Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Journal 9

First Graders with iPads?

Getting, S. & Swainey, K. (2012, August). First graders with ipads?. Learning and Leading with Technology, 40(1), 24-26. Retrieved from

Summary: Two teachers embark on the challenge of integrating iPads in a first grade classroom with at risk students. They use the iPads in an attempt to increase reading achievement. To their surprise, the students responded especially well to the iPads. They let students know the seriousness of respecting the expensive tool, and for the most part they were compliant. Besides that, they found that the students Time on Task (ToT) increased greatly while using the devices. In addition, the students reading achievement increased in several areas. The two teachers discovered apps for sight words, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary and literacy. Lastly, the teachers noticed that it facilitated friendly collaboration between students. Those students who were new to the iPad training did not even require extra attention from the teacher, as the students jumped right in to help them through an introduction to the device. 

Q1: Did the teachers experience any technical difficulties with the iPads?

A1: Yes, the teachers admitted that they experienced problems with all of the devices syncing properly. In addition, they were not able to use the VGA cord with any success, instead they had to use the document cameras when they needed to show something to the whole class. Also, a known problem with iPads is their non compatibility with Adobe Flash. Because of this, there were not able to access several websites. 

Q2: Was the integration of iPads overall successful? Was there data to prove its success?

A2: According to Getting and Swainey, yes, the use of iPads with the first graders was a successful project. They noticed that students were able to collaborate more. In addition, they noticed over 20 moves upward (out of 26 students) in reading achievement. Their opinion is that the tools create a environment that meshes well with the learning styles of the youngest digital natives. They say that iPads truly make a difference in sight word recognition, fluency, word comprehension, and vocabulary recognition and meaning. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Journal 8

Adaptive Technology

Jaehnert, K. (2012). Selecting an augmentative and alternative communication (aac) device for your child. Retrieved from 


Augmentative and Alternative communication (AAC) refers to all forms of communication that enhance or supplement speech and writing. AAC tries to compensate, temporarily or permanently, for significant disabilities affecting speech, language, and writing (Jaehnert 2012).

Fortunately, there are several devices that help aid children through their disabilities and special needs, some are very simple and inexpensive, and others require more technology but also have a broader range of use. Children who cannot express them verbally usually start out with a simpler form of alternative communication such as a board or book. Communication displays can be made of symbols from one of several symbol set libraries, actual objects, photographs of objects or people around them, or even drawings. The child communicates by pointing to the pictures or objects placed on the display."By giving a child the ability to make choices, it reduces frustration and offers a way for the youngster to express him- or herself to others (Jaehnert 2012)". By joining the group Technology for Special Education, I was able to research some basic gadgets that are for sale on the web to assist children with alternative communication. The website called Living Made Easy for Children (click here) has hundreds of devices ranging in price from under $100 for the simple ones to over $5,000 for highly advanced communication tools. 

The first low tech tool I found is called Listen to Me, it is an inexpensive handheld communication device with digital speech output that is battery operated. The device has 12 message buttons, with holders for pictures or symbols, each button has ten seconds of recording time to record the command or request that should be associated with each button. 

On the other hand, if a more advanced AAC device is required for a student they might find a device such as the Tellus Mobi 2, which is a computer-based communication aid for handheld use or mounting on frames or wheelchairs. It is supplied with MindExpress communication software which is described as an easy to use computer program that has everything a speech therapist or teacher needs to create new communication grids and excercises. 
A huge variety of symbols, pictures, speech, music and sounds can be used to make interesting and stimulating methods of communication by the Teachcess website. 

The Tellus Mobi 2 features an integrated voice-call mobile phone, though no phone or plug-in card are needed. It can be operated via its 12 inch color touchscreen, or by single or dual switch scanning. Mobi also features a built in webcam, and Wifi and Bluetooth capabilities.
The standard battery option gives five and a half hours of continuous use, and the optional extra capacity battery gives eight hours continuous use.


An input device is any piece of computer hardware equipment used to provide data and control signals to a computer. There are several hardware and software options to help with individuals with special needs including keyboards, mice, computers, ergonomics, and switches. Today I want to talk about two devices that I found to be particularly resourceful and something I would love to possess or recommend for my students with special needs.  

The first hardware device I found on the Infogrip website (click here) is called the BAT Keyboard, which is a one-handed, compact input device that replicates all the functions of a full-size keyboard, but with greater efficiency and convenience. The BAT is easy to learn and use. Letters, numbers, commands and macros are simple key combinations, "chords," that you can master in no time. Best of all, the BAT's unique ergonomic design reduces hand strain and fatigue for greater comfort and productivity. The BAT is the ultimate typing solution for persons with physical or visual impairments and is proven to increase productivity when used with graphic or desktop publishing software. 
I decided to include a picture of the left handed key combinations for all my fellow south-paw's so you can have an example of the shorthand you would eventually be able to use with the BAT keyboard. 

The second resource I found that is great for disabled or special needs students would be a software solution called Discover:Screen. The software puts a customizable keyboard on the computer screen. Discover:Screen is ideal for people who physically cannot move their head down to look at a keyboard and then back up to the computer screen. It’s great for people who lose their focus when moving between keyboard and computer screen, too. Use Discover:Screen with a touch screen so users can point to make selections, or use Discover:Screen with a mouse or joystick. Although I found this software on the Infogrip website for purchase, I was also able to find a free on screen keyboard just by searching the web. (click here for the free version!)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Journal 7

Personal Learning Network

Sheninger, E. (2010, August 28). Personal learning networks 101. Retrieved from

A Personal Learning Network or PLN is a collection of resources that will help you to be more efficient as a teacher. I think Eric Sheninger speaks of PLN's perfectly when he states that, "The construction of a PLN enables educators to harness the power inherent in 21st Century technologies in order to create a professional growth tool that is accessible whenever, wherever... [it] provides me with a constant supply of resources, thought-provoking discussions, knowledge, leadership strategies, and ways to successfully integrate technology (Sheninger 2010)". By using Twitter, Diigo and The Educators PLN I was able to connect with others and build my PLN, which will help me by allowing me to access information from other more experienced professionals.

Twitter is an online social networking tool that allows users to follow each other and their status updates as live, streaming feeds. I use Twitter to connect with a community of education related professionals. By following these people or groups, we can collaborate and discuss current happenings in education and work toward the goal of making education the best it can be. In addition to following all of my peers from my CSUSM ed tech class, I also started following some other people that I felt would be great resources for me, including:

  1. @sharemylesson, this user is committed to sharing the best resources for teachers, by teachers.
  2. @inquirebook, this serves as a guide for 21st century learning 
  3. @tesnewteachers, the ultimate resource for advice and support for new teachers 
  4. @mindshiftKQED, explores the future of learning, covering cultural and tech trends and    innovation in teaching 
  5. @HASTAC, a network of networks a virtual organization committed to rethinking the future of learning
I feel as though these people and organizations will keep me  informed during my career in regards to bettering the educational system. Twitter can also be used to participate in educational chats. My first chat experience was on Thursday, August 2nd at 12:00pm CST with #SAchat,  the topic was blogging. This is a chat group of knowledgeable professionals that gives followers and opportunity to strengthen their PLN's within Student Affairs. Users were commenting on ways that using blogging for social networking is innovative and collaborative for the students. I really enjoyed participating in the chat, and plan to attend one designed specifically for foreign language teachers regularly. 

