Sunday, November 25, 2012


This is a screenshot of when I edited Berkley High School's Wikipedia Page because the link to our school's webpage was inaccurate and did not go to an available website.

Below is a link to my new wiki titled Journalism For Teachers. I think this will not only be a place I can share materials with other journalism teachers, but also a place I can keep all of my materials together.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

UDL Guidelines-Educator Checklist

UDL Guidelines – Educator Checklist 

Provide Multiple Means of Representation:

Provide options for perception 1.1 Customize the display of information
Feature: The delivery of information is visual as well as auditory.

1.2 Provide alternatives for auditory information

1.3 Provide alternatives for visual information
Feature: PowerPoint of information and examples available. There is also a run through with the teacher going through his or her research practice.

Provide options for language and symbols 2.1 Define vocabulary and symbols
Feature: Certain research and internet related vocabulary is defined, however this could also be a barrier because there lacks a time to depict examples of the vocab.

2.2 Clarify syntax and structure

2.3 Decode text and mathematical notation

2.4 Promote cross-linguistic understanding
Barrier: Use screenshots for visual representation of terminology.

2.5 Illustrate key concepts non-linguistically

Provide options for comprehension
3.1 Provide or activate background knowledge
Feature: As they have already done research and they already have access to computers and the internet, it is not about just access, but accessing their prior knowledge and getting them to use this knowledge in a new way.

3.2 Highlight critical features, big ideas, and relationships

3.3 Guide information processing
Feature: By scaffolding their learning process, I go through examples, definitions, the whole how-to process visually and allow them to practice before delving straight into the project itself.

3.4 Support memory and transfer
Feature: They need to be able to transfer what was done before them as an example and what they practiced to the real deal.

Provide Multiple Means for Action and Expression:

Provide options for physical actions

4.1 Provide varied ways to respond
Barrier: There are not varied response formats.

4.2 Provide varied ways to interact with materials
Barrier: There is really only one way to interact with materials.

4.3 Integrate assistive technologies
Feature/Barrier: All computers are the same.

Provide options for expressive skills and fluency
5.1 Allow choices of media for communication
Barrier: Only using the internet, however, there are different databases students can use.

5.2 Provide appropriate tools for composition and problem solving

5.3 Provide ways to scaffold practice and performance
Feature: There are definitely times before the actual project begins for students to practice using the the Michigan Electronic Library and to practice, with feedback, figuring out which sites with information are credible.

Provide options for executive functions
6.1 Guide effective goal setting
Barrier: Ultimately, the goal (the finished project) is laid out for students, but if there were checkpoints where they had to create their own goals of completion it might make them more aware of that the need to complete and by what due date.

6.2 Support planning and strategy development
Feature: There are due dates in place, scaffolded practice and with feedback provided as sort of checkpoints.
Barrier: Make more manageable, and change if necessary for students.

6.3 Facilitate managing information and resources
Barrier: The actual project assignment contains a graphic organizer to help manage their process, but this part of the lesson that is leading up to that project work needs more structure.

6.4 Enhance capacity for monitoring progress
Feature: Feedback is provided throughout the process.

Provide Multiple Means for Engagement:
Provide options for recruiting interest
7.1 Increase individual choice and autonomy
Feature: What is actually researched in the scaffolding process is up to the learner and what is researched for the project we are building towards has limits but is ultimately their choice.

7.2 Enhance relevance, value, and authenticity

7.3 Reduce threats and distractions
Feature: This is a very low-stakes process, and there are not any real "threats."

Provide options for sustaining effort and persistence
8.1 Heighten salience of goals and objectives
Barrier: Develop ways for students to be able to make and meet shorter term objectives.

8.2 Vary levels of challenge and support
Barrier: Vary what needs to be completed and in what ways for different students.

8.3 Foster collaboration and communication
Barrier: Have aspects of the assignment where they can work in pairs/groups.

8.4 Increase mastery-oriented feedback
Feature: On each aspect of the assignment, feedback is designed to be able to be timely and efficient and useful.
Provide options for self-regulation
9.1 Guide personal goal-setting and expectations
Feature: Students are constantly aware of deadlines,due dates with rubrics, reminders, etc.

