Monday, August 13, 2012

Journal 9: First Graders with iPads?

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

In the Learning & Leading with Technology article entitled, “First Graders with iPads?” I learned about the benefits and drawbacks of young students using new technology. According to the article, Sara Getting and Karin Swainey from Hilltop Elementary School aspired to find the benefits associated with iPad usage among their first grade students. To better focus their study, they collected data and observations among the groups of students who had the lowest reading scores. The educators focused on vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension when encouraging iPad usage. In addition, they further collaborated to evaluate student performance and assessment. To increase their knowledge base and understanding of literacy difficulty, they implemented the ideas of a Special Education teacher. The educators distinctly took upon this effort, although the district provided financial support. Usage of iPads supported literacy improvement and aided in time-on tasks and classroom behavior. Despite the benefits, there were a few drawbacks discussed in the article. The noise of several applications going at once was a challenge to overcome, although the purchase of headphones supplemented this occurrence. By the end of the year, teachers felt that use of the iPads was extremely beneficial and had a great effect as students’ literacy greatly improved.

Question 1: Would I ever use iPads within the classroom?

Upon one of my observations at an elementary school in Encinitas Union School District, an educator modeled the efficacy of using iPads for immediate feedback and results. Each student was loaned an iPad for the year, and had the ability to take home the iPad for homework usage and further technological exploring. Using technology within the classroom is a definite tool, but I think it’s equally important not to use it as a crutch for teaching methods. If it inspires learning and can be used as an aid for those who find challenges in traditional learning methods, I greatly support its usage in a classroom setting. As long as I maintain the ability to control student usage and ensure overall focus upon educational curriculum, I think it will add great value to my effectiveness in the classroom.

Question 2: Are there ways to protect the iPad in case of accidental breakage?

Yes! Firstly, there are amazing cases which can be installed to protect the iPad from water, scratches, drops, and other accidental damage. Further, Apple products have begun to provide warranty and other insurance options to ensure proper replacement should they break. First graders using iPads can definitely be dangerous, so it is best to take preventative measures before they are mistreated and/or accidentally broken. Valuable investments in education need to be maintained to ensure proper treatment and future usage.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Journal 8: Tools for Communication


AAC: According to the “American Speech-Language-Hearing Association,” otherwise known as ASHA, the acronym AAC stands for “augmentative and alternative communication.”  It includes all forms of communication, except for oral, which are “used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas.”  Everyone uses AAC using body language including facial expressions, gestures, pictures, symbols, and written word.  People that have severe speech or language problems often rely on this form of communication to supplement or in place of speech.  Many of these devices not only assist people in self-expression, but also can improve/increase social interaction, schoolwork, and self-esteem.  There are many types of AACs in existence, and this highlights four of the ones that I found upon further research.

This wonderful no-tech writing tool allows students to more easily grip writing utensils.  Students who lack proficiency in fine motor tools can use this tool on a number of writing tools to create a larger and more versatile size range during classwork.  Although there are plethora of items that can be used to provide students with a better grip, the one modeled in this image uses Crayola Model Magic.  It can be molded to fit any student’s fingers, and dries to a finished lightweight product.  Writing is one of the most basic and oldest forms of communication within society today.  Being able to present written work in an efficient and easy way can assist any student in their struggles to tackle development of motor skills.  An item such as this is wonderful because it is inventive, cheap, and provides an ambiguous means of support for a student in need.

According to an article I found on the web, use of Smartboards in the classroom setting can be used as an excellent tool for special educators.  This high-tech tool promotes communication and digital usage for students with special needs.  There is a new “Notebook Software” which allows students to move objects with their fingers, draw lines, connect sounds and words, and hear specific sounds and words from a desired lesson.  This is a wonderful new technology, as some special needs students struggle with refined motor skills.  The information is presented on a much larger scale and also helps promote the use of a mouse within a technology similar to computer usage.  The tactile touch of the screen promotes mental and physical connection within the real and digital world.

Input Device: The term, “input device,” defines an external hardware component which can be used to feed data to a computer or computer-related device.  Both input and output devices define a human-computer interaction.  Often, people with disabilities need input devices to access the advantages of computers and other technologies.  These digital advances assist people with special needs in completing their daily functions.
Microsoft Office actually has a multitude of Software options to increase accessibility for people with disabilities.  According to the Microsoft website, many of these features have already been built into their operating system, providing usability features for everyone during set up.  One example of this is selecting specific fonts, colors, sizes, and zooming to customize on the screen for automatic alteration.  This can improve the readability of documents, website, icons, images, and any other computer-based software that may be necessary.  This tool is wonderful because it can be implemented within the classroom upon initial instruction or at a later date.  Students are constantly use programs within Microsoft Office, and their obvious understanding of this has been built into their programming to better equip people with special needs.  