Diigo is a social-bookmarking tool that allows users to sign in and access their bookmarks from any computer, as well as share their bookmarks with others. In addition, diigo allows you to go in an highlight important parts of your bookmarks so you remember pieces to use for research papers, memorable resources, or notable statistics. You can also become a member of a community, and follow users just as you would on Twitter. I decided to follow these organizations or individuals because I felt like I could benefit from them the most in my future endeavors as a teacher:
  1. Stephanie Griffin: I decided to follow her because she is currently working on her Masters of Education and is a future language arts teacher. Her tags seemed to be tags that I relate to and would like to be able to share her resources. Her tags include Teaching with Technology, Inspiration, Writing, Advice..etc
  2. Phil Taylor: Phil Taylor is the head of Educational Technology at a school in Canada. He says that he explores Diigo because he is exploring the power of social networking and loves the idea of sharing information. 
  3.  Cyndi Danner-Kuhm: Cyndi is an educational futurist working to leverage technology for the benefit of learners. Considering I am planning to get my Masters in Ed Tech, I think Cyndi can be a great resource for me!
  4. Jil Wright: I decided to follow Jil because she is a technology consultant and higher education web pro. I think that ed tech is the future of education and that these users will be highly beneficial for me to have in my PLN 
  5. Peggy George: Peggy is a retired teacher and a Mac enthusiast and is a learner and advocate for Web 2.0 
On Diigo, I found several resources and articles revolving around PLN's and beneficial websites for Teaching, Ed Tech, PLN's and Spanish as a subject area specifically. I tagged 3 articles with PLN, the first one is titled 20 Things New Teachers Need to Know, this is a perfect example of an article that is a great addition to my PLN. There is great advice to stay motivated, driven, and sane during your first years as a teacher. The second article I tagged PLN is TechLearning: Top 20 Social Networks for Education, because I think its awesome to have a list of some of the better social networks for education, there are so many to choose from but some of them might not be properly suited for education. The last article I tagged with PLN is Personal Learning Networks 101, which properly defines a PLN and how to get started with yours. 

I joined the Educators PLN, which is an ning site dedicated to the support of a Personal Learning Network for Educators. I was also able to add the badge onto my blog so others can follow me. While on the Educators PLN website, I came across an interesting article that I can especially relate to as a    future teacher of the arts. Although learning a second language might not be considered an "Art" I do consider it to be a subject that is outside the realm of the core subjects in school: Math, Science, English, and History. The article is called Skills Children Acquire form the Arts That Equips Them for Success in Life. The article basically defends the Arts and why incorporating them into a child's life is very important for their personal development. I realize that with the budget cuts rapidly increasing in the educational sector, some are arguing that school should go back to the core concepts. I agree with this article that the arts are a part of school that some children really need to keep them interested in the classroom.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Journal 6

Ten Reasons to Get Rid of Homework (and five alternatives)

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

Summary: John Spencer suggests that we need to get rid of homework because children should be spending more time doing other things than working on assignments by themselves. His reasoning, on top of many other things is that many children do not have the assistance of their parents to help with concepts they do not understand. Many others are helping out their single parents by babysitting their younger siblings. He also points out that many high school age children are busy with extra curricular activities and should be able to enjoy them without having homework to interfere. My favorite point he makes is that "Most homework is bad". I find this to be very true. Many teachers will send their students home with a packet that they got out of a meaningless textbook. 

Five Alternatives to homework:

1. Ask students to reflect on their day in that particular class. Maybe they can address what they learned, how they were feeling, if they felt particularly tired or fatigued. Or maybe the teacher can assign one question that is open ended for the students to answer that day. The point is for the students to go home and think about what they learned, not assign them more practice drills

2. Send the students home with efficient study guides to prepare them for quizzes and tests. After all, I know I want to see my students succeed. I would love it if all of my class could get A's. There needs to be a new wave of learning that doesnt revolve around points from correct or incorrect answers. I remember I took a Spanish grammar class, I would do every single assignment but he would grade the homework. Many assignments I ended up with an "F". It felt very defeating.

3. Have the students relate what they learned in class that day to a real world situation. Instead of sending them home with a packet, have them write you a paragraph explaining how they think the lesson could be incorporated into daily life. 

4. Have the students do real research, but teach them how. I remember doing tons of meaningless projects in my classes. Many of them, I was only going through the motions for the grade. Rather than forcing me to read 600 pages a month, have the whole class analyze an important piece of literature together. Tell them to research the author, and their method of operations. (Again there are no right or wrong answers)

5. Try to get the kids emotional about something by letting them talk about themselves. In Spanish class, let them cook their favorite meal and give the recipe to the class in Spanish. In English class, let them relate a character to themselves and explain why. The easiest way to get kids to talk is by appealing to their emotions.