I thought that this course gave so much insight into different things that could be used in the classroom. I never thought about how a simple iPad or a computer screen or even a whiteboard could change the feel of a lesson or a classroom environment for students and the teacher. I loved that we got to get introduced with a range of different technology options to use in lessons and get to play with them throughout class presentations. I thought that we were all able to truly understand the range of devices at the end of each class and it made me look forward to going into my practicum site every week because I would get the chance to try and incorporate these different things into lessons or even just look for any examples that my cooperating teachers may have used during their lessons. I think that the iPad apps and the ebook classes really helped more than anything else because those two things are very popular for students and young kids in todays world. When I incorporated an iPad into one of my lessons with my student, she completely lit up about getting to do something different and something “fun” in comparison to her normal pencil and paper work. I think that technology makes learning more fun for younger students and it definitely made our marathon class more interesting as well. There was always more than one way to look at each tool that we were focusing on during the class time and I think that we all took so many different things away from using the technology on our own and as a class as well as trying to bring it into our teaching each week. I think that all teachers should take a course like this because it just gives insight about what is good to use in the classroom and how to use it properly in order for students to get the most out of using it.
I found a great website that had 8 tools that could be used as aids for assistive technology in the classroom. They included screen readers, word talk, work prediction, Supernova Access Suite, Video Magnifiers, Close Captioning and subtitling, face mouse, and sip and puff systems. Some of these things I have heard of before but the two things that really struck my attention were the word talk and the sip and puff system that could be used on the computer in the classroom. The word talk can be downloaded into microsoft word and it allows any type of document to be read aloud and they can also be turned into audio files right through the computer. This helps with students who have vision challenges and its great because there can be shortcuts that are put into the keyboard in order to make it easier for the student or the person to reach the audio tools with ease. This also helps with students who struggle with reading because it allows them to have more than one way to understand the materials that are in front of them. The other tool that I found interesting was the sip and puff system that can be used on a computer. It is a hook up to the computer that has a mouth piece and that allows the student who may be paralyzed to control the computer. This device can also scan different worksheets that may be included with the course materials. It is an easier way for someone who cannot move as well or not at all to get to use all of the technology that is available in the classroom along with everyone else.
As the semester comes to a close and teachers each repeat at the start of their final classes that we are now in the “home stretch!” (scary!!!) I would like to take some time to reflect on edu470 as a whole. Coming into this semester, I had not really thought about technology in the classroom at all. Of course I have been used to the general kinds of technology that are, and have been, included in classrooms since first grade. At first, a simple boombox was all we had in class, which some of my more laid-back teachers would use while we did individual work at our desks. In these rooms, we would also have the TV on wheels which would be rolled in when the teachers wanted to lay videos like Bill Nye or School House Rock (Bill being the favorite, obviously). Next, TV’s started hanging from ceilings and seemed to work somewhat sporadically, but not usually when the teachers needed them to. Moving into fifth, sixth, seventh, and eight grade, big flashy devices called Smart Boards started being installed. It seemed to take the teachers’ much much longer to get the hang of these than it did the students. Nonetheless, we persevered, put up with a minimum of seven recalibrations throughout the 50 minute lessons, and finally were able to mimic the same actions on the Smart Board that we would have been able to do on the basic whiteboard or chalkboard. Given all this, the development of technology in the classroom seemed to be more of a hassle to me than a convenience.
However, being in college now and working on platforms such as the one we are blogging on now (WordPress), as well as google docs, and the apps we have discovered that target specific reading, writing, and math skills, I have an entirely new perspective on technology. I have seen numerous ways in which technology can work (and actually work) to aide students with disabilities.
Overall, I have a redeveloped understanding of assistive technology in the classroom. I am grateful for being able to enroll in this class, given the amount of discovery it allowed in terms of new and helpful technology.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, written in 2004, states that Assistive Technology is “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, off the shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability.” I find this definition of AT to be somewhat ambiguous, as it does not address the technology aspect at all. The clearest part of this specific definition is that the goal is to cater to students with disabilities. Because of this lack of specificity in the means through which this can be done, assistive technology can therefore be anything--any item, piece of equipment, or product system–that helps children with disabilities. When learning more about this, I began to question whether the “item” needed to be technology at all. In 2017, when we hear the word technology, we tend to think of things like computers, laptops, recording devices, tablets, kindles, and smartphones.
