Growth in CEP 811

I think during my CEP 811 class the one thing that has stood out to me more than anything else is that I need to be less anxious and passive about technology use within my own classroom.  I’m often unsure of my own ability with newer forms of technology, especially with how tech savvy some of my students can be.  I need to keep in mind that my anxiety and lack of knowledge can be considered an asset or at least a tool of demonstration to students.  More often than not, educators are already and expert in their particular field and are able to work through how they might think through a problem or situation, but when they are already so knowledgeable, their perspective is significantly different than their students’.  The introduction of new technologies and maker inspired lessons can allow the educator to not only teach their content but model the learning process for students. Another reason I need to be less passive about the use of new technologies, is that while being required to try new things as part of the coursework, I found how user friendly technologies are becoming.  Most programs are fairly intuitive to use and if you run into a snag, generally there is a YouTube video explaining how to deal with it or at least a comment in a forum from someone with the same problem.  This is fantastic for both me as learner and educator as well as for my students as they transition into more independent learners themselves.  After being introduced to, playing with, and exploring possible applications of technologies to education, now I need to simply make a point of actually doing it.

Assessing Creativity

Within my CEP 811 class this semester we spent a lot of time exploring ways to involve technology and creation to better educate students. This week our learning objectives were focused on assessment of creativity and the need for this type of assessment in problem solving and innovation.

As an educator charged with the assessment of student learning, I would assess creative problem solving during maker-inspired lessons by giving students a rubric emphasizing the following areas. Students will be expected to create a unique final product that shows innovation and creativity. Students will be expected to show perseverance through problem solving. Students will be expected to create an initial submission and receive feedback, upon receiving feedback, students will go back to their submission and make changes (if necessary). Finally, students will be expected to demonstrate knowledge and application of the standards being addressed within the assignment.

When creating a unique solution, students must either design something completely new or re-create someone else’s design with significant changes and the original designer given credit. Perseverance through problem solving will involve students identifying the issues they had throughout the project and using various methods to solve these problems. The route to solving these problems may be through research, friends, teachers, etcetera, but it should be notable that they continued to search for a solution or a way around the problem and not simply settle without a solution. For feedback and changes, projects will initially receive peer-reviewed feedback and note the changes, then students will have the opportunity to submit the assignment multiple times receiving feedback and adjusting their problem solutions until they are satisfied with their scores. The final aspect of the grading rubric is in place so that clear learning objectives are being met through the project. It will be important for students not only to demonstrate what they have learned pertaining to the addressed standards, but also explain why they standards were important to the project, thus giving meaning to the learning objectives.

The design of this assessment rubric is connected to the learning theories of both Grant Wiggins and James Paul Gee. Grant Wiggins emphasizes the importance of actually assessing the creativity of a student. In the rubric I explained above, making uniqueness a criteria does this. A large portion of high school assessments is merely assessing a student’s ability to recreate something that already exists. This rubric stresses the importance on a unique result or solution to the problem, thus assessing a student’s ability to create and innovate. Secondly, James Paul Gee discusses that learning occurs within a video game when the player attempts to beat a level or part of a game and loses, only to be able to attempt that same level or part over and over until they have learned how to pass it. This is where multiple submissions with an emphasis on improvement until a student receives a satisfactory grade simulate a video game.   This part of the rubric focuses on student learning, growth, and development, while simultaneously attempting to eliminate failures.

Isslehardt, E. (2013, February 11). Creating Schoolwide PBL Aligned to Common Core [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

Gee, J. P. (2010, Jul y 20). James Paul Gee on Grading with Games. Edutopia’s Youtube Channel.  [Video file]. Retrieved from

Why #MakerEd

This week in my CEP 811 course we were tasked with creating an infographic focused on #MakerEd, in other words, an aspect of Maker Education.  Why #MakerEdI focused my infographic on reasons why individuals, specifically educators and more specifically math educators should use maker education as a part of their curriculum and everyday lives.  The infographic leads you through some of the most important reasons, I believe, and research backs, maker education.  In order to not clutter the graphic the references used to create the graphic are listed below.  If image is too small read, click on the image and it will enlarge.  Enjoy and good luck making.


