Monday, October 24, 2011

Whiteboards Engage Autistic Students

    The article Whitebaords Engage Autistic Students caught my interest since I am hoping to teach special education and would greatly like to have an emphasis in teaching autism and make a difference in their lives. So this article is something that I could incorporate into my future classroom to help my students learn more then just the basic book skills.

What: Many students with autism struggle with attention deficits that inhibit their learning and their ability to have appropriate social interactions, and teaching them how to overcome this takes a great deal of effort and individualized attention from teachers and aides. In 2006, Spaulding Youth Center in Northfield, New Hampshire bought interactive whiteboards to integrate into classrooms for students with a range of neurological disabilities between the ages of 7 and 20 hoping to change the accepted paradigm of education for autistic learners.

So What: The use of the whiteboards were hoping and were able to help prove that students with these disabilities are able to have social interactions and that they are able to generalize their learning in the classroom to beyond the classroom. Through these whiteboards and the programs that they use teachers were able to show appropriate social behavior and in turn students started to model the same behaviors. Students were also able to pay attention to learning longer starting from 15-19 minutes improving to 45 minutes and at their best to 90 minutes, with this students were becoming more engaged in their learning and teachers increased their expectations of students as the school year went on.

Now What: If teachers in special education classrooms and even regular education classrooms are aware of the effects that these whiteboards can have they are more likely to bring them into their classrooms. It is not only students that have autism that have issues with their attention span there are many students that need to be doing something almost constantly to stay involved and active in their learning. If these whiteboards allow for a great deal of student interaction it is a way to get every single student involved in learning. If I am given the chance to work with technologies like this it will defiantly be something that I incorporate into my classroom.

McClaskey, K., & Welch, R. (2009, February). Whiteboards Engage Autistic Students. Leading and Learning for Technology36(5), 30-31. Retrieved October 24, 2011, from
Calvin College Hekman Library openURL resolver

Web 2.0 Tools

    There are many different websites that Kathy Schrock's has on her Web 2.0 site. One of them that I found interesting was the link to It is a website where a person can make their own application for a smartphone or tablet for free. With classrooms becoming more and more technology driven and based and students having more access to these things on a regular basis if a teacher or even students can build their own applications they will have even more learning skills at their fingertips. Being able to do this aligns with NETS-T standard, 1, 2 and 3 as well as NETS-S 1. NETS-T talks about learning and creativity and with being able to create an application to use in a classroom not only is the teacher being creativity in how they are teaching but it is also allows students to be creative in their learning environment which in turn makes them excited to learn more. In my opinion I think that students want to learn more when they are involved in their own learning. Standard 2 talks about developing learning techniques and this is again something that building an application will do , it can either be a learning toll or something that access how students are doing in a fun and creative way that isn't just taking a test. Standard three again is a way for students and teachers to show that they are able to use technology is a useful way. The standard for students is about creativity and this website allows that and students can be creative on their own or in a group and they are able to show their abilities to everyone no matter how shy they may be in class. It is another way for them to be involved in the classroom without having to get up in front of the class and talking. Use of this website is something that if it is  known to be available there would be more use of it since there are so many things that can be done with it.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Assistive Technology Making a Difference in Education

What: Technology can be a great equalizer in education but the definition of assistive technology also referred to as AT is board on what it is considered. The definition that the article by Micheal Behrmann gives is, "any item, piece of equipment, or product system whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities." These can include high tech as well as low tech materials, items and resources. They are also tools for children to learn and to stimulate their learning environment as well as tools for teachers to provide learning for every student no matter their ability. The inclusion of students with disabilities is stated int the U.S. Constitution and Amendments in The Education for All Handicapped Children Act which makes it illegal to not have an inclusive and mainstreamed education system for all. It is based on the same ideas of Brown v. The Board of Education in which separate education is not an equal education.

So What: If students are given the resources in AT that they need they will be able to be in more mainstreamed classrooms and eventually not require a classroom aide. by giving them these resources we as teachers are doing what we intend to do in our classroom and that is to help every student no matter their ability. This also means that the enrollment and the field of special education will continue to flourish, in these classes students are getting the teaching that they need in order to continue to grow and function or in some cases to maintain their level of functionality. Students that are mainstreamed during some point on their education will also be more willing to learn even if that means that they have to try harder since they are in a classroom that they know is equally to everyone else's and the students that are fully capable get the experience of having seeing that even if they look different or have trouble speaking to hearing that they are all the same in ways.

Now What: By bring AT into the classroom and learning about it now as educators we will be able to better tend to every students needs and be aware of what is out there to help them, be it a voice digitizer or a pencil grip. By providing students with what they need we are able to fulfill the goal of education and that is to make students the future of society and have them know how they are able to function in it. It is not only teaching students to function either but teaching them that every one is the same no matter what and that they are all students and learning the same things. As long as schools are willing to open budgets and get the AT that their schools and districts need students will have a great benefit in their learning.

