30 May 2012

TDSB AT Team updates for June

A picture shows some powerful words

Here is a wordle created from our Assistive Technology blog. Wordle can use internet web sites as feeds or you can input your own vocabulary. Key words and ideas become larger as they are repeated in the text. It's a fast way to get to the main idea.

AT on tour with the Promethean bus

Next week,  the Special Education Assistive Technology Team hosts six Informational Sessions aboard the Promethean Bus to provide information about the technology and support available for the SEA IWB Classrooms for 2012-13.

Schools already determined as receiving SEA IWB systems are invited to attend one of  these sessions to be held on June 5 and 6. The session will be hosted on the bus and provide either a school administrator or designate teacher - the teacher receiving the group claim IWB for the upcoming year. On the bus, participants will be given information about the Promethean board system they will be receiving as well as information about the Learning Community Sessions that teachers will be expected to attend next year. 

Due to space limitations, a maximum of 2 people from each school are able to attend.
Please note coverage is not provided for the sessions. If your school/classroom is eligible see Key to Learn to register.

Key to Learning training sessions for the summer

The AT team provides sessions for parents with SEA claim students as well as staff-focussed IWB and Read and Write Gold sessions over the summer break - in early July and late August. TDSB staff can register by visiting the Key to Learn website.

Parents of students with S.E.A. claims: For more information about times and locations of AT sessions use your QR code reader and scan the image on the left for the summer flyer or visit: Parent Sessions.

24 May 2012

Boys Project phase two update: BoyzNLiteracy


The second phase of the Boys’ Literacy Project is currently taking place in 5 different ISP classrooms in 4 different schools.  Phase Two continues to focus on the goals of increasing student engagement and developing learning skills related to literacy.  In addition, another goal was established, to improve students’ planning and organization

Each teacher, in collaboration with the AT Team, created “A Mission” using Smart Ideas software to guide students through the inquiry process focusing on a specific topic and media format for the final product.  Students use iPods, the IWB, Smart Ideas and Read and Write Gold throughout their mission.

Session One

In Session One at Queen Victoria P.S., students were introduced to their inquiry question “How might gender have mattered for knights in medieval times?”.  Students brainstormed what they knew about knights and what they needed to know to answer their inquiry question.  Students worked collaboratively to record their ideas using the portable keyboard, view ideas on the IWB and use SMART Ideas to organize their information.

Questions about knights using SMART Ideas.

Students then, used the iPods to explore how knights dressed using the app “Make A Knight”.  Throughout the mission, students gathered information from a variety of sources: apps, video, images, websites and books. 

Assistive Technology Professional Development and training year-round
Training sessions continue to be offered once this 2011-2012 school year comes to a close. Parents of students with S.E.A. claims are invited to sign-up for training sessions in the West (Burnhamthorpe C.I.)
or East (Terraview L.C.) locations in the month of August.
For more information and to find the contact e-mail please download the
brochure here: Parent sessions.

TDSB staff new to using the Interactive Whiteboard in September also have opportunities for training during the summer. The A.T. team offers sessions both in early July and late August at both the East and West training centres.

For more information click on: Interactive Whiteboard Training or use your QR code reader to get the brochure sent out on Direct Line to TDSB staff about how to find sessions on Key to Learn.

16 May 2012

Getting Excited About Math - Learning Communities update

Getting Excited About Math 
For the third SEA Learning Community (LC) session, the focus was on the Interactive White Board (IWB) and the Mathematics curriculum. Our LC teachers and SEA department were fortunate to have had the opportunity to partner with the Math Department, along with members from the DD and ASD Teams. LC teachers of Home School Program (HSP), Learning Disability (LD), Gifted, Behaviour and Mild Intellectual Disability (MID) classes focused on the three-part math lesson. The teachers of the Developmentally Delayed (DD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) classes concentrated on Functional Numeracy and Language-Based Strategies/Visual Support for Problem Solving.

An Itinerant Teacher with the SEA Assistive Technology Department and Sue Macvicar-Stewart, Low Incidence Consultant, partnered up to create a math model that highlighted the developmental stages of functional numeracy, skills which students are required to learn before computational numeracy skills can be taught. Interactive sample lessons and activities were demonstrated to show how various skills could be taught and practiced, all through the eyes of their students. The LC teachers were also given time to create their own activities to use with their students. As a follow up, the LC teachers had the chance to host or observe a math lesson co-planned/taught with Sue and the Itinerant teacher. The students learned matching and counting with farm animals.

An IWB activity highlighting the importance of Functional Math during a
DD Math Learning Community.
Using the IWB in the classroom to develop
numeracy skills with visual supports.

A similar partnership was formed with Monica Rivera, Speech and Language Pathologist with the ASD team. This LC focused on math language/vocabulary and using real-life examples to help students better understand abstract concepts and solve problems. Various activities were demonstrated that showed the use of comparative words with visual supports to help address difficulties with math vocabulary. Similarly, lots of suggestions were presented to show how visuals could be used to support problem solving. The LC teachers used the remaining session time looking through various resources and designing math lessons for their students. Some sample pages are below.
Using the IWB to show comparative words and visual supports for math

Which animal is bigger than or
smaller than...

How likely is a new student to a school...

On behalf of the SEA team, we would like to thank the various departments for their partnerships, along with all of the LC participants for embarking on this wonderful journey of learning and exploration.

11 May 2012

EQAO pilot update - Math and Problem Solving session

E.Q.A.O. Pilot Session 3 Update
The Assistive Technology team's third and final session of the E.Q.A.O. pilot is underway. Teachers and their group of grade 3, grade 6 (or groups of students from combination of grade 3 and 6), from 24 schools across the T.D.S.B. are taking part.

On Wednesday May 2, students at Weston Memorial Junior Public School participated in Session Three of the E.Q.A.O. Pilot. The participating teachers shared the following reflections about this project: 
Miss Suppa: "This E.Q.A.O. pilot project has helped create a positive learning experience and attitude towards the often challenging test.”
Ms. DiNatale: "Using assistive tech...it's like evening out the playing field...for these kids it's sometimes like running a race without the running shoes that everyone else has...the technology is the running shoes for them..."

During each half-day session, students and their teachers work with the Read and Write Gold trainer learning how to use the features of the software along with a word processing program (Microsoft Word). Students develop strategies to help them to demonstrate their thinking by responding to question types such as: multiple choice, short answer, and problem solving as well as creative writing.

Math word problems and the Problem-Solving Model
Session three's focus is on using text-to-speech feature of Read and Write Gold to understand math word problems and then applying a four-step problem solving model to attack the problem.
One of the problems Weston Memorial students explored solving was a Data Management problem involving a Canada's Wonderland trip. The problem described a group of students going to Wonderland together who were split up to participate in three separate activities. Information about the total number of students on the trip was given and the numbers who went on two rides - the Behemoth and the Ghoster Coaster. The data for the two groups was also shown on a graph. The challenge was to figure out the missing data - the data for the third group, who went to the water park.

Step 1 - Understand the Problem
Students who typically face reading challenges are better able to understand the math word problem with the support of assistive technology.  They read and reread the math problem as often as they need to using the Read and Write Gold text-to-speech tool:

Students in the project have learned how to personalize their toolbars by using the General Options in Read and Write Gold to enlarge the size of the icons and choose the tools they need for a given activity. They also are able to adjust the Speech Options so that the text is read to them at a pace they select.

Miss Bell shows students how to set up Read and Write Gold 10
Students select the text of the word problem that they want read to them and press the "Speak text" (green play button) to hear it read aloud. They use Read and Write Gold to listen to the problem several times, each time adding key information to a KWC chart, until they feel that they understand all components of the problem. (K=What do I know?, W=What do I want to know? C=Conditions)
Step 2 - Make a Plan
Students are guided to think about what steps they would take to solve the problem.
Step 3 - Carry out the Plan
Students are asked to carry out their strategy. e.g. Draw pictures. Use manipulatives.
Step 4 - Look back at the Solution
Students were asked to reflect on their solution and whether it makes sense.

7 May 2012

AT team add to resources of Learn Now BC MoodleMeets

On April 23, Angela Scarano-Iuorio and Valia Reinsalu represented the AT Team as Learn Now B.C. webinar presenters. The one-hour webinar focused on sharing strategies and tools of SMART Boards with an assistive technology focus. Strategies in page and lesson design that are essential to many students, along with example activities to have students use the Interactive Whiteboard as a learning centre, were shared in the areas of: Language, Social Skills, Executive Functioning, and Mathematics. The SMART Board MoodleMeets is one of Learn Now B.C's virtual professional development provided by the Community of Expertise in Educational Technology (CEET). The SMART Boards CEET MEET, was moderated by B.C. educator Sue Hellman. In setting up the MoodleMeet, one of Hellman's goals was to provide examples to help educators see the SMARTBoard and software not only as teacher tools but as student learning tools. Over 100 registrants from across the globe accessed the resources.

 The live Special Education and the interactive whiteboard presentation was held on April 23.  As part of the moderated resource page, the archived webinar can be found at:http://www.scoop.it/t/ceet-moodle-meet-resources-apr-2012-smartboards-notebook-software. The direct link to the webinar can be found at: http://bit.ly/I2P35o.

Moodle Meets are one week online courses, free of charge. Presenters and participants share resources, technological skills and teaching pedagogy to support teaching and learning both in the classroom and on-line. CEET has provided 15 different Moodle Meets topics of what they call, “Professional Learning Potlucks” throughout the school year. The MoodleMeets are achieved, so participants can access the resources and replay the webinars, after the official week-long Meet. The final two sessions run this month. http://learnnowbc.ca/educators/MoodleMeets/default.aspx

1 May 2012

AT training: Communication Boards using RWG

Key to Learn AT training session spotlight

The AT team creates and offers a number of training sessions for TDSB staff in a variety of software throughout the year. One of the latest courses being offered on Key to Learn is: Create Communication boards using Read and Write Gold 10. This hands-on session focuses on using the Picture Dictionary tool of Read and Write Gold in collaboration with Microsoft Word 10.

There are a wide range of symbols found in the Picture Dictionary - in colour and black and white - that can be used to create communication books, boards and other educational symbol materials. During the two-hour session participants will create their own picture symbol board pages - using RWG clip art as well as outside picture sources.

(Left and right images) examples of exercises
that are part of the two-hour hands-on session.

Create Communication boards using Read and Write Gold 10
One participant's feedback noted that the flexibility of the tables and symbols makes it easy to create reminders to students as well as letters and notices to parents. Another comment was that teachers can use their own digital camera to take pictures of students and locations for use in creating customised schedules or check lists.

Staff of TDSB can sign-up on Key to Learn at: K2L for this course. Also new this term are two Promethean / ActivInspire training courses (Beginner as well as Next Steps). The AT team continues to offer software course training for SMART Notebook software,  Clicker 5, Read and Write Gold, and Boardmaker 6.

Math & Special Education partnership

Here are a few pictures of LC teachers "living" through a three-part lesson during the Learning Community sessions at Burnhamthorpe Adult Learning Centre.

(Left) Using the document camera to share use of manipulatives during Minds On. Teachers can share and annotate on images of student work that have been projected and embedded into interactive whiteboard files for whole group learning.

(Right) Using the Interactive Whiteboard as a learning centre for students. Students can have a collaborative learning space, access to a number of tools including unlimited amounts of virtual manipulatives during eg. Minds On.