Mini Class: Going Beyond the Screen

It’s been quite a week this week! I went to Maine and back with my parents and learned about designing a mini online class! One is a little more relevant to this blog than the other. 🙂

If you have no idea what I’m talking about when I say mini online class, please explore Massively Open Online Courses and Peer 2 Peer University. Those are where I learned about the idea that someone can create a class and offer it to an unlimited amount of people at one time. I should probably stop referring to them informally as a mini class and maybe instead call them Giant classes. It’s an amazing idea to think that an expert in a field no longer has to be bound by the number of people that they can personally reach. They can create a class where the readings, videos, homework, everything is already created before participants even start. They don’t have to worry about answering questions, providing feedback, or contacting everyone in the course. Instead they can share their knowledge with a large amount of people. The best part is that so many people are doing this FOR FREE! It’s taking Khan Acadmey to a whole new level and I’m already so excited about it!

For CEP 811 we were to explore these wonderful mini/giant classes and then outline our own. I’m not an expert on anything yet (I believe in the 10,000 hours rule that Malcolm Gladwell talks about in his book Outliers – and that’s almost 5% of my life!) but I have been teaching online for two years now and have gone to many conferences about the best practices of online learning. When I talk to new teachers to online education or sceptics that online learning is “real” I always seem to be asked about how I build relationships with students online when I never meet many of them. Below is my mini course made for a giant amount of people that starts to answer that question. [Note: This is still just an outline and will not function as a real course at this time.]


In my Connecting Beyond the Screen course my peers will master building relationships with students in an online course by designing information sheets, planning field trips, and collaborating with peers via Twitter. 

Course: Connecting Beyond the Screen

Audience: K-12 grade teachers, with an emphasis on 6-12, who teach students online (or partially online).

Time Length: Six weeks.


By the end of this course participants will:

  • Create an introduction video to a classroom.
  • Maintain a Twitter account documenting their assignments and explorations.
  • Design opportunities where students will interact with each other outside of the classroom.
  • Understand multiple ways to interact with students synchronously and asynchronously.
  • Plan multiple ways to summarize a lesson.
  • Create a bank of questions to get students talking with each other.

picture summary

Week 1: Put Yourself out there!

Summary: Getting to know your students while teaching online often starts by sharing about yourself. If your students get to know you better, then they will share more about themselves. 


  1. Watch this video about the 8 lessons that other educators learned about teaching online.
  2. Watch this video about the importance of an introduction and three steps to giving a consise short introduction. This is a general video not related to education, but has some good points to consider while creating your introduction video.
  3. Watch this example of a teacher introducing themselves. I would suggest allowing more time on each slide so that students can read and look at the picture, but overall it’s very exciting and engaging!
  4. Watch this short video about how one teacher incorporates herself into every lesson.


  1. If you do not already have a Twitter account, create one and explore the ins and outs of using Twitter.
    1. Try watching this tutorial if you are new to Twitter. (Don’t worry I didn’t really Tweet until earlier this summer!)
  2. If you do not already have a blog, create one and explore the ins and outs of using one.
    1. Try WordPress, Blogger, Weebly, or any other you already knkow about.


  1. Make an introduction video
    1. Ensure that you show yourself either on video or in picture.
    2. Show off your work environment. Where do you work? What’s your desk look like? How and why are you organized in the way that you are?
    3. Talk about your goal(s) for the school year. These can be more personal or something that you want the whole class to achieve.


  1. Share your information sheets with others via Twitter. Use the hashtag #BTS14
  2. I encourage you to add to your blog to document your thinking and progress as you go through this course. Linking to this through Twitter can help you explain your thoughts to others without having to stay under a character limit.

social media

Week 2: Photo Evidence

Summary: Now that you’ve shared some about yourself in your classroom and learned about your students, you might want to put a face with all the information you are learning. Create a student information sheet where students attach a picture to send to you. Check with your school policies about photo usage before sharing with others.


  1. Read through this interesting article about putting a face to online learning.
    1. Explore VoiceThread after reading and think about if that program would work for your setting.


  1. Look at the two examples below and search online for more – there are a ton out there that just need minor changes to fit your classroom!
    1. Who I Am Information Sheet
    2. All About Me


  1. Create your own Student Information Sheet with at least one space for a picture. Since this will be distributed online, ensure that all items can be edited.


  1. Share your blank student information sheet with others via Twitter. Use the hashtag #BTS14
  2. I encourage you to add to your blog to document your thinking and progress as you go through this course. Linking to this through Twitter can help you explain your thoughts to others without having to stay under a character limit.

jk rowling listening

Week 3: One-on-One

Summary: Online you can really make time for one-on-one meetings that can’t easily happen in a physical environment. These “meeting” can be synchronous or asynchronous, and can go a long way in creating a deeper relationship with your students.


  1. Read this article about the importance of building personal relationships with students from the National Educational Association.
  2. Read this article about the power of connecting with students on a personal and individual level.


  1. If you do not have an account already, create a free Google Hangout account. Learn how to set one up so that you are comfortable enough to explain to students if needed.


  1. Fill out a student information sheet from last week (one you created or one someone else created that you saw on Twitter).


  1. Tweet ideas about ways to connect with students one-on-one and in small groups using the hashtag #BTS14.
  2. Tweet your filled about student information sheet using the hashtag #BTS14.
  3. I encourage you to add to your blog to document your thinking and progress as you go through this course. Linking to this through Twitter can help you explain your thoughts to others without having to stay under a character limit.
    group classroom hug

Week 4: Building a Community

Summary: As you get to know each student, ensure that they are getting to know each other as well. Sometimes it can be difficult for students to befriend others online, they may need a push from a teacher.


  1. Read this short blurb about creating an online educational community. The goal of the article may be about a specific program, but it has some useful information within it.
  2. Go through this short PowerPoint presentation about building community in an online classroom. It’s geared toward language arts, but can be applied to any online classroom setting.
  3. Read this article about being a successful online teacher. While it certainly goes beyond just creating a community in your classroom, there are many specific helpful hints within the article and at only 8 pages you should just read the whole thing.


  1. Read through the document that gives a list of questions to start the lesson. I usually post one of these on the board while students enter my room and give them the first five minutes of class time to talk and debate the answer to the question. Once I use a question I use the strike-through on my copy so that I don’t ask the same question twice. You can choose to use this in any way that you can see working in your classroom.
  2. Look online for more ways to engage your online students. Share them via Twitter using the hashtag #BT14.


  1. Save the file of questions to start the class period with and then add at least 10 more questions.


  1. Tweet more questions that you can think of to add to the list using the hashtag #BTS14.
  2. Tweet out a request to meet with others taking this class and meet together using GoogleHangout.
  3. I encourage you to add to your blog to document your thinking and progress as you go through this course. Linking to this through Twitter can help you explain your thoughts to others without having to stay under a character limit.

 Equal Apple

Week 5: Summarize and Share

Summary: It’s become common practice to summarize the lesson’s material before moving on to the next lesson or class period. When teaching online you may also need to summarize social interactions and allow free time for students to mingle.


  1. Read this article about how to end a class period on a high note.
  2. Here’s an article about 7 ways to end a lesson.
  3. Read through this extensive list of summarizing strategies to use at the end of a lesson. Many of these can be used for content and for social summaries.


  1. Search online for more ways to summarize material for students. Think about how you can adapt them to summarize social interactions and increase student-to-student interactions.


  1. Write 5 short “lesson plans” that map out the end of your class period, showing how you will summarize the academic content and the social interactions as well as provide opportunities for students to interact with each other.


  1. Tweet your short lesson plans using the hashtag #BTS14.
  2. I encourage you to add to your blog to document your thinking and progress as you go through this course. Linking to this through Twitter can help you explain your thoughts to others without having to stay under a character limit.

Louvre Tour

Week 6: Think Outside the Classroom

Summary: Once you get students comfortable with you and each other in their classroom think about setting up opportunities for them to get more involved outside of your class. Plan field trips (physical or virtual), set up pen pals, start a club, design extra social online meetings for reaching a goal, etc.


  1. Read this article about the importance of field trips in schools.
  2. Read this article about the importance of field trip and other non-strictly-academic opportunities.


  1. Look through these virtual field trip options. Do any of these fit your students or school setting?
    1. Eschoolnews Top Ten Best Virtual Field Trips
    2. Subject Specific Virtual Field Trips
    3. Education World Virtual Field Trips
    4. Scholastic Virtual Field Trips
  2. Look up field trip locations in your area.


  1. Design two activities where students will interact with each other outside of your classroom.


  1. Tweet your two activities using hashtag #BTS14.
  2. Tweet a request to meet with others taking this course and meet using GoogleHangout to share you ideas.
  3. I encourage you to add to your blog to document your thinking and progress as you go through this course. Linking to this through Twitter can help you explain your thoughts to others without having to stay under a character limit.


Well after that lengthly post I’m going to keep it short and sweet to finish it off. While creating this “course” I was constantly reminded of how much effort it really takes to become comfortable with students and earn a relationship with them. I was also reminded of how important that can be. I know that every teacher forms relationships with students differently. If you have anything to add to this post before it becomes a more real course I’d love to hear about it!



  1. Dave Catchpole (2012). The Making of Harry Potter. Retrieved July 27, 2014 from Flickr:
  2. Jose Kevo (2009). Group Hug. Retrieved July 27, 2014 from Flickr:
  3. mkhmarketing (2013). Social Media Class. Retrieved July 27, 2014 from Flickr:
  4. Purple Sherbert Photography (2013). We must teach the children of the world equality, peace, and love. Retrieved July 27, 2014 from Flickr:



Research Based Musical Room

Last week I was asked to create a lesson plan using my Maker Kit (MakeyMakey) that would engage students in creative learning. I chose to have my students work together to create an interactive musical room as a version of an ice-breaker / team-building task. I did not place many guidelines on the assignment, because I wanted students to be free to create whatever they wanted. You can click on my lesson plan to view it (with changes from last week in purple) here –> Weinlander MakeyMakey Sample Lesson Plan.

This week I watched a TED talk about the digital divide between educators who use new technology to replace old techniques and educators who use new technology to do things that couldn’t be done before. Richard Culatta spoke about three main challenges schools are faced with currently – treating all learners the same, holding the schedule constant, and performance data being shared too late to be helpful. These challenges resonated with me greatly. It’s actually one of the main reasons why I love working at my current job as an online Title 1 teacher at Michigan Connections Academy. Students are assigned a certain number of lessons each day to evenly distribute their course throughout the semester. However there are no hard deadlines other than the end of the semester. Students therefore can spend 15 minutes or 4 hours on a single lesson, however long it takes them to understand. They can work on school 5 days a week for 6.5 hours, or split their time another way. At the end of each lesson 3-7 multiple choice questions are asked to see if students understand the material. These do not affect their grade, and instead are to be used to direct future learning and gaps in knowledge. never teachI was pretty convinced already at this point, but I did more research to see if personalized learning, collaborative problem-solving, and immediate feedback were the direction education should be taking (Cullatta, 2014). As I searched, I had my original lesson plan in mind. Yes, I had allowed students to work at their own pace, collaborate, and problem-solve, but I knew I could do better. I wanted to add an option of solving a problem I had given them, not just problems that they encountered along the way. Problem-based learning is a popular method of teaching in which students are given challenging and relevant problems to solve in a small group. “This approach is often used to increase learner interactions by working together collaboratively. Teams determine the needs, and work through the steps to solve the problem.” (Holland and Holland; 2014) Frequently that is how problems outside of the classroom will arrive – without direction. I hope to teach my students how to handle that in any way that I can.

I’ve updated my lesson plan to include some problems for students to think about, knowing that I could be interacting with students from Kindergarten to High School. A lot of these are open-ended questions to get the group thinking and discussing together. I’m planning on writing these on cards and having them placed in a common location for students to grab when they need. This way if the group feels that they are “stuck” or need a challenge before I recognize it then they can help themselves. Holland and Holland also talk about the benefits of active hands-on learning since students “need to hear it, touch it, see it, talk it over, grapple with it, confront it, question it, laugh about it, experience it, and reflect on it in a structured format if learning is to have any meaning and permanence” (Holland and Holland; 2014) I believe that with my added task after our four days together and the “problem cards” I have extended the learning experience for my students. Practice doesnt make perfectWhile thinking through this lesson I was concerned about classroom management. I work online, students and teachers are not used to interacting in person as a whole group. Using a MakeyMakey after state testing will be a different experience than many are used to. Plus, this is a lesson where students are supposed to get noisy, move around, work together, talk, rip things, build things, move things, laugh, etc. However the focus still needs to be on the task of building a musical room. While I was reading an article about motivation with games I checked myself against the three requirements of motivation from the self-determination theory: “autonomy, competence, and relatedness” (Eseryel, Law, Ifenthaler, Xun, & Miller; 2014). Students were given a lot of autonomy in this lesson; they decided what they made with whatever materials they could. Students would be gaining competence each hour and each day because of the ease of use of the MakeyMakey. This technology is weird to use at first, but it gets easier. Students will gain ability relatively quickly while working in their group and the MakeyMakey. Lastly students will have relatedness because they are all working together for a common goal using something that most of them (if not all) have never seen before. There is a straight forward goal of making a room come alive by just touching it, but they get to decide all the details to get there. With these three main things ‘checked off’ I think that classroom management will be stress-free since students will be motivated and engaged. The main concern I have is students waiting for the MakeyMakey. I think I can get at least one more kit before I put this plan into action however. 🙂

  1. Culatta, R. (2014, July 14). Reimagining Learning: Richard Culatta at TEDxBeaconStreet. [Video File]TEDxTalks. Retrieved from July 17 2014


  1. Eseryel, D., Law, V., Ifenthaler, D., Xun, G. & Miller, R. (2014). An Investigation of the Interrelationships between Movidation, Engagement, and Complex Problem Solving in Game-based Learning. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 17(1), 42 – 53. Retrieved from July 17 2014 (14364522)


  1. Holland, J. & Holland, J. (2014). Implications of Shifting Technology in Education. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning 58(3), 16-25. Retrieved from July 17 2014 (87563894)


  1. Kathyschrock (2009). Teaching. Retrieved July 17, 2014 from Flickr:


  1. Shannon (2012). Practice Makes Progress. Retrieved July 17, 2014 from


Making Music

A new week of CEP 811 and a new task to work with! This week I was asked to use the maker kit I bought and random items to create something awesome that I can do with students I work with.


First of all I’ll explain my Maker Kit a little more. I bought a MakeyMakey for about $50.00 a couple weeks ago. When I first received it in the mail I started playing with it. I just started plugging in things and playing around in a Word document. I even got my Dad to push bananas and strawberries while I was playing – he loved it! This week I played a LOT more. I tried using a glass of water, pop cans, aluminum foil, pencil/paper drawings, play-dough, and other items around my house. I also raided the basement of my parents’ house and found a couple fun things to play around with. I looked for items with metal on them to ensure that they were conductive and would work easily with the MakeyMakey. If you’ve never heard of MakeyMakey before (don’t worry I hadn’t until a few weeks ago!) then you should click on the above link or Google examples of awesome ways you can use MakeyMakey. Some ideas that inspired me are: Operation Game, Musical Fruit, Multiple Examples.


I teach my students online and rarely see them in person to interact with them. I can think of some ways that I can use a MakeyMakey with a webcam in my online classroom, but I wanted to come up with a way for students to physically use the “inventing machine”. One of the main times that I meet with large groups of students without another pre-planned activity is during Standardized Testing period. All the teachers in my school travel to various parts of Michigan to physically test all students that attend our online school. During this time we play ice-breaker games to get students to know one another and interact physically with other students of all grade levels. This led me to the idea that I could use the MakeyMakey to encourage students to work together on a task while getting to know one another. Then I stumbled upon THIS online – a musical room created using a MakeyMakey! I knew I wanted to make a plan to recreate that! An interactive room where there are things all across the room that make different noises; a room where students have worked together to use their creativity and invent a way for found items to be used with a MakeyMakey and engage audiences.


In order to prepare for when I set a bunch of students loose with a MakeyMakey and a random room I tried a few different things they might create. I also wrote a lesson plan that would span a week of testing at a site with materials and a general outline. I think that having students explore conductivity and inventing collaboratively with a MakeyMakey connects with Common Core Math standards of using appropriate tools strategically (CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP5 ) and making sense of problems and persevering in solving them (CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP1). Students will be introduced to a new technology and be asked to use it in a thoughtful way that others can interact with and understand. Practicing that skill will help students in the future with any new technology, not just a MakeyMakey or similar product. Students will also be given the open-ended task of using the new technology to solve the problem of creating an interactive musical room. This will not be an easy or intuitive task for most students and they will have to work together and persevere when their MakeyMakey creation does not go as expected.


During my play time this week I tried creating a musical set of drinking glasses, interactive drawing, and musical bookcases when you put items back on the bookcase. I ended up recording a video on the first two. If you want to re-create them yourself, read the instructions below as well.

MakeyMakey Water Glass Drum Set Video

MakeyMakey Interactive Drawing Video


How-To for the MakeyMakey Water Glass Drum Set:

1)      Create an aluminum foil Earth grounding board. This will be used to stand on later so make it large enough to step on with two bare feet.

  • Get a piece of study paper (I used card stock)
  • Cover one side with aluminum foil.
  • Tape around all sides, but a small spot where you will clip the alligator clip later with the MakeyMakey.

         photo 1 photo 2          

2)      Go to a site that helps you create a musical instrument using your keyboard. I used Virtual Keyboard, but another great one I found was the Virtual Piano.Virtual Keyboard

3)      Gather drinking glasses mostly filled with water. I used four, but you can use as many as you want. Place a wire (6 were included in the MakeyMakey kit) in each drinking glass. I bent mine a little to better keep them in the water while I played music with the water glasses. Just a helpful hint from experience – though not 3

4)      Clip an alligator clip to each wire, ensuring that you are clipping to the metal wire and not the insulated coating. Clip the other end of the alligator clip to the MakeyMakey. Using the virtual keyboard above you should clip to the options available (C, D, E, F, G, …) on the back of the MakeyMakey 4

5)      Plug the MakeyMakey board into the computer (I love how easy this step is!) and plug another alligator clip to the Earth part of the board to ground yourself. Clip your aluminum foil grounding board to the other end of that alligator clip. I wanted to be able to stand (or have unsuspecting people stand) on the aluminum foil grounding board on the ground and play the drinking glasses therefore I had to connect a couple alligator clips together to get it long enough to reach the 5

6)      You should be all set to just touch the water in the glass and hear beautiful music. Or at least a lot of noise (those sounds in my video were not what I would call “beautiful”.


How-To for the MakeyMakey Interactive Drawing:

 1)      Draw a picture using a graphite pencil or any conductive material. I thought about easy things to draw with simple sounds that easily go with my picture. However you could have a bird chirp when you touch a marshmallow – there are no rules here!

  • Make sure you that you darkly color in parts of the picture that will be touched. For the spots on the dog in my photo I had to darkly color connecting lines to not break the conductive path.
  • Darkly color a line that goes to the edge of the paper so that you can later clip an alligator clip to the paper. At the bottom of my drawing I extended the baby’s bottom and dog leg to touch the bottom of the paper without making a more obvious connecting line.


2)      Open SoundPlant and download it if you do not already have it.


3)      Find sounds that you want your picture to have. I used SoundBible and searched for Public Domain sounds. You could use sounds you already have or use a different method to get sounds. If you have another easy way – please comment and let me know what you used.SoundBible

4)      Set up so that those sounds are attached to the keyboard in the way that you envisioned. If you’ve never used SoundPlant before read the manual that comes with the download, but the ‘open sound’ button is the main one to attach a sound once you click on a keyboard button.

5)      Plug alligator clips to the corresponding keys on the MakeyMakey. I chose the arrow keys for my drawing. Plug the aluminum foil grounding board to the Earth part of the MakeyMakey board in the same way you did above during step 2 (2)

6)      Now plug the other ends of the alligator clips to the drawing to match the sounds. I created a key to help me plug the correct clip to the correct part of the drawing.

photo 3 (2)photo 1 (2)          

7)      To make it look more like an actual framed artwork (and to cover up the wires some) I cut out a frame from some cardstock. You could use an actual picture frame as well. Or whatever you want. We are inventing here!

photo 2 (1)

8)      Now you are all set to go back to SoundPlant, step on the aluminum foil grounding board, touch your drawing, and hear the corresponding noises you chose.


This week I had a lot of fun exploring and learning! I thrifted a few items to try and have music go off while you put items on a bookshelf, however I have not yet figured out how to get it to work. I’ll keep working and hopefully have an update later this summer with a solution. It would make a fun addition to the musical room and could maybe even help toddlers have fun cleaning up their toys or something similar. 



Virtual Classroom Remix

This is the first week of my next summer course – CEP 811. I can tell that this class will be difficult, but completely worth all the work in the end. I’m already expanding my thoughts about education and technology and it’s only the first week!

This week I learned about the idea of remixing. I had heard of this term before to describe a new take on a song, but not dealing with other forms of media. I also hadn’t thought about everything that happens behind the scenes when remixing. Do you have to purchase the rights of every beat you use? Do you have to ask for permission first? Do you have to be a professional musician or can I do it for free on my computer? What happens if you “get caught”? For more on those questions and more you should check on the short series Everything is a Remix by Kirby Ferguson.

I wanted to, and was asked to for class, to try creating my own remix. To ease the worry of some of the questions above about permission and the law I have limited all my sources to be part of the Creative Commons and used Mozilla’s PopcornMaker. I choose the buzzword Virtual Classroom to explore since I recently started teaching at a virtual school in Michigan. I’ll admit that when I started to explore the program I didn’t read any Help Guides, check on YouTube videos, or even watch an example. I dove right in and tried to create something. I used their search option, pushed every option to see what would happen, and tried to use layers without really knowing what I was doing. I was just playing around to understand the basic idea of what this program could do before I tried to create something.

After my play time in the program, I read hints and guides through the Help menu, I watched some examples, and even watched a YouTube video to help me understand the specifics that I wanted to learn more about. I then started searching for content that related to a virtual classroom. I wanted to incorporate video, photos, popups, and sound clips to push my understanding of PopcornMaker. In the end I think that I like the overall product. Check it out here! 

I enjoyed the idea behind this program. Even without tutorials I could have created a project to share with others. However I had a lot of issues when trying to add or alter details. The layers sometimes did not work out in the way described and things would be blocking others. Sometimes I would move a video clip and it would extend the time to include audio I did not want in my project. I also had difficulty easing transitions between the videos. This is perhaps due to user error and over time I might be able to ease the change between images and videos. How do you think I could have created better transitions in my video? Do you think that I fully described the idea of a virtual classroom in under one minute?

References in my video:

1)   StudyPortals (2012). What is Online Education –, Retrieved July 3, 2014 from

2)   algogenius (2011). bs-iv-folie-2. Retrieved July 3, 2014 from Flickr:

3)   algogenius (2011). bs-iv-folie-6-gruppenarbeit. Retrieved July 3, 2014 from Flickr:

4)   algogenius (2011). bs-iv-folie-1. Retrieved July 3, 2014 from Flickr:

5)   The Network Podcast (2013). #7: Online Education and the Virtual Classroom, [sound clip]. Retrieved July 3, 2014 from

6)   Burke, Chris. (2011). He’s Home, [image]. Retrieved July 3, 2014 from Flickr:

7)   Kirsch, Gedas (2014). This is What Happens When A Kid Leaves Traditional Education, . Retrieved July 3, 2014 from PopcornMaker

8)   FacilitadorTube (2010). E-Learning: How to deliver an engaging Virtual Classroom presentation, . Retrieved July 3, 2014 from PopcornMaker:

9)   ConnectionsLearning (2013). LiveLesson®: Bringing the Virtual Classroom to Life, . Retrieved July 3, 2014 from PopcornMaker:

10)Ping Webzine (2014). Virtual classrooms changing the way students learn, http://clip. Retrieved July 3, 2014 from SoundCloud:

11)PaT (2010). Point & Click [image]. Retrieved July 3, 2014 from Flickr: