Concluding Assignment – Responding to the Course’s Essential Questions

Essential Question #1: What do we mean by the “21st century classroom?”

    The best example that demonstrates how I answer this question is my experience with Twitter this semester. I was opposed to the social media site prior to the course because I have an unreasonable distrust and dislike of anything popular. However, after going through this course (EDUC140 Technology in the Classroom at Moravian College), the distrust and dislike have started to fade. Remnants still remain because I’m a beginner, but – like my distrust and dislike of it based on its popularity – they are superficial and will pass away with time. I truly believe that my experiences with Twitter represent my understanding of the “21st century classroom” for this reason and more.

More and more technology is gaining a stronger and more significant stronghold in the classroom. Teachers are using it in more transformational ways than they ever have before. They are taking full advantage of the technological tools available to them in order to redesign, rethink, reorganize, replan, and redo their instruction in the classroom. The 21st century classroom is different from the classrooms prior to it because technology has allowed for an enhancement and transformation of learning. Over the duration of this course, I’ve learned how this can be done utlizing Twitter.

At first I thought learning Twitter in the technical way was less favorable than the “play-for-the-fun-of-it” method, but now I appreciate that the technical way has its advantages too. Many times we as teachers (and pre-service teachers) aren’t familiar with the technological programs or services that we want to use. Sometimes it’s the best way to first look at the tool as something to be learned in order to be used. Sometimes that’s the only way we will be able to use it in order to learn. Play also doesn’t allow you to see all the ins and outs of the tool, and it certainly doesn’t allow you to do so in a timely fashion. In my experience with Twitter, this is where the Twitter Handbook For Teachers comes into play. Reading this source allowed me to bipass the time required by “playing” with the tool and showed me features of the tool that I wouldn’t have discovered on my own. I would have spent an exorbant amount of time “playing” and only learning a few things, and I would have become complacent with my self-guided understanding and not tried to use Twitter in transformational ways with different features. For these two reasons alone, I am convinced that technical understandings of tools are a part of the 21st century classroom. After all, teachers will mostly likely have to teach their students how to use the tools introduced in their class in order to use the tools effectively for learning.

The aspect I most enjoy about Twitter as an educational tool is the connectedness it provides. I was both amazed and scared by the idea that random strangers, yet experts or well-informed sources, could both see and respond to your comments. I was even further astounded by the fact that they would want to read and comment on them. This opens up the classroom in transformational ways because it brings a larger resource and many more voices into the classroom from which the students can benefit from. The personal connection should also not be ignored. Twitter provides the opportunity for the worldwide community to take an interest in and supoort the learning going on inside the classroom. However, when tools like Twitter are used it’s almost as if there is no notion of “inside the classroom.” Tools like Twitter break down the walls of the classroom by bringing these other voices inside it, and they make the classroom a space for learning instead of a box for it. This underscores the true nature of learning – that it doesn’t happen in contained ways; it’s interconnected, omnipresent, and free. 21st century technology allows this to happen. However, the technology itself can’t accomplish this. It’s all in the way you use it. That’s where the second essential question comes into play.

Essential Question #2: How do we apply technology tools in ways so that we can more easily achieve meaningful teaching and learning in the 21st century?

     Where the first question is theoretical, the second is practical; “that’s great and all, but how do we do it?” We as teachers always need to be thinking about the theory but brainstorming and planning on how to put that theory into practice. This is how we can apply technology tools in ways that achieve more meaningful teaching and learning. Along those lines, the best example that I can provide as a response to this question is the two main content points of the class and my work with them.

The two main content points discussed over the course of the class were SAMR and DOK. SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition, and it is a model used to measure how technology is being used in the instruction in a lesson or classroom. DOK stands for Depths of Knowledge, and it is similar to Bloom’s Taxonomy in that it is a standard for levels of critical thinking, progressing from basic to advanced thought. (For more information and resources regarding SAMR and DOK as they relate to classroom instruction, see my earlier blog post “[Some of] The Networked Teacher’s Resources”.)

SAMR encourages teachers to think of ways to use technology in ways that both enhance and transform instruction. Often times technology is used as a substitute for “manual” instruction. For example, instead of using a verbal lecture to educate students on a particular topic, a teacher might utlize the Microsoft PowerPoint program or the online Prezi program in order to provide the same lecture. Since this often saves instructional time, it can be an appropriate or valuable use of technology. However, no one would disagree that there are other ways to use technology in more beneficial ways. For example, using PowerPoint’s features like embeding video, pasting graphics, linking URLs, and creating titles, headings, and subheadings would be a way to enhance the lesson or lecture in order to further support the learning. This would be an example of how to Augment the lesson using technology. However, to really achieve more meaningful teaching and learning, technology should be used in transformational ways.

We call this “going above the line” since Substitution and Augmentation enhance (“below the line”) the lesson and Modification and Redefinition transform it. In order to transform the lesson using the principles of Modification and Redefinition, teachers must take full advantage of 21st century technology and break down the walls of their classroom (so to speak). Instead of a lecture, this might mean the teacher connects with other experts outside of the classroom (via Skype or Twitter for example) in order for them to contribute to the students’ learning – depending on the lesson. When technology is used in such a way that instruction and learning occur which the teacher didn’t plan for and never before thought possible, the technology has been used to transform the lesson. A truly Transformational lesson is not possible without the use of technology.

Webb’s Depths of Knowledge does not inherently involve technology, but it’s a model that should be kept in mind when planning on how to effectively use technology to ehance and transform instruction. The DOK clearly identifies what critical thinking should look like. The four levels progress from recall (Level 1) to advanced, created deliberation over time (Level 4). This understanding of the different levels of thought and how to encourage upper-level, critical thinking can guide teachers in how they plan their use of technology. When they consider the different levels, they will be better able to use the technology to inspire, encourage, direct, and initiate deeper thought. For example, a teacher with the DOK in mind might chose a certain video over another or a certain ‘expert’ over another because of its or his/her ability to inspire deeper thought. Technology can also be used to engage students in deeper thought by means of discussions and questions as exemplified by the Ted-Ed lessons (an example can be found here).

I believe the entire course was focused on answering these two essential questions and the work we did proves that. I learned more about what we mean by the “21st century classroom” and how to apply 21st century technology in ways that more easily achieve meaningful teaching and learning, and I did so in transformational ways. I will take these ideas with me into my pre-service experiences and my future classroom.

[Some of] The Networked Teacher’s Resources

Not sure what a Networked Teacher is? Watch this video!

Here are some of the resources/content we used/discussed over the duration of the course.

I hope you will find this list and these resources valuable and helpful in your future classrooms!

NOTE: some of the links take you to a google account which you may not be able to access. Apologies.


EDUC140: Technology in the Classroom


Moravian College

Instructor: Randy Ziegenfuss


The Resources

TodaysMeet (chatrooms)

Google Drive (share and edit documents) (tutorial:

Google Documents (Word-like documents that can be shared and edited by others) accessed through Google Drive (tutorial:

Google Sites (websites you create and share and can be edited by others – class website)

Google Earth (satalite images)

Google Lit Tours (for English majors);;

Edmodo (blog with class and share grades) (tutorial:

Twitter (instant message) (using lists) (The Twitter Handbook)

Twitter Chat (moderated chat rooms based on topics)

The Power of Twitter Chats

Tweet Deck (Twitter sorter)

WordPress (blog) (tutorials [I, II, & III]):,, and

How To Write Effective Blog Posts

Teacher Channel (website – videos and information about education)


YouTube (videos & how-to)

Pinterest (photos & how-to)

Evernote (note-taking)

forums (forums) [no link] (random number generator)

TED Talks (ideas worth sharing; videos about education and more)

Wordle (Word cloud generator)


Web’s Level of Knowledge (Bloom’s Taxonomy)

Digital Chalkboard (group instant message-wall)


The Concepts (Grouped) 

SAMR resources

 Some things about SAMR

  • you can’t use the SAMR model if technology isn’t being used; the SAMR model is used to measure how technology is being used, therefore, if technology isn’t present in a lesson, the SAMR model doesn’t apply.
  • the technology has to be used by the students (i.e. teachers using the copier to print worksheets doesn’t qualify).
  • the difference between augmentation and substitution is functional improvement; meaning, something has to be added to the quality of the lesson in order for technology to augment it (i.e. using Excel to graph points on a coordinate plane, but then also using the features of the program (Excel) to add color, make it 3-D, test the students with plot points, etc.)
  • as you move above the line there is more communication/collaboration – bring outside people into the mix (or connect the students in the class in a meaningful way that goes beyond a group discussion that could be done in person).
  • the S[ubsitution] and the A[ugmentation] enhance the lesson but the M[odification] and the R[edefinition] transform the lesson.
  • for the step of redefinition technology is essential. If it is missing, the lesson cannot be performed. The technology allows for something that was previously inconcievable before, without it (i.e. connecting with an expert)


