2006 Conference General Sessions

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TECHNOLOGY AND STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS: A DEMONSTRATION OF WEB-BASED INSTRUCTIONAL RESOURCES
 

Presenter(s)
Cynthia Overton
American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson St., NW
Washington DC 20007
Day Phone: 202-403-5000
Fax: 202-403-5001
Email: coverton@air.org

Presenter #2
Tracy Gray
American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson St., NW
Washington DC 20007
Day Phone: 202-403-5000
Fax: 202-403-5001
Email: tgray@air.org

Demonstration of dynamic Web-based resources used to identify software for instruction of students with learning disabilities created by the Center for Implementing Technology in Education.  

When used effectively, computer tools have the potential to assist teachers in instruction and address the individual needs of a diverse group of learners.  This is especially important for students with learning disabilities, who typically have instructional needs that vastly differ from their classmates.  Unfortunately, research suggests that many students have not fully reaped the educational benefits of technological resources.  According to a survey conducted by the National Center for Statistics, only 20% of public school teachers feel well prepared to integrate technology into instruction, even though over 99% reported having computer access in school (National Center for Education Statistics, 2000).  Furthermore, many general education teachers feel as though they lack the skills that are necessary to teach special education students who are mainstreamed or included in their classrooms (deBettencourt, 1999; Welch, 1996).  Due to the underutilization of technological re!
Sources among teachers coupled with challenges faced by general educators as they struggle to meet the needs of students with disabilities, technological resources that have the potential to help this population of students are often overlooked.

The Center for Implementing Technology in Education (Cited) is committed to supporting K-8 educators who service students with learning disabilities and other educational challenges.  In an effort to promote the use of educational technology resources and help teachers address the special needs of students with disabilities, Cited has partnered with the National Center on Technology Innovation (NCTI) to develop two user-friendly resources: The Math Matrix and the Reading Matrix.  Each matrix is a searchable database that identifies features of commercially-available software that support the instruction of students with learning disabilities. Both matrices are Web-based, easy to navigate, and available to educators at no cost.  The Math Matrix is available at http://www.citeducation.org/mathmatrix/default.asp and the Reading Matrix can be found at http://nationaltechcenter.org/matrix/default.asp.

The Math Matrix is organized into six pedagogical purposes for utilizing technology to meet the needs of students with math difficulties. They include: building computational fluency; converting symbols, notations, and text; building conceptual understanding; making calculations and creating mathematical representations; organizing ideas; and building problem solving and reasoning.   Following are descriptions of the purposes of these instructional objectives:

1. Building Computational Fluency - Technologies that serve this purpose include those that focus on specific skills such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing, finding percents, square roots, and solving equations. These technologies provide guidance, reinforcement and practice with the procedural skills of mathematics.
2. Converting Symbols, Notations and Text - Technologies that serve this purpose provide access to specific terms, definitions, mathematical notation and symbols to build content vocabulary, symbolic meaning and understanding of text to decode mathematical text into meaningful situations through digital margin notes and bookmarks. This access promotes an increased, multi-sensory engagement with symbols and text.
3. Building Conceptual Understanding - Technologies that serve this purpose include those that focus on specific concepts such as the meanings of a fraction in relationship to graph or visual representation, the relationship among algebraic equations, coordinate tables and line graphs. These technologies provide insights about, representations of, and connections between numeric, geometric, algebraic or statistical concepts.
4. Making Calculations and Creating Mathematical Representations - Technologies that serve this purpose provide users with electronic means to make calculations simplify and solve mathematical expressions and algebraic equations, and use draw software, visual representative, or virtual manipulative software to create graphs and representations of problem solving situations. These technologies, often adaptive calculators, allow the user to focus on the conceptual and problem solving aspects of math.
5. Organizing Ideas - Technologies that serve this purpose provide a digital workspace for users to explore the connections among the text of problems to the concrete, representational and abstract concepts and apply these relationship to a wide range of problem solving strategies in real-world and mathematical situations.
6. Building Problem Solving and Reasoning - Technologies that serve this purpose include those that focus on formulating, representing and solving mathematical problems. These technologies provide guidance, structure and practice with strategies and processes for reasoning and problem solving tasks.

