The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Information Learning Technology

Differentiating with iPads

In the Junior school, the iPad is one of many tools used to help teachers differentiate the teaching and learning programme. In fact, it is quickly becoming one of our most effective tools to help all boys access their learning.

As part of their planning process, the teachers review learning experiences and choose the tool that best suits the task to allow the boys to fully engage in the learning. As the Junior School teachers run differentiated classrooms, they may have up to 4 distinct group activities running in one lesson. In many cases, the iPads are used to help with this differentiation, providing leveled texts that the boys can access successfully, without making the levels obvious to the whole class. In Years 1 to 4, the teachers do this using their Edmodo virtual classrooms, where the boys join different groups to access differentiated guided reading, spelling and numeracy work. Year 5 boys use the One Note; Class Notebooks to access their differentiated curriculum.

As well as allowing access to levelled content on the iPad, the boys also use various accessibility features to help capture their full understanding of the curriculum. Many students have amazing ideas but sometimes struggle to get their ideas down in written form and can feel frustrated and disheartened when they fail to share all they know. Teachers can't read their minds (unfortunately), so they need a way to capture all of their amazing and creative ideas. Boys can easily add audio files to their books, or video themselves answering questions, rather than having to write every answer.

Another fantastic accessibility feature on the iPads is the ability for students to dictate their ideas and have their talk accurately transcribed to text for easy editing and rereading. This is helpful when a large volume of writing is required, especially for our boys who have dysgraphia.

The 'Voice over' read aloud function helps boys to access more difficult text by reading the content aloud to the boys. This is a fantastic tool for when students are required to gain large chunks of knowledge from factual texts as part of their research stage of inquiry.

Another very helpful accessibility feature that we use on the iPads in the Junior School is the coloured filters that can be applied to help boys with dyslexia or colour blindness. A coloured screen is easier for boys to read rather than the normal black text on white background, where letters can 'jump' and make reading difficult. Boys can also invert colours, reduce white-point and enable grayscale to help boys with colour blindness.

Teachers will always look for the tool that helps their boys learn best. Many times, the greatest tool is a pencil and paper, manipulatives or mini whiteboards, but to give a truly differentiated programme, you can't beat the iPads for helping the boys capture and share all that they know.

Mrs Amanda Ritchie
ILT Integration Specialist