Technological Tweets of the Week

Top iPad Apps for Student Creativity:

As a student (back in elementary school through current day), I have always been more interested in the creative side of the class room. I’d rather draw a picture or making a visually aesthetic graph to represent the idea that I am trying to convey, rather than writing a paper. No matter what kind of student you have, their creativity must be stimulated in the class room. School is about expanding your knowledge and there are many ways to do this, being creative is one. These are seen as core apps that help stimulate students’ creativity.

Explain Everything, iMovie, Book Creator: These three apps show students how to work with screen casting, digital story telling, and creating stories visually and audibly. Three other fun apps are drawing pad, green screen, strip designer, and blokify. The more I search for technological tweets and learn about the fun apps iPads have for the classroom, makes me wish that I could have used one in my class rooms growing up. 

Test Prep with Virtual Tools: 10 Flashcard Apps for Mobile Devices:

Knowing how to study for math is a very tricky thing. I am 20 years old and I still struggle with this concept. These apps can help you lose that confusion and get down to studying. These flashcard apps give children the freedom to study on their own and learn concepts that can’t only be learned in the classroom. 

Studyblue: This is a flashcard app that lets teachers create and share a set of flashcards with students. This gives students the ability to study exactly what the teacher wants. They can also set reminders on their phone! 

Flashcards*: This app lets students upload questions from quizlet which is very convenient! It also gives students the ability to add pictures to the flashcards which is really essential for English Language Learners. This app is for the more advanced student and helps them prepare for higher exams. It is a comprehensive program for learning new words and helps high school students boost their vocabulary.  

8 Online Tools To Help Educate Students With Disability:

This article delves into UDL and how technology can play such a gigantic role in the education of students with disabilities. These technologies below increase accessibility and academic performance of students with disabilities.  

1. Word Talk is part of Microsoft Word that can read aloud any document written in Word and can create audio files that can be saved. It can be accessed by customizable keyboard shortcuts for individuals with vision impairment or for those struggle using the mouse effectively.

2. Word prediction is a program that “predicts” what is being typed. “Predictions are based on spelling, syntax, and frequent/recent use. This prompts kids who struggle with writing to use proper spelling, grammar, and word choices, with fewer keystrokes. Students who struggle with memory difficulties might find this program useful, too.”

3. Supernova Access Suite is “a complete screen reader with natural sounding speech and integrated screen magnifier with Braille display support.” They also have the option of a free trial so students can see if it works for them. 




Video Games Improving Social Skills Rather than Hindering

Video games tend to have the stigma that they turn kids’ brains into goop but many people other disagree. This article is about video games that teach kids good social skills and about empathy. Many video games these days are multiplayer and you can play with others all around the world – they are social; you talk to your teammates and construct plans. These video games are “bringing people together.” There is a new trend of video games that are geared to “build social skills and encourage players to reflect on themselves and their relationships.” I chose two of these games to discuss. 

1. The Social Express: 

This game consists of animated episodes that are similar to real world events. The played makes choices of what the character will do in terms of social interactions, social cues, and appropriate decisions. Through this game, children learn key social skills in a safe environment that are very transferable into daily life.

2. Way: 

While playing Way, you are paired with another player and you must use gestures and non-verbal cues to guide your partner through the level. Players will take turn being the guider and guidee – this develops trust in others and shows what it’s like to be responsible of someone else. This game is great because it helps children become “better collaborators while simultaneously getting them to think critically about all the myriad ways we communicate.” 


This Week on Twitter

My 3 tweets of the week


Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement

220 eighth graders were asked “What Engages Students?” and here’s what they said.

Working with their peers, working with technology, connecting the real world to the work we do/ project-based learning, clearly love what you do, get out of my seat!, bring in visuals, student choice, understand your clients — the kids, mix it up!, and be human.

I decided to delve into two of these topics specifically.

1. Understand your clients — the kids.

The students said that they like to be asked their opinion and feel like it truly matters. They make a wonderful point that they may be younger and less educated, but the teacher can always learn from the students, not always just vice versa. They like to feel that their teachers are confident in them and their abilities and in turn, it makes them believe in themselves. The students claimed they didn’t like to be treated as “students” they look for more of a partnership with their teachers. They like when their teachers put themselves in the shoes of their students. They strive for personal connections because they really make all the difference.

