Posts Tagged ‘curriculum’

Technology has become increasingly valuable for educators and students.  When incorporated correctly into the educational setting, our students are able to accomplish set goals more efficiently and productively with the vast array of programs and applications available.  Teachers are able to reach all types of learners and meet the needs of special education students by using assistive technology and programs designed for the challenges of today’s special needs population, as well as regular education students.  According to Roblyer and Doering (2010), the goal of assistive technology is to “harness the potential of technology in ways that offer an individual with a disability increased opportunities for learning, productivity, and independence –opportunities that otherwise would not be available.”  It is important to note that disabilities or special needs include students with physical, cognitive, or sensory disabilities.  This list also includes students with speech recommendations and gifted and talented learners.  I look at every one of my students as special needs, although they may not be classified.  I believe every child has a special and unique way of learning, and technology is able to enhance their success if each lesson is tailored to their learning style and needs.

This week I had the opportunity to visit many sites which described specific assistive technology resources. I clicked around on the Assistive Technology Glogster and was amazed at how many of these unique applications had free downloads and ideas for specific learners. The Universal Design for Living (CAST, 2002-2010) was the most useful in advocating technologies that enhance instruction and support the learner in order for them to be successful and independent.  This website promotes Planning for All Learners (PAL) which “promotes access, participation, and progress in the general education curriculum for all learners” – There is a toolkit that includes tools, resources, guided lessons, models of instruction, and templates in order to facilitate educators when planning to meet the needs of their diverse classroom population.  Teachers must have mentoring and training to keep up with the latest methods of reaching all students, and this website addresses educator’s needs fully.  After reviewing all of the resources available, I questioned some of my own teaching methods, as well.

I recently had a visit from a former student who now follows an IEP for his specific learning disability.  This student struggles with expressive writing and language, as well as difficulty getting thoughts on paper.  The task has always been tedious and frustrating for him, and he was thrilled to tell me that his teacher is allowing him to use the word processor.  This seemed like a fabulous idea for this child since I know the potential of his creative imagination.  I asked him to show me his work when he was finished.  A week later he came to see me, but looked like the same frustrated child I witnessed weeks before.  He muttered under his breath that he “can’t write”.  I asked to see his work and immediately noticed all the points taken off for grammar and spelling.  I was a bit frustrated for him since I knew he had used a word processor.  Why were there so many errors?  Out of pure curiosity, I asked his special education teacher if I could teach him to use the spell and grammar check on the computer thinking this might help his self-esteem.  I respected her answer when she informed me that she didn’t allow that since it would not teach him spelling and grammar.  Perhaps using this icon would be a crutch, however, I wished there was a better way to help this child.  Consequently, his spelling and grammar did not improve from a poor grade.  What next for this child?

After this week’s research, I found a wonderful website that I believe would be beneficial for this student’s needs. I am not a special education teacher; however, I will share this site with our special education team. The program Word Prediction, provides the student with the opportunity to pick from word choices for spelling, and listen to their writing with text to speech ability.  The child can then hear if a word is missing or if the work is not making sense.  The child must pick from a grammar choice, henceforth, will receive a concrete lesson while working.  Unlike spell and grammar check, the program basically tutors the child trough the process.  I could never fault faculty for not being aware of this program.  Schools are not always capable of providing additional professional development when it comes to assistive technology.  Due to budgetary constraints there is the usual visit from vendors and the tendency is to concentrate more on physical disabilities.  I am optimistic that technology training in this area will become more prevalent in the future.

There are enumerable websites and information available about the latest assistive technologies such as, cameras for wheelchairs, text-to-speech applications, switch operated pc mouse, classroom audio enhancements, magnification of computer screens, iPod Touch applications, etc. We were given a wonderful resource in my graduate course called UDL Toolkit Wikispace. This website provides links to all of the wonderful assistive technology advancements.  I suggest visiting this particular site to see if any of these technologies will assist your special learners in order to provide them with an equal educational opportunity as those children in the general education population.  Some of these assistive applications will even help advance at-risk students who could benefit from learning through different means and diverse learning styles.  Keep your students in mind as you browse through each application and technology.  You may be as surprised, as I was, at how you can give each student a new way of learning and opportunity for success.  Please share your thoughts or experiences with me through your comments, since I am also new to the world of assistive technology advancement.

CAST . (2002-2010). Supporting educators in learning about and practicing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) . Retrieved April 20, 2010, from CAST Transforming Education through Universal Design for Living: http://www.cast.org/teachingeverystudent/
Roblyer, M.D., & Doering, A. (2010). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching. Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc


“Listen up class! Open your textbook to Chapter 5. Outline the chapter and be sure to pay attention to all important dates. We will be having a on quiz this chapter on Wednesday”. All I could hear from my classmates were groans of torture. This is my memory of history classes during my early education. Fortunately for today’s students, history does not just consist of memorizing rote facts and mindless reading of boring textbooks. Technology and the Internet created the ability to make history “come alive” for our students by creating thought-provoking, reflective and exciting experiences to uncover and investigate. The NCSS (1994) stated, “the primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world”. This vision cannot be accomplished simply through memorization of facts and lecture style teaching. Technology provides students with access to our ever-changing world and gives them the opportunity to discuss world issues globally or use critical thinking skills through world simulations and primary source documents.

This week I have been asked to prepare a history lesson for my students using primary source documents. These can consist of diaries, letters, poems, and newspapers. Other sources can be artifacts, paintings, audio/video, and music. (Heritage Community Foundation, 2002) While sifting through the many recommended websites, I was astounded by all of the interesting pieces of history I stumbled upon that I did not even realize existed. I found it difficult to concentrate on my needed research since I could not stop exploring the fascinating information on my screen. Eye Witness to History gives history accounts directly from the person who lived it. I read the newspaper article printed in 1812 about the sinking of the Titanic, viewed photographs from the great depression and listened to a reporter discuss the news of D-day 1944. This is all from one website.

Colonial Williamsburg had a very informative website depicting colonial times. There, I found information needed for my weather unit. I never knew how the weather was predicted long ago, and this site provided me with an accurate analysis of what people relied upon before the National Weather Service was created. I realize I take certain things for granted after visiting this site. I was able to find maps of the colonies from early America and compare them to America today, all on one computer screen.

My favorite history moment using technology was stumbling upon world simulations. Children are now able to assume the role as a character from history, and make decisions using historical information. They are then able to see first hand what their decisions will do to the outcome of today. PBS.org’s Colonial House allows students to be Governor of a New World Colony of Mayne. Using this site, students journey safely across the sea with their selected colonists. They are scored on their decision making skills. I highly suggest giving this a try.

With state testing demands and pressure about student test scores, many districts tend to put social studies/history classes on hold. Students are asked to concentrate on math, science and language arts in preparation for these exams. I believe this does our children a huge disservice. They are our country’s future leaders! Engaging and thought provoking history lessons enable our children to understand society, empathize with others, think globally, make good decisions using problem solving skills, analyze past events to prepare for the future, and most importantly, encourage good citizenship. If our students learn with these engaging technologies and global communication problem based learning methods, I believe our students will be more prepared for the required thinking for desired test scores, but more importantly, they will be capable and confident to succeed as leaders in this ever-changing global society. Technology and history not only make lessons fascinating, they prepare our children for the demands of tomorrow.

Heritage Community Foundation. (2002). Primary Source Overview. Retrieved April 12, 2010, from Heritage Community Foundation Presents Alberta Online Encyclopedia:
http://www.youthsource.ab.ca/teacher_resources/ps_overview.html

NCSS. (1994). Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: I. Introduction. Retrieved April 10, 2010, from National Council for the Social Studies:
http://www.socialstudies.org/standards/introduction

Unquestionably, language Arts incorporates the reading and writing process. Before discussing technology and it’s advantages with reading and writing, it is necessary to remember that many other subjects within our children’s school day require reading and writing skills in order to address the core curriculum content. Mathematics lessons often require children to explain in written form how they came to a particular conclusion.  Science projects require research and a comprehensive understanding that must be transcribed into a succinct version of the topic.  Social Studies include many forms of reading and response to a particular area of schoolwork.   Health and language topics also require reading comprehension and the writing process.  Each subject in the curriculum requires students to read, research, and write about a particular topic.  Technology is often overlooked in this process as a valuable tool that has the ability to enhance these learning skills.  Technology has the capability to motivate the learner, while providing students with the literary skills vital for success with today’s curriculum.

As a kindergarten teacher, I am currently focusing my efforts on the science curriculum, and developed a thematic unit on Weather and Seasons for my students.  Many of the resources we use from the Internet and library require literacy skills for success with the students’ projects. My students are required to keep a journal in which they log their science learning activities and ideas.  They complete this written journal using small sentence formation and illustrations appropriate to their age.  I taught them to use Internet Resources such as Brain Pop, which includes a “Write about it” tab.

Educational technology is embracing literacy instruction beyond its oral and print-based tradition. “The Internet is constructing global bridges for students to communicate, by changing the way that information is absorbed, processed, and used. Technology is influencing how people read, write, listen, and communicate.”(Holum, 2001)  With this in mind, my students are also encouraged to communicate with their ePal partner schools in a shared writing lesson, an activity providing this young generation with the ability to jointly watch the writing process being developed appropriately.  I usually complete this assignment on the Smart Board so all students’ attention is focused on how we develop appropriate written work, and how we can edit our ideas once we’ve read our work aloud.  The students are much more attentive when using the Smart Board, rather than when I use chart paper or the chalk board.  They are excited and know that the work they are doing is special and something some of their caregivers or parents did not have the opportunity to do during their kindergarten years.  I hear this sentiment repeated from caregivers everyday, which helps to solidify my belief that technology enhances student motivation with use in school day assignments.

Kindergarten students are still developing the required phonics and decoding skills for successful reading comprehension.  I find many of them talking home e-books that helps increase their oral vocabulary related to weather terms.  The students are also provided with effective decoding skills when these terms are used in a Power Point presentation for drill and practice.  Not only are the young learners able to read these scientific terms, but  they are also given the opportunity to use these terms in a sentence.  We use Kid Pix so the students can type new vocabulary and create digital drawings of each new vocabulary term.  When all of these technology-enhanced lessons are combined, my young learners eagerly take ownership of their reading and writing skills.  New words become familiar reading words and each student is capable of using the new vocabulary appropriately when discussing the daily weather.  When using an e-book, rather than a read aloud, I am able to focus my full attention on my learners’ comprehension while assessing and questioning the comprehension of the students.  Teachers who use audio books are able to make more effective use of questioning and discussion time because they could pay attention to the content and meaning of the text, focusing on students’ comprehension process and not just their own spoken performance”.(Hobbs, 2007)  My students can also listen to chosen e-books in classroom centers and share them with their families at home.  They find it more enjoyable to use the computer than struggle with flipping pages in their tiny hands.  These books provide another visual, so important for keeping the attention of little minds.

Today’s classrooms are filled with rich literacy content across the curriculum.  Each subject and grade level is required to go beyond the basic skill content and enhance writing and reading lessons through thematic units.   Technology promotes learning even further by motivating the students and engaging all learning types and special needs.  Technology- savvy teachers become an inspiration to our profession.  Typically, you see a high success rate from their students and a level of enthusiasm palpable upon entry to their classrooms.  At this juncture, technology is here for the duration.  It is evident that it is in everyone’s best interest, especially our students, to utilize this dynamic tool within the educational day

Bibliography

Hobbs, R. (2007, May 17). Using Audio Books to Promote Critical Listening Skills Using Audio Books to Promote Critical Listening Skills. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from School of Communication and Theatre; Media Education Lab: http://mediaeducationlab.com/using-audio-books-promote-critical-listening-skills

Holum, A. P. (2001,October). Critical Issue: Using Technology to Enhance Literacy Instruction. Retrieved 2010, 17-March from North Central Regional Educational Laboratory: http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/content/cntareas/reading/li300.htm

How should technology be used?

