My Connections that Last a Lifetime:) (F5F 2/16!!)

1) Mentors- Dr. Iles

Most of you probably know her because she is a professor at Arcadia. She actually was my next-door teacher mentor last school year. I went to her so many times about the problems I needed to work on as an educator. She always supported me and gave me wonderful suggestions. Plus they always worked for me! Without Dr. Iles, I do not know how I would survive my first year of teaching. She is a excellent resource with a wealth of knowledge about education.


2) Next, I belong to a teacher network called induction. This is a state mandated program for level 1 teachers. In the induction program, we talk about how our teaching career is going so far. In the class, teachers problem solve together to find common ground. We also learn researched based evidence about the importance of building character with students. All districts should offer the Induction program for teachers that have less than 6 years of experience.


3) Online, I belong to a group I mentioned previously. This is a group for Philadelphia Union educators called PFT 3 local. I really like this group because Philadelphia educators are able to post situations where they wobble. Honestly, I am going to post about struggling with classroom management during dismissal. I want to see if other educators around the city go about solving this issue.


4) Another great connection is my grade group team this year. We are a very diverse group. Meaning, our teaching experience is from 2 years to 30 years. We work as a team and really help each other. As a teacher, I feel like it is beneficial when connecting with educators that teach the same grade as you. These teachers have to teach the concept and may or may not have the same wobbles as you.


5) On Facebook, there is also a group called, First Grade Fun times. This is a network for elementary school teachers or any teachers all around the world. I highly recommend that you join. I personally posted a time when I struggled to communicate with a parent. The suggestions I received were and are amazing! I used these suggestions and the parent requested me for their child this year.



My Day of Play

This week, I was told to take time out of my schedule to “play.” When I was asked to do so, I realized that I hadn’t really taken time to play something in a long time. I spend time with family and friends, but I asked myself how often do we really play or do something we really enjoy? For me, I love crafting and baking. Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, I figured I could make a special something for my students and coworkers. I decided on a Valentine’s Day “puppy chow” because who doesn’t like chocolate, sugar, and peanut butter?! As I was creating my “puppy chow,” I was relaxed and focused on making a delicious treat. I noticed I did not touch my phone once! Shocking. Not only did I enjoy mixing my ingredients, but I realized I felt like a learner. I had never made “puppy chow” before, so I needed to reflect on the recipe multiple times. This feeling of being a learner reminded me of an article we read in class titled “How Playing with Math Helps Teachers Better Empathize with Students.” ( As educators, we sometimes forget what it is like to complete a task and work through difficulties. It is important to be reminded of how our students feel when they are learning, so that we understand their feelings towards the learning process. Also, I enjoyed “playing” because I was learning and having fun at the same time. Since the learning was incorporated with something I was interested in, I enjoyed the progression. I feel that in this day and age, fun and learning are not necessarily considered connected, but why not! Learning can be and is fun. Relating to connected learning, teachers must connect content to their students’ interests. Therefore, students will have fun while they are learning and will learn to appreciate the learning process.

Here is my messy (but exciting) process….

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Learning (and Wobbling) in Connected Community

As the 12-year olds tell us in Mitch Resnick’s article:

Start simple
Work on things that you like If you have no clue what to do, fiddle around
Don’t be afraid to experiment
Find a friend to work with, share ideas!
It’s OK to copy stuff (to give you an idea)
Keep your ideas in a sketchbook
Build, take apart, rebuild
Lots of things can go wrong, stick with it

Excellent job doing these things over the past week. For those who missed our gathering, we had an excellent conversation about play and games, so make sure to watch the recording (starts around 5:00).

Here is the related document we were using; find our spectrogram as well as  a link to a consent form for participating in a Connected Learning Study that Dr. Kira Baker-Doyle talked to us about.

Let’s bring these ideas into our work ahead … thinking about how we might not just play but also play along, playing with, play around, playing off of, etc. as we pose, wobble and flow together this week ahead.


This week, let’s continue to play and learn alongside colleagues, with a focus on what it is like to learn, and to wobble, in connected communities. And what are the implications for learning and for equity?

What does it mean to wobble? Let’s start to think about this by doing some social reading (and writing) with Antero Garcia and Cindy O’Donnell-Allen using their chapter What it Means to Pose, Wobble, Flow from Pose, Wobble, Flow: A Culturally Proactive Approach to Literacy Instruction.

… we offer a framework we call Pose, Wobble, Flow, which will prompt you to maintain the continual focus on personal reflexivity and professional growth that is so necessary for acknowledging how privilege and cultural positionality shape one’s practice.

This chapter has been shared on the Marginal Syllabus project and therefore you can annotate and also see the annotations of others from a previously scheduled annotation event (Please use the tag #ED677 when you annotate so we can find/see each others comments).

A second reading is titled “Globalization, Localization, Uncertainty and Wobble: Implications for Education” by Bob Fecho. (Note: If you can’t get this article with your Arcadia account, let me know.)

… As the field of education struggles to catch-up with ever-burgeoning technology that brings the world and our uncertainties about the world to our fingertips, this article theorizes the role of uncertainty in the classroom, particularly as it occurs at the intersection of the global and the local.

And then, stop by a site that Bob created with others called Storri at Teachers College at Columbia University. This is a site where teachers courageously share their stories of wobble. Pick out 2-3 stories from across the different categories to focus on. Makes notes to yourself — What issues were causing wobble for these educators and what complexities are discussed?


Note: this may take you more than just this week to accomplish, depending on when you start.

This week, check out the set of provocations that Antero and Cindy offer at the end of their chapter (page 14 of What it Means to Pose, Wobble, Flow):*

  1. Keep a journal or diary (digital or nondigital) and begin listing the areas of your practice that you continue to struggle with. Prioritize those areas that require the most in-depth scrutiny. [slight edit] Do you think any of these are poses? If so, make notes to yourself about this.
  2. Try jotting brief notes in your daily lesson plans or recording a few words on sticky notes that will later jog your memory about classroom events related to your wobble. If it’s easier, you can even record voice memos on your phone or computer and listen to them on your way home to reflect on how your teaching went that day. As you interrogate your wobble by inquiring into your practice, what insights are you finding? Where are you experiencing flow?
  3. Use the same process above to reflect on your students’ work. Seeing this as data for meaningfully informed wobbling, what are your students producing, and what does their work say about your classroom’s culture, your teaching practice, your understanding of who your students are? Don’t forget that your students are the best source of information about their own learning. Talk to them and try to find common ground.

Try these suggestions for one week. And then share a reflection on what you learn in the process of doing these things. If you are comfortable sharing notes you took along the way, feel free (but please make your own decision about this; you should always consider the public nature of blogging before posting). Keep those notes so that you can look back and reflect on them throughout the semester.

Remember in your reflection to come back to our main questions, ie. what is it like to learn, and to wobble, in connected communities? What are the implications of wobble for connected learning and equity?


The 12 year olds above tell us to “Find a friend to work with, share ideas!” Antero and Cindy also ask us to “Seek out allies and mentors” and write:

… even though the model as we’ve described it above often sounds individualistic, we don’t intend for it to be. In fact … we have found that we go through P/W/F cycles most successfully when we collaborate with colleagues who provide moral support and at the same time challenge our thinking.

This week, start to identify some allies and mentors for yourself or others who you might support you when you wobble. Are they people you work with or connect with through school? Are there networks to connect to, professional alliance or organizations that can be supportive? What about some of the new connections you’ve been exploring, both on and offline? Where do you as an educator find moral support while challenging your thinking?


Finally, if you are up for it, it is Valentine’s week after all and love is in the air. Why not share with the world what it is you love about teaching! Check out #loveteaching to learn how.

New to Twitter? Many educators are using twitter to connect with colleagues and also to engage in discussion about education as professionals in the field. If you are interested, the Studies of Literacies and Multimedia (SLAM) Assembly of NCTE ran a webinar (yes, that is the same Antero Garcia and Nicole Mirra you’ve been reading!) on Learning to Tweet. Check it out.

Also, as we discussed on our hangout last week, there are other ways beyond blogging that we might want to connect/share at #ED677. To do so, tag things with #ED677 and then invite us to follow-along. For example:

#ED677 via twitter
#ED677 via

Where else do you already hangout out online and want to start a discussion with us … Instagram? Others? Make suggestions as part of your Find 5s if you think it can be supportive.

