One thing that stood out about Jude Ashiedu’s class on The Role of Technology in Special Needs Education was the linking thread that he wove throughout the session of providing resources that enables the child to be independent and self-sufficient as best as we can with the use of technology in our classrooms. I loved this. My job as a Montessori Educator is to help children reach a state of independence so that the whole being of the child and his/her need for self construction is totally attained.
Contrary to a lot of our views about children with Special Needs whether the challenge they are facing is a Learning difficulty or a Physical impairment, the truth is, every child wants to be independent. It is our duty to help them to attain this as best as we can. One basic tool that we have at our disposal to do this is technology, in this class though technology was narrowed down to the scope of I.C.T.
There are several tools that Mr Jude Ashiedu mentioned which included Windows 10 Ease of Access, Spelling corrector software (this is now available on our smart phones as well), Reading voices like Let me Talk, Microsoft OneNote Class Notebook etc. These assistive technology in SEN software, will enable the child to reach some great level of independence which they could not have achieved previously. These software are available as open source components in most cases and are therefore free. There are others that are for profit and therefore cost a bit.
Which ever ones we choose to use we must integrate these into the curriculum and let them work for the children in our environment, including them in the discuss and providing successful learning outcomes regardless of the challenges the child may be facing. You can achieve this by taking these simple steps:
- Diagnose the need, get an expert to do this.
- Find a manual solution first to the challenge.
- Customise an assistive Tech Solution for the challenge
This way we can provide an inclusive setting that supports the child and sets them up for success.
A child with Special Needs can achieve a lot with the right support, we must therefore step up our understanding and knowledge to enable us provide meaningful and effective support for the Special Needs child
One other important point he made which I must not forget is about differentiation in the learning environment where we may have a special needs child.
We are teaching skills, so focus on the skills, but for every different child in your classroom you may need to tweak the tasks given! This is so key as you may ask the children to write a story about a topic you have just treated, this may not be the best way to help another child mirror their understanding of the topic. You may get a much better and surprisingly unique answer if you asked one child to draw a picture of what they learnt, another may do better by creating a verbal poem, etc. Thus your skills learned are the same but the tasks are different.
To achieve success with each student in our classroom we must think outside the box and also embrace Technology to help us get there.
Thank you so much for this wonderful journey The Teacher’s Network. I am certainly going to dig into Technology a bit more this term. I believe there are so many different tools out there that can help our children achieve and succeed.