Monday, August 6, 2012

Journal 9: First Graders with iPads

Getting, S., & Swainey, K. (2012). First graders with ipads?. Learning and Leading with Technology,40(1), 24-27. Retrieved from

Sara Getting and Karin Swainey of Hilltop Elementary School,wanted to test the earning benefits of using iPads with their First Grade students.  They decided to specifically focus their data collection on the observations and assessment results of the two lowest target reading groups in their classroom.  The two teachers used the iPads to support the practice of reading skills like vocabulary, fluency and comprehension as well as to embed  digital readiness skills.  They also increased their own collaborative practices to elevate cohesion in interpretation of data and student assessment results.  They also added the support of a Special Education teacher to help support students and gather data.  The teachers initiated this project entirely on their own with the  only district financial support for the purchase of the iPads.  As they incorporated the iPad practice into their teaching, they also discovered that iPads not only seemed to be supporting literacy improvement with their most at risk students, but they also recognized that it was an effective tool for improving time-on task and classroom behavior.  The article points out that there were a few drawbacks to the iPad use.  one example was the noise of many interactive programs going on at once, became overwhelming.  This was easily solved by asking for a small grant to purchase headphones.  The end of the year results were that the teachers did produce data and observations to prove that iPad use for First Graders, especially those struggling readers, was beneficial and effective.  

What struck me the most in this article was when  Getting and Swainey described the process of initiating this project all on their own.  Many times, I attend staff or department meetings, where a majority of the conversation revolves around teachers wanting to implement something but complain that they can't because "the District" won't support them.  I think  we should take a hint from these two professionals and just dive right into any project if we know that it will be a benefit for students.  Yes, they did receive financial backing for the purchase, but they also did the homework to collect data and provide evidence to the effectiveness.  Having the students present at the board meetings brilliant work! The public needs to see what we do by having our students show them!  Far more effective than trying to let a data table or test scores in the paper, dictate their (the public) perceptions.

Question 1  Would I like to consider using iPads as a learning tool in my classroom?

Answer  I would absolutely love to be able to utilize iPads in my teaching.  I think that it is important for students to have access to current technology and learn to use it properly and not just understand it as an expensive toy that only wealthy kids get for birthday and holiday gifts.  I like how iPads offer the ability to incorporate independent practice of remedial skills without the presentation of being remedial because it is so cool and interactive.  Also, being a teacher of students with severe social emotional difficulties, I was drawn to the part of the article where the two teachers observed how the iPad use appeared to alter the negative behaviors of students who struggled with behavior previously.  Awesome!!

Question 2  Should every teacher insist upon iPads as the go to tool for student improvement?

Answer   While iPads do match the current technology trends, it is wrong for a teacher to assume that without it, you cannot be effective.  Of coarse all students should be geared in the direction of digital readiness, but districts find it hard to afford the continual upgrade that technology requires.  So, it is best to go into your room  confident that you can work with your students, establish academic and social goals, differentiate instruction, and produce fun interactive meaningful practice, all on your own.  My observations in the article were that there were practices that Getting and Swain added into their teaching, iPads aside, that also most likely added to the overall success of their students.  One example of this would be the increase in meaningful collaboration with each other and support staff.  Another example would be the more consistent attention to student behavior and time-on-task data measurement.  

Friday, August 3, 2012

Journal 8: Assistive Technology Tools


AAC ( Augmentative and Alternative Communication ): Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) includes all forms of communication, except oral speech, that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. We all use AAC when we make facial expressions or gestures, use symbols or pictures, or write. For many people identified with a disability or degenerative disease, a manifestation of that disability is the impairment of their ability to effectively communicate in the manner of their non-disabled peers. 
 Communication is the main way in which human beings access and maintain independence and quality of life.  It is crucial that we act as advocates for those who are faced with this deficit in communication and provide access to quality AAC devices.  

There are multitudes of high and low-tech tools available for the benefit of AAC.  However it is important to research each device fully and consider the person's personal strengths, weaknesses and environment prior to helping to make a choice in technology tools.  Below is an example of one high-tech and one lo-tech tool for AAC that I have used with students who are significantly impacted by their disability.

DynaVox EyeMax device
DynaVox EyeMax Systems  are a high-tech device, that is used to communicate ideas and thoughts for people whose disability significantly impacts not only their communication but motor abilities.  By using eye gaze, a person is able to concentrate on a variety of symbols, thought collections letters numbers and personalized messages to produce voiced communication.  Using this device means that people are no longer trapped by the limitations of their bodies and their true cognitive abilities are able to be shared.  In a classroom, this means that a student could be included into a classroom setting and maintain independence by not having to rely on an adult aide to interpret and share their  thoughts.  DynaVox systems can be used by people of all ages. The benefits and possibilities will be unique to each individual. Many people have already learned to use eye gaze as a form of communication for identifying objects or to simply respond to one word icons , placed before them.  Using the DynaVox will be a more comfortable transition.  For others, not yet familiar or proficient in eye gaze communication, work with Occupational and Speech Therapists will need to take place so that a person can achieve success.  For a story of the life changing benefits of this system, visit the website:

Step-by-Step communication switches
Step by Step Switches  This low-tech AAC support device is a series of several different colored large buttons, that attach to a simple recording device.  A teacher, parent or peer can speak into the recorder and then assign responses that are determined by a different colored button. When a student presses on the switch the recorded direction, message or story will play back and the student will respond using another switch response.  This is could help a student with AAC deficits, in identifying elements of a story, chronological order, or even responding to a multiple choice oral test.  In this way, the student is still able to participate with their like non-disabled peers with modifications.  


Input Device: The term "input devices" is used  to define external hardware components, used to feed data and control signals to a computer system. These devices, along with output devices, constitute the process of human-computer interaction.  For people with disabilities, input devices are needed so that they can access not only computer use but also all the daily technologies we have all come to rely on as  part of our daily function ( e.g. transportation systems, ATM machines, phones).  Once again, in considering assistive technology choices, it is crucial that the person it is intended for is a part of the selection and evaluation of possible choices.  

NEC Versa LitePad

  LitePads  These technological versions of notepads, provide support for people with a variety of processing deficits.  It also can be used to support students who have limited ability to type.   
The NEC Versa LitePad captures handwritten notes. The tablet supports handwriting recognition, allowing students to write directly on the screen,using a special pen designed for the LitePad.  The tablet translates the handwriting into keyboard-style text. The person can handwrite, sketch, enter data e.g. math problems and start programs directly from the tablet screen. It can also be used as a laptop.  Many of the students that I have worked with liked to use this type of technology for note taking in class.  Also, it is helpful in creating essay drafts because students can organize their thoughts in their own writing and then produce a typewritten draft. 
ZoomText icon

Zoomtext   Zoomtext is a software program that can be added onto a computer or other devices where there is text involved, and it will enlarge the text so that it is easier to read.  Not only is this beneficial to students and people with vision impairments, but it is also beneficial for people and students who have disabilities in which sensory problems manifest.  The look of a few words on a page of text is often less overwhelming.  Many of my students with autism will automatically change the font in their computers to the largest possible size.   The accessibility of larger text is also achievable through the settings section of a PC.  

This blog post only highlights four of the myriad of assistive technology choices available.  Again, it is crucial that the choice of any device, tool, software or hardware should be made with the person who will be utilizing it, involved in the process.  Assistive technology is as much based on personal preference as anything else.  It is important to consider how much assistance it is really providing and to what degree will any certain assistive tool, promote the independence of the user.  Marlene's Blog is the personal day-to-day accounts of a mother observing the communication awakening of her son.  It is a great way to understand that people with severe disabilities hold within themselves a strong desire to be independent and their voice heard.     

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Journal 7: Developing my PLN

A PLN is the acronym for Professional Learning Network.  A PLN comes into formation when a person begins to use social networking sites such as Twitter, to create a community of preferred professionals and people, who maintain an interest or insight, into similar topics.  It provides a way for people to access information globally and extend their options for professional development beyond the immediate community of resources available.  Having a PLN means that I have unlimited access to resources and collaboration that are specifically linked to my area of need.  I can also provide this support to others who may be seeking a need for resources, strategies or even words of encouragement. Especially in this time of limited funding for professional development and support, I have found that building my own PLN has already shown to be of great worth to my teaching.  Three social media sites that I have used to help me in establishing my own PLN include: Twitter, Diigo and "The Educators PLN" website.  As budget cuts have swept through public education, the priority on professional development opportunities has all but ceased to exist.  It is important to me that I remain committed to being a lifelong learner not only for myself but for the benefit of my students.  Creating my PLN has provided me so many new colleagues whom I may never have otherwise ever worked with.  I have already worked with people who can help me to create more unique behavior support plans for my students with social emotional disabilities.  I have also gained a plethora of resources to assist me in developing a professional development workshop on differentiating instruction and Web 2.0 tools, for my staff.  A PLN can provide a fresh perspective and a wealth of new ways to approach learning.

The first social networking site that I have used to access and build my PLN, is Twitter.  In my naiveté, I understood Twitter to be something where people posted "tweeted" information about their daily activities.  Feeling that there wasn't really much to my daily activities that would entice others, I stayed away.  However, I have now become introduced into the potential of Twitter which far exceeds my initial understanding.  Twitter has enabled me to make contacts with educators and thinkers abroad.  As  a teacher of students with identified disabilities, I am always searching for unique ways to bring the curriculum to my students.  I want them to maintain an experience that is positive and builds upon their ability to self-advocate and lead independent lives.   ThroughTwitter, I have made several contacts that will provide me with the supports and collaboration that I am looking for.  What I find most valuable is that I have been able to be in conversations with people who are "famous" in the world of education and I able to be part of their academic circles, their PLN's.   Currently, I am following: Alan November an Ed Tech and 21st Century learning skills expert, Timothy Gwynn,whom I found and added after following Michelle Baldwin.   Both Michelle and Timothy present to me as very accessible and extremely knowledgable.  Their profiles both include statements of a commitment to forward thinking and development of technology use and education in the classrooms.  Nicole Eredics is a wealth of information on inclusion and conducts a weekly podcast centered on inclusive classrooms.  I have read Paula Kluth's many books on teaching students with Autism.  I can now follow her Twitters as well.  I have also been led to new experts through following here Twitters.  Within one week of beginning my concentrated efforts with Twitter, I already feel that I have such an amazing wealth of resources.  I have also gained two followers on Twitter as a result of my PLN Network on Diigo.

Om July 24th 2012, at 9:00 a.m., I participated in my first Twitter chat.  #edchat is a site where thousands of people in the education field elect a topic of the day.  Once the topic has been voted on by the participants, a continual stream of Tweets, begins.   The topic during my experience was on the value and sustainability of PLN's.   At first, I was overwhelmed with the speed of the posts.  I saw comments that I wanted to expand upon but they were replaced in a flash by more wealths of knowledge.  As information sped by, I began to write down the names of people that I saw frequently or whose Tweet contained a link to an article that I was interested in.  Many of the people I chose to follow on Twitter and Diigo, came from "lurking" on the #edchat stream.  Tom Whitby appeared several times in the discussion and so I added hi to both my Twitter following and my Diigo network.

Diigo is a social networking and bookmarking site that I also utilize in an effort to build my PLN.  Upon registering to the site, Diigo lets me tag things of interest that I find as I am searching the internet. It then categorizes them into a "tag roll" based on the title that I give it.  In this way, I am able to build a library of resources.  in addition, Diigo allows me to connect with other people who are Diigo to add to my network.  When I come across an article on the internet that I like and want to keep it as a resource, I can bookmark it and tag it.  I can also add the author to my network or look up the author in the network search engine and decide if I would like to follow that person based on their profile and their subject tags as well.  Tero Toriavan, for example is one of the people I have chosen to follow in my network.  He is a special education specialist with an emphasis on Autism.  I found him when I clicked on Paula White's Diigo network page.  I had found her from the #edchat, looked her up on Diigo and when I clicked to follow her, a whole range of other people from her PLN opened up to me.  Danielle Klaus was another person I chose to follow because I found her profile to suggest she was knowledgable in the subject of education technology and adding her would be a good part of accessing resources and ideas to implement more technology in to my classroom.  Also, her PLN offered lots of people who could help me with my overall professional development and to provide future trainings and development with my staff and students.

The final social networking site I utilize in an effort to build my PLN is " The Educators PLN" website.  This site is another overwhelmingly awesome source for building relationships and ideas for my classroom.  Once again, as with the information rich Twitter and Diigo, I will also utilize this site in helping me create professional development presentations to help forward the thinking at my school site.  My PLN offers me hope with its ability to offer me fresh ideas and perspectives practically every time I choose to access it.  As I become more proficient, I would love to incorporate myself more as a contributor rather than an observer.  What I find myself doing is starting one blog or video, and then from that I get linked into something else, which introduces me to someone else.  I feel that it can go on to infinity.  I guess that one of my future goals will be to better navigate all this beneficial information and collaboration.  One blog Mrs Keehners Blog, has become my current favorite.  Her blog offers millions of references, articles, sites and professionals into the topic of differentiation in learning and incorporating Web2.0 tools.   Her blog has given me so many great ideas that I can't wait to start the year.  I will be co-teaching with an 8th grade language arts teacher this year and I would love to encourage my teaching partner to participate with me in the blog chats regarding our daily co-teaching experiences.  I found a few people on the site who shared negative stories and I know that my partner and I will be able to show a different perspective.  Once I become more comfortable myself, I would like to collaborate with some educators from my school site to create our own PLN.  Maybe even students too!

 A few of the sites that I selected to tag PLN include:

Assistive Kids Together, Inc. www. kids I chose this site because there are so many articles related to promoting moderate/severe students into the classrooms learning with their like peers and how assistive and adaptive technologies can be used to help. I am passionate on this subject

Another site that I tagged in my Diigo PLN is Mrs.Kheener's Blog I especially appreciated and want to research more into all her listed resources on differentiating instruction using Web 2.0. This is the area where I set my professional goal for this coming school year.

 One last site I chose is educators because I want to continue to research their articles on web tools for the classroom.

Journal 6: Get Rid of Homework!

Spencer, J. (2011, 09 19).Ten reasons to get rid of homework (and five alternatives) Retrieved from

 John T. Spencer believes that homework is an activity which should be reconsidered as useful.  In his article, he presents 10 reasons to defend his educational philosophy.  He argues that homework has become an activity that only those students who have someone who can continually monitor the activity at home or have someone  that will do it for them, benefit from homework as an academic reinforcement.  He also shares that children are busy and tired and that homework just becomes a task to be completed and there is no real retention of any of the content.  I agreed completely with John T. Spencer's view on homework.  I to, have been up against the scrutiny and judgement of my colleagues when I suggest that, as a staff, we consider homework as a valued exercise.   A large portion of the student population that I teach falls in that category of children who do have to go home and take care of siblings, parents and or grandparents.   We have constant complaints by the staff at my school in regards to the lack of homework completion, so why maintain it.  Don't we as educators need to learn to be flexible and isn't a major portion of our job, to problem solve?  So I suppose along with John T.Spencer, I will continue to strive to help push the paradigm shift.

 Here are my 5 suggestions for homework alternatives:

 1. Using the already established academic vocabulary list, ask students to write down, photograph, cut out and bring in, examples of that word being used in their community. Share all findings at the end of the week in a class discussion

 2. Ask students to participate in a recycling project for a week and at the end of the week create a graph to see how many items were recycled collectively

 3. Ask students to read a book or article to their sibling, grandparent or other person at home and that the experience will be discussed at the end of the week.

 4. After a class discussion on current events, ask the students to research on the topic in a group or independently and then students can share what they found in a presentation, Socratic seminar or small group discussion.

 5. Have the students pick a relative that they can access and speak with and have them interview them on a certain topic: immigration,Vietnam War, living in a different country vs. U.S. Once students have completed their interviews, class could create a website, mural, or other collective presentation of their findings.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Journal 4: Tweeting for PLN's

Ferguson, H. (2010). Join the flock. Learning and leading with technology, volume 37(8), 13-15. Retrieved from

Hadley Ferguson's article provides a  chronological entry into the world of Twitter.  She also makes the suggestion that Twitter remains as the main gateway in developing Professional Learning networks ( PLN's).  Ferguson says that for her, Twitter has become a rich source of information resources.  Prior to discovering Twitter, she describes how she was often left to her own devises in getting everything from technical support to professional development.  She describes the process in methodical detail and puts emphasis on the fact that one should become completely comfortable with each step before feeling obligated to become a more active participant.  The first step is to create an account.  Ferguson discusses the profile page.  This is where a picture is posted and a brief bio is created.  She places great emphasis on makng sure the 140 characters allowed to create the profile bio, are well thought out and provide a good representation of you and your interests.  People will use this to decide if you are interesting enough to want to follow, she writes. Next, her article provides clarification on hashtags and how to use them.  The use of hashtags, helps to gain more followers thus creating a rich stream of resources in your PLN.  Ferguson's article also provides a sampling of some of her most favorite PLN resources and offers for the reader to use them as well.  Ferguson feels that if one takes the time to practice, even if it is for ten minutes a day, a person will find Twitter less intimidating and a invaluable source of information and professional networking.

I was found this article to be a comforting and normal introduction into something I was not completely clear on.  Let me explain my definition of  what "unclear" is.  Unclear for me is when all the facts, documents, explainations and rationale have been placed before me but they don't stay there.  they float around in a whirlpool, around and around and I frantically try to grasp at them.  Meanwhile, the world around my "whirlpool of unclear" is moving forward.  So, thank you to Hadley and her down to earth article which finally brought me into a state of clarity on the subject of Twitter. I participated in an #edchat discussion just the other day and as I was "lurking" about I was writing down the names of the faces and participants who came up frequently.  I did this in an effort to begin my own PLN.   I was happy to see that Ms. Ferguson had among her reccommendations of educators to follow, were two of the same people I had also identified on my own, Shelly Terrell and Tom Whitby.  In reading her article I realized that I am able to be a participant in social media and that a PLN is something I am welcome to access.  It isn't just a club for intellectual snobs nor people who wonder if Justin Beiber is getting his hair done today!  

Question 1: what efforts will I need to commit to in order to build my own PLN?

Answer:  In order to begin creating my PLN, I will need to commit a little time everyday, just as Ferguson suggested, to practicing and participating in Twitter conversations and functions.  I think that this is a key step for me to feel more confident and to become more familiar with what is out there and how people engage in Twitter conversation.  I really need practice and suggestions on creating brief messages.  I have looked for tutorials as a way to assist me with this.  When I look at this as a resource sharing tool it helps me to become more drawn and motivated to better navigate the possibilities.  it is in a sense, like learning a new language.  I think that I would also like to begin implementing it as a resource tool for my students.  It is an amzing way for them to get connections with people around the world!  By making a part of my teaching and learning model, I am also getting my own practice in.  One thought I had is if I could find a group or topic related to self awareness and advocacy for my kids.  Wouldn't it be awesome if they could connect with other kids who struggle with the same types of social/behavioral deficits and discuss and problem solve strategies together?!  I guess I have lots of work to do.  Also, I 'll need to get the A.T. guy at work to get me a decent computer.

McClintock, S. (2010). Enhance your twitter experience. Learning and leading with technology, volume 37(8), 14-17.Retrieved from

Shannon McClintock's article provides her personal perception on the endless value of participating and building your own PLN.  In addition, she shares that, due to the fact that there is so much information out there, a organizational site like Hootsuite or Tweetchat is a must.  She provides a visual of how these sites work and shares a list of Twitter vocabulary terms to help people grasp access to the language of Twitter.  I will use this list in my classroom for my students and for myself.  At this point in my experience, I am not quite ready to jump into such a myriad of topics until I feel that I have good command of one.  Shannon's article helped me to understand the meaning of vocabulary I had seen earlier in my participation in #edchat conversation.  Just like any second language learner, you can ensure better success in the overall understanding of a concept, when you take the time to develop and build the tools needed, first.  I think that often, there is an assumption that because technology is so visual bright and global, there is an overall belief that it is automatically accessible.   I don't think that this is the truth at all.   Shannon's article made me realize how much I need to learn so that I can provide for my students, the opportunity to access the larger world around them and to encourage their own PLN's.

Question #2:  In what ways would it benefit students to foster their growth in developing their own PLN's?

Answer:  A large majority of the students at my site have had little exposure to anything outside their neighborhood block.  Even though the beach is less than a mile away, many of my students have never even put their feet in the ocean or walked the shore at low tide.  Experiences are what shape our thoughts perceptions and cognitive growth.  Students need to have experiences.  I see that there is a possibility, using Twitter as the vehicle, to help students access these experiences even if it is through the eyes of another person.  However, what if a student from Bishop California were to Tweet about his experiences of hiking through the Sierra Nevadas.  Maybe by reading this and seeing pictures, a student would become motivated to have that experience for him/herself.   The beauty of a PLN for a student, is that it becomes a global network of like peers. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Journal 3: Flipping the Classroom

Fulton, K. (2012). Upside down and inside out: Flip your classroom to improve student learning . Learning and leading with technology, 39(8), 12-14. Retrieved from

         Fulton's article introduces the concept of "flipped classrooms."  Simply described, students receive their initial instruction through videos created by their teachers.  When they arrive to school, they then apply that knowledge to the ssigned daily activities.  Fulton describes it as homework at school and school work at home.  The idea of flipped classrooms is a manifestation of school districts that were faced with the problem of no money in the budget for new or more updated and adequate textbooks.  Initial test score data indicates that this is having an overall positive impact on student learning. Teachers reported that, while it was an immense amount of work initially, the efforts have been rewarded.  The major drawbacks that implementing schools have  faced included: building trust with parents who found it hard to comprehend this as a legitimate form of instruction and the fact that this format does require students to dominate a large portion of the computer time, this is difficult for multiple student households.  The paradigm shift also produced the need for students to re-think their classroom roles and for teachers to re-structure their perspectives and approaches to classroom discipline.
While the delivery comes in a different package, I would venture to say that the flipped model, is not unlike my experiences in school as a student in the 70's and 80's where the instructions was assigned as a reading at home and then activities were followed up on the next day in class.  I think that teachers used this as a way to gauge interpretation of information and as a way of letting students develop a small sense of background knowledge to bring into the lesson.  However, I find it so interesting that this is the result of desperate times.  I also am fascinated how this change in teaching delivery model resulted in a positive increase in teacher/staff collaboration.  For the past 10 years, I have been involved in working with my site to increase collaboration efforts amongst staff as well as to build a collaborative culture into our school.  My particular emphasis and staff development is around collaboration between general education and special education teachers.  My work has been hard fought and many efforts have had to be made just to get people to acknowledge and speak to one another.  I feel that while my efforts have developed an overall forward progression, I know that the site is stagnate in its overall ability to implement forward thinking practices of more deliberate collaboration.  It is a fascinating observation to me that these school's seemed to transition more effectively and with an overall sense of integrity for success, based on the fact that this appeared as their only option.  I didn't see anything about anyone filing a grievance with their local teachers union in protest of the request to change!!

I see this as an excellent option for some of our "struggling learners" whose real "stuggle lies in the fact that they feel no connection to school.  I feel that education is misguided in thinking that those who are not showing success are struggling learners.  In my observation, these are the students who have not had a life full of many conections to anything.  School represents another place that really doesn't want them.  Three periods of six in a English class probably is not going to develop a love for learning! Also, every deemed "struggling learner" is not suffering from cognitive deficits but perhaps they are reacting to a lack of variety and challenge to their curriculum. 

Question #1: If I were to propose the idea of the  flipped classroom to my site, what would be the obstacles I would need to be immediately prepared to face?

Answer:  I always find that when preparing to introduce anything new to staff, I need to make an effort to initiate smaller conversations around the subject to get a feel for the overall thoughts.  I may find that several teachers and administrators agree that a flipped classroom would be a fabulous delivery option that we could offer.  I would like to encourage a small cohort of teachers to begin the implementation and a small group of students whom it is decided with a team, that this may create success for.  Each student considered would be a part of the team cohort planning as well.  Using Fulton's article as a guide, I would take example from the obstacles that the schools in the article faced and begin a pro-active approach to dealing with them.  My site would need to be able to open access to You Tube.  We would need to create a Moodle or Edmodo account for submission of assignments.  I would need to host and facilitate parent information meetings in Spanish and English to educate parents and to provide a forum to discuss concerns.  In addition, for my particular site, I would need to see if there was some way to get computers in the households of many of the students.  If not, them perhaps we could maintain an open lab?   I also think that because this model will place students in a less traditional atmosphere, we would need to consider weaving in some lessons on success strategies and self-advocacy.

