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: 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

Contact Me

EdTech 541 Internet Safety and Lesson Integration

According to Robyler & Doering (2013), “Web-based projects are so rich in resources and learning possibilities that they can usually be used with more than one of the following integration strategies: support for student research, practice for information literacy skills, visual learning problems and solutions, development of collaboration skills, and multicultural experiences,” (pg. 258). However, it is important to note that any time a student spends online is an opportunity for them to come in contact with inappropriate material. Teachers and parents must be cognizant of this when they are requesting that students use the Internet for research or other online activities (Roblyer & Doering, 2013, p. 259).

TeachersFirst’s Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship Resources states, “Modeling and helping students learn about Internet safety is the responsibility of every adult in our students’ lives, including teachers in all subject areas and parents at home.” In the Edutopia article, How to Teach Internet Safety to Younger Elementary Students, teachers and parents are reminded to add internet safety discussions to very young children much like we would a “stranger danger” talk. “With children spending time online at younger and younger ages, it is vital that we explicitly teach young children how to protect themselves online.” This article offers three suggestions:

  • Realize that young children are unable to transfer or differentiate the difference between strangers in real life to strangers online. It must be taught and revisited often.
  • Young children are unaware of how online strangers can be as dangerous as real-life strangers. Not all strangers are dangerous, but we have to be careful what information we give people we do not know in real-life.
  • In real-life, you can run away in potentially dangerous situations. In an online environment, the danger is inside the child’s home and they need skills in how to handle those situations.

Common Sense Media (CSM) is an excellent resource for parents and teachers in educating students about privacy and Internet safety. CSM recommends setting expectations and ground rules before children use the Internet. These guidelines should be revisited frequently.

Internet safety goes way beyond protecting kids from strangers or blocking inappropriate content. It’s about helping your kids use the Internet productively and practice safe, responsible online behavior — especially when you’re not there to answer their questions or check in on where they’ve ventured (Common Sense Media, n.d.).

While most school settings have Acceptable Use Agreements, it can be especially helpful to post a simple list of rules wherever computers are located (this is especially helpful at home). Common Sense Media (n.d.) lists a few basic guidelines to consider for rule implementation:

  • Follow your [family] or [school] rules about when and where to use the Internet.
  • Be polite, kind, and respectful.
  • Understand a website’s rules, and know how to flag other users for misbehavior.
  • Recognize “red flags,” including someone asking you personal questions such as your name and address.
  • Never share your name, your school’s name, your age, your phone number, or your email or home address with strangers.
  • Never send pictures to strangers.
  • Keep passwords private (except from parents).
  • Never open a message from a stranger; it may contain a virus that can harm a computer.
  • Immediately tell an adult if something mean or creepy happens.

Additional Resources

Internet safety video: A short video on Internet safety.

Safety Land:This site is an interactive city that teaches Internet safety.  Students are charged with helping the hero find the “bad” character through a series of questions hidden throughout the city.

NS Teens: Videos by teens for teens about cyberbullying, how to talk to parents or other officials, respect, passwords, privacy settings, and photo/comment posting etiquette.

Carnegie Cyber Academy: Cadets are trained in online safety to protect them cyber villains.

iLearn Technology: This site includes links to 16 of the most popular Internet safety sites for kids.

National Center for Missing and Exploiting Children: This site offers an educator-training program, teaching materials, presentations, and printable promotional items (handouts, etc). The website is divided into various categories for age-appropriate activities. Each category includes a wealth of information including games and quizzes for kids on Internet Safety.

  • Parents and guardians
  • Educators
  • Law enforcement
  • Teens
  • Tweens
  • Kids

Common Sense Media: An overall guide to all digital media and safety.

Internet Integration Lesson

Lesson Link

This lesson can be accessed via Animals on the Internet website created by Jen Crook.

Learner Description: This animal report scavenger hunt was created for 3-4 grade students in preparation for writing their own animal reports.


  • Students will follow links on the Internet to find animals from around the world via five zoos nationwide.
  • Students will organize information on a chart to compare animals.
  • Students will choose one animal for his/her animal report based on this scavenger hunt research.

Animals on the Internet Scavenger Hunt

This lesson can be accessed via Animals on the Internet website created by Jen Crook.

To get ready for upcoming animal reports, students will explore zoo websites to find an animal to write about. Students will travel to five zoos nationwide to collect information on a new and exotic animal. Students will peruse the zoo websites and discover a new animal they previously knew nothing about. What will be the strangest animal they will find? Has anyone else in his/her class ever heard of this animal? The student’s mission is to follow the links in the scavenger hunt and find a unique animal for the own animal report.

Student Directions

  • Look over the worksheet provided by your teacher (Worksheet can be downloaded from the materials section of “Animals on the Internet” website)
  • Follow the Internet links to each zoo.
  • Look around the zoo website and find an interesting animal you might want to write your animal report on.
  • Fill out the information found on the worksheet about that animal before you move to the next zoo link.
  • Try to find animals from different parts of the world.
  • Highlight or circle the animal you want to write your report on.
  • Turn this worksheet in to your teacher.


Find information for one animal at each zoo website and fill out the following information on the printed worksheet.

  • Animal
  • Where in the world is this animal found?
  • What is the life span of this animal?
  • What does this animal eat?
  • One interesting fact about this animal

Pittsburgh Zoo

San Diego Zoo

Cincinnati Zoo

Smithsonian National Zoo

Oakland Zoo

Common Core Standards

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:


Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

Range of Writing:


Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:


Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.


Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.


  • Internet enabled device
  • Downloaded and printed worksheet


At the conclusion of this activity, students will turn in their finished worksheets. On their worksheet, students will highlight or circle the animal they have chosen to write their research report on.


BrainPOP Jr. | Internet Safety. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2015, from https://jr.brainpop.com/artsandtechnology/technology/internetsafety/

Creative Commons: #ISRU11 – Internet safety is the responsibility of EVERYONE by OllieBray is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Crook, J. (2015, March 2). Animal Report Scavenger Hunt. Retrieved March 3, 2015, from http://edtech2.boisestate.edu/jencrook/541/animalsontheinternet.html

Hertz, M. (2012, June 4). How to Teach Internet Safety to Younger Elementary Students. Retrieved March 2, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/internet-safety-younger-elementary-mary-beth-hertz

How do I keep my kid safe on the Internet? (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2015, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/privacy-and-internet-safety/how-do-i-keep-my-kid-safe-on-the-internet

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

Teachers First – Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2015, from http://www.teachersfirst.com/spectopics/safety.cfm

©Jenifer Crook 2014


EdTech 541 Spreadsheets & Databases


There are many reasons why teachers love and use spreadsheets in the classroom. Roblyer & Doering (2013) list four main reasons why they are so popular and useful:

  • First, spreadsheets save time by automatically calculating information quickly. Programs such as Microsoft Excel can be programmed with any number of calculating functions that can speed up the process of grading for a teacher. Entries can be changed, added to, and deleted quickly.
  • Second, spreadsheets are an excellent way to organize information. While most people tend to think of spreadsheets for numerical data, the columns and rows are ideal tools for all types of charts and graphs that are needed in the classroom. From lesson planning and attendance to classroom management behavior charts, spreadsheets are a simple to tool to use for a variety of situations. Excel’s ability to make charts and graphs seconds makes it a teacher favorite.
  • Third, spreadsheets support asking “what if” questions by helping people visualize the impact of a change in numbers. When values are automatically recalculated, a person can play with the numbers to automatically see the result. This is useful in simple tasks like figuring potential grades for a student or as complex as a mortgage amortization schedule.
  • Fourth, spreadsheets increase motivation to work with mathematics. Teachers like using spreadsheets in teaching math because it helps to make learning more fun. Spreadsheets have a way of making concepts more visible and graphic. Visual representation of data makes it easier to analyze.

Teachers are quickly realizing that students of all ages are capable of understanding the format of a spreadsheet. Students in kindergarten have fun graphing the daily weather or their favorite color while older children can create graphs and charts on the phases of the moon or complex weather patterns. According to Teach-nology.com (n.d.), educators feel it is important to not only introduce the concept of spreadsheets early in a child’s educational experience, but to revisit it often to reinforce the concepts learned as it takes time to develop the skill.

Did you know that Excel can quickly make spreadsheets into web pages? This is a great feature for university students to share projects online with other students and professors or even teachers to share information, calendars or other data online to parents and/or students.

