Diverse Teaching Strategies

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Strategies for students with sensory impairments

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

http://www.microsoft.com/enable/guides/vision.aspx

http://www.washington.edu/doit/Brochures/Technology/wtsense.html

http://www.lowvisionsimulators.com/sitecontent/low-vision-simulation-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
Note-takers
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:

http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/uploadedFiles/curriculum/enriched/programs/gtld/2010%20Twice%20Exceptional.pdf

http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10436.aspx

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:
http://www.disaboom.com/assistive-technology-general/assistive-technology-for-autism
http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20110301/news/703019898/
http://www.pecs.com/webcasts/approach.php

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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