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Assistive Technologies

Capture

In order to complete my assignments, I spend half my time on my Lenovo computer at work and the other half on my Lenovo laptop using Windows 10 operating system. I did not realize that Windows had included some assistive technologies to help people with different disabilities including vision, hearing, physical, and cognitive. For this week’s blog, I will review the accessibility features that Windows 10 has and describe how individuals with specific disabilities would use those features.

Narrator

One of the features Windows offers is a narrator, or screen reader. It will read text and buttons that is displayed on the computer. The user can change many of the features to fit their preferences. For example, the user can change how fast or slow the speech is, the speaker’s voice, and the volume. Narrator can used with students that have a disability that involves their vision, students with a cognitive disability, and at-risk students that struggle with reading. The narrator will read each character that is typed or text on a webpage, making it easier for students to be successful using the computer and the internet.

Magnifier

The magnifier will allow users to magnify the whole screen or partial screen. It has different options including full screen, lens (partial screen), and docked (where it is partial but user can place it where he or she can see it better). The user can also choose to magnify it to their preference. It starts on 200% and increases by 100 after that, but it does reduce the viewing area for the user as it is increased. The magnifier can be used by students that has a partial vision loss. It will magnify the text and images to allow them to see the information easier. Another feature that magnifier has is an option to invert the colors. This could be used by students that are color blind, so that they are able to see the text and images.

High Contrast

High contrast is another feature that could be used by students that have a vision impairment or color blind. It allows the user to view text, webpages, and images using a color they can see. There are four themes to choose from in the drop down menu. The students can choose whichever theme works for them so they can use the computer more efficient for their needs.

Closed Captioning

“Closed captions let you read the words that are spoken in movies or television shows. With Windows, you can customize things like color, size, and background transparency to suit your needs and tastes” (Microsoft, 2018). It can only be used with Windows apps, like XBox Videos app.

Keyboard and Mouse

The keyboard feature allows the user to turn on an on-screen keyboard. The user then uses the mouse to interact with the keyboard. As the users are typing, the keyboard has word prediction so they can choose the word rather than typing out the entire word. Using the word prediction can help students that struggle with spelling, such as at-risk students or students with learning disabilities. As for the keyboard, students that have a mild form of a cognitive disability could use a large trackball mouse and the on-screen keyboard to answer questions for an assignment, especially if using a pencil is difficult for them.

The mouse feature allows the user to change the size and the color of the pointer. This would help students that have some vision impairment see the pointer easier. It could also help students with cognitive disabilities see it easier if the pointer was large and black. I changed it on my screen and it has made it easier for me to see, and I do not have a vision impairment.

Speech Recognition

Another feature includes speech recognition which can “dictate documents and email or surf the web just by saying what you see” (Microsoft, 2018). It requires students to complete a training to learn how to use it. This feature can be used by students that have physical disabilities and cognitive disabilities.

Microsoft has made it easier for students and adults that have disabilities use certain features with ease. This gives them the independence they need to complete assignments and enjoy the computer for entertainment purposes too.

Resources

Microsoft. (2018). Windows accessibility. Retrieved on April 18, 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/accessibility/windows.

Purewal, S. (2016). Windows 10 settings menu: The ease of access tab. Retrieved from: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/windows-10-settings-menu-the-ease-of-access-tab/.

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Obstacles and Solutions for Integrating Technology into the Content Area

As the digital integration lead at my school I hear many excuses, or obstacles why teachers do not integrate technology into the content area. Some of the obstacles I hear include lack of time, lack of training, and lack of resources. However, there are some solutions for those particular obstacles that can be overcome.

As for the lack of time, “common core expects students to be active learners, authors, not just consumers. Technology makes that happen by asking them to publish, share, collaborate” (Murray, n.d.). Teachers can have students collaborate on assignments using MS Word online or Google Docs. There would be fewer assignments to grade, which saves time. This also gives them the opportunity to use technology for education and not just for entertainment. In Language Arts, teachers could use sites like storybird.com to have students write stories, peer edit and share their writing with their classmates and the teacher. This also saves time, because teachers can see the process their students are making on their writing as it is shared.

For science, teachers can have students dissect a frog using a virtual dissection that can be displayed on the whiteboard, see  http://frogvirtualdissection.com/. Any content teacher can have their students use Quizlet to add study their vocabulary words. What is nice about this program, students can add the app to their phones so they can study on the go. It takes a little creativity to integrate technology into the classroom.

Another obstacle is the lack of training. Many of the apps include tutorials to use the programs for no additional charges. Microsoft has a wide range of training on their community page for teachers to learn how to use their products. For example, I have accessed it to learn how to use OneNote. It takes about an hour, but I am able to do the basics so that I can get started. However, many times there are teachers in the building that teachers can ask for help. For example, I started using Plickers in my science class, and I went to another teacher to learn what I needed to do to start it. It was a good addition for my students. “Students want to use technology” (Murray, n.d.), and many times they can figure out how to do something if the teacher gives them the opportunity to use it.

Finally, I have heard and seen where teachers complain that they do not integrate technology into the classroom because of the lack of resources. So many times teachers want to use the laptops to be told they are already checked out or they are going to be used for state testing. I know this can be frustrating. However, depending on what the teacher is using it for, many of the students would love to use their phones to complete the assignment. In science, I had students use their phones to video their paper slides video and they never complained. It just takes additional planning to have students use their own devices.

The obstacles to integrate technology into the classroom can be overcome with solutions that are easy to implement. However, it does take creativity, patience, and ingenuity for teachers to use the technology as a valuable resource in the classroom. For me, I had a hard time integrating technology in my science classes, but this semester I have had many opportunities to discover new ways to integrate technology into my teaching toolbox.

Resources

Murray, J. (n.d.). 13 Reasons for Using Technology in the Classroom. Retrieved on April 9th, 2018 from http://www.teachhub.com/13-reasons-using-technology-classroom.

Greene, K  (n.d), 50 Fab Apps for Teachers. Retrieved on April 9th, 2018 from https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/50-fab-apps-teachers/.

Muthler, S. (2014, May 8). The Best Interactive Web Tools for Educators. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/best-web-tools/.

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Educational Technology and Science

I have been teaching science for about sixteen years and during that time my approach to teaching science has changed. When I first started teaching, I used an overhead for my notes for my students and now I use my computer, projector and PowerPoint for my notes. As I have started my Masters program, I have looked at other areas that I can use technology in my teaching and for my students’ to use. There are several advantages for using educational technology in science.

“Educational technology can support both the teaching and learning of science concepts and science processes.  Technology allows teachers and students to model and explore concepts that are otherwise impossible or difficult to explore, to support student inquiry and to clarify and display student thinking” (2018). One area that teachers can use educational technology is the use of images and videos. I remember learning about space in school, but my teacher only used black and white photographs. None of those images caught my attention. However, today, I use videos that helps students understand the concepts easier and it also helps to keep the students engaged in their learning. Many times I have heard students discussing the videos that we have watched in my room with their friends.

This year I have started using simulations in my classroom and I will use more next year with my new curriculum. “Simulations allow students to visualize abstract content that is otherwise difficult to understand. Furthermore, many simulations allow students manipulate elements within the model or simulated experiment. Manipulating elements and seeing different visualizations enhance students’ understanding about the phenomena that they are studying and also improves their reasoning and science process skills” (2018). For example, using simulations to show what happens during an earthquake, air masses colliding, or hurricanes. The simulations can help explain a difficult concept to students and provide images to connect to the information that they have learned.

Another advantage of using educational technology in the science classroom is it allows communication and collaboration. Using the internet can extend the boundaries of the classroom or a project that the students are researching. For example, the National Geographic Society Kids Network Acid Rain project allowed students across the United States to measure the acidity of local rainwater and aggregate these results to construct a composite picture around the world in concert with the efforts of similar classes” (Bell, R., Gess-Newsome, J., and Luft, J., pg. 7, 2008).

These are just a few of the advantages of using educational technology in the classroom. I feel that if I can engage my students and build a deeper understanding of the content, then I will try it in my class. As I finish my program at BSU, it will give my more confidence to add even more technology. I have asked my principal to teach only sixth grade science so that I can use my time more efficiently finding tools to further my teaching and my students’ learning of science.

Resources

(2018). Instructional technology in science. Minnesota STEM Teacher Center. Retrieved from: http://scimathmn.org/stemtc/resources/science-best-practices/instructional-technology-science

(2018). Simulations. Minnesota STEM Teacher Center. Retrieved from; http://scimathmn.org/stemtc/resources/science-best-practices/instructional-technology-science/simulations

Bell, R., Gess-Newsome, J., and Luft, J. (2008). Technology in the secondary science classroom. Retrieved from; http://static.nsta.org/pdfs/201108BookBeatDigitalImagesAndVideoForTeachingScience.pdf

 

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Digital Games in my Classroom

I enjoy playing video games and I like to discuss different video games that I know my students play and I happen to play too. Speaking my students’ language allows me the opportunity to build a rapport with them at the beginning of the year. I have been interested in adding game-based learning in my class, like the keyboarding teacher does. However, I did not see the advantage of game-based learning until now.

The three articles that I found share the same viewpoints as to the advantages of game-based learning. Those advantages that the authors discuss are: the games engage the learners, the students develop skills, such as hand-eye coordination, and the games can help with a student’s memory capacity. Each of the authors discuss other advantages that are only found in their article that are equally important, such as “computer & simulation fluency,” (Jones, n.d.) and “immediate feedback,” (Peters, 2016).

I teach sixth science and social studies and I’m always trying new things every year, especially if it will engage my students. I have not tried any games in science yet, but I plan to next year with the new curriculum adoption. I found some games that I feel the students will be asking to play over and over. However, for social studies this year I had my students play a game through Discovery Education called “Maya Math.” At first, the students found it quite difficult because the Mayans had a base 20 system. Once they became familiar with it, the students really enjoyed it. In fact, I had a student finish the game that night at home.

I know for me that games have helped me develop new skills, so when it applies to students and their learning, I am willing to try it. Joe Peters writes, “Game-based learning allows kids to develop cognitive, social and physical skills simultaneously. This learning enhances essential life skills like cooperation and teamwork. The knowledge and skills acquired through game-based learning are retained longer than information from other learning methods” (2016). Students continue to ask to play the “Maya Math” game, weeks after we have finished the unit. My hope is that my science students will do the same thing with the games I have found to play using the new curriculum that has been adopted.

Jones explains how it helps a child’s memory by stating, “games often revolve around the utilization of memorization  This not only relates to games whereby children have to remember aspects in order to solve the game, memorize critical sequences, or track narrative elements” (n.d.). Peters adds, “

each time children play the same game, they perform cognitive actions such as recalling the rules, keeping track of hazards and remembering how the sequence of play works” (2016). I know for me that it requires a lot of memorization to play some of the games I like to play. As I have watched my students play “Nitro Type,” students are required to recall what they have been learning in their keyboarding class. The students are working at speed and accuracy as they type to make their cars race faster against their opponents. They do not have time to look at their keys if they want to win the race. So, this game requires a lot of concentration and memorization of the keys.

“Nitro Type” would also fall under what Jones called the computer and fluency. She states, “this is something which is very important because we live in a world which is dominated by technology. Playing on games via the internet allows children the license to get used to how a computer works and thus it becomes second nature to them” (n.d.). At the beginning of the year, I can tell which students have a computer at home at which of them that do not. However, it does not take them very long to become familiar with how to use the laptops that I have for my social studies curriculum.

Another advantage that the students receive immediate feedback. Peters states that “learners benefit from the immediate feedback that takes place during game playing. Instead of having to wait days or even weeks for an assignment or test grade, students get instantaneous results about whether or not they made a good decision” (2016). I know for me that I wanted to know how well I did on an assignment or a test. Today, we live in a world that wants instant gratification, and waiting for test results are not fast enough for them. So when students can see how well they are doing on their game or check their achievement level, it helps them fulfill that need for instant gratification.

These are all great advantages to use game-based learning in my classroom. As I am searching for games that I can utilize next year, I have caught myself playing the games too. I have been looking for games that are engaging to my students, continue to teach them the content that they have been learning throughout the lessons, and provide immediate feedback. Now I am off to play “Missions To Planet Earth” (https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/earth-card-game/en/#/review/earth-card-game/preloader.swf). I think I will set it to easy this time.

Resources

Jones, C. (n.d.). 6 basic benefits of game-based learning. Teachthought. Retrieved from: https://www.teachthought.com/technology/6-basic-benefits-of-game-based-learning/.

Peters, J. (2016). 5 main advantages of game-based learning. Bright Hub Education. Retrieved from: https://www.brighthubeducation.com/teaching-methods-tips/129304-advantages-of-game-based-learning/.

Stathakis, R. (2013). Five reasons to use games in the classroom. Education World. Retrieved from: http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/reasons-to-play-games-in-the-classroom.shtml.

 

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Scaffolding in PBL

After reading the article “Scaffolding in PBL” by Jamie McKenzie, I realized that I did not go into as much detail as I could have when I shared some scaffolding techniques in my PBL. For example, McKenzie states that when it comes to research on the internet, “teachers have little tolerance for ‘data smog’ and ‘Infoglut.’ They want to see students putting their energy into interpretation rather than wandering” (1999). I addressed this by saying in my student learning guide, “if students are struggling in their research, suggest that they research natural resources of Mesopotamia” (2018). I could have easily found a list of resources for the students to use for their research. This would reduce the amount of off task behaviors and wandering aimlessly on the internet.

In the article, McKenzie suggests that teachers should provide examples of quality work so that it clarifies the teacher’s expectations. For my list of scaffolding strategies, I would share an example of a map that they would be completing. However, since this would be the first time, it would be one that I create. I only mentioned it one time on the student learner guide. I feel that I would do this throughout the PBL, because it helps students to aim at a target as they are working on their assignments.

