During this discussion, we shared that many of the Microsoft Office tools that we use to support students with learning challenges in the classroom aren’t considered “accessibility” tools but certainly do provide access to education for students with diverse learning styles and needs. They are common tools used in uncommon ways to support instruction. These tools are often also available for students to use at home.
When Val and the Accessibility Team asked if we would be interested in being guest bloggers, we jumped at the opportunity to share with you (and hopefully you will share with us) how the Office Suite can be used to provide support for struggling students to participate in math and science content. This week we are going to share with you a few highlights from our math and science workshops and conference presentations, focusing on differentiated instructional materials that utilize multisensory supports and provide low-tech to high-tech AT strategies using Microsoft Office Suite, inexpensive materials, and free Internet resources to gain access to math and science curricula for all students.
We have asked over 100 teachers what they consider to be typical math and science tasks that students may encounter. The tasks are listed in the following table:
Note: To view our blog graphics in a larger size, click on the photo gallery below this entry.
We also asked teachers to describe some of the student factors that they have observed that might influence their participation in math and science activities. Here are a few that they mentioned:
• Learning preferences – visual, auditory, verbal, physical
• Gross and fine motor skills
• Sensory function – vision, hearing, touch, movement
• Language and communication skills
• Literacy skills (reading and writing)
• Attention and organizational skills
Can you think of anything else that should be added to the list? If you do, please post them!
In our school district, we promote and assist teachers to integrate the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) into their classrooms. Microsoft Office is a UDL tool that is commonly available! Here are a few examples:
Val also did a wonderful blog on Universal Design for Learning - Providing Options for Actions and Expressions. If you haven’t read that, be sure to check it out!
Microsoft Office Suite offers a wealth of tools that support UDL and provide access to math and science. In this blog, over the next few days, we will explore a variety of low to high tech math and science tools and strategies to provide access to curricula for all learners. Using these tools, teachers can design, adapt, and customize learning materials for their students with learning challenges, students with diverse learning styles, and students who are second language learners, so that they can more fully and independently participate and become more engaged in the learning process.
Check back this week to explore something new! Here’s a preview of our blog topics in the upcoming week:
• Creating item banks virtual manipulatives and customized graph paper in MS Word
• Creating electronic forms; exploring math equations and symbols; and creating graphic organizers and visual supports using graphics in MS Word tables
• Creating graphic organizers using SmartArt in PowerPoint and MS Word; using PowerPoint Photo Album; and creating PowerPoint countdown timers
• Using Microsoft OneNote as an organization tool to provide multiple means of representation
We look forward to sharing our strategies with you and hope that you will also share your ideas on ways to use Microsoft Office tools to provide support to struggling students in the areas of math and science. Our next blog topic is on creating Item Banks Virtual Manipulatives and Customized Graph Paper in MS Word.
:-) Thanks for spending time with us and stay tuned! Tara Jeffs and Cindy Feist