A couple Monday’s ago, we provided one of our Grade 1 teachers with the opportunity to visit another Grade 1 teacher in our school district. She was going to observe the teacher doing morning routines, Guided Reading, calendar, math and everything else that happens before lunch. As a result, my principal and I had the opportunity to teach in her Grade 1 classroom while she was gone.
During my 2 hours with the grade 1 class, I thought it would be a great time to introduce the students to the iPads our school just purchased. The kids were a little hesitant at first when I started explaining that we were going to do something different. This is common for students of this age. Change can be difficult for them, but, given the opportunity, they do adjust fairly quickly. Anxiously, they pointed to the daily agenda on the board and said, “But, Mrs. Henriksen, we have Math, Spelling, and Journals to do!” I reassured them that we were indeed going to do all of these things, but we were going to use the iPads to do this work instead. They looked relieved, but skeptical.
During our time together, we explored a number of different apps. These apps led to increased engagement and allowed for ease of differentiation of instruction. At times, students used the same app as their peers, while at other times, like during Math, students used different apps, depending on their level of knowledge.
The students using the story app, Into the Snow – a story which they listened to and interacted with a partner. This is an app that reads the story to the student. In addition, there are other activities that engages the student in the story throughout the reading.
Next, we moved onto Math. Knowing that some students are very good at basic math acts, while others struggle with the very basic facts, I decided to use a few different apps with different students.
As you can see from the photo to the right, the students were really engaged in their learning. It was interesting to me that they all gathered together, even though they only had to share the iPad with one other person.
Next, the kids used the app, Word Avalanche to make as many words as they could with the letters that rolled down in the “avalanche”. The kids had fun with this as well. This app was great because it allowed for all students to use the same app – making words of different lengths.
Finally, the students had the opportunity for about 10 minutes of free-time on the iPads, exploring what the apps. Next time, I would give them more time to explore. I believe that this exploration time is so important when learning new things (or with new devices).
Overall, we had a great time together. The kids had so much fun playing and learning together. I was impressed with how engaged the students were in their learning – playing “games”. Some of these students have real challenges focusing on my “traditional” paper and pencil activities in math, however, when they were working on the iPads, ALL students were engaged in their learning. No exceptions. You can’t help but think how this engagement would affect their long-term learning.
To top it off, the Grade 1 teacher had a great visit with another Grade 1 teacher in our district. She came away with many ideas and inspiration. Thanks very much to Karen Lirenman (@LirenmanLearns) for making this a possibility! I look forward to the teacher’s next visit to Karen’s class, so I can spend some more time with her class!
What a great opportunity for collaboration: for the students AND the teachers! Great Professional Development!
Take a look at this Ted Talks below about kids and games. Very interesting.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Do games really make kids smarter? OR are you like my husband who thinks that the costs of gaming far outweigh the benefits? (Yah, we agree to disagree on that one. Makes for interesting and lively conversations though.)