Reflection 9

Universal Design for Learning:

After this week’s classes, I have learned much more about UDL than I had previously known. I always had a general sense that UDL was planning lessons that suited each child’s needs and learning styles, but now I know that it is much more specific than that. The three categories, representation, expression, and engagement are helpful to keep in mind when lesson planning. From now on, I will try my best to ask myself questions such as, how many different ways can I present this information to my students? How can I provide differentUDL ways for students to express their learning? What choices can I proved to further engage my students? Watching the video of UDL applied in an actual classroom really helped me to see how to successfully incorporate this design and how to meet the needs of all students by providing lots of choice. To really implement UDL, the teacher needs to know the different learning styles of his or her students very well, and I presume incorporating UDL into each lesson will take a lot of practice, but in a classroom full of students with diverse needs and learning styles, and possibly varying disabilities, it can only be beneficial for the class as a whole.

Assistive Technologies:


I have always known that assistive technologies existed, but I did not know about the wide variety of tools available to support people with all kinds of disabilities. From my tool evaluation presentation and my investigation of assistive communication technologies, I have learned how beneficial and supportive these tools can be for students with language disabilities or other disabilities that make speaking difficult. Technologies such as Word Talk, Verbally, and more allow students to express their feelings and needs through the touch of a button. These kinds of tools are really important because if a child cannot physically express their thoughts or feelings through speech, they will most likely get frustrated and have behavioral issues, which will make getting work accomplished difficult. Through the use of different apps and tools, the student with a disability is easily able to say what they need and want to say, which will ultimately make learning easier for them. I am excited to hear about other assistive technologies in our collaborative presentation on Friday!

Tool Evaluation 7 (Tool Presentation)

Word Talk



Type of software: downloadable audio software plugin

Primary user: anyone with access to a computer and Microsoft Word

Appropriate audience: students learning to read and write, English language learners, a person with a reading disability, or anyone who could benefit from reinforcement of both print and oral reading.

Price: free!


  • Need Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Word (2007-2011) and Computer Synthetic Voice (SAPI 4 or 5) to download
  • Converts text to speech
  • Added in toolbar in a Word document
  • Speaks entire document, paragraph, sentence, word in a text (as long as it is copy and pasted or written in Word)
  • Text is highlighted as the tool reads it
  • Change the voice and speed of the tool to the user’s liking
  • Change the color of the highlighting

Tool bar features and explanations:


Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 1.30.58 PM
Screenshot from my Mac from WordTalk website


Click here to watch a quick Tutorial video of how WordTalk works.


Age appropriateness: This tool is appropriate for students in elementary school, up to adults of any age with access to a computer and has Microsoft Word downloaded on their computer. This tool can be used to help young elementary students learn the sounds of letters and words while physically seeing the letter or word highlighted (adult help with directions will most likely be needed). This tool can help English language learners of all ages as well. There really is no age limitation to this tool because it can assist anyone who wants to listen to text rather than read it themselves.

Ease of use: This tool is simple to use; the user has to download this software to their computer and it will show up under the “Add-ins” tab in Microsoft Word. The tool bar is fairly easy to use and there are explanations of what each button does on the WordTalk website.


  • Extensive toolbar
  • Easy to access in Word documentMicrosoft_Word_logo
  • Can read any text in English
  • Ability to adjust the voice and speed that it reads
  • Highlighted text
  • No cost


  • Computer must have Microsoft Windows and Word installed
  • This software does not work on Mac OS X, iPad, Android devices, or Chromebook
  • If text is not found online, the user (or teacher) will have to type the text into a Word document (time consuming)

Applications Within Education:

A lot of times students are interested in reading a certain text that is above their reading capabilities, so when they read it, they are more focused on decoding the words rather than comprehending what is being read, which leads to frustration and the inability to recall or retell what they read. With WordTalk, the students could focus more on the meaning because the text is being read directly to them. If the text is digital, the teacher will just have to copy and paste the text into a word document, but if the text is from a book, the teacher will need to type it into a Word document so WordTalk can work.

WordTalk can be very beneficial for English Language Learners. The teacher could type up vocabulary words into a Word document and the ELL student could listen to WordTalk dictate these words and he or she can practice saying them while seeing how they are spelled. This will eliminate the problem of the teacher having to spend time helping the ELL student pronounce new vocabulary words while managing a classroom full of students. Instead, the ELL student can practice on his or her own with the help of WordTalk.

Reflection 8

Social Media and Collaboration Tools in the Classroom

social media


Merit: I really like how it is so easy to collaborate and communicate on Facebook. Posting a status, making a group with certain people, or direct messaging are all effective and easy ways to communicate with others on this social media site. Being able to “like” or even now “dislike” and add other reactions to someone else’s post and also add comments on it allows the user to see other’s ideas or receive feedback and fb logoinput from their friends.

Drawback: There are a lot of advertisements on Facebook, and depending on who you’re friends with, your Newsfeed can get filled up with a lot of inappropriate or uninteresting things, especially if using Facebook in an educational setting. It is very easy to get distracted on this site.

