Friday, August 29, 2008

Slow Down and Let Students Accommodate for Life!

Print Disabilities provide the pleasure of teaching the use of tools and strategies that will take students and carry them on past school years and build a foundation for life. If we slow down and allow kids time to learn to use these tools the way they would really like to use them, they will actually grab onto them and begin to self-accommodate. Here is my most recent "back to school" example:I was in a high school meeting yesterday where we were designing our implementation strategy for modification and accommodation of content. The teachers have built blogs for content that are closed and secure for student access by password only. We had grand plans for amazing content and then someone stopped and commented:
"Maybe we need to wait on developing too much content and just spend the first part of fall quarter letting students spend time learning to use the text to speech tool, going to the page with all the hyperlinks to the teacher blogs for modified content, use the Mp3 download tool and save content to listen to. We need to give time for practice. We could give them some fun sample content that they could practice with."
Of course, no one could argue. We had all been discussing over-arching goals, tools to use, and content from for specific students. These were good plans and necessary, but we had momentarily forgotten to slow down take a breath and allow ourselves to lay a foundation.We decided that the number one goal was to help these students with print disabilities develop a life skill of being able to use these tools for things they would need to do like reading news, accessing web sites and filling in online forms, spelling correctly, etc.
If we give students opportunities to use a text to speech tool, convert to Mp3 tool, spell checkers and use the e-text files so they can read and explore content that motivates them, then maybe they will REALLY learn how to use these tools for the reasons we want them to have them anyway. Once they have got the implementation down, then we can add more content and develop our curriculum goals. What can it hurt to let them "play" with the technology for the first 3 weeks? So we had our "Ah-ha moment" and relaxed. Now everyone is ready to explore, work on developing content, but not under so much pressure.
When you implement new technology for the first time, folks can be stressed, nervous and fear failure. If the teachers feel that way, how about the students? Some students take to tech, but for many with print disabilities, the low stress plan will really pay off. We are taking that path this next month of September and I will let you know how it goes.

All the best to you!

No Limits 2 Learning Live will host Leanne McFoose, Developer of the InterACCT system for Dynavox next Wednesday at 10 a.m. Pacific. More details to come next week.

Lon is an assistive technology specialist and professional development trainer who lives in Oregon and serves 12 districts in 7 counties. He hosts the No Limits 2 Learning Blog and The No Limits 2 Learning Live Talk Show on Blog Talk Radio. He is sharing as a contributing writer on LD LIVE!

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