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/



Lesson Plan: Revision 5.0

by Kate Ter Haar

by Kate Ter Haar

In order to develop a quality lesson, I will make revisions based on my previous recommendations, which encompasses components of Technology Pedagogy and Content Knowledge, Universal Design of Learning and using a Professional Learning Network. These revisions to Lesson 1.0 will result in my new 5.0 Lesson. The first revision I made was to add a Social Studies GLEC, in order to make sure I am creating context based on strong content. I also made the lesson a project based lesson as it was more reflective of a strong pedagogy. Which ties to the Pedagogy aspect of TPACK. Next in the introduction of the lesson I devised a time for students to reflect on their knowledge of Michigan characteristics. As CAST depicts, representing works by using the recognition area of the brain which recognizes patterns (CAST 2009). By activating prior knowledge I give the student an opportunity to explore past patterns of this experience. Also I have allowed for students to determine what type of map and tools they will use to create their project.Provide options for recruiting interest by allowing students to participate in the design of the lesson (CAST 2011). I allowed students more opportunities to evaluate their learning process by adding a reflection piece that included; having them reflect on other 3rd graders work and analyzing the effectiveness of the technology tool they used to create their thematic map. Components of using their own Professional Learning Network was added by having them post their maps in order to receive feedback from another 3rd grade class along with allowing them to comment on others work. This revision also facilitated the UDL component of multiple forms of evaluation, where the evaluation came from the teacher and peers.

In order to revise my work; I reflected on my original work, evaluated my lesson based on my understanding of new acquired knowledge, made changes to my lesson, provided evidence as to why I made changes, edited my work, and considered specified feedback. During the revision process each time I developed a new understanding of a concept, theory or practice it created a better version of my lesson. Knowing that the steps to my process, required reflection, synthesis, writing and citing also helped me understand that these are phases which lead me to better evaluations. My instructor(s) are able to gain a better understanding of how I process information in order to narrow down which teaching approach(s) work best. The development of my learning is the goal, as is the revision of teaching practices. It seems that there can be no substantial growth in student learning if there is no adjustment in teaching. The role these revisions have had is the concept that teachers need to understand the learning process of our students. Also where these learning processes break down, in order to drive the teaching approach. Evaluations seem less important and more of a checking point while working on getting students to grow academically.

When I take into consideration the theory of TPACK and UDL, and the practice of using a PLN I believe my understanding of what is needed to help a student grow has changed. Student growth consists of more than a grade. It consist of being able to assess the student in order to modify my teaching strategy, in which will also allow for my development. Professionally I was enlightened by the fact that although I thought I had an understanding of what constituted a quality lesson, quite often I was only putting one or two of these concepts into practice and only part of the time. Most often I was focused on the evaluation portion of my lesson. I had never appraised what it took for a teacher to become an expert and all the components such as Pedagogy knowledge, content knowledge and Technical knowledge and how together these create an area of new knowledge (Mishra, P. & Koehler. M. J, P.15). From this framework a teacher has the skills necessary to dissect student processing along with their understanding of information in order to make monumental changes in student evaluations.



CAST (2009). Universal Design for Learning. Retrieved from http://udlonline.cast.org/page/module1/l144/

Cochran-Smith, M., & Dudley-Marling, C. (2012). Diversity in teacher education and special education: The issues that divide. Journal of Teacher Education, 63(4), 237. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1035630752?accountid=12598

Mishra, P. & Koehler. M. J. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Using the TPACK framework: you can have your hot tools and teach with them, too. Learning & Leading with Technology, 36(7), 14-18.

Rose, D.H. & Gravel, J. (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines (V.2.0).Wakefield, MA: CAST.org. Retrieved from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines

Networked Learning Project:


Currently within my Masters program I’ve started a blog, where I get to post almost all of my (mistakes) writing assignments. I’ve created a video presentations in a half an hour, refer to tweet #yikes. Now I get to pick something new to learn by utilizing a network. The fact that our project is so broad has me pretty excited! With each of our projects being more difficult than the last, this assignment had to be easier. The two sources we could use would be YouTube and online forums. Seriously, this was getting easier by the second. I knew fairly quickly that I wanted to learn a new language, as this has always been a goal of mine. In order to keep my goal attainable I decided that learning basic French phrases in order to navigate as a tourist would be my undertaking. I actually have no concept of all the phases this might consist of, intuitively though I knew asking where to find the nearby restroom, eatery and ATM were going to be top on my priority list.

