Category Archives: 1.1 Creating

Candidates demonstrate the ability to create instructional materials and learning environments using a variety of systems approaches.

Managing the PBL process

As I include more project-based learning in my classroom, I will have to change the way I teach. I have always enjoyed having my students complete projects to learn, and I have required them to work in groups, but I haven’t always adequately prepared materials in advance of projects. One thing I will have to change about my teaching is that I will need to prepare far in advance. Rather than creating a rubric days before a project is due (or just grading without one), I will need to create, or include my students in creating, a rubric that spells out the requirements of the project, and I will need to create the rubric before introducing my students to the project through the entry event.

Another change that I will need to make for effective PBL to occur in my classroom, is that I need to be a better facilitator. In the past, I have over-helped student groups while moving around the room to check on them. Or, I have gone to the other extreme and completely ignored the students and graded papers while they worked. I will need to move around the room with purpose and be prepared to steer students in the right direction without over-directing or making decisions for them.

I believe that the project I am currently designing will be a good project for students to learn the skills they will need to complete other assignments. The purpose of the project is for students to practice research and writing skills, which are basic skills they would need to complete any future projects. I am hoping that this project will prepare my students for the rest of the school year. I plan to begin this project about 3 weeks into the school year, so my students will be well-prepared for future writing assignments. This project will also introduce my students to the themes of Need and Choice which we will use to examine literature throughout the year.

The main change I will need to make as a teacher, is to prepare ahead of time for projects. I often have an idea, usually of epic proportions, and I jump right into it the next day (or later the same day) without taking the time to prepare materials, decide upon final products, or determine its requirements. To be successful in using PBL as an instructional strategy, I will need to slow down, organize, and prepare in advance. Once a project is up and running I am usually adept at mentoring students in completing it, if it has been properly designed. So, the real change will be taking time to completely design projects in advance.

Here is the website for my current PBL, (currently titled) What do You Need?


Tech Trends

The NMC Horizon Report is an annual report that looks at emerging technologies and their potential impact on teaching, learning, and creativity in schools. After reading the 2014 K-12 report, I initially wanted to look further into hybrid learning because, in the report, it sounded like it involved a blend of regular classroom activities and online components. However, as I began reading the related articles and looking at resources, I realized that hybrid learning was more systemic than classroom-based. Since I am looking for ways to flip my classroom, not implement a blended online/brick-and-mortar learning system, I decided to explore other options. Rereading the report, I realized that Open Educational Resources was really where I wanted to place my focus.

Open Educational Resources, or OERs, are free, usually in both economic and ownership (copyright) terms. OERs are a trend that, according to the Horizon report, will be drive “educational technology adoption in schools within three to five years” (Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A. 2014. p. 10-11). One reason I chose to explore this trend is because I need resources for my own classes and do not want to spend the time to create them all myself. I was happy to find several quality interactive products for my students to use both for instruction and for product creation.

After looking at the examples and at what other students had created for this assignment’s artifact, I had a hard time deciding what to do with the information I had gathered. I knew that I wanted to do some sort of presentation, but I haven’t practiced with any screen capture software yet and I knew I didn’t have time to play with those. As I continued to look at open educational resources, I came across a discussion of Explain Everything, an iOS app. It costs $2.99, but even after just using it once I think it is absolutely worth paying for. Click here for to visit and see a video demonstrating Explain Everything’s capabilities. I used screen shots that I took of the OERs with my iPad, so the resolution isn’t great, but it was really simple to import them into Explain Everything as I created slides. You can add items to a slide, then narrate, and then add more and continue your narration on the same slide. When your presentation is completely finished, you can upload it to pretty much anything. I chose YouTube, because I had included animation and narration. There were other video-hosting sites available for the upload, but I would have had to create accounts for them. It took about 15 minutes to render the presentation as an mp4 and upload it to YouTube.

Here is the link to my video

After an hour of re-recording, I decided to stop playing back my narration fixing it, so you will notice that around 7:30, on and off for about a minute, my voice is muffled. I think I covered the microphone on my iPad. I also realize that I forgot to revisit my informal student survey about the problems they had trying to use Google Classroom and Google Docs. Here is the link to the Google Doc where I wrote my questions and the number of students who had problems which problems.

*My final note – I enjoyed the suggestions on this post about hosting a BYOOER Party. It talks about working with your colleagues to collect Open Educational Resources that they, and you, have found or created. Why reinvent the wheel?




Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A.

(2014). NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The

New Media Consortium.

The Digital Divide and Digital Inequality

The Digital Divide and Digital Inequality Voice Thread

For this assignment, I learned about the digital divide and digital inequality. Although I had thought about the issue of “haves” and “have-nots” as it relates to my classroom, school, and district, I had never considered the global issues. It was interesting to see how quickly internet access has spread, especially in developing countries, since the development of mobile technology. Even as a classroom teacher, I had not considered the issues of digital inequality. I had a vague notion in my mind that since my students were using social media and researching online, they were “haves” when it came to access and skill. However, after reading about digital inequality, I recognized that my students really don’t have any technological skills. They know how to play with technology, but not how to utilize it to move ahead in life.

In the future, I plan to incorporate technology use more heavily into my instruction. For a few years, I have had a fuzzy plan rolling around in my mind to use student blogs in my classroom. Although I still have not figured out how to maintain security for my students, they are 12 and 13 years-old, I plan to have them blog about their experiences at school, both academic experiences and extra-curricular experiences.

To complete this assignment, I used Google Docs, Google Slides, and Voice Thread. Although I don’t love Google Slides, I’m glad that I had the opportunity to use it. At home, many of my students do not have access to PowerPoint, so it is useful to know how to use Google Slides. I can have my students use Slides at school and then convert to PowerPoint at home if they wish to embellish their presentations further. I enjoyed using Voice Thread. I have never used anything like it before. I liked that I could record more than one comment for each slide and that Voice Thread would stitch them together for me. It allowed me to catch my breath and advance my presentation notes to keep up.

If I had more time, I would solicit suggestions from my coworkers for how to deal with the digital inequality issues at our school. As a part of my school’s tech team, I would like to find workable solutions to our school access issues as well as encourage teachers to incorporate more technology use into their curriculum. When people are part of creating the solution, they are more likely to buy into changes, like incorporating student technology use into their lessons.

One difficulty I had completing this assignment was the sheer volume of reading material. The reading wasn’t the problem, but finding facts I had marked was. Several articles were only available as html pages, so I could not download them to my computer or iPad and highlight as I read. I tried importing them into Diigo, but that didn’t help either. Normally I don’t have a problem finding information I am looking for because I remember where it was located on a page and how far through a document or book that page was located. However, without the visual clues to rely on, it was very difficult to find statistics and quotes I thought I remembered. Interestingly, as I was working on this assignment, a friend shared an article on Facebook that addresses this very issue: Science Has Great News for People Who Read Actual Books. Unfortunately, the author of the article did not include a link to, or citation of, the original study.

Educational Technology – what, exactly, does that mean?

Untitled picture

EdTech Definition Graphic

Before embarking on this journey to study EdTech, I felt like I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself into. Isn’t Educational Technology just the use of technology to support learning? After doing the first reading for class,I realized that I was mostly correct. The authors of Educational Technology: A Definition with Commentary define the concept as “the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources” (Januszewski, 2008, p. 1). This definition fits with my existing philosophy as a teacher. Although I have to give some direct instruction, I try to create tasks that allow my students to create their own understandings and transfer their learning to the real world. A great example of an entire school that does this is Stonefields School in New Zealand. I embedded one of their YouTube videos into my graphic because it discusses learner qualities and shows students discussing how they solve real world problems and create their own understandings. I have been trying to implement some of these ideas into my own classroom.

For my graphic representation of the EdTech definition, I chose a wagon wheel because the wheel is one of our earliest technologies. A wheel can be small and move more times to cover the same distance, or it can be large and move more quickly. A wagon wheel looks like it has a small wheel within the larger one. Unsupported student learning is like the smaller, inner wheel. Unsupported, students can learn, but they will progress more slowly than with a support system. The large outer wheel represents the learning that students can attain with access to appropriate technological resources and processes. The spokes are the support system (a facilitator, guidance, performance tasks, the opportunity to use technology, etc) that allows the larger wheel to function properly. To maximize student learning, all of the elements must be in place: inner wheel, spokes, and outer wheel.

I created my EdTech graphic using Prezi.  Similar to PowerPoint, Prezi allows you to create presentations, but there are no slides. Instead, you work with a grid and can zoom in to see specific parts of the presentation, or out to see the entire presentation at once. I like Prezi because you can create a picture to show your entire idea and then move into text or embedded content for a deeper look at the topic. I did not embed my graphic, because WordPress does not allow Prezis to be embedded for security reasons. Here is the link:


Januszewski, A., & Molenda, M. (2008). Educational technology: A definition with commentary. New York, NY: Routledge.