Maker Experiment #3


Professional Assessment & Evaluation:

As a part of CEP 811 we were asked to dive into the Maker culture.  At first I was a little apprehensive, but after a little play time I think maker kits are an amazing resource.  I really believe the students in my school would really like to tinker with the maker kits.  My one fear is the cost.  However, I do believe that I could find a grant from a local source to help me buy some of these kits.  I used the Makey Makey kit and I found it to be incredibly easy to use.  I feel my students would be able to tackle these kits with few problems.  One way I would evaluate their effectiveness is to use a rubric for a creative project they create.  Grant Wiggins said “The point in any performance is to cause the appropriate effects in a performance, i.e. achieve the purpose of the performance. Yes, you get some points for content and process, but impact matters. If they didn’t laugh at your jokes or reflect on the cruelties of life suggested by your sad ironic story, then the performance was unsuccessful and you need to know it” (2012).  The rubric I would create would gauge how the students “created” during their maker time.  With the Makey Makey kits I think the possibilities are endless.  The one area that we may run into road blocks is linking the maker kit to all of the cool sound sites that are recommend by the Makey Makey website.  We are in a school that is strictly regulated with our access.  I would definitely have to have a solid argument for the use of these sites in my classroom.  On a positive note, my school is moving toward a technology based curriculum, so I feel these kits would only enhance our new curriculum.  I am sure the parents would love to see their students using such amazing hands-on tools.  I feel that by using the maker kits and remixing, I will be preparing my students for any educational expectation they may encounter in the future. 

Personal Assessment & Evaluation:

As I look back at my growth in this class, I am truly surprised.  I have always thought that I had a great grasp on technology, but I was mistaken.  The technology I was so familiar with was very outdated and sort of boring.  From this class I was able to add amazing things to my tool kit.  Whether it is the Maker kits, Sketchup Pad, Popcorn or utilizing the UDL toolkit.  The resources have made me feel more confident in exploring and integrating technology into my classroom.  I also feel that my fellow classmates were incredibly helpful.  I had never participated in a Google hangout and they stepped up to help me without hesitating.  I really enjoyed being able to chat with other classmates using this tool.  I even asked if there was a way to integrate Google hangouts with my teaching staff. I will leave this class with a great deal of confidence and a toolkit that I am proud of.  I feel more than ready to go into this school year with a renewed sense of drive and an itch to integrate as much technology as I can. 


Wiggins. G. 2012.  On assessing creativity-yes you can, and yes you should. 18 August 2013. 


Choose Your Own Adventure


For this week’s assignment we were asked to find 5 articles on a topic that directly relates to our teaching.  I decided to research high interest reading.  This topic is very relevant to my teaching because I am going to be teaching 7th and 8th grade English this year, and I believe high interest readings will be the key to my success.  The articles I read are below.

Seek the unknown for Teen Read Week 2013: using action research to determine recreational reading habits of high school students

This article came from the perspective of a high school librarian.  The article discussed how librarians can survey students to gain a better understanding of what kinds of reading would most interest students.  This survey would help guide the librarians in preparation for Teen Read Week.  I felt the idea of surveying students to find out their comfort level with reading was an excellent idea, not just for librarians but also for teachers.

Lewis, C.  (2013).  Seek the unknown for Teen Read Week 2013: using action research to determine recreational reading habits of high school students.    Young Adult Library Services, 11(4), 9.

Using high-interest materials to engage secondary students in reading

This article discusses the importance of triggering students interest while they are reading.  When students are not interested in their reading they do not do as well in school.  When students found interest in what the teacher presented in class, they actually began reading more on their own.

Mulholland, R. (2002).  Using high-interest materials to engage secondary students in reading.  Reading Online 6(3).  Retrieved from:

Can Reading Be Saved

This article discusses how educational strategies have created this beast (non-readers) in the classroom.  Students ave been forced to read materials that they are not interested in, and see no purpose.  Because of this, the idea of pleasure reading has fallen to the way side.  In the article, the author interviews Kelly Gallagher.  Gallagher says that teachers need to surround students will high interest reading all of the time.  I like this article because I want my students to enjoy reading as much as I do.

Rebora, A.  (2011).  Can Reading Be Saved?  Education Week Teacher PD Source book, 4(2), 22.

Eleven Was to Engage Reluctant Readers

This article gives great tips to teachers to promote pleasure reading in their classroom.  Some of the ideas that stood out to me are to promote good books and provide interventions.  This article is a very easy read, and the ideas are easy enough to implement.

Spencer, J.  (2012, March 17).  Eleven Was to Engage Reluctant Readers [web log comment].  Retrieved from:

10 questions about independent reading:  reading expert Jennifer Serravallo answers your tough questions on how to make the most of independent time

This article gives the reader many suggestions o help establish an independent reading program in their classes/schools.  Suggestions include incorporating more reading time into the daily curriculum and allowing students to have more control over the books they choose.

Truby, D.  (2012).  10 questions about independent reading:  reading expert Jennifer Serravallo answers your tough questions on how to make the most of independent time.    Instructor, 122(2), 29.

To assist e in my search I contacted the librarian at MSU.  The questions I asked were:

1.  Where is the best place to locate free scholarly journals dealing with high interest reading?

2.  How do I know which articles/authors are most reputable?

3.  Are there any authors/journals I should focus the majority of my research on?

The librarian was very helpful.  Her advice made the search process very easy.  The best piece of advice she gave me was o go to the following website:

Maker Experiment #2


Updated My Story Sound Book

Objective:  To create a story with sound using the Makey Makey kits. 

Resources:  Makey Makey kits, Bare conductive paint pens, poster board (for book creation), markers, colored pencils, rulers, and iPad’s/computers with Internet access. 

Unit Idea:

1.  Students will be broken into small groups (2-3 students).  These groups will be determined randomly through a system such as picking Popsicle sticks.  This idea helps to promote the idea of bringing your strengths to the table. 

2.  The teacher will introduce the activity to the students.  As a part of this introduction, it may be helpful for the teacher to have a simple sample for the students to view.  It will be utterly important that the assignment handout has picture diagrams to help students with their creation.  Also, another idea would be to have the teacher demonstrating the creation of their personal book on YouTube. 

3.  The first activity the students would need to complete is a brainstorming.  In this brainstorming session the students will come up with the following: General story idea, illustration ideas, and sound ideas.  The teacher may want the students to look through their portfolio’s for examples of strong stories (what went in to writing them). 

4.  After the brainstorming is complete, the students will need to begin writing their stories (stories should be at a minimum 10 pages).  A good idea would be to have the students use a graphic organizer.  This organizer can be created and utilized in any fashion that works for the individuals in the group.  As they are writing their stories, the group should decide what six sounds they feel will best fit in the story (they will need to create a symbol for each sound they want represented in the story).  The writing process may take 2-4 days depending on the groups.

5.  After the groups have completed the writing process, the groups will need to create their illustrations.  There should be one illustration per page.  These illustrations may be hand drawn or they can be computer generated using sites like

6.  Next the students will need to create the sound board for their story.    To do this the students will need to take the Makey Makey kit and assign a sound to the keys WASDFG.  As an added resource, the students may use their iPad’s/computer with Internet access to watch YouTube videos about how to use the Makey Makey kit. 

7.  The class will create a rubric to grade/evaluate the sound books.

8.  Students will trade books with other groups and read the stories.
Each group will use the rubric to evaluate another groups story creation. 

9.  After the evaluation, students will have a chance to reexamine/reevaluate their books.  They can then make corrections, changes or additions to their books. 

UDL Reflection

At first I was overwhelmed when I saw the UDL reading for this week.  However, when I began reading I realized it was simply good teaching practice.  When I looked at my Maker Experiment #1 I found many ways that I had done a good job of incorporating the UDL guidelines.  For example, I created an activity that would appeal to students of all learning styles.  The students had the opportunity to draw, write, tinker with the kit, use the Internet, and maybe even be the group foreperson. 

