Located in La Grange, Kentucky, Oldham County Schools educate over 12,000 students. Each school in the district maintains the highest possible accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), designating OCS as an award-winning school district both on the state and national levels. This is a story from one of their many excellent teachers:
My name is Jennifer Hallas, and I am in my seventh year of teaching as a special education teacher. I teach at Oldham County Middle School in La Grange, Kentucky, and am the special education lead teacher in my building. I currently teach students in grades 6-8, in both the collaborative co-teaching setting and resource language arts. I am a LBD (Learning and Behavior Disorders) teacher, and I service students identified under the category of autism, specific learning disability, mild mental disability, other health impaired, and emotional and behavioral disorders.
For students with reading deficits, the mental, physical, and social aspect of reading in a classroom leads to great anxiety and frustration. As middle school students, my students have experienced years of struggle due to their reading deficits. Most of my students read three or more grade levels behind their peers, which impacts them in every educational setting. Socially, they are now aware of their deficits and they do not want their peers to look at them differently. Rarely will my students read aloud or engage in reading assignments because they are afraid their peers will discover their struggle as a reader. In addition, my students require the use of a human reader regularly when given grade level reading tasks because they are performing so below grade level. This often requires pulling these students out of the classroom to provide a reader, which singles them out, and is not an effective approach when you have one special education teacher in the room and up to fifteen students who require the use of a reader.
About three years ago, my language arts co-teacher introduced me to the Explain Everything app, and since then, this application has transformed not only how I provide accommodations to students, but also how I create and deliver specially designed instruction and provide opportunities for guided practice to my students. When it comes to providing audio as an accommodation, the videos that I create using Explain Everything allow my students to independently read text that is above their reading level. My videos allow students to access grade level text that they would otherwise be unable to read and understand. Students can also take formative and summative assessments independently, and still receive their required accommodations as outlined by the IEP’s (Individualized Education Plans) The best part, my students can access all of these videos, while being fully included in the co-teaching setting. They are not singled out and get to stay where they belong, with their peers in the least restrictive environment.
When it comes to delivering specially designed instruction, the Explain Everything app has allowed me to “flip” my classroom, and allow students to learn with the most updated technology, and in a way that best fits their needs. With my videos, they get the auditory instruction combined with the visual presentation that makes their learning so unique and individualized. Due to large class sizes, diverse needs, and varying ability levels, my videos also provide a means for me to teach one on one or in a small group, and know that instructional time is not lost when students are working with my videos.
The Explain Everything app has absolutely transformed my co-teaching and resource classrooms. My students are gaining independence in the educational setting, and becoming less teacher dependent in spite of their reading deficits. My students are receiving special designed instruction that is created for their individual needs, and the instruction is delivered in a way that increases their engagement and productivity as independent learners.