Sunday, April 27, 2014

EDUC7726 Week 4 Socratic Seminar Reflection

During this past week I had my first Face-2-Face meeting with my professor and classmates from UNH's Technology,Learning/Assessment in the Digital Era course. It was also my first experience with what our professor referred o as a "Socratic Seminar". Seeing that I had never experienced a "Socratic Seminar"  before, I decided to google it - of course! What I read was that it is basically a collaborative and intellectual dialogue facilitated with open-ended questions about a text, and its the purpose is to achieve deeper understanding about the ideas and values in a text. I still wasn't sure what to expect but I had a better idea of what we were going to participate in.

Our readings for this particular seminar included data and statistics on teachers using technology at home and in their classrooms, a Pew Research Study. It was interesting to see the discrepancies between low income and high income findings regarding technology access, teacher experience with technology and training, and teacher and student use.  We were exposed to additional data on Teaching Trends and Classroom Technology Trends, as well as ways in which Technology has changed learning and ways in which teachers are using technology. Lastly we viewed two videos, one was Tony Wagner's video "Reinventing Education for the 21st Century" about the new skills that  ALL students need for work, learning and citizenship. The other video with Heidi Hayes Jacobs discussed our 19th Century teaching and learning that currently exists in a 21st Century world.

Questions from all of these resources served as the platform for our Socratic discussion. I was a little nervous at first being a member of the first group of us to discuss. And while we discussed, the remaining classmates and our professor observed and took notes on a pre-formed rubric that we were given. Once we got through the first question, it became more and more comfortable. After 3 questions we switched places and my group sat on the outskirts of the discussion while our classmates discussed some of the same questions. It was definitely tempting in the observation position to want to jump into the conversation and add to the rich discussion. Overall I believe we all acted respectfully and allowed the discussion to progress in the manner in which a Socratic Session is suppose to be carried out.

I really liked this forum of question and answering, especially with this group of people, as I beleive they have so much to offer in thier thoughts, experience and insights in educational technology. Furthermore I think this type of discussion has a place at my school during our morning vertical team meetings. It would be great to try with my co-workers.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

EDUC7724 Adadptive Technologies Week 4 Post Response

Like my classmate, Elizabeth Ferry, mentioned in her post this week I would imagine that there is some corner closet in my school as well that is housing a number of Adaptive Technology devices that are sitting on a shelf collecting dust.  However, I don't believe there is an abundance of them that would require us to inventory or organize them. In terms of students at my school using devices I am aware of only one child who is assisted with a hearing device, which is virtually unnoticeable. Unnoticeable to we teachers, but how about to the student wearing it? or his/her classmates?

There are most likely a number of students in need that may be reluctant to wear or use such  AT devices. Especially students at the middle school & high school level as those are ages where many students, are just trying to fit in.  When I researched further on reluctant students and AT devices I found a slideshow “Assisitive Technolgoies for students with special needs” that outlines the steps that should be taken in order to find the most  appropriate and helpful device. I thought it was good advice to “Brainstorm different assistive technologies that can help the student. There should be a range of options and the goals for the technology to help the students adapt with. “ 

The slideshow also recommends that the student be observed with the device to see how well the device helps and to what degree before purchasing the tool. I think that is an important point/step in the process; to determine to what extent the device is actually helping. In addition to the device yielding significant results, it is also VERY important to involve the student in the process and not to waste money on a device that a student knows they will never use, hence facing reluctance. Definitely good advice, and one that may result in those closets full of unused uninventoried devices, if not taken into consideration.

It is suggested to "keep it as simple as possible", also another important consideration. The example given in the slideshow can be seen below:

Overall it appears that a lot of work and consideration is necessary in the process of not only selecting and determining the BEST AT device for a student, but also to the extent in which the device will actually be used. We as educators and support staff need to be aware that there may be times when we will be faced with the challenge of a child who may be reluctant to use an AT device and be prepared to take the appropriate steps.

Cited Source:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

EDUC7724 Apative Technology Analysis

I began my search of analysing Adaptive Technology tools using google. From the list of resources that appeared I chose Xmind, a map making tool, as the one I wanted to research. Once I downloaded the program and started perusing through the site I saw how it offered a variety of organizational maps for almost anything you could think of. The uses were endless in that it could be used for school, business, and personal activities. Yet, when I delved into it further I felt as if it would be more useful and beneficial for adults in need of organizational skills due to the complexity of keyboard or computing skills needed to get organized. I was looking for something more elementary so I went back to the list and chose Kidspiration. A program I had heard of, but one I had not used with students or even looked into on my own.

