Theater history voice thread


Students in introduction to theater will begin a short project on the history of theater. Quite often, students view the history of any subject as being an irrelevant topic… this project allows students the chance to see how history of the theater has led to the changes that have made theater what it is today. Students will work to find relevance by comparing and contrasting theater as it was, to how it is today. Partners will work to then create a short blurb that they will present to the class as a theater history expert.

I loved being able to have this project use voicethread as a grounding point for instructions. Students could refer back to the voice thread to hear what needed to be done, which eliminated repeat questions being asked of me. I was able to focus on student needs in the library, and aide with research instead of repeating instructions. I also loved that this voicethread allowed me the chance to share the instructions with missing students, and parents, as well as have the librarian be on board from the beginning so she could pull needed resources.

Constructivist learning theory

Popular sources, like’s concept to classroom series, have been addressing the value added to learning through theories like constructionism. “The concept of constructivism has roots in classical antiquity, going back to Socrates’s dialogues with his followers, in which he asked directed questions that led his students to realize for themselves the weaknesses in their thinking. The Socratic dialogue is still an important tool in the way constructivist educators assess their students’ learning and plan new learning experiences” (, 2004). Getting students to “study, ponder, consider alternative possibilities and arrive at your belief grounded in evidence. Inquiry is a key part of constructivist learning” (, 2004). All this sounds great, in theory, but how does it play out in the classroom?

Constructionist minded educators build classroom experiences for their students, they take a step back from being the center of attention, and permit their students to engage in a “process of developing and testing explanations of things we observe,” while also using a “process of suggesting and defending ways to clear up confusion about ideas or events” (Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2012). Students then experience the learning process as means of connections made to real world situations, problems and events that have relevance for their lives, making learning more sustainable and meaningful.  Scholarly authors Gilakjani, Leong, and Nizam worte that “the basic concept of constructivism is that knowledge must be constructed by the learner. It cannot be supplied by the teacher” (Gilakjani, Leong & Nizam, 2013). These authors also depict an environment of learning that integrates technology in ways that support generating and testing hypothesis as a means to grow learners in experience. “There is a close relationship between technology and constructivism, the implementations of each one benefiting the other. Constructivism states that learning takes place in contexts, while technology refers to the designs and environments that engage learners” (Gilkjani, Leong & Nizam, 2013). How then, can technology be integrated into classrooms in support of constructivist learning?

Like many teachers, the fear of implementing technology into the classroom often lead to instructional and learning tools that are not fully integrated into the classroom, or are not used to their full potential. One area that is used within my classroom to support constructivist learning theory is with the use of online journaling. Students begin with a scene from the play, they write out their concerns, thoughts, and analysis of the scene, and then conduct online research to help them determine the mood, tone, and feel of the scene. Students can share their journals, add to and subtract from their journals as they come across new data, and new ideas. One way that this is supportive of constructivist learning theory is that students tie their scene study into real world context through current event requirements, making theater arts history more relatable, and plays from centuries past more appealing. My students are engaged in the curation of their knowledge by “actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions” (ISTE, 2016). As their teacher, I am making sure that I am “engaging students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources” (ISTE, 2008).

Constructivist learning theory is centered on the notion that students must create their learning experiences in relation to real-world, relevant learning experiences. Applications like online journaling, and digital research into current events helps students build the databases needed for the creation of real connections to learning. As a teacher, my use of instructional tools to help guide instruction, as well as learning tools focused on student engagement are key parts of creating a constructivist learning environment. Through the use of scene builders, online interactive field trips, and videos links to play performances I can help to build the bridge that connects century old performances to real life situations my students face.



Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Gilakjani, A. P., Leong, L., Nizam, I. H., (2013). Teachers use of Technology and Constructivism. International Journal of Modern Education and Computer Science. (pages 49-63).


Educational Broadcasting Corporation. (2004). Concept to classroom: Workshop: Constructivism as a paradigm for teaching and learning. Retrieved December 3, 2017 from


International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2016). Standards for students. Retrieved from

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2008). Standards for teachers. Retrieved from

Kennedy Center Virtual Field Trip

What makes the Kennedy Center unlike many other theaters/performing arts centers?

