Texas Assistive Technology Network Statewide Conference – June 16-18, 2010

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Transcription for Podcast Interview

Interview conducted at TATN 2010 Conference, San Antonio TX

Date:  June 17, 2010

Interviewer: Mike Marotta, Advancing Opportunities, www.assistivetechnologycenter.org , mmarotta@advopps.org

Presenter: Kelly Fonner, www.kellyfonner.com ,  kfonner@wi.rr.com

Session Title : Be a Mr. Wizard: Assistive Technology Supports in Science.

MM: Hello and welcome to this podcast. I’m Mike Marotta from the Assistive Technology Center at Advancing Opportunities and this interview was recorded during the 2010 Texas Assistive Technology Network Statewide Conference in San Antonio.

MM: Kelly Fonner, MS, is a self-employed consultant and trainer in the areas of assistive and educational technology. She speaks internationally on a wide range of AT topics.

The title of Kelly’s session is: Be a Mr. Wizard: Assistive Technology Supports in Science. The session description reads: Students with learning disabilities are often fully included in content areas such as science. They may need a variety of supports in order to handle the tasks of this curricular area. Additional challenges are faced as science is one of the NCLB focused topics and the focus of statewide standards. This session will offer examples of a variety of assistive technology supports to bring science experiences to the students who are struggling with reading and writing tasks. Participants will be provided a list of resources and planning tools for implementing assistive technology and other accommodations.

MM: HI Kelly. Thanks for sitting down with me today. We are going to talk about your session – your afternoon session – which is titled, “Be a Mr. Wizard” which focuses on AT supports in science. I am wondering if we can start off and you could let us know what makes science such an important content area to address with relation to AT?

KF: Well the thing that I like about science, or it could be any content area, is that you have to have the content to make AT meaningful. A lot of times when we do presentations, we talk about assistive technology in general terms and so to take a content area like science – it gives you the “meat” that you can really talk about it. So we look at different areas of science and we really look at it through the tasks of science. So the obvious things about what you have to read but also what are the things that kids present in science? What are the experiments that they have to do? So what are the labs? What are the lab reports? What are the other kinds of things that they have to interact with? Like the diagrams and the materials and the being out in nature and the virtual ways that they interact with science. So it is a fun format to look at assistive technology tools – it’s kind of assistive technology in a sneaky way!

MM: Like a backhanded – slide it in quietly kind of way!

KF: Yeah – there you go!

MM: I agree – it is for all those reasons you said – it’s not just that one area it’s the experiences the students have, that they have to interact with “Stuff”.

KF: You make it meaningful.

MM: Yeah – that is very true. What are some of the tools that you have seen people use in science to address those different types of areas that students work in?

KF: Well of course the most obvious is the electronic reading tools. But we look at – what are the features of the electronic reading tools? How does it handle not just text, but if you look in science books today text doesn’t go top to bottom. It goes round in circles, like life cycles. You know, all of the captions. How do we deal with captions? We look at the text as it gets done in spirals and around mechanisms. We look at labeling of things but also the other kinds of materials such as – how do you handle the experimental pieces? How do you handle microscopes?

MM: Right – the physical part of it at that point. And how do you do that?

KF: One of the things that we look at is, again, how can the computer play a part in that. How do we hook up some of the enlargement materials? How do we hook up some of the ELMOs that people may have abandoned, from how they used to use them with opaque materials and how can we use it with the science materials. How do we use them with experimental pieces? How do we use them with – actually, it’s the materials that the science teachers are using – it’s things that aren’t really made from the world of assistive technology. But they really are from the world of science technology.

MM: Very true. Can you give us a couple examples of some of the resources that people could use to accommodate students in that area?

KF: Well, this has been a fun part. To work with teachers is to find out so much that is out on the Internet already. Instead of just going to You Tube, go to Teacher Tube because there are teachers that are out there that are putting parts of their lessons up – at all the different grade levels. So there are teachers that are putting bits and pieces of science experiments up – so if you have students that have physical challenges that physically can’t hold the materials, they can see what the experiment is doing. You know, all the parts of it and if it is their part, in their small group, to do a part of an experiment – they can show the experiment. So Teacher Tube is a really great part for that. Another place on the Internet is SlideShare and on SlideShare if you, as a teacher, are being asked to support a part of a lesson that you haven’t done since you were in middle school or high school, or if you are not the teacher and you are the SLP that needs to help in the science lesson or you are the OT or the AT person, go to SlideShare. It will have – how do you support a student that is going to have to do a presentation at a science fair – and it will show you all the components so that you are not forgetting something that you need to help a student with. It also has nice little “how to’s” for parents that are helping to support their child. If you have a student that is being home schooled and yet they want to be a part of the county science fair – really great lessons on that piece. Some of the software companies like Inspiration that heavily support the areas of science and there are science lessons out there for Inspiration, Kidspiration and especially Inspire Data, where you have big data sets that the kids can manipulate, that the kids can have the different factors so they can bring them into the different diagrams and set them up in the different charting and graphing sets in Inspire Data. So go there and use what has already been created – you don’t always have to make your data set from scratch.

MM: That’s a great point. Now if people have more questions the topic that you are talking about today – how can they get in touch with you?

KF: To get in touch with me, you can come to my website at www.kellyfonner.com or send me an email kfonner@wi.rr.com

MM: Great – thanks Kelly!

KF: Thanks Mike.

MM: Thanks for listening to this podcast. For more information about the Texas Assistive Technology Network, visit the website at www.texasat.net . For more information about the Assistive Technology Center at Advancing Opportunities, visit the website at www.assistivetechnologycenter.org .

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