Professional Practices Project

Professional Inquiry Overview

At Lewiston Public Schools (LPS) where I am the middle school technology integration specialist, we as a district are focusing our work currently on computer science education.  I am part of the computer science committee which is composed of K-12 classroom teachers, instructional coaches, and district administrators. The committee meets once a month with a focus on supporting existing programs, exploring coding curriculum or hardware, and design new learning opportunities for students and their families. The committee just went through the process of building its vision and mission.  The vision is:

We believe computer science education allows Lewiston Public Schools to provide a meaningful and socially equitable experience for students as they develop the skills or competencies necessary to become resilient, collaborative problem solvers, and innovative citizens in our community.

Prior to working at LPS I had some experience with coding through the hour of code yearly activities in the first week of December but had not integrated them into my own teaching much beyond that.  Since joining LPS I have enhanced my personal knowledge about coding through hosting an entire Day of Code event for the middle school as well as run an enrichment class in coding every other day. I have also worked with some teachers on integrating coding into their lessons through my job as the technology integration specialist.  

One outcome from the Day of Code event at the middle school is that several teachers saw for the first time programmable robots and the engagement their students had with them.  I ended up collaborating with several teachers to write a proposal to the computer science committee for a classroom set of Cue robots.  The proposal was ultimately approved and I just received 12 Cue robots and accessories.  These robots can be programmed through both block-based coding and text-based coding which allows for differentiation in the classroom.  

Course Essential Questions

The essential question that this professional inquiry project is focusing on is “how might we advocate for appropriate use of technology in teaching and learning?”  During the Day of Code event, I had several teachers approach me after observing their students use the different types of robots that were at the school for the day asking how we could get a classroom set of them.  I knew that this was a purchase that I had not budgeted for, but I knew that the Computer Science committee accepted proposals for computer science focused needs. I spoke with the teachers to get a better understanding of what they wanted and wrote the proposal to the committee.  Through talking with the teachers and then writing the proposal I listened to the desires of the teachers that I work with and then advocated for the appropriate technology to foster this type of teaching and learning.   

Course Outcomes

The first course outcome that this professional inquiry project focuses on is “demonstrate fluency with new educational tools, and articulate the affordances and constraints of such tools to support educational practice”.  This project with the Cue robots that I am implementing at Lewiston Middle School (LMS) is integrating on the newest and most popular educational tool into the classroom, coding, and robots. Since the Cue robots just arrived in my office last week I have been exploring and learning how they work, sharing and collaborating with colleagues, and starting to develop projects that students can do in their classroom and interact with new content in a meaningful way.  One of the 8th-grade math teachers and I are collaborating on designing a lesson for students to explore right triangles and the Pythagorean Theorem with the Cue robots since we have the drawing accessories for the robots. During our early planning, we discovered that one of the constraints of integrating the robots into lessons in a meaningful way is that we first have to provide activities for the students to learn how to use them before we can expect them to explore the math concepts with them.  To achieve this we have developed a scaffolded set of activities that build up to them being able to draw and measure right triangles.

The second course outcome that this professional inquiry project aligns to is “plan for educational experiences (of K-12 students or adult learners) that demonstrates the ability to use educational technology, sound educational philosophy, and plan for local context”.  One element of the proposal that I wrote to get the Cue robots was that I would not only work with teachers to integrate them into regular lessons in the classroom, but I would also provide professional development for the middle school staff on the robots. This means that I will be designing an introductory experience for all of the staff or adult learners, so they can experience the robots and begin to think about how they could be included in their classroom.  After April vacation I will also be running an after-school activity for students to explore with the robots as well. This will be my first opportunity using them with students. I plan for this time to be an organic exploration for the students, and a chance for me to learn how to introduce them to a group of students later in the classroom. All of this work, whether it with adult learners or with middle school students I will be adapting the focus of the activities to meet the needs of the learners.

Three Scholarly Articles

Alimisis (2013) outlined in their research a warning that simply introducing robots into the classroom does not guarantee 21st-century learning, but the curriculum that is implemented while using the robots can foster quality 21st-century learning.  The conclusions went on to state that the robots should be seen as a way to “foster essential life skills” (Alimisis, 2013, p. 69). This article echoed some of my own concerns for implementing the Cue robots effectively into middle school. It isn’t good enough to simply bring the robots into the classroom and have the students use them, the true learning will come with well-developed lessons that clearly allow the students to explore the content through the use of the robots.

