CEP 810 Final Reflection

Flickr photo by: Denise Krebs. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Flickr photo by: Denise Krebs. Used under a Creative Commons license.

I can’t believe 7 weeks have flown by and CEP 810 has come to an end! I took this course as an elective for my MA studies in learning disabilities, and I am so glad I did. Technology is the way of the future in education, and I have learned many things in this course that will enhance my teaching next year and in the future.

The TPACK model was one of the most important things I learned in this class. When content, pedagogy and technology are balanced, the best teaching occurs. Technology can be and should be creatively used and repurposed to meet the learning needs of my students. The very way this class is structured, using the learning cycles (Learn, Explore, Create, Share), has helped me as a student learn how technology can be incorporated into my own practice. I plan to share these same principles with my co-teacher and hope to implement them in our physics classroom. I would love to focus this year on the concept of CREATE, and incorporate a project in our physics class where our students create a video to demonstrate their learning. As we learned in this course, having students create videos to demonstrate their learning is a powerful technology tool. I had never created my own video and uploaded it to YouTube before this class, but now that I see how simple it is and would like my students do the same.

I also learned a lot from the Getting Things Done lesson. The tips on workflow have been instrumental in my attempt to stay organized personally and professionally. The productivity tool I dabbled with, Wunderlist, has quickly become my go-to app each morning for the day’s to-do list. I plan on sticking with the tool during the school year to organize the many things I need to remember to do in a day. The GTD lesson may have made the biggest change for me .

In CEP 810 we were also required to explore many other technology tools such as YouTube, Popplet, Google Drive, WordPress Blog, etc. Through exploration, my understanding of these tools has deepened and I will be able to not only continue to use them for myself, but repurpose them to enhance my students learning. My professional practice will also change because I will be using YouTube and the internet to learn things that I don’t know how to do. Sometimes I don’t know certain concepts to help my resource room students with their homework, but now I have the information at my fingertips and could quickly search for a video to find what I am looking for.

For this course we were also required to create a Twitter account. Twitter was something that I was reluctant to join, but I am glad I did as I have been able to expand my professional learning network. I am following many other educators and MAET students that it would be nice to connect with in the future. I will also continue to use Feedly, the RSS news reader, to follow and stay on top of current issues in the world of education.

As a resource room teacher, I don’t have control over how the content area teachers deliver their instruction to our students. I do have flexibility in how the content is delivered in my co-taught physics class, so that is where I will be incorporating most of the information I have learned in this course. The question that remains for me is how can I repurpose technology tools for my resource room students to support in the instruction that was already delivered to them? With the foundations I have learned in this class, I have a great starting point and feel motivated to incorporate more technology into my teaching this school year.





Cooking with TPACK: Peanut Butter and Jelly with a Potato Masher

This week in CEP810 I was given a challenge to “cook” something using a bowl, plate, and a kitchen utensil. All three items were chosen randomly by my husband without him knowing the purpose. He also drew the number “4” out of a hat, which meant I was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Watch my video to see how I repurposed a potato masher to make a PB&J sandwich!

At first I was skeptical of how I was going to use a potato masher for this task. I was actually able to repurpose the handle of the masher for scooping and spreading my peanut butter and jelly, and it even worked better than I expected! The sharp edge of the masher worked well for cutting the sandwich in two pieces. A potato masher seemed like it wouldn’t be a useful tool at the beginning, but it actually gave me the same results as if I would have used the preferred utensil, a knife. In the end I had a delicious tasting peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

This activity is actually related to what teachers do daily in their classrooms. Teachers use resources they have available to make authentic learning experiences for their students. This follows the TPACK framework which outlines how good teaching happens at the intersection of content, pedagogy, and technology. One of the TPACK creators, Dr. Mishra, emphasizes that teachers have a variety of different technologies available to them and it is our job as educators to repurpose and customize them to meet the needs of our students. Actually, he argues, only repurposing makes a technology an educational technology.


Used with permission from TPACK.org

The TPACK model and this activity will help me think about how I can repurpose technology in my own classroom. Like the repurposing of a potato masher to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, creatively using technology tools available will enhance my students’ learning!


Networked Learning Project: Final Update

Weeks ago I was asked to pick something I have always wanted to learn and challenged to learn it using only YouTube videos and help forums. Well… I did it! I made a wood wall art piece for my new home and I am pretty happy with how it turned out.

Here is a video of my journey in networked learning:

Since starting this project a few weeks ago, I have turned to YouTube for help in learning numerous other things as well. For example, even to make the video for this final post, I watched a video tutorial to learn how to use the Windows Movie Maker program . When I couldn’t figure out how to fold my daughter’s portable play yard last weekend, I found a video within seconds to help me. The power of networked learning is so immense, there are videos on virtually anything that you want to learn how to do. I liked that with networked learning you can pick and choose which resources you want to use. If you don’t like the style of one YouTube video, you can go on to the next. Not only will I continue to use networked learning myself, but I will encourage my students to use networked learning also for help in their content area classes, as well as learn other things they are interested outside of school. For example, I can see my resource room students searching YouTube videos to help them convert numbers to scientific notation. I also have a student who is interested in drawing Japanese anime. I bet he could find some really good videos on YouTube to take his skills to the next level. Being able to pause, repeat, fast forward, and bookmark videos and help forums for later use makes networked learning suitable for learners at any level!

