29 April 2014

AT presents OneNote pilot at Leading and Learning through Technology

The senior staff of the TDSB's Assistive Technology team presented at The Learning Partnership's Leading Learning through Technology Spring mini Summit last week. The presentation entitled: Education for All - Individualizing Student Support Through Technology focused on the A.T. team's OneNote pilot project, which has been concentrating on using the OneNote software to support transitions and organization in special education Intermediate students. While the A.T. team's presentation started off the day, the entire day's program concentrated on having educators and Boards share "evidence-based practices which enhance student engagement and achievement".

Find out more about the day's schedule by clicking this link: LLTT Spring
Coordinator Angie Scarano-Iuorio shares the student stories of success around the A.T. team's OneNote Pilot. She provided the audience with the context, vision and goals of the team's project.

(left) SEA consultant Christine Harvey-Kerr presents the professional learning model support for teachers from PD sessions to in-class training for students. (right) Kenneth Jinkinson, Technical Specialist, share the roles and partnerships required for a successful project both within the team and many departments within the TDSB. 

Last May, the A.T. team, led by Coordinator Angela Scarano-Iuorio, received the team Innovative Practices Award during The Learning Partnership (TLPs) Roundtable on Technology. The full day event took place at Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. 21st Century Literacy: Leading and Supporting Exemplary Practices was the key theme.

24 April 2014

The Math Mission classroom visit at White Haven P.S.

The Math Mission Continues – First Classroom Visit

Participating teachers in the “Math Mission – Using AT to Support Communication in Mathematics” had the opportunity to visit Alia Erlich’s grade 6-8 HSP classroom to observe a math lesson about money.  Students got ready for the task by predicting whether an answer was reasonable or not reasonable and providing possible answers using the interactive whiteboard (IWB) and ActivExpressions.

Students were given an opportunity to go shopping and to spend their money wisely depending on the money in their account (provide by Ms. Erlich on a sticky note).  The open task allowed students multiple entry points and Ms Erlich was able to differentiate the task by determining the amount in each pairs’ account.  Throughout the “Math Mission”, students have been exposed to a variety of assistive technology tools to communicate their understanding in mathematics.  Students, again, had choice over the tools used.

Students shared their learning by using the IWB and ActivExpression to text in the math they did today.  The lesson and electronic files were shared with the participating teachers and students in the project on our Desire2Learn (D2L) Math Mission course.

Ms. Erlich commented that she has seen a great improvement in the students’ written communication in math.  She feels that it is attributed to the students’ recording their explanations orally, reviewing their recordings and listening to the recordings of others.  She is extremely excited by their progress.

Check out the blog in the upcoming weeks for an entry about our April visit at Warren Park Public School.

22 April 2014

Getting Interactive with non-fiction text- Charlottetown P.S. observation session

Visualizing Non-Fiction Text - An observation class at Charlottetown P.S. 

The HSP class at Charlottetown P.S. learned how pictures help their understanding of non-fiction text. Their teacher, Neo Porter, collaborated with Itinerant Resource Teacher in Assistive Technology, Renée Keberer, to co-construct a lesson on the Promethean Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) to demonstrate this concept. 

Text and images from a variety of texts were captured using the ActiView document camera and displayed on the IWB. The types of pictures that were focused on were closeups, diagrams and photographs. Students visualized the image as the teacher read the text while the picture was covered up. The students then did a variety of things. For the closeup picture they sketched the image based on the text (what the nose of a star-nosed mole looked like). For the diagram, they discussed with a partner what the image looked like (what a prairie dog ‘town’ looked like). 

Lastly, for the photograph they discussed the similarities and/or differences between the image they visualized and the actual image (dirty water from a watering hole). The actual images were uncovered after each activity. After completing the lesson the students conveyed how seeing the actual image helped them better understand the descriptions and content of the text. As a follow up activity, the students were given the task of selecting two pictures from books of their choosing and discuss how the picture helped deepen their understanding.
The teachers who were observing this lesson commented on how engaged the students were and how rich the discussions were.

Please see below for some images of the first task.

(left) Description of the star-nosed mole. (right) Actual close-up of the star-nosed mole.

Two examples of student drawings after hearing a description of the mole's nose.

21 April 2014

Intermediate OneNote pilot update - week of April 14

Intermediate Special Education classes continue to join the pilot. During the week of April 14th, many school were introduced to their tablets for the first time via the "tech session". Some other schools began their "My favourite" research project using the tools and organizational strategies of Microsoft OneNote. All students are excited and appreciate the power of their new devices. Here's a few photos from a few of our classes.

Bowmore Road Junior and Senior School - Intermediate HSP

Photos: Students receive mice (top left) and customize their devices (top right), collaborate and share strategies. (bottom left), Blake shares how to customize the camera options . (bottom right) Umer and Feris finish their brainstorms for topics: My favourite..
Brookside Public School - Intermediate HSP
Brainstorming and then e-printing their brainstorm list for "My favourite" research project. 

D.A. Morrison Middle School - Grade 8 HSP

Students exploring and setting up their new tablets.

17 April 2014

Circle time using ActivInspire - Restrictor example at Seneca School

Using Restrictors in ActivInspire to Set Students up for Success

Ms Forhan leads her class during circle time asking them, How are you feeling today?

Melinda Forhan teaches a Developmental Disability Class at Seneca School and often uses restrictors when setting up Activities in ActivInspire on the Promethean Board for her students. For example, as part of her daily Circle Time students come up to the Promethean Board and choose the picture symbol that represents how they are feeling that day. Students then drag the picture symbol up from the bottom of the page into the appropriate column. After each student has completed this activity the class counts how many students are feeling happy, sad, tired or angry.
To help set her students up for success (minimizing distraction and assisting students with fine motor challenges), Melinda restricted the picture symbols so that students could only move them vertically on the page which helped ensure students moved the symbol into the appropriate column.

For more examples of ways to use restrictors in ActivInspire or to learn how to set up activities using restrictors please watch our YouTube video “Using Restrictors to Support Students with Fine Motor Challenges”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwpcRhMpvvw

15 April 2014

A.T. itinerant teachers at ASET

The TDSB A.T. teaching team presented at the Association for Special Education Technology's  (ASET Ontario) annual spring conference this past week. The conference celebrated its tenth anniversary this year.

Here are the photos of the presenters and topics:

Switching Learning On: Lisa Mast (left) and Andrea Statton (right).
Supporting Executive Function using IWB tools: (left to right)
Renee Keberer, Etienne Mercieca, and Valia Reinsalu.

Surviving and Thriving: Revealing the "Hidden Curriculum" in Secondary School:
(left to right) Carol Gaghadar, Christina Mathura and Heidi Mitchell.

14 April 2014

OneNote pilot celebratory video and check-in with intermediate pilot schools throughout the TDSB

Our phase 1 portion of the Microsoft OneNote project is complete. And in other special education classrooms across the TDSB, the journey to organization and independence using OneNote has just begun.

Enjoy another of our celebratory videos. This one shows phase 1 schools' OneNote project review:

Buchanan Public School

These students were excited about sharing what they had done on the tablets. Most said they were using it for Notes, Microsoft Word and school work!  

Heritage Park Public School

Heritage Park students using OneNote in various ways including Karishma (photo right), who discovered using keyboard shortcuts help her navigate through work on the tablet.
At Heritage Park P.S., the kids were excited to get started with OneNote.  The students are very tech savy and fairly quickly figured out how to start customizing OneNote tabs.  The Heritage Park teacher, James Watt, also mentioned that one of the girls, Karishma, figured out all the keyboard shortcuts on her own. They were using the shortcuts for an activity they were doing - baking brownies.  

Mr. Watt uses the document camera and students take pictures and write notes using their tablets as well.

Lanor Public School

"This is better than a Promethean board and it is one of the things included in your dream room."   Andrew (photo left) was also thrilled that Read and Write 11 was installed on the tablet.

Other students were excited to try their new tablets as well: Emily said, "They are smaller than a computer and easier to carry around. They are our own and no one can mess them up." While Shea added: "Small and handy." 
Students at Lanor P.S. explore their new tablets.

West Hill Public School

West Hill P.S. students find out what equipment and peripherals they will be using during the OneNote pilot.

10 April 2014

Assistive technology team heads to Niagara Falls for assistive technology conference

The Assistive Technology Team Heads to the
Association for Special Education Technology (ASET) Conference…

This week our Itinerant Resource Teachers will be heading to Niagara Falls to present at the ASET conference. Our team will be facilitating three exciting presentations on a variety of special education topics and assistive technology tools.

 Switch Learning On!

Itinerant Resource Teachers, Andrea Statton and Lisa Mast will be presenting on the ways in which Switch technologies can be used to increase accessibility, engagement and independence for students with physical challenges.

For some students standard technology controls (e.g., keyboard, mouse, and interactive whiteboard pens) are challenging to use. The use of switches, joysticks, trackballs and other wireless peripherals provide the opportunity for students with physical challenges to participate in their learning which can lead to increased engagement and independence.

In this session, the presenters will be using an IWB to model how to use alternative access devices to support student learning. Suggestions will be given on how to use these devices during individual, small and/or large group instruction. Participants will have the opportunity to participate in lessons and activities and get hands-on experience with various alternative access devices!

 IWBs for Supporting Executive Function Skills

Itinerant Resource Teachers, Renée Keberer, Etienne Merciera and Valia Reinsalu will be presenting on the ways in which the IWB can be used to support the development of executive functioning skills in order to promote student achievement. When students struggle with Executive Functioning, such as organization and task initiation, they can get easily overwhelmed. Using an IWB with specific strategies can have a positive effect on student success.
This session will provide participants with strategies and suggestions for using an IWB to support students with learning disabilities and/or ADHD to develop their executive functioning skills. Through demonstration and hands on experience, participants will explore how to use the IWB to support memory, time management, organization, task initiation and metacognitive skills among their students. Through a case study, participants will be shown how certain strategies can help support students with specific executive functioning deficits, and how features of an IWB can enhance this process.

     Surviving and Thriving: Revealing the "Hidden Curriculum" in Secondary School

TDSB Itinerant Resource Teacher, Christina Mathura and TDSB ASD Consultant, Carol Gaghadar will be partnering with Surrey Place ASD Consultant, Heidi Mitchell to present on the ways in which the IWB can be used to support the “hidden curriculum” for secondary school students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

This session will explore - What’s okay to say? What’s okay to do? And…When?! These questions will be addressed within the context of the ever-challenging, social world of high school.
Participants will be provided with practical strategies for using IWB tools and features in order to successfully facilitate teaching and learning of the “hidden curriculum”. The “hidden curriculum” refers to knowledge/skills that are assumed to be generally understood by all, and therefore not explicitly taught. However, these rules can be unclear and difficult to understand...and there are consequences to not adhering to social expectations! This session will focus on the use of ActivInspire on the Promethean Interactive Whiteboard to support the distinct social, emotional and life skills learning needs of students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in secondary school.

9 April 2014

So, you inherited an Interactive Whiteboard Learning Community concludes

Our “So I Inherited an IWB…Now What?” Learning Communities have now wrapped up.  These learning communities were specially designed for Special Education teachers who moved into classrooms where a SMART Board or Promethean Board had already been installed, thereby inheriting the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB). The teachers pictured below were members of our Inherited SMART Learning Community, participating in session 4 at our Terraview Learning Centre lab.

This session focused on using the tools of the IWB to support teaching a three part math lesson. Teachers also explored how to use the response system to further engage students in learning activities. Past sessions focused on using the tools of the IWB to support visual literacy, using multimedia to support reading skills, and engaging our learners. Teachers were able to download a take away file at each session that provided sample pages and lesson ideas for teachers to use with their own students. In addition, teachers had opportunities to co-plan and co-teach lessons using their IWB as well as observe fellow learning community members co-teach a lesson with the Itinerant Resource Teacher who lead their learning community. 

Learning Community teachers work side-by-side, sharing knowledge and exploring  IWB tools
and strategies to support their special education students.
Thank you to all of our Inherited an IWB learning community teachers for helping make our sessions a great success this year. We hope that you continue to explore all the ways an IWB can support your students’ learning!

7 April 2014

Family of Schools partnership: ER12 Assistive Technology and Math

In late March, a group of special education teachers gathered at Blantyre Public School for their Family of Schools professional learning session. The focus of the session was Math within the Primary / Junior Home School setting.
The session was hosted by Wendy Klayman, the HSP/MART in her classroom at Blantyre. Klayman, FOS Consultant Crys Kartos, Sharelene Bourjot, Coordinator (ER12, ER15, Behaviour) and itinerant resource teacher, Valia Reinsalu co-facilitated this session.

Along with creating look-fors in the Math classroom and using TDSB effective practices, a three-part Math lesson was modeled. Teachers had hands-on time participating in the Action part of the Math lesson.

