Universal Design, Chromebooks, & Actively Learn

As an ITF and instructional designer, I take into account learners with disabilities. “When considering learners with disabilities, the instructional designer must be aware of three major factors: the presence of disability, the impact of disability on learning, and the technology used by individuals to overcome barriers presented by the disability ( Reiser & Dempsey, 2018).  I have been working with a special needs teacher that has three very old desktops in her class of ten students. We discussed the presence of the disabilities her students have, the impact it has on their learning, and how technology could be used to overcome some of the barriers. We came up with a list of what would benefit the students:
1. One-to-One – if every student in her class had their own device they could all participate instead of having to share among three dinosaur desktops. This will help with some of the emotional issues student have when they can not participate or control the device themselves.
2. Audio – the students would benefit from having a device that would read the text to them.
3. Agility /Motor Control – some students have a hard time using a keyboard and mouse.
4.Visibility – having what is being presented to the class in front of the students, on a device, would be more beneficial than the content being projected at the front of the room.
5. Reading Program – having a reading program that will help differentiate texts for the various reading levels would be beneficial.
6. Dictionary – being able to define a word on demand would increase comprehension.
7. Digital Annotation – students that have difficulty writing manually could annotate using a computer.
8. Discussions – having a way for students to discuss and participate without having to be verbally would increase participation.

After collaborating with the special needs teacher, I came to a conclusion/recommendation. I recommended that she purchase ten touchscreen laptops and purchase and use the free version of Actively Learn. The touchscreen devices and the reading program would meet every item on the list that we created. The problem is that she had no funds to purchase the devices. I reached out to some community members and was able to secure a three thousand dollar donation. I purchased ten touchscreen laptops. I was also able to provide her with a lockable charging cart.


Reiser, R. A., & Dempsey, J. V. (2018). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. New York: Pearson.

Digital Portfolios

Link to Slide Show
A portfolio is a showcase of work samples and artifacts. You would use a portfolio to help you get a job, get into college, or get an internship. A portfolio would contain a wide variety of artifacts that demonstrate your skills and abilities. A digital portfolio is in a digital format and includes reflections about your artifacts. Here is an excellent example of a college student’s portfolio.

All student Portfolios will require the following components:

You will create a page for each class – English, Math, Health/PE, Arts, Extra Curricular, etc
Types of Learning (Artifacts)
Variety of photos of work, audio clips, videos, embedded documents (essays, presentations)
Describing your artifacts, discussing your accomplishments, your challenges, your learning
Formal Document ( High School)
A cover letter and resume

Sample Digital Portfolios and Evaluation Activity
Here are several digital portfolios. Take a look at some of these samples and evaluate them using the provided rubric.

Start Your Digital Portfolio
1. Write your Bio
2. Create a Weebly or Google site. Sign in with Google and use your student login.
3. Create your pages
4. Add your bio to your home page
5. Begin adding artifacts and reflections
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Actively Learn


I am very excited about Actively Learn. This tool helps readers engage in reading. I would love the opportunity to demonstrate it to you and get you up and running with it. I can also train your students how to use it and set up their first reading activity. Please schedule a time for me to meet with you individually or with your PLT.

Solutions for Live Streaming School News

Old Broadcasting verses New Live Stream Technology Old technology required hardware, television sets, and wiring. The hardware connected the television studio cameras to a switcher. The switcher board allowed the tech to select the camera angle and add text and graphics. The wiring connected the output to the televisions across the campus.  Both schools I […]

Help Save the Northwestern Pacific Tree Octopus

Help save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. You can donate money to help build tree houses that will protect the Tree Octopus from weather and predators. Here is a reliable source about this fascinating creature. Here is a report about the future of the PNTO.

Website Evaluation Activity ( Check out these website and determine how reliable they are)
All About Explorers
Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division
Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus
Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie
The Jackalope Conspiracy
Dog Island

Reliable Resource Presentation
Here are a few search engines that provide reliable resources for academic research.
2. Google Scholar
6. Refseek

Additional Activities and Lesson Plan

Exploring How Matter Changes

There are several ways to incorporate pre-recorded lessons. The blended learning model is my favorite. The students consume the instruction on their own personal device, at their own pace. The teacher is free to work with students individually or in small groups. The following video is a perfect example of how an instructional video can be used for blended learning. For example, all of the students could watch and listen to this video on their own personal devices. The video prompts the students to pause the video, in between each station. During this time, student complete activities and resume the video when they are ready for the next video segment. This allows students to work at their own pace and the instruction is free to assist students instead of presenting the lesson to the entire class. Pre-recorded lessons also benefit students that were absent.

DSAP, TPACK, SAMR, and Technology Matrix

The TPACK framework is an excellent way to look at how technology plays a role in lesson and student activity development. It has been a couple of years since I dove head deep into the TPACK framework. This brief video does an excellent job ob explaining and illustrating TPACK.

TPACK helps us with the theory of instructional design and the SMAR model can be used to evaluate the use of technology. I see many uses of technology and most are not transformative. It can be a challenge to reach redefinition level. This video will introduce or refresh your memory of the SMAR framework.

The University of Sothern Florida has created an awesome “At Your Fingertips” resources for ITFs and teachers. I like to search the matrix by subject and grade level. Here is the link to TIM ( Technology Integration Matrix).

Active Learning Spaces

My goal is to create active learning spaces that use pedagogy, technology, and space to engage students in self directed learning experiences. I have been able to build one that houses fifteen students. I was awarded two grants to fund the project. One was from the Wake Ed Partnership for $3,000 and the other $3,000 grant came from Wake Electric.The following video showcases students using the active learning space I created in my classroom.

The space is small but jam packed with technology. The learning spaces seats fifteen students. It has the following equipment and technology:
– 13 laptops
– 2 desktops
– Adobe Creative Cloud software
– Podcasting equipment
– Canon T6i Camera
– Lighting
– Green screen and other backdrops
– 2 Breakout EDU kits
– Apple TV and Chromecast
– Reason recording studio software
– Collaborative and lounge seating

I worked on securing funding for these active learning spaces from two sources. I wrote the grant for FVMS and was awarded $50,000. I also wrote the rough draft for CCMMS grant application.I worked with a team of teachers there to finalize the grant application. We were also awarded $50,000. Lastly, I worked with the PTSA at FVMS to determine how the technology fundraiser funds should be spent. I advocated the funds be used to create an active learning space in an area we call the Fish Bowl. They provided us with $10,000 to convert the space.

Read Across America

I was amazed to see how successful Fuquay Varina Middle School’s Read Across America Day was. Various members of the community and WCPSS participated by reading a rigorous text with our students. Students also were engaged in activities that allowed them to incorporate a variety of literacy skills.