The iPad is really an amazing digital tool with so much flexibility. I have noticed how easy it is to navigate and also how this tool enhances my students learning. This digital tool has become part of my classroom culture as a way to enrich, connect and collaborate relationships and learning.
I have been asked lately how I got started using the iPad. So today I share my story because it is an example of what can happen when we watch, listen and share. iPads, tablets, any device has the potential to bring people together to communicate, share and explore the world. I am #grateful for Lucia, a former student, who taught me about the value of having a voice and being able to share it.
I have the pleasure of working in a wonderful school district that supports innovation and creativity. My school district provides teachers and students with many types of digital tools and professional opportunities that stretch our thinking. Our school also has amazing technology educators as well as IT people who work tirelessly to ensure that our tools are working and ready, as well as provide updates about new things happening and opportunities for students and teachers to collaborate inside/outside of our buildings.
Every spring near the end of Kindergarten our preschool teachers offer their students opportunities to visit their kindergarten classroom for the fall. This is a wonderful way for me and the students to begin to say hello and explore the classroom with each other as well as the present students.
So Lucia arrived. She is an amazing young lady. She came with a smile, confidence and sat right down on the floor near a group of her students with her iPad. Right away I was struck at how many of the children started talking to her. They asked her for the code so they could unlock her iPad. Lucia was not able to speak, but used sounds and gestures with her hands. The students immediately began looking at her with amazing eye contact, speaking to her and waiting for her to answer and show them what was next.
The iPad was new to me. I did not have one, hadn’t used one before and already Lucia, was demonstrating alongside her new friends how this digital tool was going to open up opportunities in regards to learning. Remember this was brand new for me and I was also going to get some professional support because our school was also going to purchase iPads as well. My learning started, my eyes were opened, my mind was racing with ideas about the possibilities that might be possible because of this digital tool.
Thinking back on my first introduction to an iPad I think about how naturally the other children were drawn to Lucia and how she immediately felt comfortable showing and using her iPad with them. Right away the children started taking turns speaking to Lucia, listening and watching her as she responded using sounds, her iPad and gestures to answer.
What a wonderful surprise! iPads really make a difference in student learning and engagement. This has been so exciting and a great learning opportunity for me and my students. This is a digital tool that is making a difference and yes, Kindergarten children are finding lots of ways to use these tools as well as discovering lots of a ha’s about how this tool can help them to reflect and create learning experiences.
On the 1st day of Kindergarten I begin by introducing this interactive tool to my class. We talk about being safe, kind and responsible as well as how it might help us with our learning. The children immediately start exploring with the iPads and instantly began figuring out how they work. We explore the basic features of the iPad. Then I explore how to use the video, camera and take a screenshot. I begin with these 3 features because this is where I want to model and show how this digital tool can be used to capture the what and why we are exploring. I continue to be really impressed with how quickly the children adapt to this tool and of course the excitement is wonderful. The touch screen really makes it easy for the children to type and access. The children begin touching the screen and the exploration begins of how this digital tool will enrich our learning.
As an educator I often think about all of the things I want and need to do during the course of a school day. It can be a bit overwhelming… So when presented with a tool that might make learning more accessible and engaging, I find myself beginning to see how many opportunities I have to make connections within my lessons as well as help children to become more engaged and invested in their own learning.
As a class we spent time from the beginning of school talking about blogging, what it is, why do it and how it helps us with our learning. The children understand that when they blog, they need a title and thoughts that we call sentences. In the beginning I use lots of books to help demonstrate this point. I find that the more explicit you can be with children and the more tangible, concrete connections and comparisons you can make, the easier it is for children to grasp and begin to use technological tools. The beauty of this example is that this child knows 1 way to use the iPad in a meaningful, safe way. She is motivated to blog and share her ideas with others.
As an educator I find myself trying to create and design meaningful learning opportunities for and alongside the children and families I work with. Digital tools are amazing and their impact on student learning and engagement are endless. For me the iPads have enhanced everything that I do. I can’t help but love them!
I am #grateful for Lucia and how she introduced me to what was possible with the iPad. She has courage, perseverance and amazing ideas. She taught me to always have hope, to be brave and that technology gives us all a voice.