SPED 312

Archive for February, 2014

Will All Students become Digital Citizens ?

I would LOVE for all schools to be prepared to meet the needs of the digital citizen but unfortunately not all schools are ready for that. There are schools that have or probably will have great programs for meeting those needs but there will be other schools that will be various steps behind before that will keep them or make it harder to reach other schools’ performance. There are different factors that impact these schools readiness for meeting the needs of the digital citizen.

When I was younger I remember there was a limited time for each classroom to use the computer lab at my school and now I see that my younger sisters are exposed and have more access to computers at their schools. There are students that are exposed to technology at such a young age before even entering kindergarten. This allows them to have an advantage in expanding their knowledge in this area. But there are other students that face a digital divide during their school years. Usually in certain communities students don’t have a computer or other related technology at home. There could also be the possibility that these same students’ school has limited quantities of computers or other resources available for these students. Digital divide can be caused due to lack of access due to funds, lack of knowledge of how to use technology, or lack of knowledge of the benefits of technology.


Teachers play a big role in this just like schools do. Teachers must know how to use the technology and model characteristics of a digital citizen. Students need to be taught to be interested in positive things for their communities and surroundings. They have to develop to be issue-oriented in order to have social concern of what happens around them. Students must search for information in order to be up to date and be informed. They should feel independent enough to express their opinions and concerns. Lastly, they have to be involved since they form part of society’s future and look out for the well being of others. Schools must understand that students’ online and offline lives have the same importance. All students should learn how to use technology and the media. They should be taught the ethical consequences of the decisions they make online. But the education system has to make a change especially in schools that face a digital divide. Students MUST be exposed to technology early in school and continue through all their school years in order to be ready for the future and to become a digital citizen.


Tweeting !



This tweet can benefit educators in their classroom. It can be a tool that can be used with interactive activities. This allows the teachers and the students to work together on the same activity. Students can add and edit things without getting out of their seat. This would be helpful in a special education classroom for the students that have difficulty to move around in the classroom. This allows them to participate in different activities without any obstacles. 


This app would benefit many educators especially bilingual teachers. This app is interactive and very easy to add and edit things in it. A teacher can use it as a supplement to their instruction. I like that these are visual stories and interactive books that a student and teacher would enjoy. I can see myself using this app with my future special education classroom. 




I believe using interactive activities with students is important. News-2-You is a great resource to use in the classroom when trying to share the world news with students. It’s a newspaper that is symbol-supported and plain text supported. There are newspapers with different reading levels. The teacher can also create his or her own news for their special education classroom. The newspapers can be printed or viewed through an iPad or similar technology. News-2-You also has a Spanish edition newspaper that could be used in a bilingual special education classroom. I really like this since I’m planning to be a bilingual special education teacher and this would be a great resource to use with my bilingual students. This would benefit many educators since it used instructional targets that connect between the standards and curriculum content for students with disabilities. 

Students & Technology

“If we teach our kids as we did yesterday, then we rob them of tomorrow”. This quote summarizes the main points of the video well. In our world today, teachers must recognize that if we teach our students the ways of the past, such as by sitting in front of a textbook and listening to a teacher lecture for a class period, then we are not preparing them for the future demands and expectations in their future careers and life aspirations. In the United States, there are different approaches that schools have taken.

The Quest to Learn School is a charter school located in New York that focuses on the digital world. This school has a game-based curriculum, which means they use games for each academic subject. The reason why the school has this approach is to teach students how to problem solve. Particularly in video games, children are given set problems that they are forced to accomplish in order to move onto the next level where new material is tested. From this stand point, video games can be beneficial because it gives students instant feedback. Interestingly, schools may even be able to move away from paying for assessments, as the various video game levels are like assessments. However, this approach to learning also causes concerns to many. For instance, many parents have become uneasy with technology, as they did not grow up with this excessive amount of technology in their classes. Many parents think that they were able to learn successfully without the latest technology like iPads, laptops, smartboards, and video games, so their children should be able to do the same. In addition, many people in society worry that children may be becoming addicted to technology, especially video games. Many children want to keep improving their scores or move to the next level, that they may take the amount of time playing video games to the extreme. One other concern is that diverse learning is not accounted for. Each student learns differently, but this school’s approach seems to only cater to specific learning styles. But certainly, with the pros and the cons of this school, the children do seem to be engaged and excited to learn.

Secondly, the Digital Youth Network started as an after school program that eventually became part of the school’s curriculum. This method fosters creativity through many tools. For instance, photography, music, graphic design, and film making are means of expression that many students use.  These students start with an interest that grows into a passion that influences the way the rest of their life may go. For instance, one young man had a passion to learn how to play the piano. However, since his family could not afford lessons, he used Youtube to learn to play. Certainly, the more opportunities that students are given, the more chances are they will find something that they will pursue. With fewer opportunities, the chances of this happening may fall short. In addition, an interesting comment was made that digital media has changed the ecology of reading and writing. This is true, as students are still reading and writing as students for years have done, but it is just in a different way.


As future teachers, it will be our responsibility to find the technological resources for our students. We must recognize that not all students will have access to technology at home, such as a computer. With this, we must create assignments or find ways for our students to have access to the technology. For instance, we can encourage students to go to the library after school or on the weekends in order to use the resources available there. Especially when working in a special education classroom, technology will help us keep the attention of our students. For instance, if doing math problems, they will be more engaged if doing the work on the smartboard instead of with a worksheet. Also, technology would allow a teacher to help multiple students at once. Students can use a reading app if they need assistance instead of having the teacher come over for each unfamiliar word when he or she may be working with another student. Lastly, News-2-You is an on-line newspaper that provides different levels of reading for students. Check out the link to the newspaper.



Working with Different Minds in the Classroom

Knowing about different types of minds can help us during planning our lessons, deciding what way to differentiate our instruction, and help us understand better our students. Temple Grandin touched on different types of minds in the video. Visual thinking has helped her in the career she chose. This allowed me to see that this can benefit others with their careers too. Of course not every career will be suitable for this type of mind. I liked how she gave the example of the student drawing in a different perspective and how the teacher would be able to identify the student as a visual thinker. This would be useful for educators since they could start adapting the learning material to the way the student prefers to learn. This would benefit both the teacher and the student. All the thinkers she mentioned in the video can be in my future special education classroom one day. This video is just a way to start thinking of the different things that I will face in my classroom and how to prepare for solving or adapting to them.


Differentiated instruction can help the student understand and make sense of the material being taught. It allows the teacher to provide various learning options for the students. Not every student will understand the lesson with the same instruction given to everyone. This is a very important skill a teacher must have. As teachers we must be able to change and modify our instruction in order to benefit our students. For example, in the TED video Temple Grandin mentions how she started learning how to do her assignments because it involved one of her interests. Teaching involves getting students interested in the material. This allows the students to start using their minds. Changing the material to their interests is a great way to get them involved. I liked the example Temple Grandin gave in the video of the student with Autism. The teacher differentiated the lesson by integrating the student’s interest for cars into the lesson. These are just a few examples of how differentiating instruction can impact students’ performance. 


In the reading Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants by Marc Prensky it discusses how there is a gap between digital immigrant learners and digital native learners. This reminded me of how the universal design for learning can impact this issue. Digital immigrant learners believe that teaching methods should be the same no matter what time period they are in. This would greatly impact the students’ future performance and not in a positive form. These types of teachers are trying to teach to a new group of students with an outdated language that these students might not comprehend completely. This also involves being able to differentiate instruction using technology in the classroom. How would these teachers do that? There are many topics in the education field that interconnect with each other and impact each other in one-way or another.


How Do I Learn?

The video demonstrates how students learn in different ways. These are just a few examples out of many.

Teachers Need Feedback

There are plenty of things that need to improve in our education system. There are many people that provide ways to fix it in which sometimes demonstrates no improvement at all. We have increased funding before in hopes of higher test scores yet there wasn’t an improvement. There has been a controversy on what needs to be improved, who will help do this, and how much will it cost. Well we can’t solve all of the issues we have at once. We must take it day by day and hope that what we are doing today will help our current and future learners. There are different types of ways we can start making the education system better and it starts with the teachers.

The teachers are the ones that impact the students’ education. Yes there are other factors that play a role in the students’ education that could be improved but without an effective teacher we can’t have high hopes for our future society. I agree with Bill Gates that everyone needs other people to give feedback. Especially for teachers! We all become better versions of ourselves through people’s feedback. This feedback shouldn’t just include the word SATISFACTORY. I teacher won’t gain that much from just that word. The way we evaluate teachers’ today has always been an issue in our system. There is so much more than their students’ test scores.


At this point our education system is willing to try different things to see if there is any change with the students and teachers. I can’t assure that the teacher feedback system used in other countries will work in the United States but I do agree that if teachers share videos with other teachers they can get helpful feedback for future planning and teaching. Yet not every teacher will agree to do this. I think this type of method would work for new teachers going into the field since they haven’t had that much exposure in a classroom. I know I would want to participate and receive feedback from teachers that have taught special education for many years. It’s a great benefit for teachers. Teachers are always encouraged to use many of the resources provided for professional development and I believe this would be one of them.

The video shares how supporting teacher engagement is very important in the education system and it doesn’t matter if it’s a new teacher or a teacher that has taught for many years. Highly engaged teachers are the ones that create a success path for themselves and their students. We know teachers aren’t perfect and they can always improve. I liked the statement one of the teachers in the video said that all teachers are in the same journey of reaching to be an effective teacher. They must work as collaborative teams and give feedback to one another. This will definitely help each one become better teachers than what they were before.