Sunday, April 26, 2015

Analysis of Adaptive Technological Products and Services

Analysis of Adaptive Technological Products & Services

     Assistive Technology products are growing in the classroom setting.  More and more schools are finding a need for asistive technology in the classroom to help students with disabilities excel.  This week, I focused my attention on a specific assistive technological tool designed for students with either a intellectual disability or is blind/visually impaired.  The product is also a great tool for those learning a new language.
Image CC from
      The product I would like to review is a vocal pen called VOCA-pen.  The VOCA-pen is a communication tool used in various settings.  How the product is used is through a sticker recognition system.  The pen comes equipped with three different size stickers.  The participant can either record their voice, someone else's, sounds, music as well as a variety of other items in the pen.  The pen has a storage of about 10 hours; however, each item can only be recorded up to 5 minutes of time.  The overall idea of the pen is to help learners freely live their life with little to no interruption when it comes to communication skills.  Below is the VOCA-pen how to's:

How to use the VOCA-pen:

  • Determine a sticker size
  • Place the sticker on an object (reading, medicine, print..ect.) 
  • Record a verbal command (the teacher can help assist with this)
  • Commands can be music, sound, phrases, messages, words ect.
  • Items can be recorded over in a new command needs to be used'
     Some challenges the VOCA-pen demonstrates is the cost of the pen.  Most of the pens are around $400 for one pen.  Another challenge of the pen is the set of the stickers.  For a visually impaired student, the stickers would need to be set up by a teacher prior to the student performing the task or activity. Another shot coming of the device is it is computer based and needs to be charged.  If the device loses its charge, the device is inactive and will take about two hours to recharge.  Below are some videos on how the VOCA-pen is used  and the efficiency of it is.


  6. Image CC by
  7. voca pen-

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Week 3 - Assistive Technology

According to Bryant and Bryant (2012), there are several considerations one must take into account when thinking about selecting and/or adopting an AT device or service. In light of these considerations, what is your assessment of how Facilitated Commutation (FC) devices were adopted and used (as portrayed in the PBS documentary)? 

     Assistive Technology is a great tool used to help students with disabilities function and freely express themselves.  There are many things to consider before one selects an assistive technology device.  According to the readings, there were many things to consider before choosing an assistive technological tool.  I would like to focus on two main considerations one must take into account when deciding what AT device to use.  
     First, the team must decided the specific needs and ability of the student(s).  Once the specific needs are determined, one can make an easier decision on which device would best suit the students.  Also, the curriculum and goals of the student is another item to consider.  If one does not consider the long term and short term goals of the student it is very difficult to decide which device would be best to help the student. 
     After considering the readings suggestions in selecting an assistive technology I watched the Front line video. The video discussed different stories of people implementing facilitate communication techniques.  FC is defined as a variety of techniques used by professionals and caregivers to assist people with communication disabilities.  Some examples of FC's are as follows:
  • An alphabet board
  • Typing on a keyboard 
  • Electronic devices showcasing symbols, letters or images

     The video mainly focused on Autistic students.  One student was  Ben Larr. He is an autistic male and  cant verbally speak on his own.  With the proper equipment, Ben is now able to type his thoughts to an entire audience during a presentation.  Based on the proper pairing of the device and given Ben's disability, he can now be free of his disability and speak his mind clearly.  To the people experience the achievements of students with disabilities they claim it is a "miracle" and an "awakening".  It is amazing to think, computers can allow non-verbal people to express themselves verbally. 
     Not all of the stories were beneficial for each student.  As the video went on, I started to question the accuracy of each technology.  Was everything taken into amount when choosing a specific assistive technological device for each student?  Could these students portray their own ideas onto devices they have never used before or was the idea of it working more of a greater influence.  
     Betsy is a girl in the video who cannot verbalize her words.  She was given a computer program with a facilitator to help translate her thoughts.  I do not believe the equipment was suited for her because she was new to the device and unfortunately was unable to translate her ideas through the device.  When tested, she would copy information more often then create her own thoughts.  She was taken from her parents because it was believed she was abused by them.  In an attempt to understand what really happened, Betsy underwent some testing.  During the testing she would need to identify everyday items through a picture and broadcast her thoughts by using a keyboard.  Unfortunately, Betsy copied her facilitators answers rather than recognized the picture itself.  
    Due to various negative allegations facilitated communication is not as successful as once thought, Syracuse University has developed a program of seven students doing research on the facilitated communication.  The questions was posed, could parents potentially be more blinded by facilitate communication because they are hoping it is real and it allows their child to be "free" and openly communicate?  The Front line video suggested facilitators had a greater influence on the success of facilitated communication techniques.  What this demonstrates is the importance of understanding the abilities of each student as well as considering the goals of each student. I believe when facilities do not pair assistive technology devices accurately with each student they lack an understanding of the child's disability. 


