30 September 2014

The AT team's Academic Workspace site full of resources for TDSB staff



Last Spring our team launched a new public Academic Workspace (AW) site for TDSB staff and students entitled: “Spec Ed – SEA Assistive Technology”! This new AW site gives access to tip sheets, getting started handouts and technical support documents for a variety of assistive software.

To access our site, click on the link below or search for it on AW.

Once at the “Spec Ed – SEA Assistive Technology” AW site, click on Documents on the left-hand side and then click on AW Site Documents.  

At present, our team has posted handouts on:

-          Boardmaker (version 6)
-          Clicker 5
-          Dana and Neo
-          Dragon Naturally Speaking
-          Microsoft OneNote
-          Promethean
-          Read and Write
-          SMART Ideas




A variety of websites have also been posted under the Links section of the AW site which may be of interest for those using any of these assistive software programs. 

25 September 2014

The Individual Classroom Referral - one support to kick-start the year to embed A.T. in your special education classroom

A.T. team's Individual Referral

Are some of your goals this school year is to use new and varied differentiation strategies as well as technology to support your special education students? The A.T. team's individual classroom referral may be something that you are looking for.

Our team supports individual classroom special education teachers and their students in the model Job Embedded Professional Learning.

There are two parts to this referral. There is a session of co-planning which includes reflecting on your student's needs, conducting a survey of what technology you currently have access to as well as planning a lesson which embeds assistive technology to support your student(s) learning.
(When planning an A.T. support with the focus of Universal Design for Learning a tools or strategy which is essential for a few students, the classroom teacher will note that all students benefit.) The second part of the referral is job-embedded as the teacher puts the planned lesson or activity into action in the classroom with his/her students. The A.T. itinerant teacher is there to provide as little or much support as the special education classroom teacher requires; from modeling to co-teaching. Reflection is included in the second part of the referral to ensure the classroom teacher has clear and personalized next steps in his/her journey incorporating A.T.

Our referral is open to ISPs and HSP special education classrooms - elementary to secondary.Here are a few examples of referrals that were done last year. Click on the images to link to a few of our detailed blog posts which share more detailed information about just a few of our previous sessions.

Junior LD - Read and Write Gold and SMART Ideas
Embedding Read and Write Gold during a Biodiversity research project at Bowmore Jr & Sr P.S.
Primary HSP - IWB and peripherals




Reinforcing classroom learning using the IWB at Clinton Public School's Primary HSP.

Junior HSP - SMART Ideas and IWB



Using the IWB and graphic organizer programme SMART Ideas to support the writing process in a Junior HSP class at Forest Manor Public School.
Secondary DD ISP - IWB


Stay tuned to our blog to read more snapshots of our referrals. TDSB teachers can access the itinernal referral form by going to the SEA Information and Forms tab on the internal web site here.



23 September 2014

The Importance of Assistive Technology



For students who struggle to access the curriculum, assistive technology helps to ‘level the playing field’ by providing additional tools and supports. Ultimately, assistive technology is meant to help students become more independent learners by allowing students to better control the pace they process information.



For example, our Intermediate grade eight students using OneNote last year could choose to type notes, take pictures of information written on blackboards by teachers, or use the audio record feature to dictate notes to themselves. This allowed students to better focus on lessons their teachers delivered and also provided a resource for students to use when they required clarification (they could share their notes with their teacher in order to help show their teacher what aspects of the lesson they were continuing to have difficulty with).

Direct Line Did you know?
Every time Direct Line is published, TDSB staff no longer gets e-mail notifiers. Keep watching Direct Line to be part of one of the A.T. team's projects.
(We are currently accepting proposals for our latest phase of the OneNote project. TDSB staff, click here: OneNote to go to the Direct Line link.)




Our students using Read and Write Gold, are able type a piece of writing and then use editing tools such as the dictionary or picture dictionary, spelling, and audio playback to help them edit and revise their writing. Students could also use this software to have texts read to them at a pace that suits them and, if necessary, have a text re-read in order to help improve comprehension.







 Special Education classrooms equipped with an Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) provide teachers with a powerful tool to help differentiate their instruction. An IWB allows teachers to create multimedia lessons by embedding pictures, audio, and video. Students have opportunities to interact with IWB by manipulating elements on display. Activities can be saved for students to complete at a later time and pages can be individualized for each student in a class based on their individual interests and/or abilities, thereby increasing student engagement.


Of course, with so much technology available to support our Special Education students, it’s important teachers have ample PD opportunities to learn about what is available and how they can use it. As such, the SEA department continues to offer many sessions over the course of the school year aimed at both beginner and more advanced users to help develop skills and comfort when using these tools. Be sure to regularly check Key-to-Learn for what’s available and join us for one (or more) of our sessions!

19 September 2014

Coming Soon ~ Fall Key to Learn Sessions

The SEA Department is excited to again offer Assistive Technology software training for all TDSB Board employees. Make sure you watch for DirectLine postings or visit 
Key to Learn directly to find dates, times and locations for these sessions.





  Fall sessions being offered:
Microsoft OneNote
This hands-on workshop will explore the basic uses of Microsoft OneNote to support Intermediate and Secondary students. OneNote is an electronic version of a traditional 3 ringed binder in which students can tag, collect, organize and share their work electronically.
  Dragon Naturally Speaking Version 11 Dragon Naturally Speaking Version 11 Professional is a speech recognition software. In this hands-on workshop you will learn how to create a user (voice) file. Tips for training and improving your accuracy as well as importing and exporting user (voice) files will also be covered
  Read and Write Gold 11 Beginners Read and Write Gold is an all-in-one Assistive Technology program that is used in conjunction with another application. The hands on workshop will focus on the basic features needed to use Read and Write Gold. Participants will learn how to use various features to support their students in the following areas: Reading (text documents, scanned documents, internet and dictionaries, Writing: (word prediction, homonyms, self-editing and talking spell check) and Research (reading the internet)
  Read and Write Gold 11 Advanced Read and Write Gold is an all-in-one Assistive Technology program that is used in conjunction with another application. The hands on workshop will focus on using or expanding on additional features of Read and Write Gold not covered in the original session. Some of these features include the Speech Maker, Screen Masking, and Scanning.
  Smart Ideas – Concept Mapping This hands-on workshop will focus on the use of this concept mapping software. Smart Ideas can be used for a variety of purposes including mapping out new concepts or vocabulary, organizing a research project and planning written assignments.
  Promethean for Beginners This hands-on workshop will introduce users to the Promethean interactive whiteboard system and ActivInspire software. User will learn the basics of setting up their own flipcharts, where to find additional resources and how the system can become an integral part of everyday teaching.
   Promethean Next Steps This hands-on workshop will explore additional features of ActivInspire to enable users to create and customize their own flipcharts to meet the needs of their students.
  Promethean ActivExpression This hands-on workshop will support Promethean ActivExpression handheld devices using Promethean's ActivInspire software and ActivHub device. Participants will learn how to register and assign devices and how to use the express poll and question manager.
  Promethean Document Camera: ActiView This hands-on training session will focus on tools and options available when used with Promethean's ActivInspire software.
  Promethean ActivSound This hands-on workshop will introduce users to the Promethean ActivSound System that was part of some IWB SEA Claims. User will learn how to connect and use the sound system to support the curriculum in their classroom.

16 September 2014

Check out the A.T. team's YouTube channel



Tech and Special Ed on YouTube


If you are looking for some helpful tips for using technology to support students’ learning needs check out the videos on our YouTube Channel “Tech and Special Ed”. https://www.youtube.com/user/TechandSpecialEd/videos

Here you will find videos about our OneNote Project (supporting intermediate students with organizational skills and transition to secondary school) as well as video tips about the following software: OneNote, ActivInspire and Read & Write Gold.
For example, one of our ActivInspire video tips is about using containers to engage students and provide them with immediate feedback.



Here is a direct link to this video about containers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQ699pKA-BM&list=UUJaW1T3RMZCYBOh9m86L5Hg


12 September 2014

AT support via Read and Write Gold continues at the TDSB

TDSB students can continue to access the tools and strategies offered by the software program Read and Write Gold this school year. Not only is Read and Write Gold 11 is available for use in all schools, the TDSB continues to have home licensed agreements for student use for both Read and Write 11 (PC) and Read and Write 6 (Mac). (Schools and teachers visit our internal SEA website for more information.)



Read and Write provides support for students via the Universal Design of Learning model - essential for a few, good for all, as students can use tools to complete their reading, writing and research projects. Tools such as text-to-speech, word prediction, and highlighting tools are just some of the tools available for students who use Read and Write.


Variety of resources to support Read and Write Gold in schools

The A.T. team supports students and staff with the use of the software throughout the school year. We have videos on our Youtube site, and coming soon there will be Key to Learn courses - beginner and advanced Read and Write Gold training at our Terraview Learning Centre and Burnhamthorpe Adult Learning Centre sites. Our itinerant teacher team also support junior learners through an assitive technology project using Read and Write Gold to support the EQAO process (more details to come).
Here's one of our many videos describe the use of a Read and Write Gold tools.

Our team also has created a set of curriculum-connected lessons which embed the use of  Read and Write Gold tools that can be used by teachers. Click the image to link to the lessons. You can also check out past blog entries about how Read and Write Gold has been used in some Special Education classrooms. 





9 September 2014

OneNote transition pilot stories and resources

Last year the A.T. team's intermediate classroom pilot had 19 schools and 21 classes participated in the TDSB's first OneNote project supporting student's personal organization, independence and skills to support transition to secondary school. These special education classrooms included Behaviour and ASD ISPs as well as intermediate Home School Programs. Over the past week, many of these former grade 8 students have received their pilot device and related peripherals delivered to them in their grade 9 classes. 

Here's our year-end celebration to share with you to review how students were using OneNote:



A few stories from the start of the year to share with you:

At Sir Oliver Mowat 


"Do you have my tablet yet?" asked the student of his new school staff on the very first day of school. This student was ready to use his tablet immediately in grade 9. A few days later, on the day it was delivered, his teachers, two support staff and the vice-principal were present to learn and support this transitions and organization initiative. As a start, the student turned on the tablet, shared the work he did last year - his grade 8 OneNote notebook - with his "audience". He zipped through many features on his tablet, checking that everything still worked in order reviewing and sharing those many tools he and his classmates used to support his learning and organization within the OneNote software. He also showed how to annotate on top of captured images using HP PageLift app, recording audio notes, and more tools without missing a beat. This was after two months of not having the device. He’s looking forward to using it to support his grade 9 year.

At Victoria Park CI

“I’ve been waiting for you!” said one of our OneNote pilot project students who had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of his tablet device. Once in hand, he quickly got the tablet up and running and opened OneNote. He was asked to create a new notebook for Grade 9 and he quickly started to laugh. The student, clearly recognizing the importance of using this software and device to support his learning and organization, had already created his new notebook last June! Without being directed, he took out his timetable and, using the HP Lift App, captured his schedule and sent it to OneNote. This is one student who is ready and raring to go!

Here's a video from our Microsoft OneNote Facebook page where a student from Eastview Public School shared some of her favourite tools last year when she was in grade 8. (Click on the image to link and see the video.)


The A.T. team has a number of helpful videos to support the use of software programs such as OneNote, Active Inspire and Read and Write Gold on our YouTube channel. To view more features of OneNote and link to our YouTube site click here.

4 September 2014

Back to School with the SEA Team and OneNote

OneNote project cohort complete transition into high school using tablets


This September, our first cohort of grade 8 students who have participated in our OneNote Pilot Project in the 2013-2014 school year will be entering secondary school. This particular group of students were among the very first to receive a SEA Windows 8 tablet device and receive training on using OneNote software to support personal organization, independence and ultimately the transition to high school.

A student uses his touch tablet, accessing information in many ways including sound or multimedia files.
This week, our Assistive Technology Itinerant Resource Teachers have been hard at work visiting the high schools who are welcoming our OneNote students. During our visits, our Itinerant Resource Teachers are meeting with staff and the participating student to:

  • Deliver/return the student’s tablet device
  • Review storage and charging procedures
  • Inform teachers and students of ways they can access technical support
  • Supporting students in sharing how their tablet device has transformed the way they can organize their notes and access curriculum in high school

Our visits have been met with excitement, enthusiasm and a commitment to student achievement.

We look forward to beginning our work in grades 7/8 HSP and ISP classrooms in the 2014-2015 school year in order to begin supporting their transition to secondary school through the use of OneNote software and a SEA tablet device.

Stay tuned to DirectLine for more information on the proposal process and getting your intermediate special education class involved!

2 September 2014

We're back! 2014-2015 school year begins!


The Assistive Technology team is looking forward to another amazing year of working with Special Education staff and students. Stay tuned to this blog to read about and see photos about our amazing new projects and continuing initiatives to support learning. 



Some information about our team's past and present projects can be found on the TDSB Special Education public page click here.

Also if you'd like to follow us on Social Media, we publish this blog at least two times a week.

 We also have active Twitter and Facebook pages.

Follow us on twitter! Our twitter handle is: @AssistTech










Like us on  Facebook!

Assistive Technology Official Page and the Assistive Technology OneNote pilot.

And for TDSB staff-only our team posts resources, tip sheets and information about software on the internal academic workspace. For an quick link click here.