Understanding by Design

Hertz-Newman, Jenny


Bowen, Ryan S., (2017). Understanding by Design. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Retrieved May 2018 from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/understanding-by-design/.

This is almost like a mini-class in the backwards design model for constructing courses and units of study.  It reminds me of standards based planning/instruction in which instruction is based on the goal of students mastering the standard and lesson follows from that end goal.  This site has both text and video and the main aspects of backwards design are broken down clearly and in an interesting way.  There are also lesson planning templates and ideas for assessment.  I appreciate the focus on design for understanding and critical thinking in this model.


Blending Technology into Project Based Learning

Alan Phelps
ET-Inquiry and Problem-based Learning
IL-Other IL Models

Lenz, B.; Kingston, S. (2016, January 21). Blending technology into project based learning. P21 Blogazine. Retrieved from: http://www.p21.org/news-events/p21blog/1832-blending-technology-into-project-based-learning

This is a very good article which takes an in-depth look into the idea that Project-Based Learning (PBL) + Technology = Deeper Learning.  The article defines what they mean by deeper learning and, interestingly, it examines how different types of technology have varying effects on student learning. It also looks at what other things need to be present along with technology to increase student learning. The article then goes on to look at the various ways PBLs and technology can be integrated into the curriculum. The authors of this article also authored a book in 2015 called Transforming schools: using project based learning, performance assessment, and common core standards.

I really enjoyed this informative article about project based learning andBuck Institute for Education’s Gold Standard PBL 101 Workshop. I attended a 2 day Buck Institute Project Based Learning workshop 10 or so years ago and got a lot out of it. I still have the workshop binder and will revisit it when I get a chance. When I taught history I did a lot of project based units and additionally, I did a lot of outdoor experiential project based learning.  I found that when PBLs were prepared and executed well, they created a very rich learning experience for the students. Since then, PBL have fallen a bit out of favor in education but I believe strongly in a PBL based curriculum.

Integrating Reading & Programs for ESL

Roys, Kelly
American Library Association. (2008). How to Serve the World @ your library. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/offices/sites/ala.org.offices/files/content/olos/toolkits/servetheworld/LI_toolkit.pdf

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. 

Multimedia Learning Theories and Online Instruction.

Jones, Erik


Tempelman-Kluit, N. (2006). Multimedia Learning Theories and Online Instruction. College & Research Libraries, 67(4), 364-369. Retrieved from: http://crl.acrl.org/

This article deals with some of the various learning theories and issues that arise when making an online lesson plan and presenting information to the students in the course. The key takeaways from the article are the Cognitive Load Theory and Cognitive Overload. Cognitive Load Theory deals with eliminating all redundant information that a student doesn’t really need to hear during a lecture, repetitive information, or information that is too detailed and can potentially overwhelm the student. Cognitive Overload is the process from which students get overwhelmed with too much information presented to them at once, which is essential to keep in mind as an online instructor as the bulk of what students will be doing is reading multiple dry articles on a daily basis and overwhelming them is a good way to get them to fall behind or even drop a class.
I’ve been a student at two online universities now so I am fairly experienced with how lessons, group work and homework are done for each of the classes, but not everyone has the same level of experience. Some are just now realizing the viability of an online education for those with busy lives and no time to sit in a classroom for hours on end. Understanding the various learning theories that use different forms of multimedia applications to teach students is essential to understand both as an instructor and as a student, you can never underestimate knowing how something works and how it can best be used. 

Applying Universal Design to Information Literacy Teaching Students Who Learn Differently at Landmark College

Jones, Erik


Chodock, T., & Dolinger, E. (2009). Applying Universal Design to Information Literacy: Teaching Students Who Learn Differently at Landmark College. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 49(1), 24-32. Retrieved from: https://journals.ala.org/rusq 

This particular article discusses the various learning disabilities that prevent students from learning at the same rate or in the same way as other students. Primarily concerned with children who have ADD or ADHD, the article focuses on adjusting the ACRL standards to be more inclusive for diverse learners. Applying their Universal Design for Information Literacy to the lesson plans and learning activities to the classroom would allow students with learning disabilities and those without to get more one on one time with the instructor, a quieter place to study, or even more time on tests or homework to better accommodate their needs.


I thought this article was personally relevant as I was branded with ADHD in elementary school and shuffled off into a special ed classroom equipped with teachers who had no idea how to help kids who learned differently, were a little more energetic than other students, had issues at home that affected their learning, or were simply bored and wanted something else to do. The Universal Design for Information Literacy I feel is a step in the right direction to help students like me who were wrongfully labeled or legitimately have learning disabilities that require them to have more time on tests and homework or who need more time with the instructor to understand and perform at the same level as other students.

Self-Directed Learning

Ortiz, Amy


Douglass, C. & Morris, S.R. (2014). Student perspectives on self-directed learning. Journal of the scholarship of teaching and learning, 14(1), 13-25.

