The fourth- and fifth-grade resource room students at St. Agnes Cathedral School in Rockville Centre, under the direction of Rickey Moroney and Audra Cerruto, worked with graduate students at Molloy College in the "APPy Together" program during the last school year. This program allowed students to use iPad apps to help improve academic growth and enable interactive learning.
The program began when Moroney, technology coordinator at St. Agnes and an adjunct professor at Molloy College, approached Cerruto, an assistant professor at Molloy, to see if she would be interested in working on a project with our elementary school students. As a result, they created the APPy Together Program. This program allows graduate students to do virtual case studies by researching applications that would meet the individual academic needs of fourth- and fifth-grade special education students at St. Agnes.
Every morning, nine students went to the computer lab to get their iPads. They used their iPad in every class, taking notes and playing educational games. The students at Molloy College were responsible for finding apps that would improve the students' grades. Moroney then downloaded these apps onto the St. Agnes iPads.
The grad students were assigned one or two resource room students. They found specific applications for each student, based on his or her learning abilities. Some kids would benefit from visual learning, while others benefit from interactive learning techniques. Some of their favorite educational applications include: Math Puppy, which sharpens math skills; Notability, which helps kids take accurate notes during class; and Story Builder, which enables kids to create their own stories.
We interviewed Francine Rivera, a special-education teacher at St. Agnes, about the project. She said, "I was inspired to use the iPads because the students became more motivated to complete their schoolwork." She made use of apps such as: Tools4Students and My Homework to help students organize their notes.
We also interviewed Kristyn O'Brien, who is a fourth-grade teacher. She told us she uses the iPads with her classes. She connects her iPad to the SMART Board, so she can display her lessons for the students. One of her students' favorite lessons featured the solar system. They used two applications to learn about each planet and to study the characteristics of the solar system. "The students love it!"
She said she has seen improvement in her students' test scores due to this new and motivational way of learning.
Since the program has been implemented, everyone who is a part of it is APPy Together.