I have been teaching in Mainstream primary schools for almost three decades now and have experienced an unbelievable evolution in technology. This change has touched our everyday lives, our teaching and learning environment and the way in which we interact.
I love books – my house is full of them – and they are like old friends. Even those without scribbles on pages or postcard book marks, evoke memories of where and when I read them or who gave them to me. But I watch the change in the way we consume stories and changes in the publishing world, with interest and excitement. Both fiction and non-fiction have become more accessible and affordable. Links are made between communities and sharing of ideas and experiences facilitated.
Apps are just another vehicle for story telling and have their place alongside printed books. I believe children will always respond to a great story. Whether it is on a page or on a screen is irrelevant. New technological features don’t replace traditional skills but can certainly involve children in the creative process in new ways. And I have seen some inspiring non-fiction ebooks/apps, using pop-ups really effectively, to enhance the reader’s experience.
Whilst creating the ‘Time For Bed Little Ted’ app, I am mindful of how the interactions will enhance the story. Careful thought has been given to the colours and design of the illustrations. We have included random features to give more variety.
Bloom’s Taxonomy has influenced the way I teach and also the way I created my first story app. In 2007 Andrew Churches updated Bloom’s work and created Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. Cognitive skills such as identifying, describing and predicting, found on the lower steps of Bloom’s Taxonomy Staircase, are implicit within many story apps, and skills on other levels are often determined by how the app is then used.
Although not directly relevant to ‘Time For Bed Little Ted’, which is aimed at preschool/early years children and those with special needs, Churches makes many useful suggestions for using other digital media in a way which is supportive of Bloom’s Taxonomy. He suggests activities such as creating an ebook to develop ‘Creating’ and looking up words in a digital glossary for ‘Remembering’. For teachers of older pupils he suggests many useful resources to develop the skills he outlines. Some of my favourites in the past have been; ‘Delicious’, a book marking tool used to save and organise useful websites, ‘Skype’ ,a simple but amazing tool for making links with schools around the world, and finally ‘Picassa’, for organising, sharing and editing photos. I love discovering new apps and social media. Recently, I was recommended a free app called ‘Reactickles Magic’, developed through Cardiff University, for children and adults on the autistic spectrum. It can be used for relaxation or for learning about cause and effect, and has been adopted by health care professionals, teachers and parents. One of my children is currently using a free app, Duolingo, to practise his German. This app seems simple but seems to be very effective in encouraging the acquisition of vocabulary in a fun way. My son enjoys using it – so it gets the thumbs up from me! And, it was only a couple of years ago that I started using ‘Pinterest’ but can’t imagine not having it now.
Some time ago, I experimented with embedding QR codes in some of my teaching resources, giving children the opportunity to access answers to self-mark, watch videos or tutorials e.g. on Maths methods, and view images and additional information. At the London Book Fair this year I attended a talk by Zap Code Creator on using augmented reality in fiction and non-fiction books. These are exciting times!
There was a fascinating article last April in The Telegraph about how the iPad is changing the way children learn. Since Steve Jobs said, “What’s wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology. No amount of technology will make a dent,” (1996) there has been much change. The article explains how a Danish adult education programme uses an innovative purpose built ‘learning centre’ and iPads to help adults between the ages of 16 and 60 to gain new skills and prepare for university. Many of the adults benefiting from the programme are drop-outs from the education system, have low self-esteem and have struggled with traditional teaching systems. The article is thought-provoking and well worth a read. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/11470850/How-the-iPad-is-changing-the-way-we-learn.html
We are constantly learning more about the effects of new technology on our children and there are many different and opposing views, but the fact remains that over half of all 1 – 8 year old children have used a tablet to either play or learn. The percentage of people who have read an ebook has increased from 17% in 2011 to 28% in 2014. In my opinion, iPads can undoubtedly increase student motivation and cater for individual needs. As a parent of a child on the autistic spectrum, I find it exciting that there are over 900 autism related apps. I have used a few of the ‘Autism Apps’ from ‘Touch Autism’, one in particular where the child is able to create their own social stories.
In 2012 Apple created a guided access feature, which allows teachers and parents to keep children locked in individual apps. ‘AirWatch’ is a company that provide mobile solutions for schools that complement children’s learning. I have spoken to a teacher in a school where the Airwatch technology has been used to enhance teaching possibilities within a History project on World war 1. And the possibilities continue to grow!
To quote the teacher and media specialist, Laura Fleming, responsible for the website ‘Worlds of Learning’,
“To me, the most exciting development in education today is the myriad of new technologies and media that have allowed us the opportunity to rethink, restructure, and redefine how education is acquired. Building upon methods and techniques from the 19th century, we are now able to expand learning experiences across multiple platforms- merging technology with content and with genuine human experience”.
Another advantage of technology is the ease with which we can share resources. There are many free educational resources on line and sites such as Teachers Pay Teachers provide an opportunity for teachers to buy and sell resources they have worked hard to develop themselves. I have my own store, offering MFL, Social Skills and Common Core Linked resources, on the website detailed below. It is just one more very effective way of getting resources ‘out there’.
There are many great websites for teachers emerging. Recently I came across teachinabox.com, a site similar to TpT. Another fairly new site is tobecomeateacher.org, which has a wealth of useful advice and resources for qualified and aspiring teacher. if only there’d been something like this when I was training!
Below is a list of some of the corresponding CCSS’s for kindergarten and grade 1 that I referred to when writing the ‘Time For Bed Little Ted’ app:
Reading: Foundational Skills> Phonological Awareness>Phonological Awareness> Kindergarten
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.2 Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.2a Recognize and produce rhyming words.
Reading: Foundational Skills> Phonics and Word Recognition> Kindergarten
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3 Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3b Associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3c Read common high-frequency words by sight (e.g., the, of, to, you, she, my, is, are, do, does).
Language: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use> Kindergarten
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.5 With guidance and support from adults, explore word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.5c Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., note places at school that are colorful).
Reading: Foundational Skills> Phonological Awareness>Phonological Awareness> Grade 1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.2 Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.2a Distinguish long from short vowel sounds in spoken single-syllable words.
Reading: Foundational Skills> Phonics and Word Recognition> Grade 1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.3 Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.