EDU 6949 – Coursework Reflection – Making Adjustments

3.2 Demonstrating Flexibility and Responsiveness in Lesson Adjustments – Teacher makes a minor adjustment to a lesson, and the adjustment occurs smoothly. There is old military saying, “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” Teaching from a lesson plan is very similar. You’ve selected your learning targets, added learning activities that drive to the learning targets, picked formative assessments that are appropriate for the class, and visualized how the lesson will go. Then it comes time to do the lesson in front of students and you wonder what you were thinking when you wrote the lesson in the first place.
The biggest issue I faced on this topic was students not having mastery of the prior learning (usually the Algebra learned the previous year) necessary to conduct the lesson. This would require spur-of-the-moment lesson planning to cover the necessary background material, which detracts from the original plan. You also need to do this in a way that does not send a negative message to you students. In the end, they generally ended up with less independent practice time because of the necessary additional instruction required.
After reflecting on a few occurrences of this, I developed a plan to address these situations and prevent them from becoming a common occurrence. A few days prior to introducing material that would require some additional Algebra work, I would utilize daily warm-ups, at the beginning of class, to review the material that was suspect in my mind. This allowed me the opportunity to both gauge their level of mastery and provide some review and instruction in a low-stress way for the students. This put me in a position to make more meaningful adjustment to instruction of new material instead of backtracking to cover old material.

Posted in 3 Differentiation | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

EDU 6949 – Internship Reflection – Communicating with Students

1.2 Communicating with Students – Teacher’s explanation of content is appropriate and connects with students’ knowledge and experience. When I first started my internship, I was teaching both Algebra and Geometry. Aware of the content I was teaching in Algebra, I had baseline assumptions of the level of competency my Geometry students would have. During the first two weeks I discovered that I had assumed a level of conceptual mastery that was much higher than my students felt they had. This was verySimplification under the radical challenging for me, because in order to teach the Geometric concepts they needed to learn, I needed to reteach a significant amount of Algebra. Geometry allows us to solve problems we otherwise could not, but after the Geometry is done, we are required to use Algebra to get to the final answer.

This situation opened the door for me to use high quality questioning to a greater degree. Not only did the Geometry require in-depth, step-by-step instruction, but so did the post-Geometry Algebra. Every detailed step involved a variation of the questions, “What do we do next?” and, “Why can we do that?” After several days of prodding and examples, my students realized they knew how to do every step. They needed to be connected back to what they had previously learned. Once this was done, I could teach them how to apply what they knew to situations they had not previously encountered. While it made for a rough start, my high expectations of what my students could do was ultimately fulfilled.

Posted in 1 Expectations | Tagged , | Leave a comment

EDU 6949 – Internship Reflection – Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques

2.1 Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques – Most of the teacher’s questions are of high quality. Adequate time is provided for students to respond. This is an area that is more challenging in mathematics classes than people realize. Students have spent several years trying to find the answer and have little experience with dealing with the questions of why does this problem solving technique work.

Mathematics is different than other subject areas, such as history and social studies, where high quality questioning is a natural fit. The question of when Columbus sailed across the Atlantic is much less important than why it was done and what the ramifications of that journey are. However, with mathematics, most people can be competent practitioners of mathematics without understanding how the mathematics they are using works. In order to get to the higher quality questions, you have to go through a gauntlet of lower quality questions first. Students need to be able to see the process working before they can understand why it works. If they cannot see it working, they have no reason to care why it is supposed to work.

Area of a Regular Polygon

These are both the equation for the area of a regular polygon. The one on the left is simpler,but the one on the right explains all the steps you have to take when you use the one on the left.

When I started asking the “why” questions of my students, they mostly just stared back at me. They had not been asked these kinds of questions, and subsequently, did not know what to do with these questions. The challenge was not in providing them enough time to answer, but to train them that the “why” question was always going to follow the “what” question. Once they realize the “why” questions were not going away, it was easier to help them look for the answers to the “why.”

Posted in 2 Instruction | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

EDU 6949 – Internship Reflection – Participating in a Professional Community

8.1 Participating in a Professional Community – Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation. During my internship, I had the opportunity to participate in the Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings for the Geometry teachers (6 teachers). It was clear from the beginning that I was to be a participant in the weekly meetings and not just an observer. It was an excellent learning experience, as I discovered how what I would have thought was a rather benign topic would actually lead to a respectful, yet heated discussion. On this particular occasion, the debate was whether we should be grading on the rounding of answers to one decimal place, as the test questions state, or if we were to ignore that, as rounding was not the learning target at the time. While we ultimately agreed to disagree, to outcome for me was to reinforce for my students the rules of rounding number during the examples I would do in class.

