SoTL Adventure Time!

Conference Proposal, MAET Year 1, Research, Scholarship of Teaching & Learning


For my Scholarship of Teaching and Learning adventure, I chose to work smarter not harder. I was looking for research to support and give structure to our conference proposal, which is based on the need for teachers to have basic iPad professional development before implementing their use in the classroom. I was genuinely interested to find out if there has been any research done on such a relatively new topic and what the results of potential studies were. It seems like so many schools including my own are jumping on the iPad bandwagon and there are so many different issues and variables to research about using this tool for education. I know my conference group shared my frustration with lack of iPad training but I was looking forward to know whether any real research has been documented. My group and I discussed at length how we would go about tackling such a potentially expansive topic and we really struggled to find a focus for our research.

After our workshop on library resources by the librarian Jill Morningstar, I began searching in the recommended databases. I promptly was met with zero results or results that were not relevant. Our conference group decided quickly that it would be best to meet with Jill right away before we continued our already frustrating research individually. We sent her a tweet asking whether she might be able to meet the following day and she responded right away. I revealed myself as a MSU library novice when Kate said “Ask her to reserve a room for us” and I replied “Are you sure we don’t have to do that ourselves?” Kate kindly explained that this was part of the librarian’s job so I tweeted the request and Jill replied with the room to meet in. When we met we were able to present her with our conference proposal idea and explain that we were looking for information dealing with this technology frustration due to lack of professional development or information supporting that technology professional development led to more successful programs.

Jill was an amazing facilitator. She explained that our topic is so new (and it takes about a year for research to get published) that we would probably need to look for something in a journal, which is able to address more freshly pressed topics. She explained that we should try beginning our research in the Education Full-Text database as it sometimes seems to produce more current research than the ERIC database. She helped us find and tweak the right successful combination of key words that yielded the most relevant research. We began the search with keywords like “iPads” and “frustration” but found the best results when we focused on “professional development” and “technology”. As someone who has not formally researched in a while, this was a hugely helpful process that I would absolutely use again. The one hour we spent with Jill definitely made a difference in the success or failure of our research. After a while, we were able to successfully find multiple articles relevant to our conference proposal topic on our own. As a person who is not doing scholarly research on a regular basis, the refresher on how to academically research well was much needed and our small group session with Jill really helped me internalize the process. I would not hesitate to contact the library for help with research again and in the future plan to focus on using more academic research to support some of my professional pursuits. The articles that I found related to our topic follow with a brief annotation.


Robertson, H.-J. (2003). Recycled Promises. Phi Delta Kappan, 84(5), 414–415.

 Recycled Promises discusses the hype surrounding technology with research focusing on Canadian schools and specifically the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow initiative in the 1990’s. The article examines how technology was deemed the answer to every problem in education and how as a result school districts invested deeply in technology initiatives. However, the author argues that research has proven that just putting technology into classrooms does not mean it will affect student achievement. She also offers evidence that many smoke and mirror reports by technology companies were used to imply otherwise. The article reports that there has been a rise and fall of technocentrism in the last decade and it has now become clear that technology alone is not the answer to successful schools and students. The article concludes with the argument that while business is business, schools supported by taxpayers should not be mislead into investing in a false product whose effectiveness is not research based.

This article is relatively short and with noticeably less references than many of the other sources that appear in my bibliography. The article’s publication date is much older than the others included my bibliography. The goal of this source is to inform us that technology companies have misled people to believe that there is a relationship between student achievement and technology when there is no evidence to support the claim.

Reading this article has reinforced my belief that without training and purpose, technology implementation in schools results in frustration and failure. The fascinating thing I found about this article is that I can apply this relatively out of date information speaking about desktop computer technology initiatives to current day practices with tablet and laptop technology initiatives. The Larry Cuban quote from this article “…there have been no advances…. that can be confidently attributed to broader access to computers…” can directly relate to the work done by James Paul Gee in 2013 about the digital participation gap (Robertson, 2003, p. 415). I thought it was really interesting the point about technology being viewed as a symbol of reform and change even twenty years ago but that it does not add up necessarily in the end. Reading this article helped connect my thoughts on the topic to supported research.

