BPSTechnology Webinar – Episode 4: Teacher Panel – Tech & Inclusion
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BPSTechnology Webinar – Episode 4: Teacher Panel – Tech & Inclusion


(upbeat music) – Good evening and welcome to the Tech & Inclusion Teacher Panel. If you’re interested in following along with our presentation tonight, we have a link to our slides
at bit.ly/techinclusion19. So that’s bitly slash
tech inclusion one nine. My name is Rhianon Gutierrez, and I am a Digital Learning
Specialist at BPSTechnology. I’ll be one of your moderators tonight. Also joining me are Nikolas Gonzales, also a Digital Learning
Specialist at BPSTechnology. We’ll be managing tonight’s
chat so please follow along, and we’ll help you answer
any questions that you have. The main reason why we’re here today is because we are being joined
by three teacher panelists, who will be sharing some of their stories of using technology for inclusion in their classrooms and workplace. First we have Mary O’Brien,
a second grade teacher at the Henderson Inclusion. Next, we have Scott Richards,
an occupational therapist and Assistive Technology Specialist on the BPS Assistive Technology Team. Finally, we have John Hynes,
an Instructional Coach and teacher at the Mary Lyon K-8. So tonight’s agenda will
be covering various things. I’ll be going over some of these briefly. We’re gonna be talking about
how teachers are designers and connecting that to some standards, as well as the types
of technology there are when it comes to thinking about inclusion. We’ll also be connecting with our guiding question for the evening. And then finally we’ll be
hearing from some teachers. All three of their stories, and some resources they’ll
be sharing with all of you. So when I say teachers are
designers, what does that mean? Well there are some
standards given out by ISTE: International Society for
Technology and Education. And these are the standards for educators. The one that has stood out to me the most is standard number five, Designer. So what does this mean? It means educators design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate
learner variability. Now this is a really, really
powerful phrase to think about because teachers as designers really means that you are constantly
constructing and creating new learning experiences with students, not just for them, but with them. If you’re interested in learning more about the ISTE Standards, we have linked to them at the bottom. There aren’t just standards for educators, there also standards for students, administrators and coaches, as well as Computer Science educators. And it’s also important
to note this standard is heavily influenced by
an educational philosophy known as Universal Design for Learning. You will be hearing from
the teachers tonight, and how connected their work is to Universal Design for Learning. So I mentioned there’s certain
categories of technology. So what does this mean? Well first, we have
Instructional Technology. This is very much connected to the work that Nick and I do at BPSTechnology. This is thinking about tools
for learning and communication. So you may be familiar with tools like Khan Academy, Google Classroom. Those are very much about pedagogy and supporting both teachers and students with their learning. Next, we have Assistive Technology. Scott’s gonna be connecting
some of that tonight. And that’s thinking about tools that increase or maintain the
functional capabilities of a person with a disability. Now, often times we are seeing
those lines blurred between Instructional and Assistive Technology, and Universal Design for
Learning is a big part of that, because we all recognize that we have variability in how we learn. Context matters, brains matter. So thinking about these tools, sometimes tools are designed
for one, might be for many. That’s tools like Bookshare
and Read&Write. We still need to have other
types of technology as well. Relating to Productivity
and Information Technology. And those are the ones that we pretty much interact with every day. Like Google and Microsoft tools. And the final one is Medical Technology. We won’t be covering
that because as teachers we don’t really have influence with that. But we look forward to hearing the stories the teachers will share with us tonight about their use of these various tools. So one of the big guiding questions that we have for tonight is, how do you use technology
to design more inclusive learning experiences for your students. And we’re gonna have all three teachers share their stories with us. – Hi, I’m Mary. I teach second grade at the
Henderson Inclusion School. Boston Public Schools recently has been working on a curriculum called Focus on Grade two. And we have been fortunate at our school to use it for the last two years. There’s a lot of
opportunities for the children to explore all types of
tools for research learning and communication through this curriculum. We’re very fortunate that we’ve
been provided with materials that help the children
expand their thinking. In this particular unit, unit two, which I’m gonna be talking
about this evening, it’s called The Forces of Wind and Water. The children explored water
resources around the world, but they also focused on
the dangers and the results of wind and water. As a final product, the
children were asked to design barrier walls that could prevent erosions. Specifically on the north
end of Thompson Island, right here in Boston Harbor. Through the studio time the children were allotted opportunities to create barrier walls such
as the Capler Structure, which is very elaborate. It’s in the top left hand corner. The children designed ramps
on this particular structure so that the water would
flow in either direction. If you looked at both sides of it you would see that it was very similar. Then the children were asked to take their thinking
a little bit further. And they designed barrier walls using a variety of our materials. And asked to explain exactly
what their thinking was, using the vocabulary in the
language of the curriculum. Students were allowed to access this in many, many different ways. Some students used Wikki Stix as a tool to help them identify things like waves and mountains and
