UDL and Race to Round!

This week in CEP811, we were introduced to Universal Design for Learning. UDL is both a framework and guidelines that teachers can follow to make sure that all learners can be successful – working to overcome the “one-size-fits-all” curriculum that we are sometimes faced with (Cast, 2011, p. 4). We were tasked with taking a look at our maker activity from week 2 and imposing the UDL framework (see the guidelines with my notes here) on our activity. My lesson was a game that helps my third graders practice their rounding skills to the nearest ten and hundred. It was created with a Squishy Circuits maker kit involving play dough, a battery pack with wires, and fun LED lights. Small groups of students make their way around a game board and practice their rounding skills as they go. You can access my revised lesson plan by clicking here – the red font shows changes from week 3, and the blue font shows revisions with UDL.

I was glad to see that I was already doing a couple of things to support UDL. One of the main things was that I reviewed the rounding process whole-group before allowing students to play the game. This aligned with UDL guideline 2.1 – clarify vocabulary and symbols. By reviewing with the class, I was making sure that all students understood the skill they were going to be working on when they played the game, and took the time to make sure all vocabulary and symbols associated with rounding were clarified.

Another thing I was doing with my lesson that aligned with UDL guidelines was the use of open number lines. I decided to include these back in my week 3 revision to the lesson. The open number lines actually provide opportunities for students to use multiple tools for construction and composition (guideline 5.2). I am so glad I thought of this – it really does ensure that all students have available resources in order to be successful with my game. It also helps my students to stay organized, which aligns with guideline 6.3 on facilitating managing information and resources. Since all they need to do is write in the missing numbers on the number line, I don’t have to worry about number lines being drawn wrong. It is one less step students need to take in order to play the game, and I can help them to do this.

There are a few major revisions I would like to make to my lesson to be sure it is more closely aligned with UDL guidelines. To promote an understanding of rounding across all languages (UDL guideline 2.4), I would need to work with the ESL teachers in my building. I have two students who also speak Arabic, and by working with the ESL team I can ensure that these students understand how to round and play the game.

I noticed that I needed to provide more methods for comprehension for students when they play the game. To align with guideline 3.4 on maximizing transfer, I decided that if I was to create some type of handout to go with the game that reminded students how to round, they could use it with their open number lines to help them round.

I did not have any type of objective posted for students, and I feel that I should. This aligns with UDL guideline 6.1 on helping students with appropriate goal setting. Did my students really understand why I was having them play the game, and what they were supposed to take away from it? By posting the objective where they would be playing the game, students would be reminded of why they were playing and realize that it is more than just a game – it is a tool to help them learn and practice their skills.

The last major revision I would make to my lesson is to differentiate for different groups of students. Guideline 7.1 emphasizes the importance of individual choice for students, and guideline 8.2 discusses varying the demands and resources in the lesson in order to optimize challenge. If I was to create a few sets of cards that students could lay on top of the game board, different groups could practice with different numbers to provide more personalized instruction and engagement. I would be very specific with my groupings and the cards that are available to each group. This would make sure that my lower students use easier cards and my more advanced students can still practice rounding with more difficult numbers.

All of my UDL revisions would require some extra planning and creating on my part, but is definitely worth it if it means that my students are being challenged – in a positive, rewarding way!


To help ALL students succeed, we must always be asking the question – are we “open” to revising what already works, in order to make it more readily available to our students?

[photo credit: Markito. (8 November 2013). Open welcome note entry sign [photo]. Retrieved from http://pixabay.com/en/open-welcome-note-entry-sign-208368/.]


CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author.

Markito. (8 November 2013). Open welcome note entry sign [photo]. Retrieved from http://pixabay.com/en/open-welcome-note-entry-sign-208368/.


EdCamp reflection

Last week I participated in my second ever EdCamp, but my first ever EdCamp over Google Hangouts! EdCamp is an “unconference” in which educators gather around topics of personal interest, essentially creating their own schedule of the day with the sessions they want to attend (EdCamp OshKosh, 2014). I really love the freedom of choice that these kinds of professional development allow. When you choose which sessions you attend, and pick topics that are interesting to you, there is a lot of power in that, and the learning becomes more worthwhile.

I chose to present on BYOD Initiatives in Schools. You can access my presentation via Prezi by clicking here.

I really liked that this “unconference” could be experienced from the comfort of my relative’s basement. I think a lot of teachers would be more willing to attend professional development if they had an “over the internet” option for completing it. The fact that the session only had 8-10 people also made it more manageable and more likely that everyone’s views, opinions, and thoughts were able to be shared. The only thing I did not like about the EdCamp was that there were no hard copy handouts (it was online, so obviously this wasn’t an option). I’m the kind of person who likes to take notes on the handouts, and while I could have jotted notes in a notebook, I also appreciated the chance to just take everything in. I think next time I will create a one-page handout to send to others ahead of time, so that if they want a hard copy to take notes on, they’ll have it.

As I mentioned earlier, I really like the power of choice in these kinds of professional development opportunities. Often teachers do not look forward to having to go to PD (I’m guilty of this from time to time…) and sometimes it ends up worthwhile, but it does not always happen that way. Teachers sometimes find themselves wondering, “When will I ever use this in my classroom?” – and they may not ever get an answer (or,  it seems too far-fetched to put into practice in a reasonable amount of time). By attending personalized sessions, teachers do not have to follow what everyone else is attending. They can choose topics that are of interest to them, and have the chance for dialogue with colleagues who have the same interests and questions. They can bounce ideas off one another and discuss what works in their current situations. By giving educators the chance to collaborate on topics of interest, the knowledge taken in is that much stronger.

West Bloomfield held an EdCamp last year and I attended with about five other educators from my building. Even though we work together every day, I found it much more valuable because we could finally discuss the ideas that we didn’t have the time and energy to discuss during our busy school days. Even though teachers see each other every day, it doesn’t mean there is time every day to discuss what works well in our classrooms. With staff meetings and PLC time dedicated to other goals, it’s tough to find time to discuss what really matters for our students. EdCamp can allow this to happen.

