Searching for 7 Sunday

  1. This connects with my idea for Stance by allowing students to bounce ideas off of each other VoiceThread.com
  2. Awesome video forum for students that is a pivotal tool for instruction Flipgrid.com/
  3. A Wonderful Example of Using the Maker Movement to also inspire community action https://yr.media/interactive/jersey-city-gentrification-illustrated-teens/
  4. A Concise Formula for Designing Virtual Discussion Forums https://dschool-old.stanford.edu/groups/k12/wiki/17cff/Steps_in_a_Design_Thinking_Process.html
  5. The Inspiration behind my app idea, Stance https://www.allsides.com/unbiased-balanced-news
  6. A Nice Little ‘How To’ for Online Discussion Facilitators https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/why-demand-originality-from-students-in-online-discussion-forums/
  7. History Teacher + Maker Movement = Historical Re-Enactments https://www.envisionexperience.com/blog/how-to-make-history-come-alive

Stance: A Vision of Political Stepping Stones

Name of App:  Stance

App Motto: A Collaborative Political Forum for Students

This app is on that fosters the importance of studying politics from a variety of perspectives.  It also makes sure to prepare a facilitator-monitored tolerant, respectful discussion community. My inspiration comes from my teacher-centered interest in a website called AllSides.com.  This app uses a site like  AllSides.com to generate topics, but it is the teacher’s responsibility to assign discussions to students.  The teacher chooses a topic of discussion and provides students with a wide range of articles, spanning the political spectrum.  Students are instructed to read a number of viewpoint articles and then comment on their own personal stance in the discussion board.  The teacher can then facilitate discussion among students. Each student would have a log-in, like google classroom or canvas. While in this forum, the teacher can provide students the option of posting anonymously to the sites.  There will require a vast amount of teacher modeling and monitoring to assure a tolerant, respectful discussion environment. Laying ground rules and establishing a respectful, comfortable classroom community is essential.

Searching for 7 Sunday

For this week’s list, I tried to find sources that were closely related to my subject area so that I can attempt to add more play in my middle school history classroom.  I also spent time researching the benefits of constructionist gaming because I personally find it as a creative outlet for myself. I wondered how others thought of it. Lastly, I tapped in to my own experiences in the roleplaying world during my adolescents.  I was a competitive member of my high school’s DECA program, a club where students act out varying careers in business. Today, I teach in the same school district from which I graduated. I encourage my own students to take part in DECA, and it is delightful to see them achieving in the club via NAHS Twitter.  I am a proud alumni!

Roleplay in the History Classroom

Constructionist Gaming

The Power of Teams

Six Reasons Why Team Sports are Good for your Health, Forbes Magazine https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/03/21/six-reasons-why-team-sports-are-good-for-your-health/#5e58334c6e25

Competitive Roleplay

– 6-7. DECA for high school students https://www.decadirect.org/2018/11/09/deca-role-play-roadmap/

– NAHS DECA on Twitter  https://twitter.com/nahsdeca


The Celebration Feast

My mother turns 70 years old today.  To say she hates celebrations would be a grand understatement.  For weeks now, she would not tell us how she wanted to celebrate, and as of last week, she ordered me to never ask again.  The truth is, she deserves a superb celebration, but something low key and meaningful. I decided I would cook us a feast. Now, I was raised in a house where my father cooked all day, every day.  It was his passion. I have an underlying skill set, but it is surely out of practice. Yesterday morning, I had a coffee date with my new cookbook, Joanna Gaines’ “Magnolia Table” and built the following (ambitious) menu:

  • Roasted Cauliflower Soup
  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts with salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar (my own creation)
  • Scalloped Potatoes
  • Meatloaf

This was most definitely my “Play of the Week.”  In reading our Monday Post, I really wanted to try to challenge myself.  I teach my students to “step out of their comfort zone,” but how often do we do that as adults?  I knew there was only one attitude to take: calm and collected. I braved the aisles of the grocery store on a Saturday at noon.  Though one could see this as a mistake, I chose to view it as just a more challenging level in my “Play of the Week.” I used my carefully-organized grocery list and navigated my way to my items and then to the checkout line.  Off to the kitchen we went, and the real craziness began.

