Network Learning Project: Final Reflections

Learning how to “use” this camera has been quite a process. I am really happy I chose this as my project but wish I would have a higher level of knowledge and confidence with the camera by this point. I am eager to learn about the camera but also found that it got put on the bottom of my list of things that needed to get done. I am a hands on learner therefore, the instant feedback of a picture turning out or not is great for me. I am still struggling with the “why” the picture worked or did not work. As I become more familiar with the various components and features I am hoping my photography abilities increase. While I posted a few times on the forums, I still found myself being much more of a lurker on those. I was often so overwhelmed and confused that I did not even know where to begin with the questions I had. Again, as my confidence with the camera grows I am hoping to become much more actively involved in some of the forums I often found myself lurking on.

Watch the video below to learn more about my experiences with the DSLR camera.

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Wicked Problem Final Post

This was a collaborative project which included Jon Gere, LaShawn Hanes, Mary Tovey and myself.

From  The Future of Education:

The 2013 NMC Horizon Project Summit Communiqué 

“Rethink what it means to teach, and reinvent everything about teaching.

All of our notions about teaching were developed for eras in which the oral tradition was the main way that knowledge was transmitted from one generation to the next. Libraries existed, but only the very lucky few had access to the kinds of resources that virtually all of us take for granted today. When most any practical question can be answered in microseconds via the network, and in most cases, with a variety of perspectives and viewpoints which also included —what is the role of the venerated teacher? What are the defining attributes of the teachers we need to help the next generations build on (or fix) the work we did? What can and should be the key competencies of a teacher? We know we need education overall to be more experiential and more hands – on. We need to be emphasizing good choices, and ethical decisions. Learning must be global, and more based in the realities of the world as it is. It should be more authentic. What we do not know is how to prepare people to be successful with these very different kinds of skills, and that makes this a wicked problem.”

  We understood that education has been modeled after the “factory” mentality.  That is, our schools were set up like factories where students’ unifying thread was their date of birth.  Along with mass production came mass education and a “one-size-fits all” approach.  Our wicked problem of “Rethinking Teaching” for the 21st century encompassed four components:

  • Best instructional practices
  • Connectedness of learning in their relationships with teacher and other classmates
  • Intrinsic Motivation
  • Student’s role in their own learning

Please take a look at our Voicethread for a further analysis of these four components.

According to the Charlotte Danielson’s MET (Measures of Effective Teaching) report, more effective teachers have better results with their students.  One component of a highly effective teacher lies in her ability to create a culture of learning in her classroom and to establish a rapport of respect.  Danielson defines this as:

  • Classroom interactions among the teacher and individual students are highly respectful, reflecting genuine warmth and caring and sensitivity to students as individuals. (Connected relationships)

  • Students exhibit respect for the teacher and contribute to high levels of civil interaction between all members of the class. The net result of interactions is that of connections with students as individuals.(Students’ role in their own learning)

  • The classroom culture is a cognitively vibrant place, characterized by a shared belief in the importance of learning. The teacher conveys high expectations for learning by all students and insists on hard work. (Best Teaching Practices)

  • Students assume responsibility for high quality by initiating improvements, making revisions, adding detail, and/or helping peers. (Intrinsic Motivation)


To sum things up, it takes a very skilled teacher to establish rapport and create a culture of learning in his/her classroom.  It is a special brand of “magic” that the teacher creates to engage the learner, motivate and make learning soar!  Teachers are the difference.  If teachers take these four components that we have discussed and utilize what we know in each other these areas, we can make a difference in education and solve this wicked problem.  It will not happen overnight and it will be a lot of hard work but it is possible to change the face of education if we all work together towards the same goal.  As referred to by James Gee it takes “Grit . . . an invented term that means perseverance and passion of the sort necessary for the ‘persistence past failure’ through long hours of practice.”


Danielson, C. (n.d.). The Danielson Group. Research on the Framework for Teaching. Retrieved from

Gee, J. P. (n.d.). The anti-education era: Creating smarter students through digital learning. (n.d.).

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PQ and CQ

Passion Quotient and Curiosity Quotient.  Thomas Friedman mentions these two things at the end of the article, yet does not go into detail on them.  The video below shows what passion and curiosity mean to me as a social studies teacher.

My goal as a teacher is to have my students leave my classroom with a greater passion for learning, increased curiosity towards the world, the ability to question things they hear and see, and to be better more confident young adults.  If my students forget a name, date, or place or can’t recall a fact but they can problem solve and ask questions and generate conversations than I feel like I have done my job as a teacher.  If my students enter my classroom with low self confidence and leave being proud of themselves than I feel like I have done my job as a teacher.  Passion and curiosity are important characteristics to instill upon the students and one such way is by modeling these characteristics.  I am passionate about both teaching and history – this is evident to my students.  I am curious about what new technologies, new teaching methods, my students’ lives, and our school community.  This is also evident to the students.  In addition to creating a classroom climate that encourages passion and curiosity I also model these things.

Click the link below to watch a video I put together on passion and curiosity.

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Repurposing Playtime #3

The tool I was given for my maker project was LittleBits.  While, I think there are many positive aspects about maker projects I do not think that LittleBits in the social studies classroom is one of those.  “Makers are typically driven by the curiosity for learning and creating new things, as well as by an interest in sharing their work and processes with others.” (Edutopia)  Providing students with a required tool and a required assignment limits individual creativity and does not account for individual interest.  I was having lunch with some colleagues earlier this week and we were discussing ways in which to make our remedial math program more engaging and interactive.  Currently, the students who need remedial math lose an elective and participate in I Can Learn – a computer based math program.  We discussed that implementing a maker mentality would be extremely beneficial – the students would have to use math skills to build robots, problem solve, etc.  The intended goal of mathematics learning would take place as well as increased knowledge in science, problem solving, collaboration, and potentially have an impact on their classroom, school, or city community.  

Throughout this course we have read many articles that stress the importance of TPACK and ensuring that technology integration is enhancing the learning.  I believe that if I were to actually use LittleBits in my classroom there would be a loss of learning. The lesson was created around the tool versus the tool being used to enhance the learning and creativity of the lesson thus, creating a more challenging task. The assignment required a high level of creativity but it was so ambiguous that the assessing the creativity and product would end up being an incredibly subjective task. I feel that with any maker project it would best be implemented if it were a cross curricular project.  Attempting to implement a maker project in just one class with one content area limits the creativity, options, assessment and learning of the students. It pigeon holes the students in what they can produce as well as the tool they can use to produce it.

I found this assignment to be particularly challenging in many ways.  I found it to be most challenging because I felt like I was creating a lesson that I knew would not help my students. I knew when creating it that I would not be able to use it in the classroom.  I knew that the students would lose out on another valuable lesson if it were to be implemented.  I knew that it would limit creativity and provide more frustration than success for both teacher and student.  That being said, I think LittleBits can be a great learning tool and could be highly engaging for some students.  I believe that they are best for a small group of students or for an after school club where the students are already intrinsically motivated to use the tool.



Thomas, AnnMarie. “Engaging Students in the STEM Classroom Through “Making””Edutopia. Edutopia, 7 Sept. 2012. Web. 24 July 2013.

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Network Learning Project: Update

The largest problem I am having with my network learning project is finding the time to invest in using my DSLR.  The camera has been taken out places but I have not had the time to sit there and take the same picture over and over again with different shutter speed settings thus, allowing me to visually see how they impact the picture.

I have really enjoyed having it as have my friends.  If I take the camera somewhere thinking I will be able to play with it to figure then it ends being used by my friends more than it does by me.  I need to go on a hike (alone) and take the camera with me sitting and taking pictures in the same spot using various settings.

I know this project is based on our use of forums and YouTube videos and I have found these very helpful, but still plan on taking an in class person about camera use as soon as this semester is over.  The largest problem I found with the forums is that I am finding out how little I know about the camera.  I am also wishing that I had access to these forums (my computer with me) when I am out with my camera.

Watch this GoAnimate video to see how my feelings have progressed throughout this project.

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Technology in the Classroom: Survey and Results

Link to Survey

Link to Results

I posted this survey on Facebook and sent an e-mail out to the staff at the middle school I currently work. I received 33 responses.  In the following section I will break down the data and then further explain that data.

Question 1How many days do you use technology?

