Special Education

Special Education

Friday, August 10, 2012

Tool #11

Self Assessing and Reflecting

Favorite Tool
Believe it or not, the Life Skills classroom only this past year received ActiveBoards. We used this last year to get used to using them and finding ways to incorporate them into the classroom. I've always felt that they would be very useful in a Life Skills classroom because of their  large and personal touchscreen interface and the use of the Active software to create activities. This past year I have created activities that the students used as part of stations and I also used it to create questions that I was able to use for TAKS and STAAR Alt testing. This is a wonderful tool for testing in the Life Skills classroom and has made my work in creating the standardized tests much easier and usable from year to year. The IPad will be the next great use if I can find the appropriate applications to use.

Classroom Thinking
My entire paradigm has shifted tremendously. I am extremely excited about using the technology in my classroom. I will be able to find appropriate activities much easier now and with quite bit more variety. It also  makes my classroom much more dynamic. I only hope I will have the time to do the research needed to access the technology in the best way possible. Originally, I think that changes will occur primarily in the use of stations and style of work being done. As I move along, I will be able to change how information is disseminated and used in my classroom by using Web 2.0 based technology, including Skype.

Unexpected Outcomes
I am a Life Skills teacher who is also a certified librarian. I am already familiar with the uses of Web 2.0 and technology for learning. This exercise taught me some new stuff, since new ideas are always coming forth, but I did not really have any unexpected outcomes.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tool #10

Our Life Skills students will very likely have problems reading and digesting information dealing with digital citizenship from normal resources. We would need to break it down into understandable and basic ideas. We could create a set of Digital Rules in the same manner we display Classroom Rules. We would have 4 or 5 of the most likely rules that could be broken and also those that a Life Skill student will most likely understand. Of course, teachers and aides will have to do their due diligence in closely monitoring the students while they are using the technology. 

I think that Life Skills students will be less "devious" than regular students but they also will be more likely to cross the line unknowingly. I think that in the classroom, the students should understand that they are to do the thing that they are assigned to do and not to go off task and play a different game or go to movie or music video website. I don't think that they will likely be using the email system. When they are using the computer for their break or reward time, they should stay away from violent or other inappropriate sites. A couple of the higher level students are familiar with social networking sites such as Facebook but I'm not sure if they can access these pages when logged in under their name. Obviously, if we are using Facebook as a tool in the classroom, they should understand that they will only use it for the classroom intended purpose. 

We also should teach them digital citizenship outside of school as well. We should emphasize the dangers of talking to people they do not know and to posting things that they should not post. We should also conference with the parents and let them know that their children may be learning some new technology skills and that they may be more likely to encounter possible dangers at home. This way the parents can monitor them at home as well. 

I really don't think that a typical Life Skills student will understand the copyright and fair use policy well but we can help them when they may need to copy images for a project, etc. Likewise, I don't see the need for them to worry much about citing sources or valid websites for information. If there ever comes a situation in which a source needs to be vetted, it will most likely be done with the teacher at hand. 

I think that Wes Fryer's Moving at the Speed of Creativity blog may be useful in teaching some of the more relevant and teachable concepts in his section on Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship Presentations.

Tool #9

Incorporating Classroom-Based Devices as Tools for Learning

Tying the technology to the objective:
Which technology you choose depends upon what you want as the outcome of the objective. I also think it depends upon the level of thinking you want involved. Using technology can create an avenue in which the student learns actively. It can give the student a better visual interface and possibly create real world applications. Yes, adding numbers on a worksheet can help students learn to add through practice but technology can move the student through an activity in which he or she has to add in order to finish. The addition becomes part of the process of finishing the activity rather than being the end in itself. When a student learns in this fashion he or she usually will have a better grasp on what is being taught. We educators want the technology to facilitate learning and not just be a fun academic activity. This way the technology will help us educators achieve the objectives that we plan on reaching each day. Technology can be used to reach daily objectives as well as ones that take place over multiple days, weeks, or even the entire semester or school year.

Holding students accountable:
This accomplishes goals both academically and non-academically. In addition to teaching academics for the mind we also are trying to create students who will be ready to tackle the real world. When they reach the "real world" we hope that they will be able to be stand up individuals who are willing to grow and take responsibility. Holding them accountable in the classroom should help them to understand the importance of accountability in the broader spectrum of life in general.

In the classroom, accountability can help the teacher assess if the students are actively participating and how much they have learned in addition to seeing whether they are having difficulty in the learning process itself. We want our students to be on task. If we hold them accountable for their work during the process, we can better monitor whether or not they are on task and paying attention.