Accomplishing My Assignment

The first thing I noticed when trying to find resources on YouTube for learning basic French terms, was that I didn’t really know which video’s were going to be the best ones to use. Although I knew how to use YouTube, I haven’t really utilized it for more than listening to my favorite music or to watch a bit of comedy. I know exactly how my students and own teenagers use this resource, as I have had much schooling on “I saw it/ learned it on YouTube”. In terms of “how do you know who Kevin Hart is” to my 15 year old daughter, “I saw it on YouTube, mom”. “How did you know how to hack through our school firewall and get to Facebook Tommy”, “I learned it on YouTube”. These children would also comment that they subscribed to individuals that they learned things from or enjoyed. They were building knowledge from all types of people that shared their similar interest. So now I am not only starting to learn the phrase, I do not speak French (a top 5 phrase on my list) I am also starting to navigate and build a creditable network on YouTube and French forums. Hopefully this will help me in accomplishing my goal by the end of my four weeks. Stay “tubed” for my progress, as for now, au revoir.




How to Learn French Online for Free

by ‪freelanguageorg. Retrieved June 29, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu7KWJZtskU

Lesson Plan Version 4.0: Networked Learning Revision

What is a Networked Educator/Learner?

What is a Networked Educator/Learner?

The discussion for today post will involve how I can utilize Professional Learning Networks for the revision of my Lesson Plan 1.0. Over the last few post I have revised my lesson, based on my understanding of classroom discussions and readings about educational theory and practices. So how is a PLN a theory or educational practice? Some educators my not believe that it really is, as a matter of fact I didn’t. Although I believe I have strong online PLN, I‘ve participated in a few edchats, had discussions through Schoology about lessons, and routinely reach out via Twittter to a wide variety of educators across the globe. Before our classroom discussion I had a perception that these “online” interactions were the only thing that made up a PLN. There was a disconnect between the personal interactions I had every day with my colleges, educator friends, parents and mentors. Which in fact, were the means I started connecting with others online. So how than, do these people not constitute a PLN. The fact is they do and really always have just not in the way my perception of a Professional Learning Network worked. These individuals and their own personal practice shape many of the ways I learn and teach. Why would/should this practice be any different than the ways in which my students would learn. Now here I am contemplating what connections I can make about how a PLN has helped me, and how this same concept can help my students. One very powerful way in which my PLN has helped me grow is through clarifying or leaning new concepts. Early on in my teaching career working as the buildings technology teacher, in which constraints of budget did not allow for many opportunities for Professional Development I was expected to implement and new school management system with out formal training. Whole learning the ins and outs of the new system, I received notification that the software was purchased, installed and ready to be implemented. Knowing that I had a rather large task ahead of me learning the new system and having to train staff I reached out to a former college. After hours of processing and creating modules for the staff, I still simply didn’t understand a key component to the system. I meet with my college and within about 30 minutes many key components that I was unable to learn through the software’s tutorials, became crystal clear.


What does a PLN have to do with students?

Almost each time I open up my Google+ account I have been added to one of my students circles, now keep in mind that this is not a PLN I use often, but I am surprised at how inter-connected my pupils are. I see that many of their brothers and friends are friends with other students that I have had in the past or younger students that may know one another outside the school setting. This brings me back to my realization that PLN’s have always existed; it is the format that has changed, or rather grown with the use of the Internet. I am in no way saying that my students have even developed a PLN yet, unless ninety percent of them are musicians connecting with Salina Gomez and One Direction. Although what the student have built is the beginnings of what will determine their own future PLN. As a blog I recently read relates, “ But I don’t really listen to a person until there is a relationship of trust” (Spenser 2014). What I am saying, is that what I once believed to be two separate things, is the main way in which students interact and can be one of the same. Just as in the case with how I reached out to my past college for advice and understanding with learning a new management system, so do my students to one another. What am I teaching these same students when I leave out this daily interaction that we all participate in and learn from. To make changes within my lesson that can utilize appropriate networks for the assignment can indeed help to clarify and enhance learning experiences.

In this understanding, I can now see professional Learning Networks as a practice for teaching content. One of the ways in which I can change my lesson is by utilizing my PLN in exactly what I have been doing, blogging and considering the comments to changes on my lesson. I could have my students connect with a 3rd grade classroom, from my PLN and share out their paint pictures in order to provide feedback. The other class could comment on if the they can read the “key” built into the picture. Knowing that we could work together with another classroom that had no knowledge of what the student’s room looks like can provide insight to student’s work and if they have met the objective of understanding how to build a key on a map.

So if you get a chance and are interested in helping this lesson grow, I can start the work of utilizing my PLN, by asking for your feedback and input for Lesson 1.0.





Spencer, J. (n.d.). A sustainable start : develop a PLN. Retrieved June 28, 2014, from http://www.educationrethink.com/2011/07/sustainable-start-develop-pln.html

Lesson Plan Version 3.0: UDL Revision


What I can understand from the Universal Design of Learning, and how it applies to my lesson, is the focus of this post. My initial lesson was chosen in order to improve what I considered to be an incomplete or underdeveloped lesson. With this in mind, making my 2.0 revisions allowed me to correct some obvious gaps within my plan rather easily. Looking at my plan for a third time will allow me to use the Universal Design for Learning Guidelines in order to build a lesson that meets the learning needs and wide range of abilities found in a classroom. Thinking about my original 1.0 lesson, my initial design doesn’t align with the main UDL principles of Representation, Action and Expression and Engagement. I have not used multiple means in these three areas, which is a main component of UDL. Representation is the only situation where that may not be true; I have used a shape model as an example of the expected outcome and also written instructions for the students understanding.

To apply the Universal Design of Learning in a meaningful way I worked with two other colleagues in order to identify a learning need in which we could research in order to develop a better understanding of the learning need. We selected social economic status, which may be underlying factor of needs that students face when thinking about UDL. A few of these needs identified may be lower levels of literacy, comprehension and engagement (Considine, G., & Zappala, G. 2002).



Revisions made to my 1.0 lesson were guided by research that considered the above learning needs and guided by the UDL Guidelines-Educator Checklist.

Provide Representation:

  • One change that I can make in my lesson is to provide a context or representation of the vocabulary, to do this I can use a picture along with the definition of “birds eye” view. This allows for not just clarity but comprehensibility.
  • Another change would be to the introduction of my lesson, in the form of activating prior knowledge by giving the student an opportunity to explore an experience they have had of looking down on something. Representation works by using the recognition area of the brain, which recognizes patterns (CAST 2009).

Action and Expression:

  • Using multiple media for construction and composition, as stated on the UDL guidelines and examples, I could have several writable devices available in replace of a mouse.


  • Students that have not had ample experience with other peers in a structured setting may lack the skills needed to ask for support (tendency to demand, or not articulate their need for support). To help in this area I can provide prompts for appropriate ways to ask for peer support.
  • Provide options for recruiting interest by allowing students to participate in the design of the lesson (CAST 2011). In order to increase engagement of this lesson I can have students determine what environment they feel appropriate to create diagram of other than their bedroom. As articulated by Cochran-Smith and Dudley-Marling “Along similar lines, instead of examining the extent to which teachers implement prescribed curricula with fidelity, sociocultural researchers might ask instead, “What learning affordances are created when teachers and students co-construct curriculum using different kinds of texts and other materials?”


Using every point on the UDL checklist for every lesson may prove to be unrealistic, knowing your student population and needs will help you determine which guidelines would be most effective to use. Also keeping in mind the more principles you use the further you will activate the recognition, strategic and affective networks.





CAST (2009). Universal Design for Learning. Retrieved from http://udlonline.cast.org/page/module1/l144/


Cochran-Smith, M., & Dudley-Marling, C. (2012). Diversity in teacher education and special education: The issues that divide. Journal of Teacher Education, 63(4), 237. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1035630752?accountid=12598


Considine, G., & Zappala, G. (2002). The influence of social and economic disadvantage in the academic performance of school students in Australia. Journal of Sociology, 38(2), 129+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA90465652&v=2.1&u=msu_main&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=06a04828a415ebeed74bd4b6b6e79b83


Rose, D.H. & Gravel, J. (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines (V.2.0).Wakefield, MA: CAST.org. Retrieved from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines