Through the course of this semester I have learned about different methods of integrating technology into my classroom in ways I had not thought of in the past. Using the grade level I teach on a daily basis allowed me to envision how the lessons I created could help me cover content material in more engaging ways. I also found a lot of new resources that provide not only lessons that I can use, but also explain the theory and rationale behind using them. This not only provides me with ready lesson plans, but also gives me the background information to apply the theories and concepts to other lessons. One of the greatest things I have learned is to look at the advantages of using different types of technology. I feel it’s important to use technology purposefully.
The coursework has required students to show mastery of the AECT Standards in numerous ways. In order to complete the course work it has been necessary to understand the theory behind different strategies of integrating technology into the classroom in order to choose the appropriate tools and resources to accomplish the goals of each module. Once the theory was understood it was then necessary to implement that understanding into a working lesson or activity. The quality of the activity showed whether we had an appropriate understanding of the theory. Before, during, and after creation of lessons and activities it was necessary to consider the role technology would play during instruction. Considering the relative advantage of technology integration ensured that technology usage was done for the purpose of enhancing the lesson and not just for the sake of using technology. Through completion of the course work it was required that we use research to support the strategies that we implemented in our lessons and activities as well as writing blog posts that required a minimum of two sources to support the conclusions we reached.
Professionally I have grown in regards to the way I approach technology integration. While I have always believed that it’s important to not simply use technology for the sake of using it, I didn’t have as strong a foundation as I needed in order to properly evaluate my methods of integration. Also, I have gained exposure to a lot of new quality tools that I can use to enhance my lessons and improve student engagement and performance.
Based on the requirements of the blog posting rubric I feel that my blog posts were of outstanding quality. I used multiple resources for all posts and wrote in a reflective manner that integrated information from my own personal experience as well as from my understandings of the readings and other resources that were a part of the course. All of my posting were done in a timely manner that provided other students with an opportunity to respond to my posting. My responses to classmate’s posts advanced the discussion and provided information that enhanced that discussion.
For this class I work on a Lenovo Yoga 710 2 in 1 laptop, which has several accessibility features included with the laptop as well as many additional features provided by the Windows 10 operating system. These features make using the Lenovo laptop more accessible to all users with different needs. The laptop itself includes tactile bumps on the keyboard that provide a reference point for users to locate keys on the keyboard without visual assistance. This feature helps individuals who are blind or visually impaired. The laptop includes industry standard connectors to provide easy hook up for any accessibility devices needed by individuals with any type of disability. Next, there’s a TTY/TDD Conversion modem which allows the hearing impaired to send messages to another TTY/TDD device (“Accessibility Features,” n.d.).
The Windows 10 operating system is equipped with many accessibility features built into it. These features have not changed a lot since the last release of Windows, but they also have not been scaled back at all (“How to Manage Accessibility Features in Windows 10,” n.d.). The first feature is on-screen notifications. The notifications are accompanied by a chime sound. These notifications assists both visually and hearing impaired users. The chime let’s visually impaired users know there is a notification and hearing impaired user can see the notification. Next, there’s a narrator available that reads anything on the screen in terms of the name of the window that’s open. Speech recognition options allow you to open programs and menu as well as clicking buttons and other options on the screen. You can also dictate text in documents or emails. Basically, anything you can do with your mouse or keyboard you can do with your voice. This tool provides assistance for individuals with hearing, visual, and physical limitations. Next, there is customizable text size. This allows you to change the default size of the text on the screen. This feature is beneficial to the visually impaired. Then we have a magnifier. The magnifier allows the user to zoom in on any part of the screen up to 1600% magnification as well as being able to invert the colors on the screen to make things easier to see. These features are for the visually impaired. Screen resolutions can also be adjusted, which will change the default size of objects and windows on the screen to assist the visually impaired. Next we have keyboard shortcuts which enable users to press combinations of keys to take certain actions. This limits the use of the mouse, which assists individuals with physical limitations (“Accessibility Features,” n.d.).
Many of the features available today on devices use to require additional software. Now many come standard. This doesn’t totally replace after-market software as many of those software packages are more customizable and have even more features. It does however make it so more people have access to these features as they don’t have to pay extra money on top of the cost of the device.
