But technology now allows students to show what they’ve learned with the swipe of a hand or even the touch of their nose.
Nicholson has watched students transform before her eyes once they finally make a connection with the world.
KASEC Director Cheryl Harshman said some behavior problems have disappeared completely. Students who were aggravated that other people couldn’t understand them before could let go of their frustrations.
“It opens up a whole new world for them,” she said.
A few miles east at Eastern High School, the scene is much the same.
High schoolers in a life skills class concentrated on counting money using an iPad application.
Their worksheets show a picture of four pennies. They find the picture of the penny on the iPad and type in the number four.
The iPad tells them those pennies are worth $0.04.
Jonathan Snow worked through the exercise, rarely looking up from his tablet — even as people around him talked.
“That’s amazing,” Harshman said.
At one time, Snow veered off task so many times in a day he had to wear headphones to block out the distractions.
The technology keeps him so engaged that he no longer needs them, Harshman said.
Students learn to read books using an easy reader application.
Sometimes the teens learn to play games on the tablet, life skills teacher Mary Evans said.
The high schoolers she teaches often can’t play video games like their peers because the controllers have too many buttons.
But on the iPad, many of the games can be played with just a swipe to the screen.
“The kids love it,” she said.
They’re constantly asking her when she will let them use the iPads again.
Harshman said it’s her dream to implement one-to-one technology in all her special education classrooms at Western and Eastern.