Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Journal #9 - First Graders with iPads?

Getting, S., & Swainey, K. (2012). First graders with iPads?. Learning & leading with technology, 24-27. Retrieved from

This article focuses on an experiment in an elementary school in Minnesota, where teachers used iPads to try and teach students reading skills. The students used in the experiment were in the lowest reading group, and each student had a teacher with the whole time that they were using the iPad. The teachers utilized several educational apps which helped students in the areas of vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency. While composing this research, the teachers had special ed teachers record data, and the data concluded that students were able to stay on task longer using the iPads, and they also found that the kids adapted to the iPads very quickly. The negatives included the high costs of the iPads, technical problems, noisy and missing apps, and limited subject matter. Many of these negatives seem to be associated that the teachers were also quite new to this technology, and should get better over time. I think that any technology which engages the kids and creates a fun learning environment is a good thing thing, and I hope to have access to iPads in my classroom.

Question 1: Are there any other potential negatives that the article didn't mention with using iPads in the classroom?

A. I think the problem eventually would be that its very easy for the students to go off-task such as checking their Facebook or Twitter. This was not a problem in this experiment because the students using iPads were always with teachers, but this is not feasible in larger classrooms.

Question 2: Why are you excited about iPads in the classroom?

A: I think that they will eventually take over textbooks. If we get every student an iPad, they can have all digital textbooks, and districts will no longer have to buy tons of books anymore (they will have to buy the digital edition, but this should be cheaper). It also saves kids from lugging around several large books to and from school, probably saving some backs in the process.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Journal #8: Adaptive Technology

Augmentative and alternative education is a term which covers any permanent or temporary communication method that is used to help replace speech or writing functions for those that have trouble speaking or writing.  

One tool that fits well in this category is the e-Talk GT tablet, which enables audible communication for people that are not able to talk. It basically looks like an iPad with a smaller screen, but thicker to protect it from someone dropping it. It also has an app on it which uses pictures and symbols to create audible communication meaning that users would not need to input complete sentences. This device seems to be one the leading products in its class, but it comes at a price. This will set you back more then $5000, but I'm sure its worth it if it helps you communicate. 

One of the ways this could be used in the classroom is by using the MultiChat program, which is designed for students who's is working on their language skills. The way it works is that the tablet displays small icons that the students could use to build a sentence. So by pressing only these icons, a student could create a complex sentence. For example if a teacher asks the student to describe a noun, they would only have to press a few icons.

What is great about this idea is that it can be supplemented with numerous creative low-tech ideas that parents can use at home. For example a parent can make a placemat menu which has similar tiles, and kids can then use the tiles to signal what they would like for breakfast. In fact, many restaurants offer a picture menu for kids with disabilities that would be great in conjunction with this tool. 

An Input device for students with special needs is basically any tool which provides students an alternative way to enter information into a computer without using the traditional keyboard or mouse. 

One of these tools is the Quad Joy adaptive mouse, which allows people with limited or no hand movement to use the mouse feature on the computer. The Quad Joy works by responding to the movements that your mouth makes, allowing users to do anything from surf the web to play PlayStation.

The uses in the classroom are obvious, as it allows students that cant use their hands to use a computer. This tool has been key in allowing students with limited hand movement to keep up with the growing technology movement.

For students that have can use a keyboard but has trouble typing, Word Q is software which can detect what words the children are trying to type, and help them with the process. This can be used for students who have trouble typing, or students that have trouble speaking in class. The program also provides audio to the text, meaning students can hear the words they are typing, which will help them with the language as well.

Check out some other ideas at Kristen's and Melanie's pages.