Archive for February, 2013

EDTC 6433: ISTE 3 Module 3 Communicating Effectively with Confidentiality to meet Individual Needs

EDTC 6433: ISTE 3 Module 3 Communicating Effectively with Confidentiality to meet Individual Needs

#ISTE3    #communication   #individual education plans (IEPs)   #confidentiality

Within Module 3, our challenge has been to address ways in which we as educators can model the effective use of technology in the midst of our work and learning. My initial question posted for this module focused on how can I as a special education teacher, use technology to assist me in effectively and efficiently writing Individual Education Plans (IEPs) that are compliant with state requirements, streamlined for gathering staff input, and presented in a “user-friendly” format for students and parents? The specific aspect of ISTE 3 that is especially high on my priority list is: c.Communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital-age media and formats. Both prior to and during IEP meetings, my desire is to focus more time and energy on my students and their specific strengths and needs rather than “fussing” with processes and documents that are confusing and distracting. One of the software programs our district is considering purchasing is Goalview. Here is the link: http://www.psesd.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=718&Itemid=736

In response to my posted resource, Professor David Wicks, asked if I was familiar with another online IEP system entitled, Goalbook. Following the link he provided, https://goalbookapp.com/goals/goals, I watched a sample video of the program in action and was impressed with what I saw. Just this week, however, the decision in my district was finalized and Goalview has been selected. As I have begun to investigate the Goalview software, I have learned that some of the positive aspects include autotext and drop-down menus throughout the program, multiple goal bank options, and a variety of use-friendly printing features. I am encouraged by a remark from one of my friends who served on the selection committee that she does not think that the learning curve will be too steep. Additionally, our new assistant principal used Goalview in her previous district and has very favorable comments about its use and functionality.

Throughout Module 3, I found myself drawn to posts referencing organizational tools for teachers, however, I noted that again this week I was becoming overwhelmed by the volume of available resources. I would click on a site, and sometimes sign up for free access, then after spending a considerable amount of time experimenting with the digital tool, I would find that some feature was not as user-friendly as I had hoped. In one of our readings, the need to be discerning was especially noted by author, Louise Starkey. In her article, Evaluating learning in the 21st century: a digital age, Starkey shares, “Relatively quick access to a wide range of information means that the user needs the ability to critically evaluate the validity and relative value of information accessed (2011, p. 6).

Also, I must share that when considering signing up students for using online tools I have reservations regarding confidentiality. My concern is that every one of my students has an IEP, so just the mere process of having their name being added to a class list of mine—makes it a known fact that they have a disability. The issue of confidentiality reminds me of a time when our current IEP system was brand new and in the process of the training we discovered that we could create a PDF of each page of the IEP. I was excited to try this feature and with parent permission, sent a draft of an upcoming IEP to a parent via email. In discussing this action later with my special education director (at my initiative) I was asked to not continue this practice.

Unfortunately, what was possible in a technical sense, was considered unwise for the situation, and while I clearly understand the reasoning behind the directive to not email the contents of a student’s IEP, it seemed ironic that the use of such a time-saving tool was prohibited. This illustration is also ironic to me, as I consider the results of a study by Jia Rong Wen and Wen Ling Shih: Exploring the information literacy competence standards for elementary and high school teachers, which found the dimension ‘‘attitude’’ (to be) the most powerful force for promoting teachers’ information literacy competence and their willingness to apply information technology in teaching”. I believe my attitude is one of openness and willingness to embrace technology—especially if it can streamline communication between all parties of an IEP team, however, I must be thoughtful and discerning in the decisions I make—ensuring that the individual needs of my students always trump other factors of consideration. I wonder if confidentiality is one of those issues around which practices must be altered to keep up with the ever-changing needs of society? After all, consider online healthcare and financial records.

Resources:

Starkey, L (2011) Evaluating learning in the 21st century: a digital age learning matrix Retrieved from: https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-828829-dt-content-rid-1286046_1/courses/EDTC6433_27233201232/evaluating%20learning%20in%20the%2021st%20century%282%29.pdf

Wen, J. & Wen. (2008): Exploring the information literacy competence standards for elementary and high school teachers. Retrieved from https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-828836-dt-content-rid-1286048_1/courses/EDTC6433_27233201232/Exploring%20info%20literacy%20competence%20standards%20for%20elementary%20and%20high%20school%20teachers%282%29.pdf

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EDTC6433: ISTE2 Using technology to meet individual needs: Writing as an intervention

EDTC6433: ISTE2 Using technology to meet individual needs: Writing as an intervention

Throughout this week, I have been inspired to consider using some of the technology shared by colleagues in support of the ISTE 2—especially those that focus on encouraging individual students to respond in writing.. One of the resources shared can be found at the following link: http://www.edmodo.com/home#/. From this link, I have since set up a free account and have joined a community of special education teachers. I am eager to continue in my efforts to seek out technologies that will benefit my students. At the beginning of this module, the question I raised was:

Can the use of online student portfolios support transition needs for high school students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs)?

http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2010/04/25/online-student-portfolios/

I shared that I am interested in finding a method to gather student input throughout the year to address key transition interview questions required for discussion during each of my students’ IEP meetings. Ideally, rather than being located in a teacher’s file, this information should be accessible to the student on an ongoing basis so that they can provide updates upon request or as they choose (for example: a new job, experience, career interest, accomplishment, etc.). I see the need for empowering students to understand their strengths and to develop a way of presenting themselves positively to others both now and in the future.

The section of the ISNT 2 Standard I find most applicable to this focus is: c. Customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources.

Although my high school currently has an online portfolio system available to students through a resource called WOIS, it is not free and is only available as the budget allows. I will continue to investigate the various free online portfolio options to determine which format might be most “student friendly”.

This article discusses the pros and cons of various online portfolios and provides a variety of links to examples, reviews, and even the ISTE standards. One major consideration in addition to whether or not students will continue to have access to the portfolio after graduation, is whether the portfolio is functional in the event they move to another school

In the process of working on module 2 in this online course, as well as preparing my students for wrapping up the end of first semester, I learned something about priorities. The following explanation (perhaps a bit lengthy) is intended to show how sometimes in the midst of our quest for one thing, we find ourselves learning quite another.

Within one of the readings this week, Deepening Connections: Teachers Increasingly Rely on Media and Technology, the results of a recent PBS study were cited. One of the specific results that stood out to me was that 81% of teachers rated laptops as a “portable technology with the greatest educational impact”. (p. 7). Based on my experience, I must say that I agree with the thought that access to laptops increase flexibility for both teachers and students. Currently, in my setting, the available laptops are in the form of computers on wheels (COWS) which can be checked out by teachers for a given period. As a special education teacher, my classes are generally comprised of only 15 students, so I choose not to check out a COW with 30 laptops, since the COWs are regularly in high demand. An easier solution for me when I am choosing to focus on word processing only, is to use NEO keyboards. http://www.neo-direct.com/intro.aspx Although a rather antiquated technology, I would like to convey how this week, use of this tool served an especially vital role in addressing an individual student’s needs.

Since October, my students have written self-reflections to guiding questions using the NEO keyboards and I have uploaded these into individual templates I created in Word. Often times, I can easily see the changes in how students view their progress, as well as see the development of their writing skills. Although I had high hopes of switching to an online blog format, I chose instead to use the NEOs for the final exam in my Learning Strategies classes. Each student was required to write a self-reflection, elaborating on their performance throughout the semester. One particular student, who had refused to complete any handwritten responses and was also quite reluctant to type any responses early in the term, has become more open to using the NEO. During the final exam last week, all of my students were readily typing their reflections. Unlike when using laptops, there was no time-consuming set up, logging in, or wait time required. Students simply picked up the NEO with the number that had been assigned to them for the term, clicked the power button, and began to type. Even my previously reluctant student showed evidence of being fully engaged in the writing process. As one of my colleagues and I discussed this week in our Google+ threads, “People who would not normally participate in class are more likely to (express thoughts using technology) because they are not actually speaking aloud”.

What I was not prepared for, however, was the content of this student’s written reflection. As I uploaded his final exam from his NEO keyboard to the word document on my laptop, and watched his extensive and articulate writing spill onto the page, I read very angry, hostile, violent, and extremely disturbing words—including his desire to kill and inflict pain—especially to innocent people. Though not directed at anyone in particular (thankfully) the tone and content gave clear evidence of a very troubled young man. Do I believe he would have shared these thoughts verbally? No. Do I think he would have shared them, given only the opportunity to write by hand? No. Do I believe he would have shared these words in a blog that he knew would be read by other students in his class? Probably not. I do believe, however, that he knew I would read this assignment and that somehow he felt “safe” enough to express himself–using a tool that assisted him with his writing disability. Needless to say, I was able to print his reflection and take it directly to my assistant principal so that this situation could be properly addressed.

Indeed, I do believe that technology can assist me in addressing the needs of my individual students—even if the technology is not the newest and best.

#EDTC 6433 #ISTE2    #intervention   #self-reflection   #writing

London Trip Day 4 031

Resources:

http://www.tonybates.ca/2012/04/03/5-video-case-studies-of-e-portfolio-implementation-an-implementation-toolkit/

https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-826131-dt-content-rid-1271987_1/courses/EDTC6433_27233201232/Deepening%20Connections%20-%20Teachers%20Increasingly%20LLC%281%29.pdf

NEO Keyboards