"Dear Mom and Dad, Today was awesome, absolutely awesome. I met Attie. She was a therapy dog. I learned how to use Google read and write on our Chromebook. The teachers are so cool and awesome. Sincerely, Your tech savvy kid"
(email from student to parent)
"My son talks all the way home about what he did at camp today, I never would have thought dogs would keep him so engaged. This may just be the highlight of his summer!"
This summer, Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) Special Education staff led two camps in late July and early August at Holly Meadows Elementary School in Barrie and Regent Park Public School in Orillia.
The camps were attended by 33 students in Grades 4 to 8 who utilize assistive technology (AT) in school to support a learning disability or language impairment. The goal of the camp was to enable students to become more comfortable, confident and successful with web-based software tools to accommodate their learning skills.
Students shared personal experiences by reading, writing and talking about using the tools available through their equipment. The camps included daily physical activity (DPA) and celebrated the "The Year of the Dog." Partnering with Sweet Charity (Canine Ambassador Dogs), CNIB Guide Dog Volunteers, Barrie Police Services K9 Unit, Ontario Provincial Police K9 Unit and Medical Sniffer Dogs, campers interacted with animals as they applied the use of technology to assignments.
The sessions included a parent-learning component where families were able to share their experiences supporting a child with a learning disability during group discussions lead by special education resource teachers (SERTs) and assistive technology/strategy specialists.
The SCDSB is committed to maximizing educational opportunities and outcomes for all students, in an environment that enables them to reach their goals and achieve success. Consistent with the SCDSB's Strategic Priorities, ensuring success through excellence in teaching and learning requires a year-round commitment to learning. The enveloped special education funding (Special Equipment Amount [SEA]), Ontario's Ministry of Education funds school boards for the purchase of computers, software, etc., as well as claims-based funds for non-computer equipment in excess of $800. Approximately 4,000 students in the SCDSB are supported with computers via SEA per pupil funds and/or claim-based funds.
During the 2018-19 school year, SCDSB computer software technicians plan to monitor the students who attended the assistive technology camp to ensure they apply what they learned in a classroom setting and staff will support them as needed.