Thursday, April 23, 2015

Building Bridges for Students

This week, Ashley Rila, high school special education teacher, Nathan Wear, high school principal and Maggie Pickett, Grant Wood AEA speech-pathologist, presented at the Building Bridge’s Eastern Iowa Assistive Technology Conference held at the Iowa Memorial Union.  

Their presentation was on Solon’s AIM Pilot program, which focuses on using a technology program to help identify the best instructional supports for students in special education to succeed in reading.  Mrs. Rila strongly believes in the outcome of this project, helping to create individualized accommodations for students.  Traditionally, this outcome can often follow a difficult route trying to figure out the best assistance for students who are struggling readers.  However, this pilot used an online program called Universal Protocol for Accommodations in Reading, or uPAR.  uPAR compares a student’s reading level when they are reading on their own against reading with accommodations, like having an adult reader or a computerized text reader read to the student.  The program collects real-time data and the teacher can see what the best accommodation is based on student performance.  These results are shared with general education teachers and utilized in classes to help students put into practice the accommodation that is right for them.  

For some students who have learned that using a text reader is the best accommodation for them, they have been learning about how to use a new piece of technology built right into their Chrome Browser called Read&Write for Google.  This program allows students to select passages or words they would like to hear read aloud.  It offers a lot of independence for students, which is good as high school students need to continue to practice skills that will help them succeed at the next level after high school.

Through this pilot, Mrs. Rila has been able to see some amazing “wow” moments of growth for her students on standardized tests and class work because the accommodations were personalized for them.  It has been very rewarding for students as they have taken ownership of their learning process and they have been able to see the results of their efforts.

- Contribution from Amber Bridge, Grant Wood AEA Technology Consultant. Want to share what is going on in your class or collaborate on a technology project?  Feel to to contact me

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