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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

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iPods & iPads are Innovative Tech Tools for Special Education

The iPod Touch and iPad, are great innovative technology tools for educators and students to use in the classroom.  There are many applications and features of these tools that may potentially increase learning outcomes and motivation for learning in the classroom.  While not all schools or students may have access to these tech tools, it is time to add these innovative devices as a wish-list request for next school year!

Functional Skills System for the iPod Touch

The Conover Company has a great package for special education classrooms that includes a classroom set of iPod Touches pre-loaded with age-appropriate videos setup into a functional skills system.  This system allows the students to learn functional skills to gain more independence in society.  The videos include an instructional phase, review phase, and generalization phase for life, literacy, math, social, and work skills. Some of the topics for the videos are learning about money, safety signs, tools for work, manners, social skills, describing words, clothing, entertainment, transportation, restaurants, shopping, labels, hygiene, grooming, and groceries.

The advantage of the iPod system is that the students can travel with the functional skills system to assist them in their day-to-day lives.  The touch screen capability of the iPod allows access to this system for students who may have limited hand movement or motion.  There is also a feature to modify the iPod into a single switch compatibility mode.  The videos include high-quality audio which used in conjunction with the vision impaired features of the iPod, allows access for students with low vision to utilize the functional skills program.  Closed-captioning is also available for the videos for students with hearing impairments.  This system can also be used on the computer instead of using iPod, but it would limit the use of the program outside of the classroom.  Another addition to the program is that there are print exercises that accompany this software for students to learn the functional skills in the classroom without the technology.

Videos of Special Education Students using iPods in the Classroom

Click Here to view a great video about how iPods can be used by teachers, students, and parents in the special education classroom.    In this video the teacher and sign language interpreter use the iPod as a communication device between the teacher, student, and parents.  The teachers also created videos of vocabulary in sign language and student accomplishments.  The parents can then see what the students are learning in class and become more involved at home.  The voice memo feature of the iPod is used to send information back and forth from families to teachers.  They have expanded the roll of the iPod in the classroom by video taping the stories that are being covered in class including audio, sign language, and photos from the books.  The stories can then be read at home to increase reading comprehension.

This video shows hearing impaired students utilizing the iPad for science education.  The teacher has the students completely engaged in their lesson combing the use of the iPad with sign language.  The video shows that the iPad is an innovative tool where the students can interact with each other in conjunction with their online textbook.  The features of the iPad that the students felt were helpful include the flip the screen, easy ability to scroll, enlarge images, search the net, and load their textbook.

Article by Laura Ketcham

Photo by FHKE

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New Drivers, New Learners – Alternative for Special Education

Preparing for a driver’s test can be somewhat nerve wrecking. For students with special needs, who have different ways of learning, sometimes a different approach to preparing for the test is needed.

Flashcards and graphics of road signs and symbols can greatly help prepare students for the test. Since a lot of students are visual learners, instructional videos with real life situations can aide them in preparing for the test.

The California DMV has released a YouTube Channel with a series of 54 short clips helping students prepare for their driving test and being on the road for the first time. For students who learn visually, these videos are a great alternative to texts or long documents on computer screens.

The video clips offer real life examples and situations that can happen when taking a driver’s test or preparing for one. They present the top ten common mistakes that a lot of first time drivers do when they are starting out, including unsafe lane changes, failure to yield, and failure to stop.

The videos include interviews with real driving examiners about their experiences with taking out first time drivers. They give examples of these mistakes that so many students make and then details on what you should do to correct that mistake.

These short videos are a great refresher for students who want to see real people in real situations. The comments from other YouTube members can also offer advice or personal experiences in addition to the videos.

Since YouTube is watched by millions of people a day, the California DMV realized a great way to get this safety information out there would be to post it on YouTube. For those students who need visual aides to help them retain information, this is a great resource.

Photo by redja

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iCan. Using iPods for Special Needs Students

iPods. We see students using them everywhere. On the bus. In the home. At the park. Are we ready to see them in the classroom?

The Special School District of Saint Louis County has taken that well-known device and integrated it into the classroom. Since students are already using iPods so much throughout the day, they wanted to offer a more positive and educational use for the device in the classroom.

Vicki Nelson, a special education teacher, is a strong advocate of using technology with students with special needs. Starting with iPods, she sent home training information for the communication devices. She explained how parents can access the iPod and use it for building vocabulary skills and reading comprehension.

By adding video and audio lessons onto the iPods for the students and parents to be able to access at home, she noticed her students were starting to recognize material she hadn’t yet taught in the classroom. She then started using the iPods with children who had to use sign language. She had another teacher interpret stories using the iPod as a video portfolio. They were able to shoot video of themselves and the students performing a specific skill and then send it home to the parents.

The iPods were also serving as a replacement for written communication logs between staff and parents. By recording a simple voice memo, teachers can quickly record messages about each student. These messages can then be downloaded from iPod and saved for future references.

Vicki Nelson noticed that her own students had improved skills and vocabulary knowledge. They had a better ability to comprehend stories, too. Because the students were able to take these videos or audio clips home, they were becoming more familiar with the terms they were using everyday. The students were engaged and involved while using this technology. Parents loved the iPods because they were using compatible signs and could use extra reinforcement at home.

This is just another example of integrating technology into the classroom to help students with special needs. With technology constantly updating, it is important that students of all needs are being involved.

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IEP iPhone App…another item off your list – Special Needs Tool

Sometimes parents and educators working with special needs students find that there is a lack of resources. The Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center has recently launched a free application for the iPhone, the IEP Checklist, which is the first special education related application.

The IEP checklist gives users basic IEP laws with the ability to create individual profiles for students. The Individualized Education Program, known as an IEP, is mandated by The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which ensures services to children with disabilities. In the United States, an IEP is required by public schools for each student with a disability.

Each IEP is designed to meet the individualized needs of one child. It should describe how the student learns and what teachers and educators can do to help them learn more efficiently.

The iPhone application allows you to create a list in either English or Spanish. It then shows 13 main categories directly related to the IEP, including IEP members, student placement transition plan and more. There are also sub categories. For example, under current performance, you see options like recent evaluations and strengths/needs, which provide you with more information to review.

A details button provides additional information on federal regulations as well as a brief description. You can even add notes about particular students under each category. Once noted, categories are highlighted for easy markings during IEP meetings.

The IEP Checklist application is a tool aimed at helping parents and teachers as they are developing an IEP. The checklist provided gives them items to consider, many which are required by most special education regulations. It also helps parents of students with special needs be more informed about IEP information.

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