If I were to organize an EdCamp experience for others, I would base it off of West Bloomfield’s EdCamp that I attended. Participants were told to come with three topics on sticky notes and then the notes were organized on a huge piece of chart paper (see image below… not from our EdCamp, but it looked just like that!). I liked that by coming with your ideas, time was not wasted on thinking about what’s of interest to you or what could be helpful to you. As wonderful as it is to meet in person, I would love to have some kind of live streaming of each session so that participants could attend as long as they had internet access. Of course, this is not always possible. By taking a survey of participants before the scheduled date, though, I may be able to work out what needs to be worked out with those who cannot attend. Overall, it would be a valuable way for educators to spend their time outside of the classroom, discussing what takes place inside the classroom!


[photo credit – Fryer, Wesley. (27 July 2013). EdCamp Grid (2) [photo]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/wfryer/938800229]

EdCamp OshKosh. (2014). What is edCamp? EdCamp OshKosh (website). Retrieved from http://www.edcamposhkosh.org/project-definition.

Fryer, Wesley. (27 July 2013). EdCamp Grid (2) [photo]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/wfryer/9388002295/.

My second experience with EdCamp!

I am SO excited because tomorrow afternoon, I will be participating in my second ever EdCamp! I first attended one at West Bloomfield High School last school year with some of the staff from my building. It was an amazing experience getting to spend the whole day attending sessions and collaborating with educators from across Oakland County. I can’t wait to connect with some of my CEP811 colleagues tomorrow afternoon.

I am presenting on the B.Y.O.D. Initiative in schools. This involves students being able to bring devices to school for learning purposes. For some background, please check out my Prezi. At the end, you’ll find a screenshot of my references (the YouTube video that starts the presentation wouldn’t let me type the address without automatically changing into a video on the reference page) and a link to the GoogleDoc where all of the references are more accessible.

Happy EdCamp-ing!


Bruder, Patricia. (November 2014). Gadgets Go To School: The Benefits and Risks of BYOD

(Bring Your Own Device). The Education Digest, 80(3), 15-18. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/docview/1619303677/fulltextPDF/D4E75D2656E945FAPQ/1?accountid=12598.

BYOD Case Study. (2014). Forsyth County School District – “Quality learning and superior

performance for all.” K12blueprint.com (website). Retrieved from http://www.k12blueprint.com/sites/default/files/Case-Study-FCS_0.pdf.

Chadband, Emma. (19 July 2012). Should Schools Embrace “Bring Your Own Device”?

NEAToday (website). Retrieved from http://neatoday.org/2012/07/19/should-schools-embrace-bring-your-own-device/.

Jiayong. (18 January 2011). 21st Century Education

. Retrieved from


Moore, Bob. (17 November 2014). BYOD – Consider Your Options Carefully. K-12 Blueprint

(website). Retrieved from   http://www.k12blueprint.com/content/byod-%E2%80%93-consider-your-options-carefully.

Nelson, Dawn. (November/December 2012). BYOD – An Opportunity Schools Cannot Afford to

Miss. Internet@Schools, 19(5), 12-15. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/docview/1153782427/fulltextPDF/64308DF2CF094FB3PQ/4?accountid=12598.

Experience Design with SketchUp Make!

This week in CEP811 we were introduced to the concept of experience design in the classroom. Research states “that the classroom environment can affect a child’s academic progress over a year by as much as 25%” (University of Salford Manchester, 2012). This, to me, is a striking statistic that makes me wish I had taken some sort of design course in college. After learning about design through this week’s activities, we were tasked with thinking about a familiar learning space and deciding whether this space works for what we know about learning today, or just learning in the past.

I chose to think about my classroom from my first year of teaching. I was in a large, spacious room that had five walls – two longer walls parallel to one another, and three other walls more angled and shorter. I was not really happy with how my library was set up along a back wall instead of being a separate space. Students didn’t really have any space to sit and read unless it was randomly around the classroom on the floor. Their square desks were arranged in tables and it was difficult navigating between them.

I imagine this space being restructured in a more practical, learner-centered way. Students work at round tables to encourage collaboration, which is in line with the theory of cooperative learning. Students grouped together in learning enhance their interpersonal skills (Hsiung, 2012, p. 120). They learn and support one another through conversation and exploration of concepts. Cooperative learning has proven that when students work together as learners, their attitudes, retention, and achievement are also enhanced (Hsiung, 2012, p. 119). I redesigned the library to include a rug area and ottomans to sit and work on. In front of the SmartBoard are individual carpet squares to move into any arrangement. Students will make their own choices for where they will work and with how many peers.

layout of design library

[The door into the room is in the top left corner – “door to hallway” text covers the door. Image credit: Whitney Cornelli]

After reading Trung Le’s (2010) article about the practicality of Kindergarten classroom design, I knew right away that I wanted to change the “direction” of my room. In Kindergarten classrooms, Le notices there is no real “front” of the room – every surface and wall displays student work, and students work all around the room (Le, 2010). I moved my SmartBoard to a smaller wall, off to the side. Since student desks are no longer perfectly situated in front of a board, students work more independently and rely less on the teacher up front. There are anchor charts behind my kidney table. Where the computer desks are, students use the top half to post their work and the bottom to actually work through problems on dry-erase boards. There are dry-erase boards on both sides of the SmartBoard to encourage students to show their work and not have it be erased before we can move on.

student work  smartboard

[Image credit: Whitney Cornelli]

The cupboards on the wall with the windows hold math and science manipulatives. The bulletin boards above display student work in progress. As part of experience design, displaying student work, whether current or older, allows for visible tracking of progress (The Third Teacher, 2010, card 15). Anchor charts and individual subject bulletin boards allow students to always have a look at the class’s work!


[Image credit: Whitney Cornelli]

To implement my vision, I would need some help. My district closed an elementary building and had a public auction of furniture. I could have taken: circle tables, a kidney table, desk and chair, lamps, computer desks/chairs, small table/chair for the document camera, cupboards, and tall bookcases. I already have four pillows. I still need to purchase:

-Twenty-four stools: $480.00 ($19.99 each) [Ebay]

-Seven pillows: $14.00 ($1.99 each) [Ikea]

-Area rug: $168 [Home Depot]

Twenty-four carpet squares: $238.80 (3 cases at $79.60/case) [Home Depot]

-Three circular storage ottomans: $240.00 ($79.99 each) [Target]

-Six square storage ottomans: $102 ($16.88 each) [Walmart]

My redesign would involve other staff in the building, janitorial staff, and the Board of Education. The redesign would best take place over the course of the summer, when contractors and myself can come and go as needed. Because of this, it would not all have to happen at once… but it would need to be completed by early August!