Schrum, L., & Levin, B. (2013). Lessons Learned from Exemplary Schools. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 57(1),     38–42. Retrieved from 10.1007/s11528-012-0629-6

This article discusses successful technology integration in a study based on eight exemplary technology-using schools. The study discovered that leadership practices and professional development were the most influential factors in implementing a successful technology initiative. This research found that there are six general categories of barriers to successful technology integration: resources, institution, subject culture, attitudes and beliefs, knowledge and skills, and assessment. In many of these exemplary schools a culture of sharing, exploration, risk-taking and common vision is tied to the professional development and leadership that leads to a successfully integrated technology initiative. Many teachers know what they need to learn and pursue that knowledge on their own so they can share what they have learned with others. Overall, when administration acknowledges teachers as professionals and includes them in the development and preparation of their professional development, teachers are more likely to learn and share their learning with others.

This article is a very current article published in 2013. This article includes many in-text citations throughout and is supported by a multitude of references. This research was conducted to find out what exemplary technology-using schools were doing to determine whether there were     common themes that other schools can use as a model. The author makes clear that these strategies for success are meant to provide others a goal to work towards to provide successful and innovative education for all.

Lessons Learned from Exemplary Schools has given me some concrete evidence that teachers should be involved in their own professional development choices and given input on the technology initiatives in their building. I think it was one of the most helpful resources that I found in my own individual research because it gave the actual evidence to support and a model of a successful technology-using school. Now I can actually argue that no school-wide technology program should be implemented without teacher input, teacher guided professional development and unified vision for that technology between staff, administration and shareholders because it is indeed supported by research. This article also reinforced the idea that teachers are very pro-active and if you ask them the kind of professional development they want, they will tell you what they need. I am looking forward to including this research as a key part of our conference proposal because it does an excellent job describing the support involved on the teacher and administration side of implementing a successfully technology initiative.

Walker, A., Recker, M., Ye, L., Robertshaw, M., Sellers, L., & Leary, H. (2012). Comparing technology-related teacher professional development          designs: a multilevel study of teacher and student impacts. Educational Technology Research & Development, 60(3), 421–444. Retrieved from 10.1007/s11423-012-9243-8

This article is based on a study of two schools implementing professional development programs for teachers with two different technology focuses. The first school focused on professional development based on incorporating technology with pedagogy teachers were already using. The second school focused on professional development based on incorporating technology with new pedagogy specifically Problem Based Learning. Research showed that both schools had significant gains in teacher skills, technology integration and knowledge through the professional development given, demonstrating that when teachers have ownership of their skills they are more likely to use what they have learned. The data suggested a shift towards more student-centered learning practices and that professional development exploring a specific pedagogy to align with content and technology may be more effective than professional development focused on teacher chosen pedagogies.

This article is one of the only studies in my bibliography with data including teacher surveys, web usage data and student surveys in addition to a vast array of references. The study also included a wide sampling of schools, teachers and students. The article has a very current publication date. The goal of this study was to examine the links between teacher professional development, classroom practices and impact on students, which are addressed in the conclusion. This study was based on a realization of the lack of data regarding what teachers learn from professional development and how it impacts student learning.

I thought that this was a valuable resource as this study helped relate our conference proposal topic with the TPACK theory. It supports the idea echoed in our conference proposal that any professional development can improve teacher’s knowledge and skills and has a positive impact on student achievement. It expanded my thinking about TPACK in suggesting that choosing your own pedagogy to align with technology and content may not be as effective as exploring a specific pedagogy (i.e. PBL) aligned with technology and content. This finding prompts me to look for more related research on professional development focusing on a specific pedagogy and technology and its effects on student achievement.

