Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Success Story

One of my dreams is to work myself out of a job as an assistive technology consultant. Today, I came one step closer to realizing that dream.

Allow me to explain.

Last week, I offered a two hour workshop to a team of special educators. We talked about assistive technology consideration, guiding principles for technology integration, universal design for learning and free technology resources to support struggling learners. They had a chance to explore the Free Technology Toolkit Wiki. At the conclusion of the workshop, they were given an assignment to identify at least one resource to support their students, use it and then report back when we met again.

We reconvened today and our follow-up workshop started with small group discussions. Educators shared what worked and what didn't (because we know there are always obstacles). They heard each others ideas and got excited hearing how some of the tools effectively reached learners in new ways. A student who hated to write and typically avoided it, used Make Beliefs Comix and had FUN writing. Another student who has signficant spelling issues and can not correct his own work used Ginger Spelling to help him edit his work. Others shared their experiences with Voice Thread, UDL Book Builder and Wacky Web Tales.

The enthusiasm in the room was building. They needed the opportunity to continue to explore, collaborate and think outside the box.

It seemed the perfect time to introduce Word Magnets which I had recently discovered and blogged about. What would this group of K -5 educators do with Word Magnets? It was incredible watching them think up all kinds of creative activities for their students which they then added to an EtherPad, a collaborative, synchronous online writing space.

As we were reviewing the session, one participant asked if there was a way they could continue to collaborate. (Be still my heart!) There was uniform agreement that they needed and wanted to continue to share their ideas, successes and triumphs. Together they came up with a plan for how they could build upon the foundation they obtained from these two workshop sessions. It was incredible for me as the workshop facilitator to see how they were motivated to extend beyond these two workshops to make learning real for them and ultimately for their students. They recognized the skills they brought to the workshop and wanted to prolong the sharing and collaboration.

They accomplished tremendous things. I was just the facilitator. I am so grateful to be a catalyst who can now sit back and watch how they integrate the tools and strategies to support struggling learners in their district.

It was truly a great day. This is why I do what I do, so that teachers and students will no longer need assistive technology consulting because it is embedded in the culture of the school.


Michelle D. Davis said...

truly inspiring...brings tearss to my eyes...I LOVE seeing how we can bring them the tools and see what they can create!

Dan Callahan said...

I often say that my goal as a Special Ed teacher is to work myself out of a job. :)

Karen Janowski said...

And not just see what they create but the innovative ways they can help their students succeed. It was an awesome day!


Good to know I'm in good company. You have the same dream. Someday.... when there is no distinction between general education and special education and when universal design for learning is the foundation for all instruction.

Brian S. Friedlander, Ph.D said...

Hi Karen

That is very exciting! There is tremendous value in building collaborative teams that can share ideas for how to reach students with learning differences. With so many tools out there teachers are sure to find some way to reach each and every child


Dorethia's Blog said...

As a special educator, I am finding that students are needing more assistance. With full inclusion, I am finding not all students are being successful. Hopefully I can collaborate with those of you in other parts of the country that are making inclusion work.