1999 Conference Proceedings

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Technology All Day Long: Infusing Technology into the Curriculum

Pati King-DeBaun
P.O. Box 3358
Park City, UT 84060

Scheduling time for technology may seem overwhelming until interventionists accept the philosophy that technology can be integrated into every activity all day long. In this presentation participants will learn how to integrate both high and light technology into a variety of classroom environments. Special emphasis will be on facilitating early literacy skills simultaneously. Case examples will demonstrate how to incorporate technology into classroom activities to promote various curricular activities. Examples will reflect both self contained special education classrooms and typical classrooms where special education students are included ages ranging from preschool through elementary. This presentation is appropriate for people who have an intermediate understanding of technology use and work with students who have severe communication, language, learning and/or physical disabilities. Below I describe one student and his day at school. During the presentation I will walk through various parts of a preschooler and kindergartners school day as well.

Danny: an Experienced Communicator

Danny is an 8-year-old boy who attends a typical first grade classroom for 75% of his school day, and spends 25% of his day in a resource room, meaning that he is at a Selective level of regular classroom participation (Beukelman & Mirenda, 1992, p. 207). The classroom includes a regular education teacher, and a part-time paraprofessional. The teacher in his resource room, and his speech-language pathologist provide support to the classroom staff.

Arrival Time in First Grade

Danny's story group has just finished reading Are You My Mommy? by Carla Dijs. His speech-language pathologist, Kelly, has prepared a simple word-based reading display for the Macintosh using Overlay Maker (IntelliTools). His copy of the story book has PostIt notes covering up the words. Danny uses IntelliKeys and a talking word processor (IntelliTalk, IntelliTools) to independently recreate his story. For example, he looks at the story picture, then combines the message squares Are + you + my + Mommy? + she asks + Mrs. Cat to recreate the line, "Are you my mommy?’ she asks Mrs. Cat." Later, Danny will use the words stored into his personal communication device to read the same story.

Journal Writing

Another arrival activity is for students to participate in an independent journal writing time. Danny uses his Liberator and his Daily Journal notebook (a Liberator feature) to participate in this activity. He writes about the day of the week, school activities, and special events at home or school. He uses a combination of stored words, invented spelling, and his Portable Word Wall (alphabetic list of frequently used words,) to support his writing.

In another class, Jacob uses the program IntelliTalk with an IntelliKeys overlay created using OverlayMaker. His overlay is set up to write about the day of the week (e.g., Today is Monday), weather (e.g., It is raining), and school activities (e.g., today’s schedule is P.E., Reading, Group Lab, Lunch, Science, and Speech therapy).

Whole Class Activities

Danny’s class uses a thematic approach, with a number of books read each month reflecting the theme. These books are read in a variety of different groupings, including whole class, small group, pairs, and individual reading. The teacher uses whole class groupings to discuss books they have read and to focus on skill development activities, as described in Chapter 4.

Story Adventure

Students create a story adventure . The teacher uses a starter line such as, Once upon a time or, One day . . ." She bases the story on a familiar story line or a story that the children have read repeatedly. Children take turns participating in this activity. Each day a student is selected to help write a part of the class story. Danny uses his topic-specific words display, and his Liberator to participate.

In another classroom, Anita, who is just learning how to scan, uses her communication device in the spinner mode to randomly select a student (See Magic Tricks: Device, Spinner). The class sits on the edge of their seats waiting for who will be next. Anita has the class’s undivided attention. When it is Anita’s turn to participate in this activity, she uses a spinner board to add to the story lines.

Collaborative Journal

In first grade, the class collaboratively writes in a large journal that the teacher has created. Classmates share exciting news or events and the class helps the teacher record these events. The teacher typically engages students in skill development at this time. Danny's assistant goes into his Liberator Toolbox and turns on Auditory prompting, with the letter sounds entered into keys corresponding to the letter name. The teacher asks the students to help her write the news. Danny uses his Liberator to speak the sound of the letter S, "SSSS." When the teacher prompts,"and what letter makes the SSSSS sound"? Danny respond "S" by pressing the same key oh his communication device. In addition, Danny has a small message book that he carries. It includes print-outs of his entries into his Daily Journal Notebook from his Liberator, so he can add his news.

