Major Challenge II, Group 1: Seth, Lauren, Kristin

For the first scenario, our group was presented a situation in which one of our students, Marvin, has been identified for inclusion in his school’s RtI math program, based on the first two tests given as part of the tri-annually assessed Universal Screener. Furthermore, Marvin is being considered for Special Education services due to the results from the first two assessments, as they both indicate that he is performing below grade level expectations, and that he is making less than average growth between each of the assessment intervals.

Considering all of this information, our group put together a portfolio that communicated Marvin’s situation to his parents, provided a score goal for the third assessment, as well as a subskill that we will focus on with a five-day intervention plan provided, and lastly a summative analysis based on how he responded that includes how we would act moving forward with Marvin. Check it out!:

For the second scenario, we were tasked with designing a dream software that aims to provide a significant educational impact for a teacher and/or student. After giving careful consideration to the role that theory and practice can play in our design, as well as to the educational impact that our software may have, check out what we created!:



Scenario #2

Product name: Biometric Student Check-In

Description: This software has the ability to scan students upon entering and exiting the classroom. This technology uses facial recognition software as well as recognition cues such as body odor, hormones, and more. Once students enter or leave the classroom, a notification is sent to a program on the teacher’s computer that tracks their actions and movements. These can also be placed as check-points in hallways, locker rooms, teacher and principal offices and bathrooms, so teachers can assure when a student leaves the room, they are going to the correct destination. Biometric Student Check-In can also be used in stations in the classroom. While completing station work, this program can check students into each station and teachers can see throughout or after the lesson where each student went and how far they got in the lesson. This program also has the ability to see which students have ate breakfast or lunch (depending on the time of day).

Target Audience: For all teachers, no matter what grade level!

Potential for Educational Impact: Much of the day is spent taking attendance and completing trivial tasks that Biometric Student Check-in would be able to help with. In a study done by Dr. Lisa Monda-Amaya, it was revealed that 12% of the day is spent on attendance and checking in with the class, which takes away from overall learning time. With technology advances, it could also reveal if the student is underfed (as many students are in the at risk areas we may be teaching) which in that case food could be provided by teacher or school. Many technology advanced schools now use key FOBS in the classroom to complete a similar task, and this is the next technological advance. The more information known about students is always helpful for getting them where they need to be and helping them on the road to success. It helps teachers monitor student actions, stress levels, and more.

Visual Design and User Interaction (drawings/sketches/audio/video):

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Scenario #1

Case One: Marvin

Task 1:

Currently in the subject of Mathematics, Marvin is performing below grade level; he has also made less than average growth. Due to these findings as a result of the Universal Screener and a Response to Intervention (RtI) program, Marvin is being considered for Special Education services. As you can see in the graph provided below, Marvin scored below average on both Tests A (1) & B (2). On Test A, he scored a 1300 when the class average was 1330. Marvin’s test scores are depicted on the graph as the blue line, which is seen clearly below the class average exam scores depicted by the orange line. On Test B, he scored a 1380 while his same-aged peers scored an average of 1401. These scores clearly indicate that Marvin is below average, and this is the reasoning behind the potential Special Education services needed. Further illustrated on the graph is Marvin’s end of the year target score of 1499; we as teachers hope by the end of the year, Marvin is able to reach this goal. But as depicted by the graph, the class will reach the goal of 1499 well before Marvin who is not learning at the same rate. If the teacher is teaching to the average student in hopes that they reach the score of 1499 by the end of the year, Marvin will be left behind and not meet the goals set before him.

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Task 2:

A subskill that should be included in Marvin’s intervention plan is 3.G.2 Fraction Models from Shapes (Geometry). After the test was completed, teachers received a graphic organizer of student results and understanding. Each question was presented with the number of people that got the answer correct and incorrect. From this, these questions were given a color either red, yellow, or green, that represented student understanding. If only 0-39% of the students got that question correct, the question would be colored red. If 40-60% got it correct, it would be indicated yellow, and 61-100% would be colored green. On Marvin’s individual test, he got question 46 wrong. Since this question was green, representing that 61-100% of his peers got this question correct, this would be a specific subskill that Marvin needs to work on.