barriers and water in general. And just learning about
river banks and everything, to help them with their thinking. Then the students got together, teams of students worked together, to build their final products. Through these final
products they were able to use vocabulary from the entire curriculum and talk about the different
ways that they thought that they were going to be able to save the north end of Thompson Island and prevent it from further
erosion as time moves forward. We took photographs of
each groups products and then we turned them into ThingLinks. ThingLinks are when you take a photograph and then the children put
a link on the photograph. They used wordbanks, they used their writing journals, and some of them verbally
spoke about what they wanted to describe about their final product. We took all of those results and then we turned it into a Padlet so that the students were able
to share that with others, and talk explicitly about their research that they had done throughout the unit. Here’s some examples of
three of the ThingLinks that the students made. Each on of those little
tabs, the little plus sign, is something that can be clicked on and it will give more detail about what the students thought
would be good barriers or ways to prevent the
erosion on Thompson Island. As you can see we uploaded
everything onto a Padlet and the students have
been able to share those with their parents, their friends, their colleagues at school,
and the early literacy department. We could take a look at one of them now. This wall barrier really
showed a lot of ingenuity on the part of the children. They had some great ideas. They thought of creating fans, which they didn’t end
up making in the end. It would blow the wind and the water in two different directions. They had sprays, they
had tools available to rescue animals that might be in danger during a terrible storm. They had sensors for security. They had drones that were
supporting the research. They had these little
red and yellow things- that jet out in front of the barrier that would actually be
buried deeper into the ground or into the sand or into the
surface at Thompson Island, to help prevent the area
from serious flooding and continued erosion over time. – Hi, I’m Scott from the
Assistive Technology Department. I’m also an occupational therapist. My role on the team is
to conduct evaluations and consultations throughout the district, and to provide training to
students and to staff members on different types of tools
that could be beneficial to students with disabilities. And as Rhianon had mentioned earlier, UDL plays a very important
role in what I do. I suppose one could consider that UDL would put someone like me out of a job, but in fact I feel like the
more that people know about UDL, the more awareness we have that people have different
ways of learning, and so tools like
assistive technology tools that we use with many students are becoming more and more mainstream and we’re finding that we’re more similar in ways than we are different and that everyone has a
different way of learning. The past couple of
years we’ve had a lot of discussion within our team, and I believe it’s part
of a larger discussion about how we are kind of moving away from this
separate expert type of motto where one expert goes into a building and has all of the answers surrounding that one particular area. So there’s a lot of
reliance on that person who is considered the expert to make decisions about things and these decisions are
the type of decisions that will effect the
student on a regular basis, while receiving instruction
in the classroom and for testing. So it’s important to get those right, and also to understand that there in a constant state of evolution. So, with the expert type of model, there is a greater focus of time spent one to one with students, training them. Getting to know what their
strengths and weaknesses are, and trialing out different tools, whether it be devices
or a piece of software. There’s also a fair amount of training with individual teachers or
small groups of teachers. Like maybe a sixth grade
team, or a seventh grade team. But it doesn’t usually
move past that kind of small ecosphere of learning. I believe that the expert
model will always have some place in assistive technology or in technology in general because there will always be cases where specialized supports are needed or complex needs need to be addressed, and having somebody with
a bit more experience in this area is helpful despite the fact that we are, I think, inevitably moving in the direction of the other type of model, which is a capacity-building model. In a capacity-building model, it’s a collaborative
approach which is usually conducted, not really with one
person as leader necessarily, although AT specialists can play a role in facilitating these just
as an introduction. School based consideration for the tools is what were looking at in
the capacity-building model. So the specialist could
provide the guidance for particular AT decisions. But the focus really is on training teams, training staff members, to kind of pay it forward in a way. They’re owning some of
the tools and strategies that can be useful for some
or many of their students. And the focus really is on
getting it at a school level, department wide level,
and a district wide level. So training is a very
important part of that, because it expands the reach
of assisted technology, as well as instructional technology and concepts of the UDL, which I find are very much in line with the inclusion model of teaching. Just a couple of examples here. For the expert model, I’m
using a real example of a fourth grade student who
had a learning disability in a regular education classroom, and he would get pulled
out for resource room help. His team was concerned about him not being able to access reading. So they requested an AT consultation to assess points of difficulty,
or barriers to his learning. There was a combination of interviews and observations and testing that we did and finally decided on
some tools they would use, and the teacher then sat