After watching the introduction video I felt this program was appropriate for ALL students not only for those visual learners or students in need of an adaptive tool. And I couldn't help but see this as a very useful tool for the many ELL's in my school. Kidspiration is a down loadable program for the MAC, iPad,chromatic, etc. for students in Kindergarten through 5th grade. The program offers a "visual way to explore and words, numbers, and concepts.

The visual thinking modalities span across curriculum areas and are meant to enhance and support learning as well as engage students in the learning. The 3 highlighted areas are in Reading, Writing and Math. Therefore the 3 views in which students can express their thinking are in reading skills, writing skills, and math concepts. Once students become accustomed to the user friendly buttons and icons they can easily take their visual thoughts, organize those ideas and turn them into written expressions.

Students have access to pictures & vocabulary, and in math, virtual manipulatives. They can create authentic representations of thoughts and ideas via flow charts, graphics, and words. Students are able to save these thoughts and ideas in a user friendly way, save their work and turn it into written words. As is the case with math students model problems and can manipulate the pictorial representations in order to solve problems. For teachers, this website includes lesson plans, common core standard resources, IDEA Funding options and more.
Here are a few teacher testimonials and comment regarding the use of Kidspiration in the classroom:


"A traditional outline doesn't work for everyone. But if they can see it in a graphic organizer, they know whether they’ve connected something in the right place, and it makes sense."
Maryanne Porter
Academy Park High School
Sharon Hill, PA

"I incorporate visual learning strategies with my students who have ADHD, dyslexia, and autism spectrum disorders. Grouping and organizing using mind maps comes more naturally and creates a multi-sensory approach to learning. Students using Inspiration find writing and learning easier, it is the most effective and direct way for them to get the work accomplished."
Jesse Berg
The Visual Leap and Cooper Learning Center
Voorhees, NJ

"It also helps linear learners create mind maps and visual learners create order. What a great way to bring different types of learners to shared understanding!"
Deb Logan
Librarian/Media Specialist
Mount Gilead Middle/High School
Mount Gilead, OH

"Inspiration helps level the playing field for struggling learners."
Maryanne Porter
Academy Park High School
Sharon Hill, PA

 Overall, I found this program to be a very useful tool and user friendly for teachers and students. They offer a 30 day free trial but beyond that there is a fee. If interested click Kidspiraton here for the link to their website.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Evolution of Adaptive Technology

Evolution of Adaptive a Technologies

In Week two readings for EDUC7724 we were introduced to Assistive Technologies, it's definition, and it's evolvement for students with disabilities. Interestingly enough Assistive Technologies stems from the definition in the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. As this led to the many changes and progressions within the Assistive Technology Act in the years to come it did strike me as a concern regarding the need for these services and the fact that they were not uniformly in existence prior to the 1980's in our country as a whole. The Tech Act of 1988 was in fact an impressive and significant  mandate because it was the first law to actually provide a setting for the use of devices in the Assistive technology world. This law used grants to provide states with the means to support change and advocate activities for individuals with disabilities.

It appears that since then much progression has been made as outlined by Bryant and Bryant in Chapter 1 of Introduction to Assistive Technology Devices and ServicesAssistive Technologies. Many of the Acts associated with Assistive Technology evolved in the sense of changing legislation but also names as was the case with the Technology Act that ended in 1998 and morphed into the Assistive Technology Act. Signed into law by President Clinton this Act was meant to help address technology needs of individuals with disabilities. In addition the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 which became the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1990. IDEA, as it is also know, involved a revision in the IEP where "AT  devices must be a consideration for the transition plan and must be provided if the IEP team considers it necessary and appropriate for the student's success as a learner". (Bryant and Bryant) Thus making support and other related services to become important components of the IEP.

Progression of the technology needs for those with disabilities continued by making improvements, modifications, and reformations of theses Acts and others. Various aspects and components became important foci surrounding these pieces of legislation and the people receiving the services and or technology. Ethics was one area that required professionals, involved in the assessment and planning of AT services and devices, to adhere to a code of ethics and standards. In addition, a push for districts to train personnel and be current in technology by engaging Educators in meaningful and purposeful professional development became another aspect of AT. When school districts provide in service opportunities it offers formidable learning for educators and therefore better teaching and learning. More aspect surrounding AT related to confidentiality and privacy and access to the general education curriculum for ALL students with disabilities issues.

