Sunday, August 22, 2010

UDL, DI & Technology

Throughout the course of eight weeks I have participated in online discussions regarding UDL and DI through a social collaboration site and Walden’s class discussion boards. Through the social collaboration site created by my group and weekly discussions my colleagues and I have shared a variety of resources and tools to help implement UDL and DI into our classrooms. Through resources such as the I have been able to learn and better understand the purpose behind Universal Design for Learning also known as UDL. The main principle behind UDL is to provide an opportunity for all types of learners to learn and that there is no single approach that works for all students. As educators we need to know our students interests, learning styles and readiness levels in order to provide them with an engaging learning experience. One way of reaching our students is to provide them with variety and options for learning new content as well demonstrating content they have learned. In order for this to occur it is important to differentiate our instruction and incorporate as much technology into our lessons as we possibly can. Differentiating Instruction (DI) allows educators to create activities and assessments that target the different interests, learning styles and readiness levels of students.
I have come across several resources that I have found useful to help me incorporate the concepts behind UDL and DI into my classroom this coming school year. The majority of the resources I have found are online, which is a positive thing because they all allow me to provide learning options for my students through the use of technology. The following websites/resources which I have found useful and will be using are:
MOODLE(accessible through my school district)

The resources listed above provide different ways for my students to learn and display content they will learn in my social studies classroom. The first website is a great way for students to learn how to organize their thoughts and ideas by creating their own interactive graphic organizers. Having taught ELLs for almost five years it has come to my attention that they really enjoy graphic organizers. Rather giving them one I create or copy out of a resource book this gives them the opportunity to use the computer and be creative by creating their own graphic organizer. Websites such and provide a wide variety of resources for teachers and students to learn new content. is a great way for me to incorporate language arts into the classroom through interactive activities the site has online for students. These sites not only give me and my students options for teaching and learning they are also technology based.
Coming from a district that has focused on integrating the principles of UbD (Understanding by Design) a teaching methodology that focuses on creating learning environments with the learner in mind, I will be supported in using the concepts of UDL and DI in my classroom. My district has also been focusing on providing a quality education geared towards the 21st century learners that sit in our classrooms. One way is to bring in new technology and methods of teaching our students both inside and outside of the classroom. This summer I was trained on how to use MOODLE and GOOGLE applications to teach my students. MOODLE allows me to create an online classroom experience for my students. Through MOODLE they can continue learning once they leave my classroom by simple logging onto the school site using their school account. Once in MOODLE I can leave assignments that vary from surveys, quizzes, multiple choice, short answer and even scheduled chat times. Through GOOGLE apps such as their email accounts and GoogleDocs students can participate in online discussions and collaborate and group projects. These tech based tools allow me to provide instruction in a new way, allow my students to participate and present what they have learned in a new way as well as continue the learning experience outside of the traditional classroom setting.
Immediate changes that will occur in my classroom in regards to technology integration is to simple add more of it on a regular daily basis. I will be starting off the school year using the MOODLE class accounts I have created for my students. Through MOODLE my students will be able to access important information such as their syllabus, homework resources, and assignments. Once their Google email accounts are assigned I will teach them how to access their Google accounts so that they can begin to participate in online discussion and group collaboration assignments. While they will still take part in traditional practices such as note-taking and paper tests I will also include technology based assignments and assessments. Through this course and other courses I have taken through my program at Walden I have learned that technology is one way of providing instruction and learning to my students. Even though I now have a long list of technology resources/tools it is best that I focus on just a few in my classroom in order to really know how well it works. As I become more comfortable with using technology and other methods of teaching such as differentiated instruction I will be able to add more new ideas and strategies as I go along. It takes time, patience, and a lot of practice before I can even call myself an expert.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Over the course of the past seven weeks I have learned the importance of putting together a GAME plan and how it can help me achieve the goals I have set for myself. I have enjoyed learning and going through the process of the GAME plan that I have had my students create their own GAME plans for the remainder of the school year. The GAME plan allowed me and will allow my students to take responsibility and ownership over the decisions they make whether they be good or bad. I was able to remain reflective about my progress in regards to my GAME plan and that is my hope for my students as well. I have yet to fully meet my GAME plan but I believe that it is one that will take time and will require continued reflection and patience on my behalf. As I have learned new ways to incorporate technology I have tried my best to try out new things with my students. They only way to feel comfortable with technology is to dive right in and take risks. The wondeful thing about this program is that we have opportunities to create these awesome unit plans that incorporate many new strategies and techniques. I must say that every unit plan I have created for each course I have put into action with my own students. It's amazing to see how waht I learn through these courses impact my role as an eductaor in the classroom. As I move forward and the end of the year comes closer I plan continuing my GAME plan over the summer so that I will be able to enter the new school year with bigger and better ideas than what I had the previous year. The more I play around with technology the more my students will be engaged in learning. Engaging students in learning history can be a very tricky thing to do but with the blogs, wikis and other internet related tools I have learned it will not be an impossible task to complete. As a member of the curriculum writing team for social studies I have been able to take what I have learned through this course and others and create awesome unit plans that incorporate technology to help students create authentic pieces of work. I look forward to continue bringing what I learn to my students and my colleagues.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The GAME Plan and my STUDENTS!!!!

