the ever growing PLN!

Posted: July 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

On the second day of class I was asked to make a visual representation of my Personal Learning Network (PLN). I struggled to think of the people I actually contact when I need help. Making a popplet made me realize that I did not have that strong of a PLN to begin with. I used to think that my current co-workers and previous co-workers were the only ones I usually went to. I also remembered joining the MAET overseas Facebook group in the spring and seeing all the posts people shared. Every time I was notified about someone posting in the group I thought, how does this apply to me, I don’t understand. I didn’t really know how to look at the Facebook group and thought that it was frustrating since I did not know any of the people and had no frame of reference for what they were posting about.

Day 2 PLN:

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All of that has changed over the course of this month. Not only do I frequently check the MAET overseas Facebook page and the MAETy1 Facebook page to see what other people are up to, I go there to look for inspiration. Today I decided to update my PLN popplet and I realized my PLN has not only grown in size, but is now more valuable than it was before! Looking at my popplet from day 2, and my popplet from day 25, I am amazed by the amount of resources I have. I could probably add to it for hours because the amount of resources I have is quite overwhelming!

Day 25 PLN:

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Considering the fact that I am leaving many of these wonderful resources in a few days, I am looking forward to maintaining these connections throughout my career. As Jenkins repeatedly claims, networking is part of our new media literacies (2014). It is important that we work together and reach out to one another when we need guidance or reassurance that we are moving in the right direction. All of the people I met have their own stories and examples for using technology in teaching, and should be utilized as much as possible.

Shirky (2010), also goes into depth about collaboration and the benefits of “shared value.” With the advancement of technology not only can we ask for help from one another, we can actually work together on the same document no matter where in the world we are, thanks to Google docs. I love that I can work to solve technical problems or integration challenges by joining a group of people who have encountered the problem or are solving the problem. Learning to take advantage of collaboration opens the doors to solving more problems and in multiple ways.

Now that I have fostered these connections with people here, they have opened up their own PLN to me, which means my PLN is actually limitless. Having created a twitter account, I now see all the resources my peers have found and tweeted. I also see what organizations or people follow them and learn about even more resources. The cycle is never ending!

Jenkins, H. (2014) Project new media literacies.

Shirkey, C . (2011). The Shock of Inclusion. In J. Brockman (Ed.), Is the Internet changing the way you think? Retrieved from


Last week I attended my first poster presentation. My classmates and I all chose a Special Interest Group (SIG) topic to research. My group was SIGILS: Information Literacy Skills. Our goal was to create a space that was easily accessible for educators to connect with each other and learn manageable ways to incorporate information literacy into their classroom.


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Looking back on this whole experience I am so happy we chose SIGILS. Many of our classmates came to us and wanted to know what these skills were exactly and how to implement them in their classroom. Some teachers thought that it was only geared towards high school educators or only to language arts teachers. The more we researched the topic and talked to fellow teachers we learned there is a huge disconnect with teaching these important skills.

As we are entering the New Media Literacy phase in our culture, we need to incorporate teaching these important skills into our daily plans (Jenkins, 2014). So many children grow up as digital natives but they do not know how to network, cite information, or why to give credit to others. Simple skills that can be taught at an early age are completely overlooked by all ages. Many of these skills can be taught without technology as well. For example, learning distributed cognitive skills is necessary so children can meaningfully interact with tools. This skill translates to technology when they have the opportunity to use it. I am very interested in learning how I can take this to the next level in my school and help spread the word that the responsibility of teaching information literacy skills falls on all of us educators.

Another part of this presentation that I enjoyed was the presentation style. It wasn’t presenting in the formal sense but more conversational type. At the beginning of our poster session our group did not have many people and I felt worried that our poster did not attract people. A few moments into the presentation more people came over and we were talking one on one. As the session went on and my group opened up, all the talking turned into genuine conversation. Many of the people who attended wanted to know how they could implement this easily into their classroom. After sharing how we came to the idea, I shared my experience of having Expert Hour in my class. My fourth graders needed to research and present their findings on a chose topic. I was so worried about having them do regular Google searches that I felt that I did most of the work for them! Once I learned methods to teach them safety when searching and kid specified search engines, I am confident that this next school year my students will be much more independent in their projects and enjoy the experience even more than before! All of the people I talked to enjoyed learning how I would implement this in my teaching and began to share experiences in which they could use it as well. This often led to sharing of great ideas and collaborating to come up with even better ideas. That part of the poster session was by far my favorite! I look forward to my next poster session!


Jenkins, H. (2014) Project new media literacies.

