By Guest Blogger Deborah Morgan

This post is a continuation from yesterday's post Bridging the Skills to School Gap. Click here to get up to speed.


No one says technology integration in the classroom is easy, but it is definitely worth it! Technology should work for you, not the other way around.  Here are a few tips on how to select technology that will work best for you and your classroom.


  1. Familiarize yourself with different types of technology.
    1. Ask to compare notes with a teacher using a specific technology you’re interested in.
    2. Ask Google, talk to Siri, YouTube it, email your school site or district technology specialist about it, and visit a local retailer to try it out for yourself.
    3. Some districts may feel they cannot offer the technological support for different platforms, so do your research and be prepared to problem-solve!


  1. Acquaint yourself with your school or district’s technology plan.
    1. Communicate with your administration or technology department about your needs and interests.
    2. Discuss the benefits and hurdles that will need to be overcome in order to implement or diversify the technology in your classroom.
    3. What kinds of technology will the school or district support? What is an absolute no-go? How are devices managed and updated?


  1. Regarding the new technology you are trying to integrate, ask yourself:
    1. Is it a passing trend or has it been around for a few years with newer models and upgrades that other teachers recommend?
    2. Is it user friendly and student durable?
    3. Is there ongoing, online support available if your school site or district technology specialist can’t or won’t support it?
    4. Is it cost effective and within reason for your budget?
    5. Do you have several specific learning activities in mind that this technology will redefine or modify, not merely serve as substitution for? (Refer to the SAMR model by Dr. Ruben Puentedura if you have more questions about this one.)


  1. Create a timeline and a game plan.
    1. Organize a device replacement schedule for how you replace that technology when it breaks or ages out of updates.
    2. Research grant writing possibilities and necessary technology fund allocation needs. What does your district or school provide, what do you need to supplement this?


  1. Make time to find a mentor, technology group, and/or sign up for professional development.
    1. A lot of technology goes unused in today’s classrooms because teachers aren’t prepared with the skills necessary for successful implementation. When you lesson plan, give students time to explore the new technology and give yourself  time to problem solve any issues.
    2. Create a network of help. Having resources to turn to when you’re stuck with a problem or out of ideas can make all the difference between students working hard or technology hardly working in your classroom.

    How do you make technology work for your classroom? Share your ideas with us, or write for us and share your ideas with our broader community of preservice and inservice teachers.
    About the Author
    Deborah Morgan has been sparking curiosity in the minds of secondary science students since 2002. Besides teaching full-time, she is also a technology coach for her school district. She currently serves as a Utah Teacher Fellow, a fellowship sponsored by Hope Street Group and the National Network of State Teachers of the Year in order to form bridges with state policy makers to promote positive, evidence based change in Utah’s classrooms. Follow her on twitter @DebbieSciTech
By Guest Blogger: Deborah Morgan



Did you know the technology skills gap between what employers need and what employees have is a real issue in today’s workforce. In 2014, Harvard Business Review reported that the majority of 1000 Americans, randomly surveyed, said they felt there was a technology skills gap and that they were missing key skills to help them be more successful in their current position. One third of
respondents said they didn’t have enough technology skills to get the job or promotion they were seeking (Bessen, 2014).


More recently, in March of this year, USA Today published an article about the continued technology “perception gap” between higher education and employers. According to one survey, 62% of students hired were reported as being unprepared by 501 different organizations and companies (Swartz, 2017). It makes sense then that we, as educators, step back and look at an uncommon approach to solving a common problem.


My journey into the world of technology diversification actually began by accident and, as is most common in public education, lack of funding. Similar to many teachers beginning their careers at a time when schools shifted from scheduling time in a shared computer lab to one-on-one devices in each classroom, navigating the muddy waters of technology integration has had its ups and downs over the years. 

Sometimes, more downs-- down computers, down networks, down access points, and more importantly, teacher melt-downs- -then ups.

Nevertheless, we’ve come a long way from those days-- speaking from the perspective of a student that once looked forward to that special one-hour- a-week “computer time” spent playing Oregon Trail on a black screen with green writing-- but have we really left the “You have died of dysentery” habits created in education so many years ago? The current lack of technology diversity in the classroom lends evidence to the contrary.


