Using tech to promote equity: technology equalizer

Technology can be used to level the playing field for learning. You may ask how can this be? Imagine a classroom where all students receive personalized learning plans that support their learning styles and social-emotional needs.25733957In the book, “For White Folks that Teach in the Hood …and the rest of Y’all too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education,” Dr. Edmin states, “ The technology alone was not enough to engage them. What they cared about was how it was being used.” Below I will list a few uses for technology that can engage urban youth by creating the cosmopolitan effect which is a feature of Reality Pedagogy.

  • Design a digital scavenger hunt related to the content being taught. Components: a powerful driving question, a quick assignment for students to complete and a short lecture.
  • If your district and students age allow: Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or another social netting site as a platform to share homework assignments with classmates, plan school activities, or create profiles dedicated to topics being taught. Create a Facebook, Twitter, etc. that highlights your class name, homework assignments, members of the class, books being read, links to Youtube videos related to classroom content. You can invite experts on the field of study to join the discussions.
  • To teach students these same skills with actually joining an internet-based social media group use the following ideas. A Twitter board can be created in your classroom. This is equivalent to a Twitter timeline. Students will need to create a handle. The process begins with students writing their handle on a paper tent that is placed on their desk for all to see. Next, the teacher sends tweets about what is currently being discussed in the class to one student using their handle. When someone has been tweeted they have to come up to the Twitter board and respond. A person cannot be tweeted more than 5 times. Students must answer the question and then ask someone else a question. If they don’t have an answer, they must ask a question about what they don’t understand. All questions must relate to the main hashtag( topic) set by the teacher and the beginning of the activity. This event ends when the teacher writes a closing Tweet.

Social media is a powerful engaging teaching tool. In order for students to see it as a tool for learning, teachers should teach this skill. If we don’t Dr. Edmin states,” …as a result of excluding social media from schools is that students then infer that these platforms are completely unrelated to learning.”

Emdin, C. (2017). For white folks who teach in the hood – and the rest of yall too: Reality pedagogy and urban education. Boston: Beacon Press.

Teaching Math In the Digital Age: The Resources (Part 1)

Teaching Math in this age requires a lot of technical skills when it comes to creating and implementing curriculum. Luckily there are many programs out there that can guide you on your path to teaching Math in this day and age. In this blog I will give you a quick rundown of the tools I use with my students as we go from paper and pencil to stylus and screen.

The first and most interesting website to me, which is incredibly interactive, is Desmos. Desmos is geared towards most standards from 6th grade to college calculus. It can double as a graphing calculator and the best part is that it is totally free.There are interactive activities that students can give feedback in anonymity, manipulate graphs, and even play games with. You as the teacher, can easily connect this program and activities through google classroom or many other mediums by creating a class code, copying it, and pasting it into a link in Google Classroom.

This leads me into the next program/programs that I use daily which are Gsuite, (formerly known as Google Apps For Education). The main program that I use to give access to websites and information to my students is Google Classroom. It is very easy to set up and can generate class lists for all of the programs I am mentioning in these blogs. To assess my students I use Google Forms which can allow teachers to insert answer keys into the assessments so students can get instant feedback. It also frees up time for teachers because Forms will do the grading for you. There are always new features coming out, most recently the screen lock feature which will lock the screen as seen in Smarter Balanced and MAP assessments. You can also import grades from Forms into your Google Classroom if you do chose to use Google Classroom’s grading system.

This leads me into Google Sheets which can be used as grade sheets all the way to creating graphs of students’ data. Students and teachers should get familiar with Sheets because it can save massive amounts of time for teachers and gives students a tool to use in their future endeavors. I mainly use it for data analysis of assessments and to post grades in Google Classroom. The students use it to collect, organize, and display data with graphs and tables. I will introduce Sheets to them once we have gone over general statistical analysis tools and how we derive them. Once they know how they work, I will show them that they can compute what would take them 20 minutes into 1 minute. This saves time for the students and allows them to get a better grasp on the story the statistics are displaying.

The beautiful part about Gsuite is that a student can create a spreadsheet and insert it into Google Docs or Google Slides with a few clicks of the mouse. The student can display data in a presentation with a pie, bar, and many other types of graphs of their choosing. The students can all work on these platforms together through sharing them with other classmates, which allows collaboration to be done anywhere, anytime, very easily. Once the students are done with their assignments or presentations all it takes is a couple clicks of the mouse to turn them in to me in Google Classroom.

In part two of my blog I will go over more online platforms that go deeper into Math and Science which can easily be posted into Google Classroom for easy access. If you start with a few of these programs mentioned above, it will not only save you, the teacher time, but it will save the students frustration by making collaboration and access to materials extremely easy.

Assistive Technology on a Budget

Image of students working with a laptop.

Sometimes we only think about computers when someone mentions technology.

When you think about using technology in the classroom you probably think about students using computers, chromebooks, or iPads. At times some students just need a little support with technology to help them with using a pencil. Whether you’re in a general education classroom or special education you have probably experienced that child in your class that hates writing because it is uncomfortable or perhaps struggles with letter formation that is so poor that you have difficulty grading the students work. You could always contact someone that can provide assistive technology for a student but that takes time and we want to provide immediate support so that our students can feel comfortable and grow.

Adaptive techSo, how do we meet the needs of learners as soon as possible? We can try affordable tricks and do-it-yourself assistive technology.  Assistive technology is any equipment, devices, and services along with the changes made to the environment to help support students. There are affordable low technology devices that can perhaps help all students. Many students struggle with fine motor skills  in part, because this generation of kids are used to playing video games or using a tablet versus past generations of children that would simply coloring to build those fine hand coordination skills. Examples of assistive Technology could be anything from special lined paper to pencil grips. There are many forms of pencil grips and some students may work better with some types of grips versus others. If you go to your local Home Depot and Lowes you can get a small piece of foam tubing in which the pencil goes inside the tube and allows the student to have a much larger pencil to grasp. Another device is a wrist brace, which runs about ten dollars at Walmart or any drug store.

I have included a video for creating a weighted marker but it also works for weighted crayons or pencils. The best part you can buy all supplies needed at a local Home Depot or Lowes. The only two items you will need in hex bolts and rubber bands. This allows the top of the pencil to be weighted to help students that hands are shaky when they are writing. In addition to modifying devices there is also simple ways to modify the surface students are writing on. By incorporating slant boards in the classroom you will be able to support those students with fine motor skills. You can affordably have slant boards for all students. A typically 2” or 3” binder will do just fine and either leave in closed or flip it open. Students can do their work on the angled service which benefits students with their fine motor skills, visual motor skills, and posture.

Older Adults and Technology

by Austin Cushman

Everytime I see my dad, born in 1933, using his smartphone and messaging on social media, I say to myself “I never thought I would see the day.” As the emergence of the PC was happening he was a big believer, yes he bought my first Mac, in personal technology.

So, let’s start with defining “older adults” in relation to technology.  Most surveys will use age ranges to define “older adults” and I will reference some of those surveys. I view it as any generation that didn’t grow up with daily access to a PC.  

250px-apple_iieMy experience started with the Apple IIe with the 5¼ floppy disks that was a glorified typewriter and a simple game console.  It slowly grew with the home internet connection, AOL, and continued with the PC, smartphones and apps.

Most of my adult ESL students easily learn the computer basics necessary to access Google Drive, G Suite and the web. However, there are some students, when first learning the basics, feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Occasionally a student will come in with no experience with computers and the web, but will quickly adapt and succeed through daily practice and peer assistance. Older students and those in the workplace have to quickly learn and adapt to the ever changing technology that connects us. Parents must be familiar with it to assist their children or check grades. Employees must be familiar with the basic skills necessary to adapt to any system found in the work environment. The “baby boomer” and previous generations have had to learn how to use technology as adults, bearing the learning curve and expense associated with buying a PC and now smartphones/tablets. With the growth of e-commerce and social media access to information and technology has become more and more a part of our daily lives. It has become more important than ever, though some would argue not required, to be proficient in the basic uses of technology.

So with the growth of technology we see from this survey, the older the generation, the lower the percentage of people who use technology.

Chart showing percentage of adults that go online.

Graph showing use of various devices by seniors vs. all adults.

04-seniors-more-likely-to-own-tabletWe continue to try and bridge the gap, while implementing the new and ever changing technology, and make sure our students and the “older generations” are ready for the 21st century demands.

 

 

 


Source of all graphs: http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/04/03/older-adults-and-technology-use/

Image of Apple IIe: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_IIe

Black History Month: Tech Diversity

February is America’s way of righting the incorrect image of inferiority projected for centuries upon the people labeled as “ Negro, Colored, Black, African American”  by mainstream America.  One way to Celebrate “Black” history month is by educating others about influential contemporary African Americans in the tech industry.

Provided below are short biographies of the following contemporary tech trailblazers: Anthony Frasier, Brian Watson, Kimberly Bryant, and Ken Coleman. They  are 4 influential African Americans in the tech industry. Let these quick bios serve as a starting point for student discovery. In addition, culturally responsive pedagogical strategies are provided that utilize tech for lesson delivery.

