Research Topic 2 – Using ICT with students with disabilities

Students with severe intellectual disabilities find it hard to communicate and participate in classwork. An article from 2008 entitled Using Microsoft PowerPoint to support Emergent Literacy Skill Development for Young Children At-Risk or who have Disabilities, looks at the use of the Microsoft program of PowerPoint and how it can be used to engage both young students and those with disabilities.

Students with intellectual disabilities are being included in mainstream settings more and more frequently. They are also often in mainstream schools but in a special education unit or class. PowerPoint is an excellent tool for allowing these students some aspect of participation. PowerPoint allows for the inclusion of pictures, including photographs or drawings as well as audio and video content.

The article states that the only limit to PowerPoint is imagination (both of the teacher and student). There are so many possibilities for example interactive stories both fact and fiction made by the teacher, as well as slide shows and presentations created by the student. In the article it suggests that once you use a picture of the student in your slides you will have them fully engaged.

The following blog; Using PowerPoint with students who have special needs (PowerPoint is not just for presentations!), is written by a Science teacher who has also had an interest in incorporating PowerPoint into classrooms for students with disabilities or special needs. He has given suggestions on ways we can use PowerPoint in the classroom. One of my favourite ideas is sequencing. This involves getting a student to put an out of order presentation into the correct order. Many students with intellectual disabilities spend a lot of time completing puzzles, this is a good way for the students to get an understanding or reason and logic. Using PowerPoint in this sequencing way will allow these students to use the same skills they have developed when using puzzles and be able to apply it in an ICT context. Below is a very simple example of what I am talking about (That I quickly made). Students with very minimal literacy and computer skills will be able to participate by putting these slides in their correct order.

                                                                         

The aspect of PowerPoint which excites me most is the ability for students to participate at any level. I have worked with a student who has Fragile X syndrome, and while he has poor written and verbal skills,  his skills on a computer are comparatively excellent. I find that sometimes he is left out of class discussion (even though all students in the class have intellectual disabilities). This is because he is often unable to verbally give a coherent or appropriate answer. While using PowerPoint wont give him better skills in a class discussion, it will give him another way to be able to participate. He, and other students with low levels of academic ability would be able to create some sort of slide show, with images and few words to participate.

Powerpoint assignments and tasks could be incorporated into any mainstream class with a whole range of abilities. Those who are more able can go further and be more creative and more technical, similar to our ELPC class and our use of blogs!!

References

Parette, Hourcade, Boeckmann, Blum (2008) Using Microsoft PowerPoint to support Emergent Literacy Skill Development for Young Children At-Risk or who have Disabilities

Blog – http://fiendishlyclever.com/2010/02/using-powerpoint-with-students-who-have-special-needs-powerpoint-is-not-just-for-presentations.html-Using PowerPoint with students who have special needs (PowerPoint is not just for presentations!)

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