Shape Tools – Liberal vs. Conservative — September 25, 2016

Shape Tools – Liberal vs. Conservative

This image is designed to help 8th grade students understand the basic differences between liberals and conservatives when relating to our government.  This graphic will be used early on in the unit of study for the election process because it helps provide students with the basic information they need to understand political parties and the election process.  When considering the complexity of these concepts, I decided to keep my graphic simple.  To try and avoid overwhelming or distracting the students from the basic information.  I used common shapes of the arrows to show the defined lines in the two sides, as well as show connections between the top words and the bottom indicators (Lohr, 250).  I hoped that the simple visual of the arrows will help them to understand how the sides vary and stray away from each other over many topics.  My goal was to show “direction” as it relates to the political spectrum, hence the arrows (Lohr, 254).  

Originally, I used arrows as bullet points for each of the indicators, but found that it was too much distraction on the page.  I also considered showing where different modern political parties fell on this spectrum, but again the graphic became to overwhelming.  I decided the ultimate learning goal of this graphic was to have students learn the basic differences, so there was no need for “extra”.  I will make an additional graphic showing where political parties fall on the spectrum.

Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance: Lessons in visual literacy. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

The Basic Suite — September 18, 2016

The Basic Suite

The basic suite is an essential part of almost every classroom.  Teachers and students alike rely on what the suite has to offer to complete daily activities and assignments.  Word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation tools allow students practice skills necessary to 21st century jobs.  In addition the effectiveness and efficiency of using these tools in class is also advantageous.  Using a technology tool to do these tasks can free up valuable time that can be re channeled toward working with students or designing learning activities (Roblyer, 2016, pg 110).” More recently basic suites have evolved to be more collaborative and accessible.  Google Drive allows users to share and collaborate on live documents, while leaving comments and suggestions.  Edits are made instantly and documents can be made public for all to view.  Even furthermore, these tools are more accessibly to all, including students with disabilities.  A variety of adaptive technologies allow for students unable to type to speak to their document, students who struggle with spelling now have spell check.  Below is a break down of the advantages of the 3 main tools of the basic suite:

Word Processing:  This tool allows students a place to house their written work.  Students can begin the writing process and come back to their document as they please.  Because editing a word document is much easier than a written document, students can have more time to “revise and improve their writing Roblyer, 2016, pg 118).” An advantage to using Google Docs as your word processor, is the ability to receive instant feedback.  Teachers or peers can be reading a student’s essay and provide comments that instantly appear on the student’s end.  This feedback can improve the students writing and aid them in learning about the writing process.

Spreadsheets:  This tool is great for math and science classes.  It allows students to record data and to make calculations.  It also allows the data to be sorted into appropriate groupings and has a feature that creates graphs.  As a teacher, spreadsheets can be used to record and track student data.  Formative and summative assessments can be recorded onto spreadsheets.  Google Sheets has many add-ons that allow for messages to be sent to individuals using Google sheets, which is a great resource.

Presentations:  This tool allows students to combine both written expression and creativity.  A great advantage to Google Slides is that students can collaborate and interact with one another on their presentations.  Teachers can also create presentations that engage their students and encourage further inquiry.  It is important, however, to teach into appropriate presentation techniques!

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

EdTech 506:Typography —

EdTech 506:Typography

My unit of instruction is geared towards 8th grade students learning about the presidential election.  I chose my four words based off of key words students will come across in this unit.  They are: Ballot, Campaign, Elect, and Swing State.  


Ballot – To represent ballot I chose to include the check boxes found on most common ballots.  I used the check boxes next to the letters in the word.  I chose to use all capital letters to keep the letters the same size and position throughout.  I made two attempts at this word, first I put the letters in the check boxes.  As I reflected on that image, I felt the word looked more like block letters you might see a child playing with and did not portray a ballot.  I also chose to use the colors of red and blue to emphasize the American presidential election theme.


Campaign – When nominees campaign they often speak in front of large crowds and attend political rallies, often use a megaphone to speak.  I chose the same red and blue as in ballot to continue the American presidential election theme.  Although the book mentions that often capital letters can be more difficult to read, I chose capital letters for campaign for 2 reasons.  First, in order to best fit the megaphone in as the “p” it needed to be capital.  In addition, I believe the capitals emphasize the idea of campaigning “loud and proud.”  Originally I had added “2016” below the word campaign, but after looking at the image and the purpose of the unit, I realized that I did not want to select just this years campaign, as I will hopefully use this lesson in the future.  


Swing State – Swing state was a fun word to create.  I knew that using some type of a swing would be important.  I had considered using an image of an actual swing.  I also considered just having the words in the swing shape, without the rope.  After reviewing the image with a coworker, they felt the ropes were necessary in creating the “swing” affect.  We also decided that continuing the use of the red and blue would be important.


Elect – I found elect to be the most difficult word I chose.  I created 4 different options for the word before settling on this one.  I originally had planned to use a check box and an “x mark” as the “t” in elect.  However, after showing coworkers and students I realized that it was difficult to identify the word.  Next, I began adding the check mark to the E.  I went through many color options before choosing to blend the same red and blue into the E.  

