By Mark Giufre, Educator and Instructional Technology Specialist
My name is Mark Giufre and I am incredibly fortunate to be in the position of Instructional Technology Specialist for my school. In my job I have a diversity of roles but the main goal is to pair good instructional practices with current 21st century resources. A lot of my time is spent working with staff in all areas and helping them see the power technology can have when embedded into an already rich and goal-oriented lesson.
Just like BridgingApps states in their mission, bridging the gap between technology and people with disabilities is critical. Nestled away in Eastern Upstate NY, Wildwood Programs is an organization that provides comprehensive supports and services to well over 1,500 people and their families every year. From the child struggling in school with a complex learning disability; to the adolescent with Autism trying to navigate his or her social world; to the adult with a developmental disability; to the family doing everything they can to support their child with a disability, Wildwood Programs help people grow.
One of the projects I have been invested in all year has been with our Work-Based Learning Department. The director of the department, Ron Gordon, seeks out new and innovative ways to teach our students and provide them with 21st century resources in order to help them achieve greater independence in life. His Foundations of Work classes this year were taught naturally by incorporating iPads.
iPads served a variety of roles. Some students used them to create e-portfolios that they can then use in job interviews or to help them self-advocate at a meeting. Google Sites as well as Dropbox were used on the iPad and on computers in order to create these portfolios.
Most recently, the focus has turned into how an iPad can help individuals we work with become more independent and successful in employment and in daily living. A diversity of applications are being explored. The calendar features were explored in depth so that they can be used for personal planning and responsibility. Other apps such as Choiceworks are used as well, to help individuals be more responsible and independent at job sites without relying on someone else for assistance. These are just two of a variety of apps we have used and will continue to use with our students. The possibilities are endless.
There are many â€œbook creatorâ€ apps on the market, and we use them to customize social stories on a device to help an individual at a challenging time at work without the need to rely on someone there to assist them. The dictation feature was also looked at to help individuals with limited writing skills be able to communicate. As students become familiar with the devices and the tools on them, we are helping to open doors to them that leads us to fulfill the mission of Wildwood School: To educate students with autism spectrum disorders, neurological impairments and complex learning disabilities by developing skills to live, work and recreate at their highest level of independence.
There is no limit to the power strong teaching and instructional practice has when combined with 21st century educational technology advancements. BridgingApps has been there along the way, helping us efficiently find apps that are professionally reviewed. I would love to connect with more folks out there that enjoy exploring the true power of devices that are transforming teaching and the lives of individuals.
Below I have listed my website where I post information about apps I find helpful and other â€œtechâ€ information.