Technology is no longer a thing of the past, and many classrooms are now fortunate enough to be 1:1 or close to it.
Whether it is by classroom specific technology, access to a computer lab, or a tech cart full of laptops or tablets, more and more teachers are starting to go digital too.
But what does that mean? And… can it work in a special needs classroom?
I’m here today to answer some of your questions about how digital “things” work using Google Drive and/or Google Slides, what it looks like for our students, implementation, and more!
Besides the fact that students love anything to do with a tablet or computer, the biggest reason to give digital a try is the amount of prep time you’re going to save. No printing, no laminating, no velcro-ing, no cutting… NO EXTRA PREP! #saywhaaat
With no extra prep, that also means you’re saving money on all of these things because you don’t need to use your classroom budget or your own personal money to buy paper, ink, lamination, velcro… and let’s be honest, that gets expennnnnsiiiivveeee.
Another reason to go digital is to prepare your students for their future. Let’s face it, technology is everywhere and our students need to know how to use it. While many of our students know their way around a tablet, it’s also important for them to know how to navigate more than finding their favorite Thomas the Train app.
Now you might think, okay… I’m sold. But there’s another HUGE reason why you should go digital: differentiation. It’s so much easier to differentiate digital resources because it can be as simple as copy/paste instead of print, highlight, cut out, copy, and on and on and on.
All you need to go digital is a computer, laptop, tablet or iPad, or phone.
Any piece of technology that can access Google, Google Drive, and Google Slides is ALL you need.
That’s it. #boom
(PS. you also need Internet access to initially download the files or put the files into a G. Drive… but afterwards you can change the settings to have the activity available offline.)
If you haven’t created a free Google account, you will need to do that before implementing the use of any digital resource.
If you are wanting each student to be working on their own, individualized digital resource, each student will need their own Google account. This can also be very beneficial, as students can gain experience logging in to their account each day too.
You can use digital resources on a desktop computer and/or laptop using a web browser. You can also download the free Google Drive app and free Google Slides app on your tablet/device.
Now that you have a free Google account, you can start building your digital resource library for your students.
Download this FREE Months of the Year digital Adapted Work Binder (dAWB) to follow along, practice, and learn more about digital resources.
After copying the file to your Google Drive, you will be able to open it and access the file.
If for some reason the file will not open, try using a different browser. Google Chrome seems to work best.
Don’t forget to change the name of the file in the upper left hand corner.
If you would like a copy for each of your students, simply copy the dAWB for each student and rename the file that child’s name. This will allow for easy finding and access within your Google Drive. For ease, I would use a computer to do this.
Google Slides works just like PowerPoint. Simply delete the slides you do not want in a saved copy.
TIP: I do suggest saving a copy as sort of a “Teacher Copy”, that way you don’t need to re-download a file, and you can simply make a copy of your “Teacher Copy” at any time easily. I keep one folder inside of my G. Drive that is strictly “Teacher Copies”.
Let’s take a look at a video using the Morning Calendar dAWB I created to show you how to move pieces around within a digital resource:
You can grab the Morning Calendar dAWB here.
The easiest way for me to answer the rest of your questions is through a traditional Q&A sesh:
Am I able to print the digital resources as well?
Yes. You have an option to print any digital resource for students that may need a printed copy or benefit more from the traditional paper/pencil activity.
Go ahead and practice using the FREE Months dAWB you saved to your G. Drive earlier.
When I click on an item, I see the black bar of options. How do I get this to disappear?
Great question, and as of right now, I have not figured out a way to make this black bar of options disappear.
Are the movable pieces lockable, so my students are not able to resize them?
No, there is no way to “lock” answer pieces so they cannot be resized. This is with any digital resource.
BUT don’t give up on digital resources simply because of this. As with anything we use to teach, students do need to be taught appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. Plus, as you and your students practice using digital resources more and more, they will become accustomed to moving the pieces in an appropriate manner.
“I can’t get the file to open on my iPad/tablet. Please help!”
For some reason, older generations of iPads and tablets have difficulties opening some digital resources. This is often beyond our control, so before purchasing any digital resource, I would download the FREE dAWB I shared first to make sure you can access and use digital resources.
Before downloading any resource, you’ll also want to determine what the file type is. If it’s a .zip file, you will first need to open and save the digital resource to your G. Drive on a desktop computer or laptop (tablets and phones don’t have the programs to unzip files). Once the file is saved to your drive, you can access it on any device that has access to your G. Drive.
“I have a student who is already on technology way too much. I am not giving this child the opportunity to be on a device any more than the child already is!”
Digital work is still functional and able to be differentiated to meet the needs of all of your students. Please don’t limit a child’s ability and learning because of your beliefs. If a child learns best through utilizing technology, then you should be using technology in multiple ways to present the information. Our ultimate goal as special education teachers is to teach students, and technology is another tool at our disposal to help students learn and master content.
My best advice is to converse with the child’s parents, and discuss the option of trying out a few digital resources. Test it out and take lots of data (…because I know you are really good at it! You can do it!). With the option to print digital resources, you can always mix up the lessons this way.
HAVE A QUESTION I DIDN’T ANSWER? LEAVE IT IN A COMMENT AND I WILL GET BACK TO YOU 🙂
Let’s take a look at digital resources for special ed.
If you didn’t grab the free Months of the Year digital adapted work binder workpages above, here’s another chance to grab them for free. They’re exclusive to this blog post, so you won’t find them anywhere else:
MORNING WORK: Functional, differentiated, and now PAPERLESS skill work that is the perfect addition to your morning routine and calendar time. This digital adapted work binder will help your students start their day off right, and once mastered, can be a set of skills they complete successfully and independently.
COLORS, SHAPES, PATTERNS: This digital adapted work binder will help your students master basic skills and concepts related to colors, shapes, and patterns, and once mastered, can be a set of skills they complete successfully and independently. Includes 25 workpages.
KINDER SIGHT WORDS: This digital adapted work binder will help your students master Kinder-level sight words by matching, spelling, and typing, and once mastered, can be a set of skills they complete successfully and independently. Includes 33 workpages, covering 88 kinder-level sight words.
What questions do you still have? Let me know in the comments below!