31 October 2014

SEA ActivTable Project

Engagement, Collaboration and Cooperation

The SEA Assistive Technology Team is excited about our pilot project involving the Promethean ActivTable. Many of you may we wondering, “What is the ActivTable”? The ActivTable is an easy to use interactive ‘table’ that allows up to six users to simultaneously engage, collaborate and cooperate on a task or activity together.

Teachers have begun to receive their ActivTables and are very excited to learn new ways to facilitate cooperation and collaboration with their students. Each Special Education classroom that has received an ActivTable will be supported through two in-school training sessions where they will learn how to use the ActivTable along with how to create or modified existing activities. 

Participating teachers will also attend a Networking session were they will be able to hear other teachers’ successes with the ActivTable and ways in which the ActivTable has been used in their classrooms. Furthermore, they will have the opportunity to explore various ways they can use or create activities for the ActivTable that meet the specific needs of their students.
Schools have been very excited about this new technology in their classrooms.
Images of students interacting with the ActivTable.

28 October 2014

Some Learning Community photos from our first week "Getting Started" with the IWB

This past month, the AT team's itinerant teachers have been working with their Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) Learning Community (LC) members. LC  Special Education teachers whose classes received an interactive whiteboard this school year are involved in this year-long project. Throughout the school year, each group of teachers work with one of the six itinerant assistive technology teachers of the AT team.

At the first session, teachers have hands-on time to use IWB tools which support differentiation of lessons by creating a simple activity - introduction page as well as other activities using IWB tools including the pen, sound recorder, camera tool support multimodal learners. Different ways a student (and teacher) can access the IWB was also modeled and tried: pen, cordless keyboard and mouse, and wand.

Learning Community teacher groupings are organized with those teaching a similar ISP or HSP. Each file is honed to include curriculum-linked content and is made to specifically address the learning needs of the exceptionality of the students.

Here are some snapshots of  a variety of LC sessions facilitated by itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu. (Click on the photos to see a larger version.)

Uncovering hidden text: Ms. McGloin from Queen Victoria P.S. shares her introduction page. Mr. Stewart from Highcastle P.S. activates a multiple choice express poll during the Arowana fish Behaviour ISP session at Terraview Learning Centre.
Using the erase to reveal hidden information: Mr Karout from Clinton P.S. (above); J.B.Tyrell's Mr Lomas (bottom left) and Queen Victoria's Ms.Wu (bottom right) Gifted ISP teachers creating activities during the Getting Started with the IWB session Gourami LC Gifted ISP session at Burnhamthorpe Adult Learning Centre. 

During the Behaviour ISP LC: using multimedia including video AlexMuir Public School's Mr. Lawlor (left) and Mr. Paskauskas from Gledhill P.S (right) share their introductions using different tools to engage their audiences.

The LCs foster building of a community of learners where teachers of the same exceptionality can share strategies and ideas as they incorporate the IWB. (Lancetfish LC HSP teachers Sahaira Khan, Alvin Curling P.S. and Deborah Rogers, Ranchdale P.S.)
Teachers come together four times a year. Part of the year-long support includes Job Embedded Professional Learning opportunities where volunteer members co-teach a lesson with the Itinerant teacher and fellow LC members observe, discuss and reflect on the use of assistive technology to support student achievement. 
A few ideas shared about what tools and strategies to be used back at school following a Getting Started class.

23 October 2014

Interactive Whiteboard Learning Communities Have Started!

The year-long Learning Community sessions started on Monday, October 20th at both Terraview Learning Centre (East) and Burnhamthorpe Adult Learning Centre (West). Special Education Teachers who received a SEA Claim IWB (Promethean Board) are put into Learning Community Groups based on the exceptionality and grade level they teach. This year there are 15 Learning Communities supported by the Assistive Technology’s six Itinerant Resource Teachers.

As described in our Interactive Whiteboard Learning Communities "Getting Started" soon blog post, teachers in the first Learning Community session learn how to use the tools available in ActivInspire on the Promethean Board to engage students and support their learning needs.

Teachers who teach in Low Incidence classrooms created sign-in
pages for their students to reinforce concepts such as picture and
name recognition.

At the first Learning Community Session, Teachers were provided with two manuals to help them learn how to use the tools available in the Promethean ActivInspire software.  Teachers were also given an ActivWand to help students reach the Promethean Board and participate in activities and lessons.

For more information on different ways students can access the Promethean Board please see our previous blog post titled Ways to support accessing the Interactive Whiteboard .

21 October 2014

The Curriculum and Resource Technology Project (C.A.R.T.)

The Assistive Technology Team is excited about the Curriculum and Resource Technology (C.A.R.T.) Project. This SEA claim provides schools with a small cart of 10 laptops schools to support the inclusion of students with special education needs.

This project aims:

  • To encourage the improvement of educational opportunities and success rates for all students through access to Assistive Technology supports.
  •  To support differentiated learning and the universal design for learning in order to effectively facilitate student success and access to curriculum in inclusive classroom environments.
  • To develop and support the ongoing building of capacity among teachers, in order to support inclusion through the use of Assistive Technology.
This week, the first group of lead teachers from schools who completed the online survey posted in Direct Line, were invited to attend a working session on the documentation required for this claim. Teachers were also introduced to the school based training model designed to support student needs at their school. In addition, teachers will be invited to attend a professional development session on using assistive technology to support the teaching and learning of math and numeracy within their schools.

We look forward to receiving the claims from the participating schools and supporting the use of Assistive Technology within inclusive classroom environments throughout our system. 

