Reflections on CEP810

I first sought out the CEP program at MSU to finish off my professional development credits because the master’s program I was finishing had no mention of technology use in the mathematics classroom.  Technology was just something useful, when it worked, for having 12 people from around the world work together as a learning collective.  It was how we presented what we had learned to our cohort, but never did we look at how to use technology to extend student learning in the mathematics classroom.  It was a lack I felt deeply, so I decided to start at MSU.

Starting at MSU in May was difficult, to say the least.  School here in Canada is not yet finished for the year, so I was faced with year end marking, exam preparation, report cards, ELL Benchmarks, Ends statements and everything else that goes into the last two months of school.  On top of that I started late at MSU so I had to play catch up, trying to finish week 0, 1 and 2 all at the same time.  Then to make my life even more complex I was in the last two months of my master’s program here working on my last two courses as well as finishing my 140 page capstone project.  With all that  going on in my life as well as Physiotherapy on a dislocated knee, I was ever so grateful that we looked at the work of Allen (2012) about how to “Get Things Done”.  While my family and coworkers find it a bit silly when I whip out my phone to update the things they ask me to do into my to do lists, I find that I have managed not to miss doing any of the jobs I needed to do.  I did have to ask for one extension, but by looking at the list in my calendar which had no room left to add items; I was able to see that I would need the time in advance instead of waiting until I had already missed a deadline.

Before entering the program at MSU I was focused on getting a new tool and then figuring out what I could do with it.  While I still like new toys, I am now focusing more on what I want to do and then figuring out how the technology can support those learning goals. In my last master’s program we had already looked at the work of Shulman (1986) and address his concept of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK).  We traced this evolution of PCK but only as it has evolved in the field of mathematics education.  I was surprised when I first saw the image for TPACK (Kereluik, Mishra, & Koehler, 2011). because it reminded me so much of the work I had already done with PCK and nested circles of influence in a complex adaptive system (Davis, Sumara, & Luce-Kapler, 2008).  TPACK now seems to be the link that I was missing in my previous program; how technology interacts with the pedagogy and the content to support students in their learning.

So where do I go from here?  I have found mathematics the hardest subject to authentically integrate technology into.  My quest, and yes I like quests, is to figure out what tasks lend themselves to integrating with technology and figuring out in what ways can I repurpose existing tools to support those tasks.  As well, never far from my mind, is my ultimate life goal to create a MMORPG that has mathematical skills and mathematical reasoning authentically embedded into the core of the gameplay.  As I said in my final NLP blog, I am ambitious.  Learning is a process that never ends, and that is the project that drives my professional learning at this point in my career.  It is always good to have a goal.

Allen, D. (2012, October 31) The Art of Stress-Free Productivity: David Allen at TEDx Claremont Colleges .  Retrieved from

Davis, B., Sumara, D., & Luce-Kapler, R. (2008). Engaging Mind Changing Teaching in Complex Times second edition. New York: Routledge.

Kereluik, K., Mishra, P. & Koehler, M.J. (2011). On learning to subvert signs: Literacy, technology and the TPACK framework. The California Reader, 44(2), 12-18.

Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those Who Understand: Knowledge Growth in Teaching. Educational Researcher, (pp. 4-14). Chicago, Il.


Final Video in My NLP quest to become a C++ programmer

When I started CEP810, I chose to become a C++ programmer as my Network Learning Project (NLP).  I must say, like all things in my life, I was overly ambitious.  Now while in the most basic form of the word programmer I am a programmer of C++ because I have made programs, I am not by any stretch of the imagination ready to add C++ programmer to my resume.  At the beginning of my quest, almost 8 weeks ago I knew the C++ was a computer language that most game designers said you needed to understand to game design.  I am still unclear as if whether or not that learning C++ is just a hazing ritual, but I know I have learned a lot.  I can now programs using inputs that are either numbers or words, I can use result statements, I can use if else statements to give two possible answers based on previous results, and I can use basic math operations in my programs.  The program I used for this video is a completely new program, I did not find it in a video or a help forum.  However, I did use look through many videos on youtube and look through many help forums to try and find out what I was doing wrong.  However, then Alberta was hit by a flood and the internet when out.  Suddenly, my Network Learning Project became just a Learning Project.  I had to scrap a large portion of what I wanted to do in this program because of the lack of access to the internet.  I had not realized how dependent I had become to just be able to pop on the internet to look for a solution to my problem, until it wasn’t there.  This must be how students feel when they work in groups using all the resources at their disposal and then cut them off to work alone on a test.

