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!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

LD Online: Dyslexia and High School

LD Online reprinted Melinda's article from her Seattle PI Reader Blog, Learning Connections.

Last week I visited a local high school to observe a freshman. Even though the end of school is near, I wanted to see first-hand how the teachers were implementing accommodations and modifications for his severe dyslexia.

Before school began in the fall, I had met with this student twice a week to build his reading, writing and study skills. He began the year rating school as a "-1" on a one-to-ten scale. By mid-winter, he had moved his self-assessment of school to a "10." Since then he had become increasingly discouraged. Finally I realized that I better get a first-hand look at what was going on in his classes.

So, his teacher kindly let me sit in the back of the class. I spent the hour noting the tasks that he was asked to complete along with the other students in his literature class. Read More

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to School Basics: Access for Students that Get Overlooked

Back to school means back to supporting learning for some students that "fall between the cracks." More and more, we see children struggling that don't have a visible or severe enough disability to qualify for special services and an IEP. That doesn't mean they should get lost in the shuffle and not have the tools to accomodate for their learning style and lack of skills.

I was doing a training in a high school with regular classroom teachers that were getting access and support technology training for the kids that were in their classes that also had IEP's and needed either modified or accomodated curriculum and instruction. When we were through with the day training, their summary of the day included the realization that the tools we explored were good for ALL students and that they probably had more "regular" students with print disability needs that were more severe than the IEP students they were preparing for. Read More

About the Author
Lon Thornburg is an educator and an assistive technology specialist and trainer. He combines success principles and motivational methods with goal setting, planning and assistive technology to help people overcome barriers. Lon also has a podcast and live online talk radio show. See players below

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Succeeding at School With ADHD

Free Back-to-School Handbook for Parents and Teachers of Students With Special Needs

In this free expert booklet, ADDitude magazine has assembled its best academic resources including a back-to-school checklist for parents, a sample letter introducing your child to new teachers, daytime medication guidelines, and learning strategies for students with attention-deficit disorder and learning disabilities.

ADDitude magazine, the leading publication for families and adults living with attention deficit disorder (ADHD), has released a free, downloadable back-to-school handbook for the parents and teachers of students with ADHD and learning disabilities.

Top learning specialists and ADHD professionals contributed to 9 Ways to Achieve Success at School, the 14-page booklet that contains proven strategies for:

-- Securing appropriate academic accommodations via an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan
-- Working with teachers and school administrators to begin the school year right
-- Talking with your child about his goals, fears, and challenges for the year ahead
-- Managing common ADHD symptoms like distractibility in the classroom
-- Studying smarter and completing homework assignments on time
-- Strengthening reading, writing, and math skills at every grade level
-- Managing daytime doses of ADHD medication at school

"Back-to-school time can be overwhelming -- even scary -- for children with ADHD, especially if last year was rough," says Susan Caughman, editor-in-chief of ADDitude. "This free handbook gives those students and their parents the tools they need to begin this year with confidence and a clear goal of success."

What can you do now to ensure that your child begins her next school year poised and prepared? Begin with ADDitude's summer checklist for parents, then work through "10 Conversations to Have at the Start of the Year," both included in 9 Ways to Achieve Success at School. Inside this booklet you'll also find a sample letter to your child's teacher and "Social Skills 101."