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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.