2. Working with technology.

This was the second item on the list, meaning that it was mentioned extremely frequently. Students claimed that they would rather learn by doing and technology truly helps that process. Technology excites and keeps students engaged. They claim that they live in a digital age therefore they should be using technology in the classroom not only at home and in their free time.

Preparing Kids for the Digital Future

Parents today are mostly digital immigrants; they didn’t grow up with technology in every aspect of their lives like children today. This can sometimes cause a struggle when they are trying to prepare their child for the “digital future.” Edtech is an app hoping to converge education and technology for the youth of today. The app teaches children how to use a touch screen interface, the new face of educational technology.

Teach with Your iPhone: Apps to Use in the Classroom

This article included 8 great apps to use in the classroom. Here is a short synopsis of each.

1. Mastery connect: This app keeps the Common Core Standards at your fingertips.

2. Pick a Student: A random generation app to make sure each student gets called on and a chance to speak.

3. Timer, sand timer, and traffic light: Timer systems that are not too intimidating; helps students work on pacing themselves.

4. Bookleveler: Helps students fund a “just right” book, all you have to do is scan the barcode and you can find a similar book!

5. Groovy Grader: Makes grading on the go quick and easy. You can determine percentages of questions a student answered or the whole class all together.

6. WordPress: You can work on your blog from your phone; you can make a blog for your class where you put updates and assignments.

7. DocScan HD: Keeps all your paperwork organized and in one place and is connected to Dropbox.

8. MyScript Calculator: This app turns your writing into numbers and solves the problem in a flash.

Changing the Face of Beauty

Mom Aims To Make Advertising More Inclusive

This is one of the first blog posts I have made for my #SPED312 class that really connects with me on so many levels. Not many know but I absolutely love photography, especially taking portrait shots. I found an article on feedly, about a woman with a daughter who has down syndrome. Since her daughter was born she had been taking pictures of her, as every mother does. She began to wonder why children with disabilities are not photographed more, represented in advertisement, or shown off to everyone as being just as beautiful as any other child. I think this is such an important concept for EVERYONE to understand, not just a mother of a child with a disability. 

Kate Driscoll, of Palos Park, Illinois (my home town!), never expected to have a daughter with down syndrome. No mother imagines one of her six children to have a disability; she was incredibly discouraged at first but after Grace was brought into the world her perspective changed completely. As she took pictures of her daughter as she grew up Kate thought, “The one thing I didn’t want people to do is to feel sorry for me or to feel sorry for my daughter, I used those pictures to say, ‘Look! She’s beautiful!’”

Kate began wondering why such beautiful children, who are not defined by their disabilities, weren’t featured in more mainstream media and advertisements. She began to work with a father of a boy with a disability. They began getting local children involved and taking photos to display their true beauty. Over time, these children with disabilities began getting attention from companies and were getting job offers to model their clothing. 

“Driscoll says she hopes the subliminal power of advertising can make the world a more tolerant place. She says, “Advertising is such a vehicle for change. People make decisions based on what they see on TV and in the newspaper. The more the media embraces people with disabilities, the more people will realize that people with disabilities are capable. It all comes down to the fact that I want my daughter to have a job when she grows up. I want her to be independent, and I want her to have opportunities. I hope that through this work more people will be exposed and more people will understand that just because you have a diagnosis, doesn’t mean that you’re not capable of living a perfectly happy, independent life.”

I absolutely agree and love this statement. It is one of the truest statements I have ever read and I wish everyone would understand it. The media and in turn, the world, must realize that people with disabilities are capable. Having a disability does not ruin one’s life nor their families’; these children are still extremely capable of “living a perfectly happy, independent life.” I would absolutely love to see more adults and children with disabilities in the media and advertisement to show the world that everyone has potential and can make great strides in this world. 

