The Common Core is a hot topic in education. I recall two years ago in working on my administration certificate, it was just beginning to gain momentum with high hopes for education. Now the conversations center around an initiative that is yet again missing the mark, especially for student with learning differences.

There are many aspects of the Common Core that misses what these students need, most currently in discussion is high-stakes testing. Testing for students with learning differences is a defeating process. Learning is challenging on it’s own, yet to perform with an avenue that does not account for their needs is daunting and frustrating, likely not garnering true results for performance. I am lucky to teach in an environment where we do not need to engage with this testing, but I keep an ear to the conversation for our students who come and go from these learning practices.

Most poignant for me is hearing from public school educators with regards to testing, use of accommodations is not clear. This is sad. I currently am working to embrace today’s readily available technology to support and engage students to demonstrate their true knowledge in whatever manner makes sense for them. It is an exciting time to be doing this with common usage of technology by all learners, leading to not seeming different with assistive tech, but just using whatever suits their learning needs. Why wouldn’t these be allowed in high-stakes testing? If the testing is to garner what students know, and they aren’t allowed to demonstrate that in the manner that will give the true picture, what does the outcome show?

There is a misconception that providing assistive technology is giving students an edge. Assistive tech does not give knowledge, it does not produce knowledge, but is simply a tool to allow true demonstration of and engagement with content. I think of my writing class, who have been introduced to using speech-to-text (STT), text-to-speech (TTS), and word predictability to engage in their written expression. The pieces are crafted from the ideas of these students, the technology just provides the avenue to get words from their heads out. With challenges in verbal and written expression, forcing students to work without the tools to formulate thoughtful pieces is putting their disability as an after thought. Their learning struggles should be at the forefront when asking them to engage in learning, to ensure that they are being met where is best for them to be as successful as they can.

I have a student with a hearing impairment, who requires tools to ensure he receives the content being presented..hearing aids and an FM. Is this assistive technology any different? We certainly wouldn’t require the student to take off his hearing aids during testing. Tools are just that…tools, they cannot perform tasks for students.

I think back to my own testing for graduate school. Taking a class to prepare for my comprehensive exam, we formulated many written pieces to practice. Initially, I hand wrote them, for technology was not as common. These pieces did not get favorable feedback. Then one week I decided to bring my laptop to class, and formulated the assignment through typing. My professor could not believe the difference. There was no wifi, I did not search for answers on the internet. I didn’t have any answers on the laptop, for these were scenario based, I could not have prepared ahead of time. It was simply that my fingers on keys vs with a pencil allow for a better flow of language from my brain. Additionally I could edit, move, cut, paste…as my ideas developed. This is one of my learning differences, but the computer enabled my disjointed thoughts to be reorganized real time. Typing just makes written expression easier for me, not because the ideas are on the device, but the tech is just my glasses, my hearing aid, my accommodation to success. It does not do the writing for me, I still have to pull the thoughts from the recesses of my brain.

If we are going to create success for students through the use of assistive technology in the classroom, then we need to ensure that they are able to utilize it when demonstrating their knowledge matters most. Lawmakers, please realize that by not clearly allowing assistive technology for those students that need it is doing them a great disservice. It needs to be clearly outlined that tools a student uses daily in their learning to achieve beyond their learning challenges can be used on high stakes testing or whatever moments we are seeking to have them demonstrate knowledge.

Posted by: iplantes | March 27, 2014

Connect Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

iplantes:

I admire Brad Currie (@bcurrie5) greatly for his thoughts. This post from over a year ago, continuously resonates in my head….more edus need to embrace the larger world of edu conversation that is happening

Originally posted on Engaged and Relevant:

Believe me, I know the title of my latest post is a bit 1990′s, but I am trying to get an important point across. I am a big hip hop and R&B fan, which is why I selected Ice Cube featuring Das Efx’s song “Check Yo Self” as the theme that would support my thoughts. To me, being a connected educator is paramount in a variety of ways. One being that you can consume a wealth of ideas, educational resources, and best practice techniques. The other is that you are able to share out with other like-minded educators what matters to you and in turn have an impact on student success. This is why educators need to become and remain connected in order to stay on top of their game on a consistent basis. There is no better way to stay connected than through Twitter. Below you will find my…

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Posted by: iplantes | March 1, 2014

Twitter the Great Equalizer

A few weeks ago during #satchat and their live presentation from the Penn Graduate School of Education, I recall a particular comment made by Billy Krakower (@wkrakower) that really resonatedhe commented how he as a teacher, was part of a Twitter team made up of a principal @bcurrie5 and now superintendent @ScottRRocco, and yet at the #satchat table, they were all on a level playing field.

As I was crafting an email to send to my staff about a special visitor this week to our school, Marty Keltz (@martysnowpaw),  I was really hit by the amazing resume I was sending out.  Here is an accomplished individual, an Emmy winning producer as well as company co-founder, whom I love engaging with regularly on chats and ideas, and here he is asking to come for a visit to my school.  I, of course, was truly excited to welcome Marty and I find him fascinating, yet when I step back and think about it, how astounding it is to have this marked individual seeking to come to us. Additionally adding a Google Hangout with author Jena Ball (@JenaiaMorane)

This is what is amazing about Twitter….it does not matter if you are a first year teacher, 20-year veteran, or an administrator at the building level or district levelon Twitter we are all just people who think the education of student matters.

When I think of my own Twitter chat team, #edtechchat, I am so privileged to be part of such an illustrious team of educators.  They are accomplished in ways that I only yet strive to be, and yet we are a team, and I respect them immensely.  With my team of @thomascmurry, @s_bearden, @katrinastevens1, and @ajpodchaski, we are such an eclectic mix that meets many avenues of educational technology, which is what makes us so much fun if I do say so myself.  Yet, no matter our path or position, we all have the same passion and that is what fuels our chat and desire to engage others in conversations about #edtech to support students and teachers.

Twitter has been an amazing path for me professionallyI am finding connections and opportunities that continue to astound me.  When I stop to think, I really don’t think it all I would be on my path without Twitter.  I converse with so many amazing people with so many fascinating backgrounds and positions, and yet we all feel the same connected respect.

So for any educator, newseasoned, classroomadministrator, come to the level playing field of Twitter.  We welcome all, we want to engage, share, collaborate and learn with and from you.  You have a voice, and it is just as important as anyone else’s.  Come join the Twitter adventure for yourself.

Posted by: iplantes | February 19, 2014

What teachers could learn from my mother about technology

A topic regularly discussed on Twitter is how to bring teachers, new to and uncomfortable with technology, to the table to support them with the rapid infusion of tech in education.  Anything new takes time and can seem daunting, but we expect our students to do this on a daily basis.  So why does the teacher culture seem to shy away from doing the same, or expect a grand session of professional development to bring them the comfort they need.

So what does my mother have to do with any of this?  My mother is a self proclaimed technology novice.  My father worked for IBM for 30 years and I clearly inherited his technology brain. My mother, who regularly typed papers for me on a typewriter, now looks to me or my father to type up items on the computer.  I accept this trade off for her years of stretching her pinky to those dreadfully stiff typewriter keys.

Being an IBM house for years, PCs were standard from the early days of DOS to the inception of Windows.  My mother did her best to travel these uneasy roads, and to her credit, she did amazingly.  She admits that whatever she knows she had to memorize, for the technology does not flow through her brain cells.

So imagine when, a few years back, after years of learning Windows, my father and I upend her world to try Apple products.  While I knew this road would likely be easier for her than the PC path, change is daunting to us all. Additionally, for a person who took years to develop some level of technology comfort, to be told “Oh, let’s change it up”….that’s just scary.

My mother took it all on in stride.  She knew she needed baby steps, but she was determined to figure it all out.  She listened, she learned, she practiced, and she knew when too much was too much.  But then she would come back, ask questions, and keep moving forward.  My mother was clear about what she wanted to know, when it was too much, and when she was ready for the next lesson.  She owned her path of progress and came forward to say tell me more.   What if more teachers owned the learning, owned the technology, made it work for themselves as they sought out the answers when they are needed, not when the professional development is scheduled?

Many tech people would gladly spend time with their staff to support them, but that is not usually how it is done, so most teachers don’t ask. It is scary to adventure into the edtech realm.  For myself, if my staff talked to my mother, they would see that I just want to encourage them to engage with it, find the fun, find the questions, and find the power it can give personally and professionally.

My mother the Luddite now has a MacBook, an iPad, an iPhone and an e-reader.  She is quite the technology queen, yet does she feel comfortable with it all?  Not at all times, but does she find ways to enjoy it because she owns the path she is taking with it.  My mother says when it is too much and seeks out the help when she needs it, knowing I will always follow her pace of learning, which makes the learning more purposeful.

In getting my mother’s approval to use her is this post, she wanted me to make clear, “It’s better to understand what you are doing than to memorize.  Also, you need to do things over and over so you remember them.  Memorizing is good, but if you don’t understand why you are doing it, it is harder to remember.”

So to all the teachers out there uncomfortable with technology, my mother, who is in an age bracket I will not mention for she might ground me, is embracing today’s technology with caution, care, and gusto all at the same timewhy aren’t you?   It is a lot to take on, and don’t think the tech people in your building don’t know that, and they are eager and willing to help and support that process.  However, the tech people just need teachers to own that path to make it work. If you don’t believe me, ask my mother.

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Note: My mother was a teacher at the New York School for the Deaf and the person who inspired me to follow my educational path to work with students with learning needs.  She may not get the tech, but she gets the passion.  Both my parents should be credited with my path of education and technology.  I love them both for it.  

Posted by: iplantes | February 8, 2014

iPad as #dyslexiatech part 2

A few months ago I posted on how my school had entered the 1-1 iPad world for the support and enhancement of learning with our language based learning disabled students.  iPad as #dyslexiatech   The road has been exciting and eye opening with the ever increase of devices entering our building with a BYOD policy also in place, lending to about 75% of our students having their own device, and the other percentage having access to technology within their day.  We are seeing the power of these tools to engage students in new multi-modal ways.  First and foremost, the built in text-to-speech and speech-to-text of the iPad are the first key features to engage with.  However, I continue to learn about, explore, and have students incorporate tools that fit their learning needs and that can enhance the skills they are building each day.  Since my last post and with the increased number of devices, I seek to build a backpack of tools for the range a learning skills and ages.

Reading

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One of the key tools for our students is Bookshare.  This enables our students to have visual and auditory access to books in digital format. A new favorite tool to incorporate with is the app Voice Dream.  This is a robust app that can be utilized with various reading tools, where users can control the reading speed, highlight, and insert notes to the text. I had the privilege of recently meeting Winston Chen, the app developer, who is dedicated to continuously working on his app, especially as an assistive tech tool.  It provides the visual and auditory methods of reading, with scaffolding to support a variety of learning needs.

Ever want to scan a document to be read to you on your iPad? For students who need physical paper to be in a digitized format, Prizmo is a fabulous tool that I continuously tout for its ability to utilize OCR (Optical Reading) to turn paper into iPad text, and can be exported into various apps.

Notetaking

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Our students have been using Notability for some months, and students engage with the use of text, writing, and drawing tools, as well as the ability to record audio.  On a recent trip to #ATIA14, I learned about another fabulous app PaperPort Notes.  It incorporates the same tools as Notability, with some additional features.  First, the ability to OCR paper directly into a document in the app. Additionally, I love that you can also export mind maps from Inspiration and Kidspiration directly into it as well.

