I am ready to bid farewell to February after sustaining a wild winter storm here in Texas and losing power for several days!! Schools and homes were damaged due to plumbing issues, and I think we are all a little bit traumatized. We are ready to say hello to March, warmer weather, and Spring Break on the horizon!
March will be all about the ECC area of Assistive Technology! This is always a fan favorite ... my learners love to explore new technology, new apps, and show off their skills.
What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology is an umbrella term that includes assistive and adaptive tools as well as instructional services that can enhance communication, access, and learning. It can include electronic equipment such as switches, iPads, and laptops, along with computer access such as magnification software, screen readers, and keyboarding; and low-tech devices such as an abacus, a brailler, and optical devices.
I love exploring both high and low tech options with all my learners and reminding them that we can be creative in finding tools to help us in all of the things that we do!
Assistive Technology Check In
I always begin the month by sharing with my learners what ECC area we will be focusing on! I love getting their input on skills to practice, strengths, and needs. I use the I use the E.C.C. Workbook as a tool guide for assessing strengths and needs and guiding the conversations.
TSBVI has a very comprehensive list of Assistive Technology assessment tools that you can use this month to narrow down needs in a certain area. These can also be used in your Functional Vision Evaluation and can be referenced during this month to monitor progress.
Assistive Technology Lesson Plans and FUN!
Each year when we focus on Assistive Technology, there are a few housekeeping items I make sure my families have access to:
Audiobooks: I make sure all of my learners know how to access audiobooks. I make sure the learners have easy access to their username/passwords for these sites. I love Learning Ally and Bookshare. I use this form to share home each year with details on websites and username/passwords.
Typing: Many of my learners have goals for keyboarding skills. Regardless, I like to make sure families know of accessible sites for practicing typing. Our district doesn't teach this in school, and I'm passionate that all students with a visual impairment should have strong typing skills. My favorite programs are: Talking Typer, Fun with Typeability, Accessibyte, and Typing Club.
My VI Tech: I use this handy sheet to share with parents all of the assistive technology their child is currently using at school. I encourage them to share this sheet with their state program case manager if they need any of these items at home. I complete the form with my learners if possible. For my learners with visual and multiple impairments, this is often really helpful for families, and I can incorporate pictures as well.
I have some fun ideas for learning and exploration this month with my learners! Here are some ideas I'm planning for:
Typing Contest: I plan to propose a typing contest ... a ticket goes in the bucket for each student each time they complete a typing lesson. A ticket will be drawn for a prize at the end of the month!
Sell Me Your Tech: I will have students choose their favorite piece of assistive technology and create a "sales video" to share with the group.
App List: I will create a shared document for learners to compile all of their favorite apps.
Experts: I will choose a few student "experts" to teach another learner about a specific tool or app that I think would beneficial. I find this really helps with buy in."
Ode to my tech: For some of my younger students, I will have them create a small poem or thank you letter to their favorite piece of technology. This is a great way to think about the tools we love and practice literacy skills at the same time.
Telescope Games: We may not be able to do this in groups this year, but I will find some ways to do some extra practice with telescopes. Some of my learners don't have current IEP goals for telescope, so this is a way we make sure to check in on skills.
Other Helpful Resources:
What other ideas do you have to celebrate and explore Assistive Technology this month?