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Thursday, 25 April 2013

Étienne Brûlé's Margaret Malkaltses' LC journey

IWB Learning Communities:
One Teacher’s Journey

I was amazed at myself! My confidence had gone from very, very low to…comfortable!”
Margaret Makaltses – P/J HSP Teacher at Étienne Brûlé J.S.

This year our Red Velvetfish IWB Learning Community welcomed Étienne Brûlé Junior School’s HSP teacher, Margaret Makaltses. In this podcast, Margaret describes her journey through the Learning Community process and candidly shares her story of how her technological competency and comfort-level with technology blossomed over the course of the year.
At the beginning of her journey, Margaret shares that she was eager and excited to welcome the IWB and its peripherals into her classroom. Margaret reveals that the initial excitement shifted as she began feeling apprehensive and overwhelmed. She explains that it felt as though what she describes as “rudimentary computer skills” simply weren’t enough to effectively incorporate the tools/features of the IWB into her program.
Following the second Learning Community session, Margaret agreed to host an observation classroom and co-plan/co-teach with her Itinerant Teacher. Margaret was provided with the opportunity to spend a half-day planning in a supportive and collaborative environment where she felt free to ask many questions, make mistakes, and try again! This one-on-one support served to boost Margaret’s confidence and comfort-level exponentially.
During Margaret’s observation classroom demonstration, her students participated in an engaging language lesson on inferencing that spoke to the differentiated learning needs of her students. Her students interacted with the board by using the sound recorder, wireless keyboard and mouse, and the ActiView document camera…and were thrilled!
Since then, Margaret has become increasingly comfortable with her IWB as she both creates her own flipcharts and modifies those she downloads from Promethean Planet. Margaret’s advice to new Learning Community members who may be feeling as nervous or apprehensive as she initially did is simple – don’t get overwhelmed…seek additional support through co-planning and co-teaching…it works!

HSP teacher Margaret Malkaltses.

Friday, 19 April 2013

In-class observation session in PJ DD classroom

In-Class Observation Session in Primary-Junior DD Classroom

Katie Barron is the teacher of a Primary-Junior DD Classroom at Seneca School in Etobicoke. Katie is one of approximately 300 Special Education teachers in TDSB who received a Promethean Board in her classroom through a group SEA (Special Education Amount) Claim this year. Along with other special education teachers with new SEA claim funded Promethean Boards in their classrooms, Katie has attended three Learning Community Sessions during which Itinerant Resource Teachers model ways to use the tools available in ActivInspire (the software program that comes with the Promethean Board) to support students’ learning needs.

Katie hosted an observation session in her classroom for some teachers in her Learning Community to come observe how she uses the tools available in ActivInspire to meet the students’ individual learning needs. During her morning circle time, Katie used the Promethean Board to incorporate IEP learning goals that the students are working towards (e.g., spelling their own name, what to do when you are feeling angry, participating in group activities, pointing to and tracking symbols during shared reading).

During Circle Time, Katie lead her students in a song “When I’m Angry and I know it” (sung to the tune of, “If you’re happy and you know it”).  Boardmaker symbols are used to remind students what to do when they feel angry (e.g, count to 5, listen to music).

Recently, Katie has been working with her students to identify and label actions (verbs) but felt her students were not ready to identify actions by looking at pictures (e.g., picture of someone eating). During a co-planning session with Lisa Mast, Itinerant Resource Teacher, Katie learned how to insert multiple videos of staff doing actions (e.g., eating, clapping, eating) onto one page in ActivInspire. The goal of this learning activity was for students to be able to answer the question “Who is running?”. Students used their voice or communication devices (e.g., Dynavox) to respond with the name of the person who was running in one of the three videos. Students were engaged in this activity and enjoyed seeing the staff and students in their classroom in the videos on the Promethean Board.

Two videos were inserted on a page  (one with a student eating and one with a staff member clapping) and Katie asked students the following  questions: Who is in each photo? What is each person doing? Who is eating? Who is clapping?  

Teacher Testimonials:

“Having the Promethean Board in my classroom has made it easier for me to differentiate lessons for my students at various levels of learning.” Katie Barron, DD Teacher

“I learned a lot from our Promethean Board Learning Communities that I am currently using in my program. But seeing the Promethean Board in use in a classroom with students has been amazing. The teacher showed how much I can do with the Interactive White Board. I really enjoyed seeing how she used the IWB to enhance the student’s knowledge at their individual developmental stage. I am looking forward to bringing what I learned today back to my classroom and incorporating it in to my program.” Sara Bueno-Bradley (Observing Teacher and Promethean Learning Community Member)

Monday, 8 April 2013

Read what's happening - AT Today - Spring 2013

A note about some tools of our Flipping book toolbar - Ways to access our AT today magazine.

See above functioning toolbar (from left to right)  Send a link, Print document
Download a copy of the document, Full screen or Zoom.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Read and Write Gold referral at Macklin P.S.

Read and Write Gold Referral at Macklin P.S.

The SEA department offers special education teachers the opportunity to co-plan and co-teach a lesson with an Itinerant Teacher in Assistive Technology. Sahaira Khan, from Macklin P.S., did just that with her grade 6 students. She planned a lesson with an Itinerant Teacher using the theme of empathy as a follow up to a wonderful Remembrance Day assembly. Read and Write Gold was used to support her students during both a reading and a writing task.

During the first session her students read a poem written by a soldier, entitled “Wheelchair Soldier.” They used the playfeature of RWG to help support their reading and understanding of the poem, and the highlighterand predictiontools to help support the answering of questions.
The second session had students writing “Letters to The Troops.” First as a group, the students brainstormed ideas for the letter - Tell about yourself (paragrah 1), Ask questions (paragraph 2), Well wish (paragraph 3). 

Student Brainstorm for their “Letter to the Troops”
They then used the predictionand dictionaryfeatures of Read and Write Gold to write a letter to a soldier, and the spell checkand read backfeature to edit their work. 
Students hard at working creating their letter using Read and Write Gold (left); Observing teacher looks on as a student uses the Word Prediction feature to help compose his letter (right)

Their teacher, along with the observing teachers, commented on how engaged and independent the students were. Some said that this is the most the students have ever written before. The students themselves were very proud of their accomplishments.

In their own words…

Thank you for helping us using Read and Write Gold. I like to use Read and Write Gold because when there is important information I can use the highlighters to underline the important information. And there is a play and pause button to read the information that I have wrote on the computer. The word prediction was useful because I can’t spell words all the time.” ~ ‘K’ a grade 6 student

“Thank you for helping me improve my skills on read and write gold. I think it will really be useful to me when I have a project because it reads the text to you and if you have a mistake you can find out what it is because sometimes you can make mistakes even when you read the text over. I also like the highlighters because when you are highlighting you can highlight the important and valuable information. It is a really good process and it will help me sometime soon when I get an assignment.” ~ ‘S’ a grade 6 student