Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Take a Different Route

I recently found this article Grandfather builds web browser for autistic boy

“The boy has autism, and the whirlwind of options presented by PCs so confounded him that he threw the mouse in frustration.

LeSieur's quest is a reminder that while the Web has created important communication and educational opportunities for some people with cognitive impairments, computers can also introduce new headaches for families trying to navigate the contours of disability.

It essentially takes over the computer and reduces the controls available for children like Zackary, who finds too many choices overwhelming.”

I thought this was interesting because rather than give up and say that the computer upset this boy too much, this man decided to take action and go a different route. By seeing what this boy needed, this man was able to tailor the web browser to meet the boy’s needs. The article says that this might not work for all autistic people but it might help for some.

This is also true of many teaching techniques that we use. Sometimes something works for some students and not for others. Sometimes we use a technique one year that is wonderful and well received but the next year it is a flop. We need to keep our eyes on the final results and try to work a different way to get there. We need to take whatever steps necessary to try to get there which may involve looking at different ways to teach this concept, asking others for different ideas, consider a different approach such as collaboration with another class, or use a variety of technology tools to achieve success.

To help with this, when I write my lesson plans, I try to include a few alternate teaching strategies so that I’m prepared if something is not working. After I do a lesson, I try to evaluate what worked or didn’t work and immediately amend my lesson plan so that it will be ready the next time I use this. I also like to make these changes while it is fresh in my mind. I have found this really works to help my students be more successful in the classroom.

Photo credit: Other side of the detour sign by Old Shoe Woman


Betty said...

What a great story. It is wonderful that the boy's grandfather was able to help him. I know what you mean about some lessons working for one class but not another. Being flexible is the key, and adding notes to lesson plans is a great idea. Your post also reminds me that evaluators need to understand that sometimes a great lesson does flop. An evaluation is just a snapshot.

loonyhiker said...

Thanks for your comment. As a teacher evaluator, I know that I observe a teacher more than once because I know that anyone could have a bad day. It is also important to know how someone handles things when things start going down the drain. Flexibility is definitely the key.

Rachana said...

This was a great story. It shows that with a little innovation even family members can help make modifications for their children with special needs. Sometimes you don't have to worry about budget or getting district approvals for assistive technologies, you can create them yourself.

loonyhiker said...

Rachana: I sometimes think the district and others would even be more willing to help if they see the family take the first steps. Then they will jump on the bandwagon so they can say they are part of the reason for success.