Making Words

Danny’s first grade teacher has just begun using the Making Words activity described Cunningham and Hall in Making Words (1994). This is a multilevel, multiability, hands-on activity, in which students learn to look for patterns in words, and to see how changing just one letter changes the whole word (see the brief description in Chapter 5, in the section on phonics). Danny participates by using his Liberator in spell mode. His assistant has taken a "Masking Grid" (Prentke Romich Company) and punched out the paper covering the six letters used to make up today’s "secret word," plus the <space> icon. Now Danny has the same options for creating words as his friends. He can also hear the words created by pressing <speak word>.

Small Group Activities in First Grade

In the first grade, a major pattern of instruction is small-group cooperative learning activities. The groupings are not fixed, but change based on themes, subject areas, and student interests.

Shared Reading

Three times per week Danny works in a small group with his therapist, paraprofessional, or teacher, and two or three other children. The children who participate in this activity either vary on a weekly basis or are children who have been identified as needing extra support during this activity. A Book for Learning related to the class story theme and appropriate to Danny’s participation level is selected. Several adaptations have been made so Danny can successfully participate. For each story, Danny’s mom or his speech-language pathologist check to see which target words are in the Unity software of Danny’s Liberator, and which words must be added. For example, the story Spider, Spider by Joy Cowley includes several words not in his software, such as "earwig" and "tea." They add new words using the following approach:

Creative Dramatics/Writing

The students have just finished reading Spider, Spider by Joy Cowley. As a follow-up activity, they are encouraged to work together to recreate a production of the story using a talking mural. Students are instructed to create their own mask on the mural. Danny and Amanda work together, using the program Kid Cuts by Davidson. Amanda creates a bird mask and Danny creates a lizard mask. Danny selects a color and Amanda places the cursor on that color. Amanda cuts out the mask for Danny and places both masks on the mural. Both Danny and Amanda use the computer to write out their messages. Danny uses invented spelling plus his Portable Word Wall Notebook. Amanda pastes the messages on the mural. The following day, the students practice their production. Danny uses his Liberator to speak his lines. The next day the students present their story for the class.

Individual Activities in First Grade


After reading and talking about spiders, Danny’s class is instructed to make a drawing of different things that might be found in spider webs. Danny’s friend Keri used the mouse to draw a spider web in KidPix. Danny uses the computer stamp tool to stamp various insects on his spider web. He does this starting with gross mouse movements, then using the mouse keys on the IntelliKeys overlay to refine his mouse movements. He then uses invented spelling and the talking word processor IntelliTalk (Don Johnston) to list the items found in his spider web.

In another classroom, Anita uses one of the Emergent Literacy Setups '95 (Creative Communicating) to complete the same activity. She uses the template created for KidPix showing a spider web with several different items around the web. A ClickIt setup is included with this activity. When Anita presses her switch, it scans each items auditorally (e.g., frog, fly). She selects an item and it automatically moves to the web and scans different spots on the web to place the item. (See MAGIC TRICKS: Computer: CliciIt - Branching).

Independent Reading

Every day Danny’s class has the opportunity to spend time in independent reading activities. Danny’s books have been placed in adapted notebooks. He has a basket of books that he can read independently. These books are placed on a shelf within his reach when he is seated in a wheelchair. Danny uses his communication device plus a supplemental word based display to read the stories.

Independent Story Listening

A macro on Danny’s Liberator is used to permit Danny to listen to stories that are somewhat above his independent reading level. His speech-language pathologist or parent enters each story into a notebook file, line by line. Danny then presses a message cell where the macro is stored to read each line. The text is visible on the Liberator display and each line is spoken through high quality synthetic speech. This combination of text and speech output supports Danny’s learning far better than simply listening to the story read by an adult or on an audiotape. See MAGIC TRICKS: Device, Liberator - Macro for Highlighting.


Each student is asked to read the target story Spider, Spider aloud. Danny accomplishes this by using his Liberator. Icon codes for new vocabulary are on the cheat sheet, which a family member holds to prompt him only if necessary.

This handout was taken from Musselwhite & King-DeBaun (1997) Emergent Literacy Success: Merging Technology and Whole Language for Students with Disabilities. Chapter 8,pp. 294-298.

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