How I saw class size affect an ELL student with Assistive Technology

Looking back on my 2019 practicum experience through an assistive technology perspective, I’ve realized that there was a particular no-tech solution that I think would have greatly aided a specific student. This solution would have benefited the whole class and continues to be a commonly debated subject in our current pandemic learning situation. Though this student had access to a headphones paired with a Chromebook with Google Read and Write, the environment was not conducive to focused learning. This student was an immigrant from a war-torn country, learning English as a second language and was prone to explosive vocal outbursts. Their very high energy nature had made them a regular culprit for distracting others and disrupting the class. Through my practicum experience I had built a respectful relationship with this student and had seen them grow by working alongside them.


This student regularly used Google Read and Write with headphones to interface with their Chromebook. The problem arose in the classroom as we were 32 people in a portable. Due to the high noise floor of the classroom this student would yell their words into the computer. This would upset other students and lead to vocal conflicts. Though this high-tech solution was able to aide the student’s learning a no-tech solution was required. I showed the student where the chromebook’s microphone was and directed them to get closer to it allowing them to speak quieter. Thinking back I could have relocated them to face the coat wall to reduce sound reflections. Being in a portable surrounded by the frigid Canadian winter, working outside was not an option. The library wasn’t always available and ESL specialists were limited. The school was significantly overcrowded. This student needed a more isolated environment, with less distractions. They could have also been granted a pair of headphones with an attached microphone. This would have allowed them to speak quieter, enhancing their learning experience and providing less chances for verbal interference.


In conclusion, though I am a huge advocate for assistive technology in the classroom I experienced a situation where a no-tech solution was required. I recognize that assistive technology such as google read and write can aide ELL students but it must be used properly to be effective.

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This hammer was heavy.

I'm Dean. A professional musician and video editor now sharing my experience with my students and the world. I blog mostly about music, technology and how to integrate these subjects in educational situations. I teach Scratch, Python, and am fluent in Adobe Creative Cloud.

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