with me and analyzed the data about what was the most useful and we created a Bookshare
account and trained the students on how to use Read&Write for Google. So, we reached this student
as well as few others that the teacher then worked with after. Then the capacity-building model is more focused on training, such as the training that
we just did a few months ago on the tool called the
DeCoste Writing Protocol, which is intended to guide decision making about writing accommodations
that students might need. So the participants discuss ways, after they learn how to use the tool, how they could use it in their school. Which is more of a strategic approach, rather than just the
operational skills needed. Then they would go in and
do testing with the students on a wider scale and be able to see where their access points were and the best accommodations for them. What we say was a big
increase in capacity. That the knowledge that
we had as AT specialists was passed along to the next,
sort of, point of contact, and they had direct
contact with the schools so they could make better decisions because they know the students and the environment
that they’re working in. – Hi, my name is John Hynes. I am an instructional coach
at the Mary Lyons school. Before being an instructional coach I was a seventh grade ELA
and Geography teacher. I wanna explain a couple of different ways that I use Google Classroom. So we were reading a book
called A Long Walk to Water in seventh grade and one of the activities half way through the book
is to read an informational text about Sudan Civil War. When I was doing this
activity I wanted to make sure all students had access and an
entry port into the material. So I wanted all students
with a great level text, but I wanted to scaffold
it different ways. The first document that
some students will receive is the original copy and the expectations. They would read it and
use the comment section in Google Classroom to make notes about the key information, main idea. For some students I chunked it. That was the first level
scaffold I provided. And then the chunk section, for each section they would
make notes and annotations about the main idea or key
facts that they learned about Sudan Civil War. For students who needed a different level of support and scaffold, in each chunk section I would
highlight important details. And based on those important
details they would try to summarize the main idea. Identify the really,
most important key facts based on the reading. For students who needed even more support, and this is where Google
Classroom is great, you can differentiate even more. And in the same chunk text there was multiple choice
options for students to match up the main ideas with each appropriate section. Then all students final
presentation, final product, for this activity was to- it was a choice board provided for them, and then they had options
of how they wanted to show their understanding of the text. This whole assignment in
itself is a different way to differentiate and give students options on how they want to show how they made sense of the material. So let me show you now Google Classroom, how to use Google Classroom. So I would create an assignment here, and I would assign- I’m only assigning the first reading to a certain amount of students. So I click on “all students” and then I would click
the students I wanted this assignment to go to. I would title it, Time
Trip: Sudan Civil War, and I would go to this little icon here which is Google Drive and upload the assignments. So I would add the first
reading that had no scaffolds. And you have to make sure you click on “make a copy for each student” There’s also a choice for board that all students would be receiving. So I would make sure I want
to link that as well too. Don’t forget to make a
copy for each student because if you don’t
and you try to go back it won’t allow you to do it. So I would assign this to six students. So only these six students
would see this assignment. So to make sure the other students
receive the assignment, I would click on “create
assignment” again. And I would assign it
to these five students. Make sure you title the assignment. Click on the Google Drive icon. I would upload the reading
that has the first, the first one that’s chunked. Add it. Make sure everyone gets a copy. And then I would also
add the choice board. Make sure to hit “make
a copy for each student.” Then assign it. So, you would do this
for each one of those four different readings that
are scaffold in different ways. So when students open up their assignments they’re only gonna open up one, but depending on which group you’re in, the reading is gonna look different. So Google Classroom’s a great way to differentiate assignments
because you’re gonna assign specific assignments and
specific text that are scaffold in different ways to
very specific students based on their learning needs. So it’s a great way to
use it with students, but it’s also a great tool. You could use it with colleagues as well. At the Mary Lyon’s school
we have a Google Classroom that all staff members are part of. We post important information, school-wide PD slides, incident reports, staff memos. On the left had side in Topics, we have a section for each team. So the three to five
common planner time team, the six to eight ELA
common planner time team, the specialist common
planner time team, et cetera. So I would definitely recommend
using Google Classroom with your students but also as a school to kind of have one place where you store all your important documents. It will make it easier
for teachers and staff to find things they need. – Great John. Thank you so much for sharing
how you use Google Classroom. I know it’s a really popular tool in the Boston Public Schools, but everybody really varies
in terms of their expertise and comfort with the tool. So, what would you recommend
for somebody who’s like, I’m really curious about Google Classroom, I wanna get started. What would you say? – I think it’s as simple
as just testing it out. You learn a lot. The more you do it, the
more you learn about the different ways you can differentiate it and try different things. When I first started using this, I kinda was posting