This past week I had the interesting pleasure of reading The Anti Education Era by James Paul Gee. In his book he goes over numerous ways that humans are stupid. And I can tell you I definitely did not feel very intelligent after reading his book. Gee mentions that humans have a strong need for agency, meaning that our actions matter and we are not just watching others live. When we do not feel valued or important, we get sick and start to lose sight of our goals. I agree with Gee in this matter, and believe that our need for agency strongly reduces our chances of solving problems. Due to the way our world works, if our actions do not matter or make a difference we start to shut down.

I think that technology helps to bridge this gap because of the affordances it offers everyone. Growing up I thought of being a movie editor. At the end of movies, I would watch the credits and think that maybe one day my name would be up there. Then I realized how hard it is to edit things and quickly gave up since I knew I may not be one of the best. After being here for only 3 weeks, I have had multiple opportunities to edit my own movies. Even though my movies are no where near the scale of the ones I dreamt of as a child, and still don’t come close to what I envision them to look like, I know my classmates enjoy them, as well as my family and friends, which reinforces my desire to feel I matter.

After reading this book, I again come back to the idea that I’ve modified my mindset. This time it is about failure and the need for agency. I am moving away from thinking, I won’t do this because I am not the best, and moving more towards, what can I learn from each movie I make? How have my editing skills improved and how can they keep improving? Being here and in this program has opened so many doors and truly broadened my network. Now I have numerous resources and people to reach out to when I want advice. A perfect stepping stone for this program and for my professional career.

My big take away from his book is the fact that digital tools can help us in this matter, only if we use them in the right way. Solving the lack of agency problem is a wicked problem, just like failure is a wicked problem. There are plenty of ways to feel we matter, being the best isn’t even guaranteed to make you feel you matter. Sharing our digital products with friends and our PLN’s is a great start to getting feedback and making a difference. You do not need to change everyone’s mind at one time, but influencing one person at a time is a great start to making a difference and feeling that your actions do matter.


Gee, J. P. (2013). The anti-education era: creating smarter students through digital learning. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

The Challenge:

Incorporate the Maker Movement into my 4th grade classroom. Throughout my teaching experience I have seen my students respond better when they are in control of their learning. This past year I was in charge of teaching a “Destination Imagination” club. My students worked together to solve instant challenges and a year long problem. Seeing them collaborate during that time gives me a lot of hope for incorporating making into my classroom.

Why Making?

Through making students learn a multitude of skills such as, perseverance, critical thinking, and dedication. As Martinez and Stager (Invent to Learn) state, “many children are celebrated as heroes, leaders, and innovators,” (2013). My goal is to help teachers see that including making projects in their classroom is doable at all grade levels. The Maker Movement is designed to teach students to be inventors, creators, and problem solvers. Educational philosophies have morphed over time and we are moving towards “helping students develop the intellectual tools and learning strategies,” (Bransford, 1999, p. 5). Instead of teaching students how to do everything we can guide them through exploration and teach strategies to teach themselves.

Where does this fit in?

My goal really morphed throughout this entire process. At the beginning I was very lost in figuring out how to incorporate making into literacy. Towards the end I realized there is not just one way to do this and through creative collaborative thinking there are numerous solutions.  My plan eventually evolved into creating a unit to use in the writing process because non-fiction writing, i.e. How-To is a big unit. By the end of the writing unit I want my students to make a How-To video. They will teach other classmates how to code, design 3D models, or create a paper circuit.

How will I do this?

When introducing all of these new tools in your classroom you should allot a decent amount of time for exploration. If you are showing them three new tools, I suggest at least three days, one per tool. On day 1 have them explore paper circuits in small groups so they can collaborate and problem solve together. On day 2 they can try coding. Again small groups or partners works well so they can figure more out. Finally on day 3 introduce a tech tool for 3D printing. Tinkercad is a great one to try. Remember, this is just the exploring phase where they focus on the process and not the product.

What will they make?

Once they explore and choose a tool, they create something with it. After they feel they are an expert and they have a final product they work on creating a How-To video. Their video should follow typical How-To book structure, which was taught throughout the process. Here is a video example that you can aim for your students to have. The video also teaches how to make paper circuits!

TPACK Reasoning:

The first step is to have your students explore all three options, to find out what they like best and what they want to be an expert on. Once they have chosen a tool to learn more about, they will have to create something with it. I want to take the focus off of the teacher lecturing and “turn the learning process over to them,” (Bransford, p. 12). They will monitor their own learning, determine where they should dive deeper and when to ask for assistance. This too will help them learn strategies that can be used in all aspects of life. If they are coding, they can design a game or program. If they are making a paper circuit they should create a product with lights, to make sure their circuit works. If they choose to make an object with a 3D printer, they will again have to design their object that will be printed. Any of their creations should relate to them somehow, something they like or enjoy.

