EdTech 542: Week 2

Article Reflection

We were asked to research some articles on the effectiveness of project-based learning in diverse classrooms.  I found multiple articles, many even dating back into the early 1990’s.  Project-based learning has clearly been around for some time.  In the article I found by English and Kitsantas (2013), the abstract states:

Students must take responsibility for the learning process by setting goals, monitoring, reflecting, and sustaining their motivation from the beginning of the project until the end. However, for many students, these processes do not occur naturally or easily. Therefore, the learning environment and teaching practices in PBL must be designed with intention to support students’ self-regulated learning (SRL).

The authors suggest in this article (and cite other research) that the challenges teachers find are that many students do not possess the motivation “to learn and be able to focus their efforts and attention appropriately, monitor and evaluate their progress, and seek help as needed” (English & Kitsantas, 2013).

The authors outline a multi-phase process to teach students how to take responsibility in their learning to be self-regulated learners:

Through Phase 1 (Project/Problem Launch), a well-crafted driving question, clearly stated learning goals, launcher activities, and activities that support  skills of goal setting and self-motivation.   During Phase 2 (Inquiry and Product/Solution Creation), the teacher supports the students by employing techniques that make students’ thinking visible, such as whiteboarding, formative assessments, journaling, and prompts for explanation. Further, the teacher should interact with and guide students, encourage searching, asking for reflections, and providing additional support as needed.  Phase 3 (Conclusion) activities include presentations, role plays, poster sessions, pin-up sessions, and gallery walks- anything that facilitates reflection.  Reflections is a a key point in the learning process and through all three phases of PBL and provides an opportunity for students to engage in thinking about their learning outcomes in relation to their goals, to identify the strategies and resources worked well and those that didn’t, and to determine what questions they still have.

From this article I learned that PBL is a great tool for students to learn from but there IS a learning to curve to the execution both on the part of the teacher and the students.  If I were to start implementing PBL into my classroom intensely, I would really consider starting small.  Students are not use to thinking for themselves, after all don’t we all love a very detailed rubric?  Giving students to create their own learning environment is daunting and scary unless very clear goals are written and adhered to.


English, M. C. , & Kitsantas, A. (2013). Supporting student self-regulated learning in problem- and project-based learning. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 7(2).
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.7771/1541-5015.1339

Week 2 Assignment

This week we were instructed to search for sample PBL projects online.  We were asked to keep three criteria in mind:

  • Identify some common features among projects that you examined.
  • Share one PBL project that you were able to locate during your search.
  • Explain why you like this project, and how you might be able to adapt it for your own use.

I found and chose this project to share:  Caution! Dangerous Situations Ahead.

I found multiple projects on BIE.org that looked interesting to me however the projects I loved the most seemed to come from Teach21 (http://wveis.k12.wv.us/teach21). Some common features I found:

  • Clearly written objectives
  • Common Core standards linked
  • Target audience identified
  • Evidence that objectives are met
  • Rubrics
  • Know/Do section
  • Materials needed
  • Resources are all linked
  • Downloadable materials (worksheets, rubrics, etc.)

I really appreciated the projects that required a reflection log as a way to make students think about what they did and what they learned/observed. I believe that connections are made when we are required to write. There was an old adage years ago about ways to remember things: read, write, and recite. There is so much truth to this.

My teaching experience is with elementary students.  I found and chose this project to share:  Caution! Dangerous Situations Ahead. I like this particular project because it connects and utilizes 5th grade buddies to work with and guide the project. This gives the 1st grade students a one-to-one instructor, which allows the teacher more time to work with those that are struggling or to do informal assessments. While there is a lot of prep work involved, the author of this particular project has done an excellent job outlining everything needed and all the downloads embedded into the website.

While I am not currently teaching I have found (from past experience) that younger students really enjoy working with other students and look up to them in a way that isn’t evident in many other classroom situations. An instant bond of trust is formed and the younger students really thrive with an older buddy. The younger children still have the independence and freedom to make choices but the guidance comes from the older children to stay on task. Students unfamiliar with project-based learning might not understand how to work independently. By pairing with older buddies, the students learn the process through basic modeling.

Caution! Dangerous Situations Ahead! http://wveis.k12.wv.us/teach21/public/project/Guide.cfm?upid=3414&tsele1=4&tsele2=101

Publish My Profile: http://wveis.k12.wv.us/teach21/public/project/Guide.cfm?upid=3450&tsele1=1&tsele2=105

Can Immigrants Work? http://wveis.k12.wv.us/teach21/public/project/Guide.cfm?upid=3533&tsele1=1&tsele2=105


EdTech 542

Introduction to Project-Based Learning

According to an Edutopia article by Larmer (2014), problem-based learning follows a series of steps involving a presentation of an open-ended problem, a defined problem, assessment of background knowledge and what is needed to know going forward, list of possible solutions, self-directed or coached learning, and finally the sharing of solutions. Problem-based learning is often on a single subject and tends to be shorter. The final product may simply be a solution proposal and often uses case studies or fictitious scenarios.

Project-based learning (PBL) is often multi-disciplinary and may take a lot of time (weeks or even months). It follows general steps, includes the creation of a product (or performance), and involves real-world authentic tasks (Larmer, 2014).

While the two to have differences they also share some similarities in that they both focus on an open-ended question or task, require application of skills, emphasize independent learning, and are usually multidimensional in contrast to traditional classroom lessons.

According to BIE.org, project-based learning focuses on student learning goals (including core standards/objectives), requires students to be in engaged in a rigorous inquiry process, and provides problems in real-life context. Students are given the choice and freedoms to make decisions and evaluate their project and then reflect on the published product.

Teachers are considering using PBL for a multitude of reasons. According to BIE.org, PBL is simply more engaging for students. It is not a passive learning experience and feels relevant in the lives of students. Upon completion of a project, students retain the learned information longer and understand the content more deeply. With PBL, students are required to take responsibility for their own learning, which is a necessary skill for 21st century successful careers. Other reasons teachers are moving towards PBL is because it Common Core standards are requiring higher-order thinking and processing skills of students. Teachers find the PBL process rewarding because they are seeing their students engaged and developing life-long meaningful learning opportunities.

To be considered a “Gold Standard PBL” project the project must meet eight key criteria as outlined on BIE.org:

  1. The project must be focused on standards and teaching students information including critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and self-management.
  2. The project is based on a meaningful problem or question and appropriately challenges students.
  3. The project makes students generate questions, find and use resources, and develop answers/solutions throughout the process and over time.
  4. The project has a real-world context and is connected to students’ own concerns and ideas.
  5. The project allows students to make choices about what they create, how they work/use their time, and are guided by the teacher (dependent on age and experience).
  6. The project allows for student reflection.
  7. The project allows students to give and receive feedback on their work and the ability to revise or ask further questions.
  8. The project is presented, published, or orally shared to people beyond the walls of the classroom.

Larmer, J. (2014). Project-based learning vs. problem-based learning vs. X-BL. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/pbl-vs-pbl-vs-xbl-john-larmer

What is Project Based Learning (PBL)? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://bie.org/about/what_pbl

EdTech 541: Final Reflection

PART 1-Course Reflection

Over the course of this semester I have had the opportunity to be enrolled in 3 different courses. I took EdTech 503 in which I explored the role of an instructional designer. I have taken EdTech 504, which involved learning theories and how they are connected to technology in education. The class I have learned the most from has been EdTech 541, Integrating Technology into Education. I have created multiple projects and lessons that revolve around my focused content area of 3-5th grade language arts/reading/writing. I chose this content area because I feel there is such a need for emphasis during these critical years of learning. I am passionate about reading and I understand how it directly affects every facet of our daily lives. Creating a strong foundation in reading/writing is directly related to success in every child’s future of education.

As I stated in my Vision Statement (2015), technology is a tool to achieve more meaningful learning experiences, “No technology is a panacea for education” (Roblyer & Doering, 2012). Devices, hardware, software, and app’s are nothing more than “tools” that have the ability to enhance learning. I am so pleased with the tools I have been able to explore this semester to enhance my own learning. I had no idea how many amazing tools and resources existed even within my content area and I am thrilled at the lesson plans and activities I have created. Although I am not working in the school system this year, I am already aware that my colleagues plan to use what I have created. I am so proud of my accomplishments this semester and I have put in no less than 100% on each assignment.

At the beginning of this course I created a Relative Advantage Chart. This chart addressed 10 learning problems and linked possible technology solutions and the relative advantage of each. I have created an AECT page for my website that includes both the matrix table of standards and how each assignment fits within this matrix as well as justified my thoughts in relation to both the EdTech Mission and Conceptual Framework:

I have created many projects, reflected, and provided rationale for various aspects of integrating technology into elementary education, specifically in my content area of 3-5th grade Language Arts/Writing/Reading. I have evaluated various technologies available for students to use in the classroom and I have created a strong list of resources both for myself and for my colleagues. I have created multiple lessons that are engaging, creative, and promote digital literacy. I have designed activities that are deeply imaginative and empower my students to be “evolving digital citizens.”

Through the course of EdTech 541, I am becoming a knowledgeable educator as stated in the EdTech Conceptual Framework. I am striving to integrate complex roles and dispositions in the service of diverse communities of learners. I believe that all children can learn. As an educator, I am dedicated to supporting that learning. As an educator, I am striving to use effective approaches that promote high levels of student achievement. I will continue to create environments that prepare learners to be citizens who contribute to a complex world. As an educator, I serve learners as reflective practitioners, scholars and artists, problem solvers, and partners.

On a professional level, I have grown by leaps and bounds. I am so much more aware of the resources available to me and have such a deeper understanding in how to implement them into daily teaching activities. While infrastructure (bandwidth and access to devices) continues to be a struggle for our school district, I believe that many of activities and lessons I have created can be adaptable to a single computer in the classroom but still involve rich learning experiences for students.

Due to some health issues and relocating to a new state, I am not currently teaching this year. Thinking about my future teaching practices and implementing technology has been a little frustrating at times. The district I worked at previously and the district I live in now are so under-funded. Bandwidth is a horrible joke between teachers and portable devices are few and far between. Students are lucky if they have access to a device once a month and time in the computer lab is limited to roughly one hour a week. The frustration comes in knowing that many of the activities I have created will need to be modified and that there is so much untapped potential lost simply because of infrastructure issues.

I am also enrolled in EdTech 504 this semester, which explores learning theories in the context of educational technology. Learning theories guide almost every activity I have created. I am especially drawn to Dr. Howard Gardner and the Multiple Intelligence (MI) Theory because of the potential to reach every student and his/her individual learning style. With the increasing diversity of 21st century learners, “Teachers need to differentiate classroom instruction in systematic and creative ways through the use of educational technology” (Sweeder, 2008). in the article Big Thinkers: Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences (2009). Gardner states:

We have this myth that the only way to learn something is to read it in a textbook or hear a lecture on it. And the only way to show that we’ve understood something is to take a short-answer test or maybe occasionally with an essay question thrown in. But that’s nonsense. Everything can be taught in more than one way. And anything that’s understood can be shown in more than one way. I don’t believe because there are eight intelligences we have to teach things eight ways. I think that’s silly. But we always ought to be asking ourselves “Are we reaching every child, and, if not, are there other ways in which we can do it?”

PART 2- Blog Grade

As per the blog grading rubric, I would grade myself as follows:

Content: 70/70
My blog content is rich an full of thought and synthesis with connections to real-life situations.
Reading/Resources: 20/20
My blog entries included references to the text or other outside sources to support my blog content and APA format was used. Formatting within WordPress did present some challenges with hanging indentations however.
Timeliness: 20/20
I was almost always early and or at the very least, on the date due.
Responses to other students: 30/30
I always responded to two other student blogs and usually tried to copy/paste the comment directly into our links on Moodle to make for easier reading. I tried to give thoughtful responses and suggestions as needed.

Total 140/140


AECT Standards Table. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://edtech.boisestate.edu/snelsonc/portfolio/aectstandardstable.html

Big Thinkers: Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-howard-gardner-video#graph4

Conceptual Framework. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://education.boisestate.edu/teachered/conceptual-framework/

Crook, J. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved from http://edtech2.boisestate.edu/jencrook/541/visionstatement.html

Crook, J. (n.d.). Mission and conceptual framework. Retrieved from http://edtech2.boisestate.edu/jencrook/541/AECTstandards.html

Crook, J. (n.d.). Relative advantage chart. Retrieved from http://edtech2.boisestate.edu/jencrook/541/relativeadvantage.html

Mission. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://edtech.boisestate.edu/about/mission/

Roblyer, M.D., & Doering, A.H. (2013). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching. (6th ed.). [Kindle version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com.

Sweeder, J. (2008). Differentiating instruction through digital storytelling. In K. McFerrin et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2008 (pp. 967-974).

©Jenifer Crook 2015

EdTech 541 Assistive Technologies

The legal definition of assistive technology is considerably broad, an assistive technology device means “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability” (Roblyer & Doering, 2012, pg. 403). The assistive technology device may be categorized as no technology (includes bodily adjustments), low technology (nonelectrical), or high technology (mechanical, computerized, etc.).

Laws and policies govern special education, more than other areas of education (Roblyer & Doering, 2012, pg. 400).  The Technology-Related Assistance Act for Individuals with Disabilities passed in 1988 and provides funds for statewide systems and services to individuals with disabilities. Roblyer and Doering (2012) state that “The Individuals and Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1997 requires that every individualized education program (IEP) team “consider” assistive technology when planning the educational program of an individual with a disability.” In 2004, students with disabilities and the need to help these students meet their goals became the emphasis of the IDEA and include the importance of academic achievement.

While students with disabilities bring great diversity into the classroom, the cost of teaching them on already-stretched budgets has become increasing challenging. An article on TeachThought.com addressed this very issue, “Thankfully, educators today can implement many new technologies to make their courses more accessible at little to no cost, to aid students with disabilities, whether those students are in a traditional or online classroom.” For schools, teachers, libraries and even parents, assistive technologies can be expensive and restrictive but as I did some Internet searching, there are thousands upon thousands of Do-It-Yourself projects that can help a disabled student. In searching for cost-effective strategies to implement assistive technology on a budget, I started with a basic Google search, which led me to the SimonTechCenter Pinterest board full of DIY tricks and tips. I perused this board and found a lot of helpful suggestions that can be done with common household items and would cost almost nothing or very little. Just some examples would include a homemade, one-legged sensory stool, pool noodles to rest feet on, therapy ball alternatives, paracord door-pulls, and the list goes on and on. IEP and 504 facilitators can work together with parents and teachers to research appropriate assistive technologies that will help the student perform and meet academic goals most effectively.

If funding is needed, there are two primary ways to acquire assistive technologies. According to the Accessible Technology Coalition website, AT acquisition can be funded by either building the costs into the budget or seek outside funding. While budgets may be tight, alternative funding sources exist through grants, foundations, and endowments. For libraries, the Institute for Museum and Library Services (www.imls.gov) lists grants that are available in a given location.

While cost does initially sound like a large restriction, after spending an hour searching for cost-effective alternatives on the Internet, it became quite clear that not all AT needs to be expensive. Obviously there are going to be costs with some AT but cutting corners and creating DIY projects can help save and allow for bigger budget-busters down the road. The Accessible Technology Coalition website also suggest a variety of creative strategies if adequate funding isn’t possible:

  • Recycled Equipment. Every state has at least one assistive technology reuse program. Some have searchable online databases. General resources such as eBay, Craigslist, and Freecycle may also list assistive technology.
  • Talk to Manufacturers and Vendors. Manufacturers and vendors may have a product that they want to discontinue or expose to a wider audience. Contact them to see if you can get a donation or a discount.
  • Work with Community Partners. Talk to other local organizations that have public computer labs and may be open to pooling funds to purchase equipment of mutual interest.
  • Many assistive technologies are available free, or in inexpensive versions.

