CEP 813: Infographic

Here is a link to my Infographic: Exploring a Mobile, Networked Curriculum in Secondary Math Classrooms

We live in a highly mobile, globally connected society making mobile devices a handy medium of gaining knowledge: with two-thirds of K-12 learners in the US already using smart phones and of 75% of the US workforce already mobile, 65% of those workers declaring their mobile devices to be their “most critical work device” (U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology, 2010). The increasing prevalence of technology in both academic and corporate settings necessitates that students become comfortable using technology to facilitate learning and productivity. Thus, the challenge for our education system is to leverage technology to create relevant learning experiences that mirror students’ daily lives and the reality of their futures. Learning can no longer be confined to the years we spend in school or the hours we spend in the classroom: It must be lifelong, life-wide, and available on demand. It is evident that mobile devices are an integral part of learning strategies in workplaces, educational settings, and casual environments.  To address the diverse demands of 21st century education and prepare children for life in a global economy, I believe mobile learning must be harnessed as an integral part of learning strategies in workplaces, educational settings, and casual environments.

Mobile learning devices offer consolidated access to high- quality learning materials, including a myriad of tools within the supporting infrastructure built into the device (seamlessly integrated applications, calendar, internet capabilities, social media, multimedia, calculator, e-mail, notes, reminders, & management of technology), allowing users to do more with less. A key tenet of personalized learning is the ability of individuals to choose the right tools for the right tasks and mobile devices equip learners to do just that.

With that said, this week I decided to create an infographic using Piktochart to show how mobile learning devices can be used in accordance with a networked curriculum to stimulate engaging learning experiences that align with 21st century education.

Passion and Creativity > Intelligence

I can’t believe CEP 812 is coming to a close. Sometimes it feels like the past 8 weeks flew by, and other times it feels like they were the slowest 8 weeks of my life. This course has been the most challenging thus far….although it is only my third course in the program. In the other two classes my learning was much more physical- i learned to play the guitar and make circuits out of play-dough. The first two courses presented me with problems to solve, or so it seems, but this course really made me identify the problem.

Reflecting back on the past year, I am reminded of the course of events that led me to the MAET program. Almost a year ago now, I emailed past professors asking for their suggestions on master’s programs focusing on educational technology. At the time, my passion for implementing modern tech tools in my classroom was conflicting with my school’s technology policy. I hated telling my students to use resources and tools, and then have to punish them if they got out their cell phone to look something up on the Internet, snap a picture of the whiteboard work, or video something they heard and want to remember…especially because I felt like a hypocrite for telling them not to use a tool I regularly use: my cellphone. I was looking for a program to help me reconnect learning and life. I was curious as to why my learners were highly adaptive to rapidly evolving technology outside of school, but struggled to use technology in the classroom. Now, finishing up CEP 812, I am still reaching out to professors and others within my growing PLN (professional learning network).  It seems that everything I do regarding teaching and learning is driven by my passion and curiosity and remediated by reaching out to individuals in my PLN or searching for the answer on the web, which are appropriate closing thoughts considering our final learning task.

For our final task in CEP 812 we were asked to read the article It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as I.Q. written by Thomas Freidman.  In the article, Friedman (2013), says that in our hyper-connected, technology-driven world, the individuals who will succeed “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) to leverage all the new digital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime.”  That is, intelligence alone will not prepare individuals for an unknown future with unknown problems and jobs, but rather a combination of passion, curiosity and intelligence is necessary for success in a rapidly changing economy. After reading and reflecting on this article we had to create a representation of how we embody and envision PQ and CQ in both our present and future work as educator. I created a video remix using YouTube and iMovie to hopefully help views see that passion and creativity go hand in hand in my instructional practices and learning experiences. Enjoy.

Friedman, T. L. (2013). It’s 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

Making Innovation Part of Learning Ethic

Over the past few weeks, Alyse, Allison, Yahia, and I have been working together to identify strategies, approaches, and technologiesImage that we believe provide a viable solution on how to make innovation part of the learning ethic. In my last blog post I summarized my group’s Wicked Problem of Practice and explained why I felt it was an extremely complex problem to tackle. Since then, my group has come a long way! By collaborating with classmates and implementing their feedback, we were able to turn our proposal around and refocus our recommendations around strategies rather than the problem itself in our revamped White Paper Recommendation. 

