Module 2 Interview

My approach to this particular project is rooted in my desire to become a better k12 educator that can eventually take my skills to the next level (higher education). I chose to interview current College of Education Faculty at MSU who both have previous teaching experience at the k12 level. My goal was to get the perspective of current faculty on areas of language and how perceptions of language affect students success in the k12 setting. The interview which can be found here is a glimpse into some of my research interest and how those interest affect my classroom experience. Overall, completing the project was engaging and very informative. I have some previous experience with using Audacity and SoundCloud from my time as  TIE at MSU and previous MAET Courses, having a chance to explore those tools again was quite fun and engaging.  



Maker Activity #3

According to Thomas, “A maker is someone who makes something — from food to robots, wooden furniture to microcontroller-driven art installations. Makers are typically driven by their curiosity for learning and creating new things, as well as by an interest in sharing their work and processes with others,” (Thomas, 2012). Prior to this course I had no background knowledge of what/who a maker is/was. Thinking about makers in the way in which Thomas defines them made me realize that I want my students to become makers, which is why I think the activity designed was a good tool for encouraging them to explore and become their very own little makers. Using the maker kit I received I looked at things from the perspective of of encouraging my students to become  makers.

A “littleBit” about my maker kit…

littleBits is the maker kit that I have had the opportunity to explore and become more familiar with. While I think the littleBits are a very cool tool to explore and have fun with, I often struggled to truly see how I would implement them effectively into my own teaching.

Initially I thought my frustration or lack of knowledge stemmed from not being present the day everyone initially explored his or her  Maker Kit but after visiting the MSU Surplus store (my adventure is chronicled here.) I thought things made more sense; however, I still was not sure what to do with such tiny circuits, power sources, etc. without tools that were comparable in size. So, after I had these perspectives about the maker kit and my experience to draw upon, it was critical for me not to allow that to transpire into how I would present material to my students with an unbiased approach.

As I think about using my maker kit, littleBits in my classroom, I am immediately brought back to the aspect of TPACK that makes it clear that creativity and technology integration works in tandem. I see the kit in my future classroom as a means of creating small and engaging mini lessons that have some connection to the curriculum but also focuses on less structured lessons but instead allow students to “create their own assignment” and be responsible for their learning.

As a student I think I struggled with this assignment the most because I did not see myself as a “maker.” I am quite embracing of creativity and technology, I just think I may struggle with the idea that I am capable of constructing something of substance; however, I would not ever want my thoughts or personal feelings to affect my students learning because so many of my students seek to understand, explore, and create in an effort to express their thoughts -both personally and academically. overall, I think the maker kit I had has potential, it just needs to be really well thought out and the maker theory is one that is definitely a “game changer.”


Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A Framework for Teacher Knowledge. (T. Bastiaens, J. Dron, & C. Xin, Eds.)Teachers College Record108(6), 1017–1054. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9620.2006.00684.x

Thomas, A. (2012, September 7). Engaging Students in the STEM Classroom Through “Making”. [Web log comment]. Retreived from


UDL: Maker Project Redesign

Maker Activity-UDL Redesign

I think the overall concept that I have in mind for my students is a good one that encourages exploration, creativity, and overall an enjoyable activity while students gain new knowledge of a time in our more recent history. As a special education teacher Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is not a new concept for me but more of a theory that I attempt to apply regularly in my teaching. As I think about redesigning this activity I think of a few key components that I would like to focus on as I “revamp” this lesson.

The first thing that I would like to alter or contribute to is the means in which the assignment is provided. I think provided oral instructions for the activity is beneficial, especially for my students with a learning disability in reading; however, I would also provide students with additional resources, such as, a written assignment sheet, so that my students that work better with a visual or organizational tool, will have access to that resource as well.

As I continue to redesign the task I would offer the students the opportunity to collaborate prior to engaging in the online discussion. Students will be allowed to work independently or with a group of 1-2 other students. Providing students with this flexibility is the beginning to teaching my students how to effectively communicate their ideas, concerns, reasoning, etc. Collaboration will also promote creativity and provide students with an opportunity to work with others who may be able to add on to their learning through idea sharing. Providing an opportunity for collaboration and sharing is a means in which the lesson will be more aligned and solidified in the area of  “Provides Multiple Means of Engagement.”

