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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.