Accessibility Features – Windows Laptop

Technology makes our lives better in so many ways. We can be more organized, more efficient, and more collaborative – all thanks to technologies. However, technology can also open doors for individuals in ways that prior to advances in technology were impossible. One of technologies most positive influences can be seen in adaptive and assistive technologies. These tools can give each individual tools to meet their needs. We see assistive technologies helping individuals in a wide variety of tasks and daily occurrences that they were unable to accomplish without the aid of these tools.

These assistive technologies can also serve to support the equity we need within our school system. In a recent Edutopia article, author Amy Borovoy stated, “In schools, assistive tech can mean the difference between a student falling behind or being able to successfully work alongside other kids in an inclusion model.” And as schools continue to strive to offer the best inclusive environment, we see all educators stepping up to support all students. It is not enough for special education teachers alone to understand the needs of special needs students (Roblyer, 2016, p. 404).

Accessibility Features – Lenovo Thinkpad – Windows 7

EaseofAccessDue to the fact that my laptop is Windows based Lenovo calls out on their accessibility website that as a device running windows, one can access the Ease of Access Center through the control panel. Immediately upon opening this center a screen reader begins to read choices for the user. You can select by pushing the spacebar.

Windows Ease of Access Tools

On-screen Notification: This tool uses visual cues to replace sound notifications that a computer executes and benefits individuals who are hearing-impaired.

Audio Notification: This tool will offer audio interpretations of what is happening on the screen or in videos when available. This tool can benefit individuals with visual impairments.

Narrator: This tool is a screen reader that is built into Windows itself. Narrator will read aloud items being displayed and pop up messages. This tool would benefit individuals needing visual assistance.

Speech Recognition: This tool is used to control computer functions through the use of ones voice. Speech recognition allows dictation for word processing as well as vocally launching programs. This would benefit individuals needing physical assistance.

Customizable Text Size: This alteration allows for the user to change text size in certain areas rather than the desktop size as a whole. This text size alternations would benefit individuals with visual impairments.

Magnifier: This tool allows the user to magnify portions of the screen or all of the screen by choice. This allows the user to see words or images at any size need to access. This would benefit someone in need of visual or certain cognitive needs.

Zoom: This tool allows the user to zoom in and out of the browser display screen, in turn increasing or decrease text or image size. Zoom is an assistive tool for anyone with visual needs.

On-Screen Keyboard: This tool allows some access to the keyboard functions by clicking using a mouse or another device along an on-screen keyboard. This tool would benefit an individual with physical or cognitive needs.

Check out some curated assistive technology resources for students in the elementary language arts classroom.


Borovoy, A., (2014). 5-Minute film festival: The power of assistive technology. Edutopia. Retrieved from

Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Relative Advantage of Using Technology to Enhance Content Area Learning

Language Arts & Technology Integration

Any teacher knows it can be challenging to motivate students to read and write and this challenge only intensifies if the student struggles with literacy skills. Inability to motivate a below level reader is what holds most of these non-proficient students back. Students become discouraged by their continued failures to achieve proficiency. And so this catch 22 becomes an insurmountable hurdle. Technology integration can help to break this cycle of literacy discouragement.

Educational technologist Dr. Roblyer (2016) pointed out (as cited by Rideout, Foehr, & Roberts, 2010) that students aged 8– 18 increased their reading minutes from 21 to 25 minutes per day between 1999 – 2009, while computer use, which includes reading online, increased from 27 minutes to 73 minutes (p. 266). The stark differences in these increases speaks to the relative advantage using technology has over not using technology in the realm of language arts. Students are motivated by interacting with digital medias and this should be leveraged in all areas including the teaching of reading and writing.

Students are more engaged by digitally rich media as it is often time equiped with interactives, visuals and necessary assistive technologies that can bridge the literacy gap for students. Online article programs, such as Newsela, offer students accessibility to the same article/content but at their own Lexile level. Now all students can engage in the work successfully  at their instructional level. Students are motivated by success and emerging readers find much success through digital scaffolds.

