K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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March 2011
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Archive of the web conference “Inclusion in the 21st-Century Classroom: Differentiating with Technology,” which took place March 7, 2011. This web conference accompanies the article of the same name.


Automated voice (00:01)
Recording started.
Bobby Hobgood (00:03)
Good afternoon and welcome to this, the sixth installment in our year-long series, Reaching Every Learner: Differentiating Instruction in Theory and In Practice. This afternoon’s session is based on the article “Inclusion in the 21st-Century Classroom: Differentiating with Technology.” My name is Bobby Hobgood, and I am one of the speakers this afternoon, along with a classroom teacher I’m going to let introduce herself in just a moment. But wanted to give you a mug shot of myself there, this was taken this past June when I was speaking in Beijing at Tiananmen Square, and just gave you a little bit of information. I’m happy to be with you this afternoon to talk about this topic that is interesting to me in so many ways. I’m going to turn the mic over now to Becky, and Becky if you’ll introduce yourself please.
Becky Goddard (01:00)
My name is Becky Goddard. As you can see I’m a sixth-grade math teacher in Mooresville and we have the great opportunity that we do have a lot of technology in the classroom. I teach three blocks, two are inclusion, one’s ESL, so I do work with a lot of students in the inclusion setting.  And I’m looking forward to this today.
Bobby Hobgood (01:29)
Okay folks, sorry about that, here we’re back. Before we get going this afternoon, if you had a chance to read the article on which today’s web conference is based, would you give us a smiley face please? Click on the smiley face if you had the opportunity to read the article. Okay, that looks good then. We’ll try not to repeat the article this afternoon but to play off of that article. So if you haven’t had the opportunity to read the article, we hope that you will take the time to not only read the article, but also to take a look at the accompanying video clips. We were very fortunate in this particular case to visit with classroom teachers around the state, one of them, Becky, this afternoon who’s here to answer questions. And we hope that you’ll take advantage of those videos.
So when we talk about learning disabilities in this particular article, there are four major categories of learning disabilities and you see them here. The first is spoken language, and that refers to students who have difficulty with listening and speaking.  The second is written language, which refers to those students who have difficulty with reading, writing, and spelling. The third major category is in arithmetic, and these are students who have difficulty with calculations and with major concepts. And finally, reasoning.  And students in this category have difficulty with organization, organizational skills, and the integration of thoughts and ideas.
The article takes a look at how we can meet the needs of students who have learning disabilities by using technology, but using technology in a particular way. The technology category we’re talking about in this case is commonly known as assistive technology, and as defined here, it’s any kind of technology that we use, and we’ll further explore that in just a bit, that can enhance functional independence of a person with a disability. And that’s with any number of disabilities. You might be surprised, if you haven’t read the article, to discover that a lot of the technology you currently have in place falls under the category of assistive technology. So, I’m going to ask you now to share a little bit, and in just a moment, you’re going to be using another of the white board tools, in particular the letter A. And I want you to look closely here as indicated in the illustration, it’s not the letter A inside of a box, but the letter A by itself. You’ll be clicking on that, and then clicking in a particular location to begin typing. Okay?
So, I want to see what you know already about assistive technology. Those of you who have some insight, those of you who may have read the article. We’re going to look at the three major categories of assistive technology, and this is across the board in general what we refer to as assistive technology in three categories. So, if your birth date happens to fall in January, February, March, or April, would you type some responses in that column, the low-tech. So what are some examples of low-tech assistive technology? For those of you whose birthdays are in May, June, July, or August, you’re going to comment on mid-range technology, we’d ask that you’d type some answers there. And then those of you whose birthdays fall in the last third of the year, September, October, November, and December, we’ll ask that you click and then type in some examples there of high-tech. So we’ll give you just a few, about a minute or so to do that.
Okay, well, Cathy you actually didn’t lose sound, I just went off the microphone, but thanks for letting us know. You’ll notice that the terms are being moved around. I’ve got magic powers this afternoon, so here in Chapel Hill I’m moving these around so that we can perhaps see them a little bit better, and it looks like we have some really insightful folks this afternoon who know a lot about assistive technology. Assistive technology, as you’ve indicated, can range from using highlighters, colored acetate that we place on top of text to make the text easier to read, it doesn’t move around for some learners, all the way up to high-tech, and there’s some things that I’m not seeing here, for example, some text, speech-to-text, and some screen readers, I don’t know if I’m seeing that here this afternoon. Mid-range, looks like we’ve identified that there. What we really wanted you to see this afternoon was that you have already in your classrooms examples of assistive technology. And one of the things that is not understood, commonly misunderstood, I would say, about assistive technology, is that the ways in which some students use certain technology in the classroom is not considered as an assistive technology, but the way that others are using that technology might be considered assistive technology.
