Philanthropy

How the Gift of Technology Can Enhance the Classroom

“The addition of this technology helps these students adapt to change and learn by easing anxiety through the use of visual stories.”

Due to the generosity of Mary Siero, I have been gifted hardware such as iPads and Board Maker software to enhance my students’ education. Working with children with autism has both its rewards and challenges. Children with autism have a history of making better connections by utilizing visual and multimedia supports. Board Maker has allowed me to create visual supports for not only their daily academic tasks, but also social stories to prepare them for daily routines, sudden changes in their schedules as well as behavioral expectations to better assimilate them into the community they reside. A specific example is one in which a student was transitioning from being transported by bus to being transported by van. Being that the student’s routine rigidity can cause anxiety when small changes are made, I was able to make a social story with the student in it explaining the changes and what he can expect to ease his anxiety. In addition to using Board Maker for visual supports, iPads have been used within the classroom for multiple activities. Myself as well as the other assistant teachers in the room have been able to use the iPads for: communication purposes using free speech apps (specifically for our non-verbal students), academic purposes to enhance and better make connections to their academic curriculum and independent purposes by creating playlists within specific apps tailored to individual students and their abilities. The speech apps have been a wonderful addition in allowing our non-verbal students to make ‘I want’ statements when making requests. All of these students found the application easy to use and have expressed excitement when requesting things within the classroom. A reading application that we (the staff) update on a weekly basis utilizes the week’s reading words provided to the students in different formats such as word searches, spelling, identifying and matching. The application is a great tool for generalizing the words by using different images on each tablet for the week’s words.  “The addition of this technology helps these students adapt to change and learn by easing anxiety through the use of visual stories.”