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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Tech and Special Education Youtube channel - check out our offerings

The Assistive Technology department’s Interactive Whiteboard Learning Communities are in their final week of sessions at Terraview Learning Centre (East) and Burnhamthorpe Adult Learning Centre (West). The focus of this fourth session is Differentiation strategies for Math using IWB tools or Functional Numeracy – depending on the classroom exceptionality.

Our team continuously is updating our Tech and Special Education Youtube site to include videos which model the use of Promethean Active Inspire interactive whiteboard tools with a focus on supporting Special Education students. The videos combine examples of curriculum-embedded activities, IWB tools and student-specific learning needs. Below are just a few that include (but are not necessarily exclusive) to the application of a tool in a Math context. (Click on the image to go directly to the video.)

Grid Designer part 1 of 2 -To Support Students in Special Education

Using Personalized Reward Sounds to Support Students with ASD & Developmental Disabilities- Part 2

Using the Shape Tool to Support Students with Learning Disabilities

Using the Whiteboard Fill Tool to Support Students with a Learning Disability

Also included in our selection are videos about the use of Read and Write Gold and Microsoft OneNote. To see more Tech and Special Ed videos click here:

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Engaging students using the IWB as a learning centre: Charles G. Fraser Jr. P.S. Primary MID

Finding Ways to Engage Students

Itinerant Resource Teacher Andrea Statton did a co-planning and co-teaching session with Jennifer Venalainen at Charles G Fraser Junior Public School.  Ms.Venalainen expressed an interest in using her Promethean interactive whiteboard as a learning centre in her primary MID classroom, so that her students could become more independent and so that activities could be differentiated to support each of her learners.

One of the activities created was on number formation.  Knowing that one student loved Mario, Ms. Venalainen used an image of that character on the activity page, so that when the student clicked on Mario, the instructions were spoken aloud.  
By adding sound to the page, the student was more independent as he no longer needed to wait for direction from the teacher.  Most importantly, the student was so excited that Mario “spoke” to him that he quickly became engaged and eager to complete the task!  

To learn more about adding sound to ActivInspire flipcharts, check out our YouTube video:

Friday, 21 March 2014

IWB Learning Communities - Math tools to support Differentiation

The fourth and final set of Interactive Whiteboard Learning Communities is underway. Depending on the exceptionality of the group of students they teach, LC teachers are exploring Mathematics and Differentiated Strategies using Learning Response Systems or Functional Numeracy.

Mathematics and Differentiated strategies using Learner Response Systems
Part of exploring Mathematics and differentiated strategies, itinerant teachers model a three-part lesson. They also share the use of a number of math tools and activity pages that are built into Promethean Active Inspire software. Teachers discuss and explore different ways to have their students comprehend, calculate and communicate their problem solving during each of the three-parts of a math lesson using paper and pencil, concrete manipulatives and the interactive whiteboard tools.

During the Action phase of the modeled Math lesson. King Edward P.S. teacher Hartley Wynberg, creates an action on a calculator image. He then solves his problem using Active Inspire's calculator tool during the Gifted ISP LC. 

One goal of this session is for teachers to make connections of how they might use Learner Response Systems (ActivExpressions) into their Math lessons. The learner responses support student learning by allowing all students to respond to questions posed in the classroom - including those who would not normally raise their hand or feel comfortable speaking in a whole group setting.

 In an example shared during the modeled lesson, the document camera was used to capture work for a paper and inserted into the Promethean flipchart. This solution was discussed and annotated upon. Then the ActivExpressions were incorporated to help gauge the group's overall understanding of the solution that was shared.

In this example, the response system answer to "Does this explanation make sense to you?" was inserted into the flipchart page in pie chart form. This is one way for students to have instant feedback about their thinking and for the teacher to gauge group understanding. (see photo bottom left).
The IWB LCs are part of the one-year support provided by the Assistive Technology team. Groups are organized according to geography and the teacher's Special Education program.

Alana Guinane and Leonora Rochwerger, from Donview Health & Wellness Academy register their ActivExpressions (Learner Response System).

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Embedding Read & Write Gold into lessons - itinerant referral at Bowmore Jr. Sr. P.S.

Students in Graham Seater's Junior Learning Disability class have been incorporating assistive technology into their learning.  Through an individual class referral collaboration between Mr. Seater and assistive technology  itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu, students have begun using graphic organizer software SMART Ideas, in conjunction with Read and Write Gold (RWG) tools, to support both research and writing.

Students' first exposure to SMART Ideas was during a Biodiversity research project. A template was created to included everything students needed to get started on internet research about an animal of their choice - including categories, built-in sticky notes, as well as a few hyperlinks.SMART Ideas helped support students' organization of ideas, while the text-to-speech feature of Read and Write Gold supported their reading comprehension.

(Students also used, PebbleGo, a website with built in text-to-speech features to help support the students' reading comprehension. Pebble Go Animals can be accessed from the TDSB's virtual library - online databases section.)

(Top) Mr. Seater walks through the SMART Ideas template with students. Tiered elements are colour-coded specific shapes. Built-in connectors also provide a visual support to the students about the relationships and organization of information. (Bottom left) Using the text-to-speech tool to listen to instructions. (Bottom right) A student records research information.

In a second lesson, students created their own documents using SMART Ideas when writing a Choose your own Adventure story. The Read and Write Gold tools for their first draft writing included the Picture Dictionary and Word Prediction. Both RWG tools can be used at the same time - the word prediction, with it's built-in auditory support, helped to support students' spelling and word use. The picture dictionary provided a visual layer of support.

