31 January 2012

High Five! EQAO support through the TDSB's Special Education and AT team

EQAO and Assistive Technology Pilot Project
Provided through Special Education and the Assistive Technology Team

Classrooms participating in the EQAO and Assistive Technology Pilot Project have completed the first set of in-class training sessions.  Students and their teachers have worked alongside trainers to learn how to use the functions of Read and Write Gold as an accommodation for EQAO provincial testing.

High Five Strategy
Students have responded positively to the sessions and in particular to the use of the High Five Strategy.  The High Five Strategy helps them determine which assistive technology tools to use when answering specific types of questions.  Each session ends with the chance to “High Five” the trainer for a job well done.

Close-up High Five strategy: Multiple choice.

26 January 2012

Family Literacy Day with an AT focus at Chalkfarm P.S.

Family Literacy Day at Chalkfarm Celebrated using Read and Write Gold Assistive Technology
Family Literacy Day kick-off
Today (Thursday Jan. 26), while the entire school was participating in a Drop Everything and Read (DEAR), Ms. Freedman’s students at Chalkfarm P.S. were also reading.  But this class participated in DEAR with the help of Read and Write Gold assistive technology.
The students were especially keen to read articles on websites such as National Geographic for Kids and Sports Illustrated for Kids  - above their independent reading level, but at their listening comprehension level. Some of the text was already in digital form , so students independently used the Reading Tools found in Read and Write Gold.  When they encountered text that would not allow them to read, they used the Screen Shot reader.

Linking the AT Itinerant referral to Family Literacy Day In the fall of 2011, Ms. Freedman of Chalkfarm P.S. had requested to work with an Assistive Technology Itinerant Teacher to embed the use of Read and Write Gold in her lessons. She felt that her ISP class would benefit from greater use of Assistive Technology throughout the day.

Ms. Freedman and the Itinerant teacher co-planned and then later co-taught some lessons that involved using Read and Write initially to support the students' writing. After, they reflected on the first lesson by using a graphic organizer to frame the discussions-- about what worked well, what needed improvement and what steps should be taken next. 
“ The students are excited about Read and Write Gold, and we want to thank you for giving us opportunities that we never would have had," Freedman said, in her reflections on the process. "We love the hamburger graphic organizer because as a class, we can reflect on the things that we did well and the things that we still need to work on.”

19 January 2012

SEA IWB Learning Communities response system training

The first set of Response System ("clickers") professional development sessions are underway for SEA Interactive Whiteboard teachers. Elligible SEA IWB LC teachers come to Terraview Learning Centre (TLC) in the east and Burnhamthorpe C.I. (BCI) in the west to take part in these additional sessions which provide hardware and PD on how to use the interactive hand-held communication devices.

Active Learning Environment
The Response Systems can be used as a means to promote whole class participation, as students can answer questions posed by the teacher in an anonymous way. Teachers can pre-create the response question set or poll student interaction, response and opinion "on-the-fly" by inserting quick questions into the IWB document.

More than "Ask the audience" of Who wants to be a Millionaire function
 As part of a teacher's lesson, the classroom response systems provide active engagement and participation (encourage reluctant participants, ensure every student has a voice) during lessons, collaboration and discussion within the class, as well as check for student understanding instantly, are just a few reasons why "clickers" are found to be a helpful tool. Response system use can be built into any part of learning.

Ongoing assessment and data collection
During the professional development session, LC teachers are guided to create individualized teacher files and student classes. The built-in feature allows each students progress to be tracked and displayed. The kinds of questions developed and posed by teachers when using the response systems can be used for diagnostic, formative and summative assessment. Classroom and individual student data can be isolate, which provides a teacher invaluable information that is easily communicated to both the teacher and student regarding an understanding (or misunderstanding) of curricular concepts.

13 January 2012

SEA IWB Learning Community session 2 - Document Camera, Slate and Media (wrap-up)

SEA Interactive Whiteboard Learning Communities - Session 2

Our second set of SEA IWB Learning Community Sessions took place in December.  The focus was on integrating the Ladibug document camera and slate into teaching.Teachers were excited about the possible uses of the Ladibug which included live demonstrations of cooking activities, the ability to display non-fiction text, annotate key ideas and features and capture the learning digitally as well as being able to document mathematical problem solving through video.  Using the Ladibug enables teachers to provide real life concrete examples to students, engage students in inquiry based learning and to make abstract concepts more concrete, to name a few benefits. Click the player (below) to hear the text read to you.

Teachers of Low Incidence classrooms modeled the sequence to create a gingerbread man.

Teachers of Gifted classrooms displayed thought provoking photographs from a text to build inferencing skills and confirm predictions using visual notetaking.