In learning and connecting solidarity,

Blog post – Week 3 – 1/29 Seeking Equity

1.  The majority of the time I was reading through the piece by Craig Froehle, I kept thinking back to a unit from ED678 about appropriation and stealing Navajo designs.  It sounds like Craig Froehle didn’t mind and even seemed pleased that some artists such as Angus Maguire picked up his idea and improved the artistry or reworked the idea.  There were however, some exceptions and he did seem to mind when others added boxes, indicating that resources were increased but there was no mention of how that occurred.  In regards to equity, it is important for educators to be aware of cultural differences.  “We have a responsibility to listen to people of marginalized cultures, understand as much as possible the blatant and subtle ways in which their cultures have been appropriated and exploited, and educate ourselves enough to make informed choices when it comes to engaging with people of other cultures.”

The Difference Between Cultural Exchange and Cultural Appropriation

Also, in the Reich and Ito article “From Good Intentions to Real Outcomes”, the authors state that, “Lack of awareness of learner’s specific social and cultural contexts can lead to unanticipated outcomes”  and so there is a need to increase awareness.

2. Here is a great article to get started with the topic of equity in education!

3. The Educon panel discussion indicated that it is important for students to have experiences like that of the real world.  Educators should try to “[connect]…the world of work and the future of careers…break down this barrier between school and the rest of the world. (1:43:34)   The following excerpt from the New York Times indicates the importance and value of working within a group.  The article continues to discuss the investigation into why some groups are more successful than others and provides meaningful insight into the conditions for successful groups.

What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team

“In Silicon Valley, software engineers are encouraged to work together, in part because studies show that groups tend to innovate faster, see mistakes more quickly and find better solutions to problems. Studies also show that people working in teams tend to achieve better results and report higher job satisfaction. In a 2015 study, executives said that profitability increases when workers are persuaded to collaborate more. Within companies and conglomerates, as well as in government agencies and schools, teams are now the fundamental unit of organization. If a company wants to outstrip its competitors, it needs to influence not only how people work but also how they work together.”

4. Also during the Educon panel discussion, the term “gamer-gate” came up (1:37:17) and as I was unfamiliar with this, I wanted to investigate further. While I am not much of a gamer at this point in time, I have some experience with coding and am very much an advocate for increasing female participation in typically male dominant areas such as coding and chess club.  

Here is the wikipedia entry on the topic

Gamergate Controversy

There is much controversy surrounding gamergate and without getting into too much detail, one of the lead advocates, Anita Sarkeesian is a highly polarizing figure. I was considering posting her interview with Stephen Colbert, but decided not to.  If you choose to look into this issue, I would encourage you to do so with a critical eye and suggest looking for a variety of perspectives.  After spending a bit of time looking into this, I will admit that I am more unsettled than when I began.

5. I was highly intrigued by a section of Reich and Ito’s “From Good Intentions to Real Outcomes” which sited a 1990’s study by Harold Wenglinsky which found that, “ low-income, nonwhite children more often used technology in math class for drill and practice, while affluent, white children were more likely to use technology for graphing, problem solving and other higher-order exercises” (Pages 6 and 7). Teaching teachers how to effectively utilize technology is an important component in the quest for equity.  

I have access to a set of TI Nspire calculators which I am familiar with, however I know they are capable of much more than I know how to do.  I have looked up a few things here and there over the past four years, however I would really like to spend more time learning how they can be leveraged to a higher degree in all of my classes.  The following youtube channels are great resources.

Texas Instruments

TI Calculators

6. Desmos! I have always loved Desmos for graphing and so to see it listed in Reich and Ito’s “From Good Intentions to Real Outcomes” (Page 15) brought me much joy.  Desmos offers a four function calculator, a scientific calculator, a graphing calculator and much more!  They also offer classroom activities and you can even save files for demonstrations within your own lessons!  They even have animations illustrating concepts such as how to graph the sine function from the unit circle which I use in my PreCalculus course. 

7. #The4thBox

I created two very different scenarios for #The4thBox.  First is a positive spin where the three people sit down together and build a community through conversation.  The boxes allow the people a place to sit and discuss equity and equality.  The second depiction is of the tallest person taking all of the resources and greedily taking advantage of the situation.  Rather than caring for the other two hopeful spectators, this person has wielded their physical power to exclude the others.  This situation does occur in the real world.  Perhaps only the tallest/strongest person was able to lift the heavy boxes and so felt that they alone deserve to use them.  Perhaps only they had the financial means to purchase the boxes and for this reason decided to maintain full control without giving either of the other two hopeful spectators an opportunity to make a purchase.  Regardless of the reason, it certainly does not seem fair to me.   

