I used a typewriter in high school.
I reluctantly learned how to use an old Tandy in university and I cursed it often.
I did not use e-mail or the internet until after completing my Masters.
Despite my history, I am the biggest supporter of technology in the classroom; especially special needs classrooms.
I have seen and heard technology performing miracles every day.
I have heard a boy with Downs syndrome, classified as selective mute, talk to me using a walkie-talkie.
I have taught students with autism to have a conversation with a peer using walkie-talkies; it allows students to work on conversation skills without concentrating on the mechanics of a conversation (eye contact and proximity) which challenges these students.
I have heard a teenage girl with select mutism talk for the first time in school using a borrowed Vantage Lite. I saw her smile as she was finally able to be heard by her peers. She quickly learned how to interface her Vantage Lite with the computer. She now uses an i-Pod Touch with an application to talk for her.
I have witnessed students, whose parents were told their child would never be able to read, now reading using an interactive internet reading program.
I have seen students who are not engaged in a lesson engage immediately once the Smart Board is turned on and they are in control of learning by manipulating the objects on the screen.
I have witnessed fine motor skills improving as students use the Smart Board activities to help with printing letters and numbers, drawing lines for dot-to-dot exercises, and moving objects across the board.
I have watched with delight as students have used the Wii system to have much needed sensory-body breaks and work on gross motor skill development. I cried with joy when a 13 year old autistic girl went from atypical solitary play to squealing in delight when she realized she had just finished playing, for the first time, with a peer. The next moment, she asked another peer to play, showing him how to use the remote. In less than twenty minutes she went from solitary atypical play to cooperative play.
I have been able to teach autistic students how to have eye contact through the use of a digital camera. Students who started taking pictures of feet are now taking pictures of faces and without the camera, are starting to make eye contact. We also put together, using a publishing program, a ninety-two page year book filled with pictures.
Technology is the great equalizer and allows students to learn and be an active part of society and in some cases, gives them literally a voice. As a consequence, I am constantly fundraising for more technology in the classroom.
People who know me are surprised by my transformation; I am surprised by the transformation of my students because of technology.
I have become a believer in the miracle of technology.
|CDW Canada's Leslie Stockdale, class and grand-prize winner
Robynne Fraser at Southgate Middle School
||Special education teacher Robynne Fraser and
CDW Canada's Leslie Stockdale