Each year we discuss similarities and differences in our kindergarten classroom. We talk about the differences between groups of objects, books, and even animals. We also discuss similarities and differences in people. We are all individuals. Part of our responsibility as educators is to ensure that students succeed in the classroom. Thus, we need to understand and embrace the differences in each student. This means we must support the use of assistive and adaptive technology.
Elizabeth Koxleski, director of the National Institute for Urban School Improvement told Education World,
Inclusion is not just about including children with disabilities. It’s about embracing the idea that diversity is the reality and, therefore, each child is a unique learner. In order for each child to maximally benefit from education, we need to organize our schools, curriculum, and teaching with this reality in mind.
The reality is, all students have varying needs, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Part of our responsibility as educators is to help each student discover these areas and offer them the tools that will help them succeed.
One of the reasons we feel the need to provide students with access to technology, regardless of needs or abilities, is that we know it helps everyone reach their potential. Project K-Nect was launched in North Carolina in 2007. Students utilized smart phones and collaborative learning. The results are in support of a technology rich environment to help students in need:
The majority of participating students scored 20 percent higher on standardized tests than their peers in the same school and 30 to 40 percent higher than students in the district and state after a single year.
The students in this study were considered at-risk. Technology created a learning environment that was challenging, rewarding, and beneficial. Students’ scores proved what can happen when students are given technology to reach their full potential.
Students with cognitive or physical difficulties can also benefit from technology in the classroom. The US Department of Education reported that 13.2% (approximately 6,582,404) of students participated in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and were designated as special education students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 2009-2010. This is a large portion of our population. To ignore a group of individuals who need assistance because of lack of funds or support is irresponsible, wrong, and illegal.
Public schools are required to service all students. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), “is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities”. If for no other reason (although I consider it one of the least important reasons) our classrooms must support all students with the assistive and adaptive technology they require because it is required by law.
It is our responsibility to ensure that all learners receive a challenging and rewarding education. Providing such an education for each student is the goal of a true educator. Technology provides the means and the benefits needed to meet this goal. For specific ideas on how to do this, please view this presentation: “Adaptive and Assistive Technology in the Kindergarten Classroom“.
- Advocacy for Gifted and Talented Students Education. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2012, from http://www.teach-nology.com/teachers/gifted_youth/advocacy/
- Can a Smart Phone Program Really Close the Achievement Gap? | MindShift. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2012, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2011/03/can-a-smart-phone-program-really-close-the-achievement-gap/
- ED Data Express: National State Detailed Snapshot. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2012, from http://eddataexpress.ed.gov/state-report-detailed.cfm/state/US/
- Education World: What Does An “Inclusive” School Look Like? (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2012, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr225.shtml
- IDEA – Building The Legacy of IDEA 2004. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2012, from http://idea.ed.gov/
- Mobile Learning Proves to Benefit At-Risk Students | MindShift. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2012, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2011/07/mobile-learning-proves-to-benefit-at-risk-students/
- Teach More/Love More. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2012, from http://www.teachmorelovemore.com/SpecialNeedsDetails.asp?id=7#99