I think that the whole purpose of my GAME Plan is to become a more informed and more effective educator in the classroom. How can I properly prepare my students for the 21st century if I lack the skills necessary to teach them? By learning new ways to incorporate and use technology in the classroom I will be able to better prepare my students as well as engage them more in their learning. Teaching 21st century learners can be tricky especially since they live in a society that relies heavily on technology on a day to day basis. The days of just relying on your blackboard, well decorated classroom and maybe if your lucky an over head projector just won't cut it these days. Students want lights, camera, action when they walk into your room. They want to be entertained and engaged while learning at the same time. Tough act to follow, right? Not as hard when equipped with up to date technology and the knowledge to use it creatively in the classroom. As I continue on my journey I hope to learn, learn, and learn about using different resources that will engage, entertain and educate my little angels! While this school year has been trial and error with the new things I have learned at Walden next year will build a more solid foundation to stand upon.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Where to go from here?

In regards to my GAME Plan I think I am going to start focusing on how to collaborate with my colleagues as well as include parents into what's going on in the classroom. Since we are nearing the end of the year I plan on putting this all into action for the new school year. This gives me time to really think about how I want to go about this new part of my plan. It would be create to collaborate with colleagues online outside of school. I currently do this with a small group pf my colleagues using google docs to write the new curriculum using UBD or UDL as its known through this course. Other than that I really want to engage parents into what is going on in my classroom and with my students. I was thinking of creating a classroom blog page or webpage where I can display work and post comments or topic discussions. It's hard to develop relationships with parents because they work and are very busy and don't always have the time to go to school. Involving them through technology might be more flexible and less stressful for them and myself. Not sure which way I plan on going but I'm definitely going somewhere with this for teh coming school year! Any ideas or suggestions would be great!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Game Plan Continues......

I have to say that the GAMe Plan is still moving along okay but I have begun to realize that it takes alot of time and effort to make sure that I achieve these goals I've set for myself. I have been able to find some good workshops but I don't get to go to any of them until May. Until then I need to do a little research and continue reaching out to my colleagues who are familiar with using technology in theri classrooms.

As of right now I have only experimented with the Windows Movie Maker but the wheels in my head are turning to come up with something new for my kids. I have been experimenting with the idea of having them create their own wiki or blog page but I'm not quite sure yet. The upside of doing one of those ideas is that it can be shared with their family and friends when they are all finished. Any suggestions would be great! Until my workshops in May come along I'm going to focus on using what I have learned through Walden and try incorporating more of that into my lessons. Not too many changes to my GAME Plan but enough to keep me on my toes!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

So far the progress on my GAME Plan has been going very well. I have been able to come across workshops that are offered by my fellow colleagues on Saturdays for the teachers in our district. The great part is that it costs nothing and I have the opportunity to learn with my colleagues from my building and the other buildings as well. As I learn how to use new computer applications such as Windows movie maker, I make sure to implement it into my instruction. Currently my students are busy creating beautiful movies on different Latin American countries. Had I not learned about that program I would of had them do the usual power point or poster for this project. I have not felt the need to modify any part of my plan since I've been coming across good resources. My fellow colleagues at Walden have also shared tips and websites that I can use to accomplish my goals. Overall, I am on track and doing well. How is everyone else doing with their GAME Plans?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


In order to accomplish the GAME Plan that I have set for myself I need to find the proper tools and resources to help me on my journey. One of the first things I need to do is to look for workshops related to technology that help me understand how to truly use technology to my benefit. By attending workshops I will be exposed to a variety of resources and ideas to use on my own.The workshops would provide a good starting point for learning more about technology. I also need to begin familiarizing myself more with the technology I do have at my disposal and could readily use in my classroom with my students. By becoming comfortable with the smart board technology I recently acquired this year I will feel more confident in using the technology in the class with my students. These are only a couple of things I can use to meet my goals but as I go along and reflect on what I have learned there will be more that I will need or want to know.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In the age of technology it has become very important for teachers to know the role it can play in their classrooms and the impact it can have on a child's education. In order to successfully implement technology into our daily lessons and into the professional aspects of our profession we need to know how to use it. One way for an educator to be effective in the classroom and professionally is to familiarize themselves with the National Technology Standards and Performance Indicators for Teachers (NETS-T). It is part of our responsibility to not only haw to use technology but also how to incorporate it successfully and ethically into our practice to better our students as well as our relationship with the parents.

As I pondered over the five standards and the various indicators associated with each I quickly realized that while I had some strengths using technology I also had my weaknesses. The two standards that I believe I fall short on are standards one and two.

The first standard focuses on how I "facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity" using technology. The second standard focuses on how I "design and develop digital-age learning experiences and assessments" using digital tools and resources. Under each of these standards are four indicators to help me understand how I can meet each standard successfully. I do not believe I am weak in each standard as a whole but that I rather have weaknesses in part of the standards I have chosen. In the first standard I fall short with the second indicator: b) engage students in exploring real world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources. In the second standard my goal is to strengthen my ability to design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity, which is the first indicator under the second standard.
In order to begin my journey of strengthening my ability to meet these particular indicators I need to establish a GAME plan, with my GAME Plan I will be able to map out how I will personally go about becoming more knowledgeable and comfortable with these particular technology standards and indicators. A GAME plan is not meant to be set in stone but rather consist of realistic goals that can be modified as I reflect upon my own learning. Currently I do engage students in authentic learning and I try my best to encourage creativity in the classroom. However, the incorporation of technology to support the authentic learning and creativity has been weak. Part of the reason is due to the fact that my school is just starting to expand on its technology and make it more readily available to teachers and students and secondly I am in the process of learning through Walden how technology can support learning. My goal and plan of action is to find new ways to use the technology currently available in my classroom to enhance and encourage authentic learning and creativity. In order to accomplish my goal I need to learn the various ways of how I can use the technology that I do have at my disposal and incorporate it more often into the lessons I teach. I also plan on seeking workshops related to technology in a social studies classroom and collaborating with colleagues who are more tech savvy than I am. By staying on top of the new technology and learning how to use it I will feel more confident in using it in the classroom. The best way to monitor my success is to keep track of how often or how little I use technology in the classroom. The more it is used then I will know that I am staying on task with my GAME Plan. It is also important that I reflect on what I learn and reflect on the days technology is used in my classroom. Through reflection I will be able to make modifications to my GAME Plan.