Week 10: Exloring Virtual Technologies

03 Nov

Week 10: Exploring Virtual Technologies

I will be completely honest, when I first heard the words, “virtual classroom” I wanted to plug my ears and “la, la, la, la, la”. Many students are so completely absorbed by their devices, and now we’re going to make even the classroom virtual? What is this Zenon girl of the 21st Century (Disney Channel, 1999)?! I am totally not ready for this yet, I thought. But, my first thoughts about these uses of technology are usually incorrect and overthought.  After reading the article “Virtual Worlds for Educators”, I started seeing how beneficial this could be for my future classroom. I plan to one day teach special education and hope to work with students with low-incidence disabilities. The students I wish to work with may be in wheelchairs, have facial deformities, feeding tubes, etc, or have intellectual disabilities in which they cannot speak or communicate effectively. Students in this category of special education will be included in general education classrooms, but most likely on a more temporary basis. In Virtual Worlds for Educators, Steve Dembo describes how there are social perks to a virtual classroom. In which, “Interactions in an environment where appearances, gender, race, and species can be changed with just a few clicks provide an ideal setting to challenge social biases,” (2008). This type of online world would be fantastic for my future classroom! One in which a student’s disability goes unnoticed. This world, although virtual, can simulate social situations as well. Many students with diagnosis’ such as Asperger’s syndrome, have a difficult time reading social cues and have a hard time in social settings. These virtual worlds can give students such as this time to think about responses and converse in a world without feeling the anxiety of a true social setting.

Of all of the resources this week, my favorite would have to be MinyanLand. I will admit at first I just liked the name, but after exploring a little bit, I found it can be very useful. Students with special needs need much teaching and reinforcement of life skills. In this online world students are led through financial situations as well as doing chores to earn virtual money. I also thought that the NASA @ Home and City was really neat! I had no idea how much NASA affects our daily life. I found this intriguing and I am certain students would as well. I think this program would absolutely create a “spark” for learning about science and connect students to what they are learning.

In conclusion, a virtual classroom is not what I had originally pictured (my initial picture being a hologram giving a lecture in a floating dining hall).  In reality, it is so much more beneficial than that and is not too far off from the Oregon Trail,game I use to LOVE to play in elementary school. The use of these technologies can create a world in which students feel safe to learn and to be themselves. The virtual learning space creates a world in which a student can be anything and look however they choose. As a future special educator, the use of this technology holds numerous benefits for students with special needs. It can be used to create a world without disabilities, or physical impairments. It can also be used to create social skills interactions, which are invaluable to students with social skills deficits.


Dembo, S. (2008, October). Virtual worlds for educators. District Administration. Retrieved from: http://www.districtadministration.com/article/virtual-worlds-educators.

Johnson, K. (1999, January 23). Zenon: girl of the 21st century. Disney Channel Original Movie.

Week 9: Mini Projects TAKE 2!

27 Oct

When I initially looked over the options for this week’s options for my second mini-project, I was a bit overwhelmed. They all seemed much more in depth and complicated for my future lower grade special education plans. At first glance, I thought they were all very intriguing and could definitely see how they could be implemented and used in later grades. However, I did not see how I could plan an effective lesson that was not too overwhelming for the future grades I want to teach. I am very glad I expressed this concern in class as Dr. Coffman told me to not look at the complexity of the technology at hand. She has often referred to breaking the technology and lesson in to chunks in the classroom (Coffman, 2013). This really helped me in seeing the assignment and the resources we are learning about differently. I tend to overthink technology. This then frustrates me, leading to avoidance of it all together.  This class has really helped me see the technology for what it is: a tool. Also, to further this, and to stop my brain from overthinking these mini-projects, as Dr. Coffman states in her book, “Do not start with the technology tool, rather first start with your teaching goal” (2013).

When I started seeing the programs and ideas for this week’s mini project, it really simplified the assignment. Any of these resources and assignments can be implemented in my future special education classroom. More than that, they can enhance the learning and create interest in subjects and standards that otherwise would be somewhat static. The key, for me, is to start with the lesson first (my “A-Ha!” moment).


