Special needs students at Dadeville High School show off iPads and the interactive white boards now being used daily in their classrooms. | Laura Pemberton

Archived Story

Technology takes teaching to new level

Published 9:05am Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Special Needs Education Department at Dadeville High School is putting technology to good use.

“To see our students with disabilities working with technology has really been exciting,” said Lindsey Smith, a special-needs teacher at DHS. “I think it better prepares them for the real world – so much of the world is technologically based now.”

The department’s two special needs classes recently received interactive white boards, document cameras, mobile keyboards and iPads.

“We’re using the iPads to search vocabulary words,” said Jessica Johnson, another special-needs teacher at DHS. “Our textbooks are staying in the cabinet, and that’s a good thing.”

Smith said the hands-on technology has dramatically changed her lesson plans, allowing her students to virtually sort blocks on the interactive white board, practice writing with a touch sensitive pen and practice telling time with an application made for the iPad.

“We use it all through the day in every subject,” Smith said. “It has completely changed the way I teach.”

Smith and Johnson said technology has allowed their students to learn in a different way.

“They love it. It makes classes much more interactive,” Johnson said. “It gives us a chance to make classes more student-led and centered – instead of just a teacher standing up leading a lesson from a book.”

Johnson said technology like the mobile keyboards and hover document camera give her the ability to move around the classroom, and the white boards and iPads give her students more ways to participate in lessons.

“This technology gets students up moving around,” Johnson said. “They are not just sitting doing worksheets all day. This engages them.”

Smith said the interactive features have made learning much more accessible for students with disabilities.

“I teach students with a variety of different disabilities ranging from autism, cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities,” Smith said. “I have students in grades 9 through 12 with ages ranging from 14 to 21 – this technology allows me to teach to students with varying function levels.”

Smith said the technology has provided a tool to help reach lower functioning levels.

“I have a student who is completely nonverbal, and with this technology he’s been able to guide himself independently through the lessons,” Smith said. “Sometimes it can be hard to engage all levels in a lesson, but now using (the iPads and white boards) they think it’s cool, so they want to participate.”