SMART Technologies and teachers mark the completion of first global collaboration project between special education classes
DENVER, June 15, 2016 /CNW/ - SMART Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: SMT) (TSX: SMA), a leading provider of collaboration solutions, announced today the successful completion of the first-ever SMARTee Global Project focused on providing a positive impact for special needs students. The program was developed by teachers who are SMART Exemplary Educators (SEE) in collaboration with SMART Technologies, and leveraged products within SMART Learning Suite™, SMART's education software, to help special needs students improve social and communication skills while creating the opportunity for the students to connect with other special needs students around the world.
In total, sixty special needs students from around the world, in grades three through seven, participated in the program using SMART software. The main objective of the project was to create a collaborative and project-based learning environment where special education students can meet new individuals and work together. Students from each school engaged in a number of activities ranging from creating videos for one another to writing and sharing digital postcards.
The results were genuinely life changing for both the students and teachers involved. For example, a student in Sweden who had previously been unable to share or communicate with others was compelled by interactions with students in Finland to engage and participate in activities. As many special needs parents and educators can attest, this is a major developmental hurdle for students to overcome.
The project, which ran for the duration of the 2015-2016 school year, was developed and carried out by six special education teachers in five different countries including:
- Jörgen Holmberg, Kungsvägens Skola in Sipoo, Finland
- Stefan Schwarz, Oberlinschule, Potsdam, Germany
- Carla Pinho Vieira, St. Vincent School for the Deaf, Johannesburg, South Africa
- Lotta Ramqvist, Birgittaskolan, Örebro, Sweden
- Staci Gelbaum, Cumberland Academy of Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
- Brianna Owens, Petroglyph Elementary, Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
More success stories from teachers around the globe who participated in the project are detailed below:
- In the United States, Brianna Owens, of Petroglyph Elementary in Albuquerque, New Mexico: "The biggest success for me in this project has been instilling confidence in students from around the world who often can't or don't speak, who struggle in many different ways, and who ultimately feel like a failure," said Owens. "In participating in this project, we gave our students a voice, some for the first time, and taught them that in teaching one another, they had something to say. To empower students who have been so discouraged by society, schools, and even classmates for so many years has been life changing in for my students. This program taught my students that they have a voice on a global level and ultimately gave my kids purpose in coming to school, on working hard toward goals, and in learning new information," she said.
- In Sweden, Lotta Ramqvist of Birgittaskolan in Örebro: "I had a student with Autism and a language disorder who was very hesitant to communicate or share with others physically in the classroom. When he was working in this project, he felt empowered to pick up a drawing he had made and hold it close to the web camera so a student in Finland could see. This student would have never shown his drawing if visitors physically came into the classroom but he through the project, he gained the courage to communicate on video."
- In Finland, Jörgen Holmberg of Kungsvägens Skola in Sipoo: "I had one student in my class who was unable to grasp the ability to read or write, but through SMART Learning Suite software, we gave him the tools to share his experiences and thoughts with others. Drawing is almost the only way this boy could communicate and by leveraging the software, he was able to learn and relate with the other students across the world by sharing his art. There are many ways to communicate and this project allows those avenues to be explored."
Paying homage to SMART Technologies' headquarters in Canada, the project's mascot is a small beaver named "SMARTee" who spent the school year visiting the students in each country, chronicling his adventures in a blog.
"Special education students often feel isolated," said Neil Gaydon, President and CEO of SMART Technologies. "SMART Learning Suite software, paired with solid pedagogical practices, allowed these students to collaborate and gain a feeling of connectedness by meeting students around the world who are very much like them. Not only did this project succeed in enabling that feeling of connectedness, but the teachers and parents also noted marked improvement in social and emotional skills, empowering the students who were previously highly non-communicative to communicate in ways that that suit them and play to their strengths," he said.
One of the SMARTee project educators, Staci Gelbaum, will be at ISTE 2016 to present this project in greater detail. For more information about the SMARTee Global Project or to set up an interview at ISTE or via phone with one of the participating SEEs from around the globe, please contact Spark PR at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About SMART Learning Suite Software™
SMART Learning Suite Software, works seamlessly with any hardware device, including student tablets and mobile phones, classroom interactive displays, Chromebooks, and more. The Smart Learning Suite combines lesson delivery, assessment, student collaboration and game-based learning software into one ultimate suite of education software. Products in the SMART Learning Software Suite include SMART amp, SMART lab, SMART Notebook, and SMART response 2.
About SMART Technologies Inc.
SMART Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: SMT, TSX: SMA) is a world leader in simple and intuitive solutions that enable more natural collaboration. We are an innovator in interactive touch technologies and software that inspire collaboration in both education and businesses around the globe.
Over 2.8 million K-12 classrooms in 175 countries around the world use SMART solutions and SMART Notebook collaborative software for education to make learning more interactive, engaging, effective and fun.
With over 3.2 million SMART Board® interactive whiteboards, interactive displays and interactive projectors installed internationally, SMART has been a consistent innovator since creating the first interactive whiteboard in 1993. To learn more, visit smarttech.com.
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