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January 2011



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HINCKLEY — At the same time public schools have a shortage of special education teachers, the number of autistic students attending those schools continues to grow.

That’s why an increasing number of teachers are starting to use the “VizZle” computer program to grab and keep their students’ attention.

Last year, it was hard for Courtney Monastra to get Alec and Jordan to sit still.

Both autistic, the students are on very different developmental levels, making it difficult for Monastra to come up with lessons both can participate in.

That’s where VizZle comes into play.

The interactive computer program is the brainchild of a group of teachers at the Monarch School for Children with Autism in Shaker Heights.

It’s basically a database of thousands of lessons that meet the state’s education requirements for students with autism.

That’s not only great for the teachers, but it’s working wonders with the students too.

“We have seen a huge growth in language and vocabulary, which has been awesome and so exciting for us.  Part of the reason really is because of VizZle,” Monastra said.

“They’re able to sit and take turns, but they’re also motivated to interact and pass the pen to each other. It’s a huge feat.”

Part of the reason for the motivation is that the kids feel like they’re playing a game, rather than learning. Plus, the interaction of the program gives students more control over what they’re doing, making it more likely for them to pay attention.

Monastra says it all goes back to the idea that kids learn better when they’re having fun.

“When they’re successful, it gives them a self-esteem boost and that’s a really big deal to them,” she said.

Right now, VizZle is being used in 30 states but most of the users are in Ohio.

Use of the program ends up costing the schools about $50 per month, per teacher. Parents of autistic children may also subscribe to the program for home use.   

Source:  http://www.wkyc.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=135829



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