Davis, V. (2014, July 18). How the Maker Movement is Moving into Classrooms. Retrieved April 18, 2015.

Gee, J. (2013). The anti-education era: Creating smarter students through digital learning. Palgrave Macmillan Trade.

Sheridan, K. Halverson, E.R., Litts, B.K., Brahms, L, Jacobs-Priebe, L., & Owens, T. (2014) Learning in the making: A comparative case-study of three maker spaces. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 505-565

White House. (2014, June 17). Presidential proclamation—National day of making. Retrieved from presidential-proclamation-national-day-making-2014

Learning Space

There are a lot of things one could wish for and I think that most any teacher wishes their classroom was slightly different.  This week in my CEP 811 class, we were asked to create the ideal learning space for our students.  I currently work in a fairly dilapidated but certainly functional classroom.  The room shows many signs of wear, with patched walls that haven’t been painted, old carpeting, graffiti laden tables, and a hodgepodge of chairs in various states of disrepair.


Beyond that, the classroom does have the conveniences of plugs in the floor for our students’ laptops, a SmartBoard, and is fairly spacious with good windows.  There is also ample board space and wall space for posters.  A more simply resolved issue is the teacher centric layout of the room.  My desk is at the front of the classroom, all the students tables face forward and most days consist of a lesson on the SmartBoard, delivered by myself.

The changes that I would like to make in my classroom deal specifically with the deficits described above.  I would like to move the teacher’s desk to the side of the room, as displayed below.

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 5.20.07 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-12 at 5.40.26 PM

This desk arrangement gives me closer proximity to students allowing for easier and more effective helping and monitoring.  Taking the desk away from the head of the classroom begins to breakdown some of the barrier created by the authority figure in the room.  The rounded tables with 4 at a table would aid in students being able to see for lessons, while also capable of easily re-arranging for group work.  I would also like new or at least nice looking tables, chairs, room decor, and calculators.  Not that students can’t be successful with the tools and the room the way it currently is, but I believe a strong message is being sent to students through the use of degrading and poor quality products in the room; specifically that they’re not important enough to have better things.

To make these changes happen involves two things.  The first being the small amount of time it would take for the classroom to be rearranged.  The second would either be funding or donations of new equipment (tables, chairs, carpet, etc.).  Although the most direct stakeholders in this situation are the students, their parents, and the school staff.  I believe that the entire community holds some stake in the situation, especially because the town is only about 600 people with 1 high school and 1 elementary school.

It’s exciting to know that improving my learning space, in part, can be done for free.  However, the funding for the other materials seems a bit daunting if these will be new supplies, especially when shipping to rural Alaska is considered.  Decent chairs are going to cost around $30 and I would need about 20 plus a few extra, so chairs would cost about $700.  The tables could be purchased for around $100 each; 5 tables would cost $500.  A new set of calculators will be $300.  Carpeting and paint would likely come to another $300.  All materials totaling $1,800 dollars plus shipping, often about 30% of the total being shipped, an additional $540.  That is a daunting sum.  However it could be offset with donations and fundraising.  The implementation of this entire design could happen in a weekend.  Moving the desks could be done starting anytime, although shifting classroom environments during the school year will affect productivity negatively initially as students get used to the new design.  The purchases and installment would likely have to take place during one of the larger school breaks.

As an educator, I’m always looking for ways to help student learning and engagement.  At times, I feel completely overwhelmed by the whole educational process and it’s nice to have classes that help you focus on different aspects of teaching in order to improve the parts, rather then trying to figure how to improve everything at once.

