Ashley is a 16 year old blind student who attends a unit at his local high school.
He is working with his Resource Teacher Vision, Virginia Ashby, learning to make use of the keys on the computer keyboard so that he can make choices after listening to the instruction on the Dolphin Guide computer programme.
Figure 1 shows Ashley at the computer.
What is happening now?
Ashley is learning to use the Dolphin Guide programme. He needs to press the down arrow key gently once for each option. When he hears an option he desires he then presses the enter key. Ashley is learning patience and finger control.
In figure 2 Ashley is reaching for the enter key after listening to options by pressing the down arrow.
Ashley had to learn to control his finger and hand movements and learn patient focused listening.
Ashley has learnt brain gym exercises which strengthen brain focus and body control. Ashley further practises these skills by using specifically chosen hand/finger action songs.
Ashley also taps the claves on particular beats and phrases in specifically chosen songs.
In figure 3 Ashley is doing Brain Gym exercises for himself.
Possible next steps
- For Ashley to reach with his left hand and confidently locate the Esc, Cntl, Windows, Alt, F1 and F4 keys.
- For Ashley to reach with his right hand and confidently locate the up and down arrows, F11, F12, Enter, and number pad keys
- For Ashley to be able to scroll up and down the menu options, patiently pressing the appropriate keys once and choose his preference.
- For Ashley to continue strengthening his fingers for computer use.
Teaching methods and strategies
- of the Brain Gym exercises to wake the Brain and body prior to lessons on the computer.
- was used to learn the specific location of the few required keys of the Dolphin Guide Programme e.g., Esc is the top left corner of keypad, Cntl bottom left corner, enter is bottom right corner.
- In each teaching session Ashley is given time to find (using the arrow keys) and select the keyboard practice option. This option is designed to allow someone who has never used a keyboard before to explore it. Guide reads out and displays on screen every key that is pressed.
- Further exploration is enjoyed when Ashley selects to play Hang Man in the games option. Ashley then explores the letters on the keypad. Ashley enjoyed the game aspect of exploring the keypad.
- Each lesson began with the same brain gym exercises progressing to the same (but in a different order) songs each week. The routine of the lessons was always the same as was the content. Repetition became the key to a stress free process of learning. His confidence and high level of achievement in both body exercises and computer skills surprised and excited us. Ashley got tired in his lessons but not stressed.
The main adaptation for Ashley was to put tactile cues on the key pad at specific orientation points i.e., the down arrow and number 5. This gave Ashley quicker orientation to the keypad and therefore quicker learning.
I have been using Brain Gym in my music and movement classes for over 10 years now and love the results. Each session always starts with Brain Gym before moving onto to higher thinking activities. In Term 1 of this year I attended a Brain Gym workshop where further data and exercises were explained and given thus reinforcing my conviction in the activities.
Ashley is shared between myself and another Resource Teacher Vision and we both saw the Dolphin Guide Programme at the Techno Expo at Homai in Term 1. Together we concluded this could be a good programme to get him onto the computer. We trialled it straight away focusing on the typing programme, adding CD’s of journals for listening and comprehension, playing Hang Man and with help learning how to fill out a timetable.
Ashley had no computer skills prior to the introduction of this programme. We progressed very slowly and initially focused on the up and down arrow for hearing menu options and the Esc key to go back or close an option. With quick understanding and success we confidently started to further explore of the keyboard – the number keys, Enter, Cntl, Alt with F4 (for shutting the computer).
Ashley has made sufficient progress with this programme so the next step is now applying for Ashley to have his own laptop and Dolphin Guide Programme. Ashley has also begun the Five Finger Touch Typing Programme which is touch typing with one hand.
- Smart Moves – Teach, Teach! Reflections of an ever-evolving educator blog
- Dolphin Guide User Manual – PDF download
- Body & Brain Development for Life – Kids Music Company website
- Children’s Music – Fine Food for the Brain – Tessa Rose website
- Brain Gym New Zealand – Education Kinesiology (Brain Gym) NZ Incorporated website
- Brain Gym – Edu-kinesthetics, Inc website
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