ADHD & Autism Resource Blog

30+ Years of Special Education Experience

edcamp Seacoast

If you’ve never been to an edcamp you don’t know what your missing. I attended the edcamp Seacoast in Portsmouth NH on Sat.
An edcamp is a free “unconference.” It is participant-driven with topics and schedule developed at the start of the day. It’s about collaborative learning, sharing, small group discussion, problem sovling, demonstrating technologies and much more.
Check out my PowerPoint to get an overview of edcamp Seasoast.
edcamp Seascoast

Leave a comment »

iPads bring students with disabilities new ways to participate, excel in education

A four-day bootcamp seminar called, “Using iPads to Achieve Educational Success for Students with Disabilities,” at Crotched Mountain ATECH Services in Concord on August 14, 21013. The training was led by Therese Willkomm, of the NH Statewide Assistive Technology Program with the Institute of Disability.

Using an iPad, blind students can now translate written words to verbal with one touch; students with dyslexia or other reading disorders can complete work using only their voice; and students with autism can find alternative ways to express their thoughts and feelings.

These are just a few reasons why Therese Willkomm, an expert in adaptive technology, thinks that when it comes to expanding educational opportunities for students with disabilities, the iPad is the best tool that’s ever been created.

“It does everything – it’s a memory device, it’s a reading device, it’s a computer device, so it has more accessible features and capabilities for people with disabilities than any other device we have ever been exposed to,” said Willkomm, a clinical professor with Assistive Technology in New Hampshire, a program within UNH’s Institute on Disability.

Willkomm shared these thoughts with educators and parents yesterday during a daylong workshop on using iPads to aid students with special physical and mental needs. It was part of a four-day iPad boot camp in Concord that drew participants from across the state as well as Vermont, Massachusetts and even Georgia. During the session, she highlighted dozens of applications that can aid students with hearing, vision and speaking impairments, autism, and other physical, emotional and communicative issues.

“The iPad has been a revolution in inclusive classrooms,” said Cat Jones, events coordinator for the Institute on Disability.

The built-in camera and microphone are used in many applications to aid students who are visually impaired or have trouble reading. One app is called TextGrabber, which takes photos of written words and dictates those words out loud. Willkomm, who is known as the “MacGyver of Assistive Technology,” created her own stand that aids blind students in making sure the camera lines up with the document. She folded an old campaign lawn sign into three sections, then placed a piece of acrylic Plexiglass on top. She then created a space for the iPad or iPhone to slide into on the Plexiglass so it is centered over the piece of paper below.

A handful of other apps help students who struggle with memory or organization. One, called ReQall, records voice memos that act as alarms later. This app can be used to remind students to complete a certain homework assignment. It also benefits students who struggle with writing and those with speech impediments because it can play back the recording later for parents.

Maura Pennisi, a Salem resident, attended the conference because she is taking courses with Willkomm and has a son who is disabled. He is no longer in school, but she said many of the reminder apps such as ReQall could help him become more independent. Chuck Mahoney, a parent from Penacook, said he thinks the iPad is a tool that will be used more and more in education. Both declined to say which specific disabilities their children have.

The use of iPads in classrooms is spreading quickly, Willkomm said. Last school year, for example, the Concord School District provided an iPad for every student in each of its three new elementary schools. But not all districts have reached that point. April Beauragard, a special education teacher in Farmington, said she uses a laptop in her classroom, but she came to the session because her district is eager to explore new technology. There is one student entering second grade this fall, she said, who is confined to a wheelchair and struggles with physical movement. Some iPad apps recognize eye movement, which would greatly help that student complete work and communicate better, she said.

That’s just one example of how iPads can aid students with physical disabilities. If a student is hurt or too fragile to attend school, for example, he or she can connect to the classroom over FaceTime. FaceTime, Apple’s video calling app, is compliant with federal privacy regulations because it uses a secure connection, whereas other video applications such as Skype do not, Willkomm said. She’s created and patented an iPad stand that brings the iPad up to face level with other students, so that students who attend class through video can interact in the easiest way possible.

Purchasing iPads can also eliminate costs of other pieces of classroom equipment, Willkomm said. For example, there are apps that allow the iPad to work as a document camera, which eliminates the need for other projectors. Or bulky pieces of equipment used to enlarge text for visually impaired students can be replaced with an iPad and a low-cost television screen, Willkomm said.

To Willkomm, the investment is worth it because the iPads and apps are continually creating new resources for students. In her eyes, the iPad is a revolutionary invention that has and will continue to change how educators operate.

“It is the one device, the one technology that keeps improving, improving, improving to support all learners,” she said.

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or or on Twitter @kronayne.)
Source URL:

Leave a comment »

Blogging in the K-12 Classroom

Blogging in the K-12 Classroom from Ashley Sikayun
Leave a comment »

The Nine Events of Instruction

This weekend I was researching information on instructional design and I came across that a wiki that was full of pertinent information:
The learning theory of instructional design parallels much of traditional learning theory. Teaching online is becoming more of a common place practice in the K-12 schools and will continue to grow in the future, which means, you may (teacher candidates or current teachers) may teaching online at some point in your teaching careers.
In particular I found Gagne’s “nine events of instruction” to be a good reference for teachers. Number nine stands out to me as the often missing link. How will you as a teacher, build in transfer and generalization of learning outcomes? This relates to OTR’s “opportunities to respond” which are critical for learning. How many exposures to new skills does a student require for mastery? I have seen 85% identified at the instructional level and 90% at the review level. What types of varied practice are provided to help student’s generalize new skills and concepts?
The Nine Events of Instruction (as Conditions of Learning)
According to Gagné, learning occurs in a series of learning events. Each learning event must be accomplished before the next in order for learning to take place. Similarly, instructional events should mirror the learning events:
1. Gaining attention: To ensure reception of coming instruction, the teacher gives the learners a stimulus. Before the learners can start to process any new information, the instructor must gain the attention of the learners. This might entail using abrupt changes in the instruction.
2. Informing learners of objectives: The teacher tells the learner what they will be able to do because of the instruction. The teacher communicates the desired outcome to the group.
3. Stimulating recall of prior learning: The teacher asks for recall of existing relevant knowledge.
4. Presenting the stimulus: The teacher gives emphasis to distinctive features.
5. Providing learning guidance: The teacher helps the students in understanding (semantic encoding) by providing organization and relevance.
6. Eliciting performance: The teacher asks the learners to respond, demonstrating learning.
7. Providing feedback: The teacher gives informative feedback on the learners’ performance.
8. Assessing performance: The teacher requires more learner performance, and gives feedback, to reinforce learning.
9. Enhancing retention and transfer: The teacher provides varied practice to generalize the capability.

Leave a comment »

NH School District will be teaching in the Cloud this year

NH Schools are breaking ground in technology innovation and access.
July 16. 2013 8:44PM
SAU 13 to launch Cloud computing environment this fall
Special to the Union Leader
TAMWORTH — Clouds of the technology sort are gathering over New Hampshire School Administrative Unit 13.

In a first of its kind initiative in the state, the head of School Administrative Unit 13, which includes Madison, Tamworth and Freedom, is collaborating with two other superintendents from Texas and North Carolina on implementing a Cloud computing environment where teachers, administrators and staff will collaborate and share resources across all three districts.
Cloud computing is defined as the practice of storing regularly used computer data on multiple servers that can be accessed through the Internet. The Cloud initiative will eventually provide rugged KUNO brand tablet devices to 85 students and staff in grades kindergarten to sixth grade in Freedom; 193 tablets for students in grades kindergarten to sixth grade in Madison; and 285 students in grades kindergarten to eighth in Tamworth.
Superintendent of Schools for SAU 13 Louis Goscinski heard about Cloud computing in an educational environment through companies like Engaging Solutions, a consulting company that specializes in offering user-friendly devices for classroom use as well as linking up schools with resources for grants, training documents and videos. He researched it further and eventually gained support from the school board, PTA, teachers, staff and parents.
“The concept intrigued me,” said Goscinski on Monday. Goscinski is working closely with Troy Mircovich, superintendent of the Ingleside Independent School District in Texas, and Dennis Sawyer, superintendent of the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District in North Carolina.
This past Saturday, the three school officials participated in a radio interview on WPTF in Raleigh, N.C. Goscincki said the three school districts were selected as three of five Champion School Districts by the CurriculumLoft, a company that specialized in assisting schools shifting towards digital instruction. This distinction earned SAU 13 between $30,000 and $50,000 in value, as CurriculumLoft will build the district’s Cloud platform at no cost to the district. SAU 13 is the only district chosen as a Champion School District in New England, said Goscinski.
Under the initiative, teachers will design a course with digital data to upload to the Cloud that students will be able to access, even without an Internet connection, at home or at school.The KUNO tablet was chosen not only for its durability — dropping it doesn’t kill it — but for its compliances with the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act passed in 2000 so users cannot access inappropriate web content.He said the program would be rolled out first with teacher and administrative staff training sessions this summer. About 30 teachers have volunteered their time this summer to attend just to get ahead of the curve, he said. Students and parents will be trained as well. Once the technology is in place, students can access schoolwork during snow days, he said.
But first, the district’s Cloud must be built. He estimates that students will receive tablets by mid to late September.

The Cloud content will be based on the Common Core Curriculum guidelines adopted by the state, adds teacher and PTA member Lori Palmer.
“I think its an amazing opportunity for us,” she said on Monday. “Technology is the future whether people want to embrace it or not. This will give our kids that much of a boost when they go to high school. It’s going to do wonders,” she said.
The PTA in Tamworth raised and donated $11,000 to the technology initiative.

Another benefit to the program is an eventual savings in textbook costs.

“For example, if you buy a textbook, within six months that textbook is outdated,” he said. His colleague in Texas told him that he has books where former President Bill Clinton is still listed as President.
“Digital books get updated constantly. Tablets don’t replace teaching — they are just another tool to use,” Goscinski said.

Leave a comment »

UDL, Formative Assessment and Common Core Shifts

Middle Web has a blog section on co-teaching and it is a useful model of co-teaching for college prep courses. In a recent post the co-teaching authors shared a unit of instruction and they illustrated the UDL components of the lesson. Naturally Embedded UDL- Within that blog post there are other awesome links: This one goes to a list of teaching practices and protocols which can also be “formative assessment” techniques. Although is says ELA 3-5, many can be used in any content area.
Also in the blog is a link to: Common Core Shifts in ELA/Literacy and Mathematics:
This is nice one page summary of the pedagogical shifts in the Common Core, the kind you post in your office next to Bloom’s taxonomy: teacher reference tools.

Leave a comment »

Collaboration and Co-Teaching

In teacher training programs colleges prepare teacher candidates to work collaboratively and co-teach to facilitate the inclusion of students with diverse learning needs in the general education classroom and curriculum. Teacher candidates are mapping units of instruction and designing adaptive lessons plans to enable their students to access the general education curriculum. In theory they are doing this in collaborative and co-teaching relationships within the school they are doing their clinical teaching. The truth is, they are all too often doing this on their own, as some schools do not have teams of educators working collaboratively.
Collaboration is more than a current trend in education. Businesses have embraced team work and collaboration because they know it increase productivity and creativity and there is a synergistic effect when people pool their talents and ideas. Collaboration in education will force teachers to grow with their colleagues and this will result in better learning outcomes for students.
Paula Kluth (consultant, author, advocate) and Patrick Schwarz write about Collaboration & Teaming in the Inclusive Classroom in one of a series of booklets from Heinemann. They talk about how the typical classroom roles can change. “In inclusive classrooms, the adults shift and share roles and responsibilities in order to give the students a wider range of supports, expand their own skills, and further their own knowledge.” “ In other words, general educators are no longer the only ones delivering lessons, special educators are not the only ones supporting individual students, and paraprofessioans and therapists are no longer available only to a few. All the adults take on different responsibilities and learn from one another.” (Schwarz & Kluth, 2007).
Check out: We Team Teach:

Leave a comment »

Assistive Technology in the Classroom and Life

This list is to help college students in teacher preparation programs see what is available in the area of assistive technology for students with more complex needs that they may not typically see in their field based experiences.
What is Assistive Technology? (the guy in this video talks really fast, but the examples are good and the photos of people using a variety of AT are very good).