From there, we created several pieces of work that define the nature of our problem and the complexities surrounding it, and offer our vision on making innovation part of learning ethic. Since making innovation part of learning ethic isn’t really about using a specific tool or procedure, but rather freedom and choice modeled by a progressive classroom design that embraces learning as a process and utilizes 21st century tools as supports, we refocused our recommendation around this question: If creativity is the driving force for innovation, how do we cultivate creativity in education?

In doing so, we established what we felt were essential aspects of the creative learning process in terms of cultivating creativity– providing time for learners to share experiences and make connections through collaboration, to use their interests to engage them in higher order problem solving learning tasks, to use 21st century tools to share and learn with a global community– and why those skills were so important to prepare for future of unknowns. Please watch, read, and explore our work by checking out our Smore Flyer. 

References:

Adams, K. (2005). The sources of innovation and creativity. National Center on Education and the Economy. 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Suite 5300, Wash

ington, DC 20006. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/889923744?accountid=12598

Barseghian, T. (2014). What kids want out of school [Video File]. KQED: MindShift.  Retrieved February 12, 2014 from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/01/what-kids-want-out-of-school/

Beers, S. Z. (2011). 21st century skills: preparing students for their future. In STEM Education Coalition. Retrieved February 14. 2014.

Crie, M. (2006). Using Blogs to Integrate Technology into the Classroom. Teaching Today. Retrieved February 24, 2014 from http://www.glencoe.com/sec/teachingtoday/educationupclose.phtml/47.

Foote, S. M., Harrison, D. S., Ritchie, C. M., & Dyer, A. (2012). Exploratory Learning through Critical Inquiry: Survey of Critical Inquiry Programs at Mid-Sized US Universities. International Association for Development of the Information Society.

Gee, J.P. (2013) The Anti-Education Era [Google Books]. Retrieved from Google Books App.

Innovation. (2014). In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/innovation

Koehler, M. (2011). What is TPACK? TPACK. Retrieved March 1, 2014 from http://mkoehler.educ.msu.edu/tpack/what-is-tpack/

Milloy, C. (2013). Who’s Failing? America’s uninspiring, creativity-killing schools. The Day Connecticut. Retrieved February 12, 2014, from http://www.theday.com/article/20130804/OP03/308049963/1070/NWSlatest

Sawyer, K. (2011) Schools that foster creativity. Huffington Posts: Ted Weekends. Retrieved February 23, 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-r-keith-sawyer/teaching-creativity_b_2258239.html

A Wicked Opportunity: Innovation as Learning Ethic

ImageThe past few weeks we have been exploring a wicked task in small groups; specifically, my group has been tackling making innovation part of the learning ethic. Innovation as learning ethic is a particularly complex problem to solve because there is a lot of uncertainty: the exponentially advancing digital technologies have led to exponential growth in innovation, essentially making the predictability of the future nearly impossible or at least hard to plan for. For example, remember when everyone tried to plan for Y2K? …and then it was a bust? No one wanted to be “that guy” who had horded years worth of food and water in their basement. Similarly, since we can’t begin to fathom the technological advancements that will be available to us in the years to come, trying to create a plan that guides us towards or a more sustainable future using tools that don’t exist yet can be scary. As an educator, I must train my students for jobs that may not even exist yet. I must instill the qualities of a creative problem solver and innovative thinker to help my students prepare for a world of unknowns. And, while uncertainty often causes fear, exploring innovation as learning ethic opens the door to opportunity and CREATIVITY. As a group, we used our diverse experiences, conflicting opinions, and values to achieve a greater understanding of the complex problem at hand. By actively communicating, we were able to create a visual representation and a report based on our findings to solve our wicked problem and address what we believe is the very nature of the problem. The rough draft of our project is available here.

CEP 812: Problem of Practice

This week our task was to choose a problem of practice and illustrate how a digital tool would address the problem. The problem of practice I chose to address in my geometry classroom is classifying and proving quadrilaterals. I believe this is an ill structured problem because there are several important variables that need to be considered, in context, at the same time. That is, students must make connections to prior learning and using reasoning skills to formalize definitions, make conjectures, and write proofs. In the screencast below I will show how using the interactive math software, Geogebra is much more effective for teaching quadrilateral properties and how it allows learners to explore more diverse learning scenarios.

“The times, they are a-changing”…CEP 811 Reflecting Thoughts

WOW!! The past 8 weeks have flown by…As this week marks the end of CEP 811 (adapting innovative technology to education), I will conclude my work in this course with a reflective blog post that addresses my experiences in this course, my work with Squishy Circuits, my plan for incorporating design, creativity, and Maker Education into my curriculum, and my growth both personally and professionally since starting the MAET program.

When I concluded the CEP 810 course, I felt like I had a handle on how to effectively use technology to support learning but I wasn’t quite sure how to do so effectively. Now, as I reflect on CEP 811, I am aware of an abundant amount of tools and resources that I can use in my classroom to effectively support learning and understanding; this course addressed and answered the questions I left CEP 810 with. This course forced me to consider the resources and the purpose they serve in my classroom.

After deeply engaging with Maker Education & Squishy Circuits the past few weeks, I feel like I have been exposed to a whole new approach to teaching and learning…well not entirely, creative learning by doing is not a new concept nor is it new to me as a teacher; however, somewhere along the way, I lost track of my purpose for becoming a math teacher: to take learning from a noun to a verb by providing authentic, creative tasks that spark learners’ curiosity and make learning math worthwhile and meaningful and got caught up in the logistics and politics of public education. And lets be honest, sometimes I’m just trying to keep my head above water, but still, it’s kind of sad how a kid who hated math became a teacher who so easily lost site of her teaching goals. This course was kind of a reality check for me. It really made me consider the teacher I want to be and the teacher that I am.  It forced me to consider the purpose for my choices- every step of the way. Did I plan according to my purpose? Do my goals match my purpose? Does my blog post match the purpose of the assignment? Can people that read my blog see the purpose of my post? Do my learners see the purpose of the task? Does the purpose intrinsically motivate? Does that tool serve a purpose? And so on… everything in this course seemed to boil down to the purpose for the choices I was making, whether they were choices I made as a MAET student or as a geometry teacher… and I really had to think hard about those choices! Reflection really helped me understand everything I was reconsidering about teaching and learning.

In terms of our maker kit, Squishy Circuits turned out to be a fairly easy kit to set up and use. The website included instructions that were easy to follow and video tutorials that explained how and why squishy circuits work. The “play” stage was exciting. I was so excited when I got the first LED to light up. However, once I began to create my first Maker Experiment using a repurposed thrift shop item, the excitement faded and the frustration set in. I felt like my students often look when I introduce a new concept: a deer in headlights. The idea of using a dough circuit in Geometry class was not ideal. I had no idea where to begin. I started several activities using Squishy Circuits only to find that the task I planned was not authentic and could be more effectively completed without the maker kit. It wasn’t until I spent time reflecting on my commitment to relentlessly creating a worthwhile task for my geometry class using Squishy Circuits that I realized the value of the maker kit and repurposing assignment was actually in the learning process itself.  You can read about this in my maker experiment lesson plan blog post as I explain how my students could use Squishy Circuits to support their understanding and development of writing proofs as a logical process, not a final product. If my teaching goal is to help learners understand the learning process or get them have a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset, then I would consider Squishy Circuits. However, in terms of “making” and “doing” in geometry, I believe there are far more creative and effective methods of approaching the content, which I will elaborate more on towards the end. I often felt like I was forcing Squishy Circuits into my curriculum…it only seemed to work as a way to understand logical thought processes, which, again, could be explained using a scenario or more timely activity.

Although I don’t plan to use Squishy Circuits in my classroom, playing and designing with the Squishy Circuits kit, at minimum, gave me a greater appreciation for the learning process and forced me to reevaluate my teaching practices. As I progressed and designed using my kit, I was reminded of the importance of experimentation and play while developing new understanding. Using the kits forced me to be a creative thinker, approach learning from new angles, and use tools that I would not typically use. For these reasons, and several listed above, I plan to refocus my teaching and curriculum to include design thinking and “making” through creative experimentation. Actually, it was through this creative process that I learned to love math. I learned math by writing…and never erasing. Through writing I was able to see a purpose for learning math that was more than the mundane. I was able to identify patterns, reflect on mistakes and connections along the way. However, this course helped me realize that not everyone will appreciate the creativity and freedom I found through writing in math class. The assignments, especially the maker kit, forced me to learn from angles I wouldn’t typically choose using tools that made me uncomfortable. It helped me value choice and individual approaches to learning, but it also helped me value the new learning that is achieved by considering different methods of learning. Throughout CEP 811, it was the diverse learning approaches and tools that helped me realize the importance of providing a variety of tools and choices that serve a purpose and make learning worthwhile. Through these experiences, I learned how to assess learning goals and present problems that force students to think and reflect; problems that are designed to change their way of thinking, spark their curiosity, encourage them to try new things, and encourage them to grow as learners and doers of math… just as Squishy Circuits did for me.

