Maybe because of confidentiality laws, no one is mentioning that the students in the projects are special education students and they are using these tools also. I can only speak from experience with the special education teachers at my school who were already overwhelmed by paperwork that they could not fathom the thought about learning new technology tools. The part that I have trouble convincing them is that at first it may seem cumbersome but once learned, it can give the teacher more time and freedom to do other things. I remember learning to drive and how hard it was to remember all the hundreds of things to do in order to get from one place to the other. Now I take it for granted because all those hundreds of things I do automatically. The same thing works for doing things on the computer with the students. Once they learn the process, they eventually will learn how to do it independently. There may need to be more guidance given or repetition for special education students but they are usually more successful on computers because it is kinesthetic-tactile, visual, and sometimes auditory which is perfect for students with different learning styles.
Here are some suggestions when working with special education students that may help:
1. Explain what you plan to do and why you want the student to do this. Special education students have trouble transitioning to new things so they may be reluctant at first, but with perseverance, they will get over this.
2. Before working with the student, write out a list of steps they will need to follow (task analysis). Some students can even check off each step as they finish it. Having written steps to follow is a safety net for some special education students and they can refer to it whenever they forget what to do next.
3. Try each step and make sure you didn’t leave anything out. Too many times I have not tried the procedures myself only to find out that I did something automatically but didn’t write it down in the steps which causes major confusion to the students.
4. Model these steps while the student is watching. If students watch you follow the steps, they can see that it works and will feel more confident when it is their turn to try this.
5. Explain what to do if you make a mistake (edit or undo). You might also make a note of this on the bottom of the steps you have for the student. This shows the student that an error is not a terror and they did not break anything or ruin anything. It is this fear of failure that tends to paralyze the student because they have such low self esteem.
6. Let the student follow the steps while you are watching. Then you will know if the student understands each step or where there is confusion.
7. Give the student praise after each step is done successfully. Praise works wonders for these students because they have had so little success in their lives.
8. Let the student work independently while you are not too far away. This shows that you believe in them and trust that they can do this. Too many times they are told that they can’t do something and this will help them realize their capabilities.
These are just some of the ways that a special education student can be successful when using Web 2.0 tools. If you have any other suggestions, please leave a comment.
Photo credit: success by vmaurin