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Saturday 15 August 2015

SPED Chat Saturday!

Hi Everyone!  Today I am excited to be leading SPED Chat Saturday with a discussion and blog link up on Technology for SPED!  I hope you will join in on the conversation by leaving a comment on this post and/or linking up your own blog post on how you use technology with your SPED students.  You can also join our SPED Tribe on Google+ and suggest a topic that you would love to learn more about!

Using Technology with SPED Students

When I signed up to lead this SPED Chat, I was excited to share how I use technology in my classroom.  But, the more I thought about what I would write in this post, the more I realized what a huge topic it is and that I couldn't share everything in one blog post.  If you follow my blog, then you will know that I have already written on this subject, mainly about iPads and apps that I use with my students.  If you are new to my blog, you can find those posts under "Tech Tidbits" at the top of this page.  I will continue to write about different apps and ways I use iPads in my classroom throughout the upcoming school year, but today, I want to share with you some other forms of technology I use with my students.

iPads - The 21st Century Swiss Army Knife

I can't do a blog post about technology without talking about iPads/iPods.  I absolutely LOVE using iPads with my students.  For us, they serve many, many purposes and save us a lot of money.  Before we had iPads in my classroom, we had many items such as digital cameras, video cameras, computer and expensive software, etc. that we used with our students.  With the iPads, we no longer need or use any of these items and the apps that have replaced the software are far more less expensive.  We use iPads for the following purposes in my room:  
  • Student Learning Activities:  there are so many educational apps available that we use to teach our students new skills and practice old ones.  For a list of my favourites, click here.  There are apps available across developmental domains, including cognitive, language, fine motor, self-help and social skills.
  • Document Student Learning:  It so easy to demonstrate learning to parents, therapists and principals using iPads/iPods.  I like to keep digital portfolios on my students' learning (more about this coming up on August 19th) to show their parents and others.  With the ability to take pictures and video, we are able to capture some great learning moments throughout the day, everyday.
  • Data Collection:  We are currently involved in a research study in which we are collecting data on students' progress and excessive behaviours using iPads.  Before this study, we used iPods for recording excessive behaviours using Behaviour Tracker Pro.  This allowed us to go paperless and made data collection much easier and less time-consuming as the graphing is done for you in the app.
  • Make Teaching Materials:  using different apps, some of which come with libraries of photos, and photos that we take, we are able to create a variety of teaching materials for our students including social stories, visual supports, communication boards, and stimulus materials for discrete trial teaching.
  • Visual Schedules:  we have used iPods with some students for their visual schedules.  There are a few apps available for this purpose, in which you can even set audio timers to alert the student that the activity has ended and to look at their iPod to see what's next.  This is an especially great tool for students in inclusive settings, or multiple classrooms in the school.
  • Group Learning Activities:  If there is an app that is appropriate for all of the students to use, I will use it in my group instruction on my SMART board through our Apple TV.  There are some great game apps that are also educational and so I will use those to work on social and communication skills required when playing games.  I will also use the DTT apps in my group lessons for student responses.
  • Augmentative Communication:  A few of my students use iPads/iPods with Proloquo 2 Go as their form of communication.  We purchased this app for my classroom, so we also use it during group instruction periods for students to respond to questions and request a turn when playing games or completing tasks on the SMART Board.
  • Reinforcement:  my students love using iPads, so of course we also use them for reinforcement!  AFTER their work is completed, of course!

SMART Boards - A Great Tool for Group Instruction

It took me a lot of fund-raising to get my SMART Board, but it was totally worth it!  I love my SMART Board and couldn't imagine running my group lessons without it!  It has been an absolute game changer in my classroom!  Since starting to use it, my students have become more engaged in group lessons and excessive behaviours during this time have decreased. We have also been able to lower the rates of reinforcement as my students find using the SMART Board so reinforcing!  Here are a few ways I use it:
  • Morning Meetings, Literacy, Math and Music Lessons:  yes, I use my SMART Board for all of my group lessons at the carpet.  I make my own lessons in SMART Notebook, or download them from SMART Exchange.  And with the use of You Tube Videos, on line books and websites like ABC Twiggles, my students are highly motivated and super engaged during these lessons!
  • Whole Class Body Breaks:  Whenever the students seemed like they needed a little chill time, or sam movement, we would turn on the SMART Board, usually to You Tube and play one of their dancing songs.  Some of our favourites are "I'm Elmo and I Know It", "I'm a Gummy Bear", and so on.  I have read so much about Go Noodle this summer, that I am excited to try it in September.
  • Chill Time:  The staff in my classroom don't get breaks or lunch.  Being a Section 23 classroom in a regular school, there is no one to cover our breaks or lunches. So, while we are eating our lunches, the kids gather on the carpet and chill out while watching a movie or You Tube songs.  There are so many educational songs on You Tube that my kiddos love!  One of my students this year, even started talking by repeating some of these songs!  He had never spoken a word prior to this!  Now, if we could only get him to imitate us when we try to get him to say words!  LOL!

Google Chromebooks - My Board's Choice 

Two years ago, my school board conducted pilot projects in a few select schools to test out new forms of assistive technology.  Prior to this, every school had a laptop cart or two, with a class set of Dell laptops.  And if you have ever used Dells, you would know that they simply don't last with constant use.  My board piloted three different devices and the students' favourite were the Chrome Books.  I am still learning how to use these and all of the apps and extensions that go with them, but here are a few ways to use them:
  • Reading Practice:  My students love RAZ Kids and Tumble Books!  They are both online collections of levelled readers, and students can choose to read the books by themselves, or listen to the stories.
  • Writing Practice:  With Google Docs, students can write stories and share them with their classmates.  The nice feature in Google Docs is the automatic saving.  It cuts down on an extra step to teach my students when using the computer for writing activities.
  • Math Practice:   There are a few free websites that offer games at different levels for students to practice a variety of math skills.  One that my board uses is Cool Math Games.
So, those are my top choices for technology in the SPED classroom.  I will be doing more posts on technology in the future, but I would love to hear from you about what you like to learn more about.  I would also love to know how you use technology in your classroom!  Do you have any favourite apps or websites that I should know about?  Leave me a comment or link up below!  And thanks for stopping by!


  1. What a ton of great information!! Thanks for sharing all these ideas. I linked up with a blog post I wrote on an app called SnapType(pro). It is great for those who have fine motor issues and typing is the way to go- you can take pictures of a worksheet etc and they can type their answers in! I used it a lot last year and loved it :-) Lisa from

  2. Whoa! GREAT post Nicole! So much useful and helpful information - especially on ways to utilize your classroom iPad(s). I've pinned this great post and linked up as well. Thanks :)

    Mindful Rambles


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