A 21st Century Lesson Plan: Rube Goldberg Physics Project

For CEP 810 this week, I was asked to think about and create a 21st century lesson plan inspired by the principles described by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown in their 2011 book “A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change” and by Renee Hobbs in her 2011 book “Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom”.  In my high school co-taught physics classroom we have the students participate in a Rube Goldberg project at the end of our energy and energy transformations unit. In the past, students were shown examples of Rube Goldberg machines in class, they brought in household materials to build their own Rube Goldbergs, and they shared their machines with their classmates. Although this project is fun for students, it takes several days to complete and often class time is wasted when groups forget their materials on designated work days. This assignment gave me the perfect opportunity to revamp the Rube Goldberg project and incorporate some 21st century skill instruction into my curriculum. I am excited for my students to use various technology tools to demonstrate their learning.

The lesson plan I developed (SEEN HERE) is in two parts. It is planned to be taught in two 60 minute class periods. In my lesson, students will synthesize their understanding of energy transformations by finding a video of a Rube Goldberg machine on YouTube and describing 5 energy transformations demonstrated in the Rube Goldberg machine. They will share their responses and the link to their video in a Google Doc.  In part 2, students will create a sketch of their own Rube Goldberg machine that completes a simple task, in which they demonstrate 5 energy transfers, and they will use a web-based tool (Prezi, PowerPoint, WordPress blog post, Google Presentation, etc.) to make a sales pitch presentation to “sell” their Rube Goldberg machine to a selected audience.

Thomas and Brown (2011) suggest that students need to be submersed in a new culture of learning where digital media provide them with information and the opportunity to play. (p. 37-38) In my lesson, students are encouraged to play with the new tech tools such as YouTube and other web-based presentation tools to explore and represent their learning. My lesson also aligns with Renee Hobb’s (2011) five communication competencies:

  • Access- Students use YouTube to find examples of Rube Goldberg machines to analyze, and they share their learning using Google Docs and web-based presentation tools.
  • Analyze- Students use critical thinking to apply the knowledge they have about energy transformations to design their own Rube Goldberg machine.
  • Create- Students use their creativity to create a Rube Goldberg machine and a sales presentation to pitch their machine to a hypothetical audience.
  • Reflect- Students are able to reflect on their learning and the ideas of others during the presentations. They also are given feedback from the teacher which deepens their own thinking.
  • Act- Students act on their learning by using problem solving skills to share knowledge while working individually in part one of the lesson, and in groups on their Rube Goldberg projects in part two.

I am really excited about how I have revamped my Rube Goldberg project to include digital technologies and become more aligned with this new culture of learning. I look forward to implementing it in my co-taught physics classroom!

An original drawing by Rube Goldberg. www.rubegoldberg.com

An original drawing by Rube Goldberg. http://www.rubegoldberg.com


Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?.


Networked Learning Project Part 2: Wood Wall Art Update

I have been gathering a lot of information for my Networked Learning Project over the past couple weeks and I have been learning a lot about making wooden wall art! I decided to use a phrase from my daughter’s favorite nursery rhyme, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” My wood wall art will say: “Out Came the Sun and Dried Up All the Rain.”

After watching lots of YouTube videos and reading reading help forums about techniques and tricks for staining, designing, and painting wood, I finally was ready to dig in and begin! I hit the jackpot and found some scrap wood that a neighbor had put out for the trash and I scooped it up! One piece was the perfect size for my project, which was great that I didn’t have to dabble with a power saw! My sidekick, Hailey, and I took a trip to Home Depot to pick up wood stain, a staining brush, and sand paper. Thanks to a help forum (seen here) on the different stain applicator options (brush, rag, or foam brush), I ended up returning the paint brush and using an old rag to apply my stain! I was pretty excited about saving $10 with this tip, and the rag worked great!  I also went to Michael’s craft store and purchased the remaining items I would need: white acrylic paint, and a small and a medium size paint brushes.

I purchased the few supplies I needed from Home Depot and Michael's craft store with the help of my daughter, Hailey. Thanks to the advise of a help forum, I was able to return the $10 paint brush and use an old rag to apply the stain.

I purchased the few supplies I needed from Home Depot and Michael’s craft store with the help of my daughter, Hailey. Thanks to the advise of a help forum, I was able to return the $10 paint brush and use an old rag to apply the stain.

Last week I accomplished sanding the board and applying the stain to my wood.  I used a power sander which I had never used before, but this video made it pretty easy.  Lucky for me, my husband already had the sandpaper on the power sander from the last time he used it. I only gave my wood a quick sanding to smooth out the rough edges. When I applied the stain to my board, I made sure to rub in the direction of the grain which was a unanimous suggestion on many help forums and videos. The recommendation was to let the stain set for 24 hours before moving on to the next step. I found that my wood needed more like 48 hours to dry, because after 24 hours the board was still tacky.

Here is a flipagram of my wood sanding and staining process!

The YouTube video I followed closely was this one from YouTube DIY crafter, Abby Contrery (seen here). I chose this video because the style of her wood art was most like the style I was trying to create. I found her tutorial easy to follow because she explained each of her steps and her thought process. She sped up the video on parts where she was working and just focused on the important steps, which made her video under 10 minutes. I liked that her tutorial was so concise and to the point. Some other videos I watched were too drawn out and long. 

When it came time to paint the wording on my board, I carefully filled in the letters using the white paint and my smallest paint brush. I tried to be as careful as possible, but the letters came out streaky and uneven. It was definitely harder than I anticipated. I searched some of my go-to videos for an easier way to make my letters look nicer- the “experts” made it look so easy. The DIY YouTube crafter, “Cute As Me,”  mentioned in her video that she went back and outlined her letters with a sharpie (although she forgot to actually show this step in her video). (See video here) This gave me the idea to use a white sharpie or paint pen to try and fix up my lettering. I went back to Michael’s and purchased an oil based paint pen. It helped a little (see before and after pic below), but I am trying not to be so hard on myself because the sanding at the end will take away some of the imperfections. I think the font and size of text I picked was hard for painting. Next time I would also pick a bolder font without the fancy tips on the letters.

I fixed up the edges of my letters with an oil-based Sharpie paint pen.

I fixed up the edges of my letters with an oil-based Sharpie paint pen.

Overall I am happy with how my wooden wall art is turning out. As a learner, I found the YouTube videos to be very helpful in visualizing the steps. The videos I came across offered many different techniques, so ultimately I needed to pick and choose which techniques I liked best and would help me reach the end result I want. My next steps are to finish the lettering and to sand the whole thing it to give it a more rustic look. The sanding is the part I am most concerned about because I don’t want to ruin it. My plan is to sand only a little at a time and add more if needed.  Stay tuned for another update soon!

Getting Things Done with Wunderlist!

This week in CEP810 we explored David Allen’s approach to managing workflow called Getting Things Done (GTD).  As a new(ish) mom who works full time, and takes masters classes online, I have quite a bit to manage in my life. I am to-do list lover. For years I would keep a large (5”x8”) sticky note to-do list affixed to the top of my day planner, and it traveled with me everywhere I went. Last year I took the plunge and went digital with my calendar. It took a lot of getting used and I no longer had my day planner to attach my to-do list to. I kept my paper and pencil to do-list for a while, then switched to making a to-do list “note” on my iPhone. It worked for a while, but I missed the act of crossing off items on my to-do list like I could with a paper list. AND THEN  my iPhone decided to go swimming in the pool last week…and I lost everything that wasn’t connected to my iCloud… including my to-do list “notes”.

Before the start of the new school year, it is the perfect time to find a new productivity tool to help manage my to-do lists. I am looking for something that is always with me (my iPhone), since I don’t carry my iPhone at school it also needs to be shared with my other devices (iPad and computer), it should be connected to an iCould (so I don’t lose my lists again), and I would like to be able to prioritize and cross off items. Wunderlist is a task management app that fits all of these criteria! In the spirit of networked learning, I decided to search for a YouTube video about Wunderlist. Here is the video that sold me on downloading and getting started with Wunderlist. (If embedded video does not work, use this link)

I have already started creating my lists with Wunderlist and I have categories for work, personal, and grocery shopping. Since I will be mostly using Wunderlist on my iPhone, I watched this YouTube tutorial about the Wunderlist iPhone app. (If embedded video does not work, use this link). 

I like that I can rearrange the order of actual lists because for the summer I would like my personal to-do list on top, followed by my work to-do list. When school starts, my work to-do list will be on top because I will be working from that list more frequently.  For my grocery shopping list, I used the rearrange feature to organize items by the isles they are located in my grocery store.  I am looking forward to crossing off items from Wunderlist as I do my grocery shopping!

I am convinced that Wunderlist will take my to-do lists to a new level, and take some stress out of getting things done! If you use Wunderlist and have some tips and tricks, I would love for you to share them with me!


My Professional Learning Network

This week in CEP 810, I was asked to think about my Professional Learning Network (PLN) and create a visual organization of my PLN using Popplet. My popplet is below (click to view larger). It is eye-opening to see all of the different people and resources I have access to! I rely on these resources daily in my profession as I strive to be a better teacher. I am lucky to work in a supportive school district that puts a high value on professional learning communities. I would not be the teacher I am today without these supports!
BH s Professional Learning Network