My use of this tool: In an elementary classroom setting, I personally would not consider using this tool with my students. If anything, I would use this tool to communicate important information with the student’s parents. Every day (or week if once a day is too much) I could make a post in a private group page with my student’s parents about what the plan for this week is, what student’s homework is, and general announcements to keep open and clear communication with parents. If a particular student is struggling, I could directly message the parent(s) of this student to let them know what more they could be doing at home to help them.


Merit: The limitation to 140 characters on Twitter is probably the best thing about it. It keeps things short and direct; it also does not disengage the user because overall there is not much to read. If the user has something more to say, they can easily attach a video or link to another website or article.

twitter logoDrawback: Twitter can be very distracting. One can easily get lost looking at a celebrity’s profile, or watching videos and meme’s that fill up on one’s newsfeed. There are also a lot of joke or fake accounts that Tweet information that is not true or relevant information.

My use of this tool: I would consider using Twitter in my future classroom, but only if I was teaching an upper elementary grade. I think it could be very effective for getting student’s opinions on certain topics. For example, I could Tweet a question such as, “What was your favorite part of our unit on volcanoes?” and students could reply to me and I could see what they took away from the unit. 


Merit: The abundance of resources not only for educational purposes, but also for many other topics as well such as food, clothes, etc. The user can search anything and a large variety of pins will show up that the user can pin to their board. The ideas on Pinterest are endless and that is very beneficial to the user for many different reasons!

Drawback: The merit of having so many different resources in this tool can lead to the drawback, which is distraction. Personally, I get lost by the amount of pins I see on my board daily and get distracted searching for a lot of different things that definitely do not pertain to what I am doing in that moment.

My use of this tool: As a teacher, I would use this tool as a resource for myself ratpinterest logoher than as a tool for my students. There are so many different lesson plan ideas on Pinterest for all ages, grades, and subjects that are so fun and creative! I could make my classroom a more positive environment with decoration ideas and classroom management strategies that can be found in many Pins. Teachers on Pinterest share their ideas so other teachers can use them in their classroom free of charge; this allows the teacher to make the lesson personalized to his or her classroom needs.


Merit: Wikispaces is a great tool to use for communication with other users through posts and updates on their page. In education, it is a great way to inform students of upcoming assignments, homework, and due dates. I also like the amount of control the creator of the page has over what is posted not only by the user, but also by others apart of that wiki to make sure that everything is appropriate and content related.

wikispaces logoDrawback: The constant refreshing for new content on wiki is very tedious to the users. If there were a way to see real-time work of other users instead of having to refresh the page to access new content, wiki would be more beneficial.

My use of this tool: I see this tool as helpful for collaboration on assignments and for communication purposes. I do not really see myself using this tool in my elementary aged classroom, but I do see this as a useful tool for secondary education for collaboration on project ideas, class discussions, and as a way to access homework and other assignments in an organized fashion.



Tool Evaluation 6

Engagement and Active Learning Tool: Prodigy



Type of Software: math gaming software

Primary User: elementary aged students, teachers

Appropriate Audience: elementary aged students

Price: free or paid membership for $4.99/month


  • Addresses Common Core Math Standards in the form of an engaging, fun game
  • Teachers set up an account, select the CCS, grade, topic(s), and school; Prodigy aligns standards, topics, and grade so the game addresses them directly
  • Students access through a class code
  • Students create an avatar and can earn coins and badges to accessorize their avatar and level up
  • Teachers can track student’s progress under a “report” tab
  • Teachers can create a planner so Prodigy addresses certain topics for a certain
    Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 2.34.50 PM
    Screenshot from my Mac of what my Prodigy Planner looks like for the next two weeks in my classroom.

    amount of time under the “planner” tab (picture shown on the right)

  • Teachers can create their own assignments to implement into the game
  • Fun and kid-friendly storyline provided to the students to immediately engage them

Watch the trailer video for Prodigy below!


Accuracy of Content: Since the teacher can select the grade level and topics from the Common Core they want Prodigy to include when setting up their account, the content is right on target. The teacher can align the game to include content that he or she is teaching in class for students to get that extra practice on topics that must be covered in a certain grade level.

Age Appropriateness: Prodigy is age appropriate for any elementary aged student, but offers

What a student might see when playing Prodigy

math content up to grade 8. The gaming aspect of Prodigy is very engaging and stimulating for young students and makes it seem like they are not even doing math when realistically they are. There is nothing inappropriate on this site; there are no advertisements or pop-ups, so students will not get distracted or click on something they are not supposed to.

Ease of use: Prodigy was very easy to set up, for both students and teachers. Teachers create their class by providing an email and password, grade level, and topic and then are given a class code. Students simply must go to this URL:, plug in the classroom code provided by their teacher, and begin playing! As students play, the teacher can easily add content he or she wants students to practice by adjusting his or her calendar on the Prodigy site.

