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Showing posts from July, 2013

Financial Literacy Infographic

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Many of you know me as a passionate educational technology and Universal Design for Learning blogger. One of my other passions is financial literacy. Why? We live in one of the most educated countries in the world; however, many of our finest members of society have no concept of how money works. Marriages are breaking up from financial debt. Families in this country are one illness or job loss away from bankruptcy.  A lack of understanding about financial literacy impacts families, communities, and entire countries. This infographic was sent to me by Cara Delany from Online Accounting Degrees . This information is easy to understand and is very useful in helping our kids understand the importance of smart money management. Source: Dollars and Sense: How Wise Are We With Money?

Reading Assignments the #UDL Way: Creating Meaning and Interaction (Part 3)

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Over the past several posts, I have talked about how to use low-tech and high-tech options to create "UDL-friendly" reading assignments. Here are a few of the highlights: Step 1: Have a central location to place all of your supports in one easy-to-find place. LiveBinders is a great way of helping keep everything organized and together! Step 2:  Provide multiple ways of reading the assignment  (aka Multiple Means of Representation). Give students the option of using paper, PDF's, and audio copies of text. Audacity and AudioBoo are great for producing audio!  Step 3: Provide vocabulary supports! Use Quizlet to pre-teach vocabulary and provide a way for students to review terms when they are confused or need to study. Provide vocabulary supports for words students don't know like using  Visuwords or  Shahi . Step 4: Engage Students Differently to Find Meaning  Reading an assignment is one thing, but comprehending what you have read is totally different

Reading Assignments the #UDL Way: Vocabulary Supports (Part 2)

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The Barrier of Poverty and Vocabulary In previous posts, I have mentioned that when working with students in poverty, "the achievement gap is largely a vocabulary gap." One of the main reasons why reading assignments are such a challenge, is that students do not understand the vocabulary. Why? Many of our students living in poverty come from disadvantaged backgrounds, where they did not experience many of the same enrichment opportunities as their peers. When students come to the Milton Hershey school, we often have to help them play "catch-up" with learning vocabulary. My experiences made me think about how to Universally Design reading assignments for ALL students to read the SAME article (required by the curriculum) and experience success at the same time. In my previous post, I discussed different options for text . Here are some thoughts on how you can provide vocabulary supports for students: Before We Get Started: Have a Central Location!  One very

Reading Assignments the #UDL Way: Text Options (Part 1)

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Introduction:  As I have mentioned before, I am a teacher at the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, PA. The mission of our school is to give students living in poverty a quality K-12 education and provide opportunities to obtain a post-secondary education. Due to the fact that 100% of my students come from poverty, they learn and interact with content differently. This makes reading assignments a challenge. It made me think about how I could develop supports for my students to read the same article (as required by the curriculum) and still experience success. Over the next few installments, I will be sharing how you can structure a reading assignment that is UDL "friendly": Step 1: Provide Options for Text Not all students like to / can use the paper handouts that we often distribute in the beginning of class. We throw them at our students and expect them to read. Talk about losing engagement quick! Think for a moment of the diverse students you have in your classroom

Quizzing Students the #UDL Way

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Sorry I haven't posted in a few weeks! It's been a really exciting time. My good friend Jon Mundorf (@fundorf) and I have been developing an online Universal Design for Learning course for Regional Training Center . Jon is an amazing fifth grade teacher from Florida. When you get the two of us together in the same room, the ideas just start flowing! Over the next few posts, I would like to share some basic Universal Design for Learning techniques that ALL teachers can use to create a positive learning environment for ALL students. Jon was telling me about how he has to prepare his students for standardized testing. His school district has a mandatory time period where teachers are expected to quiz students each day. This can be draining for both teachers and students. Jon was telling me about some tools that he uses to prepare his students. I want to share a combination of Jon's ideas and mine in this post:  Socrative   - An Engaging Way to Move Beyond "Wha

#ISTE13 GEMS: QRPhoria and How QR Codes are Being Used

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As QR codes are gaining popularity in society, they are also gaining traction in education. They are being used in some unique ways to enhance student learning. One of the knocks on QR codes is their appearance. Some of them are just plain ugly! QRPhoria is a free website, which can be used to create customized QR Codes that contain various patterns and colors. Perhaps a "prettier" QR Code would increase engagement??? Just a thought! How are QR Codes Being Used: A few weeks ago, I learned of a librarian in Oklahoma who is trying to promote books from the Sequoyah Reading list . To engage her students, she has them read the book and write a book review. Here's how QR Codes come into the mix. She has them record their recommendation using AudioBoo and generates a QR Code for her students to listen to the actual review! Check it out below: One of my former graduate students is a Pre-Calculus teacher, who uses QR codes for his students to complete homework proble

#ISTE13 GEMS: #AudioBoo App on #Edmodo

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I had the privilege of helping demo the AudioBoo App in the Edmodo booth at #ISTE13. I have used the iPhone App for several months now, but I had no idea how much of a game changer this is for Edmodo. It allows both teachers and students to create audio clips that are easy to upload and share. The best part is that because it is on Edmodo, it is private! During the course of the week, I learned that teachers have the ability to create their own audio recordings called "boos" or access the vast library of user-generated content from the AudioBoo site. Teachers can save these "boos" to their Edmodo library. In today's diverse classrooms, AudioBoo makes it easy for teachers to Universally Design lessons for all students to access materials. For example, teachers can write out instructions for students to read and/or use AudioBoo to record audio instructions. Whether a student has a visual disability or is an auditory learner, they can access instructions. Thi

#ISTE Gems: Want to Create Your Own App?

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Have you ever wanted to create your own App? I know that is something that I have been very interested in doing, but I just didn't have the time and resources necessary to learn the coding required. While I was at #ISTE13, I walked by a demonstration called AppShed . With a few clicks of a mouse, you can very easily create your own App and have the ability to share it with others. My demonstrator showed us how he was going to make an App that featured the Pixar movie Cars. It literally took him 10 minutes to put together the App, which featured links, pictures, and YouTube videos. When he was finished, he shared the address of the App through a QR code. All of us were able to download it onto our iPhones and use it immediately! Imagine the possibilities of AppShed in our classrooms. We could design an App for students to study for the chapter test on Friday. We could design an App with summer resources to help promote summer reading! Regardless of the grade level, this could be

#SimplyNoise is a Great Way to Focus

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A few days ago, I needed to get out of the house to prepare for a presentation I was making. Usually I head to the local library, but I needed a caffeine fix and headed to my local Starbucks instead. I love the smell of coffee, but I am often distracted by the sound of music, cash registers, and personal conversations.  I came across a website called SimplyNoise to help drown out the background noises and chatter. It gave me several different "types" of noise to choose from: white, pink, or brown. After using it for an hour, I was amazed at how it improved my concentration. I was able to enjoy my coffee and still be  productive! Imagine how our students could use this site to study. Many of my students tell me that they need some type of background noise while they do their homework. Most of our students have the television on, listen to their iPod, or chat with friends. SimplyNoise may be a great way for students to have non-distracting background noise to help imp

#ISTE13 GEMS: Plan Board

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Check out my son Trey and I on our own "boo": One of the things that I love most about conferences like #ISTE13 is that you have the chance to connect with people face to face. Regardless of how much technology changes the way that we socialize in the 21st century, I am still convinced that meeting face-to-face will always be necessary. Introducing PlanBoard As I had mentioned before, I was working in the Edmodo booth demonstrating the new AudioBoo App (more on that later). Several educators from around the world stopped by to see the App and also give me some great blog ideas! I was talking with a gentleman from Houston who introduced me to a free lesson plan creation site called PlanBoard . PlanBoard gives educators the ability to easily create lesson plans, find lesson plans, collaborate with others, share materials, track standards, and share lesson plans with students and parents. In the era of the Common Core, educators are more concerned than ever about meet