Task 3: Pullout sessions of 30-60 minutes for individualized instruction

Monday: SMARTBoard app (Dreambox Teacher Tools)

This module contains 5 different SMARTBoard activities that start with a review of number sense with flashcards, and continue with the development of skills such as the combinations of 10, equivalencies for 20, addition on an open number line, and the introduction to fractions.

FOCUS: Development of number sense and addition practice.

PURPOSE: These specific activities are a great introduction to the week that lies ahead for Marvin. He gets a review of subjects he might have struggled with in the past, as well as an interactive introduction to the subject of fractions which can be difficult to grasp when first learned. Number sense lays a foundation for number use and comprehension for future lessons.

FREE Number Sense Technology Tool

Tuesday: Internet Games

  1. “Magical Shape Hunt” by PBS Kids

Users search for designated shapes on the screen.

  1. “Shape Construction: Geometry & Symmetry Practice” by

Users create shapes from directions provided.

FOCUS: Recognizing shapes and being able to draw specific shapes after hearing them said orally or written.

PURPOSE: These specific website games will help Marvin recall shapes and their names. After he is able to successfully find the correct shapes in the first website, he will move on to constructing his own shapes or shapes from directions given to him. This lesson puts an emphasis on shapes and their specific features and characteristics. This will help Marvin the future when fractions are displayed with shapes.

Wednesday: iPad Technologies and Apps:

  1. “Match the Fraction” by Innovative Investments Limited

Match parts of a pizza to fractions, from 1/2 all the way up to 9/10ths of a pizza. Match parts of a pizza to other parts of a pizza representing the same quantity (e.g. 1/2 vs. 2/4, etc.). All fractions are grouped into individual groups so the teacher is able to decide when Marvin is ready for the next level.

  1. “Fractions” by Brainingcamp

Everything you need for teaching and learning: Narrated lesson, Practice questions, Virtual manipulative, Challenging game

TOPICS COVERED: Fractions Introduction, Equivalent Fractions, Comparing and Ordering Fractions

FEATURES: Lesson with visual models and audio narration to make abstract concepts concrete; Questions to practice what was learned; Virtual manipulative for hands-on discovery learning; Challenge game to interactively apply understanding; Alignment with state and Common Core standards; Suitable for ages 9-14

FOCUS: Being able to match pictures of fractions with their numeric representation

PURPOSE: To make sure that Marvin is able to correctly display the desired fraction for a given amount, and be able to identify equivalent fractions, both with numeric and pictorial representations. This will help him in future lessons when there is a need to analyze both fractions and shapes.

Thursday: QR Code Scavenger Hunt (Adapted)

Marvin must match the correct QR code for a specific fraction with the correct QR code of a pictorial representation of that same fraction, and vice versa.

FOCUS: Marvin must show that he is able to correctly match the numeric fraction with the correct pictorial representation of the correct geometric shape or shaded proportion.

PURPOSE: Connects previous lesson about both shapes as well as fractions in a fun and interactive way; Marvin is either given immediate feedback through the software (flash green for correct, red for incorrect), or they are given a comprehensive report of their success at the end of the scavenger hunt.

Friday: iPad Technologies and Apps: “Pizza Fractions 1” by Brian West

In chef’s pizzeria, the user masters the concept of naming simple fractions using pizza picture as examples. Pizza Fractions provides introductory practice with fractions in an approachable game-like environment.

Key features include: Players are presented with randomly generated fractions to identify by counting slices of pizza; simple fractions build confidence with denominators 1-12; the adjustable level of difficulty setting allows for beginners to start with easier fractions and progress as they learn; there is an option to advance questions by shaking the device or using a button if a questions is too difficult or too simple; score data and round timing allows for tracking to be done and informal assessing to take place (monitor progress using charts/graphs)

FOCUS: Connecting previous lessons by having Marvin see a pizza with a specific number of slices present, as well as missing, and then having him choose the correct numeric representation from a three options, two being incorrect.

