I had the pleasure of working with an outstanding group of faculty in Grainger County, TN yesterday, providing support for implementation of the Bookshare program into their curriculum and helping them prepare their students for online assessments. Delayed or not, these tests will be heading our way and now is the time to prepare! Staff everywhere are universally concerned that students won’t be ready to engage with assessments in an online format. While the pending PARCC tests will indeed require our students to show more computer savvy, this demand has an up-side. By integrating an array of assistive technology supports into the test format, it has introduced educators to accessibility supports that many were unfamiliar with. These tools can be used every day in the classroom, not just during the assessment process, to boost the independence of our students with special needs.
I realize the volume of information I address can often leave staff with their heads spinning on ‘tech overload’. But I love the ‘Ah Ha’ moments I see when teachers find something new they know will be helpful in their classrooms. Because educational technology covers a wide scope, I always advise up front to “Put your blinders on and look straight ahead. Choose to focus on just a few supports at a time that are appropriate to your classroom. Get comfortable with these and then build your technology toolbox.” That said, here’s my Preparing for PARCC Testing ppt from yesterday’s session. It contains a wealth of ideas, web resources and tutorial links to help choose and use new technologies like those we’ll see on the future assessments. Dig in!