Saturday, January 10, 2015

iPads and Autism

The article I read was a study involving providing students on the Autism Spectrum with iPads.  These students range in age from 10-13, but are functioning around 72 months of age.  The iPads were used to focus on basic math concepts using apps.  Student challenges included moderate to severe developmental delays in communication, socialization, and behavior.  Teachers wanted to find out a few things:
1. Does the iPad intervention improve basic math skills?
2. Does the iPad intervention reduce noncompliant behaviors?
3. Does the iPad intervention increase independent task completion?
4. What are the advantages of and challenges to using iPads® for classroom
The school used a standardized test called the LAP-3 to assess student development; it is a test designed for young children, and identifies progress toward development in areas such as: gross motor, fine motor, pre-writing, cognitive, language, self-help, and personal/social.  The students took this assessment as a pre and post test during the study.  The results of student achievement were mixed.  There was improvement with 5 out of 7 students’ scores, but there was not necessarily proof that the iPads are what made that improvement.  There was also mixed results about iPads affecting noncompliant behaviors.   The most successful aspect of the study was that student independence was increased 100%.  
I found it slightly unnerving that I just read a study that had mixed or no results about the effectiveness of using technology with students to increase skill level, however I was happy to read that student independence increased.  When I think back to the population that this study encompassed, students on the Autism Spectrum, I am happy to realize that the technology was effective with their independence.  However, to find out that the authors were not willing to attribute the iPads to student academic success is less exciting to hear.  
I read this article because I have a student on the spectrum that I have increasingly become worried about, mostly with his independence because he is extremely high academically.  In my school district, we have MacBooks for all students in 4th Grade, and I was interested in the findings of teachers using iPads instead.  I could use websites to do similar things with my student, but since the students in this article were so much further delayed academically, I’m not sure I could find appropriate technology resources to help him practice the skills we are working on, like this school was able to do.  I believe that the most important takeaway from this study is that technology increases independence in students on the Autism Spectrum, and reading this article gives me hope that I can find the tools to do the same in my school.

O'Malley, Patricia, M.E.B Lewis, and Claire Donehower. "Using Tablet Computers as
Instructional Tools to Increase Task Completion by Students with Autism." Online
Submission, Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational
Research Association, Apr. 2013. Web. 10 Jan. 2015.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Being sick and teaching with technology

I made this first Podcast as a practice to try out the idea!  I need to find a way to use this in my classroom.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Usually, when I blog for class, I go to the online database for my university and find an article about the topic I’m looking for.  This time, since we’re blogging about multimedia, I just wanted to search the phrase “multimedia in elementary education” to see what I could find.  We spoke in class about how this term is very broad, and no one REALLY knows what it means or refers to all the time.  I came across a website: Classroom Aid and showed a posting titled Multimedia Resources for Teaching in a 21st Century Classroom.  It seemed like you could log in to get more benefits of the site, but I was able to read the page without logging in.  
The page is a list of free multimedia resources teachers can use in their classrooms.  It turned out to be a lot of videos, but that just opened my eyes more to what people most commonly think is “multimedia”.  Some of the resources included in the website were:
  • iTunes U - access to primary resources, and inspiration for enhancing teaching
  • Knowmia - educational videos from a variety of subjects areas
  • Next Vista - online library of videos made by students or teachers around the world
  • SnagLearning - documentary type films
  • Khan Academy - video library that explains math concepts with practice modules
  • Qwiki - makes multimedia presentations from what you search on it
The webpage also used multimedia like it’s definition and included links to click on, screenshots, and pictures to involve multiple forms of displaying content.  

As I reflect on the word multimedia and what I read on this webpage, it focuses me on what my instruction should look like.  I have the capability to have information displayed in multiple ways and to make the content I deliver, visually appealing and interactive, with videos and links, so I should make the effort to do that!  The graphic below is one I captured from the Classroom Aid 
and I want to keep it in mind as I continue on this Teaching with Technology journey.  We have all of these tools at our fingertips, and everyone always talks about using them the right way, being efficient and effective with it, but I don’t want thinking like that to deter me from just trying to use it!

"Multimedia Resources for Teaching in a 21st Century Classroom."Classroom Aid. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Post 3

For the first time this semester, I read an article that left me with more questions than confirmations.  My goal was to research eTexts and their uses in classrooms, because I have recently been making an effort to use them more effectively in my 4th Grade classroom.  I always wonder: although my students are part of the Millennial Generation, do they find it easy to read and learn from eTexts?  Many adults that I’ve met find eText more difficult to read, and many prefer paper.  Just because my students are technology users from birth, doesn’t mean that they learn well reading eTexts.
The article I read was titled: eTexts: The wave of the future?  It recapped exactly what I was questioning, but still leaving me wondering and wanting more.  The only reason for this being that we, the entire world, are still in the beginning stages of this venture, and will need more time to know how this technology starting at a young age affects our students.  
Some valid points were made in the article.  Such as, people born from 1980 to the present have different learning styles than previous generations and are able to quickly adapt to technology because they have been doing so from a very young age.  Also, eTexts are cheaper and can be more frequently updated than paper books.  Digital texts can include hyperlinks that students can click on to enhance the content that they are learning.  Students can easily retrieve information from eBooks and highlight and annotate on the texts.  Finally, eReaders and even websites with eTexts have read aloud functions that help struggling readers and students with disabilities.  
There were also concerns about eTexts listed in the article.  For example, eTexts are great at school, but if they don’t have devices or internet access at home, students may not be able to access these great resources.  Also, teachers need ongoing training and support to use devices and eTexts in various forms.  Finally, there are 5 major publishers that have electronic textbooks, so if a school is using a lesser known publisher, they will not have the ability to use this resource at all.  
More Thoughts
Like I stated previously, I finished reading this article with more questions than usual.  I agree with what the authors stated about our current students being tech savvy and adept adapters, and the ease of highlighting and annotating on the devices.  However, I am still left wondering if the different format helps or hurts my students.  I also agree with the concern about not being able to use eText at home because of lack of parent education, internet, or devices.  Finally, I have heard from other professionals about great eTexts with hyperlinks that take students to websites or videos with more information about the topic they are reading, but I have yet to see one of these texts in action.  Where are they, and how to I get them to my class?!