I do, however, feel that the organization of the project and the scaffold of the tasks provide the support students will need to succeed throughout the project. I start with an easy concept to understand, creating a map, to a more difficult concept, creating a video with narration that they write. This provides clear direction of the project and it creates momentum for the students to succeed. Also, each step of the way the students will hand in a slide that they complete for a task. This will give me the opportunity to see how the students are doing as they complete the project. If I notice a student or group of students are struggling with a concept, then I could use that time to remediate and reteach them. Then the students can re-do the slide for a better grade and show that they understand the concept.

I feel that before my project is finished and ready to turn in, I will review the student learning guide to determine what I could change on it. Scaffolding is important for the teacher to address for the students, because it gives every student an equal opportunity to do well on the project. Scaffolding also helps students with understanding the content that is being taught.

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Assessment and PBL

Assessments help the teacher know if the students learned the concepts that were taught. If they did not learn it, the assessment shows what standard or standards the students are struggling to grasp so the teacher can remediate. For my PBL (Survival), I have two different types of assessments: formative and summative. So what are formative and summative assessments? In the article, “What is the difference between formative and summative assessment?”, the author writes that “formative assessments are generally low stakes, which means that they have low or no point value” and adds that “the goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning.” (Carnegie Mellon University, 2016).

For the formative assessments I will be using two different types. First students will be taking vocabulary and content quizzes throughout the PBL to check for understanding. This is the first level in Bloom’s Taxonomy of high level thinking skills. The other type will be from the analysis and/or synthesis levels of the taxonomy. For each task, students will be creating slides that they will be using for a Paper Slides video at the end of the PBL unit. However students will turn in their slides as they complete them so that I can check for their understanding of the content.

Summative assessments, according to the article, “are often high stakes, which means that they have a high point value” and “the goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark” (Carnegie Mellon University, 2016). For the summative assessment, students will be using their slides to create a Paper Slides video. Groups of three students work together to create slides with images that explain a certain topic. Then they write a narration that explains the concept or topic for each slide. One student films the video, another reads the narration, and the other student removes the slides to reveal the next slide. As I grade the videos, I will use a rubric and a list of the standards to make sure each student has achieved the goals. Because I will be collecting the slides as they work on each of the tasks (ten in total), I will be monitoring their progress. If there is something missing or misunderstood, I can remediate to help the student understand the concept he or she is struggling with.

I feel that my planned assessments will meet the key requirements for effective assessments. First, the assessments are for my students. As students are working on the Paper Slides video, they can choose which slide to add to it. If they do not feel that any of the slides from the three members would be sufficient for their video, they can create another slide for it. Also, the assessments will reflect what the students are doing in the class. The tasks are checking for understanding and preparing them for the summative assessment. Next, the students will know what the target will be because they will have access to the rubric and checklist. This will provide them a clear direction of what my expectations are. Finally, students can use their score and my comments to reflect on where they could have improved their Paper Slide video or their slides for the video.

Resources

2016. What is the difference between formative and summative assessment? Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved from: https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/assessment/basics/formative-summative.html.

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What have I learned this week as I wrote my Driving Question? What tools will I have students use?

As I was planning my unit last week, I already had thought of my driving question (How will you and your band survive and establish the first civilization?). The question came natural because of the concept (survival), that I was working on for my PBL. The list of  sub questions took me more time to think through than the driving question. I looked through the state standards and my school district’s curriculum guide to help me identify the list of ten sub questions for my PBL. The sub questions are as follows: 1. What natural resources would you and your band look for as you migrate out of Africa?;2. Where will you settle? Why? What are the physical features of the location you chose?;3. What is the division of labor? What is specialization? How do you divide the jobs? What jobs will you need to create?; 4. How do you establish a steady supply of food? How did the invention of agriculture meet the basic needs? What tools would your band need to cultivate the land? How would you water your crops once they are planted?;5. What is domestication? What types of plants and animals will you domesticate?;6. What are the six characteristics of a civilization?;7. What is social hierarchy? How will you organize your social classes? What will their responsibilities be?;8. What type of government will you establish? Will it be a monarchy or an empire? What are the pros and cons for each type?; 9. What deities would your civilization develop from the initial worship of nature?; and 10 How has each of the characteristics helped your band survive and develop the first civilization?Some of the questions required more details to help prompt the students so they could answer the questions.

As for the tools the students will be using several different types for the PBL First, my social studies class is a 1:1 using Lenovo laptops. Students use the laptop to access their online textbook through Discovery Education. The text is written at their grade level, but they can access the same information, but written below grade level if they struggle understanding the content. Students will be researching on the internet for the different topics that they will be studying. When the students research the characteristics of a civilization, they will be creating either a PowerPoint presentation or Prezi presentation as a group. For the Paper Slides video, students will be using their own devices to record their videos. Throughout the PBL, students will be exposed to different tools that will help them succeed each step of the process.