Many teachers struggle with implementing technology in a meaningful way in the classroom, small group instruction, or 1:1 instruction. Later this week I’ll post an interview with Lucas Steuber from Portland Language Lab about some of the creative ways he implements technology. For now, take a look at some tools I’m excited about with edtech! Note: None of this technology is specifically designed for learners with special needs. However, each of these tools can be especially useful for increasing motivation to teach essential academic, social, and job-related skills.
Osmo – On their website, Osmo is described as “Reflective Artificial Intelligence and a built-in mirror [that can] recognize and respond to your every real-world move.” Why is this fantastic for learners with autism and other developmental delays? This adds a whole new dimension to the iPad, allowing for interaction with others, removing the possibilities for rigidity in play, and increasing the opportunities for new types of play for learners who are highly motivated by the iPad. Be sure to watch the video to the end, as some of the coolest aspects of Osmo are shown in the second half!
Tiggly Shapes – This is one of my favorite tools for working with preschoolers and kindergarteners. These 3-dimensional shapes are used to complete tasks and play games in four Tiggly apps, and new products are in development now! Why is this fantastic for learners with autism and other developmental delays? Like Osmo, it creates lots of opportunities for interaction while also providing practice in essential early skills such as shape identification. The apps are motivating and the shapes are easy to grasp for young learners and/or learners who struggle with motor skills. I’ve been using Tiggly Shapes for quite some time now with great success. You can see my full review here.
Bo & Yana – These little robots teach learners how to code. Why is this fantastic for learners with autism and other developmental delays? I absolutely love that they have programming for all ages, and I think teaching learners with autism and other delays how to channel their interest in technology into real skills is essential for the long terms goals of our students. (Of course, if your learner is not motivated by technology, it’s not as necessary.) Like Osmo, these have not been released yet, but I can’t wait to try them out with my students!
Classcraft – The website describes Classcraft as a “free online, educational role-playing game that teachers and students play together in the classroom. Acting as a gamification layer around any existing curriculum, the game transforms the way a class is experienced throughout the school year.” Why is this fantastic for learners with autism and other developmental delays? This concept is especially useful for kids with autism or other developmental delays who are in classrooms with their typically developing peers. It incentivizes necessary social skills for the entire student body without singling out our students, provides lot of opportunities to practice and receive reinforcement for those social skills, and is easy to apply to whatever curriculum you are currently using. It’s a simple use of technology that can make a huge difference in the behaviors of all students.
SpaceTeam – This app has all players using their individual smart devices to work together to complete a space mission. Why is this fantastic for learners with autism and other developmental delays? While this app may be not be great for many learners with special needs, the concept is important for us to notice and consider in creating apps that provide opportunities for peer interaction and social skills. The idea that each student uses his/her own device to collaborate with all players is exciting and should be applied to educational apps.