Bridges News — Events

6 + 1 Super Cool AT stories from 2016 ATIA conference

This year's Assistive Technology Industry Association's conference in Orlando turned out to be a really exciting few days. We got to attend sessions, meet with our manufacturing partners and prowl the massive exhibit hall hunting for cool stuff.

This year, the weather was unseasonably hot outside (peaking at 27C. Most years, the weather is more like Vancouver in November, than Toronto in June) and freezing in the halls with the air conditioning on max.

Despite the contradictory conditions we layered-up and tracked down what we think are the neatest AT developments at this year's ATIA. Here they are.
Read More

What we’ve learned at Bridges LIVE this year!

1) Multi-platform is the new eco system

At BridgesLIVE events we've seen BYOD in action. From iPads, to Surface tablets (actually a lot more than I expected, several per each BLive), from wheezy but still chugging XP laptops, to Macs and Windows, 7, 8 and even an Android tablet and Chromebook or two. Two years ago people brought their own iPads. Now folks bring a laptop, a tablet and a phone all running different OS’s. I had a few people who brought both a Windows laptop and a iPad or Chromebook -- each attendee is their own tech eco-system.
Read More

Bridges LIVE! Coming to a City Near You

We’ve just had our first Bridges LIVE! event in Mississauga and it was a great success. The enthusiasm of attendees, the discussions around trends in AT, new eye gaze technology and iPad access options, teaching strategies for students with profound challenges, tools on the cloud… as usual we probably learned as much from our participants as they from us!
Read More

MEville to WEville Success Stories from Alberta

As part of an ongoing literacy initiative, Literacy for All -- A Community of Practice, Alberta teachers are sharing their experiences with MEville to WEville on a publicly readable Wiki. [caption id="attachment_900" align="aligncenter" width="546"]Complete Meville to Weville with (from L to R) core books for young students, extension book for older students and the Literacy Starters titles with computer versions. Complete MEville to WEville with (from L to R) core books for young students, extension book for older students and the Literacy Starters titles with computer versions for mid-high school students.[/caption] "We learned that ALL students can learn literacy skills through comprehensive literacy instruction in inclusive classrooms when we use the right supports and modifications," wrote one teacher. "The kids are really responding well and the lessons are so well laid out," writes another Individual Support Program Teacher.  "I am feeling very optimistic and I think this resource will prove to be a great addition to my classroom." Two years ago Alberta began their  the Literacy for All project, whose goal was to:
"enhance teacher capacity to meet the literacy and communication needs of Grade 1-6 students with significant disabilities."
The deployment of MEville to WEville -- a research based literacy and communication curriculum for students with moderate to severe disabilities -- was a big part of the initiative.   Designed to build a classroom community that promotes a sense of belonging, each of the three units -- Me, My Family, My School -- offers students literacy and face-to-face communication teaching about themselves, their home life, and their school community. For older learners at an emerging literacy level, there is a version of MEville to WEville incorporating the Literacy Starters supported books for older readers  as core texts. Over 20 schools across the province are participating and Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium (ERLC) is coordinating and supporting the project.
Writing Stories
"OK guy, you have 15 minutes of free time.  Chose your activity." "Will you help me write a story?" Are you serious?  Could I be more proud? Students who couldn't identify what they saw in a picture a few months ago, can now gather information, share and organize it and turn it into a coherent story.  With characters.  And action.  And a title!" --Alberta teacher in Literacy for All project using MEville to WEville.
With stories like these, it is not surprising Alberta Education is extending and expanding the Literacy for All project this year. Alberta also implemented a project that addressed mathematics teaching for students with mild to severe disabilities using the Equals curriculum also from Ablenet.  Stay tune for a Wiki sharing their learnings from this project. Along with the great blogs out of BC about their SOLO project, the Literacy for All Wiki suggests that the trend to share strategies that work on-line is no fad. The Literacy for All Wiki has implementation ideas, success stories, adaptations of the Four Block literacy model (that MEville to WEville is based on), assessment strategies and more. To take a look at MEville to WEville for early grades or the version with Literacy Starters for middle to high school aged students, contact a Bridges consultant to arrange for a demonstration or loan. Here are some of the comments by educators from the presentations archived on the Wiki, specifically about using the MEville to WEville curriculum.
All of the boys (gr. 4-5) participating in the program had great difficulty expressing emotion at the onset.  Thanks to the (MEville to WEville) unit on how we feel, they are all now able to give words to their emotions and have found strategies to deal with them! MEville to WEville helped my students:
  • Build confidence,
  • Bridge the gap between literacy in the home and literacy at school.
  • Recognize, read and utilize high frequency sight words
  • Progress in language acquisition skills
  • Grow emotionally and socially.
By using the pictures as their writing utensil, the students were able to independently put down their thoughts.  They were writing.  And once they realized this, they had instant confidence.  Soon they could work in pairs and prompt each other.  Could we BE more excited?!!! Due to the success of the program we intend to expand it next year to include 3 more students with high needs...  It has been a great success here and I would recommend it to all. [gallery ids="905,904,903"]
Read More