The Coffee Shop is Closed

Alas, my blogging adventure is drawing to an end – I am on my last sip of coffee and the closed sign on the coffeehouse door is about to illuminate.  Perhaps this is the end of my blogging days – or – perhaps not – only time will tell. 


But, until I finish this cup, let me introduce you to some of my friends (Walden colleagues) who also have been brewing up some words of wisdom about innovations in the educational coffeehouse.  As we came together in this course 11 weeks ago, many of us had never met; but in the virtual world we discussed and shared ideas, questioned and extended our thoughts about new constructs (sometimes we liked the flavor of the brew, while other times, it just was not our cup of “coffee”. There are three innovations I came across that could be applied to my learning context … the primary classroom.

twitter coffee (1)

Kendra shared how the social media platform Twitter can reenergize one’s teaching effort – Twitter is that triple shot of espresso you sometimes need when your routines become mundane.

Twitter allows teachers to share and find new ideas and communicate with others to support continued professional growth.  As a primary teacher, I am always looking for fun and exciting ways to incorporate subject matter – I might have to set this cup of coffee down and go tweet!

giant cup of coffeeLisa presented a fantastic expose on DuoLingo.  She noted both the pros and cons of the language gaming app.  While it might not be intended to teach an individual how to speak a new language (even though the site claims 34 hours of DuoLingo equates to a semester of language at the university level – I’ll need a gigantic cup of coffee to stay awake 34 hours!), it certainly is a fun way to explore words and meanings.  This would be a terrific tool to use with my little language learners to strengthen their English vocabulary skills and possibly improve their English speaking abilities…

java_girl_euro_oval_sticker_regular_mugHola, mi nombre is JavaGirl!

cappuccino in handLaurie highlighted an amazing resource called visible body 3-D.  While Laurie teachers pre-service nurses, my thoughts are there must be amazing resources related to my primary learner’s mandated competencies.  Virtual reality – the next best thing to the real thing.  Okay except if we are talking a steaming cappuccino – this picture is not nearly as good as the one I am holding in my hands now ..But think about it – if you can’t take a class of 24 first graders on a cross country tour to visit the American symbols and monuments then why not create a virtual trip.

caramel mac

There is so much we can do with technology to engage our learners and enrich the current curriculum.  It takes teachers willing to step outside their comfort zone and try something new.  SO put that caramel macchiato down and order something new!  C’mon go for it – you just might find it is better CoffeeArtthan what you relied on in the past.  Also – just because it doesn’t work the first time doesn’t mean it won’t –sometimes you have to keep trying it – let’s be real, the first time you took a sip of coffee it wasn’t all that great, most likely it was an acquired taste and now you can’t live without it!

On a personal note… as I exit this blog I am embarking on the final section of my PhD journey – my coursework is now complete and I am onto the final phase – my dissertation. Best of luck to those who enter the coffeehouse behind me – you can do it.  Perhaps I will start a new blog detailing my dissertation journey – perhaps not – only time will tell…

Ahhhhh there it is the last sip is gone, and the closed sign is out…


Cheers friends!



Image References:–web/vector-twitter/twitter-coffee.html


A Cup of Coffee and My Kindle

coffee and kindle

coffe and booksIt might come as no surprise that I can read and write – and I learned to do both of these without the use of technology, or at least the way we use technology today.  As I sit here sipping my coffee and reading, my thoughts begin brewing the concept of modern literacy.

What does it mean to be literate in the contemporary education setting?

Does technology play a role for our young students’ development of literacy and communication skills?

How can technology promote our primary students capacity to think critically and become proficient with the requisite 21st century learning competencies?

special-blend-coffee-granuled-500gHave a seat, and let me pour you a cup of my special blend of technology infused instructional strategies.  LUNGO11I believe technology lets the learner try a new varietal of beans – affording them a chance to stretch their thinking –kind of like an Espresso Lungo – and improve their critical thinking.

