CEP812: Passion, Curiosity, and Technology

Untitled Infographic (2)As we come to the end of CEP812 this week, we were asked to create something that represents how we, as educators, bring passion and curiosity into our classroom, and show how we use technologies to instill passion and curiosity in our students.

However, before we created our representation of passion and curiosity, we were asked to think about the importance of thee two ideas by reading an article published in the New York Times by Thomas L. Friedman. In this article, Friedman emphasized the importance of passion and curiosity within a person. He said that in order to succeed in the competitive work force of the 21st century, people will need more than a high IQ and a college degree. People will also need a high PQ (passion quotient) and a high (curiosity quotient) in order 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,” (Friedman, 2013).

I have always believed that I must possess these as a teacher, while striving to instill them in my colleagues and students. Friedman’s article and what I’ve learned through my CEP courses about bringing out student creativity has reinforced my belief about the importance of less measurable traits like passion and curiosity.


Friedman, T. (2013, January 29). It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as much as I.Q. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/opinion/friedman-its-pq-and-cq-as-much-as-iq.html


CEP812: Wicked Problem of Rethinking Teaching

Untitled Infographic (1)

Image represents the complexity of the problems with our school system. Created with Piktochart.

For hundreds of years, American school systems have been operating in virtually the same manner; the teacher is the keeper of the knowledge and transfers this pre-determined set of knowledge to students in a same, rote fashion year after year. However, as world continues to change, school systems must change as well- we must rethink teaching.

This is the Wicked Problem that my groups was challenged to find a solution for over the course of CEP812. We soon found out just how wicked this problem really is. In order to truly rethink teaching, schools must change both what and how they are teaching students. This is no easy task. To find out more about this Wicked Problem of rethinking teaching, and my group’s complex solution, read our white paper below.

CEP812: InfoDiet


This week in CEP812 we were asked to critically examine our InfoDiet. What is an InfoDiet, you ask? Our InfoDiets are the set of information that we take in regularly. The internet has made information readily available, but it also filters what we see. However, Eli Pariser describes in his TED Talk that there are now “algorithmic gatekeepers that decide what we do and don’t see,” (2011). Pariser warns that we must seek information outside of our “filter bubble” to avoid only taking in information that only aligns with out current thinking.

When I first started thinking about my own InfoDiet, I was convinced mine was balanced. I often turn to the internet to find ideas for my classrooms. I enjoy seeing what other teachers are doing and learning. However, I don’t seek out just any teachers online, I have a handful teachers that I have found that I follow on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or on their blogs. I am frequently turning to these online spaces to gain new ideas, but these new ideas come from the same people. I realized that I need to have a more balanced InfoDiet. Here are the three new sources I found on Twitter to help expand my filter bubble:

  1. NWEA– I chose to follow NWEA on Twitter to learn more about the organization. As a first-grade teacher, I often times disagree with testing such young kids. I also disagree with the weight these test scores have on a teacher’s evaluations. I have strong opinions about this test, however I have never sought out information to try to better understand it. The first thing that stood out to me on the NWEA’s Twitter page was that it was a non-profit organization. I suppose I always thought that the NWEA was another avenue for someone to make money. Throughout the week, I read their Tweets, which offered a variety of information on different types of assessments and overall links to information to support teachers. After this week, I have gained a new respect for the organization.

2. Flipped Classrooms– When searching for solution to my wicked problem, rethinking teaching, I automatically thought of Project Based Learning, since I have has positive experiences with this. It was not until I was pushed to see the limitations of PBL that I began to realize I needed to push my thinking further. This is when I began to research flipped classrooms. This idea took me out of my comfort zone and initially was not something I agreed with. This Twitter feed provided a lot of information on using various technologies in your classroom and the benefits of a flipped classroom. After taking some time to consider this idea, I can see the benefits and appreciate the idea more.

3. MEA– I chose to follow the MEA because it is an organization I am a part of, yet know little about. Before this week, I did not see a real purpose behind the MEA. Little change has happened in my district despite the efforts of the MEA. Due to this, I did not feel the MEA was doing what they could to fight for teachers. However after reading though their Twitter feed, I saw all of the positive things the MEA was doing around Michigan. I also appreciated that they were always posting news articles and updates from the Department of Education. They are doing what they can and keeping their followers informed.


Geralt [image]. Retrieved from http://libguides.gwumc.edu/c.php?g=27779&p=170351

Pariser, E. (2011, March 1). Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles” Retrieved August 8, 2015, from http://youtu.be/B8ofWFx525s

CEP812: Survey Data Analysis

This week in CEP812 I analyzed the data that I collected from the survey I sent out to my colleagues. The goal of this survey was to gather information about how teachers are using technology, how they could improve their technology integration, and what might help them do so. I will next use this data to help find a solution for my Wicked Problem: Rethinking Teaching. Find my analysis of this data here!

CEP812: Why People are Stupid


When I first saw the title of this week’s assignment, “Why People are Stupid”, I will admit I was a bit taken aback, and even a little offended. However, after completing the assignment I agree that humans are, in fact, making themselves “stupid”. 

This week in CEP 812 we were asked to read several chapters from James Paul Gee’s The Anti-Education Era:Creating Smarter Students through Digital Learning, and respond to the question: what limitations prevent us from solving big, complex problems smartly? For the assignment, I chose to respond to the prompt focusing on Chapter 10: Institutions and Frozen Thought. Read my essay to learn a little more about how institutions prevent humans from solving complex problems and how I see this in our schools.


Gee, J.P. (2013). The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students through Digital Learning. New York,NY: Palgrave Macmillian

The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students through Digital Learning. Retrieved July 19, 2015 from http://www.amazon.com/The-Anti-Education-Era-Creating-Students/dp/0230342094.

CEP812: Defining Problems of Practice

The problem of practice I chose to write about was students who speak English as a second language. One important point Gayle Buck made in her article, Teaching Science to English-as-Second-Language Learners: Teaching, learning, and assessment strategies for elementary ESL students, is that just because a student is identified as ESL, “it does not make a statement about their cognitive ability,” (2000, p.38). Last year, 40% of my class spoke English as a second language. The population of students who speak English as a second language is growing in the United States, more specifically, “…the number of students who speak languages other than English at home increased by 68 percent in the past 10 years,” (Buck, 2000, p.38). Due to this increase, it is important to address the needs of these students and find solutions to common problems of practice associated with students speaking English as a second language.

The students who spoke English as a second language in my classroom varied from beginner, to intermediate, to advanced. This was a challenge and I was constantly changing my teaching style, student learning style, and assessment strategies to best fit the needs of all of my students. I had such a diverse group of students and I found that technology was a great aid particularly for my students who spoke English as a second language. One piece of technology that I found the most helpful was a website called Raz Kids.

Raz Kids is an online program that provides leveled, interactive books for students. The program is accessible from school or home, so parents can easily monitor their child’s progress. This program also allows the teacher to level and pace each student based on his or her academic needs. The teacher may choose to allow students to read any level book, or the teacher may set the student at their academic level where they can only move one once they have successfully read all of the books at their current level. This ensures that students are always reading a just-right book.

One strategy Buck says helps students who are learning to speak English is to “make connections to students’ out-of-school experiences,” (2000, p.40). Raz Kids provides a wide variety of topics in both the fiction and non-fiction genre. This allows each student to find books that interest him or her. If a student is learning the English language and culture, they will better understand a book that is about a familiar topic to them.

Once students gain access to a library of books at their level, they are able to read the books on their own, listen to the books read to them while they follow along, and take a comprehension quiz after each book. These different options cater to students at each level language acquisition (beginning, intermediate, advanced). For example, students at the beginning level “have very limited or no understanding of the English language,” (Buck, 2000, p.38). These students benefit most from listening to an English speaker read to them fluently and with expression. Raz Kids highlights each word as the speaker reads it, and provides a picture or sound to go with the word to allow students to make a connection to the meaning of the word. Students can also go back and click on words and Raz Kids will read the word again.

Repetition is important for students learning English, so allowing the students read the same books multiple times will help build their vocabulary and fluency.

I used Screencast-O-Matic to create my screencast, you can see it here!


Buck, Gayle A. (2000). Teaching science to english-as-second-language learners: Teaching, learning, and assessment strategies for elementary ESL students. Science and Children, 38.3, 38-41.