  1. Bryant, D. P., & Bryant, B. R. (2012)/ Assistive technology for people with disabilities (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River. Pearson Education.
  2. Kelker, K. A., & Holt, R. (1997). Family guide to assistive technology. Billings, MT: Parents Let’s Unite for Kids.
  3. Prisoners of Silence Front line video

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Response to SAMR and Peer Help

Include evidence that you have read, understood, and can use the SAMR model, and incorporate any additional information you believe relevant to others in your role.

The Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition Model or SAMR is used to showcase how technology can be used in the classroom to influence and enhance learning opportunities for students.  Simple tasks such as taking notes, tests, and quizzes can be done online in forms using Google Forms, Docs, and Sheets.  The SAMR model demonstrates four uses with technology:
  • Substitution
  • Augmentation
  • Modification
  • Redefinition
samr-model.pngI would first like to talk about substitution.  Substitution simply is a means to use technology on the most basic level.  For example, rather than giving the students a pen and paper, have the student write on the Smartboard.  Another alternative would allow students to take notes using Google Documents rather than hand written, or take a test using a Google Form rather than on paper.  The use of digital images can provide a great amount of interest and learning among the students rather than have them create a handwritten chart or picture.  For example, in the technological lesson I critiqued for this week, the teachers enforced students to use digital images rather than hand draw them, although it was an option.
The second concept I would like to discuss is augmentation.  Augmentation is the direct substitute for functional improvement.  For example, in a classroom augmentation can be seen through various ways such as Google Earth and even Google Maps.  Many students in the #itdml program has used Google Maps and Google Earth to pinpoint certain places.  Some might ask, could the lesson be taught on a regular map?  The answer is sure; however, it would be lacking an improvement in digital function.  In my content area, the government nutritional website has provided my health education classroom with easier ways to track their food intake to enhance my lesson.
Modification is the third tier in the SAMR model.  Modification allows for a significant amount of change and the ability to digitally redesign information. Many professional use modification through their work. For example, some examples of modification in the classroom is Google Forms. Google Forms gives teachers the ability to assess their students with graphs and charts. Teachers also collect data on their students through various programs with the use of graphs and charts. It is not only a great way to visually represent data but also to show the students progress and other important information.
Lastly, redefinition is defined as a way to use technology allowing for participant creation of tasks that previous seemed unobtainable. Some examples of redefinition I could use in my classroom is the use of a QR reader. I have recently given my physical education students an assignment using the QR reader. The students needed to research an activity in the weight room, teach themselves the activity as well as the safety concerns to remember when performing the activity and video tape themselves teaching the activity. The students video was then converted into a QR reader. Once all the students completed the project, the class would travel around the weight room and using their smartphones would scan a QR reader code. The video of a group would appear and the students would need to follow along with the "teacher". Preparing videos and compiling digital images through programs such as QR reader and Windows Movie Maker is a great way to demonstrate redefinition.
During the development of a technological lesson I had the assistance of Anne Marie Lanning.  Her input and resources was very useful for various reasons.  Anne Marie is an elementary school teacher and therefore can help enhance the technology of the lesson based on the students.  I am a high school teacher and therefore lacked some of the skills needed to connect to a younger audience.  Having the capability of collaborating with peers and other professional  is extremely useful.  It provides the participant various ways to look at things and allows for a greater impact on the outcome than if it was just a single person.


  1. Choose my Plate;
  2. Delafosse, S. (n.d.). Teaching in the 21st Century. Retrieved April 12, 2015, from
  3. Developing Lessons with Technology. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2015, from
  4. Dhingra, R. (n.d.). Can Technology Change Education? Yes!: Raj Dhingra at TEDxBend. Retrieved April 12, 2015, from
  5. Means, B. (n.d.). Information Technology and Teacher Education: Focus on student learning or on teacher change? Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(3), 285-0307. Retrieved April 12, 2015, from
  6. Puentedura, R. (n.d.). SAMR: A Brief Introduction. Retrieved April 12, 2015, from
  7. Puentedura, R. (n.d.). The SAMR Model: Background and Exemplars. Retrieved April 12, 2015, from
  8. SAMR Model - Technology Is Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2015, from

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Week Two Discussion: Assistive Technology

Discussion- Week Two
The definition and purpose of Assistive Technology has certainly changed over the years. As we reflect on this evolution, how has the change in definition impacted how Assistive Technologies are perceived and used in the classroom? To what might we 'truly' attribute this evolution? 
   Overtime, it is inevitable that everything changes and develops.  Throughout time, assistive technologies have done so as well.  According to Beard, a person who teaches people how to use assistive technologies they need to know how to define the term as well as the laws that stem around it.  Assistive Technologies has evolved from the term Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act.  According to Beard, assistive technologies is defined as "piece of equipment or product system acquired commercially, off the shelf, modified, or customize and used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capability for an individual with disabilities."
    Assistive technology first defined as Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act helped meet the needs for those who need assistance.  Under the law, two categories were also defined, assistive technology service and assistive technology devices.  The main purpose was to continue the function of those with disabilities.  
    Next came the Telecommunications Act.  The act provided opportunities for libraries to be connected and therefore again, protecting the rights of those with disabilities.  The intention of the act was to provide a foundation to ensure information was accessible to all individuals regardless of their disabilities.  Below are a list of the other acts, set in place to ensure all students can and will learn:

  • Vocational Technical Act
  • Assistive Technology Act
  • Education for All Handicapped Children Act
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act
  • Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act
  • Americans with DIsabilities Act
  • No Child Left Behind Act

    These are only a few laws put in place to enforce all students are equal no matter their background and ability level.  I believe the involvement has helped students but in some ways hindered students as well.  Take a simple clock for example, students now do not know how to read a traditional clock because technology allows them a digital format.  Some might say it does not matter because the world today is digital.  I question, what happens when the “lights go out”?  In other cases assistive technology allows someone who may be physical unable to perform a task or find information the ability to do so.  To me, this is a profound achievement.  Not only has assistive technology evolved to help our students become free but it also open new opportunities to those who may have seen the door closed before.  To most people, I believe assistive technologies are embraced because we now understand the reason they are set in place.  When assistive technologies first came out not many people knew much about the topic nor did they understand it.  A big conflict happened when “no child left behind act” was set in place.  Many teachers did not believe in this act.  Through time and evolution, I believe we still have some questions but overall accept assistive technologies because our understanding of them is greater.

