The pair noted that the iPad is good for children who have short attention spans. One benefit to the tool is that the speech therapists can record a child’s voice and play it back.
Erica Tymeck teaches a special education class for fifth- and sixth-grade students at Forest Road School, where the iPads are frequently in use. So is the row of computers in the back of the classroom.
Tymeck said that technology is used for both English language arts and math instruction. She often has her students using the iPads for learning games, instead of silent reading which can be a daunting task for some special education students.
Every child gets their own iPad, and Tymeck can customize the apps on each one. For a student with higher-level reading skills, she said she would put games on there that focus on comprehension and critical thinking skills. “I have so many different levels of learners in this class,” she said.
On the computers, there is a word processing program that has a word predictor for students who have trouble spelling. It also can read the text back to students. Overall, Tymeck said that technology has made her classroom more organized and efficient.
Nicole Schimpf, the district’s director of special services, said technology will continue to grow. Psychologists and resource room teachers will be getting iPads later this year, and by next year the goal is to have an iPad available for every special education student in the district.
Teachers noted that technology also helps extend learning beyond the school day. With many of the same resources available in a child’s home, there is an opportunity for them to continue learning without having the feel of doing homework. “A lot of parents ask, ‘What can I do at home?’” Kozub said. She points them to various apps and programs their children can use.
Khan, who wants to give her daughter as much support as possible, got her answer in the form of an iPad that her daughter can take home every day. She said having the tool available all the time has been a “game-changer” for her and her daughter.
“It really helps in the house,” Khan said, noting that she can add apps based on Ansa’s needs. “I feel that was a very nice thing on behalf of the Special Education Department. The school district is very kind to our situation. I haven’t heard a ‘no’ from them yet.”
Next week: Building a sensory diet