Think Espresso – pulling out the heart of the bean heart cup….education needs to pull out the heart of the academic meaning – instead of spending time 6229921-i-love-coffee-heart-of-the-coffee-beansrecalling facts that are easily Googled we should be tasking our learners to explore how to take this information think about it more deeply and  apply it to a new context…It is a twist on education much like a Café Romano

cafe romano

When I discuss the new education blend with my parents, I share Prensky’s (2008) contention… if our ancestors fought advancement we might all be walking around telling time with sundials on our wrists.

sundial watch 6

As with everything, there is good and bad with technological advancements.  Estes (2011) shared evidence i thinkbrain on coffeesuggesting the brain exhibits increased reactions in those who use the Internet to search and explore as compared to a traditional reader, much like the reaction of brain stimulation with respect to a cup of coffee.  However, she was memory lossalso cautious to note that the multitasking associated with using the Internet can lead to memory loss.

I understand Carr’s (2008) declaration that computer technology is minimizing the brainpower; but I challenge this thinking.  As educators, we must be wise and not to toss the baby out with the wise owlbathwater when we try to implement new technologies…

…yet at the same time, we must be willing to take chances with innovative approaches,  even if it means getting messy and making mistakes. messy coffee

Digital technologies offer a host of advantages in for my learners,how-to-ask-for-a-coffee-on-your-trips_529ef95de2318
games that support math, language, and literacy as well as rich meaningful “realia”
that exposes my learners to the far reaches of the world that were once elusive
and so distant, students might never ever see or learn of it



Carr, N. (2008). Is Google making us stupid? Retrieved from

Estes, A. C. (2011). Google is making us stupid and smart at the same time? Retrieved from:

Prensky, M. (2008). Backup education?  Too many teachers see education as preparing kids for the past, not the future. Educational Technology, 48(1). Retrieved from:

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Innovation and culture …are these analogous to coffee and tea?

coffee_or_tea     Seemingly, different but somehow related…

 coffee aroma

Innovation conjures up aromas of a freshly brewed cup of coffee – a youthful nose full of unexpected and exciting possibilities, whereas culture appears to be established and settled, much like the tea leaves at the bottom of the cup.tea leaves

Allow me to mix it up …like ordering an Earl Grey Latte instead of coffee, and suggest they are not so different.  Coffee and tea, both hot beverages brewed from some of the finest natural “jewels” Mother Earth shares with us, and they both influence our mornings – Likewise, culture and innovation both influence our learning.

coffee and tea


Often teachers use culturally specific examples to strengthen a concept, and stimulate a connection between the student and material; however, teachers can create unseen cultural biases with their use of culturally rooted slang and examples.

This is kind of like walking into a coffee shop only to feel like an outcast because you are not privy to the establishment’s

starbucks menu culture – you might be accustomed to ordering a small, medium or large, but when you look at the menu you see tall, grande, and venti – All of a sudden you are panic stricken – how do you order?

Students who are not native to the culture where they are learning experience challenges with understanding the language, slang, as well as the examples used to create more meaningful connections with the materials as these are “foreign” to them (Ramburuth &  Tani, 2009; Sulkowski & Deakin, 2009).


So… when a customer comes into my coffeehouse/classroom I must welcome them and try to:

  • recognize the cultural underpinnings of my instruction and the effect they might have on my learners.
  • use practices that are include all learners.
  • Not use slang or references that obstruct my students’ progress.
  • foster a climate that embraces the diverse learning population; kind of like offering more than one choice of coffee…


 Have you ever wanted to try something new like a pumpkin spice latte, but you were afraid because it was different?  Well, you are not alone in the coffeehouse or the classroom.  Conole and Culver (2010) suggested challenges to try new things like

Starbucks-Pumpkin-Spice-Latte technology in the classroom brew from having fixed mindsets and cultural resistance to the unknown.

Even though I am a gal who loves her nonfat unsweetened latte with an extra shot, I am also willing to try that pumpkin spice latte!

Take social media for instance – it is a cultural tool – it is a way we can share ideas and expand our perspectives on certain issues.  Furthermore, social media allows us to connect with individuals and organizations around the world, permitting us a glimpse into the diverse traditions and experience of individuals from other cultures than our own.

I believe social media broadens the learning environment to allow students access to learning material and access to multiple cultural perspectives – thus broadening their approach to thinking about information from a variety of perspectives; in essence, it has the potential to create a globally-minded student and future citizen.

keurigvarietyIt is like having the variety pack of K-Cups for your Keurig and sharing them with your friends!


Cheers…and boo!pumpkin foam




Conole, G., & Culver, J. (2010). The design of Cloudworks: Applying social networking practice to foster the exchange of learning and teaching ideas and designs. Computers & Education, 54(3), 679–692.

Ramburuth, P., & Tani, M. (2009). The impact of culture on learning: Exploring student perceptions. Multicultural education & technology journal, 3(3), 182–195.

Sulkowski, N. B., & Deakin, M. K. (2009). Does understanding culture help enhance students’ learning experience? International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management 21(2), 154–166.

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Innovative or Not…A French Coffee Press?

How about Playing as an Innovative Instructional and Learning Strategy?

To me, the word innovation brings to mind words like fresh, unique, or new; much like the pleasing aroma of a freshly brewed pot of coffee stirs up all of our senses.


So, my question today is can something old – like the French Press circa 1930 – be innovative.  Well…maybe if something old is used in a new way, it can be thought of as innovative…Like the time my family went camping.  We were challenged with trying to figure out a way to brew good coffee without a stove – after some thought, we turned to the old French Press.  This kitchen appliance is not a traditional camping utensil, but let’s get one thing straight, it worked like a champ, and we had the best coffee in the campground!

Hmmm…so, is play in the academic setting innovative?  If we apply this same thought process used in my camping example,black coffee then yes, play can be innovative.  Relax, take a sip of your coffee and read my rationale – I will keep it simple like a cup of coffee black.

Rushton (2011) shared many early childhood educators are already adept at modifying their practices to meet the needs of their diverse learners.  He discussed four brain principles that posit the importance of educating the whole child.  Again, not a new concept; however, the methods used to accomplish this employ current research to modify current approaches, moving them to the innovative end of the spectrum.

 Principle 1


Just as the “Venti half white mocha, half cafe vanilla, ez ice, with 2 shots pour appigato style (over the top) with whipped cream and caramel drizzle frappachino” coffee order is unique, so is the organization of every brain.  This means using a variety of resources is necessary to ensure all learners have what they need.


If phonics is the desired skill, activities such as sandboxes, magnetic doodle pads, and play-dough traditionally used for play can be used to trace and write letters with fingers as the children make the letter/sound correspondence.  Children who are beyond this skill can use the same materials and form words or sentences.

Principle 2

butterfly foam coffee

When the barista froths the milk into a beautiful foamy head it transforms into something amazing – kind of like the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly – the brain does the same thing.  It develops and changes over time, adapting to the environment.

ob teacher

In the classroom, teachers must detect these changes the way one detects the mouthwatering aroma of a freshly opened package of coffee.  Adapting the curriculum to meet the ever-changing needs of the student requires the teacher to explore ways to broaden the purpose of existing materials (Rushton, 2011).  For example, as a child demonstrates mastery of most phonemic awareness skills, the student can begin to engage in developing their own rhyming patterns and discussing their reasoning (metacognition) behind their choices. As the child’s brain develops and the teacher innovatively adapts the play rhyme routine to incorporate higher order thinking skills, the child transforms; rising with the sweet steam of a cappuccino, taking flight like a butterfly.

Principle 3


How do you feel on Sunday morning when you realize a loved-one has thoughtfully prepared a heavenly cup of coffee for you?  Everything is positive, you feel important, and you now have the power to take on the world!


Well…that is what teachers do – teachers thoughtfully prepare learning experiences that are innovative and meaningful for their students – the students feel safe, loved, content, and supported in the choices they make to guide their new personal learning endeavor (with the direction and approval of their teacher, when needed). Moving from teacher-centered towards student-centered instruction encourages the students to construct their own meaning as it relates to their life and academic experience (Bruner, 1977; Vygotsky, 1930).  The use of multimedia simulation games are a terrific way to use resources traditionally used for play as a way to engage the learner in a dynamic learning opportunity relevant and similar to the student’s real world (Verhoeven, Schnotz, & Paas, 2009).

Principle 4


One of my favorite feelings is letting the smooth, cool coffee beans run through my fingers…taking in the bold aroma and feeling their silky exterior awakens my senses.  Then I toss them in the grinder and press down to commence the grinding process.  I watch the beans whir around and around until they become a velvety powder that I will use to make the perfect cup of coffee, my cup of coffee, but if I want to or need to, I have enough to share with someone else.


A young learner needs to engage in real-world experiences that are relevant to them.  They must have opportunities to explore and create with their hands.  This type of learning immerses them into the content like a spoon dipping into a cup of coffee.  As it stirs the imagination, there is a deep understanding and appreciation for the outcome.  Perhaps there are questions about making changes or improvements, perhaps the student needs to talk with someone to clarify their thoughts or seek validity…the options are endless if a person is given the opportunity to explore on their own terms with regards to their brain’s development.

cup empty heart


Alas, although my cup is empty … my heart is full of joy and excitement to know that even though there is an incredible paradigm shift in education, there still innovative educators who recognize not all innovations require a plug – more often than not, innovation is adapting what is already in existence and making it better.  Play is not new, but it can be used innovatively in multitudes of ways in order to optimize learning for all students.


Bruner, J. (1977). The process of education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Rushton, S. (2011). Neuroscience, early childhood education and play:  We are doing it right! Early Childhood Education Journal, 39, 89-94. doi:10.1007/s10643-011-0447-z

Verhoeven, L., Schnotz, W., & Paas, F. (2009). Cognitive load in interactive knowledge instruction. Learning and Instruction, 19(5), 369–375.

Vygotsky, L (1930). Mind and society. Retrieved  from cerntcu/099-curriculum/Edu_Psy/EP_03_New.pdf

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Grab a cup of coffee and come on in…let’s talk classroom blogging

While we wait for our coffee to cool, let me share that I think there is something fascinating about all learners – regardless their age. I also believe there are dramatic differences between learners across the ages, but amazingly, there are striking similarities too.  Because of this, I find it difficult to focus my interests on a singular context in learning and instruction.  I get so excited thinking about education my mind goes in a million directions like coffee beans in a grinder.

However, my current focus is on STEAM education in the primary classroom (transitional Kindergarten through second grade). By the way, STEAM as in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, not how you froth your milk for a cappuccino.

Does blogging affect learning?
That’s like asking if coffee wakes you up…

There is tremendous power behind the blog, much like a triple shot of espresso!  Educators should not underestimate the motivational and engaging force blogs have for the contemporary student.  Understanding many of today’s learners have been born into a digitally infused and enhanced world (again, think WIRED like a triple shot of espresso) we can parlay the use of interactive technological tools to capture and enrapture our students.  Dabbs (2011) shared the use of blogs allows students and teachers to post commentaries, engage in discussions, and include supplemental materials that maximize learning.  Furthermore, academic blogging is related to students’ increased achievement in reading and writing.
blogging in education pluses
So…Where do teachers begin?  By hitting the brew on switch and blogging themselves!  Richardson (2010) explained if we want our students to blog, we must lead by example.  If we start small and create a blog with our students, we can work and learn together.  Teachers will have valuable teaching moments to instruct how to use the hardware and software, and perhaps more importantly the rules for safety and ethics when using social media.

thinkthereforeMy challenge to teachers seeking ways to percolate and sustain their learners attention in the classroom…
try blogging, and a giant cup of coffee!


Dabbs, M. L. (2011). New teacher boot camp week five–using blogs.  Retrieved from

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

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I Think, Therefore I Blog retrieved from

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come see what's brewing in education…