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 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: Social Networking

Walled Gardens


Social Networking Lesson

Lesson Link

This lesson can be accessed via Animal Reports through Social Networking, website created by Jen Crook.

Learner Description: This animal report research activity was created for 3rd grade students in preparation for compiling research and writing their own animal reports. These activities will span 2-3 weeks.


Animal Reports through Social Networking

This lesson can be accessed via Animal Reports through Social Networking, a website created by Jen Crook.

Students now understand the elements of an animal report and are ready to begin compiling and publishing their own research on their animal reports.

Student Directions

STEP 1: Animal Habitat on Padlet
    Students will:

  • Click on the map below or this LINK
  • Double click inside the map
  • Add student’s name on the first line
  • Add student’s animal name and the country or area of the world it lives in
  • Watch the SmartBoard as the whole class fills up the map!


STEP 2: Outline in Google Classroom
    Students will:

  • Click on this LINK to go to Mrs. Crook’s Google Classroom page.
  • Click on the Animal Reports Research Outline link
  • Go to “File”
  • Go to “Make a copy”
  • Rename it with STUDENT’S NAME and STUDENT’S ANIMAL
  • Students will fill out the Google document with their animal’s information
  • If students would rather print out the outline then type it later, they can do that too
  • Find photos of their animal at Pixabay
  • Note: Parents can help from home if needed by following the links provided on the assignment website
STEP 3: Publish Rough Draft
    Students will:

  • Click on this LINK to go to Mrs. Crook’s Google Classroom page.
  • Click on the Animal Reports Research Outline link
  • Start filling out the Google document “Animal Report Rough Draft” with their animal’s information
  • Note: Parents can help from home if needed by following the links provided on the assignment website
STEP 4: Publish Final Draft
    Students will:

  • Click on this LINK to go to Mrs. Crook’s Animal Report Blog
  • Click on “New post”
  • Enter student’s name and student’s animal name
  • Copy and past from their edited rough draft
  • Include ONE photo of their animal at the end of their report
  • If they don’t finish today, click “save draft”
  • Click PUBLISH when they are all finished and ready for everyone to see their final report.
  • Note: Parents can help from home if needed by following the links provided on the assignment website
STEP 5: Review the Blog
  • When everyone is done publishing to the class blog, students will visit the blog site and comment on 3 other blog entries.
  • Students will find a blog that has less than 3 comments already, they may have to scroll to the end of the list.
  • Students are to be specific in their comments. What exactly was the most fascinating thing they learned about that animal?
  • Teacher will start the Socrative quiz, Room Number is: 8c70a574
    Students will:

  • Take this quick 5-question Socrative quiz to make sure they understand all the important parts of the animal research report.
  • The Room Number is: 8c70a574

At the conclusion of this portion of the animal report research activity, students will publish their finished writings on the blog. The teacher will monitor individual progress through the Google Classroom documents and help where needed.

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


Holland, B. (2013, June 18). Introducing Social Media to Elementary Students. Retrieved March 14, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/introducing-social-media-lower-elementary-beth-holland

Janssen, C. (n.d.). What is Walled Garden? – Definition from Techopedia. Retrieved March 11, 2015, from http://www.techopedia.com/definition/2541/walled-garden-technology

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

Walled garden. (n.d.). Retrieved March 10, 2015, from http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/W/walled_garden.html

Photo Credits

Creative Commons Children at School by Lucelia Ribeiro is licensed under CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/1AoKMUS

Creative Commons It’s not all evil by Stephen Ransom is licensed under CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/1CgZAeq

Creative Commons Social Networking by Richard Dalton is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Creative Commons Walls by Still Burning is licensed under CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/1GQrbUO

Creative Commons Woman and young girl in kitchen with laptop and paperwork smiling by GSCSNJ is licensed under CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/1b9FDKH

