The mission of a school and the needs of staff and teachers often shape how education technology gets integrated into the day. In this post, we profile a special-education teacher located in New Jersey. I had the pleasure of visiting Wendy Thompson’s classroom earlier this year. Her passion and dedication were evident in her practice. Wendy shared some of her insights and reflections on using education technology in her classroom.
Describe your current role and the student population at your school.
Currently, I’m a special education teacher in a self-contain classroom for a fantastic group of students nine to eleven years old with mild to moderate cognitive, language and physical disabilities. Our program, at A. Harry Moore Laboratory School located in Jersey City, New Jersey offers academic, therapeutic, social skills and pre-vocational programing. Our students range from ages three to twenty-one and present with a variety of special needs leveled from mild to severe in a uniquely urban setting.
What type of technology do you use in your classroom?
We use technology to facilitate daily activities and enhance learning in our class works. Our devices range from mobile tablets to laptops, desktops and a Promethean interactive board. Instructional technology helped us focus on robotics and drones, as we worked to motivate our students in the introduction to coding. We use assistive technology including a head mouse and an on screen keyboard for access and writing.
How has technology changed the way you teach?
Including technology as an instructional tool and motivator for learning has allowed students to demonstrate understanding of concepts introduced. It provides a means for interactive and collaborative moments of engagement. Prior to the inclusion of iPads, a student book report might have included the use of picture symbols arranged in a simulated format with students limited to choices provided by the teacher. With apps like Tell About and Write About, a student’s voice can truly be his own. Being a one device (iPad) room, pairing a mirroring program like Splashtop allows on-the-spot assessment and readjustment to learning for staff and students.
What advice would you give to teachers looking to integrate technology into their instruction?
Take your time and allow for that moment when the students take ownership of their learning. Add one new tool at a time and become familiar with it and its potential to enhance learning in your environment. Most importantly, stay connected to professional learning communities to stay up to date on technological innovations.
What are your hopes and dreams for using technology in your current teaching role?
I hope that through the inclusion of technology in our program, doors that have been previously closed to my students will be open allowing them to obtain the goals they set for themselves.
Learn more about the A. Harry Moore School’s program by visiting their website.
Monica Burns is an EdTech & Curriculum Consultant and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.
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This sounds cool. Now kids will like learning a lot.