One thing that I have found to be very helpful with my students is Dragon Dictation. For many of my students written expression is quite difficult for my students. While my students have outstanding ideas that are relevant and engaging, they struggle to take those thoughts and coherently place them on paper in an effort to portray their ideas effectively, as a result, a dictation software such as Dragon Dictation allows for my students to speak their ideas and have their thoughts transcribed for them, I have found this tool to be very useful with my students. Dragon Dictation combined with the use GoogleDocs, addresses the area of “Provide Multiple Means for Action and Expression.” GoogleDocs is also a great tool for collaboration and I would definitely keep it as a part of this activity.

Looking Back: Reflection on UDL Lesson Revision 

As previously stated as a Special Education teacher, UDL is not a new term, however, as an intern in Chicago, often the concept did not seem to be as common amongst other educators and my attempt to engage and educate some on the framework was not always met with an open mind. As a result, of my recent experience I think my connection to UDL was somewhat “lost.” I appreciate this assignment for simply “re-routing” me back to working through the UDL framework as I plan lessons. As an educator of those with special learning needs I am always thinking about differentiation but I sometimes forget to focus on the most basic level of differentiation. Because I had the opportunity to re-visit this lesson, I made the basic things that promote student learning my focus and what I wanted to make sure was covered.

There were some areas that were stronger than others but overall I think that the activity itself had a solid foundation under the UDL framework. Additionally, the initial inclusion of the TPACK framework seemed to make transitioning into some of the other areas of UDL slightly less complicated and even assisted in the flow of the lesson. Overall, I think the creativity and content in this activity are solid, the delivery was the main thing I wanted to see differently in the revisions and I think that is what happened. I think the process of redesigning was a lot less complicated than I initially expected.

Repurposing Playtime Activity #2

A lesson that I could see being useful for my students would be having them to use the LittleBits in a science lesson in which their social science is integrated, just as it is actually done throughout many Chicago Public Schools.

Last year I taught students who were in higher elementary and lower middle school according to the way in which Chicago Public Schools (CPS), defines their grade levels. So, essentially I taught 3rd-6th grade. According to our curriculum circuits are taught in grade 8, therefore, teaching my students circuits directly would not be my goal but more of an opportunity to provide my students with an exploration time and a way to connect their learning back to real life events. I teach special education so for my students more specifically, explore time and hands on learning really increases their engagement and willingness to participate.

littleBits are “an opensource library of electronic modules that snap together with tiny magnets for prototyping, learning, and fun,” (

So, with this in mind my goal would be to have my students use littlebits to determine to reenact the Northeast Blackout of 2003.

Lesson Goal:

Successfully build a town using littleBits and other outside material in which you can reenact the Northeast Blackout of 2003.

Overarching Themes and Questions:

  1. How will you use your littleBits to construct a real life image of a town
  2. What littleBits will be used to show electricity and then losing that electricity
  3. Why is your invention believable?
  4. What are the benefits and consequences of your invention, especially in relation to the Blackout?

Upon building their invention, students will utilize various supports such as Dragon Dictation to create a post about their experience in which they will use GoogleDocs to successfully share their thoughts and collaborate with their peers relayed to the assignment.

Why does this matter?

“The basis of our framework [TPCK] is the understanding that teaching is a highly complex activity that draws on many kinds of knowledge, ” (Mishra & Koehler,  2006). Considering the complexity of teaching and just how to integrate technology into the classroom, it is always important for me as an educator to allow students an opportunity to gain not only new knowledge but knowledge that they can apply.

Many of my students are not aware of some of the most basic events in history that have occurred, not only during their lifetime but also in areas that they reside in or are relatively close to them. This activity will allow an opportunity for my students to actively engage in their learning through the opportunity to explore technology. The activity is designed to have students explore a time in history while thinking about they can reenact that event, which often place students in the idea that this is more hands on and more related more to them than they are even aware of. The task itself is somewhat open ended in the attempt to truly engage students in an activity in which creativity is at the forefront of their experience and backed by the goals that are accomplished through the covering of the content. According to Mishra, “If technology has advanced to the forefront of 21st century learning discussions, then creativity has been its partner in crime, ” (Mishra, 2012).

