Apps for students with special needs

(Pittsburgh Parent) The coronavirus creates a unique challenge for students with special needs – educators share recommendations for apps to support learning at home.

Special education is facing severe challenges as remote becomes the new norm for K–12 learning during the coronavirus pandemic. Delivering differentiated content in a well-equipped classroom can be difficult on a good day, but now that most schools are closed or closing, educators who work with children with special needs must, in many ways, completely reinvent their approach to teaching.

One of the main concerns for both teachers and parents is keeping students on track to reach their individualized education program (IEP) goals and objectives as they are tailored for each student. Teachers must also work much more closely now with parents/caregivers to support this learning at home. In some cases, students are accustomed to having aides, in addition to teachers, in the classroom. It is a lot of responsibility for caregivers to bear, but luckily some of the digital tools now available can really help.

I reached out to my special education colleagues via the Facebook Group called Education App Talk (E.A.T.), asking for their favorite digital tools; what follows includes some of their recommendations, but it is just the tip of the iceberg of what is available. Remember, as with any tool, what may work wonders for some students will only frustrate others. Customization is key with any app, so adults and educators should be prepared to put in some time learning the apps themselves or how to make modifications in the settings. Many apps come with great teacher-made materials; look for video tutorials, lesson plans, and extension activities.

Tales2Go, an audiobook service that offers a free one-month trial, helps students who struggle to read while boosting their listening skills. This app has an extensive collection of stories and books for all ages, with scores of splendid narrators who bring stories from every genre to life.

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Publication:      Pittsburgh Parent
Author:             Jayne Clare
Publish Date:   4.14.2020