EdTech 542 – Week 4 Reflection

Is it still PBL without an authentic audience?

When I think about project-based learning, one of the first things that come to my mind is an authentic audience, context, or issue. This audience, context, or issue acts as a foundation to PBL and is, therefore, a crucial aspect of it. Without one, it’s not PBL; it’s just an extended project.

The element of authenticity allows students to see the purpose and relevance of a project and find greater meaning in completing it. The authentic audience/context is what differentiates PBL from other types of learning and assignments. Having an authentic audience or context is also what makes PBL successful and engaging in the classroom. If students can see an assignment as worthwhile, they are more likely to invest themselves into learning and creating. What else could we want as teachers? 


EdTech 504 Final Reflection

EdTech 504 has strengthened my understanding of educational theory outside of the traditional three: behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. While I am not sure that it has changed my style of teaching or professional practice, I can say with certainty that I have new knowledge of today’s educational climate. Evaluating the emerging theories opened my mind to how theory should and is changing with the needs of students. This understanding is probably the most significant thing that I learned. Connectivism, in general, expanded my understanding of technology usage in the classroom. It is still something that requires a great deal of brainstorming in terms of implementation; however, as our current technology-centered society continues, I believe that Connectivism will rise and gain more traction in the education world.

Connectivism was a real “a-ha” moment for me, and funnily enough, learning about it in this class has given me a “leg-up” in some of my other summer classes. My idea of a network and the definition of an expert totally changed after researching Connectivism. It really put into perspective how our students’ minds are working now and how, with guidance and scaffolding, we (teachers) can prepare them for their future. While I believe that the idea of Connectivism will arise more and more in education, I also believe that it will take some trial-and-error for teachers to fully embrace it and see it for its potential rather than its complete upheaval of the old system.

As mentioned, I am taking other classes this summer with BSU and learning about Connectivism in this first 7-weeks has helped me understand its discussion in my two 10-week classes. I think that the knowledge and research developed in this class has given me a “leg-up” as well as helped me to find better resources for my other classes. I am still unsure how Connectivism will play out in my current professional setting. My school is limited in its technology; however, I can definitely see how it would have positively impacted my online classes if I were still teaching in that format.

Upon reflection of my assignments and activities in this class and the AECT standards, I found that the standards most demonstrated in this class are 1 and 5. Particularly with my annotated bibliography assignment and the research assignment, AECT standard 5, as it relates to conducting research, using research methodologies, and applying those methodologies to a line of inquiry. The discussions we participated in seem to fit AECT standard 1, as we had to ethically and effectively collaborate with people using our Moodle learning environment. Also, defining Educational Technology itself demonstrated mastery of both AECT standards 1 and 5, as we utilized research and background knowledge to express understanding of the concept.

EdTech 543 – Digital Footprints

digitalfootprintThere’s nothing like Googling your name. When I Googled, I realized that I share a name with an author of some interesting romance and paranormal fiction. My actual Facebook profile was on the first page as well, but it was not for several pages later that I found my school work and other links related to me. Part of me is relieved that so little about me is available upon first Google; however, for the purposes of this assignment, I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.

I’m a very private person. On any accounts that I do have online, I spend a lot of time customizing the privacy settings, making sure that anything on the Internet is representative of who I am. I have not always been the best at it, but as someone who lives with an HR man, I know the impact that my online presence can have on my reputation and first impression.

My opinion on digital footprints changes from day-to-day. I’m neither pleased nor displeased with my “Google-bility.” However, I am proud of all the products that I’ve created in the MET program and would not mind for them to be more public than they are. Unless closely monitored, I think digital footprints are like quicksand – you’re drowning before you know the danger you’ve walked into. Professionally, I think digital footprints can help as much as they hurt, and I wish more people would consider the impact they are having on their reputation before they post.

My own digital footprint is very small. Like I said, I’m very protective of my online image because I worked online for so long and that was the only way people across the country could get a feel for who I was as a person. I do think, given my interest in technology, that I need to do a better job of building that image, perhaps through LinkedIn and other professional sites. I have also wanted to create a classroom website for quite a while but have not had the time. Perhaps that professional website would increase my digital footprint in a positive (and comfortable) way.

