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Friday, 19 December 2014

Spotlight Blantyre P.S. OneNote pilot project

As the 2014 part to the school year comes to a close, the students in Ms. Klayman's class at Blantyre Public School are just getting started with OneNote. As part of the AT team's pilot project, the students created their digital binders and had a chance to explore the many helpful tools available to them to organize their daily school work.

In their first session, the Blantyre students became comfortable working with and navigating their new tablet devices. Since their first session, they reported using programmes such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint, and Read and Write Gold as part of their school work completion. Students also used internet websites available on the tablet such as Google Earth and linked to their homeroom classroom teacher's web-based sites such as bitstripsforschools or Edmodo to contribute to class work.
A Blantyre student shows his homeroom classroom's class profile on bitstripsforschools which he uses to complete his Media work. (left) A student swipes to navigate between different programs and apps on the device. (left)
During the past week's session,  students set up their OneNote notebooks and tried different ways to organize information within their new digital binder's pages. Ms Klayman's class used tools such as Screen Clipping and tags.

Tagging helps students to organize ideas, process and questions. This Blantyre student did a screen clipping from a web site. He tagged parts of the captured web page within OneNote then created a tag summary page. (right)
Ms Klayman's class also used the app HP Pagelift to make non-digital work digital withing OneNote. After bringing a reading assignment into their OneNote binder, they brainstormed ways they might be able to use this tool daily:
  • If you get a paper you have a backup..
  • Take a picture of your textbook so not to have it so heavy in your backpack.
  • Help me put my homework or notes into OneNote…
  • Art – can edit my art digitally..make it virtual
  • History – take a picture of notes
  • (chart paper) charts for Math 
A Blantyre student captures a handout about Brain functions using HP Pagelift.
(left) Capturing the page. (right) Editing and cropping the digital image. 
The group of Blantyre students brainstormed five ways that the OneNote can help them to organize their school work. 
When they are back in January, these students will only improve and individualize the way they use the tools and the tablet to support their learning and academic achievement.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Spotlight: OneNote at G.A. Brown M.S. - one of many TDSB classrooms participating in the intermediate AT project

Our Assistive Technology OneNote intermediate pilot project is underway. Many intermediate classrooms in schools across the TDSB are learning ways to use tools in OneNote to organize themselves and keep a personal digital binder. Classes such as Ms. Le's Intermediate HSP classroom at G.A. Brown Middle School is half-way through the project.

A G.A. Brown student models how to create a new OneNote notebook in her H: drive using the Interactive Whiteboard.
In all four sessions the classroom teacher, an itinerant teacher and the students work together to support the students use of the device in supporting their organization and independence. (Each of our six itinerant teachers are attached to classrooms based on the school's geographical region.)

In the first session, students receive their tablet devices and become proficient in navigating the Windows 8.1 environment of both apps and desktop applications. In the second session students create their OneNote binders - the basis on which they create their personal digital binder.
Creating a sub-page during research of My Favourites project.
Ms. Le and students collaborate and learn together during session 2 of the OneNote project.
Throughout the pilot students how to use the various OneNote tools such as Colour coded tabs, Screen Clipping, tags, using Drawing tools as well as tablet apps such as HP Pagelift as they research and complete work on a "My Favourites" project.
Using HP Pagelift app on devices to make paper work digital.
Send to OneNote: A student sends the captured file - Project Outline of the My Favourite project - to her OneNote notebook.
For a reminder on how to use the HP Pagelift app, here's one of a number of the AT team's Youtube videos involving the OneNote project: http://bit.ly/139g9bN.

They use tablet tools and OneNote is not limited to the My Favourites project. Students find ways to use HP Pagelift throughout their day. G.A. Brown students in Ms. Le's class have found many ways to use tablet tools from taking notes in Music class to doing research and compiling bibliographies in History projects with themes such as: Gold in the Yukon.

OneNote pilot project phase two continues in 2015. Phase 2 also gets underway in the new year.


