by Valerie Chernek
Movers and Shakers Unite! I know…we’re preaching to the choir when we ask many of you about your use of assistive technologies (AT) in school. Many of you do and are very successful!
You are the educational technology movers and shakers! You’ve known for years that tools like word prediction and text readers are the keys to unlock the doors for students with special needs, non-readers, struggling writers and students who don’t learn well in traditional settings. Isn’t it satisfying when you see a child or class write their first word or sentence for the very first time? WOW…what could be better!
If You’re NOT a Mover and Shaker, What’s Holding You Back?
There are still many educators who do not choose to move and shake. How do we help them discover the true benefits of assistive technologies as standard learning tools?
Do you insist that AT tools become daily supports? Are you advocating and demonstrating programs you use? Or do you dig your heels in the sand, similar to our friend, Eeyore?
Progress in Motion
When it comes to thinking about how you could spend your stimulus monies, are you like Tigger? Waving your hands in the air with excitement (alleluia) or do you stay the course; holding out until CHANGE is inevitable and even a little painful? CHANGE is happening. Our kids like technology, parents want it, government encourages it and our society demands it. How fast we see positive motion in the transformation of thousands of underperforming kids is up to us.
Word Prediction and Text Readers—Are they in Your School?
In the past, word prediction and text readers were thought to serve only a handful of students, but we’ve seen first-hand that these must have tools work effectively for all kinds of learners.
Not just for students with cognitive and physical challenges, but for slower kids and diverse student populations.
Just say All Kids CAN Learn!
Some say that AT tools have not always been affordable. Hogwash…today these tools are an effective part of a school district’s intervention solution. The cost of AT is simply not a barrier.
These tools are easier to use and complement your curriculum. Plus professional development is now at your fingertips, especially when you work with an established vendor and share a common goal … to help all kids succeed!
Next Steps…Advocate and Demonstrate!
Ask for AT tools to be used widely in your school! Show your peers the independent research on using a word prediction program , like Co:Writer with students who are labeled incapable of ever writing. Watch a demonstration of Read:OutLoud, the text-to-speech reader chosen by 3 states as part of their AIM (accessible instructional materials) initiative.
Help Colleagues Catch on to Your Tigger Attitude!
Show your principal how effective these tools can be with different student populations. Point out the benefits for kids who are poor spellers, have limited vocabulary, need extra writing practice, require organized writing guidance and a little more reading practice.
The Time is NOW!
Gather your teachers and administrators around your computer and ask students to demonstrate. Watch their faces light up. See them respond to hearing text read aloud; ask them questions to check reading comprehension; watch them cite a bibliography accurately or work through a guided writing outline. There’s never been a better time in education history to advocate for sustainable assistive technology in your school!
Will you be the Tigger in your school or an Eeyore in the crowd? And don’t forget to jump up and down and toot your horn too!