While the common uses include gradebooks and math lessons, there are many other uses for a spreadsheet in any grade level classroom.

Reading Instruction Tracker

While there are many components to this particular plan for struggling readers as found HERE: The Daily Lesson Plan (#8) can be particularly useful especially if tracking individual students progress. This daily plan is a nice way to keep track of information and goals for individual students and can be downloaded HERE. This is a .doc file and can be easily modified to meet the needs of individual students in the class.

Daily Lesson plan snapshot


Progress Monitoring: Cold Read/Hot Read

In elementary reading instruction, fluency practice and progress are important factors to consider. Research has shown that repeated readings of familiar texts increase a student’s oral reading fluency. Graphing “cold and hot” reads are very important for reading fluency. This particular chart can be kept by the student and graphed individually. Student will “cold read” a new passage for one minute then count the number of words read (Dibels or Read Naturally passages). Using a blue crayon, marker, or colored pencil, this number is graphed as the “cold read.” A goal can then be set for the student to achieve. After re-reading the text several times, the student can read the passage again for their “hot read” score. Using a red crayon, marker, or colored pencil, this number is graphed as the “Hot Read.” This form can be downloaded HERE.

cold and hot


Graphic Organizer for Individual or Class Read-Aloud Novels

This graphic organizer can be used for guided reading, class novels, independent, partner, and/or group novels. These worksheets can be used to teach, practice, and assess student understanding of context clues, setting, characters, theme, conflict, point of view, plot, mood, figurative language, symbolism, and the summary. The whole document can be downloaded HERE.

Thinking while reading


Animal Reports Graphic Organizer

For a 3rd grade class animal report, spreadsheets as graphic organizers are invaluable in sorting data in preparation for a final presentation or report. After a day of modeling how to find and record research, students are ready to independently look for information on the animal of their choice. The full document can be downloaded HERE.




What teacher doesn’t need a gradebook? As a professor in a previous course once said, “don’t reinvent the wheel, teachers don’t have time for it.” Thanks to the Internet and the millions of great teachers out there willing to share, finding an easy Excel gradebook took less than 3 minutes of searching. This particular gradebook template features tabs for each subject, student and class averages, number to letter grade conversion, ability to weight tests and quizzes, ability to view all grades for all subject areas on a single page, and the class list automatically updates on each page so there is no need for re-typing. The full Excel spreadsheet template can be downloaded HERE.




According to Miriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of “database” is a “collection of pieces of information that is organized and used on a computer. It is usually a large collection of data organized especially for rapid search and retrieval (as by a computer).” Databases are very useful for teachers. Databases gather and catalog millions of sources of information to make the job of the researcher quicker and more productive. Long ago patrons of a library had to use a card catalog to find a particular piece of literature in a library. Today, with just a few quick keystrokes, we can find any book in almost any library around the world. In fact, thanks to mass digitization efforts, many of those resources are immediately at our fingertips in a matter of seconds without ever having to leave our desk thanks to databases.

Lesson Plan Framework: Part 2

English Language Arts Standards. Writing. Grade 5


Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.


Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which ideas are logically grouped to support the writer’s purpose.


Provide logically ordered reasons that are supported by facts and details.


Link opinion and reasons using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., consequently, specifically).


Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.

Student Learning Objectives

As per CCSS for fifth grade writing, students will use the Google sheet to organize and input their reason and opinion on the given topic for their persuasive essay.

Students will use their Google sheet to edit the final copy of their essay as per the checklist.

Lesson Description

Students will be using this Google Sheet to begin organizing thoughts and ideas for a persuasive writing assignment. The topic for this persuasive essay is, “School district officials have debated the “best” start time for elementary schools for years. Assume that district officials have proposed two different start times. The two times would be 8:00 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. This also would adjust the end times for the school day as 3:05 p.m. and 4:10 p.m.” Students will decide which start time they prefer and write an introductory statement with their opinion directly in the Google sheet document and save it to their own Google Drive account. Students will then write 3 reasons with strong examples and a concluding statement on the Google sheet document. Students will then use this document to create the first draft of their persuasive essay. Once the initial draft is typed, students will revisit this Google Sheet and complete the editing checklist entering a “X” for each editing item they have completed. The rubric for this essay will follow the editing guidelines from the Google sheet document. The teacher will be able to view the Google sheet documents for both grading purposes and assistance where needed.

