Category Archives: Reflections

Reflecting on 7 Weeks of Ed Tech Learning

How might we create professional learning experiences around TPACK?

How might we create professional learning experiences around TPACK?

The past seven weeks of my Teaching for Understanding with Technology course have flown by! Between launching global partnerships for my Pre-K to 2nd grade classes, setting up our new IDEA Studio, traveling to the Learning2 conference in Manila and, preparing classes for back to school night, life has been busy and I can’t believe my first course in the Graduate Certificate in Ed Tech at MSU is already over.

I had a chance to dive deeper into a variety of tech tools, including Popplet (mapping my PLN inspired me to reflect on how my PLN serves as a coach/mentor), Trello, Tinkercad, and our lower school Makerbot Replicator. Although what I am most excited about from this first course, more than any of the tools, is the new ways of processing and thinking about teaching and learning that I have explored.

I plan to keep testing and iterating my own version of the GTD approach and my visual task lists in Trello. I also want to continue exploring new 3D printing projects in Tinkercad and I feel like now that I have opened that door during this course, I can more easily walk through it with my students and support them in innovating with 3D printing technologies.

The idea of networked learning and using YouTube and help forums to learn new skills is also something I want to think about further. Since I am working with Pre-K to 2nd grade students, I want to invite my colleagues to share their pedagogical and content knowledge with me and co-construct a plan for using these tools in ways that would be both safe and meaningful for our young students. I am also excited to use the 21st century lesson plan I designed in the coming weeks in our kindergarten classes and support students in programing our robots to tell their stories.

Finally, I want to keep exploring the TPACK framework (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). I have used SAMR in professional learning experiences with the faculty at my school but I feel like that can limit the focus to the tools and run the risk of encouraging educators to be technocentric, something Dr. Mishra advises against (Mishra, 2012). I wonder if we need to take more time to talk about TPACK and the intersections between tools and teaching. Specifically, I think it could be helpful to focus on how tools can be used to redefine and transform learning when used in tandem with the pedagogical approaches and content that encourage deeper understanding.

The more I reflect on the different pieces of TPACK, the more I am convinced that no one piece can work alone. We have to look at our content and make sure it matches the world around us today (e.g., paper reading strategies vs. digital reading strategies), and do the same with our pedagogical approaches (e.g., teacher-directed learning vs. blended learning and inquiry-based teaching) and our technical tools (e.g., paper maps vs. Google Maps). I’m hoping to learn and reflect more on TPACK this year and find ways to talk more about it with my colleagues. I’m still unsure about the best ways to help more teachers and lessons apply the framework and successfully utilize the interconnectedness of technical pedagogical content knowledge. I’m also curious whether this framework can be a tool to build relationships and develop cross-disciplinary bridges. Can TPACK help break down silos between different subject areas and specials in schools?

The great thing about learning is that there are always new questions to consider and hopefully just as many opportunities to pause and reflect on how all of the pieces may or may not fit together.


 Mishra, P. (2012, March 26). Punya Mishra – keynote speaker @ 21st century learning conference – Hong Kong 2012 [Video file]. Retrieved from 

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. Retrieved from download .pdf

Reflecting on My Work in Tinkercad

Four weeks ago, I set a new learning goal for myself:

Learn how to use Tinkercad to design and print at least three different types of projects: a sign, something with moving parts, and something that has a practical application.

Over the next few weeks, I spent a lot of time on YouTube, watching videos about 3D design and Tinkercad. I created a 3D printed sign using three different colors of PLA in one print, a first for me! I also looked in some help forums to see if there is an easier way to know when to pause and switch but most people suggested getting a printer with multiple extruders.

Then I came up with the idea to create a new part for our constantly evolving marble run in the new IDEA Studio at my school. Originally, I thought my “practical” project would be something like a desk organizer but after watching this video I realized I could create something for students to use! Check out the video below to see and hear some of the trials and tribulations that were involved in that project.

Finally, I spent time working on the third part of my goal, to create a project with moving parts. This video was particularly helpful in getting me started. I was inspired to create a vehicle, which turned out to look close to a school bus, with moving wheels. The actual design process really challenged my spatial reasoning and it took a number of iterations to get my design right. Getting to practice and test things in Tinkercad that I thought should work but had never tried before (e.g., making a hole and inserting an object inside so it will move freely when printed) was really helpful in deepening my understanding of how 3D printing works. Now that I’ve made one project like this, I want to help students to learn how to do it too. I think something like this might be my next goal.

I really enjoyed learning through YouTube and I think it’s a great way to learn a new skill since it can be done anytime, anywhere and easily align with my learning needs and pace. Since I primarily work with Pre-K to 2nd grade students, I would be cautious about sending them onto YouTube to search for any topic they want to learn. I think creating playlists on YouTube with pre-screened videos about topics they’ve raised could be a great way for them to use this learning approach in a more restricted environment. As for help forums, I am a little less sold on their impact. I found 3D Hubs a bit hard to navigate and their search function not particularly narrow. was more useful but I think my PLN, where I’ve built relationshps and personal connections, is often the best help forum. I think Twitter often acts like a help forum itself and if I put a question out using relevant hashtags (e.g., #makered and #3Dprinting) and maybe a few names of people doing that work, I can get great results.

This video is a summary of the three projects and my experience learning to design in Tinkercad: