When students feel they belong, it paves a path to success. Great teachers know the importance of building a community where each child feels safe, supported and valued. Check out these eight tools — podcasts, courses and more — to help teachers remove barriers and create a welcoming learning environment for every student.
By Melissa Campeau
Coggle - Free!
Mind mapping (using a diagram to represent ideas graphically) is an effective way to express complex ideas using visual cues. Imagine the major themes of The Secret Garden, fully explored by way of flow charts, images and a handful of words. Coggle is especially intuitive, so students will master it in a snap.
When reading is easier, everything is easier. This software modifies digital material so that every student can fully participate. Need speech-to-text or text-tospeech functions? Done. It also offers word prediction for typing, explanations of unfamiliar words and a screen-masking tool for students with dyslexia.
Tips on grading students with disabilities? Check. Advice on how to modify lesson plans to suit multiple learning styles? Check. Teacher and inclusive classroom consultant Nicole Eredics is the passionate and experienced driving force behind this site, which is full of podcasts, how-to articles and links to research.
Padlet - Free for 30 days!
Imagine a digital wall where students can contribute ideas at their own pace (even anonymously). After a field trip, for instance, set up a page and let comments, pictures and questions roll in. Then, share selected posts to spark classroom conversation. Once your free trial ends, Padlet is US$12/month or US$99/year.
Newsela - Free!
Now you can share news articles with your class and address a range of reading abilities. This massive collection of material — stories on everything from global warming to self-driving cars — with software that can “translate” the articles you’ve selected into five distinct reading levels, ranging from Grade 2 to 12.
CAST - Free!
Universal Design for Learning may be a big part of Special Education, but using insights into how a child learns to adjust how we teach benefits everyone. The Center for Applied Special Technology offers resources like math puzzles and a science lab-writing tool that create flexible learning environments.
Do2Learn - Free to US$179
Find a trove of tools to support your special needs students. Download printable picture cards depicting emotions, decision-making sheets that prompt pro/con responses, a guide to developing a behaviour management plan and more. Resources are evidencebased and designed by education experts.
Inclusive Schools Network - Free!
This site’s assessment tool will tell you how inclusive you’re classroom is — and how you can do even better. Make the most of the resources: an Inclusion Basics Course, staffing model articles and leadership for inclusive schools. There’s also an e-newsletter, a blog and an annual event that celebrates inclusion.
For effective practices in technology, consult the College’s professional advisory Use of Electronic Communication and Social Media oct-oeeo.ca/socialmedia.