Thursday, September 23, 2021

Visual Literacy

an eye ball
Image: Ray eye reused here in accordance with a creative commons license

To Read: Color matters! Read about color symbolism in different cultures and explore other parts of this website to learn more about the significance of color in our lives.

To Watch:  Soon you will be designing your teacher website.  It should be important for you to make conscious decisions about how you present the content of the pages.  What makes the page user-friendly? How to present the text so it is useful to the learner?  What are the most common design mistakes made when creating educational websites?  To help you answer that I created a short video about the web design considerations

To Watch: Visual Diagramming, Concept Mapping, Mind Mapping - all of these phrases apply to the way we may visually brainstorm or organize the ideas. This video explains the benefits of it:

To use in your future classroom: C.A.R.P. junior - Design Principles for kids - ideas on how to practice them in an elementary classroom

To challenge yourself: Look at these 25 of the most iconic photographs (according to CNN) - How many can you name just by looking at them?


Additional optional resources:

ISTE Standards for Educators:
5c Educators explore and apply instructional design principles to create innovative digital learning environments that engage and support learning.
6d. Educators model and nurture creativity and creative expression to communicate ideas, knowledge or connections.

ISTE Standards for students connection:
1b Students build networks and customize their learning environments in ways that support the learning process.
6c Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.

Play with colors on a professional level: The color scheme designer

How to Design For Color Blindness

The Smithsonian Institution Archives: Education Materials for K - 12 Teachers 
Smithsonian Open Access:  where you can download, share, and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images. 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Copyright & Creative Commons

Image source: Wikimedia Commons (this image is in the public domain)
These RWLDs introduce you to fundamental principles of U.S. copyright law, fair use, public domain, and creative commons. Understanding these concepts is key to making legal/ethical decisions about how to incorporate media into your educational projects (and guiding your own students to do so in the future).

List of Terms and Concepts You Should Know:

  1. Copyright (what is it and when is it obtained by a creator?)
  2. Fair Use (when it can be used?)
  3. Public Domain
  4. Creative Commons (how do you obtain a CC license?)
  5. Jammie Thomas-Rasset's case who illegally downloading 24 songs. Read the follow-up to the story of Capitol v. Thomas on Wikipedia.
  6. Copyright BriefNotes for Students. this is an interesting compilation of the meaning of copyright. Review the Copyright Decision Tree on page 2. It helps you decide if you can use a work in your projects. 


If you are a reader,
familiarize yourself with pages 1—6 of Copyright Basics (PDF) from the US Copyright Office ( This introduction to copyright law describes what works are protected and defines ownership as well as the typical duration of copyright law protection.

If you would rather watch videos to learn
review the 3 videos below:

Using Copyrighted Works in Our Own Creations: Fair Use, Creative Commons, and Permissions


Copyright History and Rational in 6 minutes!

Creative Commons

This 5 minute video explains why Creative Commons was created:

Creative Commons licenses make it easy for people to share their works which are otherwise protected by copyright law. This provides terrific opportunities for teachers and students! It's what you might say is a happy middle ground between All Rights Reserved and the public domain.

Other Resources (As FYI)

- Bookmark and explore these UNI sites related to copyright: UNI Copyright Policies and Rod Library Guide to Copyright.
- And last but not least, take a look at the Key Moments in Social Media Law from 1984 to today.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Thinking Skills

Thinking comes in many forms . . .

Sometimes it just requires remembering the capital of Iowa or where you put your keys.  Other times thinking is more complex as we decide how to apply the new skills we just learned. It might also involve analyzing the differences between two approaches to solving a problem. Thinking often requires us to evaluate different opportunities so that we can create something that is uniquely original.

An educator's responsibility is to build these skills in our learners. We need to develop thinking skills that range all the way from remembering a simple fact to creating a complex project. As educators, we need to be aware of these different levels of thinking and mindfully create learning opportunities for our students that will develop thinking at all levels.

