I like to consider myself technologically savvy. As a person, I manage no less than 3 email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, and on the rare occasion I want to see what job someone from high school has, LinkedIn. I know how to use Microsoft and Google software. I can usually fix minor problems, and I love my throw projector and interactive white board technology.
You know who isn’t so tech savvy; my special education students. Sure, they can operate their X-box games. And they are all really good at using the tablet to play Minecraft at reward time, but when it comes to using technology for assessments, or for any sort of projects, the frustrations run high and problems invariably happen. And when it comes to integrating technology in a more than surface-level way….I stink.
I have made it a personal goal to help familiarize my students with technology to the best of my abilities this school year. My starting point is our Chrome book cart! Our school district has moved toward a Google-centric form of student/teacher technology, which is amazing. So many programs and resources are available that sync with Google Classroom! Sadly, before this year, my students were unaware of their school email address. I had to start with introducing them to their Google log-in and password. You would think this would be simple, but memorizing a password and slowly, slowly typing in an email address takes what feels like forever.
When that is done, students can enter the Google Drive and find the Gmail application. Waiting for them inside their email is a message from me. This is my first (and one of my favorite) ways of connecting technology to my social skills development! Each student has their own Google Form that is a “Zones of Regulation” daily check in. I used to do this on paper. The space it took up and the waste it created was only second to the moans and groans of students who were tired of filling things out and writing long reasons for why they were feeling the way they were feeling that morning. It took some fiddling, but here it is!
This is the part where students decide what Zone they are in for the day.
Here is where they tell me why, and pick one sensory/ break activity that could help them stay in the Green Zone for the day.
Here is all that information neatly graphed! I love graphs!! There is also a handy-dandy spread sheet that records dates and responses. I use this data to inform behavior IEP goals, tracking data on students self-monitoring and self-regulation of their emotions, and I just use it to plain old help me figure out how to best help them that day.
Another great idea I had was a morning “Dear Miss Loftus” letter. Every morning students add to a Google Doc titled “Dear Miss Loftus”. In this document they write me daily, using the standard letter writing format, and use a formal greeting and closing. They can ask me questions, share information, or just tell me how they are doing. I write back every day. By the end of the year, I am hoping for one great big letter of interesting things! Why do this activity? Well I do believe letter writing is a lost art. However, this is also a great way to help familiarize the students with simple word processing and typing. A month in, and students are getting better and better. They understand the editing tools, they have stopped changing font color and typing in HUGE letters. They are also MUCH better at logging in, accessing different applications on the Chrome book, and becoming more comfortable with technology to boot! I can’t wait to see where it takes me next! What new ways are you integrating technology this year? Do you have any suggestions for me? Please leave a comment below!