Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Journal 9

The content relates to NETS-T II.

Getting, S. & Swainey, K. (2012, August). First graders with ipads. Learning and Leading, 40(1), 24-27. Retrieved from

The authors in the article discuss a program they implemented with their first graders that used iPads for a reading program. Their goals in their project included goals in reading, but also in digital media skills. The students in their project were of various reading levels, but were grouped into homogeneous “response to intervention” groups. An initial concern they had was the management of the iPads. By not allowing the students to carry them around, and stressing the privilege of using the hardware, they created attentive students. There were promising conclusions from their project, which included increased time on task from all of the groups of students. Some of the groups increased up to twenty percent. An example of how they used the iPad was they recorded the voice of a student as they read aloud a sample displayed on the iPad. They then gave the iPad to another student who listened to the other voice while they read the same sample. Collaboration between teachers was key to their success and another positive outcome of the program was the leadership it created when they used students to demonstrate the applications to leaders in the school district. There were a few frustrations when they implemented the program, including little to no guidance and technical difficulties. Overall, the program appeared very successful and would be fun to implement in my own classroom.

Q1: Are there other subjects that the iPads could be used for?

Yes! There are currently apps for many subjects, including great mapping tools that could be used in social studies. Also there are games that promote learning in math and other subjects.

Q2: What would one downside of the iPad program be?

Historically, students have checked out books which they use in class and are able to take home. Putting all of the reading onto iPads keeps the reading in the classroom unless the student has access to a device at home. This creates unfair advantages for students who are able to afford them.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Journal 8: Adaptive Technology

This journal relates to NETS-T IV.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) include alternate forms of communication, other than oral speech, that may be used to describe ideas, thoughts, and emotions. They can include high tech devices that use expensive software, but they also include facial expressions or hand motions that we use every day to convey thoughts.

A high tech AAC tool is the TextSpeak TS Wireless Speech Generator. This device includes a keyboard and speaker and does not require a separate computer. A student that can not verbally communicate in class, can type what they would like to say and the device speaks for them as they type. Because it is battery powered and wireless, the device can be brought to wherever the student is.

While there are several high tech AAC tools available, low tech AAC tools can be just as effective for the students. An example of a low tech tool are communication boards. Communication boards use a variety of pictures or symbols that the students can use to complete an activity. It may be used in the classroom to answer a question by pointing to the symbol or picture that corresponds with the answer.

An input device is any device that is used to control or provide signals to a computer. These devices would generally include the keyboard or the standard mouse. However, students with disabilities may not be able to operate them and must use other tools.

 One device that could be used in a classroom for a student that would be unable to use typical devices would be a Braille notetaker. These devices are connected to a computer and allow visually impaired students to input Braille into the computer. Information can then be stored, read back, or printed on an applicable device. The most common application in the classroom would be word processing.

A web-based software tool that helps students with difficulties reading, including students with dyslexia, is News2You. It is tool that describes current events symbolically. Students with disabilities that prohibit them from fluently reading information can connect the words in the news story with symbols that lead to increased comprehension.

Journal 7: My Personal Learning Network

This relates to NETS-T V.
A Personal Learning Network, or PLN, is a group in which you can share information and resources.Having a number of different people that you can go to ask questions or discuss issues creates an effective learning environment, which expands your knowledge base. My PLN includes groups on Twitter, Diigo, and the Educator’s PLN. As a prospective teacher with little experience, my PLN allows me to gather ideas or get questions answered from people around the world in the education profession that have different ideas and years of experience.

I have used Twitter as a resource tool prior to entering the teaching profession. My current groups include news media, special education resources, child psychology resources, early childhood resources, and other education groups such as edutopia. Twitter has become an amazing tool that provides me specific resources on topics I have interest in. It allows people to share ideas, but I have found the most useful aspect of Twitter is the sharing of articles. Because I share interests with the people and groups I follow, the resources they share or “tweet” are valuable to me. The nature by which Twitter works facilitates learning without actively searching for information. Twitter is also a useful tool for chats between users. My first experience with a chat on Twitter was #edchat, on July 24, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. The topic was PLNs, which was interesting due to the current topic in class. While it was hard to follow at times, because of the vast amount of information being continually added, it did provide good material. One “tweet” I appreciated, was that “the key point in a PLN is that you are in control. You choose who you want to follow and what you want to learn and share with others”.

Diigo is also an exceptional tool for increasing knowledge on specific subjects. By following other members with shared interests, you can view what information they value on the internet. The groups I follow share a common interest: technology in special education. They are Special Education Technology integration, Technology for Special Education, and AT in SPED. The reason I chose to follow these groups is my appreciation for technology and my interest in the special education field as I enter the SPED credential in the fall. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning the technologies in this class and I am curious the best ways to use them with special education students. The pages I tagged PLN were “Once a Teacher”, “Educator’s PLN”, and edWeb. These are all places for resource sharing and information gathering for educators and will help me as I move through the credential program and also in my career as an educator.

The discussion group I joined was the Educator’s PLN. It is a great resource for educators and includes discussion boards, videos, and tutorials. The first thing I chose to do was to view a discussion on the topic of inclusion. It was very interesting to see people’s different perspectives on inclusion and the best way for it to happen. There were also specific ideas for co teaching and things to use with general education and special education students.

