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