The basic level of thinking is called Lower-Order Thinking (LOTS).  This is the level where you memorize facts and poems and equations. You are rewarded by remembering them when needed. Remembering things is useless unless you understand what these things mean. Knowing what things mean is important, but it takes another level of responsibility to actually apply your knowledge to the real world.

The more complex level of thinking is called Higher-Order Thinking (HOTS).  This is the level where you really have to be engaged.  You use what you know to analyze original situations. You evaluate them for good and bad.  You even take on the responsibility to use your background and knowledge to create new and original projects and ideas.

Knowing about these levels of thinking will enable you to create learning experiences this semester that will challenge your students. Basic facts (like the names of planets) are useful, but being able to list those facts is not enough to be valuable in real life.  You will need to provide your students with challenges where they can apply these basic facts in a new and creative way.

Bloom's Taxonomy
Yes, we know that you have probably learned about Bloom's Taxonomy in other classes but please don't "turn off."  Your mastery of teaching and learning at these levels is what will enhance the meaning of your students' learning.

These levels of thinking are captured in Bloom's Taxonomy. Developed in 1954 to identify different types of questions, this taxonomy has evolved into a model which classifies the various levels of thinking that we have been discussing.  (Click CC in the video below for closed captions)

As we progress through Ed Tech and Design, you will be asked to write statements that define what you want your learners to be able to do to prove that they have learned throughout your thematic unit.  These statements (Objectives) will use observable verbs to define the behavior you want your students to exhibit. The key to success is for you to use the appropriate observable verbs so that your learners will know what to do.  Here is a list of observable verbs that you will be able to use during this week and next week as you learn about instructional design. These verbs are important.  Remember that the Verb is the Word.  This will all be discussed in more detail in this week's lecture.

It can be useful to review Teaching Strategies that Enhance Higher-Order Thinking.  Spend some time reviewing the strategies included in the article. How could you engage some of them in your area of teaching? Refer to Bloom's taxonomy as you review this article and consider which levels you would engage with each of the strategies. 

Higher-Level Thinking in the Classroom - Middle School
A middle-school teacher from Georgetown School District demonstrates how she promotes higher-order thinking in the classroom. Watch this video to see how this teacher expanded her students' thinking through questioning. This even includes a principal's perspective on the process.  (Click CC in the video for closed captions)


Depths of Knowledge (DOK)
While Bloom's Taxonomy terms are used in objectives to describe the "Thinking Processes" a student might use in problem-solving, this isn't used to evaluate the complexity of the assessments teachers will use to evaluate their students' learning. Depths of Knowledge (DOK) is a system that resembles Bloom's Taxonomy in some ways, but it is used to evaluate the complexity of the tests and projects teachers might use to assess their students. 

DOK involves 4 Levels: Recall, Skill/Concept, Strategic Thinking, and Extended Thinking.   The diagram below compares how the DOK can relate to Bloom's Taxonomy.

The following video explains the role that Bloom's Taxonomy and Depths of Knowledge play in learning and assessing thinking processes and levels of complexity in assessment.  
NOTE: The following video is created by the same company that created the Bloom's Taxonomy video above.  The intro theme and narrator are the same but the content is different.

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
Nurturing Higher-Order thinking is the basis for developing and rewarding creativity. Steven Johnson, one of our most innovative, popular thinkers explores (in exhilarating style) one of our key questions: Where do good ideas come from? Johnson provides the story of how we generate the ideas that push our careers, our lives, our education, our society, and our culture forward. 

So HOW do we integrate Higher-Order Thinking Skills into our Learning and Teaching?  Here are a few ideas by Sir Ken Robinson.

Collaboration in the 21st Century: Sir Ken Robinson
Watch how Sir Robinson explores ways that education can prepare students for the collaboration they will use in their future lives. This is an inspiring video that explains how collaboration supports innovation.  (Click CC in the video for closed captions)

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Systematic Instructional Design & Universal Design for Learning

This set of Readings, Watchings, Listenings, and Doings (RWLDs) is designed to prepare you for the lecture on "Systematic Instructional Design and Universal Design for Learning." It is meant to help you plan an interdisciplinary thematic unit of instruction.