Question#2: How would this flipped classroom approach meet the needs of my students whose first language is other than English?

Answer:  I do have a concern that without proper frontloading, many students who still do not maintain a proficiency in English, would struggle.  Students who are still learning English, may not have the resources at home to help them with understanding what they are listening to.  This is already a problem with the traditional model of teaching and the result is that students do not do their assignments.  I would think that when producing these lessons, it would be crucial that the needs of second language learners be considered.  I also think that as a mainstream teaching model, it should be considered that classes are heterogeneously mixed so that when there are collaborative opportunities the next day, students who are struggling have like peers to work with and help them to problem solve data.  in these class sessions, it would be my thought that some time is spent on providing students with vocabulary frontloading and background knowledge. 

Journal 2: School 2.0 Reflection Tool

NETS-2 Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments: I clearly am seeking direction in implementing this as a more effective part of my teaching practice to a higher level of competency and confidence.

Under the resource guidlines from NETS-2, #3 reads: I develop and use digital tools and resources to effectively differentiate content, process and product for students in order to meet their individual learning needs and preferences.

Upon clicking at the provided link, I found an amzing resource,  http;//  UDL is an acronym for Universal Design Learning.  The purpose of UDL is to provide more variety and accessability to academic tasks for all students.  The home page provides links based on all content areas.  Within these content area links, I found so many exciting tools to assist my students, that I actually was wishing school was in session(briefly).  Especially exciting for me was the toolkit of ideas in the content area of study skills.  As a casemanager for students with mild/moderate and some moderate/severe students, I have always been on the hunt for activities and resources that will help my students to maintain a firm hold in their general education classes with their like peers.  Studying can be a painful task for students who struggle with developmental and/or processing delays.  Often times, the students that I work most closely with, begin to develop frustrations with their academics as they begin to notice that other students are able to get answers with more ease and can complete tasks in a shorter amount of time.  I need to increase my resources for different study tools.  Flashcards, for example, appear antiquated and childish to the student who at 12, is already on probation and academically fragile.  I found this great tool called HeadMagnet.  Students can create an account and then develop lists of things that they find difficult to remember and then the site works with them to improve their skills in remembering and memorizing this information!  Lists can be everything from vocabulary words to dates and times.  I could easily use this sit as a classroom tool in a Learning Center.  When students come into the Learning Center, I can have them spend time on the HeadMagnet website to practice math, language arts concepts and even input some social skills strategies if the student is on a behavior support plan!

Another benefit of the UDl site that I am so enthused about, is that is provides me an amazing opportunity to conduct some prefessional development for other staff on my site.  Many of my colleagues have not come to fully emabrace the idea of differentiation.  Many students I work with and casemanage struggle with classes due to the fact that their instructors are firmly set on not budging from their syllabus of ten years.  one of my jobs includes serving as an advocate for my students.  However, I do not find it an effective strategy, to approach a 'firmly gripped" staff member and yell at them that they need to modify their curriculum and to remind them of the federal laws around students with disabilities.  I can think it, but it doesn't really pull the action I need to see for the kids.  Alternatively, it is far more effective if I build upon my skills to "infiltrate from within" so to speak and to support my colleagues in perspective changing.  One of the best ways to do this is through the use of presentations at PLC meetings or staff development days.  I also like to arrange one-on-one meetings with more challenging staff members, bring their favorite lunch, and discuss ways to promote success for my students.  In this way, I discover that generally, their lack of flexibility is really due to a lack of knowledge or training in what to do.  This UDL Wiki, elates me as to the possibilities it provides to educate staff as well provide them easy, free tools.  I also ensure them that I will be in their rooms working right along side with them. 

I think that I may be growing a bit today in my friendship with technology!  I actually feel like I opened a present...A present that I have wanted.