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Google Tools for Special Needs

Written by Robert Greep

Something I’ve noted in prior articles is my constant battle trying to find meaningful technology, extensions, and apps to utilize with my special education students. There’s a myth that students with disabilities cannot use the same technology that typical students use. Most teachers realize this is not the case however, based on recent experience I’ve found with some of the more complicated technologies there is a longer learning curve and in some cases resistance from the students. I’ve found this resistance is often related to a lack of self-confidence. For example, in my US History class my students have been putting together a WeVideo presentation, their initial reaction was of dismay and frustration. Many made comments such as, “Why can’t we just use google slides?” “This is too hard, I don’t know how to use it.” “I can’t do this.”  (This last comment bothered me the most).

Most of these comments were made before we even began the assignment however, once we started many more of my students just wanted to quit, they said it was too difficult. My students aren’t always the most receptive when I introduce new technologies or technology they’re unfamiliar with. However, as always my students are very resilient and as expected they’ve responding well. Although my students are finally understanding WeVideo and the creative ways they can present their research it’s most definitely been an uphill climb. Although I’m happy with their progress one thing that kept bugging me was their immediate reaction and lack of confidence when introduced to something new.

One of the biggest problems I encounter as a special education teacher is the self-esteem of my students. After years of disappointing academic experiences, their confidence is low and their motivation has declined. Combine those concerns with the peer pressure, bullying, stresses of high school, and pressures of the general education classroom many of my students do not have a positive outlook towards their education. In my classroom, I use technology as a tool for empowerment and to create a collaborative and innovative space for all students. I want them to realize their potential and gain the confidence they need to move forward.

To assist my students in building that confidence I needed to re-evaluate how I’ve implemented technology in my classroom and what can I do to improve my students experience. The past two years I’ve utilized on a daily basis most of the Google suite for education products such as, classroom, docs, forms, slides, and drive. However, my research was to see what is available that would allow my students to utilize those technologies in a more meaningful manner. After asking Dr. Google I discovered several sites that were full of informative resources. One person I came across that provided a great deal of meaningful tools, information and links was Eric Curts. He’s a Google certified trainer and innovator. His presentations (see below) provided an enormous amount of useful information that all classroom teachers can utilize. There is such a great deal of information he provides I’m taking it day by day and reviewing all the examples and tutorials he provides. Please take some time and see what you think about his presentations. If you come across anything that you feel can be beneficial please feel free to share with me.

Google Tools for Special Needs

Google Slide Presentation on Google Tools

Google Doc Tools for Special Education Students

About the author

Robert Greep

Former Deputy Sheriff, Current High School Special Education Teacher, Site Tech, DieHard UCLA Bruin Fan, Avid Fisherman & Golfer. "Those Who Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail"