There are quite a few technology based tools available to teachers in the classroom. This is an exciting new field of technology and it allows teachers to interact more effectively with special needs students. Some schools are more equipped than others with this new technology, but it is something that hopefully the teaching field in general is moving towards. A lot more students coming out of education programs are becoming more technologically savvy in the classroom and that allows students with different learning abilities to all learn at the same time but at their own pace. It’s a great tool, but it doesn’t replace a great teacher! This is a basic overview of a couple tools available to teachers and organizations that teachers can be involved with in using technology.
Smart Boards-Smart Boards have been around for a little while in the Education Field but not necessarily at the elementary level. It first hit the college scene in the last 10 years and has changed the way teachers and students interact. For example: The instructor and the student can work together on a math problem or a writing assignment on the Smart board. In a special needs setting, it can be used in a variety of ways. Because children all have different learning styles, the Smart Board Whiteboard allows the teacher to create lesson plans to fit kinesthetic, auditory or visual learners. It’s an amazing tool. www.smarttech.com
Bookbuilder-This is a book that a teacher creates that is based on UDL(Universal Design Learning) and it allows the teacher to incorporate all sorts of extra items to support the book and accompanied learning. The example that is on the website is, “The Tortoise and the Hare.” This is another tool that assists a teacher with teaching words and associations with objects. It is something that all teachers can do in their classrooms with a video projector and computer with no additional cost to use the software. www.cast.org
There are additional teacher associations and non-profits that are working to create opportunities for teachers to incorporate technology into the classroom. These are a couple of the groups out there:
ISTE (The International Society for Technology in Education)– This is an International Group that is working towards improving teaching and learning with the use of technology but in this case it allows peer to peer interaction and networking. Their annual conference is an international attraction of 18,000+ in attendance and showcases the current topics and resources in education technology. It is THE place to be for teachers, librarians, technology instructors, specialists, administrators, and policy makers. www.iste.org/
ETAN (Ed Tech Action Network)- Their goal is to improve teaching and learning with the use of technology. This is a grassroots network that petitions policy makers in Washington to create laws and policies that support their goals. www.edtechactionnetwork.org/
This is just a sampling of the great resources available to special education teachers, but these are a couple of the unique ones available. Teachers need our support in these areas and anything you can do as a parent to promote technology in the classroom with your city council, state leaders and national leaders is a step in the right direction for learning to be accessible to all children no matter what their disability.