Chopped Revisited

Learning, MAET Year 1, TPACK

Chopped Round 1

Content: “A Small Price to Pay” by Stephen Kosslyn

Technology: Montage

Pedagogy: Chef’s Choice (Whatever means necessary)

FINISHED DISH: Completed Montage

Chopped Round 2

Content: “A Small Price to Pay” by Stephen Kosslyn

Technology: Whiteboards and Whiteboard Markers

Pedagogy: Create a visual image



I feel like my groups were pretty successful in both Chopped rounds. Maybe we would have made it to Round 3 for dessert?

These Chopped activities were useful in seeing that despite different pedagogy and such completely different technologies we could still create something meaningful. It forced me to recognize my own pattern of thinking as we reflected on things that were positive and negative about using each technology. I know that I personally have gotten caught up in “chrono-centric” mindset and focused more on the technology and how I can mold what I am doing to fit that specific technology. I now recognize that the focus should and CAN as Dr. Mishra(2012) says be on what we “…want our students to learn and how that learning is going to happen” (p. 14) rather than letting technology dictate learning.

Obviously, these Chopped assignments also tie in with our “Cooking with TPACK” repurposing activity as well. I appreciated the opportunity to actually see the TPACK theory in action as we were doing these activities and being able to note the differences in learning. I think many teachers resist “technology” on the basis that they do not realize the tools they use on a daily basis like whiteboards, crayons, ect. are forms of technology. I think if all teachers approached new technology with the TPACK model in mind, they would enjoy and want to continue using it as opposed to getting frustrated and giving up.


Popcorn Maker

Conference Proposal, Learning, MAET Year 1, Video

We were given a pretty limited time to explore Popcorn Maker today. Despite having a pretty decent background in video editing, the new tool kind of threw me for a loop. The creations and features are really cool but I don’t think I was completely vested 100% in figuring it out today. Our conference proposal group worked collaboratively to create a video on Popcorn Maker to spark interest in our conference proposal and to embed (*fingers crossed*) on our website. We found a YouTube video of a toddler using an iPad that perfectly illustrates how we sometimes feel as teachers implementing technology in the classroom. There are ups and downs and the downs just make us want to SCREAM!

We discussed that some of the features of Popcorn were not the most user friendly (i.e. having to enter separate text boxes every time you want a new font size). Overall, it was relatively easy to compile our video with pop-ups, video and text. We did not add any additional audio but maybe it would be beneficial to add some to the beginning and end for a little extra spark if we have time.

I personally had fun playing with Popcorn Maker having it spark ideas as to how I could use it in my Spanish classroom. I use music and music videos all the time and it would be awesome to be able to point things out within the video with pop-ups or text. It would be awesome to have my students create a Popcorn Maker and just illustrate the meaning of one Spanish vocabulary word using all the different resources. I love that you can add a Twitter feed as well even more examples of authentic language that I would not normally be able to get from a preset video.

Here is our video:

Cooking with TPACK

Learning, MAET Year 1, Something Fun, TPACK, Video

Our Task: Make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Our Tools: Large Pink Bowl, Blue medium size plate, pumpkin carving knife

Our Supplies: Seeded Italian Bread, Smucker’s Goober Grape Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly Stripes

What does this activity has to do with teaching, technology integration, and TPACK?!?!?!?!

We were given specific tools for this activity. We choose to use the plate as it was intended to be used, we repurposed the pumpkin carving knife and we did not even use the bowl. We also added a tool (our hands) to the mix pulling from what we already possessed.

As we were creating the sandwich, we both thought of different ways to create it. One of us liked the sandwich to be cut in half and with peanut butter on one side and jelly on the other. The other one liked the sandwich whole and to mix the peanut butter and jelly together on both sides of the bread.