assignments just for all kids. And then as you get
familiar with the features you realize you can do so much more. You can send certain
assignments to certain kids. It’s not just documents. You can link that same
assignment that I posted, you can send videos, you can attached certain videos
or other documents to it, so you’re very able to
support different students, and the different learning needs. – Absolutely. So one of the pieces that you showed was how you use Google Docs. So sometimes I find that people might be simply substituting. They’ll have a PDF version
and then you put things up, or there’s something that’s scanned. But you actually took the time to create something in Google Docs. It can be flexible and adaptable. So, what was that process like. – I mean, there’s a lot of
websites and links out there that have some great resources. I think once you just take
the time to cut and paste it, and manipulate the document
in a couple different ways, you really feel like you
can do a lot of cool things that can meet the student’s needs. Because students have a
variety of learning challenges and you want to make
sure they have access to rigorous and challenging materials. But I think Google Docs
and Classroom allows you to make sure all kids are
exposed to those texts, but it really helps you just
provide different levels of scaffolding and support so all kids can engage and
challenge the material. – Absolutely. Do you use the comments
feature in Google Docs, or Read&Write by any chance, to provide that “just in
time” feedback for the kids? – Yeah, Read&Write is a great tool. If you’re able to cut and paste a reading and point to a document, Google Read&Write can actually read the text for the students. For some students who
might have more challenges with the decoding and stuff. And the comment sections a
great way to give feedback to students on their writing. Google Classroom now has a new feature where you can almost
upload the set of comments. So on SIS when you give your
students report card comments, there’s kinda of like a drop
down menu that you can hit. Now Google Classroom has a feature where when you’re giving feedback to students, if you want to pre-populate
it with a list of possible comments to provide students, you can kind of do that. There’s a lot of ways you’re
kind of giving students a lot of the same type of feedback. So you can kind of make
the process more efficient. But then also if you want to
make a really personalized comment to a student
you can do that as well. – Okay, that’s great to know! So that’s on the students side. I already can think of so many really fun and interesting ways, I mean this is a powerful
use of technology. Google Classroom and Google Docs. The Google suite of tools. You can really not just
differentiate instruction but you can also personalize it for kids because you gave them a choice board. There’s all these different
things they can do. It’s not just Google tools. It’s other tools as well. – Yeah, absolutely. There’s so many websites out there that do so many good things, I feel like sometime
it can be overwhelming. But the thing I like about Classroom, I feel like it almost
brings it all together. And every year they make new
changes to it to improve it and I can only imagine where
they’re gonna go next with it. – Yeah, it really has improved. Even if you just used it five months ago, they’ve added some new features, so you’re thinking, oh
wait did I miss this. – Did I tell you when I
first started using it I actually found my students as resources. They were like, oh if you click on that, that will make a copy for everyone. Just little things. The kids are really computer savvy. So they can actually be
a support and resource out there for you as
well with these things. – I wanna talk about
the collaboration piece with your colleagues. How did you get them to buy in to using Google Classroom
to share resources? Second question is how can you model, by collaborating the space, how they can use it with their students? – Yes that’s a great question. So being a classroom teacher who used it, we weren’t using Classroom
as a whole staff. There’s so much information we share. We’re sharing so many emails, and there’s so many PD slides, and there’s so many documents, sometimes I think teachers are overwhelmed because things are in
all different places. So we kinda wanted to make a
place where teachers could go to find everything they needed. So if you needed to
find the rolling agenda for your CPT meeting, it was there. If you needed to find a PD
slide from the previous year, that wanted to go back and look at, it’s in one place. If you needed to fill out an
incident report on a student, you can link the Google form to Classroom. So it’s just kind of easily accessible. Because teachers have a
lot of responsibilities, they’re kind of going in
all different directions, we wanted to find place
where you can kinda can store all the important
information the teachers need. – That’s great. And you feel like by doing
this you’re sort of modeling for them how they can use it. – Absolutely. They interacted as a student almost. Not really a student, but as a team, they are better prepared than to use it with their own students. – That great. I think that’s a really powerful way to really share with people
how they can use this tool, because sometimes if you just
say, oh this is a great tool, they’re like okay, but if they’re engaging in that process that really does increase
the buy in a little bit. – Absolutely. – Well thank you so much
for sharing your expertise. And if anyone else has any questions, please leave them in the chat. Thank you Mary and Scott. One of the questions I wanna ask is- one of the questions Nick
and myself get often is, how people can get started
with using different tools and using different technologies. So, what would be your advice to a teacher who comes to you in the building saying, you know I have this one student. I’m struggling to support them. What kind of advice would you give them in regards to technology use? – [Scott] I think sometimes
we take for granted how much the students actually know
