Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Adaptive and Assistive Technologies (ATs)

What policies or procedures do you have in place for adaptive and assistive technologies (ATs)?
Neither Pleasant Plains School District nor Pleasant Plains High School has policies in place for adaptive and assistive technologies. General education teachers routinely infuse AT tools into their classrooms for all students. The special education department reviews each student individually and determines the best adaptive and assistive technologies necessary for that student, making the AT part of the IEP for the student.

Does your school/district have ATs? If so, what are they?
According to the PPCUSD8 Technology Plan, the district does not have any adaptive or assistive devices. However, the special education and general education classrooms have ATs that are routinely used.

While it is not a global practice at the high school, in several general education classrooms, PowerPoint presentations are made available online for students to access before, during, and after in most classes; assignment and project instructions with due dates included are made available online for student and parent access; essay and project rubrics are made available online for student and parent access; and classroom expectations and policies are made available online for both students and parents. In addition, textbook companies such as McGraw-Hill, the provider of our Glencoe Literature books provide a digital textbook for pc’s/mac’s that allows students to take notes, listen to professional readings of the literature while reading along, highlight text, do a quick search for text, zoom in/out, and place post-it notes on the pages of the text.

Like most teachers, I have learned to be creative in my classroom in creating ATs. I have converted text from articles, websites, or essays to pdf so students with reading difficulties could listen to Adobe Reader read the passages aloud as they read along. I have also tracked down audio versions of literature either through the internet or through the library when necessary.

Pleasant Plains High School has continuously been striving to increase reading skills for all students with various reading strategies. Some of these strategies include the use of graphic organizers in all content areas possible. Pre-reading, reading, and post-reading strategies are also highlighted in all content areas. Ongoing professional development in reading strategies has been a core of Pleasant Plains High School.

According to J. Peterson, the use of AT tools in special education classrooms includes an OCR scanner that reads aloud printed text to the student, Jamestown Reading Navigator software for increasing reading skills, books on tape/cd, spellcheckers, a social skills software program, and math textbook company software for notes and tutorials (personal communication, June 21, 2011).

Are there other AT tools that you have used and have found beneficial in your classroom or school?
I use McGraw-Hill’s digital textbook with my American Literature students and am pleased with all of the ATs available within it. It was interesting to see students from all skill levels access the tools, which seemed to erase any stigma a student with reading difficulties might have. While Edyburn mentions that “the traditional textbook has become a representative symbol of an inaccessible curriculum” (2008, p. 62), it appears that textbook companies have begun to create tools that have become valuable assets in the classroom for all students. In addition to the textbooks, I have used Google Docs to share class notes/presentations with all students and Primary Pad to save collaborative classroom written discussions that all students could access afterwards. This past year one of my students, who is dyslexic, researched Spaaze for a speech project about a web 2.0 tool that can be used in the classroom and liked it so much that he began using it to stay organized.

Edyburn, D.. (2008). Research and Practice. Journal of Special Education Technology, 23(4), 62-65. Retrieved June 21, 2011, from ProQuest Education Journals. (Document ID: 1767837251).

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