Why I’m Passionate about Using Tech…

Ability

Technology devices can be seen everywhere these days. People of all ages are using digital devices for both learning and entertainment. What I like most about using technology supports is the magic it may unfold for those with both learning and physical disabilities.  Many moons ago it was this very reason I fell in love with using technology. I had this dream of unlocking doors for students who were challenged by fitting into inclusion classrooms.  When looking at a whole classroom community one should not be able to distinguish the challenged student from their peers. This is where technology may be used to assist with supporting student’s independents during certain classroom activities.

Present day schools have a tendency to integrate 1to1 devices. This doesn’t necessarily mean one device per student all day to take home at the end of the day. However what it does is provides the opportunity to use a digital device throughout the day during certain activities. Thanks to this students with disabilities are able to interact with classmates without an adult hovering at their side. Independents maybe one of the best esteem builders for some challenged students.  Due to my position as a teaching assistant one of the most common statements students have made over the years is, “I can do this by myself.” Students often state this because they feel uncomfortable and zeroed out by their peers for having an adult assist them all the time.

Digital devices may unlock a student’s freedom by reading or writing for them. There are applications such as Google Calendar, and Keep which may be used to support student organization. These tools may also be used as a way to quietly communicate with a student. This is due to the sharing ability of calendars and Keep Notes. It allows an adult to indiscreetly edit the information a student types in. These tools also allow teachers and support staff to provide interactive links, videos, visuals, audios and etc… to help the students with learning the information presented in the classroom. I view using technology as a tool to bolstering a students esteem by helping them to independently interact within a classroom community. What better tool to use then one which empowers students to independently participate within a classroom community.

Google Doc’s Speech to Text My Hero!

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I’m falling in love with the Speech to Text Tool built right into a Google Doc and Slide. It makes life a bit easier when I need to lay down and decompress due to spine issues. I can still be productive by typing using my voice! This is a lifesaver!

I have used a handful of speech to text tools and have found this one to be fairly accurate. Best part is I don’t have to train the tool to accurately type what is being spoken. There is a small list of voice commands I recommend learning to create the best appearing text layout. You can learn more about Google Docs voice commands from the following Google Docs Editor Help Center Resources: Type with Your Voice.

Auto-Highlighting Text with Slides

A teacher in the help forums wanted to know how to automatically highlight vocabulary words in a presentation. This is easily done by inserting a shape, changing the transparency and adding animation. If you are looking to highlight each word as a student reads the presentation slide deck this is possible to do. It is a matter of setting the timing of the animation to appear after the prior or upon click.

STEPS for Auto-Highlighting

  1. Insert and Select Shape
  2. Choose the Rectangle
  3. Drag to Size Shape
  4. Click “Fill Color” Paint Bucket
  5. Select Yellow or color of choice
  6. Click “Fill Color” Again
  7. Select Custom
  8. Drag the Slider on the Right Downward
  9. Click Line Color, Select Transparent
  10. Click Shape, Select Insert
  11. Click Animate
  12. Select Animation Type
  13. Drag Speed Slider
  14. Click Play

Creating Drive File Icons

My background is in special education and I’m always looking for ways for supporting  students of exceptionalities. One of the challenges for both young students and those with exceptionalities is navigating files. Today I’m going to share an idea of mine which incorporates using images to assist the student with finding and opening a specific file. This idea could be used for assisting the student with locating directions, specific classroom projects, independent work and etc… It is really a very simple idea which may save a bit of time and frustration for both the student and adults assisting them.

My last post was about color coding backgrounds of files to make it easier for students to find a group of content specific papers. Now if one takes the color coded file and adds one more step locating files may become even easier.  This step involves adding a specific images to the files within a student’s Google Drive Folder. When a folder is first open the student will see the color documents with images. Now all they have to do is click on the image to quickly locate a document.

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NOTE: If you are looking to expediting the lesson even faster. Add a Document with the directions using a large font size. This will save time for the student by letting them avoid opening the document but still read the directions needed to complete the task on hand.

Insert an Image

Google Docs, Drawings, Slides & Sheets:

  • Open a Google Docs, Drawings, Slides, or Sheets
  • Using the Toolbar Locate Insert 
    • Click “Insert” opens dropdown list
    • Select “Image” pop-up window opens
    • Click “Search”
      • Enter Image Name +png
        • (PNG will provide a transparent background)
    • Click “Image”
      • Blue Checkmark & Box appears around image
    • Click Blue Select Button

Icon locator Drive.gif

 

 

Navigating Chrome Made Easy…

Please Click here to Make a Copy of the Slide Deck

The above slide presentation was created for a workshop I’m facilitating about “Tips & Tricks for Supporting SPED Students” by using Google Tools. My day job is as a K-12 Special Education Teaching Assistant who has spent approximately two decades working with both elementary and middle school students. One of the biggest issues I’ve noticed across the board and throughout time is the limitation of organizational skills. In this digital age there are many tools which could be used to assist with organization. These tools when implemented as supports may help students quickly access the teacher’s lesson materials.

You might ask what does this mean to a student with physical, emotional or cognitive exceptionalities? Organization and quick access to information may be a game changer for some students. Over the decades I’ve noticed the “Stress” build on some student’s faces as they stumble locating lesson materials. This only sets them behind as they focus on finding the materials and unintentionally miss hearing or seeing the directions provided by teachers. It is my belief with the support of digital devices some of this stress may be eliminated for both the student and their teachers.

Using Chrome Navigation is only one of many Google Tools which may be used for supporting the student of exceptionalities. In an earlier post this year I shared about adding images to Google Calendar.  Visuals images assist some students with understanding information. Adding images such as Favicon’s without text to the Chrome Bookmark manager are less overwhelming then images with text. Of course it supports the student who has low reading skills. It also provides a cleaner look with less distraction supporting the students with focusing issues. Simple tips & trick which tend to be overlooked may eliminate stress for some students as well as the adults who support them. I hope you find the content in the slide deck to be helpful.