I had an interesting experience on Friday while I was doing a professional development session. While I was relaying my personal experiences with assistive technology one of the teachers said “I am writing down that quote!” the phrase in question:
“When the mechanics of writing limits a student’s creativity, technology can intercede on their behalf”.
Technology has been interceding on my behalf my entire life. And yes, I realize I just quoted myself, sad but true. So, besides being a little giddy that someone actually thought I was quote worthy, I was touched that I could relay a concept that is near and dear to me. I began to relay my personal story of being a special education student who did not learn how to read until I was in the third grade. I presented some of the modifications that I currently make in my daily life to adapt and to work efficiently. In addition I was also able to share how Google Apps helped me make modifications for one of my children who also has an IEP.
The add-on that I show the teachers was speech recognition in Google Docs, in fact I'm using that add-on right now to do this blog post. I shared with these teachers that there are many students that I've had in the past, that were so intimidated about the creative process, because they found the mechanics required by project were insurmountable. Really these students needed to do to express their ideas and opinions is start drafting using this speech recognition add-on, why not throw the EasyBib add-on for good measure? Here is a quick demo:
I've had a lot of experience using Google Apps for Education with a variety of children that had limitations placed on them by learning disabilities or physical challenges. Myself being a “card carrying IEP” dyslexic has found that Google Apps for Education has truly freed me in many ways.
Also, I shared that using these tools freed me to express my thoughts and follow my whims of my hyperlinking mind, which is often not where the typical thought process goes. Many times I have been someone who thoughts come completely out of left field. As a child this was really hard for me. I usually knew the answers or could arrive at them, I just didn't get them out fast enough. That is one of the reasons why I love instructional technology so much, it frees me to express my opinions, research topics that are meaningful to me, and publish for an audience. I realize that my writing is not perfect, nor will it ever be, but I refuse to allow fear to stop my creativity again. My writing is imperfect, as such, it is a honest representation of myself.
Along with technology, one of the other resources that I found to be very freeing for the atypical student, is Doug Lemov’s (@Doug_Lemov) Teach Like a Champion. If you have any opportunity to go to one of his workshops...go. Seriously, tell your district that you will turn-key the training. Ask for a grant from one of your school foundations, but go. It changed my thinking on teaching forever. As a child who struggled to express answers, take risks or speak up in class, I can tell you that these skills would have leveled the playing field. Now I get the honor of training teachers in these techniques. I have witnessed huge shifts in the classroom environment after training teachers in some of these techniques. Wait time and Cold Calling alone would have drastically changed my learning for the better.
I attended a two-day train the trainer workshop, and I was completely enthralled. The teaching skills that were covered would transform anyone’s classroom into a dynamic, fun, and rigorous learning environment.
I would suggest that any teacher would benefit from signing up for Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion blog updates.
I am a technology leader, professional developer, teacher, parent and proud owner of an IEP. Let's talk about some fabulous learning experiences.