Writing

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There are three wonderful options to incorporate word prediction along with speech-to-text and text-to-speech to support students with their written expression: Co-WriteriReadWrite, and iWordQ.  I personally chose Co-Writer, for cost and for the ability to create a topical dictionary each time a student crafts a piece, which will lead the word prediction to be more related to the topic.  Additionally, I find the layout of Co-Writer simpler for younger students.  There are many educators I have spoken with sharing why they chose iReadWrite and iWordQ, so I think you can’t go wrong with any of these choices.

Do you recall Inspiration from years ago, it is a wonderful tool on the iPad. I love using Kidspiration with my younger students as there are some great templates built in to get them started. These mind maps can be exported into various tools such as PaperPort Notes, to be utilized for drafting to creation.  I actually like the touch screen creation of the mind map on an iPad as compared to Kidspiration-e1379866202410creating with the mouse on the keyboard as it seems more intuitive.

With the world of apps for education growing daily, I have a list to keep exploring and putting in my students’ hands so stay tuned for Part 3.  Please share tools you find beneficial to your students’ learning.

Posted by: iplantes | February 1, 2014

Dyslexia: The Hidden Disability

Dyslexia is often referred to as the hidden disability. (I use the term dyslexia to include all forms of language based learning disabilities) Mobility, vision, hearing and other disabilities are often more obvious to the world, especially in the world of education.  Accommodations for these children are imperative to their functioning in the classroom and in their learning.  For dyslexic students, they are often given the same thing over and over, with the hope of a different result, and are not considered for accommodations that are imperative for their learning.

This week, I listened to a student talk about his path to learning and our school.  This boy is a sixth grade age boy, who was identified as being dyslexic in the third grade. Despite this, year after year, teachers gave him the traditional work that required a trip to the resource room to attempt it or he just would not do it for this boy knew that he couldn’t. He talks of spending days in the resource room just playing on the computer because he knew he had to be in school, but found time in the traditional classroom a waste of time.  Now that he is in a learning environment that understands his learning needs, he is doing work, he is making gains, he is showing his strength as a learner.  He didn’t want to hide from learning, he just needed someone to understand his less than visible disability.

This is not an unusual story for those who work with kids with dyslexia.  We hear stories of struggles and failures.  Yet when these kids are given learning that fits and tools that support, they thrive. So why do so many schools ignore the possibilities to address the achievement of these kids?

My opinion is we need to take a large magnifying glass to dyslexia. We need to show people the challenges, much akin to Rick Lavoie’s Fat City video. Then we need to shine the spotlight on all the great ways technology can support and enhance learning for these students, as well as the instructional methods that are proven to impact skill development.  Technology tools enable dyslexics to engage in the acquisition of knowledge while we still provide the remediation to build their skills.  Seemingly too often, skill development is the focus or just they are provided enough to get through without being provided a true opportunity to interact with the information they are accessing or knowledge they are demonstrating.

Currently attending #ATIA14 (Assistive Technology Industry Association) I am intrigued by the minority of sessions directly addressing the learning disabled/dyslexic population of learners.   There is great information being shared in a broader sense that definitely has implications for dyslexia, and some being shared that I wish just had flashing lights saying please use this to support kids with learning disabilities! Is this “hidden disability” just too quiet to be thought of for such an important conference? Or are educators not aware of the powerful tools to use to support dyslexic students? Whatever the reason, those in the dyslexic community (dyslexics, educators, assistive technology specialists, leaders in the field) need to come together and make dyslexia become DYSLEXIA.  There is a rumbling I hope to support the idea of #dyslexiatech.  Not that we cannot learn and share with the global assistive tech community, but like with each of the components that make that up, there are unique needs to be met for dyslexia.  Voices need to be louder and more prevalent, so that we can ensure that more students can be provided the fabulous supports that exist.

One great start is the creation of @School_Dyslexiahttp://schoolofdyslexia.blogspot.com, where Jamie Martin is working to curate information from people in the field of dyslexia who are working directly with this student population. Seeing the work that an organizations like Headstrong Nation and Dyslexic Advantage are doing along with powerful parent organizations such as @pensf, Smart Kids and the Decoding Dyslexia movement, it is obvious the voices need to become a chorus.  If we add in the continuous work of the International Dyslexia Association, Haskins Labs, and Literacy How, there is a whole musical masterpiece that could arise to uncloak dyslexia.

With the wonders of social media, there is a great avenue for all of us to connect, empower, and do what is needed to ensure that all dyslexic students have a voice, have the tools, and have the instruction that will give them success.

I encourage you to connect with the people and organizations above, as well as the following to bring the discussion of supporting students with dyslexia to a greater decibel.

Carolyn D. Cowen

Lou Salza

Theresa Collins

Ben Powers

Ben Foss

Scoop iT Topics

Students with ADHA and Learning Disabilities in independent and public schools

Dyslexia DiaBlogue

Join in weekly hour Twitter chat via National Center for Learning Disabilities  @ldorg Wednesdays at noon. 

Posted by: iplantes | January 3, 2014

Its not knowing the information, its accessing it

I am passionate about two things…working with students with learning disabilities and working with technology.  In my 18 years of teaching there has been a lot of beliefs, methods, and pedagogy related to the use of technology to support and enhance learning, especially with students with learning differences.  There has been the struggle of compensation vs remediation, time and cost to implement, and lack of knowledge of how to utilize the various tools that have popped up over the years, as well as stigma that often went with using them.

Today technology is everywhere and is not only accepted but in many ways expected, yet schools still struggle with the yeses and nos of incorporating technology with students.  Technology is not a tool to replace teaching and technology cannot be utilized in every learning situation; however, when technology can be used as a means to support/enhance access to information, why not run with it?  Information comes in many forms: written, visual, auditory…Even in my childhood I recall film strips, movies, books on tape….even books on records!

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Reading is a fundamental skill, there is no denying that; however, how you “read” to learn is what we should be talking about.   

I recall a Sociology professor in college telling our class, I am not going to be teaching you the information, I am going to teach you how to find it.  I think this translates to when it comes to content and information, we shouldn’t be teaching students to “read” it, but to engage with it in a manner that bests suits them, whether that be by eye reading, ear reading, video, or method that is suitable for their learning style and needs.

Today’s technology choices make this task so much easier, that we should willingly open the gates for students to utilize technology to build their access to information.  So many have or have access to smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops…all common place tools in today’s world that should be incorporated in demonstrating how students interact with content being presented.

It’s not about flipping, it’s not about assistive technology, and it’s not about technology…it’s about learning and being open to letting that happen in a way best for the student.  It was not odd for me to enjoy Curious George on a record, so why not let students enjoy “reading” in a way that makes it accessible and engaging for them.

I will keep teaching my students how to read….but I will also keep showing them ways to gain information through ways that benefit them.

Posted by: iplantes | December 20, 2013

Rekindle Perseverance

When the world says, “Give up,”
Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
~Author Unknown

When you work with a population of students who struggle with learning, the word perseverance is often part of the back channels of conversation….Where did it go? Can we foster it? How do we build it?  This really happens with all learners, but when you work with students with learning differences, it is poignant.

Working in a school designed for dyslexic students (I use the term dyslexic/dyslexia to be inclusive of all language based learning disabilities as well as ADD, ADHD, Executive Dysfunction, and Processing Disorders) we are familiar with rebuilding perseverance within these learners.  They often come in broken and suffering from days, weeks, and years of struggling with what they see as failure. As educators we work to build their skills, their successes, their ability to see the capability that lies within.

This school year there have been some exciting examples in our building within the realm of perseverance.  On the surface they do not stand out as such, but they hold more to them than face value. The last few weeks our students have been engaging with the #hourofcode activities.  These activities are designed to give students exposure to the wonders of programming.  When this was first introduced to the staff, it was challenging, and daunting….but when you first introduce it to students, it is a place to say go play, go try, go figure out without the trials and tribulations of academics.  It has been interesting to see how our students engage with that.  Some love the opportunity to explore and engage without direction, without the need to fear failure….they persevere…This has given me a lot of thought as with each subsequent introduction of these activities to students, they seem to gain the ability to try…TRY!

Also this year we are lucky enough to have a neighbor who wanted to incorporate our students into the Maker Movement, we have Makers-in-Training (MIT).  These students are facing the challenge to build a 20 foot scaled model of the boat, the Atlantic, a boat that won the America’s Cup.  This is an amazing undertaking where students will be learning new skills, new terms, new abilities that will culminate in an outstanding production that will be entered in the local Maker Faire.  This is a lengthy project that has possibilities…both for success and failure.  What a fabulous opportunity for students to explore new areas of learning that may be their path to perseverance.

Trying is hard…it requires the ability to attempt with the possibility of failure…to attempt without full knowledge to the task….to truly put yourself out there with no guarantees.  This is the point of my post.  Creating engaging, extending, challenging opportunities for students to try, to truly extend themselves in areas they may or may not find success at first, or even at second or third, but are willingly to give it the “good olde college try” to find some level of success.

At my school work to included activities that engage the brains, the interests, the engagement of students in today’s learning environment.  The #hourofcode with TechKnowKids and the MIT are activities in addition to the variety of options such as basketball, cheerleading, and outdoor survival skills.  What I have witnessed is students being able to explore alternatives, abilities, and engagement in areas that may not be readily obvious to explore.  I recall several years ago there was a student who joined the basketball team.  This boy was not athletic and had never dribbled a basketball before, let alone shot a basket.  However, the coaches worked with him practice after practice, and he persevered.  He played on the team for the next few years, and in his last season was a leading scorer on the team.  We have had students who can’t bounce a basketball and yet become awesome 3-point shooters, others who can’t figure out rhythm, who star on the cheerleading squad, who never ran a mile yet become stars on the cross-country team, and those who don’t understand technology, using it to find a level playing field of learning, and a path to success programming their own icon or avatar to perform.

The staff at my school work daily to support students to persevere in the classroom skills daily…It is what we do.  Yet it is in all the other moments of the day that the staff shows kids all the other things they could be interested in and even successful at but haven’t tried because they have lost the perseverance.  This is why I love where I work.  It is not just about addressing their learning, it’s about teaching them that they are capable and can succeed in those things they may have been too scared to try, because with learning being an uphill battle, everything else can seem like a mountain.  So I empower all educators to provide various opportunities for students to experience, just experience…because perseverance is the path of hope we need to foster in learners.

Nobody trips over mountains.  It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble.  Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.  ~Author Unknown

Posted by: iplantes | December 15, 2013

Independent Schools need to connect #caisct

Thank you Bill Sullivan  for his recent #caisct post:

Use the #CAISCT to Connect with other CAIS Educators

This past week, I attended “Too Many Tools, Too Little Time” hosted by the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS).  It is a wonderful event where educators from a range of schools and subject areas come together to connect and hear a few 15-20 minute presentations on technology tools that might be of interest.  The evening includes a half-hour pre-session chat, and a break with yummy New Haven pizza, thus time to meet and greet with other educators.

What I love about this annual event is the mix of educators in attendance and presenting.  Culturally, independent schools have functioned in their own bubbles, partly due to different missions, partly due to competition.  However, we need each other in my opinion.  I love meeting other #caisct educators from schools that I might never interact with if it were not for this kind of event, that while tech focused is geared toward the non-tech educator.  With time built in to just chat, educators can relax and enjoy conversation, which I think is key to the event to build connections.

Public schools have a culture all their own, that connects them in a school, district, state, and nationwide.  Having taught in public school, I experienced this.  When I ended up in an independent school, I felt I was entering a smaller world, not necessarily a bad thing.  However, in today’s fast paced learning world, I find that I crave greater connections.  I need people to challenge my thinking, and to not just accept what exists on the current campus, but expands ideas to consider more global concepts to enhance student learning. Independent school educators need to find the greater world of connection.

