Final Report for Problem of Practice CEP 817

When I began this class I was worried I would be in over my head. I understood that it had to do with design and was worried I would really struggle with the concepts. Design sounded so daunting to me. However, upon reading about design in “Bootcamp Bootleg”, especially the section about empathy, I became much more comfortable with the idea of design in relation to my work. In fact, upon examining “good” and “bad” designs, I realized that I design quite frequently and became much more interested and excited about the class.

The biggest take away I have from this class is that good design starts with empathy. I consider myself an empathetic person and really identified with this concept. One of the examples which struck  me was the patients in hospitals looking up at a blank, dreary ceiling and when nurses noticed this they started painting pretty designs on the wall or had visitors create items that could be hung on the wall to cheer up the patient. I loved that, because it was so simple, but still made a difference. This seemingly little design inspired my problem of practice. To many adults, playtime and movement for students doesn’t seem important, because they don’t remember the energy they once had flowing through their bodies like raging electric currents. They can not empathize with young students and their desire to run, play, sing, dance, and scream, whereas, I can. I can still recall sitting in my seat as a young student feeling like my legs were going to have jets of energy shoot out of them if I didn’t get out to run. I also remember having many more opportunities to run and play than my students have in my classroom. School was not too rigid and obsessed with “every minute matters”. This difference between the memory of my own educational experience and that of my students made my problem of practice easy to decide.

I knew that I had to incorporate learning objectives within my designs as much as possible and fretted over what to do. Upon reading the prototype article and watching the prototype video I realized that I was making the solution too hard. That is when I began considering simple movement based activities. I already had a few which I had always incorporated in my class because they were fun and helped my students learn. I realized that I needed to implement similar ideas to other objectives. With this in mind I was able to come up with a variety of activities from my own “rhyme around the rosie” activity to video based activities that helped students practice various learning objectives like counting by fives. In just a short time I could see my students growing in their understanding of different objectives and they would tell me how they enjoyed the activities, which made me very happy. I also found that my students were less likely to be disruptive when I implemented these activities.

The first activity I implemented was my “rhyme around the rosie”. I had extra time during a rhyming lesson and, remembering that prototyping does not need to be overcomplicated, I created this simple activity. I had students stand in a circle and put one student in the middle. We sang “Rhyming, rhyming, this is how we rhyme today. In the morning, in the morning. Rhyming, rhyming, can you rhyme with: fan?” (the final word being the one I would change each time). The middle student would then pick a classmate from the circle to provide a word that rhymed with the one I had provided, if they were correct they went to the middle of the circle. It was a huge success to the point that I even saw students practicing this activity as a game at recess. I then started to try and “Have Fun Teaching” videos. These videos provide specific movements for students to do so that they stay, in best case scenarios, in control of their bodies. I found videos that helped them practice counting by fives and tens and a variety of other videos that were “dance breaks” which I used to meet our objective of using self control with our bodies. This past week I finally received the “Fluency and Fitness” bundle we had purchased and tried it out. I used the ten frame set in which students are flashed different numbers on a ten frame and they then have to recognize and say the number. Every few slides they have a physical activity, like jumping jacks, and they do five to ten, depending on what direction I give. I have only tried this three times, but am hopeful that it will be as beneficial as the other activities I have tried previously. The bundle covers both ELA and math objectives. Focusing on and creating other ways in which I can incorporate movement in my teaching is very fulfilling to me . One simple adjustment that I made to a typical activity working on identifying was where students hear certain sounds in words they are directed to either stand up or sit down. For example, if we are listening for letter “b”, they stand up if they hear it at the beginning of the word and sit down if they hear it at the end. Students seem to enjoy this and it also gets them moving. Simple things like this can make a lesson much more engaging and enjoyable for the students. I also find that they are even more engaged if I do the activities with them. I am excited to keep trying to explore ways to incorporate movement in my lessons.

I never would have considered myself a designer before, I always correlated the term designers with brilliant people like engineers or really creative people like artists. Now, I realize anyone can be a designer to make the world a better place in one small way. Whether it is constructing a way to make learning fun or developing a product that is less wasteful, there are so many ways people can be designers if they remember to think empathetically.