One of the frequent weekly topics was if there was a practice test available and if not, did anyone have the time to create one. The creation of a practice test is not an easy matter, as there is more to it that just changing the numbers on previous test questions. The writer needs to take into account what the possible outcomes are to make sure the answers do not get too complicated. On top of that, there is the matter of designing and laying out the test as well, which is not an easy feat if you do not have much training with it. I did volunteer to take on the task one week (Week 23 Practice Test). It was not the most pleasant of tasks, but this was a job that every teacher in the group takes responsibility for on occasion, so as a member of the group, I did as well.

Posted in 8 Professional Practice | Tagged | Leave a comment

EDU 6949 – Internship Reflection – Designing Student Assessment

6.3 Designing Student Assessments to Inform Planning – Teacher plans to use assessment results to plan for future instruction for groups of students. The school I did my internship at uses an assessment system where students will be assessed on a learning target or group of learning targets for four weeks. This methodology allows the students multiple opportunities to exhibit mastery of the learning target. However, with the subject matter pacing guide and the expressed desire of the school for all math classes to stay on the same pace, there is very little room for backtracking or additional instruction for those that need it. Further, because there are only four questions on each weekly topic, and they score the assessments on a scale of 1-4 (miss one question and the maximum score is 75%), each attempt at the assessment is a high-stakes affair.

Having an extensive background in data analysis work, I started analyzing each weeks test results in order to see where improvement could happen in the following weeks. Here are examples of the pie charts I shared with the class (Week 15 and Week 16). Not only did I look at the test scores, but also which learning target needed the most work and if the outcomes were the same in all of the class periods. Based on this analysis, I would plan daily warm-up items for the class to do at the beginning of each day. This would allow us to provide reinforcement for those students who had shown mastery as well as additional instruction and practice for those students that struggled with the material.


Posted in 6 Assessment | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

EDTC 6431 – Individual Project

Table of Contents

Phase 1 – Lesson Description

Phase 2 – Lesson Objectives

Phase 3 – Lesson Resources

Phase 4 – Success Measures

Phase 5 – Reflection

Phase 1 – Lesson Description

This is a lesson that is called, “So, is that the truth.” This lesson is geared towards high school math students, particularly juniors and seniors. Students will be put into groups and will select a topic to research. The goal is to research a topic to determine if commonly held thoughts on a topic are accurate, mostly accurate, not really accurate, or inaccurate. Students will be steered towards topics that have numerically based, empirical evidence that can be collected and analyzed, such as financial statements, regulatory filings, or government reports. Students will use a spreadsheet program to collect organize, analyze, and build reports. Students will also write narratives that support their thesis and conclusions. A separate presentation will also be created.


Because this is a group project, there is the risk that one or two people do all the work and a few do very little or none of the work. While I think this project would work best with three or four members, it might need to be done as a partner project. I would prefer groups of three or four as this group size creates more opportunity for discussion about how to interpret the data that is being analyzed. However, the bigger challenge will be getting students to select a topic and then decide the criteria to use to measure the statement. The idea is to take something like “Tom Brady is the best quarterback” or “Cancer is biggest killer of people in the United States.” Selecting the criteria they will use to support their thesis will be a big challenge for them.

Phase 2 – Lesson Objectives

As mentioned in Phase 1, this lesson is geared towards high school juniors and seniors in either a high level Algebra or Statistics class. This lesson can either be done entirely within a math class or in conjunction with a history or social studies class.

This project will address one or more of the Common Core State Standards for Statistics. While all of the projects will address at least one of them, the specifics of the data for their particular topic. Objectives include collecting, organizing, analyzing, and presenting data. Other objectives include using spreadsheets to manage and present data as well as using word processing and presentation software for writing and presenting their project.

Phase 3 – Lesson Resources

The primary resources used in this assignment will be spreadsheet and word processing software, most likely Microsoft Office or Google Office, along with data resources selected by students, such as data from the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Centers for Disease Control, or others. Prior to, and during the assignment, students will need instruction on data management, techniques for modeling and interpreting data, such as calculating mean, median, mode, standard deviations,understanding distributions and interpreting data. They will also need instruction on graphing and presenting data. The chart Pitching Stats provides an example of the kinds of documentation students will generate to make their case. This particular chart can be used to address whether the recent changes to the Intentional Base on Balls (IBB) rules by Major League Baseball will  shorten the average length of baseball games.

