Projects with Technology Do Good Things

Post by Lora Poser-Brown


Kingston, Sally and Lenz, Bob. “Blending Technology into Project Based Learning.” Partnerships for 21st Century Learning. Jan. 21, 2016.

Overview: This article discusses many ways to incorporate projects and technology in regular instruction. In addition, justification is given for more projects with evidence that doing so increases attendance, scores, engagement, social skills, and more.

Analysis: The article was a quick read with great concrete examples for teachers. Furthermore, the ideas given can easily be adapted for different ages and subjects. The article makes project based learning seem less daunting for those new to the teaching style.

Media Literacy and 21st Century School Library

Shibrie Wilson

CO- School Organization
IL- Other IL Models
IL-Media Literacy

 Lam, A. (2012, April 30). Media Literacy and Learning Commons in the Digital Age: Toward a Knowledge Model for Successful Integration into the 21st Century School Library. Retrieved May 20, 2016, from
Summary: Due to budget cuts and technological advancements, school libraries are constantly finding ways to reinvent themselves. The innovative projects of library have contributed to precise concept of a learning commons. This trajectory of a learning commons has embedded into concept of collaboration with educators, facilities, learning techniques, and many more to name a few. Media literacy is a growing field and entails various aspects that are essential to learning communities,that includes the following: “critical thinking ability to access, evaluate, analyze, and produce information” (Lam, A. 2012). Increase of media has contributed to collaborative learning environments in which students are able gain knowledge of digital culture, interdependent learning skills, and different modes of communication. School libraries must continue to adopt this new age of digital learning in order to continue to flourish and assist teacher with media literacy. Different testimonials provided in which school libraries have had a great deal of success with transformation. 

Reflection: School libraries are adaptive to change are doing an excellent job to reinvent themselves. Of course, such success stories only exist when everyone in district in on board with essence of library and reinvention with changing times. Model in this blog is beneficial for providing a visual as to how exactly media literacy adopts concept of learning commons. 

Integrating Reading & Programs for ESL

Roys, Kelly
American Library Association. (2008). How to Serve the World @ your library. Retrieved from

Summary: This article from ALA describes the importance of providing collections and resources for ESL (English Second Language) learners to promote life long love of reading and learning. There are programs demonstrated as an informational resource to promote other programs in your local libraries and other resources to read to discover more about differentiation. 
Review: As an educator for the elementary age group, instruction serving this population should be relevant and applicable for information to be retained and acceptance/understanding to ensue. Students need a safe place for learning and by providing articles and information to highlight this need is important. Librarians have a duty to increase this as they are a hub for resources, programs, and types of books/materials for the students to access and teachers to utilize in their classrooms. 

A Look at Self Directed Learning at the High School Level

Maciejewski, Gloria

Blakeway, Kristi. (2014, Sept. 2) Blakeway: Riding a roller coaster – How self directed learning changed my views. P21 Blog, Volume 1, Issue 7, No. 20. Retrieved from:

This is a blog post written for the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, which, if you haven’t check out, you should!  In a nutshell, Kristi Blakeway writes about her experience as a vice principal at Thomas Haney Secondary, a self-directed learning high school in Maple Ridge, B.C. Canada. She clearly outlines in her blog post the way this self-directed system is organized.
The school is part of the Canadian Coalition of Self-Directed Learning (CCSDL) which is an organization of secondary schools throughout Canada that are dedicated to the personalization of learning. She touches on the elements of inquiry, collaboration, how work spaces are designed and what test taking looks like. Admitting that she was bewildered at the seeming lack of structure she was used to in traditional education settings, Blakeway chronicles her emerging understandings of the self directed model.  Elements of the article that I found appealing were the descriptions of close teacher and student relationships, the amount of free or flexible time the students have and the strong collaboration that informed the practice on site. As someone who is always considering home-school (or unschooling) as an option for my own children, it was quite enjoyable to get a look at how a high school that values the individual learning styles of each unique student  looks like.