What I decided to program for my final video was a way to walk my students in the 8th Grade through the steps necessary to decide if a triangle was a right triangle if they knew the lengths of all three sides.  Quite often I will receive the answer , that Yes it is because it looks like one….not the mathematical reasoning I was hoping for.  So I thought walking them through this concept would allow me to not only use numbers, mathematical operation, string values, and results but would also be something useful in my teaching career.  Before we get to the video, here is a primer for all of you that don’t remember The Pythagorean Theorem.  The red square and the blue square fill the purple square exactly in a right triangle.

hyp picture

So hopefully this visual will help you as you are listening to my video about creating a program that helps students to follow the mathematical reasoning steps to decide if a triangle not only looks like a right triangle but actually is.

I believe there are more ways to learn than just in the classroom.  I agree that youtube allows students to learn a skill that they perhaps did not have access to or have the money for however I believe that any skill that could be dangerous to the student should have an on-hand mentor.  It is all well and good to have the video on how to rewire your house, but the consequences of what could happen , I feel, out weigh the usefulness of youtube and help forums.  So while I feel this is a useful way to allow students the freedom to control their own learning, I feel that for classroom use the parameters need to be limited to less than anything you want to learn.

Cooking with TPACK

So in my video, seen below, I was given an average dinner plate, a very narrow and tall bowl and a whisk.  The plate was useful for its regular job of holding bread and containing the mess.  The bowl was, like in many of the other videos by my classmates, irrelevant.  I actually put it to one side and forgot about it.  The whisk was not the knife I usually use but it accomplished the task, although it was much much messier.  The flat end  was able to cut the bread by smooshing the bread until it was thin enough to tear, proving crude but affective.  There was little control with the jam and the large rounded handle of the whisk.  Using the whisk end of the whisk required me to move the spring out of the way to allow something more spatula like.  At first the peanut butter would not stay on the end and then there was too much.  It worked fairly well as a spreader but there was too much peanut butter on the sandwich.

Well I can honestly say making the old PB&J will never be the same again.  It will be an experience that brings a smile to my face as I make each new one.  However, entertaining it was the real smile comes to my face when I think of what I have learned.  I have always been the person who investigates all the new technology options at school.  I never ask for something until I’ve tried it out, but I always seem to try.  This new understanding of TPACK(Kereluik, Mishra, & Koehler, 2011) which started as TPCK (Mishra & Koehler, 2006) as looking at educational practice first and then seeing which technology can be repurposed to support that learning was new for me.  I’ve always approached lesson plans with technology as I have the new tech now what can I do with it, instead of my new understanding in which I have to look at what learning I want to occasion and then say what technology can I use to support that occasions for learning. I want my classroom to be as Mishra says the “Total PACKage” for my students.

Kereluik, K., Mishra, P. & Koehler, M.J. (2011). On learning to subvert signs: Literacy, technology and the TPACK framework. The California Reader, 44(2), 12-18.

Mishra, P. (2012, Mar 26). 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


The Quest to become a C++ programmer continues.

This week, has been a harder week to get motivated to learn more in C++.  I have hit the okay but when can I do anything useful?  Just when I hit the most frustrated part of my week I was pushed a video in my feedly feed that linked to this one.  You should check out feedly if you haven’t already.

Needless to say, it made me laugh but I also began to wonder if I have chosen the right program to start with. All my research before hand said that if you want to design games you need to start with C++. However, I wonder if that was due to a true need or a case of well I had to do it so you should too, a hazing ritual of sorts if you will. All that aside, I continued on my quest to learn more about programming in C++. I decide I wanted a video that taught me something interactive. I found the following video. You can tell by his compiler that he doesn’t speak English as his first language but even without audio he explains some concepts that I did not know like you have to ignore all the inputs until you are ready to use them and I need to use string to put in letters and int to put in numbers.

After watching the video I found I could not get more than one word to show up in my saying so I went to hunt for answers. I found this site recommended in a few videos so I went to see what I could learn.  I found out that the function cin stops at the first blank space so I needed to use getline to allow it to recognize multiple words. Here is my new program using a tweet from Emily.

What is up next… perhaps some math?

@EdTechEJS (2013, June 2) @MTHRKS You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar #cep810 #maet.[Twitter Post]. Retrieved from (2013) Basic Input/output Retrieved from

CrankyProgrammer. (2010, Mar 26).C++ Programmer [Video File]. Retrieved from

T, Amy (2013, June 8). 2nd video 810 [Video File]. Retrieved from

ThaKillerrr. (2007, July5). c++ Tutorial 3 – Basic input and output [Video File]. Retrieved from

Math Vocabulary Lesson

As I have talked about previously in my blog, my school has many students who are English Language Learners (ELL), and in a variety of languages.  Being able to use and understand subject specific vocabulary is one of the Benchmarks for English Language Learning (Alberta Government, 2011) used in my area.  Even that aside, those students whose math vocabulary is larger do better on word problems and on problem based learning.  They are better able, in my opinion, to process what a question is asking them to do because they understand not only what the word say but what math concepts they relate to.   To make my school even more complex, there are many other factors that affect students’ previous math vocabulary knowledge.  I have created a visual to help with the complexity of learning math vocabulary at my school.

math vocabulary learning

As you can see when planning for how to introduce vocabulary into my classroom, I can take nothing as shared (Cobb, 1990).  The vocabulary exercises I have used in the past have been just a worksheet using dictionary and glossary as resources.  I have decided to target this activity because not only is this difficult for my ELLs  but does not allow for the students who arrive at various times throughout the year, and there are many, to have access to the taken as shared knowledge of the class.  I need the learning in my classroom to reflect the diversity and be centered on the learners and the learners in a purposeful way (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000).

Now I am designing my ideal lesson, as I have not looked into all the Freedom Of Information and Privacy (FOIP) (Alberta Queen’s Printer, 2012) issues nor my school board policy of hosting student work offsite.  I also have not looked at the price to have these digital tools in my classroom nor if my school budget would allow for it or my own pocketbook for that matter.  However, putting all that aside I do not think it hurts to dream a little.

This lesson will require some front-loading of the digital technology before it can be fully implemented.  Some of my students have never laid hands on a computer so sometimes my front-loading starts with using a mouse, logging in, and navigating a website.  I can honestly say my job is never boring or the same two days in a row.  I am going to assume the front loading of the digital tools and pretend this is a lesson plan for further in the year, as vocabulary will be a frequently occurring lesson over the school year.

Grade 7 Math Vocabulary Lesson

Creative Commons License
Math Vocabulary Lesson by Amy Tetz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Location: computer lab

Length: 2 classes

Objective:  By the end of the activity students will:

  • Create an animation to illustrate the meaning of a vocabulary word using Toontastic
  • Share their illustrated meaning with fellow classmates
  • Record their knowledge about the meanings of all vocabulary words
  • Find links between the words

Equipment Needed:

  • Ipads
  • Accounts for
  • Vocabulary words pre-print in large font on paper
  • Lamination material for laminator


  1. Pre-load apps
  2. Group students into pairs, this can allow for scaffolding (Vygotsky, 1978)or provide enough support to enable success for students that either struggle with reading in English or computer use.
  3. Give out a Vocabulary word [pre-select words for 1) students who struggle to help ensure they can find and understand information about the word 2) challenge students with more difficult concepts to explain]


Part 1-Creation

1.  Find enough information about the word so that you feel confident you understand it.  Find information using Google, your textbook, a dictionary, or an online math dictionary)

2.  Create a story to illustrate the meaning of the word or the properties of the word.

3.  Have your teacher assess to see if you have accurately illustrated the meaning of the word before proceeding.  This will become the overlay in Aurasma.

4.   Decorate the pre-printed word sheet to briefly describe your word using brightly coloured images only

5.  Choose the video as your overlay in Aurasma

6.  Use Aurasma to take a target picture of your decorated pre-printed word.  This becomes the trigger for your video

7.  Submit your decorated pre-printed word for lamination

Part 2- Sharing

After all students have finished their word each pair will be equipped with an IPads and a vocabulary sheet.  Students will open Aurasma on their IPads.  They will then hold the Ipad to target the decorated printed word sheet.  This will link it to the poster or animation that the students created.  Using this information, students will then record their definition for the word using both words and pictures.  At the end of the class, a debrief session will be held to allow students to ask questions about any words they are still having issues with.  Then all the vocabulary word posters will be put up on the walls.  I want the posters laminated an on the wall as then the learning is archived for any new student to the class.  If they do not know the word they can use an Ipad with Aurasma to see the definition of the word.  This allows students to become a collective of learners each supporting the learning of others (Bransford et. all, 2000; Davis, Sumara, & Luce-Kapler, 2008).
If you load the free app from Aurasma on your phone or Ipad you can view an example of this activity below.  The quality of the video is poor since I do not have an educator account so I could not just link to the video.  I had to record it on my Iphone and then compress the file so that you could see what I mean.  Here are the steps: 1) Load up Aurasma 2) click the link here and search for Tetz’s and subscribe to my channel and 3) use the camera to target the image below.

triangle trigger


There are three opportunities to assess math vocabulary during this activity.  The first opportunity is when students show you their video before posting it.  I will be looking for an accurate definition and use of math vocabulary in the cartoon.  The second opportunity comes when looking at their trigger picture which triggers the video clip on Aurasma.  The question I will be asking myself is “do the pictures on the trigger image relate to the vocabulary word?”  The last opportunity to assess vocabulary is when I look at their definitions for the math terms done by all students.

