Recent posts blocks

Friday, 21 December 2012

School Regions Special Education Partnerships

School Regions Special Education Partnerships

In addition to the PD projects and initiatives coordinated by the SEA Assistive Technology team, itinerant resource teachers are also available to partner with Special Education Consultants to co-create/co-present at Family of Schools Special Education PD sessions. During these collaborations, the assistive technology itinerant teacher and the FOS consultant aim to provide teachers with meaningful information on available software, specific tools/features and the ways in which assistive technology can be successfully integrated as a means of promoting access to curriculum and student achievement.
This term, special education teachers of WR5 participated in a presentation on the new features of Read and Write Gold Version 10. The session provided MARTS, HSP, ISP and resource teachers with current information on the software advancements of Read and Write Gold and its applications within the classroom.

The Read and Write Gold Picture Dictionary can serve as an excellent tool for creating visual supports for visual learners, as well as students within the low-incidence and autism populations.

Read and Write Gold’s Vocabulary List Builder is a tool for building vocabulary specific to a particular unit/area of study. Vocabulary charts can be digitally edited, saved and printed in order to serve as a quick reference guide to support students during subsequent written/oral tasks.

Read and Write Gold flash
See our Read and Write Gold flash lessons created by the A.T. team teachers for ideas to use the Vocabulary list Builder and Picture Dictionary and other assistive technology tools:

Curriculum connections using Read Write Gold.

Friday, 14 December 2012

In-class observation session - ISP Autism experience

Learning Through Observing: An ISP Autism Experience
Through the SEA department, ISP and HSP classes can apply for an Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) for their classrooms through a group claim. Along with receiving an IWB, teachers of these classes are also supported through Learning Communities (LCs) and Observation Classroom experiences. Further support is provided through our new Mentor Project, whereby teachers who were part of the group SEA Claim process last year returned as Mentors this year to provide additional support to teachers new to IWBs.

One such teacher, Sharon Smith from White Haven P.S., volunteered to support one of our ISP Autism LCs. Along with supporting the LC sessions, she also offered to host an observation classroom. Teachers from this LC had the opportunity to visit her class for half a day. The participating teachers came away with lots of useful tips, strategies and ideas for their own classes while walking around her room to see the ways her classroom was organized, watching the lesson being taught to her students and during the debriefing time where questions and best practices were shared by all. All teachers agreed that this was a wonderful and extremely valuable Professional Learning opportunity.

De-escalation/Calming Area (left); Sensory Corner (right)

Quiet Corner: Outside View (left); Inside View (right)


Video Clip Sample on an IWB (left); Teaching the concept of arrays using an IWB (right)

In-class sessions are associated with each of the 25 learning communities. Below are a few sessions held in the East in a variety of school with a variety of exceptionality classrooms.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Ten tips for Using interactive whiteboards

10 Tips for Using Interactive Whiteboards (SMART and Promethean)
 in your Special Education Classroom
  1. Keep instructions clear and pages clutter-free: it is always better to have more pages, with less information on each page, in an ActivInspire Flipchart or SMART Notebook file than to have too much information on one page

  1. Use large graphics and sounds to engage students by making lessons interesting and interactive.

  1. Include movies in your Flipcharts or Notebook files to aid in comprehension and to engage your students. You can download educational videos from Learn 360.

  1. Use sound: the sound recorder in ActivInspire or insert sound in SMART Notebook to provide students with verbal directions for auditory learners.

  1. Select appropriate font and sizes. The recommended minimum font size is 24pt.

  1. Use colour and the highlighter tool for students who need visual support.

  1. Use images available in ActivInspire’s Resource Browser or SMART’s Gallery to teach students mathematical concepts.

  1. Versatility: Use your Promethean or SMART Board for a variety of teaching activities (e.g., centres, individual instruction or group activities).

  1. Take advantage of Board Space: Let the students write big (you can always resize their writing if needed).

  1. Don’t reinvent the wheel: Use lessons/ activities designed by other educators:

    Click on the text below to access the specific link:

    Promethean Planet

    SMART Exchange

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Read and Write Gold EQAO pilot teacher spotlight

TDSB Pilot teachers reflect on Read and Write Gold EQAO journey

Grade 3 students at Thorncliffe Park Public School are smiling. The students and their teachers, Susan Sanderson (Grade 3 HSP) and Dina Ashburner (SERT/IT), are energetically following their first in-class session of the Assistive Technology (AT) teams' EQAO Read and Write Gold (RWG) pilot.

