April Showers Bring Summer Thoughts

It is almost that time of year where we are all looking forward to some warmer weather, catching up with family and friends, and yes for most of us refreshing our professional practices. If this refresh includes delving into instructional technology practices then here is a great place to start :


Happy May all!




Global Read Aloud

As I prepare for reading initiatives for next year, I wanted to promote a program that supports curriculum and of course fosters excitement and a passion for reading. With that in mind I would like to let you know about a wonderful opportunity to participate in the Global Read Aloud (some of you already do). If you have heard of it and are participating skip to the bonus section.

If you have never heard of this program here is a quick overview. Via ISTE: “The premise is simple. During the set six-week period, participate with educators and students worldwide in reading the selected books. Then, find some way to connect with one classroom or several who are reading the same book.” Connection can be through writing letters, email, skype, hangout, Twitter, through FB or anything else you and the students come up with. This can be done once, twice or the whole 6 weeks.

Here’s How:

  1. Signup
  2. Select a book from the list
  3. Sign in to your @shorian account-for my elementary shorian teachers only
  4. Fill out this form to receive your book-for my elementary shorian teachers only

I really appreciate this comprehensive lesson that Emily. S, a Technology Coordinator from a Denver Elementary School designed. Take parts of, or the entire lesson, and adapt it to your selected book. It includes the CC standards she designed her lesson around.

BONUS section: If you are a teacher in my school, I will purchase a classroom copy of this book for your use if you fill out this form by next Friday, the 6th of May.

EXTRA BONUSI am always available to help you explore/facilitate any skype, hangout, online chat, or twitter session between you and another class across the world.

CEP 820: LMS Reflection With Google Classroom

LMS: Google Classroom

LMS: Google Classroom







First, I will start off by mentioning that I didn’t contemplate the ins and outs of my selected master’s course, “Teaching Students Online. Does it really require much explanation?” The answer may be “no” but the content holds a resounding “yes”. I have created webquests (my first format in building online course materials), web pages with curriculum content, Schoology classes, and played with Edmodo. I thought my design concepts within these mediums were pretty good. Let’s fast forward to building and learning in my online Science module through Google Classroom. My past attempts can now be deemed as just that, “attempts”. To be clear I could also include my current module in this category. To see the basis of this reflection let me discuss the design and pedagogical decisions which guided the building of  my online course. I will also disclose the pitfalls I encountered using Google Classroom as my LMS.

There are more and more studies that frame what effective online learning, design and pedagogy look like, based on research in such articles as; Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies along with The Effectiveness of Online and Blended Learning: A Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Literature. Contemplating design a teacher must consider critical aspects, foremost, the objective of the course and course material (learning outcomes). Secondly, knowing the audience of the course will be essential when determining other design decisions. Other critical design aspects that are guided by audience are the selection of an LMS, tools to use, and navigation (architecture). Consideration should be given to building engagement, collaboration, and ensuring clear communication All of the above mentioned can be enhanced by designing original content that meet the learning goal.

Pedagogical decisions had to include content knowledge and types of communication (instructor and student in synchronous and asynchronous settings). A major factor included decisions of assessment (alignment of learning goals, peer feedback, variations of assessments). Another key determination of designing assessments and materials were based on the Universal Design for Learning: theory and practice, principles which allow for multiple means of engagement, representation, action and expression (Meyer, Rose, & Gordon, 2014). The final portion of decisions relate to classroom management, to include; organization, structure and building community.

As with all great attempts in something new, my online course design didn’t come without some valuable learning opportunities. My role is that of an Elementary media coordinator and coach, and a past classroom teacher.  I purposefully developed a hybrid course (for science) for several reasons. First and foremost my philosophy in educating young students revolve around a hands on PBL environment that includes; routines, encouragement of exploration, questioning, and observing natural occurrences in a joyful setting. I encountered several pitfall in building a hybrid course, which is how to transition between (or perhaps balance) online and hands on learning. I also could have spent more time in the exploration of how these transitions would work by testing my module with a small group of students to gain a sense of balance between the two. Next my selection of my course management system, Google Classroom, would be reconsidered. This is due to restraints in design aspects, specifically; navigation, aesthetics, and constraints of vertical alignment. As a GAFE school it did however, meet the needs of content accessibility (collaborative documents and assignments), collaboration and simplicity of design (increases attention within the environment). I would have given my assessments more thought based on the assessment factors of an online learning environment, such as collaboration, authentic feedback (peer and teacher) and mastery.  My pitfalls, however, do not leave me discouraged. Quite the opposite has happened, through my exploration of LMS, research and evaluations I have a desire to become more knowledgeable about all the varied aspects of online learning.  My next quest will be to develop more elementary science modules that center around PBL, with the collaboration of others in hopes to share these resources and examine student learning outcomes.



Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (2009). Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies. US Department of Education.

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R. O. B. E. R. T., & Baki, M. (2013). The effectiveness of online and blended learning: A meta-analysis of the empirical literature. Teachers College Record, 115(3), 1-47.

Meyer, A., Rose, D.H., & Gordon, D. (2014) Universal design for learning: Theory and practice, Wakefield MA: CAST

Passion Space

During my last week of learning within my MAET classes, I read Thomas Friedman’s article entitled It’s the P.Q and the C.Q as much as the I.Q, whereas the P.Q is our passion quotient and C.Q. is our curiosity quotient.  Much of my Masters education has been focused on understanding the process of learning, identifying how technology can enhance this learning, and what constraints education (and teachers) may be putting on learners. So how do these understandings tie into passion and curiosity? The sad reality is that I have forgotten that these two factors don’t tie into learning they are true learning, how knowledge begins and evolves.  As a learner and a teacher I have felt the sorrowful deterioration of my own passion quotient, through countless teacher evaluations, student assessment and endless strands of standard that must be tightly adhered to. My end goal is to have students gain as much knowledge through the use of as many types of technology I possibly can, within the limited time I have them.  Often times missing out on opportunities that develop student understanding of material, through their own learning experiences (curiosity).  Many times forgetting to allow this curiosity to scaffold into a passion for seeking new knowledge, and processing how this knowledge was obtained.  The Curiosity Project article posted by admin (2013) gives context to my dilemma:

The eyes of my three-year-old daughter sparkle when she learns something new,” says Dr. Stacey MacKinnon, Associate Professor of Psychology at UPEI. “I think somewhere along the way, we train that sparkle out of kids, because a lot of my students wonder why I bother teaching them anything that won’t be on the final exam (para. 1).

What the author of the Curiosity Project post and Friedman recognize, is the value that passion and curiosity add to individual growth in the form of knowledge. As a teacher my role is to recognize what the right education for our students are and to give them more of it. The right education that progresses students toward success is one that leverages technology to induce passion and curiosity.

With passion and curiosity in mind along with the value of technology and the worth of Professional Learning Networks I have used Sketchup to create my utopian classroom, my Passion Space.


admin. (January 17, 2013). The Curiosity Project. [Web log]. Retrieved from http://projects.upei.ca/research/category/uncategorized/page/5/

Friedman,T. L. (2013). It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as I.Q. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/opinion/friedman-its-pq-and-cq-as-much-as-iq.html?_r=0

Networked Learning Project: Learning French Phrases


During my MAET program, colleagues and I  were charged with developing a new skill through the use of YouTube and forums. Additionally, we were limited by the use of only these two mediums. The to-be-developed skill was of our own choosing. Each of us were able to brainstorm and then narrow down the focus of the skill in order to make the learning meaningful. In his post, Let Your Students Choose Their Learning Path, Juliani calls this type of exploration “scratching my own itch”. He states that it may take a few failures, explorations and choices in order to discover what we are truly good at (Juliani). My own instructors were providing us not only an opportunity to develop an interest, but also to encourage us to explore how the inclusion of networked learning could benefit students. My networked learning  project goal was to learn basic French terms.

I knew from the onset that learning French was not a very practical goal to a four week project, so I assumed that learning basic terms for traveling to France would be a more realistic goal. There are a few flaws in this thought process. It has been very difficult to learn a few terms without knowing how each sound alone is enunciated. Also it is much harder to memorize phases without an understanding of how elements of a language connect (propositional, grammatical, person, and formal vs. informal). Another challenge would have to be accessibility, since I do not always have network access and often travel in areas without internet connectivity. I had to think of ways to retrieve my videos and designate time to my learning. I ended up finding a useful app called iTube that allowed me to save my videos for use when I don’t have internet access. This app allowed me to listen to my videos while driving or waiting to do errands. Going slowly and allowing me time to enunciate helped alleviate some of my frustrations. While researching articles on networked learning, specifically learning a language, Sandra Riml refers to it like this; “It’s like being on Candid Camera” (Gheciu, 2012). Many times during my learning process I have felt frustration, success and humor in my own process. I have discovered many things through this process, as it relates to the type of learner I am. Although I knew my strengths were in visual learning and application I didn’t realize how much I really rely on the visual aspect. I tended to get the pronunciation much more quickly while watching the video than listening to it. I also realized that the task I had chosen didn’t bring me as much joy as anticipated because of the limitations of my own proficiency. However, I found myself trying harder to find videos (resources) that showed the speaker’s face so I could watch their mouth in time with the enunciation.  I also tried to learn from mini lessons with 15-20 minute time frames.

Keeping the above experiences in mind I have changed some of my thought processes about the times in which I have asked my own students to do similar activities. I have routinely designated items my students will learn. In the future having them brainstorm which skills they would like to acquire may be a better way of motivating their learning. I have come across student frustrations but made little changes in allowing other modes for them to learn the objectives based on their own learning style. I found it limiting to only use only YouTube and forums to learn French. Although networked learning is beneficial, understanding that not every tool will provide the same level of benefit for each student will help me design lessons that provide the right tool in context with the student goal. In the future I hope to design my classroom learning environment to include the aspects of networked learning I have gained from this project.



Broida, R. (April 4, 2014). Save YouTube videos to your iPhone for offline viewing. CNet. Retrieved from http://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-save-youtube-videos-to-your-iphone-for-offline-viewing/

Gheciu, A. N. (February 1, 2012). Better Learning Through YouTube. Retrieved from http://www.thegridto.com/city/local-news/better-learning-through-youtube/

Juliani, A. J. Let Your Students Choose Their Learning Path. Retrieved on July 21, 2014, from http://ajjuliani.com/let-your-students-choose/


Innovation in Education, Wicked Problem.

Creativity Innovation

Creativity Innovation

Earlier last week I posted about tackling a wicked problem faced within our education system. Our MEAT group of @armourch, @weltonkristen, and @jkurleto, addresses one of these problems; the problem of Innovation in education. We were challenged to answer the question of how to implement innovation within our schools. We struggled over how creation corresponded to innovation. As instructors and teaches we knew that a key component to innovation was the aspect of creating. Creating allows student to process failures, construct meaning and develop strategies that help them view the world around them. These traits are the very foundation of what propels innovation. Take a look and listen to our wicked problem and what we determined to be a wicked solution to implementing innovation, through this smore link: Wicked Problem.  Let me know your thoughts on what you believe are the challenges to implementing innovation within our classrooms.


Technology Integration in Communities of Practice



Week three of my Masters class required me to analyze a technology integration survey. The survey, which I developed, was designed to help answer the question of what community practices within technology integration were prevalent within a building. The bases of this survey was to uncover results from what Michaela Borg describes as the “apprenticeship of observation” with the premise that as observers of education, often times teachers, refer back to their own experiences of being a student themselves.  These references are based on observations, without knowledge or understanding of what takes place in a teachers mind. Although instructed otherwise within their educational courses or going against their own personal beliefs, teachers adjust their practice premised from these old observations (Borg, 2004). This concept exist not only within observation periods, but often times within our own individual school communities, allowing for similar practices of reverting to social pressure or what is traditionally done when using technology. When we build an understanding of these practices, we contextualize what determines our integration of technology. This knowledge is a key facilitator in changing the use of or trying new technologies in order to break free of these observational pitfalls. Intended use of technology, as we know, is an essential component of the TPACK framework (Koehler & Mishra 2008). Please explore with me the survey results I have uncovered and my analysis of these results. Share with me your insights and how these results compare with your own community of practice.



Borg, M. (2004). The apprenticeship of observation. ELT Journal, 58(3), 274-276. Retrieved from http://eltj.oxfordjournals.org/content/58/3/274.full.pdf

Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P. (2008). Introducing TPCK.


Wicked Problem

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of amazing discovery through my Masters of Arts in Educational Technology program through the MSU MAET summer cohort.  My posts have reflected on much of the work I have been doing individually and also within groups. These experiences have led me to a new understandings in many of the trends in education, technology and pedagogy.  The projects have proven to be enjoyable, demanding, time consuming, enlightening, frustrating, and collaborative. Just think this is just within the first three weeks, whew! The process of solving a Wicked Problem meets all of the above described experience yet with a bit more investment, because a wicked problem is not just about my understanding but a community of understanding. The wicked problem doesn’t just think “Big” about the troubles facing our current education practices, it calls on each of us to unite and be a driving force in creative solutions to these problems.

Wicked Problem

Wicked Problem

For our Wicked Problem assignment, we were asked to work in groups in order to identify and chose one of the key issues we face in education.  Each group then was asked, over the next few weeks, to work on tackling solutions to the chosen problem.  In the case of a Wicked Problem one answer wouldn’t constitute a solution.  The problem would require reinventing and rethinking what we know about teaching, along with the complexity of its independence on existing variables.  This rethinking requires deep group thinking by impassioned educators not afraid to challenge current policies. Within our groups we were required to meet with one another (online) and compile a research-based solution to our problem. The rough draft of our problem, approach, examination, reflection, research and solution can be found in this curation of InnovationEd designed in smore.



Sebastiaan ter Burg. September 6, 2013. Het Nieuwe Instituut: Social Design for Wicked Problems [image]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/ter-burg/9701296143/in/photolist

New Media Consortium. Retrieved on July 16, 2014, from http://www.nmc.org/

Smore. https://www.smore.com/app

Gee & Information Diet

During this weeks MAET assignment I was required to examine what consist of our information diet.

Our information diet consist of all the ways in which we derive information such as social interest groups, Professional Learning Networks, or information mining to name a few.  I continued my reading of James Paul Gee’s book The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students through Digital Learning, while also reflecting on a variety of articles and how they coincide or conflict with Gee’s research. Specifically to what makes up an affinity space, and what affordances these spaces have on society. These spaces are what Jenkins calls participating cultures, where individuals form groups based on passions (DMLResearchHub). Jenkins and Gee see these types of  groups as a foundation for answering and acting on societies moral issues. These groups are what Gee refers to as affinity spaces (Gee p.174).

The Bubble

During this examination I was enlightened by Eli Pariser’s 2011 Ted Talk, which sheds light on what a filter bubble can do to the information we consume.  Although I am aware of how sites like Facebook and Linkedin recommend friends or feeds based on interest I had deemed these as conveniences that enhanced my online social experience.  I hadn’t considered how these filters could also hinder the reliability of information I receive and limit multiple perspectives, from not only within my affinity space but also when researching.  Filter bubbles affect (or restrict) affinity spaces and what consist of our information diet, by preventing your evaluation of information by providing you comfort within your normal diet of information that  support your interest or thoughts, without challenge. The type of diversified spaces contributes wholly to the types of Mind Visions we create in order to propel society to the next level of what consist of the “Mind” which as Gee expresses can only be done by using our tools wisely as a collective in order to answer the question of the “What do YOU think WE should do?” game, empirically (Gee pp.167-170).

My Affinity Space

With the above concepts in mind I have been examining the ways in which I use networked affinity spaces to inform my thinking, and the limitations of my current information diet.  My use of Twitter can be regarded as an affinity space, I use this to inform my passion for Teaching (more directly teaching technology). My affinity space informs what tools I may use in order to teach a certain standard, it informs my teaching theories, it drives what types of articles I read, which technology sites I visit, who I look at as mentors and most often it drives the people I socialize with. This space is made up of mostly educators and to that extent I tend to steer away from religious and political affiliations. In order to change my information diet I would need to add individuals who I tend to steer away from. My PLN is mostly made up of educators and individuals that express democratic views. These views align with my own and don’t challenge my preferences in social and educational policies. I decided to follow Michelle Makin and Donna Brazile in order to be connected with political aspects that may enrich my diet. I also examined why I stay away from religious affiliations, as many moral focuses within religious context seek to resolve social issues.  With that in mind I discovered a  post of the Top 25 Christian Leaders You Should Follow on Twitter, scroll down to see the comments from Greg which highlights an example of what Eli Pariser refers to in his TED talk, as critically examining what will help us burst the filter bubble (TED, 2011).  I added individuals that viewpoint I was less familiar with, ones that seemed to post using resources that backed up their statements. I am hoping that adding these few individuals will acquaint me with unfamiliar perspectives and will challenge me to think constructively about my own views, processes, or biases in order to develop a more balanced information diet.






Dodd, B. Top 25 Christian Leaders You Should Follow on Twitter. Retrieved on July 13, 2014, from http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/162661-top-25-christian-leaders-you-should-follow-on-twitter.html

DMLResearchHub. Media Scholar Henry Jenkins on Participatory Culture and Civic Engagement. Retrieved on July 13, 2014 from, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgZ4ph3dSmY&feature=youtu.be

Gee, J. P. (2013). The anti education era: Creating smarter students through digital Learning.

Johnson, C. The Information Diet-Introduction. Retrieved on July 14, 2014 from, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNFNOSzik14

TED2011. (2011). Beware online ”filter bubbles”  given by Eli Pariser (video file and transcript). Retrieved on July 13, 2014 from, http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles

Creating Sparkle in the World


Creating International Flair

Creating International Flair


There is a true analogy about the maker movement within my topic heading, and the premise I realized while devising a Maker activity for the first MSU Library Maker Faire. The purpose of having a Maker Faire was to showcase the process of “making”. Check out this video, which explains a bit more about what a Maker Faire is. I believe the maker movement is essentially all about creating sparkle (or as I call it…joy) and is creating excitement in individuals across the world.

My partner and I, Jeanette Hardy, set out to devise a maker activity that would allow participates to create, while also express who they were. With this in mind, we decided to showcase individual’s culture by having them create International Flair badges.

Sparkle Map Supplies needed:

Pro Tip: Use double sided tape if you are doing this activity with many people and attach a piece of it to the map under the battery this will hold the negative thread in place, repeat the same process to the top side of the flap and then fold down.


Circuit Sticker

Circuit Sticker


Creating your circuit

Creating your circuit









Instructions for Sparkle Map maker:

  1. On a large world map, participants will add a circuit sticker to the place their family originates.
  2. Cut two pieces of thread so that they reach from your sticker to the closest corner of the map
  3. Stick one end of the thread under the positive end of the circuit sticker, mark the trailing end of thread with a red sharpie
  4. Stick the second thread under the negative end of the circuit sticker, mark the trailing end of thread with a black sharpie
  5. Now run both pieces of thread to the closest corner of the map
  6. Place a battery below each corner of the map so that you can fold the corner of the map over the battery
  7. Place the negative (black) end of the thread under the negative side of the battery
  8. Place the positive (red) end of thread on top of the positive side of the battery
  9. Fold the corner of the map over the edge of the paper so the corner covers the battery and use a binder clip
  10. After participants create their sparkle on the map where their family is from, have them use reference books to research their culture. 


International Flair take-a-way:

After identifying where there family is from on a map participants will also make an LED badge that represents their country by using craft supplies.


Making Flair

Making Flair












Badge supplies:

All the materials below can be found at your local craft or teacher store:

  • felt squares
  • safety pins
  • tweezers (heavy duty)
  • scissors
  • colored construction paper
  • markers
  • pipe cleaners
  • stickers
  • hot glue gun
  • glue sticks
  • fabric glue

Pro Tip: the more supplies you have on hand, the more creative people can be in there making. Think re-purposing recycled materials.







Instructions for International Flair:








1. You will need: one LED light, one piece of felt, one battery, one battery holder, one paper square, and one safety pin.

2. Pick up your felt square and your LED light. Poke the ends of the LED light through the middle of the felt square.

3. Place the battery in the battery case with the positive side facing up (this will go behind your felt where the ends of the LED are).

4. Push each end of the LED light through an end of the battery case, making sure the shorter LED prong goes through the hole on the negative side of the battery case, and the longer LED prong goes through the hole on the positive side of the battery case (you should see the LED light up now).

5. With tweezers, bend (curl) each end of the LED light around the ends of the battery case to tighten the electrical connection between the battery case and the LED light.

6. Decorate your paper square to represent the country or area you are from with the supplied materials. So that the decorated paper square goes around the light, punch a hole in the center of the decorated paper square (or use scissors). Adhere the decorated paper square to the felt with glue.

7. With a safety pin, pin your badge on your cloths for instant flair!











Team Sparkle

Team Sparkle




Co-Creator Jeanette Hardy can be found on Twitter @j_barrelz









Becker,L. Retrieved July 2, 2014, from



MSU MAET. Retrieved July 5, 2014, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/125607422@N04/