One of the struggles of teaching a “special” is meeting the needs of over 250 students a week, sometimes for one measly 45 minute period. Differentiation in this setting is hard.

Today I won a simple but hugely important battle in this arena.

One of my 7th graders struggles to do anything independently. She is a hard worker and motivated, but with 23 students working on projects and only 45 minutes (less when you count transition times) for me to check in with each one, it never fails that this student feels frustrated at the end of class.

In steps technology to help the situation. And I don’t mean a computer.

We are building projects in Scratch, a free software that teaches kids how program. The many steps and parts of the program are hard for this student to remember and keep track of. I decided to to use the Livescribe pen I scored last year to record directions for building a simple project. I pulled the student a few minutes early to show her how to work it, and during class she was able to tap on a step number and hear me giving directions. She could pause and replay the directions whenever she needed to and she never had to wait for me. After many classes of frustration, she left class today with a sense of accomplishment.

I immediately got to work recording more directions to other Scratch projects for other students who struggle similarly. Ideally I would love to have this resource available to all of my students. It would be like having clones of myself in the classroom or like providing my students with their own personal tutor.

I look forward to finding other uses for the pen to help meet the varied needs of my students.


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