Some schools are prescribing a dose of technology for learning differences. Many times students are separated from their classmates into special education or LD classes. But there is a push to keep those with learning differences with their peers.
The Appleton Area School District recently received a $39,000 grant from the Bemis Company Foundation to purchase 106 iPad minis. Every elementary-level learning disabilities teacher now has iPads available for students. Across the district, about 300 students have access to the iPads, said Brian Anderson, director of special education.
Officials will record data over the next year to analyze the impact iPads have on student learning.
Beth Verboomen, a learning disabilities teacher at Houdini Elementary School, has seven iPads in her classroom. She said she has already seen the 18 students she works with become more independent because of the devices.
When completing a writing exercise, for example, children can use the iReadWrite application to help them figure out how to spell a word rather than wait for a teacher to help them. Verboomen said the iPads have also increased their confidence.
“They get the word written down they’re stuck on and move on,” Verboomen said. “The quantity of their writing has especially improved, but the quality of writing also is. They’re challenging themselves to use higher level words, which they were hesitant to do before.”
Essentially, the iPads remove challenges that keep a student from learning. When students get stuck setting up math problems, they use an application on the iPads to assist in the process. That makes the learning barrier disappear, Anderson said, and students can focus on the task at hand.
Other students struggle with handwriting, but are comfortable typing on an iPad.
“It takes some of the obstacles away from the kids that allow their teachers, especially, to see their work more accurately,” Verboomen said.