Diverse Teaching Strategies

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Buncee and the college campus

How does this apply to the Hobart and William Smith campuses?

How can a educational technology product marketed for a K-12 environment be extended into a young professional learning environment?

Idea #1: Encouraging Creative and engaging presentations will encourage excitement in your classroom

Idea #2: Connecting to their digitally native environment

Idea #3: Providing an interactive platform so students can experiment, tinker, and try new ways to present information as well as providing a simple format for educators of all technological abilities to be successful with integrating technology into their classes

Idea #4: Preparing students for a professional world by interacting with many different technology mediums allowing them to be digitally diverse and creative employees for our ever changing world



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Technology and Emotional Behavioral Disorders

This week’s topic of Technology and Emotional Behavioral Disorders is discussed around the following articles:

  1. http://at4schools.wetpaint.com/page/Technology+Aided+Strategies+for+students+who+are+Emotionally+Disturbed
  2. http://www.csun.edu/cod/conf/2005/proceedings/2466.htm
  3. Using the Computer with Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Key strategy for dealing with students with these type of disorders is POSITIVEnon-confrontational mannerisms. This is so important for your student, classroom, and student community. Through my own experience with students with these types of disorders, I have found these students to be challenging, insightful, and intelligent. I have seen these students be successful in school when they are in a classroom that has a caring, loving, and consistent adult role model.

The first article has some great tips about how to integrate technology into your classroom for students with emotional behavioral disorders. I have used most of these strategies in my classroom and have had success with them. The strategies that I felt worked the best were behavior charts with younger students, iPods with middle school students, and Brainpop, Inspiration, and Wii with my middle school students.

The second article talks about more statistics about which students are more likely to have these types of disorders. It specifically talks about how the lack of training for staff and implementing computers for a contained classroom of students with this type of disorder was being experimented with.

The third article is quite old and has some good information, although I believe these types of disorders are more widely understood now as to twenty years ago. It does offer some great ways to group students and use cooperative learning strategies to help these student learn to work with others and manage their behavior when working with others.

I believe the key strategies for students that suffer from emotional behavioral disorders is patience, consistency, and positivity. In my experience, I have found in general that students that have these types of disorders are intelligent and inquisitive. Integrating technology into your classroom for these students shouldn’t be a difficult or time consuming task. What I felt worked for me was to over-plan for these students. I always had something in my back pocket for days when the student needed a little extra attention or a quite place to calm down.

I stayed consistent with my discipline in the classroom. This was challenging with the student, but necessary for him/her to understand that there were consequences for behavior that was not safe for the classroom. As time went along, this consistency helped my student have less meltdowns and looked forward to music class. My consistency with classroom cues, rules, and songs helped the student know what to expect each time in class. That not only helped these students but all my students feel comfortable in my classroom.

Allowing iPods in my classroom was a key motivator for my students, especially for my students with emotional behavior disorders. It gave them a way to shut out the noise in the room as well as give them a focus to calm down with. I would assume if you have access to iPads, that these instruments would be great way to motivate students to learn as well. The many different apps that are available to supplement your curriculum is exciting! This excitement can help motivate behavior for students that struggle with these types of disorders.

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Funding and How it affects your Teaching Strategy

This week’s topic is based on the following readings:

  1. Funding Assistive Technology for Students with Disabilities
  2. http://www.health.ny.gov/community/disability/on_target/target8.htm
  3. Building An Initial Information Base: Assistive Technology Funding Resources for School-Aged Students with Disabilities

Each of the articles above contained a lot of information concerning how to find and secure funding for assistive technology devices for students. They all outlined requirements, required paperwork, pitfalls, and sources of funding. Instead of answers though, it left me with more questions. Why is the objective of funding so difficult, time consuming, and seemingly overwhelming?

The one idea that stuck out the most for me was specified in the first article, “Locate an advisor who can support and guide you through the funding maze. This may be a social worker, therapist, vocational rehabilitation counselor, or virtually anyone who has knowledge and is willing to help you with jargon and paperwork.” This seems to be a huge necessity for anyone trying to secure funding for assistive technology in their classroom for their students. A classroom teacher has such little free time to be able to research and secure funding without help. I can’t imagine trying to do this on my own!

Then I think about the parents and how are they going to be able to make their way through the paperwork without help from an outside source, such as a social worker. Just making my way through the readings and understanding the application process and then the appeal process was overwhelming for myself. It just seems ridiculous that there are so many hoops to jump through when you are just trying to give a student an opportunity to learn with a device that will help them succeed!

How do you develop a teaching strategy for your students who are waiting for funding for a device that is imperative to their learning? Ingenuity and creativity is necessary for you as the teacher to help the student while he or she waits for funding for a piece of assistive technology.

How? Talk to your special education department coordinator. Contact the local social services office and ask about lending or renting possibilities. Local advocacy groups such as the Arc of Monroe, American Association of People with Disabilities, or the local Veteran’s hospital. These groups apply for funding on a daily basis and will have more knowledge about where to go for help.

This website might be helpful: http://kc.vanderbilt.edu/pathfinder/resources/page.aspx?id=1967

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Understanding the Law for your Strategy

This week’s readings center on the laws that protect and allow for diverse learners of all capacities in our communities, government, and schools.


These links above have an extensive amount of information relating to the laws and how they protect and allow for assistive technology for students that need or would benefit from the use.

The first link, includes links to eleven different laws enacted by Congress that discuss assistive technology and its potential users. As an educator, you should be fairly familiar with these laws and how they pertain to your classroom. This knowledge will help you devise teaching strategies that will allow the diverse learners in your classroom to succeed. An example is the Telecommunications Law of 1996, Title 3 that extensively covers the requirements of close captioning and video descriptions requirements for video program accessibility. So a great strategy would be to use the close captioning feature when presenting video programs. This feature is mandated on all material created after 1996 so all learners can access it equally. This is an assistive technology that has been a requirement for 17 years already!

It is important to read through these laws to be sure that you are providing a classroom that is accessible to all learners.

“Prior to 1988, several laws addressed the potential of AT use by individuals with disabilities, but none mandated its use. Since then, laws specifically addressing the AT needs of persons with disabilities have been passed.”
-excerpt from http://atto.buffalo.edu/registered/ATBasics/Foundation/Laws/atlegislation.php

With today’s technology advances and continuing creativity in the field of technology, teachers have more opportunities than ever to provide assistive technology to their students and know the laws guarantee these possibilities.

Some assistive technology strategies guaranteed by law can include some of the following items:

  • close captioning use
  • Telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD)
  • Larger keyboard for computers
  • voice recognition software
  • iPads or tablets

There is more assistive technologies being created every day. The above is just a small list of ideas for you to get started! Designing your teaching strategies with universal design in mind will help accommodate all students.

Why not use assistive technology for all of your students?

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Strategies for students with sensory impairments

This week’s ideas come from the following articles and activities:




Students with sensory impairments can include impairments with vision, hearing, and tactile sensitivity. It takes special care and understanding to create strategies in your classroom for these students. Although they are included together under the title “sensory impairments,” each of the impairments are entirely different as well as can be combined for some students.

Students with vision impairments will require more focus on their other senses to enhance their learning environment. Technology that speaks or is more tactile can help these students while students with hearing impairments might need more visual cues and tactile activities. Students with tactile impairments might be more successful with visual and oral activities, instead of hands on activities.

The use of assistive technology as a teaching strategy for this population of students is the strongest idea. There are many different ways to use technology already in your classroom to help students with sensory impairments excel.

For students with vision impairments, braille keyboards and speak to text software, (ex. Dragon) can be very helpful. The creation of larger text on worksheets, on video displays, within Windows platforms are ways to differentiate for these students. This is outlines int he vision guide provided by Microsoft and referenced above.

