Universal Design for Learning IRIS Reflection

Universal Design for Learning is an amazing tool that is beginning to be implemented in more and more classrooms. As more schools are focused on test after test to assess students’ knowledge, UDL provides multiple different ways to teach children so that each one succeeds no matter their preferred type of learning. It is to be flexible and engaging to the whole class where there is more learning than memorizing and helping all kinds of students. A common method I noticed in this module was to prevent learning barriers, there should be more options for students. Instead of reading a textbook, there should be multiple ways for students to learn the information. Instead of writing a paper, they could present what they know in whatever way suits them best. This is definitely something I would use in my classroom. Not only will each of my kindergartners have different learning abilities, but I personally think providing variety is a great way to keep young children with shorter attention engaged for longer. Another way I will implement this in terms of instruction is to vary my instruction so that all children can understand. This includes all types, including each child having a choice in what materials they learn best with. For example in math, I will provide manipulatives, paper and pencil lessons, worksheets, digital media, text, models, and voice lessons. This will allow the students to pick which is best for their learning preference and ability. I particularly liked the example of creating pictures of “Examples” and “non-examples”. This is a great way to engage kindergartners not only with pictures, but words, videos, models, and so much more, because often younger children cannot read as well so providing examples and non-examples not only teaches the lesson but can reinforce opposites as well. It seems as though the most important thing here is to deliver content many different ways and using technology is one of the easiest ways to do so. Before starting a new topic or ending a topic, I will check for understanding. If anything is unclear to any child I will adjust my lesson to suit his or her needs, that way no one is left behind. The best way to assess students using UDL standards is by formative assessment. Since there are so many different ways to do this, I will definitely use this in my classroom. When the time comes for a summative assessment, the learning goal needs to be re-visited and the students should be allowed to demonstrate their knowledge in the way they know how. This even applies to my kindergartners as well. I think often younger children are forgotten in instructional design because adults assume they don’t understand much or their instruction is too easy to have the need to be varied. This is the opposite. In my classroom even my young children will have a variety of interactive and engaging instruction to promote the best success. I will use media, manipulatives, audio and visual aids, and any assistive technology necessary for them to succeed.


“1.5 Teachers recognize characteristics of gifted students and students with
disabilities in order to assist in appropriate identification, instruction, and
intervention.” This standard applies to UDL because this is the whole purpose of UDL. As a teacher it is my job to know what each of my students struggle and excel in in order to provide them with optimal ways to learn in ways they prefer.

“4.3 Teachers communicate clear learning goals and explicitly link learning
activities to those defined goals.” This applies because learning goals are applied to UDL. As a teacher I would give a learning goal to my students and then UDL is implemented in the lesson to make sure that each student reaches that goal in the best way they can.

“4.5 Teachers differentiate instruction to support the learning needs of all students, including students identified as gifted and students with disabilities.” This standard applies in that the concept of UDL is to allow my students to learn and exhibit what they learn in the way that is easiest for them to use and understand, and then show what they know with. UDL itself supports the needs of each individual student.


Cyberbullying: How Can We Help?

As technology use inside and outside of schools increases and children younger and younger are having access to social media outlets, cyber bullying is becoming more and more prevalent among our young generation. Cyber Bullying is described by Stopbullying.gov as “bullying that takes place using electronic technology including cellphones, computers, and tablets communicating through text messages, email, social media, and chat websites.” The site also reports that cyber bullying causes low self esteem, poor grades, absence from school, drug and alcohol use, and physical and emotional health issues. Understood.org, a website for learning and attention issues, describes how cyber bullying can come in many different forms. This includes mean emails or texts, hurting someones character or creating a hostile place in an online game, impersonating someone, repeatedly trying to contact someone, stealing passwords, direct threats online, starting rumors online, sharing embarrassing photos or videos online without permission, etc (Knorr, n.d.). So what can educators do to educate their students on cyber bullying and thus help prevent it? First and foremost, teaching about how to properly use computers is a good start. Brian P. Gatens of Concordia University writes a blog on what teachers can do to educate their students here. He says to start by stating what you expect of your students, meaning no mean words said to peers, no joining anonymous posting sites, and no talking about others in a negative way on any site. It is also important to continuously emphasize the overall “golden rule” of treating others the way you want to be treated, and reminding children to be kind to their peers. In order to make sure these things are sticking with the children, having parents involved is also a good measure to take. Reinforcing kindness at home is likely to reflect in the school setting as well. Lastly, in order to teach proper digital citizenship skills it’s imperative to remind young Internet users that everything they share is permanent and public. They need to use caution when posting at all times. Personally my classroom is most likely going to include children between the ages of 3 and 6, discussing cyber bullying is going to more likely encompass real life bullying as well. Before I even introduce the concept of online bullying I will consistently talk to children about treating each other with respect, and treating others the way you want to be treated. Since younger children may not understand the idea of spreading rumors, online threats, spreading pictures, or some other more mature forms of cyber bullying, it’s better to start off by explaining the importance of keeping personal information private and not talking with anyone you don’t know. Cyber bullying is running rampant in schools all over the world, but the more teachers who take the necessary time and effort to educate their students and parents who follow along, the easier we can wipe it out and continue our Internet use and technological advances with less issues.
(image source: https://davidwees.com/content/have-you-been-cyber-bullied/)


“5.2 Teachers create an environment that is physically and emotionally safe.” By discussing cyber bullying at all age levels and reminding students the dangers of it the goal is to make all students feel safe and supported in my classroom. Cyber bullying is zero tolerance and it is my hope that this creates a safe environment for all of the students.

“7.3 Teachers are agents of change who seek opportunities to positively impact
teaching quality, school improvements and student achievement.” This applies because even though teachers talk about cyber bullying, it still happens. But as I mentioned, the only way we can eliminate it is by promoting change and constantly educating others about it. This standard fits in that as a teacher it is my job to constantly improve my students and their school.

“1.1 Teachers understand how and when students develop and gain knowledge,
acquire skills and develop behaviors for learning.” This standard applies when teaching about cyber bullying because it’s important to know the age of your audience before teaching this topic, as there are some elements that may not be relevant until children are older.

How to Teach Digital Citizenship?

(Image Source: https://www.slideshare.net/sonialivingstone/as-ever-younger-kids-go-online-how-are-european-families-responding-focus-on-socioeconomic-status)

Digital Citizenship is essentially “the quality of habits, actions, and consumption patterns that impact the ecology of digital content and communities (Heick 2013).” For students, this means learning how to use the Internet, participate, share with each other and the public, listen, network, and limit content and time among other things when using technology. The graphic for this information can be found on Teach Thought, by clicking here. Teaching about all these things includes subjects such as copyright, cyber bullying, passwords, safety, digital footprint, communication, etiquette, plagiarism, stranger danger, and so much more (Murray, n.d). How then do we cover all of these things in the classroom? Since I plan to teach preschool and kindergarten, I too am interested to know how I can teach 3 to 6 year olds this topic in an age appropriate way, and also focusing on topics they will understand rather than topics such as plagiarism and copyright laws. Murray writes in her article that for the younger grades, it is important to teach first about safety basics such as not talking to strangers or giving personal information. Some other important things for younger children to learn is how to act around computers and how to treat equipment with respect (Murray, n.d). For information on how to teach older grade levels, this is the rest of her article. Personally I had no idea that digital citizenship was being taught at such a young age, but I understand why it is important now because of how young children are being exposed to the Internet. By breaking down the topics to teach by age appropriate level, it feels easier to approach the subject by not overwhelming the children all at once. Since I want to teach preschool, I will most likely start my year by explaining to my children how to treat the computers, then include a lesson on how to use the education games on the technology. It is also easy to tie in real life stranger danger with Internet stranger danger, and explain to children how to keep their identity protected. I also think the most important step is to be sure the parents are also involved in teaching their children about the technological world.