However, before the development of all these types of devices and software programs, assistive technology consisted of more basic items and systems that sought to “increase, maintain, or improve the functional capacities of children with disabilities.” Our professor, Dr. Zipke, has explained that chalk, when it was first invented, was considered AT in that it helped students in a classroom environment read spoken word. When brainstorming topics for my final project on phonological awareness, an idea that came to mind was one of my three lessons I did with my case study student this semester where we used home-made magnets that could be cut up and broken apart to show students how inflectional endings could be added to cvc-e words (that they needed to drop the ‘e,’ but keep the long vowel, when adding -ing, -ed, or -es onto the word). In doing this, we were able to visibly break apart and combine the words with their endings in order to represent the rule we were learning about. My first thought about this lesson was that it, in a sense, could be considered AT. In the lesson, I used a “customized” “item” in order to “increase” a student with a specific learning disability’s phonological awareness. Although I used materials that were not 21st century, computer-based technology, I was able to help a student improve upon his phonological awareness skills through the use of manipulatives. In a sense, my lesson was in fact AT based.
I have really enjoyed WordPress this semester. I find the website very easy to work, with a lot of helpful features such as adding a featured image, it automatically saves your work as you are typing, and provides various ways to post a blog. I have never blogged before, but this was a great website for my first experience. I really enjoyed the freedom with blogging, and reading others posts. I learned a lot from reading my peers posts and getting different opinions and views. I like the flexibility, openness and how it is so simple and straight forward to work. I think WordPress would be a great blog to use in a classroom of 5th graders because they can post, look at peers posts, comment and learn from one another. The teacher can also project the class blog and point out some students’ blogs that were exceptionally well done and interesting. Students’ writing will also improve and the blog is a more laid back way of writing instead of the standard five paragraph essay. Overall, I had a great experience with WordPress and will definitely use it in my future classroom!
Assistive Technology (AT) is any device, piece of equipment or system that helps a person with a disability work around his challenges so he/she can learn, communicate or simply function better. This can include high tech & low tech.
- Hearing Aids
- FM Systems
- Pencil Grips
- Alternative Seating in the Classroom
I can remember when I was in elementary school one of my classmates using a talking dictionary and spell corrector. It looked like a game to me but it was a device that helped him with vocabulary and spelling. This student was dyslexic and needed extra support with both spelling and vocabulary. This device improves student’s reading and writing skills as it 44,000 elementary word definitions. This device also has an automatic phonetic spell corrector. The devices includes a handwriting guide (cursive) and five different word-building games. I was so intrigued with this device that I had my parents get me one. I used it a lot! There were games on it that helped me learn new vocabulary and spelling games. I can remember using it in the car during long car trips. I never thought of it as assistive technology but sure enough the device was helping me learn!!
I chose this article because it provides many advantages to technology in the classroom that never even crossed my mind. I always thought technology would be beneficial in the classroom because it makes learning more fun and keeps the students engaged, but there are more reasons to use technology in a classroom, that not everyone is aware of. This article claims that “technology prepares students for the future, improved retention rate, helps students learn at their own pace, and connects with students” (Janelle Cox). These reasons make me want to use technology in my own classroom even more than just to keep the students engaged and for a fun lesson. Now I see that students need to learn at some point how to use technology, since it is advancing so quickly and being used throughout society today. Further, students tend to retain more information when technology is involved in the lesson. Technology helps students learn at their own pace because mostly all applications involve individualized instruction, so students will learn at a rate that is appropriate for their learning needs and abilities. Lastly, while students are not in school, technology allows them to connect to any lessons they missed, homework, power points, to catch them up so when they return to school, they are not as far behind.
My younger brother has all of his homework and textbooks online. The teachers post everything online, even what they did in class, key points to the lesson to remember, and homework assignments. This has been helpful for my little brother because if he is absent, or forgets his agenda book, all of the homework and information are posted online for him to access and complete. He has a routine, and knows what he needs to do, and does not have to worry about losing an assignment because it is all online. I think this has been very beneficial for him, and he said teachers also find it much easier and organized when everything is online.