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2011-2012 Beiseker - Technology for Special Needs

Technology Innovative Fund Proposal
Beiseker Community School
“Technology for Special Needs”

As Beiseker Community School is a K to 12 school, our Learning Support room is filled with students who not only have a variety of needs, but also are a variety of ages. We can have students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 in the same room at the same time working on different things. Although it is a small rural school, technology is always being explored and encouraged, as we strive to help all students be successful 21st Century Learners. An observation within our resource room, which is supported by research, is that students have a greater engagement when allowed access to iPads, Smart Boards, computers, etc. A learning activity presented as a hands-on, interactive, visual and audio experience fulfills the needs of those learners who seek sensory input. However, because we have such diverse ages within our school, we share spaces and equipment. The students in the Learning Support room are not always guaranteed access to our iPads.

We have several students who have more severe needs who would greatly benefit from the use of iPads. Several people on the Learning Support Team are signed up to attend the Apps for Autism workshop in November with the hope that we can enhance learning of our focus group. Our understanding is that Apps and technology that benefits students with specific needs, like autism, can also benefit others.

So how can we enhance the learning of those students who call the Learning Support Room their homeroom because their needs are more extensive than others’, while at the same time providing instruction and support to those students who drop into the resource rooms throughout the day from other homerooms? How can we ensure that all students are engaged in their learning? How can we be more effective in providing differentiated tasks for such a diverse group of students? How can we enhance learning, empower students to become more independent and more functional within the classroom, and to develop skills to help them be successful to the best of their ability when they leave the school environment?

Our plan is to purchase 6 iPads for the Learning Support Room. With these, we hope that our target group of students, those with severe needs, will experience enhanced development of Essential Life Skills. We would like to explore specialized Apps for students with Autism, FASD, Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome etc. with a goal of developing language skills, expressing emotions, learning about safe social situations, learning about community, etc. Activities that enhance reading, writing and math skills will also be explored on the iPads to reinforce learning. Other students who drop into the Learning Support Room may use the iPads too, so direct instruction can occur with our target group.

The iPad and other hand held technological devices have become common tools in the 21st century. If we can teach our students to become effective users of these tools, they will have an advantage when they leave school. We feel that expansion of Assistive Technology in our Learning Support Room would greatly enhance the learning of our severely disabled students and our mild cognitive disabled students.

Budget:
6 x iPad 2s (16 GB) $519 each + GST
$100.00 Gift Card (to purchase Apps)
Total Cost $3369.00 (incl. GST)

Submitted by Mary Pieterse
Learning Support Teacher
Beiseker Community School

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