Final Make

Miller’s Meaningful Math

For my final make, I decided to gather all of the resources I had as well as search for new resources that can be used to make mathematics meaningful.  The site is intended for both teachers and students.  There are several sections to the site and I would like to add a couple more as well as expand upon the resources that I have gathered thus far. The sections include Art, Formulas, Motion, Nature, TV and Movies, Careers in Mathematics and Other.  Thanks to suggestions made at the virtual meeting with ED677 on Thursday 5/3 for our final share, I have added a new section for music. I would also like to add a section for comments and/or feedback.  I really enjoyed pulling this all together and see more opportunities to gather even more meaningful resources now.  I would love to share this collection with other math teachers as well.

Digital Story-Telling: The Final Make

The Context: Every spring semester the Office for International Affairs (OIA) hosts a showcase called Global Expo.  Global Expo is a 3 hour block of time on a Friday afternoon in mid-April when all students who participated in the Preview experience present their final projects in a poster show-like event.  (Preview is a semester-long 2 credit course which includes a travel component over spring break).

Traditionally, students make posters that are based on research papers.  How research questions and papers are handled are dependent on the Preview instructor, but most Preview instructors give students a topic to investigate.

The Thing That Got Me Thinking: Posters are great, but are they relevant?  When was the last time I was asked to make a poster? Elementary school?  What other resources are at our disposal that we might use to display our findings?  Of those, which would give students an opportunity to develop new skills? Which might help students engage more with the host culture? Which would help student reflect more deeply? Work together? Which methods would be most engaging to our target audience?  What is my comfort level with this idea?  Do I have enough time to figure it out?  How can these  support my efforts of making the global relevant to my students? (What do they already use to connect to the world?) How do I encourage inquiry?  Ultimately, how do I enable students to tell their stories and be excited about it?

That stream of consciousness was something I have continuously come back to as I attempted to reflect on the progress of my students, and while I know there are things I will ultimately improve upon, I am very proud of my students.

The Make: Instead of assigning a poster project, I assigned my students to create a digital story. What made me assign a digital story instead of the much easier to grade/assign poster? Well, in  my opinion, the skills one gains undertaking a digital story project are more relevant in the 21st century and the reflective process one undergoes is deeper.  I also believe that a digital story offers the creator different ways to express themselves creatively and is more likely to appeal to our target audience of students and administrators.

The Course:  My Preview course explored cosmopolitanism as an identity of Barcelona.  We explored cosmopolitanism through the lenses of gender, politics, geography, history, and even futbol (the European kind, obviously).  As we explored each of these lenses we looked at topics of inclusion/exclusion, cross-cultural communication, and our social identities that impact the way we perceive the world.  Classes were held once a week on Fridays for 2 hours.  Each class contained no more than a 30 minute lecture and always contained an experiential component such as a scavenger hunt, which complemented the topic of the week, and a 30-40 minute debrief that began in small groups and ended with group share.

I designed the class with such a large dedication to the experiential component because it was important to me and the class objectives that students interact with the material and “chew” on it.  The experiential component made the content “real” to them, helped them to begin problem solving, and allowed them to begin learning the reflection process in a safe environment.

Every week, students had a journal assignment about the previous week’s experiential component.  The journal prompts asked students to “dig deeper” than they did in class and cite their readings to identify how they formed or changed their opinions about that week’s topic.  This process in particular, helped my students to practice citing sources and begin incorporating analytical reflection into their work, something they would ultimately have to do for the digital story.

As we dug deeper into the current events of Barcelona, students began to identify pieces of Barcelona’s cosmopolitanism culture that they wanted to explore more deeply.  About a month before we traveled, I assigned the final project..

I broken down the project into steps with various due dates for two reasons.  One, I wanted students to move through this process in a particular sequence  to reflect on their experience in pictures, words, and with one another.  Two, even though my students are first-year college students, I noticed that creative freedom scares them.  Therefore, because I was giving them full range to choose their topic and full creative license to explore “what” they wanted, I wanted to support them with a clear scaffolded process of “how.”