So, just want to touch base with you right now to see if the audio is coming through okay, if there are any questions.
Okay, we’ve got one question already, and I’m going to ask Becky, Becky if you have some experience with a glog. What is a glog? Can you talk to us about that please?
Becky Goddard (08:50)
I assume we’re referring to maybe a Glogster. Glogster’s a really great website to display information. I know that some of our language arts teachers tend to use them a lot of times, maybe, you know, in the lower grades where they might be doing a book report or something. I will say make sure you’re on the education site and not the other. It’s an online poster students can create. They can add sticky notes to it, they can add content, like images, they can upload videos into it. Once it’s published, other people can comment on it. It’s Glogster Edu. It’s a very cool place for students to display and to produce products. And it’s completely online, and it’s free, I think teachers can apply for fifty free accounts and the students do not need an email.
Bobby Hobgood (09:54)
Okay, Becky, thank you. That’s some important information. Indeed, it is free, and I think, having talked to other teachers who’ve used Glogster, it is an excellent opportunity to differentiate product on the part of students to give options. And it’s a nice twist on the traditional poster presentations. If you know how to create a wiki you can actually embed those glogs into a wiki. So some teachers I’ve heard of create glogs with their students and they have a virtual presentation, so rather than walking around in a traditional space, students, as well as other visitors, can view other virtual presentations by going through a wiki.
I came upon this quote some time ago, and I have to admit, I don’t recall the person who said it, I need to find that out and let you know. This is a quote from an adult who now works with assistive technology who talked about how they loved the keyboard, and for this particular person, it took away that piece of, what he describes as, dead wood. And for him there was something important about the keyboard and the connection between clicking each key, that tactile sensation that he received helped him to better connect with letters and words. So as someone who had a learning disability, the mere fact that he was able to use a keyboard to take notes, to participate, now as an adult in his workplace made a big difference for him. So again, the emphasis is on how are we using technologies. Now, of course, our series is about differentiation of instruction and I just happened upon this article that came out in the blog Mind Shift that talked about differentiation of instruction and I thought this was so key here, the idea that differentiation is not going to make anyone distinguished in 2010, excuse me, 2020, but rather it’s going to be a natural part of our workplace. And I think we’re seeing that already, as we integrate technology, I think there’s a very natural and organic connection to differentiation of instruction.
We can’t do any of this, however, without knowing our students, and if you had the opportunity to read the article, there is a section there that talks about ways in which we can get to know our students. And by knowing our students, it goes beyond the simple knowing that they like to listen to a particular type of music, or they enjoy a particular type of food. But getting a sense of the ways in which they learn best. For example, in a math classroom, in solving a problem, maybe some students might rank for you on a survey what techniques would work better for them in order of their impact. So having hands-on, maybe followed by demonstration, maybe by group work, maybe by independent work, and so students can indicate to you the ways in which they learn the best. So think about at the beginning of every year, every semester, different questions you can ask your students. And some of the tools we mentioned in the article are free and reliable. Among those you see Zoomerang, and I’m curious, how many of you know Zoomerang or have used, give me a green check mark if you know Zoomerang?
The companion to Zoomerang, there’s another site called SurveyMonkey, check if you’ve heard of SurveyMonkey as well. And then, a couple of sites, PollEverywhere.com, a really cool, free website that allows you to anonymously get input from your students, and in fact this particular tool will let students use cell phones to register their responses. So, first and foremost, if we’re going to differentiate instruction we have to know our students, and a part of that as well is knowing their IEPs, for students who are learning disabled, knowing what their IEPs are, and I’m going to talk a little bit more about that in just a moment.
To refresh your memory, even if you didn’t read the article, chances are you probably know this already. There are seven ways that we can differentiate instruction. In the article we talk about those as being either student-dependent, as you see here, and those are ways we address the students’ needs. So, according to their readiness, to tackle a particular topic, their interest level, and in their learning profile, again, the ways in which they learn best. And then the remainder, those final four, we refer to as those teacher-dependent variables.  And those are the ways that you can differentiate the content, process, the product, and the learning environment.
