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Digital Dictionary as a Pre-Teaching Tool- a Collaborative Project

Clientèle :

Students are deement to have disorder when

  • they exhibit severe limitation with regard to verbal interactions, both in terms of expression and compresion
  • the persistence and severity of the disorder prevents them from carrying out the scholl tasks normally assigned to other students of the same age.
Personne responsable : Lisa Diner

Western Quebec school board, Greater Gatineau , Eardley elementary , Pierre Elliot Trudeau Elementary school

Résumé :

 The project was initially developed to ;

1. Help students coded 34 create an ongoing tool to help with their language development
2. Create a network for teachers to support each other with ideas and resources in differentiated instruction to those students coded 34.

The students were to begin developing their visual dictionary in cycle 1 using an appropriate software, then continue to develop this resource as they progress throughout the cycles. The issues arose in that students may not be coded handicapé 34 until later in their academic career and, as such, we included students with extreme language difficulties. It was also realized that the initial vocabulary development and support for these students would help and benefit all students in the class and should be included in the classroom structure.

The network of teachers was intially created and the teachers were divided by cycle to offer support for each other. As the demands on teachers this year were greater than usual, teachers tended to support each other in their own school rather than their cycle colleagues. The plan for next year is to further develop the cycle networks and through our portal, provide support and community/resource access. 


1. To train and expose teachers to the Portal and to develop communities and forums for the project (as our portal has not been implemented yet, this is an objective for 2008-2009)

2. To teach and expose the teachers to the School Board’s video conference network (as video conferencing will be a component of our portal, the training will be on the portal tools and resources)

3. To train the teachers in the various softwares needed for the digital dictionary as well as provide for the students a simple step by step (visual) "how to" guide (As the teachers have had the training on the software, we shall work to creat a "how to" guide as well as possible create simple videos to support the visual learner in using the various software tools)

4. To create a collaborative curriculum guide by the participating teachers, to be shared with and available to all teachers at WQSB (As our teachers will begin working collaboratively these resources will be made available through our portal in the 2008-2009 school year)

5. To create an environment where students are able to create their own digital dictionary, using a variety of software tools such as KidPix, MS Word, MS Publisher and/or MS FrontPage. After presenting the various software titles and options to the teachers, they all chose to use Kidspiration software. The initial training occurred during this school year and the teachers will be ready to continue with the software next year.

6. To train teachers on benefits of server use and how to navigate to the server so as to save work properly (The technology available varies from school to school and if the school has a server, then the students will be shown/trained on how to save to the server so they can access their files throughout their school.

7. To introduce to students the tools and resources that can be provided with technology and to help them develop the necessary skills 


A) Spring 2007 - Met with the Director of Education/Complementary Services to establish an outline for the project including the participation of our School Board Speech Pathologist and our Special Education Consultant

B) September 2007 - Met with the Director of Edcuation/Complimentary Services, School Board Speech Pathologist and our Special Education Consultant to discuss the project and assess if a dictionary would meet the needs of our Handicapé 34 students. It was also discussed what tools/resources and support would be required to support these students. Discussion was also made as to what baseline data could be used to support such an initiative.

C) November 2007 - Met with the Director of Education/Complimentary Services, School Board Speech Pathologist and our Special Education Consultant to begin discussion on what form of professional development would best meet the needs of the teachers involved in the project and it was decided to include Carol Jazzar, the Speech-Language Pathologist who is also the Coordinator for the Centre of Excellent for Speech and Language Development.

D) Dec 2007 - Carol Jazzar met with some of the teachers at Greater Gatineau Elementary School to better understand their comfort level with students identified as Code 34 as well as students identified with extreme language difficulties.

E) Had a full day PD session for all teachers involved in the project including the various resource teachers from each school as well as the Director of Education/Complimentary Services, the School Board Speech Pathologist and our Special Education Consultants. The morning session had Carol Jazzar presenting an overview of the students with Extreme Language Difficulties and the afternoon was looking a the various technologies and software titles that could support the project

F) May 2008 - Met with the teachers to ensure that the software/hardware was in place to support this project next year as well as the teachers having the training necessary to practice the software between now and next school year where we will be beginning phase II.


Our goal is to look at various baseline date obtained through various assessment tools inlcuding, but not limited to, DRA and/or W.I.A.T. scores. The observational results would also include teachers feedback on the student’s progress both with the use of the software as well as with their ability to develop the skills necessary to retrieve their dictionary and use it in conjunction with daily work.

Moyens novateurs

As discussed previously, our initial plan was to bring teachers together to support their own professional development and understanding of students with special needs, specifically Speech and Language Difficulties. Having involved Carol Jazzar in the project expanded our resources further to include provincial support. 

1. Tele collaborative project
 *The portal
 *Video conferencing
 *Online tools such as Google Docs, DotPlan (a LEARN curriculum design tool), etc

2. Server storage
 *Highlight the importance of using the server to store student work

3. Digital dictionary
 *Kidspiration 3.0 to include mind maps, concept maps as well as visual organizational skills

Conditions de réalisation

Having provided training for our classroom teachers as well as resource teachers provided a common understanding and a common knowledge base. It also provided a support for the teachers within their own schools. 

The one issue with the project that was caused further delays was the availability of technology in the classrooms. As each school has their own level of technology, not all classrooms had access to computers on a regular basis, however, by May 2008, there were at least two computers in each classroom with Kidspiration installed. As a result of this, all teachers involved in the project could not familiarize themselves with the software and subsequently could not introduce it to the students. Since our classrooms now are equiped, the students next year will be ready to begin in September and benefit from the tools and resources throughout the year. 

Having a Portal next year will also help uscollaborate more efficiently and help to create community of learners.

Bénéfices ou résultats

The feedback from the teachers after the all-day session was very favourable. Teachers certainly appreciated the background information presented by Carol Jazzar as well as the technical side in the afternoon. Teachers were given the opportunity to establish networks and to initiate professional dialogues. As the teachers have a better understanding of the needs of students identified as handicapé 34/Extreme Language Difficulties, they were better able to alter their teaching/presentation style to include visuals cues, visual support, kinesthetic teachers, etc. 

As the project established a foundation this year, our goals next year are to look at baseline data of the identified students and to hopefully be able to see improvements made as a result of this project.

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