A Joystick is a wonderful hardware tool that can be used as a mouse alternative for students with special needs.  The image presented is a model designed by Traxsys, a company that creates hardware for purposes such as this.  The joystick allows users to access the same capabilities as a mouse.  In addition, a larger foam ball can be attached for uses with varying degrees of abilities.  A few other hardware options I learned about were overlay keyboards, speech input devices, and adjusted seating options.  Items such as this can be used in the classroom to make accessibility much easier for students.  In addition, it can be used to supplement computer programs for those who need it.

Journal 7: My Personal Learning Network

A "PLN" is an acronym which represents, "Professional Learning Network."  This PLN comes to life as a person begins using social networking sites to create a community of professional people within their network.  Perhaps a wonderful way to think of this is as an intricately woven spider web, connected hubs of information to anyone and everyone- given that you pick the right people to follow.  A few examples of this are Twitter, Diigo Bookmarking, and other digital discussion forums- activities we have all taken part in while in Education 422.  This provides people with instant, global access to a significant amount of information and resources.  With a Professional Learning Network, I have unlimited access to professional collaboration with colleagues and veteran educators with an emphasis in my area of study.  In addition to accessing useful information and resources in this way, I am also able to share my resources and information with others.  Entering teaching at this time will be a challenging task as funding is ever-limited and continues to face budget cuts.  Having a PLN, contrarily, gives me access to a vast amount of information and resources in a classroom setting at no cost.  As an educator, I'll be able to have worldwide support with a PLN, allowing me to continuously develop myself professionally.  This will not only help me, but provide my students with a new perspective and a teacher who strives to keep material interesting and up-to-date!  

Although I am no avid "Tweeter," I have certainly learned a few things while searching around and attempting to get a better grasp on the idea of having a free Twitter account.  In addition to my fellow classmates in Education 422, Summer 2012, I added a number of educators that I found particular interest in while exploring the Tweeting world.  Many of these consist of educators who took part in the same chat as me, although one spearheaded the rest with a plethora of acute knowledge and resources. "On the ClassrromWall" also known as, "@FlyontheCwall," was the moderator of the chat I joined.  This #5thchat was a chatroom for fifth grade educators, a discussion I joined on August 7th at 5 pm.  With the new school year very quickly approaching, much of the conversation was geared towards icebreakers and wonderful tips to start off the year right.  The information provided within the chatroom was useful, helpful, and provided me a variety of tools to "start of the year right."  Something I found very interesting, and somewhat difficult to follow, was the way in which communication seemed to bounce off the walls.  Educators were tweeting back and forth to each other, sometimes with only one speaker or listener or mind, and sometimes the information was directed at the chatroom as a whole.  Honestly, it was just as chaotic as my former experiences working with kids! It was useful, but kept me on my toes constantly pulling up new tabs to learn information with an eager attempt at getting someone to respond to some of the resources I posted about (I suggested for the first week of classes).  Attached in this post is a screen shot of the chat.

Diigo is a wonderful social bookmarking site that has also allowed me to better my PLN.  After registering for this free website, I quickly learned what wonderful possibilities lay ahead for this tool.  I was able to find and tag sites of interests, and even highlight information which I found particularly useful within those sites.  These items are categorized into "My Tags" based on the appropriate "#tag" I give it.  Within my own bookmarking, I am able to create a library of resources which I feel have a distinct use.  My most used Diigo tags can be viewed to the left column of this webpage, demonstrating the tags which I have most prominently used within my website discovery.  In addition, I can add the author of educational blogs to my PLN by following them via Twitter.  In addition to people I began following as a result of my participation in an online chat, I began following people like , a full time educator who also wrote, "Building a PLC at Work" and "Teaching the iGeneration."  Professional and seasonal educators such as this provide me with great resources that I most likely would not have found on my own, providing me with new information in and about the teaching world.  There is already a Diigo Tagroll on my blog, as I previously mentioned, because I tagged eight sites using Diigo as an assignment.  In addition to those tags, I now also have tags for my very own Personal Learning Network.

