Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Our students are using technology in creative ways to build their knowledge about things they're interested in.  I'd like to share with you an example.  The other day I overheard my daughter teaching her friend how to play a song on the piano.  They were using Facetime to do this. I was able to capture a few seconds of the lesson.

Educators need to creatively use technology tools in teaching to make it meaningful and engaging for their students.   Our students are doing it. They understand the value of doing it!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Personal Learning Network Update

Here’s an update on teaching myself the basics of yoga using my Personal Learning Network (PLN).  I’ve started building my very own personal learning network .  Currently it is an area I’ve set aside on  Evernote, a tool for tracking bits of information you don’t want to lose.   My note contains  links to resources to help me get started with yoga and links to resources on other topics that are of interest to me.

Reading about PLNs on Pinterest has led me to sign up for Pinterest. I am now following 6 Pinterest boards.  Through Eric Sheninger I have access to links of resources and tools that will help to improve my teaching.   I had heard from colleagues that Pinterest was a neat a tool to use for learning about different things. After visiting the Pinterest site, I see why they are excited.  

Through Google, I have found many yoga forums and yoga blogs. Some of which I have documented  within Evernote.  I am specifically searching for blogs and forums that are useful for yoga novices and that are free.  The forums and blogs will help in answering my questions about yoga basics, including the history of yoga, and learning some of the vocabulary that is specific to yoga.

As William Richardson on Personal Learning Network video shares, PLNs are the trend in education. Our students are using PLNs outside the classroom. They are selecting the online resources and tools they want to use, and they are selecting what they want to learn. As educators we need to build on their knowledge and skills and guide them to use these technologies in a way that is meaningful and supportive of their education. As William Richardson further suggests, by building my own PLN, I hope to understand the power of PLNs and the complexities of using and creating them.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cooking with TPACK

What a fun and great way to gain understanding of TPACK. TPACK is a model used to identify what knowledge is needed to effectively integrate and use technology in the classroom.  It stands for Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge.  The models suggests that these three domains of knowledge and how they interrelate are necessary to effectively use technology in the classroom.  See my last post for more detail on the TPACK model.

Cooking with TPACK was a lot of fun! It was a great way of understanding and practicing key concepts of the TPACK model.  The activity required using 3 kitchen utensils  to prepare a dish.  The situation is similar to what often happens in the classroom. Teachers have one set of tools and a lot of content to cover in a classroom full of diverse learners. 

As identified in the Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) for Educators edited by the AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology, there are barriers that exist that complicate and prohibit the use of technology in the classroom.  One such barrier is “functional fixedness”. Functional fixedness refers to the ideas we hold about the function of an object.  Functional Fixedness  can inhibit the creative use of technology in the classroom.  In my Cooking with TPACK activity, I was using three tools, kitchen tongs, a plate, and a plastic bowl.   I needed to cut, slice, and scoop fruit in order to make a fruit salad. I had to think about the task, use my knowledge of the utensil and fruit, and plow through the barrier of functional fixedness to adapt how I used the utensils in order to successfully make the fruit salad.  

I had to adapt the method of making fruit salad because of the tools I was using. I adapted my method by repurposing the tools  in order to cut and slice the fruit to make the fruit salad.  

An important concept I learned and practiced in my Cooking with TPACK activity relates to how content and technology influence each other.  In the Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) for Educators, the way technology influences and constrains content and the reverse is discussed. Teachers need to understand that their content will be influenced by the technology they use.   In my Cooking with TPACK activity, the result of cutting the melon, or applying the technology,  transformed the melon into a serving bowl for the fruit salad.

It was a great learning experience.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Networked Learning Project

When I heard I had to teach myself how to do something I wanted to learn, I immediately thought of the various home projects my husband and I have identified and placed on our to do list.  I was intrigued with the thought of getting these projects done and the possibility of doing them myself.  I considered repairing the brick wall that edges a small part  of my driveway.  Over the years, the wall has taken a beaten from drivers, mostly friends and family,  who are unfamiliar with the way the wall suddenly juts out. It’s not a very big job, only a few bricks need to be replaced, but can I really lay brick?  Hmmm, I’m not sure.  Do I really want to experiment on something that is so visible?  I think not.   Turning to other possibilities, I considered painting. I have a ceiling that needs to be painted.  I’ve seen professional painters paint ceilings.  It seems like a real pain in the neck.  I quickly reconsidered.  

After much thought, I decided to turn away from the idea of attacking back breaking home projects and focus on something that I’ve always wanted to do for myself, but never have.  Yoga is something I’ve wanted to try because of the benefits you get from doing it.  I’ve been told by a friend, who practices yoga, that it is a great way for relaxing, a great way to relieving stress, and can even help you sleep better.  Sounds great!  So why haven’t I tried it yet? I think that finding the time to get started has been an issue, but I also feel the language, poses, and exercises used in yoga seem strange and a little intimidating.  This assignment is a perfect opportunity to get started.  The goal of my networked learning project is to become familiar with the concepts of yoga, and teach myself exercises and poses that are appropriate for beginners.  As required by this assignment, I will use Internet resources to research yoga and the exercises and poses that I will perform.  I plan to measure how well I’ve met my goal by sharing what I’ve learned with my friend, who has been practicing yoga for many years, and who can give me her feedback.  I am very excited about beginning my network learning project and discovering the possibilities of feeling more relaxed.

