26 February 2015

Math & A.T. project Spotlight – Donview Middle Health and Wellness Academy - using Excel to deepen understanding of data management

Our “I Have Assistive Technology in my Classroom…How Do I Use It In Math?” project continues this month with additional Special Education teachers co-planning and co-teaching lessons with an Itinerant Resource Teacher. The purpose of this project is to help Special Education teachers develop a three-part math lesson with the use of assistive technology being embedded within the second part (“Working On It”) portion of the lesson so that students are able to use the technology to help express their mathematical reasoning.


Leonora Rochwerger, Intermediate HSP teacher from Donview Middle Health and Wellness Academy, worked with our team and developed a Data Management lesson that focused on interpreting and creating circle graphs. Leonora’s lesson embedded many assistive technology tools in order to engage her students and in order to help deepen their understanding of this concept. For example, students responded to prompts asking what they already knew about circle graphs by using the classroom Promethean Interactive White Board and ActivExpressions to text in their responses. Students then interpreted various circle graphs once again using their ActivExpression devices and engaged in a discussion on how to interpret the information presented.


Next, students learned how to use the math tools and shape tools in ActivInspire to create their own circle graphs based on data they had previously collected.


 As a follow-up to the lesson, students used Microsoft Excel to create circle graphs and and compared them with the graphs they had created using pencil, paper, and protractors.  Students also used Read and Write Gold 11 to create a vocabulary list for all the terminology related to this particular task.
Overall, students demonstrated a high level of engagement throughout the lesson and showed appreciation for how the use of these technological tools were able to assist them to more accurately represent the data that they had collected.

24 February 2015

Checking-in with student understanding using ActiVotes - Reinforcing concepts about narrative writing at Finch P.S.

Exploring the elements of a narrative

Maleka Kaderbhai, Home School Program teacher at Finch Public School wanted to find different ways to engage her students using assistive technology which meets their learning needs and styles. So during an individual referral co-planning session with itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu, a lesson was planned about the elements of narratives which incorporated the use of ActiVote (learner response systems) and the Promethean Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) desktop annotate feature. The response systems allow students to have a voice by voting in responses to questions posed. Once votes are all in, both the teacher and student get immediate feedback. They see their group results in a graph format - which is a springboard for discussion and allows to immediately address misunderstandings of concepts.

"(The itinerant referral experience) was an extremely worthwhile experience for me as it help me to further develop my skills with the Promethean board by integrating it into the language program and an excellent opportunity for the students to be able to use the ActiVotes throughout the lesson," said Ms. Kaderbhai. 
(Left) A student uses the ActiVotes for the first time. Buttons are colour coded and easy to read allowing for ease of access. (right) The results of a multiple choice question is compile. Students and the teacher can see which answer was most popular as well as two choices that were different.


 "I especially like the results feature of the ActiVotes which allows me to engage in a discussion with the students about the results of their votes," Ms. Kaderbhai said. "The integration of technology appealed to all the students and was both exciting and engaging for them. They're looking forward to using them again tomorrow! Thank you so much!"



(Left) The results of one poll question where most students voted one way as seen in the pie chart display. (Right) A student determines how many students voted yes for a question, tracing the top of data display in a bar chart across to the axes.

The lesson started from an on-line story which had visuals and was read out loud which supports the students comprehension. The on-line site had questions and built-in feedback. However, Ms. Kaderbhai used the IWB Desktop Annotate feature to have her students vote collectively and then discuss what they thought the best answer was, prior to them using the interactive features of the web site. 

Prior to voting on the setting, Ms. Kaderbhai writes letter beside each image.
Students then voted on the answer they think is the most appropriate. 
Throughout the lesson Ms. Kaderbhai reinforced concepts and had students give definitions that they though were important and appropriate to add to their Word Wall about a story or narrative. 

Adding to the Word Wall of terms about elements of a narrative.
Teachers can ask students multiple choice or true/false yes/no type questions using ActiVotes. In this example, when reviewing elements of a plot. Students worked in pairs to determine the sequence of events in the story. Then the group voted yes or no if they agreed on a specific solution.
By actively engaging with the story, voting on elements and discussing the answers, students used accurate and appropriate vocabulary. Students had a kinesthetic means to engage in the lesson and voting supported on-topic follow-up discussions where students were able to use evidence and expand on concrete examples from the text they had read.



19 February 2015

Exploring what is Orange - alternative access co-plan at Glamorgan J.P.S.

What is Orange?
Julie Ng at Glamorgan Junior Public School has been exploring the colour orange in her low incidence class.  Recently, Itinerant Resource Teacher, Andrea Statton met with Ms. Ng to co-plan a lesson in ActivInspire that will also use alternative access devices to engage her students.

The lesson has a multi-sensory approach to learning.  Students will be exploring the colour orange through poems, songs, videos and images in ActivInspire. In one of the activities, the students will use a switch to increase the size of the orange on the page to help reinforce the concept of oranges and to also help students understand the cause and effect relationship between tapping the switch and having an action happen on the interactive whiteboard. Students will also be touching, smelling and tasting an actual orange during the lesson.

 Each time the switch is activated the orange increases in size.


The Smooth Talker (voice output device) was used to record a song about oranges. During the lesson, students will be able to independently press on the Smooth Talker to have the song sung aloud. The Smooth Talker and other such devices can help students communicate successfully and provide opportunities for turn-taking and language skill development.

Ms. Ng records herself singing the orange song on the Smooth Talker during co-planning.

At the end of the whole group lesson, students will have a chance to add to their “My Orange Book” by dipping an actual orange in orange paint to paint the cover of their books. 

17 February 2015

Math & AT project underway - in-class sessions: West Glen J.P.S. spotlight

The AT team's Math and Assistive Technology project, "I have Assistive Technology in my classroom, how do I use it in Math?" is well underway. With one Learning Community session completed, each of the special education project teachers have been matched up with members of the itinerant teacher team for the job-embedded professional learning opportunities of co-planning and co-teaching. Some of these in-class sessions have taken place.

At West Glen Junior Public School, special education teacher Nicole Barnes and itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu co-planned a lesson to support Barnes' students consolidate concepts about money amounts.
To start, the group reviewed and revisited concepts about money that they know on the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB)- the Minds On part of the lesson. Students worked on identifying images of coins and their amounts as well as creating money amount using different combinations of coins.



Students were assigned specific interactive whiteboard files based on their grade level and money concepts they are learning. Students used the netbook and file to complete a math problem and further explore money concepts. (Tools used at the start of the lesson were the same ones students were required to use on their own using individualized files.)
It was the first time Ms. Barnes' class used the IWB tools to solve the problem on an individual file and computer. Ms Barnes' incorporated many sound files for students to use to as auditory prompts to support comprehension of instructions as well as reinforce coin names and amounts.

Students worked individually or in pairs.

An example of one student's solution to the "Buying lunch" problem.
Ms. Barnes' shares a money video with students following the consolidation and summarizing of the lesson. 
One of the main goals of the Math & AT project is for classroom teachers to try a lesson while embedding AT in order to deepen their support of students in Mathematics. Through the project, teachers will learn various strategies and features of assistive software tools in software programs and/or the use interactive whiteboard peripherals to support special education students. The project also aims to create networking opportunities for special education teachers through our Learning Communities model.

13 February 2015

Special Education teachers of Low Incidence classrooms explore possibilities of the ActivTable

ActivTable Networking Session Continues…
Approximately 40 Low Incidence teachers across the TDSB attended our second ActivTable Networking Session held at Terraview Learning Centre and Burnhamthorpe Adult Learning Centre.
During this session teachers had an opportunity to further explore the ActivTable. They had time trying out modified ActivInspire activities to use on the Windows side of the ActivTable. They also shared activities they have been using with their students that they found relevant and engaging.

Later, they were provided time to create/adapt activities for use on the ActivTable in their classrooms. These activities were shared with the group and each member was provided with a copy of all the activities created from both sites.

Teachers trying out ActivTable Activities created on ActivInspire.
Teachers sharing their favourite ActivTable Activities they use in their classrooms.
Teachers creating ActivInspire Activities for use on the ActivTable.
Teachers sharing the activities they created for the ActivTable.



