Keely's Culture.jpgMy culture is defined by my experiences.  My experiences were shaped by my family, my teachers, and my environment. Sabina, Keely, Jude, Damian, Susan, and Dominic.  German, Scottish, Irish, Jewish, Catholic, Long Island, Montreal, Connecticut, Kentucky, America.  Goats, dogs, pigs, chickens, vegetarianism.  Teaching, Amtrak, Basketball.  Neighbors, friends, travel, day trips, camping, growing. History, history teachers, teaching history.  Woman, tall, curly hair, freckles.  All of these words define me but none of these words define me.  Each of our culture’s is influenced by others but no two are the same.  #CultureOfOne


Another Butterfly (This One is Ready to Fly)

5526aac5c8026b4123b8852d7d205513My Digital Learning Hub has undergone another transformation!  My hub is a Google Site located on the Dodd Middle School Website.  You can access it here: Ms. Garden. My site includes a Home page describing my position at Dodd and my enrollment in the IT&DML program.  I also have main tabs for Maroon Team Social Studies, Lesson Plans, Digital Tools, Culinary Club, and a Contact tab. My objective is to have content for students, parents, and peers.

I have revised my site numerous times and was running dry on ideas so I decided to get the advice of 3 different groups of people.  I spoke with teachers at my school and in the IT&DML program at UNH.  I spoke with our Technology Integration Coach (yes this is his real title). And I spoke with outsiders (family and friends not in education).  Each group had a different piece of advice for me.  The teachers suggested my site be more friendly, the tech coach wanted me to make sure my site was “safe,” and the outsiders all suggested I teach them how to do this.

MAKE IT MORE FRIENDLY: I started my edits with the Home page.  It felt a little barren with just text so I added a picture of my students on Neon Day after we won the school spirit cup. NEON DAY (1) I also added a lot to the Maroon Social Studies tab because my main audience is my students.  I added pictures of my classroom and a picture of our lockers.  Our lockers are very small and students often purchase large locker dividers and hangers that do not fit inside.  I also added drop down tabs for Student Exemplars, Schedules, and Team Newsletter.  In the future I plan to add more lesson plans, digital tools, student exemplars, and newsletters in order to add to the “stickiness” of my site and make it more friendly.  Images of student work and accomplishments also change the tone of my site from simply informational to a focus on the team and team pride.

I also added a whole new tab for Culinary Club.  This is the student group I created two years ago when we lost our culinary arts elective.  It is student run and they create amazing seasonal dished using very few resources.  Pictures from past events are included and I imagine students and parents will want to view this area of my website throughout the year as more events are added.

I also received feedback that the “File Cabinet” pages were not very user friendly so I updated them to regular webpages and linked the Lesson Plans directly to the respective Google Drive Folders. I also renamed my Multimodals tab “Digital Tools.” My feedback crew was not familiar with the multimodal term.  Email is the newest “Digital Tool” I cover.  This tutorial is meant for our student audience.  My team developed this lesson plan in response to a series of student emails that came across as rude and demanding.  As previously discussed in our coursework, there is an expectation that our students are digital natives and are well versed in email etiquette.  In reality our students do not know how to use email in the academic setting.

MAKE IT SAFER: The next edit was suggested by our Tech Coach.  He suggested I uncheck “allow attachments” and “allow comments” under the page settings on every page I created.  This ensures no one can add content to my site without my permission.Page Settings

He also suggested I obtain written parental permission before I include any student names on my website.  This is a work in progress as I need to develop a form for this purpose.  I also am considering creating a multimodal tutorial on Google Sites.  This would be a great way to increase my contact with other teachers around the topic of technology integration and eventually I would be able to incorporate website creation into lesson plans.

