A Lesson from My Mentor, Thank you Ashley!

This year one of my favorite tech tools that Ashley showed me was the application, “Plickers.”  Available, free of cost, I would highly recommend any teacher to use this super easy, super efficient tool!  Plickers integrates seamlessly into the way you already teach, and serves as a formative assessment!  No grading, no hand-written work!

Great for Pre-Assessment, Survey, Exit Slips

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About Us
Plickers grew out of a shared belief that teachers shouldn’t have to teach blind, data
doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and students shouldn’t be afraid of being wrong.We believe that deep learning can happen when we measure our progress and use
data as a starting point, not just an ending metric.


A big thanks goes out to my mentor, Ashley, who put me in touch with this amazing assessment tool!

To watch a clip about Plickers, click below!

Chapter 3, Keep Your work Intellectually Challenging

Chapter 3 is about keeping ourselves grounded, regardless of the demands of teaching.  Many of us entered the world of teaching with expectations that quickly did not come to reality.  As Meeno Rami states, “it’s just a different intellectual challenge than many of us anticipate.”  I would certainly agree!

Year after year, teachers tend to do the same things.  Whatever worked last year will work again, right?  This isn’t always the case!  In our chapter we read about a high-school teacher who changed an assignment ever so slightly which resulted in forming an incredible classroom community.  As teachers, we often overlook the results of changing ourselves, or our student’s opportunities.  The reality is, however, WE hold the power to redirect the course of learning in any given second.  I feel that our classroom’s energy is directly correlated with how we present ourselves as teachers.  I know that on days I’m overwhelmed, tired, stressed, or anxious about my own personal life the vibe in my classroom is significantly different.  The same goes for classroom management.  The second I slack off on staying on top of behaviors, the behaviors tend to go towards the negative side.  Both the the level of energy and the intellectual decisions we make as teachers creates success (or failure) in our classroom.  Having a strong internal motivation is really the most important characteristic of teaching.  Chapter 3 spent time talking about how we can make our work more intellectually challenging by making it student-centered.  Although prepackaged curriculum has a lot of knowledge, it also takes away from real-world challenges.  Our students need to be given current issues, and asked to come to their own conclusions about the work.  As teachers, it is our job to keep our curriculum intellectually challenging.  Integrating our own ideas, projects, and inquiries allows learners to own their education.  Over time this sense of accomplishment, of collaboration, and of challenge instills a passion for education and creates life-long learners.

The big take away from chapter 3 is that as teachers, it is our job to continue to learn ourselves.  It is our job to take on new inquiries, new investigations, and to welcome change as a way to spark challenging and fresh activities.

Questions from Chapter:

  1.  After reading the section, “How Do We Maintain Our Motivation,” reflect on your own teaching practice in terms of classroom autonomy.  Was there ever a time you felt the loss of autonomy, yet continued to keep an open mind?
  2. Why doesn’t mastery mean perfection?  What is the difference between the two?
  3. What does it mean to have a student-centered classroom?  Give an example of how you could change a lesson from content-focused to student-centered.
  4. Why is prepackaged curriculum not as effective as teacher-written curriculum?  Is there a way to use prepackaged curriculum effectively?





Highlighting Teacher Networks

My “netWORTH” is tied closely to my “netWORK”…

Often when we think about teacher mentors, we visualize older teachers with decades of classroom knowledge.  I know I always associated a mentor to someone who “knows it all,” and has have had years of experience.  What I’m realizing after putting more thought into it, however, is that when we limit relationships in this way, we’re missing out on the opportunities in front of us.  In my case, mentorship has been the most powerful when it revolves around technology, as that’s what I’m trying to integrate into my room but need help to do so.  If I were to choose a mentor that was older, chances are he/she wouldn’t have experience with technology, as this is relatively new in the world of education. Choosing several role models to work closely with is a way to work in various capacities within education.  As a result, I have numerous perspectives and opportunities; this makes for a well-rounded network!

Included in this amazing array of strong teachers is an older, more experienced teacher named Syd, and a younger, tech-savvy teacher named Ashley. Our career paths have been similar and yet, vastly different.  At one point we all taught fifth grade, and now teach 3rd, 4th, 5th.  The connection we share is beneficial since we can see and analyze the development of kids over a three-year-period.