The digital discussion forum that I joined was "Classroom 2.0," the final professional social networking tool I utilized in an attempt to continue my PLN web.  In addition to the others, this site provides me with access to specific events, forums, blogs, and groups to better my educational development.  Just like Twitter and Diigo, I can use this site to further my development as a professional educator.  Having my own PLN allows me to connect with an entire network of educators on a global level, and I cannot wait to continue my PLN development over the course of the next several years.  Diving right into the blogging world, I read a post entitled, "Virtual Reality" by Sara Finney.  It can be found at  I felt as though this had very a very appropriate connection with our class as we attempt to incorporate virtual technology into our teaching methods to better our skills.  In her blog post, she discussed the importance of human interaction in addition to virtual realities.  While technological tools should enhance lessons, Finney writes that they should "not replace them."  I greatly agree with this stance as technology should not overcome actual teaching in the classroom.  Much like any new "gadget" or "trick," while its usage can add a great deal of stimulation to a lesson plan, it does not stand alone as a means of teaching.

Journal 6: "Ten Reasons to Get Rid of Homework!"

Spencer, J. (2012, 07 08).Ten reasons to get rid of homework (and five alternatives) Retrieved from

In John T. Spencer’s article, Ten Reasons to Get Rid of Homework, he discusses that homework is an activity, which should be viewed as a useful tool rather than a necessary one.  As defense for his ideas, he provides ten reasons to support this theory.  According to Spencer, unless a student has a guardian at home to monitor their constant work and progress, they will not greatly benefit from homework as a reinforcement of their acquired knowledge.  Rather than benefit from its intended purpose, he shares, it is added on as an additional task to complete.  I believe he’s trying to express that the content matter is not built upon or further absorbed during their work sessions at home.  I understand the battle he faces as an educator, because this is the last thing students want to do when they arrive home.  After being an after-school program counselor for two years, I witnessed the difficulty in getting students/children to sit down and focus on their required work.  Especially after sitting in a classroom for most of the day, it becomes challenging for kids at any age to regurgitate the material they have just begun to grasp.  However, I do question whether or not getting rid of homework should be the solution.  Although this may sound like a drastic slippery slope of sorts, if we rid school systems of homework- what will be next?  Isn’t everyone’s life filled with activities and challenges we don’t want to complete?  Regardless, this is a shifting day and age we live in!  Maybe students will do better without homework and the possible problems they encounter while attempting to complete it (siblings, television, possible homelessness?).  Or perhaps all schools will begin incorporating a swapped homework-lesson idea like the one proposed in the article from Journal 3.  Anyhow, here are a few of my suggestions for alternatives of homework.

1.     Instead of assigning students with your own set of homework, have them create their own homework based on the coursework they’re learning in the classroom.  The following day, they can trade with a fellow classmate and have them complete the activity and collaborate with one another.
2.     Ask students to research philanthropic organizations that spike their overall interest.  At the end of the week, discuss the organizations and begin taking part in service-based learning as a class.
3.     Rather than insist upon homework that is geared towards classroom excellence, have the students write up the chores and activities they helped their parents/guardians out with at home.
4.     Encourage your students to get active outside of the home!  Children’s natural experiences with the environment build self-esteem and personal growth.
5.     Have the students join “reading groups” outside of already required material if they’re able, and discuss those extracurricular books within those groups.  Just like Spencer wrote, provide additional support for those students who need it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Journal 4: Twitter!

'twitter logo map 09' photo (c) 2009, The Next Web The Next Web - license:

Ferguson , H. (2010). Join the flock. Learning & leading with technology , 37(8), 12-17. Retrieved from

 In Hadley Ferguson’s article entitled, “Join the Flock,” she expresses the need to build a “professional learning network” through Internet resources.  She refers to this as a PLN, a network developed for learners around the world.  Using simple and easy-to-follow steps, she explains the way to create a network through Twitter, an online communication hub.  By watching, listening, giving, exposing, and tagging, Hadley suggests that anyone can change the way in which you teach and students learn.

What are a few benefits of the Twitter phenomenon?

A few benefits that I found highlighted in this article were easy access, instant information, collaboration, and a culture of online community.  Having access to information regardless of location is something I find very useful.  Challenges like SES are a thing of the past with Internet access, as nearly all information can be attained at a nearby computer in local facilities (i.e.: libraries, school campuses, etc.).  Further, the fact that information can be instantly attained is a commodity which has also been made accessible through use of the Internet.  New information is constantly being published in an online forum, just as I am able to update this blog within seconds.  This is also something which allows scholars alike to collaborate in a community with constant feedback and refining.  Together, each of these aspects create the wonderful online community that is Twitter.

