katherine zagotsis
Highly Accomplished Teacher. AAC Communication Partner & Advocate. Mum of one. Accidental Leader. Reflectionist, Mentor and life-long learner.

Engaging Now! 7.4

Demonstrating 4.5

Digital Technologies in Special Education

December 27, 2017 | Focus Areas: | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | 0 COMMENTS

 Planning and Co-Creating

One of the targets I’d set myself after coming back from Educhange in September was to create a Digital Technologies differentiated unit plan for Term 4.  I’d expanded on my limited knowledge of coding, robotics etc and the question I had-if it was possible to teach these skills to students with intellectual disabilities-had been answered with a firm “yes” by Robokids Australia and Code Club Australia.  Robokids gave me the opportunity to play to learn while Code Club Australia gave me more specific directions.  That is, to begin with positional language activities and sequential language.  I’d also asked my co-worker Deb if she’d like to co-create the unit plan with me.  To my surprise, Deb had shown a keen interest in what I was going to learn about and was asking me a lot of questions before I left for Melbourne.  She asked me to tell her about it when I returned, but I thought it would be more beneficial if I helped her to sign up to Twitter so she could follow what I was doing more closely.  I did so during our end of term celebrations, quickly explaining how to follow me and that I would tweet thoughts, photos and videos while I was at Educhange.  Deb ended up checking in with me via Twitter on both days:

While Deb and I know the students we’re working with really well, I felt we might need a little help with understanding exactly how and why we were implementing Digital Technologies into our programs.  I asked Selena for help and set up a Facebook messenger group between the three of us:

Me: @Deborah I’ve asked Selena to help us with our digital technologies stuff. She’s got a lot of knowledge & skills in that area and will keep us on track

Me: And Deb is a very skilled goal writer/unit planner

Selena: ooh fabulous! Happy to help ?

Me: So all 3 of my kids are ProloQuo users, are able to use Clicker 6 & Reading Doctor independently and I’m pretty certain that they’d all be able to use YouTube independently as well.

Selena: So Are you looking into Digital Technologies (as in the curriculum) or digital technologies as in the gen cap and how you can use technology to increase learning opportunities?

Me: I was looking at that. And using technology to increase learning opportunities is probably something I actually do really well.

Me: More Digital Technologies as in the curriculum:

Creative Commons License
‘Screenshot of Digital Technologies Knowledge and Understanding’ is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Me: This one in particular I think could be expanded on

Me: Kids already know the purpose of the above IT and they know that the class iPad is for communication
Me: And then could look at:
Creative Commons License
‘Screenshot of Australian Curriculum’ is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Me: What do you think Deb? ?

Me: Where are ur kids up to?

Deb: not anywhere near there…can type names

Me: Mm, I wasn’t looking at all of the above btw!

Me: Mainly…

Creative Commons License
‘Screenshot of Australian Curriculum’ is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Me: And I’m not thinking for all of my kids, just miss A, C and J*

Deb: Bottom one with lots of support for two of mine with a stretch

*The reason behind writing a unit of work for only these students was because they are the most independent learners I had at the time and I wanted to extend them further.  As the time I was doing it was close to hometime, a lot of the other students were also feeling anxious and some were completing their toilet routines.

Once we’d decided on which areas of the curriculum we were going to focus on, I started putting the Achievement Standards into a unit plan.  Deb and I were both really surprised to see what was expected at Foundation Year level.  To us, it seemed aimed at older students.  Admittedly I knew that the Digital Technologies Curriculum existed, but I hadn’t looked at it until then.  (I think this is partly because ICT is not seen as a priority at our site.  Generally, there’s at least one iPad in each classroom, but these are primarily used for ProloQuo2go.  I’m interested in ICT and for that reason, I probably do integrate it into my program more than others.  With more resources though, I feel I could be doing more.  Sometimes I find that frustrating).  Next I added the learning content area, topic, TfEL Domains and the DDA Accountability sections.  I asked Deb for help with Themes and Generalisations, she suggested two main ideas:

  • Extending knowledge of ICT and its use
  • Understanding the limitations of various technologies that will be used throughout the unit (digital camera, iPad, computer)

This is where we differed slightly in what we wanted to do.  Deb wanted to teach her students how to take a photo with a digital camera and upload this to Microsoft Word.  I felt a camera was a little irrelevant and knew that my students were capable of taking photos using an iPad independently.

Name of Activity Targets Who Grouping Differentiation Assessment
Take a photo of a person or object using an iPad/digital camera  (ACTDIK001)  A, J, C 1:1 Level of independence

Task observation-accuracy, level of independence


Insert photo/picture into a Word document and save (ACTDIK001) A, J, C 1:1 Support level Task observation-accuracy, level of independence
Positional language activities (left, right, down, up)



A, J, C 1:1 Support level, asking for answer on ProloQuo2go Task observation, Seesaw photos
Use iPad app Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar (ACTDIK001) A, J, C 1:1 Level of independence Task observation

Use interactive toys/robotic devices such as a Code-A-Pillar


(ACTDIK001) A, J, C 1:1 Support level Task observation-accuracy, level of independence

So while I’ve listed the initials of my three students next to the first two goals, in reality I was more focused on the last three.  Deb on the other hand used the photos that she’d helped her students to take and upload to create a calendar.  We agreed quickly on what assessment we wanted to use, mainly task observation for accuracy and level of independence, but SeeSaw as well as we were both already using the app.  This proved to be the best form of assessment for such a short time-frame as I could go back to look at photos and videos to check for level of understanding.  It was also great for sharing what I was doing with parents, one who specifically asked where I had bought the Code-A-Pillar from as she could see her son engaging with it so well and wanted to buy it for him.

I then asked Deb what Instructional, Environmental and Curriculum adjustments we should use and she suggested:

Instructional Adjustments 

Using ProloQuo2go for communication and gestural prompts, minimal, meaningful language.  Ipad, digital camera, computer, Microsoft Office programs.

Environmental Adjustments 

Teacher-directed task, up to 3 students, grouped according to ability in a quiet section/room of the classroom.

Curriculum Adjustments 

NEP goals: Differentiated curriculum, individualised program for each student.

Which looks simple enough written down like that, but sometimes it really helps to “think out loud” with someone else.  The final thing I did once we’d finished the unit plan was to send a copy to Selena to look over.  This in itself was a minor hurdle.  I’d been using OneNote online to plan and DECD was quite happy for me to share this with Deb.  Not quite so happy when I tried sharing with Selena with her non-DECD email and I ended up sending through the copy saved to my hardrive.  Co-planning is not something that occurs often at my site, unless two teachers are working together in one classroom.  I enjoyed seeking clarification while planning though and would do it again.

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