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iPods & iPads are Innovative Tech Tools for Special Education

The iPod Touch and iPad, are great innovative technology tools for educators and students to use in the classroom.  There are many applications and features of these tools that may potentially increase learning outcomes and motivation for learning in the classroom.  While not all schools or students may have access to these tech tools, it is time to add these innovative devices as a wish-list request for next school year!

Functional Skills System for the iPod Touch

The Conover Company has a great package for special education classrooms that includes a classroom set of iPod Touches pre-loaded with age-appropriate videos setup into a functional skills system.  This system allows the students to learn functional skills to gain more independence in society.  The videos include an instructional phase, review phase, and generalization phase for life, literacy, math, social, and work skills. Some of the topics for the videos are learning about money, safety signs, tools for work, manners, social skills, describing words, clothing, entertainment, transportation, restaurants, shopping, labels, hygiene, grooming, and groceries.

The advantage of the iPod system is that the students can travel with the functional skills system to assist them in their day-to-day lives.  The touch screen capability of the iPod allows access to this system for students who may have limited hand movement or motion.  There is also a feature to modify the iPod into a single switch compatibility mode.  The videos include high-quality audio which used in conjunction with the vision impaired features of the iPod, allows access for students with low vision to utilize the functional skills program.  Closed-captioning is also available for the videos for students with hearing impairments.  This system can also be used on the computer instead of using iPod, but it would limit the use of the program outside of the classroom.  Another addition to the program is that there are print exercises that accompany this software for students to learn the functional skills in the classroom without the technology.

Videos of Special Education Students using iPods in the Classroom

Click Here to view a great video about how iPods can be used by teachers, students, and parents in the special education classroom.    In this video the teacher and sign language interpreter use the iPod as a communication device between the teacher, student, and parents.  The teachers also created videos of vocabulary in sign language and student accomplishments.  The parents can then see what the students are learning in class and become more involved at home.  The voice memo feature of the iPod is used to send information back and forth from families to teachers.  They have expanded the roll of the iPod in the classroom by video taping the stories that are being covered in class including audio, sign language, and photos from the books.  The stories can then be read at home to increase reading comprehension.

This video shows hearing impaired students utilizing the iPad for science education.  The teacher has the students completely engaged in their lesson combing the use of the iPad with sign language.  The video shows that the iPad is an innovative tool where the students can interact with each other in conjunction with their online textbook.  The features of the iPad that the students felt were helpful include the flip the screen, easy ability to scroll, enlarge images, search the net, and load their textbook.

Article by Laura Ketcham

Photo by FHKE

Free Teacher Resources | Special Education by MangoMon

 

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Learning Functional Skills Through the Use of Technology

For high school students that are beginning the transition into adulthood, learning functional skills to encourage independent living is very important.  In a life skills unit topics can range from money management, hygiene, shopping for groceries, cooking, doing laundry, and skills or a vocation needed to maintain a job.  It is beneficial for these students to actually have experiences doing these different tasks in real-life scenarios.

One disadvantage to teaching these skills is that the students typically need to leave campus to experience these different daily activities.  Depending on funding or other school district constraints, this can be a difficult to arrange.  Luckily, there are technology programs that can teach these skills virtually using a variety of educational (and fun) software programs that are available.

PCI Education

PCI Education has many different programs for students to learn a variety of skills.  They have an entire section of their website devoted to different special education books, games, activities, and software for all of the academic subject areas, as well as study, life, communication, behavioral, community, and critical thinking skills.  Within the life skills section of the website, they offer over 80 different software-based learning programs.

A few of the programs I found interesting were the Banking Math, Where Does My Money Go, Survival Signs, and the Job Survival Software SeriesBanking Math is a program for middle and high school students to learn everyday math and banking skills.  Through role-playing, the students will conduct bank transactions, record transactions in a bank register, and perform everyday math problems like collecting a paycheck and paying to go to see a movie.

Where Does My Money Go is an interactive software program that teaches students about money handling, shopping skills, paying bills, and planning for unforeseen events (both good and bad).

Survival Signs is an intuitive program that teaches students about important signs in their communities and school.  For example, stop signs, bus stops, and bathrooms.

The Job Survival Software Series is a package of programs that guides students through lessons on skills needed for the workplace, including appearance, attitude, following directions, attendance, literacy, and expectations. After the lessons, the students are required to answer questions based on the lessons.

PCI Education offers many different tools for teaching and learning with special education students.  I would definitely suggest checking out their site!

Other Special Education Functional Skills Software Choices

Ed By Design is an Australian-based company that created functional skills software for special education.  They offer software programs where students can learn about people, places, and activities through flashcards, sentence completion activities, and selecting symbols.

Cactus Kids is a company that offers computer learning and arcade-style games for students with physical disabilities.  All of their activities use a system of switches, inputs similar to a mouse, but larger and with one function per switch, to make for easier input for students with physical disabilities.  One of the programs, In Sequence – Daily Living Skills, teaches students about activities and their order of completion.  Students have to select the images that break down the steps of completing everyday tasks like eating, brushing teeth, and locking a door, and then put the photos into the order in which the tasks should be completed.

Article by Laura Ketcham

Phot by Môsieur J. [version 3.0b]

Free Teacher Resources | Special Education by MangoMon

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