Recent posts blocks

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Tools to try in 2015 - Promethean Active Inspire part 3 - supporting fine motor challenges

Tools to try in 2015: ActiveInspire
Here are a few more tools to try in ActivInspire software which support accommodating and differentiating student learning in the classroom.

Containers allow for spaces on the ActiveInspire flipchart page to be pre-programmed to accept certain objects and reject others. (Accepted objects can even be accompanied by a reward sound.) Creating containers on a flipchart page not only makes an activity fun, engaging and provides students with instant feedback but supports students with fine motor challenges. Incorrect answers bounce out of the wrong container, eliminating a step for the student to move an object out of a certain area. The reward sound is instant feedback so the student in not required to interact with more objects to be place on the page (like hidden hints or pull tags) but still support student independence and self checking. See how to create containers in the video: Creating Containers to Engage students with ASD and Developmental Disabilities Part 1

Marquee handles

Every object on the page has its own set of marquee handle icons which indicate how the object can be changed and manipulated. For some students interacting with the object is accompanied with too many distracting icons. The default standard set-up of marquee handles includes the ability to rotate and resize the objects, which can be challenging and frustrating to some students as they attempt to show their learning, but the object moves and resizes in a way that distracts from their solution.To support even one student that encounters this challenge, the marquee handles can be customized to provide as many or as few options to be used on an object. Each students' profile can be quickly saved so that each time they are at the board the objects' setting are appropriate for him/her.

Customizing the Marquee handles to support students with fine motor challenges

Using Restrictors supports students with fine motor difficulties as objects' motions can be restricted to move only in a particular direction. Movement of objects can also be controlled by blocking the actions of objects to move up to, but not past, certain areas on a page. See our video Using Restrictors to Support Fine Motor see how restricting objects' movements in a lesson or activity can reduce students' frustration and allowing students to demonstrate their understanding.  (There's also a second video that shows that along with restricting movement, the resizing or the distortion of size of an object can also be prevented.)

For more information and examples of ways to use ActivInspire to meet the needs of exceptional learners visit our Teach and Special Ed YouTube channel.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Switch On Learning at Scarborough Village P.S. - Alternative Access Project

Switch On Learning at Scarborough Village

Recently, Miriam Taylor, Special Education Teacher at Scarborough Village Public School, hosted an observation classroom at her school to demonstrate how to use Alternative Access Devices with her students. Ms. Taylor is involved in the Alternative Access Pilot Project this year. She, along with teachers across the TDSB, has been attending Learning Community Sessions to learn how to incorporate Alternative Access Devices into their classrooms to allow students to participate in classroom lessons and activities and to demonstrate their learning and understanding. Through this project she had the opportunity to Co-Plan and Co-Teach a lesson with an Itinerant Resource Teacher with Assistive Technology.

During the Co-Planning session, a music sound effects activity was created for one of her Low Incidence classes that provided the opportunity for the students to use “switches” to access the Promethean Board.  The students used the “switch” to click on the musical instrument image to make the image move in some way, for example, get larger, turn, etc. They then used their “switch” to click on the sound icon to hear the musical instrument play. Afterwards, they were given the actual musical instrument to play on their own. Finally, they used their “switch” to click on the next page arrow to turn to the next page. There was one page created for each student in the class. Once everyone had their turn, all the students played their instruments. Switch accessible interactive music websites were visited after the “musical performance” where the students could create more music.
The students were engaged and learning the cause and effect aspect of using Alternative Access Devices. The visiting teachers were excited to see how the students responded to the switches and left with many ideas to incorporate back in their own classes. 

Two students using the BIG Mack Communicator Switch to have a pre-recorded welcome message read to the visiting teachers.
(left) Example of one of the lesson activity pages. (right) The Jelly Beamer switch used by the students for this activity.

Ms. Taylor showed how she adapted the n-ABLER Joystick for one of her students to focus on only one button (red – left click). The traditional joystick handle was also replaced with the “T bar” to allow for better grip. More buttons will be revealed when the student is ready.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Math & AT project: Using OneNote to support student communication of ideas - spotlight Scarborough Village A.S.

Students in Miriam Taylor's Home School Program at Scarborough Village Alternative School had a wide variety of opportunities to use technology to explore the concept of equivalent fractions during a recent co-teaching session. As part of the "I have Assistive Technology in the classroom, how do I use it for Math?" project. Ms Taylor and itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu created a lesson which incorporated different software to support the students' learning styles and ability to communicate their understanding and thinking.

Minds On: Promethean Interactive Whiteboard flipchart

To start off the lesson, students revisited their understanding of identifying and naming fractions.

Ms Taylor during the Minds On portion of the lesson students used simple IWB tools to share their knowledge.

In one example students use the pen tool to complete the whole and name the fractional parts or divide a whole into fractional parts.

Action: OneNote
Scarborough Village is part of the AT team`s C.A.R.T. project this year (Curriculum and Resource Technology) so it`s a natural fit to get the laptops into the students` hands during the action portion of the lesson. Students picked up separate Microsoft OneNote page files from the school`s student shared folder and worked on the problems using OneNote tools as well as hands-on manipulatives.

Scarborough Village students represent fractions using various draw tools in OneNote.

Students in the triad use fraction circle manipulatives and computer to explore a problem about equivalent fractions (left). Without prompting one student quickly creates a vocabulary word list using Read and Write Gold to confirm his understanding of the word equivalent (right).

Consolidation: IWB and OneNote
As part of explaining their thinking, groups could choose to use the record video portion to orally explain and show why the two fractions represented were equivalent. Once all groups are finished Ms. Taylor will show each group's solution and play their embedded video from OneNote on the IWB. Students will have a chance to reflect and discuss answers for clarity and accuracy.

A OneNote solutions page. This group of students have responded to why the two fractions are equivalent by including an embedded video where they orally explain their answer.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

IWB Learning Community Job Embedded PD: spotlight H.A. Halbert P.S.

Learning About Motion and Movement in a Primary Autism ISP

Many of the special education teachers who participate in our IWB Learning Communities describe the in-class observation opportunities as being one of the best experiences of their Learning Community journey. During these job-embedded professional learning sessions, teachers are provided with the opportunity to co-plan and co-teach a differentiated lesson using their IWB with one of our Itinerant Resource Teachers. Moreover, it is within these in-class sessions, that the professional learning surrounding the use of the IWB as a tool to support differentiated learning is truly consolidated.

This week, Primary Autism ISP teacher, Lindsay Boag from H.A. Halbert Public School collaborated with one of our Itinerant Resource Teachers to create an interactive and multi-sensory science lesson on motion and movement. In this lesson, students were asked to describe, experience and explore the concepts of spinning, bouncing and rolling. Following the co-planning of the lesson, members of our IWB Learning Community, for teachers supporting students in an Autism ISP, were invited to attend the observation class and meet to discuss/debrief the lesson and tools modelled. 

This lesson employed the use of IWB tools such as:
  • Containers
  • Embedded/Linked Videos
  • Actions
  • Sound Recorder with the ActivSound System
  • ActiView Document Camera 
The lesson also included accommodations such as:
  • Repetition
  • Student Choice
  • Student Special Interest Areas
  • Multi-Sensory Learning (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)
  • Consistent and Predictable Reinforcement 

As a result of these thoughtful and appropriate tool and accommodation considerations the students of Ms. Boag’s class demonstrated prolonged engagement and attentiveness to the lesson and its activities. This ultimately resulted in an excellent morning of student learning for our students and a beneficial opportunity for professional learning for our observing teachers. 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Using Read and Write Gold to support writing: EQAO pilot project session spotlight

Read and Write Gold to Support Creative Writing in EQAO
In-Class Session 3 of the Read and Write Gold (RWG) and EQAO Pilot Project focuses on answering creative writing questions. Up to this point, students have learned how to use various features of RWG to support their learning and demonstration of understanding by answering multiple choice and short answer questions based on various readings.

During this session, students continue to use the features of RWG to support their writing. Initially, students use the highlight feature to focus in on key information in the question. They then use various strategies to plan out their writing – some use a mind map or pictures, while others write an outline in the form of dot jot notes on the computer. Next, using their plan, they begin to do their writing using the word prediction feature to assist with word retrieval and spelling. Once their writing is complete, students use the read feature to listen to their work to ensure it “sounds right” and the spell check feature to correct mistakes.

(left) A student's mind map. (right) The student uses the word prediction feature of RWG to support his writing.

(left) student mind map. (right) student using the computer to generate an outline for their writing.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Math Mission update - using Read and Write Gold tools with other software

The Math Mission update

Special education teachers participating in the Math Mission project gathered for the final Learning Community session of the year at Burnhamthorpe Adult Learning Centre in early March. The Math Mission, facilitated by SEA Consultant Christine Harvey-Kerr and itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu, is a year-long project focussing on using assistive technology in special education classrooms in a way that supports student communication in Mathematics.  
Using Activ Expressions and using Read and Write Gold tools in various contexts such as Google Docs and in Microsoft Word were two of the main topics explored during the session.

SEA Consultant Christine Harvey-Kerr shares the agenda for the afternoon session.

A starting point for use of Read and Write Gold tools with Microsoft Word. The key is to match the right tool to the student's particular need to support their communication of concepts learned.

Natalie Palubiski,  ISP ASD teacher from Buchanan Public School, shares how she creates vocabulary lists for her students using Read and Write Gold's Vocabulary tool. 

Sarah Smart,  ISP LD teacher from Briarcrest Junior School, uploads an Interactive Whiteboard lesson onto the Math Mission Desire2Learn site. Math Mission teachers access and share student work on the Math Mission D2L site.

Throughout the year teachers have been part of an on-line community -  accessing and using the Blended Learning / Learning Management System - Desire2Learn to access resources, lessons and even post student work. Also Some students have had the opportunity to bolster their written communication skills by providing feedback on other student's work.
TDSB teachers can find out more about Desire2Learn from the intraweb site: Desire2Learn.

Math Mission teachers have a chance to continue to build interpersonal connections via Job Embedded Professional Learning Opportunities via co-planning, co-teaching and observation.

Part of the Math Mission group of special education teachers - exploring and sharing ways they support their students communication in Mathematics.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Time Flies at Thomas L. Wells P.S. during itinerant referral

Time Flies at Thomas L. Wells P.S.
Angela Comia, HSP Teacher at Thomas L. Wells, co-planned and co-taught a lesson with Renée Keberer, Itinerant Resource Teacher with Assistive Technology, through the AT Referral Process.

The lesson was designed around the concept of elapsed time found in the Measurement Strand of Mathematics.  An engaging and interactive lesson was created on the SMARTBoard that took the students through various scenarios where elapsed time needed to be calculated. 

(left) Teacher, Angela Comia, asking students to predict the elapsed time
(right) Students calculating elapsed time using a number line and various Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) tools

The students were then placed into groups and they rotated to three separated stations where follow up activities had to be competed.
Station One: Students used the SMARTBoard to complete a variety of interactive activities around elapsed time.

Station Two:  Students used Read and Write Gold (RWG) to read through various word problems on the computer and the RWG Highlightersto indicate important information in the problem. They used chart paper and manipulatives to answer the questions.

Station Three: Students went on a scavenger hunt and had to complete various tasks to determine how much time had elapsed.