I chose to create a Google map trek using all of the important people that kindergarteners need to know in the History and Social Sciences K.1 standard of learning. This standard states that, “The student will recognize that history describes events and people of other times and places by a) identifying examples of past events in legends, stories, and historical accounts of Powhatan, Pocahontas, George Washington, Betsy Ross, and Abraham Lincoln; b) identifying the people and events honored by the holidays of Thanksgiving Day; Martin Luther King, Jr., Day; Presidents’ Day; and Independence Day (Fourth of July)” (VA Department of Education, 2008).   The use of Google maps also reinforces secondary SOL’s of geography outlined in K.3-K.5. My idea would be to use this at the end of the year as a review to put a place to the important people and historical events we have learned throughout the year. I placed a marker on the relative location where the historical figures lived (i.e. Pocahontas, Jamestown, VA). I then found a picture of each person (one that would have been previously used so the important person is recognizable), and wrote a description of each person. Lastly, I drew a line between the places based on their chronological places in history (i.e. First Powhatan, then Pocahontas, etc.). Another thought I had would be to create a pin point on the map as we are learning about these important figures. This way, students can visually see where that certain person lived as we are learning about them, and can further explore locating them the surrounding areas. At the end, we can un-zoom and see where they all were in location to one another, and the world.

After I got over my initial thoughts about the assignments, I had a hard time narrowing down my idea for incorporating this in to a lesson. The possibilities are endless! I just had to get out of my, “This is all so hard and confusing and I don’t even understand how a light-switch works despite my father being an electrician!” brain. I now see that I need to first think about the lesson, then the technology.  And, when it still overwhelms and frustrates me, there is always telling my computer, “If you do not do what I want you to do I am turning you off!” However, ineffective this thought may be, it does remind me that I am in control of the technology I am using (even if it is just control of the on/off switch).


Coffman, T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: developing creative thinkers and information literate students (pp 163-171). Lanham, MD: Rowman &Littlefield Education.

Virginia Department of Education. (2008, January). History and social science standards of learning for virginia public schools (Kindergarten). Retrieved from: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/sol/standards_docs/history_socialscience/next_version/stds_historyk.pdf.  

Week 8: Mini Projects Reflection

20 Oct

Week 8: Reflection Mini Projects 1

This week we were presented with so many new ideas for incorporating technology in the classroom. At first, I was a little overwhelmed at the thought of mini-projects and utilizing some ideas, but after looking in to some of these tools, they seem relatively easy to use. I am not very artistic, so creating a comic strip is not something I would have thought of. Looking over some of the examples, I think this is a great idea ad would be very interesting to students. When I completed a practicum in a fifth grade classroom a couple of years ago, there were many students that did not like to read. I think this tool would be great to spark an interest in students who do not usually embrace reading. It could be used to summarize the main storyline, have students create their own writing, or introduce a new topic. This would be especially helpful in older grades, but could absolutely be used in lower classrooms as well.

I had a lot of fun playing around with the text maps! I used my blog posts and found there are many words that I use frequently in my writing. Alisha did the same thing and we discovered the most used words (the bigger ones) were the same in both of our text maps. My first thought was that this would be great to use in a history classroom.

When I first thought of the podcasts, I did not think it could be used in lower grades, but after reading and discovering, podcasts can be used in all grades! In Web 2.0 How to for Educators, it describes how they can be used in all grade levels and content areas (Web 2.0, 2010). Examples include reading/recording a story, dramatic events, art, and many others. I think it would be great for students to create their own podcasts! This would greatly help students with reading out loud. Also, this would be excellent for the “flipped classroom” idea. Teachers could have students listen to a lecture before class. Overall, I think that podcasts are the most versatile tool I have learned about this week!

Lastly, since I want to teach elementary special education, I think the talking avatar will be very helpful to guide students through lesson. It is much less intimidating than just looking at a web page. It would also be helpful to teach students how to navigate around a web-page, or teach them how to play a computer game.

I have not chosen what I want to do for my mini-project just yet. There are so many possibilities!


Week 7: Shared Sticky Notes

13 Oct

Week 7: Stick it!

I love post-it notes! I use post-its for just about everything from phone messages at the office where I work, to little inspirational quotes I find and collect. The online site Padlet, was very easy to use and create a “wall”. There are numerous activities in which this feature could be used in the classroom. Lunch orders, feelings regarding a book, classroom management, and the list could go on and on! I  really love it and definitely plan on using this in my future classroom. I also really appreciated how in class, we all worked together to help each other with this to see how it really works. It is very convenient and flexible! I loved how all of my fellow classmates could easily post their responses to my Padlet, and I to theirs as well. I really liked how we all worked together on this, and I thoroughly enjoyed this activity.

