Program Computers, Not Kids.

This Cool Cat Teacher post about programming computers, has a very engaging title that captured my attention at first sight. What this discuss in depth is that you can’t see technology controlling students, but rather students creating and programming the technology. Vicki Davis discusses that we don’t want to program our kids to use technology just as they memorize multiplication facts. This article also talks about something we’ve learned in class before, SAMR. I think it is great to go back and think about what this really means in regards to technology in the classroom. We should really be teaching the same concepts, but going about it in a way that is new to students. Technology should be used as substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition. It is important that the actual use of technology should be explored and how the interaction provides a collaborative learning environment.

Another part of this blog talks about how we must allow students to explore and crate what they want, but for that we have to give them permission. This can go back to the idea of digital citizenship as well by teaching students to be responsible in what they are posting and using technology for. As long as we have gone over the basics with our students, they should be able to have the access to go ad explore different means of representation with what they are learning in class. We will continually be defining what a classroom is in the 21st century and it is important to make sure that is clear to students.

Even though computers have been around for years, we need to make sure we are utilizing them in a fresh and exciting way for students. We cannot merely teach remote learning as we have been doing for years, but actually teaching students the concepts through uses of technology. Think about it as teaching lesson 52 one day, 53 the next, and the children will know 54 comes after that. We want students to now that technology can do things more rapidly and enhance the learning that can be done in a classroom.


More About Technology

This first article portrays a list of ideas to engage 21st century learners. I think this is a great graphic to use in a classroom in order to make sure you are always hitting these points in the classroom and providing effective instruction to your students. The first tip is being able to grab your students attention. I think this is important because what other way than to makes sure your students are excited to learn in your classroom? The next is getting students to think and in this stage you can allow students to provide questions or feedback to the beginning of the lesson. Then information should be broken down into bite sized chunks so students are not overwhelmed. I think this can relate to directly to technology instruction in an important way. If you are trying to give students directions on using a new website, you need to make sure it is step by step so they aren’t overwhelmed or confused on what they are supposed to be doing. Fourth is to check learner knowledge throughout the course. Ensure students are able to connect the pertinent information to real life or other situations they may encounter. Bring e-learning to life and have students tell stories relating the information to what they know in real life. Formative assessment comes next to ensure students understand what they’re learning and provide information for those gaps. Use tools to deliver responsive e-learning tools that students can access on their tablets or phones. Finally, get the right blend with different way to assess students in order to break up the repetitive learning. This can be done with multiple tools such as Poll Everywhere in order to create an engaging lessons without boring students. This is a great graphic to keep in classrooms.

This next article talks about ways to engage students through math practice apps ad is directed towards elementary students. These are all able to be accessed for free and can be leveled for students depending on their level. It is similar to the Prodigy Game we accessed in class with Lynn. I found the Everyday Math app to be useful since I know this curriculum is used in classrooms across the state. I myself grew up on it and if students are being exposed to that in their classroom, why not work on it at home as well? The nice think about this website is that the apps are based on different concepts and skills such as fractions, multiplication, division, basic facts, and flashcards.

This last tweet provides a link to an article about annotating and grading Google Drive files. I know a teacher who uses google classroom for her students so I think this article is very helpful. This article also discusses Chalkup where Google Drive can be utilized alongside it. There are ways to annotate and manage a classroom with intuitive mark-up tools. There are also interactive ways to post discussions and distribute announcements. With the constant growing trend of technology in the classroom, I think it’s beneficial that teachers learn how to utilize these various website to eliminate waste and provide new and effective ways to engage their students. This, among many other tools is free for teachers to use. By proving these websites at a professional development workshop, there can be a commonality used among the teachers in a district.

Blogging Sensations: A Flipped Classroom

The article I read this week was related to a Flipped Classroom approach and what that entails. Many are familiar with the term, but do they actually know what it means? According to Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, a flipped classroom “is a methodology, an approach to learning in which technology is employed to reverse the traditional role of classroom time.” This approach has been widely used with the changes of technology in society. What this means is that students are gaining exposure to new material outside of the classroom and bringing their knowledge in to create ways of assimilating that information. There are 6 steps described on this blog post.

1. Plan. This is the step where teachers are figuring out what lesson they want to flip and how to approach it. Some common thoughts may be the outcome or what the goal of the learning should be.

2. Record. Teachers may record their lesson using a screen cast or even providing a relevant video for the students to watch.

3. Share. Ensure that the video is sent to students and that they all have access. This may require extra thought for students who do not have technology at home, or if students cannot hear. The video should be universally designed.