The Process: The week after assigning the project, I set aside class-time for students to form groups (no larger than 3) and begin discussing their research questions.  This research question would be the basis for their digital story.  They chose topics from a comparison of men’s and women’s futbol, to the medical system in Catalunya, which they submitted the following week.

Next, students created annotated bibliographies.  These are a bit unique because instead of just doing web-based research, students were also asked to look into museums they could visit in-country that would progress their topic,  identify people that we would be meeting with that might be helpful to interview (and draft interview questions), and look into examples of digital stories.

Then, the students and I traveled to Barcelona.  I felt like such a proud facilitator of learning!  Students took to Barcelona with a sense of ease, curiosity, and excitement.  They interviewed our tour guides about tourism, asked insightful questions of our lecturers,  visited museums and took notes, and even went to a women’s futbol game and interviewed players! I’d like to believe that the foundation of cultural competencies and history that we paved before leaving, along with the clear plan students developed for their projects, was a key reason for the overwhelming success my students experienced.

One of the main tasks for students in-country was to gather photos, videos, and quotes.  I encouraged students to innovate by utilizing applications such as Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and #hashtags (#PreviewtheWorld) that they are already familiar with, but in a different way.  We even went so  far as to create an Instagram account (@aupreviewbarcelona) for our in-country time because my students informed me that #hashtags were out and @people was in.  This acted as a common place that people could house photos and share their experience.

Upon our return, students got started on their written narratives that would become their voice-over.  We went through two drafts of these narratives after doing peers revisions.  Anyone who wanted my feedback as well, was welcome to set-up a meeting with me.  They turned in two drafts to me via Canvas and they had to show that they made revisions based on feedback in the second script.  Simultaneously, students uploaded their photos into a google folder in the order which they planned to use them in their digital stories.

The photo/video sharing was an interesting step.  I envisioned students uploading everything to into a google folder and sharing photos but in reality, students are not very comfortable with google applications, and instead preferred to utilize WhatsApp to ask for specific photos that they needed from one another.  WhatsApp was an application that I introduced to them pre-departure as a way to communicate with one another.  I made a group chat with all 26 of us we shared plans, suggestions for places to eat, and things to do.  It was also a handy way to adjust meeting times and communicate with them all, because students do not always check email.  The other handy aspect was that the students would often forget I was in the group and I would learn things that are helpful to know that I might not otherwise be aware of.

Next, students took their narratives and recorded their voice overs.  Again, submissions were made on Canvas.  Finally, with scripts written, photos/videos sequenced and voice-overs complete, all that remained was to put it all together using software like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker.  Students were free to work with whatever applications they were comfortable with, but I made sure that I informed them that the library computers had the Windows Movie Maker software, should they need it.

The Global Expo: On April 13th, from 3 to 5 pm, my students came together with about 400 other first-year students to share their experiences abroad.  Here are some of my favourites.

The Reflection: My goal for this course was to help students develop new skills, cross-cultural competencies, and learn to tell their stories in a creative and engaging way.

Community Engagement – Students endeavor to have a solid foundation of knowledge about the country before travel, so that they are global citizens instead of tourists.  They do this by reading news articles, thinking critically, and relating the Catalan experience to similar movements occurring in the U.S. or home context.

While in-country, students engage with locals by exercising their Spanish language skills, engaging in experiences that are not just for the visitor. These interactions make the students the “outsiders” in a different way (than they may be used to) and put them in a unique position where difference is salient to them.

Equity – Ensure that students are included and feel confident about entering a new culture by fostering group dynamics pre-departure.  The experiential component of the course has a group dynamic aspect.  Until final groups are formed, I purposely mix groups to help students experience different perspectives and become familiar with one another.

During sharing opportunities, I always begin with small group discussion.  This helps students to get the ideas flowing and leads to more productive conversations.  Furthermore, I also use videos and experiential activities as a form of differentiated learning.  This way, students hear the information in different ways and are not always being talked at or forced to read.

In terms of technology, I worked with our Academic Technology Services to become aware of what tools are available to students on library computers in case students do not have computers or internet access at home.  I also tried to meet students where they were by encouraging the use of applications with which they were already familiar but then challenging them to use these applications differently.  I also introduced them to additional applications like WhatsApp, Stop, Breath & Think, and CityMapper.  These apps have a range of uses from communication to mental health maintenance, to travel.

