Meaningful Learning with Technology

51HSVz3SS2L._AA160_The text Meaningful Learning with Technology by Jane L. Howland, David Jonassen, and Rose M. Marra, Fourth Edition (Boston: Pearson, 2012) was an engrossing read. The target audience for this book is elementary or secondary school teachers who have an interest or intention of incorporating technology into their instructional programs. Written from a constructivist viewpoint, the book was probably aimed at both beginning and intermediate technology users; teachers well-versed in classroom technology would probably find most of the material a review of what they already know.

The stated goal of the book is to describe and demonstrate a variety of ways that technology could be used to engage and support meaningful learning for. This goal is described in depth in the initial chapter, which defines the characteristics of meaningful learning, describes the components of pedagogy related to technology, and contrasts learning from technology to learning with technology. A lengthy discussion of instructional technology standards and how technology can be used to foster 21st century skills is also incorporated.

The volume is slender, but it includes chapters on all aspects of an instructional program. These aspects are grouped into nine broad categories which the authors have labeled inquiring, experimenting, designing, communicating, community building, writing, modeling, visualizing, and assessing. Each chapter provides topical objectives, relevant introductory information, recommendations for how technology can be used for that particular aspect, and descriptions of several software programs that relate to the topic of the chapter. In some cases, the authors present case studies showing how actual teachers have used a specific technological program in their classroom. Photographs, diagrams, charts, and tables further illustrate the material. Each chapter concludes with a short summary, a listing of the NET Standards and the 21st Century Skills that are addressed in that chapter, discussion topics, and a list of references. The book concludes with an epilogue containing a handy list of common sense criteria for deciding when and what types of technology to consider for specific learning tasks. Finally, the authors provide an appendix offering sample rubrics for assessing characteristics of technology to ensure their utilization will result in meaningful learning.

The authors do not provide step-by-step instructions for how to use each of the software programs described, nor do they purport to. Rather, they discuss the learning theory supporting the inclusion of technology and the benefit of technology on the overall learning process.

What did I gain from the book? A review of some learning theories and concepts I have already studied. A reinforcement of some educational philosophies I have already embraced. An in-depth exploration of NET Standards and the list of 21st Century Skills. An articulated rationale and a set of guidelines for incorporating educational technology in my classroom lesson plans. An expansion of my knowledge about educational technology tools for content areas other than Language Arts. A revisit of some software programs I have experimented with previously. An exploration of some software programs I have never heard of before. That’s quite a bit, actually.

Dr. Jessie Voigts publishes review of Chalkboard Heroes

I’m excited to announce that today Dr. Jessie Voigts of Newago, Michigan, published a review of Chalkboard Heroes on her website, Dr. Voigts, who holds a PhD in International Education, is the director of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program, the co-founder of Writing Walking Women, and she has published six books of her own. Here is an excerpt of her review:

Chalkboard Heroes: Twelve Courageous Teachers and Their Deeds of Valor

You know what I love? Stories of awesome people. They inspire, teach, and lead by example. Such is the case with Chalkboard Heroes, a marvelous new book by Terry Lee Marzell.

I think that to write about incredible people, you must be an incredible person, yourself. And so it is. Terry has been an educator in Corona, California, for the past thirty-three years, working at both the high school and the junior high school levels. She has taught English, developmental reading, drama, journalism, library science, geography, and interior design. She has also served as her school’s cheerleading advisor for four years, the drama coach for two years, and the school’s newspaper advisor for five years. Throughout her long career as an educator, she has worked with English-language learners and students in honors courses, and she has been a mentor for both International Baccalaureate candidates and special education students. Terry has seven years of experience as a home-stay coordinator and tour escort for students from abroad. In addition, she has mentored several collegiate student teachers. She is currently serving her school as a district librarian.

picture-4Let’s talk about her new book, Chalkboard Heroes. This is a remarkable, inspiring book of – yes, you guessed it – remarkable, inspiring teachers. What springs to mind when I read this? That ordinary people can do extraordinary things. That beliefs COUNT. That teachers are pretty special, indeed.

What I love most about this book is the care taken in writing these lives. You can tell that Terry loves teachers, writing, researching, and the selflessness and caring that teachers bring to their students.

This book? It’s a gift to the world, an act of love that shows how important teachers are, throughout history. We know the stories of some – Christa McAuliffe, Robert Moses, Dave Sanders. The stories of others I didn’t know both educate and warm my heart, from coping with racism to the frontier, from gender to social change. This is a history book, an ode to the teaching profession, and a deep look into the lives of teachers. But most of all, it’s a compilation of incredible lives, spent in the pursuit of something they cherished. That is, indeed, remarkable.

You can read the entire review at: www.Wandering

Author Mary Breu reviews Chalkboard Heroes

Below you will find a review of my recently released book, Chalkboard Heroes, written by Mary Breu, author of Last Letters from Attu, the enthralling story of Etta Jones, an intrepid teacher and nurse from New Jersey who traveled to the Alaskan Territory as a pioneer. Etta Jones was incarcerated in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during World War II.

Chalkboard Heroes: Review

by Mary Breu

authorTerry Lee Marzell, Chalkboard Heroes: Twelve Courageous Teachers and Their Deeds of Valor. Tucson, Arizona: Wheatmark, 2015. vii + 243 pp. Preface, photographs, glossary, bibliography, index.

Chalkboard Heroes: Twelve Courageous Teachers and Their Deeds of Valor is the author’s second book, a non-fiction compilation of innovative teachers who have impacted their students and our society; some names are familiar, others are not. Each profile has been thoroughly researched and includes vivid descriptions that exemplify qualities that make an excellent teacher. The reader can peek through a window and see the teachers’ early lives, watch him or her develop and see what inspired their passion for teaching. The teachers’ voices allow the reader to get a feel for the personalities and qualities of people who encouraged them to become teachers. The teachers in this book demonstrate the essence of what a teacher does; they find ways, sometimes against incredible odds, to reach his or her students and make learning more real as opposed to standing in front of the class and lecturing. Valuable backgrounds and historical events are included. The author’s writing style pulls the reader in by telling something striking about the teacher and that makes the reader eager to find out more.

Horace Mann’s niece, Olive Mann Isbell, was born in Ohio in 1824. Twenty-two years later, she and her husband found themselves at a Mission in California. The Mexican -American War was raging all around them, but Olive continued to teach her twenty students, using “a long pointed stick to draw diagrams on the dirt floor” and “charcoal from an extinguished fire to write the letters of the alphabet on the palms of the children’s hands. And she kept a long rifle by her side, just in case” (Page 2.) One hundred forty years later, another teacher “discovered that much information about the social history of the United States has been found in diaries, travel accounts and personal letters. Just as the pioneer travelers of the Conestoga wagon days kept personal journals, I, as a pioneer space traveler, would do the same.” (Page 187.) The teacher’s name was Christa McAuliffe. The author wrote, “Christa believed that such a journal, which would record space flight from the perspective from a non-astronaut, would demonstrate to students that even an ordinary person could contribute to history in very important ways” (Page 187).

Today, when teachers are in the throes of bureaucratic paperwork, subjected to administrators who make unrealistic demands, respond to parents who question a teacher’s seemingly unreasonable assignments and deal with students who, the teacher knows, come from incredibly difficult home environments, reading about these teachers’ lives will be an inspiration because, in the end, all a teacher wants to do is teach. The common thread woven into the fabric of this book is a quote from Lee Iacocca: “In a completely rational society, the best of us would aspire to be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and highest responsibility anyone could have” (Page 1.) Christa McAuliffe understood that message when she proclaimed, “I touch the future…I teach!” (Page 177.)

I recommend this book to teachers of all grade levels. Middle and high school students would also benefit from the author’s clear, concise and correct telling of historical events and people.


Read More by Mary Breu

To view Mary Breu’s web page, simply click on Mary Breu.

To  find Mary Breu’s book on, click on Last Letters from Attu.


Sugarcane Academy Showcases Attempts to Teach Evacuated Children Following Hurricane Katrina

31HZSQIeQpL._BO1,204,203,200_[1]As empathetic Americans continue to look for ways to help fellow citizens forced to rebuild their lives following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, the New York Times today reported that 5,400 New York City students have now returned to their storm-ravaged schools in Brooklyn and Queens.

As I usually do during times such as these, I ask myself questions about what the teachers are doing during these times of upheaval. In this instance, I am reminded of a book I read recently which described a remarkable teacher who opened a school for New Orleans evacuees following Hurricane Katrina.

When surging flood waters from Hurricane Katrina forced thousands of families to flee from their homes, New Orleans residents had their minds more on survival than on whether their children would be missing school. But when a group of evacuee parents who landed in New Iberia, Louisiana, realized they would not be returning to their homes any time soon, they realized they had to find a strategy to help their children cope with their enforced and unexpected exile. They pooled their financial resources and hired a fellow refugee, teacher Paul Reynaud, to establish a one-room school for their children in an abandoned office building. The story furnishes valuable lessons for dealing with this latest example of nature’s fury.

The book is entitled Sugarcane Academy: How a New Orleans Teacher and His Storm-Struck Students Created a School to Remember.The author of this intriguing true story is journalist Michael Tisserand, and the volume was published in 2007 by Harcourt. You can find the book on at the following link:

For other intriguing stories about remarkable teachers in America’s sometimes turbulent history, check out my book Chalkboard Champions. You will find it on the web site for Amazon or Barnes and Noble.