All about teaching with technology for teachers and teacher educators to share, comment, repost and view.

Three Simple Steps and Tech Tips to Support Students with ADD/ADHD

Yes somethings are obvious,  the hyperactive child who can't sit still on the carpet, lacks self control and can blurt out compulsively, desk is completely disorganized with papers, drawings, and candy wrappers, you know these are behaviors of a child with attention deficit disorder (ADD).  

But what is not always obvious is what lies beneath the surface of a child with ADD/ADHD.  ADD/ADHD is much more than just a behavioral issue, and focusing just on what you can see and not what is going on emotionally and cognitively can have a negative impact socially and academically for students with this disability.  Students with ADD/ADHD are just as capable as other students, in fact they are likely to be good problem solvers, highly creative and have an abundant amount of energy (of course). 

What you need to know about ADD/ADHD in terms of what is going on behind the scenes (in their brain) should impact the way you teach and approach instruction. 

Students with ADD typically have weak executive functioning.  This means their working memory, (which is what kids use to remember information long enough to actually use it) is impaired and this will impact their ability to read and learn skills in math.  They are also likely to have a difficult time getting started and exhibiting effort towards a task.  Internalizing language is also an issue and that means they are probably less likely to ask for help.  
Other cognitive concerns includes having an impaired sense of time, so not only will they have difficulty getting started, but they will also lose track of time and have difficulty planning and executing long-term projects.

So what does all this mean for you the teacher, and how can you use this information, to get your incredibly capable and creative child to not only be, but feel successful (children with ADD/ADHD are also likely to have emotional issues including depression, anxiety and oppositional defiant disorder).

3 Steps to Support Students with ADD/ADHD
1. First start with planning: 

  • Be sure to include visuals, movement and graphic organizers to every lesson. 
  • Include learning apps such as studystack, spellingcity and quizlet to create flashcards and games to support recall and working memory. 

  • Make learning interactive with web-based games such as Kahoot and concept mapping such as Popplet to support making meaningful connections. 

2. Next Support the Student in Self-Regulation: 

  • Construct a weekly or daily monitor report that you and the  student can complete to monitor behavior and track growth. 
  • Use a secret signal such as a particular phrase or cue to attract and help redirect the students attention. 
  • Provide the student with a rubber ball or device that can be used to help them stay focused
  • Include regular busy body breaks such as stretching or using Go Noodle

3. Get Parents Involved: 

  • Create a website, blog or use Google Calendar to share important dates, homework, agendas and upcoming events.
  • Use the above monitoring form to let parents know how students are doing in your class. 
  • Share information about learning disabilities and strategies that can be used at home such as PBIS and IRIS

  • Use a webtool such as Remind to send quick messages and reminders.  

Schools should be a place where students grow and develop not just academically, but cognitively and socially as well.  Non-cognitive skills such as self-regulation, self-monitoring and reflection are extremely important to develop in young children especially before they transition to secondary schools.  For students with ADD/ADHD this requires teachers to do more than just plan for one standard but plan for all learners so they can be successful .  These strategies will benefit not just your ADD/ADHD students but every student that needs to be empowered and independent.

Leave a comment below and receive the Monitoring Report template for free.  Join our virtual discussion on Facebook   

3 Steps to Getting the Joy Back in your Teaching Practice

By Guest Blogger: Jackson Yee
Years ago, I stumbled upon an article about happiness. The article suggested that the key to joy was giving and helping others. If this was true, then teachers should be the happiest people since all we do is give and help. But, this isn’t how it is as most teachers are miserable and unhappy at work. What would explain this contradiction?

I pondered this paradox for years. But, the majority of the research on happiness still pointed to the act of giving as a strong factor that determines happiness. I was stumped until a Buddhist friend of mine told me unhappiness is related to a loss of control

That’s when I put happiness and the concept of control together and looked at my own practice. Even though, I couldn’t control the home environment of my students or the lack of support from my administrators, I discovered there were a lot of things I had influence over.

