Global Math Department: Back To School

Tuesday August 9th I presented a webinar through The Global Math Department back to school night.  It was the first time I had presented in that format. I didn’t have control of moving my slides and couldn’t play off of the audience because there wasn’t video on the call. It was a very different way to present but I really enjoyed connecting with educators in that way. I hope to join in on future webinars!

I shared what I usually present for back to school night and provided some ideas for alternatives to the norm. However with time constraints of 7-10 minute sessions it can be hard to deviate.

@algebrainiac1 and @regangalvan (See her blog post here) also presented what they do and provided some alternatives to the traditional slideshow. Regan had some great suggestions grounded in research. Jessica’s noticing and wondering caught my eye as well!

Below is the recording and I have attached my slides here.

Reflecting on CEP 810

As the last week of CEP 810, my current graduate course, comes to a close I’m taking some time to reflect on the course and how it may impact my teaching this year. The course centered around teaching for understanding with technologies but we focused on more than just technology we might use with students. It looked at using technology to learn new content, to aid in planning and organizing lessons, to connect with others, to create new material, and to increase student understanding. This course has stretching my learning as a teacher and forced me to make it public. It has made me think about how I can help my students create public works and how that may change the level of work they produce because an audience is out there somewhere and able to view their work. It has reinforced the idea that we, as teachers, should not wait for a technology to come along and solve the issues in education. We should be looking at ways to repurpose what is our there for our students while honoring how they learn through their personal learning networks.

Prior to the course I had been thinking about starting a blog this year but didn’t really know where to begin. This course was a great way for me to dive into the world of blogging and try a few new things along the way.

I’m still finding myself looking for a focus for the blog and wondering who might find what I say interesting. As well as some logistical things about working WordPress but I do know now how to use networked learning to find solutions to those questions. Finally, I’m still thinking about how I will improve my scaffolding of technology skills with my students. I am excited to share some of these tools with them but I want to be purposeful in my implementation and be sure that the technology is furthering their understanding of content.

As I close out blog posts for the course I will turn over to Blaugust prompts and #Teach180 as the school year starts!

Cooking with TPACK

This week my CEP 810 class gave me a very unique challenge. First I had to make a fruit salad with three kitchen tools that were chosen for me without knowledge of what I was making. Then I had to make connections between that challenge and teaching. At first I was a bit confused but after filming the challenge I began to make the connections.

I was given a plate, small bowl and bottle opener to make a fruit salad regardless of whether or not the tools were right for the job. In teaching we know our basic task–teach the kids the content. However we don’t always have every tool available to us. It would be great to have endless amounts of resources and time to teach but that isn’t the case. We have to use our personal teaching pedagogy and content knowledge (TPACK) to figure out how to use the technology and resources available to us to teach our students. Often we have to repurpose tools and technology for educational use.

This week I watched a keynote Dr. Punya Mishra gave for the 21st Century Learning Conference in Hong Kong in 2012 where he claimed there wasn’t such thing as educational technology, “just a variety of different technology to repurpose and customize for our needs.” That resonated with me because often educators attempt to wait for some sort of educational technology to save the day or make teaching easier but that just isn’t the case. We need to look at what is already out there and repurpose it for our needs.  In the challenge we had a clear task but not always the right tools. We had to use our knowledge about cooking to repurpose the tools to work for our needs. So I’ll leave you with the video but fair warning it’s not as energetic as I was hoping for. Have a laugh:

Technology to Support Student Learning

This week I dove into exploring technologies that support student learning and engagement inside the classroom. In Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom (2011), Renee Hobbs claims there are five communication compentencies central to learning across all subject areas (p. 12). Access to relevant material, the ability to analyze critically, focused creation, thoughtful reflection, and actively sharing their knowledge. Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown (2011) suggest that this culture of learning “thrives on change” (p. 37) which is true even in my short teaching experience. I began to think about previous lessons and how students engaged in these five competencies. I found a lesson that fell short in many areas so I began to search for ways to bring it to the 21st century.

“Digital media provides access to a rich source of information and play,”(p. 37-38) according to Thomas and Brown so I started by looking at the Top 100 Tools for Learning. I was happy to see that I had used many of these tools before. Then I came across Desmos Activity Builder and Mentimeter. Both I had heard about before but have not purposefully implemented with students yet. So I adapted an only less tech-savvy lesson of mine to step up to the 21st century technology enabled world with these tools.