ET: Inquiry–Five Ways to Integrate by Julia Marshall

Sullivan, Maureen

Five Ways to Integrate
Dr. Julia Marshall

Summary: This article has been a staple of mine for the last six years when thinking about shifting pedagogy to integrate across content areas, particularly spanning art and science. The five creative strategies Dr. Julia Marshall describes are used by both artists and scientists alike in the real world, and are fantastic strategies to implement in the library setting to embrace student choice, collaboration, and synthesis of their ideas. They are cognitive strategies, that are used to communicate the creators’ ideas through depiction, metaphor, mimicry, formatting, and projection.

Julia Marshall is an Art Education professor at San Francisco State University and I had the pleasure of working with her closely on a science and art integration initiative in San Francisco public schools.

Evaluation: In thinking about the cognitive processes that span art and science, Julia offers some specific ways in which both artists and scientists are manipulating information to communicate their thinking. I highly recommend it!

Five Ways to Integrate

How to Reinvent Project Based Learning to Be More Meaningful

Shawn Pomatto


Educational principles are changing the way we teach throughout the entire country.  Our educational system is going through a reboot of educational processes and the development of skills.  There is a pressing need to increase problem solving skill sets and inquiry within our students.  Gone are the days of a teacher centered classroom where students mindlessly listen to boring lectures.  Students themselves are now becoming the presenters, collaborating amongst themselves in an attempt to create unique projects.  But now even the projects based learning model (PBL) is under evaluation.  The PBL model of instruction is designed to get students involved in research that is dependent upon collaboration.  Students analyze information and evidence, then they think about a problem and remedy a solution.  Like any other means of instruction, PBL has its flaws if not performed correctly.  The proper way to conduct a project based learning environment lesson  is to first and foremost develop skills, not content, through a process of inquiry.  Teamwork and presentation are the means of achieving this goal.  PBL allows students to go deep into any particular issue.  Every subject across the curriculum will have varying levels of how deep a project might be.  But the underlying principles will remain constant.  Students will work from a knowledge base which will allow them to design a creative, authentic product.  Individual personalities can flourish as students take ownership of their learning.  Collaboration allows students to create and analyze content while teachers merely facilitate their learning experience.  One of the more powerful aspects of a PBL environment is peer review.  Students are encouraged to identify strengths and weaknesses of student projects.  This evaluation will then lead to more creation and a means to make the end product even better.

Project based learning allows for a deeper, more personal learning experience to take place.  Differentiation can occur more freely as teachers can now allow students to reach goals never before available under the old system of learning.  The facilitator role which teachers are now using allows for more leaders to arise within a class.  Peer review allows students to be accountable for their work.  The fundamental principle of evaluation and inquiry itself allows for PBL lessons to be challenged in their design as well.  Constant modifications will only support students creativity, helping to foster ingenuity.  This open ended form of lesson design positively affects the learning experience of so many more students, allowing them to grow and experience new ideas on their own.

Beyond Worksheets, A True Expression of Student Learning

Shawn Pomatto


McCusker, S. (2014). Beyond worksheets, a true expression of student learning. Learning In the New Economy of Information,4. Retrieved from

The information era has allowed for a constant connection to information that can be accessed immediately from almost any location.  But there is much more than merely the accessibility of information that needs to be taken into account.  This information needs to be understood.  Skills that will help students to identify the most valid components and use that knowledge to create meaning through expression need to be nurtured.  Student creation allows for each individuals own unique ideas to shine.  Higher level skills are promoted and students work on and evaluate their projects for both positive and negative components.  This reflection is done so that new ways to improve their project can be identified and applied.  These types of lessons are found to be most memorable to students when they are allowed to create and build upon their own unique ideas.  This constructivist approach allows for multiple variations of a central idea or goal.  Individuals talents are allowed to mature and develop young students into artistic creators of wonderful ideas.

This article supports the constructivist ideas of creation, imagination and intellectual freedom.  Its is true that students are presented with so much information that they still need to be able to comprehend.  Skills that foster creativity are the main points of this new form of teaching.  Gone are the days of teacher centered classrooms where students take an abundance of notes, only to reguritate the information in a multiple point quiz.  This approach to learning is clean and natural.  The article refers to it as organic.  Evaluation techniques are engrained within the lesson design so that students can identify areas for improvement.  This type of learning and student engagement allows for unique qualities of each and every student to shine through.

Hackschooling Makes Me Happy

Hackschooling Makes Me Happy
Lisa Gatzen

ET-New Trends
ET-Learning Styles
IL-Constructivism and IL
IL-Creative Thinking
IL-Critical Thinking
IL-Integrated or Separate
IL-Other Literacies
Hackschooling Makes Me Happy: Logan LaPlante at Tedx University of Nevada            
What do you want to be when you grow up? Every child has been asked that question and they answer with the things they are interested in doctor, astronaut, dancer etc. But what about happy? Go to school, go to college, get a job, and get married; then you will be happy.  Schools don’t make it a priority to teach kids how to be happy and healthy, it is separate from school. But what if we based education on being happy and healthy? So much of education is oriented towards making a living not making a life. How do you change that? You hack your education. Hackers are innovative and challenge the system. So, what is hackschooling? It is creativity + technology and online resources + experimental classes and camps + happy and healthy.  How do you hack your education? You take opportunities to learn about things that interest you and then experience what you learn.

The reason that I chose this Ted talk was because it really makes you think about the direction of education. I don’t think that Logan has all of the answers, but he is definitely on the right track. Students need more hands-on education and the need to experience what they learn. Let the students drive their education. This is a great video that can open up some very interesting conversations about education. 

What is Differentiated Instruction?

Linda Jenkins


Robb, L. What is differential instruction? Retrieved from



This article by Laura Robb is really an excerpt from her book, Differentiating Reading Instruction: How to Teach Reading to Meet the Needs of Each Student.  Although most of the article focuses on reading, the beginning of the article defines differentiated instruction which can be used for any subject.  Differentiated instruction requires the teacher to know each student well enough to be able to plan and provide instruction in a way that each child “has experiences and tasks that will improve learning.”  The teacher’s goal is to maximize learning in every student using various teaching methods to reach the goal. 

Ross also describes a few key principles which are the basis for differentiated instruction.  She states 1) teachers must have continuous assessments to identify the strong and weak areas of each student. 2) There is a wide range of “expertise and experience with reading, writing, thinking, problem solving, and speaking” amongst the students. 3) Students should collaborate in small groups which allows learning through discussion and observation. 4)  Instruction should be based on “issues and concepts rather than the book or chapter.” And 5) Students should have choices in their reading, writing, tasks and projects, since everyone has different skill levels and interests.

The article also gives an example of what Ross would do in a differentiated reading class along with her nine practices to be used with this type of teaching.

Evaluation / Opinion:

This article was very informative. I think it would be beneficial if all subjects were taught using differentiated instruction. Every student should be able to be taught in a way that would maximize their learning.

Becoming the Reading Mentors Our Adolescents Deserve: Developing a Successful Sustained Silent Reading Program

By Valerie Lee

 ET-Changing Reading Practices
ET- Differentiation

The main focus of the article was to discuss a study that was conducted on the impact of silent sustained reading on the attitudes and reading practices of a group of high school students. The research was conducted using qualitative method of informal observations, student conferences, and journaling.  The author of the article was the teacher who conducted the study. The article also examines the implications of her findings. Her findings show that there is a proper way to run a SSR program. She gives examples of the best practices to use for a successful SSR. The article also shows that students read more and have a better attitude if they are allowed to choose their own reading material. The author describes SSR and self-selecting as the two most important factors in improving student reading skills and enjoyment. Lee states, “Reading engagement increases when students are given opportunities to choose reading materials” (Lee, 2001).


Lee, V. (2011). Becoming the reading mentors our adolescents deserve: Developing a successful sustained silent reading program. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 55(3), 209-218   doi: 10.1002/JAAL.00026


I chose this article because I am interested in learning if SSR and self selection can improve students’ reading skills and behavior toward reading. I liked that this article was written by a teacher who conducted her own research with her classroom. She discovered that SSR did improve her students’ behavior and she was willing to change her instructional method to the benefit of her students.