PARTICIPATION in education involves going beyond access. It implies learning alongside others and collaborating with them in shared lessons. It involves active engagement with what is learned and taught, and having a say in how education is experienced. But participation also involves being recognized for oneself and being accepted for oneself. I participate with you when you recognize me as a person yourself, and accept me for who I am. (Booth and Ainscow (2002).
Welcome to Mrs. Curry’s Grade 1 class. Today the goal for this literacy lesson is to sequence lines in a poem. Prior to Smart Inclusion, some days, Paula would have slowly made her way to the back of the classroom to work on her literacy program on her own computer with “special” software. Sometimes Paula was even encouraged to put on headphones because she needed assistance reading the material and this was often viewed as distracting to the other students in the classroom. Other days, her classmates would all say “goodbye” to Paula as she missed the literacy block altogether to help make popcorn for the school fundraiser.
Now, as part of one of more than 30 schools in Upper Canada District School Board practicing Smart Inclusion, Paula is able to engage with peers as an active participant in her class, learning academic content while also working to meet her individual learning needs and goals; this is in essence the meaning of inclusive education. Paula’s classroom teacher is using a SMART Board (www.smarttech.com) with some of the software and hardware that Paula used to use alone or with an assistant at the back of the class and she is using these for group instruction.
Therefore, technology that is necessary for Paula has become good for all. Interactive whiteboard technology, when paired with assistive technology, has made it possible for teachers to offer TRUE U n i v e r s a l De s I g n f o r Learning – multiple means of representation, expression and engagement so that ALL students have access to an education.
To read the complete article, click here (pages 7-11).
ALEX DUNN (Speech Language Pathologist) and ALISON INGLIS (Chief Psychologist) represent a team of people that consists of speech-language services staff, special education resource teachers, learning consultants, teachers and Principals at the UCDSB. The team also acknowledges the contributions of the following in their work: UCDSB’s IT department, SMART Technologies, Bridges Canada, Advanced Presentation Products, Cambium Learning Technologies, Nintendo and Dynavox Mayer-Johnson, and the work and advice of Dr. Donna McGhie-Richmond from the University of Victoria.
For further information about Smart Inclusion visit www.smartinclusion.wikispaces.com.
Advanced Presentation Products is proud to have assisted Alex Dunn and UCDSB with the SMART inclusion project for special needs children. If you are looking to implement technology in your classroom to help engage your students, contact Advanced at 1-800-436-6239 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .