Kelly Chambers

Kelly Chambers
Judge Baker Children’s Center

 

What is the one thing you are really passionate about?

As an educator trained in special education, my passion in teaching has always been to encourage and promote students’ independent learning skills. When developing lessons and content, I use the universal design for learning frameworks to create materials all students can access. After instruction, I provide students with an expert learner resource. This resource gives students access to video, notes, and/or diagrams about the lesson. When the students come to a part in the independent classwork they don’t understand or for which they need review, they can use the expert learner resource rather than asking the teacher. When students become independent learners, it strengthens their ability to take risks in their learning and deepen their understanding. This is one way I promote independent learning skills.

My passion for promoting independence led me into my work as the assistive technology coordinator at a therapeutic day school in Boston. Assistive technology and independence have a symbiotic relationship, meaning that for many students, their independence relies on their ability to access assistive technology. Using tools such as text-to-speech and word prediction helps students to be independent with tasks that might otherwise require teacher support. Giving students the tools they need to make successful, independent academic progress is the highlight of my job.

 

What are 2-3 of your favorite apps or tools?

One of my favorite tools is Google Read&Write by Text Help. At my school, we use Google Read&Write as a Chrome extension. This tool’s versatility in working easily within G Suite, PDFs, and web pages makes it a winner all around. The simple toolbar gives students access to text-to-speech, word prediction, highlighting tools, dictionaries, screen readers, vocabulary building, etc. while working in Google Docs, annotating PDFs, or reading online articles. For many students that require these tools for success, having them available across so many platforms provides not only ease of access but also decreases frustration.

I also love Explain Everything’s collaborative and interactive whiteboard. This amazing program allows students the ability to use a variety of tools to demonstrate their understanding. The ability to use images, videos, recordings, drawings, etc. to explain or present a concept plays to all students’ strengths. For example, many students understand far more about an idea than they can write in a paragraph. Giving them alternative tools to highlight their understanding opens up a world of possibilities for both teachers and students.

 

What is your current project?

I am currently working on creating a parent- and student-friendly website to support the use of Google Classroom at home. Since many of the students at my school require access to tools such as Google Read&Write, I am creating step-by-step screencasts to show how to access their with the tools needed. My goal is to support families, thereby increasing the number of students who can independently complete their homework.

 

Who do you admire most?

Honestly, I admire the kids the most. In my world, the kids come to school with a lot on their plates. Between emotional turmoil, learning disabilities, distractibility, and processing and memory difficulties, I am impressed with the kids’ stamina to make it to school and continue to learn new things. It has been a pleasure to see students light up when they can realize they can read or listen to a class book or worksheet. I truly enjoy when they begin to feel that they belong in the world of readers and writers. The students have taught me the ins and outs of so many technology tools, and I am constantly amazed at the insight they offer on improving those tools in order to meet their specific learning styles.

 

How do you stay current on trends and new technology?

It’s very hard, because there is such constant change. To try to keep perspective, I follow a couple of company blogs. These keep me up to date on the tools that my students use daily. I also have a great community of assistive technology colleagues that have created a forum to ask, answer, and comment on any old and new technology. And of course, a colleague and I attend the MassCue Fall Conference every year with hopes of finding new tools for our teachers and students.

 

Biography

Kelly grew up in a small Ontario town about an hour north of Toronto. Being a teacher was always one of her passions. She spent many of her high school years teaching swimming and skating lessons at the local recreation center. In 2001, she graduated from the University of Windsor with a Bachelor of Arts, Honors, with a major in Drama in Education. Shortly after in 2003, she received her Bachelor of Education from Nipissing University. Over her years of teaching in Ontario, she continued her studies at the University of Toronto, where she received a Specialist in Special Education. As a new immigrant to the United States, she enrolled in the Master of Science, Assistive Technology program at Simmons, which she completed in September 2015.

Kelly began her teaching career as a special education teacher at the David Hornell School in Toronto, Ontario. She had the opportunity to teach in both inclusion and kindergarten classrooms. After three years at David Hornell, Kelly moved to Park Lawn Junior School. At Park Lawn, Kelly continued her special education teaching working with both learning and physically disabled students. Wanting to expand her teaching experiences, Kelly moved into the regular classroom and taught first grade for three years. In 2009, Kelly married and moved to Braintree, Massachusetts, to live with her husband. Upon arriving in the United States, she accepted a head teacher position at a therapeutic day school in Boston for students who experience neurological, emotional, and learning difficulties. Kelly continued as a head teacher in the middle school for five years and now is in a new role as Assistive Technology Coordinator.

Perhaps more importantly, Kelly is the mom of a three-year-old sprite. Kelly loves spending her time at home playing make believe, practicing yoga, and sewing a 3T wardrobe. A recently naturalized American citizen, she loves her life in New England, with the beach and the mountains only hours apart. However, there will always be a piece of her heart back in Canada, with her much-missed family and friends.

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