My Mindshift

Throughout this course my teaching philosophy, instructional approach and understanding of the power of creativity in the classroom has evolved more than I expected. Although I am not currently teaching, this course has afforded me the opportunity to not only change my future teaching practices, but directly effect my approach to my current role as an education consultant who focuses on implementing personalized learning and innovation in school districts across the country. Thanks to this course, I am armed with a deeper understanding of how technology, personalized learning and maker education can elevate student success and I am now able to more effectively support schools districts who are making this shift and transforming their instructional practices and learning environments.

I’ve summarized my learning in this infographic via Venngage.

Here’s the link:


Assessing Creative Problem Solving

How should teachers assess students’ creative problem solving skills during maker-inspired lessons? I think this question needs to begin with an understanding of why teachers should be creating such activities in the first place. As described by Gee, our students need to be prepared for the innovative workforce of tomorrow. Jobs are now seeking employees who possess the skills to solve problems in creative and innovative ways and, as teachers, we need to ensure that students are able to handle such situations and demands in their futures.  Therefore, when thinking about how to teach creative problem solving competencies through maker-inspired lessons, teachers need to design their maker-inspired lessons with student assessment at the forefront.

When designing my own maker-inspired lesson, I would plan to assess students’ ability to utilize their curricular knowledge and apply it to the real-life situations presented in the maker lesson.  Before being able to assess, I would need to create a rubric to guide my assessment, outline expectations for students and ignite their creative process. In alignment with Wiggins, when creating my rubrics, I would, “need to be careful to choose the right criteria and multiple and varied exemplars.” I think this was extremely well done throughout the CEP811 course and was extremely helpful for me to learn and create my projects by reviewing provided exemplar works from other students and I have been inspired to use this method in my future lessons. I was inspired by Wiggins’ Creative Rubric and the words that he used to measure student work including: imaginatively, clever, careful, powerful, daring and many more.  If students are presented with a rubric that uses these types of words, they will be much more likely to be inspired themselves and far more creative in their problem solving in a maker lesson.

As described by Isselhardt and implemented at Green Street Academy, I would plan to approach assessment as a facilitator of learning to create a student-led inquiry environment. Throughout the lesson, I would check in with students systematically before, during & after the problem-solving and production process to monitor students’ progress and provide continuous feedback. During these “drop-in” monitor/feedback conversations, I would ask open-ended questions to encourage metacognition, conversation, engagement and reflection.

For example, my questions might include:

  • What is your plan for approaching this project?
  • What are your goals for this project?
  • Why did you make that decision?
  • What steps are you taking to solve this problem?
  • What tools/materials will you be using and why?
  • How are these tools/materials helping you solve this problem or accomplish your goal?
  • Tell me why you’re doing this…
  • Explain to me how you (or your group) came up with this idea or action.
  • How did each of you communicate your ideas? (for collaborative group lessons)
  • What challenges have you encountered?
  • How will you manage that challenge or problem?

I would utilize this monitoring and feedback method in order to increase students’ ability to transfer their learning to future situations, projects, etc. because monitoring and feedback have been identified as integral to successful learning and metacognitive approaches can increase students’ ability to transfer skills to new situations (Bransford, Brown and Cocking, 2000).  My hope would be that this strategy would help build my students’ creative problem solving competence and prepare them to reason and problem solve in future unfamiliar situations.

Once students complete their maker-inspired lesson, I would do a final assessment of their creations and how their creative problem solving skills led to their final product.  With an emphasis on creativity, I would use the rubric I created and shared with students to assess their overall learning.  As part of my final assessment, I would have students present their projects to the class by sharing their planning, problem solving process and reflection of their maker experience.


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

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

Isslehardt, E. (2013, February 11). Creating Schoolwide PBL Aligned to Common Core [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

Gee, J. (2010, July 20). James Paul Gee on Grading with Games. Retrieved from:




My Maker Infographic

This week’s task was to create an infographic regarding Maker Education. I’ve never created one before, but was excited when I began to peruse samples and templates available on the online infographic tools. I chose to use Venngage to create my infographic and I thought it was a great tool.

My infographic presents the many benefits of integrating Maker Education practices and learning environments and the skills they help students to develop. My hope is that it might educate my non-teaching colleagues on the power of Maker Education and inspire other educators to embrace the maker movement and build maker opportunities in their classrooms to support student learning.

Here is a link to my infographic:

Embracing Maker Education


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

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.

