Final Reflections – Ed Tech 541 — December 5, 2016

Final Reflections – Ed Tech 541

Part 1

Integrating Technology into the Classroom Curriculum is one of the courses I have been looking forward to the most in the M.E.T. program.  I was excited to explore the many different possibilities of technology in the classroom.  Each of the projects helped me to try out new tools and applications and also challenge my thinking of how I can best teach my students.  When looking back at my vision statement, I am able to reflect at how my original thoughts shaped many of my projects and much of my research.  I found that social constructivism and connectivism are a huge part of my classroom and influenced how I created many of my projects.  I looked to create situations where students can create and collaborate together, and at times connect with a more authentic audience.

This course helped me to deepen my understanding and show mastery of the AECT standards promoted by the M.E.T. program at Boise State. In this course the main focuses were on Standard 1 – Content Knowledge,  Standard 2 – Content Pedagogy, and Standard 5 – Research.  

For Standard 1 – Through the creation of my weekly projects I was able to show the development of my content knowledge.  Each week we learned about a new possibility for integrating technology into the classroom.  The resources provided and the course textbook helped me to build a broad understanding of these technologies and tools and drastically increase my content knowledge.  Through the projects I demonstrated ways to use these new tools, as well as, evaluate their overall effectiveness for possible activities.  

For Standard 2 – In applying the knowledge I gained in each unit I was bale to create lesson plans that demonstrated how to best use these new tools.  I also reflected on how some of the tools provide a relative advantage to teaching and learning.

For Standard 5 – Each of the projects for this unit helped me to understand how to include technologies into teaching and learning.  I used my knowledge of theoretical foundations to guide my research and development of lesson plans.  I also conducted research on adaptive technologies to to assess and evaluate the best method for its uses.  In doing so I used some of the tools myself, which helped me to get more hands on experience as to how my learners might use these tools.  

All of my work in this course has helped provide me with a better frame of mine for the uses of technology.  As I mentioned in my original vision statement, I do not believe technology should be used as a simple substitution, rather it should be used to enhance the learning experience and take it to heights it may not have reached before.  By learning all of the different technology tools and integration strategies I feel confident in implementing them into my classroom.  I feel as though I have gained a better understanding of social constructivism and how it can be enhanced through technology.  Many of the projects I created for this course I have already or plan to use in my classroom.  I am excited about all of the possibilities.  

I also am very appreciative of the “Technology in the Content Areas” projects.  These pushed my thinking outside of my content area and challenged me to try new things.  While I might have struggled in these projects at first, I think they will be the most valuable as I hope to become a technology coach in my school district.  I think projects like this can be the most beneficial to enhancing myself as an educator and future technology leader.

Part 2

Content – 70 points

When looking back through my posts I think they provide a good overview of each topic, as well as more in depth information getting at the specific content of the post.  I tried to include connections to my classroom or classroom examples found in my research.  I believe that many of my posts provided some unique insights and helped to synthesize much of the information gathered.

Readings and resources – 18 points

In all but 2 of my blogs I included additional resources to the textbook provided for this course.  I used a variety of intext citations and paraphrasing to share my findings from the resources I used.  I do beleive I can improve by adding additional peer reviewed resources to my posts, accessing the Boise State databases, as well as improving my APA citations.

Timeliness – 18 points

The majority of my posts were made with at least one day of advance for comments to be made.  While not all of my posts were commented on, I did receive several thoughtful responses from classmates.  I do beleive in the future I should provide at least one more day for classmates to post on my blogs, as sometimes it was later on Sunday and most students had already completed their responses prior to the Monday deadline.

Responses to other students – 30 points

I always provided responses to classmates blogs that acknowledged something I found interesting or questioned in their blog post.  I made sure to reference a part from their blog and also attempted to build on the thoughts of others when it was applicable.

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.

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.

Walled Gardens Voice Thread — October 17, 2016
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.

Benefits of Multimedia in the Classroom — October 2, 2016
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.

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.