Promising Practice: Tech Integration in Special Ed

I would like to share a few tidbits of my work with you, in the hopes that you may contribute your ideas or try some of these approaches out for yourself. The first tidbit is titled, Promising Practice: Integrating Technology into the ACCESS Classroom. This is a project that I conducted over the course of the 2008-2009 school year, in collaboration with a special education teacher who teaches high school students with mild to severe cognitive and physical disabilities. The project outlines what we did, as well as teacher and student reflections, examples, SMART Notebook files for sharing, and images of the process.

The highlights of this project are:

  • Integration of a variety of software that general-stream high school students use, including SMART Notebook on the SMART Board, Desire2Learn distributed course management system, Microsoft Photo Story, Flickr, Google Images, YouTube, and Kurzweil
  • Use of 1-1 student laptops at the school 1-3 days per week
  • Smooth integration of technology as logical tools to support learning and conduct research into age-approriate curricular themes that stress literacy skills
  • Integration of all subject areas using inquiry into the curricular themes
  • Collaboration between special education students and general-stream students, which resulted in valuable and meaningful relationships and growth for everyone involved

I encourage you to take a look at my project and give me some feedback, or try something out and let me know how it went. And if you would like to read more about my technology integration projects, feel free to visit this link, where all of the projects listed are mine, except for the last one.

(Image: Student at the SMART Board, by ACCESS. 2009. Collected during the Promising Practice: Integrating Technology into the ACCESS Classroom)

Rare Find: Positive and Practical Look at 21st C Education

If you have ever searched for YouTube videos using terms like  “21st century learner”, you would have found hundreds of matches that emphasize all the ways in which students are being let down by educators. They show students who are disengaged, simply because they aren’t watching YouTube videos, recording podcasts,  social networking, or gaming.

These videos imply that using any kind of technology to do anything is the answer to learning for all students. They also reflect a teacher-centric way of looking at education where the blame is on the teacher or school system for having the ‘wrong’ approach. These types of videos spend too much time pointing out the negatives, and leave out practical and powerful ways in which technology can help people (both teachers and students) learn.

I was lucky enough to stumble upon this incredibly insightful video, “The Networked Student,” by wdrexler. Instead of offering generalized and stereotypical ideas, it shows practical ways in which 21st century people can learn by using technology to share, consume, analyze, organize, synthesize, and connect ideas, knowledge, opinions, and understandings. And what’s more–it shows the role of the teacher in the learning process as the guide, facilitator, and mentor to students.

The major points are:

  • Students develop their own learning network by using tools like: rss readers, social bookmarks, blogs, skype, and other tools. BUT it’s not about the tools–the magic is in how they use them to both share and consume.
  • Teachers help students build their learning networks, and guide them in problem-solving, asking effective questions, organizing, synthesizing, and analyzing resources and information, in order to draw their own conclusions.

What do you think about such videos or their critical counterparts? Do you have suggestions for other videos like this one?

Pudding on a Warm Welcome!

welcome puddingThanks for dropping by! I am embarking on a new way to share tastey treats, tips, and tricks along my journey as an educational technology leader in a large Canadian high school.

This blog is for K-12 educators who are passionate about teaching real-world skills to real-world students. It is for those who understand that learning and navigating through our technological landscape is like wading through pudding–you can’t know it all, but it sure is sweet.

(Image: A pudding of chez copain, by Opencage.info, available under a Creative Commons Attirubtion-ShareAlike license.)