CAN YOU HELP ME MAKE ONE?: The greatest take away from my peer editors is that I now feel like I am able to make a website.  Even though my site is primitive, creating a Digital Learning Hub forced me to practice over the course of many weeks.  I can make a Wiki, a WordPress, a Weebly, and a Google Site.  I have the knowledge and the confidence to help others create a site.  Lesson learned.screen-shot-2012-05-15-at-1-45-36-pm

Digital Learning Hub Competition

I feel like I am on my 73 butterfly!  I have made so many Digital Learning Hubs and then trashed them all.  I started with a WordPress, transitioned to a Weebly, tried out a Wiki and ended up with a Google Site.  At our face to face class I discussed my nomadic DHL with my group and they advised me to replace my desire to have a slick site with my desire to have a useful site.  I am already using Google for Docs, Classroom, Photos, and Plus.  It simply doesn’t make sense to create a new space on a new platform.  It was difficult to see all of that work go down the drain…but I tried to use the “Austin’s Butterfly” mentality we learned about in class last week.  I was able to cut and paste some of the wording into my new site.austins-butterfly

I say new, but I was required to create a Google Site when I first started at my school.  After I added a materials list and a homework policy I never touched it again.  The information was outdated and no longer represented my classroom.  I actually find it a little scary, that this information was still available to access and outsiders might think it was representative of my classroom.  This was another deciding factor in selecting Google Sites.  If all of my updates occur in one centralized location, I am more likely to keep up to date with the content.Keely Garden


I have made significant updates to the old shell. I selected a new theme and a more sleek visual.  I also combined the information from my old school site and my Weebly.  I have settled on HOME, MAROON SOCIAL STUDIES, LESSON PLANS, MULTIMODALS, and CONTACT.  The only tab with subpages is MAROON.  These include; Materials, Homework Policy, and Standards Based Grading.

As of right now I like the type of content on my site but I do not yet have the sticky factor.  I know students will visit the MAROON page in the summer after they find out what team they are and parents and students may access the multimodals in the Fall.  I decided to add a Student Exemplars page to MAROON in the hopes of drawing students and parents in throughout the year.  I will have to look into Fair Use Guidelines for all of my content, especially with the student work.  I was certain to obtain permission and review the “Do Not Photograph” list before posting their content but there may be more steps involved here.

When I self assess using Tim’s rubric, my biggest concern is quantity.  I am easily overwhelmed and think less is more, but when I look at other sites I know mine is sparse.  I was teasingly told in the last face to face meeting that it was not a competition.  But I do want to appear to have a professional, well built out site.  Ideally, I would be able to link my website to my Google Classroom.  This is the platform for my daily conversation with students and parents.  Until that is possible, I will take the feedback from the last face to face class and add more about my school activities outside of the classroom and more visuals of my classroom.

I would love your opinions on my site.  Please check it out and tell me if my cupboard is bare.

0995a048d9674653583bb7eaa46d15d4 Ms. Garden

It’s Time to Drop a Little Emily Post

Today’s students are not addicted to technology. They just don’t know how to use it appropriately. Maybe its time we drop a little Emily Post and teach appropriate use in addition to use.

* I chose to create a vlog in response to the open mic. With all of this discussion of technology and etiquette I find I am drawn to communicating in person more than ever. I visualize myself talking to my colleagues in a class setting when I make these videos. I realize it is not the same, but in my mind it is the next best thing. This coursework has even influenced me to spend more time making phone calls to and spending time with people who are important to me. I want to connect more deeply and more personally. The last few chapters of Turkle “Alone Together” got under my skin.  Real life should be better than online life.

The Age of Technology (this is a pun)

Technology is ever present in our lives. Babies are born into a world of selfies and senior citizens are on email (59% aged 65+ according to Older Adults and Technology Use).

In my experience, young children are most often using technology to make rote educational activities engaging and for entertainment at home. Adolescents are combining educational and daily life technologies to add a social aspect to every task; educational or not.  Adults use educational technology to obtain college degrees and to fix leaky sinks and in their daily lives to zone out during marathon NetFlix binges.

My concern is that we have not yet developed a driver’s ed course for technology.  Technology is rarely taught. It is expected to be learned on your own from youth, through adolescence, and into adulthood. In Douglas Rushkoff’s article Young Kids and Technology at Home, he communicates kids often know more than we do about technology so “Who are we to tell them how to behave, when to log-off and what not to do?”  We have lost our power. I do not have any answers to this struggle.  I want to teach my students how to use technology. I find myself lecturing in front of the classroom, a student offers insight on the digital tool I don’t have, and I step off of my platform defeated.  They didn’t need that lesson.  Technology adds to our life and creates conflict.  Peer to peer, student to teacher, parent to child power struggles occur over the use of and teaching of technology. 