PURPOSE: Marvin combines the week’s lessons and applies his knowledge to this game. This game is used to gain an understanding of his improvements throughout the week and overall throughout his intervention. Once all days are mastered, Marvin should exceed in the subskill of Fraction Models from Shapes.

Task 4:

After gathering data regarding Marvin’s performance after our intervention plan was implemented, it is seen that while he is gradually improving, he is still performing far behind expectations. When performing the probes, the expected scores were 80% and Marvin consistently scored far below that. At this point it is recommended that Marvin receives more intensive intervention than what he is receiving now. Although many of these lessons and activities are very good to use in a variety of situations and lay the groundwork for future math concepts, Marvin is still having trouble grasping much of the information. Moving forward, we recommend that Marvin is pulled out of his general education classroom for more than one hour a day to receive more intensive one-on-one intervention in a resource room within the school. The school should focus on strengthening the concepts that Marvin has already struggled with in the past so that once those are mastered, he can continue to move forward with the more grade-appropriate mathematics. Two months from the beginning of the new intervention, review Marvin to see if he should move forward in the same intervention, be reviewed for special education, or lessen the intervention and slowly move back into the general education classroom for more of the day. Throughout the two months, make sure that Marvin’s progress is closely monitored with probes and informal assessments so that everyone is aware of his progress and adjustments in curriculum can be made if necessary.

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Common Core Reading Standards

The impact that the implementation of Common Core has had can be felt in education mediums all across the country; from English to Math, and all subjects in-between, Common Core is changing the way we view education. Much of the change has been met with opposition, which was not unexpected, but it is important that we continue to keep an open mind, as it is very young.

For my research I set out to discover whether or the not the Common Core reading standards are in line with what today’s children need to learn and be exposed to, based on the pace of modern society. It is important to me that we must figure out if we are keeping up with today’s ever-changing pace of life, or if we are just saturating our students with information that will not be pertinent to them when they graduate.

Over the course of my research I learned a lot more about Common Core as a whole than I had known before. For example, when I chose this topic I was hoping to expose fallacies that I might find in order to keep my negative opinion going, but I had a strong change of heart. While I do not agree with the system as a whole, I believe that intentions were good when they were developing the standards.

It is important recognize that there are both positives and negatives to the system, and I recognize both sides. Education is complex, there are many levels and people that need to be involved in order for the system to benefit everyone as it is set up. While I understand that high stakes testing and grading teacher performance on student’s test scores is not the best system, it is difficult to think about other options.

I believe that the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts are assessing students on skills that will help make the good global citizens in the future. The standards are rigid in structure but fluid in nature, and if it is determined that changes need to be made, I have faith that they will be made accordingly.



Ignite Interest

When tasked with speaking for 5 minutes about any topic, there is nothing that I would rather speak to than the New England Patriots. It is easy for me to talk about the Patriots with genuine emotion, so as not to sound forced, which is key when narrating a slideshow. Any student knows that there is nothing more boring than a lecture that is PowerPoint only; this is often referred to as death by PowerPoint. While the information may come across in the way that the teacher intends it to, it is not efficiently absorbed by the students. At the same time, as part of UDL, it is important to have an audio and visual component with any presentation, in order to reach ALL students. By creating a PowerPoint of only pictures, with the slides advancing automatically, the student is able to truly connect the visual with the audio, fluidly. Many times a student is trying to create connections in their head, but struggle to anchor them before the next slide is advanced; by isolating hearing from reading, true anchored connections can be made.

Visions of Students Today

When thinking about the main concept of the project Visions of Students Today, I wanted to highlight my world, and the learning that takes place both formally and informally, from my point of view. Upon watching the original submission video, and the original submissions, I immediately thought of my childhood home, but more specifically to my backyard. For the first 18 years of my life that was where the most learning took place for me; I would run around and experience life in its purest and most beautiful form, which I really wanted to highlight in my video. The combination of indoor learning, where I would study until all hours of the night, and the outdoor learning, where I would learn through trial and error, no place has as much value to me as my childhood home does. To me, interacting with the environment and with one’s surroundings is the most powerful learning that can take place; I am proud to have learned so much from a single place.