Anderson, J. (2013). Benefits of Design- and Maker-Thinking. Retrieved from:

Le, D. (2015). The Maker Movement and the Classroom. Retrieved from:

Educause. (2013). 7 Things You Should Know About Makerspaces. Retrieved from:

Redesigning My Classroom to Personalize Learning

Although I am not currently teaching, I designed my space based on a classroom I used a few years ago.  As a Special Education teacher, I worked with multiple small groups of students throughout the day who walked into my classroom with a plethora of unique cognitive, developmental, emotional, behavioral, and sensory needs. My classroom did not support all of my students’ needs and it would have been my dream to design a classroom that did. Mirroring the main goal of my classroom redesign, Childress and Benson stated, “Many schools are being redesigned to help every student get what they need to reach their own aspirations by creating more personalized learning environments” (p. 34).

My former classroom had only tables arranged in rows that could occasionally be moved into groups of two if there were multiple people available to help lift and shift the heavy tables. This furniture and classroom setup did not support flexibility. The only choice students had in this classroom were whether to sit alone or with another student and I would have to weave between the rows of tables and chairs to address students’ needs throughout a class period. It also made it very challenging to provide small group instruction. One of my students had significant sensory integration needs and found that lying on the floor to be the best way for him to learn. Although there wasn’t much room for this, I allowed him to work on the floor because that is what he needed to be successful.

When beginning my “redesign” of this classroom, I aligned with David Kelley’s “human-centered” approach to design and I wanted to focus on building multiple learning spaces to support student choice and diverse learning needs. By creating multiple learning spaces within the room, I would be able to enable learner agency. These different spaces would personalize the learning experience and, like outlined by Culatta, would allow students to make decisions about how they wanted to learn.  Similar to my student who worked best on the floor, not all of my students learned best sitting at a table all day, so I found a few soft seating options and a carpeted area where they could sit/lay on the floor.

With a classroom that was so immobile in the past, I wanted to find furniture that would enable mobility. A study by Harvey and Kenyon (2013) found that furniture that is equipped for, “quick, easy transitions between various modes of teaching, learning, and task, and mobility, too, might ensure a sense of flexibility within the classroom space” (p. 9).  I wanted my students to be able to feel this flexibility, so the majority of the furniture I chose has wheels for easy movement by myself, students or paraprofessionals. This would also provide me, as the teacher, choice and control when determining the best space for each lesson that I want to teach.  In my old classroom I did have a mobile interactive white board, so I kept that in my new design.

This new classroom design would require a lot of resources, which I know would be very challenging to come by. I would likely need to uncover grant funding to pay for the new furniture. Since I wanted to update the walls and make them bright, I thought it would be fun to include my students in choosing the wall color and also painting the room as a collaborative project. As key stakeholders in this experience, I would want to involve my students as much as possible and ask them what they would want out of a classroom environment. If I included them in the process, they would be much more engaged in learning in the future and hopefully more successful.  Like I previously mentioned, I would be able to reuse the mobile interactive whiteboard and also a whiteboard that was already mounted on my wall as a means to save a little bit of money. With the financial implications of this project, I would likely not be able to do it all at once, but if it were financially feasible, I would love to do it that way.

Here’s my redesigned classroom:



Childress, S., & Benson, S. (2014). Personalized learning for every student every day.The Phi Delta Kappan, 95(8), 33-38. Retrieved from

Culatta, R. (2013, January). Reimagining Learning: Richard Culatta at TEDxBeaconStreet. Retrieved from:

Harvey, E. & Kenyon, M. 2013). Classroom Seating Considerations for 21st Century Students and Faculty. Journal of Learning Spaces, volume 2. Retrieved from:

Lesson: The Power of Maker Education

Lesson Objectives 

  • Define Maker Education
  • Articulate the importance and power of maker education experiences for student learning
  • Complete a maker project
  • Capture and share their maker experience with their teacher and classmates

The Design “WHY”

  • My colleagues (who will be referred to as participants for this lesson) are working with school districts across the country to envision and create collaborative classrooms and Maker Spaces
  • All participants are former educators, but have been out of the classroom for a minimum of 10 years and possess a limited knowledge of maker education, why it is important or how it can improve student learning
  • Need to establish an understanding of the importance of Maker Education in today’s schools in order for students to be effective in their current job roles

The Design “HOW”

  • 30-Minute virtual tutorial webinar
  • At-home maker project
  • Audience will be my Education Consultant colleagues
  • Evidence of Learning – participants will complete their maker project, capture the experience via photos/videos, and share via class Google Drive

Rationale – Personalizing the learning experience to leverage each participant’s learner “toolbox” so that, “what they learn, and how when, and where they learn it – are tailored to their individual needs, skills, and interests, and that their school enables them to take ownership of their learning” (Childress & Benson, p. 34).

  • Learner Agency
    • Participants can choose the maker project that interests them and can share their work and reflections with colleagues as part of the assessment
    • Participants are given a week to complete the activity at their own pace and when it is convenient for their schedule
    • Personalized learning with technology gives learners agency and students can make decisions about how they want to learn (Culatta 2013).
  • Student Engagement
    • Participants will be participating virtually in all aspects of this lesson, but will be asked to engage in a variety of ways
    • Participants can access the tutorial and lesson materials at any time via the Google Drive
    • This lesson “creates creators” as each participant will be creating a maker project and sharing their creation with colleagues
    • “Student engagement is generally considered to be among the better predictors of learning and personal development. The more students think about their course material, the more they practice and study (directly or indirectly), the more they tend to learn about it” (Chando 2013).
  • Feedback
    • Participants will be able to ask questions at the end of the tutorial & via email or Google Chat at any time
    • Participants will post their work on the class Google Drive folder and teacher will be able to comment on their work as it’s posted
    • “Timely feedback enhances the student/Instructor relationship and contributes to a healthy classroom dynamic” (Chakraborty & Nafukho, 2015).
    • Personalized learning with technology enables real-time feedback (Culatta 2013).
  • Supporting Transfer
    • Participants will not only learn about Maker Education, but will participate in a maker activity and will be asked to articulate the importance of maker experiences for students so that they are able to bring that knowledge into their role as an education consultant when they meet with school personnel to discuss Maker Spaces
    • “All new learning involves transfer based on previous learning, and this fact has important implications for the design of instruction that helps students learn” (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, p. 53).
    • This lesson will also allow participants to use their experience as former educators in comparison to the newer practices of maker education.
    • “Instruction is likely to be most effective when it capitalizes on students ’prior experiences and interests” (O’Donnell, p. 8).


  • Computer, phone or tablet
  • Google Account
  • Google Drive Apps
  • Zoom (Cloud Meetings)
  • Video camera (on computer, phone, tablet, or other device)
  • Vimeo
  • Maker Project 1 – Make Edible Paper
    • Bowl, plate, plastic wrap, scissors, microwave, rice flour, potato starch, salt, and cold water
  • Maker Project 2 – Homemade Bouncy Ball
    • 1/2 cup hot water, 1 tablespoon of borax, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, 2 tablespoons of Elmer’s glue, 2 disposable cups, Popsicle sticks, Parchment paper (optional: liquid food coloring and disposable rubber gloves)
  • Maker Project 3 – Boombox
    • 2 cups, scissors or knife, set of earbuds/headphones, audio source (phone, mp3 player, etc.)


  • Essential Questions
    • What is Maker Education?
    • Why are maker activities important for student learning?
    • Why should schools implement maker learning experiences in their classrooms?
    • How does Maker Education align with, differ or enhance your former approaches to teaching?
  • Introduction Web Conference via Zoom
    • Tutorial on Maker Education
      • To be accessed synchronously, but will be recorded for participants who were not able to attend and for future access at any time – link to recording will be available in class Google Drive folder
    • Instructor will:
      • Outline lesson objectives, expectations and activities
      • Explain maker education, what inspired the Maker Movement, and how teachers and schools are embracing and incorporating maker education into their instructional practice
      • Provide research and examples of student maker projects and Maker Spaces that schools have created
      • Share the three choices for at-home maker projects and provide links to how-to tutorials for each project
      • Show Google Drive folder where students will upload their evidence of learning and Google Sheet where they will log their maker project choice
      • Students will be given one week to complete & post their maker activity
      • Open up conference for discussion/questions
      • Students will be encouraged to email the instructor with questions at any time
    • Participants will:
      • Actively listen and learn
      • Ask questions throughout and at the end when instructor opens the conference for discussion
  • Making
    • Log their maker project choice in Google Sheet
    • Gather the materials needed for their maker project
    • Utilize photos to capture their making experience
    • Make their project (encourage involvement of children or other family members) & capture the process along the way
  • Evidence of Learning (Assessment)
    • Using Vimeo, make a 1-2 minute video reflecting upon and sharing their experience, what they learned about maker education, why they would encourage school districts to implement maker learning experiences in their classrooms and how maker education aligns with, differs or enhances their former approaches to teaching
    • Upload photos of their maker project experience to a new Google Doc
    • Upload the Vimeo link of the 1-2 minute reflection video to the same Google Doc and upload to the class Google Drive folder
  •  Feedback
    • Teacher will provide feedback and comments on each participants work in the “Comments” section of their Google Doc
    • Students will be able to view each other’s work within the Google Drive folder and will be asked to provide feedback to at least two of their classmates’ work within the “Comments” section of their Google Doc


