At Harp,we know how kids are attracted to technology. We also know it's the wave of the future and feel that it's part of our job to help bridge the gap between clunky writing and working with a word processor. Until schools and our society make the transition to strictly using computers for all forms of communication, our work is cut out for us!
Because we know how crucial the body/brain connection is, we can't rely solely on computers and tablets to work for our program. But we now supplement with laptops and tablets for part of the student's learning session.
The Same Program...a New Format
The same program that parents have relied upon for twenty years has been placed on laptops and tablets. Students use tablets to strengthen fine motor skills, spatial skills, and eye/hand coordination through our Yellow and Orange Levels. We introduce crucial visual processing skills at the Red Level, then focus on difficult auditory processing skills throughout the rest of the program.
We've also added the TouchTile Reading System on the devices. Students beg to do reading with the stylus instead of dot dabbers. Phonemic awareness is still taught through a multi-sensory manner, only the kids get excited because they get to use the tablets.
When students are caught up in the moment of learning, they learn more. And they retain information more easily because they are relaxed. Focusing isn't an issue with tablets and technology, even for kids who have focusing issues at school.
We still make sure our students get important brain integration steps and that they receive the full spectrum of the Harp Learning System, but we are thrilled with the retention of learning through technology. Happier kids stay longer and learn more. There's no "selling" these kids on doing their exercises because they love doing them. They get to choose the color of their "pen" and love it when they make rainbow marks on their screens.
We're aware that the average teen today spends nine hours a day on a screen. We can't change that. But we can make sure that what they have on their screens is meaningful. That it has a lot to do with learning, sharpening the senses, and creating a "whole brained" learner. We can ensure that reading skills are honed and mistakes are corrected, that guessing at words will extinguish itself through our copyrighted, research based, and exciting reading programs.
Books will be a Thing of the Past
As we enter this exciting age of technological advancements, we know that books will soon be a thing of the past. Already, colleges are allowing students to purchase books on Kindle and other ereaders. This is more efficient and saves students a lot of money.
Students with learning disabilities often have a difficult time transitioning between a computer screen and paper. Some kids with visual processing issues have a hard time with computer screens, so we need to ease them into using screens instead of giving them an overdose of screen time for tests or reading Lexiles. It isn't fair for the student to be judged on reading abilities on a computer when his only instructional time has been spent on "paper" books.
Some kids are just the opposite. They fail using "paper" books but soar when using a screen. The color, sheen, size, and novelty keep them focused and paying attention. They actually do better using tablets and laptops while reading .
At Harp, we prepare kids for the future. We are busy helping them transition into the future by giving them skills for today!
A Chromebook for Every Kid
Our private school, the Harp Learning Academy, is unique in a host of different ways. We cater to the student who struggles to learn, so that means we have a Chromebook for every student.
Kids who struggled with research are organizing information into well-organized paragraphs. There's no grumbling and the Chromebooks aren't used for special occasions but on a daily basis. These kids, who have often failed in other learning settings, can research like any other kid. They can form meaningful sentences with proper punctuation.
They take their Chromebooks seriously, because they each have have a label with their name on their own laptop. They don't have to share with someone else, and it isn't a novelty. The kids don't fool around with these devices because they understand its a learning tool. They have ownership, and they respond accordingly.
When students are asked to share a computer, the strongest personality wins out and that leaves only one student learning. Kids complain about not getting enough time or just give up.
Not at the Harp Academy!
Every student gets the full benefit of using the Chromebook for the entire length of the assignment.
Our students use both Google Docs and Microsoft Word. They learn to use Power Point and Excel so they can prosper in the work force.
Do you know what we've discovered?
Most of our students are computer whizzes! These kids who "failed" to thrive in a traditional setting soar when given the right opportunities. One of those is access to technology and instruction on how to properly use it.
We believe in sharing, but when it comes to technology, we know every student deserves the chance to shine on his own device!