One area I saw that I could improve upon is the idea of being more intentional.  Sometimes I feel that I do not do enough front loading for my classes.  By pushing me to create a sound book (and showing the steps on YouTube), it forces me to think about what exact steps need to be taken in order for the students to really be successful.  The Universal Design for Learning guidelines state “the UDL principles go deeper than merely focusing on physical access to the classroom; they focus on access to all aspects of learning” (2011).  I truly believe that this activity opens the classroom to all students.  They have the opportunity to shine in their areas of strength.  I would hope this would help students feel like they are truly being listened to when it comes to learning. 


CAST (2011).  Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0.  Wakefield, MA: Author

Toontastic.  (n.d.).  Retrieved August 8, 2013, from:


Experience Design


For this weeks assignment we were asked to create a learning space for the 21st Century.  I am always looking for ways to update and rejuvenate my classroom.  The first steps I needed to take to prepare myself was to do the following:  watch a TED talk by David Kelly, watch a YouTube video by Tedde van Gelderen, looking at an excerpt from the book Experience and Education by John Dewey, Looking at The Third Teacher+ site, reading an article Redesigning Education: Why Can’t We Be in Kindergarten for Life?, and then I watching the trailer for Remake Your Class. This weeks information helped me to see that I have to push myself outside of my comfort zones in order to create a great atmosphere for my students.  I realize that there is nothing wrong with setting my classroom up in a more friendly and inviting way ” In a kindergarten classroom, while there are walls with white boards or smart boards, the “front” of the room is indistinguishable. Every available wall and surface is an opportunity to display student work. The design allows students to explore many different ways of learning in the classroom–it’s learner-centered space” (Lanks, 2013).  Why not think of my room like a Kindergarten classroom?  Why not bring my students back to a time when school was fun? 

Currently I am in a 60 year old school that has had little to no updates.  The room are cinder block with only one window.  Each room is traditionally a big square (approximately 40×40).  All rooms are white and there is minimal room for extra “spaces” within the classroom.  As for technology, we received a grant to bring in Promethean boards, iPads and other new “technology” to the classrooms. 

For my 21st Century room, I would like to create a room of stations.  I would like to have two reading stations, one with bean bags, one with butterfly chairs.  The students will be sitting 4 to a “desk” (each desk is made up of two tables).  The teachers desk will be in the back corner of the room.  I really like this idea, because I still have a place for myself, but it is not in front of the classroom.  Students do not have to look at it all day.  There will be bookshelves throughout the classroom with high interest reading.  Also in the back of the room will be the iPad cart, each student will be responsible for retrieving and returning their iPad each class period.  Finally, I will leave the walls pretty bare (ready for student work).  These ideas will help me to really implement the ideas of multiple intelligences and learning styles in my course design.  When I have “stations” for my students to work in, I believe all students will feel free to explore and find ways to be successful.  When students can feel the importance of being in the classroom (time, flow, participation, and emotion), the only thing that can happen is greatness.    Though I do not feel my SketchUp Make does my idea justice. 


In order to make my ideal classroom come to life I would need the the following: 16 tables (provided), 3 bean bags ($21.00 each/Meijer), 3 butterfly chairs ($26.00/, bookshelves (3-3 shelf $26.00, 3-5 shelf $36.00), iPad cart (provided), projector (provided), screen (provided).  So all in all I would need to spend approximately $350.00.  To come up with the money for this project I would put a listing on  To implement the changes I would need the support of building administrators, my fellow teachers and of course the backbone of any school, the custodial staff. 

To get my ideas going, I would need to submit a proposal to my administrator.  From here I would then have to wait for my needed materials to be bought.  I truly feel this classroom idea would not be hard to implement even on a smaller level.  Again, I just have to be willing to step outside of my comfort zone and create an environment that worked for my students. 


Changschools (2010, February 9).  Tedde van Gelderen on Experience Design .  Retrieved from

Edutopia (2013, March 13).  Remake Your Class (Trailer) .  Retrieved from

Lanks, Belinda.  (2013).  Redesigning Education: Why Can’t We Be in Kindergarten for Life?  Retrieved from 

TED Talks (2007, May).  David Kelley: Human-centered design .  Retrieved from

The Third Teacher+. (2010). TTT ideas flash cards [PDF]. Retrieved from