Seek 7 Sunday

  1. After thinking about Candy Crush Saga a lot this week, I decided to see what types of benefits it has on the brain. I found this article, which discusses the benefits of Candy Crush (and probably could apply to a bunch of other phone games as well).
  2. Thinking more about the benefits of play, I found this graphic which depicts all of the different benefits of play. Image result
  3. In this article, the author speaks about how play is actually preparing children for the challenges of adulthood.
  4. A great new math game that my students have just started to play is called Prodigy Math. It combines math and video gaming AND has connected learning opportunities! (Triple Whammy!) It gamifies math practice by allowing students to play math-focused video games against other students in their class, which brings in that connected learning aspect.
  5. Katie’s blog has a post about a game she played with her 2nd grade class. She combined a maker component (another connected learning example) and play to create a great learning opportunity for her students. Check it out!
  6. Minecraft seems to be a vessel for combining play and connected learning AND equity. This article discusses the challenges and benefits of Minecraft in many different facets.
  7. And… one last meme that gives the phrase “playing games” a different meaning…Image result for keep playing meme

The Saga of Candy Crush Saga

This week, I’ve been doing a ton of thinking about “play.” Typically, the idea of play makes me think of a park or playground, a basement with a video game console, kids  on a jungle gym, etc. But really, what is play? According to, play means to “engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.” This led me to think a bit more… as adults, do we engage in play as well? Does it look the same as child’s play? Does it have the same benefits?

After reflecting on our BlueJeans conference from Thursday night, I realized that I actually do a lot more playing in my everyday life than I originally thought. For me, watching television is a form of play for me. I engage in the act of watching TV for enjoyment and recreation, rather than for a serious or practical purpose. Watching TV shuts off my mind and transports me to an alternate (and sometimes imaginary) world that is vastly different from the world in which I live. This is a somewhat adult form of “play.”

Additionally, for many years, I have been a Candy Crush Saga enthusiast. For those of you who don’t know, Candy Crush is a game that can be played on a smartphone, tablet, or computer. The game involves swiping “candies” to the left, right, up, and down, to make matches of three or more similarly colored candies. I’m sure that anyone who plays Candy Crush would attest to the fact that the game is highly addictive. Playing the game results in dopamine production in the brain, which is linked to what makes it so addictive.

This week, instead of just playing my regular games of Candy Crush as I waited in the waiting room, before I fell asleep, and while watching a boring TV show, I actually stopped to think about the benefits that this form of “play” had on me. First of all, it is somewhat of an escape from reality. Just like other forms of play, Candy Crush hooks me in and sometimes I feel so engrossed that I shut out the outside world for a few minutes. (Do I sound like an addict…? You decide!) This helps me to decompress, relax, and forget about the stresses and pressures of everyday life. In this sense, I discovered this week that Candy Crush, although it can be addicting and probably has had some pretty bad effects on my eyes/brain, it does have benefits as well.

So… is play just for kids? No! Play can be beneficial for all ages. Going into this next week, I’m going to focus on incorporating new play-learning activities into my classroom.


  1. This website has some great ideas regarding collaborative learning.

“Research shows that educational experiences that are active, social, contextual, engaging, and student-owned lead to deeper learning.”

2. This TED Talk discusses why creativity is so important in classrooms. I feel that connected learning promotes creativity in the classroom.

3. Capture

4. This is an interesting current events article about a connected learning initiative in Nebraska. The initiative will increase the amount of connected learning opportunities there are in the school districts.

5. This is an awesome network that exists for PA educators to engage in STEM activities.

Fast 5 Friday #F5F

Five Reflections/Connections

  1. I love this image that I copied from of our readings this week, ” Transitioning from Conventional Teaching to Connected Teaching: Small Moves and Radical Acts.” I feel like it really shows the importance of creating connected experiences in the classroom to benefit students’ learning experiences.  Link Here


2. This video is an awesome depiction of why equity in connected learning is so important. It discusses the gap in the education system for children of privilege vs. children who are less fortunate. I found the video on the Connected Learning Alliance website.

3. Another student in our #ED677 class posted his feelings regarding a discussion forum like marginal syllabus. That student’s blog (brentcarcadia) on, mentioned the idea that familiarity with technology is a form of privilege that many users may not have. I had never really thought of this, but I think it’s a very important consideration having to do with equity in connected learning.

4. I love the way that blogger titled their article. “Annotating to Engage, Analyze, Connect, and Create” speaks to me so loudly because it includes so many of the “21st century skill buzz words” that we as educators are constantly trying to touch on with our students. .

5. This annotation shows the power of connected learning. It is an annotation of Kendrick Lamar’s song, “The Blacker the Berry.” Many different people have come together to voice their opinions and share their thoughts on the song lyrics in a safe, open forum.


Marginal Syllabus/Shared Annotations

After engaging in the act of annotating a well-known document, I have a myriad of thoughts that I believe should be shared. I used Marginal Syllabus to annotate the text of John Dewey’s speech, “The School and Social Progress.” What was most intriguing about engaging with a text in this way was that I had the opportunity to see what other annotators had posted prior to posting my own posts. This helped validate that my opinions on the speech were aligned with various other posters. It also opened my eyes to varying viewpoints about the issues that Dewey discussed in his speech.

Participating in a marginal syllabus style discussion was connected learning in its purest form. I felt connected to other strangers on the internet as a learned about John Dewey’s views on school and the education system in the early 20th century.

As someone who is rather tech-savvy, I was a bit surprised with how challenging it was to navigate Marginal Syllabus. I will admit, I did not watch the provided video that gave instructions on how to use the program. After figuring out that it had to be installed and then which buttons to push, I did end up getting the hang of it. However, on an equity standpoint, for those learners who are not very tech-savvy, this was probably a very challenging experience. I believe that our instructor (Christina Cantrell) did a nice job of trying to bridge the equity gap between tech-savvy and non-tech savvy students.


Young Interests

As a young person, I had a wealth of different interests. I took lessons in ballet, tap, modern, and jazz styles of dance. I played various instruments such as the piano, flute, and drums. I also participated on soccer, softball, field hockey, track, and tennis teams. Although I engaged in all of these different activities as a child (and enjoyed doing so), I regrettably have lost my interest in most of these as I have grown into my adulthood.

One unique interest that I had as a young person was cooking and baking. My mother and grandmothers are all talented cooks, thus piquing my interest in this area. In addition to being interested in cooking, I was also interested in eating :).

As I grew up, I began cooking dinner with my mom, helping her by throwing in a sprinkle of garlic here and a pinch of salt there. I would assist in stirring the sauce, boiling the water for the pasta, and mixing the brownie batter. Soon, I began accepting more responsibility for individual culinary dishes and started cooking independently for family, friends, and even just for myself.

In high school, I attended a week-long culinary camp sponsored by Johnson and Wales University. I also worked part-time at a few different fine dining restaurants throughout my high school years. Through both of these experiences, I learned new skills, discovered and tasted diverse ingredients, met fellow “foodies,” and picked up on various techniques that I would try out at home in my free time.

My interest in cooking was never fostered in a true “school” setting. However, I used various skills that I had learned in school to learn more about cooking. For example, I used reading skills to read cookbooks and magazines. I also became a good observer of instructors, just as I had learned in science and math classes in school.

This interest in food, cooking, and baking, has stuck with me and continues to be a hobby of mine. It was not developed in school, or any sort of formal academic setting, but I have learned a lot and continue to learn a lot by making connections and forming relationships with people I can learn from.


Hi everybody! My name is Rachel Stern and I am excited to be starting my very first blog. I decided to call my blog “Learn with Stern” because I spend most of my day doing something related to learning (and my last name is Stern!) I am a full time 3rd grade teacher and a part time graduate student at Arcadia University. I am working on completing my Masters degree with a certificate in Connected Learning. In my free time, I love to cook, bake, go to the beach, binge watch TV shows, and eat at new restaurants. I also LOVE to travel and wish I had more free time to travel the world! IMG_0130