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Engaging all Learners through Technology . Marlene Anderson, Theresa Glass, Jennine Scott, Janet Tomy, Alison Wells . Agenda. Theoretical Underpinning Constructivism Universal Design Differentiated Instruction. Agenda Cont’d. Technologies Explored

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engaging all learners through technology

Engaging all Learnersthrough Technology

Marlene Anderson, Theresa Glass,

Jennine Scott, Janet Tomy, Alison Wells



  • Constructivism
  • Universal Design
  • Differentiated Instruction
agenda cont d
Agenda Cont’d

Technologies Explored

  • Digital Social Stories, Microsoft MovieMaker, Photo Story 3, Webquests
  • Background and Research
  • Purpose/Rationale
  • Format
  • Strengths/Cautions
  • Future Research
  • Benefits/Process
  • Samples
  • Links to theory
background general
Background - General
  • Theory – Constructivism
  • Framework – Universal Design for Instruction
  • Through Differentiated Instruction
    • Technology
      • Teaching Methods
      • Teaching Strategies
      • Engagement
      • Levelling the playing field in terms of disabilities
  • Definition:
    • The term refers to the notion that learners will construct knowledge for themselves i.e. they will construct meaning both individually and socially as they learn.


  • We have to focus on the learner in thinking about learning (not on the subject being taught) and,
  • There is no knowledge independent of the meaning attributed to experience (or that which is constructed) by the learner, or community of learners.
principles of constructivism developed by the work of john dewey
Principles of Constructivism developed by the work of John Dewey
  • Learning is an active process.
  • People learn to learn as they learn.
  • The crucial action of constructing meaning is mental: it happens in the mind.
  • Learning involves language: the language we use influences learning.
  • Learning is a social activity: our learning is intimately associated with our connection with other human beings.
  • Learning is contextual: we do not learn isolated facts and theories in some abstract ethereal land of the mind separate from the rest of our lives: we learn in relationship to what else we know, what we believe, our prejudices and our fears.
principles of constructivism developed by the works of john dewey con t
Principles of Constructivism Developed by the works of John Dewey Con’t
  • One needs knowledge to learn: it is not possible to assimilate new knowledge without having some structure developed from previous knowledge to build on.
  • It takes time to learn: learning is not instantaneous.
  • Motivation is a key component in learning. In fact, it is essential to learning.

In order to engage our learners, we must be prepared to bring concepts in a way for students to “Construct their own learning.” This way of teaching can be done through Universal Design for Learning.

background universal design
Background- Universal Design
  • Origins of Universal Design
    • Ronald Mace, an architect and wheelchair user, proposed the idea that physical environments and enhanced awareness of diverse consumers needs should proactively inform product design to be more functional to a broader range of people.
    • The term “Universal Design” was coined to reflect this approach of proactively incorporating inclusive design features while minimizing the need for individual, retrofitted accommodations.

(McGuire, Scott and Shaw)

universal design principles
Universal Design Principles:

The original principles developed by architects, engineers etc. are as follows:

  • Equitable Use - The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
  • Flexibility in Use – The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  • Simple and Intuitive – Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
  • Perceptible Information – The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.
  • Tolerance for Error – The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  • Low Physical Effort – The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
  • Size and Space for Approach and Use – Appropriate size and space are provided for approach, reach, manipulation and use; regardless of user’s body size, posture, or mobility.

(The Center for Universal Design, 2009, p. 1-2)

guidelines for universal design for instruction
Guidelines for Universal Design for Instruction:
  • Guidelines and Definition:
    • Class Climate: Adopt practices that reflect high values with respect to both diversity and inclusiveness.
    • Interaction: Encourage regular and effective interactions between students and the instructor and ensure that communication methods are accessible to all participants.
    • Physical Environments and Products: Ensure that facilities, activities, materials and equipment are physically accessible to and usable by all students, and that all potential student characteristics are addressed in safety considerations.
    • Delivery methods: Use multiple, accessible instructional methods that are accessible to all learners.
guidelines for universal design for instruction continued
Guidelines for Universal Design for Instruction Continued:
  • Information resources and technology: Ensure that course materials, notes and other information resources are engaging and accessible for all students.
  • Feedback: Provide specific feedback on a regular basis.
  • Assessment: Regularly assess student progress using multiple accessible methods and tools, and adjust instruction accordingly.
  • Accommodation: Plan for accommodations for students whose needs are not met by the instructional design.
what is differentiated instruction
What Is Differentiated Instruction?
  • Where does Differentiated Instruction (DI) fit within Universal Design for Learning?
    • In a differentiated classroom, teachers begin where students are – not at the beginning of the curriculum guide for the grade they are teaching.
    • DI is about valuing “meaningful choice”, which translates into giving students self-determination and increased commitment.
      • This does not mean whether they will or will not do the assignment, but rather, how they will do the assignment.
    • Successful DI is about valuing ritual and variety.
      • Ritual establishes expectations and provides security.
      • Variety can bring the joy and excitement of learning.
what is differentiated instruction continued
What Is Differentiated Instruction? Continued. . .
  • To promote successful DI, teachers and administrators MUST value a variety of assessments, which includes students encompassing a broad spectrum of ability and expression.
  • Teachers must feel free to share ideas, tips, reflective thoughts, etc. with staff during planning times, staff meetings, etc.
  • Engaged student conversation is the centre of a dynamic and interactive DI classroom.
  • In addition to this, leaving room for openness and “leading questions” at the end of a unit promotes thinking.

Planning Pyramid Framework for Differentiated Instruction

  • Basic Components of Planning Pyramid

Pat Miranda, PhD.

University of British Columbia

did you know the rationale
Did You Know…? The Rationale
  • Children’s brains are only 25% developed at birth.
  • The more stimulation a child has through all of it’s senses (hearing, taste, touch, smell, sight) the more rapidly further development will occur (M. Fox, 2008).
  • 30% of children who are not reading well by the end of Grade 3 are at risk of dropping out or failing to graduate (Canadian Education Statistics Council 2006) .
  • At least 30% of students do not have sufficient reading or writing abilities by the end of Grade 6 (Canadian Education Statistics Council, 2006).
  • 1.68% of students will be labelled Developmentally Disabled with 85% of these children showing language/reading disorders (Warr-Leeper, 2008).
did you know cont d
Did You Know…? (cont’d)
  • 4.73% of students will be labelled Learning Disabled with 90% to 100% of these students showing some form of language/reading disorder.
  • 1% will be labelled Emotionally Disordered with 70% of these children showing language disorders.
  • In a community study of 1,655 five year olds, 60% of those who were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder were also diagnosed with a language/reading disorder

(Warr-Leeper, 2008)

did you know cont d1
Did You Know…? (cont’d)
  • Young people absorb an average of 8.5 hours of digital and video sensory stimulation a day. By twenty years of age the average individual has spent more then 20,000 hours on the Web, and over 10,000 hours playing video games
  • The educational model used to be based on increasing students overall stored information. Now information becomes obsolete quickly. As information is now retrieved easily through technology, education needs to shift to help students know where to find the information they need.
  • Technology helps us to develop new and efficient ways of finding, synthesizing, and communicating information. This allows learning to take place with a broader audience.
  • Studies suggest that individuals who spend a great deal of time on-line see an increase in decision making, integrating complex information, and short-term memory.

( George, 2008)

social stories
Social Stories
  • Developed by Gray, 1991
  • Are an intervention used to support social skill development, typically for students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD)
  • Have a specifically designed style and format
  • Describe a situation in terms of relevant

social cues

(Briody & McGarry, 2005; Delano & Stone, 2008; Gut & Safran, 2002; Gray & Garland, 1993; Moore, 2004; More, 2008)

sentence types
Sentence Types
  • Descriptive Sentences- provide facts of the situation answering the who, what, where, when, and why questions
  • Perspective Sentences- describe another person’s feelings and behaviours
  • Directive Sentence- suggest a socially appropriate response to a situation
  • Affirmative Sentence- stress an important point and reassures the reader

(Delano & Stone, 2008; Gut & Safran, 2002, More, 2008).

  • Student Specific
  • Extensive training not required
  • Practice/review of skills
  • Increases communication
  • Easily embedded into classroom/curriculum
  • Breaks down difficult social concepts/understandings
  • Visually engaging

(Briody & McGarry, 2005; Crozier & Sileo, 2005; Gut & Safran, 2002; More, 2008; Rogers & Myles, 2001; Soenksen & Alper, 2006)

  • Limited body of empirical evidence
  • No empirical data supporting story format
  • Difficult to attribute effectiveness, usually utilized with other interventions
  • They are only as effective as their use

(Briody & McGarry, 2005; Crozier & Sileo, 2005; Gut & Safran, 2002; More, 2008; Moore, 2004; Soenksen & Alper, 2006)

future research
Future Research
  • Effectiveness with a wider audience
  • Individual components (visuals, sentence ratio, text)
  • Control groups

(Briody & McGarry, 2005; Crozier & Sileo, 2005; Gut & Safran, 2002; More, 2008; Moore, 2004; Soenksen & Alper, 2006)

digital social stories1
Digital Social Stories
  • Dynamic, engaging learning experiences
  • Increased motivation, engagement
  • Digital images increase flexibility, allow for revisiting
  • Allow for student engagement/participation
  • Visually realistic, individual, flexible, and inclusive
  • Bank of stories may be created
  • Addresses a variety of learning styles

(Bernad-Ripoll, 2007; More, 2008)


Ali, S. & Fredrickson, N. (2006). Investigating the Evidence Base of Social Stories. Educational

Psychology in Practice, 22(4), 355-377.

Benjamin A. (2006). Valuing Differentiated Instruction. Alexandria: Eye on Education.

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Child with Asperger Syndrome Understand Emotions. Focus on Autism and Other

Developmental Disabilities, 22(2), 100-106.

Brigman, G., Lane, D., Lawrence, R., & Switzer, D. (1999). Teaching children school success

skills. The Journal of Educational Research, 92, 323-329. 

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Burgstahler, S. (2009). Universal Design of Instruction (UDI): Definition, Principles, And Examples. Seattle: University of Washington. Retrieved September 5/09 from http://www.washington.edu/doit/Brochures/PDF/instruction.pdf

Crozier, S. & Sileo, N. (2005). Encouraging Positive Behaviour with Social Stories. Council for

Exceptional Children, 37(6), 26-31.

Canadian Education Statistics Council. (2009) Pan Education indicators program. Retrieved September 19/09 from http://www.cesc.ca/mainE.html

Delano, M. & Stone, L. (2008). Extending the Use of Social Stories to Young Children with

Emotional and Behavioural Disabilities. Beyond Behaviour, pp.2-7.  

Fox, M. (2008) Reading magic: Why reading aloud to our children will change their lives forever. New York: Harcourt inc.


George, L. (2008, November). Dumbed down; The troubling science of how technology is rewiring kids’ brains. Macleans, 11 (17), 56-59.

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accurate social information. Focus on Autistic Behaviour, 8, 1-10.

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strategies for reading teachers. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 18, 87-91.

Hein, G. E. (1991, October). Constructivist Learning Theory. Retrieved September 26/09 from http: http://www.exploratorium.edu/ifi/resources/constructivistlearning.html

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disabilities: a case study of a sleep problem. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 32, 133-


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Multidimensional Learning. Intervention in School and Clinic, 43(3), 168-177. 

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