Jennifer Pankowski is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of Special Education and Alternative Certification programs at Pace University in New York. After completing her Educational Doctoral Degree at Long Island University in Curriculum and Instruction, Jennifer joined the Pace University School of Education as the Special Education Coordinator in NYC. She is responsible for overseeing the proper functioning and quality of the special education programs, as well as acting as the liaison between university partners and Pace during the alternative certification process.
Jennifer’s background includes working with individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) at both the k-12 level as well as college students. She currently works in the field with new teachers specializing in the role of technology in supporting both students and teachers in the classroom environment.
Your background is working with individuals with ASD and other disabilities. Tell us about your research and its implications in the field of special education.
My research involves the use of communication for individuals with limited or no verbal communication, technology and Augmentative Alternative Communication methods such as text to speech devices, picture exchange, and verbal communication. These are all important elements for teachers and students. My research helps to illustrate that students need to be provided with many outlets for expression.
District 75 (D75) provides highly specialized instructional support for students with significant challenges. How are you involved in preparing teachers that offer services at District 75 Programs in NYC?
In both my role as a researcher and as a faculty member, I have used my own teaching experience, education and research knowledge to help provide an educational framework for teacher candidates. I am particularly interested in those teachers seeking a challenge working with students with more severe exceptional needs.
As part of this professional development, how easy is it for educators to utilize interactive technology?
As an elementary teacher, finding highly engaging and motivating technology for the classroom allows for very easy implementation. When students are excited by the technology, they want to engage with it. Using interactive technology and simulation is similar to the work I do with other students and recommend for teachers. It allows students to utilize previously developed skills as well as to develop new ones through the interactions.
Why have you chosen to add Kinems into your teacher training program?
I was first “hooked” when I (an individual with dyslexia) used the Kinems’ technology in a demonstration. I saw first-hand how well it helped me identify and provide interventions based on students’ individual needs. I was able to quickly see the analytics produced by the platform and use them to make decisions for each child quickly and effectively.
I have done research using Kinems within school and after school tutoring programs. I used the movement-based technology and saw positive results in a short amount of time. It was interesting how students of multiple levels could all interact without knowing who was more or less advanced. This supports an inclusive environment.
What results did you see from students when they played with the Kinems platform?
Students were excited to use Kinems’ activities and felt accomplished when they played and saw success. Immersive multi-sensory games were highly effective in the classroom. We saw significant results in as little as 3-4 weeks of use.
It is also important to acknowledge that students succeed when they feel empowered. With Kinems’ technology they can see and feel the success and thus want to share with others students as well as continue using it.
For educators and superintendents who are not familiar with Kinems technology, what are the lessons you learned after implementing our platform in the classroom?
Interactive technology is a homerun! With Kinems, students will succeed and teachers will be able to have significant data to guide as well as support them in developing a personalized program for each student based on their needs. Using these technology tools allows it to happen in a time effective manner. Time management and effective outcomes can be achieved with the use of Kinems’ technology.
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