Mrs. Ryan's Class

A Digital Learning Hub for students and parents

Where do we go from here?

This week, I have been asked to think about the future role of technology in our teaching and learning. What path should we take now? What should we be studying? What should we be doing?  

I am currently in the Public Library/Post Office/Town Hall Building of a very small town in the Adirondack Mountains, the only place for me to get internet access. Adirondacks_in_May_2008As I read entries from The American Educational Research Association  I can’t help but glance around this tiny library and notice  evidence of the change discussed in the articles. This relatively remote location still retains a small town/old fashioned feel (the primary reason my family vacations here.) Yet aside from me, there are six other people here: another woman on a laptop, a teenager on an iPhone, and a small family of 3 reading children’s books and playing with puzzles. This illustrates the striking role of technology and how it has changed the way people interact, relax, socialize, and learn; even in this small town that is slow to change, technology has taken-on a large role. We need to harness this shift to facilitate a more global, interactive, and connected way of learning.

learn computer

Greenhow, Robelia, and Hughes introduce the concept of Web 2.0; a term coined in 2004 describing an internet that is more collaborative, interactive, participatory, and distributed in their commentary titled “Learning, Teaching, and Scholarship in a Digital Age: Web 2.0 and Classroom Research: What Path Should We Take Now?”.

Since our students grow up in a world with Web 2.0, how can we use this vast resource to teach better? There are countless online tools that allow teachers to facilitate collaborative and interactive work such as Google Classroom, wikis, blogs, Edmodo, and many more. We have discussed these new literacies through our study of the ORMS Model: Online Reading Comprehension, Collaborative Inquiry, and Online Content Creation, but do all students really receive this type of education and engage in this type of learning?


This issue of inequity is perhaps what I find to be the most challenging issue to wrestle with in my study of Instructional Technology. Greenhow, Robelia, and Hughes write, “What children learn outside of school can shape what they learn in school as they seek out projects based on their interests.” As teachers we find evidence of this every day, but what I find troubling is the impact that inequity of technology resources at home has on school. In “Comments on Greenhow, Robelia, and Hughes: Expanding the New Literacies Conversation”, Leu, O’Byrne, Zawilinski, McVerry and Everett-Cacopardo write, “Students in the poorest schools become doubly disadvantaged: They have less access to the Internet at home, and schools do not always prepare them for the new literacies of online reading comprehension at school.”

I believe a possible solution to this issue of inequality is to move away from the “Classroom” use of Web 1.0 and teach educators how to harness aspects of Web 2.0 for classroom and educational use. I hope that the future of education involves extensive professional development and encouragement of how to safely and effectively use technological resources and the opportunities available from Web 2.0 in our classrooms. Kids not only need to be taught how to create academic content, but also need to learn about the intricacies of the open web and how to safely represent themselves online

These articles have highlighted the vast nature and potential of online learning and content creation, but it would be unfair to assume that teachers can utilize these resources without explicit instruction and practical suggestions for use. The Instructional Technology & Digital Media Literacy Program has provided me with a broader understanding of how technology can be used to enhance my teaching, and I hope to learn more practical “down and dirty” ways to enrich my teaching using technology.


In my learning this week I came upon an advocacy group, Education Technology Action Group. I agree with the fundamental belief of the group: The use of digital technology in education is not optional. Competence with digital technology to find information, to create, to critique and share knowledge, is an essential contemporary skill set. It belongs at the heart of education. Learners should receive recognition for their level of mastery; teachers and lecturers should too.”  The primary purpose of education is to prepare our students to be contributing and well educated members of society, and we must not ignore the role that technological literacy plays in the success of students. 

I think the way to move forward and ensure that students do not fall through the cracks due to inequity in resources is to educate all teachers in digital media literacy and provide them practical ways to use technology in the classroom.

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A Look back at my Network Learning Project: A Journey into Acrylic Painting

My Network Learning Project has been quite an experience! Though difficult at times, I found this type of self directed learning to be incredibly meaningful. I not only learned how to paint with acrylics, but also developed an extensive Personal Learning Network and made connections to other artists.

