Dec 7, 2016

Technology for General and Special Needs Classrooms

On Wednesday Nov 30, 2016 I was fortunate to be able to attend the conference on Assistive Technology for General and Special Needs Classrooms.  The conference was hosted by Infinitec (http://www.infinitec.org/ ) with a grant from the ISBE.  (http://www.isbe.net/ ) The conference covered a variety of tools to assist a wide range of students with and without special needs.  It was easy to follow along and manipulate the different tools presented.  It was also fun to collaborate with colleagues from other schools districts.  The presenter Jenn Skalitzky did a great job.  

Have it Your Way with Google Chrome, was the first session and in my opinion  the best of the three sessions.  Jen went through a multitude of apps and extensions which can be used to customize Google Chrome.  She explained the many ways students are able customize their own workspace in Google Chrome with a single click.  These customizations give ANY student the upper hand to make their learning easier.  I have linked out the spreadsheet I am putting together so anyone can have access to the tools which were presented; and also added some of own favorites in there. (This is a work in progress, so check back often.)

The second session was all iPad apps and iPad Built In Supports and the many ways in which you can use the accessibility mode and guided access within the classroom.  This document will be ready later in January as Nora Bardi, our Special Needs Technology Director and I will be working on updating the apps list so it is the most current.

The last session No Cost/Low Cost Technology Solutions for Diverse Learners was geared around using web resources to build your Universal Design for Learning toolbox.  Many of the sites presented in this session were free, while some had pay options with more features.  These web-based resources included reading, writing, and math.  These are also on the spreadsheet I linked out.  

Overall -  I would rate this an 8 out of 10.  I was able to grab some new tools for my own tool box and for the many teachers I work with on a regular basis.  As with any new tools, go through them and test to see which ones are for you and which ones you can live without.  


~Amber O’Day - Instructional Technology Coach, Secondary

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