Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Our Love Affair with iPads Continues...

"Shake it like a salt shaker."
We continue to be happy, excited, and amazed at the uses of the iPad in our classroom.  The iPads have not lost their luster for us and we're continuing to find more educational uses every day!

1. We're examining using the iPad as an augmentative communication device.  We're working with our county communication specialist and trialing other devices, but we're particularly in love with the iPad for one student.  And, the student is in love with the iPad as well!

A bit of background- "Student" started trialing the BoardMaker Activity Pad as a communication device.  This is a low tech device that is not commonly used for communication, but it was the best we could do to start.  He has formerly tried the Tech Speak.  Then, we tried the Dynavox Xpress, my personal favorite.  Another student in our class uses this and I am a big fan.  It's easy to program, easy to use, easy to learn, small, light, easy to carry, etc., etc.  Next, we tried the FRC ComLink.  We were happy with this, but it had more disadvantages for our student than the Dynavox Xpress.  Then, while we were waiting to try the iPod Touch from the county, we received a grant from the BBH Schools Foundation for 2 iPads for our classroom (THANK YOU!).   At that time, we decided to have "student" use the iPad and see how it went.

We thought "Proloquo2Go" would be best, but couldn't put out the $189 it cost.  We also discovered that "student" loved to type and is a great speller, so we decided on "Speakit!" instead.  $1.99 or less is right up our alley!

To make a long story short, we went back to the Dynavox Xpress to see if "student" would access the keypad.

Then, after two days with the Dynavox Xpress, "student" used the device to say he felt "mad."  I thought for a minute and asked him "Do you feel mad because I gave you this talker?"  He typed "yes."

I asked "student,"  "Would you be happy if I gave you the iPad back?"  He typed, "happy."

I handed him the iPad.  He turned it on, swiped to unlock it, found the Speakit! App, and typed "i am happy."

Could it be more perfect?  He advocated for himself.  Done.

2. We've started to "microblog" on Twitter.com Students are now typing sentences, with reminders for correct capitalization and punctuation, on twitter!  We attempt to "tweet" regularly, and we enjoy when people tweet us back.  We are also hoping to attract more of our parents to twitter this way as well.  You can follow us @Room5Friends.

3. The iPad is one more tool in our toolbox for SHARING!  Because one "student" often takes one iPad with him to specials classes as his augmentative communication device, we sometimes only have one iPad left in the classroom.  This can only mean one thing- we will need to share!  And what a great tool to learn on!

Here's our action research:  Two students wanting to use the iPad during "choice time," and only one iPad available.  Both students have "engaging in parallel or cooperative play with other students" written in their IEP objectives.  Let's see what they can do.  We placed the iPad in front of them as a type of authentic assessment.  We said, "Now boys, we need to share.  Johnny can play one game, and then pass to Jack for one game."  We proceeded to walk away.

The special education aide and I watched from 4 feet away.  Johnny started with Thomas the Tank Engine Game pack and played one game of Thomas memory.  He slid the iPad to Jack.  Jack played one puzzle on the game pack.  He slid the iPad back to John.  John clicked out and went to the 5 Little Monkeys App.  Both boys delighted in the songs.  When it was over, John slid the iPad back to Jack.  Jack did another Thomas puzzle.  Then, luckily, it was lunch time.  How awesome!

4. We're going to begin reading a chapter book solely on the iPad.  Beezus and Ramona, here we come!  Although we'll supplement this chapter book with many visuals and other activities, we will be reading this book in class on two iPads and a Kindle.  Reading books in more than one medium?  Who would've ever thought that a ten year old with autism would have these opportunities in the year 2011?  Amazing!

5. Motivational Tools.  Honestly, I hope these iPads aren't a phase.  And if they are a phase, they are certainly worthwhile.  Because we are surely getting a TON of learning done while using the iPads as motivational tools.  And, I know some people may say they are expensive motivational tools, but I believe they are worth every penny.

Checking out the iPad while waiting our turn at Therapeutic Horseback Riding
6. The educational apps are limitless.  My student who loves to play "Cookie Doodle" is working on following directions and measuring.  She sees measuring cups, measuring spoons, ingredients, recipes, etc. and must follow directions like "pour the vanilla" and "shake the salt shaker" and "mix the batter."  It's multi-sensory because we do the same thing with the real items in the classroom!  It's a built-in follow up lesson!

7. And did I mention the kids LOVE them?  We love the iPad.  LOVE. And we still play with Play-Doh, Moon Sand, blocks, the sand table, other sensory activities.  We still follow real recipes; we still read real books, complete file folder tasks, and shoebox tasks.  We still swing and play outside.  But now, we have more technology to integrate and use.  We have one more tool in the toolbox. 

And we'll keep sharing.  BECAUSE WE ARE IN LOVE.


Anonymous said...

Love love these kids! Look at their smiles!

Sondra said...

Morgan - This is so awesome! I am currently getting my Master's in C&I with my focus being on Ed Tech, and I found your blog through "The Educator's PLN". I enjoy reading it and learning how you are using your iPads to enhance your students' learning. They are very lucky to have such a dedicated teacher who is using technology to enhance the curriculum. How has the Twitter use gone with improving parent involvement? I am very interested in adopting that in my high school classroom as well. Please let me know!

Sondra Findley
Bloomington, IL

Morgan said...

Hi Sondra,

Thanks for writing.

Not many of my students' parents look at our twitter account, but, if I can get just ONE, then I think it's worth it.

Plus, I have learned more in one year on twitter than I have in 8 years of "traditional" PD. I read articles, blogs, and research every single day, and can pass it on as well!

Thank you for your compliments!

Good luck to you!