This is an Algebra 2 lesson introducing absolute value functions. In Texas we use Texas Educational Knowledge Standards (TEKS) instead of CCSS. The content standards the lesson covers are:

AII.6.C The student is expected to analyze the effect on the graphs of f(x) = |x| when f(x) is replaced by af(x), f(bx), f(x-c), and f(x) + d for specific positive and negative real values of a, b, c, and d

AII.6.D The student is expected to formulate absolute value linear equations

Desmos Activity Builder is a great tool to enhance student engagement and learning into this content because of how interactive it is. Students will be able to use sliders in the activity to move the function and explore how key features displace the function from its parent form. All of the students will have access to an iPad to complete the activity on and a notebook to record answers. Desmos is a perfect tool for students to analyze functions and form conclusions based on their exploration. During class discussion student will be able to reflect on the experience and create their own functions. I am going to use Mentimeter, a collaborative poll/quiz tool, to give me quick formative feedback on my students. This will allow students to answer honestly and quickly so I know if we need to review a concept before continuing on to harder student created examples. I invite you to check out the before and after of this now tech-savvy lesson:

Old lesson worksheet: Here

Plan for the technology enriched lesson: Here



Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?.

Networked Learning Project 3: iMovie Success

Here we are on week five of this Networked Learning Challenge that I was given and I’m proud of the progress I made. You can see the challenge and my progress through my previous two posts (Blog 1 and blog 2). Now I have succesfully created an entry event for a project I will use next year with iMovie! I’ve made a video, in iMovie of course, to highlight my progress through the challenge. I learned how to upload pictures and video, edit them, add sound and text, add transitions and even themes. This summary video may even highlight some of the skills I learned better than my entry event video! Take a look at my journey here:

Here is the full entry event I created for my class this year. Only a portion was highlighted in the video above. It will be used to launch a dartboard project in a mathematics class.

Using iMovie has been on my to-do list for almost three years now. I’m very happy that I have started to tackle this production tool and hope to continue improving my skills this year as I create more videos for my class. Part of this challenge was to learn this new skill only using YouTube and Help forums. As highlighted in the video my main source was a YouTube tutorial video titled iMovie Tutorial for iPad iOS 9 2016. I had to do a couple of searches before landing on something useful for the version of iMovie I have to work with but ultimately it was a very useful video. The hardest part of the challenge for me was not asking others around me an only using the Internet. I know a lot of people who already use iMovie but I had to refrain from reaching out to them to complete the task. After that hurdle I really enjoyed learning a new task this way. It was not as time consuming as I thought it was going to be which is great as a teacher!

In teaching, I often use networked learning to come up with and create new project ideas. The mix of in person and online learning helps to create relevant and authentic projects. I plan to continue to learn in this way and will not be timid when trying to learn something new, like iMovie. It may be less complicated to figure out than I anticipate and there are probably some excellent resources on the web already for me to use.

When I think about my students I know they are already using this idea of networked learning. I see it on their iPads when they are trying to beat the next level of a game or when they are trying to figure out how to do their hair for prom. I see it on Facebook when they repost cooking videos or the next trick for Pokemon Go. I have even required it when I ask them to do secondary research when we start projects. The next step is to help them realize some of the same sources they start to gather information for their hobbies from can be useful places to start for their academic studies. The same set of skills can transfer if they know how to correctly search for what they are looking for and sort out uncreditable and creditable sources.

As a new school year is about to start I am excited to use iMovie in the classroom and to encourage networked learning with my students.



Klein, C. (2015, December 23). iMovie Tutorial for iPad IOS 9 2016. Retrieved July 28, 2016, from

Networked Learning Project Blog #2: Progress

About two weeks ago I was challenged to learn a new task entirely from YouTube and help forums. See the blog post here. You will be happy to hear that I’ve made some progress! Early on, I decided to make a switch from learning Final Cut to iMovie. The app seemed to be a more accessible and easier to use–plus it was already on my iPad. In addition my students will have access to iMovie and it will be helpful if I can help them create within the app. I made more sense to master the easier out of the two then make the jump to


Step 1: iMovie Tutorial

Final Cut. So I started by using the tutorials in the app itself. I figured this would give me an overview of the app. It was pretty basic information and I know that I learn best visually and audibly so I quickly made the jump to YouTube.

I started with iMovie for Beginners, sounded like the perfect resource, but it was for a MacBook and not the iPad. It was a great resource but did not help me because I currently only have an iPad Pro to create with. Next I used iMovie for iPad, another great resource until I realized it was created in 2014. The app has had updates since then so I then searched for a more updated version and finally found iMovie Tutorial for iPad iOS 9 2016! It was also


Step 2: YouTube Research

much shorter than the other videos I had found and it provided a very quick and easy overview for me to create my first test iMovie. This video became the best resource for me so far. After I found this resource I started a practice iMovie. I played with titles and settings, adding and deleting pictures, themes and music (See in this video here!). I still need to figure out how to do a couple of things and perfect some skills but I think playing around with it might be the best way to learn. If I can’t figure it out, I plan to continue to look on YouTube to find out how to use a feature. Aside from my challenge of finding resources for iPad instead of MacBook, my biggest hurdle is time. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have almost no extra time. I’ve been involved in conferences for the last two weeks and all of my “free time” has been devoted to prepping for the next day of the conference. I’ve started using Wunderlist, a great app for to-do lists, and have been setting alarms as reminders to set specific times for me to dedicate to learning the task and completing graduate school work. This has helped me to find time to focus my work time and to not let it fall to the side.

