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.

Using Emoticons w/Drive Folders & Files

Quite by accident I discovered it is possible to add emoticons as  a visual support for Google Drive Folders and Files. Over the past year I shared a post about adding visuals to Google Calendar Event Titles by copying pasting emoticons from the following Twitter Symbols Website: https://www.piliapp.com/twitter-symbols/. These same emoticons will work as part of a Google Drive Folder or File Name. This may make it easier for a young child or student of exceptionality to independently navigate both folders and files.

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Adding Emoticons to Files or Folders

  1. Go to https://www.piliapp.com/twitter-symbols/
    • Copy Emoticon
  2. Create a New File or Folder
  3. Paste Emoticon in the “Title Section”

 

Tweaking Questions & Collecting Data…

Thanks to the NJ Ed Tech Team Google Summit  I’m now a proud owner of a Google Home. After playing with the Google Home for a few weeks I started to think about the value an inexpensive tech tool like this could have in a learning environment.

My husband and I noticed the Google Home has a hard time answering “Open Ended Questions”. Due to this one is forced to learn how to ask  “direct questions” to receive answers. It is amazing how quickly question formation changes in avoidance of hearing “I don’t know the answer” or “but I’m learning new things everyday.” 

Google Home

Once this artificial intelligence device started answering  the questions it was easy to understand how it could assist us.  The Google Home can provide the time of day, not only at home but anywhere in the world. It tells about the weather in one’s area, remembers a shopping list, solves math problems, answers factual questions, plays music, looks up recipe ingredients and etc… It can even play trivia games! This helps to hone our knowledge banks for factual information. I have mentioned just a handful of the interactive capabilities a Google Home may provide.

So you may be thinking how might this be used in the classroom? One of my goals is to support students with becoming independent participants within a classroom community. Everyone needs assistance at different times in their life. When a child explores and asks questions to discover answers their communication and critical thinking skills are nurtured.  This sets an environment where the Google Home may be used to provide a correct answer.  A Teacher would jump upon the opportunity to facilitate a classroom discussion about the answer.  This fosters an environment where student esteems are built rather than destroyed. Learning isn’t about spitting out facts but understanding the relationships of the factual information.

One way this may be used in an elementary classroom is though the tracking of daily weather. This is a common routine for most kindergarten classrooms. The student will still look out the window and share observations about what they see. After the information is added to a Google Sheet the student may ask the Google Home about today’s weather for the school’s location. This information may be added to the Google Sheet as well. A quick classroom discussion may occur if the Google Assistant provides a different answer than the physical observation.

This same lesson may be built upon for upper grade levels. It is one way to collect data which could be transferred into scientific or math discussions. This not only hones communication, and critical thinking skills but adds the reinforcement of using data for solving problems. The Google Home is a relatively inexpensive tool which allows the teacher to integrate technology in supportive ways for whole class usage.

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

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