In this lesson, technology plays many roles. The first is that it allows students to access large data set that would be difficult or impossible to access and manage without the use of technology. The second role that technology plays is to allow students to analyze and make calculations using these large datasets. Technology also allows students to report, present, and distribute their findings.

Phase 4 – Success Measures

The key to success of a project like this is to provide students with technical guidance and operational accountability. This will require several group meetings and status-update discussions with the instructor throughout the problems, but primarily during the initial project planning and design phases.

  • Require active mental engagement
    • As part of this project, each student will be required to document their activities during the project. This will allow the teacher to assess how much each student contributed to the success of the project. This will also allow the students to have a better understanding of what they have accomplished during the project.
  • Require practice of new knowledge/skills
    • During the planning and status-update meetings, the teacher will review the plans of what work is going to be done by each student and what work has been done by each student. This will allow the teacher to provide guidance on how to break of the work. This will better allow each student to have the opportunity to have multiple learning experiences.
  • Support learning with tech and media
    • Because data management, data analysis, and project management are skills students will have limited experience with, they will need some additional instruction on those topics. Some will be provided by the instructor with additional support provided via instructional videos available through resources such as youTube.
  • Provide performance feedback prior to formal assessment
    • There are three purposes for the status-update meetings. The first is to use accountability to keep the group on task. The second is to provide guidance as to the direction of the project. The third is to provide general performance feedback to students as the project progresses.
  • Determine success of lesson
    • The success of the lesson is going to be determined by the effort put forth by the students and the overall quality of the work-product created. Success of the project is not determined by proving their thesis. Their success is determined by creating a high quality report that is supported by data and critical analysis of the data.

Phase 5 – Reflection

The challenge of this lesson, for the instructor, is giving the students enough time for the assignment and allowing them to have the room to learn all the real-life experiences this lesson is capable of providing. There are many traps and pitfalls awaiting the students and it is tempting for the instructor to just steer the students away from those troubles. But when we look through the lens of what the students need to learn, the troubles are where the learning is.

For the students, the biggest intellectual challenge is defining their question and understanding there will be legitimate challenges to their work. Sports provides us with a great deal of opportunity to understand this situation. For example, many people claim that Tom Brady of the New England Patriots football team should be considered the best quarterback in the history of football. The most common defense of this position is that he has been the starting quarterback for five Super Bowl winning seasons. But as we extend this criteria through the ranks of other quarterback, we encounter situations that challenge the validity of the criteria being used. Payton and Eli Manning have each won two Super Bowl rings, but few would say Eli is as good as Payton was. Then there are Trent Dilfer and Joe Flacco, who have won one Super Bowl each. Does that mean they were better players than Jim Kelly or Dan Marino, who never won a Super Bowl? Because these questions are not simple “Yes or No” questions, the students need to look beyond the surface and truly understand their topic so they can defend their work.

While this project will contain great opportunities for learning how to use technology, such as spreadsheets, it will also provide important learning about human interaction. Students will need to negotiate who is going to do what work and when it is due. They will need to learn how to hold each other accountable for the work they have committed to do. This project will contain successes, failures, and the opportunity to persist through those failures to accomplish the task as a group.

Posted in 2 Instruction, 5 Learning Environment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EDTC 6431 – Module 5 – Digital Citizenship

Students will:

  1. Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.
  2. Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity.
  3. Demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning.
  4. Exhibit leadership for digital citizenship

For me, the most challenging aspect of the discussion about Digital Citizenship is that we are being forced to have this conversation. The creation of new technological structures creates situations that need to be addressed. For example, what if I, residing in Washington state, decide to make an online purchase from a seller located in Canada? Which country’s laws govern the transaction? What if the transaction is actually processed by an independent third-party located in Ireland, and the servers where the transaction is processed are housed in Spain? These are new issues that require a lot of analysis and will result in a fair amount of litigation and subsequent legislation.

