Thursday, October 31, 2013

'Necessary for some, good for all'

Alright, humour me.  I want you to think that it's 4 p.m. and you are at home when your son or daughter has just arrived from another day at school.  You ask, "What did you learn at school today?"  And, for a change, your son/daughter actually replies.  This is what you hear come from their mouth next,

     "So-and-so" just got an iPad at school to help "so-and-so" learn      and I don't think that "so-and-so" should even get that thing              because "so-and-so" never does his work.  Like, ever Mom!  He      never does his work, and now he gets this?  What a joke!"

Can I ask you what your reaction is?  

Parents, what do you say to your son, or your daughter when this conversation comes up?  Or maybe is already has.  Or, if you're in my world (my kiddies are young), it hasn't yet... but it will happen.  
In one way or another, over the course of your son or daughters educational history a conversation that is somewhat similar to the one above will take place.  I bet you money on it.  Pretty cocky of me to assume?  Well, maybe, but not really.  You know how I know?  Because I'm there.  I'm in those classes.  I'm in the hall.  I'm on the school yard and I hear kids talk.  And talk, and talk, and talk.  

And, I get it.

You see, as a kid, it's hard to see that the 'special tool of technology' allowances that "so-and-so" gets actually lets them start to demonstrate their thinking, understanding, and allows the rest of us to see inside them.  I am blessed to actually witness these miracles.  I'll tell you a tiny bit about one of those miracles: 

This student of 'mine' (because he's in my school, and he's one I could take home with me and call my own on any given day ~ but I won't because that's wrong...!) you see is doing these great 'things' with the gift (SEA claim) of his iPad.  Now, many of the same students in "so-and-so's" class may see that iPad, with all it's bells, whistles, and shiniest apps as the coolest thing since sliced bread.  And it is.

But for "so-and-so" that tool, that piece of assistive technology allows him/her to shine.  To read.  Independently.  To create.  Independently.  To rewind.  Independently.  To search.  Independently.  To calculate.  Independently.  And to do so many more educational tasks that this list could go on and on.  Now independent.   

And that's awesome.  

The really cool thing about that piece of assistive technology is that now "so-and-so" has a way to rock out his learning.  Now he can read the same level of texts as his classmates.  Now he can write through the use of his voice... just as I'm doing here!  (And you thought I was typing this didn't you?)

"Necessary for some, good for all" is just that.  If we lived in a world were money was no object than yes, iPads all around.  But, to be honest, I don't think that's actually what we need.

We need instead to stop looking at 'those' kids as getting the bells and whistles in learning.  Instead, we need to look and see where we can provide supports and structures that allow all our kids to have that step up.  To even the playing field, if you will.

We need to do good for all, regardless of what it is that that student needs.  That's the system I want to be apart of... And you know what?

I am. 

Thanks for reading.
I hope through my words you have got to see a glimmer of what I see.  And, if you could, the next time your son or daughter comes home and talks about "so-and-so," listen.  Listen to what your son or daughter is saying.  But also listen to the right in the world.  For it's those supports that is allowing for success to start.  "Necessary for some, good for all."


  1. Excellent post, Leslie! I love that this technology is available in today's age to help our kids express what is inside their heads, where they otherwise would not be able to. Helping these kids be independent is such a boost to their confidence level. Kids (especially after a certain age) don't want to be constantly asking for help or have someone scribe for them. They don't want to appear different. The more independent they can be, the better off they are!

  2. Very well expressed Leslie. Everyone wants to feel they can succeed independently.

  3. This is a powerful post, and it more than captures the passion that I think you have for special needs students, and the way technology can help level the field. I'd like to think that all that passion grew out of the last 3 weeks of the course, but having met you, I know that you were already passionate about teaching all kids, and that the course, and ECOO, and other learning you do all the time, just solidified it. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Thanks for the comments Dawn, Al, and Rod! I'm glad you each feel the way I do. I really think that if we look at this from a three hundred and sixty degree view that we can change the way we view all students and their learning needs. :)

  5. Your post hit home with me. At my last school, we had iPads for some of our ASD kids and the iPad was a great "tool" for them. It took their learning and demonstration of learning to another level. We did not see a 10% improvement, we saw a 10x improvement. Fortunately, I had enough devices to do some cool activities with my entire class, so everyone got to benefit from the "tool". Thanks for sharing LB!