Ed Tech 541: Instructional Software — September 11, 2016

Ed Tech 541: Instructional Software

Educational technology is more than just the physical computers or tablets provided to students and teachers.  Instructional software offers many options for teachers in the classroom.  Teachers can utilize these tools to give students practice of skills, and allow them time to build and create using their newly gained skills.  Anogther great advantage is that the role of the learner changes…instead of the teacher always leading the instruction, now the students can utilize instructional softwares to drive and guide their learning.  There are 5 types of softwares that can be used in the classroom:

    • Drill and practice
    • Tutorials
    • Simulations
    • Instructional Games
    • Problem-Solving Software

These 5 types of software help to fulfill the instructional process as promoted by Gange’s Nine Events of Instruction. Teachers should evaluate the purpose of the software and find the places it best fits into the unit of instruction (Roblyer, 2016).  

Here is an overview of the 5 types of software:

Drill and Practice

This type of software allows the students to input potential answers and recieve immediate feedback.  The feedback is generally simple, indiciating whether the answer is correct or not.  However, some more sophisticated programs can provide more specific feedback. Although some refer to this as “drill and kill,” research has shown that this type of practice can help students transfer their new learning (Roblyer, 2016, pg 80).  It is important to note that drill and practice should not be over used.  This software is most ebenficial when students buy in to its benefits and are not overwhelmed by its overuse.  

Drill and practice is most beneficial in math classrooms or world language classrooms.  However, it can be beneficial for social studies classrooms when learning new vocabulary or identifying important facts about a historical era.  Quizlet is an example of a drill and practice tool that can be used create flashcards for students to study their facts and vocabulary.  


Tutorials are designed to be the sole source of instruction for a unit or topic.  Some may confused tutorials as “flip vidoes,” however they are not a supplement or introdcution for a unit, rather they are the only resource for the unit.  Tutorials should be able to stand alone and allow learners the ability to practice new skills learned during the tutorial.  Tutorials can be advantagous to a student centered classroom.  Students can watch and learn through the use of tutorials and and move on at their own pace.  Constructivist, however, ebleive tutorials fall short because they lack the time for hands on activities and don’t immerse the learner in the environment the skills should be used in (Roblyer, 2016).  

Tutorials can be beneficial in the self-paced social studies classroom.  Students can utilize tutorials to learn and assess themselves on specific topics.  An example of a tutorial for social studies is BrainPop.


Simulations allow students to immerse themselves in the activity or process they are learning about.  It can help students to see the benefits of a topic of study and promotes the constructivist approach by allowing students to learn by doing in the environment.  There are two types of simluations, those that allow students to apply and utilize new skills, and those that allow students to test the limits of a product or environment and learn from their actions (Roblyer, 2016).  While simluations can be beneficial when learners are unable to work in the actual environment, it is important to not use it to replace real world experience when applicable.

Simluations can help put students in the place of historical figures over time.  An example of a simulation in American history would the Lewis and Clark PBS Into the Unknown Simulation that allows learners to make choices as if they were on the expedition.  This promotes the critical thinking that would have been necessary to survivie the trip.

Instructional Games

As we know, our students have grown up in a world with video games as entertainment.  Gaming is a huge part of our learners current culture, whether it be online games, video games, or even game apps on the smartphone.  As educators, it can be extremely beneficial to harness student engagement through educational games.  Games can be driving by one individual or collaboaritve (Keessee, 2011) allowing students to develop more than just content skills.  While games cna be a great tool, it is important to assess the benefits of each game chosen for class.  Specfically is it age appropriate and will it truly enhance my students leanring (Roblyer, 2016)

Review games are often the best use of games in social studies.  For example, generating a Jeaoporady review can help students recall content and also apply new skills.

Problem-Solving Software

This type of software looks more at the skills learners will need, rather than the actual content.  Learners will practice the process of solving a problem and learn how they were able to come to their new conclusion or answer.  Taking this a step further is the idea that problem solving software might not even be related to the content at hand, that it is truly just working through the critical thinking skills necessary for problem-solving (Roblyer, 2016).

For social studies, problem-based learning can allow students to take on the role of a historical detective or investigator.  They may work towards a solution, such as creating an instructional tool for younger ages or solving a mystery, such as who shot President Lincoln.  

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Keesee, S. Gayla (2011). Educational games. Teaching and Learning Resources. PB Works.

EdTech 506: Universal Design — September 4, 2016

EdTech 506: Universal Design

Universal Design and Visual Literacy

As I read through the chapters on universal design and visual literacy, I couldn’t stop thinking about where I see images that follow these principals.  Usability and accessibility to all is an important principal to follow.  Lohr explains that the “goals of universal design focus on making information and learning accessible in the broader sphere of life for all people (Lohr, 2008, p8).” So as a designer, it is important to think of who your audience is and what their various background might be.  

