Touzin's Musings

Musings from the field of Assistive Technology

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Making Connections with AT

SWAC Classroom at Lambton College

SWAC Classroom at Lambton College


October. I think I can safely say for all of us in education, that October is flying by. And with that, the feeling of gearing up for a year’s worth of hard work has also set in. This month I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with grade 9 students in our district who currently use assistive technology to access the Ontario curriculum. Our goal in meeting with these students several times this fall, is to build a relationship of support, and to encourage the continued use of AT in the secondary classroom. This is the first year the LKDSB has had teachers assigned specifically for this task. I’m hopeful this approach will help curb our abandonment issues at the secondary level.

In addition to supporting students, we’re also supporting classroom teachers this fall. Our mandate is to demonstrate system wide software found on our current network image. I’ve been so lucky to show Smart Ideas and Word Q to wide range of classes this fall. In particular, I was very excited to visit the SWAC (School Within A College) classroom at Lambton College this week. This class is a very unique set of students aged 18-20 who require less than 8 credits to complete their OSSD. Students enrolled have the opportunity to complete their OSSD at their own pace, with support from a secondary teacher. I had a great time demonstrating Word Q to these students, and I was very impressed with program and students’ maturity. I know they will succeed in obtaining their goals.

October has been a very busy and vital month in establishing relationships with teachers and students. I’m looking forward to more opportunities to connect with educators in November.




September: New Beginnings


September. Even the word connotes so much for so many. It means one thing to parents, another to teachers, and even something else to students. It’s time to return to the bustle of education.  Ready, or not!

This fall, at LKDSB, we have a new opportunity to re-connect and support our students with Assistive Technology at the secondary level. Meeting with grade 9 students is rejuvenating: fresh faces, new friends, new classes, and new teachers encouraging the best. I’ve always enjoyed a grade 9 class in September for one reason: their sheer fear. It’s easier in September to set routines with students, and convince them to try new things.

This September, I’m meeting with a large number of grade 9 students to help support their continued use of AT in the secondary level. It’s been very busy prioritizing schools, students, and needs to ensure everyone receives support as they transition to secondary school. We know AT abandonment is a real concern at LKDSB, and I hope early and often sessions will help curb that tendency.

I’m looking forward to planned Orientation Days this week at AMSS, JMSS, SCITs, LCCVI and NLSS. By meeting these students now, I’m hoping they become more inclined to use the AT they need to access our curriculum.

September is busy, tiring and exciting. And I love it.

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See You in September!

Spending Time Together

Spending Time Together

As the first semester of my new position comes to a close, I’d love to thank the LKDSB for having the vision to extend my position into the next school year. We are on the brink of major changes, and movement forward, and I am excited to be a part of it. Stay tuned!

As many of you get yourselves ready for the fall, I encourage you to also spend the next two months reflecting on your year, and where next year may take you. Plan on trying something new. Maybe you’ll take an AQ, try a new piece of software in your class (hint hint), or dive deep into CI and DI. What ever you choose to do, give yourself plenty of room to learn and grow.

Enjoy your summer LKDSB!


Jumping on Board. Change is good.

ImageI often take photos of drives around the school board district on my way to see students and teachers. Today, this one stood out. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized there was a set of tire tracks on the road in the frame. I wondered. Did they hit the brakes in time? Was anyone hurt? Did they stop for the train?

Often learning new technology is compared to a moving train by many educators. Sometimes we can hop on, other times, it’s moving too quick to catch up to. I can relate! I thought I would never learn all the ins and outs of the various assistive technologies I support in my district. And the first time I tried Google Drive? Anxiety. First attempt at creating my own voice file for Dragon? Tears of frustration.

I learned my reluctance and fear came from thinking I had to master it all in one session. I hear you snickering, dear reader. I was naive. I was a type-A achiever in the nebulous world of fast changing tech. Then I realized. Pick what you NEED for the TASK you need to do. Collaborative writing with students? Use Google Drive and Comments. Course homepage? D2L. Improve writing organization and conventions? Smart Ideas and Word Q.

I may not be at the forefront of the tech revolution in education, but I am no longer afraid to jump in and hang on for dear life when fast changes are coming.

Now, I’m more afraid of letting the train pass me by. There’s too many great things on board.

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Back in the Classroom


In the past week, and in the next month, I will have the privilege of visiting a dozen teachers and their classes in secondary schools in the LKDSB. I’m demonstrating the OSAPAC software, Word Q and Smart Ideas to grade 9 and 10 classes. These teachers have graciously opened their classroom doors to me, and their students. And it has been incredibly fun and rewarding so far.

Any time students feel like they have something that will actually help them accomplish tasks, they feel empowered. They feel ready to take charge and test it out. It’s the testing out part that is awesome to watch. Students who feel comfortable enough to dive in, and mess around using new software, do so because they have been encouraged, and supported by a great teacher. So thank you to those teachers who are creating such wonderful learning environments for this to happen.

The students I’ve met so far, have embraced the technology, because they see the use for it their studies. It’s not Tumbler, but then again, Tumbler might not have pointers for crafting that perfect essay on A Midsummer’s Night Dream. It’s an important 21 Century Skill to be able to choose the tech that suites the job. And for me to be able to add to the buffet selection of tools, makes for a great teachable moment.

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Presenting at OTRK12 2014

Photo Courtesy of Brandon Grasley @bgrasley


I had the fantastic pleasure of presenting at OTRK12 on April 1st, 2014. It was my first time ever presenting to a group of educators outside of my board. I loved it. Maybe it was the topic (TLD class at AMSS and the Provincial Learning Management System D2L), or maybe it was because I felt like everyone in the room understood the struggle to engage adolescents with their AT. The most powerful moments came when members of the audience shared their experience, and their questions. I was able to illustrate to this group the ways the D2L addresses the needs of some AT learners. I feel there was a strong need for educators involved with AT to connect and share. I follow the #ATCHAT hashtag and conversations on Wednesday nights on Twitter.


Twitter has fast become my go-to for keeping up with AT and other edtech based questions I have. My ever-growing PLN has offered me more in two years, then all my PD days combined. I value the sharing, the questions, and the support I receive from the Twitterverse of teachers out there. 


This connected network of teachers, is by far the most exciting learning I have experienced.  We live in a fast paced, ever-changing tech world. We educators need to keep up. We need to adapt. But most importantly, we need to teach our students, HOW to adapt to change, and HOW to wield that change to their learning needs. And that makes for exciting times as an educator.



Leaving the Classroom Behind

TLD 2013

Bye bye classroom. Hello world! 

After ten very rewarding years at AMSS, I threw caution to the wind, and set sail on an adventure in itinerant teaching. Using my knowledge of AT, I now visit 7 schools in my district on a mostly weekly basis. I get to assist students with AT issues, help Resource Teachers with any concerns about students and/or AT software or hardware, and collaborate with a team of teachers to ensure students at the LKDSB are accessing their AT successfully.

Did I mention it’s an awesome job?

It’s a brand new position with the LKDSB. Which means, we’re learning as we go. Which is awesome. We can adjust and plan according to every school’s needs. I love working on a team and getting to see the fantastic resource rooms in our district. Also,  I still get to work with kids!! Some teachers worry about leaving the classroom, and not having that interaction with students. This job is the best of those worlds.

I’m loving it. Transferring all the wonderful knowledge I gained at AMSS, and sharing it. I’ve learned more this semester, than I ever imagined. 



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