It appears that the evolution of AT is still in progress even with the gains made from the initial Tech Act of 1988. I would image that despite the support and progression made there is still more that can and will be done to ensure that equal opportunity and access for those with disabilities is 

 I believe as it stands now in the district that I work, most of the PD and current information on AT is geared towards our Special Education teachers. It will be interesting to see if it becomes more mainstream with the general education teachers in the years to come.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

EDUC7726 Week 2 Response Embedded Technology

This week through our ED 7726 course we had the opportunity to pretend we were technology leaders for a school. As the technology leaders we were responsible for making recommendations on a lesson and helping a teacher embed technology into their lesson. While revising the lesson we were to keep in mind the Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition (SAMR) model designed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura. I am familiar with the SAMR model as my colleague and classmate Joan Robinson have used this as part of a Professional development session we offered to other math teachers in our district. We also included this model as a resource on our website NHPS Math Media Website  as a suggested resource for teachers wanting to embed technology into their math lessons.

 Although the lesson I chose for this was not complete, I chose to revise it anyway because I thought the topic would be really interesting to students. It was a 5th grade science/math lesson on population sampling. It was a bit challenging to find its proper place in the 5th grade science curriculum due to the new Next Generation Standards. However, I felt that it would fit in very well with the study of ecosystems and the energy needed and produced by living things; a Next Generation Curriculum Standard.

 I appreciated the feedback I received from my classmate +Nancy Atterberry on the lesson. We both agreed that the concept of progress monitoring was important to include in the lesson, and that “students reflection to identify what tasks have to be done is a valuable skill for students to develop”. I really enjoyed this assignment and welcomed the challenge to revise it. Please review my lesson plan titled “I will Survive” through this link.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

ED 726 Week 1 - High Yield Strategies

In this weeks ED724 class the focus was on best practices, but more specifically the high yielding strategies of teaching. As Robert Marzano's 9 strategies of teaching we're familiar to me, and although John Hattie's strategies were familiar, I was not aware of his name being associated with them in the field of education. It was interesting for me to delve deeper into and reflect upon Marzano's 9 Strategies for teaching and now learn about Hattie's suggested researched strategies that work. I also was not aware of the different ranking or percent yield that accompanied each one of these strategies. I have spent a lot of time this year working with a small group of fourth grade students in solving and creating math problems through the website Shooloo. And although a variety of strategies such as graphic organizers, storytelling, and homework & practice were intertwined into my lessons I did focus on one particular strategy. In order to teach and learn "the art of persevering" when problem solving my primary strategy was Hattie's problem solving teaching. This reflection lead me to think about something else that I learned this week from these two educators and that was; these high yielding strategies should not be used alone as suggested by both Marzano and Hattie. I also believe the use of technology enhanced my teaching and the student's learning in solving math word problems. Many teachers of math have experienced the reluctance from students to solve problems. However, I believe they became less intimidated to solving problems due to the fact that they understood the structure and flow of them by creating problems themselves within the framework of the technology website. Cheryl Lemke, executive director of the Milken Exchange on Education Technology, currently accelerating a national agenda for technology in schools through increasing public awareness, supporting new designs for teaching and learning, and reflecting on research and practice, says, "that the first way that technology can benefit students is that it can accelerate, enrich and deepen basic skills. Under the right conditions, students learn faster with more depth of understanding using technology (Salpeter, 1999)." And I felt this was accomplished by my fourth grade students, through the use of technology in that it enriched and deepened basic skills. In addition just last week, I teamed up with our 8th grade literacy teacher and Literacy coach to introduce, read, and discuss the novel The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Please excuse my familiarity with the practices of teaching and learning in the literacy classroom as it is not my forte. However, the collaboration among the three teachers was very powerful. We used the website Glogster as a tool for students to post and respond to the book. It was highly engaging as we had 98% of the student's in eighth grade complete the 5 activities/tasks required after each read from the book. I felt as if our use of Glogster was an example of Marzano's strategy of using 5. Nonlinguistic representations such as mental images, graphs, acting out content. Also backed up by Lemke's who claims that the second way technology works in education is because it can enhance learning and engage students. "Technology can be a great tool for motivating and engaging students. Brain research shows that if students are engaged, they learn more. If we're able to connect them to real life situations, they're much more interested...what a powerful motivation technology is and what a broad range of skills- scientific analysis, communication skills, problem-solving- are involved." (Salpeter, 1999). By learning more about strategies that work this week I feel that I can enhance my own teaching and better support that of other teachers in my building in my role as a math coach.