Maker Lesson Plan

After exploring and playing with the Makey Makey set a couple weeks ago, this week I created a lesson plan for a potential review activity with my students using the Makey Makey set.  The lesson is designed for review of estimation, metric and customary measurements, and practice comparing fractions.  The activity is rooted in concepts found in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practices.  For further information and the whole lesson plan, use the link above. #MakeyMakey


Immediate Feedback as a Learning Foundation

In my CEP 811 course this week, we were focused on the topic of learning foundations, rooted in a talk given by Richard Culatta at TEDx 2013. In this talk, titled Reimagining Learning, Culatta discusses the importance of not simply “digitizing” old teaching methods but, using technology to personalize learning, create collaborative problem solving, and give immediate feedback. The technology we have today allows us to achieve these three goals in much more efficient and effective ways than ever before.

After having watched his talk, we were tasked with finding two articles focusing on one of the three points of his talk, previously mentioned. I became interested in the effects of immediate feedback and found two dissertations that studied immediate feedback systems. Idia Abode studied the effects of a student response system within third grade classes and Luis Lopez studied the effects of immediate and delayed feedback from computer-based testing.

Abode (2010) found that using a Student Response System (SRS), like that produced by SMART Technologies, significantly increased student motivation and engagement. She found that there were mixed outcomes in student achievement, but overall achievement improved. Through pre- and post-tests, as well as teacher and student interviews she collected her data about the effects of the SRS. In her research she also found that effective feedback was directed at recent student responses and incorporated the student’s prior knowledge. The feedback should also be used as a guide to refine a student’s current understanding through additional practice (Abode 2010).

Lopez focused his work on learning and retention of information when feedback was given immediately or after a computer based assessment. Contrary to Abode, Lopez (2009) found that neither immediate nor end of test feedback significantly improved students’ retention. During his study, the only significant factor he found to make a difference in student learning and retention was motivation.

Culatta points out that often feedback data about student performance is given too late to be useful. Many times students finish a course and find how they did in a class by their grade, at which point there is nothing they can do about it. I believe that the ideas that Abode, Lopez, and Culatta found or discussed can be combined in a very powerful way. Specifically, that feedback, when given in an effective and timely manner, can create increased student motivation leading to increased student achievement. Now, this is not a researched based statement, but my personal opinion. I believe that the samples from Lopez’s research did not have increased retention because the feedback, although given promptly, was not given in a meaningful way and thus did not lead to increased motivation.

Discussed in this post has been research on third graders with student response clickers, secondary chemistry students, and a given talk. These sources of information are distinctly different, but I believe they are connected and can be used to improve education in general. One area that we can use conclusions drawn from the information is in the field of Maker Education. In an area that is based on exploration and creation of learning, feedback is imperative to keep students on the right track, encouraged, and motivated. Without proper guidance it is easy for students to become derailed or lead their education in the wrong direction. Meaningful feedback is an incredibly powerful tool for education whether it be in a more traditional classroom setting or in a more project based maker education.



Abode, I. A. (2010). The impact of student response system on third graders’ learning, motivation, and engagementI (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I. (3424347)


Lopez, L. (2009). Effects of delayed and immediate feedback in the computer-based testing environment (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I. (3358462)

Heading to the Garage to MakeyMakey

In CEP 811 this week, we were tasked with going to a thrift store, basement, or garage to find something to repurpose, with a MakeyMakey kit, into an educational tool.  After failed attempts with a mandolin and guitar, that go unused in my house, I pulled out a socket wrench set from my garage.  I was unable to create a meaningful set-up nor lesson idea with the instruments.  The socket wrench set allowed me to incorporate the concepts of estimation, fractions, elimination, and measurement in both the metric and customary systems.


The idea of the activity is for students, given a socket dimension, to guess the correct socket. To make their selection, students will touch the socket wrench to the socket they believe is the correct size. If they are correct, they will here a sound signifying the correct answer. If they are incorrect, they will hear a sound signifying and incorrect answer.  After making an incorrect selection, students will be informed of the size socket they have incorrectly selected.  Using this information and the process of elimination students will work to continue guessing until they have selected the correct socket.  The sockets are in both metric units and in customary units, thus providing practice with those measurement systems.  As most of the customary sockets are less than an inch in width, students will need to be able to fluently compare fractions, such as 9/16, 3/8, and 1/2.  Estimation and measurement are both standards incorporated into my 7th grade math curriculum.  The process of elimination will also aid students in standardized testing.

