Challenge Accepted.

CEP 811 is a video goldmine!  This week we were encouraged to “Reimagine Learning” in this TEDx Talk by Richard Culatta, the U.S. Director of the Office of Educational Technology, and contemplate his challenge to “use technology to do entirely new things that simply were not possible before.”  Well Mr. Culatta, challenge accepted.

Add to this a refresher on Bransford, Brown and Cocking’s (2000) basis for learning with understanding and a new-to-me chapter by O’Donnell (2012) on constructivism and the ideas are never ending!  Really, give them a go!

In addition to Culatta’s call for personalizing education, Spector (2013) notes the significant similarities of the New Media Consortium’s 2011 Horizon Report and the National Science Foundation’s funded A Roadmap for Educational Technology.  Both of these independently researched studies arrived at the conclusion that new and emerging technologies, coupled with research in cognitive psychology, support the creation of personalized learner centric environments in which students can learn with understanding based on their current needs and interests.  Personalized learning not only allows teacher’s to meet students at their current position along the learning path, but it also creates the opportunity to address the student’s preconceptions and personal perspectives on a topic (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000).

With last week’s Maker Experience still fresh in mind, I connected personalized learning environments with visual literacy.  More than ever before, science textbooks – and online sources – are multimodal, including visual aids and schema to convey meaning; however, an exploratory study by McTigue and Flowers (2011) found that students struggled to understand the intended meaning of such schema, lacked the vocabulary to discuss schema, and tended to devalue the schema’s importance and thus ‘skip’ the visual aids altogether. Furthermore, as in noted by Serafini (2011), multimodal texts require the reader to synchronously navigate between visuals and text to discern understanding.  Given that these sources are authored and taught by expert sources, it could be that we (as experts) have misjudged the ability of the learner (a novice) to identify meaningful patterns, organize content, and flexibly move between ideas (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000).

In giving the students autonomy in creating their own visual aids, they will not only be able to construct meaning of the content in a personally contextualized manner and thereby simultaneously progress their understanding of the ideas, but also an environment to discuss design elements of the visual aids will be created and as such, students will expand their visual literacy.  If that were not enough, both the act of creating the visual aid and the use of a metacognitive design approach – in context of content and visual literacy – promote the transfer of knowledge (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000) and cross-disciplinary extrapolation (Roswell, McLean & Hamilton, 2012).


Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. National Academies Press. Retrieved from

McTigue, E., & Flowers, A. (2011). Science Visual Literacy: Learners’ Perceptions and Knowledge of Diagrams. The Reading Teacher, 64(8), 578-589. Retrieved from

O’Donnell, A. (2012). Constructivism. In APA Educational Psychology Handbook: Vol. 1. Theories, Constructs, and Critical Issues. K. R. Harris, S. Graham, and T. Urdan (Editors-in-Chief). Washgington, DC: American Psychological Association. DOI: 10.1037/13273-003.

Roswell, J., McLean, C., & Hamilton, M. (2012). Visual Literacy as a Classroom Approach. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(5), 444-447. Retrieved from

Serafini, F. (2011). Expanding Perspectives for Comprehending Visual Images in Multimodal Texts. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(5), 342-350. Retrieved from

Spector, J. M. (2013). Emerging Educational Technologies and Research Directions. Educational Technology & Society, 16 (2), 21–30. Retrieved from



Chibi Chibi Chibi TPACK!

This week revisited TPACK and working at the interface of technology, pedagogy and content to achieve effective learning with understanding.  (Remember that Quickfire TPACK activity from CEP 810?!)

The Task: Go thrifting and get creative to repurpose items and incorporate them into a maker kit – in my case, Chibi Lights.

The Result: LIGHT!
The Play-by-Play:

1. PLAY!

I started by playing with the Chibi Lights STEM Starter Kit and completing my first circuit.  As seen in the video, it was really quite simple – just adhere the conductive tape to the path drawn on the sketchbook taking extra care at the corners, add the circuit sticker and attach the battery with the binder clip – and Huzzah!  There was light!

