HI! I am a K/1 teacher at Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter School. I currently teach kindergarten but will loop with my students to first grade next year. One of the positives of looping is that I already know the students' strengths, weaknesses and behavior. This helps us "take off" almost immediately upon returning to school after summer break.

In my personal life, I enjoy reading, gardening and hockey. I'm happily married for almost 17 years with 2 sons, 2 kitties and my father-in-law in the same house! My younger son has ADHD and OCD which can be a daily challenge. I am also learning that my father-in-law's beginning stages of Altzheimer's is a lot like having another child in the house. Recently, I've discovered my role of "Mom" has changed since my boys are teenagers. I feel a bit displaced and it's hard to stay involved in their lives without them feeling like I'm being intrusive. I'm proud of how independent they are but any advice on that is welcome!! I'm excited to learn about computers because I want to get in good with them before they take over the world.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (1st weekend)
‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍5 new technologies to try

  • Use Pandora in the classroom
  • Use Google.docs to collaborate with my teaching team
  • Use delicious.com to bookmark sites and make them accessible on whatever computer I am using
  • Consider how to use www.wordle.net in the primary classroom
  • Download & learn to use www.mystickies.com
‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍4 ideas to share with others

  • Share www.teachertube.com and www.schooltube.com with my teaching team (not new to me)
  • Share Google.docs with my teaching team
  • How to convert blocked (educational) Youtube videos to they can still be viewed in the classroom
  • What will be obsolete within 10 yrs. - travel agents, forgetting (thanks to info saved online), bookstores, maps, encyclopedias, cds, address books, film, and wires
‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍3 principles of Universal Design for Learning
  1. ‍Representation - show information in different ways
  2. Action & Expression - models, feedback, support, demonstarte what they know in different ways
  3. Engagement - provide multiple means of engagement (choice) to keep their interest
‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍2 changes in your teaching to reach all learners in the Digital Age
  1. ‍Bear in mind that we are are the "immigrants" and students are "natives" in a technological world. This will not change so, technology needs to be embraced.

‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍1 BIG idea to implement “on Monday”
***Use Google.docs with my team!!!

(Two classmates meet in an elevator while leaving for lunch)

Deb: So what do you think of using UDL in the classroom?

Catie: Well, I think it sounds really interesting, but also a little overwhelming!

Deb: I agree! That’s how I felt at first but now, I think I’m understanding it more when I think of it as another means of “differentiation”.

Catie: Yes, that definitely helps! I’m sure your class is like mine, where there are many students with different ability levels. UDL seems like an excellent way to help everyone learn in their own style.

Deb: Exactly! Providing choice...using novelty...keeping the individual learning styles in mind - those are all principles we’ve learned about in becoming better educators as ways to reach all students. I like how the UDL slogan seems to be that if we teach to the margins, we will reach everyone. Or is that a bit too simplistic?

Catie: Not at all... Representation, action and expression, and engagement are the keys to UDL and reaching everyone. The world is changing and our kids know more and more about technology at younger and younger ages. The more we can incorporate various forms of technology in our classroom, the more beneficial it will be to all of our learners.

Deb: I know, I’m blown away by the number of my kindergartners who HAVE ipods or phones! It’s crazy but there is no changing it. “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” but in the most productive and educational ways possible.

Catie: Absolutely! Good luck with incorporating all of our new strategies in your classroom. I’m sure your kindergartners will love it!

Deb: Thanks and you as well with the 7th graders!

(Elevator doors open, characters exit)

Adding Doubles with Mr. Moser

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (2nd weekend)
‍‍‍‍5 new technologies to try
‍‍‍‍4 ideas to share with others
‍‍‍‍3 principles of Universal Design for Learning
‍‍‍‍2 changes in your teaching to reach all learners in the Digital Age
‍‍‍‍1 BIG idea to implement “on Monday”

Reflection #3
How can using a variety of materials and methods reach more of the learners within your classroom? What are the benefits of doing so? What are the challenges?
Students come to us with varied learning styles and background knowledge. One method of presentation most likely will not reach all learners nor spark their interest in the topic. Teachers need to assess their student’s interests and learning styles in order to get to build class cohesion and get know their preferred styles. This will also enable teachers to recognize the strengths and weaknesses. This also enables teachers to embrace differentiation and provide individualized assignments.
Teachers need to be flexible and incorporate multiple means of presenting information and skills. This can be challenging in that a teacher may have a preferred style or are anxious about using new technologies. Other challenges include providing enough resources and a clear framework for students to present their knowledge in the most meaningful way.

Reflection #4
Students with varied background knowledge, intelligences, learning styles and abilities are expected to take standardized tests. Yet, when learning, these same students are frontloaded with information, experience a variety of media and activities, may be grouped according to ability and may be given individualized adaptations. If all of these supports are utilized to TEACH, then they must be used to ASSESS. Traditional assessments do not offer CHOICE, a factor explicitly proven to increase student interest and therefore accountability.
Challenges in offering varied options for assessment include…how valid and relevant are the options? Are the outcomes truly measureable and repeatable? What is acceptable for one teacher may not be for another so, can project based learning be objective nationwide?
Additional thoughts…
A traditional assessment like the PSSAs force teachers to “teach for the test” even while knowing this is not a best practice. The SATs are also skewed by financial ability of students who are able to receive additional tutoring or readiness courses.

Culminating Activity

I've come upon a way we can cut expenditures while bringing our students to the cutting edge of education in the 21st century!
Since our primary goal is to educate, we can do this through technology. Vast technology is being discovered at lightning speed, which is exactly how our students are seeking knowledge. We can cut down the amount of paper and books to be purchased by using ebooks wherever possible! We can differentiate projects, engage students globally and prepare individuals for the digital age by increasing the amount of technology used in every class. All of our academic teachers agree that we have a tough time keeping students engaged in the subjects we teach. Wouldn't it make sense to try to engage them in ways that they already find appealing? For example, what if, instead of banning cell phones, we come up with assignments that use them? And instead of spending thousands of dollars a year on heavy textbooks that are hardly ever opened by students, what if we purchased Apple's new interactive textbooks? These interactive textbooks are available for trial now (I have sent you a link with this email) and cost only $15 each (as opposed to the $85 per book we paid for the new chemistry texts last year).

Of course, traditional paper and pencil will still need to be a part of the curriculum but isn't it exciting to know there are new options for educators to reach students who are already more technologically advanced than when we were in school.

Reflection #5
Given the realities of our modern age and the demands of our children’s future, is it really okay to allow teachers to choose whether or not they incorporate modern technologies into their instruction?

Very difficult to consider! New graduates from teaching programs will undoubtedly be more familiar with current technology because they are Natives! Teachers who have been in the field for a long time are the Immigrants. Ideally, all educators should be aware and versed in how to use technology available to them to meet the changing needs of learners. However, forcing teachers to “conform” to use technology in the classroom could eventually be connected with merit pay based upon test grades and classroom performance. Very scary thought! Overall, we are educators because we have their education in our best interest. If that means getting out of our safety zone and investing ourselves in technology, then that is what must be done!

5, 4, 3, 2, 1
‍‍‍‍‍5 new technologies to try
‍‍‍‍‍4 ideas to share with others
‍‍‍‍‍3 principles of Universal Design for Learning
‍‍‍‍‍2 changes in your teaching to reach all learners in the Digital Age
‍‍‍‍1 BIG idea to implement “on Monday”
5 new technologies to try
*Finding a way to use www.wordle.net with their sight words & spelling words
*1000s of podcasts available for educational purposes
*using www.bubbl.us to create mindmaps & wordwebs to begin our next science unit on magnets
*downloaded 3 virtual field trips from www.digitalfrog.com for our Biomes study
*check out Google Earth via www.earth.google.com and how can I use this in the classroom

4 ideas to share with others
*UDL does not necessarily mean technology. It also means being flexible and allow for creativity.
*posting a request on www.donorschoose.org

3 Principles of UDI**
  • Presenting information in multiple ways (always seeking new ideas/ methods/ technology)
  • Allowing students choice to demonstrate their knowledge in multiple ways
  • Keeping students interest by using novelty and multiple means of presentation

2 Changes in your teaching

As a kindergarten teacher, I am constantly differentiating. My students come to me from varied backgrounds and it is up to me to reach all of them…to “level the playing field”. At their young age, their attention span is very short and novelty is key. Therefore, in every lesson, I am striving to use various formats to reach all learners. We are singing, dancing, watching videos, using interactive online activities or engaging in movement activities. UDL is a part of my classroom, without knowing that term. So I don’t believe I will be necessarily changing my teaching but rather, continuing to add to my “toolbox”.

1big idea to implement on Monday
I added so many to my www.portaportal.com page!!!

I’m looking forward to printing on sticky notes!
I also can’t wait to try using the Mindmapping/ Webbing activities!