EdTech 543 – Twitter PD

This week, I started following a number of new Twitter PD chats, including: #edchat, #7thchat, #2ndaryELA, #PBL, #edtools, #litchat, #edtechchat, and #21stedchat. While they all offer something new, I most excited about #7thchat, #2ndaryELA, and #edtechchat. These three chats pull at my heart and struggle of being a 7th grade English teacher.

#7thchat in particular is proving to be an awesome resource. I have already found a resource that I have saved to my school Drive – a collection of grammar fails. My students love these grammar mistakes, and I love that they know enough to spot and correct them. #2ndaryELA seems to be full of awesome blogs, tips, and resources for English teachers. I found a really helpful blog about mentor writing which is something that I have struggled with in the past because I have my own process of writing that I fear may complicate things for my students. I’m excited to learn more about the idea and adjust my practices to fit my students’ needs. #edtechchat seems to be an amazing resource in itself. It is full of some interesting edtech opportunities and research. In particular, I noticed a lot of posts about augmented reality which is something that I would love to learn more about, and I know my students would love to experience in the classroom.Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 9.58.07 AM

Professional development can be a double-edged sword. It is awesome, but it can get tedious. Using Twitter for PD is an incredible idea because teachers can customize their PD to suit their needs, their school’s needs, and their students’ needs. It also lets teachers from varying subjects and experience levels come together and use each other as resources. Developing with my fellow teachers has always seemed to work best, in my opinion. Like-minds can not only build expertise but confidence, relationships, and open-mindedness.

EdTech 543 – Creative Expression Reflection

Connectivism, Communities of Practice (CoPs), and Personal Learning Networks have a lot in common. To guide my image search, I made a keyword list for each. Funnily enough, I seemed to keep repeating myself: network, community, learn, social. Each word applies to each concept, but the meaning/emphasis changes.

The Connectivist principles that I wanted to relay in my 3 images were the ideas of network connectivity, learner collaboration, and lifelong learning. George Siemens explains that the Internet and Web 2.0 tools have created a complex environment that has changed the way knowledge grows and learning happens (Siemens, 2007). This complex environment makes the three ideas represented in the images I chose crucial elements of learning. The wealth of knowledge online makes it impossible for one person to know everything about a subject, so networks of experts collaborate to learn together. As Siemens stated in his article “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age,” Connectivism recognizes “the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity” (2005).

Communities of Practice (CoPs) and Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) have several similarities; however, the key aspect that I wanted to highlight in my image selection was that CoPs are more formal and PLNs are more informal. Both communities are of like-minded people that connect as a network dedicated to learning, but each approaches learning through different means. CoPs utilize “social participation” (Lave & Wenger, 2016) in which members are active participants; whereas, PLNs offer more choice and allow participants to contribute or simply exist on the periphery (Staff, 2016). That being said, I tried to choose images that had a more personal feel for PLNs and a more formal, business feel for CoPs.

Finally, I chose an image that portrayed connection and collaboration through technology and pulled key images from the three concepts to express how they all came together under a similar objective. The sharing devices image portrays the idea that technology allows people to share and learn from each other in new and exciting ways. Simply by tapping our phones together, we can connect, share, and learn.  


Communities of Practice (Lave and Wenger). (2016). from https://www.learning-theories.com/communities-of-practice-lave-and-wenger.html

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3-10. from http://itdl.org/journal/jan_05/article01.htm

Siemens, G. (2007). The changing nature of knowledge. [Video File]. from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=YMcTHndpzYg

Staff, T. (2016). What Is A Personal Learning Network? from http://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/what-is-a-personal-learning-network/

EdTech 542 – PBL Week 2 Reflection

Initially, I was frustrated in my search because I found so many great project ideas, but the links were dead. Despite not being able to see the actual projects though, I got a pretty good idea of how my interests and curriculum relate to PBL. When I did find projects that I liked though, I had a hard time choosing which one was my favorite. Upon investigation, my favorite project ended up being just that – an extended project. The Odyssey Mosaic Retelling project lacked an authentic context to ground the project in real-world problems or settings. I figured out how to, perhaps, add some authenticity, but the idea of the project still sticks with me as something engaging for students.

