Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Journal 9: First Graders With iPads?

NETS-T: 1, 2, 3, 4

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

This article was not shocking to me. Many of the kids I work with already are on the second generation of iPad, I did like the idea at getting students immersed in technology, along the way learning to read. Students are given the responsibility of caring for the iPad, helping keep the students excited and motivated to learn. Students began to participate in key themes for schooling, such as global awareness (25). Students could learn and have fun, keeping them excited for the next lessons. Although the project was exciting and saw great results, there were quite a few obstacles faced. The biggest obstacle was navigating the project without much help or direction from the district (26). The teachers also felt the subject limited them, working hard to meet the curriculum requirements. With technology, technical problems are inherent. Having a class full of students syncing together proved to take practice. The cost of the iPads also created problems, a real issue for teachers and districts interested in implementing iPads into the classroom.

Q1: How can iPads help special needs, English Language Learners, or at-risk students?
A1: iPads can offer students the chance to learn in a fun and exciting way. Often, students do not learn effectively in a traditional classroom method. Offering students a novel plan can create positive improvement.

Q2: Are iPads practical for schools, especially in this economy?
A1: The use of grants, much like Getting and Swainey’s can help make the dream of iPads into a reality. Expecting students to have a tablet or iPad should not be expected.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Journal 8: Adaptive Technology

NETS-T: 1, 3, 4, 5
            According to the United States Society of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (USASAAC), Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) “includes all forms of communication—other than oral speech—that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas.” This mean that AAC is used through nonverbal expressions (such as faces or gestures), symbols, pictures, or writing. AAC is a method used by people with severe speech or language problems to aid existing speech or replace not functional speech. The method’s purpose is to promote “social interaction, school performance, and feelings of self-worth” (USAAC)

For the purposes of Adaptive Technology, Low-Tech Communication Tools are devices that do not require a power source. An example of low-tech tool is a communication board. A communication board is simple, using letters, words, phrases, pictures, or symbols the user and partner can use to communicate. The boards can be elaborate or extremely simple. As a teacher, I can work to create communication boards specific to lessons we are covering. The biggest issue with Low-Tech communication is the need for the user to indicate to the partner what is being selected. This is normally done through pointing, but this may not be possible for those with physical constraints. “Scanning,” having the partner point at the board as the user uses blinking or vocalizing, can solve the limits (Scott, 1998).
CLICK HERE for more information on creating communication boards


High-Tech Communication tools are devices that require power sources, making them more complex than Low-Tech. An example of High-Tech Communication is a “ChatBox.” A chat box is similar to communication boards, because it allows the user to communicate with a partner. It allows the user to digitize speech with a keyboard. It is pre-programmed with vocabulary, voice, and the language of the user. Individuals can use ChatBox at any age. ChatBox is a product that comes in many formats, from the standard one (see INSERT A), to the sleeker “Palm Pilot” type product (see INSERT B). In the classroom, these products would be helpful for those who want to participate in the class. They are no larger than an iPad, making it easily transported between classes. As a teacher, inclusion is very important. Products such as the ChatBox give students who normally would be unable to communicate the chance to interact with me and the other students. 

            An input device is used to enter information. This is something we use everyday without even realizing the effort, such as a keyboard, scanner, or gaming console. Input devices are beneficial for special needs students because it can help communication in and out of the classroom with other students and teachers.

Hardware is the physical aspect of technology. An example for special needs students is a half-qwerty keyboard. The keyboard allows users the option of one-hand or two-hand typing. This type of keyboard is especially helpful for those who have physical disabilities or injuries. The keyboard is laid out normally, but there are two letters per key. The space bar is used with the letter to get the other letter. The keyboard is set up for left- or right-handed people. The main problem with the keyboard is the price. It generally runs for about $600 brand new.

Software is used on the computer. An example is Word Prediction. Word Prediction cuts down on the number of words needed to type. When the first letter of a word is typed, a list of words pops up based on history and context. The user only has to type the number of the word needed. This software would be helpful for note taking or writing assignments in the classroom and for homework. This would be an efficient way for students to keep up with discussions and work required of each student, helping the student to not fall behind. Students can use the program on a laptop or as an application on a tablet such as the iPad. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Journal 7: My Personal Learning Network


A PLN is a “Personal Learning Network,” meaning a virtual community where people can come together from around the world with the purpose of learning together. PLNs can connect people who would normally never come in contact with in order to collaborate. I use a few tools that create my PLN, Twitter, Diigo, and Ning. As a teacher, the tools I used to create my PLN will help me greatly. I have a whole community of people who can support and assist me as a begin my journey from student-teacher to first year teacher. 

I have begun to “Tweet” for the first time ever. I never expected to get a twitter, but after the many assignments, I now understand the benefits. I created my network first, connecting with personal interests. I began to follow BBC World, NASA, the Chargers, and a few musicians. I also began to add to my network through professional interests. The majority of my followers and those I follow are members of the educational world, including students from my technology class.

On August 1, 2012 at 5:00 p.m., I participated in #ntchat. This educational chat is designed for teachers, new and old, to collaborate and learn about new ideas. The chat was “Design Thinking in Your Classroom.” It was very structured, which was helpful as a first time chat experience. I began by introducing who I was and why I was interested in the chat. After the meet and greet with the other participants, the mediator jumped in. She explained the structure of the chat, Question and Answer. At first, I was hesitant about jumping into the discussion because I did not want to be repetitive or did not think I could add information. After a couple of comments from others, I realized I could add to the discussion. It was really exciting to get feedback. The hour was filled with information as well as links to sites that covered more information. I found myself checking what they had to say. The chat was quite beneficial and will come in handy as I embark on my path from student to teacher.

Diigo is a digital bookmark site with the purpose of saving websites of interest. A description can be added to give a summary of the information, and tags can help sort information based on themes. I am following people in the education field. Some are from the technology class, but some are from across the United States. I started by looking for those interested in “social justice” and ended with middle school educators. The people I chose to follow had great websites and online journal articles I can use as a teacher candidate. A part of my Tag Roll on my blog shows PLN as a major aspect. I found information by searching “Personal Network” and “PLN.” Not all of the articles were from people I followed, but I was able to find a great deal of insight into getting my PLN started and using it in an effective manner.

I joined both “Classroom 2.0” and “The Educator’s PLN.” Educator’s PLN offers those like me step-by-step help for using the education ning. The site offers various mediums for all types of learners, from videos to podcasts to discussion boards. I found The Educator’s PLN to be the most user friendly. I really liked that I was able to create a badge that fit with my blog site. I explored the website and found an interesting post about inclusion in the classroom. The discussion was led asking how inclusion works from the point of view of special education and general education teachers. People that were members of the site were then able to respond and give more information.

Perry, M. (2012, July 19). "What does inclusion look like in your school for the student, the special educator and gen ed teacher? The Educator's PLN. Retrieved from:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Journal 6: Ten Reasons To Get Rid of Homework

NETS-T: 1, 3, 5
Spencer, J. (2011, September 19). Ten reasons to get rid of homework. Education rethink. Retrieved from

John T. Spencer’s (2011) post gave educators a different perspective from the dominant ideology prevalent in the United States. Spencer takes an Existentialist approach to educational philosophy, using play as a common theme. Students have to work hard in the classroom, so when they go home, they should be able to have fun and do their activities. Spencer also recognizes the achievement gap for students. Not all parents offer the same support for students’ homework and projects. Homework also hasn’t been known to motivate or raise achievement. Traditional homework is repetitive and not creative or new. Homework doesn’t produce intrinsic rewards. Helping find motivation for learning students want to do rather than need to do is important for the future. Spencer believes in the necessity for changing the objective of the learning process.

Spencer concluded his post with five ideas teachers can implement instead of homework. First, using play and interests of the students to create learning in everyday life. Second, for parents who want to still see traditional homework, help create “workshops” for engaging in learning (Spencer 2011). Third, create a positive space for students to do more independent work, such as writing circles. Fourth, changing the have to of homework into want to. Creating volunteer and community activities can help students get involved without feeling pressured. Fifth and last, parental involvement in students’ lives and education needs to be fixed within social, cultural, and political realms.

5 Alternatives to Homework
  1. Much like the comment from “Tom,” work at home can be important for the classroom. Work that is not “busy” can help prepare for discussions, projects, and assignments in the classroom.
  2. Give projects where students can show their knowledge through their passions. Offering multiple mediums can give more freedom to students. Students can use movies, writing, artwork, or other creative outlets for the information.
  3. Creating lunch and after school interests groups can help give students a chance to explore passions and receive help from the curriculum.
  4. Giving students ample time at the end of the lesson to work on assignments can give those who work hard a free night without homework. It rewards those who are on task and forces students who are not getting work done to do it after class. Teachers can also work with students struggling, and keep students working to get their work done.
  5. Collaborate with other teachers to create days where students are encouraged to do volunteer work or other extracurricular activities. In the lower grades, students can do oral presentations to explain what is important. In the older grades, writing about the experience can help prepare students for writing portions of standardized tests. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Journal 5: QR Codes in the Literature Classroom

NETS-T: 1, 2, 3
Walden, H. (2011). QR codes in the classroom. Learning & leading with technology, 39(3), 30-31. Retrieved from

When I first saw “QR codes in the classroom” in L&L, I was intrigued. So far I had read a lot about how technology benefited math and science classroom, but I wanted to know how it could benefit Social Studies or English. I did not know much about QR codes, so I jumped at the opportunity to learn more. 

Hannah Walden turned C.S. Lewis’ novel, The Great Divorce into a scavenger hunt. She encouraged collaborative learning to get the students researching the period, influences, and creative aspects of the author and the book. The QR codes served as a WebQuest for more information, a more dynamic presentation. The students were able to show their interests and their understanding of the material in a fun forum.

