Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Not always what it seems...

Today I was in a session with a student that is learning to use Intellipad (Name change coming). The teacher made a comment prior to my session that this student was doing a perseveration behavior with the text to speech in the word prediction and smiling at the teacher as the student was tapping the screen. I found this odd because the student had used text to speech in the past and also used the word prediction program in the past. Although odd, I figured to take the issue at face value. It needed to be investigated.

I decided on the following course of action:

First ask the student about the use of the product and how they felt it was going, any difficulties and was it helpful.

Second was an observation of the student using the device.

I sat away from the student so I wasn’t peering over their shoulder but close enough to see and hear what was going on. The student had to type a journal entry in response to questions written on the blackboard.

The student started to type and I heard the word prediction (list to the word) and then student selected the word (word speaks again). So far so good. This went on for about 5-10 minutes. Then I heard the same word repeated over and over. A word I knew the student could spell and type. I let it go 2,3,4,5 the student staring at me with a smile. OK time to get involved.

I asked the student, “why listening to the word so many times?” The response, “It isn’t typing word just saying the the the”. So I give it a try, 1,2,3,4 OK I think I can stop now.

Hmmmm. So what was perceived as this student having a perseveration behavior with the text to speech and smiling at the teacher really was not really what was happening at all. The student was having a problem with their device and app. The student wasn’t sure how to ask for help. So the student would turn and look and smile at the one person in the room that they hoped could help them. The student just wanted to get the teacher's attention without being disruptive to the other students.

The moral of this story is that before you assume a student is performing a behavior for attention, take a look at what is going on. There are times that it can be a behavior but even a behavior has aspects of communication. But there are times something is happening because of a malfunction of the tool and they don't know how to explain it.

Even with technology students need support and sometimes more support until they master the skill. Moving from an iPad from a computer was a huge jump for this student. The student had used a computer for 17 years. The iPad was a new tool that had only been used for recreation. This student was not using it as a learning tool means all new expectations and skills.

The solutions were simple ones:

  1. The student was given a stylus for using the word prediction. This way the student couldn't accidentally hit the speaker and word at the same time.
  2. If it repeats more than twice, just copy the word or type the word to the best of your ability.
  3. The student was given a help me card to indicate that help was needed. I made enough for the 10 other students in the classroom. They were shown if they need help, place the card in front of them.


Jacquie C said...

OMGosh! So, true. I wonder how often AT is abandoned for similar reasons....
Also, really like that the Help cards found 'happy homes' with several kiddos, and not just the one you were there to support!

Jeannette Van Houten said...

Jacquie I wonder the same thing. I think if I didn't have so many years with this student, I might have felt the same way as the teacher. But I have worked with this student for 10 years.
The Help cards are for everyone, I use them in my presentations all the time. A persons arm doing get tired. They put the card in front and I can help as I move around the room.

Thank you!

vlmaples said...

I am always stunned at how often people don't research or "oops!" time is up, maybe we will figure it out tomorrow... and six weeks later we write home about we don't know what to do and then I learn the first half of the quarter has passed without a tool in a usable state. Ugh!

Unknown said...

I think that it is always good to give the student the benefit of the doubt and check to see if there is a problem with what they are working with/on. I've had students who deliberately made mistakes or hitting buttons over and over again just because they liked the response. Other times it has been a problem with the software. So I always check what the student is using.
Kathy G.