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Friday, 27 June 2014

A year in review with the SEA team

This blog post is dedicated to the hundreds of wonderful, dedicated special education teachers that members of the SEA team had the fortunate opportunity to work with this year.  Through your hard work and commitment to learning how to use assistive technology more effectively in order to support the learning needs of your students, we were able to support thousands of students across the TDSB this year.  Here is some of the feedback we received:

Which experiences were most beneficial to you in your Learning Community?
“To be honest, I found all of it helpful. It was great to see the different capabilities of the ActivInspire program, as well as all of the equipment that helped to go with it. I thought that the courses were developed perfectly, in that we didn't ever learn so much in a single day that it was overwhelming, but we learned enough for us to try new lessons in our class with the knowledge, until the next workshop. I also enjoyed being grouped with teachers who had similar student populations - just to see how they have found success in their classrooms” (Interactive Whiteboard Learning Community member survey response).

How has OneNote and the tablet helped you in school this year?
“I am started to use it to organize my subjects. I like to get information from the internet and have 2 pages open at the same time, so it’s easier to place information that I find” (Savannah, Gr. 8 student, West Hill PS).

Which experiences were most beneficial to you during the EQAO project this year? Please explain.

“Hands on training: it gave insight into how the program [Read and Write Gold] is laid out and how it functions - community learning: others provide questions and answers to situations that may arise - break down of sections: working on each section (math, language) allows to explore subject specific challenges and solutions” (EQAO and Read Write Gold Pilot teacher participant).

Please provide any additional comments related to this project you feel would be helpful.
[I Have Assistive Technology in my Classroom…How Do I Use it in Math?]
“It was a very valuable and lively discussion with my colleagues, and I also learned quite a lot when I went to observe a colleague's co-teaching. I discovered many new things relating to math and assistive technology!” (Learning Community member survey response).

The SEA team (2013-2014).
Our team is looking forward to a very exciting year next year with the continuation of many of our projects as well as a number of new projects! Don’t forget to check both DirectLine and Key-to-Learn on a regular basis for announcements about our initiatives. The SEA Team would also like to wish all of you a safe and enjoyable summer. We hope you rest, relax, and recharge. SEA you in September!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

OneNote spotlight: Brookside P.S. intermediate HSP

OneNote at Brookside Public School

Brookside Public School is one the latest schools to begin the OneNote Pilot Project. Under the support of their classroom teacher, Judith Churchill, and Itinerant Resource Teacher, RenĂ©e Keberer, the students have been exploring the power of Microsoft OneNote and the many features of the HP tablet. 

Two students have just received their tablets.
Mrs. Churchill with her class after they have all received their tablets.

Through their four in-class sessions, the students have become well versed in the unique features of OneNote, such as Screen Clipping, hpPagelift, Audio Recording and Tagging, and have seen valuable and practical ways of taking this technology to all of their classes to support their learning and organization.
Some ways the students at Brookside P.S. shared they have used OneNote.

The students have created their virtual binder so that all of their subjects and corresponding worksheets and assignments are in one convenient place – organized and easily found.
One student is inserting a table into his OneNote Binder.
During the final session, student shared some of the highlights of the OneNote project and created their own list of the “Top 5 OneNote Tools” for them.
Students shared what they liked most about their tablet and the best thing they have learned.
Students used OneNote (Table and Snipping Tool) to create their “Top 5 OneNote Tools”.
The staff and students at Brookside P.S. shared some of their thoughts about OneNote:

“OneNote has enabled my students to demonstrate their full potential in the classroom. I have watched their productivity and confidence soar.” ~Mrs. Churchill
“Screen Clipping is easy because it is like copy and paste but quicker – just draw a rectangle and it automatically puts it into OneNote.” ~ Veronica
“I like OneNote because it is easy to organize your stuff.” ~ Victoria
“OneNote is good to research, find images and insert video links.” ~ Venujan

Monday, 23 June 2014

OneNote project spotlight: Supporting intermediate students at Bowmore Road Sr. P.S.

The inaugural year of our Assistive Technology OneNote intermediate project has wrapped up for the year. Including our secondary schools, 26 schools and 206 students were part of the A.T. pilot to support personal organization and transitions.

According to Peter Gazzellone, the Intermediate Home School Program teacher at Bowmore Road Junior and Senior Public School, being part of the OneNote project will have lasting effects on his students.

