Touzin's Musings

Notes from the field of Assistive Technology


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A Love Letter to JK/SK Teachers

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My Niece: Future JK Student 2015

This blog entry is a love letter to my dedicated colleagues in the JK/SK class. I have no idea how you do, what you do: balancing the entry into school, social needs, separation anxiety, and most importantly, setting children up for a love of school for life. Your job is crucial. I follow so many of you on Twitter and I admire what I see you do everyday.

Most of us can recall our Kindergarten teachers. Mine was Mrs. Payne, at Lakeroad Elementary School in Sarnia, Ontario. I loved school, mostly because of how Mrs. Payne made school feel. That’s not to say I don’t recall being told not to talk when I shouldn’t have, because that happened. But overall, we had fun. Yes, I learned how to print, recognize letters and numbers; but I remember the freedom to do many things.

There was a progression in the education system of my youth, that slowly moved away from creativity and play, to book work, lecture, and rote memory. For me, I had no struggles. I loved to read and listen, therefore I learned. But I saw many of my friends struggle. Reading was not the way they learned. Lectures were boring, and memory work was excruciating. But those methods were the primary methods they were taught. My friends got by, hunkered down and carried on.

But what if they were in our education system today? Would they have more success with today’s Differentiated Instruction and Edtech practices? Would eLearning be the savior of my friends that farmed or worked part-time jobs? I’d like to think these current practices would have been great for us 90’s kids too. I’d also like to think that the growing repertoire most teachers possess, is helping reach more students than before. I’ve only been in the game 14 years, and my practice has expanded dramatically to include a wider variety of teaching methods.

But then I think about my student self: would I have enjoyed today’s education system that values inquiry and group work? I still cringe when I think of the group projects I had to complete in school. If you had members who didn’t work the same as you, you were in trouble. I suppose those group projects in high school have prepared me for the real world, you know, working in high schools.

That balance between style of lesson delivery and the evolution of assessment practices, is guiding change in our education system. There is the next (r)evolution: how do we assign standard grades to the myriad of assessments handed in, when the student work is becoming more and more diverse? But that’s another blog post.

My point to this ramble is that we are in exciting and diverse times in education. Students are entering our system in JK/SK with an inherent knowledge of technology that some of us teachers still need professional development on. And some students have no interest in tech and are stunned by what they can create with empty cardboard boxes. See above adorable pictures. So to my colleagues in JK/SK, my unwavering support. Your kettle of fish is diverse, and eager to learn. You weigh out each day what to try, how to engage. You’re the gatekeepers to lifetime of learning. Keep making it fun. Oh, and watch out for my niece: she’s into fun, big time.

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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.