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iPads help Oak Harbor students with disabilities

Steve Strawn, Life Skills teacher at Crescent Harbor Elementary, helps Tyriq Boyles with a reading assignment. Thanks to an $11,000 grant from the ALTA Foundatioin, school leaders were able to purchase 20 iPads that, teachers said, helped students engage in their coursework.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Steve Strawn, Life Skills teacher at Crescent Harbor Elementary, helps Tyriq Boyles with a reading assignment. Thanks to an $11,000 grant from the ALTA Foundatioin, school leaders were able to purchase 20 iPads that, teachers said, helped students engage in their coursework.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

These iPads don’t have Angry Birds.

Instead of the popular tablet game, students with disabilities at Crescent Harbor Elementary are using iPads to help complete their classwork throughout the day.

About several dozens students attending the elementary school’s Life Skills class are using the tablet for their math and reading classes in addition to help develop the motor skills necessary for writing.

Student Bradley Pomme said he enjoys using the iPad when solving his math problems.

“We get to use your fingers to touch the numbers,” Pomme said.

The iPads, which were funded through a private grant, arrived in the special education classrooms in December and, after some training, teachers were able to incorporate the technology into their classrooms at the start of the year.

Teacher Steve Strawn said the iPads are helpful in getting the students to engage in their coursework.

During a recent visit to his classroom, several of his students were busy using a reading program “Reading A to Z.” Strawn noted the iPads brought several advantages to the photocopies of the same material that he previously used.

The electronic version of the coursework is in color, students can listen to the lesson before reading it and it provides invaluable repetition they need to help with their reading, Strawn said.

The students also use their iPads for math coursework as well. Students learning to use calculators and the iPads are great for helping the students learn about money.

Teacher Rachel Redmond said the iPads help a nonverbal student engage in the classroom.

“They have been a great resource,” Redmond said.

The students in Crescent Harbor Elementary’s life skills class include children with autism and other intellectual disabilities.

Crescent Harbor Elementary School Principal Kate Schreck said that Crescent Harbor Elementary School received an $11,000 grant from the ALTA Foundation to fund the purchase of 20 iPads, plus the other equipment including durable covers and headphones, along with money to pay for training.

“The grants are designed to help people with disabilities to access life activities,” Schreck said. The school applied for the grant last spring and they learned they received the grant earlier in the school year.

The Life Skills class are the only classes at Crescent Harbor Elementary to have students equipped with iPads. She said that the school would have to find additional grant money if staff want iPads in other classes.

There are also other technology needs staff has to prioritize too.

For example, Schreck said she is working to obtain “smart boards” for all classrooms. Those boards are basically interactive whiteboards.

 

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