The Howard School prides itself on our technologically savvy educators and students. A pioneer in the use of assistive technology in educating learning disabled students, we believe that technology is a vital tool in the educational process, and that students must be comfortable with all forms of new technology to stay competitive in today’s world. Teachers work with our Instructional Technology and Assistive Technology staff to introduce new technology to the students at the correct age and skill level.
Equipped with the right tools, technology can help bridge learning difficulties for students. Tech tools and software integrate easily to make learning more accessible at school and at home. For example, using text-to-speech software to access curriculum, students who struggle with decoding are able to access and learn material at their intellectual level, instead of being limited to information at their decoding level. They gain exposure to higher level vocabulary and more complex sentence structures that they wouldn’t have access to without support. In addition, students can use voice-recognition software or electronic writing supports to bypass or help remediate a writing difficulty and produce written work that can be evaluated on the merits of creativity and expression. Assistive technology software also allows students to dictate classwork into a smartphone, email the file and download it for study at home.
Another form of technology support involves the SMARTboard, which continues to be an effective tool in Howard School classrooms, not only for their use in engaging and motivating student learning, but to specifically relieve challenges with classroom note-taking. For many of our students, concentrating on note-taking while comprehending the lesson being taught, are two very difficult tasks to do simultaneously. Teachers’ lessons can be preloaded onto the SMARTboards and then easily transferred to student laptops, reducing the need for note-taking during class. This removes an academic hurdle for our students and promotes student learning.
Technology in the Classroom
It is important to understand the needs of our students and to introduce technology that will enrich learning environments we create at The Howard School.
Technology opens up new channels for learners, who tend to connect more and achieve more when they have multiple ways to access information. Some activities in The Howard School’s classrooms are a natural for multimedia, such as creating stop-action animation of a science experiment or making an iMovie for a presentation. Some activities are truly Web 2.0 – multimedia tools that allow users to interact and collaborate – such as students logging in to class blogs for homework assignments, study guides and links to useful resources; Skyping with an author during the Lower School’s Reading Month; or launching a YouTube channel for Hawk Talk, The Howard School’s student-run news program.
“In the technology-rich world we live in, one that our students have grown up in, we have to be sure that we are using the correct technology to enhance learning,” says Lisa Prodigo-Nimorwicz, instructional technology coordinator at The Howard School. As the go-to tech resource for faculty, she helps teachers implement the best tools for specific projects and guides students in using them.