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Can you #RepeatTheBeat?

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What is a Maker Faire?  That is the question I asked myself the first time I heard those words used in my MAET courses. Naturally, we dove deeply into that question through a QuickFire.  Basically, a Maker Faire is where people come together to show off creativity and invention in the form of a project that they have created.  As a culmination of our study of the maker movement, the MAET year 1 cohort put on their own Maker Faire.  Our purpose was to create a fun, tech-infused maker project for the all ages highlighting how to use basic science and a few materials to do so.

I worked in a group of three with Chelsea and Rosie as my partners.  We used a Makey Makey kit and Play-doh to create an interactive Simon game.  We struggled a little bit with coming up with a concept, but once we made a decision, things flowed pretty smoothly.  We had a few guinea pigs that we were able to try our creation out on before the faire and they gave us some great feedback.  We were able to tweak things before the actual Maker Faire.

For our game, here’s what you had to do.  On the computer screen was a Simon game.  The player had to listen and watch which color lit up and made noise and then push that color Play-doh.  With each round, another color was added to the sequence and the player had to remember the entire sequence and push the Play-doh in the correct order.  The object of the game was to get the highest score by remembering the longest pattern.  It may sound simple, but it takes a lot of concentration and is not as easy as it sounds.  The highest scoring individual got a 25, which is quite impressive!  We had friendly competition, complete with a scoreboard to record the top five results.  We also used the app, Scorekeeper, to record all results on an iPad.

Does this game sound like fun?  Here’s how you can recreate it.

Supplies that you will need:

  • Makey Makey Kit (purchase it online here)
    • comes with the board and necessary alligator clips
  • Play-doh: four colors-red, blue, green, yellow for the board, one different color for start button
  • Shoe box lid 
  • Construction paper
  • Tin foil 
  • Conductive thread ( purchase on Amazon)
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Computer
  • Headphones
  • Website (


Step 1: On your computer, bring up the website  This is the Simon game.  Start is controlled by the space bar and the colors are controlled by the arrow keys.  Up arrow is blue, down arrow is green, left arrow is red and right arrow is yellow. Press the space key to start.

Step 2: Connect the orange USB cable that comes with the Makey Makey kit to the board that also comes in the kit.  Connect the other end of the USB cable to your computer.  Your computer should recognize it automatically and there will be no need to click anything else on the computer.  Once hooked up, this board will control the arrows and space bar on your computer.


Step 3: Connect the alligator clips to the Makey Makey board. (ProTip: It is easiest to connect the same color alligator clip to the arrow button that controls that color on the computer. ie: Connect the blue alligator clip to the up arrow.)  Also, connect another clip to the space bar section on the board.  You will also connect a sixth alligator clip to the spot labeled “Earth” on the Makey board.  Leave the other ends of all the alligator clips open for now.


Step 4:  Take a shoe box lid and cover it with construction paper.  On one of the longer edges, cut out an opening that will allow you to slide the Makey Makey underneath and allow the wires to come out.

Step 5: Take the shoe box lid and punch four holes far enough apart but in a square like pattern.  You will be placing your “Play-doh buttons” over top of these holes.  Punch a fifth hole somewhere off to the side for your “start button”.

Step 6: Take the alligator clips and wedge them into the holes making sure to connect the right color to where it’s located on the Simon board (use the computer screen as reference).  (ProTip: Cover the ends of the alligator clips in a little piece of tin foil so the Play-doh does not stick and harden on your alligator clips.)_MG_3391


Step 7: Take the Play-doh, a handful of each color, and form it into a thick rectangular shape.  Place the correct color Play-doh over the hole where you wedged the alligator clip into.  Push the alligator clip into the Play-doh so it is secure.  (Play-doh is conductive and you need the alligator clips to always be touching it.)  Take your fifth color Play-doh and form it into a start button.  Place this over top the hole off to the side.

Step 8: Take the alligator clip that is connected to the “Earth” spot on the Makey board and attach conductive thread to it.  Then wrap it around the glue stick and secure by taping it to the glue stick and also wrapping the entire stick in tin foil.  This will act as the person’s grounder.  (ProTip:  Also connect thread from that same alligator clip to a piece of tin foil on the floor.  This would allow people to step on the tin foil with their bare foot and use that as their grounder.  People can choose either hand or foot.  It’s good to give options.)

The Earth clip is the reason why the Makey Makey works. It is a circuit, and the person playing is basically a connection in the circuit. Therefore, when a player is either holding the grounder, or stepping on the tinfoil, and then simultaneously pressing the Play-doh, the circuit is complete and the game works. How cool is that?!


Step 9: Your game is almost complete.  Now that all your clips are hooked up, take your board and position it under the_MG_3410 shoe box so your station looks pretty.

Step 10: PLAY!  You will need to be grounded (remember either hand or foot) when pressing the Play-doh to repeat the pattern.  When you are grounded, you pushing on the Play-doh completes the circuit. Check out some of the pictures of people playing in the slideshow below.  You will notice that some are holding onto the tinfoil glue stick.  If you see them playing and they do not have that in their hand, that means they chose to put their foot on the tinfoil on the ground. (ProTip: This game takes a lot of concentration.  You may want to use headphones when playing to eliminate background noise.)


If you’re still unsure about by how and why the Makey Makey works, Ryan Hunt gives a great explanation (in our game, we used Play-doh instead of apples).  I hope you enjoy creating your own version of this Simon game.  With a Makey Makey, the possibilities are endless.  You just never know what you might develop.  In fact, maybe you’ll even show your own activity at a Maker Faire some day!


Hunt, R. (2014, May 12).  How does a Makey Makey work? [web log post]. Retrieved August 2, 2015, from

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Lesson Plan Version 5.0: Final Revision

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Weaving it all together!
Weaving it all together!

Lesson planning is a process and I would argue to say that a lesson plan is always a “work in progress”.  As teachers, we are constantly teaching, reflecting, and revising to create lessons that best meet our students’ needs.  Over the past two weeks in the MAET program, I have been revising a sixth grade math lesson focused on the concept of parallel lines cut by a transversal.

My hope is that my final revision meets the diverse needs of my students.  My revisions stem from my newly acquired knowledge of several educational frameworks.  The lenses I have been looking through to revise this lesson are TPACK (Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge), UDL (Universal Design for Learning), and Networked Learning.  My final revisions based on these frameworks are shown in my updated lesson plan.  In this document you will find the original lesson plan first, and the revised lesson directly underneath.

TPACK Framework
The foundation of TPACK revolves around the importance of technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge with special emphasis placed on where these three ideas overlap.  It is at this “sweet spot” that learning is meaningful.  My math lesson plan features direct instruction delivered through a screencast, that the students will view on an iPad.  Originally, I did not have the screencast as part of my lesson.  Rather, I used a lecture as my mode of direct instruction. For my first draft, this was okay because the content was sound. However, after learning about TPACK, I quickly realized the technology was lacking.

While discussing TPACK in class, one important idea that we learned was that we need to make sure that the focus of the lesson is the content, not the technology.  It is important not to choose the technology before knowing the subject.  In my original draft of this lesson, I had the content clearly outlined.  After evaluating my lesson plan with TPACK in mind, I chose to integrate the screencast.  Direct instruction is a clear pedagogical choice and the use of the iPad incorporates technology meaningfully.  The content is clearly explained via the screencast.  This brings the three foundations of TPACK together to hit that “sweet spot”.

UDL Framework
Once my lesson was revised using TPACK, I began looking at it from a UDL perspective.  The three guiding principles of UDL are: provide multiple means of representation, action & expression, and engagement (CAST, 2011).  In my lesson, I had already incorporated some of these concepts.  However, I did make one big revision after analyzing the UDL framework as well as researching a math learning disability called dyscalculia.  After students view the screencast, they are going to be working with manipulatives to construct parallel lines and show angle relationships.  The use of manipulatives will help all of my students because it will provide options for physical action and allow students to participate in a hands-on activity. This type of learning is imperative because many students, including those with dyscalculia, learn best through concrete learning.

Networked Learning Framework
After revising my lesson through both the TPACK and UDL lenses, I turned to evaluating it through a Networked Learning perspective.  Networked Learning involves using both my own Personal Learning Network (PLN), as well as exposing students to building and using their own PLN in the lesson.

My big revision after learning about UDL was adding in the activity with manipulatives.  This activity is done in groups of three.  This type of collaborative work is an example of networked learning.  They are reaching out to their peers and assisting each other in learning the concepts of parallel lines and angle relationships.  They may even end up helping to teach one of their classmates.  We know that if they can do this, they have developed a deep understanding of the content.

If students are still struggling with the concept, I have provided them with extra YouTube videos.  These resources connect them to others around the globe and show the importance of expanding their PLN and the value of learning from others.

As a professional educator, I have definitely grown through this revision process.  It has caused me to take a much closer look at the way I think about assessment and evaluation.  It helped me to understand the power of the process and doing things in chunks.  I did not take an initial draft and magically turn it into a final draft.  It took careful consideration of each framework along the way, constantly re-evaluating my document.  If I had been assessed on my first draft, I do not think my grade would have been what I hoped.  Instead, it is essential to assess one’s progress.  We can’t expect students to go from learning to mastery immediately, nor can we assume that one style of instruction or assessment is appropriate for all.   Learning is a process and we need to allow students to fully engage in it.

Above all, I have learned that lesson planning is a continual cycle.  There is always room for revision after careful reflection.  It is imperative to look at lessons through various lenses.  It is only then, that we can begin to provide for student differences.  By working through the process and doing several revisions, I was able to receive feed back, both positive comments and constructive suggestions.  This is the culture I need to create in my own classroom.  In the end, our goal is to have students not only learn material, but be problem solvers and critical thinkers.  We can only develop this through careful lessons that allow them to explore, attempt, fail, receive feedback, and revise.  This is something I have experienced first hand through my own journey to produce this final (for now) lesson plan.


CAST (2011). Universal design for learning guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author.

McPhee, N. (2013). Fluorescent Ort Loom [Online Image]. Retrieved July 21, 2015 from

Networked Learning Project

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I bought this piece but would love to create something similar myself!
I bought this piece but would love to create something similar myself!
Have you ever asked yourself, “What do I WANT to learn?”  Not what do I HAVE to learn but rather, what is something I’ve always wanted to learn?  If you’re like me, you probably get caught up in other things and what you want to learn gets pushed to the bottom of the list. Not this time.  In fact, I am required to learn something new for one of my courses in the MAET program.  The catch here is that we are only allowed to use YouTube and other internet forums for information on how to complete our chosen task.
We have been learning about personal learning networks (PLNs) in class and the important role they play in extending our knowledge. PLNs are an important tool because we can learn a great deal by connecting with other people.  When I mind mapped my PLN I had online networks and in person networks.  For this assignment, we are only allowed to use the online help.  I believe we are doing this project to show the value of this kind of learning and discover ways that we may be able to incorporate this kind of instruction in our own lesson planning.
I am excited about this task as it finally gives me a reason to tackle one of my 65 pinned craft projects on my Pinterest board!  Since I went straight to Pinterest to find my idea, I even used my PLN to come up with my goal of what to learn.  Let’s just hope this isn’t a “Pinterest Fail”!
I have decided to learn how to create a piece of wood wall art using either reclaimed wood pallets or wood purchased from a store and distressing it, whichever the tutorials I read say is best.  I recently moved and my walls are still quite bare.  I am in love with the reclaimed wood looking art (shabby chic)  and have always wanted to try my hand at creating a masterpiece.  I just never had the time to do it until now. I am nervous but optimistic, and excited to get started.  I have already stumbled upon a few resources that I can use, Shanty 2 Chic, Storypiece, and Craig Hurst’s YouTube video, and I’m sure I will be finding many more.  Check back often as I will be blogging about my progress.

Lesson Plan Version 4.0: Networked Learning Revision

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connectedWriting lesson plans can be a tough task when students have so many different learning needs.  There are various frameworks that one can analyze a lesson through which helps to achieve the goal of trying to meet students’ needs.  I have been working on revising a sixth grade math lesson by examining it through the TPACK lens (Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge) as well as a UDL lens (Universal Design for Learning) and have made several changes to it thus far.  I am now going to be evaluating this lesson by looking at it from a Networked Learning perspective.
Networks are powerful learning tools.  Whether it be connecting with others digitally or talking to someone working right down the hall from you, networking can open a world of possibilities.  In a previous assignment in the MAET program, I looked deeply at my own personal learning network (PLN) and reflected on the importance of having an ever growing PLN.  I also realized how vital it is to utilize this network whenever possible.
In revising my math lesson on parallel lines cut by a transversal, I thought it would be best to begin by looking at how I could use my PLN to enhance this lesson and then look at how I can incorporate opportunities for students to use networked learning.  I am lucky in that I work with an amazing group of teachers whom I can bounce ideas off of daily.  It struck me that I need to take advantage of this in prepping for this particular lesson.  It would make sense that I should connect with the teacher my students had the previous year to see if they touched on this topic last year and how it was received if they did.  This will give me some background on the students’ knowledge and a sense of any prior misconceptions.  Utilizing this network connection may seem simple, but it is vital.
Another revision I am looking at has to do with the screencast portion of the lesson.  In my original plan, I was going to use a lecture format.  However, after looking at it through a TPACK lens, I decided to change routes and use a screencast to convey the topic.  Educators tend to be awesome because they like to share ideas and resources with other educators.  Therefore, there may already be a screencast or video that I could use that teaches parallel lines cut by a transversal.  When thinking about my own PLN, I realized that I could check out Youtube or Educreations for an already made, teacher created, screencast.  Who knows, it may be better than anything I could have created myself!
After looking at how I can use my own PLN to help me in preparing for this lesson, I wanted to take some time to delve into how my lesson already incorporates the ideas of networked learning and what more I could do to enhance this kind of collaboration.  In this lesson, the students work in groups of three to complete an activity involving creating parallel lines and finding angle relationships.  This type of group work is an example of networked learning because they are reaching out to their peers and helping each other learn the concepts of parallel lines and angle relationships.  It is common knowledge that often times when a student can teach someone the concept they just learned, it shows a deep level of understanding.  By working in groups, students are given this opportunity to teach one another and learn from one another and build their own learning networks.
As the students are working on the group activity, they are allowed to go back to the screencast if they need clarification or help remembering one of the angle relationships.  After thinking about learning networks, I thought it would be good to add in links to extra Youtube videos about parallel lines cut by a transversal because sometimes students need to hear an explanation of a topic in multiple ways before they understand it.  Students would be able to learn from a wider network of teachers by accessing these approved videos.  They would be learning not only the concept of parallel lines but also the much broader idea of how helpful it is to reach out to others to gain information.
Networked learning is an essential aspect of developing knowledge.  If you think about it, we all probably use networked learning on a daily basis.  I believe it would be hard to think of one day where you didn’t learn something from someone else, whether it be from a coworker, a news report, or a Youtube video.  By reaching out to these networks and having students do the same, my math lesson will be greatly enhanced.
Connected [Online Image]. Retrieved July 18, 2015 from

