Friday, March 4, 2011

ipods in education

I had a chance to play with my nephew's ipod touch last week when he was visiting. It was fun, but I didn't really understand how it might be used in education. Then I learned that the speech therapist at my school uses an ipod touch frequently with her students. Today she was nice enough to show me some of the things she does with her students, and though many of the applications apply specifically to speech therapy, I really see what a valuable tool this is now!

The speech therapist uses the ipod mostly when she's working with one or two students at a time; she yearns for an ipad, since the screen is so much bigger and then she could use it more effectively with a larger group. (Of course, everyone yearns for an ipad, but only some are chosen!) For a group of 4 or 5, she'll hook the ipod up to speakers, and they listen to a podcast or do vocab activities.

She has nearly 100 episodes of Sesame Street, specifically the "Word on the Street" section which introduces vocabulary words. She uses voice-memo with a student who stutters. He records himself speaking or reading and then listens to himself to see where stuttering occurred. She has a Timed Reading app; Flocabulary, which was a vocabulary rap; isentence, where a student constructs a sentence from some choices. For instance a student would need to decided whether to begin a sentence with Them, They, or Him. I can see how some of our ELL and special needs students could benefit from this kind of activity. This app was also cute for its encouraging comments, such as "You deserve a doughnut!"

I love that the speech teacher uses episodes of Wallace and Grommit to teach "social thinking." She explained that social thinking is different than just social skills like saying please and thank you. An example of social thinking would be learning *why* you should look at someone's face when they're speaking--because you can learn how the other person is feeling or get clues about what he or she is thinking.

Though many of the uses mentioned are specific to speech therapy or one-on-one therapy or tutoring, the therapist suggested that a great use for the ipod touch would be to help students who have test-taking issues. Teachers could record the directions for a test onto an ipod and students with information processing problems could listen to the directions as many times as they needed to. The students could stay in the classroom with the rest of the class rather than being separated so that a para could read directions to them. This example really helped me see how great an ipod could be for accommodating students with different needs. The therapist noted that many of the ipod activities could be accomplished in other ways--using flashcards or worksheets, for instance--but that the students LOVE doing the activities with the ipod because it all seems more fun. I want one!

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