“1.2 Teachers understand what students know and are able to do, and use this
knowledge to meet the needs of all students.” This standard is applied when selecting what lessons of digital citizenship to teach to what grade levels. It shows that this is a lesson that can be spread through the whole life, and as a teacher I know what parts to teach that are appropriate to a given age.

“2.5 Teachers connect content to relevant life experiences and career opportunity.” This applies to the concept of digital citizenship because the whole world is becoming digital, and depending the content areas of digital citizenship it does extend into professional areas such as copyright and plagiarism. It is also relevant to real life because the younger ages will apply treating people with respect to the same concept as treating those online with respect.

“7.1 Teachers understand, uphold and follow professional ethics, policies and legal
codes of professional conduct.” This applies when teaching children about digital citizenship because not only am I as a teacher following ethical rules and laws about the internet but I am extending that knowledge to teach my students how to behave online.

The “Digital Divide”: A Larger Problem than we Realize

(image source: http://healthyinfluence.com/wordpress/2012/06/07/technology-as-intervention-on-the-digital-divide/)
South Side Chicago public schools, a place where over 90% of their students are eligible for free or reduced lunches, is among thousands of other schools across the country that are lacking in the technology department at their school. The 1000 students share a mere 24 computers, and since many of them qualify for reduced lunches, chances of them being able to afford technology outside of school are slim, thus they aren’t even taught the basic skills of using a computer. Not only do they not have access to computers but the ones they do have, among many other schools, are outdated and extremely slow to use and start up. Schools on the North Side, however, have about 2,000 computers for 3,100 students (Pandolfo 2012). Something clearly needs to be done about this, in the age of technology and as more and more companies are relying solely on technologically advanced employees, our students need to be well versed in computers and technology. It has also been said that implementing more technology into schools where there are children at risk of dropping out has been shown to lower these rates, and increase school performance. A report by Alliance for Excellent Education and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE), summarized here , explains how technology can close achievement gaps and improve learning in the classroom. Overall, I think it is wise to implement technology slowly and starting at a young age, but realistically I know many poverty stricken schools are going to struggle for a long time to have the necessary equipment and funding. The more school officials know about what technology can do, the more the general public will step in to help. As far as my own classroom one day, I hope to teach in poverty stricken areas and at Head Start Preschools, so I know implementing technology skills is going to be a challenge. I plan to work with my administration and organize as many fundraisers as I can for the children, because the members of the district need to know how pressing it is for the future generations to have access to technology. I know I may have to supply some things for my classroom as well, but for the children who need it, it is worth it. As long as parents and other city members are educated on why this is an important issue to address, I believe it will be that much easier to ask and receive help. For more information, here is the article on Chicago Schools.

“1.2 Teachers understand what students know and are able to do, and use this
knowledge to meet the needs of all students.” This standard applies because here I’ve emphasized the importance of the digital divide and how many school districts are so far behind in the availability of technology. As a teacher I noted that I will know my students’ financial needs and home life and adjust my curriculum accordingly and help out wherever I can.

“1.3 Teachers expect that all students will achieve to their full potential.” This applies especially when discussing children who live in poverty or poor home lives because as a teacher it is still my job to make sure I encourage all students to perform to their best ability. In the age of the digital divide it’s important to not leave students behind no matter their accessibility to technology.

“5.1 Teachers treat all students fairly and establish an environment that is
respectful, supportive and caring.” This applies in that each student in my classroom will come from a different home life, and no matter this background the student will feel as equally important in the classroom as their peers. This also means there will not be assignments given that each student does not have the opportunity or resource to complete.

“6.2 Teachers share responsibility with parents and caregivers to support student
learning, emotional and physical development and mental health.” This is similar to 5.1 with the addition that not only will I as a teacher support the students who may need the help depending on their financial or home life, but I will also collaborate and encourage families and guardians to do the same with the child.

Google Lit Trip Reflection

The book I picked for the Google Lit Trip is Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. I vaguely remember reading this book when I was in elementary school. I am very interested in the events of World War II and the Nazi captures and things like that, so I was immediately drawn to this because it’s very important to educate the public on these events. One thing I do realize is that this topic is probably a little too heavy for preschool age, but grades 3 and 4 or higher would do well to see this Lit Trip for this particular book. The trip starts in Denmark where the main characters are, and shows us places of significance for King Christian X such as the palace he was born in and the one he died in, because he was of great importance to the Danish Resistance. It then goes on to an amusement park in Denmark, and a location in the story where the main character looked across the sea at Sweden. It also goes to the memorial where the people who stood up for the Danish Resistance are honored, and it also points out GF Duckwitz who aided in saving many Danish Jews in a sanctuary in Sweden. I was surprised by how much went on in Denmark, as most history texts only focus on the concentration camps and things happening in Poland and Germany, so this was extremely educational in that way by providing deeper information. One thing I really liked about the Google Lit Trip was the discussion questions after each location. Not only can children look around at these locations and learn about them in regards to a book, but these questions prompt a lot more deeper thinking. I would definitely use this in my classroom, maybe choosing a younger themed book for my younger children. I think kids would really enjoy getting to explore different parts of the earth with Google Earth, especially walking around on the streets with street view. The good thing about this program is that it is suitable for all ages, and the discussion questions promote more thinking. Any age group can get excited about exploring a new place, and I think that would be extremely beneficial and well-liked in the classroom.


“4.6 Teachers create and select activities that are designed to help students develop as independent learners and complex problem-solvers.” This standard can be used specifically if the Google Lit Trip is done solo by a student. It is definitely a new type of activity, and by allowing a child to explore it and figure it out on their own means they have the opportunity to problem solve and learn new things independently.

“4.7 Teachers use resources effectively, including technology, to enhance student
learning.” This applies because the Google Lit Trip is a way to incorporate technology that is not very standard. Not only do students get to read the book but they get to travel to the place in the book and view it as if they were actually there.

“1.4 Teachers model respect for students’ diverse cultures, language skills and
experiences.” This could be used in a specific lesson with the Google Lit Trip by asking students about their unique experiences, and using this application or Google Earth to share their experiences.

EdPuzzle Reflection

I actually really liked this sort of activity and this website. It made the video much more engaging, first of all, and the questions created more of an incentive to listen and pay attention. As far as assessment, this is a good formative assessment tool, provided that the person on the teacher end can see each response and how each child did. This is a great way to put technology in the classroom, and could probably used easily in the flipped classroom or a station rotation model. The questions being placed sporadically did well for cognitive load because there was only so much information given for each question. When using this in the future though I think it will be important to be careful to not include too much before each question. I enjoyed how the section could be re-watched for clarification as well. Overall I think this could be a very useful tool in the classroom. If I were teaching older grades, I would definitely use it if I had the right resources, but I do not think it will be effective in teaching preschoolers, unless I read the questions and allow them to answer verbally.

“3.2 Select, develop, and use variety of assessments.” This standard applies because by using an EdPuzzle activity I would be providing a form of formative assessment. Using this specific application is a different variety of assessment and can be used in a multitude of different subjects and age levels.

“4.7 Teachers use resources effectively, including technology, to enhance student
learning.” This standard applies because I will be using EdPuzzle, which is a form of technology, to assess my students. It is more enhanced than a standard test because it is visually more engaging and requires attention and engagement from the students.

Web 2.0 Tools

The first tool on this list that I could see myself using as a future early childhood teacher would be the Play Posit Interactive Video Lessons. I can see there are millions of interactive videos in their data base for more engaging learning, and also you can upload your own videos and add questions to make the students pay attention and be more interested in the content. Since I want to teach young children, I know that sometimes it is extremely hard to keep them engaged for long periods of time, so any tool that helps with that is something I would gladly welcome. For young children these days, media plays a very important role in their lives. By replacing my boring teacher voice with a video made for their learning purpose I can give them new ways to see and learn information and content. For example when learning a math lesson and some children just need a new way to see it while I can monitor who understands it. Same with a science lesson, often times science is easier to teach when there are demonstrations but sometimes that just isn’t practical. Interactive videos are the best way to show all sorts of topics right in the classroom. It is beneficial to them to  help them see things with many different ways since there are so many videos to chose from. The thing that is most helpful to me is I can check their progress with the interactive segments and questions as well. Sometimes it can be hard to teach and monitor that all the students are actively learning so this tool can help with that.

