2002 Conference Proceedings

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STAGES: SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS FOR SPECIAL NEEDS

Madalaine Pugliese
Assistive and Instructional Technology
Newton, MA

The complete Stages solutions help professionals and parents identify learning needs, assess skills and select appropriate software for children and adults with special needs.

The Stages solutions include a book, assessment software, curriculum software and training.

Book

The Stages book, Stages: Software Solutions for Special Needs
* introduces the Stages framework and provides a detailed description for each stage
* provides competency goals and sample IEP objectives
* includes extension activities you can do in a classroom, at home, or in a therapy setting
* lists recommended software titles from several manufacturers to build skills at each Stage.

Assessment Software

Assessment Kits help identify and assess a learner's skills at each stage. Each kit includes the Stages philosophy, software CD, observation forms, software comparison chart and user's guide. Each of the seven Stages has its own Assessment Kit. Stages assessment software
* provides an accessible technology-based way to perform assessments
* complies with special education legislation mandating alternative assessment procedures (Individuals with Disabilities Act Amendments of 1997 (IDEA '97)
* helps you gather information to develop an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP)
* gives educators, clinicians and parents a common way of considering observable and recognizable, competency-based performance through automatic record keeping.

Curriculum Software Bundles

The Stages curriculum software bundles are collections of computer programs that are appropriate for building skills at each stage. The recommended curriculum software
* practices needed skill areas identified in the Assessment sessions
* provides for modified curriculum access
* contains activities for recreation and continued practice of learned skills
* can often be used at multiple Stages by adjusting software and content settings.

As written in the Journal of Special Education Technology, "Stages is an excellent resource and a must for any professional using a computer in their classroom. The applicability of the information reaches beyond students with special needs. Add this one to your bookshelf, you will not be disappointed" (Gilson Capilouto, JSET 11/00).

The Seven Stages

Stages One through Three fall under the category of Language Foundation. These Stages are sequential in nature and should be approached this way.

Stages Four through Seven fall under a second category, Academic Discovery. These Stages are not strictly sequential in nature. For example, a student may be working simultaneously on reading in Stage Five and writing in Stage Seven. The Stages are not age- or grade-specific.

Stage One: Cause and Effect The Stage One learner begins to understand that an input device controls the computer.

Stage Two: Language Readiness The Stage Two learner begins to understand that objects have names and actions have words to express them. The learner is not asked to identify objects, but simply to absorb information.

Stage Three: Emerging Language The learner demonstrates an understanding of everyday language. This is the first Stage in which the learner is asked to respond to a question based on a prompt.

Stage Four: Early Concepts The Stage Four learner is now ready to explore beginning academic and social skills to show what has been learned.

Stage Five: Advanced Concepts and Communication The learner expands basic literacy and math skills and works with classmates in other tradional curriculum areas such as science, geography and history.

Stage Six: Functional Learning The Stage Six learner is interested in the world and begin to connect academic and social skills to become more independent.

Stage Seven: Written Expression The Stage Seven learner works toward mastery of writing skills, moving from letter and sound association to full independent composition.

Training

Workshops are designed for special education school-based team members serving students with developmental delays. An ATI workshop should be selected based on the goals of the school district. Workshops can focus on assessment, curriculum or training-the-trainer. The format is either lecture style (unlimited number of attendees) or hands-on (limited to 21 participants). Those who request the workshops may specify the preferred facilitator: an ATI certified trainer or Stages Author, Madalaine Pugliese MS, Ed.S.

Alternative Assessment Workshop

This workshop presents a framework and software tools to assess levels of language and cognitive development for learners with delays addressed within a framework. In this workshop, which goes in depth with assessment activities, participants learn alternative assessment strategies through the use of activity-based software programs.

Curriculum Workshop

This workshop presents an original framework of language and cognitive development and a systematic approach for selecting appropriate software for individual learners within the framework. In this workshop, which goes in depth with curriculum ideas, participants can learn software selection strategies along a diagnostic/prescriptive continuum that is developed to help you produce a supportive learning environment.

Certified Evaluator Program (coming soon)

This program prepares educators and assistive technology professionals to implement the Stages program to assess student skills and select appropriate software for students with special needs. The focus of this course is on teacher training and using 'best practices' strategies when evaluating student performance.

Instruction begins with a review of the tools: assessment software and recommended curriculum software. Next, strategies for observing learner behavior and extending learning in -off-computer activities are introduced. Course leaders facilitate discussions on best practices for assessment and present video examples from the field. Finally, participants receive demonstration materials and learn presentation strategies to educate colleagues about the Stages program.

The Curriculum Workshop (lecture style or hands-on) and Alternative Assessment Workshop (hands-on) are prerequisites to the Certified Evaluator Program.


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