Wicked Problem

This was a collaborative project which included Jon Gere, LaShawn Hanes, Alexis Miller 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 http://www.danielsongroup.org/article.aspx?page=fftresearch

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

http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2013-Horizon-Project-Summit-Communique.pdf. (n.d.).


Network Learning Project #4

The purpose of this post is to restate my learning goal and to provide a video demonstration of the skills that I have attained over the course of my MAET class in drawing.  My learning goal was to learn how to draw and more specifically, how to draw faces in proportion.  I wanted to spend time just drawing anything but the bulk of my practice centered around drawing faces.

The sources I used were drawing forums, tutorials and You Tube videos.

I also made a slideshow with my new mac showcasing all of the drawings that I have done!


Brookes, M. (n.d.). Monart. Monart. Retrieved from http://monart.com/

Drawing and Painting for Kids – Resources for Moms . (n.d.). Drawing For Kids. Retrieved from http://www.drawingforkidsinfo.com/firstlesson/

Drawspace: Now everyone can draw. (n.d.). Drawspace: Now Everyone Can Draw. Retrieved from http://www.drawspace.com/

EasyDrawingTutorials. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved from http://www.easydrawingtutorials.com/

Sketching a Face- Basic Proportions. (2007, March 02). YouTube. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1618qH7KojU

Van’t Hul, J. (n.d.). The Artful Parent. ‘The Artful Parent’ Retrieved from http://www.artfulparent.com/

How to Draw a Face. (n.d.). WikiHow. Retrieved from http://www.wikihow.com/Draw-a-Face

[CQ] + [PQ] > IQ

The purpose of this post was to a) define how I bring passion and curiosity to my work as an educator and b) show how I use technology to instill  passion and curiosity in my students.


I believe that Thomas Friedman was on the right track when he developed his idea of Curiosity Quotient + Passions Quotient > Intelligence Quotient.

“The winners will be those with more P.Q. and C.Q. to leverage all the new digital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime. . .Give me the kid with a passion to learn and a curiosity to discover and I will take him or her over the less passionate kid with a huge I.Q. every day of the week.” (Friedman, 2013)

The other ingredient he is missing, is collaboration and the active involvement of the learner in his learning community by invested connected relationships with like-minded people.  That is not to say, like-minded as in everyone thinking the same way.  To be clear, I am referring to people who are connected because they have a similar desire to learn and support each other in that passion and drive to attain a new understanding.  We need teachers who model this lifelong journey of learning and who do not shy away from making mistakes and learning from them!

In my classroom, I try, first of all, to establish that connected community of learners through a social-emotional framework called “Conscious Discipline” .


I try to use critical thinking routines in my class through Visible Thinking strategies.


and finally, I use technology to compliment whatever we are learning.  This next year will be very interesting as I try to implement all that I have learned from my MAET classes!


[CQ]+[PQ] IQ*. (n.d.). Explo.org. Retrieved from Explo.org/liv/exploringeducation/thomasfriedman

Friedman, T. (2013, January 29). It’s The PQ and CQ as Much as the IQ. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/opinion/friedman-its-pq-and-cq-as-much-as-iq.html?_r=0

Thomas, A. M. (2012, September). Engaging Students in STEM Classroom Through Making. Edutopia.

Maker #3 Assessment & Evaluation


I found this website with many interesting facts about creativity in the workplace.  It is a great place to start when we consider the necessity for students to explore their own creativity as they get prepared one day to put their skills to the test in whatever professional field they may choose.

I do see myself implementing the ideas that I have learned  in regard to Maker Education.   I am not sure that I would use the Raspberry Pi, per se, but I feel strongly about the Maker Education concept.    I can see utilizing the Pi when we do our unit on “Magnets and Electricity”  and or/ “Squishy Circuits”.  The constraints of the Pi seemed cumbersome at best for a fourth grade classroom and in my research, I have found that it is best suited for older students (around 14 years of age).  However,  I feel that when students create, they are utilizing many higher order thinking skills.  I feel that they will give you much more by doing this type of engaging work than what they are traditionally exposed to.  Oftentimes, they far exceed our expectations when given this type of learning situation.  As Anne Marie Thomas said in her article entitled “Engaging Students in STEM Classroom Through Making”, “Making is about empowering students to see that they can bring their ideas to life, and create new things.  I strongly believe that we are all makers at heart, and that every new project incorporates new learning opportunities.” (Thomas, 2012)  To illustrate this point even further, I have a video of two of my former students as they began to make sense of the science concepts in mixtures and solutions.  After discussing an analogy that helped her understand what was going on, this student took it upon herself to create a video explaining how molecules are dissolved in two different examples.  Take a look.

