On Sunday, April 21, 2013, Dr. Amy Hutchison from Iowa State University presented at the International Reading Association Conference in San Antonio, TX. Here are some highlights of her hour-long presentation.
Using the iPad as a Tool in the Classroom
Dr. Hutchison emphasized the importance of prioritizing the lesson. She said to “be attentive to the instructional goal” before committing to technology. In other words, narrow in on the standard that is being taught first before deciding that you will use an iPad or other technology to complete the lesson. Starting with the technology can lead to a lesson that is unfocused, a standard that does not get met, and, quite possibly, use of technology for a lesson that does not require it.
Using a TPACK approach to the lesson can also help narrow down the type of technology, if any, that should be used. The TPACK approach focuses on Technological Knowledge, Pedagogical Knowledge, and Content Knowledge. “Knowing when to exit technology is also important,” Dr. Hutchison said and the TPACK approach can help educators decide if technology would enhance or detract from the lesson.
During the talk, Dr. Hutchison focused on the example of writing sentences and nouns. She determined that one of her instructional goals was to help students find authentic examples of the nouns and sentences in the lesson. To that end she determined that the iPad would enhance the lesson and improve students’ learning. The iPad, with its built-in camera, makes it easy to take digital pictures of examples of the lesson’s nouns and sentences. For example, if one of the nouns was “mouse” students could take photos of the word on the word wall, a picture of a mouse from a book in the classroom library, or they could take a picture of the computer mouse as authentic examples of the words in their classroom. This use of technology enhances the lesson by allowing the students to share the digital images with the rest of the class and increases vocabulary as children learn to describe the pictures they took. Video is also an easy and effective way to record authentic examples using an iPad.
Dr. Hutchison pointed out that oftentimes teachers are resistant to new technology. There is a perception sometimes that it can be too cumbersome, too overwhelming, and too easy for students to get off track. She recommended that before lamenting or even thinking about the negatives to using technology, that the strengths and advantages be considered first. This simple shift in thinking can make the problems seem much easier to overcome. However, as Dr. Hutchison pointed out, “if the constraints overwhelm the instruction” it is time to exit the use of technology and go another route.
Some of the key factors to successful implementation of technology and iPads especially in the classroom were:
- Physical Space
- Class environment
- Classroom management
- Student work time
- The amount of directions or explanations needed
If a teacher decides that technology will be of benefit to the students for that particular lesson, Dr. Hutchison recommends that an app that meets the requirements without going overboard will be best. “The more simplistic the tool, the more students are able to help one another,” she said. This leads to fewer interruptions and more student collaboration and learning. Ultimately, the students learn to take responsibility for their learning and are more likely to help one another. That is one of the best lessons any child can learn – with or without technology.
Suggested iPad Apps:
- Doodle Buddy
- Sundry Notes
- Dictionary apps
- Nosy Crow
- Reading Rainbow
- Golden Books
- This Is My Story
- Lifecards postcard app
- My Story Book Maker
- Poetry Creator
- Found Poetry
- Little Speller
- Voice Recorder app that comes with the iPad