Lorri Carroll , a great #caisct educator from Hamden Hall,  founded  #isedchat.  This chat is for independent school educators nationwide.  While I sadly miss this chat live due to it’s time, the archives are poignant for me to review.  It is connecting indy school educators each week to discuss key topics. I encourage all independent school educators to check out this chat and/or it’s archives each week. Shouldn’t we all become better together?

What I love about now being part of the #caisct community through the CAIS Commission on Technology, is that I am connecting with other Connecticut independent school educators to share and grow.  We use each other as resources, since usually on our campuses we may be one of few, or like myself the only technology resource.  The commission seeks ideas and advice from each other to support the technology integration in each of our schools.  We collaborate and connect continously to benefit our programs.

So why should it just be tech people?  Shouldn’t all independent school educators seek out others that teach like subject areas to collaborate and grow?  This would seemingly benefit not only the teacher, but the students they work with on a daily basis.

So with Bill’s recent post on the use of the #caisct hashtag to connect Connecticut independent school educators, I would also empower these educators to seek that connectivity, in and out of the state.  There is so much that we can learn from each other to enhance ourselves as educators which can only have a positive impact on student learning.

Posted by: iplantes | December 5, 2013

Online and Blended Education Part 2–the LD dilemma

Hopefully you have read Part 1, and gathered I am rather open to online and blended learning, but I do wonder how it can truly fit in addressing the skill-based learning educators provide students in our school.

Rather funny opportunities have fallen into place this year, I am privileged to be participating in coursework towards an advance professional certificate in online and blended learning through the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (#CAISCT) in association with the Online School for Girls @OS4G, as well as working towards my Associate level certification in Orton-Gillingham.  If you are familiar with these two, you would understand the Jekyll and Hyde prospect this holds; however, am lucky that my Director of Education is doing the same along with me.

Online and Blended learning is an exciting space to explore for learners and educators.  It opens the doors for opportunities for schools to reach broader audiences as well as for learners to receive education opportunities that may not be readily available otherwise due to location and resources.

Orton-Gillingham (OG) is a traditional approach to reading instruction, focusing on decoding(reading) and encoding(spelling) linguistic instruction.  It is traditional, focused, usually 1-1 and linear in fashion, with proven results.  To receive certification in the OG Academy, you need to prove competency in methods and instruction that follows their practices.

These two opportunities don’t go hand in hand, but is there thought to they could?  Is there a place for technology of today’s learning to work with traditional tried and true methods of skill development?

I am Director of Technology but still teach traditional classes related to reading, writing and math.  I love working with teachers in various subject areas to incorporate technology, but teach a “traditional” class that falls in the heart of our program, one we call Tutorial.  Tutorial is the basis of reading instruction related to decoding, encoding, comprehension, vocabulary development and study skills. Funnily enough, one of my students in this class said to me recently “Mrs. Plante, why if you are in charge of technology, do we use so little technology in this class?”

It was a great question, for I apply uses of technology in many areas of our program, but when it comes to this one class, I am hesitant, it is the realm that I apply the ideas that go along with the OG methodology, and can technology fit?  Yes, I use online tools and apps to promote learning and encourage other educators to do so in many areas, but it is the once class that I tend to apply more traditional learning methods.  When this student posed this thought, it gave me a jolt, for truly am I avoiding technology in places that I can fit it in, due to traditional training beliefs?

I am eager to take this year of learning in both fields, and hopefully find the marrying of methods that may be able to exist for students with a range of learning differences.  I am lucky to connect with a few people who understand this dilemma…my head @bnpowers is a tech lover, but also trained in OG methodology.  He connected me with @ATKSMan, the tech guru, and @tlckildonan, OG guru. They are educators who work with the dyslexic population as well, and on both sides and have truly “married” the idea of tech and OG.  Through the perspectives we all have and share, I see great things for the #dyslexiamovement that can lead to the incorporating of traditional tried and true methods of instruction with the engagement of today’s learning tools.

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