Take a tour of the renowned Kennedy Center to answer that, and many other questions.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is one of the most well known centers for the performance of the fine arts in the United States. As students of the theater, we are often exposed to the various theaters, stages, and centers for performance within our small communities. This exposure is what enables us to appreciate the intricacies of each stage we set foot on. However, many of us do have the luxury of traveling the world in search of new theaters and stages to experience. This virtual tour allows us access to the Kennedy Center, and provides us the chance to walk the halls, stand on the terraces, sit in the velvet seats, and hear the sounds of the fine arts that have been shared within the boundaries of the center.

Kennedy Center Virtual Field Trip GO-1gbrl0l



Behaviorism, not just behaviors, in the classroom

What is the relationship among behaviorism, instructional strategies and technology integration in the classroom? For starters, let’s consider that behaviorism is an instructional strategy in and of itself. Classrooms across the country begin each school year establishing protocol for students to follow regarding acceptable behaviors, and what lies in wait for them if they do not adhere to the protocol. Dr. Orey indicated in his video Behaviorist Learning Theory that classrooms in today’s schools offer this type of operant conditioning, associated with behaviorism, on a daily basis. (Laureate Education, 2015a) Classrooms boast behavior clip charts with progressive consequences for repeat offenders who do not comply with acceptable behaviors. Teachers promote filling buckets as a means to showcase positive behaviors demonstrated by students. In both scenarios, teachers and students are working together to foster a classroom environment that encourages learning and increases productivity. Behaviorism has long been “employed in education to promote behavior that is desirable and discourage that which is not. Among the methods derived from behaviorist theory for practical classroom application are contracts, consequences, reinforcement, extinction, and behavior modification.” (Standridge, 2002)  While behaviorism is often viewed as the lesser of all learning theories, it is, in reality, used daily by teachers across the country.

How then does this apply to technology integration in the classroom? Imagine, for a moment, that a new technology tool has been introduced into the classroom, and students are utilizing the tool for the first time. Chaos ensues. Students are unable to get the program to work, some are faster than others, some are struggling immensely, and others are thriving. As a teacher, you’re running around the classroom attempting to get all students on board, focused, and ready to go. Using behaviorist learning theories enables students, and teachers alike, to know what steps to take, what processes to follow, and what actions will solicit the result of attention, or aid from the teacher. Keeping in mind that “human behavior is learned, behaviorists also hold that all behaviors can also be unlearned, and replaced by new behaviors; that is, when a behavior becomes unacceptable, it can be replaced by an acceptable one.” (Standridge, 2002) Teachers work with students to help them unlearn specific habits that have long been intact for students regarding technology usage. Teachers utilize behaviorist learning theories differently depending on what type of technology tool is being implemented, just as they would for non-technology integrated lessons.

What does this look like in my classroom? Canvas, a technology tool used widely in the Laramie County school district, is often the lead into my daily lessons. Students have learned to look online for a blog post question that will be addressed in upcoming lessons. Students have been conditioned to come into class prepared to provide their thoughts on the blog post, and to have an open discussion about the topic, making sure they have researched the topic prior to their discussion. Students can also choose to answer the blog post via the Canvas tool, using a more anonymous approach by creating a user name. Students work on their digital citizenship in accordance with ISTE standards, “2b Students engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online or when using networked devices.” (ISTE, 2016) Students are praised via the online tool by me for positive interactions, and are given kudos when they encourage another student, or make a good point using reputable sources from online. Students, while thinking it is anonymous, do also know that we can track what student is assigned to a username, and there have been times when online usage has been blocked as a result of inappropriate behaviors online. As a teacher, I am following ISTE standard “2a, design or a adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity.” (ISTE, 2008) Students are able to learn in a setting that promotes creativity and original thought, while also using digital tools that engage them in universal (school wide, at least) conversation with other students. Relevance, proper online protocol, and positive interactions are conditioned within each student from the beginning of the school year, and continue throughout the duration of the career within the district.

While usage of Canvas is ideal in my classroom, the use of it as a homework tool has only recently been included in my lesson planning. Students find that this type of homework is relevant, and applies to their daily lives, and it only takes a moment to check the blog. Students are using age, grade level appropriate digital tools, while also working on material that applies to their learning. I do believe that students can use Canvas, and the blog format, to encourage participation in a community, school directed event that raises awareness for their programs, and their genius hour activities. Hopefully, online identities and proper social media style behaviors are becoming a norm that students have embraced within their learning.



International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2016). Standards for students. Retrieved from


International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2008). Standards for teachers. Retrieved from


Laureate Education (Producer). (2015a). Behaviorist learning theory [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.


Standridge, M.. (2002). Behaviorism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved November 23, 2017, from

Reflecting on ‘all the things’

Reflective Essay

Recalling what my beliefs and attitudes were eight weeks ago in regards to technology makes me feel a bit embarrassed. If you were to have asked me, at the beginning of this course, what my impression of my technology integration into the classroom was I would have told you that I was a super star tech whiz that utilized innovative programs daily. Truth be told, I was using versions of Web 2.0 that were useful, helpful, and beneficial for students and employees worldwide, but far from innovative, far from exciting, and far from anything that really engaged students in lessons, discussions, and meaningful communication. Don’t get me wrong, not all of my technology efforts were dull and fruitless in terms of education, or in terms of preparing my students for their futures in college or their chosen careers. In fact, I was right in line with Dr. Thornburg’s interpretation of what 21st century employers are looking for in their employees as he stated in his video The Changing Work Environment. I was teaching students to use Microsoft Office 365 as a tool for collaboration with peers, much like Dr. Thornburg mentioned when he stated that “collaborating with peers at different field offices around the world at a very informal process is going to amplify their capacity.” (Laureate Education, 2015j) Students were showing me that they could amplify their ability to work on assignments, to include others who missed a day of class, they even went so far as to work on assignments outside of class because it was fun. However, this wasn’t really enough, this wasn’t really technology integration at its most innovative and useful integration in a classroom.

True technology integration in my classroom could not be experienced until I had that moment in my teaching when my mind shifted, my fears subsided into excitement, and my desire to introduce new products outweighed my concerns that they may not work right out of the gate, and I may look stupid standing in front of 25+ middle schoolers with judging teenage eyes. True, I had spent time as a computer lab para-educator teaching 18 classes a week to students in kindergarten through sixth grade, but nothing really prepared me for the classes I could, and would end up teaching after I allowed myself to realize that technology is an opportunity for both students, and myself to explore, expand our knowledge, and learn from moments that were not as well executed as planned. Similar to the teacher who spoke on her experience with technology in Making the Shift, I had to adjust the approach I took to integrating technology, by first using district approved sources and products, and then slowly introducing in new products for classroom use. I first began with the blog posts on Canvas, which is a district approved product, however, with little buy in from students, I chose to utilize a classroom email, and ‘instant messaging’ style program that got us off on the move towards using more innovative technology. I had to begin slowly, introducing the new technology in a way that wasn’t overwhelming for students, and much like the teacher in the video, did not cause frustration that would ultimately end our use of products in the classroom. I would like to use more Web 2.0 products like Twitter, blogs, and even Instagram, but few of my students have access to computers outside of the school, which makes products of this nature more difficult to use as our district blocks those sites from use on school computers. In the future, if cell phones are allowed in the school, and in classrooms, I would consider implementing programs that could be downloaded onto cell phones. For now, I will stick with introducing blogs more regularly, and continuing our efforts via messaging and email.

Preparing students for work outside of middle school walls is a valuable part of my classroom, one that requires continued learning on my part as an educator. One area that I feel I have deepened my learning is in the understanding that I must also be a lifelong learner, and that I have to view myself as a co-learner with my students, not just as the master of all within my room. Richardson (2015) discusses moving from master teacher to master learner by recognizing areas that we are strong, and areas that we are weak. I firmly believe that this course provided me with the opportunity to recognize that I am still learning the intricate dynamics of resources available for teaching students. An element of technology that I was uncomfortable with using was wikis, mainly for the fact that I was fearful that I wouldn’t have the information needed to put one together. Wikis, however, turned into an aspect of the course that provided me the chance to connect with absent students, providing the same instruction in a format that was more accessible for some students, and more enjoyable for many. I also found that by deepening my experience by using wikis in a variety of ways, and having students use them as well, that we learned together, creating a bond that exists only between those that struggle through something and come out successful. I have treated wikis much like a blog that Michelle Lampinen would use in her class. Through her use of blogs, Michelle was able to create enthusiasm, and buy in from her students, I also noticed that much like Michelle, my students were engaged in writing that was improving. Beyond improved writing, I also saw students that my more private students were actively engaged, desiring an opportunity to share, and to not be the focal point, or center of attention with all eyes on them. In fact, as Michelle stated, “introverted students tend to share more online than they do in person,” and this is proven in the use of wikis in my classroom. (Lampinen, 2013) I am in continuous pursuit of technology products that can even the playing field for all students, and engage the masses in my classroom.

Pursuit of technology has its ups and downs, especially in a public education system that is dictated by policy designed to protect the innocence of students. While I am seeking opportunities to engage in meaningful learning through the use of Twitter in my classroom, I am overruled by the policy that prevents social media from entering the classroom. One way that I am implementing this web 2.0 product, without stepping on any toes, is through the use of exit tickets that require student to summarize lessons using 140 characters or less. I often include hashtags that represent what we are learning, or are inclusive of our learning targets, so that student can connect a real world trend item to what they are learning. My goal was to “design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tolls and resources to promote student learning and creativity.” (ISTE, 2008) I ‘post’ the tweets that some student create as a means to support the notion that each student has a social identity, online or otherwise, that they must uphold. Students do not know which tweet I will post, and therefore must adhere to the ISTE standard of becoming a digital citizen in that they “Students cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation and are aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world.” (ISTE, 2016) It is a slow start, but one that I feel will have power if, and when, it is permitted in the classroom in its full glory.

Long term pursuit of technology integration comes in the form of two goals: The first is within two years, advocate for the use of social media, like Twitter, to be used as a means of documenting formative assessment responses via 140 characters that are generated after being given a prompt. The second is within two years, create, and actively use a district wide theater blog to recruit, promote, and engage student participation in the performing arts. I plan to seek approval from my principals for use of Twitter, and then have them advocate for me at higher levels within the district, using my classroom as the model for which we will get baseline data to support the use of social media in education. I plan to accomplish the blog by introducing it at the district PLC meetings, and then ‘pushing’ it at each professional development, as well as in staff meetings to garner readers, and followers.






Laureate Education (Producer). (2015j). The changing work environment [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2015a). Making the shift. [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Richardson, W. (2015). From master teacher to master learner. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Lampinen, M. (2013, April 8). Blogging in the 21st-Century Classroom. Retrieved from

International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE). (2016). Standards for students. Retrieved from

International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE). (2008). Standards for teachers. Retrieved from

Blogging away in theater…

“Family life has changed rapidly over recent times with many parents working full time and juggling various commitments. A class blog is a convenient and effective way to encourage ongoing family involvement in schooling.” – Kathleen Morris the Edublogger. Edublogger’s Guide to Involving Parents with Blogs