Culatta, R. (2013, January). Reimagining Learning: Richard Culatta at TEDxBeaconStreet. Retrieved from:

Chando, J. (2013, October). Why Student Engagement is So Important. Retrieved from:

Chakraborty, Misha and Nafukho, Fredrick Muyia (2015) “Strategies for Virtual Learning Environments: Focusing on Teaching Presence and Teaching Immediacy,” Internet Learning: Vol. 4: Iss. 1, Article 2. Retrieved from:

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

Childress, S., & Benson, S. (2014). Personalized learning for every student every day.The Phi Delta Kappan, 95(8), 33-38. Retrieved from






Rethinking Technology to Enable Personalized Learning


This week we took a deeper look into how technologies can support learning. As clearly addressed by Culatta, there is a significant “digital divide” that exists among educators today. He defines these two groups as, “those who know how to use technology to reimagine learning and those who use technology to digitize traditional learning practices.” This statement and overarching theme of Culatta’s presentation really resonated with me as I thought about the most popular learning theories and practices being buzzed about in the education field today.  Like Culatta’s big focus, personalized learning is at the forefront of most discussions about what teaching and learning should look like in order to prepare today’s students for success in the future.

Although personalized learning may be seen as the pinnacle of education today, many educators do not have a thorough understanding of what that means for developing learning experiences that meet the needs of each student.  I have heard time and time again variations of the misconception that personalized learning means every student has a device in their hands and utilizing online programs and, in turn, the learning experience will change and learning will improve.  While having a technology device available for every student can be beneficial, “the best hope for accelerating student achievement is by using a range of pedagogical and technological innovations that deliver personalized learning to each student” (Childress & Benson 2014).  The fallacy that technology is the answer improving student achievement is the root of our current digital divide.

Culatta outlined that through a personalized learning model, technology enables real-time feedback, variable pacing, learner agency, creates creators, enables mass customization and radically improves access.  These components are integral to not only meeting the learning needs of every student, but foundational to the transformation that needs to take place across the education system to improve student outcomes at scale. Like Culatta adamantly proclaimed, until we close the digital divide that plagues the education field today, we will not be able to truly solve the problems that our educational system continues to face.

Research by Basham, et al (2016) supports this notion that, “personalized learning requires a completely unique approach to the design, implementation, and assessment of learning” (p. 134). Educational technology should enhance each of these elements. Like Culatta’s testament that technology should enable real-time feedback, this team of researchers emphasized the importance of teachers using technology to help manage and utilize student data from, for example, online instructional programs, to drive instruction on a real-time basis to generate personalize learning pathways for every student.

Culatta also explained how technology can radically improve student access to learning experiences. This statement was particularly powerful to me as I am a former blended learning in one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the city of Chicago. Although we were using a blended learning model during the school day, learning often came to a halt at 3:15 because the vast majority of our students lacked technology and internet capabilities at home.  This extension of the learning environment could have significantly improved our students’ achievement, but we were bound by this constraint. I was delighted to learn from Childress and Benson’s research that the school models that they examined, “break down traditional school walls, allowing students to access digital content and lessons online so they can learn anytime, anywhere” (p. 37).  We were unable to provide such experiences because we did not have the technology to provide this access to our students. Had I known about these schools’ methods for enabling access, I may have been able to create such a model at my own school. This is a prime example of Culatta’s digital divide.

Another transformative topic in education today is Maker Education where educators are working towards providing students opportunities to play and be makers and creators. Like Culatta explained, technology coupled with a personalized learning model can help develop students as creators. This element, too, underlines the digital divide. In order for teachers to personalize learning in a way that allows students to be creators, they must know how to use technology to reimagine learning activities.

Culatta and the other educational researchers that I learned from this week followed one common theme: technology is the tool that can help enable personalized learning, but technology should be reimagined to support and elevate each student’s learning experience.  Without realizing it at first, I began to make connections from my learning this week to my learning and activities from last week on Maker Education using my Makey Makey kit. We were tasked with creating an innovative learning experience using our maker kits and, until this week, I did not see the connection between personalized learning and my maker project. This activity was a prime example of how teachers can reimagine technology to engage students and elevate the learning experience in a meaningful way to make it personalized.


Culatta, R. (2013, January). Reimagining Learning: Richard Culatta at TEDxBeaconStreet. Retrieved from:

Childress, S., & Benson, S. (2014). Personalized learning for every student every day.The Phi Delta Kappan, 95(8), 33-38. Retrieved from

Basham, J. j., Hall, T. E., Carter Jr., R. A., & Stahl, W. M. (2016). An Operationalized Understanding of Personalized Learning. Journal Of Special Education Technology, 31(3), 126-136.

“Thrifting” to Repurpose and Make Your Own Ed Tech

Before this week’s assignment, I never thought I would have been able to create my own educational technology tool and, let me say, being able to do this was awesome! Learning about repurposing and TPACK in my CEP810 course, allowed me to begin to think of educational tools differently and think beyond an object or tool’s originally intended purpose. Also, learning from Dr. Mishra’s TPACK framework in CEP810 and now reading the Rethinking Technology & Creativity article, I have an even deeper understanding of how to approach educational technology in my teaching practice.  While reading the article, the statement, “we must eschew the chrono-centric way of thinking about technologies, and focus on what’s important and useful about any technology in the interaction with disciplinary content,” really resonated with me (Punya Mishra & the Deep-Play* Research Group, p.2).  This statement echoed my own philosophy that technology is merely the tool and it’s how teachers and students use it that makes the difference.

With all of this in mind, I began to think about how this week’s focus on “thrifting” and repurposing could extend my thinking and approach to educational technology. I opened up my Makey Makey kit, my first thought was, “Oh, this will be cool and easy.” Boy was I wrong! Before starting any of my own play, I watched these videos and was beyond impressed with what adults and kids were able to create – especially the kid who created the cat treat dispenser – SO COOL! I have a golden retriever, so I really want to try to figure out a way to make a dog treat dispenser. I’m definitely not up to that challenge quite yet!

It was a little challenging to make the circuit work. I tried to make a Swedish Fish piano first and it didn’t work, so I tried baby potatoes…which worked! I was so excited when I finally heard sound coming from my computer when I tapped each little potato! After watching the musical painting, I really wanted to figure out how to create that.  My creative juices were flowing, but I was challenged with the question of, “How do I make this educational?”

My initial thought as a teacher, would be to use this kit as a means for students to practice their creativity, problem solving, and team work. I could provide students with a box full of random items and they would have to figure out a way to repurpose them – basically what I’m tasked with this week!  As an educational consultant, I’m not currently teaching. However, I used to teach, so I began brainstorming how this could apply to former classes that I’ve taught. As a former Math teacher, I was trying to a math activity that I could use to incorporate my kit. I searched through Scratch and found a math game called Yoshi’s Math Game that focused on addition skills. So, I decided to use my Makey Makey kit as a game controller.

Here’s a view of the game:


Traveling for work all week and the chaos of the Cubs in the World Series here in Chicago prevented me from being able to do my “thrifting” at an actual thrift store so I resorted to thrifting through my house for a random assortment of objects. I found a lot of random stuff, but had trouble when I began to figure out which objects would work as strong conductors.

Here are some of the objects I tried and either didn’t work or weren’t easy to use:


After my trial and error of objects for my game controller, I came up with the setup of these objects for each control.  I read in my “how to use it” guide in the Makey Makey box that I could wrap tinfoil around my wrist and clip the grounding wire to it to ground the circuit. This did not work, but I didn’t realize that the wrist apparatus was the problem until I failed to make multiple conductor objects work.  I finally figured this out and decided to just hold it with my fingers in my left hand. I used my husband’s old watch, a lime, a bracelet, a quarter and a Harry Caray cupcake. I had to honor my Cubs 🙂  Below is my prototype.

How to create and use my game controller prototype for Yoshi’s Math Game:

  1. Attach 4 alligator clips to the Makey Makey each arrow (i.e. left, right, up, down).
  2. Attach 1 alligator clip to “Space”
  3. Organize conductor objects (lime, quarter, watch, bracelet) in place for their associated arrow. Set space function conductor to the side (cupcake).
  4. Attach alligator clips accordingly to each object.
  5. Attach 1 alligator clip to “Earth” for grounding.
  6. Plug USB cord into computer.
  7. Open Yoshi’s Math Game from Scratch site.
  8. Click green flag to start the game.
  9. Use conductor objects to move Yoshi and Mario left and right to the correct answer for each addition problem.
  10. When you get close to the correct answer, tap the cupcake to select it.
  11. Repeat for all addition problems.

Here is my video of how to use my game controller:

I think it was important to use photos, videos, and written explanation to create this “how-to” because everyone learns differently. Also, I used all of these modalities to learn how to use my kit and create this project. Without all of these, it would have been much more challenging.


Mishra, P.,  Henriksen, D., Kereluik, K., Terry, L., Fanhoe, C., Terry, C. (2012). Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st Century: Crayons are the Future. TechTrends, 65. (5).  Retrieved from: