" May (2003) emphasizes the need exists for greater technological sense and knowledge for all current and future students. Consequently, this need has led to incorporation of technology in classrooms settings, as technologies aim to increase students' intensity of wisdom, cooperation and text assessment. Today, literacy reading skills prove to be vital for both normal and special-needs students, as exposure to literacy encompasses more than books. In fact, the range of information is more fast and varied in accordance with contemporary technical improvements. A book review, using software programs such as Kidspiration and Timeliner, provides one pertinent illustration of incorporating technology in a classroom setting to better comprehend. Using software programs such as these could help students, in individual tasks or as they work in a group exercise, visualize their thoughts and opinions, as well as communicate them more effectively. (May, 2003)
To improve their reading skills of special-needs students, teachers use technology in following realms help students:
hear word tones, decipher and interpret words, understand overall expressions, become more knowledgeable and confident with their reading style. (May, 2003)
Gwinn, Horn, Johnson, and Watts-Taffe (2003) found that use of technology in education gives students access to tools which allow them to interpret, compare and contrast, integrate and communicate ideas electronically. May (2003) notes that one of the most successful ways reading among special-needs students has been enhanced is by using technology in group a book reviews. After one class of students was initially given a list of books to choose a title from, they were then divided into groups based on their choice of book. Prior to students meeting in groups, pages to be read during group meetings are determined. When students meet in groups to review their books, they engage in certain learning tasks that involve the interpretation of the story. They also discuss the characters, along with choices the characters make, plots, twists, the story's climax, along with main incidents and experiences. The core idea is help students focus on what the story purports and how the story evolves through events and various interpretations.
May (2003) discovered that the Alpha Smart constitutes one of the most commonly used applications in this group book review task, primarily due to its simplicity and popularity among special needs students. The most important tasks involved include the interpretation and rewriting of the story. These tasks help the teacher become aware of how well the student understands the plot and how much work the student accomplished. It also helps teachers analyze the influence the group's opinions might have on individual members within the group. At times, students with exceptional learning needs must "participate in the general curriculum and show performance in terms of grades and results on high-stakes testing programs." (Rieck & Wadsworth, 2005) During these "testing" times, a range of assessment approaches, along with appropriate accommodations, must be used. These are to enhance, not reduce the student's chance of academic success, nor to give him/her a scoring advantage. The point is to measure what the student really knows.
A good rule of thumb purports that almost every assignment which requires writing may also be completed orally. Available assistive technology, such as word processing and PowerPoint, are readily available. Using artistic ability or tactile construction of models also constitute options for teachers to use to test special-needs students. (Rieck & Wadsworth, 2005)
May (2003) also notes that Kidspiration and Timeliner are among a number of applications rapidly becoming part of the curriculum for improving reading and understanding of special needs students. The Kidspiration software program helps students recall the main events and characters of this story and their influence on the overall plot while the Timeliner software program assist students in analyzing the time in which the main incidents in the story take place and the aftermath of the ensuring timelines.
May (2003) states that another technique currently being used in working with special-needs students includes the teacher reading the story aloud to students and then permitting students to roam around their environment and take pictures they feel relate to the story they heard. After taking pictures, the students use AlphaSmart software to paste their selected features and explain in a paragraph why, how and where in the plot they think their pictures relate to the story. This particular project tests three areas:
students' concentration students' levels of understanding of the general plot, and students' imagination.
This process proves to be an important component of implementing this particular technology as it opens students' horizons and allows them to see the general links and relations their own lives might have with the stories they read. The implementation of taking pictures reflects one way this project has been successfully implemented. The use of the camera, inflexible application, is being used in different ways for various special-needs students.
Studying vocabulary, primarily an understanding of the use and interpretation of words being used, helps special-needs students improve their reading skills when included in that group. Expressions of vocabulary, according to many proficient readers, constitute the best part of reading. According to May (2003), cameras are also being used to expand the vocabulary among special-needs students. The students take photographs in accordance to what they understand.
Use of technology has been widely recognized as a vital tool for literacy improvement. Although the relationship between technology and literacy has been asymmetrical, enough evidence exists to encourage teachers to use the latest technology to advance students learning. Three of the most successful applications, enhancing literacy education for special needs students include:
voice detection software, tele-cooperation of the Internet, and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and new portable processors or devices (Fisher & Molebash, 2003)
After Fisher & Molebash (2003) traced the track of technological advancements, they note that at the advent of the 21st century, all of the aforementioned applications were still "on the drawing board," being tested hypothetically. The speed at which these applications have been practically implemented and yielded academic improvement reportedly impresses those involved in the process. Fisher & Molebash (2003) found that technological advancements have followed the pattern Gordon Moore pointed out more than four decades ago.
Moore reports that in theory, all microchips possess the capacity to improve and enhance learning within a period of 18 months. This particular statement, termed the Moore's Law, has held true since its inception and still stands true in relation to today's digitally-driven society, however, an adjustment purports that Moore's theory includes everything from speed, power, memory and price. Moore's initial law restricted the phenomenon of speedy advancements to the speed of microchips. (Fisher & Molebash, 2003)
This rapid increase in the advancement of technologies is one of the core reasons for the corporation of tools like computers, cameras and other tools in the school setting.
Without these technological tools, students may not only be "bored," the school's education setup would be behind times, not measuring up to requirements of developing societies. Computers, Nintendo games, cell phones, e-mail the World Wide Web have become such an integral part of contemporary daily life, some individuals have a hard time imagining an era when these technologies did not exist. The use of technologies within a classroom of special needs students helps increase the students' confidence. They also become more and comfortable in their thinking as they learn they can operate gadgets and tools normal students operate.
The ubiquity of technological tools like PTAS, televisions, cell phones, video games, IPods, computers, and modern publishing resources contribute to reasons why students feel more comfortable and engage better in a classroom setting where technology is incorporated in the academic curriculum. (Fisher & Molebash, 2003)
Thus far, one of the most useful applications of technology to enhance the reading skills of special-needs students has been the Tele-collaborative venture that utilizes the Internet as its main source of communication. The significant fact of the Tele-collaborative the injuries that it mainly incorporates some most commonly used mechanisms of telecommunications, such as e-mail, debate mediums, synchronous chats, and videoconferencing. All of these tools and mechanisms are used within and among classrooms, schools, in universities, as well as across borders to address the commonalities and difficulties faced special-needs students face. Once these commonalities are identified, numerous organizations can join hands to work on problem-solving techniques and structures. (Fisher & Molebash, 2003)
Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)
The current rise in the use and success of the PDA contributes to reasons educational institutions use this technology tool on large scale. Even though PDAs were initially used as storage devices for names, dates, reminders, and/or addresses, they have become versatile enough to provide teachers with a sword of the electronic calculator and mobile computing that can be used to access the Internet, performed on test and assistants, record results, average scores and maintain grade books. Popularity of the PTA has forced education committees in Florida to create efficient software based on the PDA format that will help special…