Hsiung, Chin-Min. (January 2012). The Effectiveness of Cooperative Learning. Journal of Engineering Education, 101(1), 119-137. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/docview/1014006079/fulltextPDF/6583510BCC394469PQ/1?accountid=12598. 

Le, Trung. (4 May 2010). Redesigning Education: Why Can’t We Be In Kindergarten for Life? Fastcodesign (website). Retrieved from http://www.fastcodesign.com/1637619/redesigning-education-why-cant-we-be-in-kindergarten-for-life.

The Third Teacher. (2010). The 79 Flash Cards. Retrieved from http://static.squarespace.com/static/509c0d15e4b058edb8f35a86/t/50ec7590e4b0a0ad0261576c/1357673872861/TTTIdeasFlashCards.pdf.

University of Salford Manchester. (9 November 2012). Study proves classroom design really does matter. University of Salford Manchester (website). Retrieved from http://www.salford.ac.uk/news/study-proves-classroom-design-really-does-matter.


This week in CEP811 we were introduced to the MOOC, or Massive Open Online Course. By allowing anyone with an internet connection access to courses, we are allowing for more educational experiences, possibly for those who otherwise would not be able to afford it. After participating in a course on designing a P2PU (peer to peer university) course, I have chosen to design my own course based on something I am currently working on, and challenged by – mudding and taping drywall.

In my “Mudding and Taping for Home Remodeling Newbies” course, my peers will master mudding and taping drywall to remodel a room in their home by working on different setups of drywall and posting updates via twitter and a personal blog.

Course Topic: mudding and taping drywall; home improvement; remodeling; drywall joints

Course Title and Photo: Mudding and Taping for Home Remodeling Newbies

photo (8)

[photo credit: Whitney Cornelli]

Who is coming to your course? What will attract them? Why would they want to participate in this experience?

My course is designed to attract those who are interested in, or in the process of, remodeling a room in their home. With the recent and catastrophic flooding of southeast Michigan this past August, anyone who suffered flood damage in their basement and is not hiring a contractor to fix-up the space will want to take my course. My husband and I are still working on remodeling our basement after it flooded in August, and have become frustrated when we have to hunt all over the internet and home improvement stores to find answers to our questions. The fact that common aspects of mudding and taping will be included in one course will be very attractive to learners, as the course can be used as a “one-stop shop” for remodeling with drywall! Learners will want to participate in this experience so that they can save money by remodeling on their own. If they are remodeling with a family member, they will find the time spent learning and working together valuable.

What do you want learners to be able to do when they are done? How long is your course experience?

When learners are done with the course, they will be able to effectively mud and tape drywall to remodel a room. In order to do so, I have set up multiple learning experiences, each of which focuses on one specific skill needed in order to remodel a space. By learning each skill separately, learners can focus until they have mastered, and then move on. Though there is no time limit for when the course should be completed by, it is designed to take place in six lessons, including an introductory lesson.

The course follows Lave and Wenger’s theory of situated learning – that the learning takes place within our everyday world activities (Arsenth, 2008, p. 291). In this case, the students’ classroom becomes the room in which they are remodeling. The “Explore” part of each lesson is very hands-on, as this is the time when students will gain real-world practice of what they have just learned about. This corresponds with Lave and Wenger’s situated learning theory. Arnseth states that in situated learning, “practice is given a primary role and learning is seen as an integral part of practice” (Arsenth, 2008, p. 295). Through my course, students engage in practice, and learning through practice, with each lesson. They also will build on skills from previous lessons by applying them in new contexts in the lessons that follow.

When I was choosing learning experiences and practices for my students to engage in, I first identified what I wanted them to produce in the end (a mud and taped, drywalled room). As backwards design proposes, it is best to begin by identifying what we want our students to learn, and then build a plan to help our students to successfully reach the results, or what they should learn (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 15). Once I knew what the final goal was, I thought about how students would demonstrate their understanding and mastery – in other words, what evidence would be acceptable to show they were working towards the final goal? From there, I set up learning experiences in which they first learned about the different mudding and taping types, and then explored and practiced to gain additional understanding. These steps follow the flow of backwards design, as pictured below.

[photo credit: Thibeau, S. (30 May 2012). Backward Design Model [photo]. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Backward_Design_Model.gif.]

What will peers make?

Peers will have two choices for their culminating activity. The first choice is to create a video showing them mudding and taping their drywall areas (joints, inside corners, and/or outside corners). The learner will choose which video-creation program to create their movie with. The second choice is to create a picture slideshow using Mozilla Popcorn Maker to showcase their work from start to finish.

In terms of objectives, students will…

  • virtually design a hypothetical room to be remodeled, and gain experience with remodeling.
  • reflect on the experience of visiting a local home improvement store and speaking with an expert vs. using only the internet, focusing on which was the best way to learn.
  • demonstrate an understanding of the do’s and do not’s of mudding and taping drywall by creating an infographic.
  • socialize with peers via their own personal helpful hints page on tips and tricks for mudding and taping drywall corners.
  • create a Popplet showcasing the relationship between mudding and taping and its related components, including materials and helpful ideas.
  • create a photo slideshow or video montage of their work from start to finish, highlighting successes with mudding and taping drywall.

Now that you’ve identified skills and made projects for each skill, how do those activities hang together as a course?

In order to remodel a room, one must start with the basics – in this case, the drywall. Once hung, it must be mud and taped in order to be painted and turn into a usable room (of course, there will be some who choose not to paint the room – to each his own, but painting will help to bring the room together as a whole). From our own experience with mudding and taping, my husband and I started out by mastering mudding and taping vertical and horizontal joints before moving onto the trickier inside and outside corners. Now that we are almost finished, we will be ready to sand down the mudded areas and reapply as needed. Then, we will paint. You cannot have one step without the other – we cannot paint until the drywall has been sanded to perfection and all holes and joints are covered as much as necessary. Each lesson’s components work together to help the learner see there is more involved in home remodeling than meets the eye, but that it is all completely able to be done without the help of a professional contractor.

