Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Integrating Assistive Technology in the Curriculum

For my EDUC7724 Assistive Technology (AT) class, I was asked to closely look at one AT product included in Chapter 7 of the book Assistive technology for people with disabilities by  Bryant, D. P., & Bryant, B. R. (2012).  I decided to review Start-to-Finish. Start-to-Finish is a software application that helps students build reading fluency and comprehension.  It's packaged in a set containing a paperback, computer, and audio book.  Start-to-Finish’s newest offering is an online version of the computer books that work with iPads.  I reviewed the online version product demonstration video.  Start-to-Finish Online is a series of chapter books categorized by reading level and genre.  Books are available in two levels, the gold and blue levels.  The Gold Level contains books that are on a 2-3 grade reading level.  The Blue level books are at a 4-5 grade reading level.  Books are professionally narrated and are lively and animated. The pronunciation and enunciation of words is clear. As the book is read, the books’ words are highlighted on the screen. Students can go back and click on words to be re-read. The books are also illustrated. At the end of each chapter, a quiz is available to check the reader’s comprehension. Teachers are able to measure students’ progress and growth through a series of reports. The reports include how many books a student has read, the genre, and how well they have scored on the quizzes. The reports also show what words the students have selected to be re-read. Preferences are available for the reader. A reader can turn scanning on and off, and adjust the speed of the reading. The auditory feature can be turned on and off for reading of the books and the quizzes.  I found it interesting that the founder of the company that makes Start-to-finish, Don Johnson, is dyslexic and read his first chapter book at the age of 15. He is the author of one of the Start-to-Finish books, Building Wings: How I Made It Through School. In this book, he tells his personal story as a struggling reader. He is committed to helping struggling readers succeed in reading. Visit for resources to help struggling readers.

I think this product would be beneficial to struggling readers. It would help them develop reading fluency and comprehension. In a video, teacher Lisa Delgiudice shares her students are comprehending and actively engaged in reading while using Start-to-finish books. She spoke of one reader who made facial expressions denoting anger when the narrator was reading the words of a character who is angry. The teacher attributes the program’s ability to make the books come alive through narration as being very powerful for struggling readers.   

There is a cost associated with this product. There are several pricing packages that range from a 4 title package to site and district licenses.  

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Digital Formative Assessments

Formative assessments are an an integral part of the learning process. They can provide valuable feedback to the teacher about their students’ learning. This feedback can be used to adjust teaching to ensure students successfully meet the learning objectives.

I reviewed three digital formative assessment tools, Kahoot, Socrative, and Padlet.  I learned how to use these tools through the online tutorials available on their websites.   I was able to quickly learn how to use the tools and found them to be very easy to use. All three tools are free, web based, and no software downloads are required.  Student registration is also not required for any of the tools. The tools are user friendly and easy for teachers to quickly start using.  Students have access to the formative assessments created through a link and a password or number.

Kahoot - Kahoot is a student response system. It has a game-like interface with a timer and optional background music. Optionally, Kahoot keeps score in game-like fashion and announces winners. Kahoot may be used in any stage of the learning and teaching process. It can be used as a before learning activity to measure knowledge about what will be studied. It can be used during learning to gain feedback on the effectiveness of learning materials. A Kahoot can also be used at the end of a lesson to provide feedback on how well students have met learning objectives. This feedback can be used to determine wether the teacher needs to revisit the material or  if the class can move on to a new learning objective.

Socrative- Socrative is a student response system. Once you register, you are assigned a room number.  In order for your students to access the survey/quiz,students go to and enter the room number. Once in, teachers can scroll through questions and get immediate feedback. The question types vary from T/F, multiple choice, and open-ended questions. Similar to Kahoot, Socrative can also be used in every stage of the teaching and learning process.

Padlet - Padlet is a website of collaborative work spaces known as  “walls”. Teachers create walls for students to write on. Teachers specify how they want their wall to be shared. The software provides options on the access and writing on the wall. For example, if the wall is made private, only those with the link and password can write on the wall. This is how I plan to use Padlet with my middle school students. Students can work online in a private area that is shared only with the class.

