There is no doubt that technology in primary schools is beginning to permeate Irish education. The introduction of iPads in primary classrooms is imminent. They can gravely enhance a child’s learning in my opinion, once used effectively in the classroom. Teachers experience with iPads is vital to their success in the classroom. Similarly, teachers must always remember that the iPad is merely a tool in assisting their teaching, the iPad is not the teacher
The iPad is an excellent tool to aid a teacher in the classroom. There are apps available by the bucketloads aimed specifically not only at curricular areas but also addressing realistic issues in a classroom context. These may include classroom management apps (classdojo), apps to aid children with special needs or learning difficulties such as Dylexia (Word Wizard).
However, I found they excelled in their ability to aid the English curriculum in our primary schools.
Firstly, an app I will definitely use in my future teaching endeavours is ‘Reading Raven’. Reading Raven takes children on a fun journey from learning foundational pre-reading and reading skills to reading short sentences. Primarily, this app is aimed at the infant classes but it could help a child having difficulty reading or writing. It aids ‘reading, writing, listening and hand-eye co-ordination’ through fun, inter-active games suited to the interests of young children. The children navigate through lessons using a raven with glasses and a stylish red scarf. They engage in activities such as ‘letter tracing, recording their own voice reading words, guiding word bubbles to a circus lion’s mouth, and more; there are 11 types of games in all. Kids encounter various animals and other fun objects, from flying penguins to fly-catching frogs, as they tap to respond’. This would intrinsically motivate a pupil as they may not even realise they are learning. A fantastic feature of this app is linking play with education through numerous multi-sensory activities. It can be used to ‘Organise, clarify, interpret, and extend experience through oral language activity and writing’. The app is effectively designed to adhere to diverse abilities in a classroom context.
It is divided into five levels with each level becoming progressively more difficult. A guide which you receive with the app informs parents and teachers alike of the learning opportunities at each level. Each level is further divided into 5 lessons. Any exercise within a lesson can be repeated or skipped by swiping forward or backward on the reading raven character. The opportunity to repeat an activity aids those having difficulty, therefore developing proficient readers. Each lesson revises prior content learned while introducing new material, thereby consolidating and assessing prior material covered. Children can see their progression and achievement through each level which would build their confidence and desire to remain engaged in their learning. At each level children P.12 develop a range of reading skills that would include phonemic awareness, blending to read, word identification strategies and growing sight vocabulary. The app introduces children to each letter of the alphabet and their accompanied letter sound. A system of grouping letters together similar to jolly phonics is undertaken in the app. Through a game-like format children progress from letter recognition and phonics, to tracing letters, writing words and simple sentences. They can also record new letter sounds, words or sentences they learn.
‘Reading Raven provides step-by-step reading adventures that delight and motivate young children as they build a solid foundation for reading. Each activity respects children’s natural desire to explore and learn at their own pace’.
Teacher or parent can customise the Reading Raven app to include only activities they deem suitable for the ability of an individual child by adjusting settings. It is also advised that parents become involved with a child as they use the app as there are no progress reports available for parents (or teachers). This is one major fault I would have with using this app in a primary classroom.
After listening to my peers presentations, the use of the iPad in schools and the educational benefits acquired from their use is an exhaustive list.
This elective will be extremely beneficial in my future prospects as a teacher!
Warschauer, M. – Learning in the Cloud