Please watch my Vlog for more of my ideas on technology across the ages.

Go Noodle article referenced in vlog:

Neuroscience for Teachers: Applying the Research (Part IV)

*I selected a vlog format as I am most comfortable expressing personal opinion and giving personal anecdotes conversationally. I chose to speak from my desk in my classroom as I am speaking as an educator.  I also chose to have the picture of my children in the background as I am speaking as an parent.  I hope learners can connect to my experiences or they may not opt to stay with me for the length of my vlog.  I chose to add the written text to my wordpress to point out the aspects of my vlog that answer the questions posed in the Open Mic assignment. I did not script my entire vlog as I have done in the past.  I worry that I may have missed a vital point but I believe I come across as much more relaxed and human than the robotic reading of content I have been prone to in past vlogs.

Instructing Kids v. Parents

Creating a set of instructions should be cut and dry.  One would imagine instructions do not change regardless of the audience.  Ikea is famous for instructions using minimal pictures and symbols. 

I can not imagine the countless hours that went into creating these abbreviated instructions.  As teachers, we do not have a professional team of advisers and graphic artists creating our instructions.  Teachers must remain very guarded in delivering instruction, as the words we select impact children and our goal is to always have a positive impact.

I created my initial set of instructions for the Kidblog tutorial with students in mind. I wanted to be careful with my appearance.  I wore a cardigan and pulled my hair back to ensure I looked like a professional, but not a salesman; a teacher not a dictator. I wanted to make Kidblog seem easy and interesting to use.  But, I also remembered to link it to content and curriculum because student audiences are never just that.  Anything created as part of a classroom can also be accessed by parents and administration.

Therefore, when I created my parent Kidblog tutorial there are only minor differences.  Instead of mentioning adding pictures to personalize work, I discussed the safety of the platform and understanding how students navigate the tool.  The parent version also took longer and covered less.  I assumed parents are less familiar with Kidblog and learning online and needed their instruction delivered slowly and carefully.  Finally, I also eliminated the onscreen camera.  Parents do not need a visual of me and might be distracted by or judgmental of my appearance.

Overall, technology allows me to quickly change my message based on who my audience is.  This quick change is crucial as one of the most important aspects of being an effective communicator is directing your message to your specific audience.

*I chose to present this information in the form a blog as I was thinking the bulk of the content would be the tutorials.  Blogs are perfect for quickly delivering short bits of written content and embedding video clips.  But in the famous words of Mark Twain, “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”

Google Classroom Tutorial

Summary of the Tool

Google Classroom is a blended learning platform available to all Dodd Middle School students.  This online classroom is where teachers post homework, class work, class notes, and general reminders.  It is also a platform students can use to safely communicate with one another about courses.  The Classroom allows the creation, distribution and grading of assignments in a paperless format on the cloud  Your student can never forget their homework at school again!

How Classroom Helps Dodd Students & Parents

The pedagogical uses of Google Classroom are endless.  The one that pertains most to parents is our ability to communicate and collaborate.  Classwork announcements will be posted at the start of the school day.  Links to videos, worksheets and class notes can be access from home by students and parents alike.  Assignments, both long term and short term will be posted as well.  You student will show you how to access her/his dashboard this week.  You may then access their assignments and completion rates through the dashboard.  Additionally, if your child is absent from class s/he can access an overview of what occurred and attempt to follow along from home.  Classroom’s cloud based access allows seamless real time communication between school and home.


Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others


Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and link to and cite sources as well as to interact and collaborate with others, including linking to and citing sources.


Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others. 

How to do it

Now that you have seen a brief overview of the parental uses for Google Classroom, ask your student to shared her/his login credentials with you and try it out yourself.  First type in the URL: www.classroom.google.com and it will bring you to the login page as pictured below.  

Classroom by Google

Select your student’s Cheshire email from the drop down list in the upper right hand corner.  If your student has never logged into your device with her/his Cheshire email you will have to type it in yourself.  Once logged in, you will be brought to the dashboard.  The dashboard shows each Classroom your student is enrolled in.  The dashboard displays the class name and the instructor name and picture.  The folder on the class pictures allows your student to go directly to the Google Drive folder that stores all assignments and worksheets created specifically for this class.  The plus sign in the top right of the screen allows the student to enroll in additional courses as the marking periods change and your student’s schedule changes.   Finally, the three bars in the upper left of the screen allows navigation between course, directly to assignment lists and setting management.



Google Classroom is   Google classroom is only available to users with a cheshire.k12.ct.us email.  This means that you will need to login using your student’s credentials.  Additionally, though classroom allows access at any time of day or night, students should not expect immediate feedback.  Students must be aware of the human limitations of using blended learning.  Outside of the school day or even while teaching another class, I may not be able to respond to the student’s post.  Additionally, all posts on Classroom are public to the entire class.  If a student or parent has a private question or concern please continue to email me at keelygarden@gmail.com


Google Classroom is an indispensable tool that is revolutionizing parents’ ability to understand their students’ coursework and assignments.  It is a window into the classroom that allows for parents, students and teachers to communicate without sending time consuming emails or making phone calls that interrupt the workday.  Google Classroom is essential in allows our students to make the transition to independent middle schoolers without cutting parents out of the communication loop.  Please use Classroom daily as a springboard for conversations about Dodd with your student.

Revision History/Audit Trail

Created by Keely Garden 8/2015

Updated by Keely Garden 9/2015

Too Tall To Trick or Treat

My daughter's Halloween costume 2015

My daughter’s Halloween costume 2015

Visual profiling sets expectations for students that vary from classroom to classroom.  In a way, students must jump into a costume for each setting in the school.  Please watch my vlog to see more of my ideas on Visual Profiling.

My response is in the form a vlog…again.  I do write out a skeleton script for each of my vlogs, but not having to edit my script for grammar, sentence structure, etc is very freeing for me.  When I stop worrying about how my words will look, I am able to think more deeply and make more connections.  I also wanted to show some of the power poses Amy Cuddy mentions in her Ted Talk and the voices of the professional development videos. Also, I tell myself the vlog allows my classmates to experience my ideas without having to stop everything else.  Feel free to make dinner or wash the dishes while I talk.  I also realize that my spoken word videos may be difficult for learners who prefer written text and that I could work on my verbal presentation skills in an effort to keep my viewers’ attention.

Links to the media I mentioned in my vlog:

The Financial Perks of Being Tall

Mr. Well Dressed

Mr. Scruffy

Digital Texts & Tools Pioneers

In what ways do you now authentically and effectively use digital texts and tools in your classroom?

Three years ago my school was BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Though a majority students brought a device to school, it was very difficult to use digital texts and tools authentically. Some parents did not allow their students to bring a device, not all students’ devices operated on the same platform, and students often forgot their device at home or brought it to school without a charge. I was only able to integrate the device for supplemental lessons or group projects, counting on at least one member of the group to come prepared.

Fast forward to 2015 and my class is almost completely paperless. I use digital texts and tools every class, all class. After being awarded a state grant to fund a one-2-one initiative, every student has their own Lenovo Chromebook. Each class begins with a Do Now posted on my Smart Board. My students login to their Google Classroom and complete the Do Now “assignment.” I begin the year with a unit on how to research online. I instruct students on how to Google Search using YouTube videos and hands-on practice. Students are assessed with a Google Form quiz and receive immediate feedback with Flubaroo  The research unit culminates in a blog posted to KidBlog. It must include a Works Cited, created on EasyBib.com. These are some of the digital texts and tools used in the first few weeks of school.  My classes also play Kahoots, make note cards on Quizlet, and watch the CNN Student News broadcast every Friday. We watch Crash Course History and Discovery videos, read online articles, make charts on Google Spreadsheets, and revise writing with add-ons like Pro-Writing; the list is endless.  
There is of course a steep learning curve as my students and I try out these new technologies.  I reinforce the idea that we are pioneers of these new platforms and sometimes our wagon wheels will break or we will run into a mountain we can’t scale. Then we will be forced to turn back and try a new path. Other times we will make it straight to California and hit the jackpot in the Gold Rush. I actually think this is a tremendous benefit to my students. They are not only learning how to use digital texts and tools, but they are alos learning what to do when faced with difficulties or failure. It makes the learning more real. The only problem I have with technology in the classroom is I don’t know all of the amazing options available to me that might benefit my students.