Friday, September 18, 2009

Whiteboards Engage Autistic Students by Kathleen McClaskey and Randy Welch

In this article, it provided an insight into how autistic classrooms run and also how autistic students can learn more efficiently with the introduction of technology tools. This article focused on an interactive whiteboard that has the capability of training the students' attention. In a classroom where there are autistic children, you tend to see as many adults as there are children. The goal of these whiteboards are to increase group instruction with the hopes of proving that they were capable of social learning. They hoped that this increased group instruction and social learning would help these students develop communication skills. They introduced an experienced teacher that was hesitant about using this software but came to find that she was very enthusiastic and excited about the outcomes. She was surprised by how engaged her students were in creating a story using pictures. This interactive whiteboard allowed the teacher to access interactive sites to teach her daily math lessons. Using the whiteboard, she was able to incorporate pictures and images to her lesson plans that engaged and captured the students. Towards the end of the year, the students were so familiar with the interactive whiteboard that they knew specific tools and how to navigate interactive websites. With all of this said, the students engagement increased to 90 minutes in the morning and additional in the afternoon. Katie is a 12 year old girl who was diagnosed with multiple disabilities and a primary diagnosis of autism. She has shown aggression towards activities and lessons that she was not familiar with. With the use of ACT project (interactive whiteboard) she would wait to be called to do the whiteboard activities rather than get angry and throw a tantrum. Her ability to attend to lessons increased from 5 minutes to 45 minutes. Using the ACT toolkit allows teachers to create an environment where students with autism can become engaged in active learning.

As a future teacher, I find it very beneficial to learn more and utilize this ACT toolkit as this article suggests that it has helped many students. With the increase of class size and lack of budgets, we as teachers may be in a situation where some of your students will have some level of autism. I feel that this interactive whiteboard is beneficial for autism students as well as my other students. I personally am more engaged in a lesson where there are visuals that enhance the meaning and understanding. As far as interactive, this will engage everyone to a much higher level no matter if you have a disability or not. the shocking reports of these interactive whiteboards is quite astonishing and makes me want to research this more in depth. The only thing that was not mentioned in this article is the pricing. Without the funding and appropriate budgets, some teachers don't have the option or opportunity to purchase or even inquire about this technology tool. All in all, I found this article very beneficial and interesting. If given the opportunity and budget in my classroom, i would definitely do further research and possibly purchase this ACT toolkit when becoming a teacher.

1 comment:

  1. is the ACT toolkit only for autistic children? and it is amazing what toolkits can do for children. if that kept her focused for almost an hour, could you imagine how long it would keep "normal" children focused. and who knew using a white board can make a difference in a child's learning abilities. but like you said, if you have the budget to be able to have this for a classroom that is great.