Special Education Goetze and Walker (2004) Found Term Paper

Pages: 16 (4835 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 16  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Teaching

Special Education

Goetze and Walker (2004) found that students who are most at risk of academic failure are those who lack reading skills. They found that use of technology enhanced literary capabilities of students who have special needs (Goetze and Walker, 2004). In fact, technology and literacy have a very strong link and scholars have been keenly interested in discovering various aspects of their relationship. Fisher and Molebash (2003) in their study wrote that the Digital Divide is as a cause of concern for many educators who believe that technology has a great role to play in education. They point out that despite the fact that many non-profit organizations have devoted more and more time and effort into constructing a sound and efficient technical setup of it in various schools, these attempts are not only insignificant but they are highly subjective (Fisher and Molebash, 2003). This is evident in studies which found that most schools, belonging to poor urban minority areas, failed to use technology and ended up with worst literacy outcomes (Dowrick, Kim-Rupnow, and Power, 2006).

Fisher and Molebash (2003) argued that some researchers and educationalists made the mistake of treating literacy and technical proficiency on different scales. However, the truth of the matter is that one cannot exist or work efficiently without the success of the other. A good example of this was visibly present in the past decade: the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund of 1997 aimed to advance technical learning and skills of every student while the No Child Left behind Act of 2001 aimed to adopt a more technologically-driven structure to boost the overall literacy amongst students. However, both failed to realize that neither can obtain their objectives without understanding that technical proficiency and literacy go hand in hand (Fisher and Molebash, 2003).

Kartal (2006) asserts that this discrepancy could be associated to lack of methodical studies on the use of technology in education/literacy. This could be because only in recent times technology has turned out to be practicable for educational applications (Kartal, 2006). However, in an earlier study, Martin (2003) pointed out that the results emanating from studies were not consistent. In fact, studies have shown negative impact of use of technology (Martin, 2003). Other researchers, for instance, Doering, Hughes, and Huffman (2003) found that lack of teacher preparation has been the major factor behind unsuccessful use of technology in classrooms. Nonetheless, some experts have advanced that notion that use of technology is an advanced way to deliver lectures and educate the students (Speaker, 2004).

Problem Statement

Use of technology has helped some students in acquiring better literacy/reading skills; whereas it has hindered the learning of others. Fisher and Molebash (2003) and Speaker (2004) found technology as an assistive tool. Martin (2003) and Doering, Hughes, and Huffman (2003) found technology to hinder the learning process. With billions being spent on education each year and with so many schools adapting technology as a means of delivering lectures, it is imperative to come up with accurate and consistent results which give a holistic picture of the use of technology.

Literature Review

Fisher and Molebash (2003) defined literacy/reading as purely a means to extract meaning and understanding from a form of information or knowledge database. What technological improvements has done is given the teachers and students a wide spectrum of choices to extract this information. At first all educational exchanges were mainly aural but with time the advent of books, libraries, the media, journalism, television, the Internet, video games made teacher's task easier. It also increased accessibility to the students. However, when dealing with the students who have special needs, mere accessibility is not the answer and all efforts on technology integration have to include the easier understanding and interpretation of the text available (Fisher and Molebash, 2003).

May (2003) found that technological improvements have made the job of the teacher easier; it has not actually decreased the workload. A teacher still has more than 2 dozen children in his/her class and there are various teaching/learning capabilities and methods that these teachers still have to understand. This difference in teaching/learning is even more enhanced amongst the special-needs students. A teacher cannot overlook a behavioral pattern or force a learning technique upon his/her students. This is one of the main ways that technology has helped teachers. They can now use everyday mechanisms to explain different educational theories with the help of other technological tools or interpretations. However, for technology to actually help in the long run, the teachers need to make sure that the students are giving their input and are involved in the utilization of the technology so as to ensure a higher success rate of education through technology (May, 2003). Leloup and Ponterio (2005) found that use of technology motivated students to learn more, "When students learn to browse online news and magazine sites for articles that interest them personally, they can become more highly motivated to continue to use their language skills long-term because this is a real, day-to-day use of those skills, not just a classroom exercise (pg: 3+)."

Schmar-Dobler (2003) found that reading on the Internet actually enhanced student learning. They wrote, "The union of reading and technology on the Internet is causing educators to take a new look at what it means to be literate in today's society. New forms of literacy call upon students to know how to read and write not only in the print world but also in the digital world." May (2003) emphasized the need of great technological sense and knowledge for all current and future students. This is one of the main reasons why the students need to get accustomed to using these advancements and their implementations. This is also what has led to the incorporation of technology in a classroom setting. All these technologies aim to increase the students' intensity of wisdom, cooperation and text assessment. A good and simple illustration of this is a book review, which can be an individual task or a group task that use software programs such as Kidspiration and Timeliner. These software programs help students visualize their thoughts and opinions as well as communicate them efficiently. Now literacy reading skills are very important for both normal students and special-needs students because exposure to literacy is not only through books anymore. In fact the range of information is more vast and varied in accordance with the technical improvements; this is why the teaching of literacy/reading is far trickier then before (May, 2003).

To improve the reading skills of special-needs students, teachers use technology in the following spheres to make them (a) hear word tones; (b) decipher and interpret words; - understand overall expressions; (d) understand word span; (e) become knowledgeable and confident with their reading style (May, 2003). Gwinn, Horn, Johnson, and Watts-Taffe (2003) found that use of technology has given students access to tools which allow them to interpret, compare and contrast, integrate, and communicate ideas electronically. Gwinn and his colleagues found that technology and literacy are fast congregating.

May (2003) notes that one of the most successful ways that reading amongst the special-needs students has been enhanced by using technology is through group book reviews. The class is first given a list of books to choose form and then the students are divided in different groups based on their choice of book. There are prearranged meetings and the pages that need to be read in each group are decided before students meet in groups. During group meetings students engage in certain leaning task hat involve the interpretation of the story, the characters and their choices, the plots, the twists, the climax, the main incidents and their denotations. The whole idea is to make the children focus on what the story is about and how it has evolved through events and different interpretations.

May (2003) found that one of the most commonly used applications in this group book review task is the AlphaSmart mainly because of its simplicity and popularity among the special-needs students. The task would mainly involve the interpretation and rewriting of the story so that the teacher is aware of how well the student understands the plot and how much work he/she does. This also helps the teachers analyze the influence that the group opinions might have on the individuals within the group.

May (2003) notes that amongst other applications that are fast becoming part of the curriculum for improving the reading and understanding of the special-needs students are Kidspiration and Timeliner. The Kidspiration software program helps the students recall the main events and characters of the story and their influence on the overall plot while the Timeliner software program helps the students to analyze the timeliner in which the major incidents in the storyline took place and their aftermath on the following timelines.

May (2003) writes that another technique that is now being used with special-needs students is the teacher reading aloud and then having the students roam around their environment and take pictures that they feel… [END OF PREVIEW]

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