The Iola-Scandinavia School District has been awarded a $12,500 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) discretionary grant.
The grant is for “Improved Access for Students with Disabilities through Portable Touchscreen Devices.”
This grant will allow the school district to purchase additional iPads and Touchscreen tablets for use by students and staff. The grant also includes funds for teacher training on the devices, as well as money to purchase applications and software for the devices.
“The timing of the grant accommodates the learning needs of our students and fits nicely into our technology upgrade project at the elementary school this summer when we will be adding wireless Internet access to the building,” said District Administrator David Dyb.
“The biggest advantage is that (iPads) will be motivating to students,” said Diane Opperman, learning disabilities instructor. “The children love the iPads. The graphics and videos are pretty amazing.”
Currently, Opperman uses an iPad to reward students with learning games. She also uses it to video conference with homebound students.
Having multiple devices will enable Opperman to allow students to do so much more, such as record themselves when practicing for presentations.
“It really gives us some additional options in teaching,” she said. “The best thing is that they are mobile.”
“I use my iPad for a variety of reasons,” said Val Olson, speech therapist. “We got them first to use as a communication device for nonverbal students. Now, I use it for many different students and abilities.”
Olson said she is able to video students and replay it for them so they can see and hear themselves talking. There is no longer a need to use a tape recorder.
“There are different apps that can have a character ‘talk’ for them, which can be more fun,” she said. “One app I use helps the student create a story using themselves in the pictures. This helps develop language skills.”
There are also apps to practice vocabulary, articulation, sentence building, comprehension, phonics, etc., and at different grade levels.
“Then, of course, there are games to play for reinforcement after they have finished their other work,” Olson said. “There are apps to practice writing and apps that will write what you say – the device has endless opportunities for a variety of students and their needs.”
“I am limited only by my skills and own creativity to use this new technology,” she said. “The more I use it, the more I am realizing the potential.”
“We are grateful that our school is able to access these new devices to keep us current with today’s trends, which are great tools for the classroom,” Olson said.