Systematic Instructional Design

Identifying Your Destination
The Teaching/Learning situation is not limited to identifying a "coooool" activity and then connecting forms of instruction and assessment to it. To effectively design and develop learning activities, it is necessary to identify the desired outcome first.  This provides direction for your instructional activities.

When you are classroom teachers, your job will be to provide a supportive learning environment (your classroom) where your students can learn.  They can learn a whole rainbow of ideas and skills, but your job is to provide opportunities for them to learn ideas and skills that are appropriate to your grade level. 

The key to successful instructional design is to identify what you want your students to learn and then plan accordingly.  This posting will provide you with some strategies for accomplishing this and how to make it accessible to all. Towards the end, we will introduce some of the basics you will use to do your own designing this semester.  

Designing Your Instruction

It's just common sense to begin with the end in mind when you are designing instruction. Begin by defining what you want your students to learn and plan your instruction to that result. This is called Backward Design. 

If you don't know where you are going, 

how will you know how to get there?

Here is a video that uses the metaphor of planning a trip to describe Backward Design.

Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?  If you don't know where you will be going, you won't be able to figure out how to get there.

Backward Design is the basis for an instructional design system called Understanding by Design. 

The Understanding by Design framework has 3 parts:

  1. Identify Desired Results
    1. What will students know?
    2. What will students be able to do?
  2. Determine Acceptable Evidence
    1. What performance will meaning-making and transfer
  3. Create Your Learning Plans
    1. Learning Plan (instruction)
    2. Learning Activities (experiences)
Bernajean Porter does a good job of explaining the aspects of Understanding by Design. The most significant point that she makes is that starting with the "End in Mind" is just common sense.

Understanding by Design
is a framework which provides direction for unit lesson planning. It begins by identifying the Desired Outcomes and Results and then makes a plan to achieve that outcome.

Achieving your desired results is not always an easy task. Your students all have different skill levels and learning preferences.  It is important that we present new information and engage our students in learning using a variety of approaches.  This strategy is called Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning

Effective Instructional Design can only be successful if you consider the learning needs of your learners. Your learners do not all have the same preferences for ways to learn so you need to consider various ways that new ideas and skills are introduced and how your learners can engage in mastering this content.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a combination of pedagogy and techniques that acknowledge the different levels of needs. UDL uses brain-based research to identify the need for addressing multiple methods of representation, expression, and engagement of learners with information and knowledge. It involves instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments. 

The Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) is a leading organization in the field of UDL.  Read about CAST and the UDL Guidelines.

Here is a 5-minute introductory video on UDL.  

An essential part of UDL is using Multiple Means of Representation. This means that if you learn things better by reading than watching information, you may not have learned much from the video you just watched.  You might do better if you visited this website and read about UDL.  

Consider how we use Multiple Means of Representation in Ed Tech and Design.  You are introduced (engaged) to new ideas through written and spoken media. The content is Represented in multiple formats. You are provided multiple ways to Act upon your new knowledge and Express your learning.

You should consider developing instruction that integrates a variety of methods of instruction including written text, speaking, listening, watching, and creating (to name a few.)  This will be discussed further in the lecture that you will watch.

Putting It All Together with TPACK

We have already introduced TPACK, but Instructional Design is a good place to consider how we can most effectively integrate TechnologyPedagogy (teaching skills), and Content Knowledge (TPACK). 

Teaching and Learning through technology is much more than just using PowerPoint and Twitter. The Venn diagram below shows how each of these areas can combine and impact the others.  Certain forms of Technology can be used to support specific teaching strategies (Pedagogy). That is the TPK intersection. Ultimately the TPACK educator is interested in teaching in the "sweet spot" in the middle where all three areas are fully integrated.
    Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by
Read more about the TPACK model (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) which we consider a framework that identifies the knowledge teachers need to teach effectively with technology. 

You can also watch this video which provides a brief introduction to TPACK in 2 minutes. 

An important point that TPACK makes is that neither Technology nor Content nor Pedagogy is more important than the other.  Each area provides a necessary "piece of the puzzle" that yields Successful Learning.