Walker, Karen. "ETexts: The Wave of the Future?" Education Partnerships, Inc. 
(2010): 1-10. ERIC. Web. 04 Oct. 2014.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Summary: Affordances of Interactive Whiteboards and Associated Pedagogical Practices: Perspectives of Teachers of Science with Children Aged 5-6 Years
This article was written about a study of Kindergarten and First Grade teachers in Australia who taught Science.  The researchers obtained interviews with all participating teachers and ensured that all have used SMART Boards or ACTIVboards in their classes for at least 3 years.  The teachers also all expressed a confidence with the software of one of these boards, to some extent.  The authors focused on three pedagogic practices with this study: Supported Didactic, Integrated Interactive Activities, and Guided Assessment.  
The teachers found the Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) first as engaging tools to hook their lessons.  The easiest way to do this, was to treat the IWB as a screen or whiteboard substitute.  Teachers show slideshows or some sort of presentation tool to show slides, web pages and images or videos to attract students’ attention.  Secondly, teachers used the IWB to all their students to interact with the technology.  This usually involves dragging and dropping or responding to what is on the board in another way.  Finally, assessments can be accomplished with IWBs as well.  Although much assessment must be done independently to show knowledge, reflection can be done using this interactive tool.  Students can display their work and annotate their thoughts about it as well, in order to learn from their experience and make improvements for next time.  
There are positives and negatives for using IWBs in a classroom.  For example, this technology facilitates whole-class discussions and offers a medium for sharing ideas, but if the classroom is not designed correctly, as in the location of the board, then student visibility and engagement can be hindered.  Secondly, text, sound, video, and graphics can be shown at the same time to provide better explanations, but if a teacher has subpar troubleshooting skills, or the school is lacking technical support, then the information can get delayed or disrupted easily.  Lastly, teachers are able to use the technology to have more face to face time in front of their students instead of behind a computer screen, but if they are lacking technical training or confidence the technology is much less effective.

I have been interested in the use of IWBs for quite some time now; mostly I think, because I don’t have one, but other teachers in my school do.  To be honest, I was not surprised by any of the findings in this article, and found the results very true to my experiences around this technology.  I think that the biggest thing I can take away from this is that any technology in school buildings needs to be supported.  Teachers need support while using it, and the technology support and attention from professionals to ensure that it’s working properly.  When these two things are lacking, the effectiveness of the technology is greatly hindered.  

Teck, W. (2013). Affordances of Interactive Whiteboards and Associated Pedagogical  Practices: Perspectives of Teachers of Science with Children Aged Five to Six Years.  Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 12(1), 1-8.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Summary: Using Google Drive to Facilitate a Blended Approach to Authentic Learning
The study was conducted at the University of the Western Cape, in South Africa.  The students involved were in their second year of Applied Physiotherapy.  The study was developed after a previous class of students in this area were found to be lacking reasoning and critical thinking during their clinical exams.  The university wanted to make changes to their module for the second years to improve their skill set in these areas; previously, the classes mostly consisted of readings and lecturers.  The changes included moving from lectures, to case studies and integrating technology, Google Drive, within small groups, as well as, instead of having one lecturer, there were several facilitators.  Students worked collaboratively to explore cases outside of class using Google Drive as their tool.
The study used 10 principles of authentic learning to come up with the case studies.  Authentic activities have real world relevance, are open to interpretation, are made up of complex tasks that need to be studied over a period of time, require that students use theoretical and practical perspectives as well as many resources, require collaboration, provide opportunities for reflection, can be applied across domains of the students’ field of study, involve feedback from peers and facilitators that mimic real world assessment, produce quality work in all forms, whether it be notes in a Google Doc or a completed project, and consist of diverse outcomes and applications, students have freedom while addressing major concepts.
To analyze the findings from this study, the University held a focus group with willing participants from the study, 22/61 participated.  The authors analyzed the responses to conversations at the focus group to determine common themes that were evident.  Students reflected on the following things during the focus group about their experiences:
  • “A change in perception about what learning is”
  • “You can’t memorize your way through a degree”
  • “It’s not a classroom thing-it’s a daily thing”
  • “It’s not learning from a book, it’s trying to find out how to learn”
  • “We have to really be able to explain to other people so they can understand.”
  • “Even a lecturer has something to learn from a student”

Although I don’t teach students anywhere near the independence level of these university students, I believe that I have a lot to learn from this study.  What the professors at this school did, was make their content relevant to their students, while providing them with a tool that would make collaboration possible.  This very much prepares students for working in the real world.  
My student currently have access to Google Drive, and I think most of the time, I simply use it as a substitution for paper and pencil, when it can be so much more!  Some of the Authentic Assessment Principles that jumped out at me were: provide opportunities for reflection, require collaboration, and involve feedback.  All of those are things I can currently implement with my classroom of 4th graders.  However, it does involve a mind shift for me, as the teacher to imagine my classroom with these things going on.  That also means that I need to teach my students how to reflect, collaborate and give feedback.  Thinking of classrooms like this excites me and motivates me to begin taking steps to make it a reality in mine.

Rowe, M., Frantz, J., & Bozalek, V. (2013). Using Google Drive to facilitate a blended approach to authentic learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(4). 594-606. (2013, July 1). Retrieved September 9, 2014, from Ebscohost.