"OneNote has transformed our classroom and empowered our students. Not only has the software helped to organize our students learning, it has fostered them to become more independent and engaged learners. Being part of this exciting pilot was energizing as the teacher, since I saw first hand, the positive effects it had on my students. I am confident that my students have the skills set they need to be successful in their future grades. Such a fantastic initiative that I was grateful to be apart of."

During the project, each intermediate teacher paired up with an itinerant teacher from the Assistive Technology team. Mr. Gazzellone's class worked with itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu. During the project, students researched and created a "My Favourite" poster. Throughout the research process they learned about the many OneNote tools and used hpLift to support their organization and learning.

Mr. Gazzellone, Ms. Appleby and Bowmore students.
At the final OneNote in-class sessions, students shared their completed "My Favourite" posters and were asked to reflect about which tools were most helpful to them during the course of the project.

A student's top 5 tools.
Here are a just a few "My Favourite" posters that Mr. Gazzellone's students created using tools and strategies found in OneNote and the hpLift app.

To see more Bowmore student posters and those of students at other TDSB project schools, visit our OneNote Facebook group:

Thanks to the all of the OneNote project teachers and students who took part this year. Our "phase 2" group attended our final Learning Community session last week. They shared ideas and discussed their students preparedness in transitioning into high school next year.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Supporting student transitions into Secondary - OneNote project Info session for Special Education high school teachers

Preparing for the “Big T” with OneNote:
OneNote Secondary Teacher Information Session

On Thursday June 12th2014, Assistive Technology Itinerant Resource Teachers, Renee Keberer and Christina Mathura facilitated an important OneNote Information Session for secondary special education teachers. This group of curriculum leaders and assistant curriculum leaders of special education were specifically invited to attend this session. These teachers represent the high schools who will be receiving our first round of students transitioning to grade 9 in September, having received OneNote training with a SEA tablet device. 

ACL of Special Education, Krista Petersen shares how the SEA tablet devices are charged and securely stored in her classroom at Lawrence Park C.I.

At this information session, secondary teachers were;

  • Introduced to the intermediate pilot project and its goals of supporting personal organization and independence through the use of OneNote
  • Presented with ideas of the ways in which OneNote and the tablet devices are being supported in secondary GLE classes at Lawrence Park Collegiate, by ACL of Special Education, Krista Petersen
  • Provided with the opportunity to plan for the storage and support of the tablet devices and OneNote software throughout subject classes and GLE in grade 9

This information session enabled teachers to begin planning for the transition of incoming grade 9 students from the OneNote Pilot Project, entering high school in September 2014. 

Secondary teachers collaborated with colleagues to discuss and complete an individual “Entry Plan” Activity in order to begin thinking about how students will access their devices and how OneNote software will be supported in subject classes.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Supporting peer feedback using response systems: Spotlight on Heritage Park P.S.

In Mr. Watt's intermediate Learning Disability Intensive Support Program at Heritage Park P.S., students have used a number of strategies to provide peer feedback of presentations. Recently, during a co-teaching session with Itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu, Mr. Watt and his students used the ActivExpression 2 learner response systems to provide comments and feedback to classmates' video game or game app presentations. The students reviewed a game by sharing power point oral presentations. 

James Watt models his own presentation for his students
 about the app "Plants vs. Zombies 2".
Mr. Watt presented to his class and students were able to provide feedback in a number of categories through the use of the ActivExpressions. The teacher and class co-created criteria about how to deliver an effective oral presentation and master the use of the interactive whiteboard to navigate a digital presentation. Feedback was provided via a pre-created list of questions known as a "self-paced assessment", where students can navigate and answer questions that appear on each ActivExpression screen at their own pace. 

Students can respond to different questions at their own pace on the ActiveExpression.
See photos (left) "was looking at the audience"  and (right) "talked loudly". 

Many different types of questions can be pre-programmed as self-paced tests. Mr. Watt used likert (rating scale), yes/no and texting question types for his students' introduction to the use of the ActivExpressions. Questions appear on the device screen. (Further individualized support can be provided for students by generating a paper printout of the question set.)

Even though students answered each question at their own pace, the class feedback results can be examined and shared when the entire assessment is finished. 
For each question there were two parts. First, students were asked to pick a level of performance for a specific category eg. confidence level of the presenter. Then they had to provide a brief rationale for their choice of rating. (photo) confidence level of presenter.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Diagnostic Kingergarten and Assistive Technology - spotlight on Ranchdale P.S.

Ranchdale Diagnostic Kindergarten Observation Classroom

Heather Methven, Diagnostic Kindergarten teacher at Ranchdale P.S., opened her classroom to a group of teachers to observe the use of her Promethean Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) during circle and individual activity time.

During the lesson the students used the IWB as an attendance sign in, using their pictures and names to identify that they were at school. They also completed some daily living skill activities.

Left: student chooses clothes to get dressed for the summer; Right: student sorts items into toys and snacks.
Afterwards each student had an opportunity to complete activity pages specifically designed to meet their unique needs and abilities. These activities consisted of sorting, matching and locating.

During his personal activity pages this student sorts by colour and locates various letter Js.

This student sorts by size and locates various letter Ws.
These two students sort various shapes.
This student locates letter Ds and matches various sea creatures, independently choosing the type of pen and colour.

Lastly, a handful of kindergarten students from another class joined in a reverse integration model, to do a music activity using lummi sticks.
Both classes follow along to “Stick Songs” under the direction of Ms. Methven.
It was an active class and it was wonderful to see how engaged the students were and to hear their teacher speak of the growth the students have achieved using the Promethean Interactive Whiteboard. The observing teachers were impressed with the activities the students were able to perform and enjoyed the opportunity to observe the classroom set up and centres.

Left: sensory corner; Right: activity area

Friday, 13 June 2014

Using Sound to enhance learning: Gifted French at King Edward P.S. example

Our special education teachers use sound in many way to support student learning and achievement. Reward sounds provide positive reinforcement and feedback for students doing activities on the Interactive Whiteboard. Another example is to provide students with a method of expressing their thinking or for teachers to put auditory instructions and hints within the IWB files. In Hartley Wynberg's grade 8 Gifted French classrooms at King Edward P.S., sound is used in a variety of ways with students.

Mr. Wynberg teaches three grade 8 Gifted French classes at King Edward P.S.
Mr. Wynberg explored different ways to have his French lessons become even more interactive, during a co-teaching session with itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu. One simple and quick way is to rejig digital resources into movable objects, and use the ActivInspire container with reward sound feature (see image below).

Students match long descriptions of  car types to the picture of the vehicle. (left)
A student waits for the reward sound to see if she is correct. (right)
Here is a short video to see how sound can enhance a lesson. Since the file is digital, students can review and revisit pages as many times as they like to reinforce concepts - supporting all learners including the auditory predominant ones. The use of the container feature in ActivInspire provides students with immediate feedback when learning new vocabulary or confirming French phrases. (In the second part of the video, the word bounces out, if it is incorrectly placed in a container. But a reward sound occurs when the word is in the right place.) The incorporation of students' own voices increased the intermediate students' engagement and interest as well.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

ER16 FOS teachers share year-long journey at AT carousel

Teachers from Thorncliffe Park P.S. and Valley Park P.S. shared their journey incorporating assistive technology in their classrooms during an AT carousel in late May. Teachers, special education, English Language Learners and regular classroom, were part of the ER16 Family of Schools pilot led by Deanna Cape, FOS Consultant for ER 16. Throughout the year teachers explored using Read and Write Gold to support their literacy programs. They also explored using AT in Mathematics by using interactive whiteboard, multimedia Learn 360 as well as Read and Write Gold. These professional learning sessions were held regularly throughout the year. AT team members Christine Harvey Kerr, SEA Consultant and Valia Reinsalu, Itinerant Teacher for Assistive Technology supported the year-long project.

Consultant Deanna Cape shares the format of the afternoon's Carousel.

 Project teachers shared lessons and their experience implementing AT as part of their programs this past year. Presentations included stations of interactive whiteboards and laptops to share  sample lessons and activities. Teacher also shared student work, their reflections and steps to build capacity within their school.

A member from each school in the ER16 region were invited to attend the carousel. Along with visiting the teacher stations, participants had a chance to get hands-on experience using Read and Write Gold tools on computers at the Demo Area.  Carousel participants also reviewed their school-specific data and began to generate ideas of how to begin implementing AT at their own schools for the upcoming school year.

Below are a few photos which capture some of the sharing.

Valley Park's J.J. Dorotheo (Math and multimedia).
Thorncliffe Park P.S.'s Suzanne Coutts (IWB and literacy).

Valley Park M.S.'s James White
(Read and Write Gold literacy).

Valley Park' Douglas Lee shares
how Read and Write Gold benefits all learners.
Tarmo Sulev from Thorncliffe Park P.S. speaks about narrative writing. 

Valley Park's Jan Clow shares her A.T. journey she recorded by iPad (front). Colleague Joanne Kearns, from Valley Park, shares her lesson. (rear right)

Monday, 9 June 2014

AT exploration classroom spotlight: George R. Gauld P.S.

Exploration Classroom for Assistive Technology
HSP Class at George R. Gauld P.S.

This year the Assistive Technology Team hosted a new exploration classroom at George R. Gauld in Vanessa Trichilo McKnight’s Home School Program (HSP) classroom.  Vanessa had previously worked with our team in the EQAO Pilot Project as well as a member of a HSP Interactive Whiteboard Learning Community group.  It was exciting to see the various A.T. tools highlighted in those projects used effectively in an authentic learning context.
Below is a photo collage of some of the ideas visiting teachers were able to take away following  the language and mathematics lessons, subsequent lesson debrief and A.T. exploration time.

Using RWG and IWB tools to support students to work independently

Visiting teachers left with lesson examples and a plan of next steps to implement assistive technology into their own classrooms.  Thank you to Ms. McKnight and her students for sharing their learning with us.

Friday, 6 June 2014

OneNote supporting student organization: Secondary spotlight at Weston Collegiate Institute

OneNote at Weston CI

The Junior ASD class (grade 9 and 10) at Weston Collegiate is one of the many classes participating in the OneNote Pilot Project in the TDSB. The students reflected on how OneNote helps keep them organized and how the various features of OneNote can be used to support their organization and learning; throughout all of their rotary classes. They have quickly discovered many new ways OneNote can be used to support organization and overall school success. 

The students generated a list of ways OneNote helps to keep themselves organized.

Rotary classes? The students discuss some of the OneNote features that supports their organization throughout the day.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

What's happening in Kindergarten with AT? Spotlight Dovercourt P.S. KELI class using IWB to support language development

Using the IWB to Get Students Talking

The Assistive Technology Team in collaboration with the KELI (Kindergarten Early Language Intervention) Program hosted Exploration Classrooms focusing on using the interactive whiteboard to support language development in kindergarten students.  KELI staff at Bruce P.S. and Dovercourt P.S. welcomed six visiting teachers during three different times.
Visiting teachers observed how the KELI team, teacher and speech language pathologist used interactive games and activities to engage students in oral discussion about the story, The Gingerbread Man.

On the day of our visits, the KELI kids decorated their gingerbread man and were surprised to find out that he had run away.  Students then visited other classrooms to ask if students or teachers had seen him.

Following the classroom visits, participating teachers met with Christine Harvey Kerr (SEA Consultant) and Stephen Ellison (KELI Lead) at Terraview Learning Centre to learn more about the KELI program and to see how interactive whiteboard technology is used to support students’ oral language skills in the program.  

Using a matching activity on the IWB to reinforce character names and to create discussion.
Modelling how to create a missing poster on the IWB for students to use when visiting classrooms to explain about their missing gingerbread man.

In addition, time was provided for participating teachers to create their own interactive whiteboard resources to use when they return to their classroom.

We were glad to hear that the KELI kids found their missing gingerbread man.

Monday, 2 June 2014

AT team members to present at ETFO ICT Conference for Women

AT team members SEA Consultant Christine Harvey-Kerr and Itinerant Resource teacher Valia Reinsalu presented back-to-back session at the Technology for Teachers ETFO's ICT Conference for Women, May 31. Their hands-on workshop was entitled: Using Assistive Technology to Facilitate Mathematical Communication with Your Special Education Students.

Itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu (left) and SEA Consultant Christine Harvey-Kerr (right).

During the session, teachers learned way to support Math communication via the use of the Interactive Whiteboard tools and strategies and SMART ideas, a graphic organizer program which supports students organization of ideas and connection of idea via colour coding and visuals. Examples of student work produced using AT and mobile apps were also shared. During the session, participants had ample hands-on time to modify or create activities for their own use from the modeled sample files.

Workshop participants uses digital manipulative on the IWB.
The two-day conference started at ETFO head office on Isabella Street on Friday with professional development by presenters shared their classroom-based projects and initiatives. The following day involved hands-on workshops at OISE`s Bloor Street computer labs. Topics included learning about Ministry-licensed software, Interactive Whiteboards, iPads, Google drive, as well as ETFO and other online resources. There were 22 presenters and 130 participants from all over Ontario at the event, with participants from Windsor to as far as Sioux Lookout.