I believe one of the biggest advantages to having technology in the classroom is the way that it can help students with special needs reach their full potential. It feels like we have come a long ways in this area. Not only do we have more inclusive classrooms but we have found ways to make our students more successful in these settings and hopefully feel more included. We still have a very long ways to go but we for sure have things we can celebrate.
Prior to this presentation I focused on the higher level resources. This being computers, laptops and other electronic devices. I totally forgot about the low level technology we use on almost a daily basis. I have three students that I read with daily that have been diagnosed with Dyslexia. Not one of these students is the same and therefore they learn differently. One really enjoys using a ruler to keep the row they are reading right above the ruler. Another student uses the colored strips of paper that highlight the row they are reading. The third student prefers to just read without any assistance.
I have also used the pencil grips to help students work on holding a pencil correctly. Sometimes they have been successful but more often than not they have not. The students require constant reminders to place their fingers on them correctly and the moment they have a marker or crayon that does not have a pencil grip they are back to their old habits. Instead I have focused on teaching them a trick to grabbing their writing utensil in order to hold onto it correctly. This still requires a lot of reminders and practice but it tends to be more successful. Plus they do not lose this and spend half the lesson trying to find that pencil grip! This is the method I have tried, minus the little song!
As I have moved into the middle years age group I have found the technology I am using has also shifted. I have students that require computers to type out all their work. Learning about ways we can get programs to write out the notes was very helpful. I have started to use google read & write but I am in the very beginning stages with this. My experience and knowledge is limited so I really do not feel I can review this program. One thing I found really interesting was when Leigh mentioned “SETT”. It seems like such a great way to find what programs are best suited for the students needs. I am sure we have something similar in our division and as a Student Support Teacher, it would be very helpful I will have to look into it.
I also found Megan’s post about all the different types of Assistive Technology she is familiar with incredibly helpful. It has a simple way of identifying what core subjects it provides assistance in and also the prices that these programs cost. I often find the hardest part about incorporating technology is knowing what is out there and what is best suited for our students needs. Using both the SETT and this list of options that the group provided is definitely a great place to start.
Finally, the constant struggle with the digital divide seems very evident in this case. Some schools will have amazing technology in their classrooms. Students will come to school with their own support devices and also the knowledge and experience with them as they have access to these things at home. Other schools, communities or students will not have that same access. At the school I am teaching at, we are in working in a community that has a lower economic status. A majority of our students do not have the access at home to technology. We are very fortunate that our school has worked at providing opportunity for our students. We have multiple class sets of chromebooks and we have been able to provide students with their own personal computers when appropriate. We have projectors in every room, sound systems with microphones for the teachers in all our classrooms. This has been very helpful with our new way of teaching with masks on. It helps project the teachers voices throughout the classroom and has made it easier for all students to hear. We have also had multiple students with hearing aids so some of our classrooms have special speaker systems that work directly with the students hearing aid. Overall, I feel our school has done a pretty good job of meeting our needs of our students. We have had a variety of needs come through our school and we have found a way to make it work. From Pecs to high level tech we have different staff with all types of training. I know there is a lot more we could be doing to educate ourselves and incorporate more or better assistive technology into our school, but I really do feel we are doing a pretty good job after listening to this presentation! My favourite part was this feel good video, so I have included it in my post because everyone needs to watch it!