Friday, July 19, 2013


This blog entry is about TPACK, a teaching model for incorporating technology in instruction.  TPACK stands for Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge. It is a teaching model that identifies what knowledge a teacher needs in order to successfully utilize technology in her teaching.   The model serves to simplify and clarify the complexities of integrating technology in teaching.  The models TPACK divides the process of teaching using technology into 3 components of knowledge. (

                                                       TPACK IN 3 MINUTES

As Royce Kimmons shows in the Youtube video, TPAK in 3 minutes, The model contains three components, or three domains of knowledge.  The domains of knowledge are:  1) the technology knowledge domain which is the knowledge of how to use software and hardware 2) the content knowledge or subject matter knowledge  3) and the knowledge of pedagogy or how to teach.  The combination of these three knowledge domains leads to best practices for integrating technology in classroom instruction.  The sub domains that are formed when these domains of knowledge intersect is the basis for studying and understanding effective teaching and integrating technology into classroom instruction.

The sub domains of knowledge formed by the TPACK model  is an area of contention among critics of the model.  In his  blog,, Richard Olsen argues that TPACK is flawed because the sub domain formed by the intersection of pedagogy and technology is  not accurate. This is where pedagogy knowledge and technology knowledge meet.  He defends that knowledge of technology knowledge is part of pedagogy and therefore should not be represented  as a separate domain.

 The TPACK model  is clear and simple to understand.  Knowledge of technology, whether a separate domain or as an integral part of pedagogy, is still needed for effective teaching using of technology in the classroom.   Effective teaching with technology cannot be achieved if any of the three knowledge components identified in TPACK are missing. The model shows the essential components to effective teaching with technology. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

About myself

As the Library Media Specialist of Washington Middle School my job has a myriad of roles.  
I manage the library resources, teach  information and media literacy, collaborate with teachers on projects, and manage the library's technology and media.   These roles intertwine to produce a rich library media program.

As manager of the library program, I evaluate the library’s collection and add both print and non-print resources to complement curriculum, meet student interest,  and enhance student learning.  

As a teacher and collaborator,  I teach sixth graders information literacy skills meeting with them once every 8 day rotation. I develop and execute lessons to help students locate, identify, analyze and evaluate information resources both print and non print. I collaborate with teachers in executing lesson that utilize media literacy skills.

As teacher and advisor to the Broadcast Club,   I teach students how to use technology to share information using a television broadcast platform.  There are currently 43 student members in the club. They learn about reporting and video production.

As a media manager,  I produce video and slide presentations to promote school initiatives and school events for the school and community.  

I look forward to learning through the IT&ML program and developing skills that will enhancing what I teach.

On a personal level, I have a great supportive family. My husband's name is Gregg and I have a thirteen year old daughter, Mia. I love latin music and love to salsa dance!

My Teaching Philosophy

My teaching and learning philosophy is influenced by my background and life experiences.  My family and I moved to Connecticut from Puerto Rico when I was 7 years old. I spoke no English, other than the English I learned as a result of singing children songs.   In 1963, the classroom make up in terms of student ethnic diversity was very different than today. Bilingual Education and English Language Learners programs were non existent.   Yet the dedication, kindness, and empathy of one second grade teacher made a world of difference that helped me through and started me on a positive educational journey.  The sting of language and culture were lessened by her smiles and gentle mannerism. Her support encouraged me to learn and to adapt.  By the end of the school year, I was fluent in English even though a cultural gap existed.  I was on my journey.  I wish I could say the journey was without flaw.  My parents were supporters of education and understood its importance and value,  however, because of economic reasons, our family moved well over 20 times during my K-12 years. These moves disrupted my flow of learning.   I share this story because my beliefs, ideals, and philosophy in education are partially shaped as a result of my personal life and educational experiences.

I believe teachers bring perspectives to the classroom that are based on their unique personal experiences. These perspectives can motivate students and  help them on their educational journey.  It is important for teachers to have an understanding, respect, and appreciation of their students’ background.  A positive and healthy student teacher relationship is built on mutual respect. The classroom is a perfect stage in which teachers can share their experiences and enrich the lives of their students.  Learning will flourish In a classroom where there is respect and appreciation.  It is the goal of educators to teach skills that will help students successfully enter the workforce and become contributors to society.  

I believe among the emerging strengths in education is the institution of the Common Core State Standards. Regardless of location, students will learn and be assessed on a common set of skills.  For transient students,  this will prove beneficial.  Educational disruptions that occur when a student moves from one place to another will decrease. Common core skills in reading, writing, listening, mathematics, critical thinking and processing should be taught in all subject areas.  These skills are relevant and necessary in all aspects of life and should be taught in that scope.  

Another strength in education is the technology available today.   I believe the technology tools that have surfaced in recent years are transforming education.  Students have the ability to gain knowledge 24/7 beyond the classroom walls through the Internet.  Learning is occurring regardless of time and place. The new content  is rich and alive with imagery that makes it engaging for learners. Learning resources are plentiful.  It is easy to communicate and share information.  Student work can now be published on the Internet for the world to view. A very powerful and exciting time for both students and teachers.

Among a weakness in education today are the standardized assessments administered in schools.  These assessments are needed to measure progress, identify weaknesses and strengths in the curriculum, and provides useful data to develop strategies to enhance learning. However, the frequency and length of the assessments is taking away from classroom time.   As a result of the numerous testing cycles and the time it takes to administer the tests, teachers are finding it difficult to process results and adapt curriculum.  Another weakness in standardized testing is that they are culturally biased.  This is a disadvantage for many students in urban schools.

I believe students are motivated and more interested in their learning when they have a reason and purpose for learning.  You learn from doing. Project based learning provides students with opportunities to practice and use skills, to explore and collaborate, and leads to an optimal and ideal learning environment.  I also believe students are motivated when they have an audience that reaches beyond the teacher’s desk.  Students perform better when they know that their work will be presented to others. They take pride and ownership of their work.
Finally, I believe in providing students with opportunities to get involved in school. Students who join clubs, sports teams, and participate in extracurricular activities will perform better academically.  They feel they are contributing members and citizens of their school.  They will take pride in their school and recognize it as a vehicle for advancement in life.