Patterning is our focus in CEP 818 this unit.  Patterning is the ability to recognize and create repeating themes, ideas or structures within a domain or topic.  Simple patterns are easily found, and most complex patterns are merely multiple simple patterns layered on top of each other.

Within the domain of space science, there are many examples of patterning.  Some of them are obvious like the patterns within the constellations :

Star Chart
Image from

Or the phases of the moon.

Moon Phases
Image from

Some of them are not so obvious like the patterns of elliptical orbits from the moon to the earth to the sun and beyond.

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All of these patterns make it easier to understand the grand scale of our universe.  When we look at a sky full of stars, it is helpful to pull out those patterns recognized generations ago to identify specific stars or celestial bodies, and pair them up with the mythological stories that were used to help coordinate the patterns.  The patterns found in the phases of the moon guide us to seeing the relationship between the celestial bodies of the sun, earth and moon as they dance through the sky on their interdependent routes.  The elliptical patterns created by gravitational pull illustrate to us how these rules of science are consistent throughout the known universe.  To me, these patterns help me make the universe smaller and more understandable.

I had more difficulty with the idea of pattern creation than I did with pattern identification on this assignment.  As a result, I took one of the pattern ideas from above and reworked it for the assignment.  The 88 modern constellations that most of us see in the sky are not universal in their inspiration. Over the course of history, other cultures have seen other pictures in the night sky.  That is the basis for my pattern creation.  I took an unlabeled sky map and tried to find patterns on my own.  Here is a portion of my sky map:


My entire repatterned sky map can be found here.

Thinking of how I teach the stars and constellations, I think that this activity of patterning helps me understand better what it would have been like before the night sky was mapped.  It was overwhelming to look at a sky map – even one with the stars already identified – and try to make sense of it.  It is very much like trying to map grains of sand or leaves on a tree.  I also found that once I stopped trying to force patterns into places I wanted to see them and just let my brain go, the activity turned into an enjoyable one – similar to laying on your back and identifying the shapes in the clouds.  It gave me an appreciation for finding the larger, more distinguishable features and using them as anchor points because those would be the features that would always be most readily recognizable.  The patterns in the sky have always fascinated me and been a focal point of my teaching of astronomy.  Now, I understand why.

Veja Du

We have all experienced deja vu.  It is the unsettling feeling that you have lived through a moment in time previously.  It can be a bit uncomfortable – like an itch inside your brain that you just cannot scratch.

For our first assignment in CEP 818, we are taking the concept of deja vu and turning it on its head with veja du.  We have been given the task of finding a common item and photographing it in such a way that it is unrecognizable.  The following three photos are my veja du.  Do you know what I have photographed?  Guesses can be made in the comments.

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Learning Theory Digital Storytelling

For CEP 800, my most recent project was to create a digital story around the topic of learning theories.  I needed to find a time where there was a twist in the learning that produced a different outcome than was originally anticipated.  I chose an event from my own experiences as an adult learner at NASA to develop my project around.  My project can be found here.

Learning, Understanding and Podcasts

We have all learned things wrong.  We thought we learned something in third grade science only to discover in ninth grade physics that what we thought we knew was completely off base.  That is why it is so important for teachers to make sure that their students are truly understanding the concepts being taught.

Our first big assignment for CEP 800 is to create a podcast exploring how well our students understand a topic of instruction.  The link to mine is here.

As always, constructive feedback is always welcome.

Facilitating Innovation

In last week’s post, I described the Wicked Problem group project that we were working on for CEP 812.  This week, we got feedback from our classmates and instructors, and created the final draft of our proposal that we shared with the folks at the New Media Consortium – the creators of the Wicked Problems we worked on solving in class.

We made significant changes in our project based on the feedback we received.  Perhaps the most important was streamlining our focus to Genius Hour and removing Makerspaces from our discussion.  It was a difficult choice, but the right one as our proposal solidified and became stronger as a result.  You can see the curated version of our project here and check the video mashup of our problem solving process below.

Passion and Curiosity

Passion and Curiosity

As CEP 812 and my coursework in the MSU Graduate Certificate in Educational Technology comes to an end, I have been asked to reflect on how my Passion Quotient and my Curiosity Quotient (Friedman, 2013) help me instill passion and curiosity in my students.

As a teacher-librarian, my role is a little different than classroom teachers because my role is about passion and curiosity.  Students come to me when they are passionate or curious about a topic.  I feel it is my job to make sure that their experience with research, technology and learning does not turn that passion into frustration.

As a final project, I have created an infographic representing how my own passions and curiosity inform my professional actions and interactions.

As always, feedback is welcome in the comments section.

Friedman, T. L. (2013, January 29). It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as I.Q.. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Innovation as Learning Ethic

In this educational landscape of under appreciated teachers, over tested students and school accountability based on student results from the latest and greatest assessment, creativity and innovation have become dirty words in today’s schools.  How can students be expected to score well on their test if they are given time to play in school?

ScreenshotIn CEP 812, our long term group project has been to explore innovation in schools and develop a vision for how to create an environment where innovation can be a learning ethic in the same way as reading and mathematics.  We have created a white paper, a visualization and a short video representing our collaborative process which can be found curated here or by clicking on the photo.

Feedback is welcome in the comments.