“Changing the Face of Beauty”:

Kate Driscoll’s personal blog documenting her family:

Sesame Street Plans to Focus on Autism

Sesame Street To Focus On Autism

It has been released that Sesame street will soon be launching a new effort to “reduce stigma surrounding kids with autism and help those with the developmental disorder learn life skills.” Sesame street is always up to date and hip, bringing in actors, performers, and leaders of this decade. One thing they were not so up to date on was representing all kinds of children; sure they were racially diverse but they were not catering to or including children with disabilities on there show – but this is all about to change. 

Sesame street plans to create digital tools and have episodes geared toward children with autism. They are starting a new initiative called “See Amazing in All Children” and it will focus on “helping children with autism learn to play with others and complete everyday activities like brushing teeth, getting dressed and trying new foods.” Along with helping children with autism learn new lessons, the organization said it will use “Sesame Street’s brand and characters to educate the public about autism and emphasize that kids on the spectrum are much like their typically developing peers.” I think this a few point that is not portrayed in television today. This could be ground breaking and life changing in the entertainment world. This can create an understanding of autism for children out there and their parents. It can show that children with autism are not very different from their peers and that if they are different it doesn’t make them “weird” or “fragile”, it makes them unique and it should be known that they should be treated with the same respect as anyone else. 

I think this can really impact myself as a teacher and the world around me. I think it is necessary for special education teachers to advocate for their students and show that they are just like every other child. They still want to play and have fun, they learn, have friends and families, and they truly are not that different. I think that this new incentive is a wonderful idea and honestly a few years late, but better late than never. This can show general education students and their families that all children are very similar no matter if they have a disability or not. I also think it’s great that Sesame Street will have episodes or portions of the show dedicated to teaching students with autism new lessons. 

I assume they will use video modeling to teach the students new lessons and behaviors. Video modeling is an awesome new technology that shows students with autism how to act in certain situations, what behavior is appropriate, and how to perform certain tasks. The students may see their peers, family, teacher, or even themselves video taped and recorded doing these actions and illustrating to the student what they should do as well. 

Catering to the Student

4 Tips to Build Student Confidence:

1. Say it Out Loud

When learning new concepts or reviewing previously taught lessons, it always helps for students to “talk it out.” Giving time in class for students to talk to their peers and teachers helps them absorb what they are learning and truly understand the concepts. “Through trial, error and immediate feedback, the student now feels more confident setting out on his or her own to tackle the topic.” Being able to talk through problems or struggles gives students the confidence that they can ask any questions and have the topic be fully clarified.

2. Brain Dump

After learning a new topic or studying a new lesson over a few weeks it is advised that students do a “brain dump.” This consists of students receiving a white piece of paper and writing everything that comes to mind on the specific topic. This illustrates to both the student themselves and the teacher that the topic has been learned. “For some students, holding the information inside their head can cause anxiety and confusion. Taking a deep breath, dumping the information on a blank page, and seeing what it looks like prepares the student for success on the assessment. This brain dump then serves as a study guide.” Instead of getting nervous for an exam and flipping through all of the questions immediately, performing a brain dump can help the student gain confidence and truly shows them that they are adequately prepared.

3. Not All in a Straight Line

The article makes a good point – “learning is not linear.” A concept that must be understood by teachers and students alike is that the first question may not always be the best place to start for some students. There is no need to panic if that first question does not seem to make sense or if they do not fully understand the concept. Sometimes you need to use context clues from other questions, therefore you do not always have to start at the first question.

4. Be Visual or Musical

Some students are incredibly creative and letting children channel this creativity into their schoolwork can really make the difference. Students can use graphic organizers, create drawing that represent a lesson, or even write a song to memorize new vocabulary words. When creativity is brought into the world of education the possibilities are endless.


Using Humor in the Classroom

As teachers and future teachers, we are always on the look out for fun new ways to engage students and keep them interested while both having fun and learning. It is known that “a positive climate for learning, and enjoyment, is correlated with retention of information and putting knowledge to work in everyday situations.” Humor in the classroom is known to reduce stress, improve retention of information, and promote creative understanding. “But most of all, it brings a sense of pleasure and appreciation and creates a common, positive emotional experience that the students share with each other and the teacher.” Humor creates a relationship between student and teacher – a well needed relationship that keeps both sides committed and engaged.

The article included a few humor strategies that I thought were fun and helpful.

