Tech Policy

What specific policies will help your district prepare students for current and emerging technology use? How can you help lead your district in creating these policies?

My school is very progressive in this area. We are already implementing some of the new emerging trends and have systems in place to research, evaluate, and experiment with other new ideas. I’ve pulled pieces of the tech policy, tech standards, and strategic plan that fit with emerging technology. To put our whole policy, strategic plan, and standards on here would take up too  much space.

Tech Policy

—-Technology and Information Literacy Vision Statement- IT and Library Services will collaborate with and empower students and staff to transform curiosity, creativity and compassion into ideas or artifacts with personal, social, or global significance.

IT Curriculum and Professional DevelopmentRapid changes in technology are continuously challenging teachers and tech integrators to meet high expectations in 21st century teaching standards. Three technology integrators, one at each section/developmental level,  are available for co-planning, coaching, and co-teaching to integrate technology into classroom learning.

Strategic Plan:

Learning- Strategic Objective: We will align expected outcomes, assessment, teaching, learning and reflection on practice in order to support our mission and student learning objectives.

Technology- End Result #1: —- empowers teachers and students with innovative practices, in a dynamic, technology-rich environment, in order to inspire action in the classroom and beyond. 

Inclusive School Culture-

  • End Result #2: —- uses differentiated instructional strategies and structures to help all learners reach his/her potential. 
  • End Result #3: — embraces and fosters an inclusive culture where differentiated instruction allows each student to achieve his/her potential. 

Inquiry-based Learning-

  • End Result #8: —- has a common understanding of inquiry and has provided the necessary opportunities to develop teacher expertise in inquiry-based instruction. 
  • End Result #9: —- has inquiry-based strategies that are integrated into instructional practice in order to foster a sense of curiosity and inspire action in the classroom and beyond. 
  • New End Result #10. Added to plan in March, 2015: —- has adopted models that utilize flexible learning spaces, collaborative learning, and alternative schedules and all potential human and technical resources to achieve essential skills through student passions. 

Tech Standards

Exhibits a positive, constructive approach toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity: 

  • Contributes ideas through digital collaborative tools that help others learn
  • Respectfully expands on the ideas of others in digital collaborative tools
  • Enhances the productivity of a group through the use of digital collaborative tools.

Uses information technology in a manner that enhances lifelong learning:

  • Teaches self new technology tools
  • Responsibly uses hardware and software to ensure access to information
  • Demonstrates leadership to help avert or resolve cyberbullying issues

We also have a complete BYOD handbook to help students and parents to know what they should bring to school. Students go through a tech bootcamp when they first come to our school, in order to help them understand the programs and processes that we have.

Crafting and Tech

How are electronics viable additions to “crafting” for today’s young person?

I guess I’m wondering why it wouldn’t be. Not all young people would need to craft with electronics in order for it to still be a viable addition. Our middle school art program has incorporated some of this technology into their classroom. They create touch interactive pieces of art by using Makey Makey circuits that the students connect to their art. Then they use Scratch to program sounds to the parts of the picture connected to the circuit. They have done this with wire sculptures, drawings and other mediums. This was fun for the students, but also had another academic element besides art and technology because the students’ prompt was to create a piece about a global social issue. For a workshop run by one of the these teachers, he had us make a story out of the  pictures we had drawn using graphite. After connecting our circuits, we used Scratch to add sounds and then told a story to the rest of the group. It was really clever. I was reminded of this type of crafting using electronics after watching the following TED talk by Leah Beuchley. She goes beyond just drawing on paper and shows further possibilities. In this video she uses light instead of sound. I’m wondering how amazing it would be to incorporate both.

My family is really into Making, but not always with electronics. It would be really intersting to look through Leah Buechley’s book “Sew Electric” (Mellis, 2014) and buy some of the kits from Chibitronics. We don’t usually use kits, because we try to use what we’ve already collected. We also like to use DIY sites such as Instructables, Craftsy,  or Craftster. One of the classes being offered at the moment, through Instructables, is about using Raspberry Pi. Raspberry Pi is a microcomputing platform, such as Arduino, that you can use for coding in crafts. My sons and husband seem to use electronics more than I do, but I can definitely see the advantages. I think that using electronics can be viable in some situations and not in others.