Feedback provided: Teachers receive real time reports of student’s progress. The teacher can see the student’s usage, their weekly activity, student progress, curriculum coverage, and topic coverage. Teachers can easily view any of these reports under the report tab and adjust the game as necessary. When students answer a question incorrectly, they are given more opportunities to answer that same question later in the game, and of course, they do not earn any points/coins for their avatar when giving incorrect responses.

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 2.37.07 PM
Screenshot from my Mac of what a student report might look like. “Abby G’s” report for multiplication facts is shown.


Applications Within Education:

When drill and practice activities are not working out in a classroom, the teacher can use Prodigy to deeper engage students in active learning in a fun way. Doing regular paper and pencil math every day can get very boring and repetitive, but using Prodigy allows students to practice their math skills via a game environment. This will make students want to do well in math, because of the rewards their avatar receives when they answer questions correctly. Overall, students will become more engaged and excited about math because of this alternative tool for learning, instead of doing drill and practice worksheets.

If a teacher is having a hard time organizing and keeping track of student progress, he or she can turn to Prodigy to automatically do that for them. Prodigy offers straightforward and easy to read reports of student progress based on the topics they are practicing while playing the game. The teacher does not have to do any manual work and can simply click on the reports of individual students to see where more direct instruction might be needed and with whom. This will save the teacher a lot of extra time to work with students who may need more assistance instead of grading papers and recording student data.

Reflection 7

In my future classroom, I see myself using response cards the most out of the active engagement and learning tools we discussed this past week. I think that response cards are a great way to formatively assess students on any subject matter and they work effectively for just about any age. Response cards are great for not only post assessments, but pre-assessments as well; pre-assessing students is something I see as essential in an


elementary-aged classroom to help further guide instruction, and response cards are a great and easy way to access that information. I also believe that response cards are very engaging because they are so different than the ordinary paper and pencil quiz. Students have to pay careful attention to how they hold the card to get the answer they want, which is a good way to make sure they are focusing and attending to the quiz.

Response cards definitely have a relative advantage seeing as the pros to this tool heavily outweigh the cons. Some of the benefits of response cards are that all students have access to them, meaning they do not need a smart phone or device to complete the quiz, they are free of cost up to a certain amount, they are engaging and not distracting, and the teacher, and only the teacher, receives immediate feedback of student’s responses. Some of the drawbacks to this tool however, are that younger students may be confused and need direction on how to properly hold the card to show their answer, and the teacher is limited to providing only multiple choice questions, so he or she would need to use a different method of assessment if they wanted a different type of response. I would definitely use a tool like Plickers to pre-assess students on a certain topic, lets say, on their knowledge of a quarter. I could create a multiple choice quiz and question students about their previous knowledge of how much a quarter is, what it looks like, etc. to get a general sense of where I should begin instruction. I would simply display the Plickers quiz on the projector or interactive whiteboard, hand students their assigned and laminated card, and scan their answers when they are ready to answer. This way, I can quickly assess which students can begin practicing with quarters, and which will need more direct instruction.


The active learning tool I least see myself using in my future classroom would have to be student’s mobile devices. First, most elementary aged students do not have cell phones of their own (but you never know these days) so there will be students who could


not participate. Second, I envision this tool to be a huge distraction to the whole class. Students would be so excited to use their phones in class that they might not focus on what they should be doing, or get distracted by a game or app they downloaded. Third, most schools have a school-wide no cell phone policy rule, so I would not want to encourage students to break the rules and disrespect authority. Overall, trying to use mobile devices to actively engage elementary aged students would probably do just the opposite: disengage them from focusing and learning, and encourage them to use their devices for other purposes.

Assessment via Technology


Digital Tool Selection:

I chose to use Kahoot for my assessment via technology because it is age appropriate for 3rd graders, easy to navigate, and extremely straight forward. This tool provides instant feedback to the teacher and students, and also makes the quiz a friendly competition with the addition of earning points for every question answered correctly. This is the perfect tool to assess students formatively and get instant results about their understanding of New England and specifically, Massachusetts.

Problem Identification: kahoot 2

By using this digital assessment tool, the problem of both teachers and students not receiving instant feedback if they were to take a pencil and paper quiz, is solved. After each question, the teacher and student can see if they were correct or not. Also, in a regular paper and pencil quiz, it would be difficult to include the “competition” aspect that Kahoot provides. In a regular assessment students could be less engaged because there would be no large amount of points earned for each question and no leaderboard displayed after each answer, an aspect that Kahoot has that really engages student participation.

Access to the Assessment Instructions:

I would give students directions as follows (I would have Kahoot spelled out on the board and also the Game Pin labeled clearly on the board):

“Okay 3rd graders, now we are going to take a quick quiz about your knowledge of New England and Massachusetts. Please take out your devices (whether it be a computer, iPad, tablet, etc.) and log on to Kahoot ( You will need to enter the Game Pin, which is on the board: 1148748. Then, enter your first and last name when it asks for a nickname. Once everybody has logged in, we will start the quiz. Look on the SmartBoard for the questions and answers, and then click on the color of the answer you want to choose. Good luck!”

If for some reason students are having difficulty logging on to the quiz, I will provide them with this link that should lead them directly to the quiz.