Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Reaction to Chapter 16 of Computer Education for Teachers

"You could spray a video display from a can on any surface and be able to print it out" (p. 419, Computer Education for Teachers) I'm not exactly sure what is meant by that particular futuristic idea but the rest of the chapter is pretty informative. There are some potentially scary ideas, like the idea of "electronic creatures capable of independent thought and action" (p. 428) which hint at "Terminator" like scenarios, and "mutually immersive mobil telepresence" (p. 431) HUH?, but overall, it seems pretty safe to say that technology isn't going away and educators who can keep up with the advancements and in turn incorporate them into their teaching so their students can also keep up with the technology, are more likely "not to go away" either. In that sense, being an educator who uses cutting-edge technology with students is a form of job preservation in the face of job losses due to technology.

Reaction to Chapter 15 of Computer Education for Teachers

I didn't find much that I wasn't already aware of in the "issues" portion of this chapter having used computers in a classroom setting for more than 5 years in a wide range of situations from having only one computer in a classroom, to running a dedicated ESL computer lab where all of the other classes in the school rotated into the room for 90 minutes sessions once a week, before reaching my current classroom which has, as you already know, both desktop computers and laptop computers available for every single student every day if desired. I'm pleased that the chapter covers wireless laptop carts and notes that one benefit is that teachers do not have to take students to a separate lab. I totally agree with the concept that computer assisted learning has to be completely integrated into the curriculum and providing direct access to computers in the room is certainly one way to start that process.

I found the research portion of the chapter to be a good start at covering many issues involved with using computers in education. Much still has to be done in determining if all of the effort that teachers and schools invest in buying and installing computers,and training teachers, is worthwhile from the standpoint of educational gains.

Monday, June 13, 2005

check out the cool clock on my blog!

What do you think of the ticking clock? Get one for yourself at or just copy the code off of my page and paste it into the "Template" on your own page.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Website for viewing a site as a color blind person would see it
is the website I referred to in class that allows you to view a webpage as if a color blind person would view it. It actually shows you how people with different types of color blindness would see the page.

Click on the "Vischeck" link at the left and then on "Run Webpages" and you can enter the URL of your blog or any other website to see it as a color blind person might!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Reaction to Chapter 14 of Computer Education for Teachers

More and more educators have access to computers right in their classroom, but it has been my experience that woefully few of them make use of them to their complete capability as "teacher support tools". Much needs to be done in this area in my experience. I doubt if I would be happy teaching without a computer, Internet connection, scanner and high-output printer in my classroom. I rarely use the copy machine anymore because I can prepare many materials right in the classroom. I can find song lyrics on-online, copy them to a word document and have them ready to be distributed in 5 minutes or less. When a reading passage mentioned the cities of El Paso, TX, USA and Ciudad de Juarez, Mexico, I could go to the Internet, find a map of that area, print it to an overhead transparency and display it for the class (Now that I have a wireless connection to one of my laptops, I can actually skip that last step and project the image directly from the Internet to my overhead projector). I won't bore you with too many examples but last year when a student wanted to know why children hunt for Easter Eggs but the symbol of Easter is a bunny which as far as he knew didn't lay eggs, I was able to clarify after a few minutes of searching (Easter being a fertility inspired holiday, both eggs and bunnies symbolize prolific offspring) I produce handouts, tests, worksheets right in the classroom for use that same day as needed or as inspired by what the students are doing at any particular moment.

I'm also fortunate to have a web-based attendance recording system. No more filling out registers for me. I just log-on and fill out a web-based interface to record attendance now. Click a button and print out the completed register to be turned in at the end of the week. (The system also has benefits for adminstration as they get immediate data on division-wide attendance, whereas in previous years that information was delayed by at least a month).

Reaction to Chapter 13 of Computer Education for Teachers

This is a really crucial issue that is often overlooked by educational providers, but virtually all educators could benefit by the information in this chapter. Those working with adult students are no less likely to encounter learning disabilities or students with various issues in their classrooms. From general issues such as the difficulty that adults of all ages and abilities have with using computer touch pads, or specific issues with individual students who exhibit evidence of a learning disability, instructors will benefit from being aware of ways that computer assisted education can both help overcome learning disabilities or present even more difficulties for those particular students.