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Spotlight Curricllum PD session: Using the IWB to Promote Body Awareness for Adolescents with Developmental Challenges

Curriculum PD Session

A new Curriculum PD session on Key To Learn entitled, "Using the IWB to Promote Body Awareness for Adolescents with Developmental Challenges" was presented to a group teachers at Burnhamthorpe Adult Learning Centre this week. This session focused on strategies and suggestions for using the Promethean Interactive Whiteboard to create activities to promote body awareness and appropriate behaviours associated with puberty. Participants were given time to create lessons/activities to support their student’s specific and individual needs, along with the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues. 

Two teachers collaborate on the unique needs of the students in their classrooms while they develop the framework for the lesson/activity they will create.
An example of an IWB container activity that was shared with the participants at the session.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Job Embedded Professional Learning - co-planning and co-teaching sessions with IWB LC members

Job Embedded Professional Learning (JEPL) to support students in the Inquiry Process

Co-planning and co-teaching sessions are part of the year-long support for Special Education teachers who are part of the Assistive Technology team's Interactive Whiteboard Learning Communities. One of the six Itinerant Resource Teachers and the LC member work together to embed assistive technology tools and strategies to support students in the classroom. 

At a recent session at Arbor Glen P.S., the Home School Program teacher Monica Joshan and Itinerant teacher Valia Reinsalu incorporated tools to support junior students in clearly, easily and promptly expressing their ideas during a inquiry process language lesson via a picture book. The lesson incorporated a few pictures along with the use of Magic Ink, spotlight, and annotation tools to provide visual support to the students. Students generated questions and expressed their ideas using the sound recorder, which allows both the special education teacher and students to save and review ideas that are shared.

Ms. Joshan creates the lesson flipchart during the co-plan session at Arbor Glen P.S.
Slowly revealing the illustration on the cover, helps students find and confirm evidence. They answer the question: "I wonder why Oliver Button is being called a sissy?" 

The spotlight tool not only provided focus and attention, but allows students to engage with details of an image. They observe the body language and make inferences about what else could be happening in the picture. "What questions do I have?"
Often during the JEPL sessions, other LC teachers are invited to observe the co-teaching sessions, depending on the comfort level of the students.


Thursday, 4 December 2014

Using Read & Write Gold Tools to Support Students in Math



During an Assistive Technology Referral, one of our Itinerant Resource Teachers worked with Sharon Freedman at Chalkfarm Public School to co-plan a math lesson for the students in Mrs. Freedman’s Junior ISP Behaviour class. As they planned the lesson they talked about the tools available in Read & Write Gold to support students as they read and answer word problems in their math class. Together they taught the lesson to Mrs. Freedman’s students, encouraging students to use the following Read & Write Gold tools to support their learning: the play button to listen to the question, the highlighters to identify important information in the question, the calculator (which speaks) to calculate the answer and the prediction tool to help them type their answer.



After the lesson the class discussed how the tools in Read & Write Gold helped them:
  •          The calculator tool helped us solve math problems.
  •          We liked listening to the calculator tell us numbers.
  •          We liked when the computer reads things to us.
  •          We liked using the highlighters to identify keywords.

If you would like more information on the Read & Write Gold Calculator Tool click on the image below to watch our YouTube video tutorial.



Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Interactive Whiteboard learning communities - using IWB software tools to support Visual Literacy

A number of our special education interactive whiteboard (IWB) learning communities (LC) had their second session at Terraview Learning Centre and Burnhampthorpe Adult Learning Centre this past week. Teachers explored the Investigating Images package from the Critical Learning Consortium (TC2) as a springboard to have students develop critical thinking and visual literacy skills through the use of images in the Home School Program, Mild Intellectual Disability, and Behaviour classrooms.

At the start of the session, teachers check-in by sharing and comparing their Promethean IWB journey. Here are a few comments grabbed from an ActivExpression text question:


  • it is great. one of my previously disengaged kids is now one of my top math students! 
  • FAIRLY WELL; THE KIDS AND I ARE DISCOVERING NEW THINGS EVERYDAY
  • i love my promethean the kids are very engaged
    it is so easy to use
  • i have been trying to use one tool a day
The groups then began exploring the use of assistive technology tools as a means to support student understanding and learning in the area of visual literacy using tools such as the Magic Ink. Magic Ink allows teachers to selectively reveal portions of a visual. Also during the LC session, teachers had a chance to use an ActivSlate for the first time. The slate provides another ways for the students and/or teacher to access the IWB.



