* Fickle Technology

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To paraphrase a former IT specialist: “You can love Technology but you can’t trust him.”

I wanted to wring Technology’s neck yesterday.  He promised me the moon: Discovery Education, Reading A-Z, BrainPop, and Google docs, to name a few.  He left me holding dust.

My student uses eye gaze for communication, so at least we had Tobii Dynavox I-12 and Communicator 5.  Technology pretended not to care; after all, he had reduced me to pen, paper, and my phone’s wireless hotspot.  I tried not to think about the gigabytes we were whizzing through, dollar signs soaring around the classroom.

To make matters worse, Technology told me there was no hope for today, either.  “I’m on a 24 hour freeze, darlin’.  But I’ll be back.  You can count on me.”  Sure.  I’ve heard that line before.

I used to pack a first aid kit, a safety net if Technology pulled a fast one.  I kept all manner of printed materials that would bypass fickle Technology.  I’d show him!  But when I was on crutches, I could only stuff essentials into a huge backpack.  As I’ve limped around with the compression boot, that backpack has been a lifesaver.  All the while, I’ve had this niggling sense of vulnerability without that kit.  “Don’t be silly,” I told myself. Technology has turned a corner.”  He looked genuinely heartbroken when I brought up his past failings. “Look at all I’ve done for you!” he’d proclaim defensively.

Technology jumped off the wagon with glee yesterday.  Today he’ll probably give me roses.

* Discovery Education for dealing with bullying and more

discovery educationWant a video that depicts common classroom bullying?  What about strategies to reduce bullying?  Check out Discovery Education, a for-profit organization that provides access to more than 170,000 digital resources on bullying and about every other topic you can imagine.  When I first started using online videos for social skills instruction, my school subscribed to United Streaming.  United Streaming and Discovery Education are now combined, with an impressive array of resources categorized by topic and curriculum standards.  This online resource can be purchased by school districts and also includes: teacher training; an emphasis on STEM curricula and careers; options for teacher-created materials (such as quizzes and writing prompts); and teacher-directed, individualized support for students who are unable to attend school.

One of my primary uses of this website has been for social skills instruction.  Although I have typically used my own students for developing videos, these online resources normalize a variety of social experiences for kids, as well as allowing me to work with students individually while others are productively engaged.  A quick search for ‘bullying’ produces 188 resources, many of which can be downloaded and edited for and by students.  Some of these materials were produced about 10 years ago, but depict scenarios which are still relevant today.

Discovery Education also provides free teacher, parent, and student resources, most of which are average or so-so in quality. Parent resources include articles on motivation, summer activities, free clip art, and homework help.  The best student resource is a math homework helper, but it would require good reading skills and like the parent resources, the page is cluttered with advertisements.  (Perhaps not if you use Firefox with Adblock Plus….)  On the other hand, here’s an example of their free animated clip art, one of hundreds available, and my first animated clip art on this blog!  ani-dance1