Monday, October 29, 2012

The "iProject" in Motion

I am now refering to this project as the "iProject" :)

Last week I met with the Educational Assistants (EA's) that will be using the devices with the three students participating in our 2012-2013 TLLP (The Use of Apple iPads and iPod Touches to Enhance the Learning of Autistic Students). We looked over the devices and I showed them the apps that I had downloaded for the students. Each student has an iPad assigned to them for the time being and the same will be done later on when iPod Touches are tested out.

Our grade 2 and grade 5 student took to the iPad immediately and welcomed the device. Their EA's report that they seem to be interested, engaged, and focused. Our grade 4 student has not taken to the iPad like the other students. At this time, he seems more interested in "playing" with the device and not with the learning. We are currently working through some ideas that will minimize the distraction that it seems to be causing him.

My initial thought went something like this, "Uh oh, what if this doesn't work for him?". After taking time to reflect I realize that this "tool" may not be a good fit for him. In fact, it would be ridiculous to believe that the iPad can solve all student problems in education. It is early in the project and a lot can happen between now and the spring. We shall continue to try different things and do what we can to engage our grade 4 student in a positive way to benefit his learning.

I look forward to reviewing our EA's reflective journals and report on their experience using their words. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Meeting the Needs of our Students with Autism Using iPads/iPod Touches - TLLP Update (Sept/Oct 2012)

Shortly after the school year started the people involved in our TLLP project came together to talk about the project and the role(s) they would play in helping our students learn and demonstrate their learning. I was responsible for this meeting and it was my pleasure to speak to the three Educational Assistants involved, the two Classroom Teachers, our Special Education Teacher, our Vice-Principal, and our Principal.

I now find myself doing the "work" before the "work" - searching for applications (apps) that mesh well with the curriculum expectations that the teachers have chosen as part of their student's Individual Education Plan (IEP). It is a painstaking task, but also a very rewarding one. Let me provide you with an example.

One of the Mathematics expectations in the Measurement strand for our grade two student revolves around her ability to match money (coins) using visuals. There are many apps about money (coins) but they are all American and that is not going to help when we are responsible for teaching Canadian currency. Nevertheless, I have found an app and at the next stage - downloading them to the devices and trying them out - we will have to see if it is good enough for what we are looking to do with it.

On a brighter and more rewarding note, I was reviewing our grade 5 student's Science and Technology IEP page (I find myself constantly reviewing the IEP's of the students participating in the project), and realized that the expectations listed are about the human body. I then searched for "Human Body" apps in the iTunes store and found two apps that appear to be relevant and interesting.

Next steps involve downloading the apps to the devices and meeting with the Educational Assistants who work with our three students. It is very important that they feel comfortable enough with the devices and the apps so that they can spend their time/energy assisting the student and documenting their observations.

I look forward to the initial feedback that comes from the first encounters with the devices. I am eager to have our students in the "driver's seat" and look forward to the ride!