Month: October 2015

The Way We Teach Must Change

WeVideoIn my new course, CEP 811, we have been challenged to learn and reflect about “maker culture.” This topic goes well with an idea that I have been thinking about for a few years: creativity in our classrooms.

I think that the manner in which many traditional classrooms run are not conducive to creativity and making, and because of this they are not conducive to true learning. I think that our system as it stands are outdated, and as such does not currently tie into the Maker Culture. I first began thinking about this a few years ago when we were asked to listen to a TED Talk in our Professional Learning Community (PLC) given by Sir Ken Robinson.

All of this comes at a time when the state of our education system is a hot button issue, in which many have weighed in with different ideas.

This week in CEP 811 we were tasked to make a “Remix video” based off an idea that we have using a video editing tool called WeVideo. This is one of the more frustrating assignments that I have had in my MAET program at Michigan State University. Usually technology and learning to use new technological tools comes easily to me, but I struggled with this video assignment.

I began the assignment by searching Creative Commons for videos and pictures that would support my idea. This part was relatively time consuming, but not all that difficult. From there, I began importing my resources into WeVideo. This is where the assignment became challenging. After playing with the tool I thought that I understood it, but the assignment still proved to be very difficult. As I bumbled through trying to make my video I lost my work several times and struggled to get the clips and pictures cut into the proper length. This is a cool tool to use, and I have a lot of different ideas for how I might bring it into my own classroom; however, not before I have a lot more time to play and practice with it as making a short 1 minute video took me several hours.

You can view my completed remix video here: Remix Video

Remix Credits

Robinson, Sir Ken (16 Oct 2008).  Changing Education Paradigms [Video file]. Retrieved from

CEP 810 Final Reflection

The last 7 weeks in CEP 810 have been filled with valuable learning, exploration, and creating through the use of different technologies.

What I really enjoyed about CEP 810 was that it enabled me to improve my own technological skills and to really take time to reflect on the learning process from the perspective of a student, as opposed to always being a teacher. We did a networked learning project that enabled me to learn a skill that I have been wanting to learn for a while, as well as experience the integration of technology as a part of the learning process. Through this project I was also able to gain an understanding of the difficulties and frustrations my own students may experience if I were to ask them to do something similar in my own classroom.

We also learned about the use of social media to grow our professional learning networks which will only serve to enhance our classrooms. I had never considered Twitter as a tool that could help my teaching practice, but after exploring for a bit I have been able to expand my language teacher network and it has opened me up to a whole world of resources that I would not have otherwise found.

Throughout this course I have been able to reflect on what thoughtful technology integration would look like. If you give students the opportunity to explore and create using technology in a meaningful manner, then the lesson will be far more successful. One of the points that really struck home for me during our week learning about TPACK was the point that a lecture is still a lecture, even if we jazz it up with some technology integration as many of the teachers that we work with everyday try to do. The use of technology in the classroom is wonderful, but it absolutely must be integrated in a meaningful way.

As I continue working toward my ultimate goal of meaningful technology integration in my own classroom, I still have questions of what that will look like in a world language classroom. An area that I struggle with is that we are striving to be a proficiency based program, so how can I let the students explore and create when they have yet to acquire the language to be able to do so on their own? I am unsure of what the answer to that question is, but look forward to finding out.

Cooking With TPACK

This week I had some fun with our Cooking With TPACK assignment. I began by putting slips numbered one through five into a hat, with each number representing a different task. My wife selected task number four, which was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Next, she had to choose a plate, a bowl, and a random utensil that I would use to make the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For this task she solicited the help of our one year old daughter, Ellie. Ellie chose the plate, the bowl, and the utensil by crawling to the one that I would have to use. Ellie selected a large serving plate, our fruit bowl, and a pair of tongs. Since I had no knife, I had to repurpose the tongs into a tool to scoop the peanut butter and jelly.

As I did this, I thought of what the implications were in a classroom. Many times teachers will integrate technology into their lectures to “spice” them up, but at the end of a day a lecture is still a lecture. One of the problems with technology integration is that there are not many tools out there that are designed with education in mind. It is our job as educators to repurpose existing tools so that they fit our needs.

This assignment made me think about TPACK (the integration of technological knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and content knowledge) because in order to be successful I had to integrate my background knowledge knowledge (the ingredients needed to make a  PB&J ), along with my pedagogical knowledge (how to make actually make the sandwich), and my technological knowledge (how can I successfully use the tools that were given to me). Like a teacher who has to integrate all three of these aspects when introducing technology into the classroom, I had to integrate them to make the sandwich. You can enjoy my video below.

CEP 810 Networked Learning Project #3

In my final post on my Networked Learning Project for CEP 810 I will share the progress that I have made along with the sources that I have used. Using a variety of YouTube videos and help forums I have successfully built my own HDTV antenna. One of the most complicated parts of this task was deciding which antenna I can build, as there are several options available.

To recap what the project that I have been working on, my class had to pick a skill that we have always wanted to learn and go out and learn out to do it. The catch was that we could only use YouTube videos and online help forums to acquire our chosen skill.

I began by attempting to build one of the simple cardboard and aluminum foil models out there. Such examples can be seen on several do-it-yourself pages such as this one. After procuring all of the necessary parts I build the antenna and it worked worse than the overpriced store-bought model that I already had in my house.

After turning to one of the most popular DIY HDTV Antenna Forums I decided on building a variation of this model that I found on YouTube. After searching the Internet even more I decided to work smarter and not harder and begin with a simple folded dipole model found here.  Once I plugged it into my TV and did a search for channels I found that the simple model I have constructed would be sufficient for my current needs. I may go back later and build one of the more complex models when I have the time to do so.

I really enjoyed the networked learning project, and the methods that we were asked to use to employ a new skill. I did struggle with this project initially because once I began digging around on YouTube and on help forums I found that there was an abundance of information out there, and I had to sift through the information that was actually useful to me. Once I was able to do that the process was really quiet simple.

The video of my success can be seen below. In the video it only worked for a second because I am uncoordinated and dropped it.

Having enjoyed this process I am already thinking about how I might be able to employ a networked learning project in a foreign language class. Because my students don’t have a deep basis of understanding in the language, trying to use such a method to help them acquire language would be difficult. I do think that they could do a networked learning project to learn about culture. Another thing I could do is very similar to the project that we did, where they would have to go out and learn a skill and then present on it in Spanish. One of my favorite things about this project was that I was able to learn a skill that I was interested in learning. Because it was a topic that I was passionate about, I was able to remain engaged in the process even through my frustrations.

21st Century Lesson Plan

This week in my CEP 810 course we were asked to create a twenty-first century lesson plan that ties into my current curriculum.

In Spanish 2 we spend a lot of our time making cultural comparisons. In our current unit of study we are learning to talk about what we do in our free time (places we like to go, activities we like and do not like to participate in, making plans for the future). As a part of every unit there is a cultural component. Cultures are always an area that I have struggled to teach as students lose interest if it is a topic that is not directly relatable to them. For this reason, I have chosen to have the students do a research assignment on their country of study that they have already picked out earlier this year. They will then compare and contrast their favorite pastimes to the pastimes of teenagers in their country of study, in an effort to gain a better understanding of and relate to other cultures.

Students will begin by working with a partner and presenting on their own favorite pastimes to the class. This will be done in Spanish as they already have learned how to talk about these things in the target language. The students will have an option of using Google Slides, vcasmo, or Prezi to share their information with the class.

The next step will be for them to research pastimes in their country of study and to complete a cultural comparison. They will report their findings to the class as well as reflect on why the pastimes in their country are different from what teenagers in the United States are doing. To share their findings the students will create a Voicethread that includes photos from their country of study. This will also be completed in the target language.

To conclude this assignment students will write about their findings in a blog entry and post links to their presentations to their wiki portfolio. In their blog they will be asked to reflect upon prejudices and stereotypes that they might have thought about when beginning the assignment, and to share how their ideas have shifted after completing the assignment.