The Power of Twitter for Teacher Resources


With every passing day it becomes more and more of a no-brainer that it is in the best interest of one’s students, and the teacher, to embed technology within conventional instruction in education. What is less widely accepted is the incorporation of social media, and popular ones at that, into the lesson plans and homework assignments. The reasons for and against are numerous in both regards, but what cannot be argued is the power that social media has. Through social media, the average child has the ability to access more information at the push of a button than an encyclopedia could hold in one volume- a bit of an exaggeration, but you understand my point. There are valuable tools for teachers to utilize in their instruction that can be found on social media, and we should not be blind to this; as a future teacher, it will be my job to teach my students how to discern an appropriate source from an inappropriate one.

The first tweet that I would like to highlight is from @coolcatteacher. Thanks to her tweet I have now been exposed to something new today that I never expected to: Google for kids. Google Kiddle is a visual search engine, powered by editors and Google safe search. This quite possibly might be one of the most ingenious things I have ever seen in my life. Every teacher and parent can attest to a promotion of safe searches within schools; we do not want to limit the sources that our students have access to, but to put no restrictions on a search engine is risky in terms of inappropriate results. Through Google Kiddle, students are able to search freely on any topic of their choosing, and Google guarantees that the results are age appropriate- talk about worry and carefree for parents and teachers! Not only is it incredible that you are able to make an entire search engine age-appropriate, without compromising the integrity of the search results, but the complete layout of the page is different! Children are enticed by pictures, not long, descriptive phrases, and each search result is accompanied by an eye-grabbing picture- truly innovative for the classroom.

The next tweet is made possible thanks to @web20classroom. This tweet is linked to an article that describes four habits for people to take up in order to become more digitally creative. I was initially intrigued by this tweet because it talks about a topic that has a healthy amount of stigma associated, in my opinion. Many people believe that, thanks to technology, millennials especially are less creative, communicative, etc. I agree that the opportunity to have infinite amounts of information at your fingertips comes with adverse outcomes, such as a loss of innovative thinking and self-reliance on the surface, the opportunity to dive deeply into a specific topic or to explore an unknown content area does exist. The four pillars of this article are: capturing new ideas, engaging in challenging tasks, broadening knowledge, and interacting with stimulating people. Based on these tenants the author is able to explore and expand on ways to use digital software beyond their basic purposes- to think with out-of-the-box creativity. It is important to always be grounded by a combination of intuition and imagination, and this article outlines tips to help grow one’s digital creativity in ways that will only benefit students.

The final tweet that I chose to highlight is from @shannonmmiller. Her tweet links to a webpage that highlights the new Glowforge 3D laser printer. With the Glowforge laser printer, there are seemingly no limits to the things you are able to create. Just imagining the power to enhance classroom lessons that this printer has excites the future teacher in me. Lessons that only involved visualizing or conceptualizing a final product that was either created virtually or on paper can now be created in front of our student’s eyes. Under its 12 revolutionary features tab, one that is highlighted is that it is safe for schools: under the United States F.D.A. regulations, Glowforge Basic is categorized as a Class 1 laser, the same as a DVD player. No special precautions are required to use it, and if you are concerned that Glowforge Basic might not meet your curriculum needs, the Pro Model can be purchased too, but it is a class 4 laser requiring special precautions for operation. Could the future see no more woodshop courses, but 3D printing courses instead? It is hard to say for certain right now, but there seemingly is no limit for the number of applications that this printer could have in schools.

Overall, it is clear to me after another week of analyzing twitter’s impact on education, that I am becoming more exposed to beneficial resources that I never would have noticed had I not been paying attention. To blindly group all social media services as adverse to learning and inappropriate in a classroom setting seems foolish, as there are many invaluable services that you will only be able to experience if you are in tune with social media and the like. As Brian Solis once said, “Social Media is about sociology and psychology more than technology,” and likewise with David Alston who said that “Social media is not media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.” I know that we are able to listen, engage, and build relationships through social media, meaning the stigma from society is unmerited at best.

Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century

When thinking about the typical classroom, we picture a chalkboard, desks, a teacher in the middle of the classroom spelling out information and students diligently taking notes in order to regurgitate the information at some later point. This is not a classroom that is advantageous for the 21st century learner, plain and simple. In an ever evolving educational landscape, it is important to take a proactive role in trying to stay ahead of the curve. Through the integration of technology, and technology-based learning, we are giving our students the best chance to learn information that will actually still be pertinent five years from now.

In the video Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century, produced by PBS LearningMedia, five unique classroom and schooling environments are chronicled to show the positive, measurable, and lasting impact that integrating technology into curriculum has for students.

As the documentary description explains, this documentary explores how exceptional instructors are increasingly using digital media and interactive practices to ignite their students’ curiosity and ingenuity, help them become civically engaged, allow them to collaborate with peers worldwide, and empower them to direct their own learning. Students are receptive and knowledgable about the topics that they are learning about, but even more important is their excitement for learning each day.

The two specific instruction practices that intrigued me the most was the Smithsonian Institution and Middleton. Starting with the Smithsonian Institute, I found it incredibly interesting the way the teacher promoted the integration of the museum, visual literacy, and a game to make it fun. This teacher proves that it is possible to incorporate a game with a learning objective- in fact, without the game I doubt the information would have been as well received. The second classroom that intrigued me was the Middleton classroom, because it focused of place-based education, which incorporates the community into learning. Through place-based education students are able to ask thought provoking questions to community officials that will have the best answers, and they are able to make suggestions to powerful officials that will benefit the community as a whole, as well.

As a future special education teacher, I know that it will be my job to incorporate any multi-media or teaching technique in general that will benefit my students. Thinking outside of the box will be the beginning point for my teaching, because typical instruction does not reach my students as effectively. The success of technology-based instruction and place-baed education is not limited to the student’s I will be teaching; the same way UDL benefits both individuals with and without disabilities, so do these turn-of-the-century instruction models. Students that are able to see the immediate impact of their work, through place-based education, will be more inclined to be diligent with their work because they know that it has the chance to be implemented, as well as students will be more willing to go above and beyond if able to design fun games and activities to express the depth of their knowledge on a topic.

Technology-based instruction, and its proper implementation,has become a very prominent topic in education discussions. Below are some tweets from prominent social media presences on the topic of technology-based education, and their opinion on specific aspects of the conversation:

This first tweet is from @coolcatteacher, who links an article that describes the technology services she most often recommends in emails to people that email her after viewing her videos. The specific service she is recommending an instructional-video creating software, perfect for creating how-to videos or the like. Possible implementations of this technology include online classes, and also video projects that involve outlining a step-by-step process that must be followed for the desired outcome.

More important than integrating new technology for students into one’s instruction, is the ability to be fluent in using the old technology that we take for granted. Google docs is one of these “old technologies,” but it has value far beyond its original context. As @shannonmmiller illustrates, thee are things that every teacher should know how to do when using Google Docs, stretching far past what most people know. These “hacks” as she calls them will only streamline the efficiency of one’s teaching.

Often times, when thinking about integrating technology and education, we think about services that cater to education formats almost exclusively. In a tweet @web20classroom discusses the importance of incorporating social media apps and services in the classroom, and other technologies that were not created exclusively for education. Students are familiar with these technologies and they will be able to navigate them with ease, making the connections to the actual lesson more applicable and technology error less likely.

In total, it is clear that the typical classroom of the past is advantageous for a 21st century learner. The educational landscape is one that is dynamic, and thus it is important to take a proactive role in trying to stay ahead of the curve. Through the integration of technology, and through technology-based learning and place-based learning, we are giving our students the best chance to learn information that will  be pertinent five years from now.




Personal Experiences with Orthographic Development

Through schooling, we have been conditioned to look for perfection within spelling; we have even created monikers to assist this philosophy: always use spell-check before turning in an essay, I before E except after C, etc. With all of the attention put toward spelling, it would appear that it is a majorly important component of learning, and that it somehow increases one’s phonological awareness. As we discovered through our in-class discussions this week though, promoting perfect spelling does not increase one’s phonological awareness. In fact, I argue that it confuses students as to what their main objective should be.