10 February 2015

AT Tools to try in 2015 - OneNote

Tools to try in 2015: Microsoft OneNote:

Tool: Record Audio
Why: Students can use “record audio” to quickly record their thinking, a reminder or an important piece of information directly into their notes
Favourite Use: I love seeing students ask their subject teachers if they can record audio of them assigning the homework…often times this can be quicker than typing or hand writing it into a student’s agenda…quick and easy! Students can then access the note when as a reminder of what needs to be completed and when it is due.


Tool: Tags
Why: Students can use tags to flag important information (e.g., key points for a test), questions for their teachers, create “to do” lists  for projects and homework tasks. Once tags have been created, students can search for the tags in any of their OneNote sections and the tags can be collected to create a summary page.
Favourite Use: Making a “to do” list and enjoying the satisfaction of checking off the little boxes!


Tool: Screen Clipping
Why: Students can bring in content from web resources and other digital documents into their OneNote notebook page. When using screen clipping in conjunction with Internet Explorer, a static image of the text, diagrams and/or images can be defined an captured along with accompanying information such as time and date of access and the source web address (URL). Screen clipping is particularly useful in cases where the information on the page may change or the web site is difficult to find again.
Favourite Use: Doing a research project, identifying and organizing key information from a web resource/ web page resource (see photo). Not only are the text and images captured with the bibliographic information. Key facts or parts of the screen clipping can be highlighted, arrows, audio notes and tags can be added to the overall text to support the student's better overall understanding.


In this image the student has created a screen clipping. Then, the student has highlighted portions of the page. The student added an arrow to indicate the web address that was generated from the screen clipping creation and tagged the information as "important". There is also a sound file on this page - indicated by a white set of head phones on red background.

6 February 2015

Read and Write Gold Itinerant referral: Kingslake P.S. spotlight

Read and Write Gold (RWG) and Research at Kingslake P.S.
Ms. Ferreira, HSP teacher at Kingslake PS, and Renée Keberer, Itinerant Resource Teacher with Assistive Technology, partnered up to co-plan/teach a lesson with her class. Using the theme of Winter Sports, each student selected their favourite winter sport to research. During the lesson, the students learned how to use the Highlighters in RWG to collect important information about their topic and then to use the Collect Highlights from multiple documents feature to place all of this information into one easily accessible Word Document, complete with a Bibliography.


The teachers demonstrated this process with their own example of Hockey. Each category was given a specific Highlight Colour to help organize their information. A graphic organizer was also provided to support the students.





Over the next few weeks, the students completed their research and worked on their final presentation. Please see below for some of their finished products.


Bulletin Board display of finished products.






Some final products presented on a Bristol Board Display.

Other students used PowerPoint for their final product. Some sample pages follow.




3 February 2015

OneNote pilot project spotlight: G.A. Brown M.S.


A number of our intermediate special education classrooms have joined our OneNote pilot project over the past month. The project supports intermediate students to learn how to use a tablet device and software Microsoft OneNote to support their organization skills.

Last week, Ms. Le's Home School Program class had their third of four sessions at G.A. Brown Middle School. During this session students learned how to compile research information from the internet by using tools such as OneNote's screen clipping and tag tools.
Ms. Le and a few of her students explore the various of tools on the tablet.

Students can access research content from the internet using a keyboard, mouse, stylus or finger with the touch supported device. In this photo, the student prefers to use the tablet out of it's built-in keyboard case, and takes screen clipping of images and text using her finger.


After bringing in an image and text from the internet, a student experiments with using tags to highlight key information as well as questions.

During the four-session pilot, students learn how to navigate their tablet devices, use tools in OneNote and other apps found on the tablets in ways that will support their learning and organization.One useful app is HP Pagelift - which allows students to make any written text or image digital.


(left) A student uses the camera tool in HP Pagelift to capture an image from a magazine. (right) HP Pagelift allows to student to use the image in OneNote as part of her project.

To keep up with a few other schools which are taking part in our pilot don't forget to follow the Assistive Technology team's OneNote & TDSB Assistive Tech Facebook page at: 


For more information about the various OneNote tools that students are using during the project, go to our Tech and Special Ed Youtube channel to see some of our videos: