So, being that we are working within February a fantastic month for inclusive education as we also have the accessibility / inclusiveness embedded within the 2018 Olympic Winter Games too. I was watching the new on TV this morning and Tom Renney (Hockey Canada’s President) and he was congratulating and setting up for the announcement of Canada’s Sledge Hockey Team heavily favored to win this year in the Olympics!
I was very humbled and honored to be Canadian in that moment as family, friends and people from from around our Great Nation celebrated and honored our representatives in a sport near and dear to my heart in hockey! Our Country speaks volumes to accessibility and feature of inclusiveness from coast to coast!
So, with that I now lead into my months exploration into exclusiveness….last week I reflected upon the past in my blog https://sites.granderie.ca/jarcher/2018/02/04/146/
This posting is on a current situation occurring within my classroom….actually two as I am having trouble deciding upon which would be best to share. So, let start with my friend ‘R’….whom is on an IEP functioning in a low grade 1-2 grade level in reading and writing. Very few sight words are easily recognized within print, which makes decoding extremely difficult when he sounds words letter by letter, as blends and whatnot do not work well for him too. Therefore, we regrouped and really focused on his comprehension strategies, as technology now can read aloud for him, while using classroom tablets and now his own personal device using Office Lens (with OCR scanning capabilities) OneNote Learning Tools and now even Word. His comprehension skills will be something he will require now and also in the future.
R has become very proficient at utilizing Office Len and OneNote….handouts, worksheets are independently scanned inserted within a Classroom OneNote student section where R then dives into the Learning Tools features to have his document / reading / article (which ever it is) read aloud. He then is able to highlight and control what sentences are being read, paragraph by paragraph, question by question and then using voice dictation inserts his answers to questions as if there was no need for an IEP or previously required scribes to complete any given task. Seems intense, yet with a fair amount of training, re-training, failures, re-builds, and finally complete and utter happiness being able to fully independently do all this on his own….R can now partake in literature circles, classroom discussions and book clubs! R typically kept to himself and was really shy I think because he couldn’t partake before and be one within his class without requiring direct one to one assistance to complete anything. As we know this is far from ideal in grade 6, therefore self confidence and self-esteem has drastically changed and altered….he was also a frequent behaviour problem as well, mostly because he couldn’t partake and instead of being identified as unable or in kids minds ‘stupid’ he choose to act out.
Now, this fella is a big part of our classroom. His simple BYOD cell phone, which ONLY has access to Wifi allows him to be immersed and involved in all classroom inquiries and activities….actually a sought out partner by many as his friends love the ease of access to information his phone can now provide him with. His skills in OneNote with Learning Tools have now been transferred into Word with the Immersive Tools now within those as well….even better that they are also in Apps now too! This guy used to wear a hood over his head within the classroom, not confident at all, shy very quiet. Now after walking within the classroom, he pulls his hood off….this is the ONLY sign I need to see after all the hard work put in with R this year! Successful, proud teaching moment each day when he walks to our door with his hood on, but pulls it off once seating within the classroom! Yahoo
Now my other friend; D. Again an IEP student for reading and writing. I tried hard to lump D and R together into the same mix using the same tools but D was not taking to things as easily and eagerly as R, so I did what all great teachers do…..regrouped…walked away thinking, watching and learning this guys interests and found it in technological aspects in Coding with Micro:bits and also Minecraft….be patient on this one as I try to explain.
Starting with Micro:bits D found an extreme love and fascination with these cool little devices instantly (actually asking to write an interest talk on Micro:bits), which was fantastic as he avoided writing tasks before! Best part…..he wrote his talk within the programming and used the Micro:bits LEDs to share his messages….with simple ‘when A pressed…’ he had it display ‘this’ or ‘when B pressed….’; it displayed ‘that’….(all written out….edited and spell checked as I said we CANNOT show and share errors on this awesome devices). He also dived deeper into the programming, adding in his voice which read his written script he wrote out and recorded. D programmed his Micro:bit ‘When tilted left / right / up / down / shaked’ to say various things he learned about it during research with another web based tool he used on his SEA equipment; Microsoft Edge. Edge allowed him to screen shot, read within the browser, highlight key points he liked and copy / paste into a new word doc….which then using the immersive reader read his script to him in one ear while he then repeated it into the Micro:bits Coding. D also used alligator clips and attached them to ear buds for his audience….one at a time (myself and a few friends). This is one of two events I want to share about this guy!
Second one; Minecraft. We tried a Terry Fox ‘Point of View’ writing task, which was slightly painful for D! Pencil and paper are not his strengths, his writing is legible and spelling is good, but he has no interest in it. So, one day I had a fantastic Skype Lesson / Meeting with Katja Borregaard whom showed us how to use blackboards, NVP’s, Portfolios, Selfies and so much more. D walked away from this Skype lesson excited! He was not 100% sure on how to do some of the things Katja shared so we explored them that week together. Gathered a few Minecraft Masters (expert students) whom taught both myself and D how to using and incorporate them into his world.
D went to work one day, math was coming up (a BIG strength of his and he always eagerly looks forward to math) and D came up to me and asked if he could keep writing and skip math that day. Now, my first thought was no, but I was also taken back upon the request that he wanted to keep writing! So, I thought what the heck! He is strong enough in math to miss one, so for S&%$s and giggles, I let him go at it……so thankful I did! D not only wrote from Terry Fox’ point of view but mapped out his route in Minecraft with signs of roads and a few highlights along the route for big events. Along the way Terry NVPs told his POV of the run….the thoughts and feelings, anxieties, hopes, fears and pain. I have to also mention this….of the grade 5/6’s (some of whom are gifted), D’s work was within the top 5 for this given assignment. Now being the rather ‘odd’ teacher that I am not providing grades, my feedback and conference with him brought tears to my eyes and his as well! He was ecstatic too…..now my troubles with D is trying to get him to try other things outside Minecraft….as you can imagine being autistic is difficult enough!! (I know eh….I wanted to share that earlier but I thought the impact would be more powerful now).
So, my ‘Present’ Accessibility / Inclusive Ed blog posting concludes….I am working on parents a bit to share more from these actual events, however being individuals whom struggled with the education system, its not quite a leap they are able to take at this time.
Next week I dive into the future of accessibility / inclusiveness in education…I cannot wait to watch and see if I can pull in some Olympic Magic into that posting….I always love the closing ceremony, especially when the torch / flame is passed to ‘The Youth of the World’ to meet again in four years….fitting I believe as a walking in point!
Until then, looking forward to hearing more from others!