9.2 Scaffold coping skills and strategies
Feature: The scaffolding and step-by-step and day-by-day process makes this project and the before aspects very do-able.

9.3 Develop self-assessment and reflection
Feature: There is a great deal of explicit instruction and modeling done before they are sent out on their "own" to self-regulate their learning and project process.

© "" CAST 2009

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Evaluation of a WebQuest

Evaluation of a Webquest: The Crucible Background Research
(I did not know how to complete a ScreenShot, so I just linked to it below the evaluation).

1. Synopsis of the WebQuest including its intended audience, its educational goals, and the curriculum standards addressed if stated:
The WebQuest looked into was one created for high school students who are about to begin The Crucible by Arthur Miller. It’s goals are for students to have students develop prior knowledge about the Salem Witch Trials, Arthur Miller, McCarthyism/The Red Scare/The Cold War and Puritanism before beginning to read. It has an extension activity that either has students only researching one part and sharing the information verbally with other students who researched a different aspect of the background information, or creating a PowerPoint and a works cited page and sharing with the class. This way each student is not doing the whole WebQuest, but learning from other groups of students who are now the “experts” on one part of the WebQuest. Some standards addressed, although not listed are, in terms of craft and structure, because some of the materials found from the part of the WebQuest on the Salem Witch Trials is evidence from petitions and letters from 1692, students have to decipher meaning, they have to determine central ideas of a text within different sources when the WebQuest asks them to summarize, and based on certain questions about an article on why Arthur Miller wrote the Crucible, they have to determine his point of view and purpose. It is very clear in its goals and focuses for the students. Clearly, these are elements they must learn about and understand before they begin reading. It itself makes clear the curriculum’s intentions and what the end result will be--understanding each aspect of this background information to gain necessary prior knowledge. It does not, however, contain much of an introduction or process steps, until the steps are given for creating the PowerPoint after the research is done. This is a short-term Webquest, 2 days max.

2. What pedagogical strategies are employed in the WebQuest and are they effective? Is there use of metaphor? Are they using inductive or deductive strategies? Is there scaffolding? What other strategies do you see?  
There is very simple instructions to follow. For instance, it will tell students the website and then the heading/sub heading to click on to be able to read for the answers in the following questions. It will also ask students to either copy down information verbatim, to paraphrase,  or to summarize the information given. There is no use of a metaphor, although they do need to know and understand what an allegory is to understand the connection between the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism. I believe they are using deductive strategies because there are answers are not necessarily open ended and they are only using the evidence they are given to answer questions, however, it may also be inductive because they are experiencing and observing the information they are drawing conclusions about. There is not much scaffolding because the whole WebQuest asks very clear questions and directs students where to go to get the information being asked of them. The Strategies that as an English teacher I find very important are asking the kids different kinds of questions that require different answers such as asking them to paraphrase or summarize, or interpret. These are all important skills to learn as readers, writers, and researchers. 

3. In what ways is the WebQuest taking advantage of technology? In what ways is it 'change without difference'? Could this WebQuest be done just as well by photocopying pages and handing them out to students?
It is taking advantage of the use of different websites, and it also gives the students the chance to, after answering questions and taking notes, to become the experts and share their information through the creation of an easy-to-read and take notes with PowerPoint. I don’t think the WebQuest is change without difference. I believe through this process they are able to take ownership much more of a certain aspect of the background as they will become the teachers of that information. I don’t think they would get them same engagement out of simply being handed print-outs of this information. Having to look for it gives an added excitement and ‘difference’ to this assignment. It also seems like a much more manageable task, instead of handing kids packets of information, this, to them, looks doable. 

4. Technically, does it work? Does it have bugs or flaws such as broken links or images? Is the material out of date? Does it credit its sources?

There was one broken link that was discovered, but students should definitely be able to be creative in looking up that information through different channels. They just need to be thoughtful when using a search engine. It does work though. Each aspect of the WebQuest credits where the information would be taken from, and each source itself is credible and verifiable. 

