Tool Evaluation 6

Engagement and Active Learning Tool: Prodigy

prodigy

https://prodigygame.com/


Overview

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

Features:

  • 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!

Evaluation:

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

Prodigy-e1447260863721
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: prodigygame.com/play, 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

plickers
https://rangbianca.com/2015/03/14/plickers-the-ultimate-assessment-tool/

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.

plickers-e1441110614914
http://www.learningshared.com.au/2015/09/02/tekky-brekky-plickers/

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

no-cell-phone-classroom-sign-s2-0359
http://www.smartsign.com/cell-phones-prohibited-signs

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

Kahoot_colours-35

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 (https://kahoot.it/#/). 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.

https://play.kahoot.it/#/k/68b9af0e-b95a-4871-aac9-fcaa507bda66

Multimedia Presentation (Reflection 7)

Click here to view my multimedia presentation.

Presenter Notes:

  • The students will have a handout with a map of Massachusetts with all of the landmarks/cities labeled for them as a reference on the final slide when I ask for volunteers to drag the name of the city/landmark to its appropriate location.
  • Before I introduce the states in New England to the students I will ask students if they already know some of the states that make up this region and if they can point to them on the map in slide 1.
  • For every slide with a state on it I will make sure to point out the capitol and other important landmarks and clearly say their names so students can hear the pronunciation.
  • For the Massachusetts slide I will tell students this is what we are going to be focusing on for the next couple of days. I will also ask students who can point out what area we live in on the Massachusetts map (they can circle this using the pen or highlighter on ActivInspire)
  • On the handout they will have the link address to the mrnussbaum.com website where they will do their research about Massachusetts.
  • The last slide will also have the link to this website and I will show students how to navigate the website, assign their groups and a city/landmark for them to investigate, and then introduce their presentation project.

Reflection 6

Interactive Whiteboards

There are many different ways I could incorporate an interactive whiteboard into my future elementary classroom that would not only benefit the student’s learning, but would serve as an important teaching tool for me as a teacher, too. Here are some of my ideas for interactive whiteboard incorporation:

  1. One specific way I could use the interactive whiteboard, or rather, the students could use it, is for administrative tasks, such as attendance and lunch count. In one of our readings, one classroom teacher used the interactive whiteboard for such tasks and it was very successful and also saved the teacher some time to do other things in the morning, like prepare for the day. The student can drag his or her picture or

    individualized icon to the designated area when they arrive in the morning. The student could also drag his or her picture/icon to indicate what they would like for lunch that day, i.e., lunch from home, pizza, salad, hot lunch, etc. Activinspire flipcharts could be useful in this situation so I could set it up so that each student’s picture/icon is locked in place, and they can drag a copy of it to a desired location.

    apple-tree
    https://www.tes.com/lessons/YBbCpMX5–5lgA/interactive-whiteboard-iwb
  2. Another way to use an interactive whiteboard in my future classroom would be for polls or assessments through the use of clickers. If I gave a math lesson on triangles, and wanted to quickly assess students initial understanding of what a triangle is, I could bring up a poll/quiz site on the interactive whiteboard, and pass out clickers for students to use; then I could receive immediate feedback of student’s understanding and see what I might need to spend more time going over and who needs more one-on-one instruction. The interactive whiteboard can easily display this information to me and to the students so they can see quiz questions in a bigger and brighter format and font with images or videos, rather than simply on a piece of paper in plain, black print.
  3. A third way that an interactive whiteboard could be useful in my future classroom would be to display online resources for my students. In my pre-practicum, I have seen the teacher use her SmartBoard to display books, textbooks, images, videos and many other online tools that are resourceful for her students during writing time. Students are able to have a big visual of the text and images displayed on the
    reading-from-whiteboard
    https://www.tes.com/lessons/mK1Q9K_35n1Agw/what-can-you-do-with-an-iwb-interactive-whiteboard

    whiteboard that they use as a reference for writing informative sentences. I can definitely imagine myself doing this as a teacher, because that way, every student has access to the information they need to complete an activity on the whiteboard. It would also allow for me, as the teacher, to walk around the room and work with students one-on-one instead of answering questions about spelling, content, and other things because all students have easy access to the material displayed on the interactive whiteboard and can flip to necessary pages on their own.