1 – 2: 12% (4 people)

2 – 3: 12% (4 people)

3 – 5: 75% (25 people)


Question 2: On a scale of 1 – 10, rank your comfort level with technology

2: 35 (1 person)

5, 6, and 7: 21% (9 people)

8, 9, and 10: 70% (23 people)


Question 3: When incorporating technology into the class what do you typically look at first: goals of the lesson (all the time), goals of the lesson (most of the time), technology (all the time), and technology (most of the time)

Goals of the lesson (all the time): 27% (9 people)

Goals of the lesson (most of the time): 56% (19 people)

Technology (all of the time): 3% (1 person)

Technology (most of the time): 12% (4 people)


Question 4: PRETEND you are required to attend a PD in August. Rank these options from most interested to least interested. A) Flipping the Classroom B) Technology 101: Learning the Basics C) Strategies to Best Implement Tech in my Classroom D) Collaboration and writing tools in technology E) Blogging in the Classroom

First Choice                     Second Choice                      Third Choice                    Fourth Choice                    Fifth Choice

A           45% (15 ppl)                         27% (9 ppl)                             9% (3 ppl)                        15% (5 ppl)                          3% (1 ppl)


B          12% (3 ppl)                            45% (15 ppl)                           15% (5 ppl)                     0% (0 ppl)                        27% (9 ppl)


C         27% (9 ppl)                              33% (11 ppl)                           15% (5 ppl)                     9% (3 ppl)                             3% (1 person)


D         15% (5 ppl)                               12% (4 ppl)                             24% (8 ppl)                    30% (10 ppl)                       6% (2 ppl)


E         12% (4 ppl)                              18% (6 ppl)                               18% (6 ppl)                    18% (6 ppl)                          24% (8 ppl)


Question 4: If you could have one technology wish, what would it be?

This was an open ended question and I will explore the results of this at the end of analyzing the data.


Based on the results of this survey we can see that the majority of the participants use technology on a regular basis and have are fairly comfortable with the use of technology.  There is still room for growth in these areas.  When it comes to implementing technology use in the classroom we can see that the majority of the people do look at the goals of the lesson before looking towards the specific technology.  If we break that category down further we see that 56% of participants claim that most of the time they look at the goals of the lesson prior to incorporating technology.  We need to shift our professional development and training’s to moving moving that 56% into the always considers goals of the lesson before using technology category.  To best support our digital native students we need to know how technology is going to supplement and improve a lesson.  How will it challenge the honors students, create new learning opportunities, and also help differentiate for struggling students?

Question 3 asked participants to consider types of professional development they would like to attend specifically revolving around the issue of technology in the classroom.  If we look at people’s first and second choices we see that option A: Flipping the Classroom as the largest amount of interested participants at 72%.  Option C: Strategies to Best Implement Technology in the Classroom at 60% is the next highest professional development participants are interested in attended.  Option C is closely followed by option B: Technology 101: Learning the Basics at 57%.  Options D and E (Collaboration and Writing Tools in Technology and Blogging in the Classroom) were the least chosen options with 27% and 30% respectively.  Participants are most interested in topics that provide more flexibility and can be taken in many directions.  Flipping the classroom can be applied to any content area and can be beneficial for a variety of age groups.  Given the comfort level of technology with participants of this survey it is not unlikely that they would be interested in furthering their skills through taking on the challenge of flipping their classrooms.  Options C and B were closely ranked and both have to do looking at not the fundamentals of technology or of a specific program, app, software, etc but at looking at the fundamentals of using technology in the classroom. Despite the confidence of participants with technology there was still a high interest in these topics.  This is important to note, because I feel that it is often left out of training sessions that revolve around technology.  The data showing that 56% of participants do not always consider the goals solidifies this point.  We often assume that because somebody appears to be familiar and confident with technology they will know how to best incorporate the technology into their classroom.  This is not true.  Technology in the classroom in its current state is a new phenomena – we need to train our teachers to use these materials to best support student learning, creativity, problem solving, and creativity.  For their technology wish the majority of participants stated that they wished each student could have a computer, e-mail address, and access to internet at home.  If a one to one laptop initiative were to take place across the country, and that trend is growing, are our teachers trained to best use those laptops in the classroom?  The data from this survey shows that teachers are on the right track to using technology in the classroom but need additional training to be more successful.  The data from this survey also shows that teachers are eager to learn about how to best incorporate technology in the classroom as well as take on challenges involving technology like flipping the classroom.

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Reading Disabilities in the Classroom

I chose to focus my research on reading disabilities. The social studies content requires an immense amount of reading and comprehension. Despite the amount of graphic organizers, visuals, kinesthetic learning tools, and tips and tricks one provides the students reading is still a huge part of the social studies classroom. I often see on the IEP’s I receive at the beginning of the year there being something about a reading disability. If I read further I can see the data from numerous reading tests the student has gone through since their eligibility into special education. I have always looked at those numbers and that data with a puzzled look – what does all that mean for that particular child in this particular social studies classroom?

“Reading disability is defined as below-average achievement in reading comprehension, as assessed by a standardized test.” (Aaron, Joshi, and Williams) In the article, Not all Reading Disabilities are Alike, reading disabilities are broken down into four sub categories. I found this article particularly interesting because, these sub categories are never given to me as the teacher with students with learning disabilities. “Four different types of poor readers could be identified with deficiency in any one of the following skills: (a) decoding only, (b) comprehension only, (c) a combination of comprehension and decoding, and (d) a combination of orthographic processing and reading speed.” (Aaron, Joshi, and Williams). Due to the variety of reading disabilities a child could have multiple strategies can be implemented to best support that child. It is best to look at what is holding the child back from being successful and then work on implementing the strategy.

“Students with special needs often struggle with all aspects of reading, from developing phonemic awareness to comprehension.” (Selfridge) Approximately 30% of the students I teach have special needs. These students are all grouped together (anywhere from 15 – 20 in a class) and while I have a co-teacher I do not get planning time with myy a co-teacher because they also teach mathematics, which gets precedent. We also have limited space for our reading intervention program – only about eight students from each program can be placed in this. It is imperative that I master reading comprehension strategies to explicitly teach my students. Selfridge states that “practitioners and researchers have demonstrated that using precision teaching techniques will facilitate the improvement of reading behaviors.”

Depending on the structure or strategy, there are many tools which can be used in the classroom to best support reading comprehension. “Regardless of the strategy, instruction in the area of reading comprehension must be highly structured, directed response/questioning, explicit, systematic, modeled, scaffolded, and intense.” (Watson, Gable, Gear) One strategy to explicitly teach and model with students is called using your “inside voice”. Expert readers will ask questions, make connections, and make inferences while they read; they often do not realize they are doing this. “Students with a greater knowledge of a specific topic understand and remember textual information about that topic better than students with less prior knowledge of that area, regardless of their age or reading disability.” (Watson, Gable, and Gear) One technological tool to best implement this strategy would be the use of GoogleDocs. A scaffolded reading could be created in a GoogleDoc and then shared on the “add comments” mode. Students could then add in any connections and questions they have. All of the readings stated how important it was to explicitly teach and model these strategies. The class would do an example together the first time with the teacher adding in comments to the document being projected onto the screen (comments would come from student volunteers). The students would then work in small groups or pairs to read another text using the same strategy. Eventually, the students would be able to complete this task independently. In addition to the modeling and explicit expectations of the strategy, the strategy would also need to be highly structured. Students would always have a minimum requirement of thinking of two questions and making two connections.

Reading disabilities affect the learning, motivation, and attitude for school. These articles broke down the term “reading disability” into several categories, thus providing a more specific outlook on the disability. “The ability to read greatly influences students’ academic careers and their entire lives.” I will be starting the school year explicitly teaching 1 reading comprehension structure for every two units. This will give time to model, differentiate for the different types reading disabilities, and provide time for the students to master the structure before moving onto the next. If more time is needed on a given structure than more time can be allotted.


Aaron, P. G., Joshi, M., & Williams, K. A. (1999). Not all reading disabilities are alike. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 32(2), 120-137. Retrieved from

Selfridge, K. A., & Kostewicz, D. E. (2011). Reading interventions for four students with learning disabilities. Journal of Precision Teaching & Celeration, 27, 19-24. Retrieved from

Watson, S. M., Gable, R. A., Gear, S. B., & Hughes, K. C. (2012). Evidence-based strategies for improving the reading comprehension of secondary students: Implications for students with learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 27(2), 79-89. Retrieved from

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