How do you inspire PQ and CQ in your work?

Thomas Friedman wrote, in an op-ed column for the New York Times, that to be successful in a digitally-savvy job market, one must “leverage all the new digital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime” (Friedman, 2013). He argues that we should be honing the PQ (passion quotient) and CQ (curiosity quotient) of our students, perhaps more than their IQ.

As teachers, it is our duty to prepare our students for futures such as these–where job roles are defined as they go, and where every day is spent proving the worth of your job being carrier out by you as opposed to some competitive hardware or software.

In the final week of one of my graduate courses, CEP 812, I was asked to create an artifact that demonstrates how I bring passion and curiosity to my work, and how it use technologies to instill passion and curiosity in my students. Click here to see my artifact on Padlet.




Friedman, T.L. (2013, January 29). It’s PQ and CQ as much as IQ. The New York Times. Retrieved from


Reflecting on Learning Experiences in CEP 810

Too many teachers write off the use of technology in the classroom as more of a cultural fad than a pedagogical advantage.  While there is some truth to the cliche of tech as a trend, there is so much more evidence to prove its impact in the classroom.

In CEP 810, I have truly come to understand what it means to use technology purposefully.  Through the Networked Learning Project, I discovered the power of utilizing the Internet as a tool for accessing knowledge to facilitate learning.  Because of what I learned about learning through this project, I plan to adapt this project (with credit to MAET, of course) to my curriculum to engage my students in classroom instruction this fall (for example, by prompting students to “teach themselves how to write effectively using only YouTube and Help Forums in five weeks”).  I couldn’t be more excited for the potential this will have to engage my students in meaningful tasks in my classroom!

The TPACK framework for integrating technology, something else that we studied in this class, has become a pedagogical bible to me–something I always consult prior to teaching a lesson.  Having had a course with Punya Mishra this past fall, I really got the chance to dig into TPACK and engage in some deep play with the model.  However, in this course, I feel like I got to take that learning one step further through thinking about repurposing tools for everyday tasks through the Cooking With TPACK activity.  One of the big questions that I was left with after compleing this activity was, “why doesn’t everybody use this?”  This is a question I still don’t have any answers to.

My teaching has been transformed because I have been transformed as a teacher and thinker by the course.  My passion for working with other teachers to enhance their classroom instruction has only grown since I began this course–the difference is that, now, I am equipped with all of the tools and strategies that I need to help turn my school into an authentic learning center of technology integration; for that, I couldn’t be more thankful.


Rethinking Innovative Assessment and Evaluation Through Making: A Reflection

As we can see from a review of Grant Wiggins’ creativity rubric, we know that dynamic assessment is rooted in creativity.  Though it is easy to ignore, it has become clearer than ever to me that the root of the word “creativity” is the heart of its true meaning: to “create” is to be “creative.”  While the connotation we perceive to be synonymous with creativity is often novelty, we forget sometimes that the source of novelty comes through creation.  What novelty, or creation, can we expect our students to innovate in our classrooms if they are never afforded the opportunity?  The answer is quite simple: nothing.

Imagine a day in a classroom where the lesson begins and ends with textbook-drilling, of reading prompts, or math problems.  Unfortunately, this type of teaching is still a real problem, and it is taking place in classrooms across the world.  Our culture has always assessed its citizens’ worth based upon their contributions to society.  Why have our classrooms not evolved to reflect that?  This is a concept that Richard Culatta discusses in his TED Talk, “Reimagining Learning.”  This proves that the best strategy for classroom assessment is demonstrated mastery through creation.

The question most employers ask in interviews is no longer “what do you know?”  It has evolved to ask, “what uniquity can you bring to us that will make us better?”  Are we sure, then, that we are preparing our students to be “college and career ready?”  Maybe, but only in the classrooms that are actually having students create novelties, novelly, that advance or transform our industry and our world as a whole.

This understanding emphasizes the utter importance of the Maker Movement–the focus of the CEP 811 course, “ at Michigan State University.  This semester, I created a MOOC that could be used to give teachers professional learning experiences in Educational Technology.  Additionally, teachers and students around the world are using Maker Kits to innovate in classrooms.  I was fortunate enough to be able to use a 3D Printer in my graduate work this semester, to design a lesson plan that I could not have created without the power of the mind to create the sundial I needed to make the lesson successful.  This sundial elevated student learning experiences because it brought a symbol into the classroom for analysis that was not at all readily available.  By using Makerware, as soon as I thought it, it became real.  What potential these tools have for our classrooms!

One of the best pedagogical strategies for assessing students by “making” is Project-Based Learning.  If students are presented with a problem that they need to solve, maker software provides them with opportunities to develop novel and effective solutions to real-world problems.  This takes our education, domestically, to the next level.  I use PBL in my classroom, but since taking this course, I have realized the value and potential of interweaving making and PBL.

My experiences in the MAET so far have reinforced my understanding that assessment should also be based upon growth, and not necessarily on performance.  As I have progressed through the MAET Certificate courses, I have told myself that I want to walk away, somehow, changed by my experiences.  I know that I have progressed because, though I thought myself to be very proficient at technology integration and immersion prior to taking these courses, I now deeply understand the cognitive pedagogical strategies for why technology is such an incredible tool to improve student learning.  That is a rare gift in the study of Educational Technology, and I fully believe that studying at Michigan State University gave me that opportunity.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to study the Maker Movement so extensively. I cannot wait to see what the outcomes will be as I implement the Maker ideology when I return to my classroom in the fall!


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

Joyce, Matt. (2013). hackrf at makerfaire | Flickr – Photo Sharing!. Retrieved 25 June 2014, from

Wiggins, G. (2012). On assessing for creativity: yes you can, and yes you should.Granted, and… Retrieved from

Introducing the FUSE Learning Model

Over the course of the past several weeks, I have spent some time thinking about a big question: in what ways can we limit direct instructional time to allow for more focus on student-centered learning?

In CEP 812 at Michigan State University, we call this a wicked problem–“wicked” because, though there are several potential solutions, there is no cut-and-dried answer.  Problems like this one “require the search for new tools and new uses of old ones. And they require knowing when to stop asking one question and start asking a better one” (Gee, 2013, p. 144).

Along with a group of peers in CEP 812, I have collaboratively developed a solution to this problem: the F.U.S.E. Learning Model.  The F.U.S.E. Learning Model stands for Facilitated, Unrestricted, self-paced blended learning models in a Student-centered learning Environment.  This model is the byproduct of extensive research on existing blended learning models, the TPACK Framework, James Paul Gee’s The Anti-Education Era, and our own novel thoughts and ideas.

To see the curation of the project’s efforts, including a white paper, video mashup, and graphic representation, and learn exactly how we propose our F.U.S.E. Model as an effective and efficient solution to the taxing problem of limitations on classroom instructional time, please click here.

Additionally, any feedback, thoughts or questions are welcomed and appreciated–please share this post with your PLN, and leave comments on this post below!



Gee, J.P.  (2013).  The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students through Digital Learning. New York, New York:  Palgrave Macmillan.

Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge?  Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70. Retrieved June 19, 2014 from

Revising Traditional Curriculum Using Universal Design for Learning

A few weeks ago, I completed a lesson plan that utilized a sundial that I created using Makerware software and printed with a Makerbot 3D Printer.  After some study and research, I am revisiting that lesson plan this week with an important framework in mind: Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Please watch the following video clip from CAST to learn more about UDL:

Below, I have embedded my lesson plan.  Written in red are the specific modifications I made to my lesson that help align it to UDL.

The first thing that I realized after aligning my lesson plan to the CORE activity was that my lesson was exclusive of so many types of students.  Typically, I pride myself on my inclusivity and differentiation in my lessons. One of the hallmark elements of the Project-Based Learning framework is “Voice and Choice.”  I deliberately spent time trying to design a lesson that gave students great amounts of choice.  While I still feel like I accomplish this through the “show and tell” project, there were many gaps in the lesson’s inclusiveness prior to my revision.

