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Friday, 29 May 2015

Using the ActivExpressions to extend thinking and make connections - spotlight Queen Victoria

Students in Martha McGloin's grade 8 Gifted ISP at Queen Victoria Public School are currently doing an inquiry project in Science. Their focus in around the topic of Characteristics of Living Things and connecting in the Cell theory. Preliminary questions some have chosen for their investigations so far include, "What is the significance of single-celled organisms? How does DNA determine how cells develop and work? to "How can certain cells be used for the injury recovery or accelerated evolution of the human species?"

As part of her students' learning, Ms. McGloin wanted to make sure students were connecting fundamentals of the characteristics of living things and cell theory with their inquiries. McGloin co-planned a lesson with itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu to incorporate the Activ Expressions in order to foster student discussion and connections.

Martha McGloin, from Queen Victoria P.S. starts the day's lesson.

Using the Express Poll, students were asked a variety of text questions which asked them to provide examples of various aspects of the characteristics of living things. Once students responded, Ms. McGloin was able to paste their written responses onto the flipchart page.

Students were also given a number of questions to reflect on using the self-paced assessment set-up. With the self-paced assessment the question appears on the ActivExpression device itself. Each individual goes through the set of questions at his/her own pace.

(left) Text answers can be "word-seeded" or pasted onto the flipchart page for sorting. The sorted ideas from: Give an example of "Living Things grow in size, reproduce and are able to repair themselves."

During the lesson, some students moved and sorted responses into specific categories by either walking up to the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) and using their hand to move text around. Others students used the ActivSlate to move their responses from their seats.

Ms. McGloin leads the discussion. 

Students connect the characteristic of living things to the example given by proposing the name of the big idea. 

Ms. McGloin's class were also asked questions to relate their inquiry project directly to the big ideas of characteristics of living things. Students felt engaged and a few said they preferred the method of text input over having to "write ideas down" on paper.

Response systems are an effective way to have each student provide a voice and input into learning - particularly in a class of 21 or more students. It's also a great way to have generated ideas and examples be collected, sorted and stored in a visual way. A flipchart is digital and can be printed out and/or saved and referred back to a number of times on the IWB.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Cause and Effect with a Spring theme - Using containers in ActivInspire for feedback at Park Lane P.S.

Cause and Effect at Park Lane

Tahmina Khan, special education teacher at Park Lane P.S., co-planned and taught a Cause and Effect lesson with Itinerant Resource Teacher, Renée Keberer, on the Promethean Interactive Whiteboard that her classroom received this year. A visual schedule was created whereby students would be able to drag picture symbols of activities that they completed throughout the day onto their calendar. Working on the theme of “Spring”, many activities were created, such as a Container Activity with immediate visual and auditory feedback and a variety of Cause and Effect activities.

Friday, 22 May 2015

I have A.T. in my classroom, how do I use it for Math? project final LC summary

I Have Assistive Technology In My Classroom…How Do I Use It In Math?! – Wrap-up

Our Math and A.T. (Assistive Technology) project recently concluded with a “Bring and Brag” session where teachers had the opportunity to share their learning experiences with one another.  Teachers came together to discuss how they used assistive technology to help deepen their Special Educations students’ understanding of mathematics concepts as well as to support their students’ in more effectively communicating their mathematics reasoning.

Leonora Rochwerger from Donview Health and Wellness Academy sharing her lesson on constructing pie charts.
Irena Ivany from CR Marchant PS shares her lesson on symmetry. 

Teachers demonstrated a wide range of lessons and a variety of assistive technology tools. They also shared insights on how the use of these tools supported their students learning of mathematics. 
Terry Lwin from Clinton Street PS shares her lesson on percent concepts using Geometer’s Sketchpad.
Teachers also engaged in a professional dialog on how to continue to use assistive technology tools in their math programs as well as how to problem-solve when technical issues arise. In addition, all teachers that were part of the Learning Community left with a USB with all the math lessons on it so that they could continue their exploration of each other’s lessons on their own.

Overall, it was a great afternoon of learning for all our Special Education teachers involved in this project. Teachers were proud to share their learning and successes (as well as the occasional challenge that was encountered!). Check out our Facebook page to find a recent post showing a photo of all of our project teachers during our "Bring and Brag" sharing session: Facebook

If you are interested in this project or others by our department, be sure to check both DirectLine and our website regularly for updates as to when they become available.
Thank you again to all the amazing teachers who helped make this project the success that it was!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Brown Bear comes to Thorncliffe Park P.S. - IWB co-teaching session DD ISP

Brown Bear Comes to Thorncliffe Park

The primary DD program at Thorncliffe Park P.S. received a Promethean Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) for their classroom through the Group SEA Claim process. Classrooms who received SEA IWBs were supported throughout the school year through Learning Communities and co-plan/co-teach job embedded learning opportunities. Donna MacKinnon, Primary DD Teacher of this program, co-planned and co-taught a lesson with Itinerant Resource Teacher, Renée Keberer, supporting this Learning Community.  

Donna’s students have been actively using their IWB, so a lesson was designed about reading and interacting with the book “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” on the Promethean Board. Using the ActiView document camera, screenshots of the book were taken so that the book could be displayed on the IWB. As the story is interactive in nature (sliding tabs and finding objects), this was recreated using various IWB tools. The students would take turns coming up to the IWB to reveal the various animals hidden on the page as the story was read. After the book was finished, independent follow up activities were created for each student to meet their individual needs and ability levels. Some activities were one-to-one matching, selecting the correct item to match, and matching the correct colour to the item. The students were able to navigate to their specific work page by touching either their name or photograph, which would directly link to their activity. While the students completed their independent task at the IWB, the other students were at different centres around the classroom completing various tasks. 

Teachers who observed the lesson were impressed with the engagement of the students and their proficiency with the Promethean Board.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Using AT strategies to support Science learning at Secord P.S.

Future Scientists at Secord Elementary School!

Rebecca Clark at Secord Elementary School recently started a Science unit on living things.  Students in her class have been learning about parts of a plant, what plants need to grow, as well as planting bean seeds to track the growth cycle of a plant.

Itinerant Resource Teacher, Andrea Statton, met with Ms. Clark to co-plan and co-teach a Science lesson using some of the Promethean peripherals to engage her students and to have students demonstrate their understanding of plants in a variety of ways.

Students were excited to observe the changes in their bean seeds; using the sound recorder in ActivInspire with the ActivSound microphone, students shared how their seeds had changed.
Students then had the opportunity to place their seeds under the ActiView document camera so that everyone in the class could see the changes the student was describing..
This page was set up as a container activity in ActivInspire so that students would receive immediate feedback as they worked. If the students correctly labelled a part of a flower, they heard applause; if they were incorrect, the word bounced back.
Next, students were shown a time lapse YouTube video on growing bean seeds. Students were then asked what they learned from watching the video and Ms. Clark annotated their responses using the pen tool.

(left) Ms. Clark continued the lesson by asking students some Yes/No type questions; students demonstrated their understanding using ActivExpressions. (right) Finally, students documented their observations in their log book.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Using Response Systems "clickers" to have students actively engage in Math lessons - Alvin Curling P.S. & Highcastle P.S.

The Interactive Whiteboard Learning Communities for the 2014-2015 school year have concluded.

At the LC final session teachers received Active Response Systems (Activ Expressions or Activ Votes) which are devices that allow students to share their voice and thinking using remote devices. Also referred to as clickers, the response systems provide support for students who may not want to raise their hand or speak in front of the class when sharing their understanding. The response systems also provide quick and useful feedback to both the student and teacher about student understanding as results are available immediately.

In recent in-class sessions Itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu worked with two LC teachers in two very different ways in using the Active Response systems. At Alvin Curling P.S., Sahaira Khan used the expressions with her students using the Express Poll or adhoc questions. While in Gary Stewart's junior/intermediate Behaviour Intensive Support Program, his class used the responses to answer a self-paced assessment. (Click on the images to see a larger version of the photo.)

Alvin Curling Public School, Sahaira Khan, HSP Primary

Ms. Khan uses the Express Poll's wonder wheel to choose the type of question her Primary Home School Program students will answer. (left) Sahaira Khan has pasted the results of the answer onto the question page. One of her students answered different (see graph bottom right corner of photo). She is able to address and students discuss their responses immediately. (right)

Express poll text response: A student in Ms. Khan's class types out a text answer to a question.
Highcastle Public School, Gary Stewart, J/I Behaviour

Self-paced assessment. Mr. Stewart's students use the images on this page to help them respond to the set of questions given to them. They are given: text, multiple choice, true or false, sort in order and confidence questions.

Using the Active Expressions by using the self-paced assessment feature, a teacher can "pre-program" a number of questions on the exact same page. Mr. Stewart built 12 questions on the same Polyhedra page. Student then receive the questions on their devices. Students can answer the questions at their own pace.
Self-paced assessment: The student in Mr. Stewart's class answers a question that appears on the ActivExpression device. She also has a copy of the assessment in paper to refer or do rough work on prior to sending her final response.

(left) The document view of a self-paced assessment. A number of questions are "pre-programmed" onto a flipchart page. The questions will appear on the student's device one at a time. (right) The document view. A teacher can print out the questions so student have a hard copy of the questions along with the questions appearing on the device.

Special Education teachers who received a SEA IWB attended four sessions at our training centres at Terraview Learning Centre (East) and Burnhamthorpe Adult Learning Centre (West) throughout the year. As part of the year-long support the six SEA itinerant teacher also provide job embedded professional learning sessions in the model of co-planning and co-teaching. The LC teachers look to try different ways to engage and teach their students by embedding assistive technology strategies and tools into their lessons.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Using Geometer's Sketchpad & its dynamic manipulatives as assistive technology - Clinton P.S. spotlight

Terry Lwin, who teaches a Junior Gifted class at Clinton P.S. wanted to challenge her students using Geometer's Sketchpad. And as part of the "I have Assistive Technology in My Classroom, How do I use it for Math?" Ms Lwin and itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu explored and adapted a GSP Math activity that would allow for individual student creativeness within strict and prescribed guidelines of how artists draw a face.

The result was a Math and Art lesson which allowed for students to learn new functions and tools of GSP as well as be able to demonstrate their understanding of percentage on both the Promethean Interactive Whiteboard and individual computer.

Ms. Lwin, Junior Gifted ISP teacher, leads the class discussion to examine whether a students' drawing met the artist specifications listed. An example, "The distance from the hairline to the eyebrows is one-third the length of the face."

For the action part of the lesson, students use the various GSP tools - line segment, marker tool, point and compass tools to create a face design. A set of instructions listing how each part of a face relates to the entire face is given to them. They use the "sticky percent ruler" tool to judge the accurateness of their digital drawings to check if they met the design specifications to create their faces. Ms Lwin's students learn and explore percentage in a linear form for the first time. They also compared different kinds of percentage rulers and judged which tool was the most appropriate to use.

To extend her students' understanding of mathematical concepts and a simple transformational feature of Geometer's Sketchpad, Ms Lwin challenged her class to create half a face based on the same set of design specifications eg. "The distance from the chin to the bottom of the nose is  25% of the length of the face." Students then learned how to create and assign a mirror line in GSP and then reflect the one half of their face creation in order to make a symmetrical whole drawing.

This student's sketch highlights the dynamic nature of Geometer's Sketchpad. Once a mirror line is selected and an image is reflected, a student can move one half as far away or close to the line of reflection and the program maintains the relationship. The dynamic nature of GSP allows for students to explore many different kinds mathematical concepts without having to construct and reconstruct examples in a time consuming manner. 
Ms Lwin says her students enjoyed extending their knowledge of GSP. She particularly liked how easily students were able to create and explore their drawings in relation to percentage of a whole using the linear "sticky percentage ruler". Each students' drawing was unique yet still were able to compare the artist proportions if they met the set of mathematical requirements they were given.

AT to support communication and comprehension in Math 

Assistive technology team members Valia Reinsalu and Etienne Mercieca, who are itinerant teachers, present at the Ontario Association for Mathematics Educators (OAME) conference at Humber College on May 8 as part of the annual three-day Spring Conference.  Ms Reinsalu and Mr Mercieca will share strategies and tools for differentiated using the interactive whiteboard and its peripherals. They will also present ways that the Ministry Licensed software Geometer's Sketchpad (GSP) used in the above lesson, can be used to support all kinds of learners as assistive technology.

Building Mathematical Mindsets is the theme of this year's OAME conference. Some information about the conference can be found at:

Monday, 4 May 2015

OneNote and HP PageLift app help Earl Grey P.S. students organize and learn

Students in Ms. Jo Miller's HSP class are part of this year's phase 2 OneNote project.After only a few sessions of using their new tablets and Microsoft OneNote software, Ms Miller's class already use their devices in a variety of subject areas including English as well as their integrated Science class.

Ms Miller's students used HP PageLift to capture a Global Warming film viewing log (left) and teacher's notes (right) to help support their Science program.

The HP PageLift app allows students to digitize any document or resource like an Interactive Whiteboard, chart paper, poster, handout or textbook page for use in OneNote so they can type, draw and fill out information. 

Here one of Ms Miller's student demonstrates how easy it is to use the HP PageLift app.

Step 1 Take the photo

The student has a non-fiction book ready to be digitized. He opens the HP PageLift app on his device and takes a photo.

Step 2  Crop the photo

In the HP PageLift app the photo is cropped and then sent to OneNote.

Step 3 Place the image onto the correct section on OneNote.

The student is asked to select the section of his OneNote notebook where the image is captured.
Step 4 Ready to highlight, annotate the digitized document.

The student can use a stylus, touch screen, mouse and keyboard while in OneNote.
Also check one our Tech & Special Ed YouTube channel videos like the one we have on HP PageLift to see other strategies and tools we use in OneNote.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Learning digital citizenship through email communication using the IWB at Don Mills CI - Low Incidence spotlight

Emailing at Don Mills CI
Sylvia Cascone, Low Incidence Teacher at Don Mills C.I. co-planned/taught with Itinerant Resource Teacher with Assistive Technology, Renée Keberer, as part of the SEA Group Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) Learning Community. As her students have been experimenting with emails, a lesson was created to show students how to use a proper email format when sending messages, along with looking at email tools and functions, email safety, and good choice and bad choices when emailing.

First, students were shown a variety of sample emails. After listening to them read aloud using the record sound option in ActivInspire, they indicated whether or not the email had the proper format and if it was appropriate. Corrections were made to the emails when inappropriate items were found, such as missing elements, or inappropriate language.

Sample e-mail with proper format and language.
Next, students where shown how to navigate their email and what the various functions were, such as inbox, compose, etc., along with how to reply to incoming emails.
Some of the tools and functions discussed with students.
The students then generated a list of safety rules around sending emails and opening emails.

Afterwards, the students were presented with a series of email scenarios. Using the ActiVote Response Systems, they answered questions about good and bad email choices.

Scenario 1: Opening an email from an unknown person.

Students listened to the scenario, viewed the inbox and then voted on whether or not they should open this email. (right) Results of vote, followed by class discussion.

Scenario 3: An inappropriate email request.
Students listened to the scenario, viewed the email and then voted on which response would be best. (right) Results of vote, followed by class discussion.

As a culminating task, students were given the assignment of writing an email to a classmate that is moving away.