If you haven’t watched the videos, you’ll note that four of the videos are devoted to these teacher-dependent variables. The fifth video, which launches the article, is a very special video that we wanted to create, having the opportunity to spend some time in a seventh-grade classroom in Apex, Dr. Alena Treat’s classroom, looking at how web-based virtual worlds help differentiate instruction for students.
So I mentioned that it’s important to know your students. That means as teachers, especially when working with students with learning disabilities. We can’t do this alone, but we should work with EC teachers, with IEP teams at our schools, and I found this chart to be very helpful in terms of thinking about whether or not we use assistive technology. And first of all, there are five important decisions about assistive technology that the IEP team should make, and include reviewing the student’s skills and abilities and available evaluation data on the student. Developing annual goals for that student including some checks and benchmarks, examining the tasks that are required of that student in order to participate and progress in any educational setting, evaluating the difficulty of the tasks and that student’s functional ability to perform them. And finally, identifying services and supports, including the assistive technology that enable the student to participate and achieve.
So making those decisions, the IEP team can go in a number of ways that you see there.  Current interventions are working, then maybe they just need to continue as is, and assistive technology is not needed. Maybe assistive technology is already being used and is working with trials and it confirms what works, so we would continue that in the IEP and make sure that we note what AT is being using. If it’s not being used, or the needs of the student are not being met with any current interventions, then maybe there is a plan for assistive technology and trials to take place, and in the IEP, that should be well-documented, described. Not only by type but what feature of the technology. So for example, if Microsoft Word is being used with a student, what particular features, maybe commenting features or highlighting feature are a part of what is needed to help that student. And finally, if we don’t know enough, then maybe we need to stop the IEP process and recommend with some more information and then maybe schedule a referral for evaluation and documentation on the IEP.
So I thought it would be interesting this afternoon to take a look at an activity and you can see here at a glance that there are options here for students, so we differentiated how they go about engaging in this activity and it’s done via the analogy of a dinner menu. The topic is actually photosynthesis, but in our dinner menu, we start out with an appetizer where everybody in the class is sharing together by writing a chemical equation for photosynthesis. So if a student had a particular learning disability, let’s say a student with dysgraphia, they couldn’t write for some reason, in the chat box here could you maybe type some ideas of how would that student participate in this activity? If the student has dysgraphia, and we’re talking about the first category here, writing the chemical equation for photosynthesis, how would that student participate? Go ahead and type your answers in the chat box please.
Okay, so Suzanne said that they could type it or say it, Barbara, again, says typing it, Judy, typing it, Jerry says providing some oral answers, Judy as well, oral. Okay, great. So I think those are very easy. We also had someone say they could draw it, or Karen, that’s an interesting suggestion, find it in a set, so providing them some options and letting them choose; I like that. Tina says, Kathleen — Kathy says, rather — we could select cards with equation parts to create, maybe we could dictate it to a scribe, record it orally, some great suggestions here. Let’s move on to the second category, the entree, where in this case we’re asking students choose one of the following. So we’re giving all students in the classroom, not just the learning disabled student, but all students, the opportunity to choose either drawing a picture that shows what happens, write two paragraphs, or create a rap that explains what happened.
How would technology be used here? For, let’s say, a student who has difficulty organizing their thoughts; what technology might be useful in that case? So as they are talking about the process of what happens during photosynthesis, how would you suggest or what technologies would you say would work? We’ve got the suggestion of making it a comic, using some sequencing cards, Jerry says a mind map, Suzanne offers using a chart, Abigail kind of sums it up globally by saying a graphic organizer, i.e. concept maps, and Dianne says maybe a sequential thinking map. Bambi, I like that idea of putting pictures in a sequence so, that’s great too.
Let’s move on to side dishes, where we now select two of these, and I want you to notice the options. The first is defining respiration in writing, comparing photosynthesis to respiration using a Venn diagram, writing a journal entry from the point of view of a green plant, and then with a partner, creating or performing a skit to show the differences between photosynthesis and respiration. So knowing that we’ve got two choices there, I think we’ve heard already some really good suggestions that would work here as well, but folks, share your thoughts here, for students who have any kind of learning disability, students who have difficulty composing their thoughts or maybe students who have difficulty with writing. I think we’ve seen some suggestions already that we could transfer from entrees, using a word processor, using graphic organizers. Online, wonderful website, Bubbl.us is a great tool for that, and Emily’s going to type that for you in the chat window. In terms of standalone technology you’ve probably heard of Inspiration or Kidspiration, but there are alternatives to those softwares. And then finally, dessert, optional, create a test to assess the teacher’s knowledge of photosynthesis. And again, we might use some of the same tools there. Bambi said for journaling we might use a glog or a Glogster, so those are great suggestions as well.
Wanted to give you another example of a technique for differentiating instruction. I really like this one. And this is called Think-Tac-Toe, a great name, and in this case, students are going to give a book report on something that they’ve read, and the key idea here is that they choose three of these items, and as we play the game Tic-Tac-Toe, those three can either appear vertically in this matrix, horizontally, or at a diagonal. Now I want you to study this particular matrix carefully and notice, if you did choose, no matter what three you choose, you’re going to have to do, you’re going to have to perform one particular skill. Can anybody identify what is that particular skill that no matter the choice, you have to perform in this book report? I’ll give you just a little bit of time to think about that.
What is the one skill, oh, here we go, look at you, geniuses already, right, you got it, exactly, by the way, whether it’s across, vertically, or diagonally, all students are writing. Bambi said she uses this in math class, right, so glad to see that that’s being used out there. I’m kind of curious, could we see some check marks out there, how many of you have used this particular strategy before? Think-Tac-Toe, if you’ll give us a check mark please.
Okay, wow, so we’re lighting up here like a Christmas tree with a number of green check marks, so we’ve got a number of folks who’ve used this before. Okay, V. Lassiter from Currituck County says that he or she uses this all the time and students love it. And Suzanne asks how is it used in math? That’s a great question. So Bambi, if you’ve got a moment while we continue on, that’d be a great thing for you to reply to here, how are you using this in math? Judy notes that you can also vary these with learning styles and thinking skills as well.
Okay, well, we’re going to ask you now to prepare to share, again, and this time, we’re going to use, instead of the letter A or the oval tool, you’re going to be using some clip art. And to access the clip art, as you see indicated here, you’re going to be clicking on a rectangular box, you see right there, has a red star on it, and in just a moment, you’re going to choose an icon from the clip art you see there to indicate your thoughts on the following question. So here’s our question: We’ve got two timelines here, and the question is how often do you? Now I don’t want you to look at the bottom timeline just let, but let’s just look at the top timeline. How often do you differentiate instruction? So would you choose an icon from that clip art library and based on the scale from “never” all the way to “I’m a rock star,” would you place the icon along that scale to indicate how often you differentiate? And we’ll take just a few seconds to do that.
Wow, looks like we’ve got a lot of rock stars amongst the group today, as well as some educators who have a great sense of humor, everything from cameras to spectacles to coffee mugs this morning. So that’s great. Now, the second question you see below, let’s, following the same protocol, indicate how often you integrate technology into your teaching, using that bottom scale down there under the heading “technology integration,” from “never” to “I’m a rock star,” we’ll take a few seconds to do that.
Okay, again, it looks like we’ve got a number of rock stars and it’s really cool to see that our clusters are toward the right-hand side, as we thought we would. Emily and I had a sense that this was a very gifted group this afternoon, so that’s good news. Now, I put these two questions on the same slide on purpose to kind of prove a point. As I had alluded to earlier, I think there is a strong correlation between what we do when we integrate technology and we differentiate instruction. Again, I think it’s a very organic thing that happens, but as with any teaching technique or methodology, when we pay attention to it, when we ask questions, we’re more purposeful about it, and I think we do it with greater intent. So awareness of opportunities to differentiate and opportunities to use technology effectively I think bring together both of those to create a very positive learning experience for all students.
Before we go on to the next slide I just wanted to acknowledge that Judy said you could vary the Think-Tac-Toe by using verbs from Bloom’s Taxonomy. Also we had — Let’s see, I think it was, Tracy said, no I’m sorry, not Judy but Tracy who mentioned the Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bambi said it offers different ways to complete an assignment. And Suzanne says she tends to differentiate less at the honors level because she wants them to learn all of the methods of showing their knowledge. Okay, that’s a very interesting point Suzanne, thank you for sharing that.
