by Charlotte Berman | June 22, 2021
Our new Teacher Feature series highlights how special education teachers have adapted their classroom during the pandemic and how they have each uniquely implemented Frenalytics into their classroom. This edition features Michaela, a sixth grade special education teacher at Quad Prep in New York, NY.
Michaela Duranti, a Sixth Grade Humanities Special Education Teacher at The Quad Preparatory School in New York City, fell in love with working with special education students while taking special education-focused college courses. She enjoys working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and currently specializes in teaching twice-exceptional Students. Twice-exceptional students, also known as 2e students, are highly knowledgeable and gifted in a particular domain, yet often struggle in a non-inclusive classroom environment. Michaela is constantly fulfilled by what these exceptional students are able to accomplish each year in her classroom. However, this year looked incredibly different for Michaela and her students.
The pandemic was scary for them … they are so young and it was really difficult for them to grasp what the best way to go about such an unprecedented time. Teaching kids on the computer is so different, and adapting to the whole online model was just a challenge for everyone.”
To begin the school year, Michaela’s classroom was totally remote. She taught class five days a week all online with her students logging into Zoom to meet with her.
When asked about the biggest challenges this academic year in the pandemic, she stated that a big point of stress for her students was dealing with widespread uncertainty. In addition to initially adapting online learning models, her students had to constantly adapt to changes back and forth from remote learning back to in-person learning. Around Thanksgiving, Quad Prep transitioned to offering two days a week in-person, but due to COVID-19 contact cases, they were forced to switch back to fully remote learning come wintertime.
The changes in schedules never stopped for her 6th graders come spring semester. Quad Prep slowly transitioned back to two days a week in-person and is ending the school year with four days a week of in-classroom instruction, leaving only Wednesdays left as remote learning days. Yet despite all the changes and uncertainty her students faced this year, a major area of student growth that Michaela witnessed was in adapting and utilizing technology.
Normally, technology like Google Slides, online note-taking, and computer research skills are introduced to her students later in their academic careers. However, Michaela believes that the need for remote learning allowed her 6th graders to embrace technological tools at an earlier age.
I really believe it is going to put them in a better place moving forward as we move away from a pen and paper type of learning.”
Michaela laughed and said that her students are now even more tech-savvy than she is.
I think I might learn more from them… They are able to broaden their horizons tremendously just through research and anything they are interested – they can figure out the answer in ten seconds instead of asking me and I have to be Google!”
Another new educational technology tool Michaela and her students learned this year was Frenalytics. FrenalyticsEDU is our patented digital learning tool that provides highly personalized and interactive educational sessions for special education classroom use.
Michaela implemented FrenalyticsEDU into her classroom this past year and really benefited by using the platform for pre-assessments. Michaela’s ability to customize student learning sessions enabled her to measure which areas of knowledge her students have already mastered and which areas she needs to teach. For example, Michaela shared how she uses FrenalyticsEDU to assess her student’s knowledge of key historical events, vocabulary words, and the Constitutional Amendments.
In my classroom, because I teach both English and history, where I really benefited from using Frenalytics is from doing pre-assessments and being able to figure out what my kids know – what do I need to not reteach – and what do they [not know]. One week in, I had made a pre-assessment using Frenalytics and I had all my kids take the pre-assessment, which was amazing.
She stated that it has been really difficult in the past and especially in this remote learning year to keep data on her students:
Frenalytics has been really great because I can just see numbers on the screen – I can see what the kids know, what they don’t know, and it’s very straightforward.”
Michaela concluded by sharing how FrenalyticsEDU has served as a great tool for her students at Quad Prep to mix up their classroom learning in a way that’s fun for them but also so informative for her teaching team. She is excited to continue using FrenalyticsEDU next year and is looking to use our digital learning tool to conduct one-to-one Reading Comprehension assessments. When reflecting on how FrenalyticsEDU has transformed her classroom, Michaela continuously remarked on the benefits of FrenalyticsEDU’s easy-to-read and easy-to-present data results:
The huge difference is how clear the data is. I’m about to do the post-assessment, and I’ll be able to see on a clear chart where the kids are growing. I can see where the kids still need help and share that information with their 7th grade teachers [next year]. 6th grade is a really tough age for our students … having this clear data makes it so much easier.
Frenalytics is loved by students in special ed schools from kindergarten all the way through high school. We are the first comprehensive and interactive software platform to streamline life skills learning within special education, including enrolling students, managing transitions, and reporting outcomes. Our team at Frenalytics works extensively with educators to craft a one-of-a-kind software platform that helps students live more independent lives while saving time and money for parents and schools.