2004 Conference Proceedings

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TECHNOLOGY FOR THE STRUGGLING LEARNER: PRACTICAL CLASSROOM APPLICATIONS

Presenters
Sherry Keenan
5063 Hansberry St NW
Bremerton, WA 98311 USA
Phone: 360 271-5759
Work: 360 876-7349
Email: skeenan@telebyte.com

Can technology make students who are "differently-able" indistinguishable from their peers in the general education population? Can the learning disabled and the at-risk student, through the use of technology, read, write, and problem solve in their basic education classes? What should we be expecting? What makes these students productive and capable classroom contributors? In this session, participants will see how these students are making gains in a technology rich classroom through the use of digital video, multimedia, text to speech, computer-based study tools, and word prediction.

Effective teaching strategies are essential for the educational success of the struggling learner. As each student has their own processing style that works best, and their own set of strengths and weaknesses, addressing those needs in a classroom setting can be a challenge. In addition to struggles with reading, writing, comprehension, and math, self-esteem can also be impacted by those who learn differently. Data collected from project teachers involved in The Learning Disability and Technology grant and the No Limit LD and Math Project show students improved their academic performance in reading, writing, and math while using assistive technologies. Their self-esteem and attitude also improved. Both grant projects are research based through the University of Wisconsin-Madison (http://www.wcer.wisc.edu/team  or http://www.cwu.edu/~setc) and RMC Research, Portland, Or. (http://www.cwe.edu/~setc/ldtech).

Applying technology in a classroom full of struggling learners in an application that is often overlooked. Their learning disability (i.e. reading) often gets in the way of them accessing general education curriculum. Therefore, without teacher assistance, they are left with rote skills as independent exercises, and often are not offered general education curriculum because the teacher deems it too difficult. Technology has changed this for my students. Classroom teachers are viewing the learning disabled child as "abled". The children are viewing themselves as "abled".

Various technologies were provided by the grants. Laptops, scanners, printers, portable word processors, digital cameras, digital camcorders, light and sound equipment, video editing computers, palm pilots, amplifier, wireless internet connection, interactive white board, LCD projector, and software was all provided and implemented at different times throughout the 3 year grant period. Training of teachers was ongoing. Teachers were able to assess what worked and what didn't. Of the various assistive technologies provided by the grant, some simply did not meet expectations.

I have taught the struggling learner for 17 years. The last three years have been in a technology rich classroom. I believe that the playing field can be leveled with technology. This presentation will provide participants with success stories and the pitfalls of technology and the struggling learner. It will cover strategies, software, and hardware used for reading, writing, math, and test taking. I will show videos of my classroom projects and give software demonstrations. Specific examples of lessons and procedures will be provided. I will also lecture about a mentoring program that made the learning disabled child the expert in mentoring situations with general education students. Participants will listen the success stories about the learning disabled and at-risk students who, through real-world technology and collaboration skills, have been empowered to succeed and become their school "techies".


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