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.