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Showing posts from 2011

What to Do in Just a Few - Data-based Decision Making with Edmodo?

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The quiz feature in Edmodo has really changed the way that we use it. Students can now take quizzes and teachers can use the data to make decisions in the classroom. In the age of school accountability this is a great feature. Not only can teachers view the data, but students can as well. This may provide a great study tool for your students to see what they know and study what they don't. How do you view this data? Watch and find out!

What to Do in Just a Few (Edmodo Quizzes)

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Edmodo is becoming a favorite tool of mine, because of its flexibility and how it has evolved over the past few years. In this first installment of "What to Do in Just a Few," we explore how to create an Edmodo quiz in just a few moments!  

A New Year Means New Blog Features

Hello everyone. I wanted to let you know that my blog's address is changing to http://bergman-udl.blogspot.com/ Also, I am introducing a new feature to the blog called "What to Do in Just a Few," which is a 2 - 3 minute screencast showing you how to use some of the technologies that I write about in this blog. As always, thank you for your support across the country!

Do you Learn Visual.ly ?

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We live in an age where we are bombarded with information! How do we interpret all of this data? How do we make sense of it? Brain research shows us that our students need options on how they perceive information and interpret data. This allows students to gain a deeper understanding of material. Let's be honest...data is not the most interesting thing in the world. Why do you think that newspapers and magazines often turn to infographics for easier reader interpretation? It makes it easier for readers to comprehend and fathom the information presented. Visual.ly is a site devoted to exploring, sharing, and creating infographics. I really like the ability to search for a particular topic and have several infographics to choose from. For instance, I am currently teaching a unit on product safety in one of my business classes. I simply searched infographics and came up with several interesting graphics on Toy Recalls, Recalls over the Past 3 Months, and the Largest Vehicle Recal

Instead of Showing A Toy Story, Show Something Educational Before Break

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Ah yes! The holiday season is upon us and that causes many educators to turn to their old favorites....Toy Story, The Santa Clause, and don't forget Schwarzenegger in Jingle All the Way. Why do we turn to these films? Because our students have checked out several days (if not weeks) before Holiday break. My challenge to you is...why not show something that they can learn from? Don't you just love the evolution of the Internet? I remember back in the old days, if I wanted to show my students a film, I would often have to drive to the video store, rent it (usually with my own money), and have to have it back within a week. Top Documentary Films.com is a site that streams top documentaries from all different types of subject areas: Art and Artists - containing films on Michelangelo, Beethoven, and Picasso.  9-11 - containing a large variety of films on the day that changed America Biography - containing films on Bill Gates, Bill Clinton and even Curt Cobain.  Economics -

Check Out New Blog Feature

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For those who have been faithful followers of my blog, I want to give you an opportunity to use a valuable UDL resource developed by the postings over the past year. Simply click the tabs above to get free resources for: Principle 1 - Multiple Means of Representation Principle 2 - Mu ltiple Means of Action and Expression Principle 3 - Multiple Means of Engagement   If you are not familiar with Universal Design for Learning or its Guidelines, check out the following resources:  http://www.udlcenter.org/ or  http://cast.org/

FotoFlexer

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The other day I came across an excellent photo editor site called FotoFlexer , which allows you to edit your photos online for free!You can easily upload photos from your computer or sites like Picasa, Photobucket, and Flicker. I really like the fact that you don't need a username and account to play around and edit photos. You may want to sign up for the extra features and ability to save your photos, but this may provide you an excellent way of letting your students create without being bombarded with another password. I also like the fact that you can save photos back to your computer as either a JPEG or PNG file. There are numerous effects, ways to decorate, animations, ways or distorting or manipulating text. How could I use this for UDL?  Vocabulary is always a difficult thing to teach, because our kids are often bombarded with it throughout the day or just plain don't remember the terms. FotoFlexer could provide another way of representing terms, increasing retenti

No Money for Field Trips? Visit an Art Museum Without Leaving Your Classroom

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Art has played such an important role in history. It has influenced rulers, social reforms, and led revolutions. Not only has it played an important role in history, but it is very closely linked to many of the subject areas that we teach in our schools today. Yet, due to budget cuts, it is one of the first programs to go. Not to get into a debate about the importance of the arts, but I would like to give you a way to share those historical paintings with your students without leaving the classroom. Google's Art Project provides a way of representing the important works of history all from your computer. This site is very UDL friendly! Why do you ask? Click on any painting of your choice and you have the ability to zoom in and zoom out, customizing the display of information ( Checkpoint 1.1 ). This is perfect for students with disabilities, but it is also a great tool for your students to analyze a painting even further.  The Create an Art Collection feature, gives you t

Need Help Getting Started with iPads?

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The holiday season is approaching and many of us have that "have-to-have" item on our list. The iPad. There has been a tremendous amount of attention given to the iPad,  particularly in education. Everyone has to have one. Everyone needs one. We want them in our classrooms for all of our kids. But once you get one, what do you do with it?Many of us are lost when it comes to how they work and apply to education. Here are some good resources to use when it comes to using them in your classroom: Getting Started with iPads is a good site to learn the tips and tricks needed to operate one and use in the classroom.  Special Education Aps gives you all the information that you need to enhance the learning experience for our kids who struggle with learning.  Learning and Teaching with iPads Blog is a great way to connect with other educators on how to use the iPad in the classroom.  iPod and iPad Resources for Pre-K-12 teachers . This Livebinder contains a variety of resou

Move Over Brittanica and Make Room for Life

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Recently I came across a very impressive resource called the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) , an online encyclopedia collection of information about all living things on Earth. EOL was started in 2007 with the impressive task of "providing a webpage for every living species." How are they doing it? They have created a trusted online community where information is freely exchanged and made available to anyone and everyone. After exploring the site, I began to realize this is a great tool for science teachers who want to design a lesson that will impact all kinds of learning styles (UDL). For example, imagine that you are a teacher who is taking the opportunity to teach your students about your local habitat. You may begin by having students research a specific plant or animal on EOL. Students can learn the scientific name, habitat and ecology information, population, diet, etc. Multiple Means of Representation:  Sometimes reading does not "connect all of the dots"

Making Word Walls A Part of Your Classroom

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Our students are learning, reading, and interacting with content in so many different ways each day. Yet, how much time do we spend on developing vocabulary? Do we expect our kids to "know" it from either reading the book or listening to us. It may not be happening. There is a major emphasis on the development of vocabulary skills in education today. From professional development to graduate courses to initiatives...all are talking about it. Why? Because our students need to be able to understand vocabulary to understand what they are reading. This has brought up the importance of developing Word Walls in our classrooms, which is a visual representation of important terms for the unit or chapter . Word Walls not only emphasize "seeing" the word, but also it encourages students to "listen" for and "use" it. Simply put, they offer multiple ways of representing and expressing the meaning of vocabulary terms. What are the limitations of Word Wall

QR Codes in Education

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The other day I was hungry, so I walked over to the counter and grabbed a banana. To my surprise, I noticed a new sticker next to the Chiquita Banana sticker. It was a funny looking thing called a QR code. You can't go anywhere these days without seeing them on business cards, products, and yet many people are unaware of what these things look like. QR stands for Quick Response Code, which is essentially a bar code that you can use to access websites, videos, etc. on your SmartPhone. Many of our students have SmartPhones to begin with. Why not provide a QR Code for students to access your class website, extra study materials, etc.? QR Codes are so easy to create. You can go to websites like  Goqr.me  or Create QR Code .  Simply generate the code and copy and paste into a worksheet. This may be a great way for students to access extra materials for your class. One teacher that I know provides students with a homework assignment that contains both a website link and a QR code

Instead or Re-teaching....Why Not "Re"-Cord?

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A few months back, I had met a math teacher who was teaching in a new way. He would record his lesson using screen recording software ahead of time. When students arrived, he would press play and change roles. Instead of the teacher, he would shift into a support role with students. He then places these video clips on a website that he developed, so that students can access it later in the evening. I thought it was a brilliant idea. Many teachers are already teaching this way, using sites like Khan Academy . Khan Academy is great, but its subject matter is pretty limited to math, history, art, and science. What if what I teach isn't available? You may want to consider using a screen recording site like Screencast-O-Matic , which allows you to record your voice and computer screen in just a few simple clicks. There is no software to download and it's pretty easy to use. I teach Accounting and often have a difficult time finding tutorials online.  Many of my students are ab

Directions? You're Posting About Directions? Directions? Really?

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I don't know about you, but I have noticed that the "honeymoon" period is over in my classroom. My students have revealed their true selves! Can you believe that they don't pay attention to the directions I have projected on my computer screen or written on the board? Notice that I'm being sarcastic :) ? Depending on the type of directions that you are writing on the board, you may be able to get away with just using a picture or pictures to describe the task. For example, the other day I didn't want my students to log onto their computers. When I have written the instructions on the board, it is often ignored! The other day I tried something new. I put a "No Computers" sign (see picture) on my board. Can you imagine my excitment when my students actually got it? Usually there are about 3 to 4 students who just don't understand or look at the directions. Imagine my excitement when every single student got it! I tried taking this a step furt

Edmodo's Electronic Backpack

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Yesterday I was strolling around my room to check how students were doing on a project and I noticed one of my students doing something rather unique in Edmodo. I had asked my students to find a current event article for an assignment in class. They had to save the link in their favorites folder on their computer or simply copy and paste it into a Word document. This severely limited their ability to access material outside of their computer in the classroom or outside of the school network. UDL is all about providing flexible tools for students to use to benefit their learning experience. One student was using Edmodo to do this assignment. I was curious, so I asked him about what he was doing. I've been using Edmodo for about 2 years now and I never knew about the Electronic Backpack feature available for students. My student explained to me that he's been using this tool for quite awhile. Boy did I feel dumb! The Backpack feature is a way for students to save links in Edm

A Search Engine for your Students!

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Imagine that you have a research project for your students. You would love to just use regular books and encyclopedias. However, you realize that in the digital age this is starting to become tougher. So you reluctantly turn to the Internet and have your students perform "Google" searches. When they do this, they will be bombarded with irrelevent material from Wikipedia and other non-productive sites. With SweetSearch , you may become an alternative to the Googles, Yahoos, and Bings of the world. It only searches a database of over 35,000 sites that have been evaluated and approved by teachers, librarians and administrators, which allows sites from universities and PBS take precedence. The site constantly "fine tunes" results so that they are relevant and accurate. Why use Sweetsearch ? This is a great tool to help students find information faster. Yes, we do need to teach our students how to filter out irrelevant results. But there are times when less time sh

TRELLO

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My Marketing students have been working together over the past couple of weeks to develop a sports drink. There are two objectives: 1) create an actual product and 2) develop a marketing plan for the product. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been an unbelievable amount of paperwork. Today, I was stumbling across ideas on how I could make this project better. How could I get my students to collaborate and share multiple documents, pictures, etc. I came across a site called Trello - which is an unbelievable tool to promote collaboration and project management. What is it?  Trello is a project board website, where you can assign and manage tasks, documents, etc. from a project board. What is a project board? It's just a collection of what Trello calls "lists." Lists are almost like filing cabinets to put stuff in. It's just a simple way to categorize things. What do you put inside of filing cabinets? Usually files. Trello allows you to create

New Edmodo Feature Could Change the Way You Teach!

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Within the past couple of weeks, Edmodo has launched a new feature that will change the way that you teach. You now have the ability to give a timed online quizzes through the site. What options do you have? Multiple Choice True / False Short Answer Fill in the Blank When you have students take the quiz, you can receive a statistical breakdown of student performance. We live in the age where data is being used from Art to Science class. Why not use the data to help all of your students learn more effectively and efficiently? With this new feature, there are some limitations. From what I have seen, it doesn't look like you can edit a quiz after you have published it. This may cause an issue if you want to re-use quizzes that you have created in Edmodo. I was also not able to change the point values for each question. The automatic default was 1 point. However, you could manipulate the amount of time that students had to take the test. How would I use it? Because the

LiveMinutes - Where Collaboration is Key

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We hear about the word collaboration all of the time. Our students need to have opportunities to collaborate to grow as learners. But are we providing students with an opportunity to do so? Many of us choose not to. Simply because it's difficult to find the tools. Finding ways for students to collaborate and interact with content in different ways is an example of Providing Multiple Means of Engagement . When our students are able to engage with content in different ways, they often become more motivated to learn. I found a tool just the other day that fosters collabroation, it's called LiveMinutes . It's a site that is used to host free Web Conferences, but is very useful in an educational setting. Users can create a meeting space, where they can chat, share documents, and use an interactive white board. If monitored by the instructor, it could be a very powerful tool for our students to use. This site gives you the opportunity to create distance learning environment

Classroom Management Tools for UDL

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When you are having students work on an assignment, do you think about what is going on beyond the assignment? What I mean is...are you giving your students opportunities to prioritize, organize, and manage their time? Have your students developed that "clock in their head" that many NFL quarterbacks have developed. One of the ways that you can develop this sense of urgency is through the use of visual timers. I have found that my students are more engaged and are able to handle multiple tasks with this visual representation of time. Yes it sounds simple, but it is effective. This is a great way to teach our students ways to strategically plan and monitor their progess ( Principle 2: Multiple Means of Action and Expression ). Here are two of my favorites: Countdown Timer  - remember the old time stove top timers? This is a great way to wind up and count down the time! Online Stopwatch - is a stopwatch and a timer built into one! You can download other types of ti

Google Chrome: The Perfect UDL Browser?

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I have to admit it, I've been holding out. I've resisted the urge to try Google Chrome. I've always been a Firefox type of guy. Can't stand Internet Explorer, but love Firefox. Then the other day I couldn't take it anymore. I tried Google Chrome and you know what? I liked it. It made me think about how Google Chrome could help all of the students that we have in our classrooms today. From the gifted student to the student with a learning disability, how can Google Chrome help? Simplicity - buttons, icons, toolbars, menus, more icons, and more buttons. Let's face it, many of our browsers have become overly complicated. Google Chrome is quite simplistic, which may take away the confusion that our younger learners experience when they are searching the web. Chrome is a great browser for your visual learners because the set up is very simplistic.  Omnibox - we are so used to typing www.something in the address bar. Chrome allows you to do your search in the a

SPECIAL GUEST POST: Andrea Erins "How Technology is Evolving for Students"

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How Technology is Evolving for Students These days, most students have access to the internet wherever they go. Between home computers, mobile devices, and school laptops, the way students learn is evolving just as quickly as technology itself. Here are some ways that technology is evolving to better suit students’ needs. Blackboard Learn – This is a fantastic tool with a number of capabilities for course management. On a course website, teachers can post handouts, study guides, and PowerPoint presentations for those who miss class. Discussion forums allow students to ask a teacher questions and to help each other learn collaboratively. Teachers can also post grades and give feedback on work. The website even provides space to save group projects. For a classroom, Blackboard can be just as interactive as Facebook. School Blog – Forget the school newspaper. Many school journalism classes are now turning to blogs to publish the traditional school newspaper. This is a grea
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Do you remember sitting in Chemistry class in high school? Maybe you really enjoyed the content. Chemistry was a point of access, because you enjoyed the experiments and theory. Maybe you feel asleep because you felt the content didn't apply to you. Chemistry might have been difficult for you, thus creating a barrier between you and the content. Regardless of your past experiences, our students often to our classrooms facing the same access points and barriers we faced so long ago. The question is: how can we make the Periodic Table more interactive and interesting for our students? We still have to teach the content, but maybe we could provide a resource that would enhance learning. PTable may be the interactive Periodic Table website that you have been looking for. PTable provides a visual representation of the elements on the Periodic Table. You can select an element and get a detailed description of its make up. What makes this table so UDL is the fact that students can acc

Snag Learning: Go Beyond Hitting "Play"

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I was talking with a colleague the other day and they had mentioned how they would love to show more video clips in their classroom, but that takes a lot of time and research. I have to agree. Not only do you have to screen each video, you often have to sift through amateur YouTube clips to find something. Showing video clips to just show them doesn't increase learning. In fact, it can cause confusion if not appropriately designed. It is so important to design learning opportunities that will reach all - from the beginning! Snag Learning is a great site to consider because of its use of high quality documentaries from sources like PBS and National Geographic. Teachers of any grade level would greatly benefit from the documentaries on this site. Not only is it a way to provide another way of representing material, but it is another way of engaging and motivating students. For example, maybe you are having trouble getting your students to care about what is happening in Darfur

GUEST POST - Lindsey Wright

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Why UDL is Necessary for Education Technology By: Lindsey Wright We live in a society that espouses equality for all. It is, in fact, the central tenet of American philosophy. However, consider the difficulty providing guidelines to encourage a uniform approach to education that ensures equal opportunities for each student. It sounds like an impossible task given the diversity of students and wide range of curricular goals. Adding into the mix the fact that digital technology is taking more and more schools online only emphasizes the challenge of individualizing education for each student. The Universal Design for Learning provides a structure of principles upon which to build specific uses of educational technologies to provide each student equal opportunity to learn. Indeed, such guidelines are necessary for effectively applying technology to education in the classroom. The flexibility of technology tools for education is their great strength, but it also requires a

Providing Multiple Means of Action and Expression

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Our students need to interact with materials and curriculum in different ways ( Principle 2 of UDL ). If they do not have this option, it creates a "barrier" towards learning. UDL classrooms look to provide students with "access" towards the curriculum in different ways. It helps our students understand the "How" of learning. For example, the other day I had my students read an article. I provided students with an electronic copy, which contained hyperlinks to other news sources. This gave students an opportunity to access supplemental materials to watch video clips or listen a podcast of the subject area. We discussed key vocabulary words that would appear in the text. Students created "Bumper Stickers" (for our visual learners) to define the term. They had to draw a picture to represent the concept, create a slogan (to define the term), and actually write out the term on the "Bumper Sticker." Students were asked to verbally share

Providing Multiple Means of Representation

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Imagine teaching a group of students about Lobsters. Many of them may have come from different backgrounds, where they may have never seen one before. We know from brain research that to actually learn material, we need to give our students opportunities to connect with it in different ways. How do you do it? Providing students with multiple ways of representing material ( Principle 1 of UDL ) is all about giving students a chance to connect with material via their senses.  Here are some of the key ingredients: • options that customize the display of information • options that provide alternatives for auditory information • options that provide alternatives for visual information How would a typical UDL lesson about lobsters works? As your students begin shuffling into the room, you try activating your student's prior knowledge, by asking your students to get out their notebooks and write down 3 facts about lobsters. Many of your auditory learners hate this activity, bec

What is Universal Design for Learning?

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Whenever anyone asks me about my blog, I always tell them that it's not a Web 2.0 blog. There are tons of blogs out there that can give you technology to use. I always tell them that my blog is about creating learning opportunities for ALL students through a concept called Universal Design for Learning. That's usually the point where their eyes glaze over! There is ton's of research out there about the concept, from world-class experts in the field. CAST is one of the leading organizations in UDL research. Yet when people take my classes, read articles about UDL, or go to UDL workshops, they often don't have a clear vision of what it is. So over the next couple of days, I'd like to give my spin on the concept that is impacting the way ALL students learn. Universal Design was originally intended to design better products, buildings, and environments for the widest range of users possible. From the start, modifications are taken into consideration, to reduce cos

Mother Nature's Contribution to UDL

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Environmental responsibility is becoming a part of our culture more and more each day. Everywhere you turn someone is "going green!" Schools, businesses, and consumers are playing there part! The Mother Nature Network (MNN) is a site devoted to exploring environmental issues from many different perspectives. Naturally if you are a Science teacher, you would benefit from this site. If you teach in another subject area, you may be tempted to turn away and ignore this post. However, there are some great resources for all subject areas, which would encourage inquiry-based thinking from all of your students. The Earth Matters section contains all of your Science-friendly information about energy, animals, etc. History teachers have a section on Politics! The Health section could benefit Health / Phys. Ed teachers with discussion topics like fitness / well-being. The Lifestyle section could easily be used by Art teachers, who want to discuss art / culture and even fashion. T

Creating Your Own Living Breathing Textbook

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Are you frustrated with the limitations of textbooks and textbook companies? First of all, it's expensive. Secondly, you may only be able to buy new textbooks every five to ten years. Thirdly, by the time you get your hard copy textbook, its out of date. What if you want to customize your student's learning experience?Maybe you want your students to have up-to-date information and access to current events. What do you do? Head to the copy machine. What if there was a better way? A way to customize your student's learning experiences, embed current event articles, and show YouTube videos. Well, there is in fact and it's been around in awhile. It's called Livebinder . What is Livebinder? It's a self-proclaimed "3-Ring Binder of the Web," allowing you to organize information in Tabs and Subtabs. You can add PDF Word documents, PDF PowerPoints, embed websites, embed YouTube videos, and pictures. It allows you the opportunity to create a living and

What's Holding You Back from Using Prezi?

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Many of us are scared of trying new things. Especially when it comes to technology. We are scared that, in the words of one of my graduate students, "we will break something that we cannot fix." These are the words of a true "digital immigrant," or someone who knows what life was like before the Internet! What's the problem with this? Our kids are "digital natives" and technology is something they like to use, because of the possibilities to create, collaborate, and experiment. Our kids are not scared of technology. Why? There's always the "Undo" button. Unfortunately they learn that this is not always the case in real-life. So to all of you "digital immigrants" (including myself)...can I ask you a question? When you have to do presentations in class, what do you normally turn to? Let me guess...PowerPoint. Many of our kids are "PowerPointed" out. In the past I have written about another alternative called Prezi, ye

The Law of the Land Constitution Site

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Can you believe that there are topics, which seem boring to our students? :) I know that I'm being sarcastic, but there are topics that students need a little extra push. When I was in school, I lacked the desire to want to learn about the US Constitution (sorry history teachers!). That is why it is so important to provide students with different ways to motivate and engage them to push through material that may not interest them. The Law of the Land is an interactive site from Weekly Reader , devoted to teaching students the US Constitution. Take a stroll through the site and you will be amazed! The Framers Section provides students a monologue from each of the most important architects of our constitution.This section is provides flexibility for students to learn, where students can listen or read the text of a historical figure's monologue. The Timeline is an interactive timeline, where students control "Paul Revere" as he travels down the timeline. Student

The Need for Flexible Materials through Lifty

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When you are universally designing lessons for your classrooms, we need to take into consideration the flexibility of the materials that we offer students. Take for instance a traditional reading assignment. Many students are comfortable with a traditional photocopy, which they can highlight and "mark-up" the text. However, photocopies offer limitations. For instance, students with visual impairments may have difficulty reading from the same photocopy as a student without these difficulties. Students who need the extra support of listening to text, do not have the flexibility of copying and pasting the text into a program like Voki. When you are designing lessons for ALL students to learn, you need to consider the flexibility of materials. Can you access materials online for students who need extra support and resources? Can you manipulate the text for students with visual impairments? Can you access a digital copy for students to access at home? These are all questions yo

40 Inspiring Blogs Every Special Education Teacher Should Read

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We live in an age where a "one-size" fits all approach to education doesn't work. Crammed into our classrooms today are students with IEP's, 504's, GIEP's, etc. How do we teach to all of our students? When we universally design our instruction, we provide opportunities for ALL students to learn. Many of the instructional strategies that are used to teach this segment of our population can enhance instruction for all students. Whether you are a special education teacher, teach AP courses, or are sandwiched in between, you may want to take a look at the following Blog Article: 40 Inspiring Blogs Every Special Education Teacher Should Read . The resources are divided into several different sections: Special Needs Teachers Share - gives insight into strategies and supports that work in SPED Inspirational Resources - is jam packed with inspirational material aimed at inspiring educators, while dealing with the everyday challenges that exist in SPED Creative and

Helping Your Math and Science Students with their Homework

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Recently one of my students told me that he forgot his homework because "his shampoo bottle leaked all over it." Now I've heard some pretty interesting excuses, but that one topped the list! Whether it was true or not, the fact is that our kids are often disregarding their homework. Why? Some may be deemed "lazy" by some teachers, while others just don't understand. I was one of those students who would often "get it" in class and totally forget it at home. It's frustrating, isn't it? How can we help our kids do their homework in Math and Science? Perhaps providing a link to a video clip that would help "reteach" or supplement the instruction that took place earlier in the day. Sites like Khan Academy exist to do this. One of the most recent sites that I have come across is Brightstorm , a free homework help site for Math and Science. The site boasts of providing Math help from Algebra 1 to Calculus and Science help for