Below please find a video reflection documenting my process and learning.

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Meet Mrs. Ryan

I was assigned to make a 1 minute commercial to introduce myself as an educator for my class, EDUC 7710: Foundations of Media Literacy. The guidelines were to introduce myself, describe who I am, my expertise, and what I do.

Throughout this program, I have tried to connect each assignment and experience to what I would do in my classroom and my career.  It is so important to make this work connected and meaningful. I hope to use everything we have created in my teaching and professional life.

I decided to design this commercial for a very specific audience. I wanted to create something that I could put on my website to introduce myself to future students, parents, and potential employers. I thought it would be important to share who I am and what I believe about teaching and education with this audience. I tried to be as genuine and honest as possible in my short, 1 minute of time!

I hope you enjoy!


A Journey into Acrylic Paint- Post # 6

I was finally able to connect with an artist this week! After falling in love with the helpful articles, blog posts, and videos on I reached out to the webmaster of the site for some advice and feedback. Ralph got back to me within the week! He gave me some suggestions for a beginning painter and even offered to review some of my work to give me specific feedback! I was very excited, to say the least.

initial emailinitial response from ralph


Ralph Feedback

I am so happy to have finally begun to develop this part of my Personal Learning Network where I can personally connect with people who can help me learn. Upon Ralph’s suggestion, I decided to investigate I signed up for two free art videos; “Landscape” and “Still Life” and have already received one in my email! I can’t wait to try these new lessons.

In his reply, Ralph also shared how he plans for painting. He shared that he does a sketch on paper and scans it into Photoshop to add color. Then he prints out his drawing and uses it as a guide to sketch his painting on the canvas. I am not ready to tackle Photoshop just yet, but I decided to modify Ralph’s technique and draw my plan on a paper with similar dimensions to the canvas I wanted to work on.

I have been inspired by a huge Pine Tree that grows in the back of my neighbor’s yard, so this week I decided to attempt to capture its beauty.


I relied on my previous learning from this NLP to create a cross-hatched sky and grass, and used blending techniques that I learned from Glen Farquhar to create the fence. I used my plan to draw the shape of a tree and shed directly onto the canvas.

tree shetch house

Then, I recalled what I learned about using the chisel tip of a flat brush to create the straight lines of the fence, and the curved branches of the tree. I used my learning about the Filbert Brush to create the illusion of leaves, and layered lighter colors over darker ones to create depth and dimension in the leaves of the tree.


My next steps in my NLP will be to follow the lessons from to learn more about light and shadows in my painting.


A Journey into Acrylic Painting- Post #5

This week I set out to accomplish one of my Network Learning Project Goals: learn how to blend and layer colors, add texture, and fix mistakes. I found an incredible resource called as I worked to develop my Personal Learning Network on painting. I found a blog post that shared this video of Glenn Farquhar teaching viewers to blend acrylic paint by layering wet paint (I shared his video last week in A Journey into Acrylic Painting- Post #4.)

I followed Glenn Farquhar through the entire process and ended up with a piece of artwork that was really fun to create and helped me to understand more about how water can be added to paint to create layers of color, add texture, and blend colors. Please view my TimeLapse video on how I created my abstract work of art!

Here is the finished painting:

learning how to blend and layer color

learning how to blend and layer color

I love how the final product is full of texture, and the layered colors appear so deep. I learned that you need to use paint with varying amounts of water to create a layered, blended look. Each new addition of color to this piece was a different paint to water ratio- each color had a different consistency. When I pulled the colors together using my scraper (cut-up paper plate) the thicker paint spread over the thinner paint and exposed the blended colors beneath. This technique worked incredibly well with an abstract piece, but I think it could be modified when painting a more realistic/natural scene.

After I completed this first piece, I experimented with my new knowledge on another canvas. I used a different base color (blue) and used more water mixed into each additonal color than I had in my first painting. I ended up with a painting that looks more like tie-dye, which further helped me to understand that one of the keys to blending and layering colors to add texture is using paint that has a variety of texture and consistency.

