2012-01-18 / Opinion

IN YOUR WORDS

Helping all students learn

Dear Editor:

Have you ever wondered if people who are nonverbal actually have the ability to process information and learn? Before having the opportunity to work with nonverbal students, I have often wondered this myself. I think it is a common assumption that people who cannot talk, cannot understand what is said to them or share their thoughts, making communication a difficult task. This assumption couldn’t be more false! Sanilac ISD Special Education is very committed to their mission statement of “Learning For All” and they have shown this by supporting students with unique needs.

Recently, Sanilac ISD Special Education Department has used grant money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to purchase assistive technology to support nonverbal students. One type of assistive technology that students have been successful with is the Smart Board. This is an interactive board, similar in looks to a white marker board, and it allows students to touch and manipulate activities and participate in their learning, using more of their senses. Students get excited to learn on the Smart Board because it is completely different than paper-pencil learning. This type of assistive technology encourages students to get out of their seats and by physically involved in education.

Another type of assistive technology is the iPad, which allows students to organize their daily events, increase their knowledge through technology and finally be able to share their emotions and express needs through touch pad icons. Many nonverbal students are extending the use of their iPad in their home and community, allowing them to better interact with family members at home and to be active participants in their community. This is a major accomplishment for these students and those who interact with them on a daily basis. From a teacher’s perspective, it is wonderful to be able to understand students’ curiosities and frustrations that were unknown to us in the past.

Speaking for the staff of Sanilac ISD, we are very proud of these students and excited to be part of a district that is willing to think outside of the box and ensure “Learning For All.”

Alysha Peruski

Alternative Career

Education Instructor

Sanilac ISD

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