Gavin is a Child of God

Gavin videoWhen he started fifth grade this year, Gavin VanDerVeer’s teachers at Grand Haven Christian School (Grand Haven, MI) were trying to determine his goals in the area of spiritual growth.  “Often, we don’t know what students with Down syndrome will really get until we try,” Cindy Brace shares. “We wanted him to learn bible memory like the other students, but his would need to be shorter.” CLC Network encourages teachers to determine the most important idea that a child needs to understand, rather than memorization when a child has a cognitive impairment. Brace recalls,

“So we took the most important idea that Gavin needed to learn and turned that into his bible memory for the year.”

In order to teach Gavin the idea, his teachers started with a flashcard reading program on the iPad and with the sign language for “I am a child of God.”  Gavin has a routine – when the flashcard pops up with the word “Jesus” he finishes it with “loves me.”  With the next flashcard for “God”, Gavin then says his bible memory: “I am a child of God.” Now, Gavin signs and says “I am a child of God” spontaneously. Cindy recalls when she recorded this video:

“We were doing math the other day and he just started saying this. That’s when it hit me, he’s got it! So I took the video and he was proud to watch it, too. Now he says it often.”

Your contributions this year enabled CLC Network to help Gavin and other students with disabilities learn in their Christian schools.  We are deeply grateful for your support, and encourage you to consider CLC Network in your charitable contributions this season.

Elizabeth Dombrowski photo

Elizabeth Lucas Dombrowski is the advancement director at CLC Network

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Making the Most of Technology in the Classroom

The buzzword in education seems to be technology: technology integration, technology in the classroom, and technology tools.  It appears that using technology in the classroom is here to stay.

How do we as educators evaluate the technology use within our classrooms and within our schools?  How do we decide if what we are using to deliver content, engage students, and produce product is the best option out there?  How do we stay at the top of the ever-changing list of apps, videos, and tools?

Flipboard Application

As teachers we need to be active consumers of the digital world.  We need to use apps and tools ourselves.  Teachers who are able to navigate the digital world for themselves will be able to guide their students in the process.  A tool I have found useful is Flipboard.  Flipboard is an app for both the Apple and Android markets.  It is social magazine application.  You pick a few topics that you are interested in and the software brings together a visually appealing “magazine” for your reading pleasure.  It continually updates, bringing you the latest news in the topics you picked.  On my Flipboard a few of the topics I picked are “Instructional Design Daily,” “All Things Digital,” and “The Kid Should See This.”

Another way to stay on top of ever changing technology is to do a search for blogs that apply to you and your teaching situation and then to subscribe to those blogs.  I have found several bloggers who continually blog on new items that they have found useful in their teaching.  It is always good to hear from someone else how they use a tool and what they have found good and bad about it.  Some of the blogs that I follow and enjoy:

Free Technology for Teachers

The Innovative Educator

Web 2.0 Connected Classroom

Being both an Apple computer user and working with students who might need assistive technology, I often check the “Special Education” area of Apple apps.   Many computer systems have assistive technology features built into the operating system of the computer such as voice over, sticky keys and guided access.  You can do a search of your operating system and also assistive technology to see what is offered for the computer you are using.   An educator I follow who often sends out a list of free Assistive Technology Apple apps is Mark Coppin.

At times it is overwhelming all that is out there and how to use it within your classroom.  I suggest you evaluate the technology use within your school and classroom using a technology rubric.  Evaluate where you are at, what is working well for you, and where additional technology could be used.  This will focus your searching to a specific area and be less overwhelming.  A few rubrics for evaluation are:

The Technology Integration Matrix – Florida Center for Instructional Technology

Jobs for the Future – Technology Integration Rubric

Rubric for Effective Teacher Technology Use – ASCD

To stay current and knowledgeable in the “buzz” of technology we as teachers must remain informed, continually evaluate what we use and be able to articulate why we use what we do.

Becci ZwiersBecci Zwiers is an online educator, teacher consultant, and instructional designer.  She can be contacted at bzwiers@clcnetwork.org or followed on Twitter as @BecciZwiers.