Make. Reflect. Repeat.

This semester in #ED677, I felt exposed, scared, vulnerable, overwhelmed, apprehensive, confused, pensive, reflective, resilient, curious, innovative, connected, challenged, exhausted, knocked down, inspired, and encouraged.

These past few months have been a growing experience for me personally, professionally, and digitally.  I tend to be a private person, so having my information, thoughts, and struggles out there for all to see and read about was a challenge to mentally overcome.  I was so focused on what I was going through, that I forgot why I was doing it, for the students.

The reason for engagement this semester was to understand what equity looks like in connected learning.  The title of the class, Seeking Equity in Connected Learning and Teaching, set the tone for the course right off the bat, for better or for worse. The title assumes that there is a lack of equity in connected learning and teaching, and while I do agree with this assumption, it also demonstrates a sort of inequity in that it sets the teacher up to be the expert and the students to be the sponges of information.  This is just one way this class is important.

This semester, we were challenged as both educators and students to view the classroom differently.  We were challenged to view the classroom as a fluid, safe place to teach standards and validate the student experience because the two are far from mutually exclusive!  What we did this semester is important because it reinforced the mentality of utilizing the expertise in the room and not just the expertise at the front of the room.   This was liberating from a teacher perspective and empowering from a student perspective.

When reflecting on the semester with my students, I asked them what they appreciated most about the semester.  One student responded, “I felt like I could be myself.  We all attending the same class, but I was able to focus my project on my own interests and that forced me to be more outside my comfort zone in Spain.  It was scary and cool.”

To me, this is why what we did this semester is important.  We want learning to be relevant to students but what is relevant to one, might not be relevant to the next, so give them freedom and genuine choice.  But also demonstrate how and where to find the resources the students need to accomplish what they set out to accomplish.

Designing for Equity, continues …

It’s funny how life takes us on journeys we neither dreamed of nor thought possible. So now, it’s my turn to help my students begin journeys that they too neither dreamed of nor thought possible!

A Moment of Reflection, Live. Laugh. Love. Teach

I would love to have an art app that isn’t about old artists, art history and techniques. I would like one where both art students and teachers could use it as a current library for the latest and hottest artists from all over the world but is geared towards students and teachers.

Pop Art Portfolio App, L.B.I. Art Ed

They were excited with a small amount of confusion with their freedom.

A Small Move in the Art Classroom, Katie’s Blog

A peer from my class posted this article (thanks Kristin!!). This first sentence sums up much of the conversations that I have with administrators at colleges (Just providing the technology for classrooms is not enough…)

ED677 Week 8 s6s, brentarcadia

My brother is very intelligent, though you would not necessarily know it by looking at his report cards growing up. He thinks differently and is stimulated by real-world problems, not the facsimiles produced in classrooms.

Finding Our Shared Purpose, Learning to Connect

Find something they like
Something important to them
And push their limits

A Series of Small Move Haikus, Danny C – Connected Learning

One of my biggest struggles is that my students want answers instantly without having to do much thinking on their own. This teacher shows how to let the students draw their own conclusions from simply scaffolding the discussion.

Six Small Move Finds, Brianna’s Blog

The Adventures of CL Girl, Connected Learning

So many classrooms are equipped with technology that is being used because it is technology (ie. putting a worksheet on a google doc instead of printing it), not to engage learners in the active use of technology which can further students’ learning, understanding and development.

Search Seven Sunday, finally fifth

I think it would be interesting for students of all ages to be able to see how the words they use can be interpreted (or perhaps misinterpreted) into a geometric figure, equation, graph, inequality, etc. By allowing students to correct their work and visualize the misunderstandings, they are able to better understand how to communicate mathematically.

Say What? Math Edition, Strengthening Connections

There were many speeches made at the various marches that were publicized nationally. However, other students also made a strong impact with speeches that we didn’t get the chance to hear.

Relate and Rally: App for Equity, Learn with Miss Stern

This app would include the free download of the book, books on students reading levels, and the nearest library of where the book can be rented . Last, the app would share Philadelphia students reviews of the book.

My app that benefits the community, Michael Kodush – Impact I can make

This week, I decided to take the topics we have been discussing in our connected learning class and discuss them with my students. Since we have been discussing topics like equity, interest learning, student choice, and technology, I decided to listen to what my students had to say!

Student Talk, Teaching While Learning

What poses are central to connected learning…what makes it different from what I am doing or have done in the past…which poses do I wobble between transitions and what poses do I flow between?

