Within the classrooms of special needs students with PMLD (Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties), educators are often tasked with instructing the most challenging students while being provided with the least amount of preparation. Add to that the pressure to integrate technology in the classroom and the demands of teaching a meaningful literacy curriculum and you have a potentially overwhelming situation. Teachers are asked to take on a wide range of academic abilities and a broad spectrum of technology applications and asked to make it work in the classroom. Meanwhile, little additional instruction on what that looks like in practice, especially when working with multiple disabilities, is provided. With this in mind, educators in the PMLD program need additional training on strategies for teaching literacy and integrating technology in the PMLD English/Language Arts (ELA) classroom and this project aims to fulfill that need.

Stay Tuned to see the final project!


Evaluation… Is It You or Me?

MH910217227Closing out a project is always bittersweet. You have worked so hard on perfecting your baby that putting it to bed can bring solace. No worries. I am sure after your stellar performance as a Project Manager, your bosses will have a whole litany of new projects screaming for your attention.

Before you pack it all in on the old and usher in the new, there are a few things that you can do to close out your project right and hopefully help you on your future projects. Evaluation is always present when using the ADDIE model, but even with a PM’s Four-Step Model, evaluation is extremely important part of closing out a project.


No doubt as you delivered your training you built in evaluations, both Formative (where you evaluate before delivery) and Summative (where you evaluate during and after delivery). As a designer, you also need to evaluate the training program in its entirety. Typically with project management, this is done with the Phillips ROI model. This model has five different levels of evaluation:

  1. Reaction- which measures the reaction to your program
  2. Learning- which measures a change in knowledge or skills
  3. Application- which measures the change in on the job performance
  4. Business Impact- which measures the impact of the program on the business
  5. Return of Investment- which measures the cost compared to the results

Looking at these measures as you close out a project could really impact the methods you use on the next endeavor, especially if it is with the same company or materials.


If you have followed the ADDIE model in conjunction with the Four-Step model, you have evaluated the efficacy of your project, determined its impact on the business bottom line and job performance, and probably have a few procedural items to complete on the contractual side to officially put the project to bed. Job well done!


I, myself, have been nursing a project for several weeks now. I have delivery next week and will start the evaluation procedures. As I put the finishing touches on the performance evaluations the participants will complete, I wonder what questions other developers have asked as part of their wrap up. What do you ask?

Looking for more on Phillips ROI? Check out what VillaNova has to say about it!

Cox, D.M.T. (2010). Project management skills for instructional designers: A practical guide. Bloomington, IL : Iuniverse.

Images Courtesy of: Microsoft

Say What?

  It’s not what you say- it’s what you do that counts. Right?


Well… maybe not. With project management it can be what you say and what you do that both count. Communication is a huge part of managing any project. With so many players involved and stakeholders you are accountable to, there is no way to successfully work a project from start to finish without effectively communicating. What can be even more overwhelming is the sometimes frazzling task of keeping all the communication straight. Having a comprehensive Communication Plan is the way to say what you’re going to do and do what you said you would.


Depending on the size of your project, you can keep your communication plan in a grid or in separate document for each stakeholder. What is essential to include are the following:

Content– This is the what of what you are saying. The information that you share and the data that you deliver make up this content.

Frequency– This is when you say it. This is a way for you to keep track how often you plan on touching base with your stakeholders. Depending on who that is, it can be rather frequently and this will help you to keep it all arranged.

Medium– This is how you’re going to say it. Will you send an email? Call a meeting? Or schedule a face to face? These are the things you can plan out so that you know exactly what is on the horizon.

Response – This is the repercussions of saying what you did, when you did, and how you did. Keeping a clear record of what stakeholders have directed your way is very important. Key ideas, objections, and information that are important to the successful delivery of your project may rely on keeping all your feedback in order.

With all this information organized in your communication plan, you can take the huge task of effectively collaborating with stakeholders and walk the walk you said you would.


Want to see more on establishing a great Communication Plan and even more? Check out the tons of free resources at Project Agency!

Got more tricks up your sleeve? Leave a comment and share- What do you do to manage the tons of communication project management demands?


All Images Courtesy of Microsoft

SMART Technology Training

Summer is here!

While I would like to be lying  around eating bonbons or napping my days away, I have three kids, a husband, and too many projects on my plate to be idle. Instead I thought I’d share what my noodle has been working on for much of this month. MH900444868

Starting in the first week in August (whoever said teachers had three months in the summer was terribly misled) I start training teachers on a litany of topics, one of which is SMART Technology in the PMLD classroom. Preparing is half the battle of any training, and my project proposal and formal to-do list (called a WBS or Work Breakdown Structure) are attached. This may help those of you who are interested in instructional design/project management to see the process in action.

SMART Project Proposal-Jones

Now back into the nook I go so that I can noodle around with some new ideas!


All Images Courtesy of Microsoft


ADDIE & Four-Step

If you stumble into a project management job on your path to total world domination, you may wonder how all your instructional design experience will fit. Rest easy! Instructional design and project management are different ice cubes in the same glass.


ADDIE- the ID way

Anyone who has worked with instructional design has worked with ADDIE (Analysis-Design-Development-Implementation-Evaluation). A designer will start with an analysis to determine needs, task and content, then move on to the design outlining specific objectives, sequence, and assessments. After that, a designer will shift gears to the development and implementation phases where materials are collected and created, formats are outlined, and personnel assigned followed by a roll out of the entire project. Finally, reflection… and a sigh of relief.


Four Step- the PM way

Now floating around in the same glass are these project management ice cubes. Instead of the five we find with instructional design, project management uses four: Initiation, Planning, Execution and Closing. Unlike ADDIE, the PM phases start with an initiation. The initiation phase is where a manager would create a Project Charter and identify the stakeholders. Next, a manager would analyze and plan by first examining the needs and then creating a design document (see more below on design documents). Next, the Execution phase starts which is the Development and Implementation phases of ADDIE combined. Here a manager would acquire a team, oversea the project work, scope, cost, and quality, and then monitor distribution. Finally, at the Closing Phase, the manager closes out the project marked with evaluation as does ADDIE.


Glass of What?

The processes on both ADDIE and the Four-Step are closely related and really happen hand-in-hand without knowing it. If you have been working with ADDIE all this time, the Four-Step will come naturally. What may be new is the PM’s development of a design document. These documents are the backbone of the PM’s project and outline the objective, concepts, and content of the program (Cox, 2010, p. 48). For most, a 3-column approach is best and it would look something like this:


Courtesy of OIT

For more, visit the OIT website– the resources abound!


Armed with this document, you can take on the world of PM with the sword of ID (all while holding your glass of Four-Stepped ADDIE)!

Do you think the transition from ADDIE to Four-Step is an easy one? What do you anticipate will be your biggest hurdles? 

Good luck and design on!



Cox, D. M. T. (2010). Project management skills for instructional designers: A practical guide. Bloomington, IL: Iuniverse.

OIT. Design Your Online Course, from https://oit.utk.edu/instructional/strategies/toolkit/course-design/Pages/design.aspx

Stock Images Courtesy of Microsoft

Design Models


Attacking the task of creating an effective and stimulating training can stress out even the most seasoned instructional designer. For those designers who are rather new to the task, it can be downright daunting. No matter what planning model you used in college, in the workplace it is a totally different ballgame. In order to flashback to your college days and reflect on the best planning model for your instructional activity, here are a few models that may come in handy.


The good old ADDIE model is tried and true. This five step model is very logical and sequential and the most commonly used model of the bunch. The five steps include:

Analysis: Taking stock of the training needs, goals, and participants is an essential start in this process.

Design: Developing the learning objectives based on the analysis and deciding on the sequence of learning objects as well as how the learner will demonstrate mastery is the backbone of the whole project.