I really liked this rubric from Grant Wiggins,


it seems as though teachers need some kind of structure with which to evaluate. This gives a good beginning model for just that.  In addition to this, the preceding  two videos are examples of “maker” philosophy in that my two students took it upon themselves to develop and create these videos without much instruction from me, might I add.  This was a really good connection for me in how technology combined with pedagogy and context can really solidify the learning.  These videos were done prior to my MAET experience.  These girls masterfully used two very ordinary ways to construct their learning about mixtures and solutions.  It was so powerful because everyone can tuck these images away in their minds and they are so concrete!

As far as evaluating the effectiveness of this lesson, it was clear that the students had a deeper understanding of dissolving molecules and that they could represent this using everyday materials showed me that they understood.  But, to go a step further, we used this as a teaching point for other students in their understanding.  The girls became a “producer” of knowledge and understanding, not just a “consumer”.  According to Susan M.  Brookhart in her article “Assessing Creativity” (Educational Leadership, 2013),

“Creativity is a simple concept that can be difficult to get your head around. In its most basic sense, creative means “original and of high quality” (Perkins, 1981, p. 6). . . What does it look like when schoolwork is original and of high quality? Probably the foremost characteristic of creative students is that they put things together in new ways (Brookhart, 2010). For example, while writing a poem about a sunset, a student who observes that moment when the sunset looks very much like a sunrise and makes the connection to other endings that can also foreshadow beginnings is more creative than a student who describes that moment as ‘red and fiery.'”  The connections that my students made between dissolving substances and a suitcase full of clothing reminds me of these connections that are made and put together in new, original ways.  For a more in depth look at creativity and assessing it in your students refer to:  http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb13/vol70/num05/Assessing-Creativity.aspx


Brookhart, S. M. (n.d.). Membership. Educational Leadership:Creativity Now!:Assessing Creativity. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb13/vol70/num05/Assessing-Creativity.aspx

Kluger, J. (2013, May 9). Assessing the Creative Spark. Business Money Assessing the Creative Spark Comments. Retrieved from http://business.time.com/2013/05/09/assessing-the-creative-spark/

Wiggins, G. (2012, February 3). Granted, and…. Granted and. Retrieved from http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/on-assessing-for-creativity-yes-you-can-and-yes-you-should/

Technology Survey Report

I am very fortunate to work in a building where technology is seen as a necessary tool for student achievement.  Because of this and the vision of our principal, we have been able to add 30 ipads on a cart for all to use.  As people become more proficient, I think one of the biggest complaints might be that there are not enough ipads for a K-5 building.  Regardless, here are some of the trends I noticed from the technology survey:

  • There seems to be a need to have PD on setting up classroom blogs and websites
  • How to put the responsibility of technology in the hands of the kids and make them more independent with this.
  • There is a great need for PD but also time in which to “play” with new technologies in conjunction with technical support.
  • Those surveyed  feel “fairly comfortable” to “very comfortable” with technology.
  • Many are using things like GoogleDocs, Keynote, IMovie, Prezi, Powerpoint and BYOD

I have noticed that most people use the technology afforded to them.  Things like use of Smartboards, iPads and the  computer lab.  My question is, how many people are using things like the web 2.0 tools we have learned in our class as a part of their lessons?  I think there are a couple of people on our staff doing this but the majority of the people are using the technology in the best way that they can.  It is clear that more training and PD support is necessary.  I feel that before this technology class that I was integrating technology in my lessons.  Now I realize that I was “using technology” but I was not necessarily integrating the technology within the lessons.  Things like creating Animoto videos or Voicethreads, I had no idea about.  I used Google Docs but that was really the extend of any collaborative technology in my repertoire.  I used what I knew, just like teachers have been doing for years.