Douglass and Morris (2014) collected data from undergraduate, upperclassmen control groups. They sought to answer the following questions: “How do you direct your own learning and how can we best help in that effort?” The information gathered during this exploration helped me better understand a constructivist approach to educational theory. “According to the constructivist theory of learning, students build their own understanding of a subject through engaged activities, rather than passively accepting information presented to them” (Douglass & Morris, 2014). Intrinsic motivation to learn is more powerful than extrinsic motivators like grades. Intrinsic motivation is about satisfying personal goals. When the locus of control is far removed from the student, the student begins to lose intrinsic motivation. The authors identified strict assessment practices as one factor that reduces a student’s perception of autonomy in his or her learning goals. A constructivist approach is ideal for keeping students engaged in their own learning, however several barriers exist. Administration is forced to comply with certain performance measurable outcomes, which can minimize a student’s intrinsic motivation. Additionally, the way faculty designs curriculum and structures classes has a huge impact on a student’s motivation to learn.

After reading this article, I felt I had a better grasp on constructivist educational theory. This was important for me because we discussed this theory so much in class and I wanted to fully understand the meaning of this approach. Self-directed learning was a buzzword I picked up during our workshops and though it seems fairly self-explanatory, there are many nuances that were necessary to realize before I could claim sufficient comprehension.

Orchestrating Multiple Intelligences

Michael Ayala

Moran, S., Kornhaber, M., & Gardner, H. (2006). Orchestrating Multiple Intelligences. Educational Leadership, 64 (1), 22-27.


Link: http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eft&AN=507912301&site=ehost-live

This article from Educational Leadership discusses the concept to multiple intelligences – that there are 9 different ways students learn with varying strengths and weaknesses. The article claims teachers do not need to create 9 different lesson plans to accommodate the individual ways students learn, but instead should keep the concept in mind to develop as rich a lesson plan as possible to facilitate learning in those areas. Furthermore, the article explains multiple intelligences can both help and hinder students. Some intelligences work in concert with another, an orator could have having strong interpersonal and linguistic skills that enhance each other. Others could have their learning processes bottle-necked by weaknesses – though students may have learned the lesson, their weak linguistic skills prevent them from adequately explaining it in writing. Finally, the article discusses Project Spectrum, which is an interactive assessment process for preschool children to provide fun activities to help evaluate what intelligences a student is strong and weak in. Another environment playing to multiple intelligences is Danfoss Universe in Denmark, a museum that incorporates multiple intelligence activities in its exhibits.

This article provides an excellent base-point for students beginning to learn about multiple intelligences. Besides including a handy chart on the intelligences and what they are, the article goes in-depth on how they can work together or hinder student learning. It also provides excellent examples on how teachers can develop so-called “rich experiences” to incorporate multiple intelligences into their lessons, as well as how some organizations evaluate students to determine their strengths and weaknesses.

How Design and Structure Can Better Learning

This article written by Erin Barrett from Ithica Times reflects the changes in classrooms needed to promote more engaging and collaborative learning. Students of all ages are exposed to the old model of classrooms which has them looking at educational information which passes them by year after year. In order to instill knowledge, their environment, including their desks and chairs make a big difference in how they filter the information, retain it, and build on it. 
Barrett makes a great point by using her experience of witnessing sixth graders become engaging during classroom sessions. They use their learning environment quite liberally and do not feel restrained in how they express their ability to take in information and discuss them. Children in general have a difficult time sitting still and feeling confined to their own small space of a desk and chair. This experience of having a new type of design and structure in the classroom helps them to feel more free and expressive.


Montessori Education: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Montessori Education: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

IL-Creative Thinking
IL-Critical Thinking
IL-Integrated or Separate
IL-Other Literacies
ET-Inquiry and Problem-based Learning
ET-Learning Styles
ET-Standards-based Education

Torrence, Martha. “Montessori Education: An Idea Whose Time Has Come.” Montessori Life Summer 2012: 18-23.
What future will our children face, and how can we best prepare them for it? What changes in the educational landscape are essential in order to prepare them? Education has changed throughout the years, always with the best intentions, but not always with the best results. Changes like “No Child Left Behind” has led to relentless testing and the idea that the only knowledge worth gaining is testable and measurable; and that successful students are repositories of knowledge rather than processors of information, creative thinkers and problem solvers.
With the introduction of Common Core, 21stCentury skills have become a major focus. These 21st Century skills shift the role of the child to become central to the process and an active co-constructor of knowledge rather than a passive vessel waiting to be filled.  These ideas are beginning to sound like what has been going on Montessori classrooms for decades; student-directed learning, where the center is the child.    

I decided to add this article to the blog because as we started learning about QuickMOOCs and student-directed learning, the more it started sounding like a Montesorri classroom to me. I think that traditional education needs a major overhaul and I’m not sure that Common Core is the right answer. Although there are aspects of Common Core that are a great improvement ( 21st Century skills), there are others (enormous amount of standardized testing) that defeat the idea of education reform. I am very interested in alternate ways of educating and testing children, and I find the Montessori approach fascinating.