Thursday, June 12, 2014

Writing Toolkit

Group: Tiffany, Kelsey, Autumn 
Our group looked at a writing tool kit at the EATRC. These tools can be used by anyone who is having trouble writing or for someone who may have a learning disability which hinders their writing skills. Some common challenges that these tools can overcome is poor handwriting, understanding grammar and sentence structure.
The least intrusive tool that we saw were  pencil grips and large writing tools, which can be used for support in handwriting. We also had a keyboard that could be used if the student is having trouble with their motor skills and can only press a button. There was also flip books that had grammar and sentence structure practicing to help learn English. There was also a lifted board that had a dry erase section for those students who have physical disabilities.

I can see using pencil grips in an elementary class because helping them gain those fine motor skills and good handwriting is key in school. It is also very cheap and not very intrusive to their learning. With all the colors they come in, I think that they would be motivated to use them if they had to. Another tool I can see people using is the flip books so they can practice their grammar at home or on their free time in the class. This tool is also very low tech and can be individualized to the students needs. 

I think you could add stencils of each letter in the alphabet to help develop those writing skills. And if you had the resources a tablet with writing apps would really help motivate the student to practice their writing and there are a lot more options of how to do that. 

Technology Philosophy

I believe it is important as an educator to be a continuous learner and to modify approaches in order to find the best ways to relate material to your students.  Our lives are continuously being influenced by technology and I believe it is important to use that technology to improve educational strategies.  As a future educator, I plan to not only learn from the experience of current professionals, but also to keep up on new innovations and incorporate them in my classroom.  Much of the controversy surrounding the use of technology comes from the lack of experience on the teachers part with tools. Without proper guidance and demonstration of how to use technologies effectively and efficiently, many will fail to see the value and potential these tools can provide. With more and more time spent looking at screens, whether it is the TV, computer, Ipad, or our phones, it is important that teachers use these tools to their advantage. There are so many opportunities available at our fingertips if we would just put them to use.  You can find almost anything on the web today to help make your lesson as alive as possible.  For example, if you're teaching a text that takes place in Pakistan, show your student Pakistan or create a social networking program with a school in Pakistan.  There are so many exciting ways to use technology in the classroom to engage students and to authenticate learning and I plan to utilize them in every way possible.

Using WebQuests to help students properly navigate the web to find information, while collaborating with peers, is a great way to combine the virtual, with reality. Not to mention to countless ways that you can now share information with your students. Creating videos, podcasts, Ibooks, and audio recording on the computer are all excellent ways to help learners access the content they need to be successful. Many of these tools, such as video and audio recordings can help teachers properly assess their students, by being able to replay their students behaviors. With technology, we have access to more information than we ever did. It is true, that some of this information is more than we may want, but teachers have control over what their students see and use. Through bookmarking tools and webpage design, teachers can create one-click, often free from advertisement, pages for students to access easily and quickly.

Furthermore, technology can be used to for teachers to share and connect with employers, families, and students.  Papers, resumes, job applications, letters, even to-do lists are now created on computers, PDA’s or other electronic devices.  Technology has changed our modes of communication, transportation, production, and education. These devices have allowed new and creative ways for teachers to stay connected with others. In such a busy day, often these devices are the only means of communication. I see myself using blogs, an a classroom website to help keep others informed as to what my class in doing. This will also serve as a continuous record for me that I will be able to grow and improve upon over the years of my career.

As a future educator, I will continue to increase my knowledge about technology and keep current with new innovations in order to provide the most successful learning environment for my students.  No matter what my content area is, I will integrate technology in my classroom in order to provide my students with a 21st century education. That being said, it will be a continuous goal of mine to review and analysis the technologies I use, to ensure their usefulness and influence of students lives and learning.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

IT 443 Self Chosen Project: Symbaloo EDU

The following Prezi (Presentation) provides a brief overview of the uses and benefits of the online tool called Symbaloo EDU. This free social service allows teachers and students to access bookmarked resources and much more with ease. Use the arrows along the bottom of the Prezi window to navigate between slides/information.

WEB 2.0

 Click to Enlarge
Lesson Incorporating Technology

Lesson Objective: When given an audio file of 15 words containing the /ea/ letter combination on the desktop computers, student will correctly spell by typing 15/15 words in a word document.
Target Grade Level: Second Grade
Teacher introduced the sound /ea/ in written form on the interactive whiteboard (eg. /ea/ as in eat).
Guided Practice:
Students sound out words with /ea/ that are written on white board.
Guided Practice:
Teacher reads /ea/ words while students spell words on individual whiteboards.
Individual Practice Activity:
Students use computer lab to practice spelling /ea/ words through an audio recording spelling test.  
Incorporation of Technology to:
Meet specific student needs –

Student with attention difficulty: Teacher presents directions and visuals using the interactive whiteboard. This allows that student to refer to directions and the lesson, which helps her stay on task. Additionally, while students work to spell words on their whiteboards, this student will be the teacher’s helper by being provided with the correct spelling of the word to then show the whole class.

Student with a hearing impairment: The teacher will check out a sound system from the EATRC which broadcasts the teacher’s voice throughout the classroom. It can also be set up to go directly into the student’s hearing aid. During the spelling test, each student will have headphones connected to the computer. The student with the hearing impairment can turn up the volume and also rewind the file as needed.
Present ideas to the class –
Interactive whiteboard is used to project visuals to the entire class
Audio file is used to give all students the spelling words at their own pace

Check for understanding along the way –
Individual whiteboards
Spelling test

Allow students to show what they learned –
Individual whiteboards
Spelling test on computers.

Share student work –
Using the spelling tests to create a graph and list of commonly misspelled words to display on the whiteboard and have a class discussion about the words. Use this to re-teach any words.
Communicate what is going on in class with parents-
Put the audio file on the class blog along with the graph and list of results
Ask families to use the words in conversation

Thursday, May 8, 2014

iWriteWords App Review (Lite)

iWriteWords, Version 3.2 is an app designed for learners to practice writing individual letters, numbers, and whole words. I downloaded the lite version (free), but the full app is available for $2.99.

You can purchase the app here:

The lite version allows you to practice writing both CAPITAL and lowercase letters, as well as numbers using your finger or with a stylus. When first opening the iWriteWords there was no voice over or readable instructions to show what to do, but there were distinct buttons that were fairly simple for a student to figure out.

Opening Screen
The blue button is for practicing number writing. The orange buttons are for practicing capital letters, and the green are for lowercase. The buttons with the three letters inside are for practicing writing full words (such as cat in the example below). Thus, the single letter buttons are for practicing writing letters individually.
Users move the little crab over the numbered dots in order. The first few times were challenging for the student I was showing this App too (six-year-old with significant learning disabilities).  After a few trials of keeping the finger on the screen throughout each motion, the student got the hang of it. After each letter was completed, a block would appear with the letter in which the user could play with and make disappear by moving the iPhone/Pad or picking up with the finger/stylus. 

When I tested this App out with my student, I did not have a stylus. For writing skills, I think this app would be better used with a stylus first, to encourage generalization to writing with pen and paper. However, if the students are incapable of holding a pencil/pen, this is a really good alternative for basic writing skills. I really liked how it guided the student through each motion. If the student made an error it would simply have them start over and make a silly sound. It also had a lot of positive reinforcement when items where done correctly.

The Lite version is very basic in what it can do and is designed with a limited number of writing tasks, but for what it is (and this being free) I think it will really help students find writing to be more fun, engaging, and encourage them to do something that might be challenging for them. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools

I woke up this morning at 7am, which is much to early for me, to go for my first mile run in I don't know how many years. When I returned home from this very un-smooth jog/walk, I realized it was the first of April and that I had classes to attend and scholarships to do! WORST april fools prank from life ever. After visiting my boyfriends parents for all of spring break in Spokane, my sense of time was all thrown off. I had to skip the first day of Instructional Technology so that I could finish applying for scholarships (which took may more paper than I anticipated). So I'm off to a rough start this quarter but I'm hoping to catch up soon.