So that brings us onto this next slide here. I wanted to share with you an item from the North Carolina Teachers’ Working Conditions Survey, and this is from a couple of years ago, and the question, obviously, is about professional development, and what kind of PD, as educators, we say that we need. Now, I should tell you that the response rate for this survey was in the high 90s, which is amazing, when you consider the thousands of teachers in North Carolina, and so sixty-three percent of us indicated that we need more support in integrating technology in the classroom. But what I think is really interesting is to look at what is number two. Can you identify number two? Type in number two in the text box there folks, what’s number two?
Yes, you got it. Exactly. Differentiation of instruction, so again, it’s interesting that these two are side by side. You might be interested to know that the previous year, those were also numbers one and two, however, they were flip-flopped with differentiating instruction appearing as the greatest need, and technology integration coming second.
Okay, so I’ve done a lot of talking now and so have you, some really good conversation this afternoon. I want to give Becky Goddard a little time this afternoon to just talk to us. Becky is working in a one-to-one computing environment at Mooresville Intermediate School, and I’d asked Becky if she would talk about what she thinks technology has done for her students, and some of the great things that she sees happening, so Becky, if you would, we’re going to pass the mic on to you now.
Becky Goddard (30:44)
Thank you. And, as Dr. Hobgood has mentioned, I am immersed in technology, but it wasn’t always true. When I first started fourteen years ago, I had to — we didn’t have SmartBoards and computers in the classroom, but I am thankful today. When I look at the technology from our students I see the biggest impact in the abilities of students [audio interruption] when we differentiate in the classroom, for me personally, the endless resources for practice and instruction is amazing online, and I have great websites I’ll share as you ask questions later. I can create my own manipulative to the students because we send it out through our learning management system, which is Angel. I see with my EC students a lot of times, because a lot of our instruction is on the computer, online, the organization that EC students or some of our lower-level thinking students lack is already done for them, very easily.
I have students who have tactile issues, and for those students, I wrote a grant, and we got them Bamboo drawing pads. If you can’t do that with your students, you can download a Scribble Screen. It encourages those students, especially the ones who want to do the math, but you can’t find their mistakes because they won’t write them down, I see that as a great thing.
The biggest asset to me with technology is the ability to gather data. I like to use data immediately to know who to remediate and enrich. I don’t have to go back at night and grade papers to find out who got the concept and who needs to be remediated and who’s ready for a challenge-based project. I can find that all out within minutes of them taking — within minutes of them hearing the lesson, so I’m always very, just grateful for that. And just, students who come into the classroom today, we have to remember that their whole world, you know, is technology. They have cell phones, they have iPods, they have everything. So when they come into the room and we expect them to turn all of that off and learn with a pencil and paper, it’s confusing to them a lot of times. So I’m just thankful that my students are able to do that, and I would love to share ideas with the rest of you.
Emily Jack (33:28)
Okay, so I think at this point we’ll take some questions. And remember that if you — if there’s something you want to ask, you can select "submit questions" from the drop down box under the chat window, and type in your question that way and I’ll pose it to our presenters. The first question that we have, the teacher writes, “when creating a fifth-grade wiki page for an extended class lesson, would using screen-capture tutorials or letting them work at home be most useful in differentiation?” Becky, do you have any thoughts about that?
Becky Goddard (34:03)
I saw that question earlier, and I kind of wondered, to the person who wrote it, what access will the students have at home? I guess I’m kind of confused as to how they proposed to use the screen capture versus working at home. I don’t like my students to work at home, I feel that that gives parents too much of a say in what that child is doing, and I can’t work with that personally.
Emily Jack (34:30)
Thanks Becky, I think that’s a really good point, you know, when a student is working at home, you don’t really know what level of support they’re getting, and whether the person who’s supporting them, you know, is as well versed in ways of differentiating instruction or using technology as you might be as a teacher. The second question is, do you have any recommendations for high-interest, low-level sites or programs that the teacher could use with third through fifth graders in the computer lab? The teacher writes that many children are being carried along on the twenty-first century wave, but can’t really read well enough to understand the programs that they’re being asked to use.