I think that the person who responded to the survey in learning how to make the kids more independent with the technology is on the right track.  It goes along with the idea of making kids “producers” of technology rather than “consumers”.  In addition to this, in light of my last post about ADHD and technology, I feel that most teachers do not utilize the technology in ways to benefit our most challenged learners.  I think that teachers are so busy going about the business of teaching that this area is one in which more exploration is needed for the benefit of all students.  If teachers are using technology in this way, perhaps they are only using it for individuals rather than looking at in in the terms that we have learned about in our Universal Design Lesson.  In addition to this, it is important to remember the TPACK framework.


The history of technology in education. (2011, October 03). YouTube. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFwWWsz_X9s

PLN Network update

The novelty of learning to draw has worn off!  I found myself dreading the practice sessions.  I think this is because, I was not satisfied with my practice.  I decided that I needed to put a little more “fun” into this learning and so I switched gears into learning how to draw simpler things like Hello Kitty and Spongebob Squarepants.  I started to research how to teach young children to draw because I feel that students lose that desire around fourth grade.  They decide that they are “not artistic” or “cannot draw”.  I think that creativity starts with the idea of “What if . . .”  so this self-doubt of not being able to do something is quite dangerous, indeed!  As I was watching the “Learning andFailure” wicked problem Voicethread on Youtube http://youtu.be/TcKSYpcIVyM, I remember seeing this image:

I was reminded that I was letting the  fear of not succeeding the first time get in my way of practicing.  I was reminded of the days in my childhood where I would do anything NOT to have to practice my piano.  It had become a drudgery.  As I searched the internet for forums, I came across this site:
I started looking for the “fun” again which would help me through my learning block.  I learned that it is important to start looking at the things that we draw by breaking them down into geometric shapes.  Then I went on the tutorials forum from this website and looked for some things that I could have some success with.  The first thing I drew was “Hello Kitty” and then “Spongebob”.  As funny as this sounds, I needed something that I could actually feel success with in order to continue practicing.
The other thing I have learned is that I do not have to draw things perfect the first time around.  This is a much more forgiving attitude than what I started with.  I have learned to make friends with my eraser!  It is perfectly o.k. to start with a rough sketch, erase what you don’t like and then come back later to fill in the details.  Sounds a lot like the process of learning.  Approximate, try, refine, synthesize!
Blog – Quote. (n.d.). Move Beyond Know No Limits. Retrieved from http://www.movebeyond.net/quotes

ADHD As A Special Learning Need & Technology





Every year, I have a student that is either diagnosed as ADHD or undiagnosed and that child poses some curious questions as to how best to meet his/her needs.  Children who are Learning Disabled/Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity may exhibit the following characteristics according to Leons and Gobbo,

“Students with AD/HD are likely to exhibit difficulties in a number of areas related to executive functioning, such as planning, organizing, maintaining focus, and following through on tasks. Moreover, students with AD/HD typically struggle with tasks that require active working memory (Barkley, 1997). In the foreign language classroom, this often results in uneven focus and problems studying independently and consistently, i.e., doing the key work of building competency through out-of-class practice.” (Leons, et.al., p. 43) “In spite of their strong cognitive potential, environmental demands are often a poor match for their learning difficulties.” (Leons, et.al, p. 44)  Therefore, AD/HD students could benefit from goal setting technology as well as supports built into the learning such as text-to-read or Dragon Naturally Speaking software.  This assistive software allows the user to write by using text-to-speech.  In our Universal Design Learning module, we learned that “The burden of adaptation should be put on curricula, not the learner.”  Yet, this is precisely what happens with students who have learning barriers.  Typically, general education teachers feel absolved of the responsibility of teaching a child with needs like this stating that it is the special education teacher’s responsibility or justifying that there isn’t enough time to devote all of his/her attention to the child with special needs.  This is not an option.  If a child is in a teacher’s class (special education or general education) it is that teacher’s obligation and responsibility to meet that student’s needs.

