Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Support for IPads

While the debate over a school wide move to 1:1 implementation of iPads for students begins, I am weighing in.
I represent myself as a teacher at Lamoille who has been collecting facts, asking good questions and learning from experience. I believe iPads for LUHS students is a sound idea even though I was originally a skeptic. I loved laptops until discovering how iPads as personal devices become an extension of a student, amplifying abilities and assisting with weaker skills. I have just returned from a sabbatical in New Mexico where I volunteered in a public school literacy program. I piloted E Literacy programs with a donated E reader and my own Ipad. Both offered capabilities to the non traditional learner that are unmatched by teaching with paper, pen, textbooks and a backpack. For early readers confronting reading disabilities or frustrations while learning to read aloud I used the following free features- speech to text, touch activated pronunciation, word highlighting applications and embedded images. It was like having a mentor  at all times. Research made me aware that student with autism depend on visual aids, online dictionaries and video for conceptualization of words like, monument, democracy, imaginary numbers.
6 months of gaming research and experimentation with student preferences helped me build a library of games that promote sound identification, problem solving, inference building and phonological awareness. E Readers could not load all games, nor offer a two way camera/video thus making iPad more desirable.
My friend runs a pilot project at UVM for students who are learning disabled and reliant on a plethora of iPad apps. I hope to interview her by FaceTime or Skype for my ongoing research but I do know that these students overcome organization challenges with timers, calendars, audio recordings, Twitter for homework postings. Book marks, highlighters help track reading progress, word prediction, mind mapping apps help organize brainstorms into outlines for dyslexic, non verbal learners and students with ADHD. Students who can not write because of disability, amputation or other needs can utilize Talking Calculator, Kurzweil, Evernote. Note Taking is an app that scans notes from a whiteboard into a computer hard copy.
LUHS students already use video/audio recordings of group discussions and book clubs instead of word processing and PowerPoint. Last year I recorded classroom lectures with many tools, finally settling on The ipad for ease of transfer to Youtube.
I believe that 1:1 iPads will make LUHS students not just abled but super abled. We will still use paper, pens, chairs, a variety or texts, but digital text will be there too. Our students deserve this chance. I'm no expert in technology but my uncle is. He teaches Emergent Digital Practices at DU. He is working with me and my husband, Marc to help us understand how students build applications and not to just use them. He has helped shape my paradigm shift and he relies on iPad. I know that I have much to experience and learn but I have been doing do all along. Ps-I wrote this on my iPad and on my blog kaulbachw.blogspot.com.


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