Achieving Success Using Assistive Technology © Marianne Salvo and Kim Slomka, 2009 Teacher Notes Information on these slides is intended to guide you in identifying assistive technologies to help your students function more effectively. The websites provided are a starting point and are not meant to be comprehensive. You should preview these sites to determine which are most appropriate for supporting your students’ learning. Acknowledgment This resource was developed through generous support from the Janice Thomson Memorial Grant program that commemorates the goals Janice Thomson achieved as an educator. (See www.curriculum.org for more details.) Find the tools that meet your students’ needs. Assistive Technology refers to tools that help all students learn effectively. When creating an AT tool kit, a student needs to think about: What tools meet my needs so that I can function more effectively? Many assistive technology tools can be found on the Internet. Specific Benefits for Literacy and Numeracy Assistive technology can specifically address reading, writing, and numeracy challenges. Edyburn, 2000, 2003 AT is necessary for some students in the same way that eyeglasses or other aids are necessary for some students. Assistive Technologies include: Word processing that can address fine motor difficulties. Spell-check tools that can reduce some spelling difficulties. Importing data from spreadsheets to graphs and charts to allow students to produce a higher quality of work, reinforcing the value of published writing. Did You Know? Many word processors have features, such as auto-correct and auto-summarize that are helpful. Concrete Instructional Tools Students who learn differently can better encode and retrieve new information if it is presented in a structured way (e.g., graphic organizer). DiCecco & Gleason, 2002 Graphic organizers are visual aids that can be helpful in demonstrating how concepts are connected or related. These tools can be helpful to those who have difficulty in making inferences or understanding relationships among the main ideas and supporting details. Visual Organizers Brain-based research shows that visual organizers, such as concept maps, can be highly effective in helping students who struggle with reading and writing. Think Literacy: Cross-Curricular Approaches, Grades 7-12 “Engaging in Reading: Sorting Ideas Using a Concept Map,” p. 48 Website suggestions: http://bubbl.us/ http://www.thebrain.com/ http://www.exploratree.org.uk/ http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page Reading Supports A wide range of software tools supports reading across different learning abilities and styles. Three types of effective technological supports are Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for scanning text, speech synthesis of text (text-to-speech), and the talking thesaurus found in most word-processing programs. Text-to-Speech Software Did You Know? You can use text-to-speech software for a wide variety of tasks including class work or reading for fun. You can find grammatical mistakes in written work by listening along as the computer reads the work back to you. It can also help with the correct pronunciation of certain words or with reading comprehension. Website suggestions: http://www.readplease.com/ http://www.readthewords.com/ http://www.naturalreaders.com/ Promoting Oral Communication Students can learn key aspects of language and new vocabulary that are related to the theme or subject, by: listening to recorded texts (audio books) listening to new vocabulary (talking dictionary) Website suggestions: http://www.librivox.org/ http://www.quizlet.com/ http://www.dictionary.reference.com/ Did You Know? You can do a search for audio books online and find books in MP3 format. Promoting Written Communication Students can use audio-recording software to record their compositions in an alternative format. Website suggestion: http://www.audacity.sourceforge.net/ Using Peer Editors Students may have difficulty with aspects of the written language including grammar, spelling, punctuation, and organization. A writing buddy can be critical support for the student with the writing process. Students can use electronic peer editors – this supports group work and peer editing skills as they share their documents and invite others to be collaborators. Some word processors have a feature that allows for tracking revisions in a document. Website suggestion: http://docs.google.com/ AT Tools for Writing Word-prediction software Some programs have built-in word completion capability. Voice-to-text software allows students to talk to the computer and watch spoken words appear in documents, email, and instant messages. You need a high-quality headset with a microphone to train the program to recognize your voice. Website suggestion: http://www.openoffice.org AT Tools for Numeracy Talking calculators that vocalize data and resulting calculations through speech synthesis On-screen graphing calculator programs with speech synthesis Software that allows students to manipulate objects and geometric shapes Website suggestion: http://my.hrw.com/math06_07/nsmedia/tools/Graph_Calculator/graphCalc.html More AT Tools for Numeracy Internet math sites for the development of numeracy skills Textbooks in PDF Publishers may have an electronic version of the textbook available. Programs for recording video of on-screen action Website suggestions: http://nlvm.usu.edu/ http://www.jingproject.com/ AT Tools for Organizing Free online calendars let you schedule events, and share your schedule with friends and family. You can choose to be reminded of upcoming events by email or pop-ups. There are online ‘assignment calculators’ to help break down tasks for research projects. Website suggestions: http://www.biblio.uottawa.ca/assign-calc/index-e.php E-filing Electronic Materials Students can learn how to manage time and assimilate information more effectively. Students can use an electronic online filing system as a central place to access all of their electronic materials. Keeping materials organized helps students keep all their class work and homework papers in one place. Reflecting on the Use of AT in the Classroom About students: What are students’ needs and abilities (strength, interest, learning style)? Why does a student need assistive technology? (How will the AT tool assist the student in having greater success in performing the task?) What are the major areas of concern that need to be addressed? About the learning environment: Where and when will the student use assistive technology (classroom, home, library)? What supports and resources are available? How can the student access a computer for ease of use for learning and instructional demands? About tasks: What does the student need to be able to do that is difficult at this time? What is the expected level of independence?