Behrmann, M. (1998, May). Assistive Technology for Young Children in Special Education: It Makes 
    a  Difference. In Edutopia. Retrieved October 17, 2011, from

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Smile Your on Video

    We all watch videos in class no matter what grade we are in, so many teachers think that it is a good idea to start making videos in our own classes. Videos can be a powerful way to motivate all of our students since everyone will be able to contribute in a way that shows their strengths. Living in a world that is already primarily virtual students are becoming more and more of visual learners. So as teachers we should be able to take that and put it into our classrooms in a way that students find fun as well as it still being educational. As teachers if we do this students are using higher levels of thinking about not only the video techniques but the curriculum as well, the article says, "curriculum driven technology use, not technology driven curriculum". Videos allow students to work in groups and improve the community in a classroom but can improve the school community too. If a teacher takes a topic from their curriculum that could be spread across all grade levels that has opened doors to be able interact with others classes on the schools campus. Being able to present a visual presentation is becoming a concern since we have focused so much on preparing our students to communicate with writing and speaking that they are only able to communicate with a selected audience not an audience that might not have been ideal to them. I agree that students need to be able to communicate no matter the audience and should be able to start practicing this from an early age and be able to be comfortable being in front of an audience but for those that are not video I can see would be a great way to teach them to communicate. Making videos is a way to build community but it teaches students the ideas of planning and preparing ahead of time and being able to be flexible if something does not workout and being able to think on their feet, something that everyone should know how to do. It also gives students the ability to think outside the box in how they might present something to the class or do a project. Students who are shy and timid in class also will get the chance to come out of their "shell" and express themselves in a way  they might not be able to if they just had to stand in front of the class. I think educating teachers on ways to use video in their classes would improve classes in ways that allow everyone to grow.

Hoffenberg, H., & Handler, M. (2001, October). Digital Video Goes to School. Learning & Leading with Technology, 29(2). Retrieved October 5, 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

Clouds in the Sky

    Being able to not depend on one computer with a certain set of software seems like a very easy way to be able to use technology in a way the will be accessible to all. Being able to not depend on one thing to use a computer seems to be something that is happening more and more often. The idea of using a cloud seems like something that would make it easier for teachers too. I like the idea of google docs for working on class or even group projects since everyone will be able to have access to them and do not need certain programs on their computers and they can get them from anywhere they have Internet access. This could also limit the amount of times people say that they have lost their document because of a program issue. I also like the idea since if a student forgets to print it out at home or anything like that they would have access to it from anywhere and would still be able to turn in it that day. Emailing work to yourself is also a good idea since it will always be there barring that you can access your email and that email always works. It does discuss that he can foresee schools starting to ask for students to have netbooks but I don't think that is possible since even as the cost of them is decreasing not every family will be able to afford them for everyone of their children. If a teacher is in a low socioeconomic area you can not expect that every student will have a computer but they will all have the ability to go somewhere that does have Internet and be able to access classwork that is in a cloud. I think that clouds will be a great idea for classes when students and teachers are able to use them as one and learn the right and wrong why to use them, but that once again means that teachers have to be open to teaching technology in the classroom. Clouds are going to be a teacher and the classrooms friend as technology continues to grow.

Johnson, D. (2009, December). Computing in the Clouds. Leading and Learning, 16-20. Retrieved from