Geist (2016) concluded that the languages of coding will be as important to students in the new millennium as Latin was to the middle ages.  Although “screen time” is a current concern, especially for younger children, learning the concepts of coding are not passive “screen time” and allow for play, exploration, and investigations.  By framing coding as a language, especially one as important as Latin may help parents, educators, and key stakeholders of the importance of integrating coding into the curriculum, especially at the younger levels.  

Holmquist (2014) suggested that in many classrooms the use of robots for coding was often viewed by the teacher as an added activity or something to liven up a lesson.  The conclusion from Holmquist was that the robots had a greater impact when they were used aligned to current standards that students were exploring. When introducing the Cue robots to teachers, one component that I want to make sure to highlight with them is the curriculum that Wonder Workshop has created that is aligned with content, age ranges, and standards.  This will set the Cue robots up to be viewed as a way to teach the curriculum and not an added activity.   

Inquiry question to support your professional growth

The inquiry question I explored for this project was how do I best introduce and integrate Cue robots into a middle school setting?  In order to begin this process, I wrote a grant proposal to get a classroom bundle of Cue robots, read current research about best practices with robots and coding, and completed the Wonder Workshop Robot Basics 101: Cue course.  Prior to the job that I currently have I had not used robots to explore and learn about coding, nor did I have knowledge about best practices of how to integrate them into a middle school setting properly. After completing this professional growth project I now have a more in-depth plan of how I am going to introduce the robots to teachers as well as students, as well as I personally know how to interact with the robots.  

PLN report

For our group communication, we used Slack.  In previous weeks we had created a group called Communication Tools that we were all members of.  We had practice chatting there and exploring some of the features such as the tie-in with Google Drive.  Once we decided that we were going to use Slack as our communication tool for the rest of our group work we had a brief conversation about how to best go about using Slack to be able to give meaningful feedback to members of the group while keeping the communication happening through Slack and not in comments in a Google Doc that was accessed through Slack.  One group member suggested that each group member make a new private group that had a link to our draft in it so we could read it and then give feedback within Slack. This worked well but had its challenges. Since I was away on vacation during the week that this assignment was due I had completed the assignment on an earlier time schedule than the rest of my group.  This meant that I was the first one to share my work which lead to me getting less feedback due to the fact that I was on a different work schedule. Overall I would say that our strategy for how we used Slack to get feedback worked well, but I didn’t see the advantage over simply sharing the Google Doc with everyone in the group and having them give comments along the side.  

Four best resources

  1. Wonder Workshop online curriculum: These are lessons created by both the makers of the Cue robots (Wonder Workshop) as well as teachers who have used the robots with their students.  Each lesson includes all of the necessary materials, links to content, connections to standards, and the ability to sort lessons by content and grade.  This is a resource that I have been using with some of the teachers that I am working with, as well as for myself to begin to understand more concretely how the robots can be integrated into the traditional curriculum.  
  2. Cue online code site: Although it not officially listed as being supported through a Chrome browser, the Cue robots can be interacted with through the website.  This means that you do not need to have Chromebooks or tablets in order to integrate the Cue robots into your classroom. As an Apple MacBook school being able to use the website is critical.  This means that students can create programs for the robots even when the robots are in the classroom with them.
  3. Cue Guidebook: Electronic devices don’t often come with a user guide any more.  This is a well laid out guide that could be useful with both teachers and students.  
  4. Makerspace For Education Blog: This blog post is specific to the Dash and Dot robots which are also made by Wonder Workshop, but are designed for the elementary grades.  At the bottom of the post are three challenges for the Dash and Dot robots that could easily be adapted to do with the Cue robots.

Next steps

Now that the robots have arrived at school, their software is updated, the app is downloaded onto the iPads in the Tech Office, and we have figured out a way to store, charge, and move the robots it is time to start getting them into the hands of adults and students.  This means that I need to schedule a time with the building principal to do a professional development training for the staff as well as develop activities to do with the students in the after-school program that starts in a few weeks. Until then, I am going to continue to develop the unit on the Pythagorean Theorem with a math teacher and explore using the robots with the students that I have during my enrichment classes.  By working with the smaller groups of students and teachers first I will get a better idea of how best to introduce the robots during the professional development session as well as during the after-school program.


Alimisis, D. (2013). Educational robotics: Open questions and new challenges. Themes in Science and Technology Education, 6(1), 63-71. Retrieved from

Geist, E. (2016). Robots, programming and coding, oh my! Childhood Education, 92(4), 298-304. doi:

Holmquist, S. K. (2014). A multi-case study of student interactions with educational robots and impact on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning and attitudes Available from ERIC. (1871571832; ED568443). Retrieved from

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Professional Inquiry Introduction Introduction to Professional Inquiry

What is something you learned on your own recently? After doing the readings, what elements of your own learning experience would you connect to the readings? Provide at least two points of connection to the readings.

For the past two weeks I have been intensely getting our school ready to take the state standardized test.  This has required clear communication, well laid out documents that have all of the necessary information that each person will need, and countless spreadsheets that cross-references accommodations, opt out data, and homeroom placement.  Creating spreadsheets is not something new to my work, but making complex ones that have multiple embedded formulas is. For the past two weeks I have watched a lot of YouTube videos and consulted with the people in my professional learning network at school for help troubleshooting formulas that weren’t working.  Although it has been a tedious job, it has been interesting and motivating to see my new skills fruitfully put to use.

How do you interact with other professionals? How do you find inspiration to continue your own growth?

For this task that I outlined above I interacted with professionals through Internet searches and emails and phone calls to other people that I work with.  The inspiration came from the fact that the task had to get done and without learning these new skills with spreadsheets that task was too large to complete by hand.  

What is a specific idea you hope to take forward from the readings into your work with other adults?

From Aguilar (2016) the point that resonated with me the most about adult learners was that they come to the learning experience with history.  One of the challenges that I find when developing a learning experience for adults versus school-aged students is that they all have a different about of knowledge and background that they bring to the learning experience they are having with me.  It is critical to develop ways for a variety of entry points into the learning so that is it engaging for everyone there, as well as offer a variety of ways for people to deepen their own learning.

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Learner Inquiry Project


On a weekly basis I, as the technology integration specialist at my school host an optional one-hour session for teachers to enhance their knowledge about effective technology integration strategies they can use in their classroom.  The essential question for these teacher learning sessions is how might we as teachers leverage the GSuite tools to create a ubiquitous and engaging integration of technology in the classroom that sparks creativity and engagement for our students?  Each session is broken down into three parts: a tool overview, independent exploration and experimentation, group collaboration and brainstorming. By utilizing this three-prong approach of mini-lesson, exploration time, and then integration brainstorming, it ensures that everyone leaving the session is more comfortable using the tool and has hopefully several ideas of how they can use it in their own teaching soon.  Each week we will explore a different GSuite tool using this same three-prong approach to add to the teacher’s knowledge of how to use the Google tools as well as leverage them for use in their classroom in effective and engaging ways.


For Educators

Resource 1: The (P)SAMR visual model as I modified to include a pacification level of technology integration.  SAMR is a classroom technology integration framework and is one of the founding frameworks of the MLTI program.  In this model, I have modified and have included a pacification level that warns about technology tools that are more entertainment and less educational.  

Resource 2: The National Education Association (NEA) founded the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) in 2002 which created the Framework for 21st Century Learning.  Out of this framework came the 4C’s: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. In this video, three schools highlight their integration of the 4C’s.  The connection between the 4C’s and Expeditionary Learning can be seen as one leads to the other.  

Resource 3: The Pencil Metaphor outlines the six ways teachers respond to educational technology.  We need to recognize that we do not all approach the integration of technology in the same way, yet we all need to eventually come to terms with this and move forward for the sake of our students.

Resource 4: Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge (TPACK) are the areas that teachers need to have a depth of knowledge about in order to create effective 21st-century lessons that include the 4C’s and SAMR.  TPACK is also an educational technology integration framework and also a grounding framework for MLTI.

Technology-Based Reference Tools

Tool 1: This is a presentation that I created, Google Forms as Digital Exit Tickets, as a resource for teachers on Google Forms. Google Forms has a new built-in feature that allows for them to be turned into a self-grading quiz.   

Tool 2: This is a presentation that presentation that I created, What Can Google Classroom Do For Me, as a resource for teachers who are new to using Google Classroom.  

Tool 3: This is a presentation that I created, Diving Deeper Into Google Classroom, as designed for teachers who already have a Google Classroom presence and are ready to enhance their use.  There are ten additional suggestions from the organization to new features that can be used in Google Classroom.  

Technology Tools for Creating New Knowledge (3)

Creation Tool 1: An app mash-up of QuickTime and Google Slides to create book talks.  Students can design slides that cover the elements of a book talk, add transitions, images, and talking points in the slide notes and then record their book talk as an original video using the screen video setting in QuickTime.  

Creation Tool 2: Flippity has many different Google enhanced templates that students can use to create original content.  One is a timeline template that has space for students to put information, pictures, and video into a Google Sheet and then with a few clicks that Sheet is turned into a beautifully polished timeline final product.  This timeline can then be published to a class website or a student-created website that gets their final product out into an authentic audience.  This is an example of modification on the SAMR scale because the student is blending together the use of original words, pictures, and video to make new meaning and synthesize an event and period of time which would not be possible without the use of technology.    

