Stephanie Baker-Hill, a special education teacher at Elephant’s Fork Elementary, helps third-grader Juan Noyola navigate an app on one of two new tablets donated to the school.
Stephanie Baker-Hill, a special education teacher at Elephant’s Fork Elementary, helps third-grader Juan Noyola navigate an app on one of two new tablets donated to the school.

Tablets help students at EFES

Published 10:41pm Thursday, September 12, 2013

Students with autism at Elephant’s Fork Elementary School have a new way to learn — two new electronic tablet devices.

Cynthia Gregory, a parent, presented the Nexus 7 Androids to ASD (autism spectrum disorder) teachers Stephanie Baker-Hill and Sherry Bradford, after attracting support from children’s app review site www.smartappsforkids.com.

Jessica Avery, an assistant principal at the school, helped coordinate the gift, while assistive technology specialist Janette Presley is helping Baker-Hill and Bradford get the most out of teaching tools that are growing increasingly popular in special education classes.

In her classroom for younger students Thursday, Baker-Hill and third-grader Juan Noyola demonstrated the power of tablets.

“We’re using it to enhance the reading and the math parts of our curriculum,” said Baker-Hill.

A smile spread across Juan’s face as he used one his favorite apps. He dragged different colors down into the carriages of a train moving across the bottom of the screen.

Other apps used in Baker-Hill’s classroom focus on phonetics, multiplication, division, single-digit addition, and sight words like “cat” and “dog,” the teacher said.

“We don’t have to sit with them,” she said. “Once we have taught it, they go on their own and do it independently.”

The tablets are offering a solution to an age-old problem encountered by all kinds of teachers the world over: motivating them.

“When we pull it out, the others kids are (saying), ‘Let me see,’” Baker-Hill said.

“But they have to finish their work to get an opportunity with the tablet.”

Sherry Bradford said the technology helps her provide a quality education to the older students in her ASD classroom.

She also cited the incentive potential of tablets.

“It’s not only learning, it’s fun,” she said. “We have some children who are really into technology, and they go home motivated to learn even more.”

Her students need something that will intrigue them and capture their attention, Bradford said.

“It (the tablet) pulls them in,” she said. “You have the sounds and things to make it more interactive for them.”

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