Not only are learners motivated by reading through interactive digital methods, but Roblyer (2016) also points out that students, as writers, can be motivated when they see their writing tasks as authentic or purposeful especially if published on a blog or wiki (p. 267). This is true of all individuals, adults and students alike, if our writing will be read for an authentic purpose it becomes more intentional and purposeful for the writer themselves.



Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.


Game-Based Learning

Relative Advantage of Using Games for Content Area Learning


As the picture above suggests, learning by engagement is key. As a technology instructional coach more often than not the goal that teachers and I develop together is one surrounding increasing student engagement through some form of meaningful technology integration. The relative advantages of game-based learning includes the increase of student engagement, building real-world skills,  and also developing students level of growth, not solely promoting end goal learning.

One major advantage of using game-based learning in the classroom is to increase student engagement through high levels of motivation. In 2012, Dr. Rutledge stated that “the balance of skill and challenge keeps the player’s brain aroused, attention engaged and motivation high”. Students will be motivated to work within an attainable goal at their own level of growth. And of course this isn’t a new concept as Vygotsky explored this idea with this research into “zone of proximal development” in the 1970s. Students will be motivated to grow beyond their individual means with scaffolding or feedback, of which gaming has plenty of both.

Gaming in schools can also help to build students’ literacy skills. Forever humans have been storytellers and Dr. Justin Marquis (2012) would argue that video games and gaming are only the most recent form of human storytelling. While reading and writing have a prominent  place in education we should begin to see games joining that field as skills needed to manipulate and interact with the game grow a students capabilities. Marquis (2012) stated that  “the incredible versatility of games and their ever-increasing ability to provide rich, realistic simulations of any environment, interaction, or situation could make them as or more valuable than traditional reading, particularly if it is shown that they can be used to activate the brain in new ways.”

Neurologist Judy Willis (2011) describes the absolute positive learning growth experience through gaming as an environment where students seek harder challenges as the feedback along the way to so appreciated and positive to the learner. Willis describes this as a dopamine effect that arises as student seek similar pleasurable experiences after having received positive experiences from past positive feedback (Willis, 2011). Students become more interested in repeating experiences that were pleasurable and the continued feedback of gaming makes this an ideal learning experience. This isn’t to say that students will continue to get 100% of a game correct every time, but rather they will work hard through failures in order to achieve success.

Check out my lesson plan for using gaming in the elementary language arts classroom.


Marquis, Justin. (2012). Building Social Skills and Literacy Through Gaming. OnlineUniversities (2012). Retrieve from

Rutledge, P. B. (2012). Video Games, Problem Solving, and Self-Efficacy. PsycEXTRA Dataset. Retrieved from

Willis, Judy. (2011). A Neurologist Makes the Case for the Video Game Model as a Learning Tool. Edutopia. Retrieved from

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society. In M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner & E. Souberman (Eds.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Social Networking & Walled Gardens

Please take some time to check out my VoiceThread on Social Networking and Walled Gardens here:



Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Empowering Digital Citizens: Embracing Social Media in Schools – edWeb. (2015, August). Retrieved from

Davis, Michelle R., Education Weekly: Digital Directions.  Social Networking Goes to School. Retrieved from

Social Networking as a Tool for Student and Teacher Learning. Retrieved from

Blog: Acceptable Use Policies

In a world where generations of people have only experienced easy access to the information highway and where others struggle to remember a time that they couldn’t digitally find any information they needed, it is clear that society and the world will not be reverting to an era without these resources. And yet with all this access comes a responsibility to be accountable users and communicators. And because of this trajectory, schools increasing exposure and usage of technology with students must also teach students digital citizenship skills (Roblyer, 2016, p. 117).

Schools must embrace this new role of the digital citizenship teacher so that students learn the appropriate ways to interact and behave online. To outline the possible risks involved with online access and interaction as well as to teach proper use of the tool, many schools have developed and utilize an Acceptable Use Policy with their staff and student body. Some schools, such as Campbell Hall in Studio City California, have even introduced the policy as a set of values. Because really AUPs are asking students to have integrity while engaging in technology use.