Hard Skills – Not a single student in the class had previously made a digital story.  They worked together to think critically about a topic, problem solve and troubleshoot issues, work as a team, and creatively present their story.

They also learned how to use a map ( I know shocking!).  Most had never used a paper map before and since data usage abroad can be expensive, most students could not use their phones.  So, the first day we had a map reading challenge and each day we had placed to go, a different student took charge of navigating the metro and city to get us from point A to point B.


We also practiced Spanish language skills.  Not every student had prior Spanish language skills and so we had mini-Spanish lessons, which helped then navigate La Boqueria and many incorporated into their final projects (accent and all!).


The Conclusion: Overall, as a first pass, I am very proud and excited how my students and I worked together.  I was really impressed by the projects students produced and when students ASK to have an additional class to take the opportunity to view one another’s pieces, you know that they are proud and excited about what they created.

With permission, I would like to use some of these projects on our website and in informational sessions about the program to impart on board members, who are thinking of making cuts to the program, just how impactful and transformative this experience is for students.

If I were to conduct this project again, I would reconsider the structure of the project.  One thing we discussed in class was about giving students more control over their process and perhaps by giving them so much freedom over the topic and so little over the process, I took something away from their experience.

I would also go over the Rubric for Digital Story-telling with them more explicitly, do a mini-lesson on digital stories, show them more examples, and maybe even ask them to critique digital stories based on the rubric to aid in a deeper more thorough understanding of the potential of digital stories.

Finally, I would create a digital toolbox for students.  This toolbox would utilize google sites and would contain a page of digital story examples, tools for digital story-telling, and a page where students could add resources they find or already use that could be helpful.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this make and any feedback you might have!


Bring the Arts and Science together to blossom

Final Make


Making a Change at School

Connecting Art, Science and the Community

Goal:  Promote collaboration with other subjects along with the community. Helping to make the community a better place we partnered together to create a inspirational environment for the students to go. They will walk away with the knowledge of science, art, and community.
Background: Collaborating with the second grade team and my Art Club we decided to create a garden project that students will learn about the growth of plants and how we can impact our community! Working with the second grade teachers we agreed to work together to create this garden space for our school to show students plant growth along with having a colorful environment.
Day 1
The start off is with second grade and their unit on plants. Their unit consist of identifying parts of the plant, the life cycle of the plant, and comparison on different plants. The Art Club will focus on the detail of the boxes and decorate them. The nuns and priest from next door came over and helped. This allowed us to connect science and art with the community.
Day 2
Second grade will go outside with their class and talk about plant life. They will have the opportunity to plant in the flower boxes and water their plant. They will then put up informational signs near their plants for others to observe.
Day 3,4, and 5
Second grade will be involved with art and create a motivational garden piece. Each student will have a rock to paint. As a class we will talk about growth as a person and what inspires up. After our talk they will write on their rock and inspirational work or phrase. They will then place their rock in the garden that they created.
Slide Show will give more information

Final Make – Math Space

For my final make I decided to find a way to use technology in the classroom much more than I currently do.  When it comes to math, typing it on a computer is extremely time consuming and can be difficult if you don’t know how it works.  I was introduced to this program by a student that I tutor who uses it in her high school Algebra 1 class.  I absolutely LOVED it the moment I started using it.  I would argue that it is the best Math program for students that I have tried thus far.  Take a look at my presentation for my Final Make and check out Math Space to see for yourself!

Final Makes

Designing a Connected Learning Project in High School Physics

ED677: Final Makes

Dylan Fedell


For my Final Makes I am designing a culminating activity for my optics unit in physics. In optics we cover the following topics:

This project is a work in progress, but I wanted to outline my thinking in this project and how it will support connected learning and equity in my classroom, in addition to my own thinking, learning, and practice.

