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.


Obstacles and Suggested Solutions for Integrating Technology in Science

Integrating technology can be an opportunity and challenge in any subject area. You will always have the lurking technical problems, the issues of time, lack of teacher training and financial burdens. These issues  do not discriminate between subject areas. However, for this post I am going to focus on the obstacles and possible solutions involved with integrating technology into the science classroom.

Obstacles & Solutions

Teacher Prep

Educational technologist, Roblyer (2016), points out that elementary teachers face the obstacle of lack of preparation or background knowledge (p. 320). At the lower elementary level, every teacher is a teacher of every subject area. With  this comes unique challenges. A teacher is expected to teach content areas that are not necessarily their strengths, favorites or field of major. This seems to manifest itself often when it comes to the sciences. Some elementary teachers have not been educated to a high level of science education as would be their secondary counterparts.

Roblyer (2016) suggests a possible solution for this is to leverage technology as a means of teacher professional development (p. 320). It is important to use technology where appropriate for students, but also for teacher development. Roblyer stated that: “online PD opportunities increase access for elementary teachers to this important area” (2016, p. 320).

Scientific Inquiry

Another issue with technology integration is  the lack of time to integrate authentic scientific inquiry. We see teachers shy away from investigations, hands-on activities, interactives and problem-based learning as they try to check all the standards being covered before the end of the year. Often teachers will not include technology as they find it is another thing to be covered rather than viewing it as a way to enhance content that is already being taught.

The solution for this is to have teachers integrate into what they are already doing through authentic online projects. They can capitalize on tech by using it to enhance what they are already trying to teach. Robyler suggests that “internet projects provide environments that support all phases of an authentic scientific inquiry experience” (p. 322). And it is through scientific inquiry that we grow a student’s scientific literacy to better our world’s future.

It is important for technology integration to be built into science unit and curriculum development. As teachers map out a unit and develop its course, technology integration should be planned and  written into the development rather than attempted as an afterthought.


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

Video Blog: Relative Advantage of Using Hypermedia in the Classroom

Advantages Hiding in Plain Sight

video-481821_1280I would be hard pressed to find an educator who does not understand the relative advantages of integrating video into the classroom. This isn’t to say that some educators use video for non-instructional purposes at times. However, I would argue that the vast majority of educators want to leverage the power of video integration for powerful student growth.

In her book, Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, Roblyer (2016) details the many uses for video in the classroom and their relative advantage. Roblyer includes ideas such as recorded demonstrations for students who need multiple viewings, student-created presentations, classroom discussion starters, videos of experts/speakers, video portfolios, and documentation of school events to name a few advantages (pp. 216-218). Roblyer goes on to also detail the benefits of collaboration and multicultural perspective that come with video integration and development (p. 219).

While it is no secret that teachers and students may run into pitfalls when using video integration, this should not stop integration. We have all experienced pitfalls in the form of technical issues and time constraints. However, the advantages outweigh the pitfalls. The Pinellas School District and the Florida Center of Instructional Technology laid out some of the major advantages on their Multimedia in the Classroom website. They argue that the call for collaboration, problem-solving, technical skills gained and increased levels of engagement are all reasons to keep integrating (“Multimedia in the Classroom”).

Check out this video where my own colleagues highlight how and why they use video integration within their own practice:

Video Integration Ideas & Lesson Plan



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

Multimedia in the Classroom. Retrieved from