tech inquiry

Blog #4 What is Assistive Technology

Assistive technology is a topic that I feel very foreign to. This is perhaps the number one reason why I chose this topic for my tech inquiry project. When I look back at my elementary years, I have a difficult time recalling any use of technology in the classroom, besides of course, scheduled computer lab time. I know that this is certainly not the case anymore and I am looking forward to continuing to familiarize myself with this idea.

So what exactly is assistive technology? Heres what I have gathered thus far: Assistive Technology is a broad idea that describes a number of platforms and devices to aid those with disabilities. This idea seems to be quite obvious but entails such a variety of technologies. Assistive Technology (AT) is not strictly electronics but describes even the most simple of tools, an example being a pencil grip. An excellent website I found describes AT in three broad terms: No-tech, Low-tech, and High-Tech. This was very intriguing as I had previously only assumed AT to be high-level electronics. Additionally, this sheds light on a very important idea that suggests how the smallest of changes can hugely benefit a student.

Taken from develop.bc.ca

This being said AT is not only used in schools but in a wide variety of facilities to support those of all ages in their daily lives.

Now that there is an understanding of what Assistive Technology is, we can ask the next question: How are British Columbia Teachers currently implementing AT into their classrooms? After looking into a number of different websites I came across The Greater Victoria School District 61’s Technology for Learning Plan as of October 2017.

Read more at:  https://www.sd61.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/91/2018/03/Technology-For-Learning-Plan.pdf

This district created a number of goals related to the use of technology in their schools and provided strategies as to how they were going to reach those goals. The most commonly discussed aspect of AT was the need for mobile technology and the question of how the use of technology can be used to track a students learning and success. I could not find a clear answer to this question but I imagine that technology is measured differently in every classroom based on every student’s individual needs.

These ideas are not just specific to School District 61 but are a common theme across the province for how schools would like to implement technology into their classrooms. Technology is constantly changing, which means classroom use is simultaneously changing with it. However, the common goal of all schools seems to be the idea of giving students access to a wide variety of technologies in the classroom in order to aid and progress their learning.

Cassidy Lindsay

open inquiry

Getting Outside : Snow Walk

This past week it was snow, snow, and more snow! I didn’t let that stop me from getting outside, with a couple extra layers it was a great time. The pups were confused on what snow was at first, but after they got past that stage we could really focus on walking. The week before I prepared by buying each of them winter coats, and harness to help stop them from pulling. It defiantly was an improvement from just a collar, but they still had work to do. Since we were snowed in for a couple days my mom joined me on our walks, so it gave me the opportunity to work one-on-one with the pups separately. I started with Beau this time because he seemed to be getting the hang of it, and Theodore was still getting over the excitement of being outside with all the people and other dogs. I switched off with my mom and worked with Theodore, but it was challenging since he still wanted to pull me ahead, I’m going to have to find a different strategy that will work for him. I plan to work with both of them more, and give an update in a month, because this will be an ongoing skill to develop with each of them.

Getting out enjoying the snow & practicing on leach skills!
classroom observations · distributed learning · edtech · Inquiry · network literacy · privacy · professional learning · tech tools

Fair Dealing in Canada // Investigating Inquiry

Class this week was shorten due to the field trip to George Jay Elementary School, but we still fit a whole bunch of information into a short period of time. During class time we discussed copyright and what that looks like as a future educator. in regards to ideas and more specially photos. Valerie taught us how to access photos on the Creative Commons website instead of running into potential copyright problems, which was very eye opening to me. Moving forward I now know how to gather information and photos, as well as how to attribute photos if there is copyright on the picture. The remainder of class was spent reviewing our peers’ blogs, and I found it very interesting and insightful myself. I gained some knowledge in different areas, and I even pulled some different inspiration to jazz mine up a bit! I appreciated having that time to work toward building my peers’ up, which also helped me learn as well.

To deepen our understanding of inquiry-based learning the class took a field trip to George Jay Elementary School to talk to Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt. Rebecca gave a forty-five minute presentation about her experience and research into inquiry-based learning, and my takeaways were huge. I knew inquiry-based learning was on the rise, but I didn’t understand how that could be a reality in an elementary school classroom. Inquiry-based learning is something new to me because I didn’t grow up with that being a topic of conversation, instead it was very traditional. Knowing that teachers like Rebecca are dedicating such a huge chunk of her time to not only the students, but to the inquiry process. For someone to be so young and have such a passion for inquiry was refreshing. I hope to be able to investigate inquiry-based learning in my 3 week practicum in April.

open inquiry

Command Training

As I previously mentioned in my last post, I wanted to work toward command training when I give the pups their meals; therefore that was the focus of this week. It started off very rocky to say the least, I felt as though all of my long hours spent up until this point went out the window when meals were involved. I had to ask my neighbour, who is a local dog walker for advise, and she told me to just be patent and try to remain calm since they can sense your emotions as well. With that in mind I continued to try “sit”, “stay” …. “okay.” It seemed to help when I remained calm and they seemed to gain a better understanding with waiting until I gave them the next command. Hopefully with more time and practice they will both catch on sooner rather than later! Next week we venture outside, stay tuned!

tech inquiry

Blog #3 Assistive Technology in Classrooms 2.0

In my last blog post, I mentioned I wanted to contact more teachers after speaking with Mindy Myttenar about assistive technology. Last year, I had the opportunity to volunteer in a Grade 1 class. I thought the teacher that I volunteered with was a great person to contact and get some more information on assistive technology that is in classrooms today.

I again confirmed with the teacher to make sure that they were comfortable with me using their name, school, and grade in my blog post, out of common courtesy, copyright, and liability.

Miila Pullan is a Grade 1 teacher at Frank Hobbs Elementary School. I contacted her through email and she answered me back answering a couple questions I had.  I asked her what types of assistive technology she uses, her thoughts on the pros and cons and how/have if she has personally seen them benefit her students?

Photo from Wiki of Kindergarten Student using an iPad by Oakknollschool

At Frank Hobbs, they have both iPad’s and Chromebooks that are available for teachers to use. She mentioned that: “Typically the primaries use the iPads and the intermediates use the Chromebooks”. This is due to the fact that the Chromebooks they have to use need to be set up with a mousepad and they need to log in with their own login. This is a con for primary grades since it can take a decent amount of time and only having 30-minute blocks, it can just end up being a waste of time I did not take this into consideration when speaking with Mindy at Lakehill a simple task such as logging in and setting up a mousepad can be time-consuming for primary students versus intermediate students. A pro then for having iPads is that they have apps such as Book Creator, Ten Frames, and Scratch Jr to support students learning. Though a con is that they do not come with headphones and it can cause a noise problem. Another con is that the iPad’s also require a teacher to look after them so they are always updated, charged and in a portable carrier which is expensive. Then as for a final pro, the iPad’s are an assistive technology device that students love using and for the most part they are very knowledgeable on how to use them.

Then to answer my final question if Miila has seen the assistive technology available at her school benefits students, she said yes. It allows them to work in groups on interactive learning apps. They use the app Ten Frames to demonstrate their learning in math (addition) and use Scratch Jr to teach Grade 1’s coding. She also noted that students like a break from doing the regular worksheets since using the iPad’s are more hands-on and fun.

Erin Fletcher

classroom observations · edtech · Inquiry · learning design

Visit to PSSI

This week I had the opportunity to visit the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry downtown Victoria. Since the beginning of the year I’ve been super excited to check out how the school was put together and what more of the specifics were! In September Jeff Hopkins, who is the Principal and Founder of PSSI, came to the department orientation and gave a brief presentation on who he is and it was very inspiring. When the class arrived Jeff gave us a quick overview of what the school was about, and then he let us wander around and interact with the students to get a feel fro the school at our own pace. I realized how groundbreaking how important what he was trying to start up was! This visit was very eye opening because it made me rethink my own education and how the possibilities are endless in what that entails now a days. I’m looking forward to more opportunities like this in the upcoming weeks.

tech inquiry · Uncategorized

Blog #2 Assistive Technology in Classrooms

When looking at assistive technology within classrooms, I wanted to find out what was really being used in classrooms today. I thought what better way to find out what is being used than speaking with a teacher themselves and see what they use.

I was heading to Lakehill Elementary School to discuss a gym lesson plan and emailed the teacher I was meeting with to see if I could also speak with her regarding my tech inquiry project. She was very willing to chat and right off the bat noted that she was a wonderful teacher to speak about assistive technology with. I made sure to confirm with her that she was comfortable with me using her name, school, and grade in my blog post, out of common courtesy, copyright, and liability.

Photo of Chromebooks found on Flicker by Kevin Jarrett

Mindy Myttenar is a Grade 4/5 teacher at Lakehill and has been a teacher within the Greater Vicotria District for the last 13 years. I first off asked her what her experiences with assistive technology has been and the conversation went from there. Mindy applied for a SET-BC Grant three years ago. This grant is set up to help students who either have learning disabilities regarding writing or are reluctant writers. Luckily she was able to achieve the grant and now has a class set of Chromebooks that have a speech to text and word prediction software installed on them. Mindy said: “I have found that many students choose to use word-prediction software, especially to aid with spelling. Speech to text has been beneficial for students who have very limited writing abilities”. The Chromebooks have also been able to motivate students to learn math through online resources and students are able to creatively share information using Google Docs. On the other hand, the Chromebooks in her class allow her to not have to worry about booking time in the computer lab. Myself, being a student who struggled with spelling and writing, I think that the speech to text software would have helped my learning. As a visual learner, seeing the words after I have said them is an interesting concept and I wonder how much more of a better of a speller I would be today.

Another assistive technology that is used within Mindy’s classroom, over the last three years has been a speaker system. Though she has not had any students with hearing difficulties, she said: “the speaker system is noted to improve listening and comprehension for all students”. I have never had a speaker system in any class that I have been in. I know that sometimes when a teacher of mine was speaking, I had a difficult time hearing them due to other noises in the room or students talking. I can see how being able to speak on a speaker system can help students clearly hear what is being said during a lesson.

Photo of Hokki Stools by Meriwether Lewis Elementary found on Flicker

In the end, Mindy explained that while technology is a very important way to support our students there are also other things that can increase their learning too. Alternate seating arrangements that allow students to choose where to sit that will help them focus best. In her class specifically, she has a couple of Hokki Stools (they wobble), tension bands on the desks (students can fidget their feet and not distract other students), standing desks, and Zuma Rockers. I have seen these seats in many classrooms that we have visited since Septemeber and can see how they are able to support a student who has a hard time sitting still.

After speaking with Mindy and gaining a better understanding of a couple of ways to support students in grade 4/5, I am excited to see what other teachers are using in their classrooms. I am now planning on contacting other teachers I know within the community and seeing how they are incorporating assistive technology into their classrooms and how it has benefited their students.

Erin Fletcher

open inquiry

Stay Boy!

Logically I thought stay would come next to help build the basic skills in their tool box. I found this one very tricky to master, and even now I don’t feel like its completely flawless. I started with using hand gestures, and giving the command “stay” after much resistance from the pups, it finally happened. They both managed to all of a sudden just get it! I’m still unsure if it was the repetition, or if thats when it clicked for them, but both of them understood stay at the same time which was great. The problem I am still running into is there willingness to comply when I give the command without food. It seems to be a great motivator for them, but without treats it can be a challenge. I plan to work on this more, so that when I give them their breakfast, lunch, or dinner they can sit, and stay until I give a command to let them eat. Stay tuned for more..

audio editing · curation · edtech · Image editing · video editing

Video Editing / Audio Editing / Screen Capture

This week was focusing on video editing, audio editing, and screen capturing and I really enjoyed diving in completely and absorbing all the information I possibly could! After getting through a worksheet relating to video editing, and playing with iMovie I learned some basic video editing skills that I will take with me for years to come. The next thing we tackled in class was working with GarageBand to play with different audio files and edit different clips. Both platforms were quite different, but after getting used to each of them they were pretty user friendly. Screen capturing was the main takeaway from the class for me personally because I see the benefit to bring it forward in my future classroom. I believe screen capturing is a great tool to create different resources for students to learn and grow themselves, and as a future educator I want to be able to facilitate that in my classroom. I found this EDCI 336 class the most informative and it was the one I got the most out of thus far. The skills that I didn’t have background in before, are tools I can take forward with me into my teaching career.