Discovering these untapped sources of control not only empowered me in the classroom, but improved my overall fulfillment as an educator. Give these ideas a try and I’m sure you’ll definitely find more joy in the classroom:

1) You have control in your preparation.
I’m not talking about lesson planning either. This is a sign of relief to many of you! But, what I’m suggesting is preparing your mindset before going into work. You definitely have control on your morning mood. If not, you end up starting your day with the same negativity that will spiral down throughout your day. But, if you take the time to prepare differently, you can have a more productive and satisfying day.

Suggestion - bring a practice of gratitude to your toolbox as a teacher. Studies have shown that gratitude builds resilience.  Before starting your day, take a few minutes to think of 3 things that you are grateful for.  By doing so, you’ll bring a strong sense of appreciation that will influence how you'll react to your students or a unpleasant situation which can lead to a more enjoyable work day.

2) You have control in your response.
When Johnny throws his book at you and calls you all sorts of unflattering names, you want to respond back by raising your voice and berating the little brat. When you work in a high stressful environment like teaching, getting angry, sad or frustrated is a normal response. The problem with these negative emotions is they lead to more dissatisfaction at work. However, feeling bad about yourself doesn’t have to be the norm. How you feel depends on how you act and you have a lot more control over your emotions than you realize.

Suggestion: the next time a student pushes your buttons, resist the temptation to let your emotions take over. Instead, pull back and detached from the moment. Fight back the urge to give it back to the student and pause to reflect. By doing so, you’ll have more control over your emotions, but more importantly, more control of the situation. Assess the situation and use logic to respond back. For me, this slight pause allow me to smile and use kindness to defuse the confrontation. On the other hand, you may decide to yell back, but at least now, you are in control of how to respond.

3) You have control over the meaning you attach to the situation
If you have a terrible day at work, you may decide that your job sucks or you just had a bad day. Or if Johnny doesn’t listen to you, you may conclude that he’s just an idiot that can’t be helped or he just had too much sugar this morning. It’s not what happens to you, but how you interpret these actions that’s crucial. In other words, what meaning you attach to the situation will determine how you will experience it.

Suggestion: If you can find more purpose in how you interpret your experiences, you’ll find more meaning in what you do. This is crucial because studies have show that the more positive meaning you can find in unpleasant circumstance, leads to more fulfillment., So the next time, Johnny pushes your buttons, find how meaningful your relationship is to him. Understand his background and lack of love he has at home and that you may be the only positive adult in his life. By seeing how meaningful you are in Johnny’s life you can develop greater compassion towards him and possibly enhance your positive feeling toward him.

In sum, learning that you have more control in the classroom won’t lead you to becoming super teacher. In fact, you’ll probably have awful days and consider switching professions, but it will certainly make your day a lot brighter. Bottom line you are in control of your choices, actions and responses.

What's your strategy for staying in control share with us in the comments below.  You can also join our Facebook Group for more tips, tricks and conversations in a virtual space.

Jackson Yee has been teaching for over 30 years. He currently teaches ESL in Massachusetts. Also, he is a mental toughness and strength conditioning coach. You can follow his blog at:
FB Page:
To get in the best mental shape and state of your life check out his book “Mental Toughness Training: Get in the Best Shape of Your Life.” 


5 Things You Must Consider for Classroom 3D Printers

By Guest Blogger: Margaux Weighner
The industry of printing is continuously evolving. 3D printing is an innovation that's several leaps ahead of the 2D, flat and linear printing. The innovative machine could produce prints in three dimensions, making it possible to generate various products ranging from cell phone cases, solar system dioramas to complex models for engineering students.

