Last week I had one of those ah ha moments in kindergarten during our writer’s workshop time. We have been exploring life cycles. My students have been creating books, podcasts and scientific drawings about many living things found in nature. My students were creating a scientific drawing of some of the insects we found outside our classroom using pencils and paper. I also had lots of informational text, along with some real examples as well as some photographs. I was feeling great about the materials available and thought every student will be successful. I soon discovered that for many this writing task seemed very overwhelming. I then made iPads available and asked my students to go to Doodle Buddy and try designing their insect first before drawing on the paper. Wow! Immediately my students became engaged and so excited. I heard laughing and lots of conversation like;”look what I did, I made an ant, I can help you, see, you can make the lines skinny and fat, look we can shade the background in, yeah Mrs. D. I made a connection, it’s like Gail Gibbons”. This continued for the next 45 minutes. Every child was able to create an insect and highlight the features they felt were important.Then my students created their insect on paper using pencils, colored pencils and crayons.
I have thought a lot about this experience and what it reveals about the importance of having attainable, successful and meaningful tasks for my students. Many of my students were frustrated by using pencils and felt the need to erase. The iPads provided a way for all my students to create and design over and over until their idea/scientific drawing was the way they wanted it. The value of having an iPad made it easy to share their drawings. I was able to email to parents and share electronically. The benefits of recreating the insect on paper was a great fine motor activity and a way for my students to have experienced a process approach in creating a special type of drawing, a scientific drawing with labels, etc.
If I had my own iPads in my classroom everyday my students would be able to save this work and reflect, refer to throughout our study. Emailing makes sharing easy and very powerful.
In conclusion my students were able to share that scientific drawings have labels, use lines and arrows to point out what the parts are(one of my students came up with this one!), colorful, show body parts and are real things.
I am also thinking about how important it is to scaffold learning experiences for my students too. The purpose and reasons behind the why and what we do is very important. As a teacher I want to make sure that the tasks I am modeling are meaningful, have explicit meaning and are attainable for all of my students. The iPads have really been helpful in ensuring not only that all my students are successful, but that they all have equal access to the learning content we explore together.