Comparing my lesson to the communication competencies that Renee Hobbs outlines in her book Digital and Media Literacy: Connecting Culture and Classroom (2011); I see my lesson focusing mainly on the competencies of Create and Act.  I believe my lesson meet the criteria of creating because the students are creating the vocabulary for the other students.  They then get to share their learning with the other students for whom the vocabulary was created.  I believe my lesson meets the criteria for acting because by archiving the learning it allows all new members of the class to actively participate in the class.  Students are sharing their knowledge with others to enrich the learning of all.

Now that the lesson is finished I now need to work on the logistics of is this possible with the contraints placed on me by the system I work in to actually bring this lesson to see the light of day…here’s hoping as I think this way of doing vocabulary will benefits my students more than my present activity.

Alberta Government. (2011, November). Alberta K–12 ESL Proficiency Benchmarks with examples. Retrieved from Learn Alberta:

Alberta Queen’s Printer. (2012, July 1). Freedom of Information and Privacy Act. Retrieved from Government of Alberta:

Aurasma. (2013). Auras. Retrieved from Aurasma:

Bransford, J., Brown, A., & Cocking, R. (Eds.). (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition. Washington D.C.: NAtional Adademy Press. Retrieved from

Cobb, P. (1990). Multiple perspectives. In L. P. Steffe, & T. Wood (Eds.), Transforming children’s mathematics education : International perspectives (pp. 200-215). Barcombe, U.K.: Falmer Press.

Davis, B., Sumara, D., & Luce-Kapler, R. (2008). Engaging Mind Changing Teaching in Complex Times second edition. New York: Routledge.

Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.

Launchpad Toys. (n.d.). Toontastic. Retrieved from Launchpad Toys:

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Interactions between Learning and Development. In Mind In Society (M. Cole, Trans., pp. 79-91). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

First Level Up in C++

This week has been full of firsts in my Network Learning Project.  I found free video screen capture software and then wrote my first N00b program in C++.  At the end of my blog I will include the video of me actually programming my first program, but before that I need to talk about Video Capture.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous about using video capture.  I wanted to find software that was not only free, teachers do not make as much money as you would think, but that allowed me to limit the part of the screen that was being captured.  Being a teacher, we work with sensitive information about students and the FOIP legislation (Alberta Queen’s Printer, 2012) here in Canada means teachers have to be extra careful with what they post.  Beyond being free, and having control over where I could capture, I wanted it to be easy to use.  After reading many online reviews I decided to go with the Program Jing (TechSmith Corporation, 2013).    The one limitation is the videos can only be 5 minutes long.  If you want longer videos you need to download a program that you pay for.  I decided I could live with 5 minute videos so I went ahead and downloaded it.

JingThis program sits as a tiny little yellow dot at the top of your screen ready for you to use it whenever you want.  All you need to do to start is click the crosshairs and it will let you select the area you want to capture.  It then lets you select image capture or video capture.  If you select video capture it allows you to select a microphone to record as you capture.  It was easy enough to save when I was done and you will see the results below.

After completing the tutorial from the video last time I decided to write my own program based on what I had learned.  I then was faced with how could I prove it was me doing the program and not something I just found online.  To solve this problem I sent out a tweet (Tetz [@MTHRKS], 2013)  to #CEP810 and asked people to send me a tweet that I could use.  Candace, one of the instructors of CEP810, sent me a tweet  (Marcotte [@canmarcotte], 2013) and I use its content to write my program.  The program does very little but I feel like I accomplished something.  Grab a beverage of your choice and sit back and relax while watching the almost 5 minute video I made showing me programming in C++. I did not realize that this blog only takes videos from youtube or google so you will have to follow the link…exporting the video to youtube or google coming up in the next installment.  Thank you to Emily for the workaround to include a picture to make it seem like an embedded video.

program week 1 screen clip

Alberta Queen’s Printer. (2012, July 1). Freedom of Information and Privacy Act. Retrieved from Government of Alberta:

Marcotte, C. [@canmarcotte]. (2013, May 31). @MTHRKS Hope your NLP adventure in C++ is making all of your leveling up dreams come true! #CEP810 #MAET. [Twitter post] Retrieved from

TechSmith Corporation. (2013). Jing. Retrieved from TechSmith:

Tetz, A. [@MTHRKS]. (2013, May 19). #CEP810 #maet to help me finish my post for this week on my nlp, would you please tweet me a short saying that I can program in. [Twitter post] Retrieved from