  • Laugh at yourself — when you do something silly or wrong, mention it and laugh at it
  • Add humorous items to tests, homework or class assignments — even at the University, one of my favorite options when I give multiple choice exams requiring students to identify pairs of psychologists is Calamari and Endive. It always gets smiles, and helps to break exam tension
  • Ask students to try to build humor into occasional writing assignments — that will start a conversation about what it funny, how they know something is funny, why different people find some things funny but some things are funny to almost everyone


How a Common #HASHTAG System Could Change Education for Students

As we do in this class, #Sped312, many classrooms out there today are implementing hashtags into their lessons. #Hashtags are an easy way to keep information all together in one place from many different people and sources. Students in a class may all tweet about the biggest news story in their town from that week and at the end they all include a hashtag that keeps the information into a compiled list. Hashtags are a great way for students to see what their peers are working on or to find news in the community. It is a great way to find exactly what you are looking for at any given time!


Technological Tweeting

This tweet references back to a guide for teachers and parents on how to implement technology into children’s education. A survey was taken and the results stated that “one in five [teachers] said they use social media regularly with students.” Instead of being used as a helpful resource, twitter, pinterest, instagram, and facebook are viewed as “digital play-grounds” and should only be used in free time. This guide shows teachers how to incorporate media into lessons and gives an overlook of these websites and how they work. I liked this article in particular because it addresses how to implement the technology for teachers but also teaches parents how to let their children safely use this media as well.

This article contemplates if there is “too much technology and not enough learning?” I think this is a very common question for both parents and administrators. I think it greatly depends on the classroom and the instructor. The article states, “good teaching and high expectations make the difference, and technology is icing on the cake. My concern is that we are at a point where our students spend more time using technology and less time actually learning.” I completely agree that technology is the icing on the cake; it keeps students interested and engaged, but too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. The article really delves into the question, “is there an app for that?” There does not have to be an application for every single thing in our lives and we will get on without it. I think people need to understand that technology can be extremely helpful when utilized but we do not need to completely rely on it.

This article is titled “Preschoolers in the Digital Sanbox.” I had never really thought about this concept before but it is completely accurate. Kids today have gone from spending hours on end outside playing to many hours spent dragging their fingers across iPads. The article states, “these devices provide opportunities to increase engagement, participation and social interactions. Parents, educators and related service providers seek out activities that ensure young children can reach their potential. The brilliant colors and unique interface of today’s technologies offer young learners the opportunity to explore and learn in brief-yet-powerful, on-demand learning intervals with increased focus and motivation.” This article specifically talks about the benefits of letting young learners utilize technology while also understanding that it should not be their only source of learning. Technology can help them reach their potential but it also must be used right to have positive results.


Teaching with Technology in the Classroom

11 Signs that Technology is a Key Part of Education: With each article I read I am convinced even further that technology is imperative in the education of a child in today’s world. Technology is all around us and will be extremely prevalent in our futures as well. This article states, “technology makes it easy for teachers to create visually engaging images that illustrate a key concept” and they explain that you don’t have to be extremely skilled in digital design to make a great presentation. I think this is a very important point about today’s technology in education. Anyone can do it. Teachers and parents shouldn’t be intimidated by technology today and we should let the youth teach us. Each minute, hour, and day something new is invented on the internet and children are the ones who will understand it first. We should not be scared by these new inventions and programs, we need to embrace them.

20 Ways to Bring Your Textbook to Life: Textbooks are crucial when designing lesson plans and abiding by the curriculum but those factors impact the teacher more than the student. Students might find reading textbooks tedious and boring (me included). Textbooks and their contents can be much more beneficial if presented in the right manner. As a future teacher I would like to model and use some of these ideas in my classroom to keep my students interested and engaged.

  • Have your students create a pinterest board dedicated to each chapter
  • Use word clouds and graphic organizers
  • Modernize Dialogue

I think this article truly illustrates how being creative and presenting ideas in a new and fun way can keep children interested.

First Graders Tap into iPad Technology in their Classroom: I think this is article for today’s educators to see how much children enjoy and benefit from using technology even at such a young age. When they are having fun they are more likely to be learning and interested in the ideas presented to them. Working on iPads is like working with pen and paper for them; technology has been in their lives since day one. This is a concept that educators must understand. Technology must be implemented in the classroom because it is a very large aspect in their lives, and you mustn’t hold back your students when they have the resources to do great things with great technology and great skills.

Time-Wasting Sink Holes

Stephen Balkam makes the ever so common point that to many people in today’s culture, many social networking websites are viewed as “time- wasting sink holes for narcissistic teens and adults who should know better.” I know this a common portrayal of today’s youth and the web because I hear it from my father every time I see him. “I just don’t understand who wants to waste their time on facebook posting about what they did every second of every day, don’t you have better things to be doing with your life?” I’ve heard this statement from my 62 year old father at least 20 times. I don’t know if it’s one of those scary moments you have in life where you notice you’re turning into your parents or what, but the older I get the more I agree with my Dad. This is all part of the stigma that social media is a waste of time. Very frequently while I’m perusing buzzfeed and scrolling through my facebook newsfeed, I question why I’m wasting my time. I have so many better things to be doing with my life and I don’t want to look back and see that I’ve wasted so many valuable hours of my life stalking someone’s instagram back to 48 weeks ago or trying to formulate a tweet in under 140 characters that really articulates and explains the love I have for grilled cheese. These thoughts go through my head every day, but somedays my thoughts stray in the opposite direction. 

Some days I think, “good thing I checked facebook or I wouldn’t have known the “Spread the Word to End the Word” event was happening today” or “I’m glad I refreshed my twitter feed to see the new link to a charity my best friend is supporting so I could donate too.” Facebook and twitter can also be marvelous tools to get ‘the word’ around. Each minute you have at least 40 of “your friends” constantly online and they will see when you post about something important. The article claims that this new-age technology and media brings about “web-based activism and people-centric leadership” in Egypt, which is a very new concept. People “without direct leadership or guidance from oppositional parties, have self-organized, acted, engaged and participated in a series of protests and demonstrations in order to bring about change. But what is more remarkable, is that these self-organizing digital citizens have also taken it upon themselves, to remove litter from the streets, protect their national treasures, direct traffic and create local pseudo-police forces in the absence of any credible law enforcement help.” This is a direct example of media and technology being used for good. If you want to make a difference and get people involved, putting it on social media is the way to go. Everyone will see it and the more popular it is the more it will spread. In Egypt, people are being digital citizens and making a difference using social media. They are banding together to both fight for what they believe in and also to make their country a better place. These digital citizens understand the power of today’s youth and their mass. 

So we in the West and those of us laying the foundational stones for this emerging concept of digital citizenship, have much to learn from our Arab friends. They have shown a remarkable degree of self-organization using the new technologies. They have also demanded their rights while also accepting their responsibilities. They have used Twitter and Facebook in ways that were unimaginable to their respective founders and shown these and other social networking tools in a light contrary to their portrayal as time-wasting sink holes for narcissistic teens and adults who should know better. I am hopeful that in months and years to come, we can travel to Egypt and see for ourselves how a nation with 50% of its population under the age of 25, has come to transform itself and the notion of what it means to be a citizen in this digital age.

As we’ve read in many articles in class, teachers today must prepare students for the digital age and their extremely technological future. To make students digital citizens you must inform them on safety. I think that is one of the most important things today’s youth must know. Anything you post on the internet is there forever; from that incredibly heinous picture of you from 7th grade (or in my case all of them) to the party you’re inviting many underage drinkers to – it’s on the internet for the rest of time. People can find what you post and look back so you must think before you post. I think the the other key today’s digital age students must understand is how to use technology for good. Going back to my dad’s comment on how facebook is a waste of time, yes it definitely can be if you don’t utilize it in the right ways. I think teachers need to explain to their students the awesome ways social media can make you connect with your peers, community, political leaders, and the other side of the world. I think schools need to share examples of how digital media is making the world a better place. I would have never known about the digital citizens in Egypt making these differences in their country if I had not been given this assignment and I think that’s sad. Everyone should know about the great differences today’s youth is making around the world because it teaches my peers and I that we can make a difference as well.