As stated earlier, the course design was influenced by situated learning theory and backwards design. Students will be practicing within the room they are remodeling – thus, the learning takes place outside of the classroom and inside of a situation where they may apply their skills. They will develop learning through practice in a real-world context, consistent with situated learning theory (Arnseth, 2008, p. 291). Smaller steps (what Wiggins and McTighe, (2005) refer to as the “content, methods, and activities” (p. 15)) were designed with the end result in mind, as is clear in backwards design (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 15). Students are set up to demonstrate an understanding of how to remodel a room based on the activities and explorations I have set up for them in the course.

How will peers help each other in your course?

Peers will help each other in a couple ways in my course. The first way is through twitter – by following home improvement stores and classmates, students can tweet out questions/issues that arise and share insightful tidbits that they have found useful through their own remodeling work. Another way peers will help each other is by reading one another’s blog posts. Each week, a blog post will be created that will be an update on how their remodeling work is going. At the end of each blog post will be a question posed to classmates – either something they are struggling with, or something to push their classmates’ thinking. Students will be expected to read and comment on one blog post each week.

What is the design architecture for your course – how will each week’s modules be organized and why have you designed it in this way?

The course is designed to be completed in six lessons. There is no time limit on how long to spend on each lesson, though following my recommendation of a week minimum will allow for extra practice, while only working for a short while each time. Students will first explore the many materials needed for mudding and taping and must choose the most appropriate tools for their needs. They will learn how to mud and tape regular joints first before moving onto more challenging corner joints (working with both inside and outside corners are included in this course). All students will then engage in the sanding and reapplication stage. The course is designed to start basic and work your way towards the final product.


Arnseth, Hans Christian. (26 September 2008). Activity theory and situated learning theory: contrasting views of educational practice. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 16(3), 289-302. doi: 10.1080/14681360802346663. Retrieved from http://za2uf4ps7f.search.serialssolutions.com.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info:ofi/enc:UTF-8&rfr_id=info:sid/ProQ%3Aericshell&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal&rft.genre=article&rft.jtitle=Pedagogy%2C+Culture+and+Society&rft.atitle=Activity+Theory+and+Situated+Learning+Theory%3A+Contrasting+Views+of+Educational+Practice&rft.au=Arnseth%2C+Hans+Christian&rft.aulast=Arnseth&rft.aufirst=Hans&rft.date=2008-01-01&rft.volume=16&rft.issue=3&rft.spage=289&rft.isbn=&rft.btitle=&rft.title=Pedagogy%2C+Culture+and+Society&rft.issn=14681366&rft_id=info:doi/.

Thibeau, S. (30 May 2012). Backward Design Model [photo]. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Backward_Design_Model.gif.

Wiggins, G. and McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition.  Prentice Hall.  pg 13-33.

The course layout is as follows:

**Pre-course: set up twitter account, blog. Share links to both here!

**Lesson 1: So, you’re ready to remodel?


Please read the following articles about the advantages of DIY projects.

Article #1

Article #2

Please read the following articles on the basics of remodeling with drywall. Familiarize yourself with the different kinds of drywall available.

Article #3

Article #4 

Article #5 

Click here to learn about your final, culminating project!


Now that you’ve learned about DIY and drywall, explore the Lowe’s virtual room designer or autodesk homestyler. Have fun designing a hypothetical room of your own! Then, head to your local home improvement store to purchase your drywall.

Lowe’s Virtual Room Designer

Autodesk Homestyler


Put together a plan for the room you will be remodeling. You may choose to draw by hand or use one of the “explore” links to virtually create the room. Please include on your blog a short explanation of the assignment.


Post your room plan and short explanation to your blog, and tweet it to your followers with the hashtag #mudandtape. Don’t forget your question for your peers to ponder!

Comment on one classmate’s blog and answer their question.


Autodesk Homestyler (n.d.). Autodesk Homestyler (program online). Homestyler.com (website). Available at http://www.homestyler.com/designer.

Dorling Kindersley Limited. (2009). All About the Different Types of Drywall, excerpted from Do it Yourself Home Improvement. DIY Network (website). Retrieved from http://www.diynetwork.com/windows-walls-and-doors/all-about-the-different-types-of-drywall/index.html.

Lowe’s. (2014). Virtual Room Designer (program online). Lowe’s (website). Available at http://www.lowes.com/cd_virtual+room+designer_189310537_.

Ning, David. (24 January 2012). The Many Benefits of DIY. WiseBread (website). Retrieved from http://www.wisebread.com/the-many-benefits-of-diy.

The Home Depot. (1 October 2013). Choosing Drywall. The Home Depot (website). Retrieved from http://www.homedepot.com/c/learn_how_to_select_right_drywall_HT_BG_BM.

The Home Depot. (22 September 2013). Installing Drywall. The Home Depot (website). Retrieved from http://www.homedepot.com/c/how_to_install_drywall_professional_steps_HT_PG_BM.

Trent. (18 March 2012). Why Do it Yourself? Digging into the Value of DIY. The Simple Dollar (website). Retrieved from http://www.thesimpledollar.com/why-do-it-yourself-digging-into-the-value-of-diy/.


**Lesson 2: What do I need to mud and tape?


Please view the following article which details the materials needed to mud and tape.

Article #1 

Please read the following article on the mesh vs. paper tape debate to familiarize yourself with the different taping options available to you.

Article #2


Head to your local home improvement store and gather mud, tape, and other materials. Speak with someone in the department and be specific with your questions about what you will need (do you need everything from the links provided in the “learn” section?). You will reflect on this in your blog post.


Write a blog post (in two parts):

  1. Reflect on the experience of going to the store to ask an expert about what you will need. Did you need everything on the list? What helpful tips did the expert provide? Would you rather rely on just internet, just store employee, or both?
  2. Share your side of the mesh vs. paper tape debate using one of the two hashtags: #debateformesh #debateforpaper. Which type of tape did you decide to use, and why?


Post your reflection and tape choice to your blog and tweet it to your followers. Don’t forget your question for your peers to ponder!

Tweet out a teaser picture of your materials with a witty caption to your followers.

Comment on one classmate’s blog and answer their question.


Drywall 101. (n.d.). Taping Drywall::Mesh or Paper? Drywall101.com (website). Retrieved from http://drywall101.com/articles/meshvspaper.php.

The Family Handyman. (n.d.). How to Tape Drywall: A color-coded guide to flat, smooth, perfect walls. The Family Handyman (website). Retrieved from http://www.familyhandyman.com/drywall/taping/how-to-tape-drywall/tools-materials.


**Lesson 3: Is your drywall ready for mudding and taping?

picstitch (11)

[photo credit: Whitney Cornelli]


View the following two links to learn about filling holes and joints in drywall.

Filling Holes 

Filling Joints 


Find help forums to focus on how to determine the consistency of joint compound prior to mudding and taping.

While actually mudding and taping, think about the technique that is best for you for keeping your materials within reach

Think about what materials you might use for roughing up paint if using drywall with paint on it.

Play around with http://piktochart.com/, as it will be used for your “create” assignment this week.


Use piktochart to create an infographic on the do’s and don’ts of mudding and taping (what does it look like – and what does it NOT look like?)


Post your infographic to your blog with a short explanation for your readers, and tweet it to your followers. Don’t forget your question for your peers to ponder!

Also, please take a before and after photo/video of mudding and taping holes and joints (so you will have two separate pictures/videos) and post them via twitter to your followers.

Comment on one classmate’s blog to answer their question.


Bailey, Brittany (Producer). (2 April 2013). How to Finish Drywall Seams {Mudding or Spackling Sheetrock Joints}

. Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZ496hVcFGo.

Howcast.com (Producer). (n.d.). How To Patch A Small Hole In Drywall

. Available from http://www.howcast.com/videos/217569-How-to-Patch-a-Small-Hole-in-Drywall.

Piktochart.com. (2014). Piktochart (program online). Piktochart (website). Available at http://piktochart.com/.


**Lesson 4: What type of corner are you?

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[photo credit: Whitney Cornelli]


View the following links (articles to read AND videos to view) about the two types of corners, and the materials needed for mudding and taping each.

Inside corners #1

Inside corners #2 

Outside corners #1 

Outside corners #2 

Outside corners #3 


Figure out what type(s) of corners are in your room, and while working on them, think about which techniques for mudding and taping those corners (one or both depending on your situation) were helpful for you.

If you need to, head to your local home improvement store and explore the different types of corner bead available for outside corners.

Like last week, consult help forums if you need assistance with mudding and taping these corners.


Put together a helpful hints page for your peers – what tips and tricks have you discovered for mudding and taping these corners? What worked well for you? What did not?


Post your helpful hints to your blog with a short explanation for the week. Don’t forget your question for your peers to ponder and comment on one classmate’s blog to answer their question.

Take another before and after picture/video of the corner(s) and post it via twitter.


Askmediy (producer). (30 October 2010). How To Install A Sheetrock Corner bead

. Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoEXowBIpSs.

Askmediy (producer). (30 October 2010). How to tape an inside corner – Sheet Rock

. Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WSg5j8e0Y8.

Miller, Greg (producer). (27 March 2013). How to cut and install cornerbead for drywall. www.greenpropainting.com

. Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNPQ6dhyQjc.

O’Brien, Tom. (n.d.). Drywall: Finishing an outside corner. FineHomebuilding.com (website). Retrieved from http://www.finehomebuilding.com/how-to/departments/building-skills/drywall-finish-the-outside-corner-compound-over-corner-bead.aspx.

The Home Depot. (17 September 2013). Finishing Inside Corners. The Home Depot (website). Retrieved from http://www.homedepot.com/c/steps_to_finishing_inside_corners_HT_PG_BM.


**Lesson 5: When one coat just isn’t enough…


One coat of joint compound usually just is not enough. Learn about how long you should have to wait between coats, and when/how often to sand and reapply compound.

Article #1 

Article #2 


When sanding the wall, think about the material you chose to use.

Practice reapplying the joint compound after sanding. How many coats did you end up needing to do (this may take a few days)?

Try out different techniques for sanding joints vs. the inside/outside corners.

Play around with Popplet http://popplet.com/ to familiarize yourself with the program.


Put together a popplet that explains the concept of mudding and taping in relation to holes, joints, and corners. Show how each step works together to remodel the room.


Embed your popplet in your blog along with a short explanation and share it via twitter. Don’t forget your question for your peers to ponder! Comment on one classmate’s blog and respond to their question.

There is no before and after picture necessary this week.


Miley, Michelle. (n.d.). How Long to Let Drywall Mud Dry. HomeGuides.SFGate.com (website). Retrieved from http://homeguides.sfgate.com/long-let-drywall-mud-dry-95090.html.

Popplet.com. (2013). Popplet (program online). Popplet (website). Available at http://popplet.com/.

The Family Handyman. (n.d.). Drywall Sanding Tips and Techniques. The Family Handyman (website). Retrieved from http://www.familyhandyman.com/drywall/drywall-sanding-tips-and-techniques/view-all.


**Lesson 6: Stepping back and being proud


Read about turning your interests into careers and businesses!

Article #1 

Article #2


Is there any potential for your hobby to turn into a career? Check it out through these two sites. Search for “drywall finisher” or any other keywords you think are applicable.




It is time to put together your final project. It is a final reflection – either a photo slideshow, or video montage – of your work in the course, from start to finish. You can view the assignment description here.


Post your final project via your blog and twitter.


Beyond.com. (n.d.). Beyond (website). Retrieved from http://www.beyond.com/.

Craigslist. (n.d.). Detroit.Craigslist (website). Retrieved from http://detroit.craigslist.org/.

Danlandrum. (21 January 2014). My Questo to Turn Smart Craft into a Sustainable Business. Makezine.com (website). Retrieved from http://makezine.com/magazine/my-quest-to-turn-smart-craft-into-a-sustainable-business/.

Widjaya, Ivan. (21 February 2014). DIY: How To Start Your Home Business. SMBCEO (website). Retrieved from http://www.smbceo.com/2014/02/21/diy-how-to-start-your-home-business/.

All images taken by and property of Whitney Cornelli and protected under blog’s CC license, unless other credit is given and noted.

Foundations of Learning – Constructivism in Mathematics

Last week in CEP 811, I used my Squishy Circuits kit and some repurposed items to make a totally awesome game to help my third graders practice rounding to the nearest tens/hundreds place. While rounding is a third grade learning goal, and it is worked on in second grade, I still have quite a few students who can’t master rounding to the nearest hundred. I created a self-checking game in which students worked in small groups (2-4 people) to make their way around a game trail, self-checking their rounding abilities to gain additional practice in rounding.