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Ken Coleman was one of the first African Americans in Silicon Valley. He served in several senior management positions for Hewlett-Packard.  In 1982 he became Vice President of Product Development for Activision. In 1987 he joined Silicon Graphics where he held several executive level positions. He continued his impact in the Silicon Valley raising venture capital funds in the millions for software companies he founded. Today at the age of 69 he is a member of the board of directors of city national bank, MIPS technologies, and United Online.



Anthony Frasier is the co-founder of The Phat Startup with co-founder James Lopez. The Phat Startup is an integrated media company that produce content for entrepreneurs. This tech entrepreneur is from Newark, NJ. Before his current success, he was the co-founder of  the mobile startup Playd and the game review site entitled, “TheKoalition.com.”

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Brian Watson is the Director of Experience at VSCO. VSCO is a photography app and sharing platform that allows users to apply filters on their pictures and post them to their profiles.  VSCO was established in 2011 and headquartered in Oakland, Ca They also have another office in New York City, prior to this position he was an analyst for the Union Square Ventures investment team.


kimberly_bryant_founder_black_girls_code_2015_full_length-100564868-primary.idge_

 

 

Kimberly Bryant is the founder and executive director of Black Girls CODE (BGC), a non-profit organization dedicated to “changing the face of technology.” BGC introduces girls of color (ages 7–17) to the field of technology and computer science with a concentration on entrepreneurial concepts. Prior to starting Black Girls CODE, Kimberly enjoyed a successful 20+ year professional career in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries as an Engineering Manager in a series of technical leadership roles for various Fortune 50 companies such as Genentech, Merck, and Pfizer.

Culturally/ Linguistically  Response Strategies for learning about influential African Americans in Tech

  • Create a Webquest – create a series of questions that students must research online about various influential African Americans in Tech. Students can work in small groups and report out their findings by creating a multi-media presentation
  • After researching the individuals, a student representative from each group can represent that person in a mock talk show( create costumes and props). The host can ask questions about the impact of tech on world issues and also ask about how they managed to excel in an industry that is not very diverse.
  • Students can develop a list of questions and write to these trailblazers.
  • Students can create an infographic of  the biography.
  • Student digital presentations can be added to the school’s website or newsletter.
  • Share these bios on the school loudspeaker during morning announcements.

GSS–> Getting Savvy with Sheets

By Mychau Sou

An image of a spreadsheet utilizing check boxesIn Gsuite (formerly known as Google Apps for Education), Sheets are spreadsheets that many feel intimidated by, but once you learn the benefits of Sheets, you may not want to go back. I create spreadsheets to help me keep a digital record of what my students turn in. For instances, I would copy and paste my students’ name list from illuminate and insert a checkbox column to check off which students turned in what. At the bottom of Sheet, I add tabs to the same Google Sheet to use it as my track log. The first-day packets, GAFE permission slips, and signed report card envelopes are all examples of what you can quickly check off. I use it to create my small groups and highlight which groups I’ve touched bases with for the week.

A Google Sheet can be converted into tools that help the flow of your classroom. Flippity.net is a site that will provide 10+ templates of ways in which you can convert your spreadsheet into something spectacular. One I frequently use is Flippity Random Name Picker where you insert your class list, publish the Google Sheet and instantly get access to digital equity sticks with your phone or laptop. What I love about this tool is that the Random name picker helps me form groups, pairs, and teams with a push of a button.  I know with the constant movement of students it’s hard to keep up with real popsicle sticks. What if I told you can add and delete students on the spreadsheet as you please and still use the same link?

Convert a spreadsheet into …

sheet1

 

 

A flippity random name pickerAn image of a flippity game wheel

My students love the quiz shows that I make with Flippity Game Show. I insert the categories of my math units as the topics such as Ratios, Unit Rate, Unit Conversion, etc. and type in my questions and answers using the template provided. The Flippity template allows me to publish and get a link to the game show for a math review. The kids are split into teams where you can have them name their group. Points can be added or deducted to keep track which team is doing well. Once we’re finished playing, I provide the link to my students so they can always study these questions at home the day before the test. This is both easy and effective for teacher and student alike.

An image of a spreadsheet/study guide.Take the spreadsheet and convert it into…An image of a Jeopardy style game boardA Jeopardy style quiz show board!

Whether or not you will be using Sheets as a system to track your students’ paper permission slips and work, or use free flippity templates, you can learn how to create a sheet with the click of a button! Trust me, it’s fairly simple. Come to my PD next week on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. John Adams Elementary Rm. 28 to learn more about Google Sheets. If you can’t make it, please sign up for the other PDs I’m offering in February.

(This is part 2 in a series. Part one was  Getting Savvy with Slides.)


About the Author:

Mychau Sou is an Intermediate Teacher at Adams Elementary in Stockton, Ca. She is also a Certified Google Trainer.