Throughout all stages of the learning, the way assistive technology can be embedded in lessons to support student learning, assessment and problem solving in all parts of the three-part Math lesson was demonstrated. Interactive whiteboard tools (pen, highlighters, shapes, digital manipulatives and math tools, for example) can provide opportunities for differentiation in many ways (process, tasks, products). The interactive whiteboard also supports multimodal learning (images, text, audio and video). SEA Interactive whiteboard claims also come with peripherals such as a document camera and learner response systems (LRS) "clickers". 
Some teachers had a chance to try "clickers" for the first time by answering a set of survey questions.

Teacher Richard Araujo, from Danforth Gardens Public School works with his group to solve the fair sharing sub problem.

ER12 Special Education Consultant Crys Kartos shares the importance of the Highlights and Summary part of the three-part lesson when consolidating Math concepts with students.

Wendy Klayman shares how her students conducted a Math Congress and subsequently designed Math posters highlighting the big ideas about fractions.
Teachers shared their solutions using the document camera. A live photo can be projected (photo right) or captured as a digital image on the screen (photo left).
Teachers engaged in dialogue and sharing throughout the session. The set of teachers will try what they learned in their own classrooms and regroup in May for a follow-up professional learning session

3 April 2014

OneNote pilot in full swing - check-in at various schools across the TDSB

While a number of pilot schools are just finishing off participation in the A.T. team's OneNote pilot, other schools are just getting started. Here's a round-up on some sessions happening throughout the TDSB.

Students in Aleem Remtulla's ASD ISP class at D.A. Morrison M.S. concluded their sessions. They reflected on what they have learned so far:

Mr. Remtulla's students share their thoughts in different ways.
Other schools such as Birch Cliff P.S., Eastview P.S., and Heritage Park P.S. are just starting with technical sessions completed.

Ms. Saunders' students share how they've used the tablet to support their learning so far.

Mr. Watt's students share ways they already use technology.

2 April 2014

OneNote pilot project - Blantyre P.S. Intermediate students' complete in-class pilot sessions

The intermediate students in Wendy Klayman's class weren't fooling around the morning of April 1st. The Home School Program (HSP) group finished their last session of the OneNote pilot project. During the session, they explored simple ways to support Math computations using OneNote and reviewed tools and applications used during the project. The class also reflected on ways the tablet and OneNote has changed and/or supported their learning and organization for day-to-day school work.

"My HSP grade 7 students have learned so much with OneNote. Overall, it has improved their organizational skills. They have created tabs for every subject and use the tabs like a binder.  They use Pagelift for “capturing” assignments and homework and they are using the templates and screen clippings for research assignments. Most importantly they are seen as “cool” and other students want to work with them in their classrooms. It has improved their confidence and put them on a level playing field. All of them feel like they couldn’t work without their OneNote". -Ms. Klayman

Blantyre P.S. intermediate pilot students and their top 10 features of OneNote (in no particular order).
Sarah uses  the HP Liftapp to capture her reflection questions.

Students access the tablet in different ways: mouse, stylus and touch screen.
(left) Using HP Pagelift to crop a captured document. (right) Writing a reflection about OneNote and the tablet.

Thank you to Ms. Klayman and her students for a fun and successful pilot project!

1 April 2014

Supporting student independence using the IWB as an activity centre in Diagnostic Kindergarten: Donwood Park P.S.

Winter Wonderland at Donwood Park P.S.
Joey Cao, Diagnostic Kindergarten Teacher at Donwood Park P.S., hosted an observation class for her Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) Learning Community members. Together with Renée Keberer, Itinerant Resource Teacher ~ Assistive Technology, they co-planned and co-taught an IWB lesson for her students. The lesson focused on using the IWB as an independent activity centre for her students. The observing teachers were very impressed with the level of independence her students demonstrated and came away with lots of ideas for their own classrooms.

Attendance Page: each student was able to “sign in” using the strategy that targeted their ability level (i.e. dragging their picture, tracing or writing their name.)
Students were able to independently select a song for circle time. 
(left) Whole class sorting activity with turn taking.  (right) Each student made a selection for their free choice activity.

Each student has a “Work Samples” booklet where the activities they produced are pasted ~ here are two sample pages from one student’s book.

Two students work on their independent activity of naming objects. This activity allows the students to demonstrate their knowledge of matching words to pictures, while also working on turn taking and working together. Sound is attached to each word and picture.

(Photo left) A student sorts summer and winter clothing on his activity page. This is a container activity that provides immediate feedback to the student. Sound is also attached to each object for auditory support. (Photo right) This activity was designed for this student to match the name of the object (sound file) to the object.