Friday, August 22, 2008

Assistive Technology for the Alternative Education Classroom

Yesterday I was sharing with an alternative education team at a high school in our area about AT tools to support better reading and study skills. The teachers were the perfect fit for working with students that have been moved to an alternative program. The conversation kept me jumping as we moved quickly from question to question and idea to idea. We looked at putting the Natural Reader on the desktop for text to speech support and looked at the Premier Literacy tools through the free grant program (See yesterday's post if interested). There was lots of brainstorming, high-energy and interrupting as someone would have a thought or question.
What struck me after they left was how worn out I was. I had felt like I had just tried to keep my attention on three rings at once at the circus. Not that I am comparing the team to being like a circus - just the busy-ness and energy. Then I reflected on what they do every day doing their job in the classroom. They need to be high-energy teachers because they work with students that need that type of dynamic to keep them on task and motivated. I was told that one of the main teachers had been doing this for over 25 years, had actually retired and had come back to work with the program this year anyway. What does that tell you about committment to education and love for what you do?

I left that day knowing that there are some exciting things ahead as I get to work in their classroom a little, help implement some of the free tools we have been talking about and see how we can customize activities and units using them. I just need to make sure I have had my Red Bull drink beforehand! I salute all of you out there that invest in kids in these types of programs. I would encourage passing on the tools we have been discussing for alt ed programs. I think they could be a real lifeline for kids.

All the best to you!


No comments: