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iPad Center

Otto Neitzel Neto (Apple Distinguished Educator), Panamerican School of Porto Alegre

Objectives

  1. To provide students with opportunities to develop their knowledge and use of IT resources through reproducing games and/or activities that they first engaged in using hands-on materials.

  2. To provide students with a fun and interactive tool which helps them to better utilize their independent work time when working in “Learning Centers”.

  3. To provide the teachers with a tool they can use to easily prepare and adapt meaningful material for their students.

  4. To provide the school with an affordable teaching instrument which encourages all faculty to develop their own activities and share them with one another and worldwide.

  5. To provide parents with authentic material made by their children’s teacher which can be used at home.

Justification

Four year old students are in the process of becoming increasingly independent in learning. When working by themselves they can feel frustrated when the activity becomes too challenging for them.

During the “Learning Centers”, the time period allocated for independent learning, it is impossible for teacher and assistant to observe and check that each student is completing each center correctly.

With this in mind, I decided to use the “Educreations” App in the iPad center activities.

Educreations is a recordable interactive whiteboard that captures your voice and handwriting to produce amazing video lessons that you can share online. 

There are some other Apps that do the same thing as Educreations, but I chose this one because it is very simple for teachers with little experience with iPads. These teachers can either learn how to use it on their own or participate in a short professional development session that shows them how to apply it in the classroom.

Key-words

Centers. Educreation. Apple. Apps. Independent learning. Autonomy. Preschool. Early Childhood Education.

Discipline

Language Arts, Math, but it is adaptable to any subject.

Level Involved

Pre-Kindergarten. Four year old students.

Quantity of students

I applied this project to all of my class, a total of 12 students. As our preschool only has three iPads per classroom, there were three students working in the iPad center at the same time. However, the school is working on purchasing one for every student.

Methodology

The first step is to teach the students how to use the ‘traditional’ learning centers that contain hands-on materials such as books, puzzles etc. and show them where these centers are located around the classroom. Every center activity was taught by the teacher before being introduced as an independent center activity, thus ensuring their ability to work independently.

The second step is to split the students into different groups (identified by color) with a maximum of three students per group. Each group has a sequence of activities they have to follow. They know that when it is time for centers, they have to check the Learning Centers’ wall to see what activity their color group has been assigned to.

The third step is to introduce to the students the same centers on the iPad and let them do their job! These iPad activities were introduced through the use of hands on materials before developing the same activity on the iPad.

Pedagogical Strategies

This is a good differentiation tool. It helps the teacher design lessons that address the specific needs of each student, e.g. identifying letter sound, rhyming, letter names etc. The lesson on Educreations I created always provides students with positive feedback as it shows the correct picture immediately after they have answered. This is important as teachers are not able to be present to check if students are giving correct answers. They also hear my voice making positive comments that do not focus on if they got the correct answer but on if they remembered the lesson when we did it together, if they heard the ‘c’ sound etc. It helps students to retain vocabulary as they are hearing it in another setting and it gives them more confidence to try to find the answer, rather than focusing on getting it right or wrong.

It could also be used as a “homework” activity. We don´t give out homework for P4, but we encourage parents to always read a book to their children or to work with them on different activities, like this one.

They loved to hear their teacher’s voice. The first time I showed them this center, they shouted “It’s Mr. Otto!” They were able to identify with the teacher’s voice, and even during free play time, some of them chose to work in this center.

The teacher needs to sign up on Educreations before he can create the lessons. It is free and very easy. I used my Google account, but one can also sign up with the Facebook account or create an Educreation account.

I chose to login with my account on all three iPads and download the lesson in each one of them. This lets student work on all of my lessons without the need of an internet connection and or search for a lesson.

Results

I introduced these lessons in late September. I only had the chance to assess the students before we started, in August, and two months after, in November. They will be reassessed again in June.

The areas I chose to specifically assess them in are Letter identification: Capital and Lowercase; Rhyme; Beginning Sounds: Alliteration and Beginning Letter/Sound Identification. Just by assessing them once after a two month period of implementation of this project, we can see how much the students improved.

In the graph below you can see the percentage of each student’s correct responses. BLUE shows the assessment taken in August and RED the one taken in November. When there is only one red bar, it means that the student scored zero on the first assessment.


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All in all I was very happy with the results. It helped me differentiate my teaching to better address individual needs.

Another step to evaluate the effectiveness of this project will be to use this data and compare it with the other P4 class which does not use the “iPad Center” program and/or compare the same result with the P4 class of 2014-2015.

I am positive that the “iPad Center” played an important role in, not only making those red bar grows, but also in making the students become more independent and confident in their own learning.


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Students´ Comments about the “iPad Center”

“I like it because I can sing.” (Martina, 5 years old).

“I like the iPad Center because I can learn.” (Leanne, 5).

“Porque tem minha letra.” (Henrique, 4). Translation: “Because it has my letter.”

“Porque tu pode imitar fazer as linhas.” (Francisco, 4). Translation: “Because you can follow the lines.”

“It´s fun!” (Eduardo, 5).

“Porque tem o de música.” (Helena, 4). Translation: “Because there is the music one.”

Pictures

Mr. Otto’s Lesson on the Educreation site


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