Many of the Thorncliffe students, although not new to technology use in school, are new to the assistive technology software Read and Write Gold. “It's fun and remarkable. It helps me learn,” said one grade 3 student. “It's really great. It helps us learn,” another student added. (Many of the students shared about "What Are Germs?", the title of the non-fiction text they had read that morning.)

Thorncliffe Park P.S. teachers Susan Sanderson (left) and
 Dina Ashburner (right) are two of over 30 teachers across the
TDSB who are part of the second year of the AT EQAO RWG pilot.
During the first in-class session, students learn to use specific tools found in the programme Read and Write Gold - text-to-speech, word prediction, and different colours of highlighters – to support them in answering EQAO-type questions such as multiple choice and short answer questions. One of the main goals of the pilot is to have students be able to use AT independently to support their comprehension and to respond to questions using features of Read and Write Gold in their classrooms and specifically during EQAO testing.

“It's good for the students that they get excited,” Ashburner said. “It will take the pressure off them when they do EQAO. It's hard and they feel like they can do (the test) themselves.”

The students learn to select and use the text-to-speech function of RWG as auditory support to their reading comprehension as well as editing support in writing. They use the word prediction, which also has auditory component, to help support their word use and written expression. The itinerant teachers model the use of the highlighters in a number of ways including identifying evidence in the text they are reading as well as in the process of elimination when student respond to multiple choice questions.

A tweet by TDSB Director Chris Spence on October 11 stated, “We have and continue to underestimate our students with special education needs. Exemptions are down and scores are up.”

The RWG EQAO pilot may be a contributing factor to Spence's sentiments. Many elementary special education students who participated in last year’s pilot, used Read and Write Gold to write the assistive technology version of the EQAO test.

“Read and Write Gold will really help them (the student) express themselves.” Sanderson said. “(When writing EQAO) they will feel more comfortable and confident.”

Lianne McCrea, a grade 3 HSP teacher at Williamson Road Public School, who is also participating in the EQAO pilot this year, says the pilot has been helpful so far in helping her become more familiar with the Read and Write Gold software and how she can connect its use in her Special Education classroom. “Preparing HSP kids for EQAO is a daunting task this helps to give me some ideas on how to approach it with them.” McCrea said.

All together over 30 teachers of grade 3 and/or grade 6 students, in HSP and ISP classrooms, are taking part in the Special Education pilot project. During the pilot, set to run from November through early May. Special Education teachers and their students receive three in-class sessions working with an itinerant teacher. Teachers also meet in geographical region assigned Learning Communities between each in-class session, to share strategies, successes and problem solve ways to support students use of Read and Write Gold.

Reflection on AT EQAO pilot year one
Last year Vesna Mavrou, the HSP/SERT/MART at Tom Longboat Jr. P.S. and her students participated in the inaugural year of the EQAO pilot. She says the most useful part for her students was the directed instruction on how to use the Read and Write Gold software and the specific tools and setting a student would need to effectively use the technology.

“Although it may be difficult at first using the technology the great part is that the students and teacher have fun learning together and everyone is at the same starting point,” Mavrou said. “A few things that were helpful were having the students practise logging in with their own student numbers and passwords, bringing up the Read and Write Gold tool bar and having students saving their work and retrieving it. The only part which was time consuming and worrisome is saving the test and creating files on their desktop for students to access. However, there is support if a teacher needs it.”

Friday, 23 November 2012

Read and Write Gold EQAO pilot year two underway

Taking Flight with Read and Write: Using Assistive Technology to Support Students Writing EQAO

Last year, our Department piloted an EQAO and Assistive Technology project that was geared for students in Special Education. The students were trained on the specific features of Read and Write Gold that can be used in conjunction with the EQAO assessment. After analyzing students' EQAO results from last year, it was quite evident that assistive technology was highly successful in helping students find achievement when writing their EQAO tests. We also learned from last year’s pilot, that fewer students were exempted from the Provincial assessment, as more students with special needs are able to demonstrate their understanding by using assistive technology.
This year, we decided to expand on our EQAO and Assistive Technology project by opening up this pilot to more schools in the East and West. Our itinerant resource teachers designed an anchor chart that provides visual prompts for which specific Read and Write Gold tools to use when answering multiple choice, short answer and creative writing pieces.

At the first of three in-class sessions, the itinerant resource teachers have been working with teachers and their students to help them set-up their Read and Write Gold toolbars so that they only include the specific features that are permitted for EQAO (e.g., word prediction, highlighters, play back features). The students have also been practicing setting up dual screen mode so that they can see the text on the left of their screen and have a working document on the right-hand side to respond to the questions. Students have also been practicing reading and responding to EQAO-type literacy questions to help prepare them for their EQAO assessment in the Spring.

The classroom teachers have also been grouped together into learning communities, by region, so that they are able share classroom successes and challenges they have experienced using Read and Write Gold with their students. These learning communities also provide an opportunity for the participating teachers to share how they have been using Read and Write Gold, in addition to our in-class sessions, to support their students for the EQAO assessment.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Assitive Tech TDSB: Curriculum PD session spotlight

Professional Development Sessions
This week we launched a new series of PD sessions; ‘Using IWB to support students in DD ISP classrooms’ and ‘Using IWB to support students with ASD’. Both these sessions were available on Key to Learn for registration.
The first session provided participants with strategies and suggestions for using the SMART and Promethean Board to support students with developmental disabilities. Through demonstration and hands on experience, participants explored how to use the IWB to support readiness, reasoning, fine motor skills, language and mathematical skills among their students.

Embedded sound file (right of page) allows for student independence as instructions
are read out loud so students can play file as many times as required. 

Tools like a digital pen and eraser (bottom left of page) can be embedded on the page
to allow for easy student access to tool selection.

The second session provided participants with strategies and suggestions for using the Interactive White Board to support students with Autism. Participants explored how to use the interactive white board to support communication, attention, social skills and participation among their students.

Keep an eye open on Key to Learn for additional sessions throughout the year!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Spotlight: ASD Interactive Whiteboard Learning Communities

Spotlight: ASD Learning Communities

The Assistive Technology team is committed to providing exceptionality-specific professional development within our SEA interactive whiteboard learning communities. Exceptionality-specific groupings enable teachers to network and learn with/from other teachers who may be working with a similar population of learners. The goal of our learning communities is to build capacity among teachers within a culture of collaboration where the expertise and skills of our teachers are honoured and used as a platform for professional learning.

Currently, the team is supporting all teachers of Autism Intensive Support Programs who have received a SEA IWB through two learning community groups – one in the east and the other in the west. Our first sessions were recently held and focused on visual literacy and the use of visual supports for both academic and hidden curriculum areas of learning/development of students with an ASD. Some of the areas discussed included; motor development, visual tracking, anxiety, sequencing discrete tasks and the promotion of social/academic independence through the use of the IWB.

Customizable sample choice board template page that can be used for students to select preferred activities, assignment choices, regulation strategies, etc. 

Sample sequencing page for personal organization at the end of the school day – can include images, various shades/intensity of colour to represent progression towards ‘home time’ and imbedded sound in order to reduce direct adult support/prompting.

Creating lesson activities
Together teachers explored sample lessons/activities, de-constructed the tools and features used to create the lessons and made meaningful connections between the assistive technology, their current professional practice and the teaching/learning needs of their students.

During our imbedded planning time, teachers used the IWB tools and features to create and save visual literacy lesson/activities to be used in classrooms – the very next day!

The first session of the SEA IWB LCs were completed this week. The next session will focus on more curriculum based integration of the IWB in teaching and learning with a particular focus on media and the use of the ActiView document camera.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Learning Communities session 1: Low Incidence (Elementary) spotlight

Low Incidence (Elementary) Learning Community Celebration

Five Core Areas of Learning
Our Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) Learning Communities (LC) are well underway. Several of our LCs focus on the learning needs of students in Low Incidence classes. Our Low Incidence LC sessions follow the 5 Core Areas of Learning as the overall guiding principle. The 5 Core Areas of Learning are: Physical Development (Motor Skills), Communication & Language, Functional Academics (Literacy and Numeracy), Daily Living, and Social & Emotional.

