This was a last minute addition to TCEA 2012’s iPlayground and ran from 4:00-5:00 pm on Monday afternoon. As a mother of two preschool boys (and with a little help from Yolanda Barker), I knew we wouldn’t have too much of a problem slapping a list of preschool apps together that would support skills such as color and shapes, sight words, hand-writing, letter recognition, time, patterns and sequences, and basic math.
The following day I had the pleasure of sitting in on another iPlayground session the following day entitled “iPads for Young Learners” hosted by Ruth Jungman and Carol Fenley of Alamo Heights who took a slightly different app-sharing approach. Instead of providing an appy hour of fast-paced app-sharing, they highlighted 5 free apps and spoke in depth about how each one was being used in the primary classroom:
- ABC Magnetic Alphabet Lite: Students worked in small groups with the task of changing one letter in a word to make it another word (e.g. take hat and make it sat or rat, take rat and make it ran)
- ABC Tracer: Students worked individually in work stations and literacy stations to practice writing letters, numbers, and words. A nice feature of this app is that it will correct students that begin drawing at a different starting point in the letter rather than starting at the top.
- Doodle Buddy: This is one of my favorite apps and I tend to use it a lot to annotate over images, create scenes, Frayer models and even bar graphs, but had not considered the following task. Students make a letter and then use clip art to represent words that begin with that latter. The same task could be completed with colors as well (green: add clip art for objects that are green). The ladies also mentioned that the app supported improving fine motor skills mirroring tasks like writing letters in the sand.
- Sock Puppets: This is another fantastic app and definitely supports creativity on Bloom’s. Jungman & Fenley also discussed how the app supports sequencing, storytelling, collaborative learning, and self-directed learning. Students worked in pairs with the task of creating a video to support one of the eight keys to character education (some of the keys featured were “speak with good purpose”, “integrity”, and “do the right thing even when no one is looking”). When the videos were complete, they would be shared on the teacher website as well as showcased in the technology showcase. (Other iLessons with Sock Puppets)
- Flip it! Lite: Jungman & Fenley mentioned that they offer free centers in Kindergarten. In these centers, students have a choice from a limited number of apps. The app Flip it! Lite offers the potential for creating up to 5 books free and supports skills such as logic and sequencing. Students use the app to create animated books that highlight actions such as life cycles, kicking a soccer ball, and jumping rope. While there is no way to email the product out, teachers can take a screenshot or use a document camera to record the action.
The ladies also discussed classroom and iPad management techniques. Many of the classrooms have a parent volunteer that arrives to set up the work stations and add task cards. Apps on the iPads themselves are managed through folders on a blank screen. The folder for that day would only house one or two apptivities which limits off-task behavior.