Brooke Turk was impressed by the impact on her autistic students when she began using the Epson BrightLink Interactive Projector in January. “It definitely allows me to see what they’re capable of,” says Turk, who teaches special ed in Beach Park School District 3 in Illinois. “The keyboard gives them a reason to write, because it’s technology. I’ve gotten a greater feel for their abilities, because they are willing to work hard for this incentive.”
Turk has seen heightened levels of excitement and engagement, and through the system, one largely nonverbal student has even started to talk more and interact. “We’ve done a lot with PowerPoint, sorting site words, sharing, taking turns—which is huge. They have to sit and wait and pay attention to what the others are doing.”
The tech’s ability to project onto anything means other benefits. It eliminates the need for an additional special whiteboard that would eat up classroom space and resources. The ceiling mounted projector displays on a tabletop and is thus ideal for children in wheelchairs and those with other physical disabilities, letting Turk avoid disruptive and upsetting transitions to a computer room.
Turk’s diverse group of K–3 students uses Reading A to Z’s projectable book. “We can pick apart the story, working as a group despite the wide variety of learners and abilities: circling words, underlining them, drawing things in. The story might be more appropriate for the younger students, but the higher-functioning kids can dissect it better.”
Because so much is gained in just two hours a day (early-childhood development and kindergarten pop over to borrow the tech), Turk hopes to take advantage of the tech’s ability to take photos of lessons that she canthen email to parents. Students are already bringing home stories that she hopes will further entice some parents who initially saw more value in traditional pencil-and-paper writing.
“If we give the kids technology, look at what they can do,” Turk tells the parents. “Look what they are capable of!”