5. How would you improve the WebQuest?

I might leave room for more questions that allow for less direct answers, and more interpretive ones. 

See Crucible WebQuest Below.

See the PowerPoint/Group Process and Rubric steps Below.

Monday, November 5, 2012

MERLOT Evaluation

MERLOT Evaluation of Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture by Stephen Railton of the University of Virginia

In a few short weeks, the students in my 9th grade Honors English class will be beginning Huck Finn by Mark Twain, and we will be reading excerpts of Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe to further their understanding of the historical and cultural context surrounding that time period in the south. 

Quality of Content:
  1. The software does appear to present valid (correct) concepts, models, and skills as it seems to come from credible sources, and the documentation of sources is extensive. The range of materials available is also extensive. It ranges from anti-slavery texts to christian texts, from minstrel shows to pro-slavery responses, and even to African America responses and American reviews. It has articles going all the way back to 1852-1930.
  2. The software presents educationally significant concepts, models, and skills for the discipline because it provides outside texts that are both historical fiction and non-fiction and can be used to supplement the reading of Huck Finn. It connects different aspects of the text to a larger historical and cultural issue that plagued the US for a very long time. IT also has a multitude of ways to view the information at hand, so it can be accessible for a variety of students and educators. 
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching-Learning Tool:
  1. The stage(s) in the learning process/cycle these materials could most likely be used would be in the beginning stages of introducing the background and setting of the story, so in terms of the explanation it would make the most sense. It could also be used as a demonstration, or further exploration of the reading of Huck Finn itself. So once kids already have a  grasp on what is going on in the south at this time, here is another lens to look through, or another text by a different author to be used to gain context and understanding. It could be used in the practice or applying stages as well, as it itself is not the main text but a connection piece.
  2. The learning objectives are of course an in-depth comprehension of the text, but also of the characters themselves through both direct and indirect characterization. Some essential questions that arise are:
    1. How does one construct a hero?
    2. How can we view these characters as heroes on a journey?
    3. How do we further our understanding of the societal issues surrounding this text?
    4. How does an individual confront social norms he/she disagrees with?
    5. How can authors use comedy and satire to the serious work of challenging those norms?
    6. How can the common elements of mythic tales help us understand this text?
    7. Does the interactive/media-rich presentation of material improve faculty and students' abilities to teach and learn the materials?
  3. I believe the use of this website can be readily integrated into current curriculum and pedagogy within the discipline. It is very user-friendly and has many supplemental information that will be extremely useful when leading students through the text. 
  4. The software can be used in a variety of ways to achieve teaching and learning goals. It can be used to reinforce different perspectives, to hear first-hand accounts and responses as to what life was like in the 19th century and early 20th. 
  5. As always, we want students to not only read the text, but feel as though they are a part of the text. We need them, as engaged and active readers, to be able to fully comprehend not just the plot and the characters, but the greater underlying issues that makes this story still timeless and relevant, but also historically, culturally and socially important. 
  6. In terms of assignments for honors students, I think there can be many assignments one can use. Whether they are choosing an article to annotate or mark up and bring in to present as an artifact they are an expert on, or to use a think aloud process when going through an older text in partners, or even to simply explore what the site has to offer. I was thinking of even having the students, as it is a safe environment, present the differing  responses from the two points of views in terms of anti-slavery and pro-slavery. 
Ease of Use:
  1. Are the labels, buttons, menus, text, and general layout of the computer interface consistent and visually distinct? The buttons are extremely easy to use, and based on the user, one can change the way they view the information--there's a search mode, browse mode or interpret mode. Browse does seem the easiest for me to handle visually. 
  2. Does the user get trapped in the material? Not at all--even though there is a LOT of information to sort through.
  3. Can the user get lost easily in the material? I guess one could if there wasn't something specific they were looking for and if they were simply just looking for any material that popped out to them as the were searching.
  4. Does the module provide feedback about the system status and the user's responses? I'm not sure I understand this questions.
  5. Does the module provide appropriate flexibility in its use? Yes, you can change up the way you view the information to suit your own style. 
