For students with disability, whether physical or mental, the classroom environment can be too limiting. They can’t focus all the time or they focus too much, noises are either too loud or too quiet, the subject matter can be to complex or lacking, output may be oral or written. Unfortunately all these caveats do not fit within the ‘typical,cookie-cutter classroom’ but reality is these classroom are the typical. So instead of dragging our feet as educators, and handing these students off to EAs, why not use technology to help bridge that gap.
Assistive Technology can be as simple as ‘magnification on an Ipad’ or as complex visual input Ipad for quadriplegic or non-mobile students. Below I have looked at the technology side of supporting these students. In regards to output there are the more well-known aids such as ‘Speech To Text’ within Google, or Spell check and using program tools. Allowing students to demonstrate their learning without hesitancy of language issues is key for helping bridge the gap between students. Co:Writer Universal is a program which can have audio input, as well as offer predictive texts. Predictive test is an auto-generated and guiding form of media that can help students who have difficulty focusing on long thoughts such as a sentence, or as staying on topic within the sentence. Mathtalk is a program that allows students to talk through their thinking and their reasoning for math. This allows students who either ;just see the answer’ to demonstrate their learning or those who have trouble writing clearly.
Input disabilities, especially from written sources is some of the most common disabilities, such as dyslexia, ways around written input is key. As students grow older we tend to step away from ‘Read Aloud Books’, but we should be leaning more into this frame. Sites such as Audible.com have a library of books that are appropriate for any age. In regards to textbooks, some have audio-assisted versions online, or you have A-B Partner students pairing strong readers with those who need the aid. Accessing texts online such as with the aid of Kurzweil Education, it has the ability to magnify or offer ‘Open Dyslexic Text’ to help offer students individuality within their task.
FOR MORE MEDIA AID PLEASE REFER TO: https://disabilitycreditcanada.com/14-assistive-technologies-individuals-learning-disability/
During last weeks professional development day my sponsor teacher and her colleagues focused their learning around the ‘Daily 5’. They discussed how to best apply this program to suit each grade level. For those of you that are not familiar with this program I found a great description of it: Daily 5 is a literacy framework that instills behaviours of independence, creates a classroom of highly engaged readers, writers, and learners, and provides teachers with the time and structure to meet diverse student needs. The basis of Daily 5 is the five tasks the students choose between during their literacy block. These 5 tasks are Read to Self, Working on Writing, Read to Someone, Word Work and, Listening to Reading. https://www.thedailycafe.com/daily-5
The more I learned about this program the more I realized how applicable it was to my inquiry question. This strategy can be used throughout all grades in elementary schools. It is beneficial to all readers but it is indeed a early intervention strategy for struggling readers as well because it provides teachers with the time and structure to meet diverse student needs.
A teacher for the university of Illinois did a research paper on “Examining the Impact of the Daily 5”. In her paper she shared that after regional testing was done which would be comparable to our NLPS screeners and running records that the scores of students with IEP’s or struggling readers were shown to have significant increases in ability which demonstrates that the Daily 5 model is effective for readers who struggle. She discussed how all students showed growth in this study but surprisingly enough only the struggling readers and students with intervention services showed statistical growth when it came to testing. I thought this was a fascinating point. At the professional development day I attended last week I asked multiple classroom teachers about specific early intervention strategies or programs for struggling readers. They shared a few but most programs were very old. In Marissa J. Peters paper on “Examining the Impact of the Daily 5” she said that teachers are still constantly looking for ways to teach literacy in a effective way that can help the readers that struggle. As we all know differentiation in our classroom can be one of the most difficult parts of the job but it is important that we do it well to support ALL our students especially the students with IEP’s. Marissa made a great point just because some of our students have intervention services or learning support it does not mean that we as the classroom teacher get to give them a break. It is important that we still give those students effective and engaging lessons while they are also in the class. The Daily 5 also allows you to have one on one time with those students who struggle with reading but just don’t quite qualify for the time with the learning support teacher. http://www.eiu.edu/researchinaction/pdf/Missy_Peters_Manuscript.pdf
Overall, I think the Daily 5 is a very effective program that supports all learners needs and is just one more early intervention strategy. If you are interested about learning more about this program I have attached the link to the programs official site under my first paragraph where I describe what it is. Below I have attached a video that showcases how a classroom teacher has implemented the Daily 5 in her own classroom.