Connected Yoga, Do to Learn, Learn to Do

You all = Awesome.

This week, please continue to work on your final makes as per last week’s post. Please make sure to sign up for one of these evening gatherings or email me so that we can discuss an alternative plan (note that we can’t have everyone present the last day, so works-in-progress that first evening next week are also fine and if you can switch to next week with that caveat in mind, please do).

Nice work on our Equity in Connected Learning presentation! We have one more addition and then we will be ready to share. Keep an eye out this week: I’ll send a short URL and some suggestions for sharing it with our larger networks.

And as you work on your final make, don’t forget to check in on your own assessment of your progress with the ED677 Self-Assessment Guide. Also, anyone else doing a Data Detox? I am finding it pretty fascinating I’ve got to say and my colleague Andrea Zellner, @andreazellner, is doing it with me too.

In connected solidarity,


A Moment of Reflection

Just like with most everything else, when something is coming to an end, you tend to take a step back to reflect.  While I did not think this school year would end, we’re only two months away from the last day of school.  While my students never thought high school would end, my seniors now are on the brink of graduation!  So, as this semester comes to a close, I am taking a step back and looking at all that has happened over the last semester.  

Though I have had exposure to the area of Connected Learning, this semester, I was encouraged to take a step further by looking at Equity in Education, while also taking a look into my journey that has enabled me to be where I currently am. 

I started my journey by pursuing a degree in English and secondary education.  After graduating from college and after moving back home, it was difficult finding a job as a secondary English teacher.  Thus began my two-year stint as a pre-school teacher.  While I enjoyed being a pre-school teacher, I felt as though I was not complete.  At this point, I made the decision to go back to school to pursue a Master’s of Science degree in Special Education.  Unfortunately, this conflicted with my work schedule, forcing me to switch jobs.  This actually ended up being a blessing in disguise, as I was able to find a job as an Instructional Assistant in an 11th grade Learning Support classroom.  Not only was I able to complete my program and attain my degree, but I also was able to garner an insane amount of experience that helped lead me to my current position.  Presently, I am working as an Autistic Support teacher at the high school level, while working to attain a Master’s of Education degree with endorsements in Autism and Connected Learning.  While my last graduate program helped me in terms of getting a job, this particular program is helping me to be better with my job.  Slowly, but surely, I’ve been making small moves.  These small moves include incorporating project-based learning and technology-based lessons into my units.  The eventual goal, though, is to create a full curriculum with lessons that utilized connected learning ideologies.  Not only will this make the curriculum more fun, but I really do believe the students will get more out of the lessons.

With that said, let’s actually take a minute to talk about my students.  My students are limited in certain skill sets that tend to come more easily to some of their typically developing peers, thereby creating an unequal playing field.  As a result, education is not so equitable for my kiddos, as well as for other students in a variety of differing situations.  This semester really forced me to think about equity in education, which then enabled me to realize how inequitable education is for so many students.  

Thus, we come to my goal.  My goal is to do my best to make my students’ education as equitable as I possibly can by enabling them with as many resources as I have up my sleeve to increase their chances of success both in and out of the classroom.  My goal is to do this by working toward incorporating more connected learning ideologies into my curriculum, while also consulting with other classroom teachers to help them do this as well.  

It’s funny how life takes us on journeys we neither dreamed of nor thought possible.  So now, it’s my turn to help my students begin journeys that they too neither dreamed of nor though possible!



Ms. J

Blog post – Week 12 – 4/9 Shared Purpose

Geometry in Construction

I absolutely LOVE this story! A math teacher and industrial technology teacher came up with this idea and it seems to be highly sucessful! “To Burke, the program really is about providing a valuable experience to students and a service to the community.” The students really seem to want to connect their learning!  “The students conducted a survey of some members of the Loveland community, asking if they are interested in helping the homeless and trying to determine where that desire to help ends.”

Arcadia Public Art Project


For several years, I commuted through the Glenside train station.  It’s really great to see a positive change in the community lead by Arcadians.  The project does need more funding in order to achieve the goal of including LED lighting which looks REALLY COOL!  I will be donating to this project and would encourage others to do the same.  

The College March

The students of Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School in New York City marched to the post office together to mail their college applications.  The streets are closed and the student body as well as the community outside the school are there to show their support for the seniors in their quest to go to college.

Purpose is good.  Shared purpose is better.

This article was written for a business audience, but the concepts can certainly be applied to the classroom if you substitute students for customers.  The main idea is that having a shared purpose is more important than simply having a purpose.  “Most leaders think of purpose as a purpose for. But what is needed is a purpose with.” When the purpose is shared, the engagement is stronger.