Becky Goddard (35:18)
We at our school, we just adopted a program this year, it’s called iStations, and it is very differentiated, it levels — the kids take a test the first of every month to reset their levels, and it does work from comprehension to vocabulary, and it gives us a great source for data as well. But there’s lots of high-interest reading levels out there. Time for Kids has a great website in which you can — it posts articles, and I think they change every week, and you don’t have to buy the subscription to get the articles. There’s also Education City, I guess. We bought that this year, and our reading teachers like it. It doesn’t have a lot of comprehension, but it does do a lot of work with vocabulary, and the kids really enjoy that. Curriculum Associates has a new program out, it’s called iReady, and you can run that kind of like a study island, or it can be self-paced for the students in their weaker areas. I would say those are probably my best insights.
Emily Jack (36:33)
Thank you. Let’s see, the next question, let’s see, Loretta Williams asks, “Wwhat are some ways that students can use their cell phone to respond since we don’t have laptops for everyone?” Bobby I’m going to hand that question over to you.
Bobby Hobgood (36:49)
Sure, and thanks, Loretta, for that question. One of the resources actually I mentioned earlier that you may have missed is a website called PollEverywhere.com. PollEverywhere.com. And it allows students to respond, to give their answers using their cell phones via text messaging. Now, of course the issue there is their standard message rates do apply as they use their cell phone, but if all of them have cell phones, and many of them do, then you might consider that option. I would be judicious about that and make sure that all of the students would have a cell phone because you don’t want to create a situation of inequity. A twist on that, if all of the students don’t have cell phones, maybe they could work in pairs or groups, and then as a group, they discuss a response and answer, and then one person in the group submits the answer for that group, so that’s an option for doing that. I’m sure that there are other web-based tools similar to that but PollEverywhere.com, I think, is a great place to start.
Emily Jack (38:02)
We have a follow-up question to that. We have a teacher who writes, “Do we know enough about whether the cell phone is a good tool or a distraction?”
Bobby Hobgood (38:13)
That’s a great question. You know, a lot of attention is being given to hand-held devices, smart phones, in particular, when we talk about the cell phone, the ways in which hand-helds like cell phones have become more intelligent, hence the name smart phones. Certainly that hasn’t happened, you know, it’s relatively recent, so we don’t have a lot of research and data into that yet. Again, as a teacher, if you’re in charge of your classroom, and you’ve thought very carefully about how that’s going to be used, I don’t see it as a distraction at all, I see it as a great tool. As with any other tool, you’re going to have classroom rules and guidelines for how that will be used. And I think in a differentiated classroom, and Becky can speak to this, when you have a variety of technologies being used, you have to rethink classroom management. So Becky, in fact, why don’t you talk just a little bit about what that means, rethinking classroom management, when we’re using different technologies?
Becky Goddard (39:28)
Well, and I can kind of meet another question that I saw at the same time. Classroom management kind of comes, you know, in the form of discipline as well as time. I think time management becomes an issue for a lot of people. And what I’ve noticed with a lot of my technology, even before I had a lot of computers — I think I had four or five in the classroom, and then, so I would put a group on that, and then I would find, you know, even the old-fashioned folder games or something like that, that the students could do. And I could teach more in twenty-five minutes to a group of eight to ten students than I could teach in fifty minutes to a group of thirty students. So, with just eight to ten students, I could rotate those kids between three centers, and get my point across that much better, and I think that’s part of time management in the classroom.
Now as far as discipline management goes, you know, it is a constant watch. I’m always watching the kids and I’m always making sure I’m checking their histories on their computers. I arrange my seats so they’re not necessarily all facing the front. I think it’s just something, kind of a learn-and-go thing. But did you have a specific question about management, other than those two things? I would be glad to help you out.
Emily Jack (40:58)
Thanks, Becky. We have a question from a teacher who wants to know where do you find money for technology? Becky I’m going to pose that question to you. I know that your school has a one-to-one environment, so you may not have had to deal with this, but at the school level, what are your thoughts on that?
Becky Goddard (41:22)
The one-to-one is great. We are in our third year. But it’s also kind of a hindrance, because anytime we want money for anything else, it looks like we are so over the top in technology that it’s not out there for us. There are grants out there. I do write a lot of grants. Sometimes if you just email a company, I have a student who doesn’t — wouldn’t use pencil and paper. I emailed Wacom, they make Bamboo tablets. They sent me three or four to use in the classroom. And it was just an email. I don’t know if anybody’s thought about it, I’m trying to get our local newspaper to do an article. iPhones, that just came out from Verizon, people were turning in their old ones, they can turn those into the school and the teachers could use them in the classroom. I have a couple of those.
