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Keeping it Old School

Ahhh, the good old school days! You learned algebra in high school, didn't even have to take geometry to graduate, maybe needed 2 years of science, carried all your homework and classwork in a Pee Chee and somehow felt just as smart as our kids do today. When I look back on my K-12 education, it's like looking at it through an old film camera. It was user friendly, had one setting and it was simple to use. It was awesome, right?

Just for reference if you are younger than say 50 -

But hum, come to think of it, maybe the quality of the results wasn't as good as it might be with today's iPhone camera or high resolution digital formats. When I look back on the finished product there were a lot of imperfections and the results, like the photos from the old camera, seem grainy, out of focus, faded and lack the high quality you might get today. Back in the day there were limited ways to capture visual information in pictures. You had far fewer options and you couldn't adjust the results. Students, like the cameras of today, have lots of options, one size doesn't fit all and you can affect the end results with plenty of tools and tech at your ready.

Today, particularly in the #COVID19 Educatonal Environment, students are exposed to so many different ways to learn, including technology based platforms and tools. In special education the tools and tech that we can leverage in making #AcademicProgress and creating #AcademicAccess for students are astounding. Let's take a look at this in today's world.

My college and high school aged kids are, as I type, sitting at the desk in their bedrooms and receiving instruction from teachers and professors. On a daily basis they are now accessing or learning to access instruction through videos, digital whiteboards, remote live platforms and digital books, assignments, projects and even tests. Yep, that's right...they are taking tests from their bedroom... with their books, notes and instructional materials near by. Of course my instruction to them as their mom is they need to be able to respond to test material without the use of a book, notes or such, it's true learning. While I know they must learn somehow during these interesting times, I gotta say that I am not thrilled with the actual level of learning/instruction they are receiving. Even if the schools are working hard to provide it.

I guess the positives of all this are students learning to use platforms and processes useful in college, work and life. Heck, how many of us are using video platforms for work meetings, to attend conferences online, watch informational series? We fill out forms, provide and access documents and read books on digital formats. Come to think of it, I don't even have to go to the office to see some of my doctors. I can just roll out of bed, put on some sweats, maybe brush my teeth (I mean no one can smell my breath), put my hair in a bun, grab my coffee and click a link. So all of these new skills do have a place in the world.

Students receiving #services, #supports and/or #accommodations through an #IEP or #504Plan have tools available that can assist them in gaining access to their curriculum and making progress to close the gap that may exist between their current achievement and the standards. When needed, a student with #ExecutiveFunction deficits can utilize the calendar on their phone to create reminders and calendar events for assignments and projects in school. Students can take photos of notes or due dates on the board in the classroom. In the Notes app on the iPhone you can scan a homework assignment and upload or send it to the teacher via an academic platform or email.

Students struggling with communication deficits now have great technology to utilize that allows them to ask/answer questions, communicate their needs, and even decrease frustration in communicating as a whole. Some of those tools include things like #PROLOQUE2GO, #AvazAAC. Other apps available to students can help create visual schedules, assist in completing tasks and even help locate a student that may not be where expected. These are just some of the many tools available these days to help students with an IEP or 504 Plan.

If you are struggling to help your student have access in the new and old academic environment, do a little research on your own and see if there is a tech tool out there that may help your student. Then check with your school to see if they have access to the same technology or if you can provide it for your student to use. In today's academic environment when so much is online to include assignments and books, you might find your student is struggling to navigate the new digital platforms, and you too are struggling to help them. Reach out to your child's school and ask if someone can assist you and your child in navigating the tech platforms. Maybe tech support or a savvy teacher could share their screen and walk you through the steps needed to gain access to the online books, assignments, due dates, etc. A student with a #disability may need this kind of instruction to access their education. Their parents may also need it to assist their child with the appropriate support.

Utilize tech in the best and appropriate ways you can. Never stop seeking new tools, learning new things and helping your child do the same so they can leverage them in for academic and lifetime success. As a special education consultant I am always seeking out new tools in my work with students, so they can have the best access possible.


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