This week I begin a series of posts focused on web based tools and resources for educators who work with students with special needs.
My first challenge is to determine what sorts of categories of “special needs” I will investigate. There seem to be endless groupings and subgroupings of special needs and learning disabilities. After researching and discussing it with some colleagues, I have settled on the following special needs areas to look into over the next few weeks (I may expand on the list as I proceed, or at a later date): ADD & ADHD, Autism & PDD, Visual or Hearing impairment, and other Physical Disabilities. There are many other learning disabilities and mental and physical disabilities which I will not be delving into, but I believe that some of what is covered in this series of posts may be relevant to some individuals who fall into those other groupings. [I should also state clearly that I have no specific expertise in any of these areas – I am an IT executive working in higher education, I blog regularly about the use of Internet technologies in education, and am interested in how these technologies can play a constructive role for those charged with educating students with special needs.]
First Up: ADD & ADHD
There are countless ADD & ADHD related resources available on the web today. The information I have gathered here is not very difficult to find. I simply reviewed many documents and information resources, and gathered together some of the more comprehensive and informative resources geared specifically towards the education of students challenged with these disorders. Most of these resources are reference documents, but I did also locate a few interactive web sites and applications focused on this topic.
Online Document Resources
- http://www.ed.gov/teachers/needs/speced/adhd/adhd-resource-pt2.pdf: This 2004 report from The U.S. Office of Special Education Programs contains an exhaustive list of tips for educators. The 32 page report is in PDF format.
- http://www.addinschool.com/: This site boasts over 500 interventions for students, organized into two large groups – elementary school children, and junior high and high school students.
- http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/specialed/adhd/: What impressed me about this site from British Columbia's Ministry of Education was the 5 well documented case studies for students from grades 1 to 11, including clearly edified Accommodation/Support plans.
- http://www.helpguide.org/mental/adhd_add_teaching_strategies.htm: This web article from the non-profit “Helpguide” organization is full of great ideas and tips for teachers and parents.
- http://www.teachervision.fen.com/add-and-adhd/resource/10503.html: Over 20 useful articles are listed on this one concise page, with summaries to help you understand what each article has to offer.
Most of the above sites also include sections with links to other web based document resources (you may notice a fair amount of redundancy, as many of the same resources are cited on different link listings).
Web based tools
- http://www.time4learning.com/ADD.shtml: This site's approach to learning “offers children a refreshing change from sitting in a classroom or at a table reading textbooks. In a home setting where school bells, background noise and other distractions don’t exist, students can work through the learning system without pressure. The program lets them go at their own pace, repeating the lessons as needed. This approach gives students a feeling of independence and sense of ownership over their progress, which is a great motivator and confidence builder. Exercises are shorter than classroom lectures, so kids with ADHD can take breaks more often … and come back to the material refreshed.”
- http://www.playattention.com/educators/: This is not a web based tool, but it is a software application. I struggled to find many applications geared towards helping ADD & ADHD students learn, so I had to broaden my scope beyond my traditional web-based focus. This page provides a good summary overview, an introductory video (that plays as soon as you access the page), and online webinars to help prospective users learn more. Based on the overview information provided, this sounds like an application with a lot of potential (the site claims that over 450 schools systems are already using their system).
- Forums/Discussion Groups: Discussion forums are one of the types of interactive environments available on the Internet, and there are many of these on the web focused on ADD & ADHD. I identified a couple that included areas specifically geared towards educators. For example, this forum: http://www.addforums.com/forums/ includes a section titled “Teacher's Lounge” (you have to sign up to participate). Facebook also has a number of groups focused on ADD & ADHD – I quickly located a group titled “Teachers of Children with ADD/ADHD”, although there were only two members so far (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=46255853802&ref=search – you have to log in first, then paste this link in). Another site that was referenced on various sites was “Chadd” (this link goes to their online communities, but again, you have to sign up to participate: http://www.chadd.org/Content/CHADD/Support/OnlineCommunitiesGuidelines).
- General Special Ed Online Communities for Educators: “Tech in Special Ed” (http://tech-in-sped.ning.com) is a relatively new online community, and while it is not focused purely on ADD & ADHD, it is intended specifically for educators that teach students with special needs. Interested educators may wish to become a member of this growing community. This is just one example of on online community such as this – there are more, and they can be found pretty easily with a Google search and little time spent clicking and reading.
I was actually somewhat surprised, and discouraged, by the difficulty I had finding interactive web based resources for students with ADD or ADHD. If any readers know of other interactive web based tools geared towards helping teachers who educate these students, or towards the students themselves, please comment and let us know about them.
Next Week: Autism & PDD
I hope this post has been useful to anyone interested in resources for educators who work with students with ADD or ADHD. In next week's post, we'll look into web based apps and resources for educators working with students who have Autism, PDD, or related disorders. Please join us, and as always, comments, insights, and ideas are welcomed and encouraged. Thanks, readers!