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Monday, October 20, 2014

#CECACASL2014 or #CECACASL14: Initiate-Investigate-Innovate

Please share your experience so that we can all feel like we attended the whole CECA conference and not just small session portions!

Session I: 7:30-8:30 I spent in the Exhibit Hall checking out all the cool stuff that I would not be able to purchase.  Found some really neat things like Bump Armor , Discover Video, Empower Writers, CASL's Nutmeg Awards, and Monster Hunt.

Keynote: Jack Andraka what an inspiring young man, who speaks for equal access to scientific research.  Scot Osterweil spoke eloquently on the importance of play.  Both of these gentlemen were inspiring and made me feel less lonely in my thoughts about play and problem solving.

Session II:  Programming for the K-3 crowd.  The usual titles  Beebot, Nano Robots, and Apps like Hopscotch, Kodable, and Daisy.  The beginning stages of direction giving.  I am sold on the importance of teaching students computer coding before high school, so this was a "Me Too Session".

In true teacher fashion, I grabbed lunch on the run, there were more interesting topics than wraps and salad.

Session 3A: Play Scot Osterweil, to listen to more ideas from him about games and how we should think of them more as problem solving and mathematical thinking. He spoke about the MIT game lab with the potential to play.  He also addressed his belief that not everything has to be online or in front of a screen. I walked away, thinking I just wanted to hear him speak  more. 

Session 3B: Makerspace: So I'm a newbie to the word MakerSpace, Kristin Fontichiaro really gave me hope that I could do this, it's not all just 3D printing.  When I reflect back on my early years of teaching.  Yarn crafts, needlepoint, creating from junk would all fit into this idea of MakerSpace! Exciting.  Now how can we squeeze it into an already packed curriculum.

Session 4: Kate Wilson, and EdTechTeacher representative expressed her thinking around coding and why it's important.  She was able to give a person perspective. She shared her presentation and spoke genuinely about her experience as a student. 

Session 5: Tom Daccord dove deep into "Flipped Classroom"  he asked many essential questions about flipping and discussed with the crowd the tips and tricks of making that happen.  Exciting stuff, mainly on a high school level.  

Overall an amazing time, yup stayed for the drawing but didn't win.  I still feel like a winner, thanks to CECA! Now to sift and sort to see what I can use tomorrow!

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Mohegan Sun and Teachers Galore

I'm so psyched that snow nor hurricane are in the forcast for this year's Connecticut Education Computer Associate (CECA) conference!  It's been two long years since I've attended and I am looking forward to being inspired.  I've looked at the offerings planned my choices with Plan A and Plan B.  I'm looking for conversations and learning about gaming and computer coding. 
My Plan for #cecacasl14:
  1. Dress in layers, but comfortable
  2. Charge phones, tablets, and computer
  3. Grab an old fashion notebook and pen
  4. Review the schedule and have Plan A and Plan B
  5. Don't freak out about where to park or how to find the conference center.
  6. Start a Google Doc and tweet out to harness the power of the crowd.
Can't wait hope to see some of my EdCamp friends there!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Too Many Theorist in the Classroom?

Do teachers need just one?
  Theorist that is.  I've been reflecting this week on the theories and theorist that I have been reading about since July.  Learning Theories, why so many?  Too many Egos?  They are all men, yet I do know some women with egos.  Why does it feel like I need to pick just one? We are quite lucky to have the internet and the access to history.  Maybe that's it, their world was much larger, ours is so much smaller and accessible. Each learning theory holds some value. When I think about students, I don't think of theories.  I think about what that student needs to succeed, yet I am influenced by the theories.
This week I read about Piaget and Vygotsky. The beginning of my teaching career was spent in the early primary years.  It is fascinating watching children begin their formal education journey.  Young children change and learn so rapidly. Our days consisted of reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and social opportunities.  All done in an integrated fashion, we were often doing more than one learning task at time, with lots of social engagement.  Then came the state standards, benchmarks, and assessments.  While this isn't all bad, what was left out was the conversation about developmental stages and needs of children. When I read Ormrod's take on Piaget, I mentally made the “Me too!” sign, then I read Vygotsky and did the same thing.  So who is right?  I don't want to choose just one. 
When the state standards arrived, we forgot that the children in front of us would learn at different rates.  The standards didn’t take into account the development of the learner.  Students who didn't make the benchmark were whisked away for intervention support.  Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development, a learner does the actual learning
when minimal support is provided. Piaget’s discussion about disequilibrium, a mental discomfort or confusion, were tossed out the window.  When this was brought up in conversation, it was quickly squashed because the benchmarks for 6 year olds had not been met.  So what is a good teacher to do, continue to learn, fight the tide, and change grade levels, where the expectations for students were more in line with my own thinking about teaching and learning. 

Yet I still wonder, is there just one single theorist who we should follow?  Should we follow any of them?  Are they actually educators or only researchers?

A little XtraNormal Fun.  

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Information Overload, Time to Reflect

My Brain is Full! Time to Digest
Image Source: Found on Mimi and Eunice Cartoons

Cognitive Load Theory suggests that learners can engage and retain information effectively only if it is provided in a way that it does not “overload” the learners working memory (Ormrod,2012).  Each learner comes to the learning with their own personal schema, which are structures for the learner that help them link what they already know to something they are about to learn (Harvey & Goudvis, 2007).  There are three types of cognitive load to consider, intrinsic, extraneous, and germane.

  1. Intrinsic cognitive load has characteristic level of difficulty related to a specific topic,the more difficult the task the more the cognitive load will be experienced  
  2. Extraneous cognitive load has non-relevant information that is difficult for the learner to process, but isn't necessary needed for the lesson 
  3. Germane cognitive load is the amount of learners working memory is devoted to the processing, construction and automation of schema (Ormrod,2012)
Gaining a beginning understanding of Cognitive Load Theory this week really resonated with me as a learner and as a teacher of young children. Artino, states that the Cognitive load theory assumes “that learning will be hindered if the instructional materials overwhelm the learner, which will then limit the working memory resources (Artino, 2008).”  When I reflect on the numerous conversation about what young learners are being asked to do and as teachers we continually ask why these young student’s aren’t attending and why they are wiggly.  I wonder if we haven’t provided them with the opportunities to build their schema, with authentic learning environment. In my quest for knowledge on Cognitive Load Theory, I ran across some interesting articles about technology integration and young learners.

Image Source: NeuroWiki2012
One of the assumptions is that if we allow students to use the technology embedded into curriculum tasks it reduces the cognitive load and makes the work more easily accessible for students (Chu,2013). When I am in a classroom, I am an avid user of technology, I had not considered that the Cognitive Load on students could be negative and hinder learning. I know some in some of my Professional Development sessions that I've hosted adults who are not familiar with the technology seem to reach that I’ve had enough stage before students.  This had definitely made me think and re-think how I can use technology more effectively for students.


Artino, A. R. (2008). Cognitive load theory and the role of learner experience: An abbreviated review for educational practitioners. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education Journal, 16, 425-439.

Chu , Hui-Chun. (2013) Potential negative effects of mobile learning on students’ learning achievement and cognitive load: A format assessment perspective, Journal of Educational Technology & Society. 2014, Vol. 17 Issue 1, p332-344. 13p.

Ormrod,J.E. (2012) Human Learning: Sixth Edition. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.