Once they explore, create, and completely understand the process, they will have to create a How-To video or book. This must include specific How-To language, so that another child can create their project. Photographs should be part of their how-to so that people understand what they made and how they did it.

The Maker lesson plan really incorporates various learning styles, which will help all students succeed. As Branford’s (1999), model shows cooperative learning, inquiry based learning, electronic tools through technology-enhanced teaching, are all various ways in which people learn (p. 22). All of these ways of learning can be incorporated into this lesson. Students can work together to learn a new tool and to teach one another how they work. They are all exploring new tools, testing what works, and how it works.

Here is a copy of my lesson plan.

Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (1999). How people learn: brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.

Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn: making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Torrance, Calif.: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2009, May 1). Too cool for school? No way! Learning and leading with technology. Learning and leading with technology.

Last week I worked with Erin Polski to team teach two articles we read for class. Our goal was to read, interpret, and teach the main points of the articles to our classmates. The articles were based on the topic of “How is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?” The two articles we had were by Marti Hearst and Gerd Gigerenzer. The main points from Hearst’s article focused on how social the internet is becoming (2010). She noticed that over time, more people have access to the internet and to websites that allow people to post comments and thoughts. I completely agree with her when she says she now expects to hear other peoples opinions and thoughts when she goes online. Erin and I wanted to show this thinking to our classmates by having them research answers in various ways that model how our search methods have changed over time.

When most of us were growing up the only resources we had were our friends, family, and books. So in stage 1 of the research phase there were a few roadblocks. We told them they could only use people in our classroom and some guide books we had on Ireland. It was very interesting when they started this part of the research because they immediately went to work, talking to each other and quickly flipping through the books. We noticed that many of our peers found broad answers to our questions, which were related to Galway.

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In stage 2 of the research phase they were allowed to use pre-selected sites to search for answers. They were also allowed to use the people in the classroom as well. This is the stage that I found most interesting to watch. Once we told them they could use their computers, they all went online. The room was silent with them frantically searching the two websites we gave them, one on Galway tourism and Wikipedia. We chose these two sites because they gave information but it was all objective. This is what the internet used to be used for before it became more social. Gigerenzer talks about how we have shifted our thinking process from searching within ourselves to “searching outside the mind.” He mentions we have moved from talking to people to searching sites like Wikipedia, something that is not social (2010). I found it very interesting that this is exactly what happened in class! All the social parts went out the window as soon as Wikipedia was allowed!

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During stage 3 of the research process they were given free reign to use any technology they wanted. They were encouraged to talk to other people around the world (or in the building) via the Internet. When they started researching this time many of them commented that all the results they found were subjective. Something that Hearst also pointed out. When we search for the best restaurants in a city we will find peoples opinions on the best restaurants. This can lead to arguments, or “flame wars” as Hearst calls it, since there are so many differing opinions, but this is our right to share what we believe (2010).

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At the end of the research phase we had them share their thoughts using Linoit, about the search process and how their thinking may or may not have changed. Many of the responses from phase 1 said that it wasn’t that challenging because they based their answers on experiences. When they were given some websites they were more challenged because they had to sift through information, which is what we do a lot when we have the internet as a source. The comments from the last phase were most interesting to me because they said that it was a lot of work trying to find answers since there was so much to look at. With the wide accessibility of the internet and the abundance of comments from everyone around the globe, you have to be quite directive with your searches and with what information you take away from each site. Like Gigerenzer said, we do not have to let the internet decide how long we can think, we can decide when to stop (2010). Even though we gave time constraints for searching, if we hadn’t I feel most people would eventually stop and settle on an answer.

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Following the research part of our lesson we went into a video on phone etiquette. The transition between the first part of our presentation to the second part was very segmented. If I were to redo this lesson I would have a smoother transition by talking more about Hearst’s article and the “socialness” of the Internet. Since the video we showed was about people on their phones, it goes along with being social. I would make this distinction clearer by starting a discussion about the uses of cell phones. One possibility is a web of all the possibilities, such as, texting, sharing photos, FaceTime, Skype, reading, posting, creating, and more. This could open their mind to the various reasons why people were constantly on their phone in the video. Hearst mentions that “51% of Internet users now post content online that they have created” (2010). I thought of this while watching “I Forgot my Phone,” because of the people at the restaurant on their phones, maybe they were posting thoughts about the restaurant’s food or atmosphere. Or the couple that got engaged, maybe they made a video of their engagement and posted it online to share with friends and family.

