During my observation today, I watched my student engage in various activities while using AT. From the moment she walked into class, she went and got her IPad from the teacher’s desk to begin her day. On the IPad, the teacher uses an application to provide the student with a visual schedule and break down of the day by showing what the child will be doing, when she will be completing it, and how long she has until the next transition. This visual schedule was perfect for this student. She did various activities targeting gross and fine motor skills, counting, and writing. Throughout her activities, she would refer to the visual schedule to see how much time remained in the lesson and when it was time to transition. I noticed that the child does not like to work in large groups because she becomes overwhelmed and she would rather work with one student or alone. In larger group settings, she would remove herself from the situation and take her belongings to work somewhere else. Lastly, I observed how articulate she is with everything she does. During the fine motor activity, she would pick up each object and examine the different colors, lines, and features. She was very interested in the detail of her assignments and did not enjoy rushing throughout her tasks.
Today my child participated in a lot of hands on activities throughout my observation. She created a “garden” using different pieces of paper, read a book about spring, completed a matching game, and started a science experiment where she created an in-class garden. My student did a lot of moving around today which is where her AT became very helpful because the classroom was a little more stimulating today as there were a lot of things going on at once. I noticed the child I was observing started to become overwhelmed in the middle of my observation because students were moving her belongings and messing up her project and she does not like it when things are not in order. However, the teacher did step in and control the situation before the student became very upset which prevented a classroom disturbance. Today, my child struggled with following directions and being active in the activities so the teacher created a step-by-step breakdown of the projects she worked on to create achievable goals and help her become motivated.
During my observation, my child worked on writing activities, completed a leaf flower game, worked on a science observation book, and took pictures of her plant. She used her AT a lot today because there were various transitions and she wanted to make sure she had enough time to finish her assignments. She was more active in group discussion today and was more playful with other students. She also related to the projects completed in class because she said her grandmother has a garden and she likes to help her plant and take care of the plants over summer. However, she did encounter a few challenges today which set her back in her daily routine. During play time in the sensory bin, she became over irritated because another student took her toys and was not sharing with her. The teacher had to remove her from the situation and calm her down before she was able to engage in other centers. Overall, today was a good day and I enjoyed watching her play with others and use her AT device.
In todays observation, my student danced to various songs while using gross motor skills, participated in a math seed game, completed a craft where she labeled the different parts of a flower, and then used muffin tins to complete a fine motor activity. She did very well in the gross motor activity today because she was able to hop, skip, balance on one foot, and even jump over different objects. She was extremely engaged in this activity and did not want it to end! During the game where she had to label different parts of a flower, my child had a harder time focusing and connecting to the activity because she saw other students have more fun and wanted to disengage. She did use her AT a lot today as well because she was moving around the clock and became nervous when she did not know how much longer she had because she did not want to run out of time before transitions. Today was a fun day and I enjoyed watching her learn different concepts!
Throughout my last observation, I watched my child interact with a book about spring and its weather, complete another page in her journal about the plants, create a spring scenery using finger paint, and do a fine motor math game. My student struggled today in the science center because she was supposed to come up with a prediction or hypothesis on how she thinks the plant is going to grow and what the flower will look like. She became flustered because she did not understand why the plant was taking so long to grow and did not know what to predict. After teacher support and visual aids, she was able to create a prediction which was the flower will be pink and take 2 weeks to grow. She did excelled in the fine motor math game (putting clothes pins on the correct answer) and did not need a lot of teacher support to complete. She was also engaged in the book that they read about spring and its weather because it was very colorful and she had visual aids to help her understand the book more clearly. Her AT device really helped her today because there were a lot things going on at once but she was able to manage her time and know when she had to wrap up each center. This was my last session but I am glad to have been able to watch her overcome obstacles and use her AT device.
Child Case Study
Teacher’s name: Michelle D’Orio
I observed a child named Sara (pseudonym name) who is a pre school ESE and ESOL student that uses an AT device in the classroom. Sara is autistic and needs a lot of teacher support in the classroom throughout various assignments. She uses an IPad application to serve as a visual schedule to determine how much longer she has for each assignment and when she needs to transition. She uses this device because she would become overwhelmed during transition times which would hinder her learning. The teacher found an application that shows Sara her daily schedule and which activities she will complete each day. This is beneficial for Sara because she is able to not only visually see what needs to be done, but she is also able to brainstorm about different activities throughout the day so she is not caught off guard with the assignments. Throughout this experience, I was able to interview the teacher, Mrs. D’Orio and learn the benefits of this AT for students.
Mrs. D’Orio is a preschool ESE and ESOL teacher and has worked in the education system for many years. When talking to her about Sara and her AT device/ needs, she explained how Sara is an autistic and ESOL student who needs a lot of assistance throughout every activity. She stated that Sara uses this technology because she would become very frantic during transition time and have panic attacks when she did not finish her work in time. To prevent this from happening and help Sara with transitions and having enough time, Mrs. D’Orio found an application that allows Sara to see how much longer she has for each assignment, which activities she has to complete during the day, and which transition they will be completing following each assignment. Being that Sara is autistic and becomes over stimulated in various situations, having a visual schedule also helps with these issues because Sara is able to start transitions early so there is not a lot of commotion at one time. Lastly, Mrs. D’Orio explained the importance of play in the classroom and how no matter the age or grade, students need play in order to learn. She stated that children learn best when they are having fun and how differentiation is very important especially in an ESE classroom. This was very interesting to me because I agree with this statement and would love to incorporate an abundance of play into my future classroom and lessons. Overall, this interview was very useful and I value her outlook on teaching and play.
Moreover, this AT device is very beneficial for many students especially ESE because it serves as a visual aid. When students use visual aids in the classroom, they are more likely to stay on task and know what is expected of them. When students have this AT, they can manage their classroom time rather than becoming distracted and focusing on different things instead of the material. Visual schedules reduce anxiety for students and helps them track time. It also allows students to understand the concept of time and how long events can last for. Another way visual schedules are beneficial for students is because it allows children to interact with one another and serve as a conversation builder. For instance, if students see on the visual schedule that they will be creating a picture of their favorite animal at the end of the day, they can ask students about their favorite animal and which one they will draw at that time. This device is very important not only for ESE students but can also help any student in the classroom who struggles with anxiety and transitions.
To conclude, I learned an abundance of information from this observation time and teacher interview. I was able to analyze and detect Sara’s strengths and weaknesses but also see how the teacher assisted her through those struggles. I also observed Sara using her AT and the difference it made inside the classroom. Along with learning about Sara, I was able to learn more in-depth about AT devices and teaching from my interview with Mrs. D’Orio. She described the importance of play and using differentiation with every lesson because every student has different needs and learns differently. Also, using this AT device is very beneficial for students because it releases anxiety inside the classroom, allows students to manage their time, it can serve as a conversation builder, and helps students stay on task. This was an amazing experience and I will use these skills and devices in my future classroom.