DCPS schools have an Acceptable Use Policy that they established in 2009 to highlight ways in which the school’s technological property can be used and cannot be used. It speaks to the filters in place due to the Children’s Internet Protection Act of 2000. It also details acceptable uses for devices and email. Interestingly enough DCPS does not have email for students even internally but speaks to students private email use.

My site based Acceptable Use Policy includes similar topics and also speaks to filters not being the absolute solution to blocking all inappropriate text, sites, and images. It tries to make students and parents aware that it is still the responsibility of the child to seek only appropriate materials. And from here use them in legal ways while interacting with resources as an ambassador for Powell Elementary School.

School-based Acceptable Use Policies help to start the conversation between students, their families and schools as they lead the way to better digital citizens in safety, legal and responsibly ethic usage. In 2007, another urban district grappled with the purpose and current state of their AUPs. Boston Public Schools worked very hard to revamp their AUPs to make them student friendly. They were careful to craft no more than ten main points starting with the student-centered phrase, “I am responsible for…”. They even included podcasts to discuss the AUPs by grade bands. Because in reality AUPs are only as effective as the students who understand them.


Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Powell Elementary Technology Use

DCPS Acceptable Use Policy

Campbell Hall

Boston Public Schools

Relative Advantage of Using the Basic Suite for Learning

Basic Productivity ToolsWorkplace influences Education

Throughout the professional world, individuals and companies utilize the three big productivity software programs including word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation. It is so engrained into our modern society that it has become almost expected that an employee would be proficient with these tools while being able to leverage their benefits. The advantages of the basic suite software have not been lost on teachers either. Educational technologist author, Roblyer (2016), expresses that “teachers choose them not only because they have qualities that aid classroom instruction and help make classroom time more productive, but also because they give students experience with 21st-century tools that they will see again and again in their workplaces” (p. 109).

Word processing in Schools

Arguably the most useful of the basic suite would be word processing software. Educators and students use this software most often, as it allows the user to create typed documents for any number of purposes. One of the biggest relative advantages Roblyer (2016) contends is the versatility word processing allows for its many uses in the classroom (p. 114). A student can type a research paper, another can create an “how-to” poster while the teacher can make a parent newsletter all with word processing software. Roblyer (2016) goes on to point out the many overarching relative advantages of saving time, enhancing design appearance and enhancing writing and language skills (p. 115). And with the increased availability of Google Drive and Microsoft 365 in schools, collaboration and document sharing has become an incredible additional advantage.

Spreadsheets go to School

Spreadsheets are used as a way to organize and interpret numerical data. Teachers have felt the benefits of spreadsheet usage when they turn to this organization tool for grade book purposes, but educators also expose students to the advantages of spreadsheets. Roblyer (2016) lists many advantages for using spreadsheets with students including the saving of time, organization, mathematically focus and displaying information over time and in “what-if” scenarios (p. 121). While students, on the whole, are more comfortable manipulating words than numbers, spreadsheet work and exposure, if introduced and taught effectively, can aide in a student’s mathematical comfort (Roblyer, 2016, p. 125).

Presentation Software

Presentation software allows individuals to create a multipage slideshow to highlight a topic using visuals and words for an audience. Presentation software is used in education to allow students to develop and understand their content at a level in which they can present to an audience. Robyler (2016) points out its significant relative advantages as a way for a student to develop such a deep-rooted understanding in order to develop and deliver a presentation all while practicing the art of public speaking (p. 127). Like word processing, presentation collaboration has also entered the educational world through powerful applications in programs such as Google Drive and Microsoft 365.

Relative Advantage in Elementary ELA/SLA

There are many uses for the basic suite in the elementary ELA/SLA classroom. Getting students to word process and publish their work in a design format can be a powerful learning experience. It is important for a teacher not to get hung up on needing to teach every component of the software, but rather stick to an “as-needed” mini-lesson teaching style in reference to the basic suite (Roblyer, 2016, p. 125). Students can support research projects with spreadsheet data and present all findings through presentation software. What better way to increase your second language skills than to practice language production with a small presentation audience. The advantages are endless with the basic suite. As my school district goes Microsoft 365 at the beginning of October, the sharing and collaborative benefits will only add to the already powerful advantages.