 Miller, S. M. (2010). Enhance your twitter experience. Learning & leading with technology, 37(8), 14-17. Retrieved from

An additional article called, “Enhance Your Twitter Experience, partners Hadley Ferguson’s piece.  In this section, author Shannon McClintock Miller discussed the benefits of using Twitter and ways in which a person’s Twitter experience can be improved.  Organization techniques, terminology comprehension, management, and strategic usage are all specifics outlined within her article.  Something I found most useful and interesting was the use of a “Hashtag (#).”  The insertion of a # allows the “Tweeter” to categorize their own “Tweet” as a subcategory or example within a much bigger category.  This piece adds to the overall ideas emphasize within “Join the Flock.”

Will you use Twitter more now knowing how great the repercussions are?

I definitely will, the benefits are constant and dynamic.  While only just beginning to use Twitter as online connection to the world, I have already been a witness to the amount of possibilities that it holds.  I can attain lesson plans, find innovative new ways of presenting material, learn about new laws and mandates that affect the teaching world, the amount of online discovery is endless!  Learning more about Twitter has presented these ideas to me, and allowed me to see the wonderful innovations that come with such an amazing tool.  The online world has presented us with so many easy and instant ways to stream information, something Twitter further improves.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Journal 3: Upside Down and Inside Out

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

In the article entitled, “Upside Down and Inside Out,” Kathleen Fulton describes a high school in Colorado, which has a “flipped” type of curriculum.  According to the piece, the teacher of a Calculus I class decided to switch up the way in which he ran his classroom following budget cuts.  In place of the traditional classroom schedule with lecture in the classroom and homework at home, he has designed an innovative new teaching format where lecture is accessed at home and homework is completed in the school; this required a textbook-free curriculum.  The article self proclaims the astounding success associated with the flip, pointing out that student grades increased at an amazing rate.  Furthermore, the overall approval of students was high.

Implementing a curriculum such as this in my future classroom would be a wonderful way to shake things up and enhance learning.  While I will be a new teacher, I think mastery in a basic setting may be required before I begin making alterations to the norm.
'My double period - 5/6 - having a discussion - this one actually had school elements to it' photo (c) 2009, Andrew - license:

Questions to Consider:
Can I see myself using this type of technique in my future classroom?

Although this “flip” seems to be a wonderful support system in place for student learning, I question whether or not it is a fad (something the article also questions). Implementing any useful teaching techniques will be very useful as a first time teacher.  While I may need to perfect my own teaching styles before getting really creative, I cannot wait to get into a classroom setting and experiment with some of these techniques!  A challenge I see in this style of learning is getting the students motivated to watch and thoroughly engage in lectures while at home.  Some parental guidance and enforcement may be a necessary aspect of this type of learning.  In the end, anything that can get kids thinking and using their minds in ways they had never thought possible is definitely a win in my book.

What was a highlight of this article?

I really enjoyed seeing how a teacher was able to respond to budget cuts in a school district.  The ever-diminishing budget cuts is something I will most certainly face in my future career.  Further, combatting those things and trying to get a handle on the problems we face will be crucial to my success as an educator.  Being able to respond well to financial issues is something I will have to get used to in my profession, and that was really a main point of this article.  Getting innovative and creative with what you’re given is an amazing response to the budget crisis we currently face.  This is was the teachers at this Colorado high school were able to face and overcome.  I hope to one day be as clever and innovative as the educators described. 

Journal 2: Technology Self Assessment, School 2.0 Reflection Tool

For this section, I further researched the NETS-T that I achieved the lowest score in: 5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership.  From this section, I selected the first standard, which read, "I actively participate in local and global learning communities to exchange and implement ideas and methods related to creative applications of technology to improve student learning."  The website it took me to was entitled, "Classroom 2.0."  From this website, it appears that educators from around the entire globe gather to discuss how technology can be implemented within the classroom.  Blogs are used to offer support for educators, and ideas about technology and innovation within a classroom setting are encouraged.  As there is a globe on the site with hotspots demonstrating universal usage, it is obvious that this site is used as a global learning community.  In addition, there are a number of links to other educational venues along the sides of the page, something that will be very useful for me as a future teacher.  It is good to know that if I am having difficulties within a classroom that there is a resource of educators with the ability to back me up in my struggles.  Further, there will be a significant number of collaborative ideas within this site as it exists on a global scale.