Content Curation

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At the end of the day we had the opportunity to visit the ELPL Maker Studio!
At the end of the day we had the opportunity to visit the ELPL Maker Studio!  

During the Master’s in Educational Technology summer program, one person is chosen each day as the content curator.  You might be asking what a content curator is because I know I certainly had no idea what that meant when I first heard the term.  Basically, that person is responsible for analyzing the day’s activities while making connections to our learning and highlighting the wonderful work that we are all doing in the MAET program.  Each day is different and brings about new challenges and exciting activities.  Having the content curation pages allows students to remind themselves of important learning experiences.

I was chosen as content curator for Thursday, July16.  With my camera in hand  (you basically could call me the paparazzi that day) I took lots of pictures to document the day’s events.  Then, I used to create my page of content with lots of pictures.  Check it out here!

Quickfire-Popcorn Maker

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This blog post was a collaboration between Erin Dennis and me.

Building an educational video is not an easy process, even when it involves finding pre-created materials remixed together into something new. We wanted to try to make things easier on ourselves by choosing a topic that lends itself to this format, so we picked Digital Storytelling.

Our first struggle came with trying to get everything to line up in the timeline.  We decided to start with a video and wanted to figure out how to get text to line up with an action in the video. Looking back, this was probably not a wise thing to do as this was our very first attempt at using Popcorn Maker and this action requires a lot of skill.

As we started adding in images, we realized that we were having a pretty severe difficulty: we couldn’t move text around on the screen.  After much playing, we determined that it was a problem with trying to use Popcorn Maker on a chromebook (Popcorn Maker WILL work on a chromebook, but not every feature plays very nicely, so don’t try to do anything too finicky).

Once we switched devices, things started to move along a lot nicer and we could actually divide the work.

Afterword: As we were finishing up, we were reminded that we should not have used an audio track in our creation of  the video, so, were we to do this again, we would add in more pop-ups to explain Digital Storytelling rather than a narration track. Remember to read the assignment!

Without further adieu, here is our Quickfire Popcorn Maker video on Digital Storytelling..

Personal Learning Network (PLN)

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PLNWho and what do you learn from?  That is the question I asked myself when I begin mapping my personal learning network (PLN).  You can see from the image that I reach out and learn in a lot of different ways.  The four categories that I came up with include People, Professional Development, Social Media and the World Wide Web.  Having these resources allows me to connect with all kinds of educators, near and far.
The internet opens up a whole door of possibilities that once never existed.  Twitter for example is something I am relatively new to, but quickly learned that it is an awesome way to connect with teachers and educational professionals and is extremely easy to do so.  Pinterest is another way to see all the neat ideas teachers have out there.  Teachers used to have to collect ideas and pin them to a physical bulletin board which didn’t allow for much collaboration.  Now we have digital pin boards through Pinterest where everyone can share ideas.
In education, I believe that collaboration is key and my PLN makes that clear.  It is a flexible network that is always changing and growing as I become aware of new resources, meet new professionals, and discover different social media platforms.