  1. Beard, L. A., Carpenter, L. B., & Johnston, L. B. (2011). Assistive technology: Access for all students (2nd/3rd ed.). Toronto: Pearson Education.
  2. Bryant, D. P., & Bryant, B. R. (2012)/ Assistive technology for people with disabilities (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River. Pearson Education.
  3. Kelker, K. A., & Holt, R. (1997). Family guide to assistive technology. Billings, MT: Parents Let’s Unite for Kids.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Week 1: High Yield Strategies

     Education is always changing and evolving.  In recent years, technology has become a platform to help aid students through their education.  When I look at high yield strategies in my or any classroom setting, I first address the question, "how do we maximize achievement in our schools?"   Marzano discussed nine high yield strategies for effective teaching which can be found below:  

Creating an environment for learning is the first category.  In this category the high yield strategies are:
  • Setting Objectives/Providing Feedback
  • Reinforcing Effort and Providing Recognition
  • Cooperative Learning
The second category is helping students develop an understanding
  • Cues/Questions/Advanced Organizers
  • Non-linguistic Representations
  • Summarizing and Note Taking
Last three strategies are:
  • Homework and Practice
  • Identifies Similarities and Differences
  • Generating and Testing Hypotheses
     According to Marzano, we as teachers should focus more on the process rather than on the right answer.  While listening to Mr. Marzano speak I couldn't help but think of the phrase, "if you give a man a fish he will eat tonight, if you teach a man to fish he will eat forever."  It seems as though Marzano and Hattie talk about similar ideas. Providing information and asking the students to repeat it is not the important part.  What is important is the message you are portraying as the teacher.  Addressing the higher order thinking questions like applying, critiquing, and hypothesizing.  I believe this directly aligns with the Common Core State Standards in various ways.  The CCSS is designed to help students develop those ideas of higher order thinking and enhance their knowledge in the application.  It is important to concentrate on the process and help the students learn the strategies rather than solely the right answer.  A question I may pose then is, how do our state tests fit this idea of the process?  It seems as though the test is looking for the "right answer" rather than the process of how to get there.

     Marzano suggested it will take a human at least three to four times of exposures to a topic in order to learn it. He also stated, "our jobs as teachers isn't to get the student to reach their potential but to exceed it."  I started to look at my classroom.   Specifically, in my physical and health education setting, there are many high yield strategies I already use and some I would like to incorporate into my teaching more.  But do I push my students to reach their potential, or do I push my students to exceed it?  I believe in my classroom I try and push my students to their potential but am resistant with certain students when it comes to exceeding it.  It seems as though parents are students are comfortable with below standard material so to push them to their potential is extreme.  To actually push them further too much for them to handle and may give up.  Once a student reaches their potential I do try and "push the envelop". I like to challenge their thinking with more questions similar to the strategies Marzano discussed like similarities and differences and Hattie's self reflection.  I believe those are two key strategies in pushing students to develop a higher order thinking.  I also am an advocate of decision making as well as collaborative learning.  Students can learn a great deal from their peers.  Not only can they learn a lot from their peers but they also provide a foundation of the topic while teaching their classmates.  All are important strategies when talking about the common core and aligning curriculum's with each other.

     Hattie also discussed great ideas when it comes to a teacher's mind frames.  After watching the required video, I looked up another talk from based on Hattie's ideas.  The video discussed eight mind frames of a teacher.  Here is the video of Hattie’s 8 mind frames.  Below are the topics discussed in the video:
  • Evaluate my students learning
  • Teachers are the change agent
  • Talk about learning rather than teaching
  • Assessment is about my impact as a teacher
  • Dialog is more important than monologue
  • Enjoy the challenge
  • Positive relationships
  • There is a language of learning
    Here is another article I found useful when looking at the strategies provided.  Every teacher is required to give the students the best possible education.  This means pushing the students to their highest potential and thinking outside the box. Remember, "if you can be replaced by YouTube, you should be." 

  1. Classroom Instruction That Works by R. J. Marzano, D. J. Pickering, and J. E. Pollock, 2001, Alexandria, VA: ASCD. 
  2. Introduction Marzano's Nine Strategies for Effective Instruction. (n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2015, from
  3. John Hattie, Visible Learning. Pt 2: Effective methods. (n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2015, from
  4. Marzano, R. (n.d.). Marzano’s (Nine) High-Yield Instructional Strategie s. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from
  5. Wakefield, J. (n.d.). Technology in schools: Future changes in classrooms. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from