For students with hearing impairments, creating visual cues and placing the student so he/she can see you as you give directions is extremely helpful. Close captioning is a great resource for videos, computer screen work, and television activities. The following website offers specific ideas for teachers and strategies for college students with hearing impairments but I think they are broad enough to be used in a classroom setting for K-12 students as well. (http://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/colleges/University/disability/faculty-staff/classroom-issues/hearing/hearing-strategy.htm)

Common Strategies for hearing impairments include:

Preferential seating (toward the front of the classroom)
Assistive Listening Devices
Captions for films and videos
Sign language or oral interpreters
Voice-to text-transcription (C-Print, real-time captioning, remote interpreting)

I found this website to have more details about sensory impairments and strategies that can be used to help these students be successful. (http://www.trinity.edu/org/sensoryimpairments/)

The main objective for students with sensory impairments is to tailor your teaching strategies for the specific student. This impairment can have varied degrees of severity and can also include other disabilities in conjunction. The key would be to find what your student needs and get creative in your teaching to provide it seamlessly.

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Developing Strategies for Your Gifted and Talented Students

This week’s ideas are derived from the following two article links:



The key to a successful classroom is being able to develop different strategies for each of your students so each of them become successful in your classroom. Gifted and talented students can be a complicated community of students. Their talents are often accompanied with disabilities as well. As a well trained teacher, you should be able to create a rewarding learning environment for these students by applying certain strategies to help these students to excel.

The first article is a guidebook created by the Montgomery County schools in Maryland. It is very thorough and detailed guide for teachers on the gifted and talented population. It is a great resource for teachers looking for more information on how to create a strategies for their classroom. It includes strategies for all subject areas that work and those that are less effective. It also spends time discussing disabilities that can accompany students that are gifted and talented.
Good points include: Differentiation, activities focused on interests, learning styles, multi-sensory instruction, hands on, integration of visual and performing arts, journaling, learning centers, interest centers, collaborated rubrics, and self evaluations.

The second article offers a quicker read and focuses mostly on technology as a strategy for the gifted and talented students. It discusses using a virtual learning environment as an enrichment strategy for these students. It recommends some wonderful resources for virtual learning environments, virtual tours, tutorials, thematic units, hyperlinks to online lessons, and online learning games.

Most of the ideas presented in these two articles are very useful for all students, not just students with documented abilities or disabilities. As a music educator, I used all of these strategies to connect with my students. They created an exciting learning environment where all of the students were engaged and excited to participate. I used technology most of the time for enrichment activities for students that completed required tasks before their peers. Webquests and extended tutorials made great extensions to my lesson plans, online games did not. The reason being is that most students in today’s world play online or video games. Yes it works well for students, but when you have students of varied abilities in your room and only some of them are able to complete assigned tasks, it doesn’t work. The slower students watch the faster students complete assigned tasks then move to computers to play games. If you use online educational games for enrichment, plan them for the whole class.

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Autism and Technology

There are many different technologies that can help students with autism. When I use the word technology, I don’t necessarily mean digital devices. There are many different tools and strategies that can be used to help students with autism become successful in your classroom.

This week’s sources of information are from the following links:

Some of the strategies that struck me as important were the ones for communication. It is the low level assistive technology that is so easy to get and cost effective for all classrooms. Creating communication boards with either software or simple dry erase boards is doable for most teachers.

What was most fascinating is reading about how students with autism or autism spectrum disorders are using iPad and iTouch technology provided by Apple. Here is a hot new popular technology device that not only is cool but also is assistive for students. This is so exciting for socialization for these students that are sometimes misunderstood by their fellow students. Here is a device that helps them blend in with their peers.

The last link is to a presentation about how to structure your classroom and home environments so they are the most successful for students with autism. It covers creating engaging lessons, tracking data, and reevaluating strategies so they are most effective for the students. It is just an introduction to a pyramid type system that school districts can use to train faculty, staff, and parents in an effort to help students with autism become successful adults. It is a dry presentation and requires several careful reviews to understand the language and concepts presented.

In summary, this week’s focus on autism and assistive technology is to communicate that there is many strategies out there that school districts, professionals, and parents are trying to help their students succeed. It depends on the severity of the disorder and the individuality of the student of what strategy will work. You might have to try many different strategies before you find one or two that work with your student.

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Misunderstood Minds

Image provided by Yamaha Music School Minneapolis, MN. http://www.cyms.ws/


This week’s blog is centered on the following website from PBS.


“This site is a companion to the PBS special Misunderstood Minds, and profiles a variety of learning problems and expert opinions. It is designed to give parents and teachers a better understanding of learning processes, insights into difficulties, and strategies for responding.”- Taken from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/misunderstoodminds/intro.html

There are so many strategies here that parents and teachers can use to help their students become successful in reading, mathematics, and writing. It outlines many different learning disabilities and how different strategies can help these students become successful at these subjects.

The strategies that I like the most and ones that I have used successfully in my own classroom include ones to help students with attention issues, struggling readers and writers, and struggling math issues. As a music teacher, I get to see all students with different abilities and learning issues. Due to to this grouping of students into my classroom I have had to adapt my teaching to accommodate all different abilities at the same time. How do you teach to students that have different needs in their learning? Here are some strategies that have worked for me!

  • I plan activities to accommodate the student that needs the most time in the classroom. Students that finish before the deadline are given extended activities and asked to help mentor students that are struggling.
  • I teach in 15 minutes intervals. This is to keep my students attention and help them be excited about what is going to happen next.
  • I put objectives on the board of what we are planning to do for the class. This helps students focus on a goal and be able to count down until the end of class for those that do not enjoy music
  • I plan many different activities where students need to get up and move either to use instruments or work in groups.
  • I use as much technology as I can and encourage students to learn and use it as well. In today’s world, our students are digital natives and get excited about using computers, keyboards, Smartboards, etc.
  • For struggling readers, I pair them up with a good reader and use peer tutoring to help give them a sense of accomplishment. I also use the Smartboard to display audio and picture readings to help readers connect text with meaning.
  • I put myself out to my students as a mentor or coach. I encourage them to share their favorite music and activities with the class and myself. I helps me remember more about them and what they like. This helps me plan lessons around their interests and get to know them better.
  • I use audio, visual, kinesthetic, reading, math, puzzles, and games in my teaching to reach all students abilities. I also give students the ability to choose their assessments based on their preferred method of learning. More choice gives students more accountability and responsibility for their own learning. This helps with their confidence and encourages them to persevere through their abilities.
These are just a few of the strategies I use to help all learners in my classroom. Please visit the website above to find more strategies that you can use in your classroom or at home with your student.

Teaching Strategies for Every Learner

This blog is dedicated to a graduate course at Nazareth College. It will focus on teaching strategies for diverse learners. This week’s response is will refer to the following readings:


Using Flexible Technology

It is important to have many different strategies to help students of any aptitude learn and grow. The first article or excerpt focuses on strategies for ESOL (English as a Second Language) students. After discussing the achievement gap and other economic reasons why students fall behind, the author focuses on these strategies for teachers to help all students succeed in the classroom.

The great thing about these strategies is that they will work for all diverse learners, not just ESOL students. There are 25 different strategies that Marietta Saravia-Shore outlines and gives classroom examples on how to implement them into the classroom. What struck me about this article is that these strategies should already be a part of a teacher’s classroom, not just implemented for ESOL learners. These strategies will help engage all learners regardless of their economic, ethnic, or language difficulties.

The second article focuses more on what technology a teacher can use to help diverse learners in the classroom. It has great information about talking text software, useful electronic resources, graphic organizers, and word processors. There is also information about professional development for teachers that want to use more technology or need more training to implement these technology ideas.

Each of the articles gives teachers a starting point as to creating different strategies and finding tools to help the students in their classroom succeed. These articles would be best read by teachers already in the classroom that may have missed some of this information in their college training. Most teachers coming out of college today in 2013, may already know or have some of these tools ready to use in their classrooms. The digital age is now 17 years in the making since the inception of the Internet. Many of the ideas and resources talked about in these readings may already be old news to today’s newest teacher graduates.

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