What excites me most about what I’ve learned so far in this course:

So far in this course, I am excited most about the flipped classroom approach to teaching. Before reading the articles and watching the assigned videos, I had never heard of this approach. After learning more about it, I am very interested in how well it works for different teachers and groups of students, especially elementary aged students, since that is what I am going into. Although I am skeptical about this approach and how well it would work with me personally as a teacher, my skepticism makes me want to do more research about flipped classrooms and see them put into action. I am interested and excited about the idea of meaningful learning and hands-on activities during every classroom session; this really allows students to apply what they have learned into various forms of activities and make more connections with the content, which is what learning is all about. I would be eager to try this approach with my future classroom when I am a teacher to see if it truly benefits the students and increases academic success as all the articles and videos have stated. I would love to find a local elementary classroom that teaches using the flipped classroom method and observe how their day operates. It is a really innovative approach to instruction and I am very intrigued by the idea of it!

flipped-classroom
http://tccl.rit.albany.edu/knilt/index.php/Unit_1:_Using_a_Flipped_Classroom_Approach

Tool Evaluation 5

RealtimeBoard

Online Whiteboarding Tool

https://realtimeboard.com/


Overview:

Type of software: Web 2.0, digital whiteboard

Primary user: companies, teachers, and students

Appropriate audience: anyone wanting to present header-logoinformation, or work together on a certain project (for students, probably high school aged and older).

Price: Free, or upgrade to access more features ($8/month)

Features:

  • Add a frame to the board, which acts like a page and choose a template to get started.
  • Upload videos, pictures, and links.
  • Use sticky notes to save ideas and brainstorm.
  • Create charts on the board.
  • Collaborate with others by adding them to your board. Can collaborate in real time (like Google Drive).
  • Any recent changes on the board are highlighted so users can keep up with who has been editing and what has been changed.
  • Directly communicate with someone by mentioning his or her username. User will be notified that they have been mentioned via email or just simply on the browser.
  • Work is instantly saved.
  • Add emojis to your board through sticky notes as a way to react to people’s ideas.

Evaluation:

Age appropriateness: This software is appropriate for upper middle to college-aged students. Because the user needs good technology knowledge to use this, I would say it would be difficult for elementary aged students to use. Older students can get the best use out of this software because they can easily collaborate with teachers and other students through the digital whiteboard, and they can also put their skills such as, using Word features, inserting content such as links, videos, pictures, etc. and using tables to good use.

Ease of use: Because I have prior experience with technology and know how to navigate and use it fairly well, I found this software to be very easy to use. All of the features are easily accessible, and the website provides tips and videos for users if they need extra assistance or any clarifications. It is very easy to leave comments, insert text and external links, add people to your whiteboard, and more.

Feedback Sticky Notes Great Job Praise 3d Illustration
http://www.123rf.com/photo_64768908_feedback-sticky-notes-great-job-praise-3d-illustration.html

Feedback provided: It is very easy for someone to leave a comment or a sticky note on someone’s work or idea. A teacher could use the comment section or the sticky notes section to leave feedback on a student or group of students’ whiteboard. Then, the student could see the teacher’s comments and make necessary changes to their whiteboard. The teacher could even create a rubric and post the link in the comment he or she makes so the students have direct access on their whiteboard to the rubric.

Limitations:

  • Coming from a teacher’s standpoint, it might be hard to have elementary or middle aged students work on this software because it is advanced and the user needs to have a fairly decent technological background to use it.
  • Might be difficult for a teacher to present material using this whiteboard because all of the features could easily distract students, especially if they had access to the whiteboard while the teacher was presenting the material.
  • All users would need access to a computer, laptop, or tablet to access this site.

Below is a video describing how to set up your first whiteboard on RealtimeBoard:

Applications within Education:

If a teacher wants students to collaborate by brainstorming ideas on a certain topic or for a group project but does not know how to get all students involved, he or she can use Realtime board to do so. By giving each student access to the whiteboard, everyone can easily collaborate and contribute to the assignment by posting sticky notes, inserting links or videos, commenting on other’s ideas, and more. Because it is so easy and there are many different ways to contribute on this site, the teacher can have the peace of knowing that all students are involved in some way.

If students are collaborating on some sort of project and the teacher wants to give direct and concrete feedback to all students but does not know how to do so, using this software could easily solve that problem. As long as the group of students adds the teacher into their whiteboard, the teacher can view student’s progress and see what all of their ideas are. The teacher can leave sticky notes or comment on things the students have posted so students can easily view the feedback, and apply it to their whiteboard. He or she could even add a link to an external source for students to do deeper research; the possibilities are endless!