I have, I pretty much beg, borrow, write grants to whoever I can find. There’s money out there as long as you’re willing to spend the time to do it. There’s also great resources in grant writing, I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but I have bookmarked several websites for grant writing. Maybe I’ll try to look those up and get those to Dr. Hobgood at a later date.
Emily Jack (42:40)
Thank you. Bobby, you had another thought on that subject, sorry about that. Grants are obviously a very, a good way to get money.
Bobby Hobgood (42:54)
Sure, I mean, most definitely, and as Becky can tell you, it does take some practice to develop the skill to know how to write a grant in such a way that the need is clearly communicated. You might start off a little bit smaller. Becky, I loved your idea of inviting the local newspaper and making it known that you need these technologies, for example, recyled iPhones that you can use, the wi-fi components, so students can use those just like an iPod Touch to access the wi-fi and get them the internet that way, the number of programs and applications. Another option is an organization many of you probably know of called Donors Choose, and the website for that is simply donorschoose.org, where you as a classroom teacher can propose a particular project, a need, either as a class or as a school, and then that information is available to the general public and anyone who visits the site can choose to contribute to your project.
Maybe they may not fully fund it, but they might fund a part of that project, so that’s my suggestion there, is to think about starting small, to publicize your need either locally, through the local paper as Becky suggests, and then taking another step by using a site that’s very straight-forward, like Donors Choose, and at the same time, beginning to think also about grant writing and enlisting the help of someone in your system who does write grants, because I’ll tell you, in every school system today, there is at least one person at the central-office level who has experience in grant writing.
Emily Jack (44:44)
Thanks Bobby, another thought off the top of my head. Last week Bobby and I were at the conference of the North Carolina Technology and Information Society, or NCTIES, and I know that they give grants to teachers to integrate technology. I went to a great session on Friday by two teachers at Haw River Elementary who saw their arts educators eliminated because of budget cuts and the technology facilitator at that school wrote a grant that she recieved through NCTIES and bought some keyboards that she could hook up to the computers in her room, and so she taught some basic music lessons using the software that she had gotten through this grant. So that’s another place to go to look for grants. Moving on to the next question, what is a good balance or ratio between the time spent teaching an application or program compared to the time the kid spends actually using that technology? Bobby?
Bobby Hobgood (45:54)
Yeah, that’s a great question. And you know, it’s kind of hard to give a single ratio or balance between the time teaching an application and then the time using it. I’ll give you one illustration that I commonly use, and it’s a website that I mentioned eariler, the website Bubbl.us that let’s you create a concept map, it’s a web-based, free tool, and you can save your concept maps, or you can immediately download them as graphic files to insert into multimedia presentations, or word-processing documents.
I’ve noticed, since 1996 in travelling the state, that teachers often complain about the amount of time students need to learn a particular piece of software and the amount of time that they might spend manipulating all of the variables and the options of the software. For example, the different fonts, the different colors, the clip art library, and over and again, we see this phenomena of students spending eighty percent of their time manipulating all these variables, and only twenty percent of their time doing the actual work. So what we want to do, certainly, is flip-flop that ratio. The emphasis should be on the work and not on the technology itself. The technology should be as transparent as possible. So take a look at your options for, in this case, concept mapping, and identify what is most important right now. Is it that they get the work done, or do we want them to learn to use the technology, per se?
And again, that’s only one example. The other thing to think about is the complexity of work involved. Sometimes you do have to invest more time up front, but in the long run, that initial investment yields higher-order skills development and thinking. For instance, the Quest Atlantis program that we mentioned, that featured in the first video, I notice we’ve got a couple of questions about that. Judy asks, first of all, if it’s free, and the answer is yes, it is free. It is a program that was developed by Indiana University, and they continue to do research on this program. It’s a fascinating opportunity, and you do have to invest, as a site facilitator, some time into that, and there is some time to teach the students how to navigate within the environment and to understand what work is involved.