“The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill.”
Albert Einstein  

In the future, I hope to better embrace my learners’ curiosity. Unfortunately, Grant Wiggins (2012) an assessment expert found that mathematics teachers are prime offenders in encouraging creative thinking in the subject-despite the fact that real mathematicians create all the time. Mathematicians have worked for years to create formulas and theorems that make complicated ideas simple. Consider Euclid, he created a beautiful, axiomatic system for writing geometric proofs, a system that all high school geometry students have experience using. Harsh truth: I’ve become one of those offenders. I don’t know if I’ve become a realist or a tiny bit jaded, but this year I seem to find my self thinking and saying, “wouldn’t that be nice?” regarding my students’ creative thoughts and dreams. But, like JT said: “the old me is dead and gone.” This course has inspired me to reinvent myself as the creative math teacher I once was. To constantly question, “how can I do this better,” and while I don’t believe Squishy Circuits is the most effective method of embracing curiosity in geometry, I do know of several other experiments, problem scenarios or activities that support creative thinking and problem solving. Last year my math support classes and geometry classes created math music videos. Groups of students picked songs and rewrote the lyrics to teach a math concept. It was through their writing that they were forced to reflect on their understanding of the concept and whether or not their lyrics made sense. I had students consider whether they were being deceived as shoppers by evaluating the surface area, volume and unit pricing of grocery products. Through this learning activity students began to question whether there was a way they could design packages better. We also created tetrahedral kits and flew them. In small groups, students identified algebraic patterns in the kite’s structure and naturally began to wonder about how they could re-create a kite with a better structure. Through these activities, my students wondered about things in terms of their goal as a designer. They questioned the weight of the kite, the materials of a product, the words and their meaning, etc. Better yet, I didn’t have to prompt them. They were intrinsically motivated.  I was teaching with a purpose, which is kind of like when you read a really good book or watch a great movie and feel changed; you are transformed. Teaching this way allows you to watch your students transform into learners… and better yet, I (the teacher) am transformed watching them transform. There’s nothing better than watching someone cease to hate math and begin to love it…besides maybe feeling that way yourself. Like I said previously, the creative process of “making” and “doing” in math class isn’t new to me. Based on my experiences I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that these are effective learning practices…this course helped re-inspire me. I was able to see the value of this learning first-hand. Through my reflection, I was reminded the effectiveness of reflection and writing as a way to evaluate understanding. And while Wiggins (2012) provided a great rubric for assessing creativity, I believe the bulleted points on his rubric occur naturally in the classroom when students are given the chance to creative problem solvers…a rubric isn’t really necessary. The interactions in the classroom allow me to formatively assess understanding and inform my instructional decisions. Like I discussed in my post, the curiosity and discussion that occurs as students create, play, and try new things allows me to assess their understanding. Through formative assessments I will be able to assess the effectiveness of the task in terms of the learning goal and purpose. My students’ ability to take a tetrahedral kite activity to the next level by wondering how they can recreate a more effective kite structure, whether they consider the materials or lift, shows me that they are learning, understanding, and ready to make something great.

Overall, this course was much more of a challenge for me than CEP810. Squishy Circuits wasn’t as enjoyable as the task I completed in CEP 810: learning to play the guitar using only help forums online. I was uncomfortable using circuits and often wondered if there were other maker kits that would better support math curriculum. After learning about the Maker Faire I began to consider the “maker kits” I could potentially create for my classroom. Since geometry literally means the measurement of the earth, I began to wonder about maker kits that would support geometric learning outside of the traditional classroom. Comparing the Maker Kit project in CEP811 to the Network Learning Project in CEP 810 helped me value choice in learning and assessment methods. We really had no limitations on what we chose to learn. At times I felt limited by the Squishy Circuits Maker Kit, but like I reflected on above, I did learn a lot from working outside of my comfort zone. Moreover, this course was especially beneficial in terms of putting ideas into practice. I learned a TON about resources available to me as an educator and how to assess whether the resources are effective tools in my classroom. Within that realm, I learned the importance of providing diverse learning experiences that remove barriers. I considered small details, such as text-t0-speech, that I had never considered before and I learned where to find them FOR FREE online. Most importantly, this course helped me realize that I need to focus on my purpose as an educator and reflect on that as I plan learning activities for my students.

