Assisstive Technologies on Windows 10 — November 20, 2016

Assisstive Technologies on Windows 10

Assistive technologies have allowed for the expansion of a traditional classroom to incorporate ALL learners, rather than be exclusive.  As technologies have improved and access to the more advanced technologies has increased, teachers are able to find resources and tools to make their classroom more accessible.  “An individual is able to complete a task that they previously could not complete, did so slowly, or did so poorly (Roblyer, 2016).”  Computers are a huge part of this assistive technology community.  In the 1990s it became clear that computers could be a great way to schools and classrooms to reach all learners and computer manufacturers responded to this by incorporating assistive technologies into their computers.  This practice has grown with all computers being made with assistive technologies.  In addition to the computers themselves, there is a multitude of software available to add on to computers allowing for an increased access to all (Roblyer, 2016).  

The assistive technologies available offer a wide array of support.  There are speech-recognition softwares to help students use speech to type assignments or create projects.  There are also text-to-speech softwares to help students who cannot see text hear what is being shared and have pictures be described.  There are also many visual and audio aids that can be incorporated into computers (Staff, 2012).

On my Windows 10 I found quite a few built in assistive technologies. The first I tried out was the Narrator for Windows Mail.  I started by watching the video to better understand how the process works and then set up Windows Mail for the first time.  I found this tool to be fascinating.  Using simple key codes the user can increase the complexity in which the email is read.  There is a basic reader that simply reads through the email, but you can also choose a reader that explains what text looks like to help with emphasis and also can break down tables and other information that might not be conveyed in a basic reader.  A tool like this would be very beneficial to a visually impaired user.  

Windows 10 offers many tools for users who may be visually impaired.  They also have a magnifier tool which helps with increasing the size of an image or text.  

In addition, they offer text or visual alternatives to sound a computer might make.  For example, you can turn on captions for spoken dialogues.  Or have your computer flash to share a warning.  This would benefit a user who is hearing impaired.  

I also came across the whole Ease of Access settings board that can be used on Windows 10 to help those with disabilities.  This settings board is where users can change settings to have text read or to have an onscreen keyboard setup.  

One of the best resources available through this is the Speech Recognition software which allows the computer to be completely controlled by voice.  For users who may not be able to use a keyboard or mouse, this allows them to complete the same tasks other users can, in similar time.  I tried this software and while there was a bit of set up and new “lingo” to learn, I was able to move through tasks on my computer at a similar pace.  

Devices like my PC provide opportunities for all users to participate in the activities and tools a computer has to offer.  In the classroom, its benefits can be endless.  Students can complete similar tasks to their peers, with minimal changes to the activity.  Tools like this are available on many types of computers and even mobile phones, allowing for more access to these assistive technologies.  

“Accessibility Can Empower.” Microsoft Accessibility: Technology for Everyone, Home. Microsoft.

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, 7th Edition. [Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from

Staff. “The Role Of Assistive Technology In Supporting Disabled Learners.” TeachThought. N.p., 18 Dec. 2012.

Challenges and Solutions for History Tech Integration — November 14, 2016

Challenges and Solutions for History Tech Integration

As a secondary social studies teacher pushing my students towards higher order thinking and inquiry, I often find myself letting my students go off on an research.  Technology allows my students instant access to millions of resources, but while information is readily available, it is not always reliable.  An obstacle for teachers and students is that information retrieval is both safe and leads to accurate information.  Information overload sounds like a silly obstacle, one that many years ago teachers would have envied.  But the challenge is making sure students can decipher the information to find validity and credibility.  How can teachers do this?  Well it is important as the teacher to teach into skills such as fact checking and corroboration.  To be 21st century consumer of information, social studies students must practice by comparing and contrasting sources, checking relevant citations and looking into peer reviewed articles.  Our book suggests that using misleading sites as demonstration tools for teaching students can be an important part of digital literacy (Roblyer, 339).  