A distinguished educator of twenty years, Syd has learned to use her networking resources wisely.  Syd is an exceptional teacher, but more than just that she also runs professional development through the summer.  Just recently, Syd and I sat down to talk about the demands of teaching.  The one question that I wanted to share with you is: What do you do to re-energize your teaching practices, even when the paperwork and demands of teaching get piled upon us?

Syd’s response was simple.  She said that the easiest way to re-energize herself is to take a walk and visit other classrooms.  She stressed the importance of connection. Syd believes that once the staff feels connected and supported, then the kids feel the cohesive spirit and get more grounded in their own education.  She says that the style of learning needs to be seen as collaborative, inviting, and invested.  Syd said that not only does she love to take bits and pieces from each teacher and make it “her own,” but she also feels motivated to lean on others for help and that knowing her colleagues strengths allows her to reach out to the appropriate people when needed.


When I asked Ashley the same question about motivation she said that tech conferences is the number one way for her to get re-energized.  Ashley became a “tech tutor” for our building, because she was so excited to come back and share new tools with the staff.  Personally, for me, just being around Ashley is energizing.  She is willing to make time to come into my classroom and help me use a new tech tool, simply because she practices what she preaches.  When I see her success in the classroom, it makes me want to follow in her footsteps.  Ashley’s way of being is positive and encouraging.  Ashley also said, “the other motivator for me is time away from the classroom.  Whether it be summer vacation, spring break, or just weekends; spending time away from the kids makes me reflect on my strengths/weaknesses.  Having some time to soak up what’s happening in my classroom allows me to deepen my practice and my personal reflections.  Every summer I find myself diving into a good book, and I do it because I want to and not because I have to.  This motivates me to go back to the student’s with new ideas to try on.”

Taking a few minutes this week to sit down and talk with my mentors about what motivates THEM allowed me to see that there is just so much wealth and knowledge in front of us.  It is a shame for those who sit back and keep to themselves, as the power is found in connection.  As one of articles for this course states, “the room’s IQ is greater than any one person’s in it.”  Anytime I get to grow intellectually creates an energy within me to keep evolving as a teacher. Plainly put, my single networth is highly connecting to my network.  I am blessed to work with a great network of teachers, who I will continue to collaborate and connect with.

Purpose Statement, ED676

Goal Statement

This semester I am taking two online courses, this one, and “Instructional and Assistive Technology.” The reason I am taking this course is because it fits a requirement towards my Master’s Degree. This year I am pursing my Master’s through Arcadia University. I am taking 15 credits in STEM, and 12 in Connected Learning. Both those certificates, and a thesis statement will blend to create a Master’s Degree.

So far, I have completed two online courses through Arcadia University. Both were a lot of work, and quite challenging. I expect this class to be the same. Both classes I have completed gave me opportunities to connect with the rest of my peers. I created a blog in my last course, and shared my work through the blog. The rest of the class did the same, and it was amazing to me how connected we all became. The act of keeping in contact with one another felt more like a desire than an expectation or requirement. I hope this course gives me the opportunity to gain access to sites, thoughts, and classroom ideas; access that I may not have stumbled upon if it weren’t for my peers sharing with me. After I take this course I hope to put into practice the connected learning principals that I learn during the next several weeks.

I am curious about many things in education. One has always been how to safely integrate technology into the classroom, while at the same time still adhering to all the standards in each lesson. The truth is, our students are part of the digital age, and it is so important that they take learning into their own hands and connect with the world and to one another. Teaching through instructional technology is essential, and teaching them to use technology as a tool is also essential. The future truly does belong to the curious. The ones who are not afraid to try, to explore, to poke, to question, and to turn it inside out. When students are willing to get messy- to truly, truly get messy and take risks- is where the magic happens. As an educator, I am curious about how I can foster a classroom of learners that are willing to take risks. I am curious to learn various ways to use technology in ways that will enhance my everyday lessons. I know a lot comes from connecting as educators, sharing, reading, exploring, and trying on all types of different ideas and methods. I am excited to go forth in this connected practice!

