Ill-structured Problems

We make decisions every day. In order for our brains to help us make decisions, it goes  through a process that helps us determine what needs attention right away and what things can wait. The skill of processing these decisions and determining which ones need attention is called our executive function or self-regulation. Our executive function is made up of our working memory, inhibitory control, and our cognitive or mental flexibility. Teachers and parents help scaffold and model things for children so that they understand how to follow multi-step instructions and how to play/work with others. Children are taught how to share and wait their turn as well as deal with mistakes and failure. Most of these skills and strategies are introduced to children between the ages of 2-5, when they are beginning to socialize more and deal with more complex problems.

Executive functions are skills that are primarily introduced and developed through Kindergarten and first grade. “The subsequent development tasks of refining them and learning to deploy them more efficiently can proceed into the adolescent and early adult years as tasks grow increasingly complicated and challenging”(Shonkoff et al., 2011, p. 4). Through my reading I have found that a lot of research is being dedicated to creating assessments and educational indicators to determine if children at a younger age need further support in “self-control and effective, goal-oriented approaches to learning and social encounters”(Shonkoff et al., 2011, p. 8). Being a Kindergarten and first grade teacher I am glad that a lot of resources are being developed to help teachers and parents support the development of executive functions in children. While I continued my reading of self-regulation and the development of executive functions, I couldn’t help but notice the ill-structured problem that was forming. The majority of research and development of training techniques are being developed for teachers and educational support staff for children in the preschool age range. So I was left wondering what resources are available to continue the support in the development of executive functions for students when they progress through school and enter into adolescence.

Next year I will be transitioning from teaching Kindergarten to teaching 7th and 8th grade. Now that I am making the move to 7th and 8th grade I want to find resources or technological tools that can help me model executive functions for my students. During adolescence, students are being presented with more complex problems and they are required to take more control of their own learning. “Teenagers need to communicate effectively in multiple contexts, manage their own school and extracurricular assignments, and successfully complete more abstract and complicated projects”(Shonkoff et al., 2014, p. 12). If students have not developed the necessary self-regulation and executive function skills than these requirements may become too demanding for a middle school student.

In order to help students continue their development of executive function skills, I wanted to find an assistive technology that can be incorporated seamlessly into the classroom environment. The middle school students at my school use Haiku Learning Journal where a lot of their work is done digitally on Google Docs and uploaded to Haiku. I found a Google Chrome Web Extension called Kaizena, that allows teachers to upload different forms of feedback to a student’s work in Google Docs. In Kaizena teachers can upload lessons directly to a student’s work that they find themselves re-teaching over and over so that students can watch them at their own pace. Teachers can also upload voice comments to help students who are more auditory learners. Students that have not developed appropriate executive function skills often struggle with multi-tasking or following multi-step instructions. With Kaizena, students can work within Google Docs and see the rubric for their work or skills that the teacher wants them to address all on the same page. Another skill that students need to learn how to develop is goal setting. When a student is still developing their self-regulation and executive function skills, they may not know what they are capable of achieving and how to monitor their progress. Kaizena allows teachers to establish skills that students are working towards and show students where they are in progress towards a specific skill.

Below you will find a screencast video of Kaizena and how it can be used to help support the development of executive function skills in adolescent students. Please leave any feedback on how you have helped support the development of executive function in your students. Thanks!


Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2014). Enhancing and Practicing Executive Function Skills with Children from Infancy to Adolescence. Retrieved from

Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2011). Building the Brain’s “Air Traffic Control” System: How Early Experiences Shape the Development of Executive Function: Working Paper No. 11. Retrieved from

Assessing Creativity and Problem Solving

In a time where more and more schools are changing their focus of instruction from fact memorization to collaborative problem-solving and creativity, there also needs to be a change in the way assessments are used and how students interact with them. Grant Wiggins, who is known for being an assessment expert, has written a post about assessing creativity. In it he writes, “educators sometimes say that they shy from assessing creative thought for fear of inhibiting students” (Wiggins, 2012). If educators are not willing to assess creativity, then how will students learn how to deliver more engaging and thought provoking work?

In my school we teach using Project-based learning (PBL) with a focus on building 21st century skills, such as creative thinking, communication, and collaboration. When getting students immersed in a PBL, we model for students how to think creatively and what it looks and sounds like to collaborate and communicate effectively, but these areas have been hard to give a measurable value. Wiggins argues that students need to have a clear understanding of the purpose behind a task. “It is vital when asking students to perform or produce product that you are crystal-clear on the purpose of the task” (Wiggins, 2012). Wiggins also talks about how students need to learn about the concept of impact. Did my work create an emotional response? Were people able to reflect on what I contributed to the conversation? Can people interpret my meaning by looking at my work? The idea of impact can be measured, and students need to learn how to incorporate impact into their work.

As an educator charged with the assessment of student learning, I would assess creative problem-solving during maker-inspired lessons in two ways. In measuring students’ products or performance, I would use the Wiggins & McTighe GRASPS performance assessment that was adapted from the Understanding by Design Professional Development Workbook. The GRASPS acronym stands for goal, role, audience, situation, products or performance, and standards. To measure student creativity and problem-solving, I would use the creative rubric Susan Brookhart described in the February 2013 issue of the ASCD’s Educational Leadership. In the article Brookhart gave a criteria for creative students:

  • Recognize the importance of a deep knowledge base and continually work to learn new things.
  • Are open to new ideas and actively seek them out.
  • Find source material in a wide variety of media, people, and events.
  • Organize and reorganize ideas into different categories or combinations and then evaluate whether the results are interesting, new, or helpful.
  • Use trial and error when they are unsure how to proceed, viewing failure as an opportunity to learn. (Brookhart, 2010, pp. 128–129)

The rubric that Brookhart developed shows a comprehensive continuum for teachers and students to understand. I appreciate how it shows what level of creativity a piece of work is displaying. I believe this rubric also allows students to set goals for their creativity, which connects well with the GRASPS performance assessment developed by Wiggins & McTighe. Wiggins also developed his own creativity assessment that can be found here. Wiggins’ creativity assessment does a good job of explaining the different levels of creativity however, I believe that Brookhart’s rubric is more student and teacher friendly.

The design of these assessments is justified by what Wiggins and James Paul Gee have said about schools. Wiggins wrote, “if rubrics are sending the message that a formulaic response on an uninteresting task is what performance assessment is all about, then we are subverting our mission as teachers” (Wiggins, 2012). Teachers need to incorporate assessments for creativity so that students can learn how to deliver and produce more interesting work. Incorporating assessments does not mean that teachers need to give creativity a grade, rather it means that students need a clear understanding of what creativity is so they can make gains in approaching it. In an Edutopia interview Gee describes how schools need to change for the 21st century. In the interview Gee says that schools need to change from an understanding that knowledge is the acquiring of facts to understanding that knowledge is something we can produce. By using creativity assessments teachers can help students understand how their knowledge can be produced in a creative and engaging way.



Brookhart, S. (2013, February). Assessing Creativity. Retrieved from

Miller, A. (2013, March 7). Yes, You can Teach and Assess Creativity! Retrieved from

Wiggins, G. (2012, February 3). On assessing for creativity: yes you can, and yes you should. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

Wiggins, G. McTighe, J. (2008) UbD Design Guide Worksheets – MOD M. Retrieved from

Edutopia. (2010, July 20). James Paul Gee on Grading with Games [Video file]. Retrieved from


CEP 811 Reflection

CEP 811 is coming to a close. Throughout the course I have learned about remixing, repurposing, teaching students how to innovate, redesign a learning space, how maker spaces can impact the classroom, and how creativity can be assessed in MakerEd. My biggest takeaway from the course is that everything can be repurposed to fit a learning experience. When learning about Maker Spaces I connected with the fact that people are the best component of any learning environment. The goal now is getting students to understand how they can impact each other’s learning. I learned that in some Maker Spaces participants who learn a new skill will then teach someone else that same skill. I absolutely love this idea! When I think about my own classroom and how I want students to collaborate and problem-solve, I envision students not just learning, but teaching one another. After learning about MakerEd and how it connects to PBL and the 21st century skills, I have decided that I don’t just want my classroom to be a great learning environment, but I want it to be a passion community where students and teachers can learn together. To sum up my CEP 811 experience I have decided to go all the way back to week one and create a remix video of all the things I have learned throughout the course. I hope you enjoy and feel inspired to try making in your own classroom or learning space.



Adams, Z. (2018, April). CEP 811 Reflection [Video file]. Retrieved from

K12online. (2015, October). Marry Makers [Video file]. Retrieved from

MusicBeard. (2017, Jan). Home – Resonance [Video file]. Retrieved from

Nester, M. (2013, Nov). Alignment and Backward Design [Video file]. Retrieved from

The Newab. (2017, May). The Maker Showcase [Video file]. Retrieved from



The Maker Movement

This week for CEP811 I had to take everything I have learned about becoming a Maker and create an infographic. I am fortunate enough to teach in a school where we engage students in IMG_0580Project Based Learning (PBL) to help them uncover their understanding. Through the uncovering process my students like to build, make, and explore. The maker movement has close connections to PBL with lessons being more student-centered and driven. My learning and understanding of the maker movement has deepened after making connections to Dr. Punya Mishra and Dr. Mathew Koheler’s TPACK theory of how content, pedagogy, and technology can intersect during effective technology integration within teaching. While creating my maker movement infographic I remembered all the things I have learned throughout the CEP811 course. In the course I had the opportunity to play, explore, make, remake, investigate, and refine my understanding. These are the exact things that a maker space can embody for your students when implemented with your curriculum.


My infographic defines what a maker space is and outlines three different maker spaces that I was introduced to in Learning in the Making: a comparative case-study of three maker spacesThis case study describes three different maker spaces with different levels of involvement by the makers. My infographic will also help educators create their own maker space in their classroom. I have included links to maker space community groups, maker lessons, and materials used in maker spaces. What I learned most from these maker spaces is that the most important aspect of a maker space is the people involved. When you get people invested in the process of making, collaborating, and sharing, learning will take place. “Learning in each of these spaces is deeply embedded in the experience of making. These spaces value the process involved in making – in tinkering, in figuring things out, in playing with materials and tools” (Sheridan et al., 2014, p. 528). Below you will find my infographic. I hope you can find ways to implement a maker space in your own classroom!


Graves, C. (2015). Starting a School Makerspace from Scratch. Retrieved from

Graves, C. (2015). Maker Education Lessons and Projects. Retrieved from

Halverson, E.R. & Sheridan, K. (2014). The maker movement in education. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 495-465.

Heavin, A. (2017). Makerspace Materials: Stock the Staples to Ignite Imaginations. Retrieved from

Mishra, P., & Koheler, M. (2008). Teaching Creatively: Teachers as Designers of Technology, Content and Pedagogy. Retrieved August 13, 2015, from

Sheridan, K. Halverson, E.R., Litts, B.K., Brahms, L, Jacobs-Priebe, L., & Owens, T. (2014) Learning in the making: A comparative case-study of three maker spaces. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 505-565.
/content/SS15/CEP/811/SS15-CEP-811-733-97EFZZ-EL-14 -204/Sheridanetal_ComparativeCaseStudyofThreeMakerSpaces_2014.pdf

Learning Space (Re)Design

Next year I will be moving from teaching Kindergarten to teaching 7th and 8th grade. I will have a teaching partner and we will be using the same learning space to teach our 40 plus students. I am excited about the opportunity to teach at a new grade level and work alongside a wonderful educator. In the current classroom about 8-10 students gather around four groups of three rectangle tables. The classroom includes a tech cart with a computer and document camera. The tech cart stays in one spot and surprisingly doesn’t allow for much flexibility. There is one projector that shows on the middle of the east wall. The whole west wall is made of white board so students can show their thinking and display artwork.

In CEP811 we were asked to redesign a learning space with collaboration, personalized learning, and design at the forefront. I chose to redesign the current 7th and 8th grade classroom since that will be the space I will be using next year. One of the components of the redesign that I am the most excited about is thinking about collaboration. At my school we teach primarily using project based learning (PBL) and I needed to think about how students will engage with the teachers, work together, and present their understanding. Below are a few images of the current 7th and 8th grade classroom.

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As you might be able to tell from the photos, there is a great deal of natural light that can penetrate the classroom. A study published by Barrett, Zhang, Moffat & Kobbacy, noted six “distinct classroom characteristics that relate to the improvement of the pupils’ academic achievement” (Barrett et al., 2013, p. 668). The six characteristics include: light, choice, flexibility, connection, complexity, and color. The study indicated that a classroom that “receives natural light from more than one orientation or natural light that can penetrate into the south windows” will have a positive effect on pupils’ academic achievement. The image below shows a panoramic view of the classroom. On the south side of the room are large windows. On the north side of the room there is a garage door with window panels that allows light to penetrate the room.


I believe that this learning space already lends itself well to collaboration and it has the components that Barrett, Zhang, Moffat & Kobbacy discuss in their study. The Third Teacher came up with a list of 79 Ways You Can Use Design To Transform Teaching and Learning. I focused on the section about Rewired Learning because that is what my new teaching partner and I will need to think about when utilizing our learning space. Below are images of a SketchUp model for the redesigned learning space.

New Middle School Room-4

New Middle School Room

New Middle School Room-5

In my redesign I included two couches where students could go to meet in small groups and read. I also decided to get rid of a lot of tables in the classroom that took up space. By keeping four rectangle tables where students can easily sit and work, I will create more space for different learning activities to take place in the classroom. I redesigned where the projector in the classroom was located as well as added a second projector. Having two projectors on opposite ends of the east wall would allow both teachers to use them simultaneously, as well as allow multiple student groups to use for presentations. The redesign includes roller chairs, benches, and bean bags  so students can easily regroup in different zones of the classroom.

Albert Einstein was quoted as saying, “logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” I want to create a learning environment that will allow my students to go anywhere their learning can take them. Wayfair and Amazon have great deals on classroom furniture that I would use for this redesign. I created a google doc of items needed for this redesign and ended up with a $4,500 estimate. Though this would be an expensive redesign, I know my teaching partner and I will find ways to make part of this vision a reality. Perhaps, we will need to create a PBL to get our students engaged in the redesign.


Barrett, P., Zhang, Y., Moffat, J., & Kobbacy, K. (2013). A holistic, multi-level analysis identifying the impact of classroom design on on pupils’ learning. Building and Environment. Retrieved from–files/facilities/Impact%20of%20Classroom%20Design%20on%20Learning.pdf

Le, T. (2011, March 15). Teaching Kids Design Thinking, So They Can Solve The World’s Biggest Problems. Retrieved from

OWP/P Architects, VS Furniture, & Bruce Mau Design. (2010). The third teacher: 79 ways you can use design to transform teaching & learning. Retrieved from

The Third Teacher. (2010) 79 WAYS YOU CAN USE DESIGN TO TRANSFORM TEACHING + LEARNING. Retrieved from

What’s your job?


My students have been learning about Economics recently. We were presented with a mission to help parents run a pizza fundraiser at the end of May. The students were presented with a problem of having to raise money for field trips and the parents presented a few ideas of how they could accomplish their mission. My students are very excited to learn about what goes into a fundraiser, but they may have been more excited that they get to eat pizza.

In our class we have talked about the fact that we all have needs and wants. The students understand that needs are things that we must have in order to survive and wants are things that we desire to have. Next in Economics we are going to be learning about goods and services. In CEP811 we were required to create a maker lesson that incorporates our maker kits. I have chosen to use the Makey Makey that I have talked about in previous blog posts. I have designed a lesson where my students will learn that people get jobs so that they can purchase goods and services. My students will review the concept of needs vs. wants and learn new concepts in goods, services, and jobs. I will be incorporating the ADDIE model of instructional design into this lesson. ADDIE stands for: analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation.