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I thought my game would be the perfect solution – while students would be earning “points” for correct answers on their own, they would be helping one another since they were working in a small group. Those who were getting incorrect answers could talk with their group members about how to arrive at the correct answer. Students would synergize to help one another learn, and they would be able to do so without the direct support of the classroom teacher (though I found myself sitting with each group the first time they played the game, just to monitor group work).

This week in class, we needed to “work backwards”, in a way. Now that we had designed this amazing lesson, what aspects of learning were already being supported by it? What research could we find that would either provide justification for what we had planned, or inform us of changes we needed to make?

We started by viewing a TED talk by Richard Culatta on reimagining learning. He discusses with viewers the implications of what he calls the “digital divide” – digitizing traditional learning practices, and knowing how to use technology to reimagine learning (Culatta, 2013). Too often, teachers simply digitize learning practices and call it “using technology” – the learning is not really revamped by the use of the technology (Culatta, 2013). His TED talk got me thinking about the game I had designed last week. It was using technology to reimagine learning (I created a new game and therefore used the Squishy Circuit in a new way to allow students to explore a previously-learned concept). What was it about my game that was helping my students to learn, though?

I began by researching Constructivism theory as it relates to mathematics. Constructivism is an approach to learning in which “the teacher…facilitates the students’ construction of meaning and the understanding of the content” (White-Clark, DiCarlo, & Gilchriest, 2004, p. 41). I first taught my students about rounding, and then I set up an opportunity for them to explore and master the concept on their own/in groups. In terms of mathematics, Constructivism allows students to make personal connections to the content, forming these connections based on work they are doing with peers in a small group (White-Clark, DiCarlo, & Gilchriest, 2004, p. 41). I had taught a couple of lessons on rounding about a week or two before I created my game, so my students already had a basic understanding of rounding to work off of. The game I created allows students to construct meaning and understanding of rounding by identifying patterns for rounding (they were seeking to understand why some LEDs light up and some do not). Though my game was designed for groups of two to four students, I found that it ran best with four students. Aligned with Constructivism, this allowed the most opportunities for students to make connections with their peers to further their understanding of rounding. While working with just one partner provides opportunities for connections, hearing ideas from three other peers offers more opportunities for students to make connections with one another. Students can learn better when their peers teach them. Having the chance to hear from three peers could significantly help my students who still aren’t quite grasping rounding yet.

This leads to the next point from Constructivism, tested by Kroesbergen, Van Luit, and Maas (2004) – does it hurt lower achieving students to allow them to use a more Constructivist approach to learning mathematics concepts? While the research of Kroesbergen et. al. (2004) focused on multiplication skills, the underlying debate of which type of instruction is more beneficial for low-achieving students really resonated with me in terms of my game. Just from sitting with a few groups of students who played the game, there always seemed to be at least one student who rounded incorrectly. What if my game was hurting their development of the concept of rounding, because they were being exposed to incorrect answers? Kroesbergen et. al. (2004) found in their research that Constructivist instruction positively influenced their low-achieving students’ motivation (p. 247). My lower-achieving students should not suffer any damage to their motivation by working with their peers. If anything, their peers are helping them to feel  better about their own skills, and helping them to discover what’s missing from their schema of rounding. My low-achieving students should be exposed to incorrect answers. While Kroesbergen et. al. (2004) bring a valid point to life – that “both correct and incorrect solutions… could produce confusion for low achievers” (p. 248), this is the only way to help students correct misconceptions. If they are never exposed to incorrect answers, how can they develop a full understanding of a concept? The best way for students to learn is by “doing”. My low-achieving students need the chance to discover on their own why their answer was incorrect.

So, what would I change about my game?

To help all students with this type of “incorrect answer turned correct” discovery, I should have allowed to students to use manipulatives. White-Clark, DiCarlo, and Gilchriest (2008) remind teachers that “hands-on activities… and manipulatives are elements that embrace the constructivist educational philosophy” (p. 42). I need to allow students to use open number lines, base-10 blocks, and paper/pencil to work their way towards the correct answer. I could check-in with groups playing the game and have them show me how they know their answer is correct. This will help my low-achieving students to do two things: learn from the work of their peers, and have a concrete model to rely on for future rounding problems. This modification to my original plan does not change the course of the game; rather, it allows me to update the materials needed to help ALL of my students to become successful mathematicians. Be sure to check out my updated lesson plan!


When students work together, learning becomes everyone’s weight to carry – not just one person’s. [photo credit – Rubin, Nancy. (4 July 2012). Connecting Critical Thinking to Online Learning [photo]. Retrieved from http://nancy-rubin.com/2012/07/04/connecting-critical-thinking-to-online-learning/.]


Culatta, Richard. (2013). Reimagining Learning: Richard Culatta at TEDxBeaconStreet. Retrieved from http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Reimagining-Learning-Richard-Cu.

Kroesbergen, Evelyn H., Van Luit, Johannes E. H., and Maas, Cora J. M. (Jan 2004). Effectiveness of Explicit and Constructivist Mathematics Instruction for Low-Achieving Students in the Netherlands. The Elementary School Journal, 104(3), 233-251. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3202951.

Rubin, Nancy. (4 July 2012). Connecting Critical Thinking to Online Learning [photo]. Retrieved from http://nancy-rubin.com/2012/07/04/connecting-critical-thinking-to-online-learning/. 

White-Clark, Renee, DiCarlo, Maria and Gilchriest, Nancy. (Apr. – May, 2008). “Guide on the Side”: An Instructional Approach to Meet Mathematics Standards. The High School Journal, 91(4), 40-44. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40364096.

Thrifting, repurposing, and the Race to Round!

**This post is definitely my lengthiest thus far. The maker kit I chose uses two types of dough, and the game I created involved a lot of preparation. The following information goes into detail with how to create conductive/insulating dough, use the kit, and put together a game for practicing rounding.

In our second week of CEP811, we revisited the idea of “repurposing” (see my previous post about TPACK). This involves finding items/objects and giving them a new purpose (for this course, specifically, the new purpose is to be used in your classroom). Matt Koehler and Punya Mishra discuss in their keynote the idea of “NEW” technologies – being Novel, Effective, and Whole (Koehler and Mishra, 2012). Technologies cannot be NEW without all three coming into play. I really like what they said about being unique, and how technologies need to be useful as well (Koehler and Mishra, 2012). It is no good if your technology is totally out-of-this-world if it does not serve any kind of purpose! I knew that while my game would be “NEW” it also needed to serve a purpose – to help my students to develop their understanding of rounding, whether they figure this out on their own or through synergizing with the group they play the game with (more on synergizing at the end of my post).

We were tasked with playing around with our Maker Kit (I chose Squishy Circuits – who doesn’t love to play with play dough?!) and finding items around the house/at a thrift store that could interact with our kit. We were then supposed to put the two together to create something for our classroom that was in some way tied to our curriculum.

I began by having a tiny bit of a breakdown. I had absolutely no idea where to go or what to do. I spent a few hours looking online and was becoming more and more frustrated. I started with my kit’s homepage and then did some exploring. I was feeling pretty discouraged, but then stumbled upon this adorable video of this young girl who was SO excited to work with her Squishy Circuits kit. I realized I needed to change my views on my kit and think about it in terms of my students. If I was a third grader, I would really like the LED aspect of the kit – making connections with the dough to light up the different colors. I decided that I wanted to create some kind of game that involved getting the LEDs to light up. I thought I would focus on math or science. My students have been struggling with rounding to the nearest ten or hundred, so I thought that maybe I could create a game that could help my students with rounding.

My students love playing math games, so I knew I wanted to create a self-checking game that they could play without an adult standing watch the entire time. I decided on a game that would allow my students to practice rounding to the nearest ten or hundred, and they could self-assess while they played based on whether or not the LED light lights up. Now the only question left, was… what could I repurpose to create this game?

Part I – My Thrift Store Adventure
I started my search at the Salvation Army in downtown Royal Oak. I was there for about a half hour, and I had my mind set on a few things to buy: something to repurpose into a dice, something (4 to be exact) to use as game pieces, and something to turn into a game board. I immediately walked to the “trinkets section” (that’s what I’m calling it, anyways) and found all sorts of objects. They had a lot of holiday stuff, but not much of it was tiny. I then found what I’m assuming to be a “kid’s section” because it had a lot of little toys. I thought I found the perfect game pieces – these little shapes with magnets and a concave half circle, which I thought would be perfect for putting the conductive dough into. As I picked them up to take a closer look, I realized that each game piece had to be open at both ends so that the red/positive wire could connect with the dough inside. I now had to shift my focus a little – instead of having each game piece act as a pointer for my game, I was going to have to search for something cylinder-shaped to use as a pointer connected to the battery pack, and then I would have the students just move little game pieces on the board to keep their spot.

I did a few laps around the store with no luck. I decided to take one more look at the “kid’s section” and that’s when I stumbled upon this little Roxy cube-shaped clock.

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My mind immediately started running through the possibility of turning the outer cube shell of the clock into a dice. I took a closer look and saw that little tiny screws were holding it together – I would just have to remove the screws, pop out the clock, and then put the shell back together.

On the way home, I was really thinking about what I could use as the pointer that would be wide enough to stick the black/negative wire into. I thought a straw would be easiest, so I stopped at Tropical Smoothie Cafe by my house, ordered a couple smoothies (so it wouldn’t look weird when I asked for extra straws), and took some extra straws. I now had my pointer!

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All that was left was the actual game pieces that the students would move around the board. I went into my basement and dug up some fluffy pom-poms, craft glue, googly eyes, and popsicle sticks. The pom-poms were decorations on my birthday board from last year. The glue and googly eyes were from last year’s Halloween party. The popsicle sticks? A teacher can never have enough of those! So I set to work. Here’s what I came up with:


Part II – Squishy Circuits Preparation and Creating the Game!
To get started, you need to make the conductive and insulating doughs that will allow your Squishy Circuits kit to work (in this case, to light up the LEDs). Here are the recipes straight from the Squishy Circuits box.

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My directions will teach how to make the conductive dough first. Gather water, flour, salt, lemon juice, vegetable oil, and some food coloring (optional, but helps to tell the difference between the two types of dough when you are working with your kit. I chose green – I’m forever a Spartan!). Mix all of the ingredients together, leaving out ½ cup of flour.

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After the ingredients are mixed up, put the mixture on the stove and heat it at a medium-high heat (I chose between “4” and “5” on the lo – hi setting on the burner) and stir continuously. After a few minutes, the mixture will turn into a bit of a scrambled eggs concoction because suddenly, you have a new consistency. Continue stirring until a dough ball forms.

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After the dough ball forms, turn off the burner and allow the dough to cool. It will be very hot after being on the stove, and the next stop is to knead the remaining ½ cup of flour into the dough ball. You will want to let it cool for 10-20 minutes (depending on how hot you can handle touching). Once cooled, spread the remaining flour onto a countertop and begin kneading it into the dough. Stop once you have your desired consistency – it shouldn’t be too sticky anymore. Store in an air-tight container or ziploc baggy at room temperature.

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To make the insulating dough, gather flour, sugar, vegetable oil, and distilled water. Mix the flour, sugar, and vegetable oil, again leaving out ½ cup of flour. Once mixed, add in the distilled water in ½-1 tablespoon amounts.

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Stop adding distilled water when your dough looks crumbly (you may notice my bowl has changed – for the first batch of this dough I added too much water too quickly, and completely missed the “crumbly dough” stage. I had to start over. Definitely pour the water into the dough in tiny, tiny, amounts!). You should be able to form a dough ball with your hands, and have it maintain its shape. Spread the remaining flour onto a countertop and again, begin kneading it into the dough. Stop once you have your desired consistency – it should no longer be very sticky. Store in an air-tight container or ziploc baggy at room temperature.

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Now that your dough is made, it’s time to put the rest of your kit together. Start by putting four AA batteries into the battery pack. Put the red/positive wire into one ball of conductive dough. The black/negative wire will go into another ball of conductive dough.

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Test that your dough will conduct properly by inserting an LED light into the dough. The longer/positive wire from the LED should connect with the red/positively-wired dough (left wire in image below). The shorter/negative wire from the LED should connect with the black/negatively-wired dough (right wire in image below). Turn on the battery pack. The LED should light up!

