Monday, 4 July 2011

AJ’s Journey
Ipad stand one of the students made
with a wire coat hanger.
So term 4 2010 AJ started with her ipad. It was a massive learning journey for all of us (AJ, myself, teacher aides, students and ICT staff). We had this fantastic device now we had to figure out what to put on it, how to use it to its fullest potentional, and sometimes simply how to use it!!!! 
I remember one day doing statistics in maths and for the life of us we couldn’t figure out how to do a graph. We struggled and struggled. We had this new device for her but had to train ourselves in order to support her learning. Various people provided that support, Linda, her daughter (ipad owner) and Jacqui Sharp to name a few. I highly recommend Jacqui’s wiki to ipad users:

Alicia with her ipad mounted on her wheelchair.
Alicia with the big desk we had to carry
from room to room

The teacher aides, AJ and myself continued to develop our skills and in 2011 I was supplied with an ipad to support our ongoing learning. It was great to be able to take it home and spend evenings trying to overcome our problems like doing a graph, and to explore and trial applications for AJ to use.

You may have heard of universal design (how providing something for a child with special needs can help others), well having an ipad in the classroom has helped other children in the class and helped AJ in ways unexpected. Firstly we have another very high needs student with severe dyslexia. We use the ipad to support him along with other children with learning difficulties. These children find working on the ipad motivating and we get more work out of them. We have also noticed children conversing more with AJ as they have found they have a common interest. They talk to AJ about what applications she has, ask questions if they are having difficulty with anything, and seek to solve any problems she may encounter. 

Printing from the ipad is still something we are working on. Hopefully one day we’ll get a compatible printer and be able to print wirelessly, but one thing I loved was how the other students would go home and google solutions to AJ’s printing problems. 

Also at the beginning of the year we had a bar and mount made. We attach the bar to AJ’s wheelchair and then mount her ipad to it. It means she doesn’t need the big chunky desk. She can easily move between classes without having to lug her desk with her. This will be a godsend when she gets to college. We identified a few problems with the design.
#1 it can only be used landscape and some applications can only be used portrait.
#2 With the desk we could prop worksheets, books etc along side her ipad.
We were impressed with the way the students involved themselves in coming up with solutions. Some of them drew designs where arms would pop out the side for paper/books to clip on. Some children went and researched things like monitor clips and they’d email me the links. One student even researched and made an ipad stand using a wire coat hanger. All of this invoved discussion with AJ. It was wonderful to see how caring and helpful they could be.