Engaging all Learners


At that time, I was not yet familiar with the term Metacognition.  Then a parent suggested that my work was already being done elsewhere.  She introduced me to Video Modeling (VM) and Pivotal Response Therapy (PRT) to my attention. I discovered that researchers at the Koegel Autism Clinic, home to early ABA research, are studying how video may influence pivotal responses."  Michael Leventhal
You can lead a horse to water… but you can’t make him drink. 



We know that ..

  • Video Modeling is useful in teaching a variety of social and academic skills.
  • Enabling children to observe themselves in video serves to promote self-perspective (metacognition) which, in turn, dictates language acquisition.
  • Video and computers are so engaging that nearly every child can be taught to operate them as a tool for communication, choice-making and self-advocacy.

Seems to be a win-win-win situation.. BUT

you must first be able to hold your child's attention.

Some children are very difficult to engage.


What can I do if my child doesn't engage with the computer or television

Your first job is to capture his/er attention.

Not all children are drawn to the computer or television screen. In this event, a prerequisite first step would be to get the child to attend to the technology.  A child who can not attend can not benefit.

What are the steps in engaging the unengaged learner?

1.  Reactive Pleasure ("I'm just having fun")
What does your child like? Some children like music; others prefer moving images.  This list will revisit preferences for puzzles, mechanics, motion, repetition, physical engagement. Personal preferences play an important role in motivating a child to remain on-task.  So, try a variety of sites or programs while attempting to identify what it is your child likes..  or dislikes.

2.  Reactive Engagement ("Amazing! I'm having fun with something you picked out for me to do")
You want kids to connect with at least one, and preferably three different activities.  I have been successful in identifying at least one thing to engage the attention of hundreds of public school Spectrum students between the ages 6 and 19 considered as Moderate to Severely involved.
You will be successful as well.
3.  Reactive Awareness ("A-ha! this squiggly key on the keyboard is a tool I can use")
Once students engage with something they like, they are receptive to learning computer skills.  The child shows willingness to learn how to operate the technology to re-experience something enjoyable.

4.  Proactive and reactive Volition ("I will use this squiggly key to open the website I want, regardless of whether you ask for my opinion or not")
The student operates the technology independently in order to communicate, choose or self-advocate


 What kinds of things engage?                        


Children are attracted by
	                 ~  Motion ~                 ~ Sound ~            ~ Favorite Image ~   (e.g. food, pet, toy, book)




Some Examples of Motion                           
David (selectively and minimally verbal) ignored the computer. I was documenting our session with iMovie when his teacher entered the room. The motion on-screen captured his attention. I looped that brief clip and in 2 minutes was able to test David’s reaction. This proved very successful and served as the basis for him to express wants (to watch it again), choice (this clip or other) and simple conversation (Q: “who did you see in the movie?” A: “Mr.Marfisi”).

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Faith (preverbal) show no interest in the computer.  She was so enthralled by seeing this clip that she quickly learned how to operate the mouse.  

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Activities like this wonderful appeal to those with a mechanical bent

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Examples of Sound
Youtube is a great source resources combining visual and musical elements                               

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Examples of Favorite Image
I used the pix of Jello to capture the student's attention believing that, if I could enter his world 
and gain his attention,I might be able to coax him into my world for a time.

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 Sometimes it can be difficult to determine what might be engaging a student 

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Other times, it may be obvious 

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Don't be disheartened

First, compile a list of activities or sites you know make your child happy.  Analyze the list.   Are there common themes in play such as sensory preference, music or a penchant for assembling puzzles.  Narrow further search to similar resources.  You will need at least one, but preferably three resources.

Next, decide if you have enough material to work with.  You are attempting to engage a child who ignores the computer screen.  Once you capture his attention you have to hold it.  At some point, your child will begin to understand you've got something he wants and you're showing him how to get more of it.

Does your child want to see that cartoon character again?  Does he want to pop the balloon, strum the virtual guitar, make the choo-choo chug along the track?

My portal to teaching resources

 I created a portal to the websites I found useful in instruction.  On this way, I could access my resources from any classroom.  
Sites are allocated to arbitrary categories describing student technical skill and cognition. 
Sites are listed in the earliest category I have found them to be useful.
SItes listed under each category will also be useful in subsequent categories.
read:  How to Use My Portal 

Here are some example to prepare you:

expand1- PRE-EMERGENT =  Shows only Fleeting engagement.  No awareness of technology                   View        Example: Boobah
expand2 - EMERGENT = Minimal engagement.  Demonstrates some awareness of tech                                                                 View        Example: Starfall
expand3 - NOVICE = Engaged with the technology;  Operates with some prompting                                    View Example: JigZone
expand4 - CONVENTIONAL = Pursues academics independently.  Operates tech w/minimal prompting View Example: BrainPop

Lessons are more effective (and more fun) using touch technology