Funding options can also be found at http://www.4teachers.org/profdev/index.php?profdevid=at

Assistive/Adapative Technologies

Students with Cognitive Difficulties

According to Roblyer and Doering (2012),”Mild cognitive disabilities are considered to be the most prevalent type of disability” (pg. 406). Learning disabilities, emotional disabilities and mental retardation fall under the cognitive difficulty category. “Typically, the important issue for these students is not physical access to the technology, but reading, writing, memory, and retention of information. While these students often have some learning difficulties (e.g., the inability to read at grade level), many have difficulty in learning in only one aspect of the curriculum (Roblyer & Doering, 2012).

  • LiveScribe PenThis pen records and connects audio to what a person writes using the pen and special LiveScribe paper. This technology enables the user to take notes while also recording someone speaking. The student can later listen and follow along with notes by touching the pen on his/her handwritten notes or diagrams. This type of tool may benefit people who struggle with writing, listening, memory and reading.Connection to Content Area: This type of tool may benefit people who struggle with writing, listening, memory and reading.
  • Kidspiration MapsThis is an app for the iPad. Kidspiration is a mind-mapping tool designed specifically for elementary-school-age kids. This app can be really helpful for kids with executive-functioning issues. This app is loaded with colorful images to help students organize and classify information when he/she struggles with writing, reading, and basic understanding. The app includes a built-in microphone to help students express their thoughts while creating diagrams. This helps students with receptive and language expression issues, and gives them an opportunity to practice their language skills in conjunction with verbal memory. In addition to making graphic organizers the app includes pre-made activities for reading, writing, social studies, and science.Connection to Content Area: The activities on this app can help students who are struggling with functional concepts through both visual and written outlines. Organizing thoughts visually will help in both information retention and recollection.

Students with Physical Difficulties

In an article found on Education.com, author D.D.Smith (2014) states that there two major groups of physical disabilities are. The first is neuromotor impairments which include conditions caused by damage to the central nervous system limiting muscular control and movement. Epilepsy and cerebral palsy fall under this category. The second disability is muscular/skeletal conditions. This includes missing or non-functioning limbs and can be either acquired or congenital and includes a major impediment to normal physical activity and functioning. People with physical disabilities need assistance with mobility.

Disabilities can be categorized and grouped in many different ways. According to Disable-World.com, physical disabilities include:

  • mobility and physical impairments
  • Spinal cord disabilities
  • Head injuries or brain disabilities
  • Alternative keyboardsAlternative keyboards offer solutions to students that need keyboard accommodations for computer use and Internet browsing. Alternative keyboards come in a variety of large, color-coded keys, over-sized keyboards, unique keyboard layouts and keyboard protection. Students with temporary broken arms, or other long-term physical disabilities can benefit from an alternative keyboard.Connection to Content Area:Students integrated into a full-functioning classroom are often expected to complete work similar to the other students in the classroom. This includes research and writing activities as well as all other online activities students are involved in.
  • Voice Recognition SoftwareVoice recognition software, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking,is a software program that allows the user to navigate the computer by voice. One of the largest benefits is to those with limited mobility or disabilities that restrict keyboard and mouse use.Connection to Content Area: Students who struggle with the use of their limbs still need to be able to write. Unless speaking clearly is a problem, this is a good option for students with limited mobility.

Students with Sensory Difficulties

  • BookshareBookshare is an expansive online library of digital books for people with print disabilities. Books from this site come in two file formats: DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) and BRF (Braille Refreshable Format). If students have the tools that can access these file then then students have the independence to read more than 200,000 titles that may have otherwise been inaccessible. Books can be read aloud to the student or even converted to embossed braille.Connection to Content Area: As my content area is language arts, reading comprehension and writing, this assistive technology allows students with visual disabilities the independence to read.
  • FM SystemsHearing aids have many disadvantages for the hearing impaired, everything is amplified, including unwanted background sounds. Even the very best digital hearing aids simmly cannot eradicate the amplification of background noise. For a child with a hearing impairment in a classroom this can prove to be a major obstacle in their education as classrooms are typically the worst for background noise and have very poor acoustics. Echoes, scraping chairs, and even typical student-chatter can make learning very difficult.FM systems use a wireless transmitter that broadcast a signal across a given space. In a classroom setting, the teacher wears a transmitter and the student wears a receiver. The signal from the receiver is fed into an earphone or the student’s own hearing aid. The teacher speaks into a very sensitive, small microphone and can pick up sounds very minute sounds. The student is able to hear the teacher clearly anywhere within the broadcast area even if the teacher has his/her back to the class. The FM device is very portable and and can be used in any room. While the FM system works to amplify human voices, it also works for movies or other audio sources.

    Connection to Content Area:According to the Listening and Spoken Language Knowledge Center, “children with typical hearing listen to the people around them and automatically begin to imitate the sounds they hear. Children who cannot hear sounds have little or no phonemic awareness, so they have difficulty understanding how words break down into syllables.” Additionally, children with hearing loss have difficulty attaching meaning to words. This is caused by a mismatch between spoken language, reading levels, and education level. These children have often missed out on significant auditory information and background knowledge that is more available to children with typical hearing which means they may not be able to fill in the gaps when unfamiliar words appear on the printed page.

At-Risk Students

Students at risk for failure in school are not necessarily considered disabled by legal definition but the lack of success often looks similar to students with disabilities (Roblyer & Doering, 2012).

  • Real World Reading SkillsELL students and struggling readers (below grade-level) can benefit from this software. It includes interactive exercises to help students improve their English language and literacy skills. Students are able to read and respond to short texts on a variety of familiar subjects. The software is self-paced and self-correcting. Scores and feedback are provided throughout. Merit Text Talker, an additional add-on to the software allows the questions, answers and explanations to be spoken aloud.Connection to Content Area: Struggling readers will always struggle in every area of their education as literacy and comprehension is such a strong foundation to all learning.
  • First AuthorFirst Author is a writing software that helps at-risk students and students with special needs write independently on self-selected and curriculum-tied topics. The software guides students through the writing process of selecting a topic, selecting a picture prompt, and writing with accommodations. It also guides the teacher with level-appropriate assessment and tracking tools.Connection to Content Area:With higher standards on writing today, at-risk students, ELL students and students with other disabilities are at a great disadvantage if they cannot write. To meet new standard objectives, it is crucial for students to practice and receive specialized/individualized training on writing techniques.

Gifted and Talented Students

According to Roblyer and Doering (2012) the current definition of gifted and talented students is, “Students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities (No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Title IX, Part A, Section 9101(22); U.S. Department of Education, 2004).” The are several ways to accommodate GT students. “Pyryt’s P’s,” focuses on five P’s: pace, process, passion, product, and peer.

  • Pace: Content acceleration
  • Process: Brainstorming and problem-solving
  • Passion: Freedom to think and produce
  • Product: Multiple ways to showcase knowledge
  • Peer: Encourage social environments
  • Virtual MuseumsThis site is full of virtual museums perfect for a student needing accelerated learning opportunities. Students can use this site to research and explore a topic of choice. Students can be self-paced and integrate multiple facets of the curriculum into their individualized learning.Connection to Content Area:Gifted and talented students thrive on extended learning opportunities and creativity involved in guiding their own learning. Opportunities for research and writing are limitless with virtual museum tours.
  • GlobalSchool.netGlobalSchool.net provide collaborative learning opportunities for students. Gifted and talented students often struggle socially and this online forum allows students to reach out, work with, and learn with students all over the world. Students have the ability to be paired with students of similar abilities and interests and allows students the opportunity to extend learning beyond the traditional classroom setting.
    Connection to Content Area: Through “Letters to Santa” (via globalschool.net) students are matched with a partner classroom with which the students exchange their letters to Santa. Younger students write letters “to” Santa; Older students impersonate Santa and send their carefully crafted replies.


8 Helpful Assistive Technology Tools For Your Classroom. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/technology/8-helpful-assistive-technology-tools-for-your-classroom/

Alternative Keyboards. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.especialneeds.com/computer-aids-alternative-keyboards.html

Assistive Technology Tools: Writing. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/assistive-technology-tools-writing

Classroom Assistive Listening Devices. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.californiaearinstitute.com/hearing-device-center-listening-device-classroom-bay-area.php

Classroom FM has never been easier. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.oticon.com/products/wireless-accessories/amigo-fm/about-amigo.aspx

Comprehension Strategies for Children with Hearing Loss. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.listeningandspokenlanguage.org/Document.aspx?id=468

Digital and Virtual Museums. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic35a.htm

Disability: Definition, Types & Models. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/

DIY Assistive Technology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/simontechcenter/diy-assistive-technology/

Dragon – Dragon NaturallySpeaking – Nuance | Nuance. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nuance.com/dragon/index.htm

Assistive Technology: Resource Roundup. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/article/assistive-technology-resources

Funding Assistive Technology for Libraries and Other Organizations. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://atcoalition.org/article/funding-assistive-technology-libraries-and-other-organizations

GlobalSchoolNet.org — Linking Kids Around the World! (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.globalschoolnet.org/

GlobalSchoolNet.org — Linking Kids Around the World! (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.globalschoolnet.org/gsnsanta/

Guggenheim. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/education

Institute of Museum and Library Services. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.imls.gov/
Johnston, D. (n.d.). Don Johnston Inc. | First Author Writing Software. Retrieved from http://donjohnston.com/firstauthorsoftware/#.VTKsvxc2xNN</p>

Real World Reading Skills. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.meritsoftware.com/software/real_world_reading_skills/index.php

Roblyer, M. D.; Doering, Aaron H. (2012). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (6th Edition) (Page 400).

Smith, D.D. (2014). Physical or health disabilities defined. Retrieved from http://www.education.com/reference/article/physical-health-disabilities-defined/


EdTech 541 Obstacles in Integrating Technology into Content Areas

I chose three content areas to focus my content area activities on during this course.  For the first week I chose language arts activities.  Incorporating technology into language arts is easy if the infrastructure is in place within the school/classroom.  Students are able to use  computers and apps for reading and language arts/writing activities frequently throughout the week.  While I did not do any activities on math or science, these subjects are also easier to integrate technology with.

The second week I chose  social studies/primary source activities which was also easy as primary source documents are so easy to access now through technology.  Time in a computer lab is really the biggest obstacle when it comes to social studies.  Most teachers use their lab time for writing activities as the writing portion of year-end testing is now more rigorous than it ever has been before.  Obviously the solution to this issue is to combine social studies with writing activities if lab time is limited.  However, even a projector and single teacher classroom can still bring great opportunities into the classroom with rich historical content.

This past week I have focused my content area activities on art, health and physical education.  Of the three content area I chose, this by far was the most difficult to imagine working in my particular school.  Our students simply don’t get much time on a computer and there are no portable devices to be had at all.  While the assignment this week was so fun and I could envision using it in the classroom, the infrastructure is truly the biggest obstacle.  Even if my students all had access to iPads on a daily basis, they go to prep classes for P.E., art, and health.  Art would be the easiest to integrate and health wouldn’t be as difficult but P.E. might be the most difficult.  While I thought it was more difficult, it wasn’t impossible.  Most P.E. teachers use their time to really get kids moving although researching historical games would be a fun way to incorporate it.  Just this week I heard my 9-year-old daughter talk about how they were doing MAP testing.  She said that she hated testing but that her teacher made it fun because they took little breaks and did “Dance Dance Revolution.”  As I probed further, she said that nobody held the WII controllers, her teacher just put it on the screen and everyone danced for a little break.  I thought this was brilliant and had totally forgotten about gaming consoles and how they can be utilized in the classroom.  No, there is no points scored for the game itself, but it is certainly a quick and easy way to get kids moving when things get slow and tiresome in the classroom.  After thinking about this a while longer, I was reminded of the school I used to work at in Utah.  When temperatures dropped below 20 degrees, if it is raining, or if the air quality is poor, the students are held inside for recess.  With over 1,000  elementary-aged students in the school, this was a huge challenge for kids that needed to move.  The P.E. teachers would wheel T.V.’s into the common areas and encourage kids to do activities on the XBox Connect or Wii Fit programs.  No one held the controllers, they were just moving and having fun.

I believe the true art of teaching is being able to include multiple content area into one lesson.  If we don’t then we will never get through all the standards we are supposed to address.  With high-stakes testing at the forefront of the media and the fact that so many students are even taking those tests as early as February (with 3 more months of learning still to go), teachers absolutely have to get creative and include as much content  in the shortest amount of time. Teachers are also being forced to focus  on the content areas that will be tested the most heavily on which is just such a disservice to our students.

Sadly, one of the biggest obstacles isn’t really technology at all, it is time and the lack thereof.  The next great obstacle to technology integration is infrastructure.  I know that most of my colleagues would love to be able to use technology across all content areas but sadly, not all schools have the same opportunities for this.  Our school has one classroom set of iPads to share with the entire K-5 school.  This means that students get an iPad once a month if they are lucky however, when all students are logged on to the Wi-Fi at once, the bandwidth cannot accommodate them and they are routinely logged off multiple times.  Students visit the computer lab 40 minutes a week (two 20-minute sessions), which is barely enough time to get logged on and logged back off.

With all the demands placed on a teacher, I can understand why technology integration hasn’t evolved enough.  It is a sad reality and with Idaho being dead last in student funding across the United States, It isn’t likely to change anytime soon.  I get very excited about all the activities I have created and know how wonderful it would be to  be able to use them, but then reality of the infrastructure rears its ugly head.  In the preface of our textbook it states “Technology is, by definition, intended to be part of our path to a better life, rather than an obstacle in its way.”  I know that at my age of 42, I have many years ahead of me and that someday the State of Idaho will catch up and I will be able to use what I have been working hard on in this program.

Jen Crook – EdTech 541

Content Area Choice 3: Art, Music, & P.E.

Over the course of these last three Content Area Choice lessons/activities, I have combined my content area of third to fifth grade language arts/writing with other curriculum content areas. As per fourth grade Common Core State Standards, students study the Oregon Trail extensively. All three of my Content Area Choice lessons/activities revolve around the common theme of “Life on the Oregon Trail.” This art, music, & P.E. lesson will connect my current content area focus of language arts,writing, reading (fluency and comprehension) with the Oregon Trail activities.

Content Area Choice #3: Art, music, and P.E. learning activities includes two parts. The directions in Part One was to create an interactive poster. I chose Smore, a free interactive flyer tool. Part two of this lesson will involve an activity using one or more of the resources I linked in Smore.


Part 1: Interactive Flyer created with Smore

As per assignment directions: I need to have at least 10 “Arts” resources – with at least 2 from each of the “arts” areas: Art, PE, and Music, AND at least 3 of those links need to be some type of media – video or audio.

For children struggling with reading comprehension and fluency, reading primary source documents can be difficult to learn in any subject but particularly an unfamiliar time period as with the mid 19th century. Teaching through games, music, art, plays/readers theaters, etc., students will find a greater joy not only for the topic but for the literature they will encounter. Terms and definitions specific to the time period will make more sense if they have been exposed to it previously through an activity.

  • Art: Oregon Trail, The Play. Without movies, iPads, cellphones, television, etc., children had to use their imaginations. Children would often create plays and perform for their friends and family. The Bureau of Land Management National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center has a great resource for educators free for downloading. This 158 page document is full of resources, activities, games and stories to learn about the Oregon Trail. Pages 74-88 is a play written for students. This is a fun activity to not only learn about life on the trail, but showcase knowledge either in front of a camera or live to parents.
  • Art: Photographs. While students can read journals and diaries of life on the trail, nothing can bring the topic to life better than a good sketch or photograph. Combining a visual image with text is powerful and deepens understanding. Have students choose one photograph from the linked website and write a 5 paragraph story about what might be happening in the photo.
  • Art: Sketches. Cameras were available but not many people had the opportunity to own one. Instead of shooting a photograph with our cell phones, the pioneers relied on a paper and a pencil to record life on the trail. These were called drawings or sketches. This collection from the Library of Congress has many options for students to study and make connections to.
  • Music: Song Sheets. “For most of the nineteenth century, before the advent of phonograph and radio technologies, Americans learned the latest songs from printed song sheets” Library of Congress. This Library of Congress resource contains 4,291 sheets of music in the collection. Not to be confused with sheet music, song sheets are single printed sheets, usually six by eight inches, with lyrics but no music. Song sheets also contained art work. Students would enjoy browsing through the various songs/lyrics/artwork to get an idea of what was popular in the mid 1800’s.
  • Music: Campfire Music. Pioneers were very talented and enjoyed singing and dancing. While dragging a piano across the plains didn’t happen often, many people played the fiddle and other light-weight instruments for entertainment. This collection of audio music (accessible through YouTube) is a great sampler of music the travelers would enjoy listening to and playing in the evening after a long day of walking.
  • P.E.: Chain Tag and Blind Man’s Bluff outdoor games. Children on the Oregon Trail did not attend school like we know it. They were taught along the trail and they truly didn’t have much need for a physical education program like we have now. Children covered around 20 miles a day just walking. It wasn’t uncommon for children to rush ahead of the train to avoid the dust and play games with each other. Between the many miles of walking, playing games, and manual chores, children received no shortage of physical exercise.
  • P.E.: Fox and Geese game. With shorter daytime hours and less outdoor chores, children still needed to find entertainment in the winter. This games is best for snow because the shape of a wagon wheel is marked in the snow depicting quadrants and safe zones.
  • Video: Oregon Trail Old West Journey by Rick Thorne although over 15 minutes long is an excellent resource to use an introduction of the Oregon Trail unit. The video is filled with wonderful information and photographs.
  • Video: Pioneer Pride Dancing. Students in Mrs. Roberts class perform time-period dances for video production. As many 4th grade students learn the various dances during the Oregon Trail simulation unit, this resource would be a great way to introduce the idea to students and show them that other students had done it before AND had fun!
  • Audio: Buffalo Gals. Students will enjoy exploring various music from the mid 19th century. It is likely that many of the tunes/songs will be familiar and catchy enough to hear humming all day long.

Part 2: Lessons/Activities for Students

Learner Description: Learners are 4th grade students learning about the Oregon Trail through a variety of daily activities.

Teacher Note: All links in the flyer are click-able and will take you to the source for more information. In the flyer, there are 9 activity ideas. I will only be addressing and expanding on three.

Activity 1: Write your own lyrics!

    • Students will collaborate and work together to write a verse to a song.
    • Students will perform together for video and publication.
Activity Directions

It has long been proven that music is a valuable teaching tool. Most people remember their alphabet and the order of the letters by frequently humming the song while alphabetizing words thanks to the catchy tune of the alphabet song. Many students have learned all 50 states through song as well. It is also interesting to note that students can learn about history through songs such as those I referenced in my flyer. We can question, “what was the author thinking about when he/she wrote those lyrics?” “What were the circumstances of the economy at the time?” “What can we learn from this particular song?”

      • The teacher will divide the class into 4 groups.
      • Each group will be responsible for writing one verse to the tune of Buffalo Gals. Students will need to review the resources for this activity and understand what a verse is.
      • The Students will practice their verse and prepare to perform in front of the class.
      • After students have rehearsed as a group several times, the teacher will direct each group in round-robin style to come in on the cue of the music. This version of music does not include any lyrics. Students will need to listen through a few times before performing.
      • After multiple rehearsals, the teacher can film the song and publish it to the class blog or Edmodo site.
Connection to Content Area

The writing of lyrics is a language arts/writing activity.

Activity 2: Quilt Activity

Teacher will review the purpose of quilting (via the resources linked in the flyer), the history of quilting and even how it applies to math skills. While quilting served many practical purposed, it was also considered quite an art. Most quilts involved very detailed patterns of geometric shapes as the design. Although some quilts include a picture, most during this era were of geometric shape and design.

      • Students will create their own 4×4 paper quilt block (or more than one if time permits)in a repetitive geometric design.
Activity Directions
      • Teacher will pre-cut multiple 4×4 pieces of white paper.
      • Students will read about and complete a KWL chart on the history and artistry of quilt making from the websites provided in the links on the flyer.
      • The teacher will show several examples of patchwork quilts from Google Images.
      • Students will use colored pencils to create their own 4×4 quilt block and design it attractively with repeating patterns. A ruler and pencil is highly recommended.
      • Teacher will attach them all on a bulletin board for display.

Examples of quilt designs

Connection to Content Area

Students will read about and complete a KWL chart on the history and artistry of quilt making.

Activity 3: Pioneer Games

Pioneer games have been popular for many decades. Only in recent years have children opted for electronics over physical play. Exposing children to fun games of the past is a great way to get children active and having fun as a group.

      • Students will read the directions of the games and then play at recess or P.E.
Activity Directions
      • Have students follow the links to the games linked on the flyer. Have a class discussion and possibly even use the SmartBoard to visually demonstrate how the game will work.
      • Discuss the rules for play
      • Practice and play during recess/P.E.
Connection to Content Area

Students will be required to read and use comprehension strategies to learn how to play a new game.

English Language Arts Standards – Writing – Grade 4

Research to Build and Present Knowledge


Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.


Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Social Studies Standards Grade 4

Standard 2.1 Students will understand how Utah’s history has been shaped by many diverse people, events, and ideas.

b. Explore points of view about life in Utah from a variety of cultural groups using primary source documents.

c. Explore cultural influences from various groups found in Utah today (e.g. food, music, religion, dress, festivals).

e. Explain the importance of preserving cultural prehistory and history, including archaeological sites and other historic sites and artifacts.


Audio Recordings Turkey in the Straw. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/item/afcreed000091/

Books Dancing and prompting, etiquette and deportment of society and ball room. (1864). Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/resource/musdi.002.0?st=gallery

Children’s birthday games – Blind Man’s Buff. (2011, July 6). Retrieved from https://birthdaycandles.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/childrens-birthday-games-blind-mans-buff/

Early Settlement of North Dakota. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ndstudies.org/resources/activites/es/pioneer.html

English Language Arts Standards » Reading: Literature » Grade 4. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/4/

History of Quilts. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.quilting-in-america.com/History-of-Quilts.html

Library of Congress Home | Library of Congress. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/

Picnic games. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.greatgrubclub.com/picnic_games#.VRYlSUY2xNN

Pioneer Quilts: A Comfort Through Hardship. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.womenfolk.com/quilting_history/pioneer.htm

Teaching Cross-Country Skiing: Fox and Geese. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/fox-and-geese-creates-fun-while-learning

The Oregon Trail: Education Resource Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.blm.gov/or/oregontrail/files/TBKS_opt.pdf

Thorne, R. (2012, October 6). Oregon trail old west journey. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_E7MJu34sQk</p>

Willow Springs. (2013, July 29). Pioneer pride dancing. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du7SxV0o6K8</p>

Yoshikarter1. (2011, February 20). Oregon trail II music – “Long, long ago” east town theme 2. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/M4pDXmysNyc?list=PLAE18021362A0EFBF

#EdTech 541

EdTech 541 Content Area Activity2

Reflection: Relative Advantage of Using Technology Across Content Areas

As an elementary teacher I teach all content areas. With the increasing pressures of high-stakes testing, elementary teachers have to “pick and choose” what to teach so the students will perform on year-end tests. Some students are taking year-end tests as early as February and March because of computer and bandwidth issues in the schools. Sadly this means that teachers might only focus on the content that will be tested. The only way to truly add in those other content areas is to integrate content areas together.

My original content area is language arts/reading/writing instruction for third to fifth grades. Although my content area is a vital one, it is also important for me to incorporate some of the “forgotten” or “lost” content areas into my focus area. For these three content areas I chose to focus on the theme of Life on the Oregon Trail for 4th grade. This is a fun unit that children enjoy and can easily encompass all content areas with a little research. While students could possibly learn about the history of life on the Oregon Trail, it is likely to be uninteresting if the content is simply read and memorized for later regurgitation.

Using technology can definitely be a bonus for including various content areas. For language arts and social studies standards, students are required to recognize and use primary source documents. This is becoming increasingly exciting as so many primary source documents have been digitized and is now viewable with a few clicks on the computer. It is very exciting to have students examine hand-written journals of pioneers while comparing and contrasting with a transcribed version.   Students will not only get caught up in the life of those they are reading about, but they can also learn what kinds of details to include in their own diaries.

There are so many amazing options and advantages of using technology across multiple content areas. It truly is the simplest way to integrate and cover multiple content areas. The textbook discusses this topic for over 100 pages. I chose just a few of my favorites for the purpose of this reflection:

 1. Virtual Field Trips. According to Roblyer & Doering (2013), “Field trips have been used as a context for teaching and learning in the social studies ever since the Internet entered the
K–12 classroom.” The authors continue, “Virtual field trips can provide students the opportunity to construct knowledge actively through interacting with historic places, experts, and artifacts. When integrated into the curriculum and not used as rewards, field trips can be among the most valuable and effective modes of history teaching, especially local historic sites.

2. The opportunity for students to compare and contrast the past with the present.

3. Digital Storytelling. Roblyer & Doering (2013) describe digital storytelling as “the process of using images and audio to tell the stories of lives, events, or eras. In this technique, students use personal narrative to explore community­based history, politics, economics, and geography. These projects offer students the opportunity to make their own lives a part of their scholarly research” (pg. 341).

4. Students with access to the Internet and technology have the most up-to-date information that generations before have not been able to find so easily.

Students in this information-age are truly the luckiest generation. While many people argue that technology is “evil,” knowing where to find appropriate information is truly the key. There are so many options for integrating multiple content areas into one lesson and technology has the ability to make it easier.

Content Area Choice 2: Primary Source Documents

Over the course of these three Content Area Choice lessons, I am combining my content area of third to fifth grade language arts/writing with other curriculum content areas. As per fourth grade Common Core State Standards, students study the Oregon Trail extensively. All three of my Content Area Choice activities revolve around a common theme of life on the Oregon Trail. I will connect my current content area focus of language arts,writing, reading (fluency and comprehension) with social studies.

Content Area Choice #2: Social Studies Learning Activities includes two parts. Part one will address the need to expose students of all ages to primary source documents and how they differ from secondary source documents through exploration of a variety or images, documents, diaries, maps, etc. Part two of this lesson will involve an activity using Google Maps and linking to information found in the primary source documents.

In regards to Social Studies, historical document analysis, and reading comprehension, Massey & Heafner (2004) offer teachers three suggestions to help students better comprehend what they read:

  • Pre-Reading: Establish a purpose for reading and make as many connections to background knowledge as possible.
  • During Reading: Use graphic organizer to understand the arrangement of the texts. Attempt to make connections to multiple texts. Compare and contrast various points of view.
  • Post-Reading: Monitor comprehension through questioning. Synthesize information across a variety of texts.

As a teacher prepares to instruct students with unfamiliar texts and primary source documents, it is important to keep the above reading strategies in mind to help achieve the best possible chance for success.

Part 1: Primary Source Documents

Learner Description: Learners are 4th grade students learning about the Oregon Trail through a variety of daily activities.

Teacher Note: ALL images are hotlinked and will take you directly to the website reference.

Activity 1: Introduction to Primary Source Documents: What are they?

During the next several activities, students will be investigating primary source documents. Before beginning however, it is important to DEFINE what a primary source document is.

    • Students will understand that a firsthand account (primary source) is told from the perspective of a person who participated in the event.
    • Students will understand that a secondhand account (secondary source) is told from the perspective of someone who was not a participant in the event.
    • Students will understand the point of view (firsthand or secondhand) of an account affects the focus and information told in the event.
    • Students will understand that there will be similarities and differences between firsthand and secondhand accounts of the same event.
Activity Directions

Teacher will define and discuss the definition of “Primary Source” and “Secondary Source.”

      • Set up a dramatic situation in the classroom (for example, another teacher bursts into the room and does a spontaneous crazy dance and then walks out without an explanation).
      • The next day, the teacher will ask every student to write a description of the dramatic event that happened the previous day. They need to describe carefully what they saw and heard.
      • Read a variety of personal accounts (“primary sources”) and how they may differ from student to student. Was there more than one version of the story?
      • Think of situations from the students’ lives where there might be more than one version of the same event – for example, if you have a fight with one of your brothers or sisters, do you both tell your mom the same story?
      • Have a class discussion about the information in the social studies texts or newspapers. Is it information from one person’s point of view? How could we determine if it is a primary source?
      • With guidance from the teacher, guide students in creating a list of ways to determine if a document is a primary source document (the date, the author, etc.).
      • Remind students of the E-book diary activity. Will each student’s story be the same as their peers? Will the event be generally the same? What kinds of details will be different?
      • Students will write in their own Oregon Trail notebooks a working definition of “primary source documents.”

Activity 2: Primary Source Document Investigation of Oregon Trail Landmarks

On the Oregon Trail Website, there are 30 Historical Sites listed. Divide the class into 6 groups. Each group will be responsible for exploring 5 historical sites. Each site includes a photo or sketch of an event, a brief synopsis of an event that happened there and a first-person diary account about that location.

      • Students will practice determining primary source information (the diary quotes) from each site and compare to the secondary source information (the broad description or summary of the site).
Activity Directions
      • Each group will visit their assigned historical sites on the website.
      • The students will highlight, copy, and paste the primary source information (from each site) to a Google document for their group. Students will use this information later in the activities.
      • Students should identify the name of the historical site followed by the copied and pasted information. The teacher can model how this is to be done via the SmartBoard. Example: St. Louis, Missouri. Emigrant/author Francis Parkman:”The boat struggled upward for 7 or 8 days against the rapid current of the Missouri, grating upon snags and hanging for two or three hours at a time upon sand bars. In five or six days we began to see signs of the great western movement that then was taking place.”
Screenshot of the St.Louis historical site retrieved from http://www.america101.us/trail/Stlouis.html

Lesson Extension

Compare handwritten journal entries with transcribed (typed for ease of reading) journal entries. Both journals are considered primary source information. Have a class discussion why. Is the information the same whether it is typed or handwritten? Is the handwriting more valuable than the typed words? Do they tell the same story of the events that happened? Which version do the students prefer?

Activity 3: Diary Compare and Contrast

As pointed out in the introduction/definition Activity #1, many people can experience the same event and have entirely different stories to tell. Catherine Sager and Harriett Scott Palmer are two women that traveled the same Oregon Trail. While they had many similar experiences, their diaries are very different.

      • Students will read through portions of the diaries and compare and contrast the differing views from these two primary source documents.
Activity Directions
      • Students will be divided into two groups.
      • Group one will peruse the diary of Catherine Sager (Pringle) HERE.
      • Group two will peruse the diary of Harriett Scott Palmer HERE.
      • The teacher will display a large Venn Diagram on the SmartBoard. Each group will present some findings from their reading about each pioneer. They will list the differences and commonalities in the Venn Diagram. Students will record the same Venn diagram information in their individual Oregon Trail notebooks.

Activity 4: Stories through Primary Source photos

According to Smithsonian National Museum of American History in conjunction with Thinkfinity by Verizon, “Photographs provide us with images of past events. Today, historians study the content and the meaning of these
visual images to locate information about a particular topic, time, or event. Photographs can convey countless details
about life. For historians and for us, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” While not a full source of information, often a photograph can tell a story that hasn’t been recorded.

        • Students will examine various websites with primary source photographs and answer questions to create a possible story for that photo.
Activity Directions

The teacher will display the following images (one at a time) on the SmartBoard. Each image can be access through direct link (provided) or downloading and printing for individual work. Students will examine each photo then answer a series of questions that may help them formulate the possible story behind the photo. This portion may be modified at the direction of the teacher based on the time constraints and needs/dynamics of the students in the classroom.

Either as a group discussion, in small groups, or independently, students will examine the photos carefully then answer the following questions about each photo in their Oregon Trail Notebooks:

        • What is happening in the photograph?
        • Make a list of any people in the photograph.
        • Make a list of any objects in the photograph.
        • Make a list of any animals in the photograph.
        • What time of year is pictured? Time of day?
        • Where do you think this photograph was taken?
        • Who do you think took this photo and why?
        • Write one paragraph about what you think is happening based on the clues in the photo.
          • Fort Laramie (Fort William) from an 1837 sketch by Alfred Jacob Miller
          • The Wagon Accident
          • Oregon Trail Ferry
          • A Pioneer Family


          • Computer or tablet
          • Oregon Trail Notebooks
          • Venn Diagram included in the Oregon Trail Notebook
          • Questions for photo questioning included in the Oregon Trail Notebook
          • Copies of the photos if necessary

Part 2: Maps as Primary Sources

Google Map Activity

Visit HistoryGlobe.com. Show the 1843 map of the Oregon Trail and the modern map. How are they different? How are they the same?
Modern Map

1843 Map
For the pioneers, landmarks were an important part of their journey. Ask students why landmarks might be helpful to the pioneers? Perhaps it is because it helps them to know where they are, how far they have come and how far they still have to go?

In this activity students will be using the landmark photos found on HistoryGlobe.com and copying them to their own map of the Oregon Trail. This activity may be a bit more challenging for some students; consider pairing students together if necessary.

          • Students will create an interactive map with either primary or secondary source photos/sketches.
          • Students will learn how to copy an image and link into their own map.

In this Google Map activity, students will be following the links on HistoryGlobe.com beginning on the “Trail Tour” button. This activity will be easier if the students have three tabs open on their browser. One tab for the HistoryGlobe Trail Tour website, one tab for the HistoryGlobe modern map, and the third for the Google Map.

trail tour button

Activity Directions
          • Students will go to My Maps powered by Google and “Create a new map.” My Maps requires students to either log in to their own Google account or a class account set up previously. Teacher Note: Consider projecting the instructions onto the SmartBoard for easy reference.
          • Students need to rename their map to: Oregon Trail Landmarks.
          • The first stop on the HistoryGlobe.com’s trail tour is Independence, Missouri. Students should either navigate to Independence, Missouri on the map or type in “Independence, Missouri” into the search bar and press enter. See screenshot below. Keep this tab open because students will come back to it in a minute.
          • Locate the Marker Tool. Add a marker (it will show up as red) to the map on Independence, Missouri.
          • Go back to the HistoryGlobe tour on the Independence, MO page. Right click on the image and choose “Copy Image Location.”
          • Rename the “Point” to Independence, Missouri. Click on the camera icon (as shown in the screenshot below).
          • Follow the directions on the screenshot below. Be sure to SAVE at the end of this step!
          • The image is now linked on the map!
          • Repeat all the steps with the next stop on the Trail Tour at HistoryGlobe.com
          • At the end of this activity, students will have multiple red “markers” on their interactive maps. Each red marker is now linked to a photo/sketch.

            English Language Arts Standards – Writing – Grade 4

            Text Types and Purposes


            Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.


            Use a variety of transitional words and phrases to manage the sequence of events.

            Research to Build and Present Knowledge


            Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.


            Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

            Social Studies Standards Grade 4

            Standard 2.1 Students will understand how Utah’s history has been shaped by many diverse people, events, and ideas.

            a. Chart the routes that diverse cultural groups took from their places of origin to Utah, using maps and other resources.

            b. Explore points of view about life in Utah from a variety of cultural groups using primary source documents.

            c. Explore cultural influences from various groups found in Utah today (e.g. food, music, religion, dress, festivals).

            e. Explain the importance of preserving cultural prehistory and history, including archaeological sites and other historic sites and artifacts.


            Engaging students with primary sources. (n.d.). Retrieved March 27, 2015, from http://historyexplorer.si.edu/PrimarySources.pdf

            English Language Arts Standards » Reading: Literature » Grade 4. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/4/

            Harriet Scott Palmer on Crossing the Great Plains – American Memory Timeline- Classroom Presentation | Teacher Resources – Library of Congress. (n.d.). Retrieved March 27, 2015, from http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/expref/oregtral/crossing.html

            Massey, D., & Heafner, T. (2004). Promoting reading comprehension in social studies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 26-40. Retrieved March 27, 2015, from http://www.ed.sc.edu/raisse/pdf/SocialStudiesArticles/PromotingReadingComprehensioninSocia Studies.pdf

            Pringle, C. (2001). Across the plains in 1844. Retrieved March 27, 2015, from http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/resources/archives/two/sager1.htm

            Roblyer, M.D., & Doering, A.H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (6th ed.). [Kindle version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com.

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EdTech 541: Content Choice Actvity #1

Jen Crook Content Area Choice 1 EBook

Jen Crook – EdTech 541

Content Area Choice 1: EBook

Over the next 3 Content Area Choice lessons, I will be combining my content area of 3rd to 5th grade language arts/writing with other curriculum content areas. As per 4th grade Common Core State Standards, students study the Oregon Trail extensively. All 3 of my Content Area Choice activities will include the Oregon Trail as the central theme. I will connect my focus of language arts with other content areas. Content Area Choice #1 is the creation of an eBook which further explores language arts curriculum. I chose to explore and use MixBook.com as the eBook creator tool.

I explored other possible eBook creation tools and didn’t feel they were as user-friendly as I had hoped. Storybird.com, while looked promising does not allow for uploading of personal art or photos which did not fit the purpose of this assignment as the Oregon Trail is rich in primary source documents and photographs. Storybird.com is designed to be a “story starter” to use with the site’s existing artwork.

Storyjumper.com looked like a lot of fun for story creating as well. Students could spend a lot of time putting parts and pieces of the artwork together to form their own story illustrations. Photos can be uploaded into Storyjumper. I had a few problems playing with the tool as it was quite buggy and gave me “sorry we are experiencing technical difficulties” types of messages. After playing and attempting to make it into a journal, I quit because of some of the glitches. Perhaps the paid versions was less buggy.

BookRix.com looked very promising until it was time to share the finished eBook. After sharing the link, with another family member, it was determined that the individual wanting to view the eBook needed to have account username and password to view it. It looked like there were some paid upgrades available.

Although the class syllabus link says that Blurb.com and Lulu.com are acceptable, they are both eBook publishers where .PDF documents or Word documents can be simply uploaded and made into an eBook. I have used both programs before and eBooks do cost a nominal fee for the initial download. Blurb and Lulu are not as user-friendly for young children. I have used both tools often and still find myself frustrated with the process so it simply wouldn’t be a good resource for 4th graders.


Mixbook - Create stunning photo books, cards and calendars! | Design your own Photo Book with Mixbook’s easy online editor.

Oregon Trail: Ebook Diary

Students will be participating in a daily Oregon Trail simulation activity that will span 6-8 weeks or longer if needed. This eBook journal activity will be divided into 4 learning activities. The actual eBook will be created during the third learning activity and added to weekly as students transcribe their handwritten diaries from their composition notebook to Mixbook. Teacher’s note: This lesson was designed for use on a PC but simple modifications can make it easily work on an iPad.

The full Meunier & Hamby (n.d.) Oregon Trail simulation activity can be found HERE.

Learner Description: Learners are 4th grade students learning about the Oregon Trail through a variety of daily activities.

Prerequisite Knowledge

Students should already know how to save and access folders on their flashdrives. Students should have already set up an account, accessed, and created a simple sample eBook in MixBook.com. Students should be familiar with the MixBook navigation tools and how to upload photos from a flashdrive folder to the MixBook creator.

Prior to starting the Oregon Trail simulation activity, the teacher should read aloud “Westward to Home: Joshua’s Oregon Trail Diary: Book One.” This book will introduce the Oregon Trail and how it affected children traveling. This eBook activity will reinforce the concept of reading and writing in the first person.

Activity 1: Find and Reference Photos

Giving proper credit to photos used from the Internet is an important skill for children to learn. Photos belong to another person and they must create an appropriate reference. At the end of this activity students will be able to save images from the Internet and reference them correctly. Students will understand that they can’t just copy images from the Internet because they don’t belong to us. For 4th grade students it is expected that they will be able to create an image reference with the author, title, and website URL.

  • Students will be able to save images to their individual flashdrives and post references in a Word document.
  • Students will be able to reference images with the author, title, and website URL.
Activity Directions
  • Teacher will model all steps of this activity on the whiteboard/SmartBoard
  • As per the rubric, for the final eBook activity, students will be required to have 5 images (photos) and 1 map from the Oregon Trail for their eBook diary.
  • Review and create a new Word document titled [Name]: Oregon Trail References saved on the flashdrives.
  • Review and create a new folder on the fashdrives specifically for the images they will save and download.
  • Teacher will model on the first photo how to navigate to Wikimedia or another appropriate site for photos related to the Oregon Trail, preferably from primary source documents. Students will follow along on their own PC.
  • Right click on the image and choose “save image” with the destination as their created folder on the flashdrive.
  • Teacher will model how to copy and paste the URL into the Word document reference.
  • Teacher will model how to create a proper reference for the image they chose. Each reference or citation should include author, title, and website (see example below).
  • Students will independently repeat this process until they have at least 5 photos.
  • Students will also find a map of the Oregon Trail and copy, paste, and reference the map the same way as photo references.

Gary Halvorson, Covered Wagon, retrieved from http://bit.ly/1MVH1OK

Activity 2: Journal Writing

As students move along the Oregon Trail in the class simulation activity, they will be expected to keep a journal or a diary. Students will be writing in this diary almost daily so they must become familiar with items that need to be included in their own diary.

  • Students will be able to identify the critical aspects of a journal entry including the “who-what-when-where” as well as any interesting activities that happened that day.
Activity Directions
  • Teachers will remind students of the journal of Joshua in the Westward Home book.
  • As a class discussion, teachers and students will discuss what things might be good to include in a diary.
  • As per the rubric, students will be required to record the “who-what-when-where” of the trail activities. This means recording the date, where they are on the trail, who is with them, and anything that happened on the trail that day.
  • Give students paper/digital copy of excerpts from a diary from the Oregon Trail.
  • As a class, ask students to highlight the “who-what-when-where” and any other interesting events that happened from the day’s activities on the trail.
  • Remind students that these facts are important to add to a diary and why.
  • Students will be writing daily during their journey on the Oregon Trail in their physical journal (composition notebook).

Activity 3: eBook Creation

An eBook has many great advantages. Students will be publishing their eBook diaries to the Class Edmodo site at the end of the Oregon Trail simulation. Parents and other students will be able to review each others’ eBooks at the completion of this project. eBooks are a great platform for sharing content and research. This portion of the project will take several weeks and carry on through the entire Oregon Trail Simulation activity.

    • Students will transcribe their written content (from their composition notebook journals) to their individual eBook.
    • Students will recall the elements of the rubric, 5 photos, 1 map, at least 10 dated journal entries and in proper journal format.
    • Students will reference all photos correctly.
Activity Directions
      • Teacher will review all aspects of the rubric (see “EBook Rubric” below).
      • Teacher will demonstrate a review of all steps of the MixBook eBook creator on the whiteboard/SmartBoard while students are working simultaneously.
      • Students will log in to their own MixBook account.
      • Students will click on “New Project,” then “Photo Book.”
      • Click on “Blank Canvas,” then “Start Book.”
      • Student can use any theme or layout they would like that helps them tell their story from the trail.
      • Weekly, or more often if possible, students transcribe the handwritten journal to the MixBook creator.
      • Students may download more photos (and references) if needed.
      • Be sure to add a title, author, and photo on the cover
      • Create a “Reference” list for the photo credits on the last page of the eBook.
      • Copy and past the references from the Word document to the “Reference list at the end of the eBook.
      • The book should include a map of the Oregon Trail somewhere.
      • Rename the book from “Blank Canvas” to “[Student’s Name]: An Oregon Trail Diary.”
      • Save eBook at the end of each session.

Activity 4: Post eBook to Edmodo

Edmodo is a social networking site similar to Facebook but safe and secure for younger users. Students should already have an account and be familiar with how to embed/post content.

        Students will:

      • Log in to Mrs. Crook’s Edmodo classroom.
      • Post an embedded link to the eBook.
      • Comment on 3 other students’ eBooks


      • Internet enabled PC
      • Composition notebooks
      • Read aloud books

EBook Rubric

Students will be grade on the eBook activity by including all of the following:

      • At least 5 photos and 1 map.
      • All photos are properly referenced on the last page (author, title, and website).
      • At least 10 journal entries with date as the heading.
      • Title, author (self), and photo on the cover.
      • Journal entries include “who-what-when-where” and any other interesting details from the trail experience.
      • Publish final eBook copy and embed the link on class Edmodo site.
      • Comment on at least 3 other student’s eBooks.

English Language Arts Standards – Writing -Grade 4

Text Types and Purposes


Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.


Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.


Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.


Use a variety of transitional words and phrases to manage the sequence of events.


Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.


Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.

Production and Distribution of Writing


With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.


With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge


Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.


Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.


(n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.blm.gov/or/oregontrail/files/TBKS_opt.pdf

Allabout. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.america101.us/trail/Allabout.html

English Language Arts Standards » Reading: Literature » Grade 4. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/4/

Gingerich, J. (2009, February, 13). Oregon trail documentary [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4usTzaGP98

Meunier, A., & Hamby, S. (n.d.). Oregon Trail. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.medford.k12.or.us/Files/Unit_5_Oregon_Trail.pdf

Scott, A. (n.d.). Journal of a trip to Oregon By Abigail Jane Scott. Retrieved March 20, 2015, from http://cateweb.uoregon.edu/duniway/notes/DiaryProof1.html

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.blm.gov/or/oregontrail/education-kids-trail.php

Photo Credits (in the order they appear in the eBook)

Cover: Colored Oregon Trail artwork retrieved from http://bit.ly/1C2FfaT

Page 2: Pioneer Family photo retrieved from http://bit.ly/1FMpk1J

Page 4: Ferrys retrieved from http://bit.ly/1DDD8fF

Page 5: Wash and ironing day retrieved from http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/HNS/domwest/mcauley.html

Page 6: Death on the trail retrieved from http://bit.ly/1MOICWx

Page 7: Pawnee chief photo retrieved from http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/HNS/domwest/mcauley.html

Page 8: Buffalo chips retrieved from http://bit.ly/1bjvXgF

Page 9: Chimney Rock retrieved from http://bit.ly/1DDFrzx

Page 10: Fort Laramie retrieved from http://www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com/ftlar1845.jpg

Page 11: Independence Rock retrieved from http://bit.ly/19E7wtN

Page 13: Green River retrieved from http://wyoshpo.state.wy.us/trailsdemo/images/big/greenrivercrossing.jpg

Page 14: Indians on the Oregon Trail retrieved from http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/IGUIDE/or-pa7.GIF

Page 15: Bear River Valley retrieved from http://media-3.web.britannica.com/eb-media/22/144822-004-04374500.jpg

Page 16: Overturned Wagon retrieved from http://bit.ly/1bjscaY

Page 18: Fort Boise retrieved from http://www.historyglobe.com/ot/photos/fortboise.jpg

Page 19: Oregon City Willamette River retrieved from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/45/Oregon_City_and_Willamette_Falls,_1867.jpg

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