Play-doh sculpture photo by Jen Durfey

My students will be using Social Studies and Science standards in this maker lesson. I also looked at the ISTE standards to gain an understanding of how my students could use technology to show their understanding or to expand on their learning. Here is my full lesson if you are interested. After reading the book If You Give a Pig a Pancake, the class will discuss what things the pig needed vs. what things the pig wanted. The students will then talk about the goods the pig received and what services the girl provide for the pig. While discussing the book and the different vocabulary words the students will need to analyze the new concepts that they were introduce to. After the class discussion the students will get the chance to brainstorm what jobs people get in order to buy goods and services. The brainstorming session will help the students think of the different jobs that people have. My students will then have the chance to design and develop a sculpture or drawing of a job of their choice. By designing and developing the students will again be using what new concepts they just learned to create a sculpture or drawing job. Students will use conductive materials that can be connected to the Makey Makey to make a job sculpture or drawing. After students have made their sculpture or drawing they will then collaborate with their table teams to identify a sound that is associated with their job. I will use the soundplant keyboard to produce a sound that will play when connected to the students’ sculptures. I will use the sounds and sculptures in a game at the end of the lesson. After the game the students will create a chatterpix to show what they learned about goods, services, and jobs. In the chatterpix the students will need to explain their sculpture or drawing and determine if it is a job that makes goods or provides a service. During this activity the students will be using the last two stages of the ADDIE model. The students will be implementing what they learned from the activity and explaining what understanding they gained by building a sculpture or drawing. I will evaluate the students using a rubric I created. You can find the rubric here.

I am excited to see what things my students create and how they will connect them to the Makey Makey. They are so creative and I am fortunate that I get to give my students the agency to show what they know. I am hoping to create an experience for my students to remember when we discuss jobs in the future. At the end of the Economics unit the students will have a job during the pizza fundraiser. My goal is that they will understand that the money we earn from the fundraiser is going to pay for goods and services during our future field trip expeditions. If you have any suggestions on how I could make this a better experience for my students, please feel free to leave comments below. I hope you enjoyed reading about my maker lesson and hopefully it will inspire to create your own maker lesson.


Digital Technologies Hub. (2016). Makey Makey: List of conductive and non- conductive materials. Retrieved from

Durfey, J. (2010, Nov). Childrens clay sculpture [photograph]. Retrieved from

Hassan, M. (2018, Feb). Hiring [photograph]. Retrieved from

ISTE. (2018) ISTE Standards for Students. Retrieved from

Katie’s Bookshelf. (2014, May). If You Give a Pig a Pancake [Video file]. Retrieved from

Pusal, E. (2009, Oct) ADDIE [Video file]. Retrieved from

Robertson, D. (2016, Nov). How to use Soundplant [Video file]. Retrieved from

Siemens, G. (2002,). Instruction Design in Elearning, from



Who’s in Control of the Learning?


If you are involved in education in any capacity you may have heard of the terms, “sage on stage” or “guide on the side”. “Sage on a stage” is an educator who thinks of themselves as the holder and presenter of the knowledge that students are required to learn. A “guide on the side” is an educator who helps students uncover their own learning by giving support and feedback that will lead the students to deepen their understanding of concepts. After watching Richard Culatta’s TEDx Talk titled Reimagining Learning, I became more interested in these two types of educators.

I know that I do not hold all the answers as a teacher. I also know that my students have interests and passions that I don’t have. So how can I use my knowledge of the content I teach, pedagogical experience, and technology to best support my students? Where do I fall on the continuum of “sage on stage” to “guide on the side”? I was able to find some answers to those questions by watching Richard Culatta’s TEDx Talk and researching the idea of personalized learning. I used the books How to teach now : five keys to personalized learning in the global classroom and Learning personalized: The evolution of the contemporary classroom to gain more understanding of how to personalize learning in my own classroom.

Zmuda, Ullman, and Curtis define personalized learning as being, “a progressively student-driven model in which students deeply engage in meaningful, authentic, and rigorous challenges to demonstrate desired outcomes” (Zmuda et al., 2015, p. 6). In CEP810 I learned from Bransford, Brown, and Cocking that learning takes place when students connect their preconceptions about the world with the new concepts they are learning. “Teachers must draw out and work with preexisting understandings that their students bring with them” (Bransford et al., 2000, p. 19). So, how can teachers draw out what understandings students bring with them?

One way for teachers to gain insight to what students know is by giving assessments. Assessments can show what students know and what students can do. Powell and Kusuma-Powell describe assessments for learning as being a means “to serve as an essential component of the learning process in order to promote and enhance further learning” (p. 113). Assessments are not just a way to give students a letter grade and create comparisons amongst students, but they can serve as a way to give students descriptive feedback to help students determine where they are as a learner. Students need to gain a better understanding of the assessment process and what the assessments are trying to measure. “By coming inside the assessments process, the students come to know him or herself better as a learner. The students, not the teacher, become the most important end user of assessment data” (Powell & Kusuma-Powell, 2011, p. 123).

Students can enter the driver seat of their learning when teachers model for them how to set goals, put in the work, and ask for descriptive feedback. Students may not do this naturally. Students and teachers need to engage in a collaborative relationship where the teacher is seen as what O’Donnell calls “the more knowledgeable other” (2012). “The more knowledgeable other who provides scaffolding does so by engaging in three activities: channeling, focusing, and modeling” (O’Donnell, 2012, p. 65). Now, as I continue to make the shift from “sage on stage” to “guide on the side” I need to consider how I will use technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge (TPACK). In a symposium report by Mary Ann Wolf, she confirmed:

Personalized learning is enabled by smart e-learning systems, which help dynamically track and manage the learning needs of all students, and provide a platform to access myriad engaging learning content (Wolf, 2010, p. 6).

I am going to continue searching out ways to shift from the “sage on stage” to the “guide on the side” in order to create a personalized learning environment for my students. My next step will be to think about how technology can be adapted in order to support my students’ engagement and get them more involved in the assessment for learning process.



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

Culatta, R. (2013, Jan). Reimagining Learning [Video file]. Retrieved from

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A new framework for teacher knowledgeTeachers College Record, 108 (6), 1017-1054.

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.

Powell, W., & Kusuma-Powell, O. (2011). How to teach now : five keys to personalized learning in the global classroom. Retrieved from

Wolf, M. A. (2010). Innovate to Educate: System [Re]Design for Personalized Learning; A Report from the 2010 Symposium. Retrieved from

Zmuda, A., Ullman, D., & Curtis, G. (2015). Learning personalized : the evolution of the contemporary classroom. Retrieved from






My Makey Makey Lab

This week for CEP811 I was challenged to play with a maker kit and repurposed or found items. I decided to purchase the Makey Makey kit and started to explore different connections that I coul797BA48C-57A1-45B6-AA89-E97FBCD7A7F4d make. Makey Makey is a simple circuit board that enables you to connect conductive materials to the board with alligator clips and allows you to control your computer. The Makey Makey site includes a gallery of examples of how to create using the Makey Makey board. When I first opened my maker kit I connected it to silverware and played around with the music apps on the Makey Makey site. It was so much fun being able to play the drums and piano with a set of forks.

As I kept on playing with my maker kit I started to get ideas about how I could use Makey Makey in my Kindergarten classroom. I know my students would love being able to play the piano with bananas or gummy bears as I have seen in some YouTube videos, but I had to think about my challenge for the week of creating a prototype activity that would connect to my teaching context. Along with playing with my maker kit, I did some reading about rethinking the use of technology in the 21st century. Dr. Punya Mishra and the Deep-Play Research Group discussed how the use of technology and creativity in education needs to be reconstructed. “What we need for technology in education is also what we need for creativity in education: a new framework for thinking creatively both within, and across the disciplines— an “(in)disciplined” framework, as it were” (Mishra 2012).

After reading the ideas of Dr. Punya Mishra and the Deep-Play Research Group, I was excited to start planning a creative and technology infused lesson for my students. Recently in class we have been focusing on phonetic spelling. My students do a really good job of listening for the beginning and ending sounds in their consonant, vowel, consonant (CVC) words, but struggle to identify the vowel sound in the middle. My goal is to create a game using Makey Makey and the piano app to have my students practice identifying their vowel sounds. Inspiration for this activity came from Makey Makey to teach Syllabication in Kindergarten. See the video below on how I used found materials to create a “industrial keyboard” to go with my MakeyMakey.