How many districts, schools, or classrooms limit the type of technology they incorporate to one brand, one specific device, or one type of technology? Perhaps you’re a “Mac district” or a “PC
school”? Maybe all students have their own i-Pads or each classroom has a set of chromebooks? 

Will students really be limited to such specifications in their future jobs since the average Millennial will have an expected 15-20 jobs in the course of their careers (Meister, 2012)? 

Does the limitation of the types of devices available for student and educator use lend itself to problem solving and well-rounded technology skill development? How cost effective is it for a district, school, or classroom to purchase all new computers or tablets every few years as those devices age out of updates and technical support? 

One truth rings eternal: public education will never be able to keep up with the costs and demands of new technology. Instead, there are three things we can do to stop “technology dysentery” and start preparing our students with technological skills for the future.

DIVERSIFY TECHNOLOGY: 
(1) FUNDING
  • It’s much easier to ask for smaller chunks of funding, and find matching funds, to purchase lesser quantities of updated devices than a costly overhaul of a full classroom or one-per- student set of devices to keep up with current technology demands.
  • Grant requests are much more likely to be fulfilled when the number is attainable not astronomical.
(2) UP TO DATE
  •  Rotating the purchase of small sets of devices. This ensures that some of your devices will always be on the cutting-edge of technology instead of limping to catch up. (How many of you are stuck with a lackluster classroom set of mini-tablets or iPods because they were “teacher trendy” and “cheaper” at the time, but have little value now?)
  • Improvements in a particular technology can change prices from out-of- this-world unaffordable to I-can- do-that affordable within a year. There’s no need to strain an already strained budget by trying to purchase a classroom set to keep up. Use newer devices in pair or group activities where more up-to- date technology is necessary and then incorporate old devices for simple uses like word processing or using the internet for research.
(3) SKILL BUILDING
  • A variety of devices allows for a variety of methods, uses, and skill sets. Students will have greater abilities to connect with projects, ideas, and people depending on the device they use.
  • No device is supremely best and having choice gives students options to problem solve according to their needs.
  • Most educational application platforms are device agnostic to keep up with demand. Hundreds, if not thousands, of quality, effective, and dynamic educational applications offer multi platform options.

As educators in the 21st century, we can help our students better adapt to the ever changing technological world, where the skills they need for future technology will always carry a questionable amount of the unknown, while still finding ways to overcome the barriers of funding. In our classrooms, we have diverse learners, diverse backgrounds, and diverse teaching abilities. Our students will face diverse problems and use diverse answers, including diverse forms of technology, to solve those problems. Why do we feel the need to limit the type of technology our students have access to? Perhaps it’s time to diversify!

In what ways are you diversifying technology use in your classroom? Share your thoughts with us.

Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2 of this guest blog series as Deborah shares her best practices for making tech work in your classroom.



About the Author
Deborah Morgan has been sparking curiosity in the minds of secondary science students since 2002. Besides teaching full-time, she is also a technology coach for her school district. She currently serves as a Utah Teacher Fellow, a fellowship sponsored by Hope Street Group and the National Network of State Teachers of the Year in order to form bridges with state policy makers to promote positive, evidence based change in Utah’s classrooms. Follow her on twitter @DebbieSciTech





I have worked in the field of education for over ten years, predominantly with Latino English language learners and teachers of English learners as well. I have read numerous articles on bilingualism and second language learning from language acquisition to strategies for teachers and learners. However it was not until I decided to teach my son Spanish that I began to realize what a grueling and time consuming process it is. 


I am not bilingual, not yet anyways. I grew up in Boston and spoke English, only English. Like many of you I was made in high school to take a second language. I heard Spanish was the easiest, so this was the language I chose to take. I can honestly say I felt like a failure and somehow survived this process but hardly felt competent to carry on a conversation in my "newly acquired second language". 

By the time I got to the end of my undergraduate degree, I must of audited Spanish several times, (another mandatory requirement) before I finally passes with a sympathy "C" from a professor who felt bad I had my wisdom teeth removed and could not speak for over a week in his summer class for Spanish lovers. 

So why continue my pursuit of acquiring Spanish? I don't like defeat, or feeling like I can't do something when I know deep down I can. My journey to become bilingual began when Braeden (my son) was just a few weeks old. I bought bilingual books on Amazon, and began reading to him each day. Soon after I began to point out things around the house in Spanish (that I recalled) and finally I took the time to label things in my home as well, just like I use to do as a first grade teacher. Also I went to the library and borrowed CD's I could listen to in the car, and Spanish songs for children as well. It's been 16 months already and I have made progress. I am still acquiring Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) but can now watch "Plaza Sesamo" (Sesame Street in Spanish) and understand the context and conversation. 

I feel good but I know I still have a long way to go.... Whats Next? Recently I have moved on from labeling items to printing out sheets of "common" sentences for each room of my house. For example I often say to my son, "please do not stand up in your chair" "por favor no levantarse de su silla". Learning two languages takes time and energy. My key takeaways: 


  1. Start your day with language.  When I begin my day by hearing a song, reciting a story or listening to Spanish my brain gets warmed up to language acquisition and I become much more comfortable and able to take risks in using language throughout the day.  
  2. Repetition is vital! If you don't use it you will lose it and language acquisition takes time repetition and practice.  
  3. Reading is essential and needs to be at your level of understanding.  There is nothing more frustrating to a new learner that a page of black and white text that gives no context and clues for understanding.  Using picture books with a few simple sentences was a great jumping off space for me.  
  4. Learning must be fun.  After years of performance-oriented classrooms where I shrank in my seat in fear of being called on, learning in a space where I feel comfortable and can take risks without judgment has pushed me further than years of in class work.  
  5.  Make learning authentic.  There is nothing more exciting as a second language learner than being in a context where I can use my newly acquired language to make meaningful experiences.  Going to the taqueria, Spanish district, places where language is immersive has given me the impetus to continue to acquire more. 


And I can honestly say "it's working". My son knows many words in English and Spanish! Did I mention his first word was "hola". He responds to me when I speak to him in Spanish more so than when I speak to him in English. I know he loves the sound of Spanish and he can make sounds in both languages. 

 My advice for teachers is:

  1.  GET PARENTS INVOLVED. Learning a new language is more fun and rewarding when kids have the support from their parents. 
  2. MAKE LANGUAGE ACCESSIBLE Print out lists and have kids label their homes. Teach the language of math and science in the context of children's lives so there is plenty of room for application.  For example when learning about surface area have kids bring in items from their home to calculate. 
  3. VISUALS ARE KEY: we are visual learners and teachers can build students vocabulary and provide cues for students with a print rich classroom that aids students in recall and associations.


 I believe if kids have parents who are involved in the learning process not only will they be motivated but exert more effort in the process as well. My other advice is make reading accessible to ELL students. I have learned so much Spanish by reading primary books with pictures and short sentences. I know "standards" dictate what we should teach, but not how. 

As a sixth grade science teacher with students who were emerging learners, it made more sense to provide picture books with short sentences for a book report on volcanoes than a novel they would surely not read. 


And guess what! They turned the book report in!!!



What have been successful strategies you use to support second language acquisition and bridge the home-school gap? 


Share with us! 

Do you have great ideas that you want to share with our audience? Consider writing for us! 





Welcome to the first day of school!  New students, new faces, and new families.  What an exciting day knowing your work matters and the profession you have embarked on is one that truly impacts the future.  

What you do in the next few weeks will impact the tone and community of your classroom.  Research supports that the home-school connection is critical in establishing community support for education (Merkley, Schmidt, Dirksen & Fulher, 2006).   As efforts to communicate with parents extend from traditional methods of home delivery to an array of online tools, it is useful for new teachers to consider how and when to employ Information and Communication Technology or ICT.  (ICT in Education).
Developing common goals for learning and behavior is a key feature of parent-teacher communication and relationship building according to Christenson and Sheridan (2001).  The authors provide the following communication framework as you consider your own ICT goodness of fit:

Approach:The framework for interaction with parents
Attitudes:The values and perceptions held about parent-teacher relationships
Atmosphere:The climate for parent-teacher interactions
Actions: Strategies for building shared responsibility for students’ progress and success

Approach:  Welcome letters before school begins allows parents a virtual Meet the Teacher opportunity.  This forum provides the opportunity to share your vision for the year, establish your credentials, introduce basic class information, and student supply needs.  Using ICT is easier than ever before.  An emailed letter is one of many options but sites like Smore.com have built in newsletter and flyer templates easily customized to suit your specific needs.  Facebook Live presents an emerging approach to reach parents through live streaming of video uploads.  As video conferencing options expand, websites like WebEx and Zoom  can connect parents and teacher throughout the school year, particularly for parents unable to attend traditional school conference hours.  While your approach may blend traditional and technology enabled means of communication, you can find more online options than ever before with user-friendly features.  The value of such options open communication channels, adapt to the reality of a more connected society, and bring audio/visual elements of communication that facilitate the work of educators.  

