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Tour Home: How to use the Internet in Your Classroom
Tour Home: The New Teacher Handbook
How to Use the Internet in Your Classroom: Linking Curriculum, Technology, & Special Education Students
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Katherine Nell McNeil

Northwood Junior High School
Renton, WA. 

E-mail Katherine




Linking Curriculum, Technology, and Special Education Students

I am honored to teach the most challenging student population. I work in a self-contained special education classroom with students who have been diagnosed with severe behavioral disorders. Previously, I had witnessed students being "contained and controlled" with voluminous work packets filled with mind-numbing remedial work. All too often, students had been warehoused year after year in self-contained programs with little academic challenge or behavior modification. Students were frustrated, disillusioned, and disenfranchised. 

Students with behavioral disorders have the highest drop-out and failure rates of all students with disabilities. After questioning how her students were being educated, this teacher realized that she needed to implement change through design of her own program. Her philosophy: students were to be re-educated and re-integrated back into the mainstream. Her strategy: technology would become the tool for students to "buy into" academic achievement, to develop reading and writing skills using higher order critical thinking skills, and to connect their learning to the real world of work. Academic and behavioral excellence were expected.

How it Works
Technology is incorporated in the daily routine of the classroom, and becomes the vehicle by which the students find information and construct knowledge. They are taught how to use all the technology resources and to incorporate these tools into research, documentation, and execution of projects in a variety of subject areas. Students increase their reading, writing, and information literacy when they search the Internet for primary and secondary historical documents and use a word processor to write and publish reports. They reach beyond their neighborhoods and cultures to read newspapers and books online. They use complex sequential order skills to scan or digitally record documents, projects, or artwork that otherwise could not be placed in their hard-copy portfolios. They use spreadsheet software to track their stock portfolios, after consulting online stock reports to record gains and losses. They incorporate aesthetics and design when they create web pages or use photo software. 

I started my program with six donated and slightly under-equipped pc's, and just enough money to put software on them. There continues to be little money for my program, and I have supplemented these resources with personal donations of a desktop computer, a laptop, a digital camera, a scanner, a portable hard drive, and several software programs. I am responsible for all maintenance, and my students quickly learn that our equipment are tools, not toys. By allowing my students access to this technology, I have dispelled the myth that these students destroy anything they have access to, and that technology resources would be better utilized by mainstream students.


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