Incorporating Classroom-Based Devices as Tools for Learning
Tying the technology to the objective:
Which technology you choose depends upon what you want as the outcome of the objective. I also think it depends upon the level of thinking you want involved. Using technology can create an avenue in which the student learns actively. It can give the student a better visual interface and possibly create real world applications. Yes, adding numbers on a worksheet can help students learn to add through practice but technology can move the student through an activity in which he or she has to add in order to finish. The addition becomes part of the process of finishing the activity rather than being the end in itself. When a student learns in this fashion he or she usually will have a better grasp on what is being taught. We educators want the technology to facilitate learning and not just be a fun academic activity. This way the technology will help us educators achieve the objectives that we plan on reaching each day. Technology can be used to reach daily objectives as well as ones that take place over multiple days, weeks, or even the entire semester or school year.
Holding students accountable:
This accomplishes goals both academically and non-academically. In addition to teaching academics for the mind we also are trying to create students who will be ready to tackle the real world. When they reach the "real world" we hope that they will be able to be stand up individuals who are willing to grow and take responsibility. Holding them accountable in the classroom should help them to understand the importance of accountability in the broader spectrum of life in general.
In the classroom, accountability can help the teacher assess if the students are actively participating and how much they have learned in addition to seeing whether they are having difficulty in the learning process itself. We want our students to be on task. If we hold them accountable for their work during the process, we can better monitor whether or not they are on task and paying attention.
A Life Skills classroom has a relatively small group of students to work with at any one time. Typically, a great many of the students will already have "on task" deficiencies. We generally monitor them much closer than a regular classroom. However, holding the students accountable still happens in the classroom. We have built in systems to hold the students accountable for their work. In the past, the students would sometimes have "finish" boxes into which they would place their completed work or they would bring it to a teacher or aide for verification. Using technology such as an IPad or touchscreen will create a different set of "finishing exercises to use. Some of the students can raise their hands when they are finished or are having issues with the process and the teacher or aide can come to their side. Some of the higher students could write results on a worksheet or mark off a checklist. Many of the lower students may have to be actively and closely monitored during the process or even be helped hand over hand.
Both TES iboard and LearningGamesForKids are good websites to use on the touch screen. Many of ours students will benefit from using a touchscreen as some may have difficulty using a desktop with a mouse. They could work on counting money activities. There is even a shopping activity that uses counting money as part of the exercise. Instead of just giving them a worksheet to complete at their work desk after a lesson, they could move on to a station instead and learn using the technology.
One needs to realize that our students are developmentally delayed and that they may need to relearn or maintain basic concepts to keep them intact. Beginning Sounds Interactive Game App can help the student match objects to the beginning letter sound and match them to other objects with the same sound. Alien Kids Math can help the students with their math skills.
I know that there are many apps that can be used in the classroom and I still need to do more research. Right now we are highly encouraged to download only the free applications. However, down the road, we may be allowed to purchase some apps that are particularly useful.
Other ways to use the IPad:
We can use the IPad interactively as well. We could set up games in which the students will need to take turns. This can teach them social skills while learning at the same time. They could also share in the creation of something such as a drawing or maybe a representation of a place like a grocery store.