In addition to developing tech skills for future careers, Crist also found that working with STEM devices and programs helped his special education students with their schoolwork and independence.
“It got them to take responsibility for their own learning, and it allowed me to use that when they’re having a hard time in reading or math,” he explains. “When they say, ‘I can’t do this,’ I say, ‘What are you talking about? You learned how to code a 3D printer overnight. What do you mean you can’t do four plus four?’”
The technology is helping to teach his students, as young as third and fourth grade, that they can be independent and responsible — in many ways, a more important lesson learned than all their 3D printing, robotics and other STEM skills.
Watch the full video to learn more about technology in special education classrooms.
Using Educational Technology to Grow and Share Produce
Students at San Bernardino City Unified School District cultivate their skills alongside their produce. One of the district’s high schools is home to the various types of hydroponics systems that special education students use to grow foods ranging from lettuce to five different types of basil. They track the crops’ progress and journey with QR codes.
“The students scan the QR code and then mark the number of plants harvested and where the plants were delivered to,” says Barbara Pastuschek, special education teacher at San Andreas High School. “That helps us keep track of how many we grew, how many we had seeded to begin with, how many came out of the seeding and when we were able to transfer seedlings.”
The lessons don’t end when the produce is ready to harvest. The students also work on a website to market and share their bounty.
“The students input photographs, videos of different kinds of recipes, what health benefits come with the produce and the growing history of the produce as well,” Pastuschek says.
KEEP READING: Technology is reinventing arts education for K–12 students.
Her students do all the work of updating the website, including capturing photos and videos. One of Pastuschek’s special education students particularly enjoys the videography work and is very skilled with editing productions in Adobe Creative Cloud programs. Working with this technology has allowed him to come out of his shell.
“He used to not make eye contact, and he was very shy in public,” Pastuschek says. “And now he’s at the forefront of everything. He loves making movies. He loves talking to the elementary students.”