From our earliest days as students, spelling was always taught the same way every week: successive lessons with little deviation. Each Monday we would start with a spelling test, and each Friday we would be re-tested on the same words to track our improvement. For those that are able to reflect on these times and say that they enjoyed spelling tests, it typically correlates with the fact that they received good scores. And adversely speaking, for those that did not enjoy their spelling test days, it typically relates to the fact that they received poor scores. Students were labeled week after week as either a good or bad speller, and their spelling homework for the week would be contingent on how well they did on their Monday test.

It is important to remember that phonological awareness is defined as a persons awareness of the sound structure of words. Research shows us that early phonological awareness is an important and reliable predictor of later reading ability, and thus, the most effective method for reaching students is a highly debated topic.

In today’s educational system, the testing of spelling is standard across most education formats; there has even been a movie, Akeelah and the Bee, about Spelling Bees and ESPN annually chronicles the national spelling bee on its main network. Clearly there is a dynamic in place that promotes perfect spelling, and we revere those that are able to do this. Overall, our group concluded that spelling tests were not the most efficient method for promoting phonological awareness in our early schooling days. While there was much repetition, there was no actual learning of the meaning of words; spelling patterns and rules were discovered, but through the practice of copying words week after week, true phonological awareness was never truly initiated.

As future teachers, it is imperative to establish phonological awareness in young students so that they can continue to mature along the continuum as they go through schooling. We have established that spelling tests alone are not adequate to initiate this, so the question remains: what is the best way to establish solid phonological awareness for our young students?

-Seth, Emily, Morgan, Elizabeth


The World Needs All Kinds of Minds


Temple Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, a best selling author, and a world-renowned consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. Even more mentionable than all of her accomplishments though, in my opinion, is her connection to autism activism. In 1951, at the age of four, Temple was diagnosed with Autism caused by brain damage. She spent her early schooling days at a structured nursery school where she was given instructed speech therapy. Through rigorous speech instruction she developed spoken language at the age of three and a half, and credits elementary school mentor for their support in her early year and onward. 

My first interaction with Temple Grandin was during my senior year of high school, in my AP Environmental Science class. The topic was the current animal slaughter process, and how environmentally inefficient the system is, when my teacher showed us a video clip of Temple Grandin explaining her innovative slaughtering process. 


Temple, an individual with autism, spent much of her schooling years feeling threatened by everything in her surroundings and dismissed. Through her experiences accommodating these feelings, she has been able to find a parallel to how she believes animals feel before they are slaughtered. By altering her patented “hug box,” a device intended to calm those who have autism spectrum disorder, she has been able to combine her activism for people with autism and animal welfare. Overtime she studied the behaviors of cattle, how they react to ranchers, movements, objects, and light. Her altered device is intended to reduce the stress, panic and injury toward animals as they are being led to slaughter, which all adversely affect the quality of the meat, if not monitored. 

Two years later it seems even more fitting that I am looking to Temple Grandin for inspiration. A graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Animal Sciences doctoral program in 1989, she spoke at a TED talk in 2010 about the importance of the world having a diverse wealth of different types of minds.


As it relates to our class discussions, catering to the minds of children with autism will only advance our society. Universal Design in Teaching mandates that level the playing field so that all students are able to succeed, and through research it is clear that not all brains function the same way, but we are capable of reaching most children if we take the time to accommodate them just by making simple changes. 

As a future teacher, I must understand, to the best of my ability, how to engage students that may think differently than I do. It is imperative that these unique qualities are seen as possible advantages, and not disadvantages, because society’s opinion of people with disabilities is horribly skewed. Grandin references multiple times the possible impact that people on the autism spectrum have to offer companies in Silicon Valley, but these possibilities will never be imagined if we do not provide the children with the opportunity to develop the skills necessary. 

At the end of the day, the world needs all kinds of minds. After watching Temple Grandin’s TED talk, I wonder if we are teaching in a way that allows for creativity and individualized thinking, or if we are teaching to a mass of children that can be successful but closing off the teaching to students that it does not reach? Who am I to decide what describes success? It is important to me that all children are given equal opportunity, and for all students to be given the opportunity to discover their talents; the world needs all kinds of minds.