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Creative Teaching Strategies in the Special Needs Classrooms


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I was browsing through YouTube last evening, searching for videos to show my students about new and emerging technology.  I was quickly side- tracked by looking to see if there were any good videos made by teachers about how they use technology in their special education classroom.  I was quite surprised to see the number of results , in-depth explanations, about variety of assistive technologies being used, and how many teachers are going to YouTube to share their creative teaching strategies.  Below is a synopsis of links to great videos with great ideas!

Great Videos!

Lace Cook, a vocational program teacher from Campbell Collegiate, posted a video on YouTube about how she uses technology in her special education classroom with students who are nonverbal or have physical and cognitive limitations.  She believes that technology helps the students to participate in class.  She demonstrates the ways that the students had to complete class assignments before and after the implementation of the new technology.  Students use laptops for communication and to magnify text and iPods with audio books for students to use during silent reading time.  It is very apparent from the videos that the students are far more engaged in learning when using the technology!

Lance Huebner, a Special Services Teacher from South Valley Junior High, posted a presentation on YouTube about Technology and Special Education.  His presentation includes information about how he uses Blogs, Blackboard, Interwrite Pads, MP3 Players, Audacity, United Streaming, Extranormal, and Photo Story 3 to engage his special needs students in learning.

A student from Towson University taking a Special Education Courses created a video about Assistive Technology.  It includes a definition of assistive technology and provides examples, definitions, and photos of different technology tools.

Kathy is a Special Education Teacher at the Holland School.  In her video she shows different assistive technology devices in her classroom.  She demonstrates and explains the different technology she and her students use including TextSpeak, Sign Language Videos, Partner 4 (for making choices), 7 Level Communicator (interchangeable choices for retelling for stories), step-by-step communicator (helps children participate in class), and switches.

Another interesting view I found was from the news channel WTNH who posted a video on YouTube with a special news segment on assistive technologies that make life more independent for individuals with disabilities.

There are many more great special education videos on YouTube on a variety of topics including assistive technology.  If you find any other great videos to share, feel free to leave on comment on this post!

Article by Laura Ketcham

Free Teacher Resources | Special Education by MangoMon

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Hello Moto: Demystifying Assistive Technology

According to the United States government website on assistive technology, “It has been estimated that 54 million people or 20.6 percent of all Americans have some level of disability.”[1] Assistive technology is traditionally defined as any item created or customized to aid in the independent functioning of an individual with disabilities.[2] I believe that this definition is slightly limited in that assistive technology often benefits any user regardless of ability. As a special education teacher for over five years, I have witnessed that instruction provided for students with disabilities is, in my opinion, true quality instruction. Although many general education students do not require that material be presented using a multisensory approach in order to access the curriculum, I can not help to reflect that many of our students would possibly perform better and possibly retain vital information if they were taught in this fashion. Thanks to Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences[3] we have opened our minds to the concept that there are many different learning styles and preferences; and, therefore, it would stand to reason that a variety of tools to accommodate these differences, such as education specific assistive technology devices, can be used for everyone’s benefit.

Many educators shy away from incorporating assistive technology in their classrooms due to an assumption that all assistance must be high tech. Assistive technology can be as low tech as creating a “focus strip” for your learning disabled reader by using colored cellophane paper to focus on one line at a time; using a cane to walk, utilizing an adapted shower or restroom when experiencing a physical impairment or debilitating illness, or simply wearing eyeglasses for limited vision. There are higher technology devices such as text-to-speech computer programs, Braille embossers, and motorized wheelchairs, which are more expensive but integral to the lives of individuals with moderate to severe disabilities.

There are several assistive technology devices that we see everyday which have been highly marketed for the “abled” consumer. Touch screen computers and Bluetooth devices are examples of high tech assistive technology that add convenience and enrich the lives of individuals with and without disabilities. We often overlook the tools necessary to lead productive lives until we need them ourselves or they are needed by those we love. I implore you to explore the many tools at your disposal; knowledge is power and the more resources we have as instructors the better we can empower our students to lead more independent lives. For a resource list of assistive technology devices, please visit the University of Iowa’s website at http://www.uiowa.edu/infotech/ATDevice.htm.

Article by Tai Collins

Photo by Digitaljournal


[1] http://standards.gov/standards_gov/assistiveTechnology.cfm

[2] “Assistive technology (AT) can be defined as any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.” (29 U.S.C. Sec 2202(2)).

[3] Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.

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