Demonstration of how a “Communication Book” can be used and created on an IWB.
Communication and Language - Functional Academics
Our first LC focused on Communication and Language and the Literacy portion of Functional Academics. During this LC session suggestions of ways to use the IWB to facilitate these concepts were shown to the teachers. Aspects of functional literacy and various ways to communicate through the IWB were demonstrated from the concrete to the more abstract. Teachers had an opportunity to explore various ways to access the IWB, while wearing both a student and a teacher hat. Another powerful aspect to these sessions was their eagerness to share experiences from their classes and how the IWB engaged and motivated their students. Several teachers commented on how valuable the LC session was and how they appreciated that the LC session focused on the exceptionality needs of their classroom by providing examples and suggestions that were relevant to the learning needs of their students.

Two Learning Community teachers collaborating to create an activity on the IWB.

Friday, 26 October 2012

SEA Interactive Whiteboard TDSB Learning Communities continue

Learning Communities' first sessions continue this week

Over 24 interactive whiteboard learning communities are being held for teachers at both the Terraview Learning Centre and Burnhamthorpe Adult Learning Centre sites this year. The Learning Community share and explore ways the Interactive Whiteboard can be used as an effective teaching and learning tool in the TDSB classroom to increase student engagement and achievement through a model of Differentiated Learning. 
Topics of the first LC sessions include Visual Literacy (including using the power of images to teach higher order thinking skills ), Functional literacy with visual support for low incidence students (Elementary)  and Using the Interactive Whiteboard to support the five areas of learning with low incidence students (Secondary).

LC sessions have built-in work time to support IWB connections with differentiated learning. Teachers create Visual Literacy lessons.

The SEA IWB Learning Communities meet at the Assistive Technology centres three times during the year. Each time these Special Education teachers explore strategies and tools to differentiate learning for their students using the SEA Interactive Whiteboard and its peripherals within their classroom programs. Following each session teachers take back a peripheral to use. Following the first LC session, teachers explore the use of the ActivSlate.

The slate is one way that students and teachers can access and interact with the white board. Since the slate communicates with the computer wirelessly (using a usb-connected radio receiver), both teachers and students can use a pen to control the IWB tools from all areas of the classroom, when proximity, movement or ability to touch the board is limited.

Snapshot of LC during a session at Terraview Learning Centre.

Using the slate to access the interactive whiteboard from a distance.

SEA IWB LCs are built to include teachers
who are in similar georgraphic regions and who teach students with similar exceptionalities.
Learning Community sessions continue next week.

Friday, 19 October 2012

SEA Interactive Whiteboard IWB Learning Communities begin

This week the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) Learning Communities started!

Schools with new Interactive Whiteboards in their Special Education Classrooms have been divided into small Learning Community (LC) groups to support similar classroom needs. During LC sessions Assistive Technology teachers collaborate with LC teachers to support the integration of IWBs in the classroom. Direct support from the AT department will be on-going throughout the school year.

The first Learning Community Session focusses on teaching Visual Literacy/ Critical Thinking Skills using the tools available on the IWB. Some resources that might be helpful when planning visual literacy lessons are:

• Canadian International Development Agency Photo Gallery
• Committee for the Children: Second Step Resource
• Grolier on-line encyclopedia (includes both multimedia and news options)

Ultimately, our goal is to incorporate IWBs as effective teaching and learning tools in the TDSB classroom and to increase student engagement and achievement through a model of Differentiated Learning. Including both East and West regions, there are over 25 Learning Community sessions which include Special Education teachers, whose classrooms received an SEA interactive whiteboard group claim this 2012-2013 school year.

Friday, 12 October 2012

AT team projects launched this week: EQAO Pilot and Inherited IWB

So you inherited an IWB – now what?

In an effort to provide ongoing support for using interactive whiteboards (IWB) in classrooms, the AT  Department launched a new learning opportunity for teachers entering a Special Education classroom that had an existing IWB. The So you inherited an IWB - now what? project was designed for teachers unfamiliar with using SMART or Promethean boards so that they could learn and share strategies and features of the IWB and to create networking opportunities within special education.

Due to the tremendous interest, we created two SMART learning communities for the East and the West regions, as well as two for the Promethean users. Participants are attending four learning community sessions that each focus on a different topic.
On Thursday, project teachers had the initial IWB training. Next the Special Education teachers will participate in professional learning on using the IWB for visual strategies, Mathematics and student engagement. We are also providing the teachers with an opportunity for an in-class observation where an itinerant teacher co-teaches with a fellow teacher. This focused observation allows participants to witness authentic learning with a chance to debrief the lesson and discuss best practices.

