Friday, September 30, 2011

A New Approach to Teacher Education Reform and Improvement

This morning at 9AM I listened to a live webcast regarding A New Approach to Teacher Education Reform and Improvement. This presentation was given by Secretary Arne Duncan, U.S. Department of Education,  @EducationSector and #teacherprep.This live webcast was also live tweeted, where individuals could "tweet in" questions or comments about the presentation.This webcast was about how support and strengthen school teacher programs. By strengthening school teacher programs, our student's education will be greatly improved. This presentation then gave their plan to build teacher programs.

Here are my notes about this wonderful presentation:
  • Teacher quality programs are varied around the nation. 
  • 62% of new teachers felt they were unprepared for the classroom
  • Duncan is stunned that there's been no feedback given to teacher prep programs on how well they're doing
  • Duncan stated that 1.6M teachers will retire in the next decade- this is a huge opportunity and warrants better
  • Outcomes-based accountability coming to teacher preparation  programs, get ready!
  • Currently our programs serve no one well - improving education can not be deferred!
  • America's teacher and students deserve world class teacher prep programs

The program roll out as defined by Duncan:
- Reward good programs
- 3 elements: reduce reporting burden, but help with data collection, reform financing service to pre-sevice teachers, and provide support for institutions that prepare teachers from diverse backgrounds.

1. reduce reporting burden, but help with data collection
  •  report on outcome measures (student growth, job placement, retention rates, survey programs of graduates) 
  • 2/3 of teachers say they are not ready for the classroom

2. reform financing service to pre-sevice teachers
  • provide high achieving students with scholarships

3.  provide support for institutions that prepare teachers from diverse backgrounds.
  • 40m budget request for minority serving institutions
  • work with congress to build a "world class" teacher prep program

The next portion of the live webquest was presented by Dennis Van Roekel, President, National Education Association.
  • The NEA  advocates for educational professionals, fulfill promise of education, and prepare every student to succeed. 
  • 6 core values, one is professionalism.
  • Work to build the profession 
  • 47% of teachers, leave within the first 5 years of teaching! 
  • No student should have a teacher who is ill- prepared.
  • Applauds extra efforts to put best teachers in most challenging schools and diversify workforce
The third part of the presentation was given by Wendy Kopp, Founder and CEO, Teach For America. 
  • Invest in induction programs
  • Meaningful professional development
  • School districts should be stronger in selecting new teachers
  • Identified what successful teachers do differently
  • Move towards a collaborative world of teacher improvement 
  • Just as great teachers are made, not born, so are great teacher providers
The next portion of the webcast was a panelist roundtable discussion. The panelists were: George Noell, Executive Director, Strategic Research and Analysis, Louisiana Department of Education, Deborah Loewenberg Ball, Dean, School of Education, University of Michigan, Sharon Robinson, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, Kate Walsh, President, National Council on Teacher Quality, Elena Silva, Senior Policy Analyst, Education Sector.
  • There are differences across and within institutions who prepare new teachers
  • There is a need for measurements of such things as whether a teacher can lead discussions within the classroom
  • Need to  focus upon the product, not the process! There are many different ways  to  reach success.
  • Support and challenge people to be great
  • No one enters in this educational  business because they want to be unsuccessful - everyone wants to be successful
  • Leadership is the key

Sam's Super Diigo Finds! 09/30/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gagne’s 9 Levels of Instruction

Today we discussed Gagne’s 9 Levels of Instruction. These 9 levels reminded me of the ultimate lesson plan. I know its going to back to teaching 101, but don't forget these critical pieces when creating a lesson plan or designing instruction for the classroom. Here is a great site for reference with examples and a super definition.

1. Gain attention - the “hook”
- hello/ greeting
- joke / humor
- video/animations
- graphics
- Anecdotes/Stories

2. Objectives
- inform learner about what the objects are going to be
- Instructional Designers will create the objectives

3. Recall of pre-requisites
- what kids already know about the lesson
- build upon the “needs assessment"
- pre-test or survey
- poll students - poll everywhere baby!

4. Present content
- how content is presented
- verbal/online
- voicethread / connect
- games
- scenarios

5. Apply guidance
- model
- me do, we do, you do (best to do at least 3 example problems with the students prior to letting them loose!)
- ask questions / answer

6. Elicit performance
- demo knowledge without guidance
- homework
- review questions
- not heavily graded
- feedback

7. Provide feedback

8. Assess performance

9. Transfer the knowledge to real world
- real life examples
- put in simulations online or in person
- role playing
- are the objectives met?

Session 2 at Accessibility Summit - Web Accessibility

The second session offered by Accessibility Summit 2011, was about website accessibility. The presenter was Jared W. Smith (@Jared_w_smith). Check out his site at

Here are the notes about this session:

- Accessibility is process that is continuous - always can do more
- If your site is accessible, your not being innovative or updating your site enough!
- Provide a good experience for your users and readers of your site
- Accessible site certification -
- WCAG 2.0 - principles, guidelines (ex. keyboard accessible), success criteria
- compliance does not equal accessibility - use as a set of guidelines
- Your site can be fully compliant with the guideline, but can still be functionally inaccessible
- WCAG 2.0 - great guidelines for web accessibility -

Rule 1 - Equivalent alternative text
- can’t measure equivalence with a formula or tool
- does not mean exactly equal, does mean about the same or similar text

Rule 2 - Bypass Blocks

- bypass blocks of content that are replicated on several or multiple web pages
- test this out by: navigate with keyboard or listen to it in a screen reader
- "Skip to main content" links are useful and helpful, because browsers have yet to provide better keyboard navigation for users or readers who are sighted
- use common sense when using a text and background (use sensible contrast with colors)

Solutions to help with web accessibility:
- Learn about AT
- Learn about individuals with disabilities who utilize the web
- Use but do not rely on automated tools - WAVE -
- Focus on the user’s experience
- Plan for progress
- become an accessibility champion - advocate for accessibility
- use common sense and guidelines
- prioritize the failures or the needs of improvement - what has the most impact on the user?
- Web pages need to be readable and functional when text is re-sized to 200%
- Images of text - text is used to give information rather than images.
- Test your site with a screen reader to avoid “screen reader freak out”
Accessibility Summit 2011
Session 1 - Color for the Colorblind

I attended the Accessibility Summit 2011 at Penn State University. The first session was presented by David Berman (follow on Twitter @DavidBerman) He presented about colorblindness and designing interfaces and websites. To learn more about the Accessibility summit go here, or follow it on twitter #a11ysummit. Here are my notes on the presentation by David Berman:

- Colorblind = life or death (traffic lights example - new test lights - two rectangular stop lights and one round green light )
- Most colorblind can see colors. But what they see isn't the same as what the non-colorblind see (depends on type).
- 10% of men have a color deficiency.

- Accessibility is about individuals with disabilities and also about the digital divide
- digital haves and have not’s
- many people have their first Internet experience on a cell phone!

- 4 reasons why accessibility is important:
- large percentage of users
- large labor pool
- it's the right thing to do
- legality compliance

- History of AT - designing for extremes (eg. hearing aids) helps everyone (ie end up in the development of the radio)

- Innovation for disability solution for the census and revolutionizes all of us!

- Disabilities can be divided into 4 groups
- permanent - blind birth
- temporary - broken arm
- acquired - age, tbi
- societal - left handed

- Impaired senses:
- visual
- mobility
- hearing
- language/communication - learning language, access to language, literacy,
- cognitive
- social

- There is a solution for these impaired senses - AT!

- Read regular - type face created for individuals who have dyslexia

- Rotating a d to a b, changes the whole meaning of the letter d. What an incentive to design better typefaces

- email was created as AT for a hearing deficit - a tech to type messages back and forth - how cool

- Nouse - scans head movements and eye blinks! - in 2 years a part of the pad and tablet technologies!

- Ideal accessibility web site : everyone, anytime, any connection speed

- WCAG 2.0 conformity levels ranging from A to AAA- most sites are AA compliant. Also section 508 compliant - in order to ensure that your site is accessible for individuals who have disabilities.

- We need to plan for accessibility

- When creating a site look out for:
Don’t rely on one sense to relay information to readers
Avoid poor contrast effects and colors (background and text) - can remedy contrast effects and colors
first steps to accessible PDF’s
provide text to speech (voki, avatars) to read text aloud
provide text to be adapted - larger/smaller text modifications
color background and text modifications available
larger landing zone for website selections (click here)
Use larger landing/click zones for clickable links - first 40 pages free!