References

Wiggins, G. (2012, February 3). On assessing for creativity: Yes you can, and yes you should. [Web log comment]. Retreived from http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/on-assessing-for-creativity-yes-you-can-and-yes-you-should/

Maker Kit Lesson #2 UDL

Part #1: This week we spent a significant amount of time learning about Universal Design. After we read the UDL guidelines and explored free tools online, we used what we learned to modify our  original Maker Kit Lesson Plan to include elements that support the UDL framework . The revision process entailed focusing on how I could minimize barriers and maximize learning by implementing multiple methods of representation, expression and engagement in terms of what I wanted my students to learn and care about. Embedded you will find my modified lesson plan. To see what changes were made, check out my original lesson plan and read my reflection underneath the document below.

Part #2: Reflection

After reading the UDL Guidelines published by CAST Center, I felt slightly overwhelmed by all of the details. For each of the three principals there were several guidelines and within those guidelines there were several checkpoints with various implementation examples. However, after analyzing my notes and original lesson plan, I found that I had actually included several of the UDL components in the activities I originally planned; I just hadn’t specifically stated them as supports. I was surprised to find I could show evidence for at least two of the teacher implementation examples on most guidelines. With that said, UDL is intended to increase access to learning for all students by reducing physical, cognitive, intellectual, and organizational barriers, and although I am confident I provided options and supports, I did realize that I hadn’t considered all learners while planning. I left out supports for HI students, CI students, and ELL students. So, the goal for my lesson plan rewrite is twofold: to go back and add specific details regarding the options and supports that I already have in place and to implement tools and supports for students who are CI, HI, and/or ELL (because I teach students with those specific impairments I am choosing to focus on them).  Moreover, I believe that the changes made for those specific impairments will actually help students without disabilities as well, kind of like how wheelchair ramps also service individuals with strollers or luggage.

My lesson plan is A LOT more detailed and looks different in format. I started by downloading the UDL lesson plan format and copied what I had from my original lesson plan into their design. I added a few boxes to their design that they didn’t have because I felt they were important components and the UDL Guidelines did stress the importance of short and long term goals, which is why I added a box that shows what they learned, what they are currently going to learn, and what they will learn in the future. I also added a box for materials because it is a cooperative learning lesson and the materials were improved to provide supports that would remove barriers, such as headphones for text-to-speech. Aside from that, my lesson plan is true to their format. I really believe this helped me refocus my planning and re-writing because I had to consider what background knowledge my students should have and how I could help them make connections.

In my original lesson I planned for an exploratory cooperative learning lesson & as explained in my original post, the content actually allows for students to learn in way that it makes sense to them.  Moreover, by focusing on constructivism and choice theory, I found that my original lesson actually covered most of the 3 principals in the UDL guidelines. By paying close attention to the teacher implementation examples for each guideline I naturally began to consider small details that I may have left out, such as print documents for all auditory components I use or visuals to support vocabulary and/or instructions. By exploring online resources and reading about UDL before rewriting my lesson, I was able to easily identify barriers that existed in my original plans and I had a better handle on the supports available to remove those barriers. If you read through my new lesson, you will see I added a ton of support for hearing impaired students, ELL, and students who are cognitively impaired. I used the ideas I learned about on the free resources page we explored. Read my tweet!!

In terms of multiple means of representation, the goal of my lesson is to learn how to write a two-column proof, so there isn’t much autonomy in the structure of their written proofs. However, as I stated in my original post, the path that each learner takes to complete the proof is NOT linear. There are choices each step of the way…that is the beauty in mathematical proof. With that said, to help learners understand that there is not one right method to write a proof, even if it regards the same exact visual element, I added the “driving directions” analogy to my lesson plan (you can read it in my new and improved plan). The UDL guidelines suggest that analogies and metaphors help learners make connections and assimilate new information. I did, however, add additional presentation options, different methods of taking notes for reflection, different methods of communicating and receiving feedback, and alternate methods for viewing and playing with circuits (online switchboard/drawn out circuit). I believe that the original lesson plan included appropriate levels of challenge and support, so, in the rewrite, I focused on providing more options and descriptions that would make the existing challenges and supports explicit and accessible to all learners.

By learning about the three primary principals that guide UDL, I was able to rewrite my lesson plans with improved goals that were specific to the purpose, with differentiated teaching methods that provided support and matched the goal, with materials necessary for learners to access, analyze, organize, synthesize, and demonstrate understanding in varied ways, and with informed assessments that accurately measured learner knowledge, skills, and engagement. You can read about each of these specific changes in the actual lesson plan above. 

This weeks activities helped me re-think my teaching practices and supports. I have hearing impaired students that I wear a microphone for, but I hadn’t really considered all of the other supports they could potentially need that would help their classmates as well. The same idea goes for my ELL and CI students. I have some curriculum redesign ahead of me!!

References

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