15 October 2014

Read and Write Gold to support student success - a lesson example

Our A.T. team supports many levels of special education students in using the Read and Write Gold software. A number of the tools found in Read and Write supports written expression, reading comprehension and a student's ability to overall organize their ideas.

Using even one simple tool, like the "Speak Current" or "Play button" - the text-to-speech feature of Read and Write Gold is a powerful way to support a student's comprehension and communication of ideas.
The Speak Current or Play button.
Our team's Assistive Technology and EQAO Junior special education project deadline is this week.
Here's one example on how a variety of tools can be used to support student literacy.

Proposals are still being accepted for interested junior HSP and ISP (Behaviour and Learning Disability) TDSB special education classrooms. For more information to see if your classroom meets the criteria check the Direct Line proposal form by clicking here.

To access more resources about Read and Write Gold and other assistive technology software that is supported by the TDSB's AT team.

10 October 2014

OneNote intermediate project now underway

We are extremely excited to announce that our OneNote project is now underway! Twenty-five teachers attended professional development sessions at either our Burnamthorpe or Terraview learning centres. Teachers learned about OneNote’s many features available to support our Intermediate students in Special Education classes with organizational and other executive function needs.

The day's group of intermediate special education teachers had the opportunity to explore the OneNote software and create notebooks and pages of their own. They also learned how to use tools such as templates, tables, and tagging and engaged in meaningful professional dialogue on how these tools could benefit the students they are supporting. 

Using templates (left) and tagging information (right) just two ways the OneNote software supports student organization.

Teachers learned how the use of assistive technology tools will better enable their students to be successful not only in their Special Education classrooms, but also in their rotary subject classrooms as well and that this will help to better prepare them for their eventual transition to secondary.

Teachers share all the things they have learned about the OneNote software.

Teachers had the opportunity to practice doing research as their students might, using assistive technology tools.

6 October 2014

An individual referral at Brookside P.S. - primary HSP spotlight

Co-Teaching at Brookside

Mrs. Kim, primary HSP teacher at Brookside P.S., initiated an AT Referral in order to have the opportunity co-plan and co-teach with Itinerant Resource Teacher Ren. Together, a Story Sequencing activity was planned using a book the students have read in class, Deep Snow by Robert Munsch, along with a Number Sense and Numeration activity to represent values. For the first activity, the students took turns first listening to each story picture and then ordered the events in the correct sequence. During the math activity, the student shared the task of representing numbers. Individual math pages were also created for each student to complete independently after the group task.

Auditory descriptions were attached to each picture so that students could hear and well
as see what was happening, in order to help support their sequencing task.
(left) Group Minds On Math activity. (right) Individualized Math “Action” activity using student interest to help motivate and support learning
Students in the class use virtual manipulatives to represent numbers.

3 October 2014

Interactive Whiteboard Learning Communities "Getting Started" soon

Getting Started!
The Itinerant Resource Teachers are currently preparing for their first learning community (LC) sessions for interactive whiteboards!  Special Education teachers are divided into LC groups based on similar classroom needs.

The focus of the first session is on Getting Started with the Promethean board. Those attending the sessions will be learning how to use ActivInspire software to create sign-in and attendance pages that reflect the interests and diversity of their students.

A sample sign-in page for intermediate/secondary students.

During this learning community, the teachers will also be learning how to use ActivInspire to support mathematics through the use of digital manipulatives, the shape tool and grid.

A sample open-ended math problem for junior students.

As well, teachers who support students in a low incidence program will learn how to use ActivInspire software to create activities of daily living to support the needs of their students.  

A sample page to support activities of daily living for low incidence and/or primary students.
Ultimately, our goal is to incorporate interactive whiteboards as an effective teaching and learning tool in the classroom and to increase student engagement and achievement through a model of Differentiated Learning.

2 October 2014

TDSB A.T. pilot project: Proposals open now for supporting junior special education students to use A.T. to prepare for the EQAO process

For the past two years, special education has run an EQAO and Assistive Technology pilot project to provide ongoing support for teachers and students to use assistive technology software to prepare for the EQAO process.  As a result of this pilot project, EQAO exemptions are down for students with special needs and student test results are improving.  We are excited to announce that this project will be continuing this year!

This project is open to all HSP and ISP (LD or Behaviour) classrooms with at least three (3) students in grade 6 writing EQAO.

To participate in the EQAO and ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY project, teachers will need students to have:

ü  Access to a PC computer with at least Read and Write Gold (RWG) version 10 for all in-school sessions and for all assessments including EQAO test dates
ü  Commitment to regular keyboarding practice
ü  An IEP that outlines assistive technology accommodations that are necessary for and consistent with regular classroom practices and all assessments, including EQAO

Four in-class sessions will be held throughout the term of the project where an Itinerant Resource Teacher will come into the classroom and work with the students and co-teach with teacher support on using Read and Write Gold to answer EQAO-style questions. Classroom teachers will also participate in two Learning Communities where they can connect with other special education teachers, explore features of Read and Write Gold and to review EQAO procedures during test day.

Additional information regarding this project can be found on the September 29th DirectLine
( http://tdsbweb/directline/ ). Applications to participate are due by Wednesday October 15th.

Any Special Education teacher who teaches a class that meets the criteria noted above is encouraged to apply and have their students be a part of this powerful learning opportunity.

To see more about connecting Read and Write Gold tools to specific needs of your students check out our YouTube channel videos.