Click here to view the whiteboard I created and played around with.

Reflection 5

Initial Ideas for Lesson Project

massachusetts-ts600
http://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-state-benefits/massachusetts-state-veterans-benefits.html

Grade: 3rd grade

Topic: Social studies

Lesson 1:

Objectives:

  • Students will take notes on the multimedia presentation about New England and Massachusetts (e.g. labeling their maps) when given a blank handout of some of the slides from the presentation.
  • Students will begin researching with a partner about a certain city/landmark in Massachusetts on mrnussbaum.com for their Prezi project.
  • Students will complete an Exit Ticket in which they have to state three facts that they have learned about Massachusetts or New England with reference to their notes.

MA Curriculum Frameworks:

NEW ENGLAND AND MASSACHUSETTS

3.1 On a map of the United States, locate the New England states (Connecticut, Rhode

Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine) and the Atlantic Ocean.

On a map of Massachusetts, locate major cities and towns, Cape Ann, Cape Cod, the

Connecticut River, the Merrimack River, the Charles River, and the Berkshire Hills.(G)

Essential questions:

  • Why is it important to know about the region and state that we live in?
  • What are the most important landmarks in Massachusetts?

Assessment plan:

            Since this lesson will be mainly a multimedia presentation given by the teacher and student investigation, the assessments will be primarily informal. The teacher should observe and make sure students are labeling their blank maps based on the presentation so they can have them as a reference. The teacher should also make sure students are staying on track while they are investigating about a city/landmark online with their partner for their project. The teacher should assist the students in their research online and make sure they are using the right website(s) for investigation.

            As a formal assessment, the teacher can give an Exit Ticket (maybe online?) where the students must list three facts they have learned about New England or Massachusetts to make sure they were taking good notes and paying attention to the presentation and their research. The teacher will grade this with a check plus, check, or check minus.

Lesson 2:

Objectives:

MA Curriculum Frameworks:

NEW ENGLAND AND MASSACHUSETTS

3.1 On a map of the United States, locate the New England states (Connecticut, Rhode

Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine) and the Atlantic Ocean.

On a map of Massachusetts, locate major cities and towns, Cape Ann, Cape Cod, the

Connecticut River, the Merrimack River, the Charles River, and the Berkshire Hills.(G)

Essential questions:

  • How can we present our Massachusetts landmark/city through Prezi most effectively?
  • What are some of the features of the Massachusetts landmark/city that make it so important and special?

Assessment plan:

            As a form of formative assessment, the teacher will help students with their Prezi projects (even though they already know how to use Prezi). The teacher should make sure students are putting accurate information into their projects through observation and conversation about their landmark/city.

            The formal assessment will be the online quiz about New England/Massachusetts that the students will take. I will choose an online assessment tool that will give instant feedback to the students and the teacher. This will mostly likely be a short quiz, seeing as the students have only had one lesson with a brief presentation on the topic.

Technology Ideas/Plan:

  • Students could create a Prezi for the student project with a partner or two about a certain landmark or city in Massachusetts based off a rubric (students can reference the mrnussbaum.com page for these landmarks).
  • Lesson 1 will contain the multimedia presentation (PowerPoint or Prezi) about New England and Massachusetts given by the teacher.
  • The multimedia presentation in Lesson 1 will most likely be short so the students can do most of the research about Massachusetts and its features online themselves.
  • The assessment in Lesson 2 can be done through Easy Test Maker, or the website we used in class as a quiz for the tools in the classroom to get instant feedback (need a website where I can add photos).
  • The interdisciplinary part of the lesson could be making sure students are using proper spelling and punctuation when labeling their maps and creating their presentations (interdisciplinary with ELA? Not sure yet). OR—on mrnussbaum.com I found a game where the students have to label what fraction of the states in the US is a certain color (interdisciplinary with math).

