“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” – Bill Gates

CEP 812: Instilling Passion and Curiosity

In 2013, Thomas L. Friedman wrote an op-ed piece in The New York Times that discussed the idea that in the 21st century, people need more than just a high IQ to succeed. Friedman argued that we “will need to develop skills that are complementary to technology rather than ones that can be easily replaced by it and that we need everyone to be innovating new products and services to employ the people who are being liberated from routine work by automation and software.” In essence, we need people in our society who are driven by passion to learn and by curiosity to innovate, for gone are the days when one’s education will last a lifetime. We need lifelong leaners to help drive our society forward.

In the video embedded below, I share my passion and curiosity for my students, in addition to how this enthusiasm, coupled with technology, motivates my students to learn and to take pride in their work.

*All images and videos were taken/recorded by me in my various student teaching and teaching placements. 


Friedman, T. L. (2013, January 29). It’s p.q. and c.q. as much as i.q. The New York Times, p. A27. Retrieved from

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CEP 812: Wicked Problem Project

As defined by the NMC Horizon Project Summit Communiqué, wicked problems are “issues that are extremely difficult and even seemingly impossible to solve because of the complex or ever-changing environments in which they arise.” In education, wicked problems engulf us, for there isn’t one best “solution” to the multitude of problems with which we are faced. To quote Ben Affleck in the film Argo, “There are only bad options. It’s about finding the best one.”

My group focused on failure as a learning mode as our wicked problem of practice. Today’s current school system isn’t designed to allow students to fail, and traditional grading hurts students when failure is encountered. We believe that it is important to give students the opportunity to take risks, make mistakes, and problem solve to redesign their own thinking. Innovators are made through experimentation and failure, through perseverance and grit.

I order to implement failure as a learning mode into the classroom, the traditional grading system would need to be replaced. We propose a standards-based grading system, which allows failure to become a productive component of the learning process rather than an endpoint. Standards-based grading gives students a spectrum of their skill level, rather than absolute grades (Proulx, Spencer-May, and Westerberg, 2012).

We also propose that video games be used to encourage strategizing and critical thinking. Video games are a media with which students are familiar, and they are already comfortable “failing” in a video game setting. Students learn that making multiple attempts to master a concept helps further develop understanding.

To take a peak at our brainstorming process and our discussions, to see a visual representation of our ideas, and to read a draft of our proposal, click on the link to our curation site, here.





Allen, R. (2012). Support struggling students with academic rigor: A conversation with author and educator robyn jackson. Education Update, 54(8), 3-5

BPS Community News (2013). Standards-Based Grading. Retrieved from

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Gee, J. P. (2013). The Anti-Education Era: Creating smarter students through digital learning. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Marquis, J.W. (2013). How To Help Your Student Embrace Failure Through Game-based Learning. Retrieved from

McIntosh, J. (2012). Failing to Get an A. Techniques: Connecting Education & Careers. 87(7), 44-46. Retrieved from

Miller, D. (2013). Got it Wrong? Think again. And again. Phi Delta Kappan. 94(5). 50-52. Retrieved from

New Media Consortium (2013). The Horizon Project. Retrieved from

Proulx, C., Spencer-May, K., & Westerberg, T. (2012). Moving to standards-based grading: Lessons from omaha. Principal Leadership, 13(4), 30-34. Retrieved from

Sieling, C. J. (2013). Standards-based grading in mathematics: Effects on student achievement andattitude. (Order No. 1523840, Southwest Minnesota State University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 90. Retrieved from (1441864956)

Vallett, D. B., & Annetta, L. (2014). Re-visioning K-12 education: Learning through failure—Not social promotion. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 3(3), 174-188.doi:


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CEP 812: Technology Integration in Communities of Practice

This week for CEP 812, I created a short survey to gauge how my community of practice integrates technology. A community of practice is defined as “a set of relations among persons, activity, and the world, over time and in relation with other tangential and overlapping communities of practice” (Lave & Wagner, 1991, p. 98).

The community of practice that I chose to focus on was the group of educators at the elementary school at which I work. My building is comprised of 17 classroom teachers, 4 specials teachers (art, music, PE, and Spanish), as well as a school psychologist, a social worker, a special education instructor, an instructional specialist, a reading specialist, an occupational therapist, and a speech therapist. Of these 29 educators, 14 of them (48.28%) responded to my survey.

I was curious not only about the percentage of educators at my schools who are using technology, but also what technologies are being employed and how confident my colleagues feel about the technologies that they are incorporating into their lessons. To view the survey that I sent out to my community of practice, please click the link here.

The results of my survey are represented by the infographic (below) that I created using (Click to enlarge):


Overall, I found that the majority of educators at my school take technology into consideration when planning lessons, and believe that technology is an important part of learning. A summary that analyzes trends in my results can be found in the Google Doc that I created, here.

I have shared the results of the survey with my colleagues via e-mail. I look forward to the implications that the survey results will have on future professional development opportunities.


Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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CEP 812: Understanding ADHD: Implications for the Classroom

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder affects millions of children throughout the United States. If you’re an educator, chances are you have at least one student in your classroom who has been diagnosed with ADHD. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 11% of school-aged children have ADHD (2011). Because of the prevalence of ADHD in school-aged children, I chose to investigate this disorder in more depth this week for CEP 812.

Though the causes of the disorder are still widely debated (genetics vs. environment), it can be agreed upon that children with ADHD face many challenges in the classroom. In order to be successful in school, children must engage in the material presented and practice it in some fashion, whether through writing, drawing, or doing (Bransford, 2000). In my paper, found here, I argue that assistive technologies, like Apple’s SoundNote, can assist ADHD students in remaining engaged through allowing them to actively respond to material as it is being presented.

To see a short video demonstration of SoundNote, click here.



Bransford, J., National Research Council (U.S.)., & National Research Council (U.S.). (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011). Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Data and statistics [Data file]. Retrieved from

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CEP 812: From Junk Food to a Veggie Platter

In the usual sense of the word, I consider myself a very healthy person – I am active, and I make smart decisions about the foods that I put into my body. When it comes to my “information diet”, however, I am admittedly not health-conscious. When browsing the web, my “meals” consist of junk: Facebook, Buzzfeed, and Twitter. While valuable information can be gained from some of these sites, I admit that I am looking for entertainment value, not for bettering myself as a person or as an educator.

In order to become more enlightened about the world of education, CEP 812 encouraged me to branch out to explore different sources of information that I normally wouldn’t gravitate toward. I chose Twitter as my “hub”, as CEP 810 sparked my interest in using this site as an educational source. In order to accomplish this task, I had to begin following some new people/organizations (because let’s face it, the Kardashians and Uncle Si aren’t really doing much to broaden my horizons). Here were my choices:

US Department of Education – Because I rarely agree with the ways in which the government handles educational issues, I tend to avoid paying much attention. I realize, though, that it is important as an educator to stay informed, even if I don’t agree with the government’s practices and policies. As Pariser (2011) warns in his TED talk found here, we have to be careful about which information we choose, and we have to make sure that we aren’t only choosing information that confirms our prior beliefs. Following the US Department of Education on Twitter will help me stay in tune with what is happening in education at the government level, which will in turn aid me in forming my opinions.

HuffPostEducation – The Huffington Post is a liberal news site, and because I tend to lean more toward the conservative side of the political spectrum, I felt like a liberal news resource would be a perfect addition to help diversify my information diet. The vast array of information tweeted by @HuffPostEducation keeps things interesting – articles range from the link between exercise and learning, to the effect of a mom’s education on her kids’ health, to what learning to write looks like in different countries throughout the world.

Edutopia – As stated above, due to the constant bad news in education, I tend to shy away. The profile for this Twitter site intrigued me, though – “Inspiration and information for what works in education.” @Edutopia posts articles that talk about successes that teachers are having in schools, which is a refreshing (and informative) change. Various educational resources are posted, as well as articles on more specific topics, like how to write a successful grant.

Another great feature of Twitter is that once I started following the above groups, new suggestions were made for me:

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 1.10.12 PM

My recommendations used to consist of reality TV stars and celebrities, so the above screenshot already depicts progress!

It excites me that I will easily and painlessly be able add nutrition to my information diet through Twitter. I am doing more than just broadening my horizons – I am challenging my thinking and subjecting myself to information with which I will not always agree. I am done with only wanting to be entertained; I am ready to engage in ideas that I will want to dispute. Sometimes these challenges may only make my convictions stronger, but at other times my own thinking will be altered. Bring on the veggie platter.

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 1.17.21 PM


Pariser, E. (2014, July 15). Beware online “filter bubbles”. [Video file]. Ted Talks. Retrieved from


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CEP 812: Human Memory as a Limitation to Solving Complex Problems

In his book The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students through Digital Learning, James Paul Gee (2013) describes the many reasons why we, as humans, are often unable to solve complex problems. At the forefront of this explanation lies the limitations of the human memory. We fail to comprehend that memories are not carbon copies of experiences, and we make associations between events that may either help or hinder our recall of the truth. Our lack of understanding of our own memories is one of the problems with our educational system today. We ask students to memorize and regurgitate, instead of asking them to do what our memories are actually good at: interpreting the world. In my paper for CEP 812 found here, I further explain the limitations of human memory, and I then argue how a shift in the structure of our educational system would yield positive results.


Gee, J. P. (2013). The anti-education era: Creating smarter students through digital

      learning. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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CEP 812 – Solving Well-Structured Problems

In CEP 812 this week, the focus was on different types of problems that are faced in the classroom. Problems generally fit into three categories: well-structured (one best solution), complex (more than one solution or approach), and wicked problems (no one best solution/”unsolvable”).

My assignment for Week 1 was to take a problem faced in my classroom and to use a technological tool to help address the problem. I chose the well-structured problem of learning the routes of European explorers. Though this topic is straightforward and has only one correct answer (as there can be only one correct departure location for Columbus), the topic is a dry one and is not of much interest to my students.

My solution? A free online tool called Scribble Maps. Using this tool, students can place markers chronologically on a map, add text boxes, and draw lines to show routes. The tool is user-friendly and easy to edit if mistakes are made. Check out my screencast for a 3-minute demonstration of using Scribble Maps to document the first voyage of Columbus.


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