Tablet Technology at Their Fingertips

Written by Erika McKellop, Library Media Specialist and Sarah Calhoun, 4A Teacher

Early last year, ICS began a discussion about implementing more technology into our classrooms. Many hours were spent comparing different products, researching educational software, and deciding which resources would best further our students’ understanding and application of technology across disciplines. Over the summer, 54 brand new, bright and shiny iPad 5s were ordered. And the rest, they say, is history.

Actually, not really. In truth we were just getting started. We set up a pilot program, dividing the iPads into two separate carts. One cart remains in 4A for us to observe what it would be like if each child had access to a device during every subject. The other cart is stored in the library, and is available for teachers of every grade level to check out for lessons and technology-based projects. In the two weeks that the iPads have been up and running, we can’t remember a single day that they have not been used by multiple teachers of different content areas and grade levels.

What is the big deal about tablets, anyway? Our view is that it gives the students a little control over what they’re learning. It is one thing to hold a textbook in your hand and read along with the whole class. It’s entirely another to have it at your fingertips to click and expand pictures, highlight unknown words to define, or even have it read aloud to you.

The tablets also signify our belief in our students. We invested in these devices because we believe in their ability to create, their respect of shared resources, and their perseverance in trying new things. Each time a child is handed an iPad, we hope it reminds them of our commitment as a faculty to equip them with all the tools we feel are necessary for their continued success.

Statistics highlight the advantages of introducing tablet technology to elementary classrooms. Studies completed in the past several years report higher test scores, a rise in work quality, and an increase in student motivation and classroom achievement.

Some ways teachers have brought iPads into the classroom in the past few weeks are:

  • 8th graders write and illustrate closing chapters to historical fiction novels using the Book Creator
  • 5th graders create biographical films about classmates using the Shadow Puppet Edu
  • 3rd graders access hundreds of ebooks through Epic! during DEAR time
  • Kindergarten students practicing pattern sequencing via Learning Patterns
  • 7th grade science students conduct lab experiments using probes and Vernier Graphical Analysis
  • 5th grade students utilize green screen technology to create photos of themselves in different locations using Veescope
  • Middle school language arts classes utilize Google Drive to transfer and collaborate with teachers on documents between school and home

4A has used iPads each day to:

  • Read various types of ebooks using the app, Epic!
  • Assess and gauge student learning through quizzes and games using Kahoot! and Quizizz
  • Share ideas and goals with each other through the use of Seesaw
  • Record and submit videos of themselves reading aloud to improve our fluency
  • Project Based Learning using the app GlowNote as they find and annotate the Main Idea of a passage
  • Google Drive to share and store projects and information with the teacher
  • Reinforce concepts taught through Khan Academy videos and activities
  • Find definitions and synonyms of unknown words using the Dictionary app

As a school we are committed to creating students who are resourceful, and conscientious consumers of technology. Our library is a place for students to collaborate on projects, read quietly, and access current devices to accomplish their goals. Our classrooms are environments meant to cultivate students who are good listeners, team players and also cognizant of the role they play in shaping their own educational paths. We hope that by introducing them to these various applications, they are able to see this as a tool to further their learning and share what they know with others.

For a full list of apps students are using or for an app recommendation based on a particular subject, email Erika McKellop at erika.mckellop@icsva.org.