(Left) Junior students first learn to customize their My Features toolbar -adding tools they will use during the writing assignment. (Right) A student tries the picture dictionary - Lego anyone?  

Mr. Seater models how students will write their first draft of their "Choose your own Adventure" story within SMART Ideas using Read and Write Gold's picture dictionary and word prediction tools (see right side of the screen).
Students start writing their own Choose Your Own Adventure story.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

OneNote pilot project: Secondary Spotlight Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute

Embedding OneNote into the GLE Curriculum
Students in Krista Petersen’s Grade 9/10 GLE class at Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute continue to use OneNote software to complete their assignments in GLE class.
(Click on the photo to see a larger version.)
Through embedding the use of OneNote software into the GLE class, students in Krista Petersen’s class are quickly adopting the skills to use the software effectively.  When provided a hard copy of a graphic organizer, Max handed the copy back and stated, “I don’t need that.  I use my tablet for everything”.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Inherited a Promethean Board, Now what? LC spotlight: Glamorgan P.S.

Exploring Letters and Numbers ~ Glamorgan P.S. Classroom Observation

Meena Sanyal, primary DD teacher from Glamorgan P.S., opened her doors to teachers from her ‘So You Inherited a Promethean Board, Now What?’ Learning Community (LC) to see her kids in action with the Promethean Interactive Whiteboard.

Co-planning and co-teaching with Itinerant Resource Teacher, Renée Keberer, an interactive attendance page was created, along with activities to sort letters and numbers, individuals pages for letter identification and matching activities.

The observing teachers were impressed with the level of student engagement and attention and welcomed learning new ways to use the Promethean Board to engage students.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Math Professional Learning Community launches

The SEA Team’s latest project is a Math Professional Learning Community (PLC). This project is being spearheaded by Itinerant Resource Teacher, Etienne Mercieca and is aimed at looking how assistive technology software tools such as the graphing tools in Microsoft Excel and the talking calculator tool in Read and Write Gold can be used to support student learning of math concepts.

As part of the PLC, twelve Special Education teachers from across the TDSB came together on February 25th at our Terraview Learning Centre location and participated in a “Meet  & Greet” workshop where teachers became acquainted with one another and were provided with an overview of the assistive technology software tools available to us. 

Introduction activity where teachers shared their favourite strand(s).
Many wanted to pick more than just one or two!

Our next step will be for each teacher to co-plan and co-teach a math lesson, with the support of an Itinerant Resource Teacher, using one or more of these software applications. One of the lesson goals for each lesson will be to allow the students the opportunity to use the technology to demonstrate the learning and understanding. Members of the PLC will have the opportunity to observe at least one of these lessons as well. 

(left) Cathy Watson, Stanley Public School creates a mind map using Read and Write Gold Fact Mapper.
(right) Sean Kitney, Secord Public School explores application of Microsoft Excel.
Later in May, the group will once again meet together for a “Bring and Brag” session, where all lessons will be on display and where each teacher will take away with them a memory key containing all twelve lessons!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Visual support & teacher modeling using the document camera: Heritage Park P.S. spotlight

The most recent in-class observation session for the Mooneye Interactive Whiteboard Learning Community was at Heritage Park James Watt's Intermediate LD classroom. In collaboration with itinerant resource teacher Valia Reinsalu, Mr Watt focused on the use of the document camera and the Desktop Annotate feature of the Promethean Active Inspire software during the observation teaching session.

 (To see an application of Desktop Annotate to support reading click here for our Tech and Spec. Ed Youtube video.)

Just a few ways the document camera can support the needs of all kinds of learners.

During the first part of the morning, Mr. Watt used the document camera for explicit modeling and demonstration of sketching techniques with his students in an Art lesson. The use of the live view aspect of the document camera allowed students to see dynamic change of a portrait from the before stage - prior to peer feedback of success criteria and rubric outline. The large, live visual support provides the necessary scaffolding that his learners require. A few students have auditory processing or working memory challenges and the visual helps them to make a concrete and more lasting connection to the oral discussion about their sketches. 

"Sitting at the projection desk allows me to demonstrate, respond to questions and repeat demonstrations/process as necessary.  I will find it hard to go back to teaching without this powerful presentation tool." - James Watt, Heritage Park P.S. Intermediate LD teacher

The entire lesson was recorded using ActivInspire's screen recorder so that students could review the lesson at a later date as many times as required.

Mr. Watt used student feedback to make changes to a copy of a student's sketch so that students
could visual see adjustments made, based on the required sketching criteria. Above right - the camera tool on Active Inspire allows for the capture of the before and after lesson image - as well as a large format of the rubric (which can have annotations added.)

Thanks to Mr. Watt for another successful in-class observation session, which highlighted a simple but powerful uses of the document camera to support student learning and understanding. 

Host James Watt, Heritage Park P.S. with LC observation teachers (left to right): Anita Ghosh, Charles Gordon  P.S., Rebecca  Chahine, Heritage Park P.S. and Samantha Bunting, George  Peck P.S.

In-class observation sessions are part of the year-long Learning Community support given to special education teachers, whose programmes receive the SEA Interactive Whiteboard group claim for this school year. There are four LC sessions at East (Terraview Learning Centre) and West (Burnhamthorpe Adult Learning Centre) sites along with opportunities for Job Embedded Professional learning in the form of co-planning and co-teaching with one of the six itinerant teachers who lead specific LC groups. The LC groups are formed based on geography and on student exceptionality.