Depth of Knowledge (DOK)

 Some things about DOK

  • Level 1 & 2 are more fact based
  • Level 3 requires extended thinking
  • Level 3 & 4 have no right answer/are open-ended
  • Level 3 non examples are valuable on this level, also why questions; it’s a form of reasoning
  • Level 4 occurs over time


 Flipped Classroom

#flippedtip & #flippedclass


Twitter Chats to Follow

(if you have access and it’s still available:



Changing Education Paradigms

The Connected Learner Experience



Teaching in the New Abundant Economy of Information

What works in education – Hattie’s list of the greatest effects and why it matters

Human Multitasking

Navigating Social Networks as a Learning Tool


It’s Complicated by danah boyd

For a review of the book, visit:


Keep adding to this list and never stop!

Chatting on Twitter

Whoa. That’s all I’ve got to say. Just Whoa.

I tried twitter chat for the first time. I lurked on the #engsschat. For the Monday March 31, 2014, 7-8pm EST, chat, #engchat and #sschat got together to discuss interdisciplinary lessons: how to effectively mix language arts with social studies and social studies with language arts. I find it hard to react to my experience objectively, but I’ll try, at least for the first part.


I logged on to tweetchat and waited until 7pm. When I wasn’t finding anything, I went to Twitter and searched for the hashtag. I started reading the posts. I got lost in the posts. I gave up.

I saw a lot of different contributors posting various comments. I saw a lot of retweets and @somebodies and #engsschat. I saw a lot of people I didn’t know, but I knew the moderator; I was excited to see that one of my favorite young adult authors was the moderator (@halseanderson – needless to say, I started following her).

I read a lot of different things. I read RTs, As, Qs, original ideas and experiences, etc.

I heard nothing.


I was excited when 7pm came along. I wanted to see what a twitter chat was like. Then, at 7:05pm, I wanted nothing to do with it. I didn’t like the continuous and abundant flow of posts because I wanted to read them all. I didn’t like not knowing what who was who or who was talking about what. I didn’t like not understanding the language: the shortcuts, the abbreviations, the acronyms, etc, and I didn’t like not being able to fully participate for multiple reasons.

I had every intention of making at least one comment. After a few minutes, though, I realized that wasn’t going to happen for several reasons. 1) I couldn’t follow my own train of thought, let alone twenty different conversations following twenty more trains of thought. 2) I couldn’t find the questions after a while; the comments didn’t appear until there were several to see at one time. 3) I didn’t want to break twitter chat etiquette. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was supposed to have in my answer. I got lost in all the uses of the hashtag and the @ mentions. 4) The chat was also calling for real-life examples of how to mesh history and English together, and I didn’t have anything but pre-service experience to relate. 5) The 140 word limit kills me. As an English major, I protest. Overall, though, I realize that I’m a newbie to Twitter, and although I hate it, I have to go through the grace period of looking like a lost puppy. I attribute most of my discomfort and dislike of my twitter chat experience to that fact.

I think I also miss the element of play. I never thought of myself as unable to learn how to communicate with a form of technology. I like learning how to use these tools though play. That’s how I learned how to use and create PowerPoint presentations. That’s how I learned how to make a Prezi presentation. That’s how I learned how to use my tablet. When my mother asks for help with her devices, I always tell her to just play around with it. However, it’s more difficult to “play” around with social media. Facebook wasn’t a play-to-learn tool for me either. There’s not much to play with. The big draw is posting and that doesn’t take much creativity (at least not mechanical or technical creativity). Since I’m learning how to utilize twitter in a practice manner as a part of a course, it’s not as fun as choosing to use it and playing with it on my own.

This makes me wonder about my own classroom. I’ve already made it a point to honor curiosity in my classroom. After this experience, I think I need to add play to the list. In an English classroom it doesn’t seem like there is much room for either of those two elements, but even though I hate to say this, maybe twitter chats can help me incorporate these two elements in my classroom.

Even though I struggled with it, I doubt my students, at least those proficient with twitter, would. I could also make the chat more manageable. It could be our own chat that could be viewed by the public. This might help them engage more with each other and the material since they’ll be able to type their thoughts and react immediately to the class dialogue. Although my first experience was rather negative, I’m determined to not reject the tool outright. It might have some value in my future classroom. Next time I “participate” in a chat, I’ll accept my limitations as a first-time user and I’ll focus on the bits of conversation I can follow. I’ll pay attention to the content, not the confusion, and I’ll become more and more comfortable with using this tool.

TED: This Idea IS Worth Sharing

Ramsey Musallam blew my mind away in his “3 rules to spark learning” talk featured on!

Ramsey Musallam on TED Talks delivering his speech "3 Rules to Spark Learning"

Ramsey Musallam on TED Talks delivering his speech “3 Rules to Spark Learning”

I felt like I was listening to myself speak. It was completely validating to listen to his ideas and to realize I’ve already thought them in my own way. At first it might seem that Ramsey is against the use of technology in the classroom when he says, “questions and curiosity are magnets that draw us towards our teachers, and they transcend all technology or buzz words in education,” but if you reread that sentence, I hope you see that he’s speaking on a higher plane than just should we or shouldn’t we? He immediately paints a better picture of this higher plane saying, “if we put technologies before student inquiry, we can be robbing ourselves of our greatest tool as teachers, our students’ questions.” This completely resonated with me.

He goes on to give his three rules for sparking student learning, as the title of th

e talk suggests he would.

Rule #1 is Curiosity Comes First.
Rule #2 is Embrace the Mess.
Rule #3 is Practice Reflection.

I will probably fail to adequately express the genius behind these rules, but I’m going to attempt it. Ramsey argues that the real power of learning lies in our natural tendency to be curious. Curiosity is the what really sparks learning, and we as teachers witness it in our students’ questions. Therefore, we must encourage questions as educators by “hav[ing] the guts to confuse our students, perplex them,” and then, use their questions as the guide for the learning in our classrooms, not a “scripted curriculum.” When we do this, there will be a mess. Learning is messy. It doesn’t fall into the neat, simple scripted curriculum. It takes twists and turns that we never expected it to and never in a neat and orderly fashion. We have to wholeheartedly welcome the path our students take toward learning the content we want them to learn, and more importantly, they want to learn. Finally, we have to think. We have to sit back and enjoy the wonders of our learning. We have to meditate and revise on what we’ve done in order to truly learn from it. These rules, as Ramsey brings out, are lacking from our educational system.

I unreservedly believe that following these rules contributes to my success as a student. I love the pursuit of knowledge, and I will follow my curiosity (interest) anywhere it takes me. As a perfectionist, the second rule is harder for me to follow, but I do appreciate it. The third rule is where I excel. I am an avid proponent for true, honest, open, unfiltered, and meaningful reflection. Without it, I wouldn’t learn anything. It also continues the cycle because the more I reflect on an idea, the more I want to investigate it.

Now, I can imagine there are people out there who wouldn’t share my love for Ramsey Musallam’s “3 rules to spark learning.” They might say that Ramsey is ultimately saying that technology doesn’t have an important role in the classroom, but is he? I would argue that he’s saying something quite different. “For example,” he’s saying, “flipping a boring lecture from the classroom to the screen of a mobile device might save instructional time, but if it is the focus of our students’ experience, it’s the same dehumanizing chatter just wrapped up in fancy clothing.” In other words, it’s the role we give technology that determines the value it has in our classroom. With that and the three rules in mind, how would you use technology effectively in your classroom?

Check it out for yourself!

The Future of Education

The Articles I Read:
50 Crazy Ideas to Change Education

How do inquiry teachers teach? | Inquire Within

Awesome Chart for Teachers – Alternatives to Traditional Homework ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

10 Ways Teacher Planning Should Adjust to The Google Generation

How to Tackle Competency Based Education in 5 Easy Steps

For the Love of Learning: 12 Characteristics of Progressive Schools

The Response:

In a two word synthesis: Educational Reform. All of these articles contain radical ideas for the future of education, radical ideas that I hope to have a share in during my career as an educator. They focus on how to better inspire “learning” and to get away from the traditional “schooling” methods. Many of them take a look at the common practices of today’s classrooms and propose alternative methods for creating a true learning environment. Not all of them include a discussion of technology, but all of them are useful in understanding a future where technology has a strong presence and role. Additionally, a few of the articles are or contain bulleted lists that I felt were great aids for future educators.

