Being an Effective DeTECHtive

As I depart from ED358, I feel equipped with a treasure trove of tech resources to implement into my classroom.  Grateful for the exposure to apps and tools I was previously unaware of, I believe the most significant takeaway from the course to be understanding of the SAMR Model:



Previously, I felt that any incorporation of tech in the classroom would immediately yield heightened student engagement.  I never considered the broader implications of WHY I wanted to use a tool, what my objectives were, and whether or not the tech was even necessary. The SAMR model provided me with a foundational understanding of how technology can merely be used as a substitution, but can also yield a complete redefinition of a lesson.  As the graphic above illustrates, technology can provide varying degrees of investigation; like someone standing on a shoreline, seeking to explore the “Great Unknown” of the ocean.  From the shore, one can stroke their goatee and consider what exists beyond the surface–this represents no technology.

The first level–substitution–is skimming across the surface; providing minor change.  The snorkeler is more emerged in the content–or lesson–but still lacks considerable depth. There are greater opportunities than substitution.  Modification provides more freedom and exploration; there are significant changes in tasks and what one is exposed to.  Finally, redefinition is represented by the submarine–through redefinition one can encounter and understand the previously inconceivable.

Essentially, the SAMR model has encouraged me to become more conscientious in choosing the tech tools I want to experiment with in my classroom.  Instead of merely using a tool because I think the kids will find it cool, it has encouraged me to explore HOW my students will use the tool, what opportunities it will yield them, and what types of new learning will be made available.


The Intersection of Education& Tech

Let’s get this out of the way…

Yes, I’m a  millennial. And yes, I know my way around a computer–my ability to effortlessly ford the river in Oregon Trail as an eight-year-old can attest to that. But in considering the ever-expanding world of tech, I’m admittedly intimidated. Striving to incorporate technology into the classroom in a meaningful way tends to amplify those anxieties.  That being said, the internet is vast and contains endless resources; ready to serve an ambitious yet anxious novice teacher. Over the past few weeks, I have absorbed the knowledge of ed-tech experts through resources such as feedly and twitter; gathering strategies, lesson plan ideas, and pedagogical approaches to employ in my classroom.

Thinking outside the box: Educator Caitlin TuckerScreen Shot 2017-06-03 at 4.31.35 PM


Through Feedly, I was able to discover the blog of Educator Caitlin Tucker, who, in addition to teaching Honors English in Sonoma County, is a “Google Certified Innovator, bestselling author, international trainer, and frequent Edtech speaker.”  While Caitlin addresses a variety of tech-related topics on her blog, I was drawn immediately to a post in which she discusses problems with traditional grades. Even as a novice teacher, I have consistently struggled with the overarching concept of traditional grades– what they measure, how they affect students, and whether or not they accurately gauge mastery of skills. In the midst of a challenging year of navigating the methods and philosophies I would like to practice in my own classroom, Caitlin’s words were helpful.  To more clearly synthesize the ideas expoused in her blog post, I’ve created the following infographic (using Canva):

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The Web 2.0 Connected Classroom

Again, through Feedly I was able to find a fantastic blog on the intersection of Ed and Tech, titled: Blogging About The Web 2.0 Classroom.  The blog is run by a former teacher-turned-Instructional Technologist named Steven W. Anderson, and he serves as a bountiful source of knowledge for all things social media and tech in the classroom.

In browsing through his blog, I was immediately drawn to a post titled: “The Tech-Savvy Educator: 6 Areas of Development.”  After being introduced to the SAMR model and TPACK in the beginning of the quarter, I have since more conscientiously considered the how and why behind using different forms of tech in the classroom.  As someone who previously thought substitution was sufficient in terms of engaging students–e.g. slapping together a powerpoint and hoping for the best–Steven’s post offers straight-forward, helpful tips on how to evolve into a tech-savvy educator.

Tech-Savvy Educators (1)


In the above infographic, Steven outlines the 6 areas of Tech-Savviness.  In particular, I was drawn to area of “Formative Assessment.” as assessments are something I struggle with in terms of quality, and what constitutes quality.  Additionally, Steven provides a helpful table categorized into “Area,” “The Why,” and “Sample Tools.” This table reminds me of the “Weekly Resources” Doc we have used in Professor Ciecek’s course, and is also a fantastic way to organize information, concepts, and strategies. In the “Formative Assessment” section, Steven references Padlet, EdPuzzle, and Plickers as formative assessment resources.  Additionally, I was interested in the “Reflection” category, which includes resources such as Flipgrid in which students can respond to topics with short videos.  Through YouTube, I came across the following video tutorial which better explains how the application can be used in the classroom:


SoulPancake: Inspiration for Teacher and Student

To begin, SoulPancake is the labor of love from Rainn Wilson. If you don’t recognize that name, he’s the actor behind the character Dwight Schrute in The Office:


The tagline of the website is “We make stuff that matters,” which, as an educator, is definitely something I can buy into. While I have been a consumer of SoulPancake’s content for years now, I have recently realized what a valuable tool it is in terms of offering encouragement in times of distress; something my students and I can equally benefit from. While the content is not directly related to ELA, I strongly believe in my role in motivating my kids beyond the scope of content.  I want them to be compassionate, kind, and thoughtful human beings. And these videos encourage those things.

Through browsing Emerging EdTech, I came across a handful of motivational videos which I would love to show my students.   In the 5 videos posted, my favorite was the following–titled “What’s Stopping You From Achieving Your Goals?”

The video–though brief– treats the topic of fear, which is universal to the human experience.  In beginning my career as a teacher, I experience fear.  When I experiment with new tech tools in the classroom, I experience fear.  When my kids take risks–yep, fear.  In browsing through this resource of videos, I noted the topics, and considered the overarching themes and messages.  I realized that the act of seeking out these things (topics and themes) is integral to the ELA classroom, and I became inspired to use them in future lessons on teaching my kids about topics vs. themes.   Empowered by the message, I reaped the additional reward of finding a way to simultaneously inspire my students and engage them in content-related skills.

Digital Citizenship: What’s its role in the classroom?

Digital Citizenship:

The term “citizen” implies a sense of belonging, typically denoting one’s inhabitance of or belonging to a particular place or group. But in the 21st century, the digital realm has become so fully integrated into our everyday lives that we must investigate what it means to inhabit the online world. That is where the term digital citizenship comes in.

According to, “Being a good digital citizen is more than knowing your way around the web. It’s about connecting and collaborating in ways you didn’t even know were possible. When you teach digital citizenship to your students, you help create a positive school culture that supports safe and responsible technology use.”  Essentially, this means using technology both ethically and responsibly.

The following image–sourced from–illustrates the 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship:


Fair Use:

Fair use refers to–under certain conditions–the reproduction and use of copyrighted work without obtaining permission from the copyright owner.

While browsing the University of California’s page on copyright, I came across the following table which breaks down factors of fair use:

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In further investigating what it means to be a digital citizen in the classroom, it’s important to consider the ways in which students use technology, and how this aligns with CCSS. For example, in ELA CCSS, students are often asked to use evidence to support claims. In order to correctly cite evidence, students must know how to responsibly do so. In the following video from The Teaching Channel, middle school teacher Novella Bailey guides students in learning about ‘fair use.’ In the lesson, students are presented with video clips which contain copyrighted material, and must note observations about what is and is not appropriate use of material.

Introducing the Topics of “Fair Use” in a Digital World


To preface with a definition, explains copyright as: “”the legal right granted to an author, a composer, a playwright, a publisher, or a distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work.”

Essentially, copyright laws exist to protect the tangible work of the creator; ensuring that the creator is fairly compensated and has control on how the work is used.

As states,

Educators often ask the question “What can my students and I freely use in our lessons, presentations, workshops, newsletters, reports, and Web sites, and what is protected by copyright?”

The short answer is that nearly every original, tangible expression is copyrighted immediately upon creation. An author does not have to register the work, announce that the work is copyright protected, or display the copyright symbol to enjoy copyright protection. All he or she must do is create an original work in tangible form.

It is essential for students to learn about copyright laws for various reasons, especially considering the frequency in which students use outside sources in and outside of the classroom.  While knowledge about copyright laws can also educate students on rights about their own work, they can also learn how to responsibly use copyrighted work  without permission– through public domain and fair use.


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Creative Commons:

By definition, creative commons is a license used when the author of a work or works offers people the right to share, use, or modify said work(s).

Produced by, the following video explains how creators, institutions, and governments use Creative Commons licenses to shift from “Copyright: all rights reserved” to “Creative Commons: some rights reserved.”

As 1:30 of the video states, “We are now the steward of a global commons, a universe of free and open content shared under simple terms that can spark new ideas and solve global challenges.”  The license is particularly interesting in the realm of education, where learning is founded in practices of sharing, revising, modifying, and building upon both teachers’ and students’ knowledge.


So, what’s the deal with TPACK?


In the world of education, TPACK (or Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge), is a model which examines the intersections of teachers’ knowledge domains. In this model, the Content refers to the “what” which is being taught; e.g. English Language Arts, Math, Science, or Foreign Language. Secondly, the Pedagogy refers to the “how”; essentially, the tools teachers use to present the material to students. Lastly is the Technology, which can be partnered with pedagogical approaches to make the content more accessible for students.

Now, in considering the TPACK model, you might realize that your content and pedagogical knowledge is pretty solid, but technology may be lacking.

That’s where SAMR comes in.

The SAMR model explains how to integrate technology into the classroom; the acronym standing for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition.  The levels of SAMR can be likened to the ladder-like structure of Bloom’s Taxonomy in that you want to move from the lower levels to the higher levels.

Through browsing teacher accounts on YouTube, I stumbled across a video by user @mchsmrsmckay video in which she uses a coffee analogy to explain the SAMR model:

The coffee analogy explained in the video is a very useful tool in understanding the SAMR model. What begins as a plain cup of coffee evolves into a pumpkin spice latte which–figurative speaking–is the goal of incorporating the SAMR model.

*Adele voice* Hello…it’s me.

There’s a quote by Maya Angelou which states, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

Now, this can apply to many things–academic and otherwise, which is probably why I love it so much.  I think back to the beginning of my yoga practice; something I discovered after finishing a collegiate-level water polo career. I was reluctant to try yoga, considering it some hippie, new-age nonsense that would barely make me break a sweat. Time and patience, though, have a way of transforming one’s perspective. My reluctance grew into daily practice, which developed into a profound love, which led me to pursue and receive my yoga teacher certification. At the tail end of yoga teacher training, I discovered a duel passion for being both student and teacher; I realized I wanted to make education my career, and thus applied for UCI’s M.A.T. program.

Through the M.A.T. and my student teaching experiences, I have realized the powerful combination of an open mind, creativity, and fearlessness in the face of making mistakes (which, I learned, will happen). I believe in the necessity of humbling oneself, in the advantage of collaboration, and the importance of reflection. In all I do, I must consider the needs of my students. And in addition to considering my students’ needs, I have the responsibility of helping them uncover their strengths.

I am a student, and I am a teacher. Without being the former, I cannot successfully be the latter. It is not until I know better that I will do better.