Buechley, L. (2012, November 15). Leah Buechley: How to “sketch” with electronics. Retrieved July 16, 2017, from

Makey Makey | Buy Direct (Official Site). (n.d.). Retrieved July 16, 2017, from

Mellis, D. (2014, February 4). Arduino Blog » Sew electric with Leah Buechley – Interview. Retrieved July 16, 2017, from


Does every school need a “BYOD” policy?

There is a bit of controversy surrounding this issue; however, I believe that ultimately all schools do need a “BYOD” or a “one-to-one” program. In our ever increasing technological age, we would disservice our students if we didn’t allow some sort of technology education. This sort of education is much more difficult to implement when using shared resources, instead of allowing students their own access. I suggest that the issue is not whether or not students need the technology, but more about how it is used.

Using technology in the classroom helps to engage students and prepares them for our digital age. Allowing them to bring their own devices to school can promote greater participation and engagement in class, decrease time spent teaching about a new device, decrease money spent by the school to meet technology needs (What, 2016), allow students to focus on the material they are learning instead of learning about a new device, increase time spent on material outside of class, allows for immediate and limitless access to resources and materials, improve connection with students and parents via online apps, increases personalized learning opportunities, and allows for access to ebooks (Wainwright). It doesn’t make sense to ban devices or punish students for using the device that they feel comfortable using. We should instead use these devices to our own educational advantage.

There are some ways that we can make the “BYOD” programs more successful. Schools should provide training to teachers and other educational staff, in order to help them learn how to use new technologies. Staff should have time to try out new programs and experiment using them in classroom. Using new technology in the classroom should be promoted by allowing teachers the freedom to experiment (Madda, 2016). Schools should acknowledge the challenges present in many “BYOD” systems and plan accordingly. These challenges include, security issues pertaining to web content and child online safety, appropriate band width, students’ access to noneducational sites such as games and social media, protecting against viruses and malware (Martini, 2017), and student misconduct on their own and their peer’s device.

I do realize that there are arguments against “BYOD” programs. I have been very interested in reading articles about the increasing digital divide. A recent study on Philadelphia libraries by Neuman and Celanano found that, “The very tool designed to level the playing field is, in fact, un-leveling it” (Paul, 2014).Student from more affluent families use technology differently than those from lower income families. “They select different programs and features, engage in different types of mental activity, and come away with different kinds of knowledge and experience” (Paul). Researchers also reference the”Matthew Effect”, which is the idea that early advantages multiple over time, increasing the gap exponentially over time. Other studies have shown technology to have a negative effect on affluent and poorer student’s test scores alike; however, the performance of the lower income students suffers more than their richer counterparts. “Reliable evidence points to the conclusion that broadening student access to home computers or home Internet service would widen, not narrow, achievement gaps” (Paul).  This being said, I don’t believe that tests are the ultimate guide in establishing a student’s intelligence or abilities. Nor their ability to live in a modern digital world. We not only need to change our traditional system of education, we need to change the way we “test” or decide on achievement. We also need to stop comparing our system to other country’s. We are different and value different things. Our successes have not come from standardized tests.



Madda, M. J. (2016, July 10). Technology (and How It’s Used in Schools) Is Widening the Opportunity Gap – EdSurge News. Retrieved July 08, 2017, from

Martini, P. (2017, June 25). 4 Challenges That Can Cripple Your School’s BYOD Program. teachthought. Retrieved July 08, 2017, from

Paul, A. M. (2014, June 25). Educational Technology Is Making Achievement Gaps Even Bigger. Slate. Retrieved July 08, 2017, from

Wainwright, A. (n.d.). 20 Pros and Cons of implementing BYOD in schools. Securedge networks. Retrieved July 08, 2017, from

What is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and Why Should Teachers Care? (2016, January 7). Retrieved July 08, 2017, from


What game have you seen that could help students learn, and how might it be used? 