Crosswalk - imageswalk-dont

I chose a safety image because I feel like these images must be universal to all languages and educational backgrounds.  I chose to provide both of these walk, do not walk signs as examples.  The image on the left utilizes images and no words to express when it is time to cross the street.  These images are efficient and simple in design.  Lohr discusses how efficiency vs. appeal apply to universal design.  If instructional goals (like crossing a street) are the goal of the image than it is important to maintain simplicity and efficiency (Lohr, 2008, p51.  The design on the left shows symbols that should be universal to all backgrounds, in addition they are very simple, allowing the user quick response time (which is a necessity when crossing the street).

What also struck me during my reading, was the question “are pictures worth a thousand words?”.  While the image on the left contains no writing, I believe it does help the user understand the goal (Lohr, 2008, p51).  The image on the right, which is also often used at cross walks, uses the English language instead.  While this sign is simple in design, it is not universal to all languages or educational backgrounds.  In many cases, words help make an image more understandable, however, images such as the hand or the man walking apply to more users.  
Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance: Lessons in visual literacy. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Burgstahler, S., Dr. (2015). Universal Design of Instruction (UDI): Definition, Principles, Guidelines, and Examples. Retrieved from

EdTech 541: Vision Statement —

EdTech 541: Vision Statement

Engaging, Effective, and Efficient

Imagine a classroom where the students guide and develop their own learning. They are an “active learner,” developing questions, making hypothesis, and discovering answers.  Students are creating new meaning and participating in authentic tasks.  Learning encompasses more than just the content area, but the skills and capabilities necessary for students’ futures.  Learning theorist John Dewey would have celebrated this classroom and how it fits into the constructivist theory that he researched and developed. While this learning theory has been around since Dewey’s lifetime in the early 1900s, it can now be promoted more regularly with the increase is technology tools and resources in the classroom.  Classrooms are now equipped with the ability to let students venture out on their own to discover and construct new meaning.  Students can explore the vast cultures and beleifs available to them and formulate their own opinions based off of their findings.  This builds even more on Dewy’s constructivist ideals, by reaching Lev Vygotsky’s concept of social constructivism. The ability for students to collaboarte with others, engage in purposeful discussion, and explore the world around them  Additionally, teachers are now able to better guide the student’s learning process and utilize these tools effectively.  Although the idea of educational technology is not new, it is a continuously evolving concept; one that changes and adapts over time to accomodate the new resources available.  

Educational technologies are not limited to just the devices used, but also the process by which those tools are used.  As a teacher it is important to consider how technology is being used in your classroom in order to ensure it is being used to truly promote Dewey’s constructivist theory and improve student learning and achievement.  In addition, educational theories have evolved to consider the importance of “life-long learner” skills.  There is now an “emphasis on learning and innovation skills and critical thinking and problem solving (35)” that will allow students better success in future careers (Roblyer, 2016).  And the integration of educational technology is essential in reaching towards these goals.  

To ensure success for both educators and students, educational technologies should be used to increase student engagement, allow for feedback and data collection to me more efficient, and to allow for continuous improvement and growth to ensure its effectiveness.  

Engagement means that students are alert, active, and overall excited to be a part of the learning environment.  Educational technology tools can be used to promote student engagement.  Thought should be put into the tools being used:  Does this tool improve the overall lesson?  Will use of this tool benefit my students?  How will my students react to this tool?  There are plenty of educational technology tools available.  When implementing educational technology into the learning encironment, it is important to choose a tool that will “excite” students and improve their intrinsic motivation.  When an educational technology tool is utilized well, it should lead to increased engagement.  

Efficiency is important in education.  Depending on the grade level you teach, you may only see your students for 50 minutes a day.  During that time you need to deliver feedback to about 30 students.  With educational technology, educators can now deliver feedback to students digitally, allowing for quicker transitions between students and more timely feedback.  Different technologies also allow for educators to gather data more quickly on their students.  Educators might create a digital formative assessment for the middle of a class to see areas of strength and weakness for students.  Additionally, educators might take compile test data and easily be able to group students based off of results.  

The Effectiveness of educational technology tools and proccesses is important to the fields continuous growth.  Educationa technology is an evolving field, in order for it to be implemented well educators should always be evaluating how it was used and be considering ways to make improvements.  One of the great attirbutes of educaional technology is that there are often opportunities to make adjustments on the fly.  If the student learning is not going “as planned” educators can make quick adjustments, or find valubale resources to share with students.  The overall effectiveness of educaitonal technology is a huge attribute and allows for continuous improvement in learning environments.

The use of educational technology is instrumental in improving student learning envirnoments.  Educators are better able to create learning environments that support theories promoted by John Dewey and Lev Vygotsky who urged learners to take an active role and explore on their own.  The use of educational technology allows for increased student engagement, efficiency of feedback for students, and an opportunity for increased growth and effectiveness.  


Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Massachusetts: Pearson.

Trif, Letititia. (2015). Training Models of Social Constructivism. Teaching based on a developing scaffold. Social and Bahvorial Sciences, 180(978-983)