Embracing Diversity: Timmy Technology and Team Toolbox Take Off
As educators we strive to instill in students the will to embrace who they are, to recognize the gifts of the individual, and to meaningfully include all students. SET-BC has always partnered with districts to support access for all students and continues to find new opportunities to embrace diversity and inclusion in schools.
SET-BC’s District Partner Conference in February 2018 saw the re-introduction of Timmy Technology, SET-BC’s plush laptop-shaped mascot. Timmy is designed to teach students how technology can support learning. Timmy was originally designed by a SET-BC supported student in 2008 and he travelled to various classrooms supporting important discussions about disabilities all across the province. In his newly reimagined form, Timmy now has friends known as Team Toolbox, a collection of crazy characters that help Timmy demonstrate and discuss learning needs and allow students to explore the variety of tools that might help them show their best work. Through the playful personalities and guided lessons on learning differences, students explore diversity and are given the opportunity to recognize their strengths and those of others, to explain who they are, and to identify what works for their own learning.
The SET-BC Timmy Technology and Team Toolbox Diversity Awareness unit was welcomed into School District #46 recently where District Partner and Technology Support Teacher, Sandy Magnussen has enthusiastically embraced the use of technology to help students find effective and personalized ways of learning.
Having experienced the positive student reaction to the original Timmy Technology unit on disabilities in 2011, she was interested in exploring the expanded Timmy Team. Sandy brought the Timmy and Team Toolbox unit to her district to work with staff and students in several classrooms where it showcased diversity, self-acceptance and self-advocacy. The gift of diversity, inclusion and acceptance “…is a message that needs to be shared” wrote Sandy, in requesting the loan of the unit. “I spent years as a classroom teacher and then a resource teacher trying to help students find the right tools …and I continue to do so across my district as an Inclusion Technology Coordinator.”
Sandy is now in the process of exploring Timmy Technology and Team Toolbox: A SET-BC Diversity Awareness Program with several classrooms within her district. She has already shared the smiles of students who met him and the student stories about “strengths” coming out of her classrooms.
“The toolkit looks fabulous, the students are going to love it! My plan is to use the lessons in three classrooms, perhaps more but I have booked in to three for sure. Lesson 1 was great on Monday with Grade 1 students…. we actually used Book Creator as our format to describe our friends strengths, as we are going to create a little book project for the lessons. I did of course offer the students to use the template (worksheet on strengths provided) if they wanted (UDL!) ….The All Kinds of Friends Even Green story in PDF worked well with the projector and it is lovely to see all the literacy resources in the kit. I’m hoping (to use the kit) for one older classroom too.”
SET-BC consultant Charlotte Friend was able to visit SD#46 to present the story of how Timmy grew “from imagination to life” and to explain how she and the SET-BC Resource Librarian, Victoria Doolaar, re-commissioned the Timmy unit and added the new cohort of characters. “In the old unit, Timmy Technology was a single mascot, to be recognized for his difference, his disability, and for the adaptations that he would need to be able to function in the typical classroom. …. In this new unit, the lessons change from emphasizing Timmy’s challenges, to a focus on celebrating our unique and strong individual traits, and to the idea that all students learn in their own way, at their own pace, and should have access to a diverse spectrum of learning supports.” Timmy Technology and Team Toolbox received a heart-warming welcome on the Sunshine Coast and will continue to travel throughout the province at the request of teachers who wish to bring the unit to their classrooms. Timmy Technology and Team Toolbox: A SET-BC Diversity Awareness Program contains the Timmy mascot and a myriad of technical and non-technical learning supports (Larry Laptop, Ima iPad, Molly Magnifier, Mikey Microphone, and more), lesson plans to introduce the concept of diversity to elementary aged students, and a series of anchor book supports available in hard-copy, PDF, Clicker 7 and Braille format.
We are very grateful to Sandy Magnussen in School District #46 for her enthusiastic embrace of the Timmy concept and her ongoing passion to help students find the best in themselves. To request the Timmy Technology and Team Toolbox Diversity Awareness Unit, please contact SET-BC Service Coordinator, Charlotte Friend at firstname.lastname@example.org.