The following is a “How To” for making your own vowel intensive activity with Makey Makey.

 Vowel Intensive Activity with Makey Makey

Materials Needed and Setup

  1. A Makey Makey kit purchased from
    (cost approximately $50.00)
  2. A Computer with internet access
  3. Repurposed items from thrift store or around house
    • I chose to find things around my house
      • 1 piece of wood
      • 10 screws
      • 6 washers (variety of sizes)
      • a drill/screwdriver
      • 1 pencil to draw with 

  4. Make your “industrial keyboard”
    • Screw the washers into the piece of wood. Leaving enough room between each washer so they will not touch one another and cause the circuits to be interrupted.
    • Use a pencil to make a key for each washer. I drew arrows above the washers so I could use the keyboard for other activities in the future. I drew the vowels underneath the washers for the vowel intensive activity. I also drew a fun Makey Makey character because there was already a whole in the board.
  5. Hook up Makey Makey
    • Plug red usb cable into Makey Makey and into computer. (Close out any pops on computer) There should be a red light to indicate Makey Makey is plugged in correctly.
    • Connect one alligator clip inside the holes of each directional arrow and one to the space opening on Makey Makey.
    • Connect each alligator clip from the directional arrows and space to washers above a,e,i,o,u on newly created “industrial keyboard”
    • Connect one alligator clip to “Earth” at the bottom of the Makey Makey board and then either hold opposite end of alligator clip or clip it to yourself. I clipped it to my wedding ring so it would be touching my skin. (Metal part of alligator clip has to be in contact with your skin in order for Makey Makey to work)
  6. Time to play!
    • Open up the Piano app from Makey Makey
    • Give students a CVC word and see if they can identify the vowel sound in the middle of the word.
    • Enjoy listening to the music and watching your students have fun learning their vowel sounds!

I hope you enjoy making connections with your own maker kit! If you have any questions about how to connect your own Makey Makey project please feel free to contact me for help with trouble shooting options.


Adams, Z. (2018, March). Vowel intensive with Makey Makey [Video file]. Retrieved from

Blossom, A. (2014, July). Makey Makey to teach Syllabication in Kindergarten [Video file]. Retrieved from

Makey Makey Quick Start Guide. (2012). Retrieved March 25, 2018, from

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


The Remix ft. Everyone


Everyone is a maker. We go through ours days making decisions and designing the kind of life we want to live. Dale Dougherty is the CEO of Maker Media, and during a TED Talk titled We are Makers he described how everyone is a maker. “You’re makers of food, you’re makers of shelter, you’re makers of lots of different things, and partly what interests me today is you’re makers of your own world” (Dougherty 2011).

Being a maker is not only coming up with brand new ideas. Being a maker is taking ideas from other people and transforming them into something new. Kirby Ferguson is a filmmaker who created a four part video series about what creating is and how everything being created is a remix of things already made. You can find out more about Kirby Ferguson by visiting In part three of his video series, Ferguson talks about the elements of creativity: copying, transforming, and combining. Ferguson describes copying as being the “foundation of knowledge and understanding.” After we learn how to copy then we can transform the ideas into something new, or we can combine them with other ideas.

After being inspired by Dale Dougherty’s and Kirby Ferguson’s words I wanted to put my maker skills to the test. I first spent time looking for and watching videos about creating and being makers that had a Creative Commons License. This was one of my favorite parts of the creating process because of the encouraging messages of being a maker. I also wanted to find music that inspired me to be a maker and hopefully inspire you too. I used a remixed Super Mario song by Dj CUTMAN and GameChops. Once I found the video footage and song I wanted to work with, I as able to cut pieces together using WeVideo.

I made three versions of my one minute video before deciding on the one below. (If embedded content does not display you can view the video here.) By making this video I have learned that Kirby Ferguson is absolutely right when he says, “everything is a remix” (2011). My final video is a remix of my first attempts. The lessons I teach in my class are all remixes of prior lessons. I copy things that went well, transform how information gets presented, or combine subjects to make the connection deeper.


