Well, 2020 has been a really long year! November and the beginning of December has been a very stressful month for my students, their families and myself. As you already know, I teach in the Quiet Elementary classroom and all of my students are diagnosed with anxiety and/or mental health conditions. Before starting in this program I knew that mental health in schools was a growing concern, but had no idea how big of an issue it really is. At times, it can be really hard on the families and on the staff in the classroom. I got a little behind in my blog posts over the last month, so I decided to combine some posts and my summary of learning in one.
When I think about assessment and assistive technology in my current context, it is hard to separate my student’s mental health from them. From the minute my students enter the classroom, their mental health is my main concern. If they are not in a good mental health space, then academics often get pushed to the side. My students are all on adjusted grading and are all basically on individualized education plans. Assessment in my classroom looks very different from mainstream classrooms, but I have the flexibility and time to be able to do things differently. I sometimes wonder if their needs to be a change in mainstream classrooms. All of my students were not successful in a mainstream classroom and were referred to QE because they were struggling. I think that there needs to be a bigger focus on mental health within all schools and grades, but recognize that this would require a lot of money and change. Currently, I use many different types of assessment throughout the year. Since they are on adjusted grading, they do not get the outcomes and subject progress reports like students in mainstream classrooms. The most important assessment in my class is on their Inclusion and Intervention Plan (IIP) goals. Like I said, their mental health is our main concern in the classroom, so the IIP goals are always something that we are working to achieve.
The students in my classroom use many different types of assistive technology. All of my students have chromebooks to help with many different things. My classroom is just finishing up a stretch of isolation and having assistive technology has helped them to do assignments on Seesaw and on Google. The issue that I face while having to do remote learning, is that my student’s anxiety is a hinderance when wanting to do video chats. They become so anxious and stressed out because they don’t like people looking at them while in the video chat. I have tried doing one-on-one chats, and it still doesn’t work. Does anyone have any suggestions of how to work around this? I also have a student that has an iPad to be able to use proloquo2go. I have spent a lot of time added words/phrases/questions into the app, but hit a brick wall because of the anxiety of using the iPad in front of other students. I have tried turning the volume down so no one hears it, but the student still feels anxious and doesn’t want to use the iPad. It is a big concern for the student, as she will be moving on to high school next year. I’m not really sure where to go next? Again, any suggestions? I know that I am probably sounding like a broken record, but all of the tools that were presented for assessment and assistive technology sometimes don’t fit for a specialized program like QE.
I have learned a lot throughout this class and in the last two years. This is my last class for my Masters and although I am looking forward to a break, I know I will miss the community in these classes. Daina and I put together a Summary of Learning of all the technology, tools, apps and learning theories were learned about this semester. I hope you all enjoy the video.