Supporting Special Education Learners through a Custom Symbaloo Webmix

What challenges do special education learners face during distance learning?

A common frustration that teachers face with remote learning is getting students to turn in their assignments. With learners working remotely, providing resources that allow for additional help when they have questions or get stuck, especially when you’re not available, can be invaluable to supporting your at-home students.

When students face other challenges with eLearning such as specific learning disabilities, ADHD, anxiety, and other cognitive or mental health difficulties, it is essential for educators to remove as many barriers to learning as possible. Often, parents are unable or unprepared to fully implement an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) their child may have at home. That’s where your Custom Webmix comes in!

How can my Custom Symbaloo Webmix reach special education learners?

When you design your Symbaloo homepage, you’ll likely include tiles for websites, articles, links to documents, and videos for all to access. Students will effortlessly understand what their assignments are, how to navigate through the tiles, and your expectations of their learning. At least that’s how teachers imagine things will go–and for most learners, there won’t be a problem.

But what about students who need extra support? That’s when your Custom Webmix shines!  Your tiles can be arranged to provide resources for all students, both general and exceptional learners, through custom Tile Groups. From there, you can supply additional links, websites, apps, and videos that offer supplementary materials and instruction for learners with special needs.

When you remove the obstacle of students not knowing where to start or what to do when they get stuck, you’re more likely to see increased motivation to learn and quality completion of assignments.

What kinds of tiles can I include to support special education learners?

Imagine that you’ve assigned a reading comprehension passage to your students. They’re to read three paragraphs of a non-fiction article and provide constructed-response answers to five questions.

In a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom, students could have a wide variety of accommodations to support their learning including having the text read to them, assistance with formulating their responses, alternative indication of response, breaks for movement, and many others. Here’s where you can embed support right into your tiles.

For students who need to have the text read to them, you can add a tile for a video of you reading the article or a link to someone else reading it. Even if your general education learners want to click on the video, great! They’re getting the content twice.

If you have students who need additional support in constructing their answers or need sentence starters, you can provide a tile for a Google Doc with prompts or ideas of what you’re looking for.

Students with physical challenges or who have processing difficulties can choose to respond to the questions by making a video or audio recording of their answers rather than typing them out. Adding a private YouTube Channel tile for students to upload their video responses is simple to set up for student use.

Additionally, you can include more tiles like dictionaries, instructions for more complicated projects, notes and study guides, extra practice, enrichment activities, step-by-step support for parents, and more.

Finally, teachers know that students need movement and frequent breaks to sustain focus in the classroom. This is especially true with virtual learners who are sitting down for the majority of their days.

Within your tiles, you can include brain breaks and focused attention practices that remind students to get up and move. Many of these strategies are available as videos, and you can add meditation podcasts or audio to help regulate those you know reach frustration quickly. Parents might even want to join in!

There’s no end to how you can tailor your tiles to reach students who are faced with exceptional learning needs during an exceptional time in education.

Curious about the possibilities? Learn more how to use Symbaloo in Special Education in this webinar from Ann Lawyer!

A custom webmix by:

Kristen Spellman

Special Education Teacher
at Fort Cherry School District

Cassie Laudermilk

Special Education Consultant for Non-Public Schools and Master Mentor Teacher

About Cassie

I have been a special education teacher for 15 years in both the public and private school setting. Working with students from those identified as twice exception through fostering learning in the inclusion setting and supporting students who are a part of a functional life skills classroom, I have developed a love for students who are not always traditional, but are always extraordinary. Currently, I live in Indiana with my husband, a school principal, my two daughters, and two senior cats. I love to read and watch historical mysteries and go to concerts (when it’s not a pandemic)!

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