 Some technology that could assist in this area include:



Both of these web 2.0 tools allow the learner to have text-to-speech reading and an embedded talking dictionary.  This is very important because as Leons, Herbert, and Gobbo illustrate, “AD/HD students have difficulty in spelling and reading alongside weak memory, attention and phonological processing.”

     McKinley and Stormont in their article “The School Supports Checklist:  Identifying Support Needs and Barriers For Children With ADHD” claim that “Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are at significant risk for experiencing failure in school.” (McKinley and Stormont, p. 14)  Traditional methods work in opposition to the way that these students learn.  Therefore it is necessary to adjust the curriculum tools to fit the needs of the learner.

Furthermore, Voicethread is an excellent tool to utilize speech and collaboration for students with ADHD.”Important ingredients for learning success in school include the ability to engage and sustain attention, participate actively, maintain high levels of motivation, and complete assigned tasks. Yet many students at risk and students with disabilities experience difficulties in these areas. For example, students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or a learning disability (LD) often struggle with attending in class and completing assignments (Lerner & Johns, 2009). Moreover, students with emotional or behavioral disorders (EBD) often demonstrate low levels of school or task engagement and show little motivation for learning (Lerner & Johns, 2009). Active learning is important for learning success (Lerner & Johns, 2009); yet, educators often consider students at risk or those with disabilities ‘passive learners.’ ” (Brunvand and Byrd, p. 29)  Voicethread is engaging and motivating.  It also helps students to be more independent as they are working through an assignment.  The beauty of a tool like Voicethread is that it is so flexible.  Students can work collaboratively, in small groups, or individually at school or at home.  It’s versatility is shown by the fact that it can be used in virtually any subject and in any environment where a computer is available!

This link will provide student profiles of how Voicethread can benefit students with ADHD.


Voicethread is a win-win in so many ways.  Students with ADHD can work on a single task at a time and eliminate unneeded distractions.  They can work individually or with a small group.  The student is given the opportunity to respond in writing or by speech (ADHD children oftentimes have difficulties in spelling and reading)  Students with ADHD oftentimes have difficulty with working memory but Voicethread would allow the student to refer back to what was learned without relying on either short or long term memory.  The research that supports this idea is from the Foreign Language Annals:  “Students with ADHD are likely to have difficulty with executive functioning (planning, organizing, maintaining focus and following through on tasks. Students with learning disabilities oftentimes have weaknesses in language areas, memory (short and long term) and difficulties in spelling and reading.” (Leons, et. al., p.44)  In addition, Martinussen and Major support this idea in their text “Working memory Weakness in Students With ADHD Implications For Instruction”

“Working memory has been defined as ‘a limited capacity system allowing the temporary storage and manipulation of information necessary for such complex cognitive tasks as comprehension, learning, and reasoning” (Baddeley, 2000, p. 418). For example, when composing a text, the author must keep in mind the overall goals for the text (e.g., the audience) while generating ideas, thinking of how to spell words, and monitoring the text for errors.” (Martinussen & Major, p.69).  By alleviating the need for an ADHD student to “hold information in their heads” Voicethread allows them to put their ideas down immediately and use recorded audio so that the student does not struggle through writing responses.

Web 2.0 tools are just starting to hit the teaching scene and it is exciting to see what benefits they will employ for all of our students!


Brunvand, & Byrd. (n.d.). Using Voicethread To Promote Learning Engagement and Success For All Students.

Leons, E., Herbert, C., & Gobbo, K. (2009). Students With Learning Disabilities and AD/HD in the Foreign Language Classroom: Supporting Students and Instructors. Foreign Language Annals, 42(1), 42-54.

Martinussen, R., & Major, A. (n.d.). Working memory Weakness In Students With ADHD Implications for Instruction. doi: 0.1080/00405841.2011.534943

McKinley, & Stormont. (2008). The School Supports Identifying Support Needs and Barriers for Children With ADHD. Teaching Exceptional Children, 41(2).

 You Tube. (n.d.). Retrieved July 18, 2013, from http://youtu.be/KKqyvAQHb7w