A 3D printer works by creating a blueprint of the object through an application or software. Instead of the standard ink that comes with the typical laser printer, the 3D printer uses a different kind of material, usually plastic, resin or filament. The printer then starts to assemble the prototype of the object by printing in layers, simulating the shape, dimensions, and colors from the application.
2D printers produce prints, 3D printers create prototypes.
From the confines of a teacher's classroom, 3D printing can make learning more engaging and realistic to the students. 3D printing can be a valuable tool that teachers can use in breeding a more interactive learning environment for their students.

There's a lot of thought that goes toward purchasing a 3D printer for educational purposes. Different brands have different features and various levels of complexity. Before buying a 3D printer for your classroom, here are 5 things you must consider:

1. Fully-Constructed vs. DIY Printer

When you shop for a 3D printer, you'll find that most, if not all, fall in either of these two types: a fully-constructed or DIY printer. The ready-made 3D printer is a device that you can just plug and play. Every component in the printer is designed and structured to function upon unboxing, so there's no more need to assemble. Between the two types, a fully-assembled 3D printer is more expensive by up to several hundred dollars.

On the other hand, a DIY 3D printer needs some time to figure out. You will need to put the printer together before you're able to use it. Teachers and students who like the challenge of assembling an object from scratch will find the DIY 3D printer an excellent choice. Plus, these printers are at least twice less expensive than the assembled ones.

2. Printing Speed

Three-dimensional objects are more complicated to build than two-dimensional ones, so expect that results of the 3D printer will take some time. If you're making a very detailed prototype of an object, you will need to be more patient. On the brighter side, that would teach the students the virtue of patience too.

Although 3D prints are slow to produce results in general, speed can still vary depending on the type of material you use and the make and model of the printer.

3. Printing Filament

Another important consideration when choosing a 3D printer is the material it uses to produce the 3D object. In 2D printing, we use ink as the material or substance to print out flat, two-dimensional products like texts and graphics.

In the world of 3D printing, these materials are called filaments. A typical 3D printer uses thermoplastics which become pliable when exposed to the right amount of temperature. Today, the available filaments can either be polylactic acid (PLA) or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS).
The ABS 3D filament is a durable and moderately flexible material that's excellent when printing kitchen devices, automotive components and different kinds of toys. Meanwhile, PLA 3D filament consists of organic substances like cornstarch and sugarcane.

Unlike the ABS filament, PLA is safer to use because it doesn't emit toxic fumes. However, because the PLA filament has a lower melting point, it is not the best material in creating objects that may warp or melt when exposed to high temperatures. PLA is the perfect filament for forming surgical sutures, diaper, and disposable utensils.

Importantly, choose a printer that's compatible any filament coming from different manufacturers. A 3D printer that can only work with a proprietary brand of filament limits the opportunities for creating and learning.

4. Software

To execute the idea into reality, you will need to use an application or computer software. If this is your class' first dibs in 3D printing, opt for software that's user-friendly. There are a lot of things that you need to learn and ensuring that the software is easy to use speeds up the process.

Also, you'll find that most of the 3D printers in the market work with "open source" programs, allowing the DIY enthusiasts to learn, build and modify the printer to their own terms. Unless you get to that level, pick a software that you and your students can understand and use. You can level up your software and gain more power and features when you've learned at least the basics.

5. Customer Service

The 3D printer is going to run into some issues at some point as all printers do. If you're not a tech-savvy teacher who can't figure out what's broken and do the repairs, you'll ultimately need someone who will. With that said, you need to run some checks on the background and feedback of the company where you intend to purchase the printer.

Opt for a brand or manufacturer that provides robust customer support, from troubleshooting tutorials on their website to friendly customer service agents who pick up calls and answer questions. The school's IT guy may not always be available to help you out just in case something went wrong with the printer, but it helps that there's a number, email, video or forum you can turn to whenever you need.


The 3D printer is an excellent addition to your teaching arsenal. This machinery allows the students to design, and build objects on their own, further stretching their creative and technical abilities. As a teacher, you'll also learn a handful of things in operating a 3D printer.

