Unleashing the power of inclusion in education for all students in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Lt. Governor Calley toured Harrison Park School in Grand Rapids today to see firsthand how technology and inclusion is transforming special education in that district.

Inclusion is critical in special education and technology is helping to make it easier to implement. The technology is helping special education students to work alongside classmates in a general education classroom but also is helping them to engage more when attending special resource classes.

Heather Gauck, an educator at Harrison who prefers to be identified as a “specialized instructor” rather than a “special education teacher,” is using apps (most of them free) installed on iPads and some teachers’ phones. These apps save time, resources and help monitor student progress in nearly real-time.

With tools like this, parents also can see what their kids did in school that day. A private social network between home and school allow parents to “like” and comment on good news. Parents also can use this information to prompt their children with questions about their school day and what they did. That should help avoid the too often conversation that goes: “How was school today?” “Good.” Silence.

The Lieutenant Governor wrapped up the tour with a round-table discussion with school district staff about the potential that new technology and new perspectives can offer to education for all students.