Lesson Study and assistive technology

Based on the evidence, Lesson Study is particularly well suited to the development of effective technology integration skills. The cycle by which Lesson Study is delivered allows for teachers to try new devices and approaches to achieve student learning outcomes. The opportunity to brainstorm with a teacher-lead, user or experts, such as a technology integrator or educational technologist has been recognised as a beneficial experience for teachers (Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2007). This is particularly critical as changes in teacher confidence in the use of technology requires time (Brinkerhoff, 2006) and is best implemented in small steps (Kanaya, Light, & Culp, 2005). For example, Brinkerhoff (2006) reported teachers were more confident in using technology after 90 hours of professional development delivered over two years. Spreading the time over a period allows for confidence and familiarity to be built (Somekh, 2008). Fostering a culture of experimentation without pressures of failure encourages teachers to try new ideas (Brinkerhoff, 2006). Lesson Study provides such a framework.

Steps in Lesson Study

Formulating learning goals

Lesson Study begins with forming the team. Teachers teaching similar groups of students are recruited. Typically, 3-6 instructors from the same discipline are selected for a team though interdisciplinary teams are not unusual. One member of each group is designated the "knowledgeable other” (Richardson, 2004, p. 3). Where the team does not have an expert such as in the case of assistive technology, the expert can be an assistive technology specialist, a special educator, therapist or an experienced and informed user of the assistive technology. This person brings an objective, student-centred view to the team. The team begins with selecting a goal for student learning. Goals are usually important in the course, problematic to students or new to the curriculum. Richardson (2004) also reminds teachers to connect lesson to other curriculum. Some questioning prompts for goal-setting include: How is this unit related to the curriculum? How does this lesson relate to the lesson study goal? This goal can be derived from the existing data or from a larger goal the team has established for student outcomes.

Since teachers will be working with students with disabilities, a fundamental step is to analyse how instruction should be defined for a student with special education needs. Two dimensions, i.e., the User Dimension and the Learning Dimension are important here (Reed & Lahm, 2004).

User dimension

Educators need to identify their student’s profile considering their particular characteristics and determining the technological or curricular adaptations necessary for different kinds of students with special needs (sensorial, physical, or cognitive impairment levels). Some general areas include (Reed & Lahm, 2004):

  • • Size of print is too small.
  • • Student is unable to hear adequately.
  • • Manipulatives are too difficult to utilise.
  • • The child often needs text read to him in order to complete an assignment.
  • • Handwriting is so illegible that the meaning is impossible to decipher (the effort of writing is so slow or so exhausting that it is counterproductive).
  • • Current modifications are not working.
  • • The child is “stuck”: the effort of decoding reading assignments is so difficult that the child loses track of the meaning.

In response to the challenges identified above, there are many assistive technologies available to meet the needs of students with disabilities. It is beyond this chapter to discuss the decision-making process of assessing and deciding on appropriate devices. The following lists some general functional categories. Within each category, some examples of assistive technology are provided. For the full list, please refer to Reed (2007).

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