Tag Archives: Novice

I’m not in Nordstrom anymore…

I usually love department stores. The kind with clothes, shoes and accessories everywhere I turn. But take me out of that kind of department store and put me in the kind with doors, spray paint, nails, drywall and toilets; I’m lost.


I hope the STOP sign wasn’t trying to tell me something…

That’s how I felt today when I went to Home Depot to get supplies to build my bookshelf. 

I had a list of what I needed and the dimensions of the wood I would need to buy from one of my resources, Ana White’s blog. This blog really helped me because it gave me a picture of what I was building and the dimensions in basic terms. She also listed other supplies I would need, so I knew what else I had to purchase if I didn’t already own it like wood glue, sandpaper and 2” screws.

From there, I could draw a sketch of my bookshelf.


I walked to the ‘lumber’ aisle and was overwhelmed with the different types of wood there were. Thick, thin, dark, light; I really could go on. My biggest challenge was initially figuring out what type of wood I wanted. The website said one thing and I thought something else. I asked a Home Depot employee for help and asked him many questions about each type of wood.

Without Khalid’s help, I truly would not have known what to do. I explained to him what I was building and what I needed. He showed me a few types of wood and I decided to get a ¾” thick plywood that seemed perfect to build a bookshelf. He took the 4 ft by 8 ft piece off the stack and I gave him the dimensions of the pieces of wood I needed. He took the wood back to the vertical saw at the store and started cutting the wood for me. Honestly, there was no way I’d be able to fit that in my car!

I really wanted to learn how to use a table saw, but because I don’t have those resources available to me (or the $$), I used the resource at Home Depot to help me get closer to building my bookshelf.

Another challenge I faced was the plywood for the back of the bookshelf. The online blog I had been using said I should get plywood for the back of the bookshelf. Khalid explained to me the only piece he had was 4ft by 8ft which is way bigger than what I needed. Being a teacher on a budget, I also couldn’t afford to buy a huge piece of wood I would only use a quarter of. My solution on the spot was to just nix the back of the bookshelf. I figure I could make a bookshelf you can access from both sides instead of just one. I might change my mind later, but I can always go back and get the plywood I need.


Who knew there were so many different types of screws?!

Before I get to the real building, I wanted to practice my gluing and sanding skills. I show these two new skills in the video below.  

I wanted to wait until my official building day to learn how to use a drill and hammer properly. I’ll be building the bookshelf at my dad’s store, Exercise Warehouse. He has a warehouse in the back with proper tools and a power drill. I’ve been researching how to use a power drill so I am familiar and comfortable enough with it before my dad shows me the real thing.

I’m excited to start building. It’s hard to visualize all of these planks of wood will be built into something substantial I can use in my house or in my classroom.

Maybe this will be my new Nordstrom? Maybe not… let’s see how it goes!

White, A. (n.d.). Willy Bookcase in Four Sizes [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.ana-white.com/2010/03/plans-simple-bookcases-in-4-sizes-the-willy-bookcase-that-you-can-build.html


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What is learning?

Learning is when one gains knowledge either by being taught, through experience or studying the information. But the question is,
how do people learn? Throughout the century, what one needs to know to be successful has evolved. As stated in How People Learn, “the meaning of ‘knowing’ has shifted from being able to remember and repeat information to being able to find and use it” (Bransford, Brown, Cocking 2000). In today’s teaching, it is important to teach students not only the content knowledge, but also how to apply it in new situations. Students must learn to find patterns on their own to be able to use the skills they have obtained through their initial learning.

Cloud 2

Created using http://www.tagul.com

Finding those patterns is the defining factor between a novice and an expert. An expert has acquired knowledge that has an affect on how they look at different topics of information. They will alter how they represent, organize and interpret information gained from their surrounding environment. This ability allows them to apply what they learn to other situations and formulate patterns (2000). Whereas a novice simply knows content. They have not yet gained the tools to be able to retrieve the content knowledge that is relevant to a new, particular task.

In my 5th grade language arts and social studies integrated class, we studied Native Americans and their regions. We stressed to students how “where you live affects how you live.” Once we studied the different regions, it became evident which students became experts and which students were still novices through one activity. I asked students to compare and contrast two or more of the regions. They didn’t have to memorize anything, but they had to apply their gained knowledge to write an essay.


Click this image to see examples of a novice and an expert. Retrieved from https://openclipart.org

The experts were able to realize how the southern locations were warmer than the northern ones because of their prior knowledge of where you live affects how you live. They could also understand how the growing season differed by the weather patterns and the types of homes Native Americans had to build to withstand the climate. The experts could write the essay with ease because they simply thought about how the regions could have similarities and differences based on where they are located.

This is an example of how education and knowing has evolved. When I was in 5th grade, I had to memorize this information to take a fact-based test. I was only a novice. My students had to use what they learned to do a task that had them apply their knowledge in a new format with the intent of becoming an expert. Memorizing and regurgitating information is not essential anymore; what is essential is taking the basic knowledge and using it for other tasks or activities.

The concept of experts and novices does not only apply to schools, kids or curriculum. Everyone is always a learner in one way or another. Similarly to becoming experts when we learn new information, we must formulate situated meanings for words (Gee 2013). “If a person can associate images, actions, experiences, goals, or interactive dialogue with words, that person has situated meanings for those words. If a person can only associate other words (definitions, paraphrases) with words, then that person has only verbal meanings for those words, not situated meanings” (2013). Situated meanings are just like experts. An expert can use a situated meaning to apply and associate the concept with other concepts and ideas. Without gaining the ability to fluidly create patterns and becoming experts, we cannot be effective learners and establish situated meanings.

In the teaching with technology world, it is important to identify how technology can aide our teachings instead of hinder it. Teachers have to constantly ask themselves if a specific tool can allow their students to become an expert or will it only help initial knowledge. In a school where technology is a focus and the possibilities are endless, I have to carefully reflect on what will most benefit my students. Through my MAET career, I will be able to become more of an expert on what tools can fluently aide my teaching.


Bransford, J., Brown, A.L. & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.), How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Gee, J. P. (2013). Digital Media and Learning: A Prospective Retrospective. Arizona State University. Retrieved from http://jamespaulgee.com/geeimg/pdfs/Digital%20Media%20and%20Learning.pdf


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