Ms. Milne (left) from Alexmuir P.S. uses her slate to create a visual literacy activity. H.A. Halbert P.S.'s Ms.Valentini uses a magic reveal with her visual literacy activity.





An LC is a great place to collaborate and learn together. (left-to-right) Ms. Butters, Ms Melchiorre and Ms. Carey - teachers from the HSP Primary Junior LC. (right photo) Behaviour ISP LC's Mr. Stewart and Mr. Ivanov discussing the creation of a visual literacy activity using Magic Ink.




(left photo) Ms Maharaj from Dr. Marion Hilliard PS, (right photo left to right) General Brock P.S.'s Ms Angelevski and Ms. Higgins from Robert Service P.S.


The next LC sessions start after the Winter Break.

Friday, 28 November 2014

The EQAO and Assistive Technology Pilot Project 2014-2015



In-Class Session #1

Our EQAO and Assistive Technology Pilot 2014-2015 is under way! Our Itinerant Resource Teachers have started collaborating with special education classroom teachers participating in the project. Our first in-class sessions have begun…and the excitement has been wonderful!

During our first in-class session, teachers and students are supported as we practice;
·         Opening Read and Write Gold (version 10 or 11)
·         Docking the toolbar
·         Customizing the toolbar
·         Setting the voice and speed
·         Using the “speak current” tool to enable text-to-speech
·         Creating dual-screens in Microsoft Word
·         Using the “study skills highlighters” in Read and Write Gold to facilitate answering multiple choice questions using the strategy of “process of elimination

Recently, the grade 6 students of Ms. Ivany, Ms. Hutcheson and Ms. Lenarcic’s classes at C.R. Marchant had an exciting afternoon learning how to use the tools of the Read and Write Gold to support their reading comprehension.

Here are some of the ideas/skills the students at C.R. Marchant were proud to have learned:


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Working sessions for phase one completed


SEA Curriculum and Resource Technology (C.A.R.T.) claim






Approximately 160 schools that indicated interest in learning more about the SEA C.A.R.T. claim have attended our working sessions.  Each school sent a lead to one of eleven working sessions that focused on the requirements for the claim, writing the IEP to support the claim and the assistive software supported.


More working sessions will be provided in the new year for phase two schools.  Schools can indicate interest in attending a working session to learn more about the claim by completing the C.A.R.T. Claim survey.  Information for phase two schools will be available in Direct Line in December.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

OneNote marker students update

Many of our students who were in grade eight last year and who are now in grade nine this year have continued to use their tablets and OneNote software to support their personal organization and academic lives in high school.  Students have recognized and embraced the useful features of OneNote to help them create Notebooks to organize themselves for all the subjects they are taking. Students are also continuing to colour code subject tabs to help them organize themselves. Below is an example of one grade nine student who has developed enough independence with using the tablet and software in order to organize himself for success in grade nine:

Students report they are enjoying having the ability to access the internet to do research in order to deepen their understanding of concepts being taught in their classes. Students also report they appreciate having the option to type notes, use the sound recorder to record parts of lessons, or using HP LiftApp to import pictures into OneNote taken with their tablet. Below is an example of how a student has used OneNote to take notes in Science:


In another school, one student created his own self-regulation strategy to help the student refocus energy during times of the day. The student created a section of pages to draw on when the student is feeling angry or anxious.



Overall, many of our former grade eight students are enjoying having a tablet to support their learning and their organization in high school. And, thanks to the feedback and advice they continue to provide us with, we continue to use this information to further improve our project!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

OneNote pilot project reflection

Reflecting on our 2013-2014 OneNote Pilot Project


Our OneNote Pilot Project was born from our team’s desire to support the transition of our at-risk students with special educational needs move from intermediate to secondary school.  Many of our students struggle with executive functioning, particularly when it comes to organization and planning which is why we chose OneNote. 

Microsoft OneNote is a digital notebook in which the student can directly make notes and gather material. The student can collect, organize, and share their notes in this electronic format that is a substitute for the traditional binder – no more lost handouts or schoolwork!

During our Pilot we supported 216 students at 26 schools across the Toronto District School Board.  Of those students:
  •       73% say that they finish and hand in their class work, homework and assignment on time always or most of the time
  •       75% say  that since using OneNote, they use their class time appropriately to complete their work always or most of the time



Check out our latest YouTube video which summarizes our OneNote Pilot: http://youtu.be/jimH3_5PxU4

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AssistTech

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Math Mission - getting our students communicating about Math using AT

The AT team's Math Mission launched this week with the first Learning Community session at Terraview Learning Centre. Among the learning at the session, the Math Mission special education teachers participated in a carousel of activities which incorporate assistive technology to facilitate math communication. They also learned about the Virtual Learning Environment (vLE) through Desire2Learn (D2L) on-line digital learning management system platform, where teachers and their students will post, share and discuss their math problem solving throughout the year.

A screenshot of part of the Math Mission D2L site.
The Learning Community meets several times throughout the year. To start, teachers picked at least one marker student to track on a "communication rubric".


During the carousel, teachers explored strategies and tools on the Promethean Interactive Whiteboard and the use of Ministry-licensed software program SMART Ideas.

SEA consultant Christine Harvey-Kerr modelling the use of the IWB to get students
 talking during an activity "Tug for the Truth".

Teachers had hands-on opportunities to work with various assistive technology tools to see how they would connect with the learning needs of their students to support communication.

Using the interactive whiteboard as a student activity centre.



Developing a SMART Ideas template - a scaffold to help students organize their ideas when answering problem solving questions in Math.

Creating a Math vocabulary word list for students using Read and Write Gold.


Being part of the project is that teachers are committing to trying open problems with their students while concentrating on using AT to develop their students' math communication skills. 

Monday, 10 November 2014

Read & Write Gold lessons - embedding AT tools in a curriculum context

Do you and your students know how to use Read and Write Gold, and now you are looking for an activity or lesson to use what you know in context? Are you just starting to use Read and Write Gold and want to see how the tools in the software can support student learning? The AT team has a set of lessons from Primary to Grade 10 that you may like to try. Click RWG lesson ideas.


Here is an example:

Grade 7 - Language Arts - In Flanders Field Poetry
Conveying a Poem's tone and message using Visuals


Overview: In this learning activity, students will gather images, categorise and interpret meaning from a selected poem. The example is the World War 1 memorial poem, "In Flanders Field" by Dr. John McCrae. Students will have the opportunity to identify and connect relevant images that relates to the poem's meaning and mood. Once this information has been collected, individually or in pairs, students will create a visual story / reflection of images they have identified to reflect their connect to ideas found in the poem.

Read and Write Gold tools: Vocabulary List, Fact Mapper, Fact Folder and Speech Maker
Screen shot from the lesson illustrating the use of the Vocabulary List tool from Read and Write Gold.

Even if a lesson is not in your current grade content level, the strategies are transferable so take the lesson and change it to meet your classroom needs. For example in the activity above a poem or entirely different piece of writing can be accessed using the same tools and strategies.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Read and Write Gold pilot launch for Junior students launches


Another of the A.T. team's projects has had its fall launch. Special education teachers who are part of the EQAO and Assistive Technology pilot project, got together in both the East and West learning centres for an initial Meet and Greet session. During the Meet and Greet, the A.T. itinerant teacher team also reviewed the goals and structure of the project. Participating teachers also had the opportunity to participate in a modeled lesson using the software Read and Write Gold to answer EQAO-type questions.


Customizing the Read and Write Gold toolbar.

Using dual screen to organize access to a reading and view questions being asked.

Ms. Reiken, from Northlea Elementary & Middle School enjoys the hands-on time of the Meet & Greet Session.
After having hands-on experience using Read and Write Gold tools which support decoding, written expression and organization of ideas, teachers also had a chance to meet their fellow pilot project participants. They shared some thought of what their own goals of what they hoped to get out of participating in the project:



"... looking forward to get the support so that we can narrow down the focus of what they can be using and giving students more independence."

"..(many) advantages of getting on board. I want the kids to be successful. I hope the program opens a lot of possibilities for them."

"...(I want to) make sure students are comfortable and confident..independent once it's EQAO time."

For the past two years, special education has run the pilot project to provide ongoing support for special education teachers and students to use assistive technology software to prepare for the EQAO process. The project is open to all HSP and ISP classrooms who have at least three grade 6 students who are writing EQAO.