Monthly Archives: May 2016

Week 3: Essential Question: To what extent should we allow students to figure things out for themselves?

Week Three—Summer 2016

UAS Robotics Initial Post

By Aleta May


In order for teachers to find that just right level / skill or area of focus for students, the teacher needs to be an observer. By closely observing how students approach learning, the teacher goes beyond testing the student in order to find their instructional level in basic academic skills. When students work on a project that involves using tools and materials to construct something, they are “making thinking visible, or making private thinking public” (Libow-Martinez & Stager, 2013, p. 43). Students need to be given the chance to struggle, but in a safe environment and on something they are motivated to learn. By a safe environment, I mean an environment where mistakes or errors are opportunities to learn, where students collaborate to help each other and they are taught ways to help each other without taking over and constructive ways to ask for or offer help or advice.

The role of the teacher in a constructivist, learning environment is to “provide guiding questions that stops short of telling students everything they need to know to solve a problem” (Seeley, 2009, p. 2). An example of what not to do is have “students memorize the vocabulary words that go along with the scientific method” (Libow-Martinez & Stager, pp. 44-45) and explicitly teach the scientific method before students have a chance to do what real scientists do—which is to tinker, “make mistakes, re-think, start over, argue, sleep on it, collaborate, and have a cup of tea” (Libow-Martinez & Stager, p. 45). Otherwise, we are communicating to students that to solve problems in science, a set of fixed steps need to be followed and a solution is found.

I like the analogy the authors gave of how it would look to teach music in a step by step how to do music way; teaching music theory before students have hear music or even tried to play it would really only maintain the attention of students who have been taught that their job is to listen, do the worksheets, and to not question the all knowing teacher. Rather, a better way is to use a method called Rainbow Tones (a method written by a college professor in Oregon—Mr. Lyons) where students have a violin, thin tape to mark the frets, one color assigned to each string, and start them out using what the know (i.e., letters of the alphabet and basic counting) for reading music. This way they can experience playing simple music with the back up players standing behind them playing the more advanced parts simultaneously, without first having to read notes on a scale. That comes at a later time, gradually.

two kids playing the violin

single violin player

(see references for image links)

Libow-Martinez & Stager (2013) I think summarize this issue on page 51 when they say that checklists, imposed design cycle diagrams and other prescriptive ways of teaching may actually deter students from taking risks. This is where the art of teaching comes in. We as educators are learning from our experiences and adding to them as well. Yes, it is important to provide such tools, but maybe timing is what is most important; as well as considering whether the whole diagram, checklist, should be given all at once. Maybe the scientific method could be discussed as to whether it should be rearranged, or a part removed for certain experiments.

Since allowing students to figure things out for themselves is actually along a sliding scale according to what they already know, there has been a lot of thought into what this means for different students. I found an article where teacher trainers found themes for constructivist thinking and then put together their lists of metaphors to describe these themes. I chose to share Themes 2, 3, and 10 in this writing, because they really communicated to me in a way I could visualize. By the way, it looks like these teacher trainers were constructing learning about their thinking.

Themes in a constructivist approach to education with metaphors:

Fifty-three teacher trainers came up with 23 metaphors for this theme:

Theme 2: An education that constitutes a whole by constructing new knowledge from prior knowledge. Metaphors: tree, moon, puzzle, going to the mountain, democracy, sieve, factory, sun, daily newspaper, lace making, inspiration, person, construction, chaos, bridge, lego” (Gunay & Yucel-Toy, 2015, p. 57).

Theme 3: An education that guides student to discover and ‘learn how to learn’ (Gunay & Yucel-Toy),” Here is a definition one of the teacher trainers came up with for this theme:

“Every student is a construction worker, every teacher is an engineer. . .Workers constructing buildings’” (Gunay & Yucel-Toy, p. 57).

In summary, the idea is that students learn how to ask questions and are then facilitated to learn about how they learn and how to take these questions towards a discovery of new knowledge.

Here are some metaphors gathered from the group for this theme: “inclination, mirror, independence, garden, fishing, understanding of teaching, banking, puzzle, cultivating a rose from a bush, anchor, flower, sea, birth, ship, sculptor, light, construction, scout camp, sand dune, laboratory, lego, luxury car, origami, game, student-centered education, pilot flame, compass, sponge, theatre, jigsaw puzzle, guide, journey, cognitive process” (Gunay & Yucel-Toy, p. 57).

“Theme 10: An education in which learning process differs from person to person” “(Knowledge) differs from person to person just as one’s taste in art” (Gunay & Yucel-Toy, p. 60).

In the article by Tovia Smith (2014), a very important point was made about how teachers need to “resist the urge to swoop in and offer hints . . . let students squirm a little through an awkward silence” (p. 4). Students do not always need to remain in their comfort zone, or what has been deemed to be their specific area(s) of intelligence. They quoted Carol Dweck’s “growth mindset” to point to the fact that learning comes from effort, vs. a “fixed mindset” that says we are born with certain intelligences or talents. When I read this, I thought about how important the role of the environment is on students. There is the school environment in which the student participates almost daily; and there is the home environment where certain talents, leanings, and ways of being are emphasized. The way we do things in one home is not necessarily the way my close friends do things in their home.

For me personally, I grew up in a home where my step dad played guitar and sang in a band and practiced at hom. My parents guided me to join band when I was in elementary school, and orchestra when I was in middle school. Many homes emphasize sports. Some home environments may emphasize gardening, canning, creating, while other homes may emphasize gaming. Though each of our students have natural inclinations, they are strongly influenced by their environments as well. Our job as educators is really to encourage them to step out there and try, encourage, and provide a setting based on what we know about our students that gives them the tools they need to do so.


Gunay, R. Yucel-Toy, B. (2015). Metaphorical analysis of teacher trainer’s conceptualization of constructivist education. International Online Journal of Educational Sciences (IOJES), 7(4), 51-68.

Libow-Martinez, Sylvia (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press

Lyon, L. A. & Blair, R. (2006). Modern Music Methods. Rainbow tones book I. Retrieved on May 31, 2016 at

Seely, C. I. (2009). Message 17: Constructive struggling, The value of challenging our students. In Faster Isn’t Smarter. Math Solutions. pp. 1-3

Smith, T. (2014, 17March). Does teaching kids to get ‘gritty’ help them get ahead?

References for Images:

Single violin player. Retrieved on 5-31-16 at:

Two kids playing violins. Retrieved on 5-31-16 at:


Reflection for Week 2: Essential Question: What is the link between “tinkering,” “hard play,” and the “growth mindset”?

EDET677 Mechanical Applications of Technologies

Reflection for Week 2

by Aleta May

I think my favorite reading this week was a chart created by Carol Dweck called “How to Encourage Students” where there is a compare and contract list of statements of what to say and what not to say to students to encourage a Growth Mindset vs. a Fixed Mindset. I placed this chart into my post and I intend to put this list on my wall at school. The comments we make are so very important when it comes to the influence we have on our students! Carol also emphasized the phrase “not yet” as a way to promote the Growth Mindset to our students; for example, you received a failing grade, but you can still bring this to a passing grade—just “not yet.”

Another important emphasis I picked up on was from Popova, 2014) when I read that we need to remember not to think of our qualities, not even our personalities, are carved in stone. Although some people may have certain traits or inclinations like persistence, skills in the arts, academics, construction, and more, this does not mean that individuals who want to grow cannot grow in areas they are motivated to learn and get good at. One example I can think of is how my granddaughter is very good with animals; relating to them, caring for them, training them, reading their needs. However, we have another soon to be granddaughter who has been built up so much for similar traits and interests that she gets a lot more attention for this. Sometimes it is true that a person’s interest change over time, but they have a label placed on them that says, “You are this or that.” We need to allow our students, our children, our grandchildren the freedom to try new things and encourage them not to give up on something they are motivated to get better at just because someone they know is “presently better” at that thing than they are. Teaching students that failure is an opportunity to grow, time is our friend, and that we get what we pay attention to over time requires a growth mindset. By the way, we don’t all need to become superstars at our area(s) of interest!

It is also so important to remember not to overload students. We can do this by giving them too much information up front, but not enough chances to practice and apply along the way. We can also create a stressful environment by expecting fruitless reiterations of the same concept when it simply does not make sense until the student(s) have had a chance to see that concept applied and /or try it themselves while revisiting that concept either along the way or after the project / application. Peer-to-peer learning and discussion helps here.

Below are the responses I made to blog posts on WordPress this week. Reading their posts and responding helped me to move these concepts of tinkering, hard play and the growth mindset from my working memory to my long-term memory. I know this as I was thinking of these while riding in the car today, when previous to this week, these words / concepts did not have the same meaning to me at all. Catherine inspired me to build a visual conception of Constructionism Learning Theory in an online mind map:,-6.7,2

Hi Amy,

You ask an excellent question which prompted me to think about this: “How, then, do we help students be open to challenges and accept that they have not failed but simply have yet to master a concept?”

Sometimes when I work with students who have had a history of giving up in class because the curriculum was so difficult for them, they began to believe they could not read. Much time is spent on my part making sure they realize they can learn to read. By the time they are a certain age, students have also developed habits of not trying, so they do require extra breaks just to build up working stamina. I also vary the reading as much as possible and break it up with video clips to show more about what they are reading and pull them in.

When you spoke about adding an art project in, this reminds me that this is worth the time to help students visualize what they are learning—their way of writing a summary. Some drawings they produce are quite elaborate.

I remember sitting in the sand with my daughters just to think about what to create. At other times, it was using wood blocks or big Legos. Sometimes I would just get them started, then slowly back away and watch them build and talk about building together. They would go outside and use their imaginations with just about any objects. As they grew older, we handed a video camera to them and they began to produce their own choreography. They reviewed, edited, and re-filmed segments. They knew how to use that video camera better than I did just from all the tinkering they did while creating movie productions. At one point, my husband and I encouraged new teachers to use the school video camera. The high school students came up with a weekly school news report.

When we allow students guided and facilitated freedom to learn, they are ready to laugh at mistakes and try again: the Growth Mindset.

Hi Genevieve,

It is so true that students need to “try out” their learning in order to keep them engaged and motivated. I have never been able to teach without clarifying the district’s curriculum by supplementing it with ways to try out or relate to what they are learning–you made a good point about the curriculum being only part of the way we teach our students.


Side Note: I thought I posted this yesterday, but it didn’t go through for some reason.

MAY 29, 2016 AT 2:37 AM

Your comment is awaiting moderation.


Hi Catherine,

It is easy to visualize your Venn diagram from the very descriptive details you gave in your post! I understand the connections between tinkering, hard play, and the growth mindset better after reading your post.

I created a MindNode from what you wrote, though I’m not sure how to make it overlapping the way you described.,-6.7,2

Image of Robotic Hand :


Week 2 Reflection: Essential question: What do you see as the promise of Open Learning as an emerging technology/pedagogy/philosophy?

Emerging Technologies EDET 693

Week 2 Reflection

by Aleta May

In this reflection, I have gone through the microblog, Twitter, to read the questions the hosts from my class posted for discussion. The answers that classmates gave gave me a much broader view of what open education resources (OER) and the idea of how Open Learning applies to classrooms in Alaska today. Also, I got a better understanding of where we as educators need to go from here. There was discussion that included all grade levels; from primary up. Another issue that struck me in this discussion was how someone had the same concern I had about student identity on the social media with regards to foster kids. When someone came by to look at our school’s day-to-day flow, then quickly tried to get my “borrowed” first graders to pose for a picture on his iPhone, I stopped him for this very reason. Some of our students have been temporarily placed in homes within our village or may be in the village to remain out of view of a parent who has a restraining order on them. Sure enough, there were not parent signatures gathered on waivers for students prior to this person coming by. Although I apparently created an embarrassing situation for the site administrator, I’m glad I stopped that, and that incident happened while I was enrolled in an Ethics for Technology class. My point is that security for our students is a much bigger issue than we may realize in the glamour of the “picture taking or filming.” By going through each question and the answers, I had an opportunity to really think about what had been discussed more deeply.

By reading some of the posts from WordPress, macroblogging, I understood from the flow of short essays how OERs involve many components, as does utilizing Open Learning choices such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) or resources like Khan Academy for math that fall somewhere between. After reading Brian’s blog, my attention became very focused on how I too have used what I would call a subscription, closed, massive program to help me create a blended learning environment that was consistent and individualized; such as DreamBox math and Lexia Core 5 Reading. Sara’s post had video clips, and one in particular reminded me of the high school I attended in Anchorage when it first opened its doors—with staircases going from floor to floor and each floor color coded according to vocational or subject area. I spent a lot of time on the blue floor, taking business classes. This is an awesome memory for me.

As I wrote my own short essay on my WordPress Blog, I thought about the many aspects of OERs, including Creative Commons (CC) licenses at different levels. It is difficult not to consider both sides of the issue of sharing resources—the one writing and the one using. I think that sharing resources online is better than sharing in a single school building, because when a teacher shares, they are more likely to connect with others who are willing to share as well. A similar place for this type of sharing is on Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) where valuable resources are uploaded on this site in a very cost effective manner:

This week I gained understanding through reading assigned text, focusing that reading by adding to it with my own text, blogging on WordPress, and carefully going over the Twitter Session script from this week. One goal I have worked on is adding YouTube links or pictures to my blogs to make them more attractive/inviting for readers to visit my blog site.

Twitter Session Transcriptions from co-hosts Sara Lucas @lucassara12    and   Jessica Marks @edtech133

Sara L. Q. 1: How would you define open learning in education?

Sarah       A. 1: learning independently or with a group using open education resources.

Laura        A 1: open learning is where education is available for free to anyone who wants to use it, like Khan Academy

Genevieve A1: Constructivism

Tricia         A1: Open Learning—Available to everyone

Kayla         A1: self-directed, independent, interest guided learning using open education resources

Sara L.        A1: for me I think of the open aspect. Anyone can access and use it

Jessica       A1: Going off of what Kayla said, self directed and independent leads to critical thinking, and savvy use of technology

Kayla       A1: totally constructivist in nature! also this emerging idea of connectivism too!


Sara L.     Q2: Why is open learning important in this day and age? What are the pitfalls of not embracing it?

Sarah        A2: information changes so quickly that textbooks are outdated as soon as they are printed; and open learning allows students and teachers to adapt to the constant changing of info; plus it fits so well with constructivism which is gaining a lot of traction right now

Kayla       A2: I think it helps students to connect their out of school lives with their in school lives . . . helping them to see relevance; it also sets our students up to be successful and learn how to connect with others and ideas across the world

Laura       A2: anyone can access it, students can be directed to more self paced and interest based; another advantage-anyone can learn outside of school. Duolingo-free language learning it, AMAZING

Jessica     A2: we are a global society, what happens on the other side of the world effects us here. I agree SL. They are going to encounter it. Best teach them how.

Genevieve A2: Technology, innovation, collaboration. All these things make open learning relevant

Sara L.         A2: I definitely think connection is huge, and we need to teach kids how to interact with the outside world

Jessica Marks Q3: What are some barriers to the adoption of open learning in education?

Kayla         A3: We need to update/design new policies to reflect this emerging practice; limited research on use in the K12 setting

Lee             A3: ownership is a big one I think

Sarah         A3: lack of technology available at school or lack of Internet at home

Laura         A3: disadva-I get worried that all this tech takes away from one-2-one contact. a mixture of collab in real world class very import   Sara L. A3: This is so true and exactly what I was going to comment

Genevieve   A3: Not knowing how to use, fear in failure

Jessica         A3: I know for myself, I would not need pd. I would be uncomfortable with it until taught well; Teachers feeling like they have no control over the content their students are accessing

Tricia           A3: Being able to ensure parents that their kids are safe on the Internet

Laura           A3: issues with assessment if no teacher tracking tool is available

Sara Lucas Q4: What are the cognitive benefits of this pedagogy of open learning?

Sarah           A4: it teaches students how to learn instead of just content knowledge and creates lifelong learners

Kayla           A4: students engage in more critical thinking—they are building their knowledge; there are different literacy skills needed to engage in this kind of learning. skills they will use outside of school. Tricia– I see. That makes a lot of sense; 21st Century Skills

Jessica          A4: there is a possibility, if done correctly, of collaboration

Tricia           A4: Since students can learn whatever they want, they are more engaged in the topic and ideally, gain more in-depth knowledge.

Laura           A4: benefits=anything you want to learn at your fingertips, also teaches typing and tech in order to find info, online collab

Tricia           A4: Collaboration with whom?

Jessica Q5: Why is blended learning the “easier to grasp” open learning technique in the K-12 setting?

Lee adds to question: does open learning mean no tchr involvement?

Laura       A5: I know parents that think open learning sounds like a free for all, blended learning is a safer word, at least for now w/my sch

Lee: so more teacher centered than ss centered?

Sara L.     A5: Correct! The teacher chooses more of the material. In open the student chooses their path more freely

Jessica Marks Q6: How does educational policy need to be changed to help facilitate a shift to open learning?

Sarah       A6: policy needs to better support a constructivist pedagogy. Less emphasis on test, test, test, more on how students learn

Jessica      A6: Policy would have to change from the district level, to the school, to the classroom

Lee         A6: teachers must be freed to create curriculum

Lee         A6: but so much professional learning takes place on twitter – open means any expert can walk in and participate

Sara L. Q7: Do you think open learning could be used in your classes? If so, how?

Sarah       A7: Yes! I’m going to try google classroom next year and I think that will be a good start getting students to collaborate; I would love to have students do chem chats on Twitter, too

Laura       A7: For sure! I have used Khan Academy for my older students, even for practice for SAT I would like to work a few more in

Tricia         A7: As a new foster parent, I’m pretty paranoid of my children’s identity being broadcast on the Internet. They are also my ss.

Sara L.       A7: I’ve thought about having students post projects for peer feedback

Kayla         A7: can we start simple with the Primary st? Maybe something with pen pals across the country/world and online resource Lee could partner with others using a walled garden like edublohs

Tricia         A7: I’m trying to determine how to deal with Internet use @ school. How to protect their identity & stay within the law

Sara L. This is something we will definitely have to be careful of as educators. Use anonymous usernames

Jessica Q8: Rate from 1-I have the idea to 10-I already use it or want to use it now. How do you feel about using open learning?

Lee: yes we have to think about it in degrees. . .from oer to open creation of content; getting on Twitter is an all the way out solution. There are many degrees before that. With young kids – mystery skype –distance speakers – watching content video for experiential supplement – lots of degrees; so its just constructivism on steroids, (or a microprocessor) really; though without a doubt tech brings many more dimensions to open learning

Sara L. Q. 1: How would you define open learning in education?

Sara L.     Q2: Why is open learning important in this day and age? What are the pitfalls of not embracing it?

Jessica Marks Q3: What are some barriers to the adoption of open learning in education?

Sara Lucas Q4: What are the cognitive benefits of this pedagogy of open learning?

Jessica Q5: Why is blended learning the “easier to grasp” open learning technique in the K-12 setting?

Jessica Marks Q6: How does educational policy need to be changed to help facilitate a shift to open learning?

Sara L. Q7: Do you think open learning could be used in your classes? If so, how?

Jessica Q8: Rate from 1-I have the idea to 10-I already use it or want to use it now. How do you feel about using open learning?

Following are my replies to some very awesome blog posts for week two:


From video one, these comments stood out for me:

Open Education Game Changer: user created content that’s happening outside the usual channels. Being able to teach students where their needs are. Open education allows teachers to take a class that is already made, and change it to meet their own needs. Connect students where they are and where they are going. As a teacher you are part of a network of teachers.

From the second video, I wanted to be in a building like that! I read in an article about some rooms having glass walls. Maybe some areas need this; I think the psychology class activities may need auditory privacy from other learning environments. There are big open areas—so students will need to focus by having a teacher keep the students on specific tasks. Teachers and students keep the noise at a minimum by doing a lot of their talking over the Internet.

I do have experience with open areas as a kid. This became very popular and I attended an elementary school that had very large open spaces. We need to be careful with design, and plan well. For example, one of the first things many teachers did was to close the thin wall dividers. In the village school where I teach, one classroom is between two rooms where they clearly hear the activities going on in the rooms on either side—and this has not worked well with our current ways of teaching.

One thing I think we really need in school design is well-planned ways to recharge electronic equipment without having to use carts all the time. Also, the seating arrangements need to be flexible, so floor outlets and portable / stackable student furniture is so important. Students with tables and chairs for desks can rearrange into a variety of collaborative arrangements as the project demands. Awesome science labs with experimental areas that include solarium style areas for growing plants—natural biology—aligned with stand-up style computer tables for groups to create charts, graphs, organizers online about what they are learning would be a great design as well. If we plan for well-equipped rooms, it is easier for teachers to be portable, so quiet areas may be shared.

Hi Genevieve,

It is so true that students need to “try out” their learning in order to keep them engaged and motivated. I have never been able to teach without clarifying the district’s curriculum by supplementing it with ways to try out or relate to what they are learning–you made a good point about the curriculum being only part of the way we teach our students.



Connecting information and connecting ideas from open learning sources and collaborating with others to construct group projects are ways of motivating students to delve deeper into learning.   That is a good point about how we need to offer students choice and that learning needs to be relevant. I think it is so true that if students do not see how their learning in school connects to outside the school, we are really missing the point of education. Wow, it is amazing how even in second grade, students are expected to participate in shared research; according to the Alaska State standards. Retelling and describing key ideas will come naturally as students talk to each other in shared research. This prepares them to teach other groups in the class.

I think your ideas for second grade applications to open learning clear up how it is certainly possible to start young. Using guest speakers through Skype or video clips is perfect—especially when I consider how difficult it can be to schedule people to come in and talk to a class. I think the Skype idea would be especially good so kids can ask questions immediately. But with a video clip of someone local, students could write questions in groups and mail them in to the presenter.



How true that it is such a challenge to teach a diverse group of students with limited materials to do so. There is not enough time in the day for teachers to continually create these on our own, and open education resources (OER) are resources we can share. I like the Gutenberg Project, but I did notice that many of the free resources available resources were limited to older materials. I think there are copyright permissions for teachers to use up to a certain percentage of more modern children’s literature to teach with for nonprofit.

I work with special needs students, so I too look for OERs to help students stay engaged to practice basic skills—such as gaming in math. I was able to utilize this strategy last semester with a response to intervention math group as they worked to comprehend concepts related to fractions.



Week 2 Initial Blog Post: Essential question: What do you see as the promise of Open Learning as an emerging technology/pedagogy/philosophy?

Emerging Technologies EDET693 Blog 2

by Aleta May

With Dr. Lee Graham

Essential question: What do you see as the promise of Open Learning as an emerging technology/pedagogy/philosophy?

 Open Learning can mean Open Educational Resources (OER), Digital Literacy, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). One issue that came up as I read was, “while there is clear evidence for priority research in online course design and online best practices, little has been done . . . priority areas for research include defining best practices, evaluation of course design, delivery, access, and teacher training and accountability” (Graham, LaBonte, Roberts, O’Byrne, p. 5). Further, there has been much attention that recognizes the need for both students and teachers to develop minimum technology skills, and “the Standards for the 21 st-Century Learner . . . and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills published their framework describing required skill sets for a 21st Century learner” (Graham, et al., 14). Lacking, however, is genuine and concrete direction for how educators can navigate including open learning in the classroom.

The accelerated growth “in the number of Open Educational Resources (OER), making the evaluation of OER quality a pressing need” (Yuan & Recker, 2015, p. 16) led to narrow down rubrics to a review of 14 that were developed in the literature for evaluating OER. After reviewing many articles, six rubrics were found to have validity (the rubric measured what it claims to measure) and reliability (where the rubrics did not deviate over a duration of time or over diverse raters). Two of the six rubrics were subject specific (science and the other to literacy and math as well). The Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) from Achieve focus on the alignment of OER with educational standards” (Yuan & Recker, p. 17). EQuIP also asked for teachers’ input while developing the rubrics for evaluating OERs.

Why does all of this matter? As both a teacher, and now a course designer for my students, I need to be able to show that the OERs, I choose to employ in blended educational environment meets standards, and is relevant and befitting to my students for individual needs as I reach them with a growth mindset. With rubrics, I am able to provide evidence that my engaged learners are developing skills based on currently researched pedagogical guideline. I would strongly encourage my blog readers to look up this article I found in the UAS library. Yuan & Recker, 2015, have provided a very useful appendix with the 14 rubrics they found in their literature reviews.

As I read more on the topic of blended learning, I noticed in an article by Smith (2016) that blended learning includes many tools in the Lawrence Public School system—when these tools are used to meet students needs appropriately, we are creating our own motivational blended learning environment:


Adobe Voice, Answer Garden, Apple TV, audioBoom, Blabberize, Blackboard, [BookFlix, TrueFlix, and ScienceFlix], Capstone Interactive, ChatterPix Kids, Explain Everything, Flipgrid, Glogster, Google Classroom, iBooks, iMovie, iPads, Khan Academy, Kidblog, LearnZillion, LessonPaths, Little Bird Tales, MacBook Airs, Mac minis, Microsoft Publisher, Padlet, PebbleGo, Popplet, SafeShare, Screencast-O-Matic, Seesaw, Smore, Story Creator, Vimeo, WatchKnowLearn, Weebly, YouTube

Means et al. (2010) found in their meta-analysis that “blended learning environments demonstrate a higher level of effectiveness than fully online or fully face-to-face environments” (p. 6). They also found that peer-to-peer support was a much more effective approach than independent study alone. In Borup (2016), one teacher found finding student volunteers to pair up with a struggling student (whether struggling with the technology itself or academically) worked well; she called the student volunteer a virtual buddy. Peer-to-peer tutoring for students that participated in the same online program helped as they met together in a brick-and-mortar setting.

blended learning header-01-01-01



According to Vygotsky (1978) “teachers, more abled peers, or both, can assist students in the learning process by modeling correct behavior and scaffolding student learning using psychological and physical tools” (Borup, 2016, p. 232). In other words, social companionship and mentoring each other brings about positive cognitive outcomes, because students are motivated by each other.

The Adolescent Community of Engagement (ACE) framework was used found that the use of discussion boards was positive overall; however, students may need to gain understanding that social isolation or grouping against another student is another type of bullying, it is cyberbullying. This brings to my mind the important role of the teacher to facilitate and instruct—even as students learn to collaboratively create in online environments.

Additionally, I believe it is vital that we as technology users learn and teach about Creative Commons (CC) liscences. I do appreciate the fact that there are different types of CC licenses: Reuse, Revise, Remix, and Redistribute” (Means, et al., p. 6), because people who create in OERs will be more likely to share their products if they feel they have control over how to license their work. For example, there are some messages that people want to send through their work that could potentially have an unintended connotation remixed into their original piece that the original creator does not want to risk having changed. Yet there may be times where remixing with their own work is invited in order to help their ideas grow from different nodes (or persons of different professions) that can add depth to the original content.


Graham, L, LaBonte, R., Roberts, V. O’Byrne, I. (2010 ?). Chapter 19: Open learning in K-12 online and blended learning environments.

Borup, J. (2016). Teacher perceptions of learner-learner engagement at a cyber high school. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 17(3), pp. 231-245.

O’Byrne, I. W., Roberts, V. Labonte, R. & Graham, L. (2014). Teaching, learning and sharing openly online. Journal of adolescent & adult literacy, 58(4), pp. 270-280.

Smith, T. (2016). New Frontiers in blended learning. www.TECHLEARNING.COM.

Yuan, M & Recker, M. (2015). Not all rubrics are equal: A review of rubrics for evaluating the quality of open educational resources. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(5), pp. 16-38.


EDET677 Week 2 What is the link between “tinkering,” “hard play,” and the “growth mindset”?

EDET677 Mechanical Applications of Technologies

by Aleta May

Initial Blog Post for Week 2

According to a video clip, the growth mindset takes students from “I can’t to I will,” As I read through “Why The Growth Mindset? I was so excited just to see the focus on improvement as opposed to focusing on a pre-determined curriculum that every student must reach for whether it is relevant to them (beyond their own schemata—existing mental models) or as noted in Libow-Martinez & Stager (2013), basic vocabulary skills, lab safety, lessons about famous scientists from history, and more is frontloaded into the minds of students. Their working memory is on cognitive overload. Whitenton refers to this as extraneous cognitive load. When students are given too much information about the project, subject or lesson prior to participating in the activity, their mind is not ready to try to make meaning of all these bits and pieces of information without seeing the purpose of it within the project itself.

Sherry Turkle is an author who described two approaches to science that are of equal importance: “soft mastery” and “hard mastery.” The problem is that the hard mastery that involves “linear, step-by-step problem solving, flowcharting, and analytical approaches” (Libow-Martinez & Stager, 2013, p. 37) has taken the place of soft mastery approaches to science. Vygotsky referred to the zone of proximal development (ZPD) as learning from peers and adults who can add to what they already know. In 1978 Vygotsky stated that, “In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behavior; in play it is as though he were a head taller than himself” (Libow-Martinez & Stager, p. 38). When an engineering analogy for young children was given on the following page, it is pointed out that there is room for both concrete and abstract learning; one does not replace the other. However, many students have been deprived of the opportunity to tinker, construct, and create things, leaving all their years of schooling without any engineering opportunities.

Students need to participate in activities that are meaningful. Then they may add the facts into their project as they construct meaning by manipulating their own environment, with others. Students participate in constructivism together because, “talking and working with others is one of the best ways to cement new knowledge” (Libow-Martinez & Sanger, p. 31).

I have been so affected over the years by comments that teach a “fixed mindset” that it takes a lot of effort to convince myself that we do not have static characters, intellectual levels or categories, or only certain creative ability based on what I can perform flawlessly. “Believing that your qualities are carved in stone—the fixed mindset—creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over” (Popova, 2014, p. 3). The “growth mindset” rather emphasizes practicing and viewing failure as a learning opportunity as opposed to a limited intellectual or personality trait. Failing in a situation is an opportunity to learn. We educators have a responsibility to first and foremost create a learning environment that is not only safe, but encourages students to test their limits. A nonverbal IQ test was presented to hundreds of students with a set of moderately challenging problems. The statement that resulted in a response where students were afraid to ‘expose their flaws’ was “Wow, you got [X many] right. That’s a really good score. You must be smart at this” (Popova, p. 8). Simply rephrasing the last statement to “You must have worked really hard” led to 90 percent of the students (mostly adolescents) to respond to even more challenging tasks. To me this shows the importance of using “I Can” statements that encourage students to try.

In her video clip, Carol Dweck, noted that high school students received a “not yet” rather than a failing grade. Fixed mindset students run from the error rather than engaging with the challenge, processing and correcting errors—the growth mindset. She notes to praise the process, efforts, strategies, (not their intelligence . . .). Effort strategy and progress was rewarded in a math game. They were able to persevere. Growth mindset classrooms—equality occurs in classrooms where students are behind as a cultural group. The meaning of effort and difficulty can be used in a way that makes students want to challenge themselves, creating a growth mindset (rather a reason to determine themselves to be unable to grow and to just give up).

Below is a chart created by Carol Dweck; the Lewis and Virginia Eaton professor of psychology at Stanford University (at, 2015):




Dweck, C. (2015). Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’. 35(5), pp. 20,24. Commentary at Education Week (May 26, 2016). Extracted 5-26-16 at:

Dweck, C. (2014). The power of believing that you can improve. Ted Talks video clip at:

Popova, M. (2014). Fixed vs. Growth: The two basic mindsets that shape our lives. Extracted on 5-26-16 at:

Brainology. Mindset works (2008-2012), The Science: Why the growth mindset? Extracted on 5-26-16 at:

Libow-Martinez, S. & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering and engineering in the classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

Whitenton, K. (2013). Minimize cognitive load to maximize usability. Extracted on 5-26-16 at:


Reflection for Week One EDET693 Essential Question: How do we define Emerging Technologies?

Aleta May   Week One Reflection

Emerging Technologies EDET 693, with Dr. Graham

This week I read the 2015 NMC Horizon Report, and the interview of George Velestianos. Along with these, I looked into how we need to teach students to share openly what they are learning with each other and to sustain innovations in the classroom. All of this was embedded in defining Emerging Technologies (ET). While reading articles and blog responses of others in my class, I have concluded that the most important focus is to utilize ET with pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) with a team of teachers to make learning meaningful and to use our time with our students well.

Another important focus in my reading was on how students build on their own knowledge to increase what they know through inquiry-based project learning and units that overlap subject areas. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is growing and the goal is overlapping subjects in a more natural to the student manner. Of course, this still needs to be well organized. This is where teachers need to work together to build units. Concern over students being held over in one class making them late for the next really is like herding cats. Let us find ways to get away from issues like this. The issues I just listed serve only to waste students’ time, frustrate teachers limited on time to teach very large amounts of content to young energetic students, and remove the joy and wonder of discovery and inquiry learning.

Below are posts I made to class peers for week one:

Hi Brian,

Your butterfly analogy is a great way to picture emerging. I believe emerging can also be like a fawn peeking around the tree to see what the forest is inviting him/her to do next. The fawn may even teach its mom new ways to be and to explore.

Merging technologies into different fields and inviting them to walk across superficial boundaries into the next field over (stepping from science to math) and drawing pictures in computer maps or creating movies for reflecting on the beauty of integrated understanding, is the next step in making meaning of existing and newly discovered habitats.

True, not all technologies emerge at the same time any more than one fawn steps over to this field or that field while another waits a bit and more deeply investigates the habitat in which it is now standing.


Hi Douglas,

What stood out to me when I read the article where Fred Baker interviewed George Velestsianos is when Fred noted that the designer (big “D”) is the one using technology as part of the teacher’s own dynamic response toward adapting to the needs and interests of students around them. This is as opposed to the designer being a little “d” that is driven by technologies; such as when a computer program is preset for students and the instructional designer has to work around the program to make it work for his/her students. I have encountered this when I used a certain reading program. The video clips were very far removed from the context of the students I was teaching; after all, the program was written in Texas much like many of our textbooks have been. Another issue was that while teaching English Language Learners (ELLs), the teacher or students depicted within the video clips talked so fast and used such unfamiliar schemata (“sets of schema or internal representations of the world; an organization of concepts and actions that can be revised by new information about the world”– that I found my role as facilitator explaining way too many things that the program designers assumed students knew.


Hi Kayla,

Another way I view the flipped classroom, is to make learning mobile and accessible for review. When a teacher records important lessons, students who were absent may watch the mini-lesson later on. Also, as I watched my granddaughter with her dad the other night, it sure would have been nice for them to have a pre-recorded lesson from her teacher so they could review how to complete that certain type of math problem without having to research it out in the book late at night when everyone is tired, and needing rest for the next day of school.

Schools do need to be more student-centered. They also need to integrate subject areas more. This is the only way to have time to cover the material expected of students today, much less in a way that is relevant to their lives. Teaching six subjects per day to students coming from a very wide range of abilities and cultural backgrounds/languages does not work. One reason I do like being a special education teacher and reading specialist is that I have more flexibility—and multiple level / subject teaching is the only way to meet their needs. Thankfully, we now have more and more technology to accomplish individualized goals.


Hi Melissa,

Reliable and equal access to the internet is a major issue! When I walk into a local classroom in rural Oregon and compare it to the computers I have available to me in my own classroom, the difference is like night and day. I have so much more technology! Our struggle is with bandwidth and being able to access games like Minecraft during the school day so that students may collaboratively build scenes that replicate the scenes described in books and that match with their own visualizations of what these might look like.

There are many issues with trusting technology. This has hindered many schools from the idea of students using their own mobile devices in class; such as to research a question they have, or to look up a word on their phone. There is the whole issue of cyberbullying and students learning ways to get around a school filter with their personal devices. But we still need to grow with the changes. As is the case over many years, educators are called to do the impossible! Today this applies to harnessing technology for learning and letting students use it freely for educational purposes while at the same time keeping them safe. I believe your children might surprise us with solutions – problem solving. Maybe interviewing them would open all our eyes more.


Reflection for EQ Week One: Do you believe Constructionism brings any new ideas to the table as a theory of education? Why or Why not?

Reflection by Aleta May

Blog One

For EDET 677 Mechanical Applications of Technology

This week I read a lot about a topic that truly intrigues me, constructivism. It only makes sense that constructionism can (and often should) be a major part of learning both from a person’s own context and experientially. One way I look at constructionism is to bring the students into the context. Sometimes students cannot be in the situation, such as in a historical moment. Yet, they can derive meaning by looking up the way people dressed to actually make clothing that is similar, they can look up the types of food they ate at a certain time and place to create an authentic meal set within the rules of etiquette at that time. This is what creating plays has always been about. Now we can use technology to create movies while importing an image to depict an era, or a snapshot in time, to use as a backdrop. Constructionism is creating. We have culture week at our school where students revisit the old ways of making, dancing, or being. For example, I helped supervise a group who used wire mesh to replicate hand made Blackfish traps that used to be made from branches. Some branches were included. The students helped each other and enjoyed learning from each other. It was interesting to watch the process as some students stayed on to finish the projects while others came in to start. This is an example of how students can weave in and out of ongoing projects as they self pace and move on to another room to complete another task. So constructivism is an umbrella way of teaching and learning that shelters specific ways to accomplish an adaptive learning style that challenges students. Constructionism is a way to see how things work by putting one’s hands on something, whether it be metal materials or computer replications.


The science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program seeks to interrelate subject areas, constructivism. Constructionism is the actual trying it out before learning the theory behind the concept. Students discover, apply the concept, and solve problems together by communicating with each other, their teachers and others in the area of study, they are pursuing; such as, a gardener for how and why to plant certain plants side by side.


Below are comments I made to my peers after reading their posts. One post included a Ted Talks video clip that helped me to visualize teaching in a constructionism and constructivist manner. Reading and responding to each others’ blogs and responding to them is an example of learning deeply about the essential question.


Hi Josie,

Your blog post is inspiring!

Constructionism connected with technology is very powerful! I like the idea of a big open room and students working on projects as a project. It also seems important to have stations set up where students may research independently or in a small group with a computer. Students could have a station set up to write, draw, and sometimes translate this to graphs or mind maps online. Skyping with people at a computer set up for interviewing a local gardener, for example, would help structure the curriculum design to meet standards.

Hi Jeff,

How students learn definitely should drive decision-making! It sounds so simple, and makes sense—I wonder how we got off track so far in traditional schooling? Even proponents of back to basics would see the value in applying what students learn to the world around them.

What a perfect point—designing lessons that contradicts students’ current mindset is truly teaching! I believe this is one place we stepped off the path dramatically when we started simply expecting students to listen quietly, absorb the truth of what we teach, and the only questioning should be in the form of drinking from our wealth of knowledge and not to ask why.

There are times, such as mini-lessons, where we present new concepts; but then let students try out the ideas right away, and make sure it adds to what they already know so they can build on their knowledge. How will they have the confidence to build thinking skills if they cannot relate at all to the concepts being taught? It is like taking 3 to 5 rungs out of the ladder and asking the student(s) to climb to the top of knowing without taking any time to build the ladder steps in between.

Hi Kate,

The quote by Seymour Papert that you posted led me to reflect back to my own educational experiences as a student, and experiences I have had as I teach students needing remediation; the part about being “less intimidated by our fears of ‘being wrong.’” One area for me personally is in learning to play a musical instrument. My best times were when I was in my room when I was about 12 years old playing the bass guitar to cassette tapes. I could practice scales and then try to apply them to my favorite music. Also, I learned the basics of guitar at a summer music camp and by watching my dad play. I could not get help from him, because missing a note or singing slightly off key meant I was not a natural musician, and therefore had no real business trying to pretend that I was. As I apply this to life as a teacher, I realize that many times (if not most) students simply do not believe they can read or do math, or whatever it is they are struggling with. I believe we have created an atmosphere of “you’ve either got it or you don’t” through traditional education; more so than ever once hands-on construction classes were removed (welding, mechanics, sewing, cooking, art, music, etc.).

I am so impressed that you can fix, modify, build and replace parts! So growing up poor and in rural Alaska is beneficial! I grew up in Alaska, and my parents were at the height of their careers, so my challenges were trying to keep up in math, reading comprehension and impressing my awesome dad with musical skills—he was a guitar player and singer. When I married at 17 years old, poverty and rural Alaska came along—so I learned much about making do. Though I did not fix things the way you did, I learned to sew, mend, cook from scratch with very little, and keep that rusty car as clean as possible.

I think the take away here is that necessity drives constructionism; and often we learn with or from others—constructivism. Our students need space and confidence for both!


Your comment is awaiting moderation.

MAY 26, 2016 AT 2:53 AM

I thought about constructivism when I read the word constructionism as well! Further reading revealed the very strong connection between the two words to me as well. Wow, Gerald, it is so great that you wrote code and created a game! How did you get started doing this?

I watched the Alan Kay video clip you posted on Ted Talks: that was filmed March 2007.

As I watched, I took notes. Thank you for sharing, as this was well worth the 20- minute view! In fact, I need to watch it again.

Notes taken:

The world is not as it seems and we see things as we are—it is a waking dream. Powerful ideas sensory, reasoning, perspective (brainlets, additional parts in our brains; powerful ideas); this is not taught in K-12 curriculum. Emergent properties involve thinking about the nonobvious ways of the same things we looked at without considering what it means. We can view a movie clip about what happens inside a cell without understanding that this not just fortuitous rather it is too complex shapes finding each other and being catalyzed (each molecule spins at about 1 million revolutions per second). Simplicity is best when teaching, but without removing what is important about the data.

Students need to understand some principle before learning about sophisticated proofs. Look at what it means first, before looking at the many, many proofs. Make a shape out of a shape (enlarging the shape). The first one took 3 more and the total was 4 and the 3rd one took 5 and the total was 9. It doesn’t matter what the shape is, but the growth law is the same.

I really like how he connected the coding with the car turning at #5 vs. not turning at #0. Then he showed the concept of speed on the computer. Constant acceleration viewed with dots on a bar graph, dropping the ball and filming it to show gravity by then stacking the relative shapes on talk of each other.

Essential Question: How do we define Emerging Technologies?

Aleta May

EDET 693 Emerging Technologies, with Dr. Graham

Blog One

Essential Question: How do we define Emerging Technologies?

Five characteristics frame a definition for emerging technologies (ET). According to George Veletsianos (2010). First, ET are not always new technologies. ET may include how an older technology is used in a new way. For example, the Wii Remote has the capability of detecting motion; this capability allowed the Wii Remote to be used for practicing techniques to increase surgery proficiency. Second, ET unfold and expand capabilities over time. As the demand for a technology increases, often the capacity to serve a wider audience, or the proficiency of the technology tool itself offers more through services and functions.

A third characteristic that defines ET is that the way it is used is strongly influenced by the following: “organizational, cultural, and historical factors, education, as a field of study and practice, is resistant to change” (Feletsianos, p. 2). In an interview with Fredrick W. Baker III (2016), Veletsianos stated that he is “drawn to the non-deterministic stance of the field” of Instructional Design and that is research focus is on the learning environment, specifically “in emerging digital settings such as online social networks and open learning environments” (p. 2). The interviewer framed this view as technology being a tool in the box with a little ‘d’ for design with the designer (big “D”) being preeminent. With a focus on the designer using tools (versus the tools controlling the designer), pedagogies for creating and facilitating the learning environment include: “(1) project-based learning (PBL), (2) scaffolding and collaboration, (3) a blended learning delivery model, (4) an interdisciplinary focus on content, and (5) a dual enrollment framework” (Baker, p. 2).

Fourthly, there is much about ET that has misunderstood or unstated. Currently, there is a lot of emphasis being placed on developing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). With a pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), teachers can work together with teachers possessing different PCK to design interdisciplinary units. This is based on a constructivist paradigm in that teachers work together to build inquiry-based project learning or units based on what students know. For example, in a case study, a new teacher, Amelia, used 4th grade state mandated science curriculum, that focused on magnetism and electricity. She integrated math into the lesson by making real world connections and representing the data collected about magnetic force with a variety of objects with iron in it. She responded to what she heard students converse about while in small groups, so they could compare and contrast magnetic with nonmagnetic materials. A Decision-Making Framework provides teachers with a structure not only for interdisciplinary instruction, but allows teachers to reach into that technology toolbox to create opportunities to express learning for 21st-Century learning (Allen, Webb, & Matthews, 2016). For example, in this situation, Amelia might have her students create a bar graph to represent comparisons or an online Mind-node mind map for comparing and contrasting magnetic and nonmagnetic materials; then branching the mind map out to further compare iron based metals.

Fifth, incorporating ET and an instructional design approach with a constructivism paradigm is disruptive to traditional education. Therefore, stronger research support for validating change in educational practices is needed (Veletsianos, 2010). Further, we need to consider what innovations are sustainable. Digital media and learning (DML) has “limited support and embedded, industrial-age practices like standardized instruction taught in discrete chunks of time, common to schools, thwart innovation and change (Herro, 2016). Contextual factors need to determine what works for the students. In order to promote reform, there needs to be change that is deep enough to alter how teachers view their roles, change needs to be sustainable over time, cross over to other classrooms (especially other subject areas) and teachers need to assume ownership of their innovative teaching pedagogy. There is no one-size-fits-all innovation simply because the educational context and situation is ignored (Herro, 2016).

As I read through the NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition, I noticed the theme of innovative and adaptive platforms being crucial to true learning; “adaptive learning resides in the ability for teachers to review automated data about their students to get to know them on a deeper level” (Johnson, Adams-Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2015, p. 42). I have used Dreambox math. This is an example of a program that incorporates some gaming as a reward, individualized instruction based on student needs, and a dashboard for the teacher to track progress. After reading about Moby Max on page 43, I like the customization feature. In my view, it is very important to keep the teacher in the equation! I want to have enough control over a program that I can select and move lessons around for students, add students while simultaneously keeping track of progress—since progress monitoring is so important for tracking foundational skills. Meanwhile, there are so many tools already available to educators online, what is really needed are models that “connect curriculum to life outside the classroom . . . real-world application that is experimentation . . . and opportunities for vision and leadership” (Johnson, et. al., p. 6). My favorite is STEAM. The A in STEAM stands for arts+. Of course, teachers need support in “leveraging technology to connect teachers and students inside and outside of the classroom” (Johnson, et. al., p. 7).

I am excited about learning to use Emerging Technologies, during this class and in the Mechanical Applications of Technology class. Our principal has just signed on to start next school year, however, I have had an opportunity to meet with him (Robert). Robert wants to integrate a variety of online technologies, and specifically, he wants me to teach 3D printing. When I saw on page 8 of this report that designing activities like “integrating 3D printing in science classes,” I thought about the perfect timing of my being in these particular classes.  Wow, this 3D printer looks awesome!


There is media production, as well as intersections between technology and any content area. I have always believed in an integrated, thematic approach. Now I can be a part of this major change! This is also the greatest opportunity for our students who are on individual education plans (IEPs).   We are gradually moving toward individual plans for all students, as they learn together. This IS real-world application!


Allen, M., Webb, A. W. & Matthews, C. E. (2016).  Adaptive teaching in STEM: Characteristics for effectiveness. Theory into Practice. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Baker, F. (2016). Conversations with innovators in learning and technology: George Veletsianos. Tech Trends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 60(3), pp 207-210.

Herro, D. (2015). Sustainable innovations: Bringing digital media and emerging technologies to the classroom. Theory into Practice, 54:2, 117-127.


Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2015). NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Veletsianos, G. E-learning, Ideas open sharing work. Posted November 18th, 2015. In G. Velesianos (Ed), (2010). A definition of emerging technologies for education (pp. 3-22). Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.


EDET 677 Do you believe Constructionism brings any new ideas to the table as a theory of education? Why or Why not?

Mechanical Applications of Technology EDET 677

Aleta May

May 21, 2016

Essential Question: Do you believe Constructionism brings any new ideas to the table as a theory of education? Why or Why not?