Another thing that I am ashamed to admit I forgot to consider was students’ prior knowledge of the sundial.  Many students in my classroom have never seen The Lion King, a staple of my childhood.  Many more still were not alive to experience the trauma of 9/11.  Who am I to assume, then, that every student is going to be familiar with a sundial and its purpose?  I introduce the sundial at the very beginning of the lesson, now, through a video that both explains the sundial and its technical elements, and that describes its ulterior purpose.  Being introduced to the sundial and analyzing it and then analyzing an object of their own scaffolds the levels of support for practice and fluency.

Still yet, student collaboration and communication was enhanced by an application of the principles of Universal Design.  Prior to the lesson’s revision, I had not planned for any opportunities for feedback or active engagement/interaction between the students.  Even worse, I had not listed any tools for communication between students and the teacher.  Though I use these every day in my classroom–I just assumed coming from my context that the need for a Learning Management System would be implied.  To remedy this issue, I introduced the element of peer feedback on the project.  This feedback would be exchanged via Google Hangouts, and asynchronously, through Edmodo or a Google+ Community.

To encourage student reflection, I also added a reflective element following the presentation to evaluate oneself on their perceived strengths and weaknesses.  In this manner, students are motivated to hold themselves to a higher level of accountability because they must reflect upon and justify their own contributions.

For blended learning contexts, the implementation of this model is even more imperative than in standard settings because of the string of benefits students can gain through the model while working at a self-paced rate.  These include visual and auditory alternatives, access to translation tools, opportunities for information transfer, multimodal tools for communication, construction and composition, goal setting, resource management, progress monitoring, choice and autonomy, awareness of importance, and opportunities for collaboration and critical thinking with peers.

The implications for the application of the Universal Design for Learning framework are all positive.  As I mention above, it is so simple to become so confident in our lessons (as I did) that we forget which students we may be leaving behind.  Though we may not teach these students each semester, we do need to be cognizant of the fact that these enhancements are necessary for more students than we may realize.


CAST. (2009). CAST: About UDL. Retrieved 20 June 2014, from

CAST. (2010). UDL At A Glance. Retrieved 22 June 2014, from

Cooking With TPACK: Fruit Salad Edition

In an epic battle that will go down in history, I entered the kitchen this week with one clear mission: to prove that general kitchen tools actually have a lot to teach us about our classroom pedagogies.


Three kitchen tools.

Two (successful)  fruits.

One kitchen.


Don’t believe me?  Banish your misconceptions, and be enlightened.  Watch the once-in-a-lifetime showdown below:

This week, one of my graduate courses at Michigan State University put me in foreign territory: the kitchen.  Though I consider myself to be at least proficient at the preparation of food, since getting married to my wonderful wife, that part of my brain has developed atrophy.  At the risk of creating a disaster, I entered the wild with one task: take three randomly selected kitchen tools–a plate, a bowl, and a utensil–from a friend or family member (in this case, it was my wife) and complete one of five random kitchen tasks using those tools.  Out of a hat, I drew the number three, shaming me into creating a fruit salad using a pizza cutter.

At the beginning of the video, I try to split the apple in half, but can’t cut through the apple core with a pizza cutter.  The solution was to use the pizza cutter to create apple slices, straight out of the whole apple.  I liked this repurposed method for cutting apples so much, I may never use a regular knife to cut an apple again.

The metal guard that I reference as a “divot”–there’s my North Carolina slang, for you :)–makes an excellent tool for prying the slices out of the apple cleanly.  I’d say that this method cuts down on time necessary for standard apple slicing by at least half (if you don’t have an apple slicer/corer, of course).  Just don’t cut your fingers off, like I almost did.

The war was on, and I fought valiantly, but at the end, I ran into some complications with the grapes.  I found that trying to cut the grapes, the pizza cutter just “mushed” the grapes.

Grapes: 1

Pizza Cutter/Me: 0

In reflection (as I discuss in the video), maybe they actually didn’t need to be chopped at all–just because you have the option of repurposing a tool for a task, doesn’t mean that it is the best decision in every situation–sometimes, you may not need the tool at all (this is not always the case, but the grape incident reminded me of this).

The big takeaway from this activity is to come to an understanding of the various ways that we can use the TPACK framework (more on that here) to manipulate and repurpose existing technologies to enhance our curriculum (to tack on yet another Southern euphemism, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat).  Importantly, we should also walk away reminded that technologies should not be misused in the classroom–for example, digitizing a handout is not proficient technology integration, but turning the activity that would have been a handout into an interactive webquest is a better idea.

Please leave comments and let me know what you thought of this fight to the death!


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

A Reflection on the #MAET EdCamp Experience

Recently, some of my colleagues from Michigan State University’s Master of Arts in Educational Technology and I engaged in an EdCamp unconference.  This unconference brought together a group of experienced technology integrators with no expectations except to learn more about using instructional technologies to enhance curriculum.

To bring you up to speed, in the video below, Kristen Swanson explains the EdCamp Initiative–which she founded in May of 2010.  The talk that Kristen gives here really explains the values and purpose that EdCamps embody, and helped to remind me why we do these in the first place.  Please take a few minutes to view.

In this experience, I really enjoyed being able to learn from my colleagues in a manner that was different from what I was accustomed to.  I had the opportunity to learn about things relevant to their own curriculum and context (one of my colleagues presented on integrating technologies that enhance foreign language teaching).  One thing that bothered me about it was the technological difficulties that we encountered in the Google Hangout medium; however, there really is not much that can be done to change it.

The “unconference” style of presenting is ideal because expectations are not imposed.  Point blank, everyone comes to learn and never knows how they will be changed–but they always leave motivated to spread their learnings and their new-found positivity in their own contexts.  It has revolutionized professional learning as we know it, and will continue to contribute to the evolution of these crucial learning experiences.

The EdCamp movement is broad-based.  In a globalized age of connectivity, where ideas are no longer isolated or individual, but collaborative and novel, people can learn more and have better ideas when they are surrounded by people who do not share the same experiences.  I have been fortunate, in my time as an educator to this point, to be surrounded by a PLN that stretches the globe with a wealth of diversity and experience–my peers, colleagues and professors at Michigan State University are some of the most incredible educators whom I have ever met.

I am so thankful that I was gifted the opportunity in my career to learn from and with these incredibly people–especially in this context.  Most importantly, I am now able to take the unconference idea, and the professional learning experiences that I have been a part of, back to my own context to share with my colleagues to reshape professional learning in North Carolina as I know it.

This fall, a colleague and I are organizing an EdCamp.  While I hesitate to publicize it on this blog before all elements are set in stone to make it possible, this EdCamp will impact (hopefully) more than a thousand people.  The incredible thing about the EdCamp experience is that it can bring so many powerful minds together, and enlighten so many different people with a diversity of ideas and experiences, but requires minimal planning.

This experience has helped me to understand what it means to be a part of something bigger than myself.  Participating in an online EdCamp helped me to conceptualize the structure of a physical versus digital EdCamp.  As far as planning goes, first, location is key.  You have to have a location that can welcome a large group of people (and, in true unconference style, you may not know how many people to expect until they start showing up).  If the EdCamp is online, this issue is virtually non-existent–the only issue is creating a virtual space with links to “rooms” for everyone to join and leave as they please.  Another issue is making sure that the EdCamp is well-advertised.  With the EdCamp initiative growing exponentially across the globe, and the connectedness of educators expanding across boundaries through Digital PLNs, there are more opportunities than ever to advertise and get people hooked on a collaborative unconference, no matter what the context.

Finally: you can’t do it yourself.  As we planned and executed this online EdCamp, we all had to put in equal efforts to make the EdCamp successful–this goes from planning who would host the Google Hangout rooms, to planning and successfully presenting quality sessions on topics that we could all benefit from as technologically-proficient educators.  This experience got my blood pumping, and I cannot wait to see what impact this EdCamp will have on the planning and success of our EdCamp this fall!


Swanson, Kristen. (2011). TEDxPhiladelphiaED – Kristen Swanson – EdCamp. Retrieved 18 June 2014, from