This week I continued working with several of the same students. One of the students I work with struggles with writing. He was having a hard time gets his thoughts onto paper. He could tell me what he wanted to write about and we established a plan, but when it came time to write the piece, all progress stopped. My cooperating teacher and his teacher decided he could type his piece on Google Docs. I was really excited because I thought it would help him get his thoughts down on paper. Unfortunately, the first day didn’t go exactly how I thought it would. He was very fast with the backspace key and delete almost everything he wrote, so for homework he had to write 2 paragraphs.
The next day I set some ground rules. We agreed that if he wanted to rewrite something, he would go to the next line and write it without deleting the other sentence. That worked for the most part, but my mistake was doing the ctrl+z shortcut to undo something he deleted. He loved this shortcut and focused a lot on using that instead of continuing his piece. This week’s take-away was:
Set ground rules before using technology and, if necessary, give students time to play with a new function before starting to work.
This week my supervisor came to observe me with a small reading group. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to use technology in this group because the room and the program isn’t set up for technology use. Either way I did a good job and he thought I was making progress and headed in the right direction.
I kept up with my student who uses an iPad. He is still fairly resistant, but sometimes I can get him to use it. I still trying to figure out why he won’t use it. He says it’s because writing is faster, but I also wonder if it’s because the other students are writing and he want to too. He did do research for a project on the iPad and was pretty good at it. I’m still stuck on how to get him to want to use the iPad because it doesn’t help the quality of his work (his answers are often just quick words or phrases when they need to be complete sentences), it just makes his writing more legible but he almost seems to write less and he gets caught up on the formatting and that slows him down too. The take-away is more of a question I’m still asking myself this week:
How can I get a student to use his assistive technology if he doesn’t want to and it doesn’t improve his work very much?
This week I have had more of a chance to run small groups and discuss when I’m going to complete the requirements for my CEL student teaching observations. I’m pretty excited about the observations because it is okay if record myself working one-on-one with a student and help them use their devices and organize them. Before I was planning on teaching a lesson in the computer lab about Word, PowerPoint, Excel, or another technology tool. I was less excited about this idea because it’s not as relevant to the special education setting as working with the AT.
I continued working with the 5th grade student to use his iPad, but I’m struggling with a few things. He doesn’t always need to use the iPad, but I want him to keep practicing with it so it becomes easier for him. Also, they do a lot of whole group work and I don’t want to pull him out or draw more attention to him. I would still like to help him because he can do it, but he needs more focused attention. I’m not sure what to do in these situations. This week’s take away was:
Be cautious when you are supporting a student that you aren’t doing the work for them. Give them the chance to show you what you know.
This week I got to go out and do a lot of observations of other teachers to see how they run their small groups. This week has been more normal because ISTEP isn’t messing up the schedule so I got to see more small groups. I have noticed that using technology in the small groups is difficult because the room isn’t set up for it. We don’t have a projector, document camera, MOBI, or screen. The only technology we have is a teacher computer and a laptop. Some student have assistive technology, but they don’t bring it to group. The laptop is often used to show Math U See videos. (This math program is amazing and I highly recommend it!) I do some push in support for a 5th grade student who recently got an iPad. He is a little resistant to using it because he says writing is faster, but his writing is very illegible. I help him adjust the settings and prompt him to use the device. There is another student who struggles to use her device and needs help logging on to her laptop and knowing when it use it. A lot of the kids also need help knowing how to organize their device. This week’s take away was:
Without scaffolding the student won’t know how and when to appropriately use their assistive technology.
This is my first week in the special education setting. I’m very excited for this because a lot of the students have assistive technology and that’s the reason I start the CEL program. I wanted to be able to help students use technology in a way that benefits them both academically and physically. Many of the students have iPads and I have seen the advantages and difficulties in the general education setting because 3 students in my last placement used iPads. Other students use laptops and some even use the most basic word processing devices. AT is chosen based on the student’s current need and ability. Giving a student AT that is too advanced or even more distracting hurts the student more than it helps.
This week was ISTEP testing so I spent most of my time observing one-on-one and small group testing. I also got to help with the AT and getting it ready for the tests. We had to adjust settings to make it suitable for ISTEP and their requirements for AT. Unfortunately, I didn’t not get to experience much because it was my first week and ISTEP is very limiting. This week’s take away was:
Assistive technology is a great asset as long as it is appropriate for the specific student.
Unfortunately, this week is my last week in the general education setting. I have thoroughly enjoyed this placement. While I’m sad to go, I am also looking forward to my special education placement.
This week has been a little chaotic because we have been doing the ISTEP practice tests during our literacy block so we’ve had no time for literacy lessons. I have been making social studies more fun (and incorporated more technology) to balance out all of the testing. Each day I have shown a video clip about the Revolutionary War from the History Channel‘s website. (I strongly recommend this site for anyone who doesn’t already use it. It can be used at any grade level.) I included links to the videos below. I had to preview the videos beforehand which paid off because, in my favorite video, Brian Williams says “whoop ass” so I was upset that I couldn’t use it. Using the videos was a great transition tool and it got the students thinking before we started reading from the textbook. I liked have the discussions based around the video and predicting what we thought might be the situation BEFORE reading the chapter and using the students background knowledge and building on it. We then used the textbook to confirm and expand our thinking. This week’s take away was:
Technology can be used as a transitional tool, but make sure you check the content before showing it to the kids. Also, when showing a video clip, make sure to tie it in with the lesson. It can be a bit awkward if you don’t talk about it afterwards.
The Battle of Saratoga Turns the Tide
Bet You Didn’t Know: Revolutionary War — played before the “Reading Further” lesson about women, African Americans, and Native Americans in the Revolution.
I have always used resources in math and social studies class, but this week I used a lot more of them during our language arts block. I used the projector and document camera to display the journal page and filled it in with the students instead of simply stating the answers and asking the kids if they had it filled out. There were clear pros and cons to this method. The students could be held more accountable for writing the information and participation was higher because they knew exactly what to write. However, it did limit my mobility in the classroom and made it harder for me to move around and monitor specific students and it limited some students because they wrote what was on the screen and stopped thinking about other answers on their own. I also used a video from the REACH textbook for the first time. It was nice to incorporate the video because the students got to hear the vocabulary words in a different way and in a voice that wasn’t mine. It was also more engaging because students will generally pay attention to a video regardless of the content. I really enjoyed incorporating these tools into the literacy block because I felt more students were engaged. This weeks take away was:
While the doc camera is a great tool, find other ways to display and complete whole class activities so you can move around the room to monitor your students.