SMART Inclusion makes impact on student with Autism
By Alex Dunn
I can’t begin to express to you the excitement I felt seeing one of our SMART Inclusion students with his teacher and fellow SMART Exemplary Educator, Dave Balfour, on the front page of Wednesday’s Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper.
The article entitled Technology Opens Up New Worlds for Children with Autism, was written by an amazingly passionate reporter, Anne McILroy, who gives us a glimpse of the impact of technology including SMART Board interactive whiteboards and iPads on students with autism. She goes on to highlight how EEGs can show if children with autism understand what is aid to them and how McMaster University’s John Connolly is exploring a new way to assess children with autism who cannot speak and don’t consistently respond to language. I am so very proud of what the SMART Inclusion team at Upper Canada District School Board has accomplished, mostly on their nights and weekends, to make sure that we are not just servicing 95% of students, but 100% of students. All means all.
The action research which was completed during the 2008-2009 school year, as well as our current two-year research venture, have served to support other Districts across Ontario, Canada and the world to begin their own SMART Inclusion research. And to become part of the larger SMART Inclusion community where the goal really is about collaborating and learning together.
Here is a link to Upper Canada District School Board sharing site http://smartinclusion.wikispaces.com/Smart+Inclusion+Home and Alberta’s Smart Inclusion Project http://albertasmartinclusion.wikispaces.com/
Smart Inclusion began four years ago, out of a belief that ALL children deserve to be actively engaged in what is learned and taught; inclusion without participation is not inclusion at all. I think the reason that SMART Inclusion has been so effective for ALL students, is that it provides school teams with a practical way of applying well-researched theory from both education (Universal Design for Learning, Differentiated Instruction) and speech language pathology (Aided Language Stimulation, Participation Model, Differentiated Communication) to the context of the 21st century classroom, through the use of both assistive (switches, voice output devices, alternate keyboards, software) and mainstream educational technology (e.g., SMART Board, SMART Table interactive learning center, SMART Sync classroom management software, iPads, Nintendo DSi) with a creative twist.
As educators, we make every effort to put the learning and the tools including technology into the hands of students, giving them the opportunity to collaborate and create; we all have something to teach, we all have something to learn.
A special thank you to the real stars of SMART Inclusion and the real exemplary educators - our students and their very supportive families.
Read the article in Globe and Mail.
Photo shown in post from Globe and Mail.
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About the Author
Alex Dunn is a Speech-Language Pathologist for the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB), located in Oxford Mills, Ontario. She has been devoted over the last 16 years to exploring creative service delivery models to ensure ALL students, including those with severe communication challenges achieve the goal of meaningful educational and social participation. Most recently Alex has spearheaded the creation of Smart Inclusion, an initiative that combines assistive technology with emerging technology and pedagogy to support inclusion – making the impossible, possible for ALL students. Visit SMART Inclusion at smartinclusion.wikispaces.com. Canada’s 2012 SMART Exemplary Educator of the Year, Alex has shared her passion for the inclusion of ALL students across Canada, United States, UK, Spain, Germany and Puerto Rico.