Encouraging accessible learners, one day at a time!

 [Image: EdTech in black capital letters in the foreground; in the background a Mac laptop, an iPhone, and a wooden table in the background]

[Image: EdTech in black capital letters in the foreground; in the background a Mac laptop, an iPhone, and a wooden table in the background]

EdTech: Making Education Accessible + Engaging

Teaching with technology is not only a crucial aspect of my teaching philosophy, but a non-negotiable component of my learning style.  As both a student and educator who learns best through auditory and visual means, but often finds standard textbook fonts too small for my comprehension, I have been utilizing EdTech--educational technology--since before I recognized the science behind the methods.  Now that I am counting down until a classroom of my own, having the digital tools available for increased accessibility and engagement for my students is an absolute must.

Adding in technology allows for student engagement and critical thinking in new and dynamic ways that standard direct instruction often falters.

Utilizing EdTech is not simply a matter of adding a digital tool into the classroom and wiping my hands in satisfaction for the day.  EdTech for me begins from the start--or rather, from the end of the lesson.  Backwards planning is essential to integrating EdTech.  With a set plan of my summative assessment and standards for each unit, it is simply a matter of finding which tools work best for my students, and the outcomes I want to achieve.  For me, adding in technology allows for student engagement and critical thinking in new and dynamic ways that standard direct instruction often falters in.

Making micro changes for adding in accessibility and engagement through EdTech is where I find the most impact in the macro comprehension for students.  It can be as quick as:

  • Utilizing captioned YouTube content and providing a printed transcript for students to follow along and refer back to
  • Using digital versions of textbooks in the class so students can increase the font size, track their reading progress, instantly define words, and adjust the backlight for added comprehension
  • Playing an audiobook along with read-alongs, so students can experience new words read aloud to them while viewing them in a textual content

Sometimes EdTech can be a bit more nuanced, and that is also just as effective.  Depending on the unit type and subject, as well as keeping in mind the students' needs, including breakouts into the lesson may provide the mental and physical challenges to ignite their curiosity.  Or, facilitating tutorials and walk-throughs for students in online dropboxes and applications, so they can document their work and record their knowledge progression throughout a unit, term, or course of study.

As an educator, EdTech opens my classroom up beyond the walls, and expands into vast, digital spaces that allow me to validate my students' interests in technology and then employ them in the classroom.  EdTech allows a more engaging way to express the stakes of your education to students--utilizing tools they may be familiar with and simply changing the content from solely entertainment into educational.  These micro changes result in macro changes for student comprehension in the long run once students recognize that their learning experience is being validated in a way that makes sense to them--whether that be 140 characters, an animation, or simply one of their favorite characters reading aloud to them.

 
 

Flipped lesson: Ableist language

  • Unit: Expository writing in Blind 
  • Assignment: In this video, students will examine examples of ableist language, find the significance of the words, and how to replace those words in their writing. This flipped lesson is the lead-in for the first day of the Blind unit, a novel that engages in a conversation on adolescence and disability.
  • Unit Files: Ableist Language Lesson Plan | Ableist Language PowerPoint | Glossary of Ableist Phrases

Google Drive integration: character analysis playlist

  • Unit: Theme analysis in To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Assignment: Students explore themes of TKAM by creating a music playlist personifying a main character from the novel
    • Students brainstorm after examining the student-created example from The Great Gatsby for Jay Gatsby (playlist cover shown to the right)
    • Students provide textual reasoning for their characterizations, then use classroom technology to find songs, and create written responses to analyze the textual lyrics and novel for theme
  • Unit Files: Character Analysis Handout | Character Analysis Rubric | Student Example of Character Analysis  | TKAM Assessment Design Plan
 [Image: sunset with white text in the foreground, "The Great Gatsby Playlist: Jay Gatsby | Follow that green li

[Image: sunset with white text in the foreground, "The Great Gatsby Playlist: Jay Gatsby | Follow that green li


 [Image: text in black font, "Accessibility in a Click, Speech Example"; in the background is a MacBook, smartphone, and pencil cup on a light wooden desk" 

[Image: text in black font, "Accessibility in a Click, Speech Example"; in the background is a MacBook, smartphone, and pencil cup on a light wooden desk" 

digital presentation: captioning youtube videos

  • Unit: Persuasive arguments in digital media
  • Assignment: Students expand their mastery of various types of speeches by presenting to groups a PowerPoint of how to present a specific type of speech; for example, students would present a speech on what components are necessary for a demonstrative speech (see image to the left) 
  • Unit Files: Demonstration Speech Example | Coordinating Blog Post