EQAO pilot project second-year launch

The second year of the AT team's EQAO Read and Write Gold pilot began today at both Terraview Learning Centre (East) and Burnhamthorpe Adult Learning Centre (West).

All together over 30 teachers of grade 3 and/or grade 6 students, in HSP and ISP classrooms, are taking part in the Special Education pilot project. The AT team's itinerant teachers will work with pilot Special Education teachers, in their assigned East and West Regions, throughout the year to support their students in the use of specific assistive technology tools found in the software Read and Write Gold. The model of job-embedded support combines both individual in-class sessions (co-teaching lessons with students), as well as EQAO and AT focused Learning Community sessions.
One of the main goals is to have students be able to use AT independently to support their comprehension and to respond to a variety of question types using features of Read and Write Gold in their classrooms and specifically during EQAO testing.

The night prior to the AT team's launch of the RWG EQAO project, Dr. Chris Spence, TDSB's Director of Education sent out a tweet regarding Special Education students noting that "exemptions are down and scores are up".

Friday, 5 October 2012

Boys Literacy Project and project updates - TDSB AT team

Engaging Boys in Literacy – The Mission Continues

The SEA Assistive Technology Team is pleased to continue the Boys Literacy Project in the classrooms that participated in spring 2012. The project will run from October 2012 to June 2013 at the following schools: West Glen P.S., Blantyre P.S. and Queen Victoria P.S in 4 special education classrooms.
The project is designed to support teachers to implement inquiry based learning activities using media literacy as the framework to engage boys in reading and writing. Based on the success reported by boys in using iPod technology to receive and express information, a decision was made to further investigate the impact of iPod use in literacy instruction.

For additional information, please view the project flyer.

EQAO Pilot Project

The SEA department is committed to providing ongoing support for teachers and students to use assistive technology software during the EQAO process and ongoing learning.

This year our itinerant teachers will be supporting over 32 special education classrooms. During three half-day sessions, students and their teachers will work with itinerant special education teachers to learn how to use the features of RWG for assessment purposes. Students will develop strategies to help them demonstrate their thinking by responding to question types such as: multiple choice, short answer, and problem solving as well as creative writing. Additional learning community sessions will also be made available for teachers professional growth; learning new ways to incorporate assistive technology into daily practice, including assessment for EQAO.

Mentor Project

The inaugural SEA AT  Mentor project "Come Back Swim  with Us" met this week for half-day professional learning. It was a full house in both the East and West centre locations. Mentors, who participated in the SEA Interactive Whiteboard Learning Communities last year, are back to extend their differentiated learning strategies using the tools of the interactive whiteboard. Mentors will also be supporting new IWB Learning Community members in a variety of ways throughout the year.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

SEA AT Learning Communities - 2912-2013 school year preview

Building Capacity with Learning Communities

One of the roles of the SEA Assistive Technology team is to provide professional learning opportunities that are relevant and responsive to the needs of the special education teachers and schools we support. This year are pleased to introduce three exciting initiatives to support educators and build capacity board-wide.

Learning Communities:

Within the SEA Department, our Learning Communities (or schools of fish – as each group is cleverly named after a fish of the ‘SEA’!) are created to support collaborative professional learning and enable teachers to meet, network and build relationships with their colleagues. Learning Communities are designed for HSP or ISP teachers who have received a SEA Interactive Whiteboard (SMART or Promethean) and have received their 2 hours of technical training.

Our sessions focus on ways in which to integrate the IWB into meaningful student learning in the areas of visual literacy, differentiating math, and engaging all learners with a specific focus on the social, emotional and academic needs of each population of learners. Teachers are invited to meet with their community members and corresponding itinerant teacher for three half-day sessions throughout the school year. Supply coverage is provided…and additional tech pieces are introduced and offered to support the technology currently within each classroom.
We look forward to meeting our Learning Community members and learning with them through this exciting process of collaboration and professional growth!

Inherited a Whiteboard

Smart and Promethean Interactive Whiteboard

The SEA Assistive Technology team is always eager to receive feedback in order to ensure our initiatives are relevant and responsive to the needs of teachers and students. Our “So…You’ve Inherited a Whiteboard…Now What?!” project is aimed at providing support to teachers who did not themselves put through the SEA claim for the whiteboard currently in their classroom, and as a result, did not receive the initial technical training or PD provide through previous Learning Communities. This project is geared towards HSP and ISP teachers who have been recently assigned to a class that has an IWB attached to its program and are in need of professional support.

