West Heads East Tour

The Panda took all my money! No, not really, but I had to pay him a dollar in New York City for a picture. Last week, during the 1st week of a two week spring break, I was in New York City for an 8th grade east coast trip entitled West Heads East Tour. I chaperoned 13 8th graders and updated everyone using our blog, twitter profile, and Flickr page. My last post for the trip is located here. You’ll see that I embedded an iMovie for our photos, and a my eBook for my students’ blog comments. I think my eBook worked pretty well for highlighting my students’ blog comments. They had a lot of really cool and touching things to say about what they learned on the trip. Now, through the eBook, they and I get to reminisce in a pseudo-yearbook of our trip. I would embed my eBook and iMovie here, but the release form didn’t include sharing on this blog.

I gotta say one highlight of the trip was using the technology. It was great fun to have the chaperones and students help with blogging, tweeting, and sharing photos. When I created the Parkway Middle blog and Parkway Middle Flickr page for last year’s trip, I had no idea I would get so much participation. I thought it would just be me doing it. The kids, however, eagerly complied to blog requests. This may be due in part since they got to use an iPhone and iPod touch for blogging. My students definitely blogged more than the other students on the trip. I think this came down to access and opportunity, a principle used in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) therapy. The principle implies that an individual will only use a device if he/she has the access and opportunity to use it. Although other chaperones had an iPhone and their laptops, they weren’t allowing their students access, either at all or as much. A fair amount of students also had an iPod touch, but their chaperones weren’t allowing their students the opportunity to use them for blogging. I made the most concerted effort to provide student access to my MacBook, iPhone, and iPod touch. As frequently as possible, I provided the opportunity for my students to respond to a blog prompt. As a result, I feel like my students won, by learning how to communicate their thoughts on blogs using various devices. This got me thinking again about how important it is to provide AAC access and opportunity. If we AAC providers don’t provide adequate access and opportunity, then our students will lose out on communicating their thoughts. And, I think that having a portable solution like the iPhone and iPod touch enables more access and opportunity.

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