Using Technology in a Deaf Inclusion Classroom

Along with my student teaching, I have been enrolled in an American Sign Language 2 class. Consequently, I attend ASL 2 with a different set of eyes than my classmates. As I learn more sign language and more about the Deaf Culture, I can’t help but think about how this applies to the classroom setting. While deaf and hard-of-hearing students (D/HH) make up little to no part of public schools’ populations, it has me wondering how these schools prepare for having deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

As with everything, I wanted to find out how I could integrate technology into this situation. What sort of apps or technology are out there that could enhance the learning experiences of D/HH students?

1. Video App: The basic video app on your phone or Ipad can be a great resource to use with deaf students. Teachers can, with the help of an interpreter, create videos for their lessons. These videos can include audio and sign language to include all students. The students can also create their own videos about a certain subject and then transcribe their sign language into English.

2. VSL Story Book Apps: The Gallaudet University National Science Foundation-funded Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning, or VL2, has developed a line of story book apps for the IPad. There have been a variety of story book apps developed, including The Boy Who Cried deaf storyWolf and Baobab, that not only displays the words to the story, but also audio and a video with the ASL. The story also includes eye catching animation to accompany the story. The genius of this app is that it bridges the gap between D/HH and hearing students of younger ages. Students of all types can sit down together and comprehend this story. It also encourages stronger literacy for the D/HH students by including text along with the ASL. This could also be used to help facilitate learning of ASL among hearing students.

As I researched different technology and apps for an inclusive classroom, I came to the realization that many of the apps out there are already suitable for students who are D/HH. Some apps may have some background noise, but there aren’t a lot of noises involved that are crucial for interacting with the app. What I really enjoyed, though, was looking at technologies that allowed for interactions between D/HH students and hearing students.


One Ipad- Endless Possibilities

With technology’s huge presence in today’s classrooms, it can be a little discouraging if your class isn’t as up to date. Many schools are not anywhere near the 1:1 technology dream classroom. If you’re in a situation where you only have access to one Ipad for all of your students, do not fret! There are so many ways to use this one piece of technology with your students.

Before you begin implementing this new technology, it’s important to assess how you can get your Ipad connected in the classroom. Do you have a document camera? A VGA adaptor? Maybe a LCD projector? For whole group learning with the Ipad, it’ll be helpful to find a way to project your single Ipad for the entire class. Once your Ipad is connected, let the fun begin!

1. QR Code Listening Center: Whether you use a bulletin board or a clipboard center, post QR codes to different books for students to listen to. Students scan the code of their choice and begin listening to a book. The QR codes can be labeled by book or you can have mystery codes for students to listen to!

code book

2. Coding: Teach your class how to code as a group! Start with basic coding functions and move your way up to games, such as Angry birds. Google created the initiative Made with Code to encourage and inspire young girls to learn how to bracelet codingcode. While this was created for girls to begin coding, the Made with Code projects are not gender specific. Once your class has a lot of practice, they can code bracelets or even puppies, which will come to life via a 3D printer. It is such a cool and easy way to get your class involved in coding and to allow them to see their coding come to life!

**This is one of those projects where you would want to project your Ipad for the whole class.

3. educreationsScreen casts: Screen casts are an effective way of recording an interactive lesson and saving to your device. Screen casts can be used to record lessons as they happen or to pre-record a lesson for later. Screen casts are useful in providing absent students with a step by step lesson to watch so they can catch up on new material or for creating a lesson that students can watch at a center. Screen casts are incredible for connecting with parents. Teachers can make screen casts to teach specific math methods so that parents can help their students with homework. For creating screen casts, I like Educreations. It’s an interactive whiteboard app. It’s easy to use and free.

4. Virtual Field Trips: Project Google Earth from your Ipad and take a virtual field trip with your students! Travel to settings in your books or to geographic regions from social studies. Google Earth is very user-friendly and can be used in many different ways. You can even develop a scavenger hunt using clues from past lessons to drive your virtual field earth

Where do we go from here?

In my EDU 451 Technology course, I have learned so much about how technology can be used in the classroom. We have learned about a multitude of apps, games, and other realms of technology that can be used for education. So the question I want to address is: Where do we go from here?

I think the biggest take-away I have from this course is how to use technology in the classroom. Technology should not be tossed in when it’s convenient. Technology is a tool that should enhance the learning experience. It shouldn’t be the main focus of the lesson. It can be used in harmony with content knowledge and pedagogy. This course has changed how I plan lessons or my future class. I want to use technology, not because I feel like I have to, but I see the benefits of utilizing it with students. Technology allows the teacher to communicate with students in a whole new facet, one that students are more familiar with. Technology engages students and encourages them to take responsibility of their education and explore possibilities. I would sum up my ideas on technology in education in 6 words: Tool- Collaboration- Communication- Engaging- Responsibility.

In order to demonstrate some of my ideas that I’ve developed throughout the course, I created a media mash up for you to enjoy:

Google Assessments

My previous posts have discussed the nearly infinite ways to integrate technology into lessons. One of the greatest advantages of technology, however, is technology based assessments.

There are a multitude of sites and apps available to help customize an assessment. A few examples of these sites are Socrative (, Poll Everywhere  ( and Nearpod (Check out my post on Nearpod here: The one I want to focus on today is Google Forms.

Google Forms is an incredibly easy tool to use to make assessments. It allows you to create a variety of question types including multiple choice, open response, check boxes, etc. Once you’ve added in all of your questions, you can share the link with your class. I’ve created an example assessment with different types of questions:

What makes Google Forms so ingenious though, is that you can have the results of your form sent to a Google Spreadsheet. In this spreadsheet it will sort the responses by question (and by user if you choose!) This allows the teacher to have a visual representation of test results and analyze them accordingly. Your Google Spreadsheet will look something like the picture below.

quiz results

Being able to reflect on assessment results allows the teacher to revise future lesson plans as needed. Google Forms/ Spreadsheets makes this process so comprehensible and easy. Teachers can clearly see which questions stumped their students and even assess whether or not the type of question was effective or not. Google Forms is one of many technologies that can makes for an effective assessment tool.

Social Learning

Social learning is the method of engaging students via social media in the classroom. Unfortunately, for many people, social media in a learning environment immediately conjures up negative feelings. There are so many stories of horrible social media use gone wrong. I believe, however, that there is a positive place for social media in the classroom. A strong example of this is Pinterest.

Pinterest is a social media website/app that essentially allows you to organize and share pictures and links with your friends. Similar to most social media, those who use Pinterest can follow their friends and their Pinterest boards. These boards are completely personalized and can be used to organize inspiration for homes, crafting, clothes, and even classrooms. I have used Pinterest in one of my classes as an organization tool for math education. Each student was assigned to create a “Math Toolbox” of lesson ideas.

math toolbox

This could be used for any subject area for students to research ideas for projects or papers. For example, if students were researching historical figures, they could create a board on that person. In the search bar on Pinterest they can type in the person’s name and quotes, projects, and other ideas will immediately pop up.

Pinterest can be a really unique way to allow your students to explore different mediums. The pictures that students “pin” can also be linked to helpful websites with more information. With the suitable website blocks on the school computers, these links can be a great resource and school appropriate. In addition to using Pinterest as a way to explore topics across the internet, students can use Pinterest to share pins and collaborate on boards.

Differentiating with Technology

Technology has endless uses in the classroom. However, one of the greatest benefits technology brings to classroom is the ability to differentiate lessons and assignments. Differentiating can be a daunting task for a teacher amidst  20 or so students, having to meet each of their individual needs. Technology, however, gives teachers the ability to differentiate more effectively without all of the stress. With all of the technological advancement, there are apps in all subject areas to aid in differentiating lessons.

I, personally, am a huge fan of differentiated centers. I attended a Digital Days conference last week all about using technology to differentiate centers. I want to share some of the technology I learned about that you can use in your classroom.

The first app I’d like to introduce is Nearpod. This has got to be one of my favorite presentation tools ever. Nearpod allows you to create interactive presentations that can be used in whole group instruction or in centers. Within your Nearpod presentation can be questions for students to answer, polls to take, or even drawing areas to figure out an answer. The best part is that all of these activities are located inside the presentation. When used in whole group instruction, students are stuck on whatever slide the teacher is on. They can’t jump ahead, keeping them engaged and on task.


It can also be used in homework mode. With homework mode, students can move at their own pace to read content and complete assignments. Homework mode is great for centers. All students need to sign on to a presentation is a code! Teachers can make multiple presentations whether it be for math or reading groups. Students receive the appropriate presentation code for their group.

For differentiating with a little less hassle, Front Row Math is a great resource to turn to. Front Row Math is a math app that requires a pre-test before providing math games. Using the results from the pre-test, Front Row Math customizes the students’ math games to fit their level. Students have their own account, keeping things individualized and consistent. The app keeps record of their progress, moving them up level when its appropriate. As students excel in Front Row Math, they win points which can “buy” them items for their avatar. Front Row Math is a great interactive app that makes differentiating as painless as possible.

front row

Encouraging Parents’ Digital Literacy

Engaging parents of your students is a mighty task as an educator. Parents are a crucial part of the learning process with students. Parents can either foster or discourage learning in their children. One of the biggest trends with parents is their lack of knowledge on current technologies that their children are using in the classroom. This isolation, while seemingly small, can prevent parents from engaging in school work with their children.

In my future classroom, I intend to keep parents technologically connected via my classroom website. Classroom websites are a very powerful tool in connecting with parents. With the large amount of technology available for students and their parents, it can be overwhelming for parents to try discovering all of this unknown territory on their own. By utilizing a classroom website, all of the links and information can be kept in one handy spot, which is especially helpful for those parents who are not as technologically savvy.

As a part of the website, I’d love to post monthly tutorials on a new type of technology that is being used in our classroom. Keeping the tutorials in line with what the students are doing encourages the students to work with their parents on projects or assignments that are being used with this new technology.

Along similar lines, a monthly “show and tell” technology assignment could be used for students to share with their parents what their current favorite technology is that is being used in the classroom. Students enjoy the opportunity to teach their parents about something they enjoy. Not only would this aid the parents in learning new technology, but it would also create a new facet in their relationship.

Building a strong technology relationship between students and parents not only produces better understanding of technology for parents, but can also help open lines of communication about social media, the internet, and other kinds of popular technology. By starting these conversations early with their children, parents can promote and teach responsibility when it comes to technology and digital citizenship.