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**If the LED does not light up when the battery pack is turned on, check that the LED wires are connected properly. The longer wire should be connected to the red-wired dough.**

Play around with different setups of conductive and insulating dough. Do not allow two conductive dough balls to touch, or the circuit will be incomplete. Test out the two buzzers (only one is pictured) and the motor. Though they aren’t needed for this game, they do come in your kit!

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Race to Round! Directions
For the game, you need a game board, pointer, and game pieces. I chose to use a pizza box for the game board. The pizza box sides were too thick, so I had to do some cutting and taping to make the box slimmer. Design your game board in any way you’d like. I chose a fun, twisty trail for the students to follow.

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A straw is the perfect fit for the pointer (used to touch LEDs to see if their answer was correct/incorrect), because it is long enough to reach across the board and wide enough for the black/negative wire and conducting dough to fit inside. I chose to take one straw and cut it in half so that it could bend in the middle to reach the closer LEDs, but still be long enough to reach the farther away ones. I used tinfoil to help as a conductor and taped the straws closed after cutting them lengthwise to cram in the conductive dough.

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You need a dice. I made one out of a Roxy clock that I bought at Salvation Army. I limited the numbers on the dice to 1, 2, 3, or roll again, because otherwise they would make it through the game rather quickly. You only have twelve pairs of LEDs to work with (25 single LEDs, put into groups of two, which means you have one lonely LED left over), which means only twelve spots on the game board.

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You need game pieces. I made my own out of popsicle sticks, pom-poms, googly eyes, and craft glue.


Draw/place your game board track on top of the pizza box. Poke holes on the lid for the LED wires to poke through, deep enough to connect with the conductive dough. A needle works well for this. Trace the around the needle holes with marker so that you can tell where the dough will be going.

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You’ll need the conductive and insulating dough to run the entirety of the game board, hidden underneath the lid of the pizza box. I chose to use the insulating dough as my base, and then put the conductive dough on top. The dough needed to be close to the lid of the box, so using the insulating dough first meant I needed to use less conductive dough (so I wouldn’t have to make more).

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Set up your LEDs so that they light up for the correct answer. For a correct answer, poke the long wire from the LED into the conductive dough and bend the short wire upwards, on top of the game board. For an incorrect answer, poke the short wire from the LED into the conductive dough and bend the long wire upwards, on top of the game board. Since the “incorrect” LED is inserted into the dough incorrectly, it will not light up when touched with the conductive dough pointer.

Once the board is set up, you’re ready to play! Students take turns rolling the dice. They move their game piece the number of spaces on the dice. Once they land, they should read the number on the spot they landed on and decide how to round the given number (to the nearest ten or hundred). They check their answer by putting the pointer on the LED next to what they think the answer is. If they are correct, the LED will light up and they earn one point! If they are incorrect, the LED will not light up and they do not earn any points. Game play ends when all students have crossed the finish line. The student with the most points at the end of the game wins!

Part III – So, how do the Squishy Circuits kit and this game work together to support learning?

My third graders love to explore. They are working on developing their personal independence and responsibility. I’ve noticed that when I give my students an inch, they definitely take a mile – but not in a bad way. They are constantly rising to the challenge when it comes to working with partners or in a small group. Though they may sometimes get a little silly while working, I’ve truly never worked with a group as hard working as they are. We are a Leader in Me school, which means all students are working towards following and implementing the “7 Habits of Happy Kids”. The habit of synergizing, or working together, is implemented through this activity. Through working with others for this game, two things may happen. Students who do not grasp rounding will be able to work with their peers, if they choose, to find the answer. Those peers, who help others learn more about rounding, will be developing their understanding of rounding by “teaching” it to any group member(s) who may need extra help.

In terms of the Common Core Academic State Standards, students are expected to be able to use their knowledge of place value to round to the nearest ten or hundred. They should be identifying patterns while doing so. Though the CCSS mentions “arithmetic patterns” and not just general patterns, I still applied the standard to this activity because I feel it can lead them towards an understanding of how patterns are everywhere in math, not just wherever there is an equation involved.

When it comes to rounding, students should be able to round to the nearest ten or hundred in third grade. This game is perfect to be played after a general understanding of place value has been explored. Because students will rely on the LED lights to show them if they are correct or not, they self-assess with every movement in the game – whether they are rounding, or someone else in their group is. The LEDs are fun, different, and bright – we usually play math games with just number cards or base-ten blocks. The LEDs will definitely motivate students to be sure to solve for the correct answer. Having the two tens or hundreds on the board (for example, 46 as the number to round and 40 and 50 as the two choices) reminds students of what the closest tens/hundreds are. With this game, students are practicing their rounding skills while being immersed in mathematical patterns. They are working together as mathematicians and learning on their own, and from their peers.

You can find my lesson plan for this game here. If you have any questions, comments, or need clarification on ANY aspect, please let me know! I would love to help someone else implement a game like this into their classroom!

**Note: All images (taken by Whitney Cornelli) are to provide additional support in reproducing the kit/game by showing my first-hand experience with the process. The accompanying video (taken by my husband) is meant to show how the kit and game come together to create a learning experience for students.


Koehler, Matthew J. and Mishra, Punya. (2012). Teaching Creatively: Teachers as Designers of Technology, Content and Pedagogy . Retrieved/available from http://vimeo.com/39539571.

Squishy Circuits. (n.d.). Welcome to the Squishy Circuits Project Page. Squishy Circuits (website). Retrieved from http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/apthomas/SquishyCircuits/. 

Super-Awesome Sylvia (video by her dad). (n.d.). Sylvia’s Squishy Circuits – season 2, episode 7 . Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show! Retrieved/available from http://sylviashow.com/episodes/s2/e7/mini/squishycircuits.

The Leader in Me. (2014). 7 Habits of Happy Kids Posters. The Leader in Me (website). FranklinCovey Education. Retrieved from http://www.theleaderinme.org/main-menu-items/resources/7-habits-posters/.

The Leader in Me. (2014). What is The Leader in Me? The Leader in Me (website). FranklinCovey Education. Retrieved from http://www.theleaderinme.org/what-is-the-leader-in-me/.