Dinner was planned for 7:30 PM.  I had other work to do and did not begin until 5:15 PM.  I had a little more than two hours to prepare the menu. The first task was to create an easily accessible inventory of necessary tools, pots, and pans  I then started prep work for the soup, meatloaf, and potatoes: chopping, roasting, measuring, preheating. I then made those three items simultaneously, because they required the same amount of prep and cooking time. This I had never done before.  It felt like trying to conduct an orchestra of varying instruments. My efforts to clean as I went, diminished within the first 45 minutes. Thankfully, my husband stepped in as lead dishwasher. Brussel Sprouts came last, and I enjoyed the element of improvisation they brought. The other recipes required exactness.  

Thankfully, the food turned out okay! Clearly, it was a miracle.  My mom loved it and my husband even ate the vegetables. I accredit the recipe’s success to my careful measuring of ingredients, my precise heating and timing, and my choosy selection of ingredients.  What I found most challenging was keeping clean as I went. When one cooks a singular recipe, cleaning is simple. When there are four recipes in rotation, it is in no way simple to keep clean! I am so glad I challenged myself  because it built my confidence to cook again! This “Play” was engaging and purposeful. I was actually fighting through a challenge to produce a result — celebrating my mother’s 70th birthday. It is so important for children, adolescents, and adults to take time to “play”.  Experiencing challenge, failures, and triumphs brings out our truest selves.

Searching for Seven Sunday #S47S #ED677

1 https://www.wattpad.com/ This collaborative writing network, Wattpad, is used and loved by three of my current students.  It was BY CHANCE that I learned of their passions for this site. Just this week, my one students began to describe to me how she writes fictional stories and has “fans” and “followers” who read and comment on her works.  She focuses on Realistic Sci Fi. Another student of mine focuses on teen romance. They have hundreds of fans, and they also have become fans of their peers. I told them about connected learning and this class!

2 https://nanowrimo.org/  Inspired by my students, I wanted to research a community like this for all ages.  I came across something known as National Novel Writing Month, where participants have one month to compose a 50,000 word novel that is then rated and there is a winner!

3 https://www.edutopia.org/article/increasing-equity-all-students

“…the truth is, all classrooms are heterogeneous. If we aren’t intentional about creating systems in which all students can be successful, too many classrooms and schools will continue to show achievement gaps.”

This article gives great strategies for both teachers and principals to try in efforts to create a culturally-responsive, effective education.

4 The consciousness gap in education – an equity imperative

Dorinda Carter Andrews’ powerful TEDtalk urges educators to be REAL about the disparities in our education systems and in our classrooms.  

5 https://nowcomment.com/

I have enjoyed using Hypoth.is for annotating and discussion in #ED677.  Im hopes of finding something similar I could use in my history classroom, I cam across the free database known as Now Comment.  Here, a teacher can facilitate analytical conversations by posting a visual.

6 Cultural Proficiency Continuum http://tools.sparkpolicy.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Cultural-Proficiency-Continuum1.pdf  

This is a wonderful tool for teachers to get REAL with the cultural disparities that might exist in their own school community.  I use this to analyze my own instruction, and try to implement more culturally proficient lessons and values.

7 https://twitter.com/PAeduequity  @PAeduequity

This twitter account posts helpful links in the field of education inequities, specifically geared for Pennsylvania educators.

The 4th Box: Authentic Community

As we studied last week in “The School and Social Process,” John Dewey imagined the school as a place that fosters an authentic community, where students lift each other up. In my 4th Box image, I portrayed a group of individuals sharing their thinking with one another, all members having different stories to share, yet they take the time to find empathy to understand.  All the word bubbles intersect with one another. An authentic community is one where all members learn from one another and lift each other up.

It is clear that the “Wall” is nowhere to be found in my 4th box portrayal.  This is intentional, to show that there is nothing separating the players from the spectators.  This wall was built over time by our systematic racism and prejudice. And it was through creating equity and establishing community that the wall was taken down.  It is authentic community that destroys the barrier.


The Power of Virtual, Interactive Annotations

I have added another tool to my connected learning tool belt this week.  My exploration of the online educator participatory forum, Marginal Syllabus opened my eyes to a virtual world of educative contemplation and a wealth of people’s viewpoints.  As a lover of learning, I have marked up mostly all of my assigned readings and books over the years.  It is a way to bring the words to life, to latch on to a deeper meaning, and to make personal connections to the author’s thoughts.  As an eighth grade social studies teacher, we use highlighters and pens every day to mark up primary source documents as well as news articles.  Modeling this skill is something I find important for their own journey to high school and beyond. And teaching the students to develop their own unique style of notetaking and reflection is at the center of it.  

But, this type of text annotation is old school compared to the power of Marginal Syllabus and the hypothes.is tool.  When using Marginal Syllabus, I was able to connect with other educators and education philosophers.  Reading the comments of others helped me understand Dewey’s words more, and in different ways. Having a chance to use an online medium for annotation was easy, and it was wonderful to have a community working on the very same text, not just my own independent notes.  One of the most helpful features is the ability to use hashtags and connect your work to the work of a unique community of thinkers.

In the realm of connected learning, educators could utilize Marginal Syllabus to cultivate an activist group, whether they want to simply discuss ideas or put together policy for change.  Using such a staple text like John Dewey’s “The School and Social Progress,” it would be easy to peruse the comments and find people who align with your own thinking as well as think in a different way.  Using a tool similar to this in my classroom would provide students with a chance to learn from one another and capitalize on the varying thoughts of their classmates.

Exploring the Depths Around You


From an early age, I was attracted to the history of a place and its people.  This attraction is shared with both my father and mother, and has most definitely fostered this curiosity and deepened my passion. I learned to understand the topics of geography, history, and anthropology through studying locally.  Both my father’s and mother’s ancestors were immigrants from Europe, and came right to the same town and started lives here. The town where I was raised, and now teach was partially shaped by my family and the families of many friends.  My dad would drive me around, showing me where my grandparents’ grocery store was located, how his cousins lived on the same block and his mother and aunts would just open the door to holler for dinner. I would continuously meet people who connected to these stories.  I think it was made me love learning history in school. Because I always wanted to connect the story to a person, and try to live that time period through that person’s experience. I built an arsenal of facts on the local anthropology, all because I was genuinely connected to it.

In high school, I decided I wanted to be a teacher.  I was not sure what exactly I wanted to study, I was torn between English and History.  In my senior year, I was granted the opportunity to focus my senior research project on the history and evolution of my home town.  When I originally discussed this possible topic with my English teacher, a lifetime resident and now educator, she embraced my ideas and pointed me in the direction of a research mentor, the high school librarian.  I found published local histories and an arsenal of primary sources. This was the longest research paper I had ever written at the time, and I felt it was easier than papers from before. After turning my research findings into formal, written paragraphs, I had nearly reached the assignment’s length requirements.  

Around the same time, one of my own history teachers presented an internship opportunity to our class. It would be a seat in the building and zoning department of our local township.  I quickly applied, interviewed, and was offered the position. I worked in this department for four summers. I had to scan and attach various property documents to the GIS system. In addition, I had to evaluate and organize an entire storage room of documents dating back to the late 1800s.  It was a lot of reading, but I discovered so much. I still know many of the local histories and like to share the stories.

Now I am a history teacher in this same community, educating eighth graders.  Am I doing enough to allow for connected learning? Am I offering opportunities for students to flourish together and benefit from one another? Am I helping my students use their learning to let their passions thrive, with the help of others?  These are questions that I asked myself as I read into the theory of connected learning.