Constructionism definitely brings old ideas back into the schools in an age that has more opportunity than ever to bridge technology to making and creating for real purposes.

 Constructive technology has received its heritage from tinkering! It is constructionism versus instructionism; and the framework of making, creating, is built upon an interdisciplinary point of view (Libow-Martinez & Stager, book, 2013).

Instructionism has the teacher imparting knowledge to students with little consideration for how one subject (discipline) is related to another. The students are receivers of knowledge in this theory of teaching. What is often not considered is that the learner has an internal set of schemata (preformed ways of understanding based on what they already know from prior experiences). In the theory of constructivism, therefore, the teacher facilitates learning, because, “knowledge does not result from the receipt of information transmitted by someone else without the learner undergoing an internal process of sense making” (Libow-Martinez & Stager, book, p. 13).

As far back as Jean Piaget (1896-1980), he reminded teachers to ground teaching in action, not rote memorization; and to begin “with real and material action” (Libow-Martinez & Stager, book, p. 14); and Piaget’s collegue, Seymour Papert, would later frame the educational establishment’s favoring of the former approach over the latter as a battle between instructionism and constructionism” (Libow-Martinez & Stager, book, p. 14).

John Dewey (1859-1952) promoted the interdisciplinary learning based in authentic projects; thus preparing children to observe, problem solve and create methodical procedures for expressing their reasoning. Dewey was concerned with viewing the process of learning from the point of view that children are more than intellectual beings! They are social, emotional, and physical. Modern making can be expressed in the words of John Dewey: “First, that the problem grows out of the conditions of the experience being had in the present, . . . the new facts and new ideas thus obtained become the ground for further experiences in which new problems are presented. The process is a continuous spiral” (Libow-Martinez & Stager, book, p. 14).

Is today’s maker movement based on such theories? In my view, yes! We have so much constructive technology available to us now. We can socially communicate our understanding and build our knowledge just from discussing our reasoning, ideas, and thoughts by way of hands-on technology. Considering this list alone, children and adults alike can communicate to create by using “3D printers, robotics, microprocessors, wearable computers, e-textiles, “smart” materials, and new programming languages” (Libow-Martinez & Stager, article, p. 13). Both formally and informally, any person can use sharing tools and find ideas with instructions online.

Born in 1928, in South Africa, Seymour Papert may inadvertently be the originator of the modern day term, metacognition. He was an advocate of “coercion-free learning environments that inspire children to construct powerful ideas through firsthand experience” (Libow-Martinez & Stager, book, p. 18). As he grew up, he started by tinkering with automobile gears; which in turn led him to think about thinking in his tinkering experiences—metacognition. Years later, Papert began to wonder out loud why schools took a tool with such potential, the computer, and simply transferred rote learning to the computer; without realizing the potential of creating! In fact, in 1971, Seymour Papert wrote a paper entitled Twenty Things to Do with a Computer (Libow-Martinez & Stager, book, p. 19). With Papert’s theory as a basis, constructionism, is a learning stance that says we need to teach students to construct and share real artifacts.

Having graduating in the area of Home Economics / Social Services, I completely appreciate this comment: “Some of the time-honored practices that were common in classrooms a generation ago—art, music, drama, woodshop, sewing, cooking, playing with and using real tools and craft materials—nee to return to the daily experience of children trapped in schools with no time for anything but test prep” (p. 14). There is so much to learn that fits the paradigms of integrating content areas and hands-on learning. Fast forwarding to current day, there is a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) focus; however “STEM is still mostly science and mathematics, taught separately with little or no attention to technology and engineering” (Asunda & Mativo, 2016). So far, in the school district where I teach, the STEM program is located in Bethel. It appears to me, from the vantage point of our school, the math teacher has the most say in who “qualifies” to attend the semester long training, as there are limited spots to fill. I believe that a better way would be to develop project-based learning at the local level, which deals with solving local community issues while rotating groups of students to use the more expensive advanced resources in Bethel. Ideally, the units would be pre-planned with a vision for what the emphasis would be when they go to Bethel for a week or two at a time.

The purpose of project-based learning, that includes constructionism as well as constructivism, is to develop learning within the context. In one way, this is not new thinking. As the chapter opens up on page 11, it states: “Making things and then making those things better is at the core of humanity” (Libow-Martinez & Stager, book). The difference now can be that with the computer age and multi-devices, “New open source microcontrollers, sensors, and interfaces connect the physical world to the digital world” (Libow-Martinez & Stager, article, p. 13). We can program computer devices to use as controllers to make connections between the digital and physical worlds. This is an advantage with potential for everyday students to invent, create and apply making things to learning more than ever before. Learning becomes effective because it is goal oriented and situated within an environment that is meaningful to the students. A systems thinking model affords the opportunity for students to benefit from “the merging of the content from two or more disciplines “ (Asunda & Mativo, 2016, p. 10). More and more teachers will be drawn into a systems approach to teaching. Teacher planning will need to be mapped out as a team so that they can share expertise with each other. Students benefit when they are able to connect learning across contents, through hands-on projects, comprehend and retain what they learn. An example of integrated STEM process that integrates STEM programs begins with reflection to form the problem’s context; research to gather relevant information; discovery to help students determine what they need to know and how to break into small groups to solve the problem; application may be a stage for testing a model solution; and communication is where students learn to give and receive constructive feedback from each other and the expanded community (Laboy-Rush, extracted on 5-21-16).  Here is a link that gives a brief overview of how digital arts can be incorporated into a STEM Camp:

This STEM camp includes arduino microprocessors:

The simple design of the swing can be used to teach students “mathematical Pythagorean theorem to figure out swing position; using science in selection and use of energy equations; and using engineering and technology to determine loads applied to the A-frames and sketch the concept” (Asunda & Mativo, 2016, p. 12). What a project to design and make at the high school level for elementary schools!

Contructionism, in my opinion, is a reaction and response to the last several years of teaching subjects primarily in a non-integrated way, removing arts, welding, construction, mechanics, etc. in favor of a back to the basics of reading, writing and math—with science and social studies on the side. The current STEM movement is a method that integrates subject areas into meaningful projects. This maker / creator movement also implements authentic assessment; definitely a reaction to over testing in way too many separated areas. Assessment alone is another topic.


Asunda, P. A. & Mativo, J. (2016). Integrated stem: A new primer for teaching technology education. Technology and Engineering Teacher.

Laboy-Rush, Diana (extracted 2016, 21 May) from

Libow-Martinez, S. & Stager, G. S. (2014). The maker movement: A learning revolution. Learning & Leading with Technology.

Libow-Martinez, S. & Stager, G. S. (2013). Invent to learn: Makers in the classroom. Education Digest, 79(4), pp. 11-15.

Libow-Martinez, S. & Stager, G. S., Ph.D. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

“Summer STEM Camp 2016 at The Digital Arts Experience in Westchester, NY” and include arduino microprocessors: extracted on May 21, 2016, at .