Sam's Super Diigo Finds! 09/27/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

You Tube Alternatives

'SkinnyCat in front of the tube.' photo (c) 2005, Kevin Collins - license:

Looking for a way to incorporate You Tube videos in the classroom? Does your school block You Tube? Well here are some alternatives to You Tube:

Youtube for education - Sign up for an account for YouTube in the classroom. Receive informative emails about how to utilize YouTube in the classroom.

Next Vista is a video sharing site that is run by Google Ceriftified Teacher. Found on Free Tech 4 Teachers

Kideos is a collection of kid friendly videos. The videos are categorized by age range (from 2 to 10) and by category.

Neo K12 has cataloged the best free online educational videos from the Internet in one place.

CNN Student News
is a web show highlighting stories. Found on Free Tech 4 Teachers

Academic Earth
lectures and courses from the top Universities. Found on Free Tech 4 Teachers

School tube
- Hosts school related videos

Watch Know is a resource for you and your students, collecting the best free educational videos for children and made them findable and watchable on one website

To see more You Tube alternatives or to find some ways to make You Tube more kid friendly please visit The Tubes

Sam's Super Diigo Finds! 09/23/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Enabling Devices Freebies!

Special thanks goes out to Enabling Devices @EnablingDevices for tweeting out a link to some great freebies!

Enabling devices has a free downloadable resource that gives some great ideas about using the following types of communicators:

- Single Message
- Two Message
- Multiple Message
- Sequencing

Here is the link for this great and handy resource! The resource can be found in the website's scrolling updates. Be sure to click download now. You will be linked to a site with 4 pdfs, then pick which type of communicator you would like to review. Each pdf is jam packed full of great ideas for inside and outside the classroom.

Have some great ideas for single, double, multiple, or sequencing communicators? Share!

CEC's Tool of the Week

Thank you to Alecia R. from Twitter (@aleciarrb)for this great site. Alecia is a mom of two boys, and a teacher in Iowa. She is also a RtI implementer. The site that Alecia tweeted was CEC's Tool of the Week.

'The cat and the computer' photo (c) 2003, Michael Sabal - license:

This site is updated every Monday with free tools for special educators. This week's tool is a downloadable text all about ADA Amendments in plain English! This is a nice resource to have by your side, and best of all it's free! You can also view past tools of the week in the archived section. The site also has a convenient link to CEC's homepage.

If you enjoy this site and what it has to offer be sure to subscribe to it by adding your email address. I can't wait to see what this site has in store!

Thanks for the find @aleciarrb. Don't forget to mark your calendar for CEC's annual conference April 11-14 in Denver!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall into Fall

The air is getting crisp and cool, apple fests will be popping up all is time for Fall! Here are some fun fall themed activities to get into the autumn spirit:

Fall Jigsaw Puzzle - Put the puzzle pieces together to form a fun fall picture.

Autumn Slide Puzzle
- Unscramble the pieces to make an autumn picture.

Fall simon says - Press the start game button to begin. Copy the computer's pattern.

Fall match game - stude match the fall different symbols.

Interactive fall coloring page
- interactive coloring pages with a fall theme

For more fall fun in the classroom online and at home check out Wednesdays with Sam

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New blogs to check out!

I just wanted to send a shout out to Teaching All Students Blog. Thank you for your blog roll. I found some great blogs to add to my reader, here they are in no particular order:

- Technology Tools for Kids

- Free Resources from the Net for EVERY Learner

- Sped Change

- Teach Effectively

- Teaching Students with Learning Difficulties

- Easy speech and language ideas

- Geek SLP

- Special Ed and Technology

teachwithyouripad - Math Apps

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


Great math apps to use on your ipad to teach a variety of match concepts!

Guest Post: Lindsey Wright

Lindsey Wright is fascinated with the potential of emerging educational technologies, particularly the online school, to transform the landscape of learning. She writes about web-based learning, electronic and mobile learning, and the possible future of education.

Tools and How You Use Them

As schools scramble for funding and try to increase the number of technological tools available for students, it's easy to get caught up in technology for technology's sake. Instead, it can be helpful to focus on what the access to this technology actually means for the students and the learning outcomes as a result of the technology. Not all schools should be as technology-laden as online college classes, and this is especially true when we consider the role of educational technology in the field of special education.


Recently, tablet computers like the iPad are beginning to show up in more and more schools. At the college level, they're being given out to incoming students, and meanwhile becoming teaching tools in elementary and middle schools. In some districts pilot programs are being implemented to introduce tablets in special education classrooms, loaded with software to help engage children with communication and autism spectrum disorders.

The goal of using tablets in these classrooms is to allow students to better express their needs. What makes the tablet so useful in this regard? Touch screens are well suited to kids who have trouble with fine motor skills, and are easier to manipulate than writing utensils or even a computer mice. Young students with or without disabilities are also fascinated by the technology and eager to try it out.

Voice Recognition Software

Voice recognition software such as the popular Dragon application is starting to turn up in more and more individual education plans. This software is invaluable to students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, who can articulate thoughts but have trouble expressing themselves with written words.

Other students who can benefit from this type of technology are those with sensory-processing issues, who have trouble manipulating traditional writing utensils. Instead of falling further behind because of difficulties with writing, students with these types of challenges can instead turn to voice recognition software and dictate essays, research papers, and book reports.

Along similar lines, using digital audio recordings of books is also a great way to engage students who have difficulties reading. The goal here is to allow students the same access to information and education, regardless of disability.

Educational Games

When kids think an activity is fun, they are more likely to participate with gusto. Turning notoriously challenging subjects into games is an excellent way to engage kids and get them excited about subjects like math and science. Using software like IXL and XtraMath, which have built-in rewards like certificates and skill-
ups, lets kids think that they are playing a game when in reality they're practicing and building important math skills.

The customizable nature of these programs makes them ideal for nearly any teaching environment. Students with ADHD or autism spectrum disorders do well with these types of activities, as they tend to be drawn towards the bright imagery and fast-paced action of computer games. Taking advantage of these qualities can help engage students who previously were having difficulty with math.

Games that utilize the principles of physics, such as Angry Birds, can also be good options for the classroom. With this type of game, students don't even realize they're learning science basics. Simple interfaces keep students with sensory issues from being overwhelmed, and they remain engaged by simply having fun. Games like these are excellent for teaching scientific principles to kids with disorders
like autism or cerebral palsy. When kids find out that they can increase their skill at the game by learning more about how physics works, they are more likely to be engaged in classroom activities as well.

Introducing technology simply for the sake of modernizing a classroom is not necessarily going to be beneficial for students. However, breaking down the advantages and seeing which educational and life skills students can obtain through the use of technology tools highlights their importance in today's general education and special education classrooms. Any tool that can engage students otherwise
trapped in their shells can have a powerful impact on those students' future.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Research tools and mobile learning apps

I attended an hour long Simple K12 webinar, regarding Mobile learning and research. This webinar was created by Shelly Terrell, a great leader in the education technology field. Here are my notes from this great and educational webinar:

We need to be lifelong researchers an learners
Develop new theories - open your mind to different ideas
Students should be able to take notes, research, cite, evaluate resources, question, have curiosity to learn more
Research is now a huge project - twitter, ipads, networking, collaborate with other professionals
In order to be a success in school, students need to know how to research properly
Teachers need to be facilitators of "good" researcher when using technology skills and apps
Apps and mobile learnign can easily be integrated with other tools and materials

Apps for research

Kindle - highlight tool and have access to books and magazines automatically
Google docs - great for collaborative note taking
Mind mapping app
Sticky notes app
Diigo social bookmarking app
Notepad or inkpad
Audio recording
Internet access
Text and SMS apps
Podcasts - cliffnotes or topics that may be abstract to learners
Dictionary apps - great for ESL or SPLED students
Easy bib - citation app, scan the book barcode and it will automatically cite the book
Linolt - post a sticky note like wallwisher
Posterous - automatically blog with video and audio
Evernote - gather notes together and syncs with computer, take pics, newspaper clippings, etc.
Mindblowing - mind mapping app (say that 10x fast!)
Showme - screen cast what is done on the whiteboard
Dropbox - file sharing to anyone, anywhere
Ibooks - read pdf's offline
Wikitude - augmented reality
newsy - transcripts of videos and sources
Read it later - bookmark something on twitter and websites available offline
Flipboard - see information and data
Project Magazine - see and multimedia in a magazine format

How to create a research rich environment
How do you research at home?

Provide a space for research
Music - let students listen to their music while researching
Pillows/comfy pieces
Areas for different research materials (ipad, computer, books, qr codes)
Provide snacks and drinks
Create an app for school or library

Directory of Educational Resources on the Web - THE DIRECTORY OF EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES ON THE WEB - A huge directory of great educational resources, tools, and interactives!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Free Digital Books | Research & Articles

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

9/11 10 year anniversary

The 9/11, 10 year anniversary is upon us. What do you talk about with your students to convey the importance of the day in US History? How do we talk about some of these abstract concepts with our students?