(I was extra thankful a fellow student let me know that my wall was private and he could not post to it. That would have been very disappointing had I not received any responses to my wall.)

The wall I created was an opinion question regarding a favorite season. Since the weather outside is changing dramatically and we are in the second “season” of the school year, I thought this would be a good lesson to use in the classroom. My sample lesson is based on the VA SOL for science regarding the different seasons (VA Science SOL “1.7 The student will investigate and understand weather and seasonal changes” (Va department of education, 2010). I wish to begin this lesson with an opinion question in order to create a personal connection to learning about the seasons. This topic could also be incorporated in morning activities each day as well. The plan is for students to post their name, favorite season, and why. I would begin by posting my favorite season and why to model how to complete the activity. Then, using an interactive white board, I would write “Summer”, “Fall”, “Winter” and “Spring”. Then, I would have each student find their sticky and put it under the appropriate column for the season they chose. Finally, I could have them share their favorite season and why it is their favorite season. I could expand on this lesson, tying in secondary SOLs, such as how many in the class liked Fall, etc. This way to incorporate technology is so simple, and an be used for numerous activities and lessons! I will absolutely be using this in my future classroom!

Here is the link to my Padlet wall! http://padlet.com/wall/INDT501favseason


Virginia department of education (2010, January). Science standards of learning for virginia public schools. Retrieved from: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/sol/standards_docs/science/2010/k-6/stds_science1.pdf

Week 6: To Flip or Not to Flip?

06 Oct

Week 6: To Flip or Not to Flip

Before taking this course (INDT 501) I had never heard of the “flipped classroom”.  I completed my undergraduate degree in 2011 and have a feeling that things have changed dramatically in teaching, even in this short period of time. I have to say, I was very hesitant when first exploring the ideas of a flipped classroom. My doubts are those of many critics regarding a flipped classroom. What about the students who don’t do homework at all? What about the students who do not have internet access outside of school? What if one has no in school or parental support? However, after exploring this concept, looking at examples, and listening to other classmates’ response I am beginning to believe that this is a new way of teaching, and can be effectively accomplished. I also realized that my initial questions are those that come with ALL teaching. Whether lecture or technology based, these are age old issues when discovering any new ideas in education.

From what I have discovered, a flipped classroom is one in which the presentation is made outside of the classroom so that in class time can be focused on what we traditionally would look at as homework. This class time could now be focused on helping students and expanding on that lesson. I think this is a great idea. As Holly Epstein Ojalvo and Shannon Doyle pointed out in their article, it allows time to individualize instruction, room for flexibility, and breaking down lessons in to bite sized chunks which lessons the ever-growing attention span issue (Five ways to flip your classroom, 2011). I think that this sounds like a great classroom change that would definitely enhance learning. As the article The flipped class revealed points out, it is not an end all solution (2013). Teachers still need to plan and present the lesson, and actively work on helping students in class to fully comprehend what is being taught. It doesn’t solve anything in the classroom, but rather reframes the classroom and role of the teacher (Five best practices for the flipped classroom, 2012). The flipped classroom changes the presentation of content and allows the focus of the teacher to be less of a lecturer and more of a “side-by-side” contributor to the students’ learning.

Now, I think this sounds amazing and after looking at examples and research, it is an amazing classroom change to consider. However, I think it would be better suited for older grades. I wish to teach elementary level special education, and I am not sure if this would be the most effective way to teach in my future classroom.  Thinking of myself as a student in high school I know I could have benefitted from this type of instruction. I always felt like I understood more in the class than when I got home to complete assignments. This way, I could have has more time in class to ask my many questions regarding the content. I think this would be most beneficial in science and math classrooms, at least from my experience. This being, they are the areas I personally always needed more time to understand content and the subjects where exploration and practice is key. As I stated earlier in this paragraph, I don’t believe this will be as beneficial in an elementary school special education classroom.  There are however, some lessons and units where this can be implemented. For example, a hygiene unit could begin with a curricular video, then, in class exploration and practice of what they learned, or what I modeled in the video.

In conclusion, I still have a few hesitations. The primary one being access to the internet at home. I do not think this is as much of an issue in higher grades. I do not know for certain, but with all of the teens I see on facebook, instagram, and twitter, I have a feeling many, if they do not have access at home to the internet, are finding the resource somewhere. I spoke with my friend Stacy, who is a gifted and talented teacher in Alexandria City Public schools. She said about half of her students have internet access at home. Whether the access is available or not, there is also the issue of whether or not parents will support this and allow access to the lesson. I do not think this is as much of an issue in higher grades. However, as Crystal Kirch pointed out in her post about Critics of the flipped classroom, there are ways around lack of technology at home (2012). In all, I support the flipped classroom. Although I want more experience in a special needs classroom to see how it can be implemented, it would be worth a shot. Also, in regards to my initial hesitations, there will always be critics and questions regarding new ideas in education. Classroom management will always be an issue. Resources (depending on the demographic) will always be an issue. Students not wanting to do their work will always be an issue. All of these issues are the fun, exciting, challenging aspects in education that make teaching hard, but very worth it. My thought is, if a new idea is being presented, and it has had dramatic results for others, it is worth a try taking a chance to enhance curriculum in any way possible.


Bennet, B., Kern, N., Gudenrath, A., McIntosh, P. (2013, May 3). The flipped class revealed. Retrieved from: http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/the-flipped-class-what-does-a-good-one-look-like-692.php

Epstein, H., and Doyle, S. (2011, December 8) Five ways to flip your classroom with the new york times. NYTimes.com. Retrieved from: http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/08/five-ways-to-flip-your-classroom-with-the-new-york-times/?_r=0

Kirch, C. (2012, April 5). Critics of the flipped classroom. Retrieved from: http://flippingwithkirch.blogspot.com/2012/04/critics-of-flipped-classroom.html

Week 5: Creating a Video

29 Sep
VHS "Video"

VHS “Video”

Creating a Curricular Video & Exploring my PLN

I was very impressed when viewing the sample curricular videos. These videos provide a great introduction to lessons in various subject areas. In my experience, as a student, I very much enjoyed watching videos in class. Whether they were used as an introduction to a lesson, or an expansion of what we had already started learning about. In the 11th grade, I was struggling very much with Chemistry. I just could not wrap my head around it at all. No matter how the equations were presented or how many different ways my teacher, Ms. Sachs, explained it, it just would not sink in. It was not until she showed us clips of an episode of CSI (Crime Scene Investigation), that it made more sense. She would pause the video and relate it to our equations and elements. It wasn’t just the video that helped me understand chemistry and its purpose, but the relation to the video and a show I was interested in. It made it more “real” and enhanced my learning experience. It created a connection that sparked my interest in the subject.

Given the resources we have at our fingertips today, technology can be used to enhance even the most simple of lessons. I plan to teach special education. Creating a video for students with special needs enhances the learning, but can also be used to promote self-reliance, self-management, and self-monitoring techniques (Hallahan, Kauffman, and Pullen 2012). In the textbook Exceptional Learners: An introduction to special education, the authors describe using technology to support cooking. A research study used portable DVD players to teach older students with special needs how to cook. They could control the video by pausing, playing, and skipping parts of the video to complete the cooking task. The authors suggest teachers create their own videos providing auditory cues to complete the tasks at hand (Hallahan et. al, 2012).  Using the Animoto program would make this task relatively simple!

In addition to creating a curricular video, I also explored more about expanding my personal learning network. After visiting the Parent Resource Center for Prince William County Public Schools, I realize that when teaching students with special needs, a support system must be created. After exploring Google+ and Classroom 2.0, I think these are excellent resources for a field that needs all of the help and support it can get. There are many different ideas that need to be shared and a support system between special educators, general education educators, administration, and parents that needs to be maintained to support what is best for the student. These networks make it possible to share stories, struggles, and triumphs with people all over the world! I will admit, sometimes I do get overwhelmed with ALL of the information out there and really have to focus on what I am looking for. Which is why, in my own Personal Learning Network, I will keep the useful information, and discard what I do not need, or what is a duplicate of information I already have.

I really enjoyed creating the curricular video! As I stated earlier, I was very impressed with the sample videos found on Pintrest and was looking forward to creating one of my own. I made my video on Hand washing, which aligns with the Health SOL K.2, which states, “The students will explain the concept of being healthy. Key concepts/skills include . . . b) personal hygiene practices (e.g. tooth brushing, flossing, hand washing, grooming)” (VA department of education, 2008). Even though this is a Kindergarten standard, I think it will be helpful for all special education classrooms. I created the video with finishing a “series” of videos in mind. Hand Washing  being the first, followed by tooth brushing, flossing, etc. Creating a lesson with this video at the start and then practicing the techniques I go over in the video. I also thought to expand the students’ knowledge and mastery of the skill, to have students create their own video as well.

Note: I chose the attached photo because to this day when someone says “Video”, a VHS is what comes to mind. I will never forget how many times I would beg my mom to let me and my cousins make a “music video” to the latest Backstreet Boys song. I cannot even imagine what we would create today with technology so readily available. It’s probably for the best.



Hallahan, D., Kauffman, J., & Pullen, P. (2012). Exceptional learners an introduction to special education (12th ed.).Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Virginia department of education (2008, January). Health education standards of learning for virginia public schools. Retrieved from: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/sol/standards_docs/health/k-8/stds_healthk.pdf

xandert (2004). morguefile.com. Retrieved from: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/#/?q=Video




Week 4: Information Literacy and Creativity

22 Sep

Before this week I had never really thought much about how important it is as a teacher to teach students how to use the internet correctly and evaluate the information they are finding.  Of course I understood the importance of the source for information, but it is much more than just deciphering between “good” and “bad” websites. After reading the article by Alan November, “Teaching Zack to think”(1998), I got a much clearer understanding of the importance of really evaluating the entire piece of information. The article Zack found was from a college website. To me, that would seem to make it legitimate, and a good place to find information. However, when looking further at the disclosures and researching the author, he would find this is not a very reliable source.  The importance of truly evaluating, and almost dissecting where the information is coming from is truly what needs to be taught by teachers as a means to guide students to find the right sources.

Today, many students do not need to be taught how to use technology such as a phone, tablet, or computer. I substituted in a kindergarten classroom where the students had an I-Pad period. I honestly had never used an I-Pad before but those five and six year olds were whipping around those things and finding what learning game they wanted to play that day. Also, a little boy I babysit, who is three years old, knows exactly how to unlock his mom’s I-Phone and find “Curious George” videos on Netflix. It is amazing what our students will already be capable of, without needing to instruct “how” to use these devices. Of course, given different demographics, backgrounds, and ability levels this will not always be the case but I expect not to teach my students as much how to use a device, but more how to use these devices effectively.

In my previous blog post I mentioned the enormous amount of information that can be found on the internet. As a teacher, I want to teach my students how to decipher how to use the internet to their advantage to enhance learning, not distract from it. I hope to one day teach elementary school special education, so I want to teach my students how to evaluate good sites, that are appropriate to their learning and skill levels. I think one of the most important things I learned this week was how to create a custom Google search. I never knew this was a possibility before. I think it will be very helpful in limiting sites to visit while still allowing the freedom to search, and the skills to search they will need in the future.  The VA SOL that I think directly corresponds with this is:

“C/T K-2.4      Plan and apply strategies for gathering information, using a variety of tools and sources, and reflect on alternate strategies that might lead to greater successes in future projects.

A.     Identify information in various formats.

  • Recognize that information may be presented as printed text, electronic text, audio, video, or images.

B.      Identify available sources of information.

  •  Be able to name and use sources of information available at school and outside the school.” (Board of education commonwealth of Virginia, 2013)

This SOL is for students in K-2nd Grade. I was actually surprised at what students are required to know and be able to complete at such a young grade level. The reality is, technology is a part of every day and students need these skills in order to not only succeed, but to function in society. I plan to use the advanced Google search, as well as the custom Google search to help guide my students to evaluating helpful sites and information.


Overall, my take-aways from this week, and all of this exciting internet information, are that we, as teachers, need to teach our students how to decipher between useful information, and unnecessary information. There are such mass amounts of information out there that I want my students to become information literate and be able to recognize good information from unnecessary information. In this day and age our students need to be as much information literate as they are literate. The information is out there, all around. They can find it, search it, save it, send it, etc. However, without the skills to separate the good information from the bad information, there may as well be no information at all.



November, A. (2013). Teaching zack to think. November Learning. Retrieved from:


Board of education commonwealth of Virginia. (2013, February). Computer technology standards of learning for Virginia’s public schools grades K-2. Retrieved from:






Week 3: Digital Literacy

15 Sep

Lincoln memorial

Lincoln Memorial by kconnors (2004)

I heard somewhere that currently we are in “the information age”. I think this phrase is an understatement. I like to believe we are currently in the “too much information age”. Google and other search engines make it very simple to find information, videos, photos, etc. While student teaching, I found that teaching resource websites became my new best friend. However, I had to be careful because as simple as it was to find lesson ideas, it was not so simple deciphering whether or not it was copyrighted. Even a task as simple as creating a PowerPoint or SmartBoard lesson involved some digging around to make sure I could actually use the image. As an aspiring teacher, I think it is very important to teach students that even though information is readily available, it cannot just be taken. Someone worked very hard and spent their time creating whatever it is they are looking at online so it is our job, as the viewer, to give credit where credit is due. This lesson can be applied in other ways as well or expanded on from a previous lesson: such as, taking things that are not yours. With the 21st Century skills I plan to implement in my classroom, I want to make it clear that in the age we live in “stealing” does not necessarily mean something needs to be tangible for one to take it. This applies to ideas, photos, and videos as well.


To be quite honest, I had a hard time finding a photo that I was sure I could use and is “Creative Commons” or “Public Domain”. I had fun exploring fliker, but found it more difficult on this site to find an image that was not “Traditional Copyright”. I had much more luck with Morgue File. All of the images on this site would be classified as creative commons or public domain. Their morgueFile license states that:

“morgueFile license

You are free:

  • Remix – to adapt the work.
  • Commercial – to use this work for commercial purposes.
  • Without Attribution – to use without attributing the original author.

Under the following conditions:

  • Stand alone basis – You can not sell, license, sublicense, rent, transfer or distribute this image exactly as it is without alteration.
  • Ownership – You may not claim ownership of this image in its original state.
  • Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the      contributor.
  • Nothing in this license impairs or restricts the author’s moral rights.
  • This is a human-readable summary of the Legal Code (the full license)”      (MorgueFile, 2013).

I chose the above image by kconnors of the Lincoln Memorial. I think this is a great generic image of the entire memorial that can be used in many lessons. For example, a lesson about President Lincoln, meeting the VA SOL K.1 which states, “The student will recognize that history describes events and people of other times and places by a) identifying examples of past events in legends, stories, and historical accounts of Powhatan,Pocahontas, George Washington, Betsy Ross, and Abraham Lincoln; b) identifying the people and events honored by the holidays of Thanksgiving Day; Martin Luther King, Jr., Day; Presidents’ Day; and Independence Day (Fourth of July)” (VA Department of Education, 2008).


Morgue File (2013). morgueFile license. Retrieved from: http://www.morguefile.com/license/morguefile

Virginia Department of Education (2008). Standards of learning documents for history & social science. Retrieved from: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/sol/standards_docs/history_socialscience/next_version/stds_historyk.pdf

Week 2: Core knowledge vs. 21st Century Skills

08 Sep


After reading the initial article, What to learn: core knowledge or 21st century skills? (Toddo, 2009) the first thought that came to mind was, “Why would I have to choose one or the other?” I think that students should be taught core knowledge and 21st Century Skills.  After exploring the websites, I still have the same principal question, but a more defined answer of what I wish to see in my future classroom.

Coreknowledge.org concentrates its efforts on developing a set of core knowledge standards that every student needs in order to succeed in education and beyond (Our Philosophy, 2013). This site provides information regarding the purpose of these standards and tools and resources to implement them in the classroom. The majority of this core knowledge is something they believe to be necessary for all students. The mission statement focuses on “Educational excellence and equity for all children” (Our Philosophy, 2013). As Special Education is a multidisciplinary subject area, I chose to further explore the ideas core knowledge presents about language arts and literacy. The “Core Language Arts Program” focuses on what they call a “two lock box” which includes decoding skills as the first lock, and oral language, vocab, and background knowledge as the second (CKLA, 2013). This focuses on not only literacy, but background, or “walking around knowledge” that enables students to learn more. Overall, after reviewing this site and the beliefs associated, I think it is beneficial for all students to have background knowledge, and the more information a student already knows, the more they can learn and build on this knowledge. I also think this knowledge is necessary for making connections and moving forward to inquiry based learning that we have explored in the text (Coffman, 2013).

