• February 12, 2014

TabethaStudents who struggle with writing independently have benefited from the emergence of Apple’s iDevices. In the past couple of years, several schools in the Central Okanagan School District (SD23) have been working to support students with some creative use of apps.

Tabetha is an 11 year-old student with Down Syndrome. She is a keen student with lots to say but her language skills are delayed and her speech is unintelligible to those who don’t know her well. Her goals include writing about current events and sharing her writing with peers. A year ago, her schoolbased team decided that Tabetha should try an iPad with Proloquo2Go (communication app) and Pictello (customizable picture book app). The team enlisted the support of classmates to assist Tabetha to take pictures using her iPad and then support her in creating stories. Tabetha writes short simple sentences in Proloquo2Go to describe the photos and her peers copy and paste these sentences into Pictello to create an accessible digital book. Tabetha shares these stories with her class by connecting the iPad to the classroom SmartBoard. This is a great way for Tabetha to talk about activities with peers and provides a great way for her to work collaboratively and demonstrate her learning.

To say that this implementation has been a success would be an understatement. Tabetha has achieved her goal of communicating and writing and a result her classmates have embraced supporting her and including her in all classroom activities.

Similarly, at the same school, DJ is a bright 8 year-old student that struggled with reading and writing. One of his IEP goals was to become more independent in his writing. He had been relying on his education assistant to scribe for him in the classroom. To support his writing, his team determined that an iPad with TouchChat Suite with Word Power (communication app) in conjunction with Pictello. This solution provided DJ a comprehensive vocabulary set and grammatical supports that helped DJ’s writing flourish.

DJ takes his own pictures and independently writes in TouchChat and then he copies and pastes the text into Pictello. DJ can independently add new vocabulary words into the TouchChat communication app. This is the pinnacle of independence as he is able to categorize the new vocabulary to extend his writing. When DJ needs help, his educational assistant helps to find a corresponding symbol or picture for the new vocabulary words. The team uses Bitsboard (free app) to practice identifying, reading and spelling new vocabulary. Once vocabulary is created on a board in the Bitsboard app, there are 13 different games created automatically in which to learn it.

It has been amazing to see how DJ and Tabetha have become excited about writing and sharing their work with peers. We wish DJ and Tabetha continued success as their confidence and independence grows.

To learn more about how to support students with writing challenges with the use of communication apps and software to write, refer to the resources in the Learning Centre on AAC and Writing.

To learn more about the technology used in this SETstory, search for it by name in learningSET.