I have had the opportunity to work with students with disabilities in an inclusion classroom for about ten years, and for nearly all of those years I have been in a school where every student has a laptop.
With technology at their fingertips, a priority for me became trying to find ways to use that technology to reach my students with disabilities. I have learned a lot over the years thanks to some amazing students and co-teachers. Here are eight of my favorite tech tips for differentiating in an inclusion classroom.
"MakerSpaces can be a great catalyst for the growth of social-emotional learning. Facilitating a maker culture can give students a venue for the development of the tools they need to recognize, understand and manage emotions and to make the responsible decisions that are critical to being a successful learner. These life long skills must be clearly articulated and deliberately discussed so that they become an intrinsic foundation for the emotional health of the student.
There are many excellent social emotional learning titles that can be used to encourage SEL development. However, a few of these also blend very well with a Maker mentality and build on some important tenants of social and emotional well being."
So, why just use technology, when you can build it, right? But first—students need the programming know-how in order to do so… And that begins with you!
Whether you choose to embrace the concept or not, it’s becoming more and more important to equip students with coding skills. It’s the new literacy for a generation of students growing up in a digitally-connected world. Having this knowledge not only strengthens general skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, but it will become invaluable in their future as a wide range of industries are eager to hire individuals with programming abilities.
"With the National Week of Making behind us, you might be ready to start a makerspace in your school -- but not know where to start. Will purchasing a costly 3D printer and the latest robotics kit ensure learning and maker success? What are some steps to starting a successful makerspace from scratch?
Think you know Google’s online productivity suite back to front? Whether you’ve been using Google Drive for five minutes or five years, there’s always more to learn, and in that spirit we present 10 valuable tips and tricks for mastering the service.
"If you haven’t heard of Genius Hour or 20% time in the classroom, the premise is simple: Give your students 20% of their class time (or an hour each week) to learn what they want. These projects allow students to choose the content and still acquire/master skills and hit academic standards.
I’ve written extensively about Genius Hour and 20% Time, but wanted to share a list of the 10 reasons you should consider Genius Hour in your classroom (for those of you on the fence) and why you will not regret making that choice!"
Do you know the answer to the next simple question? "What do you know about web 2.0 technology?" What's so interesting about this video, is the simple fact that none of these so called digital natives are familiar with the term web 2.0. Although they never had a life without technology, they just don't know…
"Our Makerspace serves students in kindergarten through grade 5 for class projects, weekly makerspace activities and family events. I received a small, local grant and advertised a list of requested items from our school community. This interview with Mitch Resnick from the MIT Media Lab & Dr. Jackie Gerstein's makerspace presentations/research inspire the philosophy & practices of my elementary makerspace.
1. Process > product
2. Copying is okay.
3. FAIL = first attempt in learning
4. Constraints lead to creativity (Students don't have free reign; they follow rules & with some projects, specific steps to get started)
5. Students, & teachers, need time to explore, discover, create & share."
Placing devices in the hands of students can transform their experience in the classroom. Easily accessible content consumption and content creation tools change the way that we think about helping students meet learning goals. As a former 1:1 iPad teacher, my thinking about technology integration has changed over the past several years. Moving up the ladder of SAMR and getting students moving with portable devices are just two areas where I've shifted my initial thinking about technology tools in educational settings.
A 1:1 learning environment is a powerful sight. All students with access to their very own device can alter the way that we've always thought about classroom instruction. Students can work through individualized curriculum on their own device and search to find answers to their questions. Although the personalization of a student experience in a 1:1 environment is powerful, it's important that students don't lose those necessary moments of collaboration and critical thinking that come from working together with their peers.
Lissa Davies didn’t hesitate to put 255 elementary school students into a room together with a mountain of cardboard, tape and scissors.
“We want these students to be excited about what they’re doing. And what you see here is students who are totally engaged in what they’re doing,” the Keheewin school teacher-librarian and curriculum co-ordinator said over the din of high-pitched voices Friday.
Armed with plans they revised on the fly, students in the south-side Edmonton public school were engrossed in a school-wide makerspace challenge to build a game out of cardboard.
“People are making (such) cool things,” said six-year-old Wyatt Knorr, who’s in Grade 1. “They’re using their brains, and thinking, and problem solving.”
Think about designing, like collaborating in a flexible space from funky-colored chairs on wheels.
Think about testing, like crafting conductivity testers needed for your classmates.
Think about making, like programming and assembling a security card system for the space.
Above all, think.
Schools now are thinking a lot about maker spaces, and the term can mean many things, as shown in the examples above, from Brandywine High, St. Elizabeth, Newark High and Tatnall schools, respectively.
Design thinking is an approach to learning that includes considering real-world problems, research, analysis, conceiving original ideas, lots of experimentation, and sometimes building things by hand. The projects teach students how to make a stable product, use tools, think about the needs of another, solve challenges, overcome setbacks and stay motivated on a long-term problem. The projects also teach students to build on the ideas of others, vet sources, generate questions, deeply analyze topics, and think creatively and analytically. Many of those same qualities are goals of the Common Core State Standards. (What Does ‘Design Thinking’ Look Like in School?)
I use the following activities to introduce elementary students to the design thinking process. The ultimate goal is for the learners to work on their own, self-selected problems in which they will apply the design thinking.
Introducing the general design process to elementary student occurs through showing the following video about the engineering process:
Educator Mia MacMeekin made this infographic about ways to inspire students to think more deeply about how innovation applies to them. It’s a helpful way to begin a conversation about what it means to innovate, a word that sometimes seems to belong in the adult domain of business and is estranged from how students think about living their lives.
By Bethany Petty The classrooms of today have the potential to look vastly different than those of the past. Many teachers have access to a vast array of technology tools that can be used in the classroom to increase student engagement.
You wouldn’t just randomly choose a tool from your toolbox and feel confident it was the right one to cut a board or attach a hinge. Same goes for school makerspaces.
Like everything in ed tech, it’s not enough to have a bunch of shiny gadgets in your makerspace. You need to have the right materials to meet your goals.
Vinnie Vrotny, director of technology at The Kinkaid School in Houston, Texas, understands how tempting it is to fill a space with the latest devices. But before you do, here are eight questions you should ask to determine if you’re choosing wisely.
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