However, a 3D printer is a purchase you wouldn't want to do in a heartbeat. You need to carefully research all your options and narrow them down to the best few. You need to dissect each candidate according to your needs, the printer's features and their suitability for your class.

Margaux Weighner is a tech blogger and she also handles the blog of She is continuously writing tips, hacks, informative and tech related articles to help students and business owners with their tech needs.

Are you using 3D printing in your classroom share your best practices with us.

Join the conversation on our Facebook site and consider writing for us!


From Flip Books to Apps: Get Ready to Animate

By Guest Blogger: Frankie Caplan

Animation has been around for over a century, but its use in academia is still a fairly new phenomenon. The dawn of what we would think of as ‘traditional animation’ occurred in 1908 with the world’s first animated film.

While effective at capturing the attention of the audience, the technique didn’t become mainstream until the release of Snow White and the Seventh Dwarves in 1927, going on to become popular on television in the late 50s, after which it got increasingly common in children’s shows and advertisements.

Today’s animation is no longer reserved for entertainment industry and it’s time educators embrace its potential for the educational process.

The effectiveness of animation

There are some simple reasons for animation becoming so effective in both advertising, business communications and education; the ability to create an attention grabbing mini-world. Distinct from reality and using shapes and colours motion graphics make it easier for young, but also adult, audiences to engage with the content. For this reason animation is an incredible tool in education. Instead of selling someone on a product or idea, as a traditional advertisement would, academic animation allows children (and even adults) to understand a subject matter they’re having trouble visualising.

As the visual is already created for them their mind is then free to engage without restraint with the subject, which will in many cases allow an audience to develop a more comprehensive understanding of complicated subjects. Visual demonstrations have been shown to be a powerful tool in educating young minds, as it supports the student’s cognitive processes. It’s even been suggested that the multi-sensory aspects of animation overcome the barriers of students learning in different ways, allowing a whole class to learn at the same pace, as well as the obvious advantages of encouraging student creativity and breaking up the normal teaching structure.

How can educational institutions employ animation?

While creating animation for academic purposes used to be long and time consuming, it’s now much easier, especially with the influx of animation startups and freelancers. Still, as with any lesson plan, the first step should be carefully planning how your animation can have the maximum impact. Plan the world you’re going to introduce to your students based on their age and the subject. For instance, for an English lesson the animation could mirror the texts you’re reading, including characters or settings, but for science lessons a more abstract approach will be beneficial in improving students understanding of the subject matter.

You may also believe that animation only takes place on a computer or projector, but don’t forget that now everyone carries around powerful computing devices with them at all times. Instead of having your students put away their phones, there are a variety of apps that will allow you to create basic animations and pass them on to your students, an ideal way of engaging their attention in class or at home. Even if you want to stick to the traditional and make the animation yourself, there are many apps that will let you create animated teaching resources quickly and at little to no cost; some are even specifically designed for children.

For younger audiences, you can also consider engaging them with one of the oldest style of animations available: flip books. Purchasing flip books in bulk and then having your students draw their animations on the corners is a great way to lead a creative, engaging lesson while helping their minds process a variety of subjects again and again. Animations can also help children to learn lessons outside the typical learning environment, such as in cases of home schooling or even evening classes.

Ultimately, the benefits of using animation in the education process are clear. It allows for greater creativity and motivation among the students, encouraging them to engage with the subject matter while simultaneously making it easy for them to understand it.

Are you using animation in the classroom with your students? Share your videos, pictures and ideas here! Got questions for our author just leave a comment below!

Frankie Caplan is an animator and video marketing specialist interested in visual storytelling and applying animation to business projects. You can find her writing at Pigeon Studio and follow her on twitter.

You can send her a tweet @FrankieCpln

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3 Reasons to Use Virtual Manipulatives in 3 Easy Steps

Manipulatives come in all shapes and sizes, from base ten blocks that support number sense concepts to geometric shapes that dispel the myth of a solid being flat.  We love manipulatives because it provides students with the tools to make sense of math concepts and model with mathematics in an intuitive way. What we don't love about manipulatives is they get lost, need to be organized, we may not have enough, and perhaps they are being used for something other than what we intended.  

Virtual Manipulatives can become somewhat of a panacea to the woes of tactile manipulatives.  There is plenty for everyone, no need to organize and you won't see one being thrown across the room or lost in a student's backpack.  Virtual manipulatives also may include a mat to organize students placement and self-checking features to give students instant feedback.  

Oh yes~whether their real or virtual, manipulatives should and must be a part of instruction and this belief is echoed in the Standards for Mathematics Practice which informs teachers on how to teach math, and explicitly states students should "Model with Mathematics" 

Beyond the drag and drop attraction of virtual manipulatives (VM) students really get into the flow of learning with virtual manipulatives. Perhaps for the same reasons as to why kids love to play video games, virtual manipulatives have some of the same appeal: competence, autonomy, and relatedness.  

Competence: When students use VM tools they get instant feedback and have the capacity to keep trying until they achieve mastery.  

Autonomy: When students work with virtual manipulatives they have the control over what they use and how they use them.  They don't need to share, and they are free to make mistakes without someone telling them it' wrong and why.  They may get feedback but it's not a real person!   

Relatedness:  Virtual manipulatives have some of the same features as videogames with choice in tools and how they use them.  They sometimes get points and rewards just like videogames do too! 

Teaching with VM is very similar to how you would use real-life manipulatives.  Here are my quick three steps: 

1. First, plan how you will have your students use the VM and what you will have them do with them.  Some tools provide problems for students to solve others will not.  If problems are not provided create a worksheet that students can record their response.  If problems are provided have students transfer the skills and ideas they are learning about with VM into the procedures and processes they are using without VM.  This might include either recording the problem and solution or writing out the steps to solve with VM.  If students receive a score at the end of play have them record so they can track their progress over time (growth mindset).

2.  Second, you model with the students the way the tools can be used and what each of the tools represent. Not all VM tools are created equally and you will need to explain and demonstrate how to use the tools. Solve a few problems and demonstrate with your students before they work independently,

3.  Check in on students and determine misconceptions and areas for support.  After you set them free walk around the room and help troubleshoot then bring everyone back together to address misconceptions and share out how students are using VM.  

Okay so now you want to know what VM I recommend.  Here we go: 
    National Library of Virtual Manipulatives: create a worksheet of  problems to solve. Go deeper with concepts in visual form; I love the equivalent fractions tools.  
    National Council of Teaching Mathematics Illuminations has a variety of tools across k-12 span.  The algebra tiles tool is my favorite to build equations and solve.  
    Glenco Math Tools: these tools are fun and provide much space for students to explore, create and craft situations around math in the real work.

Got a Virtual Manipulative tool to share or way to use it that has captured your students attention please LEAVE A COMMENT! 

Ready for Online Learning: 3 Key Dispositions for Student Success

Technology integrated teaching and learning can be found in classrooms across the nation, yet digital natives often possess "untutored" habits of mind necessary for successful online learning.  As we align our curriculum and prepare our students for college readiness skills, high schools can close the preparedness gap and help to cultivate online learning dispositions.
What We Know about Online Courses
Online courses first began to appear as a viable alternative to traditional coursework in the 1990s.  According to the Instructional Technology Council (ITC), online learning is now considered equal to traditional face-to-face education (Goral, 2017).  Supporters argue that distance learning enjoys mainstream support pointing to Ivy League institutions such as Harvard and MIT whose open course models are freely available to eager learners (Naidu, 2014).  As colleges and universities turn to this mode of instruction, evidence-based research supports best practices in online pedagogy. These practices vary from instructional approaches and strategies more commonly found in high school settings.  A current opportunity exists to refine the K-12 teaching and learning experience by preparing students for online courses.  Consider a high school student whose assumptions about the learning process are rooted in the traditional classroom resulting in a preparedness gap when the first fully online course is encountered in college (Goral)

