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)?


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




NEO Keyboards


4 responses to this post.

  1. What a powerful anecdote! It is amazing what kids will share when they feel safe to do so. Thank you for sharing this with us!


    • One of the “extra” amazing parts to this true story was that I almost didn’t upload the reflections until over the weekend (and was even considering waiting until Monday). I remember praying specifically about how to best use the block on time I had after lunch on Friday and feeling led to work on the reflections. Even in the process, I felt conflicted and believed there were higher priorities for the moment—until I read that student’s paper. I have learned that praying for wisdom–moment by moment– is the most important thing I do all day.


  2. Many nursing schools require that students create a portfolio of their work, an example of their progression and evidence of meeting nursing standards. My portfolio in undergraduate school consisted of hard copies of my papers, some tests, and proof of my clinical skills and experience. Now that I am in graduate studies, we are required to create e-folios, for which we have chosen our own standards, distinct and professional, according to our particular path or specialty.
    Journaling and reflections are also important to nursing students. I worry about online journaling because of the risk of violating HIIPAA. Writing down thoughts is a great way of reflecting on our growth and how we are able to process difficult emotions and stresses we experience while learning to care for individuals in various stages of illness.
    Reading your student’s dark and disturbing blog must have really affected you. I am so glad that the student opened up, intentionally or unintentionally asking for help. How all of that fell into place is amazing. I am thankful for your sensitivity.


    • Hi Kim,
      I am sorry for my delay in replying. I saw your note in Blackboard, and then looked in Google, not realizing that I should have looked in WordPress. I am still trying to get the hang of how all this works. I appreciated reading your thoughts on journaling practices as related to your experience in the nursing field. I agree that journaling can greatly assist those in the helping professions with processing emotions and stresses, yet also share your concern about confidentiality. You are absolutely correct that reading by student’s journal impacted me–perhaps more than I even realized. I was shocked to learn this week that my student had lost his dad several months ago, but somehow, no one at the school knew. In talking with his mom, she said she is thankful and relieved his emotions came to the surface so that he could begin to address his father’s death. Wow. It is clear to me that God is at work–at my place of work, and that my most important job is to listen to Him.


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