Q1: How could QR codes work in a classroom where students do not have smart phones?
A1: After further research, smart phones are not needed for creating QR codes. According to “Engaging Educators” (2011), a webcam on a Mac or PC is efficient. This could keep students from using their phones improperly and allow those without the technology to not be embarrassed.
Engaging Educators (2011, November 16). Scanning qr codes: no smartphone? no problem. Retrieved from

Q2: How can teachers assure students are using academic websites to find informations for their projects?
A2: Much like traditional research projects, teachers can generate a list of websites students can use to fulfill the requirements of the project. Teachers need to be more aware of what students are searching for and finding. Creating specific timetables for students to show what they have found can help keep students on task.

Journal 4: Join the Flock! & Enhance Your Twitter Experience

NETS-T: 2, 4, 5
Ferguson, H. (2010). Join the flock! Learning & leading with technology, 37(8), 12-14. Retrieved from

Miller, S. M. (2010). Enhance Your Twitter Experience. Learning & leading with technology, 37(8), 14-17. Retrieved from

Learning & Leading with Technology offers articles for educators regarding new technology. Hadley Ferguson and Shannon McClintock Miller breakdown how Twitter can be used effectively, helping users get the most out Twitter. Ferguson (2010) gives step-by-step instructions on forming a PLN, a Professional Learning Network. A PLN is “is a community of individuals around the world who are learning together” (p. 12). The goal of the PLN is to create collaboration in a common interest or passion. As educators, this is beneficial in order to learn new ideas and technology from all around the world. It does not limit what new information and professional growth is available.

Miller (2010) offers a more thorough account of how PLNs benefit the “Tweeter.” Twitter offers a whole world of new possibilities for educators. It creates the global space of education, connecting people to new technology and possibilities. The community helps teachers answer questions and get new resources, benefiting themselves and their students immensely (p. 15). Organizing Twitter based on interests, friends, or messages can help separate what is going on, easily finding the tweets most important.

Q1: How can Twitter help new teachers?
A1: Twitter has grown to encompass more than sports, celebrities, and entertainment. PLNs can help new teachers create a community of support. Adding other educators with similar interests or philosophies can open the door to collaboration in the classroom, regardless of how far other members are. Twitter offers teachers the unique opportunity of life-long learning and professional growth with endless opportunities. 

Q2: How can Twitter organizers, such as TweetDeck, benefit new and old members of Twitter?
A2: The Twitter organizer is a beneficial tool, much like a graphic organizer. It takes into account what is most important to the user, and puts the information neatly in as many columns as the Tweeter cares to use. One of the coolest tools it gives is the translator. As global citizens, this creates limitless opportunities to learn. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Journal 3: Upside Down and Inside Out

NETS-T: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Fulton, K. (2012). Upside down and inside out: Flip your classroom to improve student learning. Learning & leading with technology, 39(8), 12-14. Retrieved from

Educators have come up with a new structure for classrooms, called “flipped” classrooms. Students watch or listen to their lessons at home, and do the traditional “homework” in the classroom. The idea came from science teachers in Colorado, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams. The idea has caught on, encompassing over 3,000 teachers. Many teachers across the country are jumping at the idea, but teachers, parents, and educational groups find flipped classrooms to be flawed or a fad (12).

At the beginning of class, the teacher goes over what the students learned that night, answers questions, and finally sends students to work individually at their own pace. The teacher walks around the classroom, seeing who needs help. There are times when groups of students do not understand the material, so the teacher will work on it in front of the class. During discussions, feedback is given to allow the teacher determine what areas students need to work in and how to help solve the problems. Teachers are able to come up with their own curriculum. Teachers are able to create their own lessons instead of the ones from textbook companies.

Teachers found it challenging at first. One problem was keeping ahead of the lessons. Another was classroom management. Teachers had to work collaboratively with one another to ensure students success. Not only did it help students, teachers were able to have professional growth (14). The data shows that students are maintaining a higher level of proficiency (16). Standardized tests have also shown dramatic changes. Teachers talked to the students after every class to get their responses.

Teachers in other grades and departments are trying different uses of the flipped classrooms. Teachers are using the flipped classrooms to help students use technology and to give students a new instructional approach.

Q1: How could a flipped classroom work in a social studies class?
A1: The article focused on how the flipped class can work in math and science classes. For history, online curricula can be effective for students. The class can be a place for projects and other assignments traditionally done at home. Lectures done at home can ensure more time for the students to work through assignments and prepare for tests.

Q2: How can teachers make sure students are listening or watching their lessons?
A2: Much like traditional classrooms, teachers need to ensure students are doing all of their work. Beginning class with checks, such as quizzes can keep students accountable for the information. If students do not have access to Internet, teachers can create lunchtime sessions for students to listen or watch the information, as well as answering any problems students may have.