This question seems to be the topic of constant conversation in my district today. Many teachers are overwhelmed and are too timid to delve head first into new technology. Others are just as motivated for additional access to more advanced technology as the children. The ISTE lists specific standards for achievement by teachers and students. In order for these standards to be met, administrators must provide technical support in the form of proper continuing education, professional development, district operations, and networking.

When all district technology needs are met, teachers must use the technology for every aspect of teaching, the result of which will be enhanced motivation and engagement of the students. Children today are already using computers, mp3p players, cell phones, digital cameras, Internet, etc. Teachers have the ability to extend a student’s personal use of technology for lessons and research. Students should have a safe environment for applying this new knowledge in digital journals and blogs. Students should communicate with other cultures in order to collaborate and interact with a diverse community of student peers. They should have access to a variety of ways to create multimedia presentations, either individually or collaboratively. Students should have access to programs that will guide them to organize and analyze data for all areas of their curriculum. Computer time is necessary to provide students with the time necessary to research in order to plan and compose their projects. Programs must be available for learners to perform drill and practice exercises to succeed with individual goals. Technology specialists should be available for both students and teachers to in order to troubleshoot hardware or software problems. The specialist will guide students and faculty through the technology learning process and teach safe and responsible technology practices when using the Internet.

Learning is greatly enhanced when technology is responsibly placed in the hands of the students and teachers. The Technology Integrating Matrix provides teachers with wonderful ready-to-use examples on methods for successfully using technology.(Technology, 2009) Fear of the unknown, should not keep us from exploring technology. Teachers today are becoming just as energized and engaged as students about the possibilities that lie ahead in the use of technology. Take the risk of embracing technology. The results are endless and will be surprisingly rewarding for all.

What principles should guide your approach for integrating technology into instruction?

After watching a video on the latest addition to the Apple family, The Apple I Pad, my first instinct was to find out how to get my hands on one and allow my students to use it in my classroom. As tempting as it may be, to incorporate all the “cool” new gadgets on the market, research suggests that I incorporate a direct plan of action before introducing any new technology into my curriculum. Effective technology integration is well planned and works collaboratively with today’s educational curriculum and state standards. Technology is not simply adding gadgets, websites, printouts and spreadsheets into a lesson for your students. Successful technology integration goes beyond the concept of being a “tool “when certain principles and guidelines are practiced before instruction takes place. When developing a unit plan using technology, a teacher must map out a Technology Integration Planning (TIP) Model. This model consists of four phases: (Roblyer, 2007)

• Why should I use a technology based method?
• How will I know students have learned?
• What teaching strategies and actions will work best?
• Are essential conditions in place to support technology integration?

It is important for teacher to insure that a technology lesson meets the criteria for all students in order to succeed. According to the Universal Design for Learning (UDL), every classroom consists of learners with different needs and learning barriers. UDL provides teachers with specific guidelines on methods to use in order to reach all learners. Teachers should provide students with various methods of acquiring information and research. Teachers must keep learners motivated and challenged by keeping lessons interesting and attention-grabbing. Teachers should provide diverse models of ways students can demonstrate what they learned. (CAST,2008) The proper instruction provides all students with a successful opportunity to reach curriculum goals and objectives.

Administration support and training, access to technology tools, and proper technology integration steps, provides every student with a motivating, rewarding and successful opportunity for learning. When all these conditions are met appropriately, our students will be adequately equipped with the 21st century skills required for a successful future.