Whoops! Too much water!

Whoops! Too much water!

By the time I post again I hope to have communicated and shared ideas with at least one other artist from my Personal Learning Network.

Stay tuned!


ORMS: Online Content Construction

Every individual is a marvel of unknown and unrealized possibilities” – W.G. Jordon

giftsThis quote is from a fantastic book called “These are the Gifts I’d Like to Give to You: A Sourcebook of Joy and Encouragement.” I read quotes from this book frequently, and the topic of OCC this week reminded me of the section, “The Gift of Understanding What Makes You So Outstanding”

David O’Brien suggests thinking of literacy competency in broader terms, focusing on students’ strengths, not deficits in his article “At-Risk” Adolescents: Redefining Competence Through the Multiliteracies of Intermediality, Visual Arts, and Representation.  I think this is an important viewpoint for educators. The question is, how to we help students access and utilize their strengths in the classroom?

In the entry “Online Content Construction: Students as Informed Readers and Writers of Multimodal Information” from The Connecticut Reading Association Journal • Volume 1 • Issue 1, O’Byrne addresses this question of how to use Online Content Construction (OCC) in the classroom.

The Three Phases of Online Content Construction instructional model (O’Byrne, 2012)

Phase 1: Students engage in Online Reading Comprehension and Online Collaborative Inquiry-critically research a topic, design and plan on paper.

Phase 2: Students construct online content using their plans/mock-ups from phase 1. Content can be delivered in a variety of forms including websites, videos, photos, podcasts, blogs, wikis, etc.

Phase 3: Students compare their work to exemplar material of the same type (provided by the teacher) to reflect and revise their content.

The OCC instruction model ends with collaborative presentations of student work, culminating in a conference/discussion with the teacher about the students’ process and product. This type of learning and representation of knowledge seems so powerful in its capacity for self-directed learning, student engagement, and differentiation. I envision students being highly engaged and having fun while practicing advanced literacy and creative skills.


Photo labeled for reuse from

In the same article, O’Byrne mirrors traditional text based reading skills (encoding and decoding) through an online lens. He writes, “as constructors of online content, students and teachers work to redesign or reinvent online texts by actively encoding and decoding meaning in multimodal texts.” (O’Byrne, 2012).

This brings us to a more complex issue of creating original content. I agree with Kirby Ferguson’s idea of the additive nature of creativity. He reminds us in the video, Embracing the Remix, that musicians like Bob Dylan, Danger Mouse, and Woody Guthrie did not “copy” content, but rather “Remixed” by copying, transforming, and combining to create new creative content. If we teach students how to give credit to sources and inspiration, we can use the same principals of “Remixing” in OCC.

These readings remind me of my former analysis of the 5 Cs. I would argue that the ORMS Model and Online Content Construction addresses each of the 5Cs: creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and comprehension. Students are more likely to achieve each of these objectives through the real world, personally meaningful nature of the work of Online Content Construction.


Multimodal Tutorial: Math IXL

My first attempt at creating a Multimodal Tutorial!

ixl (3)

I chose to focus on Math IXL because it is a resource that we use in my district almost every day. Each year we spend valuable class time teaching students how to use the site, and then always spend additional time to reteach when kids forget. I hope to use this multimodal tutorial with my class to “reteach” the basics of how we use IXL. Since the youtube video is accessible from anywhere, I envision posting this to my class website so students can reference it at home when they need help! I also think this tutorial will be helpful to my colleagues at my school who are new to IXL.

I used Screen-Cast-O-Matic to record my video. There was a bit of a learning curve for me as I have never recorded a screen cast, but I thought this resource was relatively user friendly and I eventually figured it out!

Here is my youtube video that is intended for students:

Here is the full multimodal tutorial intended for educators to learn about IXL:

This project was a brand new challenge, but I am pleased with the final product. I look forward to becoming more proficient in screen-casting to create additional resources for students, parents, and colleagues.