I’m the “new kid on the block” at my school. I have never had to hand-score a gradebook or teach without projectors and laptops. My classroom environment is not usually quiet and consists of students talking (sometimes) more than I do. PBL would fit my teaching style; however, I have a “hover” tendency that can get in the way of relinquishing control. All things considered, I think my school and students would love PBL (certainly the end result), but the process might require some “pep talks” on all fronts.

635955657662926587-230315219_rocparentdotcomeAs a 7th-grade middle school teacher, I get the pleasure of teaching some AMAZING classics like The Outsiders and To Kill a Mockingbird. I would love to create some kind of connection between one or both of those novels and my project. I need to do a lot more brainstorming but something about stereotypes or judgment might tie the two together in a meaningful way for my age group.


EdTech 542 – PBL Week 1 Reflection

That was my question this week, and it turns out that it was not completely what I thought it was. Unfortunately, project-based learning (PBL) is something that I have read a little about (mainly on Pinterest) but have not done much research into. However, after a few days of reading and research, I truly think the PBL is something that would work in my 7th grade English class.


Compare/contrast chart for project-based and problem-based learning. This resource informed my discussion response this week.

This week, in particular, I researched the difference between project-based learning and problem-based learning. While there are not huge differences, the differences are stark enough to separate the two. Here’s my discussion of the two. Authenticity seems to be the key dividing factor. Project-based learning builds on real-world tasks/problems, and problem-based learning utilizes a fictitious scenario. That being said, project-based learning would, I think, work better for middle school, because this age student asks “why” about as much as four and five-year-olds. The added relevance would really motivate students to investigate and discuss, inside and outside of the classroom.

In my discussion this week, I also discussed the driving question and its importance to the project as a whole. While I still do not know as much as I would like about crafting a driving question, I think that its precision and detail are crucial to the success of a project. As a project’s catalyst, this question acts as the compass for the entire project, determining its focus, authenticity, and skill development.

EdTech 543 – Experience and Expectations


I’m a naturally private person, so social media has always been a bit foreign to me. I know how to use it, but I do not utilize in my personal life like one might expect a 28-year-old Millennial to do. (I do love the hashtag though. It’s probably a side effect of being a middle school teacher.) Because I took a blogging course last summer that focuses on Twitter as a micro-blogging platform, my initial reactions to this course were far better than last summer. I just could not get in the mindset that Twitter was for anything but catty celebrities and showy people; however, after a summer of tweeting and a few e-mails with my professor, my opinion changed. Twitter, and other social media, are amazing communities for educators. There are so many opportunities for professional development, etc on these platforms; and even though my own school has not gotten on the “bandwagon” yet, I have hopes that my education and experience will bring some exciting, new opportunities to my students and co-workers.

As stated, my school is not too keen on using social media in the classroom. We continue to fight the good fight of no cell phones in class (#whyareyoustaringatyourcrotch #butmymomtextedme). However, I have been tasked this year with bringing our school into the age of social media with a school Instagram and Twitter. While these are not for instructional use, I think any progress is to be commended, and I have hopes that one day my students will have more freedom to use Twitter, Instagram, etc. for educational purposes.

My expectations and hopes for this course are to simply learn more about using social media with the objective of competently explaining the benefits to my administration. That said, I’d like to learn about the ways schools can protect its students while embracing social media as well as some practical ways to implement social media learning in my 7th grade English classroom.

EdTech 537: Discussion Question Entry

Along with 2 other blog posts, I created a discussion question entry this week in EdTech 537. Initially, I thought that creating a discussion question out of thin air was going to take me a little while, as my blog did not have a theme yet. However, with the news of my new job, I found my blog’s topic and created a discussion question that related.

What tool do you use to communicate with parents? How has this tool changed parent communication in your classroom (or as a parent)?

I introduced my discussion question with some information about my inspiration for the question. Parent involvement has always been important to me. My previous position at a rural low-economic school did not afford me the opportunity to communicate with parents as much as I would have liked. I was hung up on a lot by parents, no matter whether I was calling with good or bad news. 😦  That being said, this new opportunity will require a lot of parent communication, and I am interested in some proven practices that I can implement in my own classroom. Who better to ask than my fellow EdTech-ers? 

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