Author Archives: tdsparks

Course Reflection

What have I learned?  I started the term with an open mind and ready to get started with the course Integrating Technology into the Classroom Curriculum.  As a current technology teacher that uses many forms of technology in my classroom, I was eager to learn new methods and ideas for making my lessons and instruction better.  I firmly believe that technology is not just something that is added to a classroom and a lesson, but rather a tool to be used to enhance and integrate different levels of thinking into each lesson.  The Integrating Technology into the Classroom Curriculum has embedded that philosophy into all aspects of my lesson development.  The course integrates and builds upon many of the previous courses I have taken in the M. E. T. program at Boise State University.

The course has provided information for building a program around a single idea, developing that idea into a useful and educational tool that can be used in a variety of ways.  I have learned how valuable it is to see a lesson as an opportunity to find new and creative ways for incorporating technology into the activities to create excitement for the students.  One of the toughest challenges a teacher faces is keeping the students engaged and excited about learning, regardless of the subject matter.  The traditional methods of standing in front of a classroom and lecturing to a class are not engaging to the students of today.  The students of today are actively using and creating new ways of using technology for entrainment.  So is goes without saying, that applying a meaningful way of using technology in the classroom will motivate and engage the students in learning.

The course allowed us to become more familiar with the AECT Standards and the importance they have on the development of a new lesson or activity.

Standard 1 Design, we were able to create several lessons, instructional presentations, reflective blogs and resources sites for educators to use as a resource.  We incorporated an approach to designing our lessons and presentations that they could be used at a micro or macro level without having to change the lesson or presentation.  The lessons were designed and developed to allow for use right away in the classroom as the instruction or an enhancement of the instruction.  Learning theories and characteristics of learning were considered in all lesson and presentation designs.

Standard 2 Development, involved the use of embedded material to add the integrity and creditability of our lessons and presentations.  Outside sources such as websites, video, graphics, charts, and forms of technology were incorporated into all lessons.  The use of printable media, audio, video, and hyperlinks assisted in addressing all learner characteristics for the lessons.

Standard 3 Utilization, was addressed in the development of a final project were all the material for the course would be show cased and used later in the classroom.  The final project demonstrates the strong and insightful instruction of the course by building on prior knowledge to create a thorough website that can be used at any point for classroom instruction or as a resource to instruction.

The course has allowed me to develop a more in-depth practice when creating or redesigning a lesson.  My ability to incorporate a more meaningful and concise lesson will have a great impact on my students.  The students will develop a better understanding of how to use technology for a successful education.  The course has instilled a better practice on sharing information with colleagues.  The level of course work created a much higher level of thinking that manifested into more concise lessons and presentations.

Another area of instruction that was addressed was, special education and ESL learners.  These two areas are a large part of any education system and require necessary attention to ensure proper instruction in mainstream education.



Content – I believe my blog entries provided thoughtful insight to the class review process, along with personal experiences that are relevant to the topic at the time of creating the blog.  150/150

Readings/Resources – I provided reference information with all my blogs.  The reference material created credibility and additional information for the blog entry.  30/30

Timeliness – I attempted to add by blogs early in the course instruction each week for peer review and feedback.  However, part of the time this was not possible due to some untimely family problems that had to be taken care of away from my home.  15/25

Response to Other Students – I made it a point each week to read as many blogs as possible from my peers.  I felt that comments helped us grow as students and educators; therefor I provide more responses then required.  The responses give a different perspective and the creator may not have taken into consideration.  50/50




Roblyer, M.D., Doering, A.H. (2010).  Integrating educational technology into teaching, fifth edition. Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson Education, Inc

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 1, 2011 in Uncategorized


Technology Integration and The Digital Divide

What does Digital Divide mean?  It refers to the number of people who use technology to connect to the internet vs. the number of people that without the capability to connect to the internet.  There is a distinctive gap between those that are engaged in the use of connected technology via mobile devices and hard lines and those that are not connected.  The Digital Divide is not just affecting those here in the US; the entire world is part of this have and have not world. The inception of the World Wide Web has seen a large gap between the haves and have-nots; this was also the case with the telephone, radio and TV in each of their inceptions. defines divide as; to separate into parts, groups, sections, etc. It defines inequality as; the condition of being unequal; lack of equality; disparity: inequality of size.