Edublogger’s Guide to Involving Parents with Blogs

What better way to use a blog in a classroom is there, than to have it as a source of connectivity from your room to the parents of the students you teach? Teachers are mandated, in many schools, to connect with parents of their students via newsletters, or email, or some other means of communication, on a regular basis. Each week, teachers take time to write out newsletters, print them, run copies, hand them out to students, and then remind their students a minimum of five times to take it home to their parents, and SHOW it to their parents, because important information is posted in those newsletters. After all that effort, many parents do not see the newsletter, and send their student to school unprepared for the upcoming event/s mentioned in the newsletter. The cycle perpetuates week, after week, after week. How does the old adage go: insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Yet, here we are, pouring our heart and soul into newsletters that we know no parent will ever read, or at least, not many parents will read. Today’s parents are busy. They spend their evening hours carting kids around from ball fields, to dance halls, to gymnastic practice and Taekwondo four days a week. Parents spend their weekends running errands they couldn’t complete after getting off of work, and making dinner. In today’s economic world, it is rare to see families with stay at home parents and one sole bread winner. Today’s families are busy, and communicating with families in this busy world requires a different approach than a newsletter. Here is where the classroom blog enters to save the day, and the sanity of teachers everywhere.


My plan for a classroom is intended to be used by both the teacher and students/families. Opening lines of communication with families is essential in a classroom if we expect to have high student success rates. Even though we know that communication is an important component of student success, we choose a very one sided method of “communication” with our repetitive use of newsletters, aimed at telling information, instead of engaging in conversations that include valuable information. In my classroom, the essential use of the blog will be to increase parent, and student input by inviting comments, and feedback.  My classroom blog will open the door for parents to share “multiple voices responding to similar questions and sharing their perceptions about the importance and the challenges” (Ferrara, 2009) that students are facing in middle school theater class.

What will DramaDrama: Intro to Theater look like? The blog will feature a place for announcements on upcoming class events, production times and locations, class celebrations, and other pertinent class information. Parents, and students, can reply with suggestions, or questions that they may have. If a parent or student needs more confidential conferencing, then a link a for email, or phone numbers can be accessed, as well as stated office hours. Not only will announcements be available, but also a section for “What I Missed” so that absent students can avoid asking me the lovely question, “did I miss anything when I was absent?” As if class stopped because they were sick. Students can see when assignments are due, download study guides and other needed documents for class, and even turn in assignments via an online class turn in folder. Parents can also access this section to ensure their student has everything they need to be successful in class.

My goal with this blog, used by me, students and parents, is to help parents feel more involved in their middle schooler’s life. Truth be told, “many parents are unsure of their roles in the school and this feeling of “unconnectedness” grows stronger as their children move from grade to grade in middle and high school.” (Ferrara, 2009) I am hoping to repair that feeling of unconnectedness that middle school parents feel, and create a sense of togetherness in the endeavor of educating their children. Using a blog to help bridge the gap between home and school will demonstrate for students that I, as their teacher, am following ISTE standards by collaborating with students, peers, parents, and community members as a means to support student success. The overall goal of the blog is to take suggestions from parents, include parents in theater productions by seeking their expertise in areas like cosmetology (makeup for plays), construction (scenery for plays), seamstress skills (costumes for plays), and much more. Using input from parents and students will enable all participants to feel like their suggestions are welcomed, and appreciated. I also feel that this blog demonstrates a design of digital age learning experiences in that it provides a means for students to complete work in none-traditional methods, as well as collaborate on how they learn in a real time setting. Students become empowered learners by activating their role as a team member, instead of just as a ‘sit and get’ student in a lecture hall. Students become planners, they become the teacher through their shared insights, and suggestions via blog comments and links to innovative lessons. Students also become global collaborators as they learn to embrace the comments and suggestions of others, even going so far as to revamp their original suggestions by incorporating various parts of other parents’ and students’ suggestions and comments.

The classroom blog is one step in the right direction to get parents, and students, actively involved in their middle school theater education. However, it is more than a means to communicate, it is also a means to create, to collaborate, and to innovate.


links to good reading:

Broadening the Myopic Vision of Parent Involvement

Draw the curtain…

The stage is set, the cast is ready, let the action begin.

Drama is the chance to free yourself from the confines of societal norms, and just be who you are meant to be. There is no judgement, there is no shame, there is no cruelty. Acting is limitless, and with no boundaries, imagine how far you can go.