I have found that I am blessed to work for a school district run by people who instead say “Let’s Try!”
This year all secondary LIFE Skills classrooms in my district were provided with a COW (Computer on Wheels) cart enabled with the most current operating system and Wi-Fi. The program was piloted the year prior in select classrooms, one of which was mine. The biggest hurdle was to look at this opportunity as a way to rethink what and how we teach students. I had to pull out good old Bloom’s (like any good teacher would).
And then I had to pull up Digital Bloom’s (like any good 21st century teacher should).
There are lots of tools out there that can help students to learn and be critical thinkers, but the question with my particular student population is:
Does the technology help or hinder their learning?
Looking at the process of remembering information is a great place to start. The process of remembering can be a challenge for students with multiple disabilities. It involves recalling information and one can use a digital medium to retrieve material or information (Churches, 2009, p. 10). The non-tech way often includes flashcards, repetition, and lots of practice. When my class initially started working with the COW, we used it in a very minimalistic way. With all the resources out there for remembering like StudyBlue, Spelling City, and Quizlet there are tons of online ways to review information. The one that has been most impactful to me that I never considered as a ‘remembering’ tool was Symbaloo. Symbaloo is reminiscent of an iPads app screen and allows one click access to web pages you select. So many of my students have problems with spelling and recall that allowing them access to all their favorite pages from one site helps them in the recall stage. If they can get to their Symbaloo, they can get to where they want to be! Moreover, it is easy to see how establishing this resource for a student can help them to continue to access the sites they like best when they are at home or even after they graduate. Learning how to use, access, and create technology tools can truly help a student in their daily lives and within the reality of their future (Loertscher, 2011). Digitizing the remembering level of Bloom’s for students who struggle with this can open them up to be able to move on to the next level- an enormous step for most severely or profoundly disabled students.
Understanding information and being able to process it with meaning is the next level of Blooms and there is a big difference between recalling and accessing information versus understanding it and constructing meaning (Churches, 2009, p. 17). Again, when we first started with the laptops in the classroom, they were used in a very novice and standard format. When we wrote, we used and still use a word processing program. But when we look at Digital Bloom’s, the process of blogging can help to establish understanding by allowing a student to paraphrase and even explain ideas and information. Next year we will introduce blogging in my classroom and make this level of understanding a more predominant and predictable part of our student’s day. It also serves to archive the thoughts, knowledge, and abilities of our students as they move through our program. There are several great programs out there including Edublog and Blogger. I will be using WordPress in the classroom and look forward to students being able to share and achieve this way. Again, the things they write and resources they list and label will be accessible to them in the world beyond our classroom and beyond their K-12 experience and teaching them to use, create, and access them equips them to navigate more effectively and efficiently in the real world. The implication of that type of empowerment to students with multiple disabilities is profound.
Churches, A. (Producer). (2009). Bloom’s digital taxonomy. Retrieved from http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/file/view/blooms+elluminate.pdf/58496778/blooms%20elluminate.pdf
Loertscher, D. (2011). The Power of Technology to Enhance Learning. Teacher Librarian, 38(3), 40-41.
All Images Courtesy of Microsoft unless otherwise indicated.