Accessibility Features. (n.d.). Retrieved April 16, 2017, from http://www.lenovo.com/lenovo/us/en/accessibility/
How to Manage Accessibility Features in Windows 10. (n.d.). Retrieved April 16, 2017, from https://www.howtogeek.com/223319/how-to-manage-accessibility-features-in-windows-10/
Integrating technology has continued to be a challenge for many educators as they find it difficult to find the time and expertise to create the instructional materials necessary to create quality instructional materials. This is combined with the still lingering issues of having enough technology available to accommodate a classroom or thirty or more students. These challenges become even more difficult when you are trying to utilize technology for you ELL students.
“ELL teachers regularly employ a variety of specialized and unique teaching strategies and best practices aimed at helping their students acquire English and thrive academically (Knutson & Graphite, n.d.).” For ELL teachers, finding technology apps is a very difficult challenge. For my project, I created a lesson for second grade students learning about place value in math. While there was a never ending supply of apps and online resources for traditional students, it was almost impossible to find resources for ELL students. In most cases I had to choose tools that most appropriate based on how they worked. I selected online tools that worked more with manipulatives and visuals, rather than those more dependent on language. One of the most important things for ELL students to grasp is the vocabulary involved in a lesson, but this was one of the things not included within the learning tools available online. Quality tools not being available though is just one of the major issues in technology use for ELL students.
According to Robertson, there are five areas that still pose a major challenge to teachers working with ELL students. This includes language, limited access, different levels of experience, school infrastructure, and being able to keep up. (Robertson, n.d.) While ELL students are already trying to get up to speed on learning a second language they also need to know the language of technology use in order to be able to effectively use the tools. (Robertson, n.d.) Learning the tools can be very difficult since many ELL students do not have access to technology when they go home. They may not be as familiar with alternative ways to access computer or internet services like non ELL students are. (Robertson, n.d.) ELL students also have much more varying degrees of experience with technology. You may have students who are “sitting in front of a computer for the first time. This requires that teachers develop their own ability to differentiate technology instruction for their students” in addition to the instructional differentiation they are already doing for the content being taught (Robertson, n.d.). “While many schools across the country have invested heavily in technical infrastructure and equipment, many have not – including numerous schools serving ELLs (Robertson, n.d.).” Lastly, even when you school has the technology available, it is very difficult for teachers to keep up with the newest best practices and tools for integrating technology into the classroom while also keeping up with everything for the rest of the classroom. (Robertson, n.d.).
From my experience in creating my content area lesson, the most effective strategy is to keep in mind the best practices for instructional strategies for ELL students while choosing technology tools to use. ELL students need to be introduced to vocabulary early and have it reinforced often throughout a lesson to make the content more accessible. Using technology that uses virtual manipulatives, which they already use can help make the transition to using them online easier. It’s also important to use the technology tools as often as possible depending on the experience and access level of your students so they can continue to hone their skills in technology use. As for all students, becoming experienced in technology use is absolutely vital for them to become good digital citizens and prepare them for life after school. It’s absolutely imperative in today’s world that all students be fluent with as much technology as possible.
Knutson, J., & Graphite, C. S. (n.d.). Where Do English Language Learners Fit Into the Ed Tech Revolution? Retrieved April 6, 2017, from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/09/14/where-do-english-language-learners-fit-into-the-ed-tech-revolution/
Robertson, K. (n.d.). Preparing ELLs to be 21st-Century Learners | Colorín Colorado. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/preparing-ells-be-21st-century-learners
The relative advantage of using technology in different content areas is that it provides us with an opportunity to include and use tools that we otherwise would not be able to utilize. In my current content area technology was used to bring social studies and mathematics together using primary sources. According to The Library of Congress, “Primary sources provide a window into the past – unfiltered access to the record of artistic, social, scientific, and political thought and achievement during the specific period under study, produced by people who lived during that period (“Why Use Primary Sources?,” n.d.).” For this project I had a difficult time finding an impactful way to incorporate primary sources into my content area of mathematics. There are so many amazing primary resources available and I wanted to be able to tie the primary sources to social studies content that we are or will be working on in the future in addition to making the math connection. Many of the resources I have found unfortunately are intended for middle and high school grades. I need to find ways to take those resources and modify them for elementary classes. “Primary resources help students develop knowledge, skills, and analytic abilities (Heitin, 2015).” These are important skills that students need to learn, and use of primary resources is just one way to accomplish it.
Heitin, L. (2015, September 9). Researchers Test Out Primary Sources for Math Class – Education Week. Education Week. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/09/09/researchers-test-out-primary-sources-for-math.html
Why Use Primary Sources? | Teacher Resources – Library of Congress. (n.d.). [webpage]. Retrieved April 3, 2017, from http://www.loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/whyuse.html