As a fourth grade teacher, my students are so excited about online games. My kids this year LOVE Minecraft. They build worlds with one another, and recently two of my students decided to start a world out of the books that they’ve read. My two avid readers base their worlds around story settings. I have no idea how to use the program, but I completely appreciate what they are doing! I think it’s so neat that my ten year olds know so much about the internet, coding, and the possibilities out there. Overall, I think I’d like to be exposed to more ways in which I can integrate technology- ways that are meaningful and enjoyable to the kids. My students are very interested in writing code. Each year my school celebrates STEM with an “hour of code.” The event is sponsored by code.org and encourages anyone to take advantage of the opportunity spend one hour understanding the basic concepts of computer science and computer programming through games and other activities. The idea isn’t to learn computer programing in one hour. It is more of an opportunity to demystify the concepts of computer science with the hope of developing a general interest in the field. Each year I do the online activities with my kids, but I don’t build on as the year goes on. I’d like to learn more about ways that I can continue this education in my classroom. I’d also like to learn how to spark computer literacy with children at an early age. I have access to computers all day long, and I often shy away from them because I worry about my nine year olds on the internet. I’d like to learn more about internet safety, and how I can keep the kids engaged in an age appropriate way. I have a particular interest in games, since watching a TED talk called, “How Games Make Kids Smarter.” Gabe Zichermann speaks, “Do kids these days have short attention spans, or does the world just move too slow?” Zichermann suggests that today’s video games are making children smarter, and we should all embrace gamification. The TED talk states that the power of games helps engage people, and build a connected learning experience. I see this in my own classroom (as mentioned about in terms of Minecraft). Listening to what motivates kids, I notice that kids love videogames, and also books. Kids come to one another’s level when it comes to book discussions, and discussions about a game experience. I’d like to learn ways to bring this idea into my classroom.

Overall, I guess my big desire is that I want to enhance my classroom with as much technology as I can. I know there is plenty more out there that I haven’t yet discovered. I want to start off my school year next Fall with my laptop set up, connected, projected, and I want to teach USING the technology. It’s out there- there is so much to offer. I am just ignorant as to how I can go ahead and use it. After reading the syllabus I am confident that I’ll walk away from this class feeling connected to, and empowered by other educators. I look forward to putting in the work!




Chapter 2, Join and Build Networks

Chapter 2 of Menoon Rami’s Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re) Invigorate Your Teaching highlights the importance of utilizing professional networks.  Building a network of teachers enables us to see our student’s within a second set of eyes, and inspires us to try on new ideas as we practice risk-taking.

I liked how the chapter discussed the goals of teaching, and what we want to see in our students.  It is so true; if we are striving to create a system where the role of the teacher is no longer the “lone expert,” but rather the students are collaborators and co-learners, it’s important that we practice this theory in our jobs.  Connected, responsive, and welcoming online learning communities empower teachers.  The book described the empowerment in ways that access knowledge, create knowledge, and share knowledge.   In my own classroom, an example of accessing knowledge is talking with my colleagues about tools and thoughtful pedagogy, so that they can share what works for them and invite me to try it.  On my Blog you will see a post about “Plickers,” an online assessment tool, that my Mentor shared with me.  Similarly, an example of creating knowledge would be my writing project I did this year.  As a grade-level we focused on content development, and the five of us each took a domain (focus, area, content, style, conventions), and developed lessons specifically for that area.  Together, we came up with engaging lessons and then rotated all the kids through the five stations.  In terms of sharing knowledge, I am constantly networking with other teachers in my building and in the other five elementary schools to share content, ideas, and creations.  My STEM cohort this semester was full of sharing knowledge.  We each created a “STEM in a box” unit plan and by the time the semester was over, we each had access to the google document with everyone’s lesson plans and materials.

Chapter 2 also highlights ways that we can “get started” in networking.  I especially enjoyed reading about the National Writing Project.  I have heard of this project before through Kira Baker-Doyle, and know she is involved in the project, but reading chapter 2 inspired me to find out more about it.  I especially love how the conferences enable teachers to feel like students; to share their work, to build communities through writing.  I am always looking for more student-centered ways to teach writing, and this year I finally found that I found my nitch as a writing teacher.  My students showed so much growth, and I know a lot of that is contributed to using my grade-level partners as resources. Working as a team really allowed all of us to be open about our strengths and weaknesses. As a grade level we all saw significant growth from beginning of the year prompts to our end of the year scores, which of course is always the ultimate goal!  Before taking grad classes, I can honestly say that I had no desire to use Twitter, or to start a Blog.  Reading about web-based networking, I fully agree with the power of communication and networking.  I started blogging last semester, and found it to be such a great way to follow educators.  We all read one another’s blogs and it was so fascinating how one post led me to another click, and then another click, and so on and so on…

Had I not started off on someone’s blog or Twitter page, I wouldn’t have found my personal areas of interest.  When I found great information I would then post it on my own blog, and share what I learned.  This idea of connectedness spreads the best ideas of practice.

