This guest blog is written by Amanda Hirsch, a special education teacher in the Chicagoland area.
When I heard that Autism Core Skills was coming out, I was super excited. The idea of teaching academic and social skills in one app is amazing, and I was certainly not disappointed.
How is Autism Core Skills Used in the Classroom?
The app is mainly used in either a one to one setting to observe their progress or during a time where students are working independently in a small group. My students love the fun pictures and sounds, especially the reward videos at the end of the trials. The excitement just to finish a lesson and see the videos is the best part for them!
The ability to create individualized sessions for each student is great. It's very enjoyable for my students with lower attention spans because they are given just the right amount of trials before moving on to the next lesson. The most motivating part about the app for my students is the ability to choose from a variety of different interests to help keep their attention. I have a few students who choose their own interest each time we use it together which motivates them to learn academically.
Keeping Kids Motivated with a Visual Learning Style:
Having an app that allows me to work on skills that are at my students current academic level and is presented in a way that is tailored to their visual learning style is something about the app that I love. The progression within each skill allows my students to feel confident before moving on to the next step. For example, I have one student who had very little understanding of letter sounds or understanding that words consist of those sounds. Trying to find a strategy that kept her motivated and addressed her concrete thinking skills was tough. After using the app she is able to identify beginning and final ending sounds. She can spell some simple words, and has increased her sight word vocabulary. It may be a bit of a cliché to say, but now she is truly excited about reading.
Generalizing Skills Learned on the iPad:
The printable curriculum has also been quite helpful for translating skills learned on the iPad to real life. After having mastered skills, the generalization of those skills is so important for my students. I can easily print out the printable curriculum and have them generalize what they have been doing with different staff members and different areas of the classroom. And the best part about the printable curriculum? There are multiple different options. I can print 1 worksheet for onsets and then try a different worksheet with different pictures the next day. I have kids with excellent memorization skills so this allows them to truly apply the skill instead of just memorize one or two activities.
Creating Progress With Student Data:
Finally, the part I think is the most important for teachers, and is my favorite is the fact that the app automatically collects student data for you. So much of our day consists of taking data. Having an app that generates that for you is amazing. This is especially true if one of the lessons addresses an IEP goal. It's fantastic!
I loved InfiniTeach's first app Skill Champ and am equally as pleased with Autism Core Skills. It has helped my students to get motivated to work on academics rather than play on the iPad. Autism Core Skills increased their skill set in areas that were not as easily accessible for them. It's a great tool to have in any classroom.