Are you looking for ways to support and engage your students? Here's an example of how we recently integrated some simple, but effective digital tools to engage, educate and empower our students.
A Bit of Background . . .
This fall we provided literacy support to eighteen high school boys with severe learning disabilities. We reviewed their files, met with staff and and completed the required standardized testing to gain a basic understanding of their literacy skills and needs. They were bright and creative, but despite working with skilled and caring teachers, most had experienced a great deal of academic failure. Many struggled with basic everyday reading tasks and their spelling scores explained their reluctance to write - only two scored above the 17th percentile on a standardized spelling test.
Our goal was not only to address deficits in critical literacy skills; but also to provide tools and strategies that remove obstacles to learning and empower students with alternate ways to access information and communicate ideas. To personalize their learning and achieve greater success, we wanted to learn more about their background, previous experiences, values, attitudes, talents, interests, strengths and needs. Rather than quizzing, testing, interviewing or assigning an 'All About Me' essay, we chose a multimedia format and integrated some of our favorite digital tools - Animoto, YouTube, BrainPop and Wordle. . .
Animoto is free for teachers and you can add their app to your IOS devices. To learn more and set up an account, visit http://animoto.com/education. Animoto "analyzes music, photos and video clips, and orchestrates a custom video." If you're wondering what to do with all your vacation photos or want to impress parents with a year end video that doesn't take hours or days to create, try Animoto.
Programs like Wordle (www.wordle.net) and Tagxedo (www.tagxedo.com) are fun, free and effective tools that allow you to enter your own text to create unique word cloud images. They can be used in countless ways and we're sure you and your students will love them.
The Project . . .
Using Animoto and Wordle, our students created a video, or digital description of themselves. Evaluation rated the following:
The Benefits . . .