Today, we have a very very special guest ‘poster’, the prep poster boy himself, our Prep Team Leader Sam. Today marked thr first day of our prep iPad program and this is Sam’s account of how the day progressed! Thanks Sam!
Today marked the rolling out of iPads to our Prep cohort. We’ve given the kids a few weeks to settle into the routine of school and now was time to add iPads into the mix.
Behind the scenes there has been a lot of work. I spent a few quiet afternoons over summer on the prowl for the best available apps. This has been a challenge. Every app in the app store tells you it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Not every app has made by someone with an education background. A lot of literacy based apps contain accents not suited for Australian students.
The website www.appitic.com was a saviour. There aren’t a lot of other schools using iPads in this age bracket of students. A lot less share this information. We’ve gone into this year knowing that we are essentially writing the script for the use of iPads in a Prep classroom.
Appitic is an app review site run by Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs). The apps are well categorized making it easy to search through and have been reviewed by educators, meaning they have classroom use in mind.
We loaded up with a raft of listening post apps (such as the Dr Seuss books) counting apps (such as tally tots) letter formation apps (letter school is a real favorite of the students) and even leveled texts (LAZ library series). These will all play a part in reinforcing and practicing concepts to do with literacy and numeracy during the year.
The app I’m most looking forward to using is Storyrobe. This is a simple film making app that I hope to immerse students in during the year. Stay tuned for that!
Before we become master film makers however, there are some simple routines to establish. This is what our iPad celebration today was. Students knew iPads were just around the corner, but not exactly when. They were so excited to see iPads at their tables when they arrived in the classroom this morning.
We used the morning session to establish some simple routines with students. iPads stay in their case all the time. iPads are to remain flat on tables or in laps when in use and, if they had to be carried, iPads were to be held against a students chest in two hands, much like cuddling a teddy bear!
Students then had some ‘explore’ time to practice their safe handling skills and check out the apps available on their iPads. Students were gunning for their ‘iPad license’. They were to receive this once they had demonstrated they could safely handle their iPads and also remember the routines used to safely handle them. They demonstrated this by writing and sketching about one of the rules they could remember.
Routines out of the way and we began to introduce some subject specific apps for our iPads. These were done in rotations. We laminated up the app icons and the apps students were to use was based upon the app icon on their table.
For our literacy session we introduced:
- rED writing
- Letter School
- The Cat in the Hat
- LAZ level A
And in numeracy:
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar
- Counting Bear
- Letter School
- Candy Count
- Tally Tots
In all, I was staggered by the attention my students gave to the whole day. The excitement of having a new iPad would surely be enough to put some off their game. Throw in a learning walk of around ten teachers, a public holiday the day prior, and a 30 degree day and were talking about some serious engagement.
I’ve always been prickly about using ICT solely for engagement, and the apps we use do offer more than that. But I’m left super impressed about what iPads might do for our learning. Spare minutes could be used in play-based app learning, while the arsenal apps we already have assembled surely will reinforce and practice concepts we seek to teach our kids.
If you have any questions for either myself or Sam, please feel free to send us an email or comment on this post! We’ll (Sam!!!), will be sure to keep you posted in the future weeks happening! Thanks!