Well I hope that the resources below help in your planning of this significant day.

- Quilt square - create a class or school wide quilt to remember the day. What a great gift to present to a family member or administration to remember the day! *This will link you to a pdf to print and have students draw a quilt square to create a classroom paper quilt to remember 9/11*

- American Symbols game - Simply match the symbol to the correct description. You can read the descriptions to students and they can match the symbol to description.

- Interactive coloring pages - Simply click on a picture you would like to color and it will transform into an interactive activity.

- Patriot Day Printables

9/11 video - Great cartoon style video explaining 9/11 just for students.

- 9/11 Never forget - A site with great activities, videos, printables all around September 11.

9/11 Informational Resources:

- About Patriot Day - 9/11 Remembrance of September 11, 2001
- 9/11 on Wednesdays with Sam

'9/11' photo (c) 2006, Becka Spence - license:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Educational Conferences 2012

While I am sitting here drinking my cup of tea I can't stop thinking about all the great upcoming conferences. I want to spend some time this morning checking out conferences that may interest educators in the technology field and also special educators. Here we go... in no particular order:

Conference Title: Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C)
Date: February 12 - 15, 2010
Where: Hershey, PA
Call for presentations? The submission deadline for general session proposals is midnight OCTOBER 10, 2011! General Session Sign Up
Web Site:

Conference Title: ISTE
Dates: June 24-27, 2012
Where: San Diego, CA
Call for presentations?: Here is a link to ISTE's proposal information

Conference Title: E-Learn 2012 - World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education
Dates: October 8 - 12, 2012
Where: Montreal, Canada
Call for Presentations: CLOSED">Website

Conference Title: SITE 2012 - Teaching in Exponential Times!
Dates: March 5 - 9, 2012
Where: Austin, TX
Call for Presentations: Site for their call for presentations

Conference Title: 2011 AECT International Convention
Dates: Nov. 8-12 , 2011
Where: Jacksonville, FL
Call for Presentations: CLOSED

Conference Title: Annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference
Dates: February 27 to March 3, 2012
Where: Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel
San Diego, CA

Conference Title:
CEC 2012 Convention & Expo
Dates: April 11-14
Where: Denver, CO
Call for presentations: CLOSED

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Innovative Educator: 25 Incredible Assistive Technologies

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

daretodifferentiate - Planning for and Managing Differentiation

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Great online resource all about differentiating instructional materials. Includes templates!

Teaching All Students: Resources

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

A great post for resources all about Assistive technology, AAC, and more! Be sure to check it out!

Classroom Games online - Classroom Games Online

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Literacy Games - Phonics - Reading Comprehension - Education Games for Kids - WiseCats - literacy, phonics, reading comprehension, ... - WiseCats

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, September 2, 2011

As the new school year begins...

As the new school year begins, I am sure you are all thinking how do we get some cash for all the materials that we need?

'Yahoo! of my eye' photo (c) 2009, Yahoo! Blog - license:

I would like to point you towards...Goodsearch. Getting money for your school is as simple as searching the net! I have used Goodsearch in my former position as a technology integration teacher, and we raised approximately $70 just by searching!

How did we do it?
  • Sent home flyers with the students
  • Posted flyers in the teacher's lounge
  • Emailed colleagues, administration, and all staff about the benefits of Goodsearch
  • Put Goodsearch as the homepage on the laptop computers
  • Downloaded the Goodsearch toolbar
  • Put the badge on my blog
  • For more info about how to spread the word about Goodsearch go here

Learn more
  • A direct quote from the Goodsearch site, "Here's an easy way to raise money for your favorite cause. Just start using Yahoo! powered as your search engine and they'll donate about a penny to your favorite cause every time you do a search! In addition, do all of your shopping through their online shopping mall,, where you can shop at more than 2,400 top online retailers and a percentage of your purchases will go to the charity or school of your choice. You pay the same price as you normally would, but a donation goes to your cause!"
  • For more information here is a link to the FAQ's
  • Still have questions? Here is a link to a 15 minute webinar. The 15 minute webinar will show the new features of GoodSearch. Download the webinar here.

7 Library Tools Students Would Find Handy | Free and Useful Online Resources for Designers and Developers

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.