Another issue that anyone working with websites is that there are definitely issues of accessibility that need to be considered. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 does appear to include website accessibility.
For a general website with information about creating websites that are accessible see

This is another site that allows instructors to create games. The major difference with this site is that the games you create here can be played online. It is a fee site so instructors have to either have their school purchase a subscription or pay for it themselves. I tried out the 30 day free version and created a small vocabulary practice game based on words I'm actually teaching this week in class (so it would be realistic for my teaching situation) that you can try at It costs $49 a year for an individual subscription (only $39 if you get 9 colleagues to sign up at the same time) but I think that would be well worth it to a teacher who uses online activities on a regular basis. For the game that I created, by the way, I drew the images myself in Paint, saved them, and uploaded them to the Quia server for use in the game. I wanted to see how easy it was to create an online puzzle. It took about 30 minutes for the whole process including drawing the drawings from scratch. Try my game!

This is one of several such sites which can greatly assist classroom teachers in producing fairly interesting assignments for in-class use in a quick and easy manner. If a teacher feels that there is educational value to having students work on puzzles to memorize or learn vocabulary, then this site can be very useful. I was able to customize a provided list of vocabulary words (delete some words I thought were not appropriate for my class) and create a puzzle within a few minutes that I could print out and distribute to my class (assuming I had the computer, Internet connection, and printer in the room) a few short minutes after thinking it might be nice to have just such an exercise to pass out. It's a good example of how technologically aware teachers can enhance their lessons with a minimal amount of work. Let's say that you're teaching a lesson on the days of the month in a beginning level class and you realize that you might have an extra 10 minutes of classtime near the end of the day when some students are starting to get fidgety. While the students are working on some other assignment, you can visit this site, create a custom puzzle using the vocabulary words that you want your students to know from that day's lesson, print it out and have it be ready for that that last 10 minute period, giving students the opportunity to make complete use of every minute of the time period for productive learning. If the 10 minutes never materializes because a student has asked a question and your answer or explanation has made use of that ten minutes, you have a homework assignment or a warm-up/review worksheet for the next class session already prepared.

It's always good to view sites and resources from many angles. While I probably won't actually ever teach art directly, there IS a movement within ESL instruction towards incorporating language instruction within subject matter instruction. So from that angle, I'm going to file this site away for future reference for the time when I might be asked to teach an art subject as part of an ESL program.

But more than that, sometimes sites are important not only for their content, but for the example they present as a way of PRESENTING INFORMATION itself, or in this case actually, the way this site led me to another site which I would possibly have never seen but is a fantastic example of the way in which educational content can be delivered taking full use of the multimedia capabilities of the computer. You might recall that in my comments on some earlier websites we visited for this class, ,my comment was "it's just a page from a book displayed on the computer". In other words, "Who needs an expensive computer when you can just hand the student a worksheet?" The website I found after a bit of exploration is
(the first link when you click on the "EXPLORE" tab) an ingenious and extremely interesting site that teaches about Martha Graham's work through the eyes of a dancer who has been assigned to dance several of her most famous roles. The visitor to the site is presented with the dancer's locker , filled with notebooks, journals, background information, music CD's and videos (realistic photos of each object). As the learner explores the locker and its content by clicking on the different items, they learn as if they are really that dancer studying for an actual role. For example, they view a video of a segment from a dance and are presented with several questions to think about basing their answers on the video clips they just watched. It's a site with high production values and was obviously not cheap to produce, but it certainly is a great demonstration of the way educational content can be delivered making optimal use of the delivery technology selected. I highly recommend that anyone interested in using computers to make instructional content more interesting visit this site.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

First student blogs achieved today

I took the plunge and tried a second time to get introduce my students to both the class homepage I created at as well as the blog I created at blogger. It went much better today with 4 students actually creating their own new blogs! Those four are now able to access the blog from home and post responses. It was very exciting actually and the students were very excited about the whole thing, quickly grasping my intent that they can maintain contact with the class even if they are absent. To see the first 4 student blogs visit and look for the four links at the right side... Note that Flori actually posted her answer to the June 7th assignment and I was able to give her some feedback leading to a correct sentence.

One observation about the difference between the two sites is that it is much easier to get students to the point of being able to log in at the scholastic site. On the other hand, the more sophisticated students quickly realized that by starting their own blogs, they would have their very own Internet presence, with one student asking me, "If I tell my friends about my blog, and they make their own blog, than we can send messages back and forth to each other?, and what about photos?"

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Cutting Edge Instructional Technology-virtual language simulations and training

The first URL below is a general description of what some folks are working on in terms of providing language practice in a simulated environment using virtual reality/video game/voice recognition technology. The second is a video of a professor explaining how the program works with actual samples of the program. No comment about who is funding it and why. Just something to think about and it’s impact on language instruction. Note the description of the task as "tactical language learning"...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

an online journal that might interest you

Innovate is an online journal that seems especially appropriate for members of edu640. From its own description: "Innovate is a bimonthly, peer-reviewed online periodical (ISSN 1552-3233) published by the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University. The journal focuses on the creative use of information technology (IT) to enhance educational processes in academic, commercial, and government settings." You have to "subscribe" but it's free. You can subscribe at

The article that brought me there was on blogging in education. By Stuart Glogoff, it's titled "Instructional Blogging: Promoting Interactivity, Student-Centered Learning, and Peer Input" Once you register you'll see the link to the article on the left side of the website.

Some other titles in this issue of the online journal that caught my eye:
Freedom and Empowerment: An Essay on the Next Step for Education and Technology
James Shimabukuro

What Can You Learn from a Cell Phone? Almost Anything!
Marc Prensky

Creating Effective Web-Based Learning Environments: Relevant Research and Practice
Kay Wijekumar

The Changing Shape of Corporate Universities
David Baucus and Melissa Baucus

Monday, June 06, 2005

explanation of RSS feeds from

This article provides a clear explanation of RSS feeds and how they can be used in education. I wasn't completely clear on what they were or even that we already are using an RSS feed since we started using bloglines to "aggregate" our own class blogs. Essentially, the technology that allows a posting on one of the listed blogs to appear in our aggregator at bloglines is RSS technology. The article is titled "The ABCs of RSS" and its author is Will Richardson. The direct link is

Saturday, June 04, 2005

I continue to learn about using blogs and cooperative learning of technology

Working in the lab with my co-students in the program has been very productive. There were several instances where we were able to attack a problem together and reach a satisfactory outcome. For example, I had been frustrated in my inability to delete a post on one of my blogs that was posted by me, but under a username of one of my students. I wanted to replace that posting with a correct one. I had been unsuccessfully trying to delete it for about two weeks because I was trying to delete it from the editing page instead of from the comment itself. Yacine, who had done this previously (deleting the infamous naked acrobat posting that appeared on her blog) was able to quickly demonstrate the correct procedure.

View my new class homepage at

Access my experimental class homepage created at by going to

A new page will appear with a Login box.
Enter the Class User Name: eslclass
Enter the Class Password: practice


Reaction to Chapter 12 of Computer Education for Teachers

Who knew that BASIC meant "Beginner's All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction"? Again, this chapter features many explanations of necessary aspects of Computer Assisted Instruction and is useful for the differentation between different types of learning software approaches (i.e. "simulation" vs. "drill and practice" programs). After visiting the selected websites, I thought there would be more information about software and websites for special education, but there was only the one paragraph. The main focus of the chapter, integrating software is an area that I have great prior interest in, because it has also been my focus in the classroom for some time. I make use of both commercially produced software specifically for ESL as well as general application programs such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint as teaching tools for my students on a daily basis. It's important to be familiar with both general types and this chapter does a good job of discussing both types of software.

Reaction to Chapter 11 of Computer Education for Teachers

This author is very good at producing easy to read and clear summaries of different topics and this history of the Internet is another good example of that. On the other hand, I found myself getting bored by screen shot after screen shot of website for each different topic taught at school. I was pleased to note the inclusion of eblogger and web development tools as I'm starting to move into using those myself. I never really knew what Java and JavaScript were and now I do.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

my blogline set up

I want to 2nd Dr. Partovi's suggestion to make use of the blog "accumulator" found at It really saves a lot of time when trying to read all of the blogs of everybody in the class. I was even able to add a button on my browser toolbar which allows me to instantly add a blog I'm visiting to my list of blogs that it's keeping track of. For example, when I visited each of your blogs, instead of typing in the URL for each respective blog, I just clicked on that new button in my browser and that blog was added to my list of blogs. I think I got everybody, but I'm not sure about Michael's. (I'm using but I don't see any postings :( so I don't know if that's correct.)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Seems like a very competently made and well thought out site of use to professionals working with special education. Again, the most interesting part of the site were the discussion forums which allowed a peak inside the world of "sped" teachers. If I were involved with this population this would obviously be a "must bookmark" site

Kept getting a 400 error (bad request invalid host name) and couldn't find this page, but found perhaps an older version archived on google. I did find out that "NICHCY stands for the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities." even though I can't figure out the relationship between the acronym and its meaning...

I think this would be an invaluable resource for a k-12 teacher, especially theTeacherChat forums where teachers can post questions and get back responses from other teachers who have suggestions and solutions. I found myself getting drawn into one discussion about a 3 year old autistic student and how the teacher was concerned he was fixating on his set of beads for hours and hours and whether that was a good thing because it was calming or a bad thing because it was preventing communication. The responses were quite interesting including many specific suggestions for using some shaping (I hope I'm remembering all that stuff we learned just last semester) to increase time away from the beads by using the beads as a reward for doing a simple task, first for one minute, then for two minutes, then for three minutes, etc. Another posting had to do with a teacher who wanted more information about self-mutilation and how prevalent it is , and then later in the discussion reveals that she has one student who apparently is cutting himself and asks for info about what should be done about it. I'm SO glad I work with adult populations! On a lighter note this posting about controlling behavior strikes me as a great idea

Another unique part of the site is the store of teacher created materials, many that can be purchased as .pdf downloads, so teachers who need an instantaneous lesson or teaching aid and don't have an educational store in town or even within 100 miles can get materials as needed. And of course, since they are teacher-created, the materials are classroom tested.



Pacoima Skills Center provides vocational, academic, basic skills and English language education to the community of Pacoima and the neighboring communities of Sylmar, Mission Hills, Arleta, Lake View Terrace, Sun Valley, North Hills, Van Nuys and Panorama City. The 7th Council District of the City of Los Angeles, home to Pacoima Skills Center, has the highest percentage of Hispanic-Latino residents in the city (80.4% according to the 2000 Census). The area has the highest rate of unemployment in the San Fernando Valley (9.6% compared to 5.6% in the San Fernando Valley as a whole) and, a 30% poverty rate compared with 22.1% countywide. The annual per-capita income is $9,266 (about 57% of the per-capita income of the city of Los Angeles as a whole). The Pacoima Skills Center is located in a Federal Empowerment Zone as well as a State of California Enterprise Zone, a City of Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency Zone and a City of Los Angeles Targeted Neighborhood Initiative.

Adult ESL students in Literacy thru Advanced Low ESL classes are the specific targeted population. The central strategy of the
Technology Center will be a “Technology Help Desk” consisting of instructors and staff available for training and assistance in the implementation of technology in the ESL curriculum.

Technology Facilitation Standard I. (TF-I)
Technology Operations and Concepts. Educational technology facilitators demonstrate an in-depth understanding of technology operations and concepts. Educational technology facilitators:

TF-I.A. Demonstrate knowledge, skills, and understanding of concepts related to technology . Candidates:

1. Assist teachers in ongoing development of knowledge, skills and understanding of technology systems, resources, and services that are aligned with district and state technology plans.

Technology Help Desk instructors and staff will survey teachers to determine baseline data on teachers' knowledge, skills, & understanding of technology resources using available survey tools such as the CTAP2 (California Technology Assistance Project )

Implement Staff Development Series consisting of at least 6 3-hour workshops focusing on integration of both computer-assisted language learning and other technologies into the language classroom. The first four workshops will be: 1) Integrating Microsoft Word Projects into the ESL curriculum, 2) Integrating Microsoft PowerPoint Projects into the ESL curriculum, 3) Integrating Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Paint Projects into the ESL curriculum, 4) Using the Overhead Projector, Video, and Card Reader Technologies with ESL students, 5) Integrating the Internet into the ESL curriculum, 6) Effective Use of Commercial ESL software in the ESL computer lab.

2. Provide assistance to teachers in identifying technology systems, resources, and services to meet specific learning needs.

Implement “Technology Help Desk” program with email, phone, and classroom visit capability so that individual instructors can obtain prompt assistance as needed.

TF-I.B. Demonstrate continual growth in technology knowledge and skills to stay abreast of current and emerging technologies. Candidates:

1. Model appropriate strategies essential to continued growth and development of the understanding of technology operations and concepts.

Technology Help Desk instructors and other staff will maintain current membership in related professional organizations such as the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) Interest Section, Technology Mentor Network, Computer Using Educators, etc.

Technology Help Desk instructors and other staff will maintain current participation in CALL related email discussion lists (TESLCA-L, Technology Mentor Network, etc.)

Technology Facilitation Standard II. (TF-II)
Planning and Designing Learning Environments and Experiences. Educational technology facilitators plan, design, and model effective learning environments and multiple experiences supported by technology.
Educational technology facilitators:

TF-II.A. Design developmentally appropriate learning opportunities that apply technology-enhanced instructional strategies to support the diverse needs of learners. Candidates:

1. Provide resources and feedback to teachers as they create developmentally appropriate curriculum units that use technology.

Technology Help Desk instructors and staff will be available to observe teachers in the classroom as well as to “team teach” or teach a demonstration lesson for teachers who would like a more concrete experience with a technology lesson as implemented in their own classroom with their own students.

2. Consult with teachers as they design methods and strategies for teaching computer/technology concepts and skills within the context of classroom learning.

Technology Help Desk instructors and staff will be available to consult with teachers in the classroom as well as to “team teach” or teach a demonstration lesson for teachers who would like a more concrete experience with a technology lesson as implemented in their own classroom with their own students.

3. Assist teachers as they use technology resources and strategies to support the diverse needs of learners including adaptive and assistive technologies.

Technology Help Desk instructors and staff will have a wide-range of adaptive and assistive technologies and strategies available for demonstration to teachers working with special needs adults and will assist in converting or adapting classroom or computer lab technology as necessary to meet the needs of those learners.

TF-II.B. Apply current research on teaching and learning with technology when planning learning environments and experiences. Candidates:

1. Assist teachers as they apply current research on teaching and learning with technology when planning learning environments and experiences.

Technology Help Desk instructors and staff will be familiar with current research on teaching and learning with technology and have Internet or other resources available for teachers to read or view via email, video, a training website or 1-hour staff development training sessions during the semester.

TF-II.C. Identify and locate technology resources and evaluate them for accuracy and suitability. Candidates:

1. Assist teachers as they identify and locate technology resources and evaluate them for accuracy and suitability based on district and state standards.

Technology Help Desk instructors and staff will use various evaluation rubrics for software and Internet websites to assist teachers in identifying appropriate computer-based materials and Internet resources for adult learners.

For an example of two such evaluation worksheets see the “Technology-Based Material Evaluation Checklist" and the “Web Site Evaluation Checklist” (appendices B and C of the ESL/CBET & Citizenship Technology Guide of the Division of Adult and Career Education, LAUSD) found at

2. Model technology integration using resources that reflect content standards.

Incorporate reviewed software and websites in staff development workshops as needed.

TF-II.D. Plan for the management of technology resources within the context of learning activities. Candidates:

1. Provide teachers with options for the management of technology resources within the context of learning activities.

Technology Help Desk instructors and staff will provide training on technology resource management techniques such as rotation of students to computer stations using timers or other strategies when there are more students than computers available, training students to help set up laptops and other technology equipment instead of taking “teacher time” to do it, identifying students who can serve as “technology assistants”, etc.

TF-II.E. Plan strategies to manage student learning in a technology-enhanced environment. Candidates:

1. Provide teachers with a variety of strategies to use to manage student learning in a technology enhanced environment and support them as they implement the strategies.

In addition to providing training on resource management techniques such as those mentioned in TF-IID above, Technology Help Desk instructors and staff will observe and assist teachers in the classroom as they implement those strategies initially.

TF-II.F. Identify and apply instructional design principles associated with the development of technology resources. Candidates:

1. Assist teachers as they identify and apply instructional design principles associated with the development of technology resources.

Technology Help Desk instructors and staff will be familiar with instructional design principles as they relate to technology resources and be available for design of lesson plans and curriculum as needed.