To further assist educators, the Math Matrix is accompanied by a Publications Matrix and a literature review, entitled “Technology-Supported Math Instruction for Students with Disabilities: Two Decades of Research and Development.”  Written by expert mathematics and educational technology researchers (Hasselbring, Lott, & Zydney, 2005), this paper explores research surrounding the instructional objectives listed above and addresses how particular software contributes to students’ declarative, conceptual, and procedural math knowledge. The Publications Matrix includes 30 peer reviewed and vendor-published research and evaluations of particular software features.  

The Reading Matrix is also based on six instructional strategies that are often challenging for educators to execute successfully when addressing the special needs of students with reading disabilities.  They include: building skills and comprehension; convert text to speech; providing electronic resources; providing electronic resources; organizing ideas; and integrating literacy supports.  Following are descriptions of the purposes of these instructional objectives:

1. Building Skills and Comprehension - Technologies that focus on a specific skill (such as fluency, vocabulary, or spelling), a broad range of skills, or specifically on comprehension. These technologies provide reinforcement and practice opportunities for fundamental skills and strategies.
2. Convert Text to Speech - Technologies that serve this purpose provide access to printed materials through speech, either synthesized speech or natural digital speech. This access promotes an increased, multi-sensory engagement with text and digital media.
3. Providing Text in Alternative Formats - Technologies that serve this purpose provide users an opportunity to engage with text in various formats, for instance, combining text with pictures (such as rebus software) or audio text with print-based.
4. Providing Electronic Resources - Technologies that serve this purpose provide users with quick access to reference tools such as dictionaries and thesauruses to build vocabulary, word analysis skills and comprehension, as well as study tools such as digital margin notes and bookmarks.
5. Organizing Ideas - Technologies that serve this purpose provide a digital workspace for users to explore the connections between ideas and text, represent relationships, and apply a wide range of pre-writing and comprehension strategies to their responses and notes.
6. Integrating Literacy Supports - Integrated technologies provide support for users’ development of literacy and study skills, with text from prepared software (for example, digital or scanned textbooks), user-created text, or digital media from the Internet.

The Reading Matrix is accompanied by a Publications Matrix and a paper, entitled, “A Review of Technology-Based Approaches for Reading Instruction: Tools for Research and Vendors” (Silver-Pacuilla, Ruedel, & Mistrett, 2004).  The paper presents a detailed view of the evidence to date on the use of technologies to support the instruction of students with reading disabilities.  The Publications Matrix includes 37 peer reviewed and vendor-published research and evaluations of particular software features.  

The Center for Implementing Technology in Education (Cited) would like to introduce our collection of resources to CSUN conference participants during a demonstration session.  We are confident that school technology coordinators, special education personnel, teachers, administrators, and other school staff will find this information invaluable, and utilize it to learn about particular features of software.  More importantly, they will be able to share these resources with their colleagues for the benefit of the students with disabilities that they service.  During the session, a Cited representative would provide a brief overview of the resources, demonstrate the Math Matrix and the Reading Matrix, and provide supporting handouts, copies of the accompanying papers, and field questions about the resources.

The Center for Implementing Technology in Education (Cited) provides technical assistance to state and local educators to develop systems that effectively integrate instructional technology so that all students achieve high educational standards.  The National Center on Technology Innovation (NCTI) serves to develop and disseminate resources to inform decision-making on the use and development of technologies to support achievement for students with disabilities.  Both projects are funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).  


References

deBettencourt, L.U. (1999).  General educator’s attitudes toward students with mild disabilities and their use of instructional strategies:  Implications for training. Remedial and Special Education, 20(1), 27-35.

Hasselbring, T.S., Lott, A.C., & Zydney, J.M. (2005). Technology-Supported Math Instruction for Students with Disabilities: Two Decades of Research and Development.  Retrieved September 30, 2005, from the National Center on Technology Innovation Web site: http://www.nationaltechcenter.org/matrix/default.asp#

National Center for Education Statistics. (2000). Teacher use of computers and the Internet in public schools. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

Silver-Pacuilla, H. Ruedel, K. & Mistrett, M. (2004). A Review of Technology-Based Approaches for Reading Instruction: Tools for Research and Vendors.  Retrieved September 30, 2005, from the Center for Implementing Technology in Education Web site: http://www.citeducation.org/mathmatrix/default.asp#

Welch, M. (1996). Teacher education and the neglected diversity: Preparing educators to teach students with disabilities.  Journal of Teacher Education, 47, 355-366.


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