CAST. (2008). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines Version 1.0. Retrieved February 5, 2010, from Universal Design for Learning Center:

Roblyer, M. D. (2010). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (5th Edition). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc. pp. 52-63

Technology, F. C. (2009). The Technology Integration Matrix . Retrieved February 2, 2010, from Florida Center for Instructional Technology:

Technology plays a vital role in today’s educational curriculum. The effective use of technology provides the ability to inspire, prepare, and improve learning of students of all ages. Some of the most basic daily lesson plans can become much more powerful and inspirational to a learner simply by changing the direction of how the lesson is delivered. Technology integration changes a student’s perception and increases student motivation. Although there are many local funding and teacher training hurdles to overcome, research confirms the overall conclusion that technology used in education produces positive and meaningful results.

Test Scores Improve

Students with access to computers are able to utilize programs and technology resources to make a difference in their personal goals and test scores. Teachers can pinpoint, through the use of testing software, areas of strengths and weaknesses for each student. Teachers can also obtain data and feedback on specific lessons and activities needed to improve individual learning. Research shows that schools who do not reach the AYP requirements are behind in technological advances and usage within their district. Those who have access to technology are motivated and engaged in daily lesson performance, thus decreasing student dropout and failure. A study done in Missouri showed that fourth graders improved consistently on their the MAP results when their classrooms were equipped with technology, basic productivity software, and high speed internet connections.(Bickford, 2005)

Technology Prepares Students for Real Word Life Skills

In the 21st century, students require lifelong learning skills and preparation for the future where they will be expected to put these skills to work. The use of technology by students and teachers provides more collaborative working time and team problem solving, something that will benefit them in all aspects of life. Students trained to use distance learning and web communications to dialog with schools and community groups all over the world gain a wide variety of perspectives. Students retain and understand lessons when information presented is relevant and meaningful to their life’s experiences. A hands-on method of working together provides students with a more significant and real world application to their curriculum. (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2003)

Technology Prepares Students for the Workforce

In today’s global economy students must have access to the most relevant computer resources available in order to be a competitive member of the world’s workforce. Technology based curriculum prepares students to enter colleges and universities and to be productive members of the workforce environment. Career Pathway districts integrated technology with learning and career exploration. High school students reported a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work and felt they possessed the appropriate tools and methods needed to enter today’s careers. Teachers and administrators felt they were a positive element of this process and were motivated to continue improving their instructional practices. Student’s grade point averages were higher and graduation statistics rose, with technology trained students expressing more confidence in their future. (Career Pathways in Michigan Schools, 2002)

In order for our future generation to be educated and prepared for today’s workforce environment, it is imperative to incorporate technology into all facets of our curriculum. Today’s society places high demands on the use of computers, multimedia and appropriate technological problem solving in order to be successful in the 21st Century. It is imperative that teachers and students be technologically literate in this generation. To accomplish this, technology must be a part of a student’s everyday learning. This enables all types of knowledge including, visual, auditory, kinesthetic and critical thinking. Student learning and achievement has a more direct positive result when technology is used on a regular basis. The ISTE mandates many standards for both students and teachers to ensure the proper learning environment for our students. Their focus is not only on the use of technology, but rather on the endless possibilities of the learning journey when technology is used correctly. “Taking the journey is critical in preparing students to live, learn, and work in a technology-rich world. “ (ISTE,2010) Let’s prepare our students today for this lifelong journey ahead.

Bickford, Adam. “Analysis of 2004 MAP Results for eMINTS Students.” Evaluation Team Policy Brief, eMINTS National Center, January 10, 2005. Retrieved from
http://www.emints.org/evaluation/reports/map2004.pdf

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2003, June). Learning for the 21st Century: A Report and MILE Guide for 21st Century Skills. Retrieved from
http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/downloads/P21_Report.pdf

“Career Pathways in Michigan Schools: A Success Story.” Michigan Department of Career Development. December 2002. Retrieved from
http://www.michigan.gov/documents/A_Success_Stor_Black_white_60632_7.pdf

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Resources for Educational Technology Professionals, 2010 Retrieved from
http://www.iste.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Educator_Resources