National Make a Difference Day
In honor of National Make a Difference Day, Ellen Weber, EdS, CCC-SLP, shares how TinyTap has made a difference in her students’ lives.
As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I work with special needs students who struggle daily to make even minimal progress learning. They often feel like they are failures at everything, and more often than not will eventually quit trying. They are teased and called “stupid” by their peers, and often go home to a family who considers them just “lazy”. Because of this, they often show poor attention, sporadic attendance, no homework completion, minimal progress on goals, and start to become socially isolated. Enter TinyTap.
I began last year to try to figure out a way to use TinyTap to target some of these issues. I began by creating narrative units on TinyTap that my language-disordered students just loved. Whether we were using the iPad with an individual student or a whole group up on the board, the students were immediately more engaged, started paying better attention to our stories, and started mastering their narrative skills. Then I started incorporating unit projects for each of our narrative units. The students had a choice of two, both related in some way to the story we had worked on in speech class. They used TinyTap to create their projects, starting with Rosie Revere, Engineer. I posted their projects for the world to see in the TinyTap marketplace, and their excitement was beyond description when they got feedback from people all over the world about their projects. I didn’t realize how much that impacted their self-esteem until we had a conference one day with one of my students’ parents. Mom stated that her daughter had been coming home from school crying every day because the other kids would call her stupid when the teacher wasn’t within earshot.
She went on to tell us how everything changed the day her daughter came home and showed them her project online and all the “likes” she got and she realized she could do something that the other kids in her class weren’t doing (alas, their teacher had not yet discovered TinyTap). As we got more and more into doing projects with TinyTap, I tracked the attendance of one of my worst offenders. Before using TinyTap projects, she had been missing an average of 50% of her speech therapy due to absences. After getting involved in projects using TinyTap, her attendance in speech reached 100%. This child was also in the gifted program, and was crying out for something stimulating to do. She started creating homework materials for my other students using TinyTap after that.
As word started spreading through our school about TinyTap, students would come up to me and ask if they could come to speech to do TinyTap projects. We eventually started a TinyTap club for those chronic homework offenders who never turned in an assignment all year despite every kind of incentive program or homework detention. The deal was that the teacher had to sign a pass on Friday mornings stating the student had been to school every day on time and had turned in all assignments on time, including homework. If so, the student could come to my room for 30 minutes Friday mornings to create games with TinyTap. The program was wildly successful, and some of the students even starting creating some math games for us to use for the kids who were going through RTI (Response to Intervention) at our school.
What difference can TinyTap make for your students? Only in those little things like greater self-esteem and self-confidence, better attention, increased attendance, improved motivation and completion of work. All those pesky little things that always seem to get in the way of their learning. So I offer this challenge – pick one project for your students to do using TinyTap (maybe something that in the past has seemed a little boring), and see for yourself the difference it makes.