As this chapter discusses in the end, I was extremely guilty of the “but I’m too busy…” excuse, along with the “but I’m content where I’m at in my teaching,” excuse.  Networking doesn’t have to be laborious, in fact, it’s sole purpose is to give you great inspirations so that teaching gets even easier- more playful, and more exciting.  When students are engaged, our lives are easier.  I realize now that networking is quite enjoyable.  When I saw on the syllabus for this course that we were sharing our work on a blog (or other platform of choice), I was so relieved.  Constant submissions on blackboard gets so tedious, and I don’t find that it’s the best way to SHARE and get to know one another.

Besides following educators through my Blog, I also follow education communities on Twitter.  I don’t personally “tweet,” as I find it to be a bit confusing and restricting (perhaps you’ve noticed I am a bit too wordy to be put on a character count!)  but I do follow the following on Twitter:

Edutopia (@edutopia)
They are currently offering their favorite summertime reads for professional development

Edudemic (@Edudemic)
They are sharing 16 resources to help with “coding in the classroom.”

Open Badges (@OpenBadges)
Open Badges is something I learned about in ED677, and a really neat community “game” to encourage connectedness.

Connect Learning (@Connect_Learn)
If you want to use technology as a tool in your classroom, it must be planned well; resources here can help you with that!

In addition to Twitter, I find that Google Communities offers a ton of great groups and information as well.  The options of staying connected is truly endless.  All it really takes is a teacher who is willing to be open, and willing to accept the endless possibilities of shared knowledge!

Mentoring Matters, Interview with a Mentor

“Who are your mentors?  What do you seek from your mentors?” was the big theme of chapter 1, and this week’s assignment.  I appreciated the way the chapter was written, in the sense that it reminded us that the point of mentors isn’t to teach us how to do our “formal roles,” but rather, mentors help us grow in ways that we want to, and need to develop.  Chapter one is dedicated to using the expertise of mentors. In it, I was reminded of the fact that as teachers we are expected to wear many hats during various times of the day; it is indeed a pressure-filled job. We all need a safe haven to head towards from time-to-time and connecting with mentors can be that safe haven.  When I started teaching at my new school, I was assigned a peer coach.  This mentor ended up becoming my best friend.  I have learned so much from her, in terms of teaching, but one of the most valuable things about our relationship is that she’s really there to LISTEN.  As we wear these many hats throughout the school year, we need help.  We need someone to read the email we’re about to send, even though we know it’s probably not a good idea.  We need someone to talk to about a lesson that completely flopped, or an evaluation that we received.  Most importantly, we need someone to talk us off the ledge on those days that we want to scream, give up, and quit the profession (come on, we’ve all been there!)

Most helpful for me in this chapter was the section about finding mentors.  Someone who has always been a rock for me has been my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Ashbrook.  Mrs. Ashbrook retired when I was in college, and she called me up to come sift through her teaching materials before she threw things away.  To this day a handful of my posters, math manipulatives, and books came from my own sixth grade classroom!  Although Mrs. Ashbrook has always been a role model in teaching, I recently reached out to a third grade teacher who I work with, to ask her to be my mentor.  I like her teaching style, and I really like the product of the children I get from her when they come up to fourth grade.  Looking at this through a different lense, I started by asking myself (with the help of our first chapter):

“What am I curious about in my field?”

“What are my students interested in that I would like to know more about?”


“What am I already doing that I’d like to get better at?”

As a teacher I get into my routine.  I get into auto pilot and turn to my last years lessons and since they worked then, I do them again…I know that this is a flaw, as in order to be the most effective teacher, we must teach to our unique individuals in front of us.  I am curious about technology.  My students are eager to use more technology, and, I know there are so many great tech tools out there that could enrich my lessons!

