Thing #3 – Visual Learning


Word Clouds

With just a simple paragraph about how students should be learning math from the Connected Math Program website, a visual learning word cloud tool has transformed this important paragraph into something that is truly meaningful and a gorgeous work of art.  Through the use of Tagxedo at, the eye is drawn to the essential components of learning mathematics.  I love idea presented in “108 Ways to Use a Word Cloud” which suggests taking my lesson plans, or even the course objectives, and using Tagxedo to share with students at the beginning of the year, or even at the start of a unit.  The words used most often appear larger, drawing attention to what types of words the students will encounter the most frequently.  If something like this was required to be in my students’ math binders, maybe even attached to activity handouts and assessments, almost like a unit icon, it would be a quick, but efficient reminder of what students are expected to know.

Mind Map Order of Operations

Mind Mapping

Through a simple mind map, students will be able have yet another example of a visual learning tool that will help them see what will be expected of them in the lesson.  In this case, during the first week of school, I expect my Algebra I students will need to be review the Order of Operations.  After viewing and discussing a quick power point (the top level of the mind map), students will partner up and play a quick game together (the second level of the mind map).  This will be guided practice as they will have classmates and a teacher to help with any questions.  Finally, the lowest level of the mind map shows what will be expected along the lines of independent practice.  I used for this mind map, and you can find this order of operations mind map at

QR Code for Marlette Schools

QR Codes

WOW!  I never really understood what these things were!  I mean… I’ve seen them around of course, but it was always a great mystery to me.  The code above should take the user directly to my school’s website which is located at



This is just a simple way to get information out to students and parents that is user-friendly.  A ton of complicated information can be put into a format that just makes things a little easier for everyone.  The screenshot above could be used during the first week of classes as I am trying to direct students and parents to my classroom “face”, directing them to what can be found on my site and where.

Face of the Classroom Connection

I chose to include the word cloud on my Weebly site, just because it such a powerful image for students and parents to see right away.  You can view the word cloud at, and I continue to think that using a word cloud such as this with the unit objectives would be a fantastic way to get students thinking about what they are supposed to be learning!

ISTE Standards

1) Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity.  There are so many opportunities through the mind maps and word clouds to encourage students to think of math in a whole new way.

2) Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments.  Every one of these visual learning tools gives a digital connection to the math content.

3)  Model digital age work and learning.  As I use the mind maps, word clouds, QR codes, and infographics on my Weebly site, students are seeing an appropriate model of how to use these tools.

4)  Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility.  Again, as I use the various visual learning tools, students are able to see clear examples of how to use the digital tools responsibly.

5)  Engage in professional growth and leadership.  As an instructor, using these visual learning tools makes me stand out as a leader through the use of creative applications used for student growth.

CITW Tools

1) Setting objectives/providing feedback – This could easily be demonstrated through the world cloud tool.

2) Reinforcing effort/providing recognition – As students are asked to create their own visual learning tools, this will allow their work to be recognized.

3) Cooperative learning – Students could easily work together to create a viable visual learning tool to share with classmates.

4) Cues/questions/advance organizers – The mind maps are excellent examples of organizers that will help students to organize their ideas.

Thing #2 – Face of the Classroom

As a participant and instructor of the Blended Learning in the Classroom course (BLiC), I always felt like I was “missing” something.  I knew how to blend my classroom, I knew the research and benefits behind blending, but I struggled to use the tools, mostly because aside from my own investigations, I never really knew what was out there.

Everything is becoming clearer…and I have only made it to “thing 2”!!

I was able to take all of the ideas that had been swimming around in my head and put them together on my new Weebly site.  I will be able to provide all of my students with a place to find notes, homework assignments, and even resources for additional practice in areas where they are struggling.  Right now, students contact me with homework questions through facebook, email, and even text messages.  Hopefully, through the use of the Weebly site, I will become even MORE approachable!  I would love to set up Q & A forums for students to help themselves, a blog page to include some real world applications I see in everyday life, the possibilities are endless!

It IS a work in progress, but the Weebly site is set up, and there are pages for each of my classes as well as a central location for any resources I encounter.

Thing 2 Screenshot


You can view this site at

There are a few ISTE standards addressed by Thing 2:

3) Model digital age work and learning.  Through the creation of this site, students can see technology being used in the classroom through my example.

4) Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility.  Also, with the creation of this site, students will see a responsible form of the use of technology in the digital form.

In addition, Best Practice instruction (CITW) is provided:

1) Setting objectives and providing feedback.  As this site develops, I would like to include a place where students can directly address the math content standards that they must know.

3) Cooperative learning.  With the inclusion of an eventual Q & A forum, students will be able to work cooperatively to get questions answered.

7) Assigning homework and practice.  Easily, absent students or even those that have lost the assignments will have a quick and simple way to recover what was assigned in class.

Thing #1 – Basics

When I completed the Tech Quiz, I was pretty confident that I would do well.  I did, after all, complete 2 Master’s degrees entirely online.  My overconfidence was depleted as I received a score of 60%!!  My first downfall was AUP.  I did not have a clue what an AUP was, but after going through the lessons in “thing 1”, I quickly became aware that I really DID know what an AUP was within my district.  In fact, I was involved in a few adjustments to our Acceptable Use Policy last year, and so I am fully aware of what our district’s policies are concerning the Internet and technology.  I also failed to know my typing speed, which took off another point.  I have used computers extensively for a number of years, and I took typing lessons early on,…after taking the online typing test, I discovered I was doing pretty well with 59 words per minute.  Shamefully, I did NOT know the difference between Malware and viruses, and with a simple Google search (the link located in the lesson was being temperamental), I discovered the differences between the two.  Finally, my fluent use of an iPad and PC/desktop/laptop is not enough, and a point was taken away on the last portion of the Tech Quiz.

The “something new” that I learned was the difference between malware and virus.  Malware is short for malicious software, and it refers to all types of “bad stuff” including viruses, worms, spyware, and such.  Meanwhile, the virus is simply a program written to mess with your computer or its files.

I met with a colleague earlier today and I mentioned that I was taking this class.  I mentioned how surprised I was that I originally didn’t know what an AUP was…neither did she!  I showed her the portion of the Student Handbook that mentions our school’s AUP, and as she plans on taking a Blended Learning Class in the fall, she was happy to know where to find the information if she needs it.

Personally, I LOVE the format that this lesson followed.  It is a strategy I often use with my students, only at a classroom level.  I pre-test them, using the results to help me determine what needs to be taught.  Doing this all in an online environment would certainly make the learning process more specific to each individual!  I LOVE it!