Creation Tool 3: Google Sites is a website creation tool within the GSuite apps and at the same time allows for the regular share settings that are integrated into the Google Drive apps.  Students can use Google Sites to easily create a website for any class or assignment they have. A team of teachers or a school could require that every student create Google Site that acts as a digital portfolio for all of their work for a semester, year or time they are at that school.  This digital collection of artifacts from the students allows for their new content to get out to an authentic audience if the student’s parents allow for the work to be shared publically on the Internet. This is an example of Modification on the SAMR scale because if parents allow it the work of the student can then reach an authentic audience.  Students can also collaborate on these Google Sites with their peers to share work that they have both created.


The essential question for these teacher learning sessions is how might we as teachers leverage the GSuite tools to create a ubiquitous and engaging integration of technology in the classroom that sparks creativity and engagement for our students?  The teachers who participate in this series of classes will have the opportunity to take the technology integration ideas that have been discussed and implement them into their teaching that is appropriate for the content and standards that they are teaching.  Although two teachers who teach the same grade and subject may participate in this learning opportunity they may use their own pedagogical styles to integrate the technology tools in different ways that work for the students that they have in their classes.

Since this is an optional after-school training it is expected that participation will fluctuate and not everyone will come to all of the sessions.  Some topics may be more popular than others. With this in mind, learners need to learn how to use the tools that are highlighted in the sessions that they attend.  The variable is how many topics they explore during these classes due to their attendance. It is also critical that teachers leave these sessions with a baseline understanding to SAMR, TPACK, and the 4C’s which will be integrated organically into each session, thus the more sessions a teacher attend the more depth they will have with these three educational technology integration frameworks.  

Teachers will fill out a self-assessment rubric at the end of the sessions asking them to reflect on their growth.  Teachers will use the below scale to reflect on their growth.

How comfortable were you with the Google Suite of Apps and integrating them into your daily teaching in an engaging and meaningful way?

Real-world, collaborative, and learner-centered elements are integrated into this learner inquiry project through the three-pronged design of each learning session.  Since each class is optional they each need to be a stand-alone learning experience they each need to include a real-world, collaborative, and be learner-centered. Each session is real-world by the nature of the fact they these are skills that teachers are volunteering to come to learn more about to apply to their daily teaching.  By learning these new skills they can integrate them into their real-world daily work. The sessions are collaborative during the final phase of the session when teachers talk together about ways that they can implement their new learning. They are brainstorming together different ways the specific tool the session is focused on can be implemented into teaching.  Lastly, the sessions are learner-centered because they focus on topics that the participants request we cover. At the end of the sessions, the last thing that we do as a group is come up with a topic for the next session. The sessions are also learn-centered because each teacher has time to work independently and explore and reflect on how they can best use the tool.  

One major barrier for this model of technology integration training is that it is optional, meaning that participants may not be able to attend all of the sessions.  This means that each session needs to be a stand-alone session, we can’t leave a topic at the end of our time together and pick it up next time because there will be different people in attendance.  In order to work around this, I will use a timer to keep myself to a schedule and not let any one of the three parts of the training run too long.

I am new this year to the school that I am working in.  The aspect of this project that I am most excited about is connecting with new people, brainstorming together, and creating engaging and enriching learning experiences for our students.  Teaching teachers how to use technology and then how to integrate it into their classroom is a strength of mine, and the setting that is outlined here is the type that I like to work in. This is an opportunity to help teachers grow their teaching skills and demystify challenges that they have around technology and technology integration.  

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Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship is a critical element in any 21st-century classroom, especially one that integrates technology ubiquitously. When I was a classroom teacher in a one-to-one classroom my integration of digital citizenship was embedded into the curriculum with informal lessons as needed based on the work that we were doing in class. I followed this informal path mostly because my training in digital citizenship education was not formal and I learned what I needed to pass onto the students organically.

In my work now as a technology integration specialist, I still integrate digital citizenship in an organic way. Mostly I work with classroom teachers developing projects that they will implement into their lessons. During our work together I infuse digital citizenship lessons, ideas, and suggestions.

If a school is a one-to-one device school, then digital citizenship should be part of the school-wide culture. The devices are part of the school-wide culture, so thus the education of how to be an effective digital citizen also needs to be included. This includes how students and adults should behave online, as well as rules and consequences for when the expectations are not followed. If a school is not a one-to-one device school than the teachers who work with the students and the devices should be the ones responsible for the digital citizenship education.

