Content taken from ComputeEd Gazzette….
Tablets in the Classroom
Computing has taken on a new face, due to the popularity of mobile devices which Steve Jobs referred to as post-PC-era products. Some researchers feel the new tablet devices* represent a change in consumer behavior: It’s not just the device, it’s the social behavior; it’s a social trend.
School districts intending to use the new technology must decide between the two market leaders: Apple’s iPad (running Apple iOS) or the Google Android tablet (from Samsung, Motorola, Hewlett Packard and others). Proponents for digitizing classrooms believe it could eventually save schools as much as $3 billion a year in textbook costs, etc. Others caution that drawbacks exist, such as ongoing software and/or hardware support; surviving ownership by toddlers and teens; infrastructure costs, e.g., replacing broken tablets…
On the assumption that integration of digital technologies into the learning environment and embedding these technologies into a teacher’s pedagogical practice can have a positive impact on student engagement, motivation and attitudes, we have selected two iPad entries that merited awards in this year’s EDDIES:
For teachers struggling to select from among the thousands of educational apps for the iPad, eSpark Learning has a solution: The program, designed for ages 4-12, offers personalized learning plans embedded with links to relevant third party educational apps (available/downloadable from the iTunes Store).
Students are given “quests” to complete. Assessment tools enable teachers and parents to see reports and recommend areas for improvement. eSpark’s approach is the following: Diagnose learning level; enable academic goal setting; recommend the best educational games, apps, podcasts, & eBooks; challenge students with daily quests; report & celebrate success.
The apps that accompany the learning plans are graphically appealing, comprehensive and creative. For example, in the Language Standards Grade 4 unit:
- BrainPOP provides daily movies that are designed for kids, using multimedia, educational cartoons to teach Science, Social Studies, English, Math, and more
- iTooch English Grade 5, which is comprised of 44 chapters/lessons, has examples, illustrations, practice questions and tests, and utilizes 3 thematic units – grammar, verbs, vocabulary & spelling.
Children will find the design of the learning plans easy to follow, and much is to be learned from the multi-subject, interactive educational activities provided by the apps.
eSpark team members Shuaib, Sarah, and Elsbeth took to downtown Chicago this past week to exhibit at the 2012 Midwest Conference on Differentiated Instruction hosted by SDE (Staff Development for Educators). The conference ran from Sunday to Wednesday and was a gathering place for over 1,600 teachers and administrators from all over the Midwest.
Educators attended morning and afternoon sessions including “An Introduction to the Differentiated Classroom: How It All Comes Together,” “Using iPads & iPods in the Classroom,” “Using Technology to Encourage Early Readers & Writers,” and “Common Core State Standards in a Nutshell.” In between these informative and enlightening presentations, the eSpark team was able to meet many of the attendees and learn about their schools’ current usage of technology. It’s always great to meet teachers from all over the country who are eager to learn about new programs and methods of improving their students’ educational experience.
As we turn the page of the calendar to a new year (okay, many people don’t use paper calendars any more, but I still like the analogy), we’ve been reading lots of “Best Apps of 2011 lists”. One of the best lists for children apps, in our opinion, is from The New York Times. This excellent list was shared by WARREN BUCKLEITNER, who in addition to blogging for the New York Times, founded the Children’s Technology Reviewand is a member of the Kids at Play interactive (KAPi) awards committee.From this great list, we wanted to share the most educational ones:
Puzzle Pop: an animated (and timed) jigsaw puzzle that gives clues to how shape fit
Bobo Explores Light: an educational game to learn about light with fun lasers, mirrors, spotlightsWhile some of the other apps featured in the New York Times 2011 Best Apps for Children are not educationally focused, they cover a range of ages and are all well done. If you a need ideas for recent children apps that are engaging, fun, and age appropriate, definitely consult the full list here.
Adults today often lament about how spelling and grammar are going by the wayside thanks to text speak, the internet, etc. Instead of waiting until your child morphs into a teen and looses^1 his or her spelling and grammar skills, or waiting until he or she starts “2 typ lyk d1s”, why not work on their spelling and grammar now?
Practice Spelling and Reading with Word Bingo ($0.99)
One of the best apps for kids to practice their spelling with is Word Bingo. Word Bingo has two modes: bingo and spelling practice. In bingo mode, a word is spoken aloud by an in-app character which then must be selected on screen. In spelling practice mode, you have to drag the letters to boxes and make sure they’re in the correct order.
Use ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard to Practice Spelling
We’ve mentioned ShowMe before as a great tool for teachers. You can also use it to get your child or your students to practice writing out/spelling a word without any aid from other tools.
I play a simple game with my son to get him to practice his spelling. I say a word aloud and then he is to write the word on the iPad. For every correctly spelled word, he earns 10 points. For every incorrectly spelled word, he gets 1 point subtracted from his score.
This should go without saying. There are a lot of choices to pick and choose from when it come to interactive eBooks on the iTunes store (if eBooks are your child’s choice of medium) or go traditional with a good old paper book. You can have them read a variety of texts to get a grasp of proper usage of words and even learn a few new words after reading.
Have other ways to jump start your kids’ iPad learning? Comment below to suggest other iPad apps.
By Renee C. Jackson
I am, undeniably, a product of the 80’s and early 90’s. I spent many hot, New York summers playing Skip It and watching classic PBS children’s programming. But nothing (and I mean nothing) matched my level of excitement when it came to playing the wildly popular, Nintendo. “Addicted but lacking skill,” best describes my relationship with games like Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt. Embarrassingly, I was known for standing annoyingly close to the television set while playing Duck Hunt and still managed to miss the targets.
Skill or no skill, video games were the ultimate distraction for me. I could ignore my summer reading list and math workbook exercises and lose myself in Mario and Luigi’s world for hours. Although two decades now separate me from my childhood pastime, I still understand a child’s attraction to these games. It makes sense—identify the goal, work obsessively to meet the challenge and have boatloads of fun doing it.
In a February 2010 speech entitled, “Gaming can make a better world,” game designer, Jane McGonigal, presented a wacky, yet novel concept at a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference. Suppose video games could change the world?
At eSpark, Inc. we subscribe to that same concept. Suppose video games could change education? What if handheld, mobile games that were customized to fit a child’s level of rigor and academic need could change the way that child learned? Better yet, what if it could change their future? The concept, again, is fairly simple— work with children, parents and teachers to identify and set academic goals, provide that child with fun, engaging, educational mobile games that encourage them to work hard (obsessively, even) to meet their goals, all the while learning and having fun.
When Maren McMullan, one of the founding teachers at eSpark, starts a tutoring session with one of her first-grade students, this, in fact, is her aim. Maren sits down at her computer and prepares her virtual classroom. She uses iPods that are configured with educational games and apps that address her student’s specific learning needs.
As a certified teacher, she helps her students identify and set rigorous goals and through virtual one-on-one or group tutoring sessions, she is helping her students reach those goals and they are all having fun doing it. Not to mention, her students are growing more than a one whole grade level in their math and reading goal domains—that’s pretty significant.
Tell us what you think: Can video games change the way kids learn?