Another challenge faced in the social studies content is information sharing done by students.  An important part of the social studies classroom is creating and sharing information that helps teach or present a topic.  With the advent of technology students can now share their information digitally.  There information can be far reaching and have a large audience.  The challenge is ensuring the safety of students when sharing their presentations and information, as well as, easing the nerves of parents who may not want their students work published.  To help solve this problem, districts should create plans for teachers and parents to understand how students are being kept safe on the internet.  In addition, students should be taught internet safety, such as not sharing full names and location, as well as, not responding to inappropriate comments or personal questions.  

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, 7th Edition. [Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from

Relative Advantage – Technology in Social Studies — November 6, 2016

Relative Advantage – Technology in Social Studies

There a million ways to integrate technology into the classroom.  There is an endless amount of tools for all content areas and topics.  But the key to utilizing these technologies is to use them to enhance the learning environment.  They are not simple replacements of past tools, but enhancements allowing students to reach further outside the classroom walls and engage them in the content at hand.  As a social studies teacher global outreach, collaboration and accessing resources  are an important part of shaping good citizens.

Encouraging Collaboration

Having the use of Google Docs and other collaboration tools increases students ability to work with others.  This is an important life skills that students should attain.  In social studies, using collaborative tools encourages students to work with people of different cultures, backgrounds, learning abilities, and socio-economic status.  This is essential in creating 21st century citizens and workers who can collaborate and create with others (Cox, 2015).

Assessing and Evaluating Resources

Part of being a global citizen in the 21st century is being able to find your way through a sea of resources and information.  An important skill I must teach my 8th graders is how to evaluate their sources, view bias, and corroborate information to gain knowledge and form opinions.  Technology allows students to have immediate access to these resources.  It also allows them to fact check and corroborate almost instantly.  Additionally, students can collect and annotate their resources using online tools.  Sites like Diigo,, and others allow for collections of resources that students can then use to write, create, analyze, investigate and more.  

Other advantages of technology include the ability to find resources for students of all learning levels.  Digital articles can be shared in multiple reading levels, along with using pictures and summaries to help students comprehend the articles (Roblyer, 2016).  

The technology I use in my classroom will have huge benefits on my students.  It will not only help them learn the social studies content, but also will prepare them for their futures.  Utilizing technology will also “  [set students] up for this increasing digital economy (Cox, 2015).”  To find these advantages it is important to remember, technology is not just simply a replacement, it is an enhancement and an increased opportunity for learning.

Cox, Janelle. “Benefits of Technology in the Classroom.” TeachHUB. N.p., 2015. Web. 06 Nov. 2016.

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

Roles of the President —

Roles of the President


This image will be used multiple times throughout the 8th grade Presidential unit.  Students will first use this image when they are introduced to the roles of the President.  They will then develop definitions for these roles that better help to break down the roles the president fulfills.  In addition, students will use this image as a checklist when creating a daily agenda for the President.

For this image I focused on symmetry and using the white space on either side of the writing to help focus the students.  I also wanted to emphasize the text in the middle as important and necessary to the learners.  By using symmetry and space I was able to chunk the important information and show separation between the title and the content.

Originally I had the roles separated into different text boxes, which was overwhelming to the viewer.  Next I used bullets to separate the roles.  I finally went with the check boxes, to follow past formats I have used, as well as, make his image more usable for the students.

Organization — October 30, 2016



Students in 8th grade American History will be using this image as an overview for the unit of study.  This will be used throughout the unit and eventually become linked to the corresponding units.  Students should be able to understand the titles on this graphic and their associating materials.  