Here is a link to my first iMovie! I used pictures from my travels in China this summer.


Step 3: Create! (Before)

So what’s next? I started by viewing videos, then I created my first video, and next I need to create a video for my classroom. I need to decide which project I will create a video for then collect the right pictures and maybe video clips to put it together. As I create I will try to use more features of iMovie like picture editing, video clips, and audio so I can learn more about using it. I’m excited to have something that I will use directly in my classroom.

I’d love to hear how you are using iMovie and any cool features you like to use in your own iMovies!

Productive Technologies

To say that I have over committed myself this summer is an understatement. I dove in head first to many commitments this summer and found it difficult to keep everything straight. At times just needed to find motivation to continue the work so I looked to two new ways to help increase my productivity. I love making lists but keeping them in one place is impossible when you make them on sticky notes and notepads so I tried Wunderlist.


My most recent Wunderlist

It is a very easy app to create and organize to-do lists. It still allows me to cross off items when I complete them and see what I’ve completed. Being able to see the list crossed off helps me to monitor my progress through the list. I can create categories and make multiple lists in each category. I haven’t had any issues using this app so far and anticipate using it even more when the school year starts!

The second new tool I tried out was an app called 30/30. It’s a great way to manage your time on tasks. It allows you to set times to work on tasks and give yourself breaks. I can estimate the time a task on my Wunderlist will take and then add it to 30/30 when I’m ready to work through many items on my list in an afternoon. It helps me focus directly on a task instead of unproductively thinking about that task and not getting work done. I would highly recommend trying both of these tools out! I haven’t found any issues with either yet.

If you try them I would love to hear how you use them in your context!


Personal Learning Network

As a newer teacher a personal learning network (PLN) can be key in sustainability through the first few years. Who do you lean on? Where do you get your inspiration from? How do you connect with other educators? I’ve created a quick map of part of my PLN, I am sure that I have left out some meaningful connections. I am going into my fourth year teaching and I know that it is because of my PLN that I have been able to make it through the first three years.

Below I have split my PLN into four sections; Michigan State University (MSU) , Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (KSTF) , School and Social Media. After mapping them out with I was able to see that each section overlaps to another section and if I kept mapping it I am sure I would see more connections. MSU has been a valuable resource to connections with other educators and academic connections. I work with a very innovative and passionate group of educators in my school context. We engage in various professional development opportunities and lead project based learning trainings globally.  Social media has greatly impacted my teaching. Twitter has connected me with educators globally and allowed me to showcase my classroom to anyone who follows me (@MsDiMaria). Finally the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation Fellowship has been by far the most impactful part of my PLN. This section of my PLN contains new STEM teachers, impactful teacher developers, endless professional development opportunities and great connections to the educational community. I am very grateful for the meaningful connections I have made in my first few years of teaching. As I continue to network in the coming years I am interested in seeing how my PLN grows and comparing it to where it is now.


PLN map using

Networked Learning Challenge

I can’t begin to add up how often I’ve seen students learning through YouTube or Help Forums. Some learning new makeup and hair routines while others reviewing video game techniques and even a few doing research for their current projects all through informal online postings. They learn these techniques from others then use them in their lives, so as their teacher why shouldn’t I see merit in this and try it myself?image

So I have challenged myself to learn how to use video editing/creating software so I can create better entry events for my students projects. I have put off learning this skill for far too long! In project based learning we launch projects with something to hook the students. Some teachers use demonstrations, activities, written events or videos to get the students excited and interested in the project. I have used all of these methods but have not yet created my own launch video. I’ve seen some great work from my coworkers (see a picture of their entry event to the right) and it’s time to step up my game!

In the next five weeks I will use only “the network”, YouTube and help forums, to acquire this new skill. I will reflect through blog posts and create a sample project entry event from the skills I learn.
Some sites I plan to use are:image – final cut pro tutorials

YouTube_FCP1 – YouTube Tutorial (image to the left)

Final Cut Pro Site – Help Spot

Help Forum – public input forum

Wish me luck!

Learning: Experts, Novice and Methods

I’ve been wanting to jump in to the blogging world for some time and have finally been given the right push–Grad school! I’m currently taking CEP 810 through Michigan State University and this week, I have been asked to write an essay that explores what I understand about learning, understanding, and conceptual change. The full essay (685 words) can be found here and is influenced by my reading this week of Bransford, Brown & Cocking’s (2000) How People Learn. To summarize, I’ve constructed definitions of learning and understanding. I discuss differences in learning of novice and experts in a content and the connection to teaching. I provide some instructional insights to think about when dealing with novice in our context. I hope you enjoy my thoughts. I welcome comments or reflections.



Bransford, J., Brown, A.L. & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.), How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school (pp. 3-79). Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Retrieved from