Creativity is something that I always look to incorporate into my teaching and giving students the opportunity to be given an “outline” of what their task is and then encouraging them to take the outline along with their creativity out and explore through their learning, they are more likely to engage and active engagement will help students retain the information they have processed and in my classroom specifically retention is one thing that is always at the forefront in my planning and goals for my students.

Mishra, P. (2012). Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st Century: Crayons are the Future. TechTrends56(5), 13–16. doi:10.1007/s11528-012-0594-0

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A Framework for Teacher Knowledge. (T. Bastiaens, J. Dron, & C. Xin, Eds.)Teachers College Record108(6), 1017–1054. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9620.2006.00684.x


This blog will focus on the Maker Kit and the adventure I took with my group members to the MSU Surplus Store. Ray, Alexis, and I took some time to check out the MSU Surplus in the hopes that we would find some things that we could use to create something that would work in my classroom or in my teachings.

Our MakerKit was the LittleBits. Keeping the MakerKit in mind I thought about how the LittleBits could stand alone but then to move into using them to create something greater. Initially our thoughts were to connect our LittleBits to something. however, as the name suggest they are quite small and it is not always possible to find things that would work on them or as an attachment or as an output method.

So, while in the Surplus Store nothing was elicited for me right off but with time, I hoped to be able to find things that were slightly different or unique that my students could enjoy or explore with


Building an Attention Getting Device 

My classroom is non traditional in the sense that my students have the tendency to spend a lot of time working in groups and even when they are working independently they are spending time working on different work that aligns with their personal Individual Educational Plan (IEP). With this in mind as an educator I often look for innovative ways to regain the attention of my students and ways in which we can alert each other of the “happenings” in our learning environment, as a result, I thought it would be great to have students construct their own personal “attention getting device” such as a “buzzer” style invention that could be used to gain the attention of everyone in the classroom, as a universal signal.


  • Cardboard
  • Glue /Tape
  • Markers /Crayons
  • Scissors
  • littleBits Roller Switch
  • littleBits Sound Trigger
  • littleBits Power Source/Battery
  • Additional Materials to add to the “craft” portion of the task

Step by Step Instructions:

  1. Construct the base for your design (however you would like the structure of your device to be, can be a square, a triangle, circle, or feel free to be more creative with your design but make sure it is large enough for your littleBits to fit inside of or support some means of you being able to apply pressure to the sound trigger)
  2. Connect the littleBit battery to the power adapter
  3. Attach the sound trigger to the power adapter
  4. Attach the roller switch to the other end on the the input button (your littleBit sound trigger)
  5. Place your littleBits inside of your original design
  6. Test to see if when pressure is applied your invention triggers the littleBit Sound Trigger


What are the benefits? 

Students who are often easily distracted are refocused through various attention getting device, having students create this device allows them to be more hands on with their learning. Additionally, it provide the educator with a unique way of gaining the attention of the entire class and bringing everyone’s focus back so that the next set of instructions can be given. Often this task is done through simply clapping, ringing a bell, ringing chimes, etc.; however, in this case students can create an invention and see its practical use in the classroom.



Wicked Problem Final Post



This was a collaborative project which included Jon Gere, Alexis Miller, 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.).

Passion Quotient, Curiosity Quotient, Technology, and Me

I found the article by Friedman to be very interesting. Specifically Friedman spoke to a change in the digital world requiring a “more individual initiative.” I originally struggled with that statement because I view change and the power of change to be group efforts; however, after further contemplation, I realized I too could agree with Friedman. Individual initiative embodies the concept that someone has to be willing to initiate the change that will transpire into the change that others want as well; however, if no one ever initiate that change, we will all continue to simply talk about change verses experiencing change.

After exploring the article I thought about how I initiate that change and how that transpires into my day to day interactions with my students. I thought about how I engage and motivate my students and that is through my own passion, curiosity, and integration of technology. My personal approach to these areas are the approaches I hope to transpire into my students.

To showcase  these traits that exist in not only me but also in my students I created a movie, using iMovie. The movie is below, please feel free to check it out!