What I admire most about Ashley is that she keeps her classes new and exciting.  She does this mostly through the use of technology.  I want to integrate technology with ease, like Ashley does.  This year Ashley was our buildings “tech tutor.”  I attended most of her sessions, and she taught me about so many ways to use tech in a subtle and effective way. I learned about Tech Tools to support ELL’s, (which was huge for me this year because I had a Non-English speaking student).  As the year went on I found myself going to Ashley on a regular basis to ask her about new programs that she knows about.  She showed me so many great resources.  I knew that she had experience using them, as she attends workshops and trainings frequently about the new programs.  Most notably, Ashely and I are currently working closely as she teaches me how to integrate technology a formative assessment tool.  One things I notice about Ashley is that she doesn’t sit and correct tons of papers.  Truthfully, with all the tech out there no teachers should bogged down by all the PAPERWORK when life is going in the direction of computers.  Still, though, we are sitting with stacks and stacks on our desks.  I went to Ashley mid-year with this concern of mine, and she’s been showing me (slowly, since she knows I am easily overwhelmed) ways that I can turn to programs to help me assess my kids.  Over the next several weeks I will create blog posts sharing with YOU what Ashley is teaching ME about tools such as EdPuzzle, WebAssign, Activity Learn, etc.

One of our articles this week through Blackboard was a link to “Alone in the Classroom…Why teachers are so isolated.”  I made a connection to this article.  Being that there is one of me and twenty four students, I spend most of my (very little) “spare time” behind my desk, plugging away at grading, emailing, planning, assessing, etc.  It is very rare for me to sit back and enjoy lunch with my teammates without a list in my mind, running over and over.  In his classic 1975 book, Schoolteacher, Dan Lortie described teacher isolation as one of the main structural impediments to improved instruction and student learning in American public schools. Lortie argued that since at least the 19th century teachers have worked behind closed doors, rarely if ever collaborating with colleagues on improving teaching practice or examining student work. “Each teacher,” Lortie wrote, “… spent his teaching day isolated from other adults; the initial pattern of school distribution represented a series of ‘cells’ which were construed as self-sufficient.”

I found it shocking, and alarming, that teachers only collaborate with one another for 3% of the day.  Some days, I certainly find myself to be falling in the statistic.  I must say, since starting Grad School there are days where I barely interact at all with another adult. I am so bogged down with work that I close my door and try to get as much of my work done as possible so that I don’t have to go home and put in another four or five hours.  Teaching is a very, VERY stressful job.  Just when one day ends, another begins and so the planning and preparation never stops.  This article was very powerful, as I agree with the power of collaboration.  I wish I had more time in my day (and less assignments on my behalf) to work with my colleagues.

Lastly, this week one of the articles we were given was about teacher statistics.  Specifically, about teachers who do not have mentors.  The study showed that those who don’t have mentors leave the field sooner than those that are in connection with somebody.  I know if I didn’t make such a strong connection with my colleagues, my chances of leaving the school I am at would be much greater.  In my case, my biggest struggle right now with education is the demands put on me.  As I mentioned above, the fact that ten plus hours a week are demanded of me through my grad classes, I feel completely drained every single day.  The work just never ends.  My mentor, Ashley, has noticed my stress this year, and it is our goal that with the increase in online formal assessment I will feel less overwhelmed with all of the grading.  Hopefully that will open up some time for me to be in greater connection with my students, and my colleagues.



Welcome to my Word Press Blog!  I appreciate you taking the time to stop and visit.  I chose to use Word Press for my platform to share my work with you this semester, since it’s a user-friendly site that I used in a previous class.  I enjoyed blogging during my “Equity in Connected Learning and Technology” class I took last semester, and hope that you visit some of my previous posts to learn about my last semester’s inquiries.  If you scroll back to my initial “All About Me” page you can learn about myself, both in and out of the classroom.

I am a strong believer in community.  In my personal life, my community of athletes helps me stay focused and motivated as I train for triathlons, and also my yoga community has linked me up with fantastic people.  In education, I feel the same is true about our community.  In my last class, ED677, we took a lot of time to share with one another (as learners, and as teachers).  Each week we would do a “post five” activity, where we’d search the web to find 5 things that correlated to each week’s study.  This was a great way for us to share classroom games, lessons, book choices, etc.  As they say, “it takes a village to raise a child.”  Within this village we all bring our strengths to the table and the joy of teaching is collaborating with one another within our communities to help us become better educators with fresh and exciting ideas.

As I read our textbook, “Thrive” this semester, I’ll be adding notes, thoughts, and insights to my blog.  Stay tuned to for an upcoming blog post about mentors!   I am currently working closely with a mentor in my building, and I turn to her for feedback often as we collaborate with one another.

Here’s to a great semester!

Self Assessment, Final Reflection ED677

How well do you feel you met these expectations this semester?

Wow, this class has been extremely beneficial for me!  During our first week of the class I felt a bit “confused.”  I wondered HOW I was supposed to complete these weekly blog posts.  What were the right answers?  What format were my responses supposed to be in?  I realized that the expectations of the course matched the course!  One of the huge take-aways of unpacking student interests is that students get choice.  I, too, had the opportunity to experience this choice during the semester.  I feel as though I thoughtfully responded to each assignment, and that I feel that I was successful in giving back to the group.  The connected learning community was embraced as I learned from my peers, often extending an idea that was of my peers.  I was successful in exploring the key ideas of connected learning throughout this semester, and I also feel as though each week I got more out of it than expected.  I particularly enjoyed the “Find 5’s” because it encouraged me to think about each week’s theme even further, stumbling upon some extremely great material!  Another expectation that I feel like I fully met was connecting in ways that may have been a bit out of my comfort zone.  I have always been a “facebook” user, but to me the idea of even creating a Twitter account was really scary!  This course inspired me to want to connect to like-minded people, and because of that expectation, I learned so much.  In addition, once we started the maker movement, open learning and peer supported learning portions, everything really started to “click” in terms of how I could integrate these great ideas into my already-existing curriculum.  A huge take-away for me is that students are not just parts of one set curriculum, but rather a part of community; a community of learners, in which they should all strive to be active participants within. I think I was able to tackle this topic with a bit more each week, therefore meeting the expectations of ED677.  At first I thought that all of the “Making” had to be online; but I learned that making does not have to be purely online but instead can (and should) involve making and sharing things that we create using materials and our own two hands. What is powerful about this message is that the “production centered” component of connected learning is not limited to the creation of a blog or a Twitter account.  The connected community reaches far beyond digital forums. Additionally, I feel that the key concepts learned and the exposure to all my peer’s work has taught me how to appeal to students’ auditory, kinesthetic, and visual learning.  

Where do you think you could have improved?

As I touched on above, I had a hard time getting used to the idea that there was not one set, perfect way to reach success.  It took me several weeks to have an open-mind and go with my instinct each week while responding on my Blog.  Because of this, I spent many, many hours each week on my course-work.  I think I could have improved my efficiency if I just let go of the “grade” attached to this course, and instead go with the flow and put more trust in the fact that learning can take on many forms.  In addition, I think that I could have improved on the connections that I made with fellow classmates.  I had a hard time keeping up with everyone’s ideas, and I know I could have got a little more out of the course if I followed my peers more closely.  Although time-consuming, I know this wealth of knowledge would have brought a lot of great ideas into my teaching.   While I learned so many valuable tools and methods for connecting with fellow learners and was (for the most part) successful in utilizing these resources I could have read each blog post more thoroughly.  I used WordPress to create my blog, and from time to time I felt discouraged when I saw the lack of traffic to my blog.  Some weeks I felt like I put so much time and energy into my posts, and then I’d notice that not many people were reading my posts.  This discouragement, over time, made me feel a bit less interested in the topics.  Looking back, however, I realize that I could have thrown my work around a bit more; putting it out on the internet in more places, hoping to capture a bigger audience.  Afterall, I was proud of what I created each week and I wanted more people to see my hard work.  I think that this teaches me a valuable lesson in the world of connected learning, however.  Unlike face-to-face communication, connected learners need to put forth the extra effort required to keep lines of communication open and flowing.  They also need to put forth the extra effort to read and comment to their peers, in order to get the same in return.  Overall, I feel like the positive gains from this coursework completely outweigh the “improvements” that I could have made.  If anything, these “needed improvements” made the course even more valuable.

How do your successes and reflections on improvement inform your connected learning moving forward?

