Category Archives: AECT Standard 2 (Content Pedagogy)

Candidates develop as reflective practitioners able to demonstrate effective implementation of educational technologies and processes based on contemporary content and pedagogy.

After PBL – Debriefing

Debriefing is an important part of the PBL process. Once a project is over, you need to analyze what worked and what did not. For instance, in planning my Create-a-Civilization project, I am unsure about the overall project timeline. So, assessing how well the project worked in my 3 month time frame will be part of my debriefing process. To determine whether the time frame is appropriate, I will look at what each student learned and was able to accomplish during the project, as well as solicit feedback from the students. Since I am not collaborating with another teacher on this project, I will ask for feedback from colleagues, but the student, and even parent, feedback will be more useful.

To begin the debriefing, I will ask students to write about how they felt about the project. Although I want this discussion to be as open-ended as possible, I will provide students with some questions to answer so that they don’t just say they liked it or didn’t like it and then not give any more input. I will ask the students to discuss how they felt about the amount of time provided, the access to resources to complete the project, the grouping strategies, and the materials provided. I will try to keep questions about these components as open-ended as possible.

On my own, I will look at the quality of the assessments, both formative and summative, and the students performance on those assessments. I will decide whether students needed more support, whether the assessments were clear and well-structured, and whether the assessments really assess the learning objectives.

Assessment of a PBL is not a one-time process. It should occur before and after you use the unit. I also think it is useful to reflect on the effectiveness of the PBL throughout the school year, each time the students are required to retrieve content knowledge or use skills that should have been learned during the unit. Is it an effective PBL unit if the students cannot replicate the skills months later? In order to keep a record of my reflections, I will probably create a hidden blog page on the PBL website. This will allow me to keep all of my materials for the PBL in one place. If I decide that my reflections would be useful to someone else, I will make the page public.

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?

Annotated Bibliography Assignment – Flipping the Classroom

This week I completed an APA Annotated Bibliography assignment. I decided to focus my research on flipping the classroom, since I have been looking at ways to do it for the past couple of years. One difficulty I’ve had with flipping my classroom is that there isn’t much guidance out there for doing it in a language arts class. I follow a couple of high school teachers on YouTube and I check their blogs, but other than that I couldn’t find much. Sad to say, that has not changed much. For this assignment we had to find peer-reviewed journal articles. I found hundreds of articles on flipping the classroom, but almost all of them were college-level science or applied arts classes, or they were from conferences. We were supposed to find 5 articles; I have found 4 relevant ones and one slightly relevant, but heavily researched, one.

I enjoyed using Google Scholar. I wish it had existed when I did my undergrad degrees. It would have made my research for political science, Italian literature, English literature, and education classes much more enjoyable. While I still had to verify that the articles were from peer-reviewed journals, and find access to them, I did not have to distinguish between someone’s blog entry and someone else’s website. Google Scholar filtered the results so that everything was at least, well scholarly.

I didn’t learn much that was new about APA. I think the only new thing for me was that APA requires using past tense instead of present tense. I do not like APA, and I never have. It is too formal for my preference and the differences between it and MLA are minimal, but annoying.

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.

RSS in Education

This week I learned about Feedly and wrote a lesson plan that would incorporate RSS. Although I have used RSS feeds in the past, I don’t currently use any. I stopped using RSS feeds because I wasn’t really following any blogs or news sites, and I could find content I was interested in through Pinterest. However, Feedly will be useful for following my EdTech 501 classmates’ learning logs, as well as blogs about flipping the classroom.

Feedly is easy to setup and navigate. The website offers several ways to log in. Once you log in, you can begin adding blogs and news sites to follow by copying and pasting the URL into Feedly:



Your home page shows you the most recent articles:

Feedly home

Feedly allows you to sort the sites you are following into categories:

feedly organization

Feedly has additional tools available for a fee. As I use the free tools more, I will decide whether the Pro tools would benefit me.

Designing a lesson that would organically use RSS was difficult. Because of Internet access issues in the past, I rarely require my students to go online to complete assignments. However, after completing the digital divide assignment, I realized that, because of smart phones, most of my students now have Internet access. Another issue with designing a lesson that utilized, rather than focused on, using RSS was topic. Because I wanted a lesson I would actually use, I looked in my files and found a lesson I designed about five years ago. This lesson on analyzing mass media was fun and effective. It was pretty easy to add the RSS element, and it should make the lesson easier to complete because the students will have better access to sources.

The lesson is probably a little long. My students should not need as much practice as I planned, but I can always have them complete their projects sooner if they demonstrate understanding sooner. There are several references to one of the textbooks we use in class. I will have the students complete the review lessons as warm-ups over a few days before actually begin the lesson. My 7th grade ELA team is in the middle of testing a UbD unit on short stories that we wrote over the summer and then we will begin a unit on The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, so I will test this lesson next semester; it will fit better with the units we plan to work on in February and March.

Click here to access my lesson plans.