Over the past five years, Wildwood School has been able to increase its resources available in technology to meet the diversity of needs for student therapeutic sessions, instruction and programming. On any given day, you will see iPads, Smartboard Interactive whiteboards, MacBooks and more being used for everything from leisure time to direct instruction since every room is now equipped with a Smartboard and a set of iPads and there are shared MacBook computers available for classroom use.
Mark Giufre, Educational Technology Specialist, along with IT Specialists, Jesse Congdon and Dan Booke, keep staff up to date on what is available and how to use it, as well as keep it running smoothly each day. Along with the online resources available for staff to use, Mark also believes in bringing to the school innovative ideas that students may benefit from. Some of the recent examples of this include using the OSMO learning system for literacy skills and using virtual reality for mindfulness and relaxation.
Just recently, virtual reality was also used with students that were involved in an amusement park theme. Mark was able to create VR rollercoaster experiences for students to bring the amusement park to them. “It is amazing what you can do with technology and how far it has come,” Giufre said.
Staff is encouraged to come up with “How can we?” ideas, because there is always a way to accomplish whatever innovative ideas they have. Mark’s favorite email recently came at 2:16 AM from a staff person who must have thought of an idea in the middle of the night and wanted to send it along. Getting people involved and excited about technology makes Mark’s job exciting and fun. One of the biggest challenges is sifting through literally millions of resources out there and choosing the most appropriate ones for the school. Sometimes companies even contact him to check out their technology. In fact, he was recently contacted by a VR company called Floreo to test out their VR for students with autism. Mark frequently shares the latest and greatest tech as well as highlights various staff members in his monthly newsletters “WWTECH”.
Ayecia Simpson, a teacher, appreciates the extra help that technology provides. “Tech time enables my students to utilize their time with productive educational apps that focus on sight words, literacy, writing, various math skills, life skills and fluency with reading,” she said.
It isn’t just fun and games at school. It is also real learning and preparation for life. “Between the educational websites and apps, their curiosity and willingness to learn across various skills and content levels has increased. They genuinely look forward to tech time as it’s a brief period for their brains to debunk while still focusing on important academic skills. Using technology productively in the classroom helps transform their learning in a positive way.” Ayecia said.