Wednesday, November 27, 2013

#kidwish-Connecting LIFE/Special Ed classrooms with Mainstream Classes

I am just so stinking excited to write this blog!  For the past 6 years I have had the opportunity to break down walls of my LIFE (Living in a Functional Environment) classroom by participating in online collaborative projects and virtual tours.  I had a chance to do these activities because I had amazing teachers that I could collaborate with. 

Being a teacher is tough these days, and being a special education teacher brings on even more challenges! Challenges that are worth it, but challenges none the less.  There are a TON of amazing projects online for classrooms and my class and I have participated in many of them.  I knew how to modify the projects so my students could be successful and participate, but also be challenged at the same time.  I have the same expectations as other teachers, I wanted my students to have the world! As I connected with other classrooms I noticed that there were not very many special education classrooms that were taking on the challenge of collaborative online projects.

And then...... it happened!   Several of my amazing friends (Dyane SmokorowskiMichael Soskil, and Karen Wright-Balbier) began talking about the idea of creating a project that would partner LIFE/special education classrooms with regular education classrooms. #kidwish is starting out as a Holiday Card Exchange and New Years Wish for the World exchange using video conferencing and extension activities, but we hope that it expands to so much more than that. 

Now you might be thinking, why is it so important to identify a LIFE/special ed classrooms and pair them up with a mainstream classrooms?  I had the opportunity to connect with Dyane's class for this very project for the last 5 years.  My students LOVED it!  It gave them a chance to be creative on a holiday card, they received something in the mail, and they were able to connect with someone outside of our school setting. I also was able to see a change.  My students began to take more time in their holiday cards (works on writing, following directions and most importantly... creativity).  My students also began to attend and participate more during the actual video conference.  Nothing could make my heart soar more to hear the students reading along with the book and then ending the video call with holiday carols (even my non-verbal students would attempt to participate)

So, LIFE/special ed teachers I challenge you to sign up and participate in this project! You never know what connections you might make from it!  Our classes ended up Skype calling with other classrooms and even other LIFE classrooms.  We have done science projects, shared ideas, and read lots of stories.  The ideas are limitless if you take that first step!  Want more information, check out the website ? Want to email me with questions  

My wish is for all students to have the same opportunities inside and outside the classroom no matter what the abilities are.

I have written about my fears of losing my niche as a special education teacher when becoming an Instructional Technology Specialist.  I am so stinking excited that this is giving me a chance to share my love of connecting, technology and special education.

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