By Angela Williams, Army Flier Staff WriterMarch 22, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Mar. 22, 2012) -- The video showed a student with autism doing something she'd never done before. The young girl identified shapes by pointing to them on the screen of an iPad, then handed her teacher whatever toy the teacher requested.
Before the iPad, the girl would place the toys in a specific order and would not deviate from that order. It was a small change, but a big step, according to the child's teacher.
The short clip, recorded by a teacher at Fort Rucker Primary School, was played at a school board meeting March 12 recognizing the transfer of 91 iPads from the 1st Aviation Brigade to the school through the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service.
"We want to thank them for everything they've done for us," said primary school Principal Deborah Deas during the meeting to representatives from the brigade. "We hope you'll come back often and we hope that you'll work with the students to show them ways to use the iPads."
The brigade completed a pilot program with the iPads and some of the Aviation students, but determined the tablet did not exactly meet the requirements for the program, said Carley Palo, 1st Avn. Bde. S6.
"Col. Brian Bennett, commander of the 1st Avn. Bde, didn't want to see them end up being auctioned off if another organization could use them," she said. "We thought the schools were a great choice because of all the things the schools can do with them."
Palo and other personnel in her office cleared all the information from the iPads and updated them with the latest Apple software to get them ready for the teachers and students.
Regina Davis, a kindergarten teacher at the primary school, said she just started using the iPads in her classroom, but she really appreciates the opportunity.
"The children get so excited over the things we've learned and the things we've been able to use so far," she explained. "There are so many apps available. We are just beginning this experience."
One of the things Davis said she most appreciates about the iPads is the ability to differentiate instruction -- meaning one child can work on a basic skill like sight words while another can work on something more in depth.
"This allows us to meet the needs of all the kids in the classroom," she said.
Wanda Wilds, another kindergarten teacher at the school, agrees, saying, "It's a great tool for us to meet a child no matter what level they are at."
With the iPads, she doesn't have to send students out of the classroom to work on specific skills. She can keep all of her students together, but still work with each child individually.
All the students "become instantly engaged" when you bring out the iPads, Wilds said. "You get this out and the child's eyes light up. You have their undivided attention. It's so much better than handing them flashcards or something like that. Those are good, but you give them something like this and behavior issues are no more because the students are totally engrossed."
"There are not many schools that have this kind of opportunity," said Davis.
"It's a wonderful, wonderful opportunity," added Wilds. "It's a great use of technology."