Digital Divide: The gap between those who have access to digital technologies and those who do not; or the gap between those who use digital technologies and those who do not understood in binary terms distinguishing the “haves” from the “have-nots” (Hargittai 2003)

(USA Today 2011- all graphs)

According to USA Today, (2011), Fifty-one percent of Hispanics and 46% of blacks use their phones to access the Internet, compared with 33% of whites, according to a July 2010 Pew poll. Forty-seven percent of Latinos and 41% of blacks use their phones for e-mail, compared with 30% of whites. The figures for using social media like Facebook via phone were 36% for Latinos, 33% for blacks and 19% for whites.

Peter Chow-White, an assistant communications professor at Simon Fraser University and co-author of “Race After the Internet.”  States, “As long as you have structural inequalities in society, you cannot expect to have anything less than that on the Internet,” he says. “The Internet is not a separate space from the world, it’s intricately connected to everyday life and social institutions.”



In the western hemisphere the Digital Divide has a distinctive gap when comparing North, Central, and South America.  The US and Canada have 4 times the mobile use and 6 times the internet connection as Central and South America.  The US has more then twice the number of Internet users than the remaining 42 countries in the America’s.  Brazil, Canada, and the US make up 80% of the Internet users in all the America’s.  Mobil use in the US is only at about 60%, while some countries in the have 100% mobile penetration (USA Today, (2011).

The general public is unaware of the significant problem that not only our great country faces but all developed and developing counties face.  We are staring at a revolution that is leaving many behind, even with the greatest intentions of our government, nationally and locally.

The encouraging aspect of this is that as the market grows so does the availability of Internet access as long as pricing is kept in check.  The gaps are getting smaller as we move forward in the Internet connected generation.  Research also shows that that cell phone service prices have dropped almost 25% in the last decade and Internet service has only come down 4%.  The electronic devises that are available for connectivity has increased steadily over the last decade and show no signs of slowing down and prices have come down with the influx of new technology, but connection prices have not come down to match.  As wonderful as this new technology is, it does no good for connectivity if the Internet service provider has priced most of America out of the market.  Along those lines, with the purchase of new technology, the user will need to understand how to operate the new technology to its fullest potential.  Without the understanding of how to use the Internet other then to be the end user, the user does not gain the full potential of being connected.

There are ways of correcting the Digital Divide we face in the US so as to ensure our competitive edge in the global market.

  1. The first comes with education by enforcing the knowledge of communication and understanding of how to use technology as a means to improving our way of life.
  2. Keep the cost of equipment and Internet service down to an affordable level for all economic levels.
  3. Recycling used equipment to be refurbished and sold at a discounted price to those that cannot afford new equipment.
  4. The last would come from training individuals on how to use the technology for more then just being the end user, to have a more proactive role in the Internet.



Barzilai-Nahon, K. (2006). Gaps and bits: Conceptualizing measurements for digital divide/s. The Information Society, 22(5), 269-278. (PDF file)

Computer and Internet Use by Students in 2003. (2006). Retrieved from

DiMaggio, P., & Hargittai, E. (2001). From the ‘digital divide’ to ‘digital inequality:’ Studying Internet use as penetration increases. Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Working Paper Series number, 15. Retrieved from…gittai.pdf

DiMaggio, P., Hargittai, E., Celeste, C., & Shafer, S. (2004). From unequal access to differentiated use: A literature review and agenda for research on digital inequality.

Social Inequality, 355-400. Retrieved from…uality.pdf

Hargittai, E. (2003). The digital divide and what to do about it. New Economy Handbook, 821-839. Retrieved from…divide.pdf

ITU Country rankings. (2010). Retrieved from

McConnaughey, J., Nila, C. A., & Sloan, T. (1995). Falling through the net: A survey of the “have nots” in rural and urban America. National Telecommunications And Information Administration. Retrieved from

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 26, 2011 in Uncategorized


Assistive/Adaptive Technology for Education

When you turn on the news, read a newspaper, or read your news online, you are most likely going see the debate over how much money should be cut from education and what programs or resources will be lost because of the cutbacks.  In this post I hope to show some of the reasons we need to make sure that assistive and adaptive technologies are not only still funded but possibly see an increase in funding.  What is assistive and adaptive technology?  According to assistive and adaptive technology is:

Assistive Technology Products can enable people with disabilities to accomplish daily living tasks, assist them in communication, education, work or recreation activities, in essence, help them achieve greater independence and enhance their quality of life.

Assistive Technology devices can help improve physical or mental functioning, overcome a disorder or impairment, help prevent the worsening of a condition, strengthen a physical or mental weakness, help improve a person’s capacity to learn, or even replace a missing limb.

Assistive Technology Services support people with disabilities or their caregivers to help them select, acquire, or use adaptive devices. Such services include functional evaluations, training on devices, product demonstration, and equipment purchasing or leasing.

According to Roblyer & Doering (2010) assistive/adaptive technology is extending the abilities of an individual in ways that provide physical access (e.g., wheelchairs, braces) and sensory access (e.g., Braille, closed caption).  The common goals of assistive technology are to provide an individual with: the opportunity to become more independent, learning capabilities, and to become productive.  When we talk about assistive technology, a person without a disability sees a type of technology that will increase persons opportunities.  The question we need to ask ourselves is, what does the person with the disability see?  The answers we might get back will be; freedom from limitations, independence from relying on others for communication or mobility, the chance to express there selves visually or verbally, and the opportunity to accomplish a task solely to feel the joy and pride in the accomplishment.  Who needs the assistive technology and who doesn’t get it?  The IDEA provides us with answers to these questions.The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that students with disabilities receive special education to enable them to have the opportunities the mainstream student has.  The following statistics were gathered by the National Center on Education Statistics (NCES), Special Education Regulation, in 2001.

  • Nation-wide, depending on the student’s specific disability, 55% to 64% of schools that serve students with disabilities reported that they provide assistive or adaptive hardware while 39% to 56% provided adaptive software for these students.
  • Special hardware was less likely to be available to students with learning disabilities in schools with the high minority enrollment compared to schools with low minority enrollment, 47% versus 61%, respectively.
  • Availability of special software for students with physical disabilities was more prevalent in large schools (60%) than in small schools (40%).
  • Only 35% of elementary schools were found to provide special software for children with hearing disabilities, while this was observed in 48% of secondary schools.
  • Schools with the highest poverty concentrations were less likely to provide special hardware and software for students with visual disabilities. High poverty schools provided hardware 52% of the time and software 42% of the time, while schools with students from more affluent backgrounds were better able to provide visually impaired students with both hardware (71%) and software (63%).

The table below show a chart of students enrolled in 2001, of the schools reporting back information 95% enrolled students with cognitive disabilities. (National Center for Educational Statics, 2001) Schools with the highest poverty concentration were less likely to have special hardware and software available for students with visual disabilities than were schools with the lowest poverty concentration (52 percent compared with 71 percent for hardware, and 42 percent compared with 63 percent for software).



Without assistive technology we deny the students with disabilities the chance to be all they can and want to be.  We keep them from expressing their self to the fullest extent possible.  Providing an assistive/adaptive technology for a student with disabilities is not an option, it should be automatic.

Resources for Assistive/Adaptive Technology
This website provides several resource links for different types of assistive and adaptive technology.
Adaptive Technology Center for NJ Colleges Fall 2009 at The College of New Jersey 
 Dawn Ontario Disabled Women’s Network Ontario
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 18, 2011 in Uncategorized


Using Spreadsheets and Databases

What is a spreadsheet and database?  What are the differences between a spreadsheet and database?  We must understand this before we can move forward on why and how to use them in a classroom or at work.

A Spreadsheet is a program designed to organize and manipulate numerical data (Roblyer & Doering, 2010).  Information is organized in rows (horizontal) and columns (vertical).  The information is placed in a cell, the intersecting point of a row and column.  The cells, rows and columns can be manipulated to suit different requirements of the person creating the spreadsheet.

The advantages of using a spreadsheet in your classroom or at work include: (Roblyer & Doering, 2010)

  • Spreadsheets perform calculations that save time by not having to perform the calculation manually.  Formulas can be created manually or upload from the spreadsheet program.
  • Spreadsheets are capable of organizing and storing data in manipulated rows or columns.
  • Spreadsheets enable the creator to see visually how numerical data is affected by changes in data.  The data can be utilized to create charts and graphs for visual effects.
  • Spreadsheets allow the end user (students, workers) to work with technology; this is a motivating tool for teachers.
  • Spreadsheets increase productivity on students and teachers.
  • Spreadsheets are a way of displaying and tracking grades for all users.

A database is a computer program that allows the user store, organize, and manipulate information, including both text and numerical data (Roblyer & Doering, 2010).  Databases can perform simple calculations but they are mostly used for storing and recovering information.

The advantages of using a database in your classroom or at work include: (Roblyer & Doering, 2010)

  • Databases reduce the redundancy of stored information by allowing multiple people to view the same database document.
  • Databases allow you to input new and change existing information without having to create a new document.
  • Databases enable you to compare information that meets specific criteria.
  • Databases show relationships between stored information.

In the complexity of our technologically advancing society it is in the best interest of the students that teachers utilize the tools of a spreadsheet and/or database in the classroom.  Students are subjected to numbers with just about everything they participate in at school and outside of school.  Using these tools helps prepare the students for life after school.  There are numerous website with example lessons that could work in your curriculum.  A few websites are listed below for locating spreadsheet and database lesson plans.

Computer Applications


Manassas City Public Schools spreadsheets

Manassas City Public Schools databases

National Teacher Training institute

The article Computer Spreadsheets and Draw Programs in the classroom (Ploger, Rooney, Klinger, 1996), discusses the use of a draw program used in conjunction with a spreadsheet in multiple phases.  The students create spatial patterns using a draw program then examine the number patterns created in a spreadsheet to determine relationships.  I can visualize how an art teacher may collaborate with a math teacher to create a lesson similar to the one described above.  (Evans, 2000) talks about building simulation models to track data collected through observation to illustrate probability.  The simulation goes through four steps to create the spreadsheet:

  1. Formulating the problem
  2. Developing a logical model
  3. Specifying probabilistic assumptions
  4. Implementing the model

This formula would also fit with most science courses for measure data when conducting experiments.  In my 9thgrade manufacturing course I teach the students how to build a spreadsheet for tracking all the data related to producing a product during the planning, production, and sell of the items produced.  The students are able to see how the cost of materials, production time, cost of advertising, commission paid, and profits are tracked.  This also allows them the opportunity to see how it all affects the sell price of the product produced.

YouTube video on spreadsheets.


Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (1985). TechTrends: For leaders in education & training. Washington, D.C.: Association for Educational Communications & Technology.

Evans, . (January 01, 2000). Spreadsheets as a Tool for Teaching Simulation. Informs Transactions on Education, 1, 1, 27-37.

Locsin A. (2011). The advantages of using spreadsheets. Retrieved from

Ploger, D., Rooney, M., & Klinger, L. (1996). Computer spreadsheets and draw programs in the classroom. TechTrends, 41(3), 26-29. doi:10.1007/BF02818876

Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2010). Integrating educational technology into teaching (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.


Posted by on July 10, 2011 in Uncategorized


Benefits of Multimedia

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off video clip, YouTube.  Retrieved July 3, 2011.
Hill, F. & Cohen, S. (2004). Impacts of design on learning: multimedia in the classroom. Franklin Hill & Associates.
Ludwig, T. E., Hope College. Daniel, D. B., University of Maine at Farmington. Froman, R., John Brown University. Mathie, V. A. James Madison University. (2004). Using multimedia in classroom presentations: best principles. Pedagogical Innovations Task Force.
Pink Panther video clip, YouTube. Retrieved July 3, 2011.
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 9, 2011 in Uncategorized


Video Enhanced Lesson

This SlideShare presentation is a lesson plan for creating stop motion animation at the middle school level, grades 8 and 9.

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 4, 2011 in Uncategorized


Stop Motion Animation

This SlideShare presentation is the handout that is given to my students in class when we start the activity.

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 4, 2011 in Uncategorized