Teachers Pay Teachers – Summary

I enjoyed exploring this site and it’s different media links over the semester. Though it was heavy in worksheets there are are many opportunities for a knowledgeable teacher to take the worksheets and create an interactive real world experience. The one items I would like to see more of is games. Not just the several board games offered but instructions for teachers on how to use the different computer/app games to expand experiences and knowledge.

Enjoy – https://youtu.be/pSWV87ngTKo


  1. Hi Vail,

    Thanks for sharing your Teacher Pay Teachers affinity space project. Here are some of my initial thoughts and questions having watched your presentation.

    First, it’s clear that there are few opportunities to formally explore game-based learning within this affinity space. You mentioned that you found few resources that helped teachers link games to learning experiences within their own classrooms. At least two resources, however, were related to games and play. Your analysis of Nature Bingo was astute, particularly as concerns connections with youth learning and interest outside of school (and drawing upon Henry Jenkins’ scholarship was quite appropriate). And coincidentally, you discovered a link to Robert’s affinity space – Common Sense Media’s Graphite service/platform. With these few resources as a point of reference, how did your understanding of the relationship between games and learning change, if at all?

    Second, I’m curious to learn more about how you interacted with other members of the affinity space within/through TPT. From your presentation, it appears that you facilitated a meaningful learning experience with your own student teachers (as an aside, are they TPT members?) – you explored Nature Bingo and discussed developmental appropriateness. However, how did you interact with other TPT members, how did they interact with you, and how – if at all – did this contribute to your understanding of this as an in/formal learning environment? You did a nice job reviewing TPT’s presence across multiple social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) – and how did you interact with the TPT community through/because of these networks?

    Finally, I’m eager to know more about your reflections on participation. For example, you conclude with a quote from Seann Dikkers about designing game-like learning experiences. Were your interactions with TPT playful? How would you make TPT more game-like? And what might be the benefits with such an approach? You did more critically assess TPT’s Google Plus presence, and I’m wondering if you have similar assessments of the other platforms and settings used by this community, and what – if anything – makes (or could make) this participation more playful/game-like. Thanks!

    1. 1. Mainly it reinforced my belief that main stream teachers view games in a limited fashion. Board, matching, dice. More along the line of traditional which can be great for learning certain concepts in a silo and building some critical thinking skills. Though when I linked to other games, like the Common Sense, from their twitter postings I can see how they are starting to branch out tentatively which does give me hope because of their huge following. But I know many teachers that go only to websites not Twitter. So I would like to see some Documents that teachers could download (just like a worksheet) that would have some guidelines to help teachers strive for that next level.
      2. I have to be honest – besides liking or following I really did not feel like there was much interaction. Unlike the discussion boards that were in the example you provided. I think that it would be a benefit for this site to have a area like that. There are opportunities to visit individual blogs or leave them feedback but from what I notices there was not an extended feedback loops. Pretty much ask a question get and answer. Done.
      3. This site felt more formal with the exception of Instagram where participants were much more likely to shed the image of trying to be the professional teacher. Something I have found in other teacher areas. I think that is in part because it is a professional connection like Linked In. Not a for fun and relaxation let me voice my true thoughts on the subject like Twitter or Facebook. Trust me families/students find you and start following. Then they wonder why you shared this or that. This a build in discussion where others who are not teachers would not be tracking you, I feel would make it more playful. I have one teacher that has a alias that she goes by so that parents/families will not know it is her on the different social sites.

  2. Hi Vail,
    Thanks for sharing this site. I’m not a K-12 educator so I did learn a lot!

    What are the cultural norms – the means of interaction and discussion – that are prominent in this space? And why?
    It seems like the site is mostly used for buying and selling (or distributing, I observed that you can list items for free). I do understand that unfortunately most teachers have to purchase their own classroom materials and this site seems like it is fulfilling a need in the teacher community. Was there any discussion boards, or other means of interaction on the site, or was it only through facebook and twitter that you could discuss?

    How did your peer first begin contributing to the affinity space?
    It looks like you setup your own store! Did you end up purchasing or downloading any of the free resources?

    What does your peer perceive to be the strengths of this affinity space?
    One of the perceived strengths is the community that seems to form around this space. It looked like there was some discussion on Facebook, and the site’s Twitter account was fairly active.

    What 3 features from Gee and Hayes (2008) describe your peer’s experience, and why?
    A common endeavor for which at least many people in the space have a passion – not defined by race, class, gender, or disability.In my experience educators are very passionate people. This affinity space allows for them to express their passion by buying and selling materials that they might require to help them teach. The site is open to the entire world so that there is no discrimination.
    Everyone can, if they wish, produce and not just consume.
    The site is open to anyone to purchase, however if you like you can “upgrade” to sell your items as well. It’s not indicated if the seller upgrade is a free trial, or free forever.
    There are many different forms and routes to participation.
    There are many ways to share the resources on the site (sharing via social media), they also have a Facebook group, Instagram, blog, and twitter account for discussion.

    1. This is very much a professional site. As such all of the interactions (that I saw – there could have been ones that had been deleted) including my own were professional in nature.

      I did download some free resources and also had my college student visit the site to help evaluate some of the resources could be used. It was helpful to have that critical dialog with the students as I noted discussions with the owners of the materials was pretty brief – maybe they get a reply. Being teachers almost all of the comments were very supportive. Unlike when you visit Amazon or Best Buy and get a great diversity in views (which I think is helpful).
      Yes the Facebook and Twitter seems pretty active but more interaction seems to be in Instagram, which again seems to be a little more open.
      The Free Seller is (at this time) Forever and I get to upload as much as I want for any price that I want. Most flexible site I have seen.

  3. Such an interesting site – commerce-driven (although it looks like a lot of stuff is free), but also a way for teachers to connect and share. I enjoyed getting a look at it!

    **Observe: What does it mean to be an insider? How do you know? And how would you describe this space to an outsider?**

    It looks like it’s pretty easy to be an insider – I imagine that since it is a site intended for teachers, there is a certain assumption that you are all already “insiders” when you join; being a member of the profession makes you a candidate for the site. It didn’t really look like there was much need to “level up” inside the site – you participate alongside people who are colleagues of some sort and that’s kinda that. Would you generally agree with that? What would you change about that description?

    **Contribute: How did the nature of your peer’s contributions change over time? And why?**

    From your description, you created a seller’s account and posted a free document in your space. And then found different offerings from other sellers to evaluate as you were looking to test out the variety of items available, as well as how well they were labelled and what their level of usefulness might be in the classroom. It looks like there is a rating system for materials, but did you find that useful? Were there any effective ways of communicating constructive feedback to sellers on the site? Did you get any feedback on your own materials?

    **Reflect: How was learning social, collaborative, and/or contested?**

    The shared materials are obviously the main draw/purpose of the space, but it looked like you found a lot more in the way of discussion and direct communication in spaces that were linked to the main site. It’s interesting that they set up and linked to a Google+ space that isn’t maintained. But I get the impression that the Facebook and Twitter areas are more active/interesting. Did you have much opportunity to interact with people in these areas?

    **Connect: What other examples of games and learning literature were useful points of reference, and why?**

    You had several quotes from other games and learning literature beyond Gee and Hayes. I had noted one from Jenkins that prompted me to get back into the Jenkins reading, and I was taken with the mention of “collaborative problem-solving” as a function of participatory spaces. It seems like that is, at least to an extent, the purpose of TPT. To address an issue (or issues, depending on how you look at it) that is common for teachers by providing space for them to work in conjunction with one another to address the issue. I wonder if it’s almost a little too focused on one solution (providing each other materials), when there might be a wider range of use for a place like this, but, at the same time, if it’s providing a service that is useful to the members, that’s great!

    1. Great point regarding ‘insider’ but they do have a corporate account which means you could have people that have never been in a classroom. They are just there to sell materials, test new materials, and make some $$. Not much considering these are teachers. 😉
      The rating system is not as helpful as one would think. When I search several different time most times had a 4, high 3’s or nothing. Thus the teachers were giving each other high scores.
      I did a little bit not much. I tended to be more interested in the discussions that my students had around what they found because they were more honest about their ratings.
      I am glad the quote was interesting to you. Yes, I would say this site is created to have teachers not corporations create materials that have been tested recently in the field.

  4. Hi Vail,
    Thanks for sharing a very thorough presentation that I enjoyed!

    What does it mean to be an insider? How do you know? And how would you describe this space to an outsider?
    An insider, or might I say, member, can buy, sell, and trade educational materials. An insider has an account and is registered with the site and is therefore permitted to exchange downloadable content in the marketplace. I would describe it to an outsider as, an affinity space for registered teacher/users.

    How did your peer first begin contributing to the affinity space?
    I’m not actually sure if it is how Vail first began but, she uploaded content, which was the “Twelve Days of Preschool” and then offered it to other members as a free download.

    What does your peer perceive to be the strengths of this affinity space?
    That this affinity space is for teachers to support other teachers. Vail makes the point that even the homepage rotates through teachers so that different teachers are showcased, which exposes members to many teacher-authors.

    What 3 features from Gee and Hayes (2008) describe your peer’s experience, and why?
    A passion for a common endeavor not defined by race, class gender, or disability. New members of the community are not segregated from longer term members and have an equal voice. Newbies and masters in the same space. An affinity space is a learning space, and “Teachers Pay Teachers” certainly meets this definition.

    1. Though you can access all the different social media without having to join their site.
      I read a few blogs and liked/followed a few people. Then I started into the store and rated a couple of products.
      The rotating home page authors was the best I have seen on any affinity because it was so fluid every time you refreshed the page you saw someone new.

  5. Hi Vail, thanks for sharing your experiences on TpT with us.

    What does it mean to be an insider? How do you know? And how would you describe this space to an outsider?

    I find this set of questions to be particularly challenging for this affinity space. Of course, you are a member if you have made an account with TpT and engage with the core functionality of using the marketplace, but there are so many other ways to engage with this space that don’t require that level of official membership. The line between what is inside this space and outside is blurry at best, and thus I would also suspect that the idea of being an insider is as well. As I conjecture even further, I would guess that being an insider in this space is more an overall state of being that can only be defined uniquely for each participant.

    How did your peer first begin contributing to the affinity space? How did other members of the affinity space respond?

    From your video, it seems that you really began to contribute to this space by registering as a seller, and
    putting up materials for downloading. Has anyone responded to your materials through comments, reviews, or private messaging? Have you given your own feedback as such? If so, how did others in the community react to your feedback.

    How would you describe your peer’s experience learning in another setting (i.e. not Canvas, not a “classroom”) as complementary to our other course activities?

    Your video cut off about 1.5 minutes before the end (10:32, with Sean Dikker’s quotation), and I believe that last portion shared some important insights into this last question for you. What do you think the classroom would look like if it were more game-like?

    What other aspects of learning theory helped your peer to understand this affinity space?

    From a connectivist perspective, the linking to several other social media could be viewed as nodes on the same affinity space network. Different nodes specialize in certain areas of knowledge (especially in the educator blogs), but they share the common knowledge and purpose (educational practices).

    1. Interesting ponder. Yes as the majority of these people are teachers (exception the few corporate businesses – that may or may not have previous teachers on staff) does make everyone an insider from the start 😉
      Unfortunately nothing but as I was looking over other peoples offerings it seemed that about 1/2 (or could be more) did not have any replies or ratings. I am assuming it is the typical ‘I don’t want to be the first’. I always wonder if some teachers (and the business world at large) ask friends and peers to download and rate just to get some things on the board.
      I meant to end it with the quote/question. Habit from teaching at the college. It was more of a ponder for both the viewer and myself. Something to continue to wonder about.
      As I was seeing other peoples presentations I began to wonder. Where is the tipping points where the information is spread out between so many sources that it becomes less effective.

  6. Hey Vail!

    I enjoyed seeing your affinity space experience and really appreciate how you wove the quotes throughout your presentation. Let me dive right in 🙂

    Observe: Given the volume of participation of teachers who participate on this site in addition to their teaching duties really shows a passion for what they do and perhaps a persistence to be better even if their school is not the most supportive. You said teachers on bringing the more social and progressive issues around teaching to this site, which I find fascinating.

    Contribute: I’m curious if you can monitor how other teachers may have used your contribution, “12 Days of Preschool.”

    Reflect: I cannot think of a more perfect affinity space compliment to your profession. You dove into this site as a seller and are using the games/activities in your classroom. It seems like you will be able to continue with this affinity space as long as it serves you. Do you see yourself participating after this course is over?

    Connect: There were definitely many routes to participation on your affinity space. When I compare it to my experience, I realize that Code Combat could have offered quite a bit more routes. However, it’s nice to see the contrast in our experiences.

    Nice work!

    1. Teachers often comment about being ‘alone’ in their classroom all day with students. I think this is a good outlet for connecting to others.
      Looks like the only way you know is if they give you feedback or if they pay because then you get their profile name
      Yes. It is a great resource for my students so I will be weaving it into their assignments and discussions. I am going to continue to post a couple of freebies just to demonstrate that anyone can share.
      But I did like how your site corralled everyone so that ideas were not so spread out.

  7. Hey Vail!
    Thanks so much so your presentation and providing us with a glimpse into the TPT spaces. I have seen promos for this particular collective space before along side other Google searches, but never took the time to access the site.