P-21, or Partnership for 21st Century Skills, focuses on blending of specific skills, content knowledge, expertise, and literacies (Framework for 21st Century Learning, 2013).Four major components of this framework are 1)Core Subjects, 2)Learning and Innovation Skills, 3) Information Media and Technology Skills, and 4)Life and Career Skills. There is also a major focus on “The 4 C’s”, which are communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. After exploring the website, they refer to the need for 21st century skills in order to succeed in the “real world”. I believe the 4 C’s are necessary in any workplace situation, so fostering these skills will help students learning how to think out of the box and make contributions to society. When relating this to education, I think that 21st century skills are not only beneficial for learning and enhancing learning, but necessary to live in the world today. Individuals with Special Needs are already at a disadvantage in our society. With the use of technology, it makes it possible to overcome these obstacles in simple ways such as communication or expressing themselves. In the video, “Technology in Education”, (Hamilton, 2012), the creator Paul Hamilton makes a brilliant point. Sometimes, technology can be used in ineffective ways. I absolutely agree with this point. In the USA Today article (Toppo, 2009), the arguments for core knowledge view 21st century skills as a distraction and wasted classroom time. When used ineffectively, it absolutely could become a distraction and wasted classroom time. However, when used effectively, 21st century skills are both an enhancement to the classroom, and a necessary tool in today’s society.

I think that the information found in 21st Century Pedagogy makes an excellent point in saying that of course core skills will be included in the classroom and that technology and 21st century skills enhance this learning and take it a step further (2013). In conclusion, I have the same thoughts I did at the beginning of the assignment. Why can’t I teach both? As a future teacher, gathering and collecting ideas to form my own classroom and teaching theory, I think that core knowledge is necessary for all. All  students need background knowledge to set the base for their learning. 21st century skills, when used effectively, can only enhance this knowledge and take it a step further. The quote by Hodding Carter Jr. sums this up: “There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings”: core knowledge being the roots, and 21st century skills being wings.


Toppo, G. (2009, March 5). What to learn: core knowledge or 21st century skills? USA Today. Retrieved

from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-03-04-core-knowledge_N.htm

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Week One: Technology Matrix

29 Aug

Blog Post One: Technology Integration Matrix

I took a very long time exploring the Technology Integration Matrix[1]. I feel as if there are so many different options and cell combinations that it would not be difficult to create a lesson for each different aspect of the matrix. The matrix really breaks down the ways technology can be applied and utilized in the classroom. One lesson I found compelling in the lesson examples was the Practicing Literacy Skills (Entry Level, Constructive, Language Arts K-2). Students can use this to work on and develop their literacy skills, while playing what seems like a game. I also like that they can do this independently and can also access the material at home for extra practice. Something that made me raise an eyebrow was that for many of the lesson examples (K-2) like Fish Facts Lesson, and Energy from the Sun, the students used technology to learn about specific subjects and then utilize technology again to share what they have learned.  What struck me as interesting, or something I had never thought of, was something as simple as emailing the teacher a summary of what was learned. This is so simple! It utilizes technology in such a basic way. For some reason I always think with technology integration, it must be a big SmartBoard or ActivBoard interactive presentation, but it really does not need to be that extravagant to integrate technology into the classroom. This little activity would also meet the Technology Standard of Learning, C/T K-2.6 Communicate effectively with others (e.g., peers, teachers, experts) in collaborative learning situations.

An example of technology use I have seen firsthand was use of the ActivBoard in a special education classroom. It was only a room of three students and after lunch they had a chance to play a game on starfall.com using the ActivBoard. My initial thought when the students began this activity was that this was something to do between lunch and Recess, a sort of time filler. But the more I observed the simple activity, the more I saw how truly interactive and important this small activity was. I believe it was a game with special concept and combining smaller shapes to create a larger one. Even in this special education classroom, the students not only played the game which was working on social skills, coordination skills, and special skills, they also turned on the computer (because Miss. Rose needed a little assistance), found the correct game, effectively kept score while playing together, and turned off the game and ActivBoard when finished. This activity was in no way just a time filler. In addition to other skills, this group of special needs students was mastering the Computer Technology Standard of Learning C/T K-2.1 Demonstrate an operational knowledge of various technologies A and B. This activity would fit in to the matrix cell Active Adaptation I believe.

Also, since I wish to eventually become a special education teacher, I saw in the classroom the ActivBoard being used for daily things such as attendance, lunch options, review of daily schedule, and the weather tally. I watched a short video in which using a simple active board is a serious enhancement in a small special education classroom in Baltimore, MD[2]. There are so many numerous things to use technology for in any classroom, as long as it is interactive and focused. In Special Education especially I have seen technology used as a way to communicate. In this case technology is not only enhancing learning, but detrimental to learning.

[2] PrometheanUSWeb. (2007, May  15). Promethean Activebaords- Baltimore, MD. Retrieved from



Instructional Technologies

Just another UMW Blogs weblog