After they watched the film they had to take a clip and talk about what could have been happening in it, instead of the obvious. Again, if I were to redo this lesson I would modify this part. I felt it was quite rushed, but that it was an important part, so we were in a bind. In the future instead of trying to hurry through it, I would have had them verbalize what they thought instead of posting it online. The time it took to get a clip, SnagIt, put a caption, and then share it, took longer than it would just to have them share verbally. I did like that they were able to post a photo on Linoit, which was something that was new to us, but again it was forced in there since we were short on time. The amount of technology and websites we had them go to seemed overwhelming during the lesson and I felt bad if they couldn’t figure out where to go and when.

Overall I learned a lot during this process. I feel that the lesson went well and that our classmates enjoyed it. There are some aspects I would change, which is normal in the lesson making process. If you are not reflecting and adjusting your lessons or expectations, your students may not be getting everything they can out of a lesson.

Here is a copy of our presentation on Prezi. The Excel files are the answers that were submitted using Socrative.

Gigerenzer, G. (2010, January 1). Outsourcing the mind. Retrieved July 17, 2014, from

Hearst, M. (2010, January 1). I now expect to hear what other people think. Retrieved July 17, 2014, from

to Flip or not to Flip?

Posted: July 15, 2014 in MAETy1

This past week I learned how to use Camtasia to do a screencast, which turned into a video lesson. I created a lesson on how to use to make a character map. In my 4th grade literacy class we make character maps often, so this would be an awesome tool to use and engage them with the concept of visual thinking. The website is user friendly and would be easy enough for my 4th graders to be comfortable using.

I am glad to have found a tool that I can use to make video lessons to then share with my students and their parents. Making a video and being able to publish it online opens up ideas about having students view this video at home or before class. Having the ability to observe lessons outside of class goes along with the flipped classroom methodology. This being the idea that students would do work at home, such as watching a video lesson, and then come to class ready to apply their learning and understanding.

The idea of a flipped classroom really intrigues me because you can taylor your teaching to fit the needs of all your students. Branford (1999) says that, “schools and classrooms must be learner centered,” (p. 23). When I think of my students, they all learn at different paces and in various ways. Providing them with a video outside of school, and then spending an entire lesson walking around and helping them individually gives teachers a chance to dive deep into content with some students who are ready for a challenge, and also stay on the surface for those students who need extra time. This idea of differentiation in the classroom is exactly what Finkel was talking about in his article on flipped classrooms. “Flipped learning can greatly increase a teacher’s ability to provide differentiated instruction given that students work at their own pace in the classroom – and teachers can provide more challenging work for those who are breezing through,” (Finkel, 2012).

I intend to use my Camtasia video to have my students preview a character map as “homework” one night. Viewing the video will help them engage their prior knowledge before starting their own assignment in class. My goal is to have my students be active learners at home at their own pace, so they are “better prepared to transfer what they have learned to new problems and settings,” (Branford, 1999, p. 13). Once they are in class I can brief them on their assignment and then they can all work at their own pace on their own character map. This is also great because I can reference a book from class, but then will then make a character map of a character from their own book. Since they are all at their own reading level it only makes sense if they are making a character map that is applicable to the book they are reading. I really look forward to trying this idea in my classroom!

Here is a link to my video!

Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.

Finkel, E. (2012, November 1). Flipping the Script in K12. District Administration Magazine. Retrieved July 16, 2014, from

Technology? Everyday?

Posted: July 11, 2014 in MAETy1

When I first started teaching everyone brought up technology and how we can use technology in the classroom. In all my interviews for teaching positions I was asked how do I integrate technology in the classroom. Each time I was faced with these questions I was nervous. I thought to myself, “Am I saying the right thing, do I use technology the right way, can I be doing more?” I also thought that technology didn’t need to be the focus everyday or all the time and that pencil and paper still had their place. In one weeks time my mindset on educational technology has truly changed.

After seeing how successful teachers can be with technology, based on how I felt as a student using technology, I realized that there is no single “right” way to use technology in the classroom. For example, after watching a TED talk by Henry Jenkins (2010), I learned how he views technology as a, “New Media Literacy” and that it is a “participatory culture,” in which anyone can add information, sharing their thoughts and opinions, helping improve information that is already out there. Jenkins goes over the components of New Media Literacies and explains how there are certain skills we can work on to improve our use of technology. Instead of just looking at a computer as a computer, we can look at it as a device used to network, collaborate, visualize, and more (2014).