An example of applying  Formative Assessments tools in a lesson about teaching the Dewey Decimal System

I will use Kahoot to pre-assess students’ knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System. From this data, I can efficiently create a plan for teaching and can tailor my lessons to help students meet their learning objectives. The data will also be helpful for grouping students for collaborative learning activities on the Dewey Decimal System.

I will use Socrative (my room number is 520236) to develop multiple choice questions to check student understanding of the Dewey Decimal System classification during learning. Socrative will provide a snapshot of how well students are understanding and applying the learning materials. This feedback can be used to adjust teaching materials and methods. For example, if the results of the Socrative questioning is poor, I can provide additional and different learning materials to present and explain the Dewey Decimal System.  Formative assessments during learning can help determine the effectiveness of materials used in learning and identify the need for additional or different materials for learning.

I will use Padlet to allow teams of students to show their understanding of the Dewey Decimal System classification. Students visit the wall and add subjects/topics beneath each of the Dewey Decimal Classifications.  This formative assessment will let me know if they understand the classifications of the Dewey Decimal System. From this assessment, I can identify where my instruction will go next. I may need to reteach the lesson on the Dewey Decimal System using a different approach, or the results may suggest moving on to a new learning objective for my students.

Digital formative assessments provide an excellent source of information on the effectiveness of teaching materials and methods on student learning. Formative assessments provides feedback of the learning that is occurring during instruction. By using formative assessments tools, teachers can use resources efficiently and effectively to improve student learning.  

Here is a link to a list of 36 Digital Formative Assessment Tools.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Teacher Training in the Use of Assistive Technology

This week in my Assistive Technology (AT) Class ED7724, my classmate +Gail Dandelske  developed a survey to measure teacher AT training.  Her survey was titled, “Are teaching staff trained adequately in the use of AT?”  Our class has been discussing how teachers’ training on assistive technology impacts its use in the classroom. This survey confirms our belief that there is a prevalent lack of teacher training on AT.  Gail collected 174 responses and recorded the data using emaze. This is a link to her emaze on this survey.  Interesting data that was gathered is:
  • 93% of the teachers completing the survey teach students that have mild to moderate
  • 80% have taught students with sensory disabilities.
  • 75%  percent of teachers that have taught students with AT devices have never been trained on its use.
  • more than 70% of the teachers felt they have not been adequately trained in the use of AT.
  • approximately 78% believe that “every student has the right to an equal education and the tools that make learning possible”.

The data suggests a disconnect between a teacher's willingness to help and the teachers’ use of AT in the classroom to assist students with mild to moderate disabilities. The data clearly shows that the majority of the teachers had not been adequately trained on AT.  Professional in the field of AT know that teachers need adequate training on AT in order to effectively support its effective use by students. From this data, I conclude that a majority of teachers may not be able to support students that are using AT in their classroom because they have not been trained.

To better address the learning needs of all students in the classroom, school systems need to provide all teachers with adequate training on the effective use of AT tools.  In order to effectively use At equipment teachers need to be trained on the equipment.  With training, teachers will be better informed and equipped to help every learner in the classroom succeed.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Educating Students with Mild Disabilities

Summary of comments for Week 7

I would like to thank my colleagues of the IT&DML Program of the University of New Haven for their thoughts and comments about educating students with mild disabilities. They shared great insight about how to best help students with mild disabilities succeed in the general education classroom. I appreciate the research that was  conducted. It was informative and added to the discussion.  Mild disabilities are referred to as high-incidence disabilities because of the large number of students with type of disability.  According to information from the US Department of Education (2009), at least 78 percent of students with mild disabilities received some education in the general education classroom.  The following is a list of concerns and suggestions about educating students with mild disabilities made by the IT&DML group.

  • Students with mild disabilities cannot be easily identified and therefore may not receive the necessary services to become successful learners.
  • Not knowing what AT is available to meet student's need
  • Cost of AT
  • Providing AT tools or extra support may create stigma for students with mild disabilities.
  • Mindset of teachers (lack of technology knowledge, misunderstanding the benefits of AT)  may hinder student’s success  in the classroom
  • Teacher's may be overwhelmed and shutdown to using AT in the classroom

  • Importance of involving family members in the selection of AT
  • Meeting with parents and families more than just once a year would be beneficial for special education students
  • Co-teaching can be an effective strategy for educating students with mild disabilities and all students
  • Teaching strategies, methods, and AT used with students with mild disabilities can also be beneficial to other students in the classroom.
  • When selecting AT, the AT must align with learning goal
  • Informing and training all stakeholders (policy makers, special education teachers, parents, assistant teachers) about how to educate students with mild disabilities.
  • Availability for technical support at home and in school for AT
  • Using trial periods for AT to monitor usage and effectiveness
  • SRBI model helps identify students for special education
  • Learning models (SIOP, UDL) can help students with mild disabilities and all students
  • Effective strategies include Learning Strategy Instruction, and teacher modeling
  • Engage students in processtype questions such as,  “How is the strategy working? Where else might you apply it?”
  • Chunking down into small pieces, using images, and providing good and quick feedback are effective strategies for students with mild disabilities
  • “Teacher toolbox” for differentiating learning through graphics, alternate assignments, and using presentation software.
  • Technology toolbox” using technology to support teaching & learning
  • Learner productivity toolbox - tools for student use, hand-held devices to assist in reading, math, and writing, and online tools for publishing and presentation.  
  • Using  graphic organizers, calendars, and other organizational tools to help students with mild disabilities
  • Making technology available to all in the classroom reduces the chance of creating stigmas
  • Making system-wide changes to better recognize the benefits and limits of AT, improve the delivery system of AT, and document the effectiveness of AT are needed.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Assessing with Technology

This week in EDUC7726- Teaching, learning, and Assessing in the Digital Era, I worked with 3 colleagues to collaboratively develop a Prezi on Assessing with Technology.  My collaborative group, known as B-Team, met on Google Hangouts to discuss the assignment and develop a plan. Three research focus questions were provided to guide our research. The team discussed each and determined how they applied to the topic of assessment. We then decided to create a Google Doc document to share our notes and resources of our research. The document was created and divided into three sections, one for each focus question.  We then created a Prezi and shared it for editing by the team. We selected a date and time when to reconvene to discuss our research and develop the Prezi.  During the week, as we found information and resources we added them to the appropriate section of the notes document. When we reconvened, we had notes on each of the guided questions and a bibliography of the resources. We proceeded to build the Prezi together. We were each  responsible for creating and building a part of the presentation from the data in our notes. Once all the data was entered, the Prezi was organized and aesthetic touches were made. This is our Prezi on Assessing with Technology.

Assessing is important for learning. Assessment measures student achievement, and provides teachers with information on how to improve instruction.  Policy makers use assessment information to measure how well schools and districts are preparing their students.  Assessing with technology can improve learning in many ways, such as:
  • it is engaging and relevant to students
  • provides quick feedback to students and teachers
  • promotes self and peer evaluation
  • can be integrated into the learning process
  • creates personalized learning experiences
  • allows for archiving student learning

There are several tools for assessing with technology. Each technology tools meets a specific assessment type. For instance, student response systems are great for getting a snapshot of what a students knows. It is important when creating assessment that the objectives being assessed are done with an appropriate method and technology.  For example, you would not use a blog post to assess whether a student knows the location of the states of the United States. The assessment must match the task. When using technology, you must also consider whether the technology will measure the student’s progress based on the objectives of the task. In my example, using an online map quiz game such as the one found on Ilike2learn to test a student’s ability to locate the states is a better method of assessing a student’s knowledge of locating the 50 states.

Issues that are important to consider when using technology in assessment includes student’s privacy and the issue of equity. The ability to use online tools may be restricted by the age of the student. Student privacy should be a concern to educators, especially when working with minors. Equity is important to consider because not all students have access to devices at home. Teachers should be sensitive to this reality because students may be unable to complete assignments.

Assessing with technology is beneficial to both students and teachers. Here is a list of 36 Formative Digital Assessments. Enjoy!