by Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed. MLIS
Last time we talked about starting a new school year, taking an inventory of supplies and evaluating general environmental conditions in your classroom as you start the new school year. You’ll want to see what’s up with new technologies.
I could write 30 blog articles on this subject (and with proper encouragement I just might, please comment below). Technology is increasingly important in our special needs classrooms and this impact is being studied at many levels. All I know is, it’s only going to become more important as we proceed. If you need to brush up on technology skills (basic things like word processing), it’s in your best interest to find professional development offerings in your district. If you have a technology curriculum specialist in your district, give this person a call and make sure you are on her list for any seminars she might be planning.
There are too many software packages and online resources for special education classrooms to reveal in one blog. A comprehensive list of the most common programs for use on the internet or for your own district network, visit Education World’s Assistive Technology page, they have a nice breakdown of products and programs you can review.
Don’t have any time to learn new skills? To stay current with technology, you need to make time. I have mixed opinions about online degree programs, the jury is going to be out on the efficacy of these programs for a long time. I’m very leery of getting a degree in my bunny slippers. However, for adding specific tech skills to your repertoire, online training is a good place to start.
Check with your state department of education to see what programs they endorse for teacher technology training. I randomly selected Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to see how they share this information with teachers. They have started a completely new division at the state level to provide professional development and a clearinghouse for classroom resources. I’ll make a guess there is something similar in your state. It’s becoming too important to ignore.
I found an online professional development organization that is endorsed by many state departments of education for providing brush-ups on basic skills and overviews of emerging technologies. KDSI has many courses online for special educators. In an attack of full disclosure, I can tell you I have no direct affiliation with this company but I can share that I have taken a couple of courses with them. I feel more knowledgeable as a result and the experience encouraged me to explore educational technology much more thoroughly. They seem to be committed to attracting some of the most active educators in many areas of learning who provide courses through their interface.
Be proactive with your district technology person for hardware and networking. This person can make sure your classroom is properly wired (or wireless which is becoming more common). I recently learned that one of the most exciting technologies to be explored by educators has to do with sound. Studies have revealed that in many classrooms up to 30% of what teachers say is lost to students because of bad acoustics. There are some fairly inexpensive solutions to this problem; some speakers placed in strategic corners of your room might do the trick. Who knew??? The point is, technology exists in many forms.
Start by educating yourself; don’t try to climb the mountain in one leap. You don’t need to be a computer programmer to integrate technology into your classroom experience.
Let’s ALL Play Partnership from the National Inclusion Project. Let’s ALL Play brings an inclusive recreational experience to children with disabilities. As a national leader in the movement toward full inclusion, the National Inclusion Project is proud to partner with community organizations that are seeking to programmatically open doors for ALL children to learn, live, and play together. Through training, consulting, and funding, the Project will meet organizations where they are and help them to implement quality programs that impact children and families in their communities.
States: All States
Average Amount: $10,000.00
Address: 104 T.W. Alexander Dr, Bldg 1, PO Box 110104 RTP, NC 27709
Contact: Aron Hall
Eligibility: Public School, Private School, Higher Education, Other
Program Areas: Disabilities, Special Education