I walk away with knowledge of so many interesting and practical tools for incorporating technology and online learning into the classroom. Reflecting on the semester, I acknowledge that connected learning takes commitment and truly requires a group of individuals with a common purpose and passion – whatever that may be. I also walk away with PURE compassion for student choice and student interests.  Whatever it may be, in order to be effective, teachers MUST consider their student.  So many teachers constantly wonder, “why aren’t my kids listening?” or “Why aren’t my kids completing their homework?”  Teachers constantly search for incentives, or for rewards.  Truth is, if we can get our kids to love learning, these incentives and awards become unnecessary.  If students gain knowledge through unpacking their interests, they will WANT to learn, WANT to come to school, and overall they will extend their learning FAR beyond the classroom walls.  In addition, they will learn the best lesson of all; which is how to be a life-long learner.  Then, the equity they will get in their education is huge.  If these kids are the teachers of our future, wouldn’t it be great to think inequity may rarely exist in decades over time?  If all students of our future learn through the digital age and all it has to offer, the opportunities that open up to them would be endless!

What else do you want me to consider when assessing your performance and participation over the past semester?

I feel as though the above questions say it all; I’ve enjoyed this course immensely.  I was very hesitant when I signed up for this course because my workload this Spring was already intense.  I am so glad that I took on the challenge and was part of the Community of Learners during this semester.  The amount of work was completely outweighed by the things that I walk away with; and it was worth every post, reading, challenge, late night, etc.

I want you to know that the articles, readings, and ideas that I stumbled upon each week contributed so much to my learning and have made me a better teacher.  It was virtually impossible each week to share everything that I came across.  I leave this course with so much knowledge and I contribute all of that to your OPEN style and all the choice you gave to us this semester!  Thank you for not just giving me that opportunity as a student, but also for modeling what choice looks like and feels like in the eyes of a student.  Thank you, Christina!


Digital Citizenship

As I prepare for my final make I still have a bit of resistance based around the digital world.  Another inquiry question this semester was “how can I trust that my students are properly using the internet?”  I’ve always felt very anxious about giving the kids too much choice, because I worry about losing the control of what my students find on the internet.  I decided this PBL will be a great opportunity for me to drop my fears, and give up the control!  I designed a Digital Citizenship presentation to conduct with my class.  This way I’ve covered all the basis in terms of internet safety and my expectations.  This is still a really scary concept for me, but I also have to realize that by shielding them I am preventing my students from so many learning opportunities. One of the most fascinating things I’ve learned about this semester was genius hour, and I want to give that opportunity to my kids.  In order to do so, I will do the best I can to teach them how to properly be digital citizens.  I signed up for a free trial and created this on “Prezi.”  For those of you who have never used it, it is user friendly, and presents information in a more exciting way than a traditional power point presentation.  Please click on the link below to view my creation, and feel free to use it in your own classrooms!


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Lacey’s Final Make for ED677


A mash up of STEM and Connected Learning principles brought to you by Lacey Kleckner

Spring 2016, ED677


In order to decide on a general topic/project idea I surveyed my students to understand their interests.  Some of the ideas I had related to music, the great outdoors, gardening, designing airplanes, or creating an entire unit plan to teach to a younger class of kids.  This year I have a handful of nature-lovers, who are very enthusiastic about gardening and composting.  Based on student data, my class voted that designing a garden would capture their interests.

Here, my final make includes Unpacking Student Interests, Peer-Supported Learning, Genius Hour, and Shared Purpose, in addition to integrating technology in a variety of ways.  After learning about all these great methods of teaching, through ED677, and how seemingly easy they are to incorporate into the day, I decided to make them all come together as we dive into a PBL.  This PBL will be used during my school’s “girls STEM club,” which connects to my inquiry question regarding enriching girls in STEM principles in order to give them equal access to Mathematical and Engineering opportunities.  As you read the lesson plan you will see that there is an opportunity for inner-city schools to gain access to this plan even if they don’t have a garden.

Project Idea: Students will, from start to finish, collaborate with peers to create a school garden.  Students will develop an understanding of Area and Perimeter (Math) by creating a plan for the school garden, and once they know the space they have to work with, students will design a realistic gardening plan.  One option of this design could be to use Minecraft.EDU to layout the garden footprint, however traditional pen/paper sketching would work fine too.  Truly, it’s all about the student’s choice and with the goal of creating a finalized garden in mind, the students will create their own learning path to get there.  After assessing the amount of available garden space, students will make recommendations for additional garden locations around the school based on sun/shade. My students are about to begin learning from the fourth grade Science kit, (FOSS Sun, Moon and Planets Unit), but the components of this kit could easily be taught to kids through online learning, or even online research.  As the PBL develops students will assemble a real-life garden, with the addition of installing fences around the already-existing raised beds.  In the end, students will have a choice between writing an informational or persuasive piece as a culminating activity (ELA).  In the case that students don’t have a place to garden (perhaps a city school), a persuasive argument would need to be made in order to convince community of needed space.  As an extension, students may develop an online summer watering schedule and/or research plants and vegetables that will flourish during the hot summer months in our area, based on our PA Regions study (Social Studies).  