Development: With your design all laid out it is time to review any existing training material and create any needed instructional courseware.

Implementation: With all your analysis done, your plans in place, and your materials created, it’s time to take your genius to the masses and actually conduct the training.

Evaluate: Reflection is necessary for any good designer to hone their craft and improve their trainings. You want to ensure your training is doing what you set out for it to do and that learners improve.


Human Performance Technology (HPT) Steps builds on the HPT goal of finding a cost effective way to eliminate performance gaps. The steps are very similar to the ADDIE model in lots of ways and include:

Performance Analysis: This is where you determine the gap or the spread between desired and actual performance.

Cause Analysis: Now that we can see the gap, how did it get here? What is the missing piece? Note that the first and arguably the most critical part of most design models is the analysis of client needs. Without this compass, you’re just doing to do.

Intervention Selection, Design, & Development: Now that we know where we going and where the gap is, we can make plans to eliminate it.

Intervention Implementation & Change: Feet to the pavement- let’s make this gap disappear by doing what needs to be done to change for the better.

Evaluation: At the end of any project is the need to look at what was done and assess it formatively, summatively, and confirmatively.


Performance Consulting (sounds fancy, huh?) is a fluffy way to say that the human resource people and the organizational development people are going to work together to make things better. The steps include:

Partnership Phase: working together is the key in this model and at this phase the business goals are identified. Again, as with all the models, it all starts with good analysis and identifying the design goal.

Assessment Phase: Here the data speaks for itself- the problem areas are identified as it relates to the desired performance.

Implementation Phase: Once you look at all the information, including the desired outcome, it comes time to take action. Here is where training happens and the stars align so everyone can be successful.

Measurement Phase: Thoughtful planning and targeted training underway, it’s time for reflection again. Is all this having a positive impact and leading towards the goal?

MB900442010These are just three of the many models that are out there for an instructional designer, specifically as it relates to project management. As I think about what all these models really mean to me as I work on my project design and training modules, there are some important key points to remember. No matter the project, it is important to have the client needs in mind as well as awareness of the gap the client is trying to close. From there, developing a training with the outcome in mind and effectively implementing it is part and parcel. Finally, no matter the model, you have to reflect and see if you are spinning your wheels or making real and positive change.

Good luck… and may the ID-PM force be with you!

Collier, G., Heldmann, S., Hyder, T., Li, Y., & Shrestha, R. (2005). Human performance technology: A reference manual.

Images Courtesy of Microsoft

Looking for more? Tutorialspoint might be the place for you. Check them out and expand your model mind!

Learning and Technology

Reflecting on Bloom’s Taxonomy and being tasked to train teachers on integrating technology with the new English/Language Arts curriculum in the fall, I created a training blueprint that will address learning in the special education setting as well as technology options to enhance student engagement and learning.

To see trainer notes, please open the file and view it in Note mode (Technology and ELA).

Bloom’s and the Standards

I have spent the last three days in an intensive training about Standards Based Instruction. It was intended to prepare me to train others in my district to implement and use Standards to guide IEP creation and assessments in the classroom. At the same time I have been asked to reflect about the content of my most recent Post University class on learning and the integration of technology. The course has focused on Bloom’s (oh, how we love thee) and how to find technology tools to help students demonstrate that level of the taxonomy as well as ways to weave them into the classroom. At the same time, this training seemed to really look at how you demonstrate learning through standards. I couldn’t help but see a parallel.


When we discuss the ways that students with disabilities, especially students with profound and severe disabilities, access the curriculum, I think it is obvious to ask how technology can help. What the Standards Based Instruction has really highlighted is the need we have to hold all students to the same standard of learning. Anyone in education (I hope) believes that all students can learn. And we have all heard the push to have students perform at the highest level of the Taxonomy.  What I think the training and the coursework have clarified for me is the ways in which we can make that a reality. The idea of a cookie-cutter demonstration of knowledge is long gone and I think the technology is there to make the possibilities a reality. Using tools like the matrix of ways to demonstrate from the TEA STAAR-Alt assessment materials as well as the Digital Bloom’s Taxonomy makes it clear to see the limitless possibilities.


But all this reaching for the stars soon ends when I once again (in the training and in this course) realize the limit of possibilities falls on the teacher of record in the classroom. Technology is there. My question is: Are our teachers ready? Are they willing? Are the able? And do they have the support of their building, school district, or administration? Too often we fall prey to the ease of allowing students to work only on the lower level of Blooms and assess them based on their ability to recall and understand information. With all the technology out there that is available to make the higher level thinking tasks fun and interesting, there is hope to liven up our classrooms. The recent video of Jeff, a high school student politely voicing his opinion about another day in the classroom doing worksheets, should signal us that our students are ready and even eager for this kind of learning.  Using tools like VoiceThread, Screenr, and Prezi to create materials that demonstrate mastery of a content standard are far more interesting than doing another worksheet or bubbling in another scantron and speak to their real applicable knowledge of a skill. Even small steps like assessing on the go with Socrative to hit some of those lower level thinking skills is a change that needs to happen to make Standard Based Instruction the new norm.


You can have the greatest plan of attack, but without the support of the foot soldiers, you will not win the war.


I believe in the need to integrate technology in the classroom. I also believe in the Standards and the SBI approach. I think they are both more realistic, meaningful, and equitable ways to teach and assess learning. I sat in my  training and thought of the teachers I was going to have to bring this information to. I know there will be naysayers. I know there will be nonbelievers. And I know there will be resistance. The integration of technology in the classroom is essential and such a great tool to use in the implementation of standards based instruction.  I hope as I go forward in my endeavors I can figure out a way to make them believe and empower them to act.MH900251283

Get Social!

MH900431702Technology today moves at the speed of light. What was cutting edge yesterday (can you say Betamax) may not necessarily stand the test of time. Add to that the countless technology options teachers have to use in the classroom and it can become dizzying. What is clear is that social networking sites are being used more and more for leisure and fun by the youth of today and that fact does look to stand the test of time (da Silva & Restivo, 2008). So what new ways can we use technology in the classroom? What ways that won’t require reinvention, relearning massive amounts of information, or reimagining all the wonderful lesson we have planned for next year? Here are two simple tech tools to add to your arsenal that will revamp the tired and reenergize the restless.


Socrative is a great way to assess in the classroom. Many teachers who work in BYOD or 1:1 settings are looking for ways to gauge understanding while students are working in many differentiated ways. Formatting your class around opening questions as pre-assessments or exit tickets as a quick learning check may help to keep students engaged. Let’s face it… they would rather be interacting with you online than in person. Capitalize on that and try a different response mode! Moreover, this format really allows you to tailor you lesson to the ability and speed of your students. Who doesn’t want that?

Check out this tutorial on how to make a quiz for your class!


Screencasting is a new term, but the tool itself is an old one. We all have added video to the classroom. We love the engagement a well-made video can trigger and the connection students seem to make with that medium. Now add the social networking piece and you have Screencasting! A site like Screer allows you to create videos and post them online or add it to your YouTube page (which is a whole other way to interact and engage). Students can search for them as a way to review, relearn, or even just repeat to help them with retention.

screerA screen shot of Screenr in action.

Start by making a quick Screenr video explaining a procedural part of your day as you gear up for fall (you know you are starting to think about next year already). Then think of a way to incorporate it into your opening week. Once you see how easy it is I know you will be clamoring for more! If you decide to make a dedicated YouTube page and load your videos there, you can ask your students to comment on videos as part of an assignment which pulls in that social media aspect. Remember, students today are actually more accustomed to Web 2.0 applications than with television (da Silva & Restivo, 2008).