Journal 6

This relates to NETS-T I.
Spencer, J. (2011, September 19). Ten reasons to get rid of homework (and five alternatives) . Retrieved from

    In the article, John Spencer describes how he feels teachers should get rid of homework and gives nine reasons for his opinion. He shows how busy children already are and he feels that their work should be packed into their school day. This gives them time outside of school to play and reflect on their own. Another reason to get rid of homework that Spencer provides is that the homework process is inequitable for the students. At home, students have a variety of resources at home to help them study and do their homework. Some may have parents that are college graduates and many may have no parents at home until very late at night. Spencer also feels that homework is de-motivates and does not raise achievement because it is not self-directed. He feels that a more effective way to raise achievement and motivate the student would be to let them choose a book to read for fun.
    Instead of homework, Spencer advocates allowing the learning to happen naturally outside of school, through the student’s experiences. He also feels it would be a benefit to make homework an extracurricular activity instead of a forced and graded assignment. Most of all, he feels the inequity of the homework process needs to be fixed.

Ideas for replacements to homework:

1. Extra credit service learning opportunities
2. Journaling about experiences outside school
3. Require them to visit a city monument and write about it
4. Tutor younger students after school
5. Adopt a conservation program in their home and write about it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Journal 4

This relates to NETS-T V. Ferguson, H. (2010, June/July). Join the flock!. Learning & Leading, 37(8), 12-15. Retrieved from

When building your Personal Learning Network, it is important to gather information from a wealth of sources. Using Twitter connects yourself to an enormous network, which can help in your professional development. The use of Twitter starts with the creation of an account and making it personal; by adding a picture and a short bio that describes yourself to people who may want to follow you. If you have ever been an individual that hasn’t been included in a group, there is a certain amount of anxiety in approaching the group. Twitter dissolves this anxiety and makes it easier to be included. As the article states, “you are invited from the start”.
After following people, you can retweet their tweets, which will increase the number of people able to view it. By using hashtags, tweets will be given even more exposure. After passively participating in Twitter by viewing your followers’ tweets, you should begin adding your own tweets which will assist your PLN by including it in your thinking.

McClintock Miller, S. (2010, June/July). Enhance your twitter experience. Learning and Leading, 37(8), 14-17. Retrieved from

There are also Twitter organizational managers, such as HootSuite and TweetDeck. These tools organize your twitter streams into columns, which can be sorted and organized. This way, your favorite hashtags or groups can be closely followed. There are also tools, such as Hootlet, which allow you to create a “bookmarklet”. This bookmarklet is a retweet of a link and can be a useful tool when sharing a resource with your PLN. Using these tools can help you be strategic when using Twitter and ensuring that the majority of your experience is used to share ideas.

Q1: Are there drawbacks to using Twitter to develop your PLN?
It seems that the impersonal nature of Twitter is a positive aspect in that it is easier for people to share information and become involved in groups that they normally would not be included in. However, this aspect of twitter might limit the sharing and limit the quality of the information. If people do not actually know the people that are in their PLN they might be less likely to respond to requests or discussions.

Q2: Is there information on Twitter that I am interested in or that can be useful to me?
There is nothing in the world that isn’t on Twitter. Everything from exotic cat clubs to organic shade gardening seem to have a corner in the tool. If there is information you are looking for it, there are most likely resources you have not been acquainted with on Twitter.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Journal 3

This relates to NETS-T I.
Fulton, K. (2012, June/July). Upside down, and inside out: Flip your classroom to improve student learning. Learning & Leading, 39(8), Retrieved from
The article Upside down, and inside out, discusses the concept of the “flipped classroom”. Developed a few years ago by science teachers in Colorado, the concept describes an environment in which lessons and lectures are provided to the students electronically and viewed at home. The students then work through what was presented the night before in class with the help of the teacher. The teachers are able to spend more time one on one with the students and the feedback they receive regarding students’ progress is immediate.
    A high school in Minnesota decided to initiate the “flipped classroom” concept for their math department. The program proved to be successful as they saw increases in student learning and achievement as well as improvement in external standardized exams. The positive results went beyond the measurable student gains. They found their staff developed a closer bond as they worked through the development of the program, and it assisted their professional growth, as the teachers were able to view their colleagues lessons and compare them to their own.
    There were challenges that were presented during the program, including classroom management. In a typical classroom, teachers goal is to get the students to listen to their lesson and be quietly engaged. The flipped classroom is an environment where the students are actively, and loudly, working which can prove hard to keep everyone on track. A challenge that the parents had was the access the students needed to the home computer.
Q1: Can the program be implemented in areas of lower income, where families may not have the hardware at home for the students to view the lessons?
This would be a large concern for any teacher attempting to “flip” their classroom. As discussed in the article there are other ways than the internet for the students to receive the lessons. However, in some low income areas families may not have a computer or a DVD player. It would need to be ensured that these students had access to a computer at a library or community center before “flipping” the classroom.
Q2: Would the lessons viewed at home increase the time spent at home on school work?
It seems like this would and the risks should be considered before starting this program. Depending on how long the lessons were there could be hours of time in front of a computer instead of engaged in extra curricular activities. This is a concern with the increase in childhood obesity and the need for more exercise. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Journal 2: School 2.0 Reflection Tool

This relates to NETS-T IV.
For the School 2.0 reflection, I chose the NETS-T 1: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity. I chose this module because of the importance of creativity and my opinion that a creative environment facilitates learning. I also chose the module because of my feeling that my creativity has not always been able to be used to its fullest. The resource I chose to go to was the video of Sir Ken Robinson’s talk of creativity in school. Sir Robinson discussed how creativity was limited in children due to them not being prepared to be wrong. I agree with this position, and I believe that too often the way classrooms are structured require the students never to be wrong. Students do not get credit most times for their effort, but only get rewarded for a correct response. Sir Robinson’s story of the dancer also revealed the importance to differentiate between students. He showed that not all students should be approached the same way, and children learn in different ways. Stepping away from the standard academic approach allows teachers to see the potential in every student.