Wow Project in the English Sector: Yes We Can !
Written by Avi Spector, RECIT AGE and Shanna Loach, ETSB
The New Horizons centre (Eastern Townships School Board) believes that every student deserves the best education possible, regardless of any challenges they may face. They are committed to providing the best possible support and resources to all students, including the use of assistive technologies, to equalise opportunities and give everyone the best chance of success. Texthelp’s Read&Write extension, which helps with reading and writing by reading text aloud, highlighting keywords and phrases, and providing vocabulary and spelling support, is one example of assistive technology being used at New Horizons.
The initiative to support students with assistive technologies at New Horizons began with a thorough assessment of students’ needs. The team gathered data from various sources, including teacher feedback, student performance data, and student self-assessment to identify areas of struggle. After careful analysis, the team identified key areas of focus: reading, writing, organisation, stress, and anxiety.
To support the initiative, New Horizons has introduced orientation, as well as introduction to technology for learning courses into the curriculum, so that all students have the same opportunity to learn about, and experiment with, different strategies and assistive technologies. Student study and support plans help teachers and staff track data to identify where students are struggling and provide support in those areas. When a student is not progressing and shows signs of struggle, the team tries to determine an area of need to focus on and suggests strategies and assistive technologies to support the student.
Reflecting on the introduction of assistive technology for all students is the critical next step for improving educational practices and initiatives. By analysing the effectiveness of different assistive technologies and how they are being implemented in the classroom, New Horizons can decide which practices should be maintained and identify areas for improvement to reimagine their strategies for incorporating these tools. This involves considering the needs of all students, including those with disabilities and those without, and ensuring that the technology is accessible and user-friendly for everyone.
Reflecting on the use of assistive technology also involves evaluating its impact on student engagement and achievement, and determining whether adjustments need to be made to provide the best possible learning experience for all students. In addition, reflecting on educational practices enables educators to identify gaps in their knowledge and skills and seek out professional development opportunities to expand their expertise. The New Horizons team believes that every student has the potential to succeed and that strategies and assistive technologies can play an essential role in helping everyone achieve their goals. By encouraging all students to use strategies and technologies and providing the support they need to do so, New Horizons is creating an inclusive and supportive learning environment that helps every student get the tools they need to succeed in the short term while setting them up for success in the long term by building their technology skills.