The best education source for digital citizenship is the curriculum from Common Sense Education. They have a curriculum that is developed for each grade span, is constantly being updated, and is age-appropriate content for being safe in our digital world. This curriculum is great for educators to go through to educate themselves as well.

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21st Century Skills

The skills that the students today need in order to be successful in future jobs are not necessarily the same skills that we needed or learned about in school.  This new set of skills is referred to as 21st Century Skills.  One of the simplest definitions comes from Curriculum 21 where they define 21st Century Skills as “skills students need to be successful in the 21st century. They include: cross-curricular skills and learning to learn skills”.  This doesn’t mean that the core content – reading, writing, math, science, and history to name a few are no longer important, it means that students need to learn that and more.  They need to learn how to interact with a world that is always changing and will mostly be digital.  The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has a fantastic overview of 21st Century Skill.  The following video summarizes the rapid shifts that are occurring in the world around us.  Our task is to prepare our students the best that we can so that they can be critical thinkers and problem solvers.  

Here is a list of possible ways that you can help at home to enhance your child’s 21st Century Skills


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Technology as the Bridge for Proficiency Based Education

Proficiency Based Education (PBE) is not a new concept in education.  In the 1920’s, Mastery Education was introduced where students could move at their own pace until they had mastered a set of standards.

Entire textbook series were created in order to allow for this.  So why did PBE die out the first time?  Money.  A school needed to be able to invest in this new series of textbooks.  In the 1960’s, Bloom and his protege Block reintroduced the idea of students progressing at a pace that was appropriate for them and demonstrating mastery of a skill.  So why did PBE die out the second time?  Again, money was an issue, but there was also a resistance to educational reform.

It is 2013, and PBE in education is here for a third time.  What makes it more possible this time?  Technology.  This is the bridge that allows for PBE to happen in our 21st century digital classrooms.  Rather than having to purchase an entire series of textbooks as schools had to in the 1920’s and 1960’s, technology is already at the fingertips of all of our teachers and students. Customization has what it needs to finally be implemented.  

 There are two types of technology use in PBE.  First, there is technology to track student progress through the standards that students, parents, and teachers can access.  Second, there is technology to demonstrate and facilitate learning.  This second type of technology is utilized by students to demonstrate mastery of a standard or to demonstrate an activity that students work through to prepare for standard mastery.  Although PBE utilizes technology, it does not replace teaching, facilitating, and guiding from teachers.  Students still interact with peers and teachers in a PBE classroom, but technology allows for the facilitation of learning at their pace.  This is a topic that I have talked and presented about several times.  


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Digital Docent – The Bridge to Connect Digital Generations

Digital Docent – The Bridge to Connect Digital Generations

The blue people represent digital natives, and the red people represent digital immigrants. The digital docents are the ones connected by the doted line on both sides of the dark black line.

Recently I have been learning more about and giving presentations on the students who walk into our classrooms every day.  A common phrase uttered by teachers is “my students today just can’t ______ like they students in the past have”.  What I have found from my learning is that the students in todays classrooms simply aren’t wired the same way students used to be, so that means they don’t learn always naturally learn in the same ways.
The students who come to school today are accustomed to interacting with the world in a digital way, they are known as digital natives.  “They were all born after 1980, when social digital technologies, such as Usenet and bulletin board systems, came online.  They all have access to networked digital technologies.  And they all have the skills to use those technologies” (Palfrey & Gasser, 2008, pg. 1).
On the flip side, there is a second term used for people are do not interact with the digital world as natively, they are known as digital immigrants.  “A person who has adopted the Internet and related technologies, but who was born prior to the advent of the digital age” (Palfrey & Grasser, 2008, pg. 346).
I would like to introduce a new third term: digital docent.  When you go to any museum in the United States the who gives tours is known as a docent.  The word docent is from the Latin word docēns, which means to teach.  These are the people who grew up on the edge of all of this technology.  They can connect with how both the digital natives and the digital immigrants view the digital world.
Currently in the education world there are is a huge push to integrate technology into the classroom.  The challenge is that many of our current educators are digital immigrants. This isn’t a bad thing, it just adds another challenge when trying to integrate technology.  The digital docents who are also teachers are essential to ensuring the successful integration of technology.  It is their job to act as the bridge between the digital natives and digital immigrants.  The digital docent has the capacity to teach as the Latin root of the word suggests both of these groups.  The big question is how best to facilitate this teaching bridge.

Digital Natives Resources

Marc Prensky Essays

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants

Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering For Real Learning Introduction

The Reformers Are Leaving Our Schools in the 20th Century

Suggested Reading List

Palfrey Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives

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