Amy Hutchison, Beth Beschorner, and Denise Schmidt-Crawford’s article on using iPads as a digital tool for literacy in a fourth grade classroom is a source in which all teachers who wish to integrate more technology into their lessons to both meet the new 21st century skills-focused standards and enhance previously more-traditional lessons. The programs Mrs. Dill (a pseudonym) loaded and then used on the iPads were:
- Doodle Buddy
- Strip Designer
- Sundry Notes
All of these programs were low-cost and also relatively user-friendly, which made them highly accessible to Mrs. Dill and her 23 fourth-grade students.
In addition to the technological skills that students gained through this unit, students used these programs to develop literacy skills such as :visualization, cause-and-effect, sequencing, re-telling, independent reading and main ideas and details.
On the eighth page of the article, there is a table that lists and compares the benefits of using the programs on the iPads with the limitations that she saw during their use. I can identify with the “special considerations” section through my own experiences in the classroom. I have been fortunate enough to have teachers who were willing to and believed in using technology to support or enhance their lessons. However, specially with new programs and younger students, there is some difficulty manipulating the touchscreen and some accidentally touch something they were not supposed to and start a function and then need help to get back to the task. The teacher(s) then turn into a troubleshooter for most of the class, and students are interrupted and may lose motivation or focus. I had not experienced trouble enabling students to share with one another, because we frequently used Google Docs, which invites collaboration and sharing with all those who are approved to view and edit the documents.
I also concur with the benefits listed on table 2. iPads are easy to store, power on/off, and easy to maneuver when finding the apps that are needed for the lesson. This makes transitions smoother from using the technology to direct teaching and other activities. In addition, there are other functions, such as spell-check, highlighted texts, and multi-language choices that make these even more accessible to every student and lends itself easily to differentiation. It is also amazing to see how students can troubleshoot with each other and help out when issues arise, freeing up the teacher for more complicated problems.
Several of the ideas that were used with these iPad programs align with the teaching purposes mentioned in Peggy A. Ertmer, Anne T. Ottenbreit-Leftwich, Olgun Sadik, Emine Sendurur, and Polat Sendurur’s paper: Teacher beliefs and technology integration practices: A critical relationship. The first of these is “technology to deliver content and reinforce skills.” The iBooks definitely fit this purpose because it had the reading material that students were expected to read during independent reading. This was the instruction. Popplet also fit this purpose because its format encouraged students to sequence the events from the story. The second is “technology to complement or enrich the curriculum.” The apps on the iPad that served this purpose was the Doodle buddy, which allowed students to draw on the iPad to demonstrate their visualization of the story and later use in the Strip Designer. In addition, Sundry Notes was a program that enabled students to outline the cause-and-effect within the story, with audio to narrate it themselves. This could be done with paper and pencil, but using the iPad definitely enriched the experience.
Ertmer, P. A., Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T., Sadik, O., Sendurur, E., & Sendurur, P. (2012, February 6). Teacher beliefs and technology integration practices: A critical relationship. Computers & Education, 59(2), 423-435. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.02.001
Hutchison, A., Beschorner, B., & Schmidt-Crawford, D. (2012). Exploring the use of the iPad for literacy learning. The Reading Teacher, 66(1), 15-23. doi:10.1002/trtr.01090