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Classroom Management

The following are questions and answers from Dr. Tracy Gray on this topic.

What web resources could help a third grader who needs to learn science and social studies?

The Internet has some great resources for helping students to learn science and social studies. See the article Using Multimedia Tools to Help Students Learn Science for a rich collection of web-based sites. The article is divided into three sections: Modeling Tools and Multiple Representations, Tools that Facilitate Collaboration and Discourse, and Simulations and Virtual Labs. Each section has a list of tools that you can implement in your classroom. Grade levels vary, but there are several tools that would be just right for third grade. Take a look at the tools, and hopefully, you will find some that will be engaging to your student.

In terms of social studies, see the articles Teaching History to Support Diverse Learners which describes ways to engage students with critical thinking and history learning. The article Learning History with Multimedia Materials is another great resource. Unfortunately, many of the tools mentioned in this article are for middle and high school grades. However, the Jean Fritz History Series is made for students in grades 3-7. The series explores different social studies themes and introduces students to key historical figures. CITEd's article Multimedia Geography Instruction also provides links to some really engaging online tools. Many of the tools mentioned in this article are aimed toward elementary students. Landscapes game, for example, includes activities for using relative location to construct maps. This program allows students to use map construction tools in a digital environment instead of using traditional materials such as pencils, crayons, construction paper, and clay.

We hope these resources will engage and instruct your student and be helpful to your classroom management.

What technology resources can be used for students with motor and speech limitations?

CITEd just recently updated the TechMatrix, a tool that allows you to search for information on assistive and learning software and tools. The TechMatrix now includes more than 190 products and tools in AT Access Devices, Reading, Math, and Writing. You can search for tools by subject area, learning supports, features, and product names.

It sounds like the "features" search may be most helpful to you. You can select one or more features (e.g. connection to computer, customizable interface, embedded resources, text-to-speech, word prediction, etc.), and then click the "Generate Matrix" to view a matrix of products having that particular set of features.

Popular types of products that have been successful as both AT for students with special needs and general classroom technology include portable notetakers, adapted keyboards that can be used by one or more student on a regular desktop computer, and text-to-speech functions on general computers that can stand in for dedicated speech devices and read a students' presentation or response. You can find out more about these technologies at the TechMatrix.

What technology helps students take notes in lectures?

It can be challenging for many students with disabilities to take notes while listening to teacher lectures or instruction. A couple of different options may be helpful for your son, depending on the resources available at your school and his teacher's instructional style. If your son's teacher regularly uses overheads or slide presentations, it may be helpful for your son to have access to the slides during the lecture. He can view the slides on a laptop and add his notes to them as the teacher presents information.

Another option if your son's teacher doesn't use slide presentations during lectures would be to ask the teacher to create electronic note-taking tools or graphic organizers for the lecture material. Depending on the specific content being covered, these could include partially completed outlines, concept maps, or story analysis webs. Your son could have these available on a laptop and fill them in as the teacher presents material. This article on Tech Tools for Students with Learning Disabilities offers some suggestions for students that may be helpful.

There are also several software options available for creating concept maps or online note taking. Inspiration and MindManager are both tools that allow users to create visual representations of information. These tools could be beneficial for writing activities or connecting concepts.

Online note taking software such as EverNote would allow your son to create searchable notes and diagrams using digital images, handwritten text from a tablet PC, text from websites or text from Word documents and PowerPoint presentations. If a laptop is unavailable for your son to use in the classroom, a portable note-taker might be a good solution. AlphaSmart and Fusion makes portable note-taking devices that are popular in schools; other options can be found on the TechMatrix website.

Can you provide recommendations of things to consider when developing a university program for students with learning disabilities?

It is wonderful to hear about AUST working with parents to develop a program for students with disabilities. No doubt, collaboration between the two entities will enhance the process. There are many issues that need to be considered in such an endeavor in addition to those that you have mentioned.

I think a good place to start may be with the HEATH Resource Center Clearinghouse, which provides information for students with disabilities on educational disability support services, policies, procedures, adaptations and access, as well as links to many other valuable resources.

Also, explore the web site for the Association on Higher Education and Disability — AHEAD, which is the premiere professional association committed to full participation of persons with disabilities in postsecondary education.

In addition, I recommend that you contact the directors of various university programs for students with disabilities. These professionals should be able to provide you with information about the development and implementation of their own programs, as well as practical advice from their lessons learned.

Colleges with Programs for Students with Learning Disabilities, a directory maintained by the American Educational Guidance Center, can provide you with links to dozens of universities that have registered programs.

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