Attitudes and Atmosphere:  We know the value of establishing a proactive classroom management plan beginning on Day 1 of school.  But what about a proactive approach to positive parent-teacher communication?  Imagine if Susie had a strength that you identified early in the school year, a strength which you shared in a note to her parents.  When Susie got herself in trouble later in the year, the positive rapport established early in the school year may help to forge a supportive relationship between teacher and parent.  The parent perception in this situation is that the student is valued for what the child brings to the classroom.  As trust is more easily forged in a culture of honor, building a classroom environment where all students are valued is important and communicating that value is essential.  

Actions: ICT offers an array of communication tools that allow teachers to build with parents a sense of shared responsibility regarding what is happening in the classroom.  Typically, classroom bulletin boards inform, instruct, and display student work.  Adopting the same approach, technology assisted communication bridges the home and school divide.  We acknowledge that not every home has access to the internet or parents with knowledge on how to utilize online communication. Therefore, online communication is a supplement to traditional means with unique and compelling reasons for why ICT it the preferred method of communication for many schools.  As parents seek to support their child’s educational progress, teachers can empower parents with basic knowledge shared in the classroom.  Technology such as online classrooms from Google Classrooms, Edmodo to SeeSaw can be utilized as a repository for assignments, as a place to post deadlines and instructions, and 24/7 access to textbooks and submissions.  Other online communication tools enable teachers to remind students of upcoming deadlines (like the Remind app) and gradebook hosting.  

As you are about to enter your first year of teaching revisit Christenson and Sheridan’s framework: approach, attitude, atmosphere, and actions.  Purpose to know what ICT you will use and why to maintain your focus on how to better serve as a teacher and leader of the community.

About the Author:
Jaimie Orozco is a doctoral student and a 2017 ASCD Emerging Leader with over 14 years experience as an educator, Department Chair and Adjunct Faculty.
Resources
Merkley, D., Schmidt, D., Dirksen, C., & Fulher, C. (2006). Enhancing parent-teacher communication using technology: A reading improvement clinic example. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 6(1),11-42.
Christenson, S., & Sheridan, S. (2001). Schools and families: Creating essential connections for learning. New York: The Guilford Press.
Teaching is a journey and technology holds much promise for teachers to document this journey and create a professional teaching portfolio that demonstrates your knowledge, skills and expertise.

The day I lost all my teaching materials to a flood in my home is the day I went digital.  My advice to new teachers is to begin your journey with a digital log such as a website or blog to showcase what you know and have accomplished.  From knowledge about classroom management to expertise on assessment every teacher has something to share and sharing is possible with technology.  

Teachers need to let go of the hope that a resume can make you stand out in a crowd. The resume is flat and does little to demonstrate what you know, understand and are able to do.  In this presentation I share best practices on starting a website or blog and how to build a professional learning network on Twitter and Facebook Groups.  

You can also check out my tech blog "The Wired Professor" and see how to create a blog and integrate web-tools step by step with screen capturing.  
Got a blog to share with our teacher community? Post a comment with your blog URL or Twitter handle.





Without classroom management even the best designed lesson and most engaging tasks will be useless.  Classroom management is the foundation of teaching, and without it chaos rules.  

When classroom structures are in place everyone can thrive including the teacher.  Significant research has found classroom management  has the largest effect on student achievement (Marzano, 2013).   Click here for PPT on classroom management research.


So teachers top priority before school begins should not be on the fun and engaging lessons, but in planning a management system that is developmentally appropriate and inclusive of all students.

Before students even enter the classroom, management begins. From the way students file into the class, to the placement of student belongings, expectations and the tone are being set and internalized by the students. 
 
So what’s a new teacher to do on the first day of school.  Here are my top ten management tips for new teachers: 

  1.  Greet students at the door.  Shake their hand and ask their name. 
  2. Set clearly designated areas in your classroom for students to place their belongings, turn in homework and get materials and practice these routines and procedures. (how to turn in homework, enter the room, get materials and leave the room etc.)  
  3. Create a syllabus of your classroom expectations, consequences and routines (this is especially important for middle and high school) and be sure you add this to your class website or blog.  (You can have parent/student signature for points)  
  4. Get to know your students with an icebreaker or human scavenger hunt so they can get to know you and each other.  Have them write an autobiography (free on TPT) at home with a parent (if needed) to find out about their culture and learning style. 
  5. When issues arise address them immediately. If you don't you are telling your students it's okay to do this.
  6. Be consistent in your policies and expectations.  What goes for one, goes for all. 
  7. Establish hand signals and cues to get students attention. 
  8. Write your agenda on the board everyday and review expectations. 
  9. Be fair and firm.  Say what you mean and mean what you say. 
  10. Don’t let them see you sweat until summer time. :) Always keep you cool and stay positive.

What's your best strategy for managing the classroom? Share with us so everyone can thrive!





Teachers know that providing access opens doors for promoting equity in the classroom and this is especially important for students with exceptionalities.  According to Delpit (1990) teachers must maintain visions of success for students who are disadvantaged to help them get A's and not just pass.  But success is not always possible in a room of more than thirty students with differentiated needs and inadequate resources.  

Regardless of the subject area, reading can be a great differentiator to provide access to information that is comprehensible to a diverse group of students in your classroom. Furthermore access to material that is within a students zone of proximal development, can be the first deciding factor for students to participate or disengaged in classroom activities.  Students are less likely to participate, if the material is too challenging, complex or boring.  

Leveled readers might provide students access to information, but secondary students (reading at an elementary grade level) would rather have access to books their classmates are reading than leveled readers which send a message to their peers "I am grade levels behind".

Technology offers teachers and students tools at their fingertips to level the playing field and provide support for all readers in the classroom. 

 Here are ten digital tools that are designed to support struggling readers in the classroom:


1. Bookshare.org: This site boasts the largest collection of accessible titles on the internet.  The books can be read to you, available in Braille or leveled.  

2. Skimzee:  This Google Chrome tool extension will provide you with a summary of online articles and web pages. It skims the internet for information based on the keywords you enter and provides a summary in a news feed for you to select and read a summary.  

3. Google Select and Speak: Just add this extension to your Google chrome browser and you can simply select the text you want to hear and have it read to you.  This can be integrated into your teacher web page for students to click and listen.  

4. Mercury Reader: This google chrome extension removes advertising, pop up and distracting clutter into a streamline text that is visually appealing and without distraction.  Students who are easily distracted will appreciate how 

5. CommonLit.org: A web based tool that allows teachers to create flexible literature curriculum with reading materials in a variety of genres. Using this tool you can assign reading selections, due dates, track and monitor students progress.   

6. Snap & Read Universal: Wow!  This all in one comprehensive tool works in a variety of ways to support a variety of exceptionalities.  Text can be translated into a variety of languages, read aloud in a variety of web-based formats,  and leveled text dynamically.  Teachers receive data reports with built in text readability levels, time spent reading and how much students have read.  Furthermore the tool provides built in study skill and organization tools to support writing and reading comprehension.

7. My On: Web based tool that is leveled based on student interest and lexile level.  With self-monitoring tools and cute avatars to promote student engagement and motivation to read.  Teachers get real-time data on student progress.  
8. Sherlock Center

8. Sherlock Center: Get your free downloads to provide students with access to popular literature with f adapted books, presentation material, and story book materials of common books  

Want to learn more about how to support struggling readers, click here? Have you tried one of these great 8 digital tools for reading if so share a comment about how you provide access to reading.  

Got a great blog topic that we should cover on our site let us know or consider writing for us.  We are especially interested in blog posts that show, demonstrate and explain how to integrate technology in content areas.   

Just because your child has a long summer break does not necessarily mean that you use the television as a babysitter. Stimulating and enriching summer activities for him might seem like a daunting task, but it is simpler than you think.



The arrival of the holidays does not mean that learning has to stop. As a parent, this can provide you with great opportunities to broaden your child's young mind, from trips to museums, to fun experiments, to learning and improving by leaps and bounds in maths, to discovering new literature. It is not about following a strict curriculum but discovering different ways to get your child thrilled about learning.

Here are 8 Summer Activities Your Child Can Engage In

1. Reading

Over the summer, literacy skills can dip. But you can keep your child up to speed by stocking up on some great books. Reading is an excellent way of keeping your child occupied. This activity will enrich his learning as well. You can sign him up for a summer reading program or perhaps check out several websites offering online summer reading programs at a reasonable price. Many public libraries also include summer reading programs to incentivize reading with prizes and free programs.

2. Writing

Writing practice can be as simple as asking your child to come up with a weekly food shopping list or to write down all the TV programs he wants to watch throughout his summer break. You can also give him a blank postcard and at the end of the break ask him to write a note to his teacher regarding his favorite day.


Moreover, encourage him to keep a daily journal. You can come up with a minimum length and other details for each entry like correcting misspelled words and wrong grammar. However, you must give him the freedom to choose what to write about. And let him share his journal to you so he knows it is vital to keep up with it.

3. Language Learning

A family trip abroad is an opportunity to learn a new language or practice current skills. You can teach your child some useful expressions and phrases. Moreover, you can enroll him in children's Arabic tuition in Dubai or hire a tutor to teach him at home. Cool apps are also fun ways to integrate technology into language learning such as the free app Duolingo.

4. DIY Experiments

Science does not have to be boring; there are fun and easy chemistry activities that you can conveniently do in your own garden. The "exploding lunch bag" is worth a try. You will need warm water, baking soda, a sandwich bag, a measuring cup, vinegar, and a tissue. The mixture of vinegar and baking soda will create a reaction, and things will go pop eventually.


Another activity you can try is to make your own lava lamp. You will need water, a soda bottle, fizzing tablets, food coloring, and vegetable oil. Pour the water in the bottle, then the oil. The oil will rise above the water since it is lighter, and the oil molecules will be attracted to other oil molecules. Add drops of food coloring, and then drop the tablet into it. Once they have completed the experiment, you can ask your child some scientific questions for him to answer, such as: Does the size of the tablet affect the number of blobs formed?

5. Summer Camps

Summer camps are among the best resources that can help your child learn from fun, educational and organized activities. Today, there are plenty of resources for summer camps; they vary in terms of length of time, price and interest.

6. The Great Outdoors

Take your child to the park and recreation ground. Ask him to search for bugs and insects and let him draw an annotated picture of them.


Moreover, you can take him out for a picnic where you can explore healthy eating. Bring some fresh produce like herbs and lettuce, and ask him to identify each. You can also get him to sort the foods you brought by how healthy they are. Starting a garden is also a great way to bring learning to life from calculating the area of your garden patch to growing an apple tree from a seed.

7. Cooking

Cooking is an excellent way to work on writing, reading and math. Let your child write a grocery list, find them in the store, and read the recipe aloud when you are cooking. Further improve his math skills by asking him to measure out the ingredients for a recipe.

8. Volunteering

Volunteering will reinforce your child' social skills. She can join a kid's theatre group or take part in different community activities.


Children's learning can be substantially affected by taking a two-month break every summer. They can suffer from summer learning loss, so continued learning is critical to help them retain significant concepts and easily grasp new information before the next school year commences. So let your child join educational activities during his summer break. Tap into his interests to achieve a balance between having fun and retaining or improving skills. If he returns to school with his skills intact, he will feel rested and confident about the upcoming school year.


AUTHOR BIO
Bushra Manna is one of the founders and Principal of Leaps and Bounds Education Centre – Motorcity. She has 20 years experience teaching the British and American curricula internationally at primary level – early middle school level, ages 4-12. Bushra has a passion for teaching and started her teaching career as an assistant teacher for 2 years, during which an autistic boy was appointed to her care within a mainstream classroom setting. Working with Ismail opened her eyes to the significance of 2 crucial elements: knowing a child’s best learning style and having an individualized approach to teaching and building a child’s self-confidence to ensure their psychological well-being.

Bushra believes in imparting deep learning to a child and not just rote learning, which is why she recommends the Magikats programme at her centre, to promote a genuine understanding with its multisensory, differentiated and interactive approach within a small group setting. “At the centre, we cater for children needing support, those with special learning needs and the gifted, addressing the individual need of each child.”