Part of my learning during course 1 was that there is some debate over the use of technology in primary school classrooms. Is it effective and is it justifiable? Since I teach kindergarten I’ve begun thinking about the technology I use and trying to ensure that it is meaningful.
This year at my school each kindergarten classroom was given an iPad. So, I borrowed iPads from my grade level team to try this lesson. I wanted to use them in a way that was effective for the students and also freed me up to work with more students.
I had 5 students that started kindergarten little or no phonics knowledge. This makes “reading workshop” very difficult because the other students were ready to begin learning reading conventions and decoding skills. Ordinarily my teaching assistant or myself would have to spend all of our time working individually with each of these students to help them learn their letter sounds and get them reading for reading. This would leave the other 4 just flipping through picture books and not effectively learning.
During the first reading workshop that I introduced the iPads I spoke with the whole class about what we would be doing and why. I didn’t want the other students to feel that this group was getting to “play games” while there were stuck with books. We then broke out into reading groups and I introduced the app to the students who would be using it to help learn their letter sounds. They all (not surprisingly) knew how to turn it on and unlock it already. I should them the app they were to use, and walked them through a few letters. I did take a moment then to make it clear that I expected them to be using this app (and only this app) the whole time (10 minutes).
Using the iPads to help learn phonics worked out fantastically! Each student was able to begin immediately each day during reading workshop. They worked independently and freed up my assistant and I to work with other students during that 10 minutes. After 2 weeks every students demonstrated significant improvement that was on par with the progress similar students have shown in previous years who worked this my assistant or myself. I was very pleased with this use of technology in my classroom and will continue to use iPads next year, in even more ways.
Due to the use of iPads in the classroom by myeslf and other teachers. My school is providing each kindergarten classroom with 5 iPads next year!