We can directly relate this experience to our teaching and learning. We have all sorts of tools available to us as teachers. We are constantly sifting through them repurposing, tossing out and finding ways to make materials work for our own learning goals. Dr. Punya Mishra spoke about the movement from “technology integration into technology innovation” and we think we see this innovation in ourselves as teachers on a daily basis. We mold and adapt our teaching to reach all of our learners.

Written collaboratively with Thoughts & Wonderings by Yalonda

Reading Presentation 6/25/13

Learning, MAET Year 1, Maker Movement

Reading Presentation

All resources can be accessed via the notes section of this HaikuDeck.

HaikuDeck Presentation

Has the Internet changed the way we see? Here’s what we think.

Does the Internet make us nicer? Here’s what we think.

Reflection on “Replacing Experience with Facsimile” and “I am Realizing How Nice People Can Be”

The essays Replacing Experience with Facsimile by Eric Fischl and April Gornik and I am Realizing How Nice People Can Be by Paul Bloom open up new perspectives on the power of the internet.  While also looking at the maker movement and remix culture we see that “false illusion of knowledge and experience” (Fischl and Gornik) has occurred while also a level of production, creativity, and emerging ideas not imaginable before.  Similar to professional athletes making their chosen sport look easy, the internet also often has the same effect.  Fortunately, somebody else on the internet has usually had the same problems as you and has posted a solution to the problem on the internet.  Paul Bloom claims that the internet has made people nicer.  I think this point is especially interesting because in schools we often focus on the issues of cyberbullying and the negative outcomes of the internet while disregarding the positive.  I was babysitting one night and the mom had bought an OtterBox for their iPad.  She and her son could not figure out how to put the OtterBox on the iPad and there were not any directions.  After about five minutes of failed attempts I got on my phone and Youtube’d “how to put an OtterBox on an Ipad.”  After about another five minutes of video watching, the eight year old and I had successfully ensured that the next time he dropped the iPad a shattered screen would (hopefully) not be the result.  People are becoming more and more willing to share their advice on the internet.  Through a Google search one can find most answers to any question or problem they pose.  Some of these solutions might be help forums, videos, blogs, or instructional manuals.  If you are looking for a recipe online the comments usually offer up great advice of tweaks to make that dish more enjoyable.

The maker movement and remix culture are essentially the internet come alive – they are innovative creators and helpers.  They share their experience and expertise.  They are excited to create new things and share with the world.  They are learners.  They are teachers.  They are a self-correcting and peer-editing culture.

Written collaboratively with Teaching with Miller

Let’s Get Personal…with our blog design

Learning, MAET Year 1, Something Fun, WordPress


So I was struggling with my WordPress theme and making it reflect more of my personality. I will be stuck with it for the next three years so I should be happy with it! I would never be one to leave something plain and  in life and the same goes for my blog. I’m not particularly artistic but definitely crafty and creative. My frustration with WordPress settings actually drove me to switch to using Weebly for my school site this year.

I sat down this weekend to begin my readings being the responsible student that I am 🙂 and I could not take it any more. Something had to be done about the visual appeal of my blog before I could add any more posts or pages! Don’t you worry. I got my homework done too.

I have always wondered how everyone makes their blog so beautiful and unique with these images, headers and posts that are modern and professional. So I put aside the readings to delve into LearnWordPress. In the chaos of the new school year, I had never actually taken the time to read this when I started using WordPress two years ago. I reflect now on how silly that was and how incredibly useful I think this resource is. It is full of all sorts of suggestions and things I would not have ever thought of as a beginning blogger otherwise. It was here in the “Get Configured” section that I learned about adding a custom header or background! Ta-da! Finally, somewhere I could put a little something special.

In my searching, stumbled upon this blog posting by Something Swanky about Creating a Custom Header using PicMonkey and followed her awesome directions to create a custom image using the PicMonkey website. The PicMonkey website is free (there is an upgrade available) and does not require any registration! You can create custom images with text and give it all sorts of different effects. You can even drop in your own photos and customize them. So check it out MAETers so you too can personalize your blog and then get back to the critical thinking 🙂

I will be using PicMonkey again to create custom images and maybe even change my header if I’m not happy with it in the next few weeks. But now I know that the option is there! It is a breath of creative fresh air in the default blog settings.

Frog is Teacher?

Learning, MAET Year 1

Lionni’s story Fish is Fish (see below) really emphasizes that we construct new knowledge based on the current knowledge we possess. As teachers we have to remember that we are often times looking from the frog’s perspective as we teach our students. How can we expect students to fully understand new knowledge without giving them some sort of foundation? There are so many different factors that affect the prior knowledge that our students enter our classrooms with. How they grow up and the environment they are exposed to gives them certain predispositions.

Growing up in Michigan with an English speaking family, one of the first and best ways that I could clearly see this phenomenon described in Fish is Fish in myself was by living in a foreign country. To say studying abroad was eye opening would be understating it. I was in a way forced to look at my own predispositions, bias, and worldview smack in the face and question my particular ways of doing things. As a student, I had multiple years of what I would consider successful Spanish culture and language study prior to my departure for living in Costa Rica. As with the fish, I thought I understood everything pretty well. My “flying fish” were only erased and corrected after having the experience of connecting with the culture and language on a daily basis. I am grateful for the experience every day and it is why I continue to be advocate for getting outside of your comfort zone in order to truly learn something.

Taking this story into consideration:

Learning is the process of constructing new knowledge by arriving at understanding based on prior knowledge.

Understanding is the ability to meaningfully apply and demonstrate knowledge.

Networked Learning Project Journey Part #1

MAET Year 1, Personal Learning Network

I’m going to attempt to learn a new skill.8754295763_73153462c9_b

Using only online sources?

This will be interesting. I narrowed it down to driving a stick shift car or speaking French. Somehow I ended up being the only one in my family to miss the stick shift skill. However, the practicality of learning how to drive a stick shift using only online sources has me thinking it may not be the most logical.

My husband and I are huge tennis fans. It is how we met and something we get super excited about. We have attended the US Open and loved it. It is on our list to in our lifetime attend the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the French Open. Being the language and culture enthusiast I am, I would feel utter remorse if I did not put some effort forth in basic communication skills and cultural knowledge before I traveled to France. It is our goal to one day get there, so it has been on my list of things to do to try to learn basic conversational French and a few common things about French culture.

I’m hoping I have better luck than Joey did:

I do have a background in Spanish, another romance language, and I expect to make connections but I kid you not with this list of my personal French vocabulary:oui, C’est la vie, au revoir, baguette :), bon voyage 

I’m going to start checking out a couple of specifically “Learn to Speak French” forums to see where most beginners are advised to start! So far I’ve subscribed to The French Language Forum  and The French Language Forum @  I also plan to use WordReference Forums as I have used them for Spanish help.

Six weeks from now I will be able to greet you flawlessly in French and hopefully ask where the bathroom is among other things…

RSS stands for WHAT?

MAET Year 1, RSS

RSS is completely new to me. As I admitted on Twitter, when I see the RSS feed icon I conveniently IGNORE it and go on my merry way. Now being given the explanation of what an RSS feed can do and what it is, I am amazed. My unanswered question about “How are all these teachers able to find and post these great articles and resources on Twitter constantly without disregard for sleeping and eating?” has finally been resolved. I too have the power of magically putting forth quality information and resources to the educational community. No more excuses…

I am going to try out Feedly with a few of the language/tech blogs that I check on a weekly basis anyway. I plan on adding from there. It will definitely open up a new world to me as far as how I get my information. I’ve always wanted to stay more informed about news and culture going on currently in Spanish speaking countries so that I can share information with my students. This has been a challenge being as there are so many of them and it is a ton of information to sort through. I think that will be something in the next few weeks I will work on. Will update post on how that goes…