I created this device by cutting holes fit to various size sockets that can be mixed with other sizes as the overall width of many sockets are equal while the bolts that they fit differ.  After placing the sockets into the cardboard box that I used as a base, I connected all of the incorrect sockets with wires to the MakeyMakey in a way that they will all make the same noise for incorrect answers.  The correct socket was connected to a different sound, signifying the correct solution.  I used the “Drum Kit” sound board found here.  When the MakeyMakey is connected to the computer it will link to the soundboard.  Here is a video explaining the activity and device further.

In reference to the media above, the picture should give you an idea of what I was describing so you, the reader, had a better understanding of my description. The video is intended to give you a better overall picture of the device and how it may be used.

Second time around for a Remix

Lifelong Learning

In a previous class I made a short remix video about being a lifelong learner.  Linked to this blog is that video remixed to focus on the importance of lifelong learning to a maker culture.  In order for people to create and innovate in truly unique ways it’s important to build on previous creations and knowledge.  With this in mind, it is imperative for individuals and groups to continue to learn throughout their lives in order to create.  In the not too distant past, people had limited access to information.  They needed to attend university, access a library, or a knowledgeable person to gain a great deal of knowledge.  Today, most anything can be learned through digital experiences within the comforts one’s home.  The access to information and technology today has completely changed the face of maker culture and opened avenues for anyone to create in ways that are no longer limited to one’s upbringing and personal experiences.  Here is a short remix video about lifelong learning as a part of maker culture.


Tela Chhe (2008), Learning to Walk [photo]. Retrieved from

Hjl (2013), Cathedral of Learning [photo]. Retrieved from

Denise Krebs (2013), Life Long Learning [photo]. Retrieved from

Skokie Public Library (2009), Mobile Phone Basics [photo]. Retrieved from

Velkr0 (2009), Classroom [photo]. Retrieved from

Dhillan Chandramowli (2009), classroom [photo]. Retrieved from

William Creswell (2008), classroom [photo]. Retrieved from

Eddie Pierce (2013, Nov 29), Education – Waking up the Mind! Retrieved from

Trout Steak Revival, (2013, Jan 7), Where Do My Bluebird Fly [Sound File]. Retrieved from


Beyond Standards

This will be my final post prompted by CEP 812, with that class is coming to a close this week. For the final assignment we were asked to create something, anything, that reflected bringing about curiosity and passion through technology within our classroom. I made a simple Prezi mapping of where I see curiosity and passion arising within my classroom.

The assignment focused on curiosity and passion in response to Thomas Friedman’s article in the New York Times about the world becoming “hyperconnected.” His main point was through this connectivity more people have more access to information and this access creates a necessity for lifelong learning as technology advances faster and faster. Also do to the connectedness of the world, simple intelligence, I.Q., won’t matter as much as someone’s P.Q. (passion quotient) or C.Q. (curiosity quotient) (Friedman, 2013). With that perspective of the world, it is imperative that not only are we teaching students within our schools all the necessary standards, but also tools such as curiosity, passion, and an ability continue to learn past their K-12 education.


Friedman, D.L. (2013, January 29). It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as I.Q. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Wicked Problems

In my CEP 812 class the last few weeks have been focused on, what we’re calling, Wicked Problems.  These types of problems are generally very difficult or impossible to answer.  Although not all Wicked Problems are constrained to education our class focused on problems within education.  The class split up into groups to try and tackle a problem.  My group tried to come up with a way to create innovation as a learning ethic.  We thought the best bad solution to this problem would be to have schools incorporate Genius Hour (or 20% Time) into their school curriculum.  During genius hours, 2 or 3 times a week, students would be able to work on projects of their own creation and exploration.  Our project, which can be found here, incorporates a video, visual graphic, and a short paper to summarize and pitch the idea to educators.