Interactive websites:
A Life Skills classroom has a relatively small group of students to work with at any one time. Typically, a great many of the students will already have "on task" deficiencies. We generally monitor them much closer than a regular classroom. However, holding the students accountable still happens in the classroom. We have built in systems to hold the students accountable for their work. In the past, the students would sometimes have "finish" boxes into which they would place their completed work or they would bring it to a teacher or aide for verification. Using technology such as an IPad or touchscreen will create a different set of "finishing exercises to use. Some of the students can raise their hands when they are finished or are having issues with the process and the teacher or aide can come to their side. Some of the higher students could write results on a worksheet or mark off a checklist. Many of the lower students may have to be actively and closely monitored during the process or even be helped hand over hand.

Both TES iboard and LearningGamesForKids are good websites to use on the touch screen. Many of ours students will benefit from using a touchscreen as some may have difficulty using a desktop with a mouse. They could work on counting money activities. There is even a shopping activity that uses counting money as part of the exercise. Instead of just giving them a worksheet to complete at their work desk after a lesson, they could move on to a station instead and learn using the technology.

IPad Apps:

One needs to realize that our students are developmentally delayed and that they may need to relearn or maintain basic concepts to keep them intact. Beginning Sounds Interactive Game App can help the student match objects to the beginning letter sound and match them to other objects with the same sound. Alien Kids Math can help the students with their math skills.

I know that there are many apps that can be used in the classroom and I still need to do more research. Right now we are highly encouraged to download only the free applications. However, down the road, we may be allowed to purchase some apps that are particularly useful.

Other ways to use the IPad:
We can use the IPad interactively as well. We could set up games in which the students will need to take turns. This can teach them social skills while learning at the same time. They could also share in the creation of something such as a drawing or maybe a representation of a place like a grocery store.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tool #8

Taking a Look at the Tools

As a Life Skills teacher, I have already received 2 IPads from Special Education. I am supposed to get a touchscreen computer in the regular roll-out. I will not receive any of the notebooks or Mac books. I have already received training on how to use the IPads. Originally, I have just downloaded some game type apps and let the students at it. I am very surprised at how fast and natural the Life Skills students took to the IPads. These tools seemed to transcend many of their developmental delays. This is good news and I am going to be taking advantage of this. I will be looking for more educational apps and apps that I can use to supplement my teaching and accentuate their learning. I will also be looking into how the IPad can help in ways that do not use apps.

I like the way that the IPad can be synced with each other and ITunes so that when I download an app on one, it automatically downloads the app on the others. I also like the way that the district helps the teacher in finding appropriate apps for the classroom through a special database.

Tool #7

Reaching Outside your Classroom: Online Digital Projects

Content Objective: Using Skype and Google Docs, students from two different classes will collaborate on a shopping exercise to determine what to buy and how much it costs for a cooking exercise.

We could collaborate on a shopping exercise. A Life Skills teacher teaching a Social Studies class takes the students on weekly or bi-monthly Community Based Instruction trips to local markets. Another Life Skills classroom that teaches Science has cooking labs in the Life Skills kitchen on the same time basis. The two of them can collaborate with each other. The cooking class can make up a grocery list of things needed for the lab experiment (cooking exercise) and the use Skype for synchronous learning in communicating directly with the other class this list. They can show the kitchen and what they intend to do.

When they return from the trip the class could use Google Docs for asynchronous learning to post the receipts and divide up and add the market items within groups etc. How much was spent on food items vs. non-food items or how much was spent on vegetables would be examples of this. The shopping class could then run a track of items bought over the year and come up with conclusions at the end of the year.

Tool #6

Using Web Tools to Promote Discussion in and out of the Classroom

I would like to incorporate Skype into my classroom. While I might not bring any real new material to my classroom, the approach is novel and will bring some variety to my classroom. I believe that variety can add to the learning experience of students and help them retain information. I can't really show you a live example of a Skype presentation but I can show you an example. This example is a little too high of a level for my Life Skills students but it is still a good example of format.

I created a Wallwisher for Whales. I really like this program for my classroom as it is easy to use and visual enough for my students. I can also use it at the level I want.

...and a direct link to it.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Tool #5

Producing with Web 2.0 Tools

I made this Animoto before for one of my TAKSAlt questions.

This is a quick Prezi on Killer Whales.


My students tend to be very visual learners, especially since most cannot read. Using video, images, and diagrams can greatly enhance the learning experience and increase the speed at which they begin to comprehend concepts. I would definitely embrace the use of IPads and ActiveBoards to display these tools because they are interactive and create a more personal learning experience for the student.

Tool #4

Moving Up to the Clouds

Considering that our Life Skills group is spread about the school, I think it would come in handy for polling others for opinions on departmental ideas or if a project is already started, specifics pertaining to that project. In the past, I have done a shopping trip for teachers with my students. Whoever picks it up this year can use Google Docs to get shopping orders. While my students are quite adept at surfing the net and playing games on the computer, their ability to comprehend using email may be a little compromised. However, this year things may change and I may have some of the higher Life Skills students and we can see how we might use this technology.