CEP800: Lesson Plan Reflection

This week in CEP800, we were to implement our lesson plan that we created and reflect on student learning, the technology used, and learning theories present. I created a phonics lesson plan based on my current phonics curriculum and incorporated QR code technology to enable my students to access instructional videos and games online to support their independent learning. After creating the lesson plan, I then had to teach it to students. I am on summer vacation, so I had to improvise. My co-workers two children agreed to help me out. They are ages 9 and 11, so they are not too much older than my intended audience of 6-7 year-old first graders. With very few modifications to my original lesson, it was a success and the technology incorporated made my lesson more meaningful and enjoyable. Please take a moment to read my full reflection  on my lesson below!


CEP800: Technology Lesson Plan

This week in CEP800 we were asked to evaluate a piece of instructional technology. After evaluating the technology, we then had to create a lesson plan incorporating that technology in a meaningful way. The technology I chose was a QR code reader. I chose to use this to give my students access to online games and videos that would enhance my current phonics lessons. During my phonics block, I am often meeting with and assessing individual students or small groups so it is necessary that my students are able to work independently. By creating QR codes that correlate to online games and videos specific to phonetic skills my students are working on, they are able to independently receive an alternate mode of instruction and practice. I believe that providing this technology and allowing my students to learn and practice these new skills online will provide a deeper understanding of the phonics content for all students. This technology will enhance my phonics lessons particularly for those who need additional auditory or visual instruction. Please see the general outline of my lesson below as well as my analysis of how pedagogy, learning theories, technology, and content work together.

Subject: Phonics

Grade Level: 1st


My school uses the Words their Way program for teaching phonics. Earlier in the year, my students completed a Words their Way spelling inventory, where I assessed their phonetic understanding. Based on these results, my students were divided into 3 skill groups. For every phonics lesson, my students are completing tasks and learning new skills that are appropriate to their developmental level. Each lesson spans over the course of one week. At the beginning of each week, students receive a word list focused on their phonetic skill that week and a bag with a “word sort” using these words. The students must sort the words into categories based on the different skills they are focusing on. This lesson focuses on three phonetic skills: consonant digraphs, adding final -e, and inflectional endings. Differentiating my lessons in this way allows my students to receive appropriate instruction. I have a wide variety of learning levels, including emerging readers and ELL students, so many of my students struggle with phonics. It is necessary to split them into like-level groups to receive the most appropriate instruction.

Common Core Standards:


Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.


Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs.


Know final -e and common vowel team conventions for representing long vowel sounds.


Read words with inflectional endings.


Recognize and read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words.

Essential Questions:

  1. How does adding an -e at the end of a word change the vowel sound?
  2. How do inflectional endings change the meaning of a word?
  3. What are the consonant digraphs and what sounds do they make?
  4. What are the irregularly spelled words in your skill set and what makes them irregular?

Although I have four essential questions for this lesson, each student will only be focusing on two. Questions 1-3 are specific for my skill groups, and then each group must identify irregular words within their skill (essential question 4).


For this phonics lesson, I will use a variety of skills to ensure that students are interacting with new knowledge in meaningful ways. First, I have my students involved in hands-on activities. This hands-on method of providing students with cards allows them to easily correct mistakes and move cards around as needed. Another strategy I use is having students work together in their skill groups. This is the social constructivist theory at work. Students are working with their peers to create new understandings through hands-on work and discussion. Songs and rhymes are another strategy I use to teach phonetic skills. This is especially helpful for my emerging readers or my ELL students. Gradually releasing responsibility onto my students is another strategy I use. This strategy uses ideas from Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. Students are able to sort their words in the beginning with the help of their peers. As the week goes on, I have students work more independently until the last day when they are assessed individually

3.Content and Pedagogy

My pedagogical strategies help teach the content in different ways. First, each student is given a bag with cards. Each card has a different word or picture on it. The students must figure out how these cards are sorted. For example, my digraph group has cards with pictures on them. They must say the word that correlates with the picture, and group the cards together that begin or end with the same digraph.

I have students begin by working with their skill group to sort their new word sort cards. These are new words and skills to the students so I have them work together in the beginning to discuss how the words are sorted. I do not provide prior instruction on the skill, I have students figure out their sorts together and support them when needed. I usually sit with my lowest group in the beginning and guide their thinking.