    Participation seems relatively easy to perform given the vast channels that teachers have at their disposal. And since the only thing stopping one from being a contributor is signing up for a membership, it makes perfect sense that there is an extraordinary membership base. I liked your exploration and description of each of the social media channels. The description made sense to me given the features associated with each, with the exception of the Instagram, I was surprised to hear you say there was a lot of dialogue. Thats one of the things I appreciate about Instagram, that it is more of a visual feed, I haven’t had the experience where there is a lot of conversing. What kinds of conversation were you seeing? Commenting on posts or academic content?

    I felt like you utilized your exploration of TPT well, from uploading “12 days of preschool” & downloaded content to vet against its age appropriate levels.

    This space is right up your alley. With the available resources, and the vast teacher network, it seems like this would definitely be of ongoing interest to you. Have you told any colleagues? How do you see content changing over time? I know you said you were a little disappointed by there not being many digital/computer media resources, which is all that surprising to me, especially because you see those highlighted in different spaces/categories, like MIT or Makerspaces, etc.

    I liked how you included two of Dickers principles. That provided us, the viewer, with a broader sense of it being relevant beyond Gee’s context. As mentioned before, you left us with a great Dickers quote at the end, which was very engaging to think of the possibilities, but I wanted to hear your thoughts regarding that question too!! 🙂

    Thanks again for sharing. I most definitely will follow them on their social media channels!

    1. Yes – I tend to ignore the ads also. So distracting and time consuming but then I also think what am I missing that might really be useful.
      Most of the conversation was short (similar to other feeds) but there was a considerable amount more. Example on FB there were about 3-8 postings compared to several of the instegrams that seemed to have over 20.
      Yes – is it fits well with my career. After finals I am going to be discussing with faculty how this sight could be used in a couple of our other classes to help student create access points for after they graduate.
      I am still pondering (on the back burner) when I do my updating of classes for the fall this summer I am going to keep that quote in mind so that I remember to add at the least 1 game type experience to each class.

  8. Vail,
    This seems like a very interesting, and much needed affinity space. I enjoyed how you showed the various distributed networks with this space such as Twitter and Facebook. I think you learned a lot, perhaps more, by exploring these networks rather than the affinity space itself. I also found this to be the case for my own affinity space research.

    A3. Observing the affinity space:
    What are the cultural norms – the means of interaction and discussion – that are prominent in this space? And why?

    The space is open to multi-cultural and multi-national perspectives. It is not divided by race, gender, creed. It is open to ‘free” forms of educational resources outside of what is required within a state guided program.

    B1. Contributing to the affinity space:
    How did your peer first begin contributing to the affinity space?
    Vail explored the space / spaces by making a “free seller” profile. She also observed and participated in various networks outside of the space like Twitter and Facebook. Twitter seemed to be the biggest influence for Vail.

    C2. Reflecting upon affinity space participation:
    What does your peer perceive to be the limitations of this space?

    Not much technology shown in the space as teaching resources. How to link games to classroom learning? Vail did find a Tweet about a game from the space however. What other things? Age level variety? STEM resources?

    D1. Connecting affinity space participation to literature and theory:
    What 3 features from Gee and Hayes (2008) describe your peer’s experience, and why?

    A common endeavor for which at least many people in the space have a passion – not (defined) by race, class, gender, or disability.Multi-national and multicultural contributors to the space. Connection to Jenkins – evolve to respond to short terms needs and temporary interests. Teachers working in public school system with guidelines, yet part of the affinity space that is open and free.

    Everyone can, if they wish, (can) produce and not just consume. Vail produced a “free seller” profile. This is how Vail started to contribute. Explored items as they are appropriate for age level.

    There are many different forms and routes to participation. Various social networks are also engaged by the space. This is part of “marketing” the site and resources in distributed networks. This makes it easier perhaps to connect with other members or potential members in other “sub affinity spaces” or networks. Twitter members and followers showed Vail some other potential influencers for her to engage with.

    1. Regarding A – one of the things I really appreciated was there were very very few people that used avatars. I think it really shows how accepting this site is.
      STEM was there. I looked for STEAM which is what I focus on with my student teachers and was pleased to find a variety of different materials. BUT…. having said that again most of the times revolved around worksheets. UG! The arts are key to having those 21st century skills. There was some variety in ages which is refreshing.

  9. I’m not a teacher so I haven’t had much experience with Teachers Pay Teachers, but I did come across the site. I like how you used this space as a reflection of affinity spaces and gameful learning. Great connection.

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