Reflections on the Hour of Code in My Classroom

While I’m writing my dissertation, I am teaching at an independent learning school in a small town in Southern California. The school has traditionally been packet-based, with very little use of digital anything.

Dr. Stephen Pietrolungo, the principal here, is working diligently to move the school into the 21st century. This week, he outlined several fairly simple ways to integrate digital tools, inquiry-based learning, and critical consumption of information in his blog as a kick-off to our launch of the international Hour of Code.


Impacting Teacher Learning with PPD and TPCK

On Friday, I gave a talk on this paper at the SITE conference in Las Vegas on the relationship between Participatory Professional Development and Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK). Generally, I asserted that all of these innovations in technology are changing the ways learners interact with information, learning environments, their teachers, and each other. They are more connected – to everything – which means that we need to reenvision our understandings of what learning environments look like, how to design for them, and what counts as “engagement” and “learning” within them. However, this also means that we need to reenvision what professional development looks like and the ways in which it presents new information to teachers so that they can learn how to design for and teach  in these new environments.


Collaborative Design as a Form of Professional Development

In 2012, I attended the International Conference for the Learning Sciences. front pageThere I was part of a workshop led by Yael Kali and Susan McKenney, where we discussed collaborative and participatory approaches to teacher learning. I collaborated with Joke VoogtTherese LaferrièreAlain BreuleuxDaniel T. Hickey, and Susan McKenney to write our article on Collaborative Design as a Form of Professional Development, just published in Instructional Science.

The basic model for participatory professional development is outlined in Case 1. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the article.



Supporting Not-So-Tech-Savvy Teachers through PD

I was scrolling through tumblr today and came across holtthink’s post, which posed an excellent question: “should we still have sympathy for teachers who don’t use technology” or “don’t get computers?” It’s a fair question, and one I’ve come across many times. I would argue that, yes, we need to have sympathy for these teachers and moreover, we need to provide them with appropriate, sustained support in learning to use and integrate new technologies into their classrooms.


Setting Intentions

In the morning over my coffee, I set an intention for the hour and for the day. I do this to give focus to the moment so that I can carry that intention throughout the day. And as usual, I started to think about learning. I realized that this notion of setting intentions is exactly what we want learners to do in our courses. We want them to set goals for learning beyond memorizing facts. We want them to set intentions for learning that will carry through to their other courses and their daily lives.


Introducing Participatory Professional Development

I’ve been a teacher of some kind or another for about as long as I can remember. From reading to young kids with processing disorders to teaching ten-minute playwriting and producing festivals to tutoring middle and high school students for cash in college, I seem to always find myself in some kind of educator role. So when I became a teacher – and not a geneticist as I had planned – no one but me was surprised. “Of course you became a teacher,” everyone said. “You were teaching toddlers when you were three,” they said. “You were born a teacher,” they said. And I suppose they were right.


Some selected blog posts from the past

Now that I have a central place to collect my writing, I will add new blog posts to this site as they’re written, but in the past, I have been contributing to several other blogs around the web. Here is a quick roundup of some of the more significant ones.

I am anchoring research into educational assessment in digital badge systems, one of four research strands of the Design Principles Documentation Project, which is wrapping up a 2-year study of 30 educational programs that are using Mozilla’s Open Badges to recognize learning. We sorted how programs designed their assessment practices into ten general design principles.

Here is an early explanation of those principles: Design Principles for Assessing Learning with Digital Badges (2013, May).

And some previous thoughts on assessment design in digital badge systems: Encouraging reflection on practice while grading an artifact: A thought on badges (2012, March).

Purdue Veterinary Medicine Digital Badges Aim to Excite Youth and Expand their Knowledge (2013, July).

I write a lot about educational assessment and technology outside of badges as well. Here’s a sampling:

The role of artifact reflections in participatory assessment (2012, July).

Reflections on using a wiki to organize a summer learning event:  Summer 2012 hackjam: The wiki (2012, June).

Three firsts: Bloomington’s first hackjam, ForAllBadges app, and participatory assessment + Hackasaurus (2012, June).


Itow, R.C., Hickey, D. T. (2012, February). Finnish lessons: Start a conversation.

Itow, R.C. (2011, December). Another misuse of standardized tests: Color coded ID cards?