When students and teachers can work together towards a shared purpose, the sum of their work is greater than the parts.

I really like this quote as a reminder that small changes can sum to a large impact.  This helps me to not feel overwhelmed by trying to take on too much at one time.  

Student Talk

This week, I decided to take the topics we have been discussing in our connected learning class and discuss them with my students. Since we have been discussing topics like equity, interest learning, student choice, and technology, I decided to listen to what my students had to say!

The following examples show my students’ viewpoints about each topic (in their point of view):

Equity/fairness/respect: During testing, teachers bring in snacks and make sure that every student in the class gets some. We enjoy getting snacks because it shows that our teacher cares about us. Also, our teachers show respect to each other because they say “in my class you can do ______, but in another class you need to follow Mrs. ______’s rules. This tells us that our teachers respect one another. We know our teachers care about us because they tell us things like “we are a family” and that makes us feel good inside. In class, some kids get taken out to go to other classrooms to work on what they need. This is good for us and our friends.

Interest learning: We like when teachers talk about our interests with us. They know what we like to do, but it does not always get talked about when we are actually learning. When we are done our work, we like how we can choose what we want to do from a set of choices.

Student choice: We like when we can choose from a lot of things we might be interested in because if there is one option you might not enjoy, it can get boring. Also, some things might be more difficult for certain students to do, so they can choose what is easy for them. When we have choice, it makes us feel lucky and happy.

Technology: We really like to use technology because we use it a lot every day. It is easy for us to use and we want to practice more because it can help us in real life in the future. Also, laptops can help us find things like a definition, a picture, etc. When we practice using technology, it makes us better and we like that.

What can teachers work on: We want to go on more field trips! On field trips we see things you wouldn’t normally see in the classroom. Also, we get to know new places and new things. We want teachers to take us outside more often. We could connect health to doing exercise, so that we get more in shape while we learn. We wish teachers would ask us even more questions about what we like to do, so we can be the teacher and the teacher can be the student. That would be fun. Then our teachers would learn. Last, we want teachers to learn some of our language (their native language), so that we can all speak the same language.

Connected Learning and Equity in Education

Working in the field of special education, and working with students who are on the spectrum, I am no stranger to the inequalities that exist in education.  All of my students are limited in certain skill sets that come more easily to some of their typically developing peers, thereby creating an unequal playing field.  With that said, this inequality is not specific to my students, as there are a number of students at the high school who find themselves on that same unequal playing field.  These students find themselves on that unequal playing field due to socio-economic status, language barriers, opportunities, and so on and so forth.  Therefore, it is our duty as educators to do our best to ensure that our students have what they need in order to become successful.  Will it always be fair that some students receive more supports than others?  Not necessarily.  However, fair does not equate equity; rather, fair enables for equity as every person then ends up on that very much desired level playing field.

Not only is Olivia Chapman a student giving this TED Talk, but she is so insightful, despite not having a lot of life experience.  This only further proves how equity and equality go hand in hand.  


Ms. J

Shared Purpose- Find 5

1.  This collaboration between The National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago and youth highlights an example of Shared Purpose.

2. This article, The Common Denominator Between Sesame Street and the Internet?  Learning, shines the spotlight on The Hive Chicago Fund for Connected Learning and Northwestern University’s Fuse program.

3.  This video, Ask a Maker Educator:  Involving and Empowering Young Learners explains the process one middle school went through to create a maker space.

4. Most of my finds this week originate in Chicago…maybe it’s time to take a trip!  This video from the Fuse program shares their connected learning vision.

5.  Exploring the Benefit Mindset takes the concept of growth mindset to the next level.  “ According to benefit mindset theorist Ash Buchanan, it is “a purpose-driven mindset that is redefining success from being the best in the world, to being the best for the world.” Examining how our attitudes and actions affect others leads us to make conscious and conscientious decisions based on mutual advantage. “

Equity and what I found this semester


Watching this video, it sums up what I have been learning about equity in the classroom this semester. It is the hard truth about our education system and how it needs to change, it needs equity. We have schools with low income students who do not have the resources that are needed like other schools that have more of a budget. Students are falling out of interest in school because they are feed what they must know due to standardized testing. We are not allowing them engaging and creative learning. Students need new ways of teaching and more support in classrooms. We want all students to be the same, to do that we must provide help where help is needed.

Video found on Youtube by The Leadership Conference