Monthly Archives: March, 2014

EDU 6136 Reflection

In EDU 6136, we learned more about 9 key pieces to effective instruction: Assessing prior knowledge, student assets, academic language, scaffolding, supporting, deepening, feedback, student reflection, and teacher reflection. Since reading more on these ideas, I have found myself implementing them more in my instruction. My growth as a teacher through this course is evident in how I approach lesson planning. Many of the changes I’ve seen in my approach is in my questioning. I want to find ways to deepen student learning and do so through effective questions that leave students thinking more about the answer than I thought about asking the question. I feel this shift is closely related to HOPE Principle P1 – Practice intentional inquiry and planning for instruction. By ensuring my questioning is intentional, I can ask questions that bring about the kinds of answers that will help students better understand concepts.

For my Classroom Tips assignment, I created a Questioning Questions sheet that I, and other teachers, can look over when coming up with questions for a lesson. Inspired by Caram and Davis (2005), one of our readings for the course, it helps highlight the kinds of questions that do not cause deeper thinking and guides educators to use more effective questions. When used in conjunction with a goal of using multiple levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom et. al., 1956), questions can be designed to have students think in meaningful ways about the content.

Additionally, according to Caram and Davis, “Teachers need to go with the flow, using student responses to bring depth and breadth to the lesson” (2005, p. 20). Not only do we need to have questions planned, but we must also be ready to abandon some of those questions we took so much time to create in order to ask questions and elaborate on ideas that will better benefit student understanding. This is why I am beginning to create a scale of questions for each lesson. While each lesson does not need a full outline, it is important to have key questions prepared – the questions that must be asked, the questions that can be asked, and the questions that can be dropped. The higher-order questions should be in the first category, while lower-order questions are included in case there is time, but can be dropped should a more important discussion present itself.

Image 1 - Questions for an Upcoming Lesson in 3 Groups: Must Ask, Can Ask, Can Drop. The Must Ask questions help student progress to the goal while the Can Drop question reviews a concept previously taught.

Image 1 – Questions for an Upcoming Lesson in 3 Groups: Must Ask, Can Ask, Can Drop. The Must Ask questions help student progress to the goal while the Can Drop question reviews a concept previously taught.

Using this system, students will be asked the questions that will deepen their knowledge, will still be able to learn based on their immediate interest or needs, and teachers will be able to get students thinking more about important concepts.


Bloom, B. S.; Engelhart, M. D.; Furst, E. J.; Hill, W. H.; Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay Company.

Caram, C. A., & Davis, P. B. (2005). Inviting student engagement with questioning. Kappa Delta Pi Rec 42(1) p. 18-23


ISTE Standard Five: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership (EDTC 6433)

In addressing ISTE Standard 5: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership, we were asked to reflect on the question of How can you demonstrate that you are continually improving your professional practice, modeling lifelong learning, and exhibiting leadership in your school and professional community through the effective use of digital tools and resources? Learning about all of these resources is fruitless unless you continue to develop your utilization of digital resources. To continue on the path of learning, I wanted to choose a trigger question that would present me with resources I can use in my current setting. Although I may be at another school next year, I still want to familiarize myself with the technologies available to me in case my first classroom also has any of those technologies or ones similar.

My focus question for this standard was What resources and communities are available to further help me with incorporating my school’s available technology? When searching for technology ideas, I found it disheartening to see a well-implemented lesson only to realize I didn’t have access to that technology at my student teaching site. I wanted resources specific to technologies I can access, specifically the iPad and SMART board.

Prior to this year, I had never touched a SMART board before. Even during the first half of the year, I was in one of four classrooms in a 14-room school that didn’t have a SMART board. My current mentor teacher uses it constantly and encourages me to use it in my lessons. I wanted a good jumping-off point where I could see how others use SMART board technology and perhaps even use some of those ideas to help familiarize myself with how to create my own projects. I found the SMART exchange, which allows users to share and borrow SMART board lessons from other teachers. Since this site is hosted by SMART Technologies, the creator of SMART boards, the downloads should be trustworthy. Courtney, my classmate, also shared two other SMART board sharing sites, one from Have Fun Teaching and the other from Teq. Both have a wealth of inspiration for my future use of SMART boards. My classmate Darryl directed me to a Facebook page I could follow, Smartboard Lessons for Teachers, but while he does have some ideas for SMART boards, the page seems to be more about pedagogical articles and clever pictures. It could be worth the follow for the sake of entertainment.

Darryl also shared a resource for the iPad, a digital booklet from RM Education filled with lesson ideas for the iPad. While the ideas in there are for older students, taking those ideas and modifying them for a younger audience could be much simpler than creating an idea on your own. Using them as inspiration can be a good first step toward using iPads in the classroom.

My other classmate, Audrey, shared a resource that really ties together this whole course that we are taking. It is a blog/wiki called Educational Origami. This site is created by a teacher named Andrew Churches who is passionate about changing the way teachers think about technology integration in the classroom. What is particularly interesting is how he relates Bloom’s Taxonomy with Rubrics that relate to a digital task.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Professional learning should support and develop educators’ identities as fluent users of advanced technology, creative and collaborative problem solvers, and adaptive, socially aware experts throughout their careers” (2010, p. 45). By using these resources, I feel as if I can guide my own professional development in making myself more fluent, creative, and adaptive in my use of technology in the classroom.


U. S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology. (2010). Transforming American education: Learning powered by technology. Washington, D.C.

Digital Storytelling (EDTC 6433)

In my Teaching with Technology course, we were asked to create either a Digital Storytelling or WebQuest project. While WebQuest seemed like a lot of fun to create, I think I might have gone overboard with the extent of the project. Additionally, I felt that being experienced in movie-making would be a more useful skill at the primary level, as students typically do not have the level of self-regulation required for an extensive online project like a WebQuest.

My original plan for Digital Storytelling was to give a brief history of the Olympic Games. Watching the opening ceremonies, I was inspired. Unfortunately, I wanted to have authentic, primary source images, which were hard to come by. The only images I could find for the Ancient Games were of naked men – and I’m not sure how my 2nd graders would handle that. Any modern images, too, were strict with permissions and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to risk using someone’s Creative Commons picture of the copyrighted Olympic Rings logo – it seems like a scary “limbo” area. After assembling all my pictures and music, I scrapped that project in favor of a new one.

The second project I decided to do about a historical figure I admire. It didn’t take me long to realize who I wanted it to be about – and the bonus was that he died long enough ago that all images and cartoons of him would be in the public domain in the United States. I wanted the final project to be a brief biography of his awesomeness. I took this opportunity to better acquaint myself with Movie Maker and Audacity, not necessarily to create something for my 2nd graders, so the audience is more mature. Many will remember his accomplishments from any US History class, but this is designed to be either a refresher or very general introduction to Theodore Roosevelt.

You can view my finished product here.

I still encountered some issues, though, with audio. I was told to keep recording, even if I stumbled up, because the Audacity program could record over those. After much frustration, the best I could do was delete the stumbled portion altogether, and the remaining recording would combine. Since I had recorded the whole thing, without stopping to re-record, timing never quite lined up. In the finished product, you will hear my voice catch quite a few times – that was a result of this issue. I did re-record a few times, so these catches are minimal compared to the first few drafts. Next time I work with this audio editing program, I will be a perfectionist in the moment of recording instead of in editing, since my recording skills are far more advanced than my editing skills at this point.

This type of project can help engage students, since they are typically more interested in watching a video than a live person. This addresses ISTE Standard 1: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity in that it can both me used as a presentation style of new material as well as a way for students to showcase what they’ve learned. I think my next digital storytelling project could go over very well in Religion class. Sometimes reading a story in the textbook is much less effective than having someone read the story with related images that would engage more senses. Adding some media variety to this class might make it more exciting. Having students work with this type of program, though, might prove difficult since recording audio on our iPads could get fairly noisy. It could be beneficial for a longer-term project, though, when we could dedicate more time to production quality.

