CEP800 Final Project

Well, another class has come to an end… I really don’t like how quickly these classes are going by! I really, really enjoyed this class and actually found that it made me more confident in job interviews – definitely a plus! I feel like I have more direction with technology, and integrating it, and evaluating it. I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my colleagues in the fall!

Our final project involved planning and implementing a lesson plan that involved technology. I chose to focus on food chains. My lesson involved google docs, Educreations, and a website game called “The Food Chain Game”. I taught the lesson to one of the girls I nanny for – thank goodness for my summer job!

Attached is my reflection piece. Please take a minute (well, a few minutes actually) to read and please, leave any comments or questions below. Until next time… go green!


Food Chains and Technology

Our final project for CEP800 is to design a lesson that uses technology holistically and dynamically. When it was time to choose a topic, I knew I wanted to focus on food chains. Having taught both second and third grades, I felt like I had a good understanding of the fact that food chains are addressed in both grades’ report card goals, but very minimally. I chose to focus on a lesson I would do with my third graders to help them to form a more developed and descriptive understanding of food chains.

I started by developing some essential questions that I wanted my students to be able to answer by the end of the lesson (mine is actually a three day lesson sequence). I then thought about how I wanted students to show this learning, and what technology to use to learn through and with. I chose to focus on a few technologies that all play a major role in shaping my students’ growth and development of food chains. My students will use google classroom, google docs, Educreations, and “The Food Chain Game”.

You can view my lesson plan here. Questions and comments are always welcome. Enjoy!

Digital Storytelling – Precise Measurement

For the last two weeks in CEP800, we have reviewed many learning theories. This week, we were tasked with creating a digital story about a learning theory, a learning experience, and how students’ prior knowledge and/or our teaching strategies affected what students understood. I thought for a long time about what topic would work, and ultimately decided to focus on my math lessons. Teaching a new grade this year really opened my eyes to the importance of activating students’ prior knowledge, and I felt like I could tell my third graders, “Hey, you learned this last year, because I taught second grade last year…” and it would help me figure out what I needed to reteach before moving on.

I decided to focus on precise measurement, because this was a big learning goal for my third graders this year. Each student had different prior knowledge about fractional parts, so that really influenced how well they grasped (or, didn’t grasp) measuring to the nearest quarter-inch on a ruler/measuring tape (spoiler alert: not many grasped the concept immediately). I quickly realized I needed to try a different teaching strategy to help my students to achieve understanding. Simply telling students to find the quarter-inch mark without having a solid background of fractions/fraction bars really proved difficult for them!

You can experience my digital story by clicking here. I focused on Piaget’s Adaptation view in terms of conceptual change (assimilation, accommodation, disequilibrium, and equilibrium), and focused on the process my students underwent in order to come to a more solid understanding of precise measurement. Enjoy!

CEP800 – Understanding Student Understanding

CEP800 is starting off strong this semester, and I am so excited for this course! Our first big assignment was to do some digging in regards to our students’ misconceptions about a topic… any topic… and to analyze these misconceptions. We watched a really interesting video last week about how students’ first impressions of topics and concepts are quite hard for the student to ever change… it’s similar to the old saying that you only get to make one first impression. Students have a hard time separating themselves from their first initial thoughts about a concept, and it’s only until they are able to prove to themselves that what they thought was a misconception, that they are able to learn, grow, and understand.

I asked two of my third graders some questions about plant life. We learn about structures of life in third grade, and students have had experience with plants in previous years of schooling, so I was curious as to what types of misconceptions I would uncover with my two students. I asked them about what a plant needs to grow, and then asked how a seed becomes a plant (germination) and finally, how a seed gets the food it needs to grow (stored food… and spoiler alert: this was a major gap in their understanding). You can listen to my podcast here! Any comments or questions are always welcomed.

**About the podcast… I created it using the program Audacity. It rocked! I don’t always consider myself tech-friendly when it comes to things like this, and I was really overwhelmed when I first opened up the program. However, after watching some youtube tutorials, and reading through the Audacity help page on wiki, I ended up with a project I am proud of and a definite boost of confidence in my audio-podcast-producing skills.

Reference (music clip for my podcast)

“Carefree” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/.

PQ, CQ, and CEP thoughts

As we fell into our last week of CEP812, we were asked to reflect on the ideas that Thomas L. Friedman (2013) has about how life, the workplace, and our sense of intelligence have grown to change over time. It’s all about “individual initiative”, as he puts it – individuals going above and beyond in order to stand out (Friedman, 2013). As educators, it is our job to prepare our students for college, and also for their careers to follow. Though we don’t know where their education will take them, we do know that we have the responsibility of preparing them to the best of our ability. This involves a shift in thinking. A quote from Friedman that really stuck with me was when he said that, “The winners won’t just be those with more I.Q. It will also be those with more P.Q. (passion quotient) and C.Q. (curiosity quotient)” (Friedman, 2013). We need to help our students to not only follow their passions and curiosities, but to understand that it is okay to go off the path of their peers, and that it is okay to do something they love. Our students need to see the power in choice, and in following their passions and curiosities, wherever they may take them.

I was asked to reflect on how I bring passion and curiosity to my work as an educator, and how I use technology to instill passion and curiosity in my students. To be honest, I truly feel that I bring passion and curiosity to my work as an educator through how I interact with my students, and in the ways that I set up each part of our day together. My passion and curiosity as an educator come alive through my students and the things they do each day. Every action I take and every choice I make is a deliberate one, to help my students see the power in being passionate and curious everyday in our classroom. I created a Prezi to show just that. It will take you through a typical day in my classroom, and help you to see how within each subject, I pass the PQ and CQ on to my students. Comments and questions are always appreciated. Enjoy!


Friedman, Thomas L. (2013, January 29). It’s the P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as I.Q. The New York Times. Retrieved from       http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/opinion/friedman-its-pq-and-cq-as-much-as-iq.html.

Wicked Problem Project – Failure as a Learning Mode (final)

Throughout the last few weeks of CEP812, I’ve collaborated with colleagues on the wicked problem in education of using failure as a learning mode for students. We researched, developed solutions, and created a Blendspace to document the components of our project. After taking in feedback from peers, we revised our project this week. Please click here to view our Blendspace. Comments and questions are always welcome. Enjoy!

Wicked Problem… and Solutions (rough draft)

Picture this: your students arrive, ready and eager to learn. You begin teaching a concept, and you tell your students that the concept is tough, that they will work with peers to solve issues, and that they will FAIL in the process. Immediately, the room goes quiet. An uncomfortable silence sets in. Fail?

In today’s schools, students are told if they are not right, they are wrong. They are not always given another chance, because the due date has passed or the test is done and over with. Why are we setting up our school system this way? What about students working together, solving issues, taking multiple attempts to build up their knowledge base? Why are we not allowing students to fail, and learn from their failures, in order to succeed?

In my Wicked Problem Project think tank, we took a closer look at the wicked problem of failure as a learning mode. This is a problem which has many solutions, but the problem lies in discovering what could work best. My group members (Jeff, Sarah, and Kate) and I spent time researching and developed a potential solution to this issue – how to help our students learn from failure. We delved into the development of the growth mindset (and leaving behind the fixed mindset), the benefits of students working collaboratively to tackle problems, the potential of video game technology in helping students to learn and grow, and a shift in our gradebooks to support the growth mindset with standards-based grading.

You can view our curation here, created through Blendspace. You will find information on our visual representation, proposed solutions via a white paper, our brainstorming document where we organized our thoughts, and a mash-up of our recorded conversations and resources.