Here I created an Interactive Presentation Example for a 3rd ELA Main Idea interactive class lesson.



Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Relative Advantage of Instructional Software in the Classroom

As computers became mainstreamed so did the development of educational software, and with this the fear that teachers would be replaced by machines. However, these concerns have been alleviated as software haven’t replaced teachers, but rather “empowers” them to facilitate student learning in more targeted ways (Roblyer, 2016, p. 75). It is obvious to highly effective educators that software and other technologies could never be a replacement for their role, but can significantly benefit learners by meaningful integration.

Instructional Software

Roblyer (2016) defines instructional software as “computer programs used specifically to deliver instruction or assist with the delivery of instruction on a topic” (p. 75). She points out that software tools (i.e., word processing) while beneficial, defer from instructional software as its goal is to facilitate instruction.

Types of Instructional Software

  1. Drill and practice
    • Definition: Much like the “drill and kill” worksheet, drill and practice allows a student multiple practice problems surrounding a particular skill. Often times the software will offer immediate feedback to the user.
    • Example in Elementary ELA/SLA: CaptureGrammer Practice Park is an example of Drill and Practice instructional software. Students are able to practice specific grammar skills with immediate feedback. This software allows students to choose answers, but also input through keyboard usage. Another good ELA example of drill and practice is Vocabulary and Spell City, allowing students to practice their own spelling words.
    • Relative Advantage: This would be good practice for homework or a center. However, a teacher is unable to see results as student progress is not collected or shared.

  2. Tutorials
    • Definition: Tutorials can be viewed as stand-alone instructional experience, students are learning new content from this experience and often times there are follow-up questions or activities to check for understanding.
    • Example in Elementary ELA/SLA: eduCanoneduCanon is a video based tutorial set-up software. As the teacher, you pick a video file (imported or found online) and insert short answer questions, multiple choice or other activities. Students interactive with your questions throughout the tutorial.
    • Relative Advantage: This type of video tutorial creation is great for individualized learning and flipped classroom environment. This allows students who are absent to get involved or others who need more individualized time with content to access the material. Teachers will have to take time to set up class rosters if they want to collect and view student responses.

  3. Simulations
    • Definition: Simulations really immersion students in a model of “how-to” do or create something. The premise has the user make decisions in order to accomplish a task for the modeled system to function.
    • Example in Elementary ELA/SLA: EdHeadsI am not sure that simulations lend themselves well to ELA, however, ELA integrates well with any subject and elementary units are developed to integrate subjects. Fourth-grade students complete an ELA unit on weather and Edheads has an informative Weather Simulations.
    • Relative Advantage: This simulation slowly walks students through the weather prediction process, allowing them to make informed choices through scaffolded guidance while motivating them through involvement.

  4. Instructional Games
    • Definition: Instructional games bring in the element of gaming and competition to encourage learning. While these might be tied to drill and practice, the element and feel of fun are what drives interest for students.
    • Example in Elementary ELA/SLA: ArcademicsI have seen students get so into these games due to the competition aspect. They love to play against other students in Arcademics. This game has both ELA and math topics.
    • Relative Advantage: The student engagement and motivations are off the charts with this type of game. They are so engaged with the competition, however this can cause them to go too fast at times. This type of activity is best used for a small amount of time perhaps to end a class period as a quick review.

  5. Problem-Solving Software
    • Definition: Problem-solving software gives students an opportunity to solve content based problems or to teach problem-solving skills.
    • Example in Elementary ELA/SLA: Word TwistA good online problem-solving software for ELA is a take on the traditional Boggle Game called Twist Word.
    • Relative Advantage: This allows student to develop logical thinking skills while working on vocabulary development.

Please also check out the work I did around an Instructional Software Lesson Plan and Software Relative Advantages Support Tools.


Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.