Final Reflection CEP 817

CEP 817 Learning Tech through Design Final Reflection

When I first started this class I was a little intimidated by the thought of design and really didn’t know what to expect. I had always liked the idea of designing a building or clothing, but it came to a screeching halt there, at the “idea” stage. However, the chapter about empathy immediately grabbed my attention and my heart. I loved it. I consider myself an empathetic person,in my choice to not watch certain movies because I don’t want to get overly wrapped up in the characters’ emotions, or when something happens to someone I care about I am able to celebrate or mourn along with them. When I saw that the best designs were created by people who looked through the perspective and feelings of others, my interest increased. I got to the point where I was looking up different designs online. I came across some amazing examples from a young man who designed a way to make guns safer, to two men who designed a floating bucket to clean water in harbors of pollution such as plastics, oils, and other environmental hazards.. Designs like these gave me a brighter outlook on the world and, as I say to my kindergarten students, “made my heart happy”.

When it came to choosing my problem of practice a lot of ideas came to mind. I find that my school has a variety of problems. Every year we seem to pick a new one to be our main focus, but are then constantly jumping to a new one each year without fully resolving the previous concern, which I find unproductive. I focused specifically on what my kindergarten students need. I had recently been videotaped by a curriculum head who had observed me and liked how I practiced the letters and letter sounds every day with movements. I have always felt that my students were held to unrealistic standards when it came to time spent on a given subject and confined to the room. They are wiggly, they act out, they lose interest and motivation and so their capacity to learn the material begins to break down. Struggling to maintain classroom focus isn’t fun or productive for them or me. I’ve read several articles discussing the importance of recess and fought alongside my team with administration for a second recess for our students in the afternoon. This led me to the conclusion that my problem is the lack of physical movement for my students throughout the day. However, I knew that adding movement for the sake of movement would not be condoned by my administration. I would most likely be told that it was taking up valuable instructional minutes. The only way to accomplish my goal and satisfy the school would be to design activities that were not only movement based, but also addressed a learning objective. I admit, early on I struggled with my initial interpretation of design which I thought of simply creating a physical, tactile object. Yet, for my problem, everything was movement based. It was weird to think of singing, dancing and moving as a design.
As I mentioned above, the first module which focused on empathy really caught my attention. I began to try and think more about what my students were feeling as the day progressed and in what ways they would find what I was teaching more engaging. I also always kept in the back of my mind how prototyping was usually quick with hands on materials. These things considered, I noticed one day, during ELA intervention time (I have the group of students who can’t rhyme) they were not really engaged in my cut and paste activity of matching rhyming pictures. I had extra time left and was thinking quickly to resolve this issue and I remembered how much students liked playing “Ring Around the Rosie” with me at recess so I thought, “How can I do this with rhyming?”. I had everyone stand in a circle and hold hands and sang a simple song. The song evolved into, (using a melody from Raffi) “Rhyming, rhyming, this is how we rhyme today. In the morning, in the morning. Rhyming, rhyming, can you rhyme with….” I would say a word then the student in the middle would pick a friend in the moving outside circle to rhyme with the word I had said. If they got it right they switched spots and we would start over. It was a huge hit. I was unsure at first until I saw them practicing it at recess with other students, who were not in my intervention group, joining the game.
I was able to add movement-based activities throughout my day. From practicing our teen numbers with motions and chants like, “A one and a one make eleven fun”, using our fingers to make a one and one and then a little dance, to kinesthetic counting where we change the type of movement we do (marches, super hero punches, lunges etc) every twenty numbers when we count to 100. Students loved these and if I made it a competition between the boys and girls or yellow shirts and burgundy shirts students were even more focused and on task.
I also started looking into videos students could imitate. I already had used Pinterest to create a “shake break” board, but had been told to limit them to one to two times a day because I was told by administrators that they were merely “just for fun”. I started looking at and the youtube channel, Have Fun Teaching and both of these sites had great videos that I was able to implement into my classroom. My students loved growing the creatures on Gonoodle and I was able to align it with the moral focus objective of using self control. The Have Fun Teaching site had several videos that covered letters and sight words that students wrote the words or letters in the air so that snack time still had instructional time that addressed objectives. The only one I didn’t get to try was the “Fluency and Fitness” program (we found it on Teachers Pay Teachers and heard great reviews from teachers who had implemented it in their classrooms) that my team was excited about and downloaded, but has not been returned to me. I am hopeful that I am able to try “Fluency and Fitness” out as well because from the videos and evaluations I have seen, it looks like it would be a perfect fit in my problem of practice.
I think the best thing I learned about design is that it doesn’t have to be fancy or high tech. From the cardboard arcade video to lecture to google lens, design can be low tech or high tech and I never really thought about it that way before. I never would have considered something low tech as a type of design. Now I see that design is everywhere, both good and bad design. It reminded me of the first time I learned about packaging engineers. My best friend from college is a packaging engineer. She always said, “Everything comes in a package”. It made sense and was so obvious. However, I had never thought about how everything comes in a package and some packages are designed great while others are terrible! Now I notice design in everything, from packages to computer lab set ups to how I have my students move in my classroom and interact with learning objectives.
My greatest takeaway from this class is how important empathy is to design. Whether you are designing a better product or a better lesson plan it is important to be empathetic to the users. I think this is where educators sometimes fall short. They forget what it was like to be five or fifteen and trying to learn the material because they have mastered it. I, however, have very clear long term memory and remember school from preschool and on. I remember the frustration of biology and calculus in high school. I remember the difficulty of fractions in fifth grade. I remember being in lower elementary (and quite honestly through middle school) and feeling like I had electric currents running through my body, watching the clock, counting down the minutes until recess so I could run. This is where I find the most empathy for my students. I am told that they need a three hour ELA block and an hour and a half of math, when at staff meetings and professional development we are given many more breaks to get up and walk around. How can we possibly hold four to six year olds to such expectations? They were built to run, they were built to move. They are wired to learn through playing and interacting with others. My goal is always to do what is best for my students and to grow them to be the best people that they can be in the short time I have them in my room. I have no doubt from interviews and simply observing them that they benefit behaviorally and academically from being given more opportunity to move. I hope with all my heart that America will start letting our children learn through play and exploration so that school is not a chore but a celebration that students are always eager to attend.

Problem of Practice: Test Mode

After testing a variety of movement based activities in my classroom I interviewed three students about which activities they preferred and why. I chose a variety of students to interview. The students I thought I’d write about are two very different students, one high performing and one Special Education student.
Upon asking the high achieving, and eager to please, student what his favorite activity during the school day was he told me it was solving math equations. I then asked him if he liked any of new movement activities we have been doing. He said he likes to do the skip counting and dancing because it gets faster which makes him smarter because it is a challenge to keep up. He likes to practice in the car with his Mom so he can be the best at it. He said he also likes the self-control videos when the boys and girls are trying to beat each other. He said he likes when they can all dance together and grow their Go Noodle creature. I then asked him if there were any he didn’t like. He had to think about this, I assume because he didn’t want to upset me. He said that the letter sound videos were fun, but he already knows all of them, but he likes to sing so he doesn’t mind them and he knows they help certain students who don’t know their letters and letter sounds (he actually named classmates).
The next student I interviewed is my most extreme special education student. He has a lot of interventions and struggles with social norms like giving people their space. He has his own box taped off of our carpet and he can park his “learning car” in it when he needs extra help to calm down. I asked him what his favorite activity during the day was, and he told me drawing ships (this is not an activity we do, he really likes to draw ships). I asked him if he liked any of our new movement based activities. He got very excited and expressed that he likes to grow the Go Noodle creature. I asked him if there was a particular type of movement activity he liked and he said the ones that his feet can do. This student stumbles, trips and falls a lot. So I interpreted this as the videos that had less feet action and more upper body movement. I asked if there were any he didn’t like and he said that he doesn’t like when the ones where people get mad at him. I interpreted this as the ones that are a little more high energy that he gets super excited about, leaves his box, and unintentionally ends up in the space of a classmate sometimes physically touching them. Students can get upset about it because sometimes he hits when he is over excited. He said he likes when I stand next to him and do it with him. I make a practice of doing as many videos with my students as possible, modeling what they should look like and standing between them and this student to be a buffer and help him refocus if needed. I asked if he wanted to tell me anything else about the movement activities and he said he liked how “it helps get the lightening out of [his] legs”. This comment made me smile because I remember as a kid I had tons of energy and it felt like I had electric currents running through my body and I needed to run it off. My interview ended with a hug and a request to find a ship video.
After interviewing a total of five students I found that they all love working together as a class to grow the Go Noodle creature (they think the better everyone does at following the video grows the creature more). I was also happy to find that many of the students find the videos engaging and a fun way to practice objectives. Other students commented on how they enjoyed the phonics videos we watch as well. I had a few students ask if we could do more of them because they were so fun. Overall my interviews tell me that my students are benefiting both academically and physically from the videos. I also reviewed this quarter’s term assessment and found that objectives covered by movement activities scored better. Therefore I am now looking for videos or brainstorming my own songs and dances that address the objectives that my students scored lower on the assessment.

Test Mode CEP 817

This week we were asked to make videos of us testing our prototypes for our problems of practice.

Here is my video



There are a few different sources I used to incorporate movement into my classroom while still addressing objectives. The first two clips are of my students dancing. The first one to a kid zumba video I found on The second one is to a video they chose, also from gonoodle. They really like growing the creature and progressing through the levels. One of our big moral focus virtues at our school is self control. In kindergarten that doesn’t just mean holding your temper, but also controlling your body so that you don’t hurt/bump into others. Before we start we review self control and how we control our bodies. We talk about staying in our square. Both of these went pretty well. The zumba video was much more successful than the other dance video. It seemed to engage more of the students and was simple, but challenging enough that they all wanted to participate. The second dance video didn’t seem to capture everyone’s interest as much.

The next video was a counting by 5’s video to help my students practice counting to 100 by 5’s, which is one of our objectives. They loved it! I started it on Monday and by the time I recorded this on Friday they were super stars at it. I could even hear them getting better at counting their fives. I started doing this right after lunch to transition into our math lesson. It has been working really well. I hope to find other videos to practice other math skills that have movement activities, or maybe coming up with one myself.

The last video is one I show at snack time. We were told that snack time still needs to have learning occurring. We start with our sight words of the week and move on to letter review. The students can sing along if they like (most are eating their snack) and then also write the letters in the air as the video asks. It is pretty popular and helps meet the objectives of letter identification, letter sounds and writing letters (the correct way, starting at the top). It also touches on beginning sounds too! Students really enjoy the videos and it allows snack time to be productive.


I really wanted to use the fluency and fitness bundle our school bought. However they have yet to release it back to us. Hopefully I will get to try it out before this class is over/before the end of the school year.

Big Idea Prototype CEP 817

This week we were asked to create a “big idea” prototype. Some of the suggested big ideas were:

-Your view of learning
-Your view of teaching
-Your view of the meaning of life
-Everyone matters
-The value of creativity
-Things don’t always make sense (e.g. 2 + 2 = 5)
-Our connected world

So here is a picture of mine:



Let me explain. I thought and thought about this. My view of the meaning of life, everyone matters, my view of teaching and this is what I came up with. In the picture you can see my husband and son. They are outside next to daffodils coming up, but also still have the past leaves of fall underfoot. They are holding a globe. Here is what it means. My meaning of life is first my family, they are my world. However we are all connected and must always be focused on our world and how we impact it. We also must continue to learn about our world and teach our children about it and to care for it ( a big reason I became a teacher). The daffodils are the meaning of rebirth and possibilities, and life is full of wonderful possibilities. However we must remember and be aware of the past (the dead leaves) they help us grow (compost) and build a better world. As Disney’s Pocahontas sang “We are all connected to each other, in a circle in a hoop that never ends”.  My picture represents a few big ideas, because I think many of those ideas are, or in my opinion, should be connected.

Protoype CEP 817

One of the points that really stuck with me after watching the video about prototyping was that they were done quickly with simple things. That is how I came up with my “rhyme around the rosie” song/activity.