I agreed with much of the content presented in the articles. I choose them because they reflected my opinions and viewpoint. However, I did diverge from the authors’ way of thinking at times. For example, Terry Heick’s 50 Crazy Ideas to Change Education was exactly what the title promised. The ideas presented are entirely revolutionary and can only come about from a serious change in the way the world of education thinks. The passion is clear, but the reality isn’t. The ideas proposed in the article will take time to catch on if they ever do. Some aren’t practical because of the sheer magnitude of the public education system. It is completely impossible to meet the needs of a classroom’s thirty students on an individual basis, and many people who propose such ideas forget the value in unity. The culture in America constantly rewards uniqueness, and laments the fact that nobody can agree on anything. In an ideal world, her “crazy ideas” make sense and should be followed, but in the practical world, they just aren’t all possible, at least not all of them and especially not all of them at once on a grand scale.

Change is constant, but change can also occur slowly, and we as educators need to respect that. Some of the ideas can occur with the support of the educators putting them in place. For example, on a daily basis, good educators do try to make their classrooms a place where students want to be (#10). However, I don’t hold out as much hope for some of the other ideas. Some of them aren’t practical and others call for a serious change of heart. For example, mandatory schooling is a societal staple (#5). It’s not going away because it “ideally” produces an educated society and provides day care for working parents. Also, money doesn’t grow on trees (for those who think it’s made out of paper, it’s not; it’s made out of cloth) (#19). Without serious incentive or a drastic shift in cultural and governmental priorities, schools won’t be looking like Fortune 500 companies any time soon. The ideas that reflect an attitude adjustment are on to something, but they are onto something big and gradual. For example, students who are underperforming (for “controllable” reasons) should be held accountable but in a way that’s meaningful and knowledge-based (#21). Also, the ultimate goal of education should be to learn more about oneself (#49); However, I don’t see education going in any of these directions any time soon, and especially not at a quick pace.

The second article by Heick that I read concerning how to integrate Google effectively, raised some red flags for me as well. The “Google” article also reflected Heick’s idealistic viewpoint by asking readers to encourage self-fulfillment rather than standards and competencies, focusing on the immeasurable rather than the measurable. Although I would like this to happen and would do anything in my power to work toward it, I think Heick takes too many liberties and jumps several steps ahead of where the educational system is in the here and now.

Heick wasn’t the only author I argued with, though. I also argued with the article on the list above that concerns progressive schools. I have been taught to admire Alfie Kohn in my education classes, but I just recently had a negative experience with his philosophies. I volunteer at a local elementary school’s afterschool program where I help the students with their homework. Many are unmotivated and easily distracted. They show a limited attention span while simultaneously demonstrating their abilities to perform. If we’re taught to follow the fourth characteristic of progressive schools, we look at the task first, but after working with these students I’ve seen the danger in doing that. The students now expect their teacher to blame the work and not them, so their weaknesses go unnoticed and they come to the inaccurate understanding that if they can’t do it, the work is the issue. They no longer appreciate that they have faults and challenges, and therefore, are unwilling and unprepared to counteract those obstacles. This can lead to a lack of resiliency which has become a serious issue for the students I tutor.

When all is said and done, we should realize that there is indeed a need for change, and quite probably the radical ideas proposed in these articles (particularly by Heick) are the answers to the questions we’ve been asking ourselves in education for generations. However, holistic change will be slow, and it must be deliberate or put into practice in a unified manner. The first step for the pre-service educator, then, is to contribute to the conversation. Start with what you know and feel comfortable putting into practice; be educated and identify the strategies that you gravitate toward as being easiest to implement. Listen to the ideas of others and take the ideas that you like and that you think will work in your classroom and start using them. See how they work, test them out. Then, never stop doing that and challenge yourself when it comes to trying something you’re not sure of. Reflect on the things that worked and the things that didn’t work and really analyze why the did or didn’t work. Modify the method, advocate for a broader implementation of the strategy, and help collegues use it effectively. Then, we’ll start to educate the way we really want to.