So I gave in. My friend was getting married in Milwaukee and my wife and I decided to spend a couple of days in Chicago beforehand. On the obligatory shopping day, I walked into the Apple Store where about 50 people were standing around a stand playing with the new iPad. When I eventually got to touch it, I couldn’t get my credit card out of my wallet quick enough.
Whenever I get a new piece of technology, I always think about how I can use it in school with my classes. Although precious to me, the iPad is no exception. Unfortunately, because an Irish iTunes store doesn’t exist yet for the iPad, I am reliant on free apps so I’ve been using the iPad with a number of children in class for reading and maths.
The app I’m using for reading is Toy Story. At its most basic it’s an electronic book and it can read the story to the children. However, Toy Story allows the children to record themselves reading the words and to play them back. This is great for reluctant readers. Not only is the content interesting, they are motivated to listen to themselves reading and self-assess. One of the children who I find would struggle with basic words was reading words like “investigating”. The great thing is that he can read it in different contexts too. When the children complete a page, they have a choice of listening to a piece of music, colouring in a page or playing an arcade game. I find this motivates them even further to read.
Maths is a less jazzy experience for my class who are learning their division tables. All of them know how to figure out the answers, but you could be waiting 30 seconds to find out what 56 divided by 7 is. I downloaded an app called FlashMathFree. It’s a very simple app that asks children to answer 50 maths facts and they are timed as they do it. When they finish, their time is recorded and we graph this on a special whiteboard. One of our children started off solving the 50 problems in over 7 1/2 minutes. In a week he was down to 3 1/2 minutes. All children improve every time they play.
I can’t wait until the iPad is launched in Ireland so I can finally access the iTunes store and get some more electronic books and other educational apps. So far, I am deeply impressed with the way it’s helping children in my class to learn.