Jane Quenneville - Mentor Teacher

By: Jane Quenneville

Jane Quenneville

This month our mentor teacher is Jane Quenneville, an assistive technology specialist for the Virginia Beach City Public Schools in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Jane, was most recently chosen as teacher of the year for the Special Education Annex, an itinerant group of professionals who serve students with disabilities. Jane began her career as an occupational therapist. She has been working in the educational setting for 15 years. She became involved in providing occupational therapy services in the classroom through collaboration. Co-teaching and co-planning were implemented and her love for inclusion began. Through this collaborative experience and her interactions with students with learning disabilities her professional focus shifted to gaining more knowledge about the learning process for students with learning disabilities. This prompted Jane to engage in a Masters of Education degree program with a concentration in Resource Collaborative Teaching. This program gave her a greater appreciation for effective inclusive service delivery for students with disabilities and a knowledge base of the learning process for students with learning disabilities. Currently she is working towards her Educational Specialist degree in the area of Administration and Supervision. Jane is interested in being a building administrator and will strive to begin an effective inclusion program for students with learning disabilities.

What are the benefits of using technology in the classroom?

Jane Quenneville with student

What I see as one of the major benefits of using technology in the classroom is how it allows the student to concentrate on the academics of the subject. For example, it decreases the need to concentrate on how to form letters when trying to write a word, it assists a student to retrieve the correct word when formulating a sentence, it offers the student the ability to have text read to them so they may concentrate on comprehending the material and not on decoding. For all age groups technology increases their self-esteem and allows for greater control and independence in the learning process. Overall, when the student is motivated to use the technology it will ease frustration, foster a sense of peer acceptance, and improve productivity in the classroom and at home.

Why is inclusion via technology in the general education classroom important for students with learning disabilities?

When students are taught in isolation of each other they do not learn to appreciate that all learners require a different approach. When students are included in the general education classroom they begin to understand that a learning disability does not inhibit learning it merely means that students learn differently. In fact we all learn differently, some of us are auditory learners, some visual learners, some kinesthetic. It is the integration of these learning styles that meets the needs of all students. It is important for students to understand that the word disability does not mean unable to achieve. When technology is implemented in the general education classroom, the benefits are not exclusive to students with disabilities. For example, the use of a portable note taker is an ideal writing tool for students to cooperatively engage in a writing assignment. The use of graphic programs to enhance a class presentation is not an uncommon occurrence. We must look at how technology can assist all students and break the barriers of segregation between general education and special education students.

Jane Quenneville with student

Many parents express to LD OnLine that they have asked the student be allowed to use technology in the classroom but are told "no." that students cannot use a word processor, for example, to complete written We often hear that teachers or school policy states assignments. What would you tell these parents.

Under the IDEA guidelines assistive technology is an important component of the IEP process. Within the IEP, as part of the considerations and accommodations the IEP document should state, "Does the student require assistive technology devices or services?" At this time the IEP team must consider whether or not the student would benefit from being assessed for assistive technology to support their educational program. Below is a sample section of an IEP for a student, Eric, who has difficulty writing. In this statement the problem is clearly stated. The annual goal and short-term objectives are clearly written as to how the technology is going to be implemented for this students program. When these are clearly articulated in the IEP, the classroom teacher must follow through with the services indicated on the IEP.

Table 1 shows the range of accommodations that might be employed for a child who has difficulty with written expression. Table 2 illustrates in greater detail how technology would be integrated. Table 3 then shows some of the devices that we have found to be effective in helping children with written language problems. I have also included a list of useful accommodations for math difficulties in Table 4.

Are there specific assistive technology recommendations for students with learning disabilities?

Generally there are certain programs that we have found to be successful with students with learning disabilities. For example, if a student is an auditory learner, they may benefit from using a talking word processor to complete written assignments. The talking word processor can speak letters, words, sentences and paragraphs to the student. Most of these programs also include a talking spell checker with further enhances the capabilities of these programs. Additionally, if a student has difficulty retrieving words or phrases for written expression activities they may benefit from the use of a word prediction program. The word prediction program predicts words as the student begins to type, when the correct word appears the student chooses that word and continues writing until the sentence is completed. This type of program works in conjunction with any word processor. Those students who are challenged in the area of legible writing may benefit from the use of a portable note taker to assist with written assignments. Related to this scenario, the development of two-handed touch typing skills will be important. Overall, it is important to match the technology to the learning needs of the individual child.

What teaching tip would you offer to teachers?

Keep an open mind about the use of technology in the classroom. Just as building blocks are necessary for a preschool child, technology is a necessary tool for students with learning disabilities to assist them with overcoming their academic challenges.

Table 1

Student Name:___________________________________________

27. Accommodations/Modifications

This student will be provided appropriate accommodations/modifications for access to the general education, special education, other school services and activities including non-academic activities and extracurricular activities and educationally related settings. However, it is understood that this student must meet all other eligibility criteria for the activity.

Accommodations/modifications provided as part of the instructional and testing/assessment process will allow the student equal opportunity to access the curriculum and demonstrate achievement. Accommodations/modifications also provide access to non-academic and extracurricular activities and educationally related settings. Accommodations/modifications based solely on the potential to enhance performance beyond providing equal access are inappropriate.

Accommodations may address, but not be limited to, concerns related to time, scheduling, setting, presentation, and response. The impact of any modifications listed should be discussed. This includes the earning of credits for graduation.

Accommodations/Modifications (please list, as appropriate)

Accommodation(s) Modification(s) General Ed. Special Ed.
Use of a portable note taker to assist with written assignments    
Use of a talking word processor to assist with written assignments    
Use of a word prediction program to assist with written assignments    
Use of a portable computer to assist with written assignments    
Use of reading software to assist student with decoding and comprehension of written material    
Use of a talking spell checker to assist students in completing written assignments    
Use of a tape recorder to record lengthy written assignments    
Use of a hand held calculator to assist with completion of math assignments    

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Table 2
Accommodations for Written Expression

Method Accommodations:

  • extra time for completion
  • shorten assignments
  • use content outlines
  • process writing strategies
  • writing I story starters
  • use of positive approaches
  • study carrel for IndiVidual work
  • formulate sentences aloud
  • use "fInger for spacing" strategy
  • color coding strategies
  • peer support /tutoring

Material Accommodations

  • note cards
  • word cards
  • sentence cards
  • clipboards
  • pocket dictionary
  • pocket thesaurus
  • peer support
  • highlighter
  • personal chalkboard
  • number facts charts

Technology Accommodations

  • tape record thoughts before writing
  • tape record story to proof read
  • headphones
  • electronic dictionary and/or thesaurus
  • Word master
  • speaking Dictionary companion
  • electric eraser

Developed by Judy Marquetter. Assistive Technology Specialist
Penn Tech Instructional Support System of Pennsylvania

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Table 3
MS Word (Microsoft)
  • Visual interactive spell checking
  • Ignore/change all capabilities during check
  • Automatic correction
  • Auto text feature
  • Modifiable spelling dictionaries
  • Ability to add/create new dictionaries

Spell Catcher (Casady & Greene)

  • Auditory interactive spell checking
  • Global application for programs of your choice
  • Pop-up suggestion windows for misspellings
  • Speech available for suggestion lists
  • Automatic correction
  • Modifiable spelling dictionary with ability to add all forms of the word at one time.
Spelling Tools (free Macintosh)
  • Small floating palette when active
  • Global application for programs of your choide
  • Reads text out loud-text to speech
  • Rubber text stamps (macros for auto text)
  • Word counting
  • Find/replace, case changing capabilities
  • Cleans up e-mail

Type & Talk

Read & Write (text-HELP)

  • Word prediction, word processing and spell checking
  • Check homonym feature
  • Visual interactive spell checking in color of student choice
  • Optionally looks for different kids of LD spelling errors.
Co-Writer (Don Johnston)
  • Word prediction working as a spelling suggest
  • Multiple dictionary choices for word suggestions
  • Suggestions lists 1-9 words long
  • Ability to have any or all words in suggestions list read out loud
  • Students see correct spelling before they completely misspell word
  • New version accounts for initial letter spelling problems.
Intellitalk II
  • Checks entire document or selection
  • Suggestion lists can be read out loud
  • Modifiable spell checking dictionary

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Table 4
Accommodations for Math Difficulties

Method Accommodations

  • Reduce number of problems
  • Eliminate the need to copy problems
  • Enlarge worksheets
  • Avoid mixing "signs" on page, minimize number of items on page
  • Provide more time for completion
  • Graph paper
  • Raised number lines
  • Large number lines
  • Life,-sized number lines
  • Mnemonic device
  • "Two finger" counting aid
  • Instructional strategies
  • Multi-modality instruction
  • Computational aids
  • Color coding strategies
  • Green marker to start / red to stop
  • Peer support and tutoring

Material Accommodations

  • Abacus
  • Counters
  • Containers for counters
  • Manipulatives
  • Flash cards
  • Set cards
  • Flannel board and numbers
  • Tactile numbers and signs
  • Automatic number stamp
  • Peer support and tutoring highighter
  • Personal chalkboard
  • Number facts charts

Technology Accommodations

  • Hand held calculator
  • Calculator with print out
  • Talking calculator
  • Language Master + Math
  • Tape Recorder for counting, basic facts, multiplication tables, combinations, formula

Developed by Judy Marquetter. Assistive Technology Specialist Penn Tech Instructional Support System of Pennsylvania

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Sample IEP

PLOP: Eric participates in regular education programs for his academic subjects. His hand strength is limited and he fatigues quickly when doing any handwriting task. Civics and English homework are a particular problem because of lengthy assignments and reports that need to be completed.

Annual Goal: Eric will be able to complete assignments in 10th grade English and Civics classes in a timely manner that will not fatigue him.

STO 1: Eric will review and practice keyboarding skills to input information into a computer or portable word processor at a functional rate of at least 15 words per minute when tested on a standard keyboarding assignment.

STO 2: Eric will use a portable word processor at home or school to complete 100% of English and Civics homework assignments each day as reported by respective teachers.

STO 3: Eric will learn to transfer documents from portable word processor to computer, use spell checker, use other computer features to reformat appropriately (e.g. cut, past, bold, tab, etc.) and operate printer 100% of time as reported by respective teachers.

All photos are used with permission.

Jane Quenneville (2002)