Personalized Learning and Assistive Technologies for Special Needs Students
Activity 1: How is personalized learning affecting Special Education?
Well for starters in recent years, there`s been a push toward student centered education. This is an enormous departure from the lecture/note-taking of the past. New teachers now more than ever are being encourage to engage in more active teaching utilising group work, new technologies, and seminar based teaching practices.
But how does this affect Special Education? Well, have your heard of an IEP?
IEPs are an individualized education plans. The IEP takes into account the entirety of the student’s strengths and weaknesses. This is important because if you can provide a lesson that takes into account the student’s strengths, then you might actually be able to close the achievement gap.
A great example of this is a student with dyslexia. Students with dyslexia can be taught coping strategies to deal with the extra stress and frustration that dyslexia causes them. They can wear headphones when reading, take small breaks, and change up the font or listen to audio on digital books to make the reading process more stimulating. After these strategies for reading are learned and utilised by the student, the achievement gap has the potential to close and many of these students end up performing at the same level if not above their peers.
Some great examples of this were included in the resources. In Finland with an emphasis on early detection for learning disorders, students have the opportunity to learn coping skills and strategies at an early age for their disorders. As a result, they either are able to catch up to their peers before the disparity becomes too great, or they learn much more than they would have it those years had been wasted with less effective instruction.
In addition, I thought Mesquite Elementary Schools idea of providing extra time for when a skill isn’t mastered is the cornerstone of a lot of Special Needs teaching techniques. This extra time and instruction given to a skill for mastery might be the difference between a student catching up or being behind all year because they haven’t been able to master a fundamental concept. The New York One’s algorithm computer program seemed really interesting. The ability to not only asses student’s strengths and weakness with a program but also to change the question according to these strengths and weakness seems like it would be beneficial. It’s also a great example of how education is changing with technology advancing.
After studying during this unit, I think teachers have two questions to ask ourselves. Is the student`s disorder preventing him/her from reaching his/her potential? And if so, are we, as teachers, using a proper amount of differentiated teaching methods to help all not just one type of student succeed? I think as we ask ourselves that question all students but particularly Special Needs will benefit and learn more in the future.
Activity 2: How can I help identify and provide extra support to a student that might be special needs.
Check out my flowchart on Coggle that I created to assist with identifying and helping students receive the help they need.
Activity 3: How can I use differentiated instruction and assistive technologies to enhance students covered under the IDEA act’s learning?
What is IDEA?
IDEA is a legislative act passed that identifies and defines what is considered a special needs diagnosis as well as what provisions are necessary for these students. Students with an IDEA disorder diagnosis are eligible for extra services. These extra services are supposed to be off-set by governmental money. Currently, disorders covered under IDEA are:
1. Speech and Language Impairment
2. Emotional Disturbance
3. Intellectual Disabilities formerly known as Mental Retardation
5. Hearing Impairments
6. Specific Learning Disabilities
7. Visual Impairments including Blindness
9. Other Health Impairments
10. Multiple Disabilities
11. Developmental Delay
12. Traumatic Brain Injury
13. Orthopedic Impairments
14. Autism Spectrum Disorders
I researched Autism Spectrum Disorder (my other groups members researched the other disorders), and I also was the head creative and formatting director for the mind map we developed using the Coggle application. I set up the initial formatting, and I also went back and reduced and moved around other members information to create an easy to navigate mind map that was still very informative.
If you want to check out our mind map, check out the link below.