I’ve been quite hesitant to learn about gamification in the classroom. However, after reading a few blogs and articles, it seems that a number of teachers have found it to be helpful to getting students engaged in their learning. In order to even begin thinking of a game that I might find useful, I had to begin to understand what gaming in the classroom truly is. After reading the Edutopia article Gamification in Education, I learned that “serious games” have been created on a variety of topics including difficult issues such as the Arab-Israeli conflict (Davis, 2014). 

I still didn’t fully understand because I wasn’t really sure what a “serious game” was, so I went back to the internet. Two articles that really helped my understanding were: Games in Education: Serious Games from and the EDUCAUSEreview article: Taking Serious Games Seriously in Education.  EDUCAUSEreview states that, “Games can serve as a means of not just developing domain-specific knowledge and skills but also identity and values key to professional functioning. The data from games enable understanding how students approach and solve problems, as well as estimating their progress on a learning trajectory” (Dicerbo, 2015). Futurelab takes the time to define serious games, list different types of activities that could be considered serious games (“Educational Games, Simulations, Social Impact Games, Virtual Reality, Persuasive Games, Games for Change, Games for Good, Alternative Purpose Games, Edutainment, Digital Game Based Learning, Immersive Learning, and Synthetic Learning Environments”), and lists required aspects for appropriate serious games (Ulicsak, 2010).  The use of serious games in the classroom may seem like a no-brainer, but before my reading, I really had no idea there were so many options and so much to think about before picking an activity for my classroom.

Now that I better understand the use of serious games, I needed to be educated on what games I might like to use in my Language Arts or Social Studies classroom. To help with this, I read Using Games for Serious Learning in High School from Edutopia,  50 Great Sites for Serious, Educational Games from the Center for Online Education, 20 Serious Games for School, and  Simply Engaging and Utterly Consuming: #Givercraft 2014 from the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute. For my high school English classes, I found the Edutopia article to be the most helpful because it listed games, as well as giving ideas for assessment. The most intriguing games they listed were: 1. That Dragon, Cancer, 2. Life is Strange, 3. 1979 Revolutions: Black Friday, and 4. Firewatch. Each of these games includes a story that students interact with (Farber, 2016).  Another interesting idea is #Givercraft which brings Language Arts together with technology using Minecraft and the book The Giver by Lois Lowry. This gave me the idea of using the texts in my ninth grade LA class and somehow using Minecraft to work with setting (Dkeedy, 2015). Another English game for high school students is Youth Voices. In this game, students learn about writing using social media.

For History and Geography I could use: 1. Quest Atlantis, which allows students to complete quests while traveling through virtual villages, 2. Betwixt Folly and Fates, a day in the life of a 1774 Williamsburg citizen, 3. Global Conflict: Latin America, 4.  Climate Change Interactive, which has students interacting with the social, political, cultural, and scientific aspects of climate change, 5. Darfur is Dying, where students work to continue their refugee camp even with the threat of local militias, 6. Food Force from the World Food program that teaches people about feeding the hungry, 7. 3D World Farmer, allows students to run a farm in Africa while also dealing with poverty and conflict, 8. A Tale in the Desert, a game about economy and community development set in Egypt, 9. Aars Regendi which teaches about politics and economy, 10. Peacemaker, where your decisions create world peace or cause conflict, and 11. World Without Oil. Another source for current world issues games is Games for Change. They have games for all ages and include games on a variety of topics including gender, climate change, family, health, human rights, environment, economics, and education.

Davis, V. (2014, March 20). Gamification in education, Edutopia. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from

Dicerbo, K. (2015, July 19). Taking serious games seriously in education, EDUCAUSEreview. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from

Dkeedy. (2015, January 25). Simply engaging and utterly consuming: #Givercraft 2014, Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from

Farber, M. (2016, November 17). Using Games for Serious Learning in High School, Edutopia. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from

Jensen, R. (2016, June 03). 50 great sites for serious, educational games, Center for Online Education. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from

S. (2017, March 27). 20 serious games for school, Avatar Generation. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from

Ulicsak , M. (2010, June). Games in education: serious games, Retrieved June 27, 2017, from

3D Printing

How can 3D printing change the way we think about education?

3D printing brings actual artifacts into the classroom, making lessons more interactive. Students are able to build knowledge by seeing a model, as well as by touching, using, or manipulating an example of what they are learning. This can make learning more meaningful and fun. Students are often more interested and engaged when working with more stimuli than just a textbook (3D, 2017).

Historical artifact, specialty maps (ex. topography), cooking molds, prototypes, models of molecules, cells, virus, and organs, math scale models, and floor plans, are all examples of how 3D printing can be used in education (10 ways, 2013). For more ideas visit this article, Why 3D Printing Needs to Take Off in Schools Around the World, at 3D It gives multiple ideas, as well as links to videos and examples. (Krassenstein). Another great resource for teachers who need lesson ideas comes from Thingiverse, where they have lessons for all grades and subjects. They also have start up videos to help those who are not sure how to begin.

Some argue that there isn’t much that can’t be done by 3D printers. The limit to what can be accomplished is only in our ability to imagine uses for them. Areas of study already benefiting from this technology are medicine, science,  and vocational courses (Federico-OMurchu, 2014). 3D printing can make education more interesting and engaging.

3D printing sounds very interesting and could definitely work with some lessons; however, it seems like an expensive new addition to the classroom. It would be nice to have something for students to manipulate, but for the Language Arts classroom it doesn’t seem to be as beneficial as it would be in the sciences and social studies. I do, however, find it a fascinating idea. In fact, I keep thinking about the idea of printing food and human organs. I just can’t wrap my mind around some of the things that can be printed, nor how I feel about it.

10 ways 3D printing can be used in education. Teachthought, (2013, February 19). Retrieved June 19, 2017, from

3D Printers for schools, universities & education| Leapfrog 3D Printers. (2017). Retrieved June 19, 2017, from

Federico-OMurchu, L. (2014, May 12). How 3-D printing will radically change the world. CNBC, Retrieved June 19, 2017, from

Krassenstein, E. (2014, December 21). Why 3D Printing Needs to Take Off in Schools Around the World. Retrieved June 19, 2017, from

Coding in the Classroom

What are the compelling arguments both for and against computer coding in schools?

Arguments For Coding in Schools:

Proponents of coding in schools claim that there aren’t enough computer programmers to meet the demands of the future, we must therefore, teach more people coding. It is an area of study that if taught, will help “students acquire vocational skills that are immediately relevant to today’s job market”(Trucano, 2014)They argue that coding is a foundational skill, which is becoming necessary knowledge in all other academic areas. It does not have to be a stand alone class, but instead should be interdisciplinary, connecting real world situations to content. Teaching coding, especially in connection with other subjects also helps to develop students’ critical thinking, problem solving skills, (Engelberg, 2015) creativity, and innovative expression. It is also argued that, “Understanding coding helps students better understand the nature of the world around them, and how and why increasing parts of it function as they do” (Turcano, 2014). 

Coding may be a subject that appeals to previously disinterested learners, as it brings technology into learning.

Arguments Against Coding in Schools: 

Opponents of coding argue that coding isn’t for everyone and shouldn’t be forced into the curriculum as a requirement. If schools add Coding to the required class list, what other subject must move in order to make way for the new requirement? Does an elective get cut or do schools require fewer credits of a core class?  Who makes this decision? Some even feel that coding may simply be entertainment and not actual education.

Another argument is that coding is not the only way in which students develop their critical thinking, and problem solving skills. In a quality curriculum, these are taught throughout each class. (Turcano, 2014).

On the other hand, some opponents aren’t necessarily against coding, but argue that schools shouldn’t be teaching code, but instead should be figuring out a better way to make apps. “In order to empower everyone to build apps, we need to focus on bringing greater abstraction and automation to the app development process. We need to remove code — and all its complexity — from the equation” (Shringer, 2015).


Engelberg, M. (2015, September 30). 3 Reasons Coding Should Be a Core Subject. Getting Smart. Retrieved June 14, 2017, from

Sehringer, M. G. (2015, August 06). Should We Really Try to Teach Everyone to Code? Wired. Retrieved June 13, 2017, from

Trucano, M. Should All Students Learn How to Code? Pros and Cons. Wise Ed.Review (2014, August 12). Retrieved June 14, 2017, from

Week Five- Design

Design an object that could be classified as belonging to “The Internet of Things” and describe how it could contribute to your classroom.

To start of, I feel a definition of “The Internet of Things” is necessary. If you are like me, you have no idea what this phrase means. According to The Guardian, “At its core, IoT is simple: it’s about connecting devices over the internet, letting them talk to us, applications, and each other” (Kobie, 2015).  So, what’s that got to do with education? There are a rising number of students with smart phones, tablets, laptops, and smart watches in schools, as well as schools using systems like Google Documents that allow for sharing and collaborating of documents. But, how will IoT change the way we teach and learn? Business Insider UK gives examples of student benefits, such as e-learning and enhanced access to information, organization benefits, such as campus safety and better organization of school resources, and teacher benefits of creating “smart lesson plans”, quicker assessments, and thus the ability to work one-on-one with students during time that had traditionally been spent on grading (Meola, 2016). The benefit of using IoT is the ability to gather, manage, and analyze large amounts of data. It is this information that will enable teachers, administrators, and schools to improve students’ learning experiences by helping them to make more informed decisions (Zebra).

As a middle and high school teacher, I think that it would be great if there was a way to gauge how much time a student spent reading a page in a book, or doing specific homework assignments. It would be wonderful if MS and HS students didn’t need to do homework, but with ever increasing texts and writing assignments it isn’t realistic to think that they won’t have homework. But how do we make sure that students working well? Too often I hear that a student spends hours doing homework and it makes me wonder what they are actually doing. Are they doing homework that long? Do they know how to organize their time? Are they maximizing their time? Is the student actually reading every page of the assigned book? Are they taking too long on each page and need a different book or help decoding words? How do we know that a student wrote their own work?

All these questions make me want to create a program or device that could give more information to a teacher about what a student is doing at home. It would be wonderful if there was a device that could connect to any book. The student could type in some information or the device could scan the title or bar code to know what the student was reading. It could then read the page number of the page the student starts reading at. Then each time the student turns the page, the device would make a note. It could then tell the teacher how long the student read overall, as well as how much time was spent on each page. This would be valuable for the teacher because: 1. They would know if they student actually read the book, 2. If a student read the pages really fast they could check for understanding and either change to a more difficult text or have a conversation about quality reading using strategies, and 3. If a student is taking too long on each page, then the student may need more assistance.

It would also be great if there was something like a document camera that saved images of the student writing at different intervals or there could be digital paper that stores the final writing. The document camera could be used for any writing assignment. It could be simply writing or it could be filling out graphical organizers and worksheets. It would take pictures at given intervals, in order for the teacher to see how long different parts took. The digital paper could keep track of editing/revising, time spent on writing, and areas of pausing.

All of the above devices would store data either on the device or in the cloud, which could then be sent either directly to the teacher’s account or be downloaded the next class. I personally would like it to be a file sent through the cloud. It would be great if it went into a dashboard of some sort, maybe connected directly to the assignment on my calendar or in my gradebook. That way I would have the data collected of them doing the work, as well as their performance mark.

How the internet of things is transforming education. (n.d.) Zebra Education Profile. Retrieved from

Kobie, N. (2015, May 06). What is the internet of things? The Guardian. Retrieved from

Meola, A. (2016, December 20). How IoT in education is changing the way we learn. Business Insider UK. Retrieved from

Maker Spaces

What is the pedagogy behind a Maker Space? What are the benefits of this pedagogy to students?


American International School of Chennai, India: Maker Space, Design Saturday



At the root of the Maker Space pedagogy is the idea of allowing students to create their own learning and knowledge within a space designed to allow them to interact with physical objects. It is constructivist at heart, building upon the early ideas of Jean Piaget. According to Gary Stager, “The Maker Movement is a vehicle that will allow schools to be part of the necessary return to constructivist education. A movement that will allow students to be creative, innovative, independent, and technologically literate; not an ‘alternative’ way to learn, but what modern learning should really look like” (Makerspace). Students in active Maker lessons are fully engaged. They collaborate with other students and learn from failures. Students create new experiences and stretch their understanding. Teachers are facilitators and help support students in learning (Stager). Those students who learn by doing will thrive in this type of environment (7 Things).

There are many benefits of Maker Spaces, but most importantly, they allow students to be creative, to explore, to innovate, to fail and try again, to solve problems, and use critical thinking skills. They let students guide their own learning and promote working through problems. Students are encouraged to be hands on and to learn by discovery. Maker Spaces motivate students to participate because they enjoy it (Bannan).

7 Things You Should Know About Maker Spaces. (2013). Retrieved June 03, 2017, from

Bannan, K. Makerspaces Encourage Students to Innovate and Build Critical Thinking Skills.(2016, October 10) Retrieved June 03, 2017, from

Makerspace for Education. (2017). Retrieved June 03, 2017, from

Stager, G. What’s the Maker Movement and Why Should I Care? (2014). Retrieved June 03, 2017, from

Emerging Pedagogy: Genius Hour

Which emerging pedagogy appeals most to you, and might be most useful for your classroom and students? Why?

Genius Hour- Allowing a time for students to learn about something that interests them. Letting them become the expert in an area. Teachers are facilitators, helping guide students when necessary, but the student is driving the learning in a self-paced format. Students learn from a variety of sources (Genius Hour). Students have the freedom to design their own learning experiences within a designated time frame. “It allows students to explore their own curiosity through a self-manifested sense of purpose and study while within the support system of the classroom” (Heick).

This appeals to me because my school has been promoting inquiry and personalized learning. The idea of Genius hour seems to fit in nicely with both of those ideas. We also already have Passion Projects in the high school. When I grapple with these types of learning I often jump to the idea that they mean that students have to have the ability to research whatever interests them without any constraints. The more I read about them though, the more I realize that Genius Hour is used within a structure. The teacher can facilitate by giving a genre or broad topic and allow students choice within that space. It is, however, less formal and organized than typical teaching, as it is, “open-ended learning characterized by student self-direction, passion-based learning, inquiry, and autonomy” (Staff). That does not mean that it is a free for all without structure or focus. Students are researching based on a driving question, and must have some sort of end result that they share.

One reading that really helped me to fully understand this idea was Teachthought’s “10 Characteristics and 10 Non-Characteristics of Genius Hour”. They give the following characteristics:

Characteristics of Genius Hour

Genius hour is…

  1. Student-centered
  2. Messy
  3. Emphasizes inquiry and research
  4. Authentic
  5. New challenges (i.e., it creates new problems to solve in your classroom)
  6. Inherently personalized
  7. Inherently creative
  8. Purpose-driven
  9. Maker-friendly
  10. Often collaborative and social

Non-Characteristics of Genius Hour

Genius hour is not…

  1. Standards-based
  2. Data-driven
  3. “Free time” for students
  4. Teacher-centered
  5. Without any rules or expectations
  6. Less rigorous (compared to other approaches to learning)
  7. Structure-free
  8. Requires whiz-bang technology
  9. Unfit for schools and other formal learning environments
  10. Requires less planning and less teacher ‘effort'” (Staff).

Assessment of Genius Hour products can sometimes be tricky, but I liked Nichole Carter’s idea in her blog post “Genius Hour and the 6 Essentials of Personalized Learning”, where she had her students create Ted talks to teach their peers about their topic. According to Teachthought the final product is some sort of making, where that be acting, doing, publishing, or designing, but the most important aspect of the process is the creativity. Therefor, I think it would benefit students to write reflections afterward looking into further questions they may now have after finishing and strengths and weaknesses of their process and final product.

Further Questions:

  1. Differentiated vs. Personalized Learning
  2. Can personalized learning be a small group?

Carter, N. (2014, August 04). Genius Hour and the 6 Essentials of Personalized Education. Retrieved May 31, 2017, from

Heick, T. (2016, May 12). 6 Principles Of Genius Hour In The Classroom. Retrieved June 02, 2017, from

Staff, T. (2016, May 12). What Is Genius Hour? -. Retrieved June 02, 2017, from

What is Genius Hour? (2017). Retrieved May 31, 2017, from


Photo credits: CREATE- gfpeck Flickr, Question Mark- pexels