Personally, one of the greatest hurdles to implementing connected learning practices in the classroom is how intangible its ideas still are for many educators. If I had not taken three graduate courses on the subject I would still be lost…actually if I had stopped at two courses I would still be lost. I think it’s because existing lessons may already contain aspects of connected learning, just not labeled as such; or existing lessons with minimal connected learning practices can be modified to incorporate a few of these practices or a lot; it’s your choice! What it really comes down to is what questions do you ask yourself when reflecting and developing a lesson. So, I decided that if I used the themes of our studies in ED677 to devise reflective questions, I could develop a connected learning dogma to guide my practice. Below are the questions that I devised and asked myself:

  • How is the activity openly-networked or allow students to engage in shared purpose?
  • How is the activity production-centered (circulation & visibility of artifacts; access to production tools; collective purpose; just-in-time instruction; value & common purpose (racing at end…build a car))?
  • In what ways does the activity include student interest in academic, civic, community, or career areas?
  • How is the activity a collaboration of other contents, other schools or learning settings?
  • In what ways am I promoting inquiry to build knowledge?
  • In what ways am I letting go of control?
  • In what ways am I supporting current events and fostering civic participation?
  • In what ways am I showing that I care enough that everyone can share their whole selves?


At the beginning of the school year one of my colleagues in the art department let me borrow a book titled, Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light. Quite honestly, I had not anticipated using this book in my classroom or there being a strong connection between the two topics, but I had wanted to scan its nearly 500 pages out of pure interest. Before scanning, I was aware that physics tools were being used to preserve, restore, and even “look” underneath existing paintings at previously undiscovered artwork or technique (since canvas’ were typically reused, older artwork was simply painted over).

A little while later, in between semesters, I was scanning the book and began to read. The chapter on light was fascinating! One of the topics I found really interesting was how early renaissance artists learned to depict light and how artists use of light spurred scientific thinking and reasoning in order to draw the interaction of light and objects accurately (shadowing). My idea for a hook and culminating task would be as if the student were contracted to paint a picture for some royal figure. In order to do so they would have to learn how light travels and interacts with different objects and pigments and then actually draw it; while learning some of the tricks of the trade of how artists depict light. I wrote this down where I log my ideas for projects and while looking for inspiration for this final make, I had a connected learning epiphany, and decided to revisit this idea!


I decided when I had this epiphany to meet with AT, the art teacher who had lent me the book. AT liked the idea of collaboration between our two departments and shared that he had always wanted to design a project that allowed students to create their own pigments. He also detailed a history of artists using light which was both fascinating and unbeknownst to me at that time. AT mentioned one landscape artist who was particularly famous for his drawings precision; it is suspected that he used a pinhole camera to magnify and project an image onto a canvas for tracing; this before the time of lenses.

After meeting with AT, I began thinking about how we could synthesize our ideas into something meaningful. The science behind these projects fits directly into the physics curriculum, but I wanted to make this project more than just a meshing of contents. So, I began with several components I felt embodied a connected classroom, the project(s) needed to, a) contribute to a positive educational atmosphere; b) exhibit skills and learning done in the classroom; and c) allow students to contribute in different ways that allow them to share/explore areas of skill/interest.

Below is a progression of my thinking as I began answering the questions I had developed (as stated above):

With shared-purpose in mind, I began to think of a mural, display, or kinetic sculpture that students of any skill level could contribute to. For convenience I will refer to murals, displays, and kinetic sculptures simply as displays. I thought of these displays because they can be large in scale, and contribute to a positive atmosphere in our school community. Shared purpose to me feels democratic in a sense because students need to identify what aspects of the content or ideas for the project are important to them as a group. Since the goal would be to include specific concepts or phenomena unique to light, students would need to collectively brainstorm and decide which optics content would be incorporated into the project.

As I focused on openly-networking this project I imagined a whole school voting on the design and inclusion of different works depicted on the display. I would also like to include staff and administration in deciding the location of the project. For the purpose of continuing this project in future semesters I am imagining a display that can be moved, and taken down when convenient.

