27 June 2012

Boys Project Phase 2 Update: Glogster project highlights

Boys’ Literacy Project Spring 2012

“The Mission is Complete”

The five classrooms that participated in this phase of the Boys’ Literacy Project completed their missions in June. The students incorporated Smart Ideas, Read and Write Gold, media research and iPod technology to produce a variety of projects. Each classroom had their own focus for their mission and final products included book trailers, hero reflections, medieval times research and narratives.

Click on the link below to view a glog highlighting student feedback and links to glogs of the projects completed by the teachers at our final professional learning session.

Cassandra Glogster
West Glen Glogster

20 June 2012

AT and Promethean team up for a TDSB IWB bus tour

ActivBus June visit to the TDSB
 At the beginning of June, the Promethean ActivBus made a Toronto stop - visiting four locations in the Toronto District School Board. On June 4, the bus visited 5050 Yonge St. for the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) meeting where the AT Team and Promethean trainers shared Interactive Whiteboard and peripheral use in classrooms sharing lessons that highlight strategies of differentiated learning.

 Two members from each school, already determined as receiving SEA IWB systems for 2012-13, were invited to attend one of six Information Sessions aboard the Promethean Bus held on June 5 (East) and 6 (West). Students also attended specific sessions.

The sessions provided participants with information about the Promethean board system they will be receiving in their specific Special Education classrooms in the upcoming school year. The SEA Consultant shared the overview of the AT Team's Learning Community Session model offered to LC teachers next year.

Following a fun-filled and informative three days at the TDSB schools: Cosburn M.S., Glamorgan P.S. and George R. Gauld P.S. the ActivBus left for its journey towards the West Coast destination of Seattle, Washington.

ActivBus interesting facts

1. What kind of vehicle is the ActivBus? The ActivBus is technically a Winnebago RV.

2. How many people can fit on the ActivBus? We have seating for 15, but can accommodate an additional 10-15 in standing room.

3. Is the ActivBus wheelchair accessible? Yes, we have a custom lift built for wheelchair access at the back door (the door by the wall of ActivExpressions).

4. Is Internet provided on the ActivBus? Yes, wireless.

5. Does the ActivBus need external power? If parked indoors, yes. If parked outdoors, no. At outdoor events, the interior of the ActivBus is powered by generators.

6. What is available on the ActivBus? ActivSlates, ActiView, ActiView, ActivExpressions, ActiVote, teacher and student microphones, ActivBoards.

15 June 2012

Read and Write Gold Flash - EQAO example - Critical analytical thinking activity grade 6

This week's Read and Write Gold flash is a critical analytical thinking activity which makes use of the Study Skills Toolbar and Highlighters. Materials for this activity (reading passages as well as short answer questions that require students to include supporting details from the text) are all available on the EQAO website.

This lesson was developed during a TDSB Assistive Technology Team Referral at Pleasant Public School. Thank you so much to their Grade 6 EQAO Team -- Ms. Castiglione, Mr Mammon, Ms Cowan and Ms Ravizza -- for their contributions to the development of this lesson!

In this grade 6 example, students read a passage from a previous year's Assessment as well as the short answer questions using the text-to speech tools in Read and Write Gold. 
Using the Read and Write Gold study skills highlighter tools, students highlight the question as well as supporting details in the text and then use the "collect highlights" function to send the highlighted text to a Word Document.

In the word document that is generated by Read and Write Gold, students can refer to the collected highlights while typing an answer to the question. Students who need additional support for writing, can use Read and Write Gold word prediction to complete this step.

To download this activity please click: Support Answer with Details from the text.

More about the Assistive Technology Team Referral at Pleasant Public School
The Read and Write Gold Flash reading lesson above was the first of three lessons that were co-planned and co-taught as part of this grade 6 referral. The second lesson had a writing focus and the third a math focus. The uniting theme of all three lessons was the use of assistive technology to differentiate lessons so as to meet the needs of a variety of learners. Read and Write Gold, an interactive whiteboard and the document camera were used for all three lessons. Each lesson used material from the EQAO website. A video clip from Learn 360 and an interactive EQAO Review game from the Ontario Education Resource Bank were also used to enhance the lessons.

"As a result of our team teaching experience with the Assistive Technology Itinerant Resource Teacher, we... gained invaluable insights on how Notebook Tools and Gallery Items (e.g. timer, word generator) and Read and Write (e.g. highlighting and collecting highlights) can be used effectively to engage and support students," Ms. Castiglione shared her reflection about the AT referral.

"Students appreciated having their turn facilitated by the Fairness Frog (word generator from the Gallery), and enjoyed frequent interactions with the Smartboard. Students learned to highlight key vocabulary, respond according to good models and structures, as well as determining solutions to math problems facilitated by a Notebook created EQAO based game. The ladybug document camera was used to show, share and reflect on completed work. The students gained strategies, confidence and excitement for learning."

7 June 2012

SEA IWB Learning Communities come to an end

21st century literate learners - Visual literacy to promote Critical thinking

Our final Learning Community (LC) ended on a high note focusing on literacy, specifically visual literacy. The power of pictures to teach, make predictions and inferences, and draw conclusions and summaries, were highlighted throughout this session. Using the Luke and Freebody Four Resources Model to emphasize the important elements of being literate in the 21st century, along with “High Yield Instructional Practices” that focused on i) Good Questions ii) Accountable Student Talk iii) Critical Thinking, helped to shape this very interactive session. Carefully chosen pictures and scaffolding questions help to derive relevant information from visuals.

The Critical Thinking Consortium's
Investigating Images unit

Teachers worked through a number of pictures, aided by appropriately placed/timed questions, gradual revealing of the picture, and gradual presentation of facts. The richness of the discussion that resulted paired with the questions that were raised allowed for a much deeper understanding of ‘what was happening in the picture’ rather than just simply taking a quick glance.

Functional literacy - DD exceptionality focus

The DD teachers looked at functional literacy with visual supports. Again with the support of Sue Macvicar-Stewart, Low Incidence Coordinator, teachers were presented with developmentally appropriate ways to teach functional literacy – from the concrete to the visual to the abstract. Teachers were also shown numerous ways to help their students express themselves, as independently as possible, using various assistive technology programs and equipment, such as Clicker 5, Read and Write Gold (Picture Dictionary), Boardmaker, and the Ladibug Document Camera.

Reading Comprehension & Social Language for ASD students
The ASD teachers focused on reading comprehension and social language. Many students with ASD have a narrow and deep information base, meaning they know lots of information but only on a few topics. This really limits their literacy ability- from vocabulary to social interaction. Various strategies were demonstrated that discussed visual ways to teach vocabulary, for example using visual dictionaries, word associations or connotations, and contingent words or analogies. Other visual ideas were presented which further helped support reading comprehension and social conversation. Monica Rivera, Speech and Language Pathologist with the ASD team, provided invaluable resources and support for this session.

Promethean Bus visits a success

The AT Team and Promethean shared the learning technology with the TDSB Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) Monday evening at 5050 Yonge Street.

TDSB staff, students and the Special Education Advisory Council enjoyed visits with the Assistive Technology Team and Promethean Interactive Whiteboard members as part of the Promethean bus tour this past week. The bus parked outside of Head Office (5050 Yonge Street) on Monday.  TDSB schools, whose IWB group claim have been approved for the upcoming school year 2012-2013,  were invited to visit the bus at Cosburn M.S. and Glamorgan P.S. in the east on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Promethean bus and AT team visited TDSB West at George R Gauld P.S.

See next week's blog entry for photos and video of the "TDSB AT Spring Tour 2012" event.