Now the question was “How could this work for my classroom?”.  Two ideas came to mind: visual aids and an on/off switch for the Mazemaster compound naming and formula writing game.


This week just so happened to be the week we were on vacation (hooray for asynchronous technology!) so the “thrifting” got interesting as I rummaged through my car to see what I could come up with.  I desperately searched for a crayon to use as a nod to Punya Mishra and the Deep Play Research Group’s 2012 paper Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st Century:Crayons are the Future, but alas, it was not meant to be.  Meanwhile, I had the option of a half eaten animal cracker and a toy car so I thought it may be best to wait until we arrived at my parents to dig through their closets!   Luckily, that turned up some sticky notes, a pencil, double-sided tape, a scrap of snowflake cardstock – snow would be nice right about now! – and a magnet for a kitchen refinishing company.


First the visual aids.  These were pretty simple.  The atomic structure photo illustrates the protons and neutrons in the center of the atom, in the shape of a “plus” because the nucleus is positive, while the electrons are very tiny and spread out away from the nucleus.  The second image explains energy absorption and emission during the flame test lab that results in the observation of light.  Both examples provide students with a unique and memorable visual experience to remember foundational principles of chemistry so that they may better apply those principles to more complex questions. Students could make an entire series of these throughout the year.

Now for that on/off switch for our games.  I started with a sticky note and sketched my own path only to realize that there was not enough room to connect the battery +/- to the circuit and have space to move the switch back an forth, but then I remembered the basic switch in the sketchbook and modified it to work with my switch.  It went something like this…


Use double sided tape to adhere one magnet piece to the cardstock “switch cover”


Cover half of the magnet with conductive tape


Use the Switch Activity in the Chibi Lights Sketchbook and place the other piece of magnet behind the switch gap


Add the battery and the switch to label “on”


Slide the switch to label “off”

So before this switch is actually used, I should probably find some heavier duty magnets and dazzle it up a bit more…maybe even make it 3-D…hmmmm….

**Note:  The images used are intended to allow the reader to understand the processes involved in this activity and also to repeat them as desired, while the video is intended to provide a basic idea of how the circuit sticker sketchbook works and how it can be applied in a classroom.**


Mishra, P., & The Deep-Play Research Group (2012). Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st Century: Crayons are the Future. TechTrends, 56(5), 13-16.

Be a MAKER. Solve some problems.

On to CEP 811 Adapting Innovative Technologies to Education.

Week one started with an exploration of Remixing and Maker Culture.  We watched these (pretty awesome) videos by Kirby Ferguson (Part 1 of 4 is below) and read about Lessig‘s opinion of getting back to sharing ideas to advance the community as a whole.  Basically what it boils down to is this: society innovates by leveraging what has been done into what can be done.

Everything is a Remix Part 1 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

To combine the ideas of Remix and Maker Culture, I ventured into WeVideo (the tutorials are super helpful here, particularly with adding text) and made my first remix…actually it’s about the tenth iteration of my first video, but who’s counting?!  I started with storyboard to come up with my plan – that alone changed A LOT.  Then it came time to find media through the Library of Congress, Vimeo, and Pixabay (CC0 – Public Domain).

There are so many options when it comes to remix especially when talking about maker culture.  Makers have existed since the beginning of time!  Do I try to cover all that time with representative examples?  The aqueducts, crop rotation, the printing press, urban development, vaccines, pacemakers, antibiotics….the options are endless!  Eventually I decided that a one minute remix should focus on only one example of a maker solving a problem.  Now it was a matter of finding an example with some interest and maybe a little shock value, but that everyone could relate to.  It’s safe to say that we all get the impact of cars, but did you know that they literally saved New York City…and London…and practically every other major city in turn of the 20th century?!  Watch to find out…
Video References:

.(1870) [Broadway near Grand St., New York City]. [ca][Image]Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc,gov/item/91793479/.

Rustad Media (Producer). (2013, May 10). People of New York II.  Retrieved from

.(1896)[Street types of New York City: Hansom driver standing in front of horse and cab]. C. [Image] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,