One might consider in that class that we believe that everything can be fixed with technology - this is NOT  the Case.  Technology is NOT the Thing.  When you using technology to support learning, remember that

Technology is NOT the Thing, It provides Opportunities.
Technology is the Thing that gets you to the Thing.

Preparing for Your Thematic Unit

Now that you have some ideas about how to design instruction and the importance of making the instruction accessible to all, it is time to begin thinking about the design process.

Your desired outcomes for your classroom activities are determined by the Iowa Core Curriculum (or other relevant standards that you will find on the Assignment page.)  

  • The Iowa Core is divided into Subject Areas (e.g., science, mathematics) and Grade Levels. 
  • Each of these areas is organized by subject-specific Standards
  • You, the teacher, need to identify Outcomes/Skills that you will expect your students to achieve towards a selected Standard. 
  • You will use Observable Verbs to identify what you expect your students to do to demonstrate their mastery.
    Click on the link to the Iowa Core Curriculum just to get familiar with it.  Then return to this page and use the example below to help explore the Iowa Core.

    EXAMPLE: Imagine examining the Science, Math, and Literacy requirements for 5th grade. You find standards that say that 5th graders should be able to explain how plants are affected by water (Science), Represent the data with graphs (Math), and Create a report on their findings (Literacy). This would lead you to use Plant Life as your theme.

    You have identified what your students will be learning and now you must design and create a set of lesson activities that will help your students master this skill.  
    • Column 1 - Your subject area and name. 
    • Column 2 - The Iowa Core standards you will be addressing.
    • Column 3 - The Skills/Objectives you have written to identify what you expect your students to be able to do.
    • Column 4 - List the Global Goals you will be addressing. 
    • Column 5 - Describes the classroom activities that will connect to your identified skills/objectives.

    Find the Thematic Unit Description project requirements in eLearning under Labs (Class Projects). Familiarize yourself with the expectations and resources provided for your first big project in the course.

    Enjoy your designing!

    Make it something meaningful 
    for both you and your students.

    Additional Resources: These are not required, but you may find them helpful in understanding these concepts.

    Monday, August 23, 2021

    Connecting with the World: Giving Our Students a Voice.

    Your first lecture is a recorded session from our guest speaker Shannon Miller. She is a UNI graduate and teacher-librarian and technology integration specialist at Van Meter Community School District. She is now an international speaker that encourages young people and educators to have a voice while learning, creating, collaborating, and connecting with others globally. She speaks and consults around the country on education, librarianship, technology, social media, and making a difference in education and the lives of others. She is a Future Ready Librarians and Project Connect Spokesperson at Follett Corporation.; Buncee's Teacher Librarian Advisor and Cantata Learning's Teacher Librarian Advocate. She is also the author of the award-winning The Library Voice blog.

    You may follow her on Twitter at

    Before watching the lecture:

    Open and analyze the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards for teachers and students. ISTE standards provide a framework for learning, teaching, and leading that is amplified by technology.
    • ISTE Standards for Students emphasize the skills and qualities we want for students, enabling them to engage and thrive in a connected, digital world. 
    • ISTE Standards for Educators define the new skills and pedagogical insights educators need to teach, work, and learn in the digital age. 
    Bookmark these standards, we will be coming back to them throughout the course.

    Download the "I am a Digital Age Learner" poster that breaks down the standard for students in a nice concept map. Print it if possible and place it in your workspace. It should guide your future decisions when creating projects for your students.

    While watching the lecture (see Lecture folder in an eLearning) :
    • Try to make a list of the skills and tools mentioned by Shannon. 
    • Do you know many skills and tools to give you and your future students a voice? 
    • What your high, middle, and elementary school teachers did to give you a voice and to connect you to the world outside of your classroom? 
    • What can you do to make your future students' learning more meaningful and engaging? 
    • Do you see an echo of ISTE standards in Shannon's teaching

    collage from Shannon Miller guest speaking
    Shannon Miller guest speaker