4. Change. Students should come to class prepared to discuss the relevant lesson and go more in depth.

5. Group. Sometimes separating into smaller groups helps students discuss and pull out the main ideas.

6. Regroup. Have the class come back together and reiterate the outcomes of the lesson.

Even those this is a basic outline of the flipped approach, it is a good starting point for teachers. Vanderbilt University also talks about this approach and the benefits it can have for students. They associate it with Bloom’s Taxonomy where students are doing the lower level, cognitive thinking skills outside of the class and working on application and analysis with peers at school.

The flipped classroom is another way to approach lessons, even if it isn’t every single one. It may be a better way for some students to learn when they think out of the box and dig into new information. There are many resources out there for teachers to help them learn how to screen cast or provide interactive ways for students to respond. Ed Shelf is a great place to check out!

Tweet, Tweet

This week, I looked into some more tweets that I found would better engage a class of students with the constant trend of emerging technology.

This first article I found from Emerging Ed Tech is relevant to what we’re learning in our literacy class as well. It talks about fluency and engaging students using a different means that paper. Fluency is one of the five key elements in reading that has even passed by the National Reading Panel. These two fluency apps are found on and Read and write for Google is meant to build student’s confidence in reading and writing. There is a great tutorial for teachers on how to best utilize this in the classroom. Some of the features include the reading of the passage aloud and it is able to provide the definition of the words in passages. There are many interactive features that allow highlighting and summarizing passages. The best is that this is free for teachers! Fluency tutor is another app that is through Google reading on Google Drive. This feature has passages for students but it allows them to record their own voice and listen to themselves reading aloud. Both of these features are great for teachers and they are run through Google. I think they are excellent resources to provide more interactive experiences for reading with children.

This next article is about building Digital Citizenship in students. This has been a topic throughout the semester which is why it is especially relevant to us as future educators. There are appropriate ways that should be modeled in order for students to be responsible and protected while they use technology. The three tips are: model appropriate behavior, openly discuss online etiquette, and incorporate social media into your lessons. These are all important tips and it is evident that we are using the third tip right now: incorporate social media into your classroom. Students will not know the correct rules of digital citizenship if they are not actively practicing them in the classroom. Exposure to twitter or even instagram as a class is a way to engage students and teach them the correct way to be using technology as as student. By creating open dialogue in a classroom and consistently allowing for students to have open conversations, you are giving them the supports they need to be successful when using the internet among other technology in a responsible way.

This last article talks about using an iPad effectively in your own classroom. I have seen iPads used in classrooms with no direction or as a means for calming a student down. While I think this is appropriate some of the time, there should also be explicit instruction for students in order to responsibly use technology. Coding is one of the benefits of having an iPad in the classroom. Students are exposed at an early age, or even in time when they have their own choice, to learn a great skill. The animation is engaging and makes it seem like more of a game than work. Video Conference is a really cool way to have pen pals from different parts of the country or even different parts of the world. Students will learn more about the world around them through exposure to other places and cultures. It is a way that we can make sure students are well-rounded in not only academic topics. Just as with another topic in this class, digital storytelling, students can learn how to make movies with stop motion and other technologies. When students progress through their education they are able to have beneficial skills that will allow them to be successful.


Scenario Three

Scenario 3: Persuade administration and general education teachers to use UDL in their classroom

Dear Administrator,

The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of principles for curriculum development that benefits all students by giving them equal opportunities to learn. The main idea of UDL is to create your course so that it works for all of your students. This means creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that are flexible and can be customized and adjusted to a student’s individual needs. Here’s a helpful video that will introduce you to the ideas behind UDL:

You may ask, why is UDL necessary? UDL in the classroom is necessary because everyone learns in different ways. Each student brings a variety of skills, needs, and interests to learning, and it’s important that the teacher shapes their instruction around the way the student learns. Some students may be having troubles with the curriculum or difficulty with understanding the material in the classroom. Some of this can be attributed to the ways that general educators are teaching their lessons, or the learning style of different students. Many students have trouble reading which leads to problems in all other subjects such as understanding concepts in science or social studies. Other challenges may result from learning disabilities that underlie difficulties in achievement. UDL should be a guide to learning in the classroom and a supplement to the general curriculum. The curriculum should still be followed with accommodations for students that are tailored to their unique needs.

Overall, UDL should be implemented in all classrooms with the use of differentiated instruction. Every individual is a unique learner and should have access to be taught the way that best suits them. Since this idea is originated from architecture structures, the goal is that all places are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Stemming from that, architects found that these different constructions, such as automatic doors, were utilized by other people including moms with wheelchairs or people carrying a lot of groceries (Billingsley, p. 192). The goal of this entire system is to reach and engage students in multiple ways.

