Monthly Archives: August 2015

EDU 6150 – Course Reflection: Communicating with Students and Families

7. Families and Community – The teacher communicates and collaborates with students, families and all educational stakeholders in an ethical and professional manner to promote student learning. As a new educator, every day that I am in the classroom is a new learning experience. Working in a special education classroom, I have learned that effective collaboration with a student’s family can more than benefit that student’s learning outcomes. The family is the first to know that student. They know what may trigger that student and what may work best for them. They know their likes, dislikes and everything in between. Teachers can use the parents as a resource to better determine what the student’s needs or modifications may be.

Beyond the family is the student themselves. Special education students are often overlooked for having less than average intelligence and therefore are not able to think clearly. While some may struggle with a more difficult time for understanding, most students always know what they are thinking. They know what they like, they know what the dislike and they want to be heard. I have learned the importance of helping my students create their own voice. Student voice is the term used to describe students’ expressing their understanding of their learning process. Student voice involves reflective self-assessment expressed in the words of the learner for the purpose of improving teaching and learning (Overview of Student Voice). What this means is that students use methods such as writing, using reflections or self-assessments to express their thoughts and understanding of content knowledge.

According to Dr. David Denton (2013), student voice is expressed in the words of the learner for the purpose of improving teaching and learning. To me, this means that teachers communicate and collaborate with students to better promote student learning. I think that there are a lot of opportunities in a special education classroom to help my students find their voice through reflection and self-assessment. Last school year, in the transition classroom where I work, my students used daily self-assessments to self-assess their performance at their internship site each day. The student would assess themselves by circling their level of participation on a 1, 2, 3 scale. Their job coach when then assess the students level of participation grading them on the same 1, 2, 3 scale. I noticed that many job coaches were not communicating with the students about why they scored them the way they did. The student simply circled a number, then the job coach circled a number then that was that.

To me, these assessments were beyond beneficial and a great way to open up a dialog with the student about their work performance. For instance, if the student scored themselves a 3 (the highest possible) but I noticed they did not meet all of the criteria for a 3 and instead scored them a 2, I would use that opportunity to go over the assessment to compare our ideas about the scores and then create goals for the next day. I think it is so important for special education students to be able to speak their mind and be involved in every learning process. It is true that the self-assessments are a way that we track progress and later use to collaborate with parents but they can also be a valuable tool in helping our students express themselves by using their voice and as a learning tool.

My goal as a future teacher is to create open dialog with parents and students about learning goals, expectations and concerns. I will need to attend many IEP meetings in order to get a better understanding of how the communication and collaboration process works. I will need to meet with administrators, counselors and those involved in the students education and learn how to collaborate as a whole and not just from my perspective. I want my students to be involved in their own learning processes and be able to use their voice to not only reflect on what they have learned but to speak up for themselves and gain autonomy. One thing I look forward to during my internship next school year is getting the chance to meet with parents about their child’s education. I plan to make myself available for questions and comments and hope that I can create a healthy and supportive learning atmosphere for my students.

Overview of student voice. Retrieved from   dt- content-rid-259355_1/courses/XLST_B2_201560/Overview%20of%20Student%20 Voice.pdf

Denton, David. (2013). Student Voice for EdTPA. Retrieved from        HISj1LoOk&

EDCT 6431 – Creating a Virtual Portfolio

For my individual project, I developed a lesson plan for my 18-21 year old transition students. The purpose of this lesson is to teach my students to use different technologies as a means for creating interactive blog pages that document their internship experiences.

Final Project 1

Final Project 2

Final Project 3

Final Project 4

Final Project

Intro to Teaching Course Reflection

2.2 Engaging Students in Learning. To me, 2.2 is one of the most important teaching standards a newly certified special education teacher must makes sure they fully understand and implement into their classroom. Teachers are to teach in ways that include all students by providing students with numerous examples and resources. In special education, students in the same classroom may have an array of different levels of understanding. One way I have learned to fully engage students in the learning experience is through the use of technology. When properly aligned to content standards, technology offers students the opportunity to learn in new creative and innovative ways and can easily be modified for each individual learner. According to Steven Turner (2011), research examining learner-centered environments indicate that one key to reengaging reluctant learners is to increase the number of authentic opportunities for students to feel competent in the classroom. Because students learn more when instruction is personally meaningful, educators who seek to support disengaged students should create as much alignment as possible between school goals and the learner’s goals. I have discovered teaching is not just about dictation and grading tests, it is about the integration of meaningful and useful resources that help students better understand the ideas presented to them.

As a person new to education, I have really jumped in and tried to correlate all of the information that I have been learning from my Seattle Pacific University classes. In regards to this standard, I have learned that the use of technology will help to engage my students in learning by challenging them intellectually. From sending an email to creating an interactive group presentation online, students use higher cognitive thinking skills in order to process technological information while at the same time becoming engaged in the learning process. New and exciting technology is available for visualizing and modeling and offers students new ways to experiment and observe ideas and to view results in graphic ways that aid in understanding. And, as an added benefit, with technology tools and a project-learning approach, students are more likely to stay engaged and on task, reducing behavioral problems in the classroom. Technology also changes the way teachers teach, offering educators effective ways to reach different types of learners and assess student understanding through multiple means (Edutopia, 2008).

So what does this mean for my future students? To me, the idea of engaging students in learning means to teach them in a meaningful way. I want my students to be excited to come to school and look forward to the learning process. I want to engage them in the learning process by integrating interactive websites, individual and group projects, and online newspapers and media into our daily curriculum. I want to integrate technology such as Glogster, digital storybooks, iMovie, and the use of Chromebooks to name a few. I want each of my students to feel successful and autonomous when creating original works. I love the idea of using technology as a way of engaging students in learning because it can be adapted for the use of every learner. Special education students who may struggle with reading and writing can utilize talk to text programs that offer them the freedom to express their thoughts and ideas without feeling overwhelmed by not being able to process information the same as their peers. Students that are shy are afforded the opportunity to find their voice online through interactive discussions. These are just a few of the wonderful examples of how technology can engage learners. The benefits for integrating technology into the learning process are endless. I look forward to learning more about different technologies and engagement possibilities while building a classroom that is inclusive and engaging to all students.

Turner, Steven. (2011). Student-centered instruction: Integrating the learning sciences to support elementary and middle school learners. Preventing School Failure, 55(3), 123–131, 2011.

Edutopia Team. (2008) Why integrate technology into the curriculum: The reasons are many. Retrieved from

ISTE Standard 6: Implementing iAgents into our Schools

ISTE Standard 6: Technology Operations and Concepts

Question: How can school districts utilize the technological knowledge of Digital Native Students?


In the article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Marc Prensky’s (2001) wrote that our students today are, for the majority, “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet. This got me to thinking. As many educators are from the pre-digital age and may iAgent_Help_Desknot be as tech-savvy as our students, how can we utilize their technological knowledge to benefit our schools? In the article, School Districts to Use Kids to Help Troubleshoot Tech Issues, Dan Waters (2013) reports on a school district in Chicago that is utilizing its tech-savvy high school students by creating a group of high school students called iAgents. The iAgents were on hand, during the summer and the first week of school, to pass out and set up each of the student body’s iPads and Chromebooks for the coming school year. According to Water’s, the high schools had the iAgents manning a help desk in the library during students’ lunch periods to assist with any issues that would arise as well as the managing of online forums where kids could post questions about how to access class materials and lessons, among other topics.

These iAgents are such a great example of students demonstrating a sound understanding of technological concepts, systems and operations. What I like most about what this school is doing is that it is creating a place for tech-savvy kids to become creative, helpful and needed. I know that a lot of my students have a hard time finding a place to fit in within our high school. I think that if we had a program that offered students the ability to work with technology and use the skills that they excel at, our students would find a sense of pride and accomplishment that they may not have felt before. I love that this program creates peer interaction between students and encourages teamwork.

Prensky, Marc. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon. Retrieved from

Waters, Dan. (2013). School districts to use kids to help troubleshoot tech issues. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from


ISTE Standard 5: Where can students turn when they are being Cyberbullied??

ISTE Standard 5: Digital Citizenship

Question: When advocating for positive digital citizenship, what safeguards can schools take to help protect their students from cyberbullying?


Technology gives student’s anonymity and with being anonymous comes bravery. The previous ISTE standards have helped me to realize that technology can give shy students a voice; that they become more brave and autonomous when communicating online. This can be such a great feature but at the same time, it can give people the feeling of superiority cyber-bullyingand authority. According to Common Sense Education (2015), ‘students learn that cruelty can escalate quickly online because people are often anonymous and posts spread quickly.’ Cyberbullying has been in the headlines a lot of late. School aged suicides are becoming more and more common. There were 2 suicides related to the school I work at, just last year. It is our job as educators to teach positive digital citizenship and to also make sure that students have somewhere to turn when they need help.

This article if full of great information that can benefit all school districts! It teaches schools how to set up a Google Voice account that allows students to call or text when they feel that they, or someone else, is being [cyber] bullied or is in danger. Hinduja (2015) wrote, ‘we strongly believe that every school should have a system in place that allows students who experience or observe bullying or cyberbullying (or any inappropriate behavior) to report it in as confidential a manner as possible. It seems obvious that we should be using mediums that youth already prefer. In addition, being able to broach the subject without being forced to reveal one’s identity or do it face-to-face may prove valuable in alerting faculty and staff to harmful student experiences, and help promote an informed response to bring positive change.’ Schools are encouraged to hang posters, send out flyers, and use their automated school wide messaging system to make sure students know the Google Voice phone number. It is also important to make sure that students know that they can call anonymously for any reason and at any time, day or night.

Turn down the dial on cyberbullying and online cruelty. Common Sense Education.  (2015).         Retrieved from          cyberbullying- and-online-cruelty-9-10

Hinduja, Sameer. (2015). Setting up a free bullying and cyberbullying reporting system with         Google voice. Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved from   


ISTE Standard 4: Let’s Make A Glog

ISTE Standard 4: Glogster

Students are able to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make decisions using digital tools and resources.Glogster

Question:  What online tools can teachers use to help students research, create and manage innovative project presentations?


In this article, Jamie Renton writes about and how students can use this website (and app!!) to analyze and organize information and then create interactive virtual project presentations. Renton highlights 3 main benefits to this program. Firstly, Glogster increases digital literacy by using technology tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding. Additionally, Glogster enables schools to meet and educational technology and content area standards for creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration, research and information fluency, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making, and digital citizenship. Another benefit of Glogster is it gives diverse learners options for acquiring information and knowledge which facilitates problem solving and critical thinking skills. According to Kuo, Chen and Hwang (2014), research has proven that students’ high-order thinking ability, such as problem-solving, and critical thinking ability, could be effectively improved by means of searching for web-based resource. Glogster gives students the opportunity to compile the information that they have collected, organize it and present it.  This application is a great tool for creating interactive poster presentations on different research and interest topics. I like that students are able to collect data, images and videos and then pick and choose what information they add to their Glog. The downside of Glogster is it is not free and requires a yearly registration fee of approximately $95 per year.

Kuo, F. R., Chen, N. S., & Hwang, G. J. (2014). A creative thinking approach to enhancing the web-based problem solving performance of university students. Computers & Education, 72(c), 220–230

Glogster Coogle