  6. Does the learning material require a lot of documentation, technical support, and/or instruction for most students to successfully use the software? I do not believe it does. 
  7. Does the material present information in ways that are familiar for students? Absolutely. 
  8. Does the material present information in ways that would be attractive to students? I think it may seem a bit out-dated in its presentation to some, but noting extremely unfamiliar to how information online has been presented before. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Goal-directed Instructional Design Plan - English Research
Emily Mullins
  1. 1. A problem or a need – there must be a problem of practice or an educational need that should be addressed during the lesson.
  2. As we finish the unit for Animal Farm, our research-based character sketch project requires 10th grade students to be able to identify and then utilize credible sources from the Internet. This has been a huge obstacle in the past. Students often immediately go to google, or use sources that allows for editing such as wikipedia. They will need to reapply this knowledge during the Julius Caesar unit.
  • 2. A real-world performance – how the learning objective fit into a real-world activity or need.
  • The ability to research, and most specifically to use the Internet to find credible sources is a tool students can use for the rest of their life. It is a wonderful skill to be able to discern which sources are credible and which are not. Students are already inundated with a constant flow of information, and they need to learn to analyze what they are being presented with. Research will absolutely be a part of their lives in that they will need to do research when buying a car, buying a house, etc. Having practice with research using credible house will prepare them for the future. They can transfer the knowledge that comes with practicing using credible sources to many other areas of their lives, not just for research papers for a grade. 
  • 3. An instructional objective – the objectives are based on the final outcome, activity or test. These objectives will each be different for the four types of knowledge; performing skills, recalling facts, identifying examples of concepts, and applying principles. 
    1. a. Students will take notes on what requirements credible sources must have. 
    2. b. Students will learn the basics about the Internet including web addresses, types of websites, why certain sites are the first to come up when a search is done on google/yahoo, using key terms when searching, etc.
    3. c. Formatively, students will take a quiz on what types of sources are credible or not.
    4. d. Students will go to the Media Center to be instructed on the use of databases from the Michigan Electronic Library, and they will use our media center’s checklist with each source they select to use in their paper. 
    5. e. Students will see sample sources and how they may be cited within an essay, along with a sample works cited page.
    6. f. Students will cite their sources on a works cited paper
    7. g. Students will annotate these selected articles.
    8. h. Students will write a paper using these sources to back up their claims with research.
  • 4. A set of essential content – the basic ideas and skills that will allow the learner to complete the task or understand the content.
  • Students will learn essential Internet terminology in terms of types of web addresses (.org, .edu, .com, etc.) and also how to utilize the Boolean system of searching (or at least in terms of using key words/phrases). Students will need to learn to gauge which sites will produce which types of information. 
  • 5. An evaluation consisting of a test or observation – an assessment, observation or product showing that the objectives can be accomplished in the real-world setting.
  • This can be assessed in a multitude of ways, whether it be formatively or summatively. 
  • One way I can begin to assess their knowledge of whether a source is credible or not, is by filling out the Media Center Credible Source Checklist Documents for each of the sources they plan to use in their Animal Farm Character Sketch Project. at the end of each checklist they then have to explain why the source was, in their own words, credible or not. They need to justify their use of that source in their paper. This will be an indication of how much they have understood since the lectures, use of examples, quiz, etc., but also what needs reiterating. 
  • Using annotations of the full articles found, I can see also that they read the whole article to try and analyze whether or not it served as a credible source. 
  • Perhaps before they turn in their final research project, they could create a Prezi or Glogster as a way to either present the information or have it constructed in a way that they can best understand as if they were to present it. In this way I can see what they took away from the information as being most important in terms of research, the Internet, credibility terminology, searching for sources, and deciding whether or not a source is credible. This could be done individually, in small groups, or in partners and could be presented on days before or in between going to the labs to research.
  • Various discussions will also help me to gauge their level of understanding. 
  • I will be able to fully analyze their ability to find and utilize credible sources once their paper has been turned in. I will be able to see whether the sources were from educational portals or databases of published articles. 