During intervention time I work with the students who still struggle with rhyming. At recess many of these students like to play Ring Around the Rosie with me. I had extra time during our rhyming group and didn’t want to do a boring cut and paste or write on the board activity. I thought about ring around the rosie and had everyone get up and hold hands in a circle. I then started kind of chanting, but it quickly turned into a song (that I later realized is the tune to a Raffi song I play for my son). They seemed to really enjoy it, and it got them moving. This is how I end my rhyming group every day. We do this the last 5-10 minutes. I knew it was a success when I saw kids singing and doing it at recess instead of ring around the rosie.

(Usually they are all smiles and energetic, as soon as I told them I was going to video them they all got nervous. But you get the basic idea from the video).

Click here to see the video

Module 4 Ideate

Part 1: Group Brainstorm!
I got together with my kindergarten team to think about more ways we can incorporate movement and play in our classroom and still meet objectives. We came up with a number of ideas but the main one we focused on was the bundle fluency and fitness we found on teachers pay teachers. One of my teammates has seen it at her daughters school and really liked it. She was able to get a sample from the teacher. We checked it out and since it met objectives we presented it to our deans. She was able to get the school to buy it. We are pretty excited. We are working out kinks now on getting it to flow by itself, so we don’t have to stand and click, but model and participate with our students.

link to fluency and fitness bundle

Part 2: Incubation Notebook
My notebook is pretty simple. One page is a really rough sketch I made late one night when I decided I wanted to rearrange my room for better flow of movement. It was good to get it on paper. It made it easier for me to rearrange things. My new setup is better in my small room and makes getting around easier for me and for my students (I am way less likely to fall over chairs).
My other side I keep on my desk at school and when I get home keep it near by, just in case. It is different ideas I have on where I can do a kinesthetic activity. It probably looks really sloppy, but it makes sense to me. The best one I came up with is the rhyming song. I had been trying with no luck for a good song. Then while playing with my son and having the Raffi channel on I realized one of his songs would be perfect. I grabbed my notebook and quickly noted it so I wouldn’t forget.




Part 3: Reflection
When I first read about the ideate section I thought, “I don’t have time for this”. I tend to like to get things done quickly and efficiently. However, had I not kept that journal around or taken breaks to let things marinate in my head I would not have come up with some of my ideas. The best two were the Raffi rhyming song I made up while playing with my 18 month old son and the fluency and fitness bundle I came across with my team. Had I just tried to get things done right away, I wouldn’t have had these. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to purchase the fluency and fitness bundle (which we are all very excited about). When it comes time to solve another problem at work or home, I will take more time to process and ideate. Clearly it is beneficial.

Module 4: Lab part 2 Ideate notes

Rough/informal “idea notes” of anything you’re thinking of about your problem of practice:

  • Questions I am struggling with: Why does everything have to include an objective? Why can’t children play for fun? Why does recess have to be so short? Why am I being pressured to think that letting my students play not be focused on a standard is somehow detrimental to their learning?

After a break edit: I think it is interesting how they stress so much work time at my school with such little time for students to move/stretch or take a break. However when it comes to staff meetings we get several breaks and people stand up and or walk around often. If we can’t sit still how can we expect young children to?

  • Issues or variables that present a problem for you: Time constraints. My day is packed, but my students need a mental and physical break. Pleasing administration/not getting in trouble for trying something new/different.

After a break edit: How effective the break is at getting the “wiggles out”.

  • Thoughts you are kicking around in your head on your problem: My students recently filled their cotton ball jar. They had decided they wanted an extra or an extended recess when it was filled. We went out ten minutes early for our ten minute recess. They had a total of 20 minutes. The lady that runs lunch in our room doesn’t tend to do well with them. She never is very pleased when I come back in the room with their behavior (I do not have this problem). However that day she said that she didn’t know what I did, but they were so good. I think there is a correlation.

After a break edit: I keep thinking about how I wish I could test my theory about the extra 10 minutes of recess.

  • Possibilities, ideas, or solutions that have entered your mind: I have discovered this “fluency and fitness” bundle on teachers pay teachers. It has to do with math and ELA. Students have to answer questions based on a subject, but there is also a movement part. This sounds like what I am looking for, as it fits with objectives. (Even though I really would love to give them more playtime).