Find 5 Sunday 2/11

Hope these five things help you play a little bit more — Going to keep with my NBA/Math theme a little bit…

I enjoy using sports and math to help students develop decision-making skills and open-minded math skills. The less rigid math is, the more that can be done with it. Or in the words of this class, ‘play’ with it.

  1. I subscribe to Cleaning the Glass by Ben Falk, a former Sixers analytics guy, but you can see a lot of statistics without paying for it. This site offers some insights into ‘playing’ in a front office, as well as trying to find out different factors that make NBA teams good.
  2. Sam Hinkie, the former GM of the 76ers, wrote a famous resignation letter of how to navigate playing through factors of luck and opportunity cost and analytics. It’s a cool insight into his brain to approaching his job.
  3. This is more of a fun type of play — Tankathon simulates the NBA lottery system for draft picks. You can play it over and over again, and see all the different possibilities for the NBA Draft order. We’ve used it in class to illustrate how over a short sample, probabilities don’t play out as predicted, but over the long term they do.
  4. People often view success — in sports or anywhere — as good or bad, but there are really so many in betweens. Sometimes, it’s unreasonable to be upset if an outcome didn’t work out perfectly. For example, some teams want their top draft pick to be a superstar, while others want him to be a good role player. This is the beginning of an analysis into that lens of thinking.
  5. In class last week, we used this article about the 1998 Yankees to try to define what greatness meant. It didn’t have to be in a sports context, but the results were interesting. Did you use statistics or more qualitative attributes? There were no wrong answers, and it was really helpful in getting kids to think openly about math.


Go Eagles! What a week.

Playing with the NBA

I’ve always been a sports guy, but basketball was always my least favorite because I never played it. I loved the Sixers, but it wasn’t the same as any of the other teams I loved. That still might have manifested itself as more of a fanatic than most, but when they hired Sam Hinkie as their general manager a few years ago, my way of looking at sports changed for the better. It’s affected me in several ways I look a life – both professionally and personally.

In what made sense to me but not to too many others, the Sixers needed to lose to get better in what became known as “The Process.” It was lambasted by fans, media members, and other NBA people, but to people like me, it was like the light bulb went off. It was the extreme example of analytics being brought into sports. It became an enormously creative process that has brought the Sixers back to being relevant, even as Hinkie ‘sacrificed’ his own position to show how much faith he had in this new approach.

Anyway, I play with a lot of different scenarios acting as if I am the decision-maker of my beloved 76ers. Sports fans do this all the time with their teams, but it consumes a lot of my time, discussing it with my brothers, with my students, with my friends. It’s developed my love and appreciation of statistics, probability, randomness, and luck.

Although my love of math already existed, to better understand what my favorite team was doing, I learned more about union negotiations, contract law, how the salary cap worked, and all the possibilities the team could do to try to improve in the future while keeping opportunity cost as low as possible. Because I don’t actually get to make any decisions, I could be as creative as I wanted and create an infinite number of scenarios without any fear of retribution; this actually isn’t that different than what teams do in real life, except they have rewards and consequences.

I use a lot these resources in my probability/statistics elective class at school to allow students to be creative in math. I find that most curricula are rigid, and this at least provides some opportunity to foster decision-making skills where no one decision is inherently wrong as long as you can support it. It also introduces how randomness and luck are factors, but how you can possibly sway those factors in your favor just a little bit.

I could ramble on forever about how I play on these resources all the time to see how many different possibilities I can create or lessons I can teach. Here are a few of them if you would like to see for yourself: (works better on iOS)


Making Math FUN in 7 ways

Math is usually not everyone’s favorite subject, but I thought if people could see how fun math can be I could change some minds!