already about technology. Nowadays it’s normal
for students to grow up in an environment where
technology is just a part of their everyday existence. So I think there can really
be short periods of time that are set aside for exploration within certain perimeters. You know like here, go
into a Google Classroom, and then play around with
chatting with people on the page, or sharing ideas on a
document and then the teacher can go around and observe
and quite possibly learn. I learn something new all the time from students that I work with. – [Mary] I think that technology
through Google Classroom has been a big incentive
for some students too, with just reading. With guided reading in my classroom, the children look forward to
seeing if I can supplement what they’ve read, no matter
what their reading level is, somehow through Google Classroom And they’re looking for
information through a Padlet or activities they can do to extend the guided reading lesson or
the book that they’re reading. So that’s really exciting and
I think it’s really engaging the kids in learning more. Today they actually wanted
to tweet to the author that we were reading
about so I let them do it during their lunchtime. And it was pretty cool and
they’re really excited about it. So, I guess for teachers who are afraid, just take that risk and see what happens. The kids, like Scott said,
kids know way more than we do for the most part. (laughing) – Yeah, that’s great. So I want to highlight a couple of things that I heard from each of you. So Mary, what you’re
talking about is really collaborative, project based learning. So you’re connecting all
these different pieces where there’s multiple needs. You’ve got the kids using
some tools that are physical and some that are more digital. So, how did you negotiate between that? – Well, having them get
comfortable with the project based learning first of all was the most important thing. But before they could even do that, they had to build the
language and the vocabulary through the curriculum. And that was done through a lot of media, through a lot of texts. Different access points for everybody. And as they got more
comfortable talking about what they were building or
what they were designing, then they became more
confident in being able to make the final products
that they were interested in. So, I think just exposure. Giving them opportunities
during a research center, vocabulary opportunities, rich text in the classroom I think, to go along with what we’re
doing plays a huge role. And then giving them that
further opportunity to see their product digitally
and what they can expand upon by pointing out and recognizing. And even in some ways clarifying
what they learned from their peers while they
were doing it as well. Which I thought was something
that I found interesting when the kids were giving their
feedback for their products. – Yeah, that’s a really,
really good snapshot to share. Thank you. So Scott, with yours. You were talking about the
expert vs. capacity building. Do you find that you
prefer one over the other and has there been any kind of push back about one or the other in terms of how you choose your approach? – Well, I do enjoy the problem solving and the satisfaction of
providing some tools and training for one student, or two students. It’s always a satisfying experience. But I realize, especially from
taking some graduate classes that we’re really missing
the mark on a national level reaching all the students
that we should be reaching, particularly when it comes to students of high incidents disabilities, like learning disabilities. There’s a tremendous space there for us to be filling with tools. And it’s not necessarily
high technology tools. Be looking at how we can
expand on everyone’s knowledge and use of these tools so that it becomes- something within the grasp of most, if not all students and teachers. – So, any final thoughts? What would you want to
leave people with if you were to say I want you
to try out something new. What would you want to share with people? – Just got for it, I guess. (laughing) You know right now I’m
trying to figure out- I’m taking a stem class
at Leslie and figuring out a lot of learning around
Scratch and Makey Makey. And the kids definitely know
more about that than I do, but I do need to stay a
head of them on those things because they’re seven and
they’re not always doing what they’re supposed to be doing. So, just take the risk. We’re never too old to learn, and we can learn from the kids as well. – I think that’s good advice. Just take a chance with it. A very simple request is to
go into a Google document and look for that little
purple puzzle piece that is the Read&Write for Google. It is a very powerful toolbar
that has been purchased by our school district for
the entire district to use, including students and teachers. So, get in there and play
around with those tools and you might surprise yourself. There could be some
goodies in there for you that could make your
life easier as a teacher. – We wanna also share some
resources with everyone who’s been watching tonight’s webinar. So you’ve noticed that
there are a few tools that were discussed tonight. We have on here six featured tools that were shared tonight. We have Padlet and ThingLink. They were both shared by Mary O’Brien, with her second grade students. We have Bookshare and Read&Write, shared by Scott Richards. And Read&Write is also
something that John Hynes shared as well as Google Docs
and Google Classroom. Now all six of these tools
are free and available for everyone in the Boston
Public Schools to use. If you’re curious about how to access them we actually have a link
at the very bottom of this very last slide. Bit.ly/techinclusion19links And this has how you
can access these tools as well as some of the
fabulous resources that John, Scott and Mary
shared with us tonight. So, once again I want to thank
all three of our presenters for joining us and
sharing their expertise. If you have any questions,
please leave them in the chat. You can also reach out to them. Thank you and we’ll see you next time! (upbeat music)

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