Teaching students with Asperger’s Syndrome

have-fun-teachingBy Paul Silli

According to OAR (Organization for Autism Research), there are many strategies a teacher can use to be successful when working with students who have asperger’s.

First, allow “extra-time” for your kids to complete assignments. Don’t rush your class and establish an easy-going pace. Try to minimize class changes because students who have asperger’s favor set routines within their academic and social engagements.

It also is essential to know that students who have asperger’s are prone to be “visual learners.” Offer many “hands-on” activities with pictures/graphics and show them what they need to learn. Kinesthetic learning is vital for understanding.

You should keep your language simple… Avoid complex dialog – unless learning a new term is the objective. To introduce new words use visual aids and examples.

If there is a need to change your class — tell your kids why things are changing. Take the time to explain why you are going in a different direction and review any new goals. This will ease tension.

With any successful teaching approach — be sure to offer a lot of positive feedback and reassurance to your students. All kids need consistent monitoring to stay focused and on track.

Actively keep your students parents informed about their child’s progress. If you have parental support your students will do great. To create a comfortable class environment you could have items placed around your room that represent a topic or display characteristics that are interesting to you. Kids love getting to know their teacher — so share things about yourself that make you approachable and friendly.

Additionally, collaborate with your peers. You will learn a lot by asking what your fellow teachers are doing in their classrooms.

Finally, try to prevent behavior outbursts or “meltdowns” by creating a stress-free class. Prevention through the use of appropriate academic, environmental, social and sensory support systems are effective. Be aware that you will have behavior issues; but if you are calm and fair your problems will be minimal. 🙂

Storyboard Presentations: Ideas in Graphic Form

By Paul Silli

A presentation without a storyboard is like a wagon without a horse. Storyboarding should never be at the beginning of any creative project because you cannot get to this stage unless you have a clear vision of what you want (Indezine Online, 2). If you are undertaking a project for yourself or for a client, there would be little to be gained in using a storyboard without ideas – the storyboard is an element to capture and refine your thoughts.

What exactly is a storyboard? It is an organizational layout, that is put on paper or created on a computer as screen-shots. A storyboard is both abstract and physical. The abstract storyboard is a visualization or source of inspiration; and the physical is when you put your thoughts on paper in a timeline, graphical format. For instance:

Storyboard Example 1

In this example, the upper part shows a layout of the screen. The two middle boxes provide space to describe the interaction of buttons and text fields. Comments are added to detail the color scheme, text attributes, audio, and details for the programmer (Maricopa, 1).
Storyboard Example 2
For this example, you see two screen representations, one for the computer and one for a second screen that would detail a video (this was typical for multimedia where video was shown on an external device such as a VCR or a laser disk player). Again, there is space to define the interactive features, and the nature of additional media (Maricopa, 2).
Storyboard Example 3
This example provides a larger area for the representation of the computer screen, but provides plenty of room for describing what is needed. By having these areas on both sides, the storyboard artist can also use arrows to link descriptions to parts of the screen (Maricopa, 3).

No matter which storyboard format you choose, the following info should be included:

  • A sketch or drawing of the screen-shots, pages, or frames…
  • Color, layout/placement, and size of graphics included…
  • Actual text, title excerpts, if any, for each screen, page, or frame…
  • Color, size, and type of font, if there is text…
  • Narration, Animation, Video, Audio, other media, if any…
  • Audience interaction: target market directed…

Please visit: http://www.umass.edu/wmwp/DigitalStorytelling/Storyboard.htm, to see a storyboard worksheet that may help you develop your ideas.

Are Smart Boards SMART?

By Paul Silli

First, what in the world is a Smartboard? If you don’t know… according to Wikipedia, a Smartboard or interactive whiteboard is a large, touch-controlled screen that works with a projector and a computer (Wiki, ref-3). The projector throws the computer’s desktop image onto the interactive whiteboard (usually in the front of a room), which acts as both a monitor and an input device. Users can write on the interactive whiteboard in digital ink or use a finger to control computer applications by pointing, clicking and dragging, just as with a desktop mouse.

Now that you know a bit about this new technology, I refer back to my original question. Are Smart Boards smart? Maybe yes, or perhaps no!

There is no doubt that this colorful-board technology rocks for educational uses. You can have a student come up to a board in front of a class, and by using his or her fingers, can interact with it to perform many “hands-on” activities. But where this technology falls short — is in the depth of your pockets. You see, Smart Boards are very expensive to purchase for an average K12 School. They cost about $1,200 to $3,000 per unit, and that does not include the cost for a fast computer to run it, and you also will need a modern projector to show the image onto a screen — Visit this link for: Estimated Costs, (near $5,000).

Unfortunately, most schools, especially the one’s I have visited, do not have the essential budget to pay for such a techie-device. And for those schools that do have the budget, and decide to buy a Smart Board, often do not have the needed technical support to teach the teachers how to use the boards. Sadly, in many schools, Smart Boards just sit in a media center storage area collecting dust because staff members simply do not know how to use them.  

What is the value of educational technology if it is so overpriced that most of the public can not afford to use it? Technology needs to be cost efficient and user friendly if it is to be “innovative.” 

To see the many benefits of using a Smart Board visit LEARN: http://www.learnquebec.ca/en/content/pedagogy/cil/teach/smartboardworkshop/