This term I’ve been ‘road-testing’ mobile learning devices in my prep classroom. This is in part due to a research project my school is participating in, funded by the DEECD’s Innovation department, and partly inspired by my own grand ideas of using technology.
This morning I was listening to Shelly Terrell‘s webinar at SimpleK12 on “Read World Learning Through Mobile Devices” (at 5am!) – which was particularly fortunate timing for me, given my exploratory use of an iPad and iPod Touch in the classroom. I also particularly enjoyed Shelly’s ebook Effective Mobile Learning (50+ Quick Tips & Resources).
Now, a very quick overview of my class: I teach a class of 22 preps (5-6 year olds) in a government school in the Northern Metropolitan region of Melbourne. I have a wonderful mix of cultures within my classroom, a small number of ESL students, and a wide range of abilities (both in traditional curriculum areas and also in using technology). A handful of students have iPod Touches, 1 has an iPad that he shares with a sibling, a few more occasionally play on their parents’ iPhones, and about half the class have access to a computer (desktop or laptop) at home under parent supervision.
Since the start of this term, I’ve spent quite a bit of time incorporating at least 1 literacy-based technology activity into my literacy rotations (school wireless permitting!). I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the way all of my students have worked together to respect the rules of using these devices, and have demonstrated great cooperative skills and a willingness to be involved. Needless to say, the enthusiasm of the group using the iPad outweighs most of the other activities!
Activities I have incorporated:
- An interactive ebook story (The Three Pandas) – students listened to the story, touched the screen to interact with the characters. At the end of each session the groups discussed the story, relating it to other stories they knew of (Goldilocks and the Three Bears), talking about the differences between the ebook and a traditional paper-based book. We also connected it to our IWB and watched it as a class.
- Watched (downloaded) YouTube videos appropriate to lessons (including nursery rhymes, counting rhymes and other fun little videos based on sounds and word play).
- Used Halftone to take photos and create a one-page poster with a descriptive sentence. I worked with each student one-on-one (and quite a few of the students worked together, teaching each other, too!) to explore how to take a photo and how to edit and create text in the Halftone app. They then saved these photos to iPhoto and printed them in colour to make a classroom book. They were able to show (and demonstrate) to our Principal – who was amazed at the knowledge and ability of the students after one lesson using the app – and Assistant Principal their creations both on the iPad and then the book. This lead to their introduction to Comic Life during ICT sessions (starting today).
- This week we’re focusing on short-vowel sounds and are using Spelling Magic 1 (and 2) to listen to and make simple/CVC words using the vowel sounds. The picture at the top of this post is 3 students using the app and recording the words that they hear on a vowel chart. They then took these posters to our desktops (Macs) and (with some help) logged into Voki and created avatars who introduced themselves and shared some of the words from their posters. We’ve put their Vokis onto our classroom blog, to share with their peers, families and members of our school community. Needless to say, they’re all very proud of their work, and I look forward to seeing what else they come up with during the week.
- I’ve also recorded lots of simple levelled reading texts in Garage Band and uploaded them onto the iPod Touch which, coupled with a headphone splitter, has turned into a portable listening post.
What do I have planned for the future?
- Inspired by Shelly’s webinar, I’m planning on using MouthOff on the iPod Touch (and our mini HD Flip cameras) to record student communications – most likely with them talking about their weekends!
- A simple QR code hunt – likely to revolve around either our Sounds of the Week or a text response activity.
- An activity (still in the planning stages) using the PuppetPals app on the iPad.
Plus a whole host of other activities that I’m determined to design using lots of apps and the cameras and video functions.
I don’t think any of these activities are revolutionary (I see so many fantastic and inspiring activities being posted on Twitter by my PLN on a daily basis, and I feel so behind!) – but they’re a step forward for my school and I’m quite happy to be the one pushing things forward… even just a little bit!
As my AP said in the staffroom – a few years ago you would never have thought to have Prep students creating a Voki. And while I do a lot of the set-up and logging in for them – they type in the text and they create their avatars and that’s fantastic to see!
Are you in the Early Years and using mobile learning devices? What activities have you implemented? (Or, spare some advice on what worked for you/what didn’t work!)