Header image source: https://caisct.wordpress.com/

Office of Facebook Image source: http://bit.ly/1EMqifu

Social Networking image source: http://bit.ly/19lg2hf

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


Video Enhanced Lesson and Blog

Hypermedia Integration

Relative Advantage of Hypermedia: Video Blog


Photo Credits

  • Creative Commons: Children using a computer in the library: San Jose Library Willow Glen Branch is licensed under CC BY 2.0. http://bit.ly/1DuDWk9
  • Creative Commons: Child with headphones by Chris Parfitt is licensed under CC BY 2.0.http://bit.ly/1GxKRKo
  • Creative Commons: Kenyan boy with flip cam by Erik (HASH) Hersman is licensed under CC BY 2.0. http://bit.ly/1Fyk93b
  • Creative Commons: Quote by Brian Metcalfe is licensed under CC BY 2.0. http://bit.ly/1DewqqU
  • Creative commons: Computer photo by computers33458 is licensed under CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/1DWRwOg
  • Creative Commons: Close up video camera by Luke Roberts is licensed under CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/1LKf35R
  • Creative Commons: Computer and speakers by Alejandro Castro licensed under CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/1849sdo
  • Creative Commons: Interactive Whiteboard by Edward is licensed under CC BY 2.0.http://bit.ly/1wtAEyd
  • Interactive storybook screenshot from Clifford Interactive Storybooks Home. (n.d.). Retrieved February 27, 2015, from http://teacher.scholastic.com/clifford1/
  • Photoshop Screen shot provided by Jen Crook via Jing
  • GarageBand screenshot provided by Jen Crook via Jing
  • iMovie screenshot provided by Jen Crook via Jing


Bemular Music. (2012, March 14). The Planets Song [Video file]. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1DxtRTw

Deviant Art. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2015, from http://hamedsp.deviantart.com/art/fs-icons-ubuntu-0-6-for-windows-455245538

Husbye, N. E., & Vander Zanden, S. (2015).Composing film: Multimodality and production in elementary classrooms. Theory Into Practice. doi: 10.1080/00405841.2015.1010840

Kay, R.H. (2012). Exploring the use of video podcasts in education: A comprehensive review of the literature. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(3), 820-831. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.01.011

(n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2015, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hypermedia

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

Yildirim, Z. (2005). Hypermedia as a cognitive tool: Student teachers’ experiences in learning by doing. Educational Technology & Society, 8 (2), 107-117.

Part One: Video Library

1. Mission U.S.: For Crown or Colony

I found this multimedia/interactive learning video a few years ago in a social studies instruction course I took. It is called Mission U.S.: For Crown or Colony and can be found at PBS Learning Media. This particular game is set in 1770 in Boston at the time of the Boston Massacre. The student assumes the identity of Nate Wheeler, an apprentice to a printer. Nate is asked to complete a variety of tasks and navigates through the city during some critical events in the history of our country. There are other versions of this particular simulation that take students through other events in history. While this particular multimedia tool does not relate directly with reading instruction, it is safe to assume that reading definitely goes with social studies. I believe that if something like this particular games sparks an interest in a student, then he/she is more likely to become engaged to learn more through reading and research.

2. Book Reviews

Reading Rainbow is famous for book reviews. I found this particular video to show students an example of how to create their own book review via video. It’s not difficult or complicated and I know students will love sharing their book with the class in this method as opposed to the boring old book reports. This video can be found on Teacher Tube HERE.


3. School House Rocks

I don’t think there is anyone alive today that hasn’t learned something from School House Rock. I went to elementary school in the late 70’s to early 80’s and School House Rock was a scheduled part of our day. We joke that my own children are STILL learning from these fun videos and songs. Anytime a video is combined with a tune, we are just more likely to remember. This particular video is on nouns and can also be found on Teacher Tube HERE.


4. Preposition Sing Along

Once again, combine fun images with a catchy little tune and kids will remember what a preposition is! These are not easy things to remember, especially as an adult because we don’t classify our words in our everyday language. However, for an English language learner, these types of classifications help them to understand our complicated language just a little better. This video can be found at Teacher Tube HERE.


5. Reading Buddies

Reading buddies are a popular and fun thing that many schools implement. Younger students really look forward to and respond to students in an older grade as they work together. Pairing a struggling older reader with a fluent younger reader can benefit both students. I found this video (available for streaming only) at PBS Learning Media and can be viewed HERE. This particular video is part of the MARTHA SPEAKS Reading Buddies program. Students watch the video then the buddy pairs talk about the episode, play a Choose and Chat game, read a children’s book together, and write in their journal. This particular video is actually part of a larger series of Reading Buddies program offered on this website.

6. Interactive Story Predictions

“Ask Prunella” can also be found on PBS Learning Media HERE and is an interactive reading activity that allows students to predict and create their own story. This video can only be streamed online so Wi-Fi is an essential component in using most content from PBS Learning Media.

7. Historical Research: History Detectives

This might be one of the most exciting video learning tools I have seen yet and the possibilities that can go with it are endless. This video (available for streaming only) can be found at PBS Learning Media HERE and is more suitable for slightly older children (10+) due to some war violence. The premise of the video is best described on the website itself, “This video is set in the middle of the 19th century where a vast new territory from New Mexico to California invited settlers and homesteaders. As their wagon trains migrated from Missouri, along the Santa Fe Trail, they moved through the heart of Indian country and came under attack frequently. More than a century and a half after these violent events, “History Detectives” takes a closer look at an old paper that shows President Millard Fillmore engaged in what appears to be an unusual act for the time – sparing the life of a Native American convicted of murder. In the paper the President commutes the death sentence to life in prison for a solitary Native American named See-See-Sah-Mah, convicted of murdering a St. Louis trader along the Santa Fe Trail. Fillmore’s pardon saved See-See-Sah-Mah’s life, but why?”

I love this activity not only for the way it incorporates social studies and history into language arts, but also because of the way it keeps students engaged. For teachers, there is a vast amount of additional material to go along with this particular video to make it a full lesson plan. These ideas can be found under the “supported materials” “for teachers” section below the video.

8. Hatshepsut’s Mystery

In 6th grade, students are required to study ancient civilizations. When learning about ancient Egypt, perhaps it would be fun to watch the mystery of this female pharaoh during the New Kingdom in Egypt. 20 years after she died, someone smashed her statues, took a chisel and attempted to erase the pharaoh’s name and image from history. Who did it? And why? This video investigates Hatshepsut’s history for clues to this ancient puzzle. This video can be be found on TedEd HERE.

As most language arts lessons can, this particular lesson can easily span across history and social studies. I can easily this video becoming a springboard for a writing activity having students answer what they think happened to the pharaoh.

9. The Silk Road

Much like the previous video, this one is about the history of the 5,000-mile Silk Road, a network of multiple routes that used the common language of commerce to connect the world’s major settlements, thread by thread. This video can also be found on TedEd HERE along with some links to a full lesson plan for teachers. This would also be a great springboard for a variety of writing activities.

10. Immigrants

Because I am focussing my findings on langauge arts, I am always searching Scholastic.com for ideas. The teacher resource page has so many great ideas for integrating reading and writing into every subject area. One particular thing I found of interest, was a lesson full of short video clips on modern day immigrants HERE. When learning about immigrants, it would be a good idea to study Ellis Island HERE. While the Ellis Island tour does not really include videos, the interactive nature of the tour through this massive immigration port is priceless. Students can definitely connect immigrants of today with immgrants of the past. I can also envision this as a springboard for a variety of writing assignments from researching an ancestor that was an immigrant, comparing and contrasting immigrants of today vs. 100+ years ago, and so much more. Scholastic.com is full a wonderful tools for teachers, parents, and students.

11. Interactive Storybooks

No language arts/reading instruction list of video resources would be complete without some kind of interactive stories. I found this Clifford story at Scholastic.com HERE. I believe interactive stories are so valuable for struggling readers or ELL students. Modeling fluency and expression is a great way to help students work on their reading skills. Obviously there are never enough minutes in a day to do everything and reading to one individual student is usually a rarity. Thankfully, Scholastic.com has many different books to choose from that have activities to help tie in comprehension strategies after the story is read.

12. Book Trailer

This fun activity combines the aspect of a movie trailer with a book report. I love this idea because it gives students the opportunity to show their learning through a creative movie trailer. I found this particular book trailer on SchoolTube.com HERE.


Part Two: Video Enchanced Lesson Plan

Lesson Title

Student created book trailer (as adapted from ReadWriteThing.org)

Grade and Content Area

Grade 6 Reading & Language Arts


Students will combine the aspects of a movie trailer with a book report to create a video advertisement for the book they chose to read.  The students will read a book of their choice then write a script for their own trailer.  Students will find images or video clips online to help them illustrate the key points of their book trailer.  Students will add text, narration, and music as well as any digital movie effects they think will help their video. Last, the students will share their final production with the class.

Student Learning Objectives
  • Identify the elements of a comprehensive book report.
  • Create a video book trailer to be viewed by the class
  • Follow the guidelines on the rubric
Relative Advantage

Aside from all of the standards that this project meets, this particular activity not only gets a student to read but also engages them in the creative process of creating a book trailer. This particular activity is definitely at the top end of Bloom’s higher order thinking skills as it allows students to plan and produce a book trailer. Every level of Bloom’s taxonomy is addressed in this activity (Heer, R. n.d.).

English Language Arts Standards. Grade 6
    • Standard: 6.LA.2.1.3. – The student will be able to make inferences, draw conclusions and form opinions based on information gathered from text and cite evidence to support.
    • Standard: 6.LA.2.2.3. – The student will be able to identify the facts and details that support the author’s argument and summarize the findings.
    • Standard: 6.LA.4.4.1. – The student will be able to write a response that identifies a text to self, text to world, and/or text to text connection.
    • Standard: 6.LA.6.2.6. – The student will be able to deliver oral responses to literature that develop an interpretation that shows careful reading, understanding, and insight.
    • Standard: RL.6.2. – Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
    • Standard: RL.6.10. – By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 6-8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
    • Standard: W.6.6. – 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 three pages in a single sitting.
    • Standard: SL.6.5. – Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, images, music, sound) and visual displays in presentations to clarify information.

This particular activity will take a full term to complete.

      • iMovie or Microsoft Photo Story 3
      • Computer or iPads
      • Book Review template (download HERE)
      • Rubric (download HERE)
      • Trailer Checklist (download HERE)
      • Headphones and microphones may be useful but not required
Grouping Strategies

Students will complete this activity independently during their computer lab time or as needed on the classroom computers. Ipad’s may also be used.

Lesson Description
      1. Choose a book to read. This lesson can be given at the beginning of a term and then again when book trailers are due as a review). Give students the book review template and instruct to make notes as they read the book. Give students the rubric and assist them in making notes on what will be expected. The rubric should be revisited multiple times throughout the term to avoid misconceptions or communication errors.
      2. Discuss the purpose of a book trailer: Give students a chance to and help other people discover books they might love.
      3. Talk about the information they would typically share when recommending a good book to a friend.
      4. Give the students the trailer checklist and have them mark it as they view the examples below. Discuss what things are good to have in a book trailer (add to this list after viewing each of the examples below).
      5. View examples of other book trailers created by students.





      6. Create the book trailer

        Introduce your book: Includes the title, the author’s name.

        Tell about the book: Introduce the main characters and some key events of the story without telling every detail.

        Tell about your favorite part of the book or make a connection: Persuade your audience to read the book and leaves them wanting to know more. For example, explain what the main character has to overcome but don’t tell if he/she is successful.

        Give a recommendation: Provides closure for the book trailer. It also helps match the perfect reader for the book.

        Keep it short and concise, your goal is to encourage others to want to read the book!

      7. Explain any deadlines or special instructions you have for the assignment (rubric).
      8. The teacher will check in periodically through the term for progress. 2 weeks before the due date, students will be given time in the computer lab to create their finished product. Timing will depend on the teacher but time does need to be allowed for the writing of the script and image collection portion of this project.

The book trailer video will be the final assessment for this activity. Trailers will be graded on a rubric established by the teacher prior to activity and give to students at the beginning and end of the project.

Adaptations for Learners with Special Needs

To accommodate struggling readers or ELL students, make this a small-group activity. Have the group read the book together and then create the video trailer together with help from the small-group instructor.

Lesson Plan References
©Jenifer Crook 2014