I chose to represent this overview as if it were a road.  Earlier suggestions on my graphics mentioned to include the road so I thought I would give it a shot.  I went back and forth on this multiple times, but eventually came up with this graphic.  To help with the understanding of my graphic I used many of the organizational techniques to show hierarchy.  I used numbers to show the progression of the lessons.  I also used a flowchart model to show that the title is the overarching idea, while the “exits” below fit into this hierarchy.  I also used arrows to show the “Strong” connections from the unit to the smaller lessons (Lohr, 146).  I was torn about some of my colors in this image.  Traditionally my images have had the red, white and blue theme.  However to fully show the road and exit signs I changed those colors to match what we naturally assume they are.  I chose to keep the traditional blue up top show it would stand out.  This contrast can help convey that this information is the most important to read for this graphic (Lohr, 133)

I remade this image several times.  The title I kept, for the most part, the same from the start.  The main changes happened with the lesson titles.  I originally had them matching my past color schemes.  I even eliminated the road at one point because I felt it didn’t match.  But after consulting with my fiance I decided to add the road back in and make it even more authentic with the exit signs for each lesson.

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

Relative Advantage to Games in the Classroom — October 23, 2016

Relative Advantage to Games in the Classroom

As the education field has evolved, an emphasis has been put on student centered learning.  No longer do teachers stand in front of the classroom lecturing about a given topic, now it is expected that students are immersed in their learning environment, practicing and applying the skills they are learning.  Students are expected to guide their learning and continue striving towards more to achieve mastery.  But not all subject areas can be “practiced” in a traditional classroom.  So how can teachers lead students to real world practical experiences with the skills they are learning?  Educational Games can allow for this “real world” experience to happen.  Students can practice skills like creating a roller coaster, or applying medical treatment, without leaving the classroom.  They can receive instant feedback for their achievements or misconceptions and continue working towards success.  

Research shows that the use of games in the classroom can lead to student success.  Judy Willis, of Edutopia cites that games allow for constant feedback to the learner.  They are able to work towards achievable rewards in specific levels and decipher if they are correct or not.  When correct student’s brains are stimulated by the release of dopamine.  This type of reaction motivates learners to continue and helps them retain the information they are learning (Willis, 2011).  Recently, Yale researchers found that short video games can stimulate the learners brain.  The researchers referred to these short video games as “mental stretching.”  The can excite students about the material at hand and prepare them for the day of learning (Banville, 2016)

The idea of using games in education has grown so much over the past few years that it was recently included in the “Every Student Succeeds” legislation. The legislation cites games as an important part of student success.  Games can be used to increase collaboration and problem solving skills.  It also suggests that games can be used as an assessment tool (Banville, 2015). Teachers should utilize sites such as iCivics to identify games that promote and stimulate learning.  Games in education should not just be used as a reward, but they can be used to encourage learning and as the learning task!  Even better, students can be involved in making the games!

Banville, Lee. 2016 may test the government’s commitment to learning games. Games and Learning. Classroom Use, 28 Dec. 2015.

Banville, Lee. Brain trainers may kick start learning in students. Games and Learning. Learning Research, 1 Oct. 2016.

Willis MD, Judy. A neurologist makes the case for the video game model as a learning tool.” Edutopia. N.p., 14 Apr. 2011.

Color Image- Notable Presidents —

Color Image- Notable Presidents

Students in 8th grade American History will be using this image as a focus for understanding political parties.  At this point in the unit students will have learned about democrat and republican parties, as well as other parties that have been a part of elections in the past.  All students will be familiar with the names and terms used in this graphic.  In addition, students have used “timeline” like graphics in the past so they should be able to follow the graphic.

I chose to use a blue background with white lettering for the title to help it stand out.  According to Lohr, using color for labeling information will help students to differentiate between the information they should view first and last.  I also learned that using color for learner organization can be helpful.  I chose to label the democrats and republicans with their associated colors (blue and red).  I hoped that this would help students both with associating the presidents in the picture, as well as, associating these colors in general with their corresponding political parties.  

I originally had borders around each of the presidents.  After consulting with my fiance, he noted that it was too busy and hel felt the information was already organized enough.  He said the borders were too distracting.  In addition, he helpd me work on alignment and making sure the images all flowed.

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

Walled Gardens Voice Thread — October 17, 2016
Selection Principle – Presidential Requirements — October 16, 2016

Selection Principle – Presidential Requirements


My 8th grade students will be using this image when beginning the unit on becoming president.  They should understand who the president is in relation to the U.S. government.  In addition, they should be familiar with vocabulary such as “natural born citizen” and “residency.”

When considering how to complete this image I originally thought of a table.  However, after reading the chapter on selection, I came across Figure 5-3 on page 104.  This image showed how the table lines can sometimes skew the focus of the learner.  This helped me to design this image, by making sure to emphasize the main points of the graphic, without distraction, like a table.  I also tried to focus on the 3 c’s for this section.  I used a blue background for the title to draw attention and concentrate the image focus.  I also kept the information concise to help maintain the learners focus and emphasize the key points without distraction.  I was torn about using an image or not.  I find the seal of the president to be an important piece of the presidency so I wanted to incorporate it into the image.  I wanted to make sure it did not distract however, like in the clock image in the text book.

I asked my fiance to review the image.  He liked the simplicity of it and told me to make a few changes with centering of the title and the image overall.  He also noted to fade the seal so it was less distracting, which I think was a big change.

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

Acceptable Use Policies — October 10, 2016

Acceptable Use Policies

The use of internet and technology in schools is a great asset.  It opens a world of possibilities for teaching and learning, but in many peoples eyes it opens up a whole world of concern as well.  To combat those concerns of students drifting to off task sites, finding inappropriate materials, or talking to someone they should not, districts, schools and teachers should develop acceptable use policies.  These policies help set criteria for students, similar to the criteria for behavior in school on a daily basis.

As important as acceptable use policies are to the safety of students, experts note that they should “be based on a philosophy that balances freedom and responsibility.”  I believe that it is important to teach students how to navigate their internet resources appropriately without doing it for them.  It is an important strategy as global citizens to be able to decipher information.  Rather than place harsh restrictions and begin with punishments, acceptable use policies should provide a guidelines that outline how to be safe.  They should began by explaining what the policy is for and providing definitions to alleviate any misconceptions or confusion.  They should provide an opportunity to students to learn about the policy and then explain the “acceptable” use that students must follow.  Although you do not want to discourage students ability to decipher information, the next sections in an acceptable use policy allow students to understand that they can “abuse” the privileged to access information, as well as, put themselves in danger.  Therefore, acceptable use policies should include a “non-acceptable” use section, as well as, how violations will be handled (Education World).  Using this depth in an acceptable use policy will be beneficial in proactively planning for use of the internet.

For schools with younger students, it is important to not only educate students on how to use the internet acceptable, but also help minimize their access to inappropriate sites.  Firewalls and filters can be beneficial to minimize student traffic on inappropriate sites.  However, these are not 100% effective, again promoting that teaching students appropriate use is most beneficial.  As students get older, Firewalls can prove troublesome, as they may block sites that are necessary to an assignment.  For example, many civil war sites are blocked to students at my school.  However, my students conduct and independent project on the civil war generating digital museum galleries and they need access to many resources.  As a district, we had to quickly redesign our acceptable use policy and change the firewalls to allow students to access these sometimes controversial sites.  

Another concern for students are their privacy issues.  For example, my students create blogs to share their work.  The intent of these blogs is to help students reach a more global audience and share their responses and ask questions of experts.  However, parents and students are allowed to “opt out” of having their blogs public.  Additionally, acceptable use policies can help students to understand the concept of not posting their full name and personal information.  Our students blogs do not include our school district and just use student first names at this time.  It is important to consider safety and privacy issues when creating an acceptable use policy (Roblyer, 2016).  While these may not be a result of “student misuse” they are major part to teaching students to navigate the internet appropriate.  

Below are some examples of acceptable use policies:

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

“Education World: Getting Started on the Internet: Acceptable Use Policies.” Education World: Getting Started on the Internet: Acceptable Use Policies. Education World, 2009. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.