After a break edit: I took a day break to think about all of this. I downloaded the fluency and fitness with my team (they were interested). However we are trying to figure out how to play it. Fortunately there is a husband who can probably figure it out because my team all would like to try it.




Reflection on the “work incubation/revisiting the problem”

I tend to be one of those people who works on something until it is done. I don’t tend to like taking breaks, I want to figure it out and be able to move on to the next task. However I did like the break. I still kept it in the back of my mind and talked about it with my kindergarten team. Talking about it with them got them excited and we downloaded one of my possible solutions to try out. That may not have happened if I had tried to push through without a break. I think that taking a break is a good idea. I hadn’t really thought about it but my problem is me fighting for brain breaks for my students from school so they can focus better, I should probably take some of my own advice.

Play and Move! My Problem of Practice

My problem of practice is the lack of play and movement my kindergarten students are given during the academic day. We begin at 7:50 am and begin dismissal at 3:15 pm. My students have a ten minute recess before lunch and a 15-20 minute recess in the afternoon. In the past, to break up the day, I projected onto the whiteboard “shake break” videos with choreographed singing and dancing to a particular song that the students would imitate (usually from Just Dance Kids wii games). However, this year I have been told by administration that these “shake breaks” are not rigorous enough and that I need reduce the frequency or remove them altogether. After explaining and giving ample data on how important it is for young children to move I have been told that if it aligned with learning objectives it would be more acceptable.

This year I am in a very small room so it is difficult to incorporate much movement. Being located in Michigan also means that I cannot take my students outside for a majority of the year for a lesson. I understand that my superiors may be worried about too much unplanned playtime, but I can see when my students need a break. I know from data and personal experienced that students are less likely to act out and have the wiggles when they have had an opportunity to appropriately “run off some steam” as the saying goes. Learning is supposed to be fun. Students should be allowed to learn through play and exploring their environment, which are far more engaging and meaningful activities than simply sitting and completing a worksheet.

I am challenged with developing or finding movement-based activities that meet our common core objectives so that my students may move while not cutting in to any of our instructional minutes. My hopes are that finding this balance will lead to better classroom behavior and a greater enjoyment of learning from all of my students. I have already found that counting by fives with a song and dance is really enjoyable for my students. I am hoping to find or create more learning activities that incorporate songs and dance.

Problem of Practice Define Mode Part 1 CEP 817

5 Whys? Root-Cause Analysis

1. Why are my kindergarten students often fidgety, talkative, physically restless, and at times act out? Students exhibit these traits because we start school at 7:50am and end at 3:10 pm and only have one 10 minutes recess in the morning right before their 20 minutes lunch (which is seated at a whisper level in our room) and a 20 minutes recess in the afternoon, which is not enough physical movement to “get their wiggles out”.
2. Why do students need more movement? Students need the ability to move more because they are kids who developmentally need to learn through play and other activities and are less likely to act out when given that ability, which our school restricts.
3. Why does our school restrict movement? Our school restricts movement/shake breaks/playtime because it is not considered “rigorous” or covers a learning objective to ensure they are college ready.
4. Why can’t activities that allow students to move/play also include learning objectives to ensure that “every minute matters”? Because my class is in a very small space and I am unable to use any other room (until it gets warmer outside).
5. Why can’t a movement-based activity be created that provides a physical outlet for students that can be done in a smaller space and also cover some kind of learning objective? That is what I am going to try to create/discover.



Why-How ladder


movement problem map



Point-of View activities

Kindergarten students need to play because it helps them learn!

Seeking a fun kinesthetic based way to learn math and ELA in a kindergarten classroom with limited space for movement that will result in minimal collisions and/or injuries. Must be engaging, rigorous and address common core objectives. Music encouraged.

I also wanted to include a quote that reminded me of my students as a kind of point of view analogy. I’ve always been told that kindergarten students are wild. I feel like we cage them, we limit their boundless energy and creativity. Sometimes we break them. So “Bless the wild at heart kept in cages” reminds me of them.