Can a diagram be art? Is there a place for creativity in math? How can we encourage students to “uncover” a new perspective, rather than merely “cover” the information? To explore these questions, my MAET class created images to represent major concepts from our content areas. We used language and imagery together to evoke an emotional response in the viewer, and to connect that response to the content (in my case, a Spanish poet and a civil rights hero). Here’s the final product, I think they turned out nice!

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Authentic Learning with Newton’s First Law

How do you know when students have mastered a concept? Educators can assess a student’s knowledge with a paper and pencil test, but this method has a weakness: students may recognize the correct answer on a written test, but still lack understanding of how the concept applies in the real world. Rather than a paper test, it can be more effective to have students demonstrate their knowledge by teaching it to others.

The MAET summer cohort worked with this concept by creating videos that demonstrate Newton’s First Law. Take a look at this video made by myself and my classmates Du Bui and Denise Crudup, Team Los Triángulos, to demonstrate how an object in motion will stay in motion.


Teachers want their students to be motivated and to love learning, but sometimes it is our own actions that undercut our students’ desire to learn. In my MAET course we discussed some of these demotivational actions, and then we made our own “Demotivational Posters” to share out our ideas. You can see my poster below!

Demotivational Poster - Engagement

Social Media and Digital Literacy

As social media becomes an increasingly important aspect of our national, local and personal lives, the skills needed to navigate it become increasingly important. However, many teachers don’t know where to start, or even if they should start using social media in the classroom. My MAET team, Los Triángulos (Du Bui and Denise Crudup), decided this would be an interesting topic to dig deeper into. We invited two experts, Dr. Christine Greenhow and doctoral candidate Sarah Gretter, to talk about social media and digital literacy as part of the MAET Bridge webinar series. We had a fascinating conversation that included discussion on topics like:

  • Should teachers use social media alongside their students?
  • What can be gained from engaging with students on Web 2.0 platforms?
  • How can teachers use social media help students acquire digital literacy?
  • What are some dangers to avoid?
  • And more!

If you enjoyed this webinar and would like to learn more, here are a few additional resources shared by our contributors:



Why don’t students like school?” asked Daniel Willingham, a cognitive scientist. School could and should be a place that cultivates curiosity, of discovery, and confidence, but too often, it fails to do these things. He decided to look into the mental processes that occur as people acquire information and gain expertise and parse out how learning occurs and how to best guide students through the process.

One of the topics that Willingham investigates is “Why is it so hard for students to understand abstract ideas?” In this chapter, he discusses how to teach students broad, guiding principles but also how to help them apply those principles to specific sitations. For effective learning, he says, students need to master both the abstract and the concrete. To further illustrate the concepts that Willingham presents, my MAET team, Los Triángulos (which includes myself, Du Bui and Denise Crudup), created a fun YouTube video using Legos!

Another chapter asks “What is the secret to getting students to think like real scientists, mathematicians and historians?” In this section, Willingham demonstrates the differences between novices and experts, and discusses the steps that occur as a person gains expertise. Los Triángulos made a second video that summarizes his ideas using, you guessed it, more Legos!

Understanding Understanding

Have you ever explained something to a student, only to realize later that they totally missed the point? One year I recall that I introduced my students to the work of Frida Kahlo. I skillfully guided remarks about her eyebrows into a discussion about how she used her self-portraits to communicate messages about her conflicted inner state more than her exterior appearance.

So when I later asked my students, What did Frida Kahlo communicate through her paintings?, I expected something more sophisticated than, “She liked her eyebrows!”

Often, teachers are able to guide students to a place where they can pass a test, but once the questions veer away from the classroom script, it becomes clear that students lack true understanding. They are not able to explain the concept in a meaningful or accurate manner, they are unable to perceive its appropriate context, and they struggle to apply the idea to solve new problems.

To explore this topic more, my MAET group, Los Triángulos, decided to investigate the electoral college and find out what people actually understood about it. We designed a set of questions to tease out others’ understanding. Then, we talked to people on MSUs campus and invited online participants to complete a survey with our questions. Finally, we analyzed the results to see how well people understood the electoral college and its impact on our elections. Find out about our results in the video below!

Want to learn more? You can take a look at our website that explains our procedure and results.

Ideas into Practice

ICTs are “information and communication technologies”. It is term that encompasses the variety of websites, online applications and tools that can be used in an educational context.

But while new technologies can be exciting, teachers and researchers have discovered that technology itself is not a solution, it is equally important how the technology is utilized and the curricular context in which it is presented. In the article What a Decade of Education Research Tells Us About Technology in the Hands of Underserved Students, Molly B. Zielezinski asks, what are some guiding principles to effective technology use in the classroom? She shares a list of Actionable Tips that range from “Stop using technology for remediation!” to “Honor students as experts.”

In my MAET CEP 815 course, we developed these Actionable Tips into a list of ICT resources that teachers can use to effectively implement technology in their own classrooms, and then we published the list in a WikiBooks article on ICTs in Education. Looking for some of the resources that we found? Check out our Actionable Tips here and you can see our original Google Doc here.