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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Launch Grant 2012-2013: Kindergarten iPads

This year’s iPad Launch Project in Kindergarten North has been a huge success.  When we originally agreed to implement the use of six new iPads in our classroom, we were hopeful that they would assist with our documentation of student work (through photos, videos, and note-taking) and help to reinforce our students’ academic learning (through math and literacy apps).  What we did not expect is how well the iPads would help us in addressing and assessing students’ individual academic needs.  After almost a full school year with these devices, we have found that the iPads have been an invaluable addition to our lessons and daily routines.   
The benefit of having iPads for teacher-use was immediately apparent.  From the very first day of school, we were able to take photos and videos of our students and their work with the ability to see the footage instantly and on a large screen.  Notes, observations, and dictation of the students’ descriptions of their artwork, block structures, and more could be taken immediately and easily saved on these devices.  If the children wanted to see what a certain African animal or building in Boston looked like, it could be pulled up quickly on the iPad and displayed for the entire class to see.  Additionally, we have downloaded a terrific selection of children’s audiobooks for the students to listen to during Literacy Stations and Rest Time.

The impact of the iPads on our students’ academic learning has actually surpassed our expectations.  We spent the summer researching various math and literacy apps on our own and through professional development – searching for activities that would reinforce the content that we covered throughout the school year.  We found numerous apps that focused on important Kindergarten skills, such as hearing beginning sounds in words (Sound Sorting: Beginning Sounds app), matching letters with their appropriate sounds (Super WHY app), letter and number formation (Letter School app), and how to sequence numbers (Mathlandia app).  An unexpected benefit of having the iPads was how well these devices allowed us to differentiate instruction based on specific students’ needs.  One child could use a particular app to practice his/her sight words, while another student could work on identifying teen numbers.  Certain apps, such as Smarty Pants School, even have built-in assessments that identify areas that an individual student needs to work on and then provide activities and games that strengthen those particular skills.  We have had a positive experience using these iPads in the classroom, and we are excited to discover additional ways to incorporate them next year.   

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