Monday, July 28, 2014

Special Podcast Episode: UDIO, a New Literacy Resource from CAST

Graham Gardner, Research Associate at CAST
(Center for Applied Special Technology)
This episode features an interview with Graham Gardner of CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology). At the recent planning and visioning meeting of the Literacy Professional Learning Network at the annual ISTE Conference, Graham made a presentation about UDIO, CAST's new Literacy resource directed at Middle School Reading Instruction. Graham and podcast host, Mark Gura, recorded this in-depth discussion about UDIO shortly after the meeting.
Click the arrow above to listen to this Special Episode 
(player may take several seconds to begin)
Direct link:


Links for UDIO and CAST

Want to get involved with UDIO? Email:

Care to share a comment with Graham or the Literacy PLN about UDIO?
Either use the "Comments" feature of this blog or email the podcast at:
National Center on the Use of Emerging Technologies to Improve Literacy Achievement for Students with Disabilities in Middle School
Article:  All Along
Ed. The Magazine of the Harvard Graduate School of Education



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Joint ISTE's LITERACY Professional Learning Network for a special session at the 2014 ISTE Conference in Atlanta and see a demonstration by CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology - source of Universal Design for Learning) of its new resource UDIO created specifically to improve Literacy Learning.

Want some quick background on all of this? See this short article just published in EdTechDigest:

Every Student Can Learn

Students aren’t defective, materials and resources are.
GUEST COLUMN | by Mark Gura

This past semester I taught a required course for Instructional Technology majors. Trust me, there’s nothing like swapping ideas with 30 early-career technology teachers to give you a good snapshot of the state of thinking in this field. This was a great learning experience for me as well as the students and chief among its many strong points, this was my first opportunity to use the Center for Applied Special Technology, or CAST’s, ‘Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning’ as the keystone text in a graduate level Education course. I, of course, had been familiar with this important work previously, but this was a great opportunity to look at it with fresh eyes — those of my students. And wow! It proved to be not just the good, informational text I had hoped for, but a truly transformational one.
I’ll paraphrase this book’s very wonderful, central idea:
Students who don’t succeed in learning through traditional instruction don’t do so because of some defect or deficit or learning disability on their part, but rather, because the materials and resources they are presented with are inflexible and unsuitable to meet their particular, personal needs as learners.

Read the full article at its source:

Friday, May 30, 2014


 The Journal of ISTE's LITERACY Professional Learning Network Version:
Read or Download as PDF (requires free registration)

Table of Contents
Editor, Mark Gura Page 4

Text Meets Video in the Blogosphere: Complex Informational Content for Today’s Students by Dr. Rose Reissman Page 6

Using Creative Technology to Engage Struggling Readers and Writers as Producers of Literature by Melinda Kolk Page 12

The Future Is In Their Hands: Using Cell Phones for Literacy Learning by Lisa Nielsen and Willyn Webb Page 21

Boosting Oral Language Fluency through Technology Intensive Literature Exploration (TILE), a Learning Centers Approach by Kevin Amboe Page 32

Learning to Teach with Edmodo: Social Networking-based Activities by Kathy D. Shields Page 44

Using Online Discussions to Develop Literacy Skills and Integrate the NETs by Sandra Wozniak Page 54

Student Led Podcast Projects Make Common Core Literacy skills Come Alive by Dr. Rose Reissman Page 64

Using Technology To Enhance Reading Skills For English Language Learners by Kimberly M. Thomas Page 74

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Episode #8: Non-Fiction Books and Literacy Learning

Featuring Host, Mark Gura’s Interview with Young Person’s Author, Vicki Cobb

Click arrow above to listen to the podcast (please be patient, the audio play may take a few seconds to start) - The interview starts at 9:50

This episode features a unique look at non-fiction books for kids from the viewpoint of Vicki Cobb, author of many popular science books that are used widely in classrooms. Vicki offers her fascinating and insightful perspective that reflects her own long term experience writing non-fiction books. She also shares about her recent efforts to transform author school visits using online video conferencing technology.

 Vicki’s  Links

Vicki’s website:

 Ink Think Tank:

Wikis that showcase Vicki’s  work with schools

Articles recommend by Vicki
Authors on Call: Videoconferencing in Class

Good Writing Is Memorable: Scientific Proof

Vicki’s instructional videos  are available at:

Host Mark Gura’s links: + +


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Podcast Episode #7: Robotics and Literacy Learning - STEM and English Language Arts Connected

Featuring Host, Mark Gura’s Interview with Leisha Hoot of LEGO Education

Click arrow above to listen to the podcast -  
The interview starts at 7:28

This episode features a spirited discussion about how LEGO’s WeDo Robotics materials are used effectively to foster Literacy learning in classrooms and beyond.  An overview of easy robotics, appropriate for young students is followed by discussions of how teachers can practically use this approach for a variety of powerful literacy strategies.

Important Links

LEGO Education / WeDo

Leisha's Links
WeDo Common Core and NGSS Correlations – on this page under the Resources tab:

Tufts Activities: and search for WeDo.  One of my favorites is “A Chair for Mr. Bear”

Articles discussed in the podcast:

(Washington Post) The Answer Sheet / How to Integrate Literacy with STEM
(Charlotte Observer) Fourth-graders turn Legos into robots 
YouTube videos of WeDO Robotics:

(This one’s a very good)  Overview Video of WeDo robotics

Another Worthwhile Overview

The videos below clearly demonstrate the connection between Robotics (and communications technologies) and Speaking and Listening, key literacy skills.

WeDo Curriculum Links

Click on book cover for information on Getting Started with LEGO Robotics.

Anyone who works with kids can do LEGO Robotics, a rich and highly motivating platform for important STEM Learning! (surprisingly affordable, too) This books explains it all!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Special Episode: Professor Garfield, a Rich Source of Powerful, FREE Instructional Resources - OR - How to “Garfieldize” Your Classroom!

Click the arrow above to listen to this Special Episode 
(player may take several seconds to begin)
Direct link:

This episode features an interview with Madelyn Ferris, who, on behalf of the Professor Garfield Foundation, introduces us to the wonderful Professor Garfield online resource for teachers  and learners. Madelyn gave host, Mark Gura,  a great interview and a tour of Professor Garfield’s online world.

Links for Professor Garfield
Please check back for more episodes soon, including Episode 6, which will feature an in-depth interview with popular young peoples’ author, Andrea Davis Pinkney. Ms. Pinkney is the author Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra , Bird in a Box, Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down, and many other really good books kids will love.
Watch for the upcoming ISTE Literacy and Technology book (title not yet set). This book picks up where (the of now out of print) Making Literacy Magic Happen left off…to be released in the not too distant future…