Even though there is not just one right way to use technology, there are a few ways that are not as beneficial as others. I know this past school year I did not utilize technology as much as I could. I did spend time having my students type and do web searches, but I did not teach them about finding reputable websites or how to collaborate with each other online.

Watching Jenkins videos and reading about his ideas really opened my mind to all the possibilities there are with technology. Yes I still believe there are times for pencil and paper, now I also believe there is time everyday to use technology. Through our quickfires and discussions, I saw how mind mapping, video making, and even finding resources really helped me understand everything. All week I explored different technological tools, finding ones that worked for me and ones that I needed help with. I collaborated with classmates to find solutions and new tools for problem solving. I also have tons of ideas to implement in my classroom next year and I cannot wait to learn even more ideas!

The most important lesson I learned this week was having an open mind to new ideas. The hardest part of incorporating technology into your teaching is the newness of it. So many teachers do not know what to do or how to do it, so they are reluctant to try. I feel many teachers would change their mindset if they saw the possibilities and had a chance to explore as a student.

Jenkins, H. (2010, March 6). TEDxNYED. Video retrieved from

Jenkins, H. (2014) Project new media literacies.

How do you learn?

Posted: July 11, 2014 in MAETy1

Learning is a process of acquiring, modifying, and building on existing knowledge. Since each student learns best in his or her own way, as a teacher, it is our job to know our students well, including what they already know, whether factual or a misconception, and how they learn best. With this information we have a starting block to teach them. Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (1999), pointed out that in Leo Lionni’s book, Fish is Fish, a fish who lived in water and learned about other animals who lived out of water, kept picturing each animal as a fish first and then with the added qualities, like arms or wings (p. 11). Teachers should look at their students like they are the fish instead of a blank slate, they add to what they already know and understand.

Over the years learning has evolved from memorizing facts to conceptually understanding concepts and applying that information to new concepts or fitting it into current knowledge (Bransford et al., 1999, p. 4). When looking at our current education system, some schools and teachers are trying to be more progressive and teach students to apply their learning so they can solve problems and be critical thinkers. But with such a big push on standardized testing, the progressive approach can be a challenge for teachers because standardized tests do not usually test problem solving skills, but memorization abilities. Sanger (2010), argues that education issues have been around much longer than the Internet and that we must figure out if we want children to “be educated primarily so as fit in well in society, or should the focus be on training minds for critical thinking and filling them with knowledge?”

Due to changes in technology and education, teaching methods need to be modified. According to the Bransford et al. (1999), “Superficial coverage of all topics in a subject area must be replaced with in-depth coverage of fewer topics that allows key concepts in that discipline to be understood” (p. 20). For students to retain knowledge they need to be taught how to organize information and chunk together concepts. That way when they need to solve problems they have theories or principals to look to and know why to look there. Experts were better able to solve problems because of their ability to chunk information, rather than novices who just knew facts (Bransford et al., 1999, p. 36). Teachers who group curricula and teach big ideas will help student’s link ideas. In younger grades, specific links may need to be pointed out to students; you cannot count on them to make connections unless you show them how.

It is important to consider these foundational ideas when learning about educational technologies because there are numerous ways to incorporate technology into your classroom to help students become critical thinkers. For example there are many resources you can use to show mind mapping and visual models of how concepts are linked together. From those visual aids students can learn to chunk topics and ideas together.

As Jenkins (2006), points out, students who just use technology for word processing or web browsing are not using it to its full potential and will probably get bored. To curb potential teachers from using technology in that way, other professionals and students need to share resources and guided educators in this new era. This past school year, my fourth grade students taught me just as much about our iPads as I taught them. Teachers should embrace the opportunity to learn from their students and to have them be the teacher. After all we remember more when we teach others.


Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.

Jenkins, H. (2014) Project new media literacies.

Sanger, L. (2010). How is the internet changing the way you think? The un-focusing, de-liberating effects of joining the hive mind.

GTD Strategies

Posted: July 3, 2014 in MAETy1

GTD Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (2001) by David Allen is a great resource for learning how to be more productive!

One resource tool that I am going to explore more is Evernote! I love the idea of having a program that I can access anywhere internet is available since it is saved online. The strategy that really resonated with me is the task of figuring out how long each “action” item will take. If it will take 2 minutes or less, you should complete it right away. Then the sooner you complete it the sooner you can move onto the next task.

Looking forward to being more productive!


Posted: July 1, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

My name is Christa Hanley. I am a 4th grade teacher at Vail Mountain School, in Vail, Colorado. I am currently working on my Masters in Educational Technology (MAET) through Michigan State University. This webpage is my online portfolio of all the work I will be completing during my masters program.