1. If you were to give a one day workshop to special education teachers (from mild to severe) with computers available for each teacher, what would you think to be the essentials to cover? This would be to help them understand how to use technology to support student learning and needs. (If it were you or the staff you work with, what would you want to know or want them to know?)

2. If you had 1 1/2 hours to expose general ed teachers to supporting the SpEd student in their classroom, in regards to technology, (with or without computers available during the workshop itself) what would you want them to walk away with?

Here’s what I’d do…
1. Emphasize hands-on practice with basic tools that ideally are readily available to teachers back in their classrooms. “Highlight” or demonstrate some more intense, less generic tools so they know these things exist. E.g. pretty much every resource room ought to have a talking word processor, so have them try some curriculum activities with that, but an onscreen keyboard is typically more of a specialized tool which you could show.

Low-tech solutions like the ones in the LOTTIE kits from www.onionmountaintech.com (Also, there are some fabulous articles to download from the assistive technology link at onion mountain — an AT continuum, comparison of text readers vs. audio books, etc.)

Show how computer-based tools are great for organizing information (words, pictures, etc.) that you need to manipulate, re-order, or share with others (via print, presenter/projectors &/or web).

http://cbss.uoregon.edu has computer-based study strategies that are particularly helpful for students with learning disabilities.

Show some activities that enable kids with disabilities to be leaders or partners with general ed kids. Digital photography for photo essays, or curriculum-based slide shows which a kid with a single switch can use to introduce a new unit to the whole class.

2. Take some time to demonstrate that using tools like word processors, etc. is not “cheating” as many general ed teachers think, that kids can learn to use spell checkers, etc. in responsible ways that enhance learning, that AT can be a scaffold that you later remove when it’s no longer needed, or it can be an ongoing support.

If you can, show work samples comparing pencil & paper work vs. an outline made in Inspiration, a student writing with a talking word processor or an AlphaSmart, a slide show that combines drawings, photos, voice & text or a cooperative group activity in which all students could participate. Stress that it’s not the tools alone, but the good teaching & support that go with those tools, e.g. helpful organizing tools, checklists & rubrics that help kids stay on task, know the expectations, etc.

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