cruelty made me sick before, but now I simply cannot stand it. No ethics were thought of while people were posting on this terrible page.

It is important that children realize and understand that what they say online can affect someone more than they think. We want to teach our children how to be ethical citizens online and in the real world; we do not want them to be trolls. Real life and digital life should not be in different realms of society.