Friday, September 21, 2012

A Case Study #2

Some of this is a rehash of recent blog articles. But this time it's in action. I hope to report any stumbling blocks we encounter as well as our success.

We have an eighth grade student who we will refer to as Joe.  Joe was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, and Autism. Both are relatively mild, but still hinder his ability to write quickly and effectively.  He is a fairly bright young man, and wants to do well.  Joe is mainstreamed throughout his day, and receives some resource services, and Occupational Therapy services.

As a middle schooler he is asked to record his homework from the board, as well as take notes of the board.  His mother has expressed frustration that he often comes home and neither he nor she can read his notes. They are non-functional.  Despite this, (and to her credit) she wants him to be responsible for gathering this information, and not to rely on others to do it for him. 

The plan is to set Joe up with a blog, which will serve as the repository for all his notes.  He will use an iTouch to take pictures of his homework, and any board notes. Joe will publish the snapshots onto the blog.  Refer to this blog for a quick look at the app Blogger

Lets break this down. 

Week 1: Joe's Occupational Therapist and I introduced the iTouch to him. We taught him how to take snapshots with his iTouch camera. We specifically taught him how to stabilize his elbows on his desk to keep the camera from shaking.  We have asked his classroom teachers to put up a "tape boarder" on their white boards to give Joe a target to aim around.  We also taught him how to email the photos to his personal email address. Refer to this blog for more on this process.  In addition, we taught Joe how to use Dragon Dictate on his iTouch and email that to himself, incase there are any short notes he wants to record.

None of you will be surprised to hear that a middle-schooler was quite comfortable using an iTouch!  Joe will use the camera and Dragon Dictate in this capacity for a week. He will photograph his homework and notes only. We've discussed privacy issues, and he understand that he should not photograph peers.  

Week 2: Assuming that Joe has had success using the camera and emailing photos and dictation to himself, we will teach him how to use the app Blogger.  This involves opening Blogger, clicking on the camera icon in the bottom, taking a picture, and than clicking the "Publish" icon.  Similiarly, we will have him copy from Dragon Dictate and paste into Blogger any dictated content, and then click "Publish".  

I have already setup a Blogger blog. I used this blog service for a number of reasons. 1. I'm already familiar with it... it's what I use for Shinobijimbo, 2. The Blogger app is really simple and free! 3.  Other blogs undoubtedly offer this, but I can lock down who the blog is available to. We wanted only Joe, his family, and select teachers to be able to access the blog.  You may be more comfortable with another program.

Ideally, Joe will be able to publish all his homework for each class. Each will have a date. If you look at my blog, on the right you see hyperlinks for articles by date and name. If Joe titles each entry it can be really easy to reference. He won't have to store dozens of photos on an iTouch, or emails on his account. He will have a running record for the year.  Joe will be able to access this information from any internet-connected computer.

Things to consider:

  1. I made an email account and a blog account for Joe. It felt important to get permission from the family to do this. I gave them the passwords, and encourage them to take ownership of both accounts. They can change passwords if they choose. 
  2. Students need to know that they cannot photograph other students without written permission from those student's parents.  Best to just avoid.
  3. I locked down the blog account. It does not appear in google searches, and the only way someone can access it is with an email invite. 
  4. Teachers need to be onboard with Joe taking his iTouch out in the middle of class, and snapping photos. With the knowledge that this is an academic tool for him, all our teachers were supportive. 
  5. It helps to have someone who will work with the student periodically to make sure they are learning the necessary skills to make the whole program work. 
  6. Don't just dump the whole idea on him/her at once. Build the component skills one at a time: learn to take the photos. Learn to email them, learn to use the Blogger App. 
  7. Tweak as necessary.

When it all comes together, the student should have a really elegant and easy to use plan in place to get his home-works assignments home.  I'll report back after we have some experience.

Happy Therapy!

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