Unfortunately, the majority of the discussions around Digital Citizenship are focused on areas of life that we, as a society, have already made decisions about. One of the most common topics that I hear discussed under the banner of Digital Citizenship is Cyberbullying. According to, the definition of cyber-bullying is, “bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includeds devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites” (United State Department of Health and Human Services). While bullying has been a problem for millennia, it was not until this time of widespread technological utilization that dealing with bullying has become an issue of paramount importance

Image courtesy of “A Tailored Suit



I believe there are three reasons for this. The first is that the digital universe has opened up a new range of opportunities for poor behavior. More importantly, just as the internet opened up new markets for commerce and new venues for media content, it also opened up new arenas for a new breed of bullies. People who would never dream of trying to physically intimidate or harm someone now had a sword to wield. Not only was this a big sword to swing, it could also be swung from behind a rather large shield. The anonymity provided by online and social media platforms meant an opponent could be attacked from out of sight and at no risk.

The second reason is that the internet never forgets. In the old days, bullies targeted their victims in ways that were very hard to document. But in the digital arena, there is always documentation: text messages, tweets, social media postings, etc. Because bullying was hard to see in the past, we, as a society, said it was bad but mostly turned a blind eye to it. But not we are forced to face it. We can see what was said and done and there is no longer a way to deny it. Further to that point, when there is a dramatic outcome to bullying behavior, it can be broadcast widely for many people to see.

Finally, I think that deep down inside, technology dehumanizes us in ways we do not yet comprehend. Technology has allowed human experiences that might not otherwise be possible, such as visiting far-off places, either in person, or through photos and videos. However, anything that separates us from face-to-face contact increases the likelihood that we will not truly recognize the humanity of the person on the other side. I’ve seen social media exchanges that would not happen in face-to-face contact between people who see each other on a daily basis. Everything has a price and I am afraid one of the costs of technology is the loss of humanity.

My mentor teacher coaches a boys varsity sports team at the school. The team was playing today and the varsity boys were “dressed-up” for it. Several of the players had managed to get a necktie on, but many of them had done a poor job of executing the knot. I could have told them they need to work on their skills and directed them to watch a video on youTube. Instead, I took the time with each one of them to re-tie their necktie and discuss the things they need to consider when dressing-up, such as what kind of knot to use and how long the front of the tie should be.

At the end of the day, teaching is about relationships. Technology allows us the opportunity to do and experience things that would not be possible otherwise. It is important for us to remember not to put artificial barriers between us and our students just because we have a shiny new tool to use.

Works Cited

United State Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). What is Cyberbullying? Retrieved March 17, 2017, from

Posted in 1 Expectations | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EDTC 6431 – Module 4 – Designing Lessons That Use Critical Thinking

The ISTE standard for Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making include the following objectives:

Students will:

  1. Use technology to help identify and define problems for investigation.
  2. Plan and manage projects with the help of digital graphic organizers.
  3. Utilize technology to collect and analyze data, identify possible solutions, and make informed decisions.
  4. Explore and compare solutions with various technology tools.

Personalized Triggering Event Question:

How do we design assignments that require students to apply critical thinking to their planning and research of the assigned topic?

I believe the key to successfully creating lessons that require students to apply critical thinking skills to their work is to create a framework that trains them to do so. The article “Using Technology to develop students’ critical thinking skills,” does a nice job of laying out low-level and high-level critical thinking skills and the types of questions that goes along with them (Mansbach, 2015). The article “A creative thinking approach to enhancing the web-based problem solving performance of university students” goes further and lays out a framework for creative problem solving (Kuo, Chen, & Hwang, 2014). However, without instruction on how to work through this framework students will flounder.

We can tell students to get quality information from the web, use shared resources to analyze it, and use online collaboration tools to create written reports and presentations. In order for them to be successful at it, we need to show them how to do it. This begins with asking students to create a plan for how they are going to do the project they have been assigned. Once they have done this, the instructor will need to meet with them and review their plan with the critical eye they need to develop. An example of questions they would need to answer includes:

  • Do you have a list of jobs that need to be accomplished?
  • How will the work be managed?
  • How will you know if you are on track or getting off track?
  • What is the work product you are attempting to create?
  • Are your data sources valid and verifiable?
  • Do you have the tools to analyze this data?
  • Will the tools you have chosen to use allow you to collaborate in the fashion you expect?

If done correctly, students will begin to understand how much work needs to be done prior to even beginning to work on the product. Once they understand how to design and layout a project, they will be in a position to apply their skills to the project they have been assigned.

Works Cited

Kuo, F.-R., Chen, N.-S., & Hwang, G.-J. (2014). A creative thinking approach to enhancing the web-based problem. Computers & Education, 220-230. Retrieved from

Mansbach, J. (2015, September 14). Using Technology To Develop Students’ Critical Thinking Skills. Retrieved February 22, 2017, from Northwestern School of Professional Studies:

Posted in 2 Instruction | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

EDTC 6431 – Module 3 -Selecting Data Sources

The ISTE standard for Research and Information Fluency include the following objectives:

Students will:

  1. Define information fluency, and explain why it is important for learning.
  2. Identify strategies for guiding inquiry.
  3. Learn how to locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.
  4. Evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.
  5. Explain how technology can be used to help process data and report results.
  6. Discuss research related to the effectiveness of technology when used to aid learning.

Updated Triggering Event Question:

What are some data sources secondary math teachers can use to support their student learning about understanding and using data?

In the article Establishing Twenty-First-Century Information Fluency (Sharkey, 2013) the author quotes another paper that states that students have a need to, “…have the tools they need to synthesize, evaluate, and create information.” (Fisher & Frey, 2010). Students want to know what purpose Algebra and advanced mathematics will serve outside of the schoolhouse. These needs plays very well to math teachers because of the wealth of data that is now available. Within all that data are many stories waiting to be told if only someone would sort through it and look for them.

Because there is so much information available, students first need to learn how to decide what sources of information are valid to use. Governmental and regulatory agencies are a good starting point. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau ( publishes data related to demographics which can be used to identify changes in our society. The United States Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor and Statistics ( publishes data that students will have heard about, as they are commonly fodder for political debate. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics even publishes a micro-site ( directed towards use by students and educators. An organization that provides source data for the debate around global warming is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric

Sample from Bureau of Labor and Statistics micro-site.

Administration ( Another agency that provides
information about trends in our society is the Centers for Disease Control ( While there are other sources to find similar information, these sites are examples of original sources that are the basis for the discussions that happen in the public square.

Works Cited

Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2010). Preparing Students for Mastery of 21st Century Skills. 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn.

Sharkey, J. (2013). Establishing Twenty-First-Century Information Fluency. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 53(1), 33.



Posted in 5 Learning Environment | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

EDTC 6431 – Module 2

The ITSE Standard for Communication and Collaboration include the following objectives:

Students will:

  1. Identify digital tools that can be used to help them interact, collaborate, and publish.
  2. Determine which media and/or format options work best to communicate information and ideas effectively to different audiences.
  3. Use digital tools to enhance cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures.
  4. Utilize digital tools to contribute to small group projects, produce original works and solve problems.

As I was researching this topic, I can across a rather extensive list of products that are either free or allow free demonstration use. It is broken down into suggested products for K-5 teachers, middle school teachers, high school teachers, tutors, and special education
teachers. I will be working in the high school environment, so my commentary will be directed towards those products. As I read through the list, I selected a group of products that I thought would be most applicable and broke them down into four categories: Annotation, Collaboration, File Sharing, and Project Management. I see these four areas as being the critical aspects of a collaborative work environment that students would need to master.

In what will probably be a recurring theme in my writing for this class is that technological tools and solutions will only take us as far as our non-technological skills will take us. In order for students to use these tools effectively, we will need to teach them how to approach these tasks. What is the purpose of annotating a document you are reading as part of your research? What are best practices for organizing your research data and your in-progress work product? How do you effectively manage meeting so you can accomplish your goals? Do you even know what your goals are? What timelines do you need to meet? These are skills and knowledge you need to have before you can optimize use of these products.

As I was reading a classmates blog, I came across a comment that hit a nerve in a surprisingly strong way. One of the referenced articles discusses a benefit of video conferencing is the ability to, “Leave no students out.” While that has the potential to be true, it is predicated on strong functional planning.

I once worked as a product manager for an auto insurance company that was, “born on the internet.” The home office was in the Bay Area of California and the product managers were housed in the regional office near Sacramento. There were other field offices across the country and we were connected by a video conferencing system. One of my interviews was conducted with a C-level executive via the video system as he was in the South Dakota field office that day. However, the video conferencing system was unable to overcome the faulty placement of staff. The product manager coordinates with actuarial, marketing, and claims staff. Because the actuarial, marketing, and claims analysts were located at the home office, the product managers were consistently excluded from the impromptu, informal discussion that happen in the hallway, break room, and around the water cooler. No amount of technology could overcome this problem.

In order to teach student how to communicate and collaborate via technology, we need to make sure we spend the necessary energy to make sure they know how to use technology, not just how to operate it.

Posted in 5 Learning Environment | Tagged , , | Leave a comment