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.