SPOTLIGHT! On Using Assistive Technology to Build Independence
Every student, regardless of ability, can communicate, engage in learning, and show measurable progress. Creating a classroom environment that offers a variety of accessible classroom-ready solutions will provide opportunities to increase communication, social skills, and problem-solving skills while building independence. To help in that effort, AbleNet invites teachers to sign up online for a free, downloadable assistive technology ideas guide.
In addition, AbleNet University offers more than 200 freerecorded webinars, such as “AT for College/Career Readiness for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities” and “Communication Devices in an Inclusive Classroom.” The recorded webinars are available 24/7 at no charge on AbleNet University’s YouTube channel.
How many times as educators have we uttered a version of these phrases? “We don’t have time for that” or “I would love to do that but I don’t have time.”
Suddenly, guess what we have? Time. Unexpectedly we have received the gift of time. The gift of time to do those things we never have time to do. We have the gift of time as educators. We have the gift of time as learners. We have the gift of time as parents.
What have you longed to do and simply have not been able to make time to do? Write thank you notes to students, parents, or colleagues? Read that new educational book that everyone is raving about? (My current favorites include Choice Words by Peter Johnston, Collective Efficacy by Jenni Donahoo, and The Coaching Habit.) Spend time looking at all those reports that help you understand more about your students? Create a Twitter account and see what all the buzz is about? Call tech support and finally resolve that tech issue that may be time consuming? Write a blog post or maybe even start your own blog?
Share your ideas and thoughts in the comments below.
Educators are inherently learners. “Creating lifelong learners” is a phrase found often in School Improvement Plans. What keeps falling to the bottom of your learning to-do list because you haven’t had time—knitting, playing the guitar, Italian cooking, organic vegetable gardening, quilting, coding? Now might be a good time to start a project that takes multiple days to complete. Most schools are closed and travel is restricted for at least two weeks, making it a perfect time for a long-term project. Using this gift of time to follow your passion and learn something new is energizing.
Don’t feel pressure to use your gift of time on completing stacks of worksheets, unless your student loves playing school or teacher and wants to do stacks of worksheets. Let’s use this gift of time for building a love for learning, rather than a time for completing tasks and checking assignments off of a to-do list. Reflect on the times you have said, “I sure wish we had time to do ______.” Find a way to do some of those things. If that list includes visiting the Grand Canyon then do that virtually here. If it includes cleaning, organizing, building, or creating, turn those things into learning experiences. The gift of meaningful reading and writing can make a significant difference not only in your child’s learning but in building family relationships.
Don’t forget to be active. Include your family’s favorite exercise in your daily routine or learn something new. How about yoga for kids? Learning, loving, and moving together promotes physical and mental well-being.
Give your child the gift of time to set up his/her own learning space. Be it formal or informal, inside or outside, giving them a choice empowers their learning.
Sherrilynn Bairis passionate about being an educator, learner, parent, and grandparent. She loves working as Curriculum Director for Snake River School District and serving on the Idaho Public Charter School Commission. She is currently using the gift of time to knit with her granddaughter, do bedtime stories through FaceTime, and promote anytime, anywhere learning for all.
Super skills, twenty-first century skills, best practices—whatever you want to call the 4C’s (creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, communication), they are an integral part of the student experience in our classroom. Even so, sometimes a pathway to incorporate the 4C’s may seem evasive or like it takes too much time. Adding the following tools and ideas to an instructional toolbox can support a seamless incorporation of the 4C’s into our teaching and learning for all students.
iRobot is helping to drive STEM education programs in the iRobot Cool Stuff Museum, where students can explore the building blocks of the world’s coolest robots. A freeiOS or Androidapp from Cuseum takes students on a tour of the museum, providing an opportunity to learn about iRobot’s rich history in robotics and gain inspiration.