Monday, September 19, 2011

Learning and Leading with Technology

    Technology advances are on the rise in the United States and with that there is increased evidence of misusing and abusing of this technology in schools. These misuses range from intimidating peers, downloading illegally, plagiarizing, improper use of cell phones and personal handheld devices, but ITSE's National Educational Technology Standards have given students, educators and administrators somewhere to start tackling all these issues. By dealing with these issues that are in and out of schools we as educators are able to prepare students to be members in a quickly changing digital society. There are many technology users already who aren't aware of what digital citizenship is, but it is simply the normal behaviors with regards to technology use. These behaviors can be broken down into nine areas. These nine areas are; etiquette, communication, education, access, commerce, responsibility, rights, safety, security, these issues all have different levels of importance to different groups of people, but there are ways educators can teach these issues so that they are all of importance.
    The first of the nine issues is etiquette, which has become a problem since there are no black and white rules on the uses of devices, which makes students seeing adults using technology in the wrong way assume is is the right way. But by having teachers and administrators follow the rules and policies set be the school in and out of the classroom-appropriate technology behaviors are being demonstrated. The issue that came up second is communication, new forms of communication that have created a new social structure. One of the worst consequences of this new social structure is that students have gotten use to using IM and email shorthand in their assignments but if students are shown good communication skills that are appropriate for each situation then it will not care over into class assignments. The shorthand that they are using has a place but not in formal assignments that are turned in. Third is education, teaching hasn't grown while technology in the classroom has; which means teachers aren't able to teach students how to use technology to find reliable materials or ways of using technology. To fix this if there are different learning opportunities provided with different technologies then students will know the way to find the right resources.
    Access since not everyone has access to a digital society and the disparity of who does and doesn't is widening, but by allowing students to work on projects at school or with partners who are fortunate to have technology at home, teachers are not only allowing all students the chance to use technology and gain that knowledge but also having students work with people they might not normally work with. Commerce is next and with online purchasing becoming common older students need to be aware of the dangers of online ordering but by engaging students in a discussion about the dangers and ways to protect themselves students will be better online consumers, then even earlier generations. It is easy for even young students to locate down loadable materials but they haven't learned the responsible way to find and locate these materials safely. Yet if we start teaching students copyright laws at the age they start having the ability to download material they will know the difference between legal and illegal materials, this carries into rights which also means teaching teachers about about students digital rights so they can teach them to their students. Students also need to be aware of ways to stay safe from physical dangers. The last issue is security which means protecting equipment but also protecting oneself, by teaching students they need to run virus scans and backing up data. There has been no overall agreement on how we should act in relation to digital technology but if teachers and administrators are able to agree on what to teach we will be one step closer to an agreement.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Speak Up" Unleashing Technology for Educators and Students in the Classroom

    Speak Up and Project Tomorrow teamed up in 2009 to run a study that looked at the effects of bringing technology into all levels of the classroom on a daily basis. Project Tomorrow is a program that is invested in creating and helping to shape tomorrow's innovators, leaders and engaged citizens. Speak Up is a program that commonly teams up with Project Tomorrow to work closer in the classrooms with students of today. The study looked at three different areas of bringing technology into the classroom, these areas allowed teachers as well as students to see the benefits of bringing technology into the classroom.
    The study was broken down into three different areas of bringing and having technology into the classroom. The first of three topics that the study looked at was social based learning, in which it was found that students, administrators and principals want to bring technology into the classroom in a greater capacity then today's teachers do. Even though teachers do think that digital communication tools need to be used they don't think that blogs, social networking and wikis need to be the way that students and teachers are communicating. Teachers of today are more likely to participate in communicating with their peers and their students parents then with students themselves. I happen to agree with what the teachers that participated in the study are saying and believe that blogs, social networking and wikis between students don't need to be brought into the classroom and that teachers do not need to communicate with their students in this way either. I think that email is a sufficient way for teachers to communicate in a classroom setting, I know I will be using email to be in constant communication with the parents' of my students but would not be emailing my students directly in an elementary school setting.
    The second of the ideas the study looked at was un-tethered learning which looks at bringing mobile devices into the classroom and the idea of online classes. The common idea was that by bringing mobile device such as cell phones, laptops and tablets into the classroom will create more of a distraction then be helpful to learning, students are more likely to be surfing the web and texting friends rather then working on the assignments or researching the appropriate topics. I am a believer that this is what would happen and students would never get their assignments done which means that standards would not be met in classes. Districts are also concerned about the security of bringing such articles onto a campus and the idea of theft which would not make for good school ratings which every school wants. In the same idea of security teachers and districts have to find a balance between Internet learning and following the strict regulations that are placed on school Internet use but the use of online classes is still primarily for teachers even though students would be interested in taking them there are once again the guidelines that need to be followed. I am on the side of most of the teachers and what the author said that the mobile devices will be a greater distraction then help to students even if students want them in their daily learning. I have taken online classes and that part I will say is better in some capacity since students are allowed to learn at their own pace but the students need to be mature enough to handle learning on their own.
    The final topic that was studied was digitally-rich  learning, which says that there is already a wide range of technology being used but that its not the right programs to use to create the future scientists, engineers and technologists. But in the elementary classroom how do we know if we have any of those in our class and that it will not change by the time they get to the next school year. The author was saying that even though there is technology in the classroom it is not the right programs that are going to allow the students to be higher level thinkers, but there are different ways to create a higher level thinker then putting a computer in front of them. The biggest disconnect though comes from the programs that future teachers are learning and the programs that current teachers are using, future teachers are looking to use electronic portfolios while current teachers take handed in work. Future teachers want to create electronic portfolios for students but if there are students that don't have computers or students that want to have their work easily accessible to anyone with or without a computer these students need to be turning in hard copies of their work. Although administrator have come to the idea that they need to spend the money on educating their teachers about current programs and their effectiveness teacher are going to teach in a way that they feel comfortable and I believe that I will be a teacher that teaches in the way of today's teachers and the way I was taught.
    Technology in the classroom is something that is going to happen but there is a right way to bring it into the classroom and a wrong way to bring it into the classroom where a teacher is no longer a teacher but more of a computer police.