Understanding Assistive Technology

This video on Assistive Technology for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder shows a sampling of some basic low and high tech tools.

Assistive Technology , Enabling Dreams- features students K-12 with physical disabilities and shows the types of AT they use in school.

Assistive Technology in the Classroom- Watch this video created by a classroom teacher. She does demonstrating a variety of assistive technology devices, both high and low tech that she uses with her students daily.

Smart Devices for Special Education – enhancing motivation, communication, and independence in the classroom

iPad Apps for Autistic and Nonverbal Children – Using iPad apps as communication and learning tools for autistic and nonverbal children. Mobile platform games and education applications and accessories are highlighted. This is a lengthy video- one hour. Well worth your time! The presenter shows specific iPad apps and how they can be used in the classroom, with who, when, and why.

Assistive Technology for AAC- this video shows the use of assistive technology for communication. The AT user is a young man with complex physical disabilities.

Assistive Technology for Writing- low tech solutions

Assistive Technology for Writing

K-12 AT Support for Reading

K-12 AT for Math and Science

Algebra Touch for the iPad

View this videos for ideas on how AT can help students access education

Access to Science- vision impairment

A few good other links on assistive technology

1 Comment »

Differentiated Instruction and Special Education

Differentiated Instruction should be part of all lessons to meet the needs of diverse learners. However, differentiated instruction is a Response to Intervention –RTI, TIER 1 best practice. If your students are TIER 2 or 3, you need to address specific evidenced based strategies as their learning interventions. Differentiating alone is not enough. You need to collect data on the interventions you are using at the tier 2 and 3 level, carefully monitor progress and make changes to the interventions if students are not making progress. Data should be collected at a minimum: weekly for tier 3 students and bi-weekly for tier 2 students.
Rick Wormeli has a SlideShare on Differentiated Instruction and within that Slideshare I pulled out a very nice outline of before, during and after lesson planning checklist:
Differentiated Lesson Planning Sequence– from Rick Wormeli

Steps to take before designing the learning experiences
1. Identify your essential understandings, questions, benchmarks, objectives, skills, standards, and/or learner outcomes.
2. Identify your students with unique needs, and get an early look at what they will need in order to learn and achieve.
3. Design your formative and summative assessments.
4. Design and deliver your pre-assessments based on the summative assessments and identified objectives.
5. Adjust assessments or objectives based on your further thinking discovered while designing the assessments.
Steps to take while designing the learning experiences:
1. Design the learning experiences for students based on pre-assessments, your knowledge of your students, and your expertise with the curriculum, cognitive theory, and students at this stage of human development.
2. Run a mental tape of each step in the lesson sequence to make sure things make sense for your diverse group of students and that the lesson will run smoothly.
3. Review your plans with a colleague.
4. Obtain/Create materials needed for the lesson.
5. Conduct the lesson.
6. Adjust formative and summative assessments and objectives as necessary based on observations and data collected while teaching.
Steps to take after providing the learning experiences:
1. Evaluate the lesson’s success with students. What evidence do you have that the lesson was successful? What worked and what didn’t, and why?
2. Record advice on lesson changes for yourself for when you do this lesson in future years.

Leave a comment »

Noah’s Ark

I got this Noah’s Ark advice from a friend today via email. I don’t know it’s origin to provide a link or citation but it touched my heart which like most of us New Englanders has been badly shaken this week with the bombings at the Boston Marathon. My family was in harm’s way and by the grace of God they were spared physical injury.

Noah’s Ark : Everything I need to know, I learned from Noah’s Ark.

ONE: Don’t miss the boat.
TWO: Remember that we are all in the same boat!
THREE: Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark .
FOUR: Stay fit. When you’re 60 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
FIVE: Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
SIX: Build your future on high ground.
SEVEN: For safety’s sake, travel in pairs.
EIGHT: Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
NINE: When you’re stressed, float awhile.
TEN: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
ELEVEN: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting.
Please pass this on to people you want to be blessed.
Give it! Don’t just get it!
Most people walk in and out of your life,
but FRIENDS leave footprints in your heart.

Leave a comment »