I would like to thank this week’s group for putting together a great presentation that was loaded with very useful information and resources. As a physical education specialist I haven’t had the opportunity to use many assistive technologies in my workplace setting. However, I have been around these aids within the school environment and have seen them put to good use. Within our school we have students who require visuals, structure, routine, etc. I use the visual timer in the gymnasium to hopefully help these students transition from one activity to another.
I set the visual timer so they can see how much time we have remaining in class or I use the timer for simple, small activities that are occurring in my lessons. Many teachers within our school have visual timers set up in their classroom. These timers can be useful for everyone and not just for students who have trouble transitioning from one task to another.
Another assistive technology that I wouldn’t have thought was and assistive technology that we use in our school is the different types of seats for students.
Our seats range from rocking chairs, to wiggle seats to things that can be put on a regular chair for the student to sit on. These chairs have been useful for our students in the sense that they are able to wiggle and move throughout a lesson without disrupting the entire class. Many students have trouble being stationary and focusing; these chairs enable them to move, focus on the task at hand and draw less attention to themselves throughout the lesson. When I think back to my childhood in school, I remember teachers were always saying “sit down, be quiet, stop moving”. I can imagine how difficult and frustrating this was for everyone in the classroom. If these seats were available in my school days, would the students have been more successful, better focused and able expend energy in a positive manner?
IPads have been a great resource for many teachers in our school. Although I do not have access to IPads in the gymnasium classroom, I do see how they could be beneficial for our students. IPads have a variety of applications that are accessible to students to help with their varying needs. Students do not necessarily have a learning disability to benefit from these IPads, all students can find something on an IPad that will enable them to be successful in whatever they are learning.
Chrome books and computers are other forms of technology that are used often in our school. These types of technology allow students to learn in a different way and hopefully ensures they are successful. Computers allow our students who have difficulties writing the option to type. Another program that I have mentioned before in my blog is the Google Voice to Text. This program allows our students to speak and the computer types what the student is saying. This tool can be a real benefit to students with or without difficulties.
In the past I have worked with a student who has a hearing impairment. This student have hearing aids to assist him with his disability and contributes to his success in learning. This past year we have begun to use a microphone that synchronises directly with his hearing aid; what is being said in the microphone is amplified for him and not for the other students. The teachers that have used this piece of technology with this student have found it very beneficial and the student has nothing but positive things to say about it as well. We have tried this system out in the gymnasium and after the first class using it we had a discussion about how this aid worked in the gym environment. There were definitely things I could change or do differently to ensure that he was receiving the necessary instruction better through his aid. However, on his own without the influence of others the student decided that this tool was not benefit to him in the gymnasium. He indicated there was more time spent on activities rather than the instruction itself. We haven’t used it since at his request and he has been very successful in physical education so far.
Resistance bands and fidgets have been a go to for many of our students. Although these may not be seen as technology they are something that is assists our in learning. Resistance bands can be a real benefit for students who feel they need to be on the move, expend energy but are unable to get up and move based on the particular lesson. The use of fidgets can also be a benefit in keeping students busy, focused, and keeping their hands to themselves and on task. Students can either be beneficial or can be a distraction for other students and teachers.
Like most things these aids require funding. Our school board doesn’t necessarily have the funding allocated to these aids in order to provide all of the options for our schools, students and staff. With lack of funding and resources there is only so much that we can do to create a positive learning environment that meets the needs of each individual student.
Rethinking assistive technology suggests that as educators we have little to no training in the assistive technology department which hinders our progress in implementing these tools in our classrooms successfully. As an educator I would find it beneficial to have some training, background information, ways of implementation in these types of technologies in my classroom. This article also suggests that there has been no evidence that suggests all students have access to the necessary tools, devices and services that they need. If we as educators are not providing our students with the necessary tools, devices and resources how to we ensure that they are successful individuals in our classrooms and in our society?