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October 2020 - Vizzler of the Month

It is our honor to introduce you to our October Vizzler of the Month, Dr. Theresa Shattuck. Dr. Shattuck has over 40 years of experience in education, most recently as Supervisor of Specialized Programs with Dallas ISD. She is well-versed in working with all learning styles and incorporating that knowledge into innovative and creative teaching. 

What is one of the biggest challenges you see in Special Education as it pertains to student success?

As the supervisor for Specialized Programs that serve students with autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, and students with significant intellectual and physical disabilities, I was always looking for any program or instructional curriculum that addressed the diverse needs. I heard about Vizzle at a conference and worked with the representative to start a pilot program with twenty teachers working with elementary students. Back then, most of the activities were designed more for younger students. A few teachers used Vizzle and at the beginning of each school year, those few teachers would want a promise that they would continue to have access to Vizzle. 

One of the issues with teaching students who have the most significant cognitive disabilities is that their parents want them to have instruction comparable to the instruction of their non-disabled peers. That included homework. Homework gives them a glimpse of what is being taught to their children. Most of the instruction being delivered to the students in Specialized Programs is direct instruction and involves little paper and pencil activities. However, I understood homework was important to the parents and had no problem with teachers sending some paper-based activities (worksheets) home.

How did Vizzle help you get more parent involvement with students on IEP’s? 

In my opinion, one of the selling points was the ability for students to log in from home and have access to their assigned activities. Parents were thrilled at this feature. The success of having parents use Vizzle to help reinforce their child’s IEP skills was dependent upon the teachers sending home the letter to the parents and then the parents having a way to access the program. Each year participation increased, and parents had access to “homework.”

Did Vizzle help during remote learning?

As I prepared for the 2019-2020 school year, I budgeted for the students in all three of the specialized programs to have access to Vizzle. Some of the teachers attended training and the trainer pointed out the advantage of the parents having access to their child’s assigned activities. As we know, the 2019-2020 school year took a weird turn in March. Now teachers were expected to teach these special education students using the computer. The teachers were scrambling to figure out how to accomplish this seemingly impossible task. I asked our Vizzle representative to do a webinar to train the teachers who did not attend the training earlier in the year. Over 100 teachers now decided that Vizzle was a great instructional tool. It was almost like Vizzle was the perfect solution to the remote teaching that was so foreign to most teachers.

During this time of remote learning, parents have been able to access the assigned activities that were chosen for their child. They have been able to keep track of the skills being taught and reinforced. Parents and teachers have a new appreciation for Vizzle and its possibilities. Teachers can have access to data without having the student in the room. Some of the more creative teachers can design and author activities specific to their students. Vizzle will be in greater demand as parents and teachers continue to be successful using the program. 

How did Vizzle help you as an admin?

As an administrator, I received the monthly usage reports and was able to see which teachers were faithful in using Vizzle and which teachers might need extra training or support. This allowed me to communicate with teachers and families about their usage and student progress. 

What you would you say to administrators and educators who are considering implementing Vizzle?

I know that many teachers and parents have come to depend on Vizzle as a relevant instructional tool. Each year, I would have teachers let me know that they wanted me to continue purchasing Vizzle. I had the feeling that there might be a mutiny if I discontinued their access to Vizzle. This program has been a lifeline between school and home during the pandemic. I know few other instructional options that seem to be tailor-made for remote learning. Who knows when, or if, in-school instruction will resume? I know that Vizzle will continue to expand, improve, and provide a strong instructional supplement to any district’s core curriculum.

Thank you, Dr. Shattuck, for sharing your unique experience and insights regarding education during this time and maintaining the important home-school connection. I’m reminded of a popular saying, “Together may we give our children roots to grow and wings to fly.” 

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