Last blog I covered the third in a series of new therapy approaches/programs/etc that I've used this year. This is the fourth and final blog in that series. Less than two weeks ago, I became one of the ever-growing number of SLPs who are using iPads in their therapy. Each of the SLPs in my district received an iPad to use specifically when providing direct instruction to students. Several months ago we were asked for a "Wish List" of apps - I'd say mine had at least 30 on it. Then a few months ago we were asked to "narrow down" our list to 10 as a starting point.
Last week the SLPs met as a group with some folks from the technology department for nearly two hours. Topics included going over the basics of using our iPad, our district's procedure for requesting apps to be downloaded, and had a chance to explore the apps installed on our own devices. Immediately we all had numerous questions (and a bit of jealously--we didn't all request the same apps on our devices and were excited by some of the apps other SLPs had chosen). Once the training was over, we all left with our iPads and went our separate ways.
I took my iPad home that night and spent a good deal of time exploring the apps and figuring out how to use them (i.e., some of the AAC apps required a bit of work to figure out how to edit). I had a blast trying out some of the cause-effect apps and other simple educational apps, so I immediately knew that my students would also. During the first scheduled sessions students had after I had received the iPad, I allowed my students to do some exploration and just "have fun" with the device, and, as I predicted, they all loved it.
Unfortunately, it is late in the year and things are winding down (it seems there is either an assembly, special event, or field trip almost daily!) and the number of apps currently installed on my iPad limits what I can do with it (though I have put in for approval to add numerous educationally-relevant free apps - keeping my fingers crossed I'll get some new ones installed soon!). I am hoping that for the start of next school year, I'll have enough time to explore it and enough apps on it so that my iPad can truly live up to its potential.
In the short time I've had with my limited number of apps at this point, here is what I've learned so far about using an app in therapy:
1) It's light and easily transported. Great for the itinerant SLP! It also is an easy, convenient way to do my hallway drill and students I'm servicing through speech RTii - no more fumbling with cards or worksheets.
2) If you see speech students immediately after they've eaten lunch, make sure they wash their hands first. I had quite a few greasy fingerprints covering mine last week!
3) I'm sort of in the middle of the "technology ability" spectrum--not an expert, but not a newbie---and I've had no issues with remembering, knowing how, or figuring out how to use my iPad.
4) Students expect a music library and "Angry Birds" to be on all iPads. Several were disappointed that I'm not to download any music to the device nor is "Angry Birds" one of my apps.
5) The number of apps out there is overwhelming to say the least.
6) All of my elementary school students (K-5) of all ability levels and speech-language needs have been excited about the introduction of the iPad in therapy. Don't doubt the power of the iPad. I know I did!
I'm looking forward to learning even more as I head into next school year. I know several of you have iPads - any favorite apps (preferably free) for elementary school students that you can recommend? What procedures does your district follow for downloading free and paid apps? How has having an iPad changed your therapy? Feel free to comment on Advance's blog or Facebook pages!