The Gingerbread Man Doesn’t Escape Common Core

24 Nov
Gingerbread Man with bow tie near stack of other cookies says, "Catch me if you can, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

Students illustrate text.

In preparation for the Cyber Monday sale, I wanted to share some of my holiday-related educational products available for sale on TeachersPayTeachers.

This is an 18-page document with text from The Gingerbread Man story retold by Sandra Rogers in which students are provided space to illustrate the story to match the meaning described in the text. Twelve vocabulary words are boldface typed within the story with definitions provided on a glossary page. A vocabulary pretest is included, as well.

The end purpose is to have students read it to their parents or other students in the school. This was a popular activity I used in my first grade class during English language arts. Students were eager to learn the new words such as plump, almonds, and hay, so that they could accurately illustrate their self-made booklet. This would make an excellent literacy center independent project that they could work on for days.

Common Core State Standards: This activity correlates to the following CCSS on Speaking and Listening: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:
Kindergarten: #5. Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.
Grade 1: #5. Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
Grade 2: #5. Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings. (Note: The text and drawings can serve as the storyboard for recordings.)

Directions:  You can use this material in two different ways in the English language arts or English as a second language class activities. For example, you can distribute the pages among your class and have the students illustrate the part of the story on their page. Then the teacher can compile them into a book for the class library for the students to read. On the other hand, you can use this activity as an individual assignment and have the students illustrate their very own booklet.

Thank you for shopping Teacherrogers store!  The Cyber Smile Sitewide Sale (#TPTCyberSmile) is Nov 30th & Dec 1st.

Sandra Rogers,
Instructional Designer

Check out my other K-3 illustration activity for the holiday: Santa Meets the Common Core.

8th SLanguages Annual Symposium 2015

9 Nov
Conference Organizer

Conference Organizer

Time: November 14, 2015 to November 15, 2015
Location: EduNation in Second Life
Organized By: Heike Philp aka Gwen Gwasi

Event Description:
8th SLanguages Annual Symposium
14-15 November 2015 (Sat/Sun)
Come and join us at SLanguages Annual Symposium, a two day online conference on language learning in virtual worlds held for the 8th time on EduNation in SecondLife.  The two main topics of the conference are machinima (cinematic productions of real-time conversations in virtual environments) on Saturday, 14 Nov 2015 starting at 12pm GMT and language learning games on Sunday, 15 Nov 2015 starting at 9am GMT.
We meet on EduNation in SecondLife, and there are tours to various virtual worlds like OpenSim, Edmondo, Kitely, Minecraft, Unity 3D etc., some of which you may want to attend via our livestream.  Here are the highlights:
– a CAMELOT symposium, an Istanbul University symposium and a Minecraft symposium
– keynotes by Stylianos Mystakidis of OpenEducationEuropa, JayJay Zifanwe of the University of Western Australia, Gord Holden on immersive technology for learning in schools, Nick Zwarts of the TiLA project
– a film festival, fire side chats, games parks, water sports fun, tours and a party with the Cheerleaders
For the provisional program, please click here
It is free to attend and all of the sessions are being streamed and recorded in Adobe Connect. You do not need an avatar to attend, but if you do join us in SecondLife on EduNation, and if it is your first time to do so, we are happy to assist and look forward to meeting you inworld.
Twitter hashtag: #slang15 

5 Pitfalls of Online Teaching

28 Oct

Female student looking frustrated with books and computer

I took my first series of online courses for professional development in 2009.  The courses were highly interactively and well-designed because they were taught by experts in the field of computer-assisted language learning.  A shout-out to my professors in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate program, Principles and Practices of Online Teaching!  (See blog on this topic). Ever since then, I’ve compared online courses to those.

As a working instructional designer and current PhD student enrolled in online courses, I bring a well-rounded perspective to the topic of distance education.  I’ve researched and written about how to develop an online community of inquiry.  It has become my personal agenda to ensure that students taking online courses don’t get frustrated from the course design and lack of teacher presence.

Here’s a list of what I consider the top 5 pitfalls that will surely decrease student learning outcomes and student satisfaction:

  1. Lack of pattern in weekly assignments will cause confusion, especially in a hybrid (blended) course. For example, as you plan threaded discussions, quizzes, and assignments, make sure they follow a pattern (e.g., weekly, every other week, etc). Otherwise, indicate on your syllabus any gaps in the established pattern of assignments.
  2. Numerous clicks to find content leads to frustration. To increase findability, use clear navigation practices to reduce time lost on task and frustration levels (Simunich, Robins, & Kelly, 2012).
  3. Lack of synchronous sessions to connect with the human leads to reduced achievement. To increase student achievement, include synchronous sessions (Bernard et al., 2004).  Arbaugh and Hornik (2006) suggested video conferencing, voice messaging, or some other types of multimedia.
  4. Instructors not responding to students’ discussions in a timely manner. There are  several theories on human learning about delivering targeted instruction at the right time: Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development, Ebbinghaus’ serial position effect (primacy and recency effect), and the presence or absence of retrieval cues in Cormier’s information processing theory.  Students need prompt feedback that targets their instructional needs (Arbaugh, 2001).
  5. Lack of student-student interactions (Bernard et al., 2004).

Do you agree with my top 5?


Arbaugh, J. B. (2001). How instructor immediacy behaviors affect student satisfaction and learning in web-based courses. Business Communication Quarterly, 30, 42-54.

Arbaugh, J. B., & Hornik, S. (2006). Do Chickering and Gamson’s seven principles also apply to online MBAs? The Journal of Educators Online, 3(2), 1-18.

Bernard, R. M., Abrami, P. C., Borokhovski, E., Wade, C. A., Tamim, R., Surkes,  M. A., & Bethel, E. C. (2009). A meta-analysis of three types of ITs in distance education. Review of Educational Research, 79, 1243-1288.

Simunich, B., Robins, D., & Kelly, V. (2012). Does findability matter? Findability, student motivation, and self-efficacy in online courses.  Quality Matters (QM) Research Grant, Kent State University.

Join me at MSERA 2015!

19 Oct

Photo of Sandra Annette Rogers

Join me in Lafayette, LA this November 4-6th for the Mid-South Educational Research Associations (MSERA) 2015 annual meeting.  Click this link to see the full conference schedule.  For more information on the MSERA, visit their Website.  The cool thing about this conference is that everybody brings their paper and not just the PowerPoint slides to handout to attendees. I ended up with tons of great research papers to read afterwards!

I’ll be making two presentations on gaming. Here’s my schedule:

5 Important Instructional Strategies

8 Oct

Tag words from my blog

An instructional strategy is something that an instructional designer (or educator) uses as a vehicle to deliver information.  Some instructional strategies require the Internet like WebQuests, HyperInquiry, and well-designed educational videogames, while others are used within the mind metacognitively like mnemonics for memory.  However, the vast majority are used to present instruction in multimodal formats.  Other strategies include academic controversy, advance organizers, chunking of information, imagery, and spatial strategies (i.e., Frames Type I and II matrix, concept mapping). The best ones are based on cognitive science and learning theory.  Instructional strategies differ from learning strategies in that the latter are for the learner to use for encoding information (also known as a cognitive strategy).  Here are some useful cognitive strategies for enhancing learning and retention: making it meaningful, organize the information, visualize it, and elaborate on it.  In my opinion, learning strategies should be embedded within instruction and modeled by the teacher to increase use.

Instructional strategies are based on the goals and learning objectives identified during the analysis phase in the instructional design process.  The instructional strategies must match the intended end behaviors, condition, and criteria of the objectives.  For example, if you’re developing an online course, it would be important to include an advance organizer (AO) for each unit to build a bridge between the information learned and the new content.  This bridging strategy is based on Ausubel’s subsumption theory  because it taps into your prior knowledge and adds new information in a structured way to build schema on the topic (West, Farmer, & Wolff, 1991).  AOs are written like an abstract with all the key information but brief.  They have seven different features that are critical to making this more than simply an introduction to a unit; for example, AOs must encourage students to tap into their prior knowledge on the topic.

Concept mapping is the most commonly used spatial strategy.  It makes a graphical depiction of the content in a connected frame.  There are different types of concept maps based on the type of information you need to teach: spider maps for different categories (typologies), chain map for linear processes, hierarchy map for complex topics and their interrelationships of the system, subsystem, and parts (West, Farmer, & Wolff, 1991).  This is related to the instructional strategy of chunking information into meaningful units.  You need to chunk the information before you map it.

Chunking and concept mapping are based on some of the same learning theories such as Sweller’s cognitive load theory, Miller’s seven-plus-or-minus-two principle, and Baddeley’s working memory model. All of these theories describe a limited capacity of working memory.  Cognitive load theory proposes several conditions to optimize learning such as reducing the amount of “noise” (extraneous elements in the broad sense) during a learning event.  For example, long lectures need to be reduced to five minutes or less due to the human brain’s inability to pay attention, process, and store lengthy amounts of information.

Other types of spatial strategies are frames, type one and two. Frames, type I is described by Reigeluth (1983) as a combination of ‘big picture and telescoping’.  Instructional designers use frames, type I as a way to unpack and emphasize the big ideas of a unit of information into a meaningful structure to build on existing schema.  Frames, type II is a rule-bound matrix and requires higher-order thinking skills to complete, whereas frames, type one, is for simple recall, comprehension, and application (West, Farmer, & Wolff, 1991).  Usually, the information for both types of frames is presented in a 2-D matrix. These instructional strategies are also based on the theory of cognitive load in that the structure and relationships of the information will reduce extraneous thought processing and instead focus on the intrinsic and germane elements.  It’s also based on schema theory, which was first posited by Piaget.  Frames, type I and II, provide the structure to build on existing schema.  Of all the instructional strategies, these five are the ones that I rely on the most as an instructional designer.


Reigeluth, C. M. (1983).  The elaboration theory of instruction. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.) Instructional-design theories and models: An overview of their current status (pp. ).  Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

West, C. K., Farmer, J. A., & Wolff, P. M. (1991). Instructional design: Implications from cognitive science. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Videogames for Extracurricular Second Language Acquisition Activities

26 Sep

Photo by Emma Kim

Massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORGs) provide English language learners (ELLs) with various gameplay situations and narratives to learn language functions in interactive, fun, and effective ways. Commercial MMORGs like World of Warcraft (WOW) provide numerous opportunities to practice information literacy activities such as interpreting, seeking, synthesizing, and disseminating information (Martin & Steinkuehler, 2010).  According to Krashen’s (1982) acquisition versus learning hypothesis, these would be great conduits for informal second language acquisition (SLA).  When a player enters WOW to complete a quest, generally they interact with other players and non-player characters (NPCs) to find and share information. These are examples of information literacy activities, which are linguistically described as heuristic (infer), instrumental (seek), and informative (disseminate and synthesize) language functions (Yahya, 2012). ELLs need to practice these and other types of language functions in all sorts of situations to achieve English language fluency.

MMORGs provide an informal learning environment with a narrative structure to learn language functions via observation and interaction with others.  This resonates with Bandura’s (1978) social learning theory.  Bandura posited learning through observation of others and without formal reinforcement of learning.  Hence, learning is viewed as a cognitive process where one can learn vicariously through others, which can occur with the NPCs and other gamers during the role-play aspect of WOW. Krashen also posited that SLA can occur unconsciously through passive learning activities.  I extrapolate this idea to the passive learning of language functions via gameplay.  Dickey (2007) described the narrative structure of MMORGs in her typology of quests as follows: bounty, collection, escort, FedEx, goodwill, and messenger.  For example, the bounty quest is an assignment to hunt for certain players or things within the game.  As a subject matter expert in SLA, I could work with script writers to identify the language functions that correlate to each type of quest per character and game level to develop a list of the language functions and their corresponding level of difficulty (beginner, intermediate, advance).  This document would become a curriculum map of language functions for ELLs and could be marketed as an afterschool program to schools and/or to ELLs directly.

MMORGs make the target language understandable.  MMORGs provide affordances to make the conversation comprehensible via animation, sound alerts, written rules, NPCs, and other players verbal input and actions. Krashen’s posited in his input hypothesis that learners need comprehensible input (i + 1) before moving to a higher level of understanding.  Besides the aforementioned affordances, the story narrative of MMORGs provide multiple reinforcers to make the input comprehensible. For instance, the narrative structure has a logical sequence of beginning, middle, and end, as well as an appeal to the senses. In a somewhat similar theory, Vygotsky (1978) proposed that all learning takes place at the edge of one’s understanding with the help of others or a support system.  This is known as the zone of proximal development (ZPD). The role-playing aspect of the videogame provides ELLs with an opportunity to go beyond their own ability and access their ZPD with the help of their partners and NPCs within gameplay. Based on these theories, I propose MMORGs as a way to informally learn a second language during afterschool extracurricular activities.


Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. Oxford, England: Prentice-Hall.

Dickey, M. (2007).  Game design and learning: A conjectural analysis of how massively multiple online role-playing games (MMORPGs) foster intrinsic motivation.  Educational Technology Research & Development, 55(3), 253-273.  doi:10.1007/s11423-006-9004-7

Martin, C., & Steinkuehler, C. (2010).  Collective information literacy in massively multiplayer online games.  E-Learning and Digital Media, 7(4), 355.  doi:10.2304/elea.2010.7.4.355

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Yahya, N. (2011). English language oral development and instruction. In H. Zainuddin, N. Yahya, C. A. Morales-Jones, & E. N. Whelan Ariza (Eds.) Fundamentals of teaching English to speakers of other languages in K-12 mainstream classrooms (3rd ed). (pp. 151-171).  Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.

Cognitive Perspective of Flow Theory and Videogames

14 Sep

Icon of game consul

Csikszentmihalyi’s flow theory (1990) is based on several interrelated psychological constructs: ability, attitude, cognition, emotion, motivation, and personality. When perfectly combined in a task, they catapult a person into a state of flow commonly known as being in the zone. Csikszentmilhalyi refers to this as an optimal experience. He found that people around the world had shared descriptions for flow such as the joy it yields, episodes of unfettered concentration, suspension of time, and the spontaneous automaticity during an experience. Flow occurs differently for different people. For example, individuals who aren’t good at playing games, or find the game uninteresting, wouldn’t experience flow during gameplay.

As an instructional designer, I want to create optimal learning experiences. Flow theory has components similar to those used for effective instruction based on cognitivism. For instance, Sweller’s cognitive load theory (1998) recommends reducing distractions (extraneous elements) and delivering germane and intrinsic elements of instruction in manageable chunks. This correlates to the component of enjoyment in flow theory in that a person can only fully enjoy a task if they’re capable of completing it. Flow theory has eight main components that engender enjoyment: manageable tasks, deep concentration, clear goals, immediate feedback, effortless involvement, learner autonomy, metamorphosis of self, and suspension of time. These components parallel best practices for instruction.

To make learning more enjoyable, I’d apply Miller’s seven-plus-or-minus-two principle (1956) regarding the limitations surrounding the amount of input that can be remembered at any given time. Adherence to Miller’s principle will make a task more manageable. Additionally, I’d use Gagne’s (1965) nine events of learning to establish the optimal cognitive conditions for effective learning to occur. In my opinion, three of Gagne’s events (state objective, provide feedback, and provide practice) closely correlate with the enjoyment phenomena of flow theory (task has clear goals, task provides immediate feedback, and sense of control). Furthermore, the aspects of clear goals and feedback also correlate to self-regulation of learning. Self-regulation processes include rehearsal, selection of important information, and metacognitive strategies. The selection of important information aids deep concentration for possible enjoyment of an optimal experience.

A vehicle for cognitive learning experiences with flow potential would be well-designed educational games. Elements of good game design include goal-oriented, stimulating, active learning that is anchored in instruction (Shute, Reiber, & Van Eck, 2012). While playful (fun) learning has similar elements, the key difference is active learning, as many playful activities passively follow the teacher’s directives. Another difference is the challenge aspect of gaming that adapts to the learners’ abilities, whereas playful learning is freeform. A challenge provides learners with intrinsic motivation and the pathway to achieve learner autonomy to make their own way through the world. This is different from traditional learning activities that are teacher directed. Chatti, Jarke, and Specht (2010) described this as a knowledge push, whereas knowledge-pull is akin to gaming where the learner gravitates toward knowledge.

Videogames, in particular, have similar characteristics for creating a context for flow. According to Csikszentmihalyi, clarity, centering, choice, commitment, and challenge are the characteristics necessary for a unified flow experience. In my opinion, these are the flow characteristics that can be found in gameplay: 1) clarity with explicit gaming context, rules, and goals, 2) centering with narrative providing storyline, 3) choice with multilevels of play, numerous episodes, variety of characters and actions, 4) commitment via resets (do-overs) and new virtual identity, and 5) challenge via incremental task difficulty and reward system. The challenge for instructional designers is to determine how to use the potentiality of videogames to engender flow for educational purposes. Based on the aforementioned research on cognitive learning best practices and flow theory, we have the theoretical basis to move forward.

Sandra Rogers


Chatti, M. A., Jarke, M., & Specht, M. (2010). The 3P learning model. Educational Technology and Society, 13(4), 74-85.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Gagné, R. M. (1965). The Conditions of Learning. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.

Miller, G. A. (1956). The magical number seven, plus-or-minus two: Some limits on our capacity
for processing information. Psychological Review, 63, 81-97.

Shute, V. J., Rieber, L. P., & Van Eck, R. (2012).   Games…and…Learning. In R. A. Reiser & J. V. Dempsey   (Eds.), Trends and issues in instructional design and   technology (pp. 321-332). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill   Prentice Hall.

Sweller, J., Van Merriënboer, J., & Paas, F. (1998). Cognitive architecture and instructional design. Educational Psychology Review 10(3), 251–296. doi:10.1023/A:1022193728205

Where Learning Happens

7 Sep
Young boy riding a wave

My Godchild Surfing (Photo source: Ed Compo)

During the flow of a task, at the edge of our zone of proximal development (ZPD), via our selective attention, rehearsal, and metacognition is where learning happens.  I acknowledge that this description short shrifts other important cognitive and behavioral learning processes; nevertheless, these are what I recognize as most important in creating an optimal learning experience. To be certain, many other constructs come into play such as ability, attitude, emotion, motivation, and personality.

Csikszentmihalyi’s (1990) flow theory describes the conditions for flow.  It occurs when there are rules, goals, feedback, and potential for participant control. His flow theory is not specific to learning, but rather generic to all of life’s activities. He described flow as an optimal experience; I translate that to “being in the zone”, which comes to us from popular culture (not the ZPD). In reading his work, I saw similarities to learning in his descriptions of flow in how it motivates one to higher levels of performance. For example, for an activity to engender enjoyment, it should provide manageable tasks, deep concentration, clear goals, immediate feedback, effortless involvement, learner autonomy, metamorphosis of self, and suspension of time. As an instructional designer, I want to utilize these aspects of flow to create optimal learning experiences.

Vygotsky’s (1978) proposed that learning takes place at the edge of one’s understanding with the help of others or a support system. This is known as the ZPD. This means that learning will not take place if the activity is too easy or too difficult. Csikszentmihalyi also described flow occurring for activities within a channel with just the right type of challenge to match a person’s skills. This channel exists somewhere between anxiety and boredom. Educators understand the need for differentiated instruction to meet each individual learner’s needs, but the reality of trying to make this happen in a classroom of diverse learners is almost impossible to do all of the time. Grouping according to ability is a solution but can cause equity issues if overdone. Computer-adaptive software programs, peer mentoring, cross-age tutoring, well-designed educational games, and pull-out programs for gifted or remediation are some solutions to providing the ZPD for our learners.

Self-regulation processes include rehearsal, selection of important information, and metacognitive strategies. Self-regulation aids working memory by stretching the time the information is held in storage, as well as enhancing transfer to and retrieval from long-term memory. A helpful example of self-regulation would be self-directed speech. Students might not think this is helpful, so an educator should model this behavior or otherwise teach it explicitly. Other useful learning strategies specific to self-regulation are mnemonics, reciprocal teaching, and reflection (written, verbal, or artistic formats).

Where do you think learning occurs? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Sandra Rogers


Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Sample Integration of Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction for Workshop

14 Aug
Photo of authur with stars, leaves, and vines over image.

I used Pixlr to edit and manipulate my photo.

Pixlr Tech Teaser (15 min)
Instructional sequence based on Gagne’s (1985) nine events of instruction

Prep: Download Pixlr software to desktop. Open picture editor. Preload folder with images for practice. Locate some great images edited with the software to illustrate as examples.

Software constraints:
• Not compatible with Mozilla Firefox; Use Google Chrome or Internet Explorer instead;
• Advance level Editor will not save as an image file. It will download as an odd file type. You’ll be able to see the icon. Simply rename it as a .jpg or .png; and
• Limited text manipulation of font. For example, you can’t make font bold or italicized. To enlarge the text,  manipulate the text box size.

1. Gain Attention: Show some amazing images that you created with Pixlr for a class. (Internal process: reception)
2. State Objective: Use Pixlr to modify or enhance images for course content to add visual imagery, cues, or a personal touch to your online courses.  (Internal process: expectancy)
3. Stimulate recall of prior learning: Ask if they have ever worked with Pixlr, Picasa, Photoshop, or Gimp? Let them share their experience with these photo editing software programs.  (Internal process: retrieval to working memory)
4. Present content: (Internal process: selective perception)
• Free photo editing software. Free mobile app, too. Show intermediate level— Open Pixlr Express (Efficient);
• No need to login. Can save image to desktop. Log in to save images in the cloud;
• The more advanced level, Open Pixlr Editor, has almost the same amount of photo editing capabilities as Adobe’s Photoshop;
• Functions include crop, re-size, fix red-eye/whiten teeth, colorization, and 600 special effects.
5. Provide learner guidance: Share handout with tips. Demo Open Pixlr express (Efficient), which is mid-level.  (Internal process: semantic encoding)
6. Elicit performance: Participants upload photo from desktop for editing at Efficient level.  (Internal process: responding)
7. Provide Feedback: Answer questions and assist participants one-on-one.  (Internal process: reinforcement)
8. Assessment: Ask some basic recall questions about software, tips, and constraints.  (Internal process: retrieval & reinforcement)
9. Enhance retention and transfer: In one word, how do you plan to use it in your class? (e.g., lessons, projects, introductions) Invite them to a workshop on emergent technology to learn more about Pixlr.  (Internal process: retrieval & generalization)

Note: For more information on Pixlr, visit my blog on the topic. For more information on Gagne’s nine events of instruction, see my blog on that topic.


Gagné, R. M. (1985). The conditions of learning. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.

Cognitive Benefits of ePortfolios

4 Aug

A Journey Through the Evolution of Educational Technologies

designer lessons

A collection of ELT resources


Archive of seminars for educators scheduled weekly at

The Starry Mantle

Outfit Ideas for Lord of the Rings Online

ROSE BARD - Teaching Journal

“The more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled.― Paulo Freire


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