Day 120 (of 184) normalizing the learning for students whose learning is not normalized
This statement/declaration came to me today during a discussion with a colleague about some of the benefits around ‘technologization’ – a term I’ve coined to describe the blending of technology and education – with enhancing learning as the number one goal.
But it applied to most of that as we were also talking about self-regulation (specifically for those students with General Anxiety Disorder -GAD) and others – we know the family who are working on forming a ‘gender creative’ support group ( http://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/parents-form-gender-creative-support-group-1.876428 ) and working on/with issues that aren’t big deals to them, but are to other members of their learning community.
Technologically speaking, we were chatting about the ‘normalization’ of a student who currently is using a program like Kurzweil (turning written text into audio clip) that currently has to get up and walk to a different part of the classroom (or another room in a school) to translate the text – it is possible that the student could use adaptive technology without the movement and not have other students aware of the adaption that they are using.
I had a good conversation with a girl a few years ago around this topic – she was using dragon dictation (using it well enough that even as a grade 7 student she would go to other schools and show their staffs what can be done) – but she did not like that she had to go to a separate room to do the work; nor did she want to carry around a big laptop – she wanted to be able to use dragon dictation on an iPod or iPad – but she couldn’t afford one and the school district was in a ‘no-apple’ mode. So until we were able to ‘work some magic’ she had to balance ‘using a tool that she knew helped her’ vs ‘what others thought about what she was doing’. Not a normal activity.
Self-regulation-wise, we brought in fidgets, chewery and other external self regulation ‘tools’ school wide to ‘normalize’ their use. The students that used them as tools (enhancing their learning) continued, those that used them as toys (distracting their learning) did not. My son has GAD and we are on year 3 of his plan to ‘normalize his learning’ (to see my rant about working with anxious learners – check out day 110: a blunt approach to anxiety wp.me/p278vp-cf
The goal with GAD is not to just ‘deal with the behaviours’ – that’s like putting a bandaid on a cut jugular – covers up what can be seen, but doesn’t deal with the ‘bigger issues’. Instead, it is working with the learner to find strategies that help them learn. Whether it is a technological adaption, a change in learning environments (not a different room, but a change to the classroom itself) or whatever – the goal is to help students ‘normalize learning’ when they can’t do it on their own.
We have to sometimes leave our preconceived notions behind and think: Student First, Adult Second. And thats tough.