College is not the only field to adopt online learning.  Industries are turning to micro-credentialing and online professional development to encourage self-directed and on-the-go learning for professionals.  Students may well encounter the need to stay competitive and certified through online coursework while drawing upon the skillset learned from intentional integration of online learning.  College and career readiness standards are ready to absorb units and online preparation courses for our students: particularly our high school students.
As an ITC board member, Professor Lokken studied three problems causing online student retention to lag by 8% compared to traditional courses (Goral, 2016).  He points to student’s academic and study habits, maturity level, and a preparedness gap as an explanation.  As K-12 institutions, we can directly improve this technology based learning gap with the adoption of a holistic view as we prepare critical thinkers for college and the workforce.  If we can model, coach, and guide students through dispositional and operational habits of mind, we can alter assumptions about learning, reorienting standards on what to expect, and how to navigate online academic and certification courses.  

Keys to Online Student Learning Dispositions
Gaier (2015) defines learning dispositions as “ A prevailing cognitive and emotional state towards the content being learned and toward the learning process.”  Numerous studies have addressed learning dispositions including Gaier and the Habits of Mind Institute founded by Bena Kallick and Art Costa.  These studies typically address dispositions that increase academic and social success through growth mindsets (Gaier, 2015).  3 keys represent dispositions useful to student learning to transition to online environments.
  1. Learn to develop a habit of ritual organization:  using a planner, compare the class syllabus to online communication within the course recording all assignments, due dates, and plans to achieve submission prior to due dates, allotting additional time for any technical difficulties.  Few instructors will allow technology or ignorance of expected deadlines to be an excuse for late assignments as the onus is on the student.  The successful high school transfer to this type of learning environment prioritizes time management and structures a study of the course itself around that of the content of the course.
  2. Learn to value online communication: Instructors spend many hours of instructional design to prepare content and courses for online delivery.  In the same way that students learn to adapt from hand-writing essays to typing essays, students must be prepared to transfer learning from the more guided nature of face-to-face interactions to those of the largely independent online environment.  They should enter the online course frequently during the week to navigate through modules, announcements, discussions, and assignments.  The onus is again on the student to adapt to this format of communication.  Students need to be assured that instructors and student service departments are ready to assist in the transition process but attempts to request help must be proactive requests asked in advance of due dates with time to receive assistance and still accomplish the learning.
  3. Learn to keep an open mind: High School students accustomed to gentle reminders from dedicated teachers in face-to-face instruction will find it difficult to prioritize and time manage using learning management systems (LMS) like Canvas.  It takes time to built familiarity with navigation and course patterns but typically, by week 3 or 4, students should begin to acclimate to the online habits of mind required to be successful. High school instructors should expect to teach the skills of online navigation, formats, and learning while moving slower through content initially to best address student frustration and lack of confidence.  High interest assignments that highlight the value of online learning help to peak interest and motivate reluctant learners.  

Jaimie Orozco- Jaimie is a current doctoral student and educator with 15 years of experience.  Currently, Jaimie works as an Instructional Coach for new teachers, History Department Chair and educator, and a part-time adjunct faculty member.   Jaimie is honored to join the 2017 ASCD Emerging Leaders program.  

Gaier, S. (2015). A mindset for learning: The dispositions of academically successful students: The scholarly teacher. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from
Goral, T. (2016). What we've learned about distance education: progress and problems revealed by survey offer guidance for the future of online learning. University Business, (7). 8.   Retrieved from

Naidu, S. (2014, November). Looking back, looking forward: the invention and reinvention of distance education. Distance Education. pp. 263-270. doi:10.1080/01587919.2014.961671.



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About Me
Dr. Patricia Dickenson has taught grades K-9 she currently works with pre-service teacher candidates. She has three school aged children and loves to create curriculum.

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