These teachers will be invited to attend three half-day sessions focusing on ways in which to incorporate the IWB into meaningful learning opportunities for their students.

The SEA Assistive Technology team is pleased to offer this new and exciting project and look forward to meeting and working with the teachers involved!

Interactive Whiteboard Mentor Project:
                               Come back and swim with us!

Opportunities for Collaborative Learning, Support and Leadership with our new Mentor Project

The SEA department is thrilled to introduce another new initiative this year – our IWB Mentor Project. Our Mentor Project invites former Learning Community members back to support our SEA team and new Learning Community members in their journey of professional development and growth.

New Learning Community members will be supported by our mentors as phone/web friends, and collaborative partners during the Learning Community process. Mentors are encouraged to bring and share success stories, lesson activities and their experience incorporating Assistive Technology into their special education programs. In addition, mentors may choose to attend sessions or host demonstration classrooms.

This new project will enable teachers to feel supported as they learn, grow and develop professionally - both in a leadership capacity as a mentor and as a new Learning Community member. The SEA team looks forward to welcoming back familiar faces as well as meeting our new and eager Learning Community members!

Friday, 21 September 2012

RWG Flash - AT curriculum lesson examples

This week we have both junior and intermediate lesson examples of the use of Read and Write Gold in integrated Science and Language Arts-focussed lessons.

To find a variety of developed grade level lessons which integrate a variety of assistive technology tools using Read and Write Gold visit our TDSB public page by clicking here.

Summarize, Compare and Contrast

Example: Grade 6 Science and Language Arts: Canadian Space exploration

In the grade 6 lesson, students will research, read, and take notes on one famous Canadian astronomer and one famous Canadian astronaut. Using a compare and contrast graphic organizerpare and contrast graphic organizerpare and contrast graphic organizer, the students will summarize the impact each of these individuals has had on space exploration.

Persuasive Writing
Example: Grade 10 Biology: Ecosystem and Change
In the grade 10 Biology lesson (Academic and Applied), students will research, read and take written notes in order to plan and write a persuasive report about change to an ecosystem. The final report can be written, an audio podcast or video. Students will share information from a text
source and their own ideas about an issue relating factors affecting an ecosystem that they have researched.

Home Use Information
All TDSB staff and students have access to Read and Write Gold at home. For more information about RWG Home Use click here. To get the password, please ask your school.

Even more Read and Write Gold curriculum connections

The Assistive Technology team holds the first of a number of curriculum professional development sessions next week at Burnhamthorpe C.I.  (Adult Learning Centre) BCI in the West and Terraview Learning Centre (TLC) in the East. Both sessions reinforce the use of Assistive Technology Software Read and Write Gold (RWG). One session involves using RWG tools and the research process. The other session involve how students can create "sensational stories" using RWG in the writing process.

The AT team's IRTs provide differentiated learning sessions throughout the school year in other topics including topics involving using the interactive whiteboard to meet the needs of special education students. Also, the AT team technicians provide a wide variety of training in software including (RWG, Clicker5, Dragon Naturally Speaking) and IWB (both Promethean and SMART) throughout the year as well.

All courses are found on Key to Learn. TDSB staff who are interested click here to access the main page K2L catalogue. (A password is required.)

Monday, 17 September 2012

Collaborating with Special Education teachers - AT referrals

To Trade Or Not To Trade

Last June, Grade 6 teacher, Elita Yip from Muirhead P.S. and an Itinerant AT teacher explored newspapers and video as a culminating activity for a Canadian Trading Partners unit with her integrated class as part of an Assistive Technology referral.
The individual classroom referral is one of the models of support that the AT team provides for Special Education teachers this year under the model of job embedded professional development. The itinerant teacher and classroom teacher co-plan and co-teach using assistive technology (interactive whiteboards, peripherals and software) to support student learning.
As a culuminating activity they were given a task of exploring how trade affects both the importing and exporting country. They had an opportunity to make an informed decision about whether or not they thought donating used clothing was good or not. They looked at articles and videos and discovered some facinating information about trade.

Commodity investigation
Afterwards, in small groups, they were each assigned a commodity, either coffee, bananas or chocolate.

Banana Workers Human Rights
Students had to learn about how its trade affected both the importing and exporting country - socially, economically, culturally, and environmentally. In doing so, they also discovered the concept of "Fair Trade" and its benefits to a country.