Direct link to Google Spreadsheet Document HERE.

Additional Spreadsheet & Database Resources


Craft, D. (2012). Daily lesson plan for a struggling reader. Dianne Craft – Solutions for dyslexia, dysgraphia, and struggling learners. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.diannecraft.org/language-arts-reading-program/

Crosby, A. (n.d.). Thinking while reading graphic organizers for any novel. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Thinking-While-Reading-Graphic-Organizers-for-Any-Novel-291950

English Language Arts Standards. Writing. Grade 5. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/W/5/

Excel Elementary Gradebook. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.superteacherworksheets.com/excel-gradebook.html

Excel In the Classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.teach-nology.com/tutorials/excel/

Literacy, H. (n.d.). TeachersPayTeachers.com. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/FreeDownload/Fluency-Graphs-for-Student-Data-Notebooks

Ms.M’s Blog: Writing on Wednesday: Animal Research Reports. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://msk1ell.blogspot.com/2014/04/writing-on-wednesday-animal-research.html

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

©Jenifer Crook 2015

EdTech 504 Learning Theory Paper

Jenifer Crook

Triarchic Intelligence Theory


According to Robert Sternberg’s Triarchic Intelligence Theory (1997) “successful intelligence is the use of an integrated set of abilities needed to attain success in life, however an individual defines it. People are successfully intelligent by virtue of recognizing their strengths and weaknesses and finding ways to compensate for them. Successfully intelligent people adapt to and select environments through a balanced use of their analytical, creative and practical abilities.”


Born in 1949, Robert Sternberg suffered from extreme test anxiety that resulted in being an inadequate test taker his entire life. He never felt that a test was a good measurement of true knowledge and academic abilities. Because of this, he created the Sternberg Test of Mental Agility (STOMA) in the 7th grade as a part of a science project; this was his first intelligence test. All of this sparked his interest in psychology. Robert went to Yale and did so poorly in his first Psychology class that the professor told him he should consider a different major. Dr. Sternberg has published more than 1,400 journal articles and books since 1972 and continues to be a strong leader in intelligence theories (Henshon, 2008).

Major Principles

The Triarchic Theory of Intelligence predicts that as “intelligent” people, we will know our own strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge helps us to make the most of our strengths and compensate for our weaknesses. The Triarchic Theory of Intelligence is divided into three areas. First, analytic intelligence is commonly viewed as “book smart.” This refers to the ability to complete academic, problem-solving tasks such as those used on traditional intelligence tests. Second, creative intelligence involves the ability to deal with new situations using past experiences and current skills. Third, practical intelligence may be viewed as “street smart.” This element refers to the ability to adapt to a changing environment. Practical intelligence is involved when dealing with common personal or practical problems. (Sternberg, 1997).


According to Sternberg & Spear-Sterling (1996) this theory has three major implications for educational psychology. First, teaching for all types of intelligence through differentiation is important because students need to capitalize on their strongest abilities at the same time they work to develop the abilities in which they demonstrate weaknesses. Second, students’ strongest abilities are directly connected to their most amenable learning styles. Teachers should know the learning preferences of their students and, when possible, capitalize on them. Third, because these variable abilities exist there should be many diverse assessments of school achievement, not only those that focus on traditional analytical abilities. Ability-based and personality-based styles matter, the goal of teaching should be to reach all students. Research has indicated that learning in at least partially matched conditions is significantly superior to that in mismatched conditions. People are successfully intelligent to the extent that they capitalize on their strengths in these areas and correct or compensate for their weaknesses. (Sternberg, Grigorenko, & Zhang, 2008).


Henshon, S. E. (2008). Adventurous navigator of the dimensions of high Ability: An interview with Robert J. Sternberg. Roeper Review, 30(2), 75-80. doi:10.1080/02783190801954726

 Sternberg, R. J. (1997). Successful intelligence. New York: Plume.

Sternberg, R., Grigorenko, E., & Zhang, L. (January 01, 2008). Styles of learning and thinking matter in instruction and assessment. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 6, 486-506.

Sternberg, R. J., & Spear-Swerling, L. (1996). Teaching for thinking. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association

EdTech 541 Interactive Presentation

Learner Description: Created for Grade 4 students to be used individually as a review and/or extra practice using correct homophones in sentences. This interactive presentation meets the standards for:

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.1:
    Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.1.g: Correctly use frequently confused words (e.g., to, too, two; there, their).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.4: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 4 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

About Interactive Presentations

“Presentation programs are software tools that are designed to display information and includes text, images, audio,
and video, in a slideshow format” (Roblyer & Doering, 2013). Cavanaugh & Cavanaugh (n.d.), suggest that presentation software, such as PowerPoint and Google Slides, can be used in the classroom in three general formats:

  • Teacher to entire class. This involves the teacher, or the presenter, sharing information with an entire classroom or published on the web.
  • Teacher to individual or small-group. This involves students or small groups working through tutorials, interactive lessons with feedback, drill & practice games, reviews, and even testing. Students can work at their own pace and remediation is individualized.
  • Student to entire class. This involves a student or group of students presenting their knowledge with the entire class, their parents, or the whole world via web publishing. Students gain experience through collaborative learning and organizing information to communicate to others.

There are many ways to use presentation software. Most students have access to web-enabled devices with either computers in a lab/classroom or iPads. According to Roblyer & Doering (2013), presentation software offers
educators the following benefits:

  • Presentations help organize thinking about topics.  This helps the presenter teach, and the student to learn, the topic in an organized manner.
  • A presentation product enhances the impact of spoken information by highlighting key ideas.  The presentation supports and supplements what the teacher says.
  • A presentation allows collaboration on projects,  students can work together on learning experiences together.
  • Interactive presentations include sensory engagement through multimedia (p. 128).

There are many advantages to using presentation software. Roblyer & Doering (2013) broke down the various aspects of presentation software and the relative advantages of each aspect:

  • Frame by frame sequence: Frame-by-frame organization breaks up information into logical units.
  • Frame formatting: Various text and information can be highlighted for emphasis via font size and colors.
  • Interactive features: Whether using on a SmartBoard, screen, or individually, videos, games, charts, quizzes, polls, and so much more can be added.
  • Web features: Teachers can add live URLs to take the student to another location on the web.
  • Support features: Slides can be printed for review, slides can be published online, and presentations can be saved as template for use again in the future.


My interactive presentation was created for fourth grade students needing extra practice with homophones, words that sound alike but have different meanings. This presentation includes 18 main slides with links to multiple online games and videos, a quiz, and a culminating Jeopardy game which includes 55 slides. The purpose of this interactive presentation is to give students the opportunity to explore various ways to practice using homophones but also to be interactive, not just another boring PowerPoint presentation/lesson.

It has been my experience with small-group reading instruction that the more interactive and hands-on a lesson can be, the more engaged the students will be, and more knowledge is retained. Sure, we can learn about homophones by memorizing them, but is that the most efficient and engaging way to teach and learn? My goal with this interactive presentation is that students will have a fun time with the videos, games, and practice through the various external links. I chose to focus more on a presentation that could be used independently, in small-groups, or with a partner as supplemental learning. While portions could be used as a whole group instruction, it was meant to be used for extended practice.


Cavanaugh, T., & Cavanaugh, C. (n.d.). Creating interactive PowerPoint presentations for teachers and students. Retrieved February 14, 2015, from http://www.unf.edu/~tcavanau/publications/necc/Interactive_PowerPoint.htm

English Language Arts Standards » Language » Grade 4. (n.d.). Retrieved February 14, 2015, from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/L/4/

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


541 “I Am” Poem

I Am

by Jen Crook

I am a smart mother of four
I wonder what my future will hold
I hear the sweet sounds of snoring children
I see the end of the Master’s Degree in sight
I want more and more education
I am a smart mother of four

I pretend that I am not 42 but really 22
I feel trapped in an aging body
I touch more gray hairs
I worry that my son will never be healthy
I cry from stress and overloaded emotional burdens
I am a smart mother of four

I understand that I cannot do everything
I say that miracles do happen
I dream that I will be free of mental illness
I try to stay positive in times of trial
I hope I survive my journey with strength and dignity
I am a smart mother of four