  • 6. A method to help participants learn – the method to deliver the content; a lesson. 
  • 1. Access prior knowledge--what do students normally do when researching? Discuss with them whether they always just go straight to google and click on the first source that is presented to them, or if they try different web searches and key terms to find what they need. Do they know that Wikipedia can be edited? Have they used like sources when they’ve done research in the past. This will allow me to see where students are in terms of their understanding of this concept
  • 2. I have a handout that I use that goes through how sources are credible or not. It has Internet terminology listed, it discusses works cited within a paper but also the bibliography, and it goes through what it means to use sources within the context of school and otherwise. It also discusses accuracy, relevance, and reliability in terms of the websites/sources. This can either be projected with the use of a projector or through a PowerPoint-like presentation. Students will take notes and be able to ask questions as the class goes through to discuss. I will be able to demonstrate examples using my overhead projector as I go. I can also pull up where they can find the Media Center’s credibility checklist on its webpage. 
  • 3. After taking notes, discussing, taking a quiz, and then also discussing those answers, they will go to the lab to create Glogster/Prezi presentations,  individually or in pairs, of this information prior to actually researching. 
  • 4. After about two-tree days of creating their presentations and presenting, I will allow them to go to the lab to begin their research. The requirements will be that for each source they plan on using within their paper, they must also fill out a credibility checklist along with writing their own justification for using that specific source. I believe they will have been scaffolded enough at this point to be responsible for their own learning as they can apply all that we have done thus far. 
  • 5. I will check in the checklists as they go, as I will till them they cannot use a source if I have not signed off on its credibility.
  • 6. Once I have signed off on their 3-4 sources, they can begin creating the actual paper/project. 
    • Motivation:
      • Meaningfulness – content and activities must have meaning for the learner
    • As they know they are going to be doing a large project that requires research and is worth a major portion of their grade, this work should actually seem extremely meaningful because they know it will be of immediate and necessary use. It will also be presented in a way that if they learn this now, all research assignments in their future high school classes will go much more smoothly. 
      • Pleasant consequences – the effects that achieving the goal will have on the learner
    • The students will have a better understanding of what sources are actually reliable and can actually serve the purpose of justifying their claims, because the credible source has also done research. The checklist will make them slow down the process an not just jump on the first webpage they see. They will actually have to read the article/document and justify their use of it. It makes them think about why or why not something can be considered reliable, and just because it is on the internet does not make it true.
      • Novelty – an attention-getting, humorous or curious manner that relates to the useful information in your lesson 
    • I like to use examples about times that people purposely changed Wikipedia pages for their own benefit, or just to be funny. I also have pretty cool cartoons/pictures I use on documents to connect to the topic at hand. 
  • Socialization - a strong motivator for student learning
  • They are all working towards the same goal. They are all in need of coming to understand and being able to apply the concepts being taught in a group discussion format. They can share their own knowledge and help each other through the process. 
  • Audience – For what audience are you designing this lesson? Consider the following:
    • Age
  • High School Sophomores (ages 15-16) in regular English 10.
    • Skill level (including technology skills)
  • As this is a regular English class, it has a wide variety of kids. Some kids may not have a computer at home and simply have difficulties using Microsoft word, and other may be extremely proficient. In this way those who are proficient may finish sooner or completed aspects of the assignment more quickly and thus can help those who are less than proficient. 

    • Prerequisite knowledge (including technology background)
  • Students will have of course have used computers and done research in the past, but perhaps not in the way I am asking them to this time around. Some may know about the Michigan Electronic Library, some may never have heard of it It may depend on their previous English teacher or research assignment and its requirements. Their ability level will be completely different across the board. For another example, some may type quickly because they have a computer at home, while those who don’t, may need more time. 
  • Technology Needs – the computers, software, programs (such as Angel or other CMS’s) printers, equipment, Internet access, time in the computer lab will be needed to successfully complete your technology-rich lesson.
  •     1. Computers
  •     2. Printers
  •     3. High-speed Internet
  •     4. Basic technology and internet schools