Tomorrow is Digital Learning Day, an event that we have been celebrating at the Barber National Institute for the past five years. One of the main reasons we so look forward to this day is that it offers us a chance to show the community the many ways that we integrate technology into the culture of our school. By incorporating it in the therapies and lessons our students regularly engage in, students use technology to achieve their IEP goals as well as to enhance communication with their peers, staff, and families.
We have made great strides over the last decade to become a fully technologically integrated school. At the start of each school year, teachers and therapists meet to discuss each student’s technology needs. As we always have an eye towards the future, we also conduct periodic needs assessments for the school as a whole to determine what latest tech we might wish to bring on. Digital fluency is much more than simply knowing how to use a particular app or device. It’s a general mindset that technology can open doors for our students that were formerly closed.
So what does this actually look like in the classroom? Here are some of the ways that we infuse tech into our classroom culture.
Take advantage of the wide variety of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices. Our students use many forms of AAC, ranging from low-tech to high-tech systems. These devices have provided our students and families communication opportunities and interactions that no one knew were possible!
Incorporate devices into your lesson planning. Using devices such as the iPad can enhance many aspects of instruction and offer some flexibility for the teacher to circulate and give one-on-one support or create small groups.
Consider exploring online-only curriculums. It is no longer a world of simply textbooks – we utilize many online curriculums, such as News2You.
Start texting. No, seriously! Our school is implementing an opt-in texting system between teachers and parents that allows classrooms to share bits of news ranging from a theme of the week to helpful reminders. The feedback on this has been nothing but positive and really helps to keep parents engaged.
If you would like to learn more about technology at the Barber National Institute, I encourage you to join us tomorrow, Thursday February 22, from 11 AM to 1 PM. Held in the gym, we will have a variety of stations set up to encourage fun interactive learning experiences. Plus, you will have the chance to win some free tech goodies! Reservations are not required, just stop by!