So, I think, based on what I’ve heard from both Dr. Alena Treat, who was featured in the video as well as some other teachers — we have a professor here in the school of education, Dr. Janice Anderson, who’s been doing research on that — and in her studies, they’ve been using this with students who have learning disabilities as well as students in the mainstream classroom. And indeed, there’s some work involved on the part of the teacher, but the results are phenomenal in terms of student engagement, student achievement, and higher-order thinking skills. Also — this comes out in the video — students have to do a lot of writing and thinking. We’re developing a lot of very authentic skills through this virtual world. I have to admit, I’ve always been a little bit skeptical about the use of gaming and virtual worlds in education, but having really looked at that and thought about it, I’m conviced that it really does make a big difference.
V. Lassiter asks about that game, what age and grade levels use Quest Atlantis? We see some students in fifth grade up through eighth grade who were using Quest Atlantis. I’m sure there are probably some kids in high school who would want to play the game. So, Karen says she’s in sixth grade and her students do fine with it, and in fact, Karen, apparently, is using it here and notes that it seems to be more natural for the kids and a little more harder for her. Maybe because, Karen, if they had any experience using the computer for gaming, for virtual worlds, they’re transfering their understanding of the protocols and how the game works to how it works in Quest Atlantis.
Emily Jack (50:29)
Thanks, Bobby. On the question of how much time you spend with the technology and how much time the students spend, you know, actually completing assignments, Kathy makes a really good point, and that is that students should complete the no-frills assignment first. So if they’re using a type of technology that involves some sort of special presentation like Glogster, make sure they do the content part first, and then go back and make it look pretty, because of course, you’re going to have students who’re going to want to spend all of their time, you know, using eighteen different fonts and making the colors, you know, go crazy. So it’s always important to establish what your standards and expectations are first. So it looks like we’ll have time for one more question. Let’s see, we have a teacher who wants to know, Becky, how many students are in your classes?
Becky Goddard (51:33)
This year I have three classes, one has thirty-two, one has thirty, and one has twenty-nine.
Emily Jack (51:44)
And do you find, with classes of that size, do you find you spend more time teaching technology than you would like to, or do you have any thoughts about that question? About how much time you should spending teaching technology versus how much time the students should spend using it?
Becky Goddard (52:02)
Well, I am in a different environment where the students have had it for three years, and so I don’t have to spend a great amount of time teaching technology. Now the first year, I kind of felt like I did. And I did — I pick and choose the programs that I feel would most benefit them in the future. I mean, we are preparing students for the future, so a program like PowerPoint or Keynote might take precedence over making a Prezi online. And so I would pick and choose in that area. If I were going back three years ago, I would pick and choose how many applications they’ll be able to have for it later.
Emily Jack (52:45)
Thanks Becky. Looks like that’s all the time we have for today.
Bobby Hobgood (52:51)
And folks, I want to thank — make a special thanks to Becky Goddard for giving her time when we visited her, if you’ll join me in a virtual round of applause for Becky — for her time when we videotaped her and her students as well as giving time this afternoon to bring her expertise to this topic. In closing, I would like to say to you, having worked on this article and visiting teachers around the state, her using technology with learning disabled students, it’s clear that the ways in which technologies are being used to differentiate instruction and to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities, are techniques that are good for all students. And as educators, I think if we can meet the needs of students who are challenged in a variety of ways, then we can meet the needs of all of our students.
So I would encourage you all to spend some time reviewing the article, taking a look at the video, and taking some additional time on your own to learn more about learning disabilities and how we can differentiate instruction, and how assistive technology helps us to do that. So, with that being said we thank you very much this afternoon. Here is my contact information in case you want to get in touch with me, you can send an email via me if you’ve got a question for Becky. We’ll be happy to forward that along to her and put her in touch with you. Want to remind you that I’m pasting here for you the URL for this afternoon’s evaluation, if you’ll go ahead and click on that, once you complete that evaluation, you can then download a letter of participation for this afternoon’s web conference to show that you’ve participated this afternoon.
So, if you would please go ahead and click on that link, I’ll make it available for you here in the chat window. If you participated earlier and you need documentation, if you’ll email me at the email address here, we’ll make that happen for you. So thank you again. Join me folks, one more time, a virtual round of applause to Ms. Becky Goddard who is a sixth-grade teacher at Mooresville Intermediate School in Mooresville, North Carolina. Becky, thank you so much for being here, and we thank all of you for your time and participation this afternoon. Thank you.