Monday, April 25, 2011

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Last month I told you I was signed up for a training on Universal Design for Learning. Well, we had our training last Thursday and it went quite well. Ron Houtman and Kindy Segovia led our group in a discussion of UDL Guidelines and how teachers can get started.

The three main pillars of Universal Design for Learning are:

I. Teachers should provide multiple means of representation. Or, in plain English, that we should present information and content in different ways.

II. Teachers should provide multiple means of action and expression. Or, differentiate the ways that students can express what they know.

III. Teachers should provide multiple means of engagement. Or, stimulate interest and motivation for learning.  

UDL is meant to benefit all students. Low-level learners, ESL, or high-achievers. Ron and Kindy went on to talk about some of the Web 2.0 tools that teachers can use to help design some of their lessons using UDL. The usual items such as Google Docs, Blogs, Wikis, Screencasting, and VoiceThread were mentioned. One of the big items was to get more teacher materials online so that students could access them from school and home. Also, so parents could access materials and be more of a help to their children. Probably one one line I remember from the whole training was when Ron said that the first thing teachers need to do is "find a place to put their stuff." I found this very reassuring because I had just spent three days helping teachers around my high school set up SharePoint sites, Blogs, and Wikis.

So, all-in-all, I thought the UDL training was very informative and really reinforced a lot of the things that I do in my classes. This, of course, just begins to scratch the surface of UDL and how it can be used in your classroom, but I like anything with technology in it. :) If you would like to learn more about Universal Design for Learning, you can visit or the National Center for Universal Design for Learning.

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

SharePoint Services

One of the great tools that we have to use here at Sparta is SharePoint Services by Microsoft. If you have never used SharePoint (or a Learn Site as it is known around here), here is a great video to explain the what it is and why it can be such a great tool in an educational setting.

Paul and I have used SharePoint with our classes the past couple of years and it has changed the way we teach. Students can upload assignments to their own document library. Once there, they can link it to a Wiki page to showcase and receive feedback from other students or log in in from home to finish their work. SharePoint also offers calendar, blog, discussion, and Web page features. It is a great tool for collaboration. Our Intro classes and my Desktop Publishing classes have been able to go paperless. One of the things we like about it is that you can do all of this on the Web, but people who don't have access to our network can't access our student's information.

If you are interested in having a SharePoint site set up for your classroom, let Paul or myself know and we will make it happen.


My First Day As An Instructional Technologist

So yesterday I started a four day stint as an "instructional technologist" at my high school. We started a pilot program where Paul and I get release-time to work with staff members to infuse technology into their curriculum. As a substitute teacher took over my classes, I started meeting with teachers during their planning to find out how I could best help them. During my first day, I was able to meet with around a dozen teachers. We worked on things like creating Sharepoint sites for their classrooms, creating blogs, creating staff profile pages for the district's Website, Flip cameras, Skype, Twitter, and Google Docs. It was a pretty busy day. What I got out of it was that teachers are pretty open to using technology in the classroom, but most of them don't know where to start. Hopefully I can help them find the way. It is starting off with baby steps for some by creating a Web presence, creating document libraries for their students to store documents online, or posting information online. Others are already at that point and want to use YouTube movies to supplement their lessons or have present with Prezi instead of PowerPoint. I hope that I will be able to accomplish all of the goals I had in mind and still have time to followup with teachers while in the classroom. Overall, it has been very busy, but very rewarding. Day two here I come!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Today's Classroom and Web 2.0

What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 technologies provide a level user interaction that was not available before. Students can collaborate, interact, create, publish. Unlike the first wave of Web technology where things were static or unchanging.

Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts. Oh My!

Great Places to Begin
  • Get a Gmail account: It is your ticket to everything Google and there is a lot of good stuff!
  • Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Sites, or BloggerEveryone has something to share!
  • SharePoint site at Sparta. Student drop boxes, Web space, Wikis, and more! (Todd or Paul can help set one up for you)
  • YouTube. There is probably something you could use there right now.

Web 2.0 and Social Studies

Definition of Web 2.0:  The term Web 2.0 is associated with web applications that facilitate participatory information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design,[1] and collaboration on the World Wide Web. A Web 2.0 site allows users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators (prosumers) of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users (consumers) are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created for them. Examples of Web 2.0 include social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video sharing sites, hosted services, web applications, mashups and folksonomies. Definition from Wikipedia.

Great information
Social Studies Central
Tech Learning 2.0 - Social Studies
Favorite Web 2.0 Apps of Social Studies Educators
Social Studies « Web 2.0
A Day in the Life of Web 2.0
Monday Models
Web 2.0 Dashboard
Top 1000 Web 2.0 Sites
21 Things for Teachers
Jenison Public Schools
Cool Tools for Schools
The Ultimate Web 2.0 Sites Listing
Blogs, Wikis, and Google Docs Oh My!
How to Teach with Tech Tools
Common Craft (Videos for those of us who don’t know anything about specific Web 2.0 tools)
Paul and Todd’s Excellent Ed Tech Adventure (Become a follower) (Lot’s of Google info)

Great Places to Begin

Get a
Gmail account: It is your ticket to everything Google and there is a lot of good stuff!

Sign up for
Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Sites, and Blogger. (With your Gmail account)

Get a
SharePoint site at Sparta. Student drop boxes, Web space, Wikis, and more! (Todd or Paul can help)

Find class materials on
YouTube. There is probably something you could use there right now.