Here are some of the websites I found that may be useful to me in my lessons:

Tool Evaluation 4

StoryJumper.com

https://www.storyjumper.com/

story-jumper
https://www.storyjumper.com/library/my

Overview:

Type of software: Web 2.0, storytelling, digital book creator

Primary User: someone who wants to create a digital book

Appropriate audience: anyone who wants to create a digital storybook; primarily upper elementary aged students

Price: Free

Features:

  • Sign up for free as a regular user, or as an educator.
  • Educator can create a class page where the students can search for the title and see all of the books the teacher has created and posted.
  • Add scenes, photos, text, props, and more. Some are offered by the website but you can also upload your own photos.
  • Invite other users to collaborate on the book with you.
  • Communicate via video chat while creating the book.
  • Design your text with different colors, fonts, and sizes.
  • Add as many pages as you would like, including cover pages, dedication pages, and a back cover.
  • The software auto-saves progress while you are working, so the user does not lose his or her work if something goes wrong.
  • Appropriate for elementary aged students since a lot of the props and scenes provided are for younger students, but any user can create a blank book and upload their own photos to use.
  • Has a “How To?” button if the user needs clarification or help on how to do something.
  • Can search other books created by other users open to the public under the library page.

Above is a video tutorial of how to use StoryJumper

Evaluation:

Age Appropriateness: StoryJumper is highly appropriate for younger aged students and for teachers too! The photos, types of books offered, and props are very kid-friendly and cartoon-like (pictures of dogs, sun, etc.). This is really engaging for younger students and also offers creativity for students and any other users as well. Students are not limited to these features offered by the website; they can upload their own content appropriate pictures, if they are familiar with how to do so.

Ease of Use: This site is very straightforward with its features and how to create your digital book. It provides a tutorial, and blurbs of instruction when the user first enters the site. The left sidebar provides access to all of the different features the user can include in his or her book (text, photos, scenes, props). The font is big, legible, and easily understandable for elementary aged students. If the user needs assistance, they can click on the “How To?” button. If the user is a student, they can easily search for their class page to access the books their teacher has posted.

Strengths:

  • Straightforward, and easy to navigate
  • Free
  • Appropriate for elementary aged students and for teachers to create books
  • Can search for books other users have made to incorporate into a lesson
  • The collaboration option for teachers and/or students to use to work together to create a book
  • Can upload your own photos to use in your book

    screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-5-47-20-pm
    Screenshot from my computer when I was creating my book.
  • Video tutorial available if user needs help
  • Perfect for educators
  • Can present a book on a digital whiteboard as a presentation (when the user clicks play on their book, the pages flip as if it were a real book with sound included)
  • Users can leave comments on other users books (e.g., teacher can leave feedback for his or her students)
  • Can make the book private or public

Limitations:

  • Unsure if the user can include videos or audio into their books
  • Need to have a pretty good grasp on how to upload pictures, edit text, and overall work with technology to get the best use out of this software
  • Students could get distracted by the designing aspect of creating their book rather than focus on the content

Application:

If a teacher wants students to create a book independently or with a partner but has limited time for them to do so, using StoryJumper would be a positive alternative. Since creating a handmade book requires tedious work, detail, and time commitment; making a digital book would save a lot of time and would allow for neatness and creativity, especially if done by elementary aged students. The students can creatively collaborate to make a book for an assignment, the teacher would be able to easily access their work and leave them feedback, and it would all be done time efficiently.

Sometimes when a student presents his or her work to their classmates, not every student can see the work being presented, or read the words and observe the pictures if they are presenting a book (I have seen this in my pre-prac). To avoid this, the teacher should have his or her students use StoryJumper to create their books. This way, when the students are finished, the teacher can easily bring up their book and have it displayed on the board via a projector or a digital whiteboard, and every student will be able to clearly see the student’s work.

Click here to read a very brief book I created on StoryJumper.

Reflection 4

Teacher Interview

The teacher I interviewed for my reflection is named Mr. David Antonelli. daveAlong with being my neighbor, Mr. Antonelli is a Special Education teacher at Nipmuc Regional High School. I asked him some questions about his use of technology in his classroom and then reflected on his responses. Questions are indicated by Q, answers by A, and my reflective thoughts by R:


Q: What kind of technology is available to you and your students every day? Is the technology use 1 to 1 and does every student have access to a technological tool?

A: Each of our students have iPads with many of the same apps that all high school students use, like Notability so we can email them documents that they can respond to right on their devices.  We use Google docs and IXL like other students in the class. We use apps like iDress for Weather, GroceryIQ, Interview app, and have a Weebly classroom website where everything is posted for them.  Academically we use IXL for instruction in all areas of functional math and reading, iDiary to answer what they would do in certain

google-docs-icons
Google doc logo pic found here

real life situations, and news2 you app for current events weekly, and specific reading apps for leveled reading comprehension. We use a Tobii language system with retinal scan for one of our students to communicate with us as well.  We consult with a woman working for East Seals that sets up meaningful apps and program for our students to access in and out of school.

We use iPads donated thru Flutie Foundation at our vocational worksites for apps like a timecard program to punch in and out of as well as a social studies app that allows the kids to see short videos that outline tasks step by step (to sort clothes and hang them, to set up cafe making coffee,..)

We use secure computers linked to the Natick Army Labs to look up contracts written by companies working with the army to provide supplies and goods to the troops overseas.

R: I think it is great that Mr. Antonelli is integrating so much technology in his classroom. I really like how his students use a lot of the same apps and tools that regular education students use as well. It seems like they use organizational tools such as Notability and Weebly so the students can easily access their work inside and outside of class. He not only uses technology tools for academic purposes, but he also uses them for real world scenarios as well, which I am sure greatly benefits his students who have a wide range of disabilities; these tools can help them in the real world as they become adults. It is great that all students have iPads and that Mr. Antonelli seems very knowledgeable about which tools are most beneficial to meet the needs of his students.


Q: How does technology use in your classroom differentiate instruction for students with special needs? Is it beneficial to their learning or not?

A: Very beneficial… we are able to use the technology to have the kids use things like Apple TV to show their responses as well as their peers on the wide screen so they learn how they can answer things in many different ways and can see how other high school students answer as well.  Lessons can then be modified to their instructional level. Kids show their parents the class website for upcoming events, class outings and monthly get together as well as pictures of things we do during our day.

R: It seems as though technology integration works extremely well for Mr. A’s students to differentiate instruction, make real world connections and applications, and see how other high school students respond to the same questions they are being asked. Their use of technology also keeps the student’s parents informed about what the students are learning and doing in their classes day to day, which is a great form of communication.

Here is a video explaining some of the pros and cons of using iPads in special education classrooms:


Q: What technologies have you found that work really well in your classroom for your students?

A: Websites and apps geared to daily living skills (for recipes and cooking directions, doing laundry, making a bed…) and websites and apps geared to transitional skills (how to fill out apps and government forms, personal data forms).

R: As helpful as academic technologies can be to his students, Mr. A will not be their teacher forever, so he thinks it is very important to teach them basic life skills that they will carry with them after high school. It seems like these kinds of apps could not only be helpful to students with disabilities or special needs, but also to general education students as well! I would be much more informed about how to fill out government forms or personal data forms if I had practice through technology. Tools that he uses such as Grocery IQ and more are technologies that can really help his students develop life skills, and it is really neat how he integrates that into his curriculum.


Q: Are there any technologies you have found that do not work well in your classroom?

A: No, when it’s something that doesn’t apply to us we look for something alternate that can help us in other ways at our level of understanding.

R: Mr. A seems very confident and comfortable with the technology his students use in his classroom. He knows how to find the best technologies for his students and I think that is a quality that is difficult and takes time to acquire, but every 21st century teacher should have. When something does not fit well, he simply tosses it aside and moves on instead of confusing or frustrating his students (or himself!).


Q: Do you have easy access to an IT person if the technology fails or if you need assistance?

A: Yes, on site building IT workers as well as a very good relationship with IT staff in Milford at Avatar Computers which service our program (as well as computers we work with at Natick Army Labs and their east coast IT dept.)

R: I think it is great that Mr. A has a good relationship with Nipmuc’s IT staff and also the staff that service his program. These relationships are something that will only benefit him and his students, because if he is having trouble or needs an explanation, he can easily contact these people who are trained to help solve any technology problems he may face.


Q: Are your students required to use technology in your classroom? If so, how often do you use technology in your class?

A: Yes just like typical high school students. We use technology daily in each period.

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Nipmuc logo found here

R: It’s great that Mr. A’s students get to have the same experience as the rest of the high school students at Nipmuc. This makes them feel included and they also get to develop their technological skills through all the different apps and tools they use on a day-to-day basis for all different subjects. Before this interview, I knew that all the general education students were using iPads, but I was unsure if the students with special needs used them, too. I am glad that they are using so much technology, because from Mr. A’s feedback, it seems to be working well and is a great benefit for them. The ample amount of technological tools they have access to through their iPads, computers, and more help them organize, write, practice, and overall learn more effectively in each class they take.

Click here to read an interesting article about a very special job that Mr. Antonelli’s students get to partake in that helps the government! Quotes from Mr. A are found in the article.