  1. Who doesn’t love a great math game website?? This one covers all the basics and works for all ages! Cool Math
  2. Math Playground  is another great website that breaks games down by grade level for students to play.
  3. Using games we already love such as connect 4 and putting a math twist usually works.  Kids know the rules already and they can practice math skills! Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 1.43.13 PM
  4. WAR is classic card game that can be used in math class if you have some time to kill.  Instead of playing traditionally with the highest card winning, change the rules and have the students flip two cards each time and multiply the values. This allows students to practice multiplication skills while playing a game of cards!
  5. Kahoot! is a great game website to use in the classroom especially when it comes to math.  The students are able to answer questions while earning points in hopes to be the winner.  This is engaging because all students answer the questions while making it a bit competitive.  Teachers also can see a report of all of the questions answered correctly/incorrectly per student.
  6. Math Game Time not only has games broken down by grade level, but also has videos and worksheets to practice math skills.
  7. I came across Rachel’s blog on Pinterest and use her dice games in class whenever I have 5-10 minutes to kill!

Playing with Blackout Poetry

Playing Games for an assignment was definitely not something I expected in Grad school, but I did it with a smile 🙂

I decided to try some Blackout Poetry.  I have heard of it a few times before and it always seemed quite interesting.  English teachers that I work with have their students try it in class and it always seems to be a hit.  I used a page from a love story and blacked out the lovey context and searched for a bit deeper of a meaning.  While I was blacking out words and sentences it felt like I was truly making something completely new and all my own.  Writing a poem from scratch can be intimidating as you stare at a blank page, using someone else’s words and changing them to make your own was was less daunting.

I must say, seeing the words disappear under the black marker was thrilling.  I never think of myself as a very creative person, but today  I was 🙂 Enjoy!

image1 (1)

Seek 7 Sunday

  1. After thinking about Candy Crush Saga a lot this week, I decided to see what types of benefits it has on the brain. I found this article, which discusses the benefits of Candy Crush (and probably could apply to a bunch of other phone games as well).
  2. Thinking more about the benefits of play, I found this graphic which depicts all of the different benefits of play. Image result
  3. In this article, the author speaks about how play is actually preparing children for the challenges of adulthood.
  4. A great new math game that my students have just started to play is called Prodigy Math. It combines math and video gaming AND has connected learning opportunities! (Triple Whammy!) It gamifies math practice by allowing students to play math-focused video games against other students in their class, which brings in that connected learning aspect.
  5. Katie’s blog has a post about a game she played with her 2nd grade class. She combined a maker component (another connected learning example) and play to create a great learning opportunity for her students. Check it out!
  6. Minecraft seems to be a vessel for combining play and connected learning AND equity. This article discusses the challenges and benefits of Minecraft in many different facets.
  7. And… one last meme that gives the phrase “playing games” a different meaning…Image result for keep playing meme

The Saga of Candy Crush Saga

This week, I’ve been doing a ton of thinking about “play.” Typically, the idea of play makes me think of a park or playground, a basement with a video game console, kids  on a jungle gym, etc. But really, what is play? According to, play means to “engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.” This led me to think a bit more… as adults, do we engage in play as well? Does it look the same as child’s play? Does it have the same benefits?

After reflecting on our BlueJeans conference from Thursday night, I realized that I actually do a lot more playing in my everyday life than I originally thought. For me, watching television is a form of play for me. I engage in the act of watching TV for enjoyment and recreation, rather than for a serious or practical purpose. Watching TV shuts off my mind and transports me to an alternate (and sometimes imaginary) world that is vastly different from the world in which I live. This is a somewhat adult form of “play.”

Additionally, for many years, I have been a Candy Crush Saga enthusiast. For those of you who don’t know, Candy Crush is a game that can be played on a smartphone, tablet, or computer. The game involves swiping “candies” to the left, right, up, and down, to make matches of three or more similarly colored candies. I’m sure that anyone who plays Candy Crush would attest to the fact that the game is highly addictive. Playing the game results in dopamine production in the brain, which is linked to what makes it so addictive.

This week, instead of just playing my regular games of Candy Crush as I waited in the waiting room, before I fell asleep, and while watching a boring TV show, I actually stopped to think about the benefits that this form of “play” had on me. First of all, it is somewhat of an escape from reality. Just like other forms of play, Candy Crush hooks me in and sometimes I feel so engrossed that I shut out the outside world for a few minutes. (Do I sound like an addict…? You decide!) This helps me to decompress, relax, and forget about the stresses and pressures of everyday life. In this sense, I discovered this week that Candy Crush, although it can be addicting and probably has had some pretty bad effects on my eyes/brain, it does have benefits as well.

So… is play just for kids? No! Play can be beneficial for all ages. Going into this next week, I’m going to focus on incorporating new play-learning activities into my classroom.