Since each group is working on a different phonetic skill, we cannot learn the songs and rhymes together. This is where my technology comes in to play. My students listen to songs and rhymes online either independently or with a partner from their group. These songs and rhymes help students to remember new information.

Gradually releasing the responsibility onto my students throughout the week gives the the support they need. They are able to develop initial understandings of the new phonetic skills early in the week by working with me or their peers, and as the week goes on the students are gradually able to practice and explain these new skills independently.


For this lesson I will mainly be using the Words their Way spelling word sort cards. To enhance the lesson, I will also be using various games and videos online that are specific to each group’s phonetic skill. In order to enable students to access these games and videos, I am linking the websites to a QR code. My students will then use an iPad to scan the QR code which will take them to a game or video that correlates to their phonetic skill. To organize the QR codes, I have created three posters, one for each skill group. I have pasted the QR codes on each poster and labeled them with the game or video that it leads to. It is necessary that my students are able to access this online content independently because all of the content is differentiated, so we cannot access it as a class. This technology is not necessary in order to teach the lesson. Without accessing online games and videos, students would still be able to use their word sort cards to practice their phonetic skill. This provides hands on practice, however, I found that many of my students are auditory and visual learners, particularly my ELL students. The games and videos will provide a different mode to take in new information. The videos will allow students to learn the skill through song and rhyme. This multiple representation of the material will further solidify the content for my students, leading to a deeper understanding of the phonetic skills.

5.Technology and Pedagogy

The technology used in this lesson will support the pedagogical strategy of teaching through song and rhyme. As mentioned earlier, I cannot teach these songs and rhymes to the class as a whole as I normally would since not all students are learning the same phonetic skill. It is necessary to use the QR code scanner to allow students to access videos that are specific to their phonetic skill. This technology will also help to release the responsibility to my students. The videos will help students to develop a deeper understanding so they are able to explain and practice their skill independently. My students are able to watch these students with a partner so they can discuss the video together.

6.Technology and Content

The technology in the lesson helps me teach the big ideas and address the essential questions. I cannot work with each student or group everyday, so it is important that my students receive multiple forms of instruction. Accessing games and videos via the QR code scanner will allow my students to learn and practice their skills in different ways throughout the week. Without this technology, my students would would only be offered one way to practice their skill, which is their word sort cards. While this is effective alone, it is extremely beneficial for students to receive information in a different way that may be even more beneficial to them as a learner. As I mentioned, my students learn in a variety of ways and this technology will help reach all students, especially my emerging readers and ELL students who need as much visual and auditory support as possible.


To assess my students understanding of their phonetic skill, they will complete their word sort and explain it to me. All week, they practice sorting their words into appropriate categories independently and with a partner. By the end of the week, students are expected to have a working understanding of their phonetic skill. They must complete their word sort, read it to me, and explain why the words are sorted the way they are and why certain words are irregular. This is mainly an oral assessment, so technology is not used here. I would love to find a way to incorporate technology during this assessment, but it is important that I hear my students read the words and listen to their oral reasoning.

CEP800: Digital Storytelling Project

This week I created a Digital Storytelling Project showing how a reading unit I taught incorporates elements of the Social Constructivist Theory. In this video, you will see me explicitly model and scaffold lessons for students, while giving them ample opportunity to practice these skills with their peers. I am providing guidance, and gradually releasing the responsibility onto my students. The twist is that each of my students’ prior knowledge is different, therefore I must accommodate my lessons to fit each learner.

CEP800: Powerful Learning Experiences

For my CEP800 class this week I created a podcast where I analyzed an interview done with one of my first-grade students. The topic of this interview was why we have night and day, and where the sun and moon go when we can’t see them. The goal of this interview was to identify student misconceptions and to understand their understanding. Listening to the interview and picking it apart made me realize how developed student theories can be. The student I interviewed has never been explicitly taught any of the information he knows. He has developed his understandings completely on his own, yet he still had a fairly detailed explanation for why we have night and day. Listen to my full podcast below.

I learned a lot about student misconceptions through this project, but I also learned how to create a podcast using Garage Band. This was my first time using this software. It took some time and several YouTube tutorials to get it figured out, but once I got the basics down it was fun editing and arranging my sound clips. This is something that would be fun to do in the classroom as a final project and I will definitely try to incorporate this sometime.