Mrs. O's Classroom

A wonderful ten hour experience

Technology Uses

While observing and visiting Mrs. O's class I was privileged to see use of technology with disabled students of different ability. She has several levels of need in her class of eight students, three of which are wheelchair mobile only. Of those three, two are one on one care. The two students that require one on one support use switches, and special stylus when operating their tablets. Mrs. O says that it is difficult to find a variety of apps that will operate with the use of the switches, and even the switches themselves needed modifications to function best for the students. While observing I sat with Kevin and his para while they were doing what they called personal inventory. I was able to see how these tools were used and the modifications that Mrs. O had made to the switch.

Mrs. O says that she is lucky to be in a school that supports her students as they can, the school recently moved to one to one technology. When ordering they came to her asking what would be best suited for her students and she felt they would be better able to manipulate tablets, so each of her students have an iPad to use in the classroom. She says that she doesn't have a favorite piece of technology that she uses but she uses her projector the most frequently.

Room for Group Work

My observation classroom did not have a smart board, but did have a projector. The teacher used the projector connected to the computer to share assignments as a group. In my opinion with the lack of motor control of some of her students it works well. For example if they touch the screen in a place they did not want, they may end up munipulating the smart board. Students were excited to go up to the board and work together or play a game. As most of their work is with a para or student aide it was nice to see them interact as a group. The teacher would ask the student to identify an object by pointing at it with a soft pointer then they would hand it off to the next student of their choice, making sure everyone was included.
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Struggles with Technology

I asked Mrs. O what struggles she faces with technology in her classroom to which she gave me several examples. She has some students that have absolutely no interest in technology, this can either be due to their family culture, economic level, or understanding. At this time she has two students that do not have interest in technology one if them is Amish and the other not high enough functioning to comprehend how to use technology. She also mentioned that with two of her students with very little motor control it can be difficult to find apps that will function with the tools they use.
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Classroom Fun

Tuesday February 9th the class was celebrating Fat Tuesday, The International Pancake Race, and Mardi Gras. There celebration included an explanation of what the race was about and a pancake breakfast. They used technology to keep tabs on who won the race as well as watch a few videos through the day about the different activities. Later in the day they watched a video about Mardi Gras mask then they colored some picture the also went along with the day's events.

About Mrs. O

Before Mrs. O became a special Ed teacher she was a para for five years. She continued working as a para while she was obtaining her teaching degree. As she was finishing her supervisor had made the decision to move on so she was able to role right I where she and the students were already acclimated to one another. She expressed to me that she misses the hands on part of being a para as it has been replaced by much paper work. They also have the physical therapist in to work with multiple students.

On a normal day there are a couple students that go out and deliver news papers to classrooms and others wash the cafeteria tables. When they arrive back to class second hour they do calendar and weather along with talking about their evenings who they spent it with what they did and what they ate. Then they split into groups half go and work on life skills and the other half work on academics. Followed by group story time usually read by Mrs. O but she said sometimes she will pull up a book read on YouTube. Then it is time for lunch and after that PE. When they return from PE they swap and the ones that were doing life skills are now doing acedemics.

Mrs. O try's to teach here students the skills they need to live calling them life skills. She try's to take them out into the community once or twice a month they go grocery shopping, out to lunch, to the zoo, ect. She uses the Internet in order to help the student find items in the grocery store by printing them a picture so they know exactly what they need to find. When they are going to lunch they look up the menu and decide what each individual student is going to eat. Mrs. O expressed the need to give her students a face and a voice. She referred to them as invisible children and encourages the public to acknowledge them when they are out in the community.

I asked what advice she would give to someone looking at this profession. Mrs. O said to make sure your heart is in it and you are invested. Be prepared to fight the biggest battles of your life, you will have successes and you will have failures. You are the advocate for your students, you will have conflicts with parents, and for parents to do what is best for your students. There are language barriers that you will have to over come. She said the one thing she struggles with the most is knowing when you have done all you can.

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