The class then needed to decide whether or not they would purchase their good, keeping in mind some of the following questions:
i) What are some possible alternatives as a consumer?
ii) As a global citizen, what choices can we make as everyday consumers?
iii) What human rights are compromised when buying the good?

In working through the assignment, the students used the reading toolbar of Read and Write Gold to support the reading of the materials and the research and writing toolbars to collect information and create multimedia presentations. An exerpt of a talkshow about coffee can be found on the podcast player below.

                     Podcast Powered By Podbean
Fair Trade Coffee: Good or Bad?

Friday, 7 September 2012

September AT team back to support students and teachers

TDSB's AT team grows

Happy September! Another school year has begun. With a fresh start, the Assistive Technology team is pleased to introduce three new itinerant teachers to the AT team. All will be sharing duties in the west region of the TDSB including leading SEA claim interactive whiteboard Learning Communities this year at Burnhamthorpe Learning Centre.

Ms. C Mathura, Ms. A. Statton, and Ms. L. Mast join the AT Team.
A few words
Ms Mathura:
I have primary, junior and intermediate teaching experience working with students with a variety of exceptionalities including DD, LD, and most specifically, ASD. I have worked as both a classroom teacher, as well as an ABA and IBI therapist and have experience hosting a TDSB demonstration classroom.
I am a passionate advocate for equitable educational practices and look forward to continuing to create positive and collaborative relationships with the staff and students I work with.
My other interests include; yoga, reading, activism and spending time with family and friends.
Ms. Statton:
I am so excited to be a part of the SEA team!
I am a former LD, MART, HSP and classroom teacher. I have also hosted Demonstration Classrooms in conjunction with the Math Department and Special Education Department.

I am always trying to find new ways to engage my students. Using assistive technology allowed each of my students to become more independent and engaged learners. It is inspiring to see once quiet and apprehensive students becoming more confident in their abilities and helping their peers use the technology.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” -- Mahatma Gandhi

Ms. Mast:
I am a former Reading Recovery, MART and HSP Teacher. More recently I was on secondment to Bloorview School Authority as teacher-librarian. Due to the diverse cognitive and physical needs of the students, technology became a large part of my literacy and media program. Helping students use assistive technology to access the curriculum and find a way to communicate is a very rewarding experience. The smile on a student’s face can be inspiring!
When I am not teaching you might find me taking photos, exploring Northern Ontario, fidgeting with a new Apple device, reading or spending time with friends and family.

One of my favourite quotes is:

“Our lives are not determined by what happened to us, but how we react to what happens, not by what life brings us but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results.” ~Unknown

LC SEA Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) group claim support
There are 24 new Interactive Whiteboard Learning Communities this year. Each community will be meeting three times during the year at their nearest Learning Centre – either Terraview (East) or Burnhamthorpe (West). Learning Communities are organized both by geographical region and by student exceptionality. The teacher attached to each classroom which received a SEA Interactive Whiteboard claim is part of his/her own Learning Community.

AT software training
Our AT technicians offers training on Interactive Whiteboards (introductory and advanced) as well as a variety of Assistive Technology software throughout the year at Terraview Learnng Centre (TLC) and Burnhamthorpe Learning Centre (hosted in Burnhamthorpe Collegiate Institute, BCI). Check Key to Learn (sign-in required) often to see which courses are currently offered to TDSB staff and to remind you of our centre locations please click here.

Building capacity and collaboration via AT Referrals
The AT continues to support the model of Job Embedded Professional Learning in our AT referral process. The team supports Special Education teachers in schools. Our role is to collaborate with teachers to incorporate assistive technology in teaching and learning activities in the classroom and to build capacity among staff to share excellent practices.

To download the form, scroll down on this page of the internal TDSB site.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Boys Project Phase 2 Update: Glogster project highlights

Boys’ Literacy Project Spring 2012

“The Mission is Complete”

The five classrooms that participated in this phase of the Boys’ Literacy Project completed their missions in June. The students incorporated Smart Ideas, Read and Write Gold, media research and iPod technology to produce a variety of projects. Each classroom had their own focus for their mission and final products included book trailers, hero reflections, medieval times research and narratives.

Click on the link below to view a glog highlighting student feedback and links to glogs of the projects completed by the teachers at our final professional learning session.

Cassandra Glogster
West Glen Glogster