EDMA 6432: Reflection 2

In my Elementary Math Methods course, we read three books that each contributed a major component of how I now approach teaching mathematics.

Classroom Discussions in Math by Chapin, O’Connor, and Anderson addresses using “Talk Moves” to help guide discussion in math. While my previous math lessons involved having students explain their thinking, I never held others accountable for listening and reflecting on what other students were saying. Overall, this lead to an unintended culture of disrespect when I should have been setting expectations that facilitated active discussion in which students build on each others’ ideas. This textbook provided useful ideas, such as giving students time to discuss ideas in small groups before transitioning into whole-group discussion, which ensures students have something to say. When students have something to say, they are more likely to engage in the conversation. In applying this to my teaching, I’m seeing students who are typically reserved in conversation willing to offer ideas, even if it is their neighbor’s idea, to the whole group conversation. I will continue to use ideas from this text to guide discussion in mathematics.

Teaching Learners who Struggle in Mathematics by Sherman, Richardson, and Yard gives useful diagnostic tools for students who struggle in learning mathematical concepts. While I have yet to become comfortable enough to use these tools in fully analyzing my own students’ work, I have been looking at their work in a new light, taking into consideration where their strengths are before looking for weaknesses in their understanding. The book places a high emphasis on finding both the strengths and areas of concern for students – something that it is important for all teachers to do whenever addressing the individual needs of a student. In seeing my students’ strengths, I am better able to use those strengths in addressing the areas of concern and planning a course of action. The students have also been very excited to hear me compliment something they are doing well in math, as these students typically do not hear much positive feedback on their math, so they are then more likely to buy in to a conversation about how to improve even more.

Teaching Mathematics to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners by Johnson was the book I enjoyed most this quarter. As someone who has many Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) family members and friends, this text was close to my heart. This book also provided many “Points to Ponder” that help educators deeply reflect on their interactions with CLD students. At the heart of the book was that we need to better understand our CLD students and their backgrounds before we can understand the steps we can take to help them. I do not currently have a student who you would typically consider CLD, but I will surely one day, and having this book as a reference will be useful in my interactions with them.


Chapin, S. H., O’Connor, S., and Anderson, N. C. (2013). Classroom discussions in Math. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions.

Johnson, A. (2010). Teaching mathematics to culturally and linguistically diverse learners. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Sherman, H. J., Richardson, L. I., and Yard, G. J. (2013). Teaching learners who struggle with mathematics: Responding with systematic intervention and remediation – 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Digital Citizenship Poster (EDTC 6433)

While researching ISTE Standard 4 in class, we were asked to create a Glogster that addresses digital citizenship. My finished product addresses questions students should ask themselves before posting on any website – whether for personal or school use. While it is not necessarily appropriate for my second graders, many students don’t understand the consequences of what they are posting until it is too late. I wanted to address a few traps that I had been caught in when I was younger: not remembering that there is a human with emotions on the other side of the line, giving out personal information, misinterpreting others, and being a little…erm…free with my word choice. This was when I was about 12 – before my parents even realized I was using chat rooms, so they had no time to address the problem until I had already put myself at risk. For me, this poster is personal.

The Digital Citizenship Poster using the website Glogster.

The Digital Citizenship Poster using the website Glogster.

Glogster is a blogging format that, instead of being text-based, is created using images and graphics. While the end products I have seen are fantastic, I had some difficulty using the format. As I went, it became a little simpler, but as a child of the Northwest, I kept wishing it was more like Microsoft Publisher. As a linear thinker, it is hard for me to be creative without it turning out a jumbled mess – honestly, I cut a lot of the words I originally had and still feel like the final product is very text-heavy. While Glogster is great, especially for creative people, it’s not for me. Since I am only on a free trial, I’ll just stick with Publisher.