Secondly I was immediately drawn to Kid Blog because I want to work with young children. Often many web based tools are too advanced for younger ones to use, but this blogging site seems different. It’s a safe and easy way for me to manage the blogs of my class and for my class to be able to write and share what their school day consists of and what they are learning. With so many social media sites out there these days it’s important to find an age appropriate one for younger children so they are introduced to it in an appropriate way. This is extremely beneficial to them because they can interact with myself, their peers, and their families all through their blog. They can also create their own portfolio and track their progress throughout the year. This is a great teacher tool because of how much access I have over everything all from a dashboard. I can monitor my children while watching their progress as well. This is a great way to assess all children and make sure everyone has a chance to express their thoughts as they learn. Some children may not be the type to open up in the classroom, and this is a perfect alternative for their peers and myself to learn all about them while they practice their writing and reflect on their school work.

Standards: “3.3 Analyze data to monitor student progress, & to plan, differentiate, & modify instruction.” This applies for me as a teacher when using these web tools because both provide the teacher with a dashboard to monitor all students, which can then help me use technology to plan according to how my students are achieving.
“4.7 Teachers use resources effectively, including technology, to enhance student learning.” This standard applies again here because this post is specifically about types of online sources I can use in my own classroom. The KidBlog and Playposit are two different and useful resources for more interactive and engaged learning with technology.
“5.4 Teachers create learning situations in which students work independently,
collaboratively or as a whole class.” This standard applies to each of these Web tools because either one can encourage learning either individually, small group, or in a whole class setting. The videos can be used either of these ways and essentially the blogs are purposed to be individual and also interactive with the class.







The Science Behind Learning and Design Reflection

The videos talk about how the biggest problem in learning is being able to create meaning out of the content. What’s discussed is that learning is more than just memorizing and reading textbooks, but it’s creating critical thinking and meaning from the content. This relates to the short and long term memory of our brains. When we give students content from a textbook we are putting it in their short term memory. They keep that information in their memory long enough to take a test, and then it’s gone. It leaves the short term memory because there is no engagement to keep it in long term, and the short term has only a small capacity so it needs room for more incoming content. What needs to be done in instruction is more engagement for the students. Concerning multimedia instruction, there is automatically more engagement. More senses are being used, such as eyes and ears for videos and spoken word, and eyes for images and diagrams rather than just words on a page. This means that a successful instruction method would be an interactive video. By creating an interactive video, the information is given clearly and it creates room for formative assessment. The car example in the reading, where the picture and caption are on one page and cause extraneous processing is a good example. Instead we can use media to lay out the process in the caption step by step with pictures to accompany each part. As a whole this method will reduce the distractions on the child’s brain and keep them more focused and engaged on one thing at a time, and then make the connections as a whole process when they understand each part. This is a good method for nearly any instruction, starting in simple terms and working our way up. So a successful lesson here for example would be to divide a math problem, starting with the information that the students already know and scaffolding on that. In delivery, engaging tones and asking questions along the way is important. In other terms of engagement with the meaning of learning, multimedia options can cater to many different learning styles. There are videos, sounds, pictures, interactive animations, and even games to solidify meaningful content in the student’s long term memory. With more thought put into the science behind how a student learns and lining that up with how we create our lessons in the future, and using these example lessons that go along with certain topics, we can produce many more critical thinkers and have way more engaged learners.

 Standards: “4.4 Teachers apply knowledge of how students think and learn to instructional design and delivery.” This applies here because this blog post is about the different parts of memory, and how the specific design of a lesson can significantly increase student engagement, participation, and mastery of content.
“4.7 Teachers use resources effectively, including technology, to enhance student
learning.” This applies here because the post describes how technology can be used effectively in creating lesson presentations, but also how it can cause extraneous processing on a child’s memory and actually inhibit their learning.