iPads in Elementary school?!

Kindergartners using iPads…to learn? Am I the only one that finds this idea a little crazy? After skimming the blog, iPad Adventures at Lower School I began to see the advantages of using technology in the classroom, even to help with things such as writing and spelling. This blog is a chronicle of a Kindergarten classroom in a Washington DC private school piloting iPads.

This school wrote a grant proposal for the use of 16 iPads saying that their use will help “to increase collaborative small group activities in Kindergarten that engage three learning modalities: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.” The iPads will be shared between the four kindergarten classrooms and will help individualize, meet, and enhance learning curricular goals.

Spell blocks

Spell Blocks third grade example

Still not convinced? Neither was I until I started discovering the teacher advantages of this independent learning. In the Spell Blocks post, about the spell blocks with sight words app used for reinforcing letter-sound correspondence and word building skills proved to be beneficial to even lower-level readers. The use of iPads, especially this apps, is great for independent work time. The student is prompted by a computerized voice then provided feedback– all without the teacher needing to be present. Its a great way for students to get extra reinforcement with letter sounds even when the teacher is not available for one-on-one feedback. This app allowed for the difficulty level and whether extra letters are added to be customized to each child’s word building skills. The app is easy to use and is kid friendly. It is simple in the ways that it responds to students input and doesn’t make a big deal of incorrect answers. The blocks just bounce back to the bottom, similar to a correct word a quick burst of fireworks appears but does not distract students from moving forward. Students may need a little guided help from a teacher at first but will quickly get the hang of it and will be useful during an independent work time. Another similar post, titled “Spell Blocks is ‘good’ and ‘fun’!” built on this opportunity for further practice with spelling words. This app seems very easy to use and a great replacement for having letter tiles spewed all over the classroom floor!

iWriteWords letter formation practice

iWriteWords letter formation practice

Handwriting is a crucial skill to learn in kindergarten. I never thought it would be possible to learn handwriting with an iPad, but this blog post may have me convinced otherwise. What ever happened to paper and pencil learning? During the kindergarten weekly guided lesson the on iPad, the students used iWriteWords handwriting game to practice handwriting skills. With the app, if the student is writing the letter incorrectly it is corrected instantly, rather than the child doing an entire worksheet with pencil and paper, reinforcing the incorrect formation. iWriteWords allows for letter practice to come naturally with repeated practice. I don’t think this app can replace pencil and paper for learning letter formation, but it is a great enforcer of the correct formation of letters that is great for students who are struggling.

Word Wizard App

Word Wizard App

Lastly, I read a post titled Word Wizard which featured the Word Wizard- talking movable alphabet and spelling test that allows for a little more freedom as well as assessments. One of the options allows for students to build their own words using letter tiles, recognizing vowels as red tiles, and consonants as blue tiles whereas the other option verbally prompts you to spell a word using the tiles. This app allows for students to make mistakes and self correct. The app will not automatically correct the word like many other spelling apps available. This is also great for students recognizing word patterns as well as frequently used words.

Sidwell Friends School, where this blog is featured, is not the only school that is piloting iPads in the elementary school level at this time. Check out these blogs for further convincing of the use of iPads in early elementary education as well as how to implement them into your classroom:

This blog may not have me sold on the idea of using iPads in classrooms with students as young as kindergarten, but I do see many advantages that I plan on following. Who knows, by the time I am a teacher an iPad cart could replace the school computer lab! What are your opinions about using iPads at the elementary school levels? If you allowed iPads in your classroom, how would you utilize their features as well as keep the students on task? Think back to when you were in elementary school,how do you think you would or wouldn’t benefit from this form of learning? Comment on this page to let me know what you think about the use of iPads in the classroom!

This entry was posted in Collaboration, Handhelds-tablets, Teacher productivity. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to iPads in Elementary school?!

  1. Emmie C. says:

    Meagan, I really enjoyed reading your post, because I had no idea that children this young were using such extreme forms of technology. It was interesting to think back to when I was in elementary school and how different the technology was then. However, after reading your post, I agree with you that there can be advantages of the iPad and what it has to offer to people, even kindergartners. Although using the iPad in kindergarten may seem extreme, I think certain applications and sites may be beneficial and useful to the students. After reading about certain games you described, such as the iWrite Handwriting Game or the Word-Wizard alphabet games, I understand how children can benefit from having those in the classroom.

  2. Kate H. says:

    Meagan, this topic is very interesting with the quick-changing world of technology. This reminds me of the video on YouTube of the baby that is trying to press buttons on a magazine because she thinks it is like an iPad. It is absolutely crazy that children so young are already skilled in using iPads and other technologies that I still have not explored. Going off of that, I agree with both you and Emmie, an iPad in a kindergarten classroom can be extremely beneficial to the students. The various applications that you mention give students the chance to practice skills on their own without direct teacher instruction. I still think it is a bit early to be introducing this technology because students will still have to learn how to write and spell without technology as well. Also, you bring up the idea of having iPad carts instead of laptop carts. How will this effect schools that can not afford to buy many iPads? Will it give some students a disadvantage in the future?

  3. Sydney B. says:

    Meagan, thanks for doing the research for this! Along with others, I thought iPads were too “intense” for kindergarden students. However, when I think about it, kindergarden age children I know already know how to use an iPad. So, why not use it for learning? The app that I enjoyed was iWriteWords handwriting game. It is a very important skill so to find another way to teach it and another tool to teach it with was interesting to me. Overall, great job Meagan!

  4. Maddy R. says:

    Meagan this was a great post! I have been wanting an iPad ever since they came out, and reading how beneficial they can be in the field of education, even at the elementary level, made me want to find out even more way thats I can use them. I think that Kindergarten is not too early to have students using iPads as a learning tool. If we go on a airplane or even out to a nice restaurant, we are always seeing very young children and even toddlers using iPads to be kept occupied and engaged, so why not use it in the classroom at that age? We live in a society in which technology is taking over the more traditional ways of learning, so teaching our children how to use computers and iPads as early as 5 years old will be extremely beneficial for them in the long run, as the learn more and more about technology as they get older. There of course is always a fine line between using technology for games and learning activities. Teachers need to remember that all of this new technology should not be used to just keep children occupied, but to keep them engaged and interacted with the material that needs to be taken in. I also agree with what Kate Hogan said above. iPads are not cheap, and even though pretty much all schools have computers, they might not have a whole lab of MacBooks or good quality PC’s. We cannot rely solely on technology to teach our children, so we must not forget about the traditional ways of learning because many of these resources are not as readily available as they are in well-funded schools.

  5. Kendall C says:

    Watching my 7-year-old brother grow up has taught me a lot of things, but probably most of all it has taught me to not underestimate small children! I say that because at three and four years old he was trying to use cell phones, game boys, the computer, work the television, and more. Children are playing video games earlier and earlier, so I think it’s really cool that teachers are starting to teach them about using that technology for educational purposes. Also, if students are first introduced to things like iPads in schools to learn, I feel they’ll see it more as a learning tool that just a fun tool only. I find that trying to get my 7-year-old brother to use the computer to do homework now is difficult because he associates it with fun ONLY, and when he gets on the computer, that’s all he wants to do. I think the different apps you gave, for example, are great starter tools for children. Though technology can never replace good teachers, this is a prime example of how it can be a great supplement and reinforcement of what is being taught in the classroom. Thanks for bringing this up for discussion and giving some solid feedback and research on the subject matter.

  6. Allie W. says:

    This relates a lot to the post I’m working on about students being allowed to bring their own technology to the classroom! At first I was a bit weary of the idea, but after reading more into I’ve realized that with the right steps taken to ensure the safety of students privacy, while also ensuring they are concentrating. Another reason I believe this can be a positive is that over the summer I babysit for a 2 year old boy who is obsessed with his iPad. At first I thought it was absurd that this 2 year old even had an iPad, let alone that he would beg for it at all times. After seeing the apps he had and how almost all of them encouraged his learning, my opinion changed. These were interactive games that were actually teaching him things (and keeping him entertained!)

  7. Patrick C says:

    Meagan, this was a very interesting post. I never knew that students this young were using the technology that was this advanced. The games and tools that they can use to learn were very interesting. I thought this was a ridiculous idea when I began to look at it. However I definitely think that this is now a viable option. It makes me excited to see where the classroom will go technology wise if students that young are using iPads. Great job doing research for this I learned a lot.

  8. Alex H. says:

    I think that this is a great idea for elementary classrooms. Teachers have always used hands-on techniques to teach younger children, and this is just the evolution of that idea. My little cousin loves playing with my aunt’s iPad. There is something about the touchscreen and the hand-on interaction that really appeals to young children, so this is a good way to keep young children entertained while also teaching them.

  9. Anna K. says:

    I am still not completely sure how I feel about iPads in a classroom. I think they have a lot to offer for kids to help them learn to read and write, but they might be better for a tool at home such as a leapster. My friend’s dad has one and her six year old brother always uses it and he shows me a lot of things on it that seem very educational. He was even doing math one day! In a classroom they might be a little expensive for a lot of schools and might be a waste of money because kids do not take such good care of them and may end up costing the school a lot of money. There are ups and downs to both sides so I would like to look into it more! Great job Meagan, I loved learning about this!

  10. Rebecca S. says:

    Meagan, I really liked this post! Like you, I was surprised to hear that there are kindergarten classrooms using iPads. I found the part about the Spell Blocks app especially interesting. Immediate feedback is great for kids to have while they are learning, but, unfortunately, it is not always possible for teachers to give because of the size of some classrooms. The immediate feedback this app gives the children will really assist in their learning. While it cannot replace a teacher, it can stand in his or her place quite well for a short amount of time. I have not completely been convinced about the use of iPads in young classrooms, however your post definitely made me a little more open-minded about them and aware of their possible advantages.

  11. Kyle W. says:

    As someone who plans to do (and has a done) research on iPads in the secondary classroom, I’m fascinated to learn more about iPads in elementary schools! I think it’s so great that apps have been developed to work on handwriting, which a lot of students are lacking because of computers nowadays. I think that any way to get younger kids engaged with valuable basic skills while simultaneously enhancing their digital competency is GREAT and necessary, especially at a young age.

  12. Hollyz says:

    Meagan, this was a great post! I loved that technology such as iPads are being used in younger grades. As technology is improving and becoming more available I think it’s great that young children are being exposed to it. I love that iPads can create activities for children as young as Kindergarten. Especially at such a young age it is hard to keep focused and I think that iPad activities would keep a child more engaged and interested in their learning. It also provides a visual and works towards kinesthetic learners with all of the interaction it provides. While Kindergarten does seem young to be using iPads, I think the children are benefitting from the work. I love to see that technology such as this is spanning beyond just high schools, and becoming available to Elementary students as well.

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