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Performance Objectives:  Students will:  1) Determine area and perimeter after measuring dimensions of a rectangular shape.  If students don’t have a garden area they will propose one based on estimated space needed.  2) Research and understand the rotation of the earth around the sun and the shadows that are created. 3) Research what type of vegetation (flowers and vegetables) would best grow in the area based on weather, space provided, and shade.  4) Create a blue-print/plan of the garden which shows how space will be utilized, and what will be planted.  5) Create a budget.  6) Research fertilizers, decide if fencing is necessary to protect the green space.  7) Inform school families of the garden plan, asking for donations, sharing budget/plan/etc. 8) Create a sign-up sheet for families to help water/maintain the garden.  This includes a systematic way to weed the garden and pick the vegetables.  9) Write a letter to a principal or community (if asking for space), presenting the proposal in any desired way.  

Content Standards Identified Learning Targets Evidence of Success in Achieving Identified Learning Target

ESS1B Earth and the Solar Sys.


*Area and Perimeter

*Earth’s rotation (shadows)


*Correctly identifying area and perimeter and sunny location.

*Writing Rubric

21st Century Skills Teaching Strategies Evidence of Success
Information and


*Students will be instructed how to determine area and perimeter using prior measurement knowledge. *Students will be instructed on earth’s rotation and the shadows produced. *Students will accurately determine fencing and ground cover required to plant the garden.  

*Students will accurately identify sunny location.

Thinking and Reasoning Skills *Students will draft and write either an informational or persuasive piece.

*Students will provide feedback on project after completion.

*Students will score proficient in the writing rubric.

*Project reflection feedback.

Collaboration *Students will recommend number of plants to fit into the existing garden space using their prior knowledge of arrays. *Students will share their layout using either Minecraft or pen and paper drawing.

Assessment and Reflection:

Rubric(s) I will use: (Check all that apply.) Collaboration X Written Communication X
Critical Thinking & Problem Solving X Content Knowledge X
Oral Communication X Other
Other classroom assessments for learning: (Check all that apply) Quizzes/ tests Practice presentations X
Self-evaluation Notes
Peer evaluation Checklists/observations X
Online tests and exams Concept maps
Reflections:     (Check all that apply) Survey Focus Group
Discussion X Task Management Chart
Journal Writing/ Learning Log Reflection Questions X


Background Knowledge:  

Knowledge and Skills Needed Already Have Learned Taught Before the Project Taught During the Project
1.  Area and Perimeter        X     X          X
2.  Earth’s Rotation around Sun    X       X
3.  Informational/Persuasive Writing    X           X
4.  Use of technology        X       X              X

Technology Integration:  Laptops:  Creating watering charts (Excel? Google Docs?); using Minecraft to layout the garden plan; Google Docs for writing/revising/editing their written piece; Google to research planting opportunities (plants/veggies); Twitter to connect with local Gardeners and possibly update families on garden growth; Prezi, or other presentation idea to create proposal/final presentation; Twitter, facebook, or Google Community to stay in touch with families for summer and to post pictures of garden growth; an online platform to arrange watering/picking schedule.

Project Evaluation:  To evaluate the project, students will complete a project reflection sheet by completing the following statements:

1.)    What was your team’s experience with this project?



2.)    What stands out most to you about this project?

3.)    What changes would you make for next year and why?

4.)    What was the most important thing you learned from this project?

Extension Opportunity:  My school has an annual event, “A Taste of Penn Wynne.”  This is an evening that families bring food with a theme of “across the world.”  Many families take the theme of locally produced veggies.  The students could research recipes that incorporate the veggies produced to make a dish to share at the Taste of Penn Wynne.  If this PBL were used at another school, an extension could be creating a menu item, or a dish to share with their class.

In addition, this entire theme could be taken further and turned into a Grow Locally, Farm Fresh project.  Students could visit local farms, learn about composting, etc.  The options from here are truly endless!