It's no secret public school classrooms have changed — learning can happen almost anytime, anywhere with the aid of technology. And while students may still struggle with the same math or reading concepts, it's a safe bet there's an app that can help.
Technology, specifically Apple products such as iPads, iPod touch devices and laptops, is not only becoming more commonplace in public school classrooms, it's also being used more widely to support individual student needs, especially those with learning disabilities.
Patricia Gallegos, a resource teacher with College Station Independent School District, says that her third and fourth graders didn’t even realize they were learning when her Aggie student teacher introduced them to the iPad.
"My students thought they were playing games, even though they were working on math problems like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division," she says. "There were apps for fractions, spelling and reading, and there was even a piano app where the kids could compose songs."
In an effort to produce qualified Aggie teachers to navigate the technologically demanding classrooms of today, the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University is finding ways to integrate technology into the daily instruction of its students.
Recently, Texas A&M and the college hosted the "Made for Learning: Apple & Accessibility" seminar for local educators like Gallegos. Sarah Herrlinger, senior manager of education at Apple Inc., conducted the sessions.
Several special education teachers and school leaders attended the free, three-day event to learn more on how Apple technology can make learning easier and more fun for all students, including those with diverse learning needs, such as autism, speech impairments, and other physical and developmental disabilities.
"I was amazed to see the different apps available on the iPad and am hoping to get a few for my classroom next year," Gallegos says. "I've already seen how it motivates my students — they were finishing their work on time just for a chance to use it."