Check out my quick Tutorial about using News-2-You to make communication boards- I made it in one take and it literally only took me a few minutes!

MH900431217Take these tools and try adding a little bling to the classroom. Both Screenr and Socrative have user-friendly how-to videos on their sites as well as a bevy of tutorials on YouTube. Neither one requires program installation, just registration. I know once you try it you’ll be hooked- So get social and start creating!

da Silva, J. F., & Restivo, F. J. (2009). An Intelligent Mashup Learning Environment with Social Interaction. Proceedings of the European Conference on e-Learning, 759.

Images courtesy of Microsoft

Let’s Try! Remembering, Understanding, and Technology

It is easy to look at students with severe and profound disabilities and label them by saying “They can’t…”   MH900299067

I have found that I am blessed to work for a school district run by people who instead say “Let’s Try!”


This year all secondary LIFE Skills classrooms in my district were provided with a COW (Computer on Wheels) cart enabled with the most current operating system and Wi-Fi. The program was piloted the year prior in select classrooms, one of which was mine. The biggest hurdle was to look at this opportunity as a way to rethink what and how we teach students. I had to pull out good old Bloom’s (like any good teacher would).bloom_taxonomy

And then I had to pull up Digital Bloom’s (like any good 21st century teacher should).


There are lots of tools out there that can help students to learn and be critical thinkers, but the question with my particular student population is:

Does the technology help or hinder their learning?

Looking at the process of remembering information is a great place to start. The process of remembering can be a challenge for students with multiple disabilities. It involves recalling information and one can use a digital medium to retrieve material or information (Churches, 2009, p. 10). The non-tech way often includes flashcards, repetition, and lots of practice. When my class initially started working with the COW, we used it in a very minimalistic way. With all the resources out there for remembering like StudyBlue, Spelling City, and Quizlet there are tons of online ways to review information. The one that has been most impactful to me that I never considered as a ‘remembering’ tool was Symbaloo. Symbaloo is reminiscent of an iPads app screen and allows one click access to web pages you select. So many of my students have problems with spelling and recall that allowing them access to all their favorite pages from one site helps them in the recall stage. If they can get to their Symbaloo, they can get to where they want to be! Moreover, it is easy to see how establishing this resource for a student can help them to continue to access the sites they like best when they are at home or even after they graduate. Learning how to use, access, and create technology tools can truly help a student in their daily lives and within the reality of their future (Loertscher, 2011). Digitizing the remembering level of Bloom’s for students who struggle with this can open them up to be able to move on to the next level- an enormous step for most severely or profoundly disabled students.


Understanding information and being able to process it with meaning is the next level of Blooms and there is a big difference between recalling and accessing information versus understanding it and constructing meaning (Churches, 2009, p. 17).  Again, when we first started with the laptops in the classroom, they were used in a very novice and standard format. When we wrote, we used and still use a word processing program. But when we look at Digital Bloom’s, the process of blogging can help to establish understanding by allowing a student to paraphrase and even explain ideas and information. Next year we will introduce blogging in my classroom and make this level of understanding a more predominant and predictable part of our student’s day. It also serves to archive the thoughts, knowledge, and abilities of our students as they move through our program. There are several great programs out there including Edublog and Blogger. I will be using WordPress in the classroom and look forward to students being able to share and achieve this way. Again, the things they write and resources they list and label will be accessible to them in the world beyond our classroom and beyond their K-12 experience and teaching them to use, create, and access them equips them to navigate more effectively and efficiently in the real world. The implication of that type of empowerment to students with multiple disabilities is profound.


Churches, A. (Producer). (2009). Bloom’s digital taxonomy. Retrieved from http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/file/view/blooms+elluminate.pdf/58496778/blooms%20elluminate.pdf

Loertscher, D. (2011). The Power of Technology to Enhance Learning. Teacher Librarian, 38(3), 40-41.

All Images Courtesy of Microsoft unless otherwise indicated.