Adams, Z. (2018, March). What is Creating? [Video file]. Retrieved from

Dj Cutman. (2017, October). Super Mario Odyssey Remix [Video file]. Retrieved from

Dougherty, D. (2011, February). We are makers [Video file]. Retrieved from

Ferguson, K. (2011, June). Everything is a Remix Part 3 [Video file]. Retrieved from

Johnson, S. (2017, May). Where Ideas Come From [Video file]. Retrieved from

Marantz, M. (2012, June). The Future is Ours [Video file]. Retrieved from

Polygoon-Profilti. (1974, January). Sinterklaas is in aantocht | Polygoon-Profilti (producent); Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid (beheerder) [Video file]. Retrieved from          



Teaching Understanding with Technology


My first class for my Masters of Arts in Educational Technology is coming to a close. Over the past six weeks I have been learning about how technology can change the game for learning with understanding. As a teacher it is my goal to teach students to be successful learners and thinkers. I want to empower my students to take control of their learning and discover what skills they already have and skills needed to become expert learners. I learned from Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000) that students can be taught certain strategies that will enable them to progress from novice learners to expert learners. Expert learners are able to “recognize the limits of one’s current knowledge, then take steps to remedy that situation” (Bransford et al., 2000, p. 42)

In my CEP810 class I was able to put this expert learner strategy to the test. I decided to learn the new skill of cooking mushroom risotto. I have a basic level of knowledge when it comes to cooking. Before I was able to cook risotto I needed to assess my abilities and decide what skills I needed to gain in order to make a delicious risotto. I was able to use technology to learn new skills, such as cutting vegetables, sautéing, and setting up my mise en place. By only using the internet I was able to find sources that were “technology-rich, language-rich, literacy-rich, and socially-rich”(Gee 2013, p. 15). The question that I have after going through this exercise is how to incorporate this kind of learning for my kindergarten students or any grade level I may teach in the future. I want my students to have the opportunity to explore and expand their level of understanding using the “affinity school system” just as I did.

One of the last things that I learned from the course was the theory of technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge (TPACK), which was developed by Dr. Matthew Koehler and Dr. Punya Mishra. TPACK is the idea that technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge are not things that can be thought of separately when planning a learning experience, but need to be interwoven and can be enhanced by one another. Pedagogy is the deep understanding of the practices that need to be taught in order for students to gain understanding of the content in any subject. Technology can be used to support the learners’ understanding of the content and the teachers’ instruction of the content. After learning about TPACK and how I can use it to redesign my lesson planning, I want to teach my students how to use these skills as well. I believe that teaching students how to reflect, redesign, and repurpose is vital to enabling them to problem solve more effectively.

In my classroom we do a lot of Project Based Learning units. I present the class with a driving question, and all the lessons we do are geared towards answering that driving question. I love teaching this way because I get to learn about my students and the background knowledge they have about different topics. I learned from Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000) that in order for learning with understanding to occur a student must combine their preconceived notions of the world with the new concepts they are learning. These are the kinds of connections I am trying to make in my own classroom when we are doing PBL projects. Students must reflect on their schema to determine what they already know about answering the driving question. Once we have determined what we already know about the question, we have to find out what we need to know. This is when the exploration and play can come in.


Where do I go now? How do I utilize all I have learned from CEP810 and put it into my teaching? How can I continue to use the “affinity school system” to explore new skills? These are questions that I am left with after completing CEP810. I know I want to explore using different technologies as I did to support my own teaching and student learning. I also want to explore repurposing apps for my students. Can I have my students use apps or other technologies we use regularly in different ways?  One of the things I am most excited about is continuing my own understanding of technologies and how I can support my students in using them to explore and play. When I had the chance to explore different internet resources to learn how to cook risotto I was a driven learner. I want my students to become driven learners, and I believe letting them explore and play with technology can help them do that. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts. I welcome and encourage comments or reflections.


Bransford, J., Brown, A.L. & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.), How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school (pp. 3-27). Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Retrieved from

Gee, J. P. (2013). Digital Media and LearningA Prospective Retrospective Retrieved from

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. Retrieved from download .pdf

*Pictures provided by Pexels