Thursday, January 23, 2014

New YouTube video - Andover Innovation Lab Eli the Great and Magnificent

Andover Innovation Lab Eli the Great and Magnificent


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The SETT Framework: Evaluating Special Education Assistive Technology-TIE Conference Holyoke,Ma January 2014

On January 14th, I had the opportunity to visit The "Technology in Education" Conference put on by the organization in Holyoke, Ma at the Kittredge Center at Holyoke Community College. It was my first visit to this conference and was able to benefit from the small focused presentations made by educators predominantly from the western part of the state. 

I was accepted as a presenter for this conference and made a presentation to approximately 30 educators/administrators on the tools and resources for beginning a Mobile Application Development course. I presented using a Google Presentation but also included links to a website I am currently developing which contains all of the lessons I have created for the Bunker Hill Community College 
Courses Mobile App Development Certificate. I shared these resources and also a variety of videos students in my classes have made of apps made in a Project-Based Learning environment with technology. Here is a link to the resources and presentation.

After my presentation I had the pleasure of sitting in on a fantastic presentation from Dale Gardner-Fox, Jeanne Tuthill and Allegra Osborne. Their presentation "Are You SETT to go?" outlined the barriers to successful Assistive technology implementation in special education. They described the frustrating problems of choosing tools which don't fit students’ needs and abilities, lack of proper training, environmental factors as well as the timeliness and appropriateness of the assistive technology. 

The presenters described and outlined the "SETT" model developed by Joy Zabala( as a beneficial process to help asset in best implementing assistive technology. SETT stands for 
Students, Environment, Task and Tools. Each one of these elements are collaboratively evaluated in teams which take into account consideration of the student needs, selection of proper technology, a plan for implementation and a process for evaluating the effectiveness of the process.

The SETT framework counters several large issues with assistive technology:
1. Poor implementation and planning of Assistive technology.
2. Consistent and Appropriate Use of Assistive Technology
3. Due to cognitive weaknesses "Tech & Content" cannot be expected learning goals due to
Cognitive failure.
4. Helps avoid "learned helplessness"(when students perceive frustration to the adaptation to the use of technology).

The SETT framework is a four part model using a collaborative approach to using the technology we want to use in the special education classroom. The stakeholder team makes things happen and students in some instances can be part of this decision.

1. Student: When addressing the students’ needs with assistive technology it is important to carefully consider the selection of digital tools which take into consideration the needs of the student and how they will be implemented into the classroom.
·         The consideration and selection process should be continual and use the IEP as a guide.
·         Selection should be based on what the stakeholders see the student as being able to do.
·         What barriers and potential successes are available with the tools?  
·         Developing student motivation to use the technology is beneficial for success.
·         The most important factor with tools is that there is a plan for the evaluation of the effectiveness which is done with a team approach including all stakeholders relative to the student (paraprofessional, teacher, administrators, aides, parents). 
2. Environment: Determining the environment in which the technology will be used is also a critical component to the SETT framework. 
Data from the environment should be collected from a variety of sources:
·         Strengths and Concerns
·         Physical Barriers
·         Expectations of others.
·         Outside of school environment.
·         Possible low-tech adaptations
3. Tasks: What is the point of the Tech?
It is important to directly address the purpose of the technology and how it will be used.
·         Is it going home?
·         Is it connected to real goals?
·         Do the tasks learned align with active participation in all environments (communication, instruction, productivity, environmental control)?
An assistive technology plan helps keep accountability with the student.

4. Tools: The tools are the choice of devices, applications, computer/web based technology used in the classroom/home.
·         Devices should support learning, communication and social goals (Intellitools, IPad, Apps).
·         Services and training should support the staff and student needs.
·         Specific strategies should be in place to create motivation with the tools (music, writing, normative activities).

This framework enables a real evaluation of how assistive tools can be used and supported in the classroom. The critical components are that the major stakeholders are involved in the decision making process and an alignment of the learning goals and technology used is made as tools are chosen. This framework can also be used as a district strategy for educating staff on the evaluation of assistive technology by adjusting the model as a district vision.

S-Student=District Personnel
E-Environment=District Level Knowledge
T-Tasks=Staff Implementing Technology
T-Technology=Technology Both High & Low Tech

By replacing the variables of the traditional model with district staff a plan for educating your district with the beneficial strategies of assistive technology alignment can be gained. A critical role in this process is the district level knowledge of the importance of a plan with assistive technology and also the training provided staff for the implementing of the technology into the classroom.

The training this presentation provided was well conceived and beneficial to my workplace environment as a high school digital learning specialist who works with devices in the classroom and student strategies.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Instructional Technology & Digital Learning Andover High School Week of January 13-17

During a week in which most teachers are preparing for the end of semester exams many teachers are still working at integrating a variety of tools into the classroom. I had a chance at the last faculty meeting to present some of the components of using Google Docs with files and some of the benefits of collaboration with these tools. Being able to share these tools has opened up a variety of conversations with teacher’s which has extended from just creating Gmail accounts and exploring the collaboration features to developing Google Forms for Assessment in the classroom.

Teacher Highlights:

Teachers in Foreign Language are integrating variety of podcast tools in the foreign language department to help students learn language. Students can participate in lessons driven with native speakers and deep embedded vocabulary.

For the purpose of improving her connection to her students with web based content a teacher is developing a blog using the Blogger format from Google. She has developed a variety of lessons and media to support her existing curriculum. She will be rolling out the website in the new semester. I have had the benefit of working with her to develop the technology which supports her teaching methodology.

Teachers in the Social Studies department are in the process of reviewing web based tools in which to store and share links of curriculum content to share and collaborate with. Teachers were introduced to tools such a Wikispaces (, Portaportal (, Urlist ( and . These tools can add layers of productivity and collaboration between teachers. For the document outlining these tools click here.

Teachers are beginning to integrate Apple TV into their classroom environments either by projecting their desktops to their class or using the built in applications. Apple TV is an additional piece of hardware which enables “sharing“of Apple devices (IPad, MacBook’s, and Phone’s) to the projector. This technology is particularly beneficial to classrooms in which has access to the IPad or MacBook carts so that students can project their device as well. To learn more about this technology check out this page from Apple.

Co-Teaching Experiences
I had the opportunity to go back into Karen Stevens-Mazmans' class and teach a web design lesson using HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) for a marketing webpage assignment she is giving to students. Students are creating promotional websites based on a product. Click here to see her lesson write up. Going into her classroom is a great opportunity to share my skills and deepen the skills learned in the Marketing curriculum. It’s great to see the student’s interest grows as they learn how to code and change the appearance of websites.

Andover Innovation Lab/Help Desk
Students are in the final phases of their independent technology driven projects at the Innovation Lab. We currently have a student creating a mobile application (Eli Gukovsky), researching Minecraft in Education (Viabhav Patel) and learning the programming language Lua (John Makiej). These students will be presenting their final projects during the finals week in an online platform. For more information visit:

Teachers are well into the swing of adapting to all the new technology provided to enhance their teaching and learning. Wireless projection and understanding the intricacies of their new MacBook’s  is beneficial to student engagement but we also want to continue a deeper level of integration of a variety of web tools such as Google tools, Workspaces and a variety of Ipad applications which enhances student understanding of core concepts. In the Science Department a recent influx of new applications for their Ipad carts has enabled them to demonstrate Physics, Engineering and core Physical Science content online.

These updates are just some of the continual evolvement that is going on with technology driven initiatives at the high school across curriculums.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

News From The Andover Innovation Lab/Help Desk: IPad Cart Updates & Preparing Our Final Projects-Getting Back In the Flow

After a great Christmas break we are back at the Andover Innovation Lab and Help Desk ready to conclude the projects we have been working on in the first semester and also updating the IPad cart for the Science department. 

The Science Department at Andover High School has the amazing resource of a shared IPad cart which includes 24 IPad for classroom integration of technology and 1:1 learning opportunities. At a recent department meeting they collaborated and chose 18 new IPad applications to use in their courses. Amongst these was the app for Gizmo's which enables students engage in a variety of interactive science activities and the app for Prezi Presentations which will enable presentation creation from the IPad. The department did a great job selecting apps which fit their needs and classroom strategies. Apps like "Evolutionary Biology", "Ecosystem HD","Bridge Constructor”, and “Genetics Lab Mobile" will engage students with content rich learning on the IPad.

Organizing and adding these new applications to their shared IPad cart is the where the role of the help desk students come in. Viabhav Patel and I (Dan Downs) spent about an hour and a half with the cart adding the applications to the Science Departments ITunes account and then synching all the applications to the IPad. This is also an opportunity to check the status of the charging of the IPad and the MacBook laptop which is used to streamline this process.

It is great to have students as part of this process and enables them to not only see the connection of their learning at the help desk to the needs of the teachers in the classroom. 

After completing the update Viabhav also had time to do a blog entry for the Innovation Labs blog on the video series related to better helping teachers understand Minecraft for use in educational environments. Viabhav has done a great job balancing his time between working on his own independent project and assisting the needs of teachers who have the benefits of a variety of new technologies in the classroom.

Monday, January 6, 2014

An Overview Of Google Drive With Sample Projects & Directions For Sharing Preferences

The following document provides an overview of the use of Google Drive for the creation of Documents,Spreadsheets,Forms and Presentations. I have embedded the document for easy viewing from my Google Drive. The direct link for this document is here.

This document includes links to link shorteners and also information on how to use and integrate the scripts for Flubaroo and Doctopus. These scripts enable the grading of Goggle documents and also how to create a classroom learning management by organizing the delivery of documents to students. At the bottom of the document is a link to a written tutorial which walks you through creating your Google Document and setting the sharing preferences.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Using A Great New Website IFTTT.COM (If This Then That)To Push Out Social Media Posts And Manage Your Internet Exerience

 A website that I discovered from a discussion with a student is This website has many full features for sharing your Twitter posts, LinkedIn posts or your Blogger or Wordpress account. The website allows you to share your content created across a variety of platforms by creating different social media recipes. For example, I recently created recipes which send my current favorite feeds to my email each day and also automate the tweets of my blog at different times of day. IFTTT(If This Then That) also sends the most popular New York Times technology articles directly to my email. The site really increases your engagement with the parts of the web that are the most relevant to you on a daily basis.

IFTTT does require sharing your information but it also provides tremendous value with the amount of sharing of content you have chosen to receive and also the high level of  integration between the variety of social media networks. Some of the most powerful recipes allow you to send automated updates to your Evernote account from starring emails in your Gmail or even Tweeting automatically by entering data into your Google Calendar.

Once you become familiar with the site you will see there of thousand of recipes that can be designed be creating a variety of triggers. This site has helped me organize the sharing of posts from my blog and also enabled me to be sent direct emails from Craigslist based on a search url. There are also phone based recipes which can call me in the morning as a wake up call. I highly suggest checking out all the available recipes and reap the benefit of the tools and sharing of web content.

Check out and see how you can begin to orgainze the many tools you are currently using into a more organized approach with your social media.