Next, I wanted to incorporate meaning into the project. In what ways is this project meaningful to my students and meaningful to others? I began to think about civics, community, and career and in what ways I could incorporate skills needed in these areas into this project. The first thing I thought of was students devising a proposal for the display. The proposal could take the form of a written letter, a film, or a presentation to administration outlining the project and its meaning. Upon feedback and approval students could write a funding request (apply for a “grant”) for supplies which most likely would come out of the science department, art department, or principals budget.

At this point I asked myself, why would the school spend money on this project? How does this progress or aid learning (academics)? I thought about this mural becoming an interactive learning display, where students could appreciate the artistic qualities of the piece but also the learning that is incorporated in it. Students could manipulate the display in many ways, for example, moving a light source to cast shadows of different shapes onto the display, or looking through a polarized lens to see a piece of art. Could we display our mural in a community art show?

In supporting a collaborative environment, I began to think about ways my students could interact and utilize the resources that exist around them. Could the English department help students write their proposal? Could the library provide a platform for student research? I also thought about how the student body would be incorporated, after all, their votes would be guiding the message of the display. I am wondering if a group of students could document the process and share progress over social media or other venues. They could even collaborate with our districts Director of Community Relations and Development who runs our social media accounts.

Developing a role for current events and civics in this project was at first a stretch. But, I came to realize that art is often a reflection of current events in the artist’s life. I imagine a display with a central theme based on current events or promoting awareness that incorporates physical pieces of the display to emphasize the meaning of the display. For example, students could use lenses to magnify pictures or facts of importance.

Overall, I feel the main purpose of this project is for students to learn and contribute. I imagine that this project would work a lot like the school play, everyone contributes to the production in different ways, but collectively. Some students with an interest or skill set will build the set for the mural or construct the displays; some will write the proposal and rationale; other students will draw; while some students promote and document. I feel this model allows students to explore their interests and learn new things, but also provide a learning experience for other students with their individual skill set, allowing students to share their full selves.

Summary & Next Steps:

How is the activity openly-networked or allow students to engage in shared purpose?

  • Design and build display exhibiting optics; an awareness topic important to students is the theme.
  • Survey the school to choose parts of the display or to choose theme.

How is the activity production-centered?

  • Design and create a display for the school.
  • Design and create an academically-oriented interactive display – using light to create art.

In what ways does the activity include student interest in academic, civic, community, or career areas?

  • Students write/film/present a proposal for the display, seeking approval and to motivate student body to participate; apply for funding of supplies.
  • Display in a community art show or (depending upon theme) a local awareness event.

How is the activity a collaboration of other contents, other schools or learning settings?

  • Collaboration with the art department (how artists use light, designing/mixing pigments).
  • Collaboration with the English department (drafting proposal).
  • Collaboration with Library (as a research platform).
  • Students will document and update progress in real time through technology (social media, etc.)
  • Collaborate with Director of Outreach for building social media presence.

In what ways am I promoting inquiry to build knowledge?

  • Students will research a theme of their collective choosing.
  • This will be an educational display; students require a deep knowledge of optics to build display.

In what ways am I letting go of control?

  • The student body will choose the theme (message) of the display.
  • Students are tasked with all aspects of this project from production to promotion.

In what ways am I supporting current events and fostering civic participation?

  • Students choose a central theme based on current events or promoting awareness.
  • Display or present in a community art show or (depending upon theme) a local awareness event.

In what ways am I showing that I care enough that everyone can share their whole selves?

  • Students will have different jobs based upon their interests and skills; designing, constructing, drawing, writing proposal and rationale, presenting display, promoting, documenting.

Next steps include receiving and reflecting on feedback from class. Although, I may not have a chance to implement this project before the end of the year, I plan to incorporate this project into my curriculum next time I teach this course. Nothing works out the kinks (so to speak) as when thirty or more students work through its entirety! Overall, I am very excited about this project, I have been looking for an opportunity to include a project rooted in connected learning practices into my curriculum.


Making Curriculum More Equitable

In an effort to make education more equitable, I decided to take it upon myself to re-write my current curriculum to make education more accessible for my students.  With that said, it is my honor to share what I have done with all of you in the hopes that you all might be inspired to break through barriers you might be facing when working to make education more equitable for your students.  


Ms. J