Ideally in a classroom, this would include different supports for various subjects. A student may need assistive technology to something as little as a pencil grip, or even to the extent of a talker. For math, there could be different visual representations like blocks, paper sheets, or counters. By providing ways for students to learn through different concrete objects, they may understand topics better. Just as a type of AT may be a pencil grip, some students may need powerpoint slides printed out for them or a picture schedule on their desk. There would need to be clear expectations set in the classroom that if one student may need headphones to concentrate on writing, it doesn’t mean everyone does. One of the biggest principles could be “fair doesn’t mean equal, but fair is giving everyone the support they need.” Some other instructional technologies may include using resources from the internet to supplement textbooks such as interactive websites for learning about earth concepts through Google Earth (Billingsley, p. 191).

While this is just an outline of a few supports that can be used in a classroom, there are definitely barriers to implementing these. Depending on the funds of a district, iPads may not be available for those who need time without school work and debriefing by listening to music or working on a simple activity. Some students that need sensory breaks may utilize a separate sensory room where it is quiet, but the design of all buildings do not allow for this. Teachers may not be willing to implement this or think there is not time, but it is accessible for all and will help in your classroom where you can teach to the best of your knowledge. There will always be challenges of implementing change, but by adapting that to the best of your abilities and providing alternate supports for students, UDL is possible for all educators. Any of these can be addressed through team planning or getting help from the administration team, applying for grants for different technology, and using the resources that are provided in the building.

So what does UDL look like in the classroom? Let me give you a few examples:


  1. Michael, a fourth grader who has ADD, is starting to fall behind in his math class.  Under the principles of UDL, the teacher could accommodate Michael by giving him a worksheet that lists out what is going on in class.  This would help Michael regroup with the classroom if he spaces off during class.  If Michael has attention problems because he’s not interested in the textbook, the teacher could possibly supply him with interactive iPad textbook to spark his interest.
  2. Juan, a fifth grader, has problems when the class is being lectured to.  He constantly finds himself daydreaming and looking at his phone.  It’s not that Juan isn’t interested in the topic, there is just nothing going on the class that captures his attention.  The teacher could follow the principles of UDL by finding out what student needs to succeed.  In this case, Juan is a visual learner, so the teacher might need to incorporate pictures or short videos into the class lesson to keep Juan alongside his peers.
  3. Christopher, a 2nd grader with ADD, can’t learn from textbooks.  He has a one-on-one aide who sits with him for hours trying to read the textbook with him, but he loses focus and he is starting to fall behind his grade level.  To help Christopher succeed, the teacher could incorporate different types of activities in between reading the textbook.  For example, the teacher could find apps that support reading on the iPad or use a concrete board game that works on beginner reading skills.  Christopher could be rewarded by watching fun, educational videos on the computer or by playing educational games on the computer.  Changing the lesson from reading a boring textbook to playing educational games keeps Christopher interested and it helps him reach his grade-level academic requirements.

As it is demonstrated in this paper, there are definitely ways to implement the Universal Design of Learning in all classrooms. It does not necessarily have to be a big change, but more of ways that students can work best to suit their learning needs in an environment where they can be most successful. If you want your students to achieve in the best way they possibly can, why not follow this plan?

Billingsley, B., & Brownell, M. (2013). Universal Design for Technology and Learning. In A survival guide for new special educators.

Created by:

Greg Knapp

Megan Simpson

Riannon Szofer 

Scenario One

Scenario 1: Create elevator speeches on the importance of educational technology

As you can tell from our elevator videos, we are advocates for technology use in the classroom. We believe that if we do not incorporate technology we are cheating our students from the future. The world is changing, how we teach is changing and as teachers we need to realize this and give students the tools they need to be successful in the real world. By the time our students graduate most jobs will be highly technology based, and if we withhold the opportunities to teach our students this, they will be behind in the real world. Some teachers may be hesitant to incorporate technology because they feel it is taking away from traditional learning, and in a way it is. Learning is going from a tradition, instruction based learning to a more open minded, creative and collaboration based way, which is how the real world is set up. Why not let students create a presentation, an app, a video or an online graphic organizer to show what they learned when presenting a project as opposed to just writing a paper. Although we don’t know what technology is going to be like ten years from now, we do know that by incorporating technology and teaching students to be adaptive to changes that are presented is a good basis for the future. Technology also allows the world to become much smaller. For example I could simply tweet out my video project and all my friends can see by the click of a button. Not only is this a great way to share things you’re passionate about, but we also talked about in class that when students know their work will be shown to more than just their teacher, they tend to try a little harder. Over all, our world is changing and as teachers we need to adapt with it and help our students learn and adapt to it as well.

Created by:

Greg Knapp

Megan Simpson

Riannon Szofer