2001 Conference Proceedings

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THE USE OF SIMPLE COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY IN A PROFOUNDLY HANDICAPPED CLASSROOM TO PROMOTE PARENT AWARENESS

Linda Ynostroza
Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office
661-397-9124

Denise Jorgensen
Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office
661-396-9201

DESCRIPTION

In order to increase parent awareness of student activities at this MOVE Model Site and abilities in a profound special education classroom, a program was established whereby digital pictures and movies were emailed to parents via the Internet within the next day of an activity. For those parents without Internet access, pictures were printed out and sent home with the student. Pictures were also printed and placed into a classroom scrapbook. In addition, a simple classroom newsletter was created bimonthly using a word processing program and digital pictures.

STRUCTURE OF THE PROGRAM

We were able to obtain a digital camera that not only took digital pictures but also up to 60 seconds of digital movies. The camera itself was simple enough to use that teachers and aides alike could easily access its capabilities. Most activities and newly acquired skills can be shown well within this 6o second window. We were able to use these pictures/movies in .a variety of ways. Not only could the pictures be sent to parents via email or home with the student but a bimonthly newsletter was established using the digital pictures and a simple word processing program. The newsletter took approximately two hours to create, type, and edit. Over a period of a few months, students were filmed playing in a swimming pool for the first time, walking up bus steps with minimal assistance, using vocal output devices and switch activated devices for choice making, and moving assisted weight bearing apparatus a short distance.
We found that parents responded enthusiastically to the pictorial presentation of their student's progress. Due to work or family situations, parents were unable to come to the classroom on a regular basis. Any progress is usually slow and minimal and is frequently not generalized to the home with this type of special education population. Often, because of the profound involvement of the children, their ability to show a new skill is unpredictable. Many parents were excited by the fact they did not have to take a day off of work with the "hope" that the child would show them their newly acquired skills. In addition, it was exciting for the parents to be able to share their child's success in a timely manner. Some of the activities, such as water play in a swimming pool, was experienced for the first time by students and parents alike via the Internet.

The publication of the newsletter also served to promote parent awareness. The two pages included information about themes activities, field trips, and classroom visitors. One or two students' progress were highlighted each month as well as upcoming site activities.

STRUCTURE OF PRESENTATION

This program will be presented by Linda Ynostroza and Denise Jorgensen, special education teachers. It will include digital pictures and movies of students during various classroom activities performing a variety of tasks and experiencing various educational situations. Additionally, parent comments will be included in reference to how the program has affected their perceptions of their students.


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