How tablets have enhanced learning

Digital learning is a key skill in the 21st century and using iPads in the classroom has been ideal for promoting new ways of learning. The iPad is a perfect digital tool for our young learners because it’s small, portable, visual and hands-on, which makes it a more practical and versatile tool for students than laptops. So, how has it changed learning in my classroom?

The benefits go beyond engaging students. While there are a tremendous range of games developed for use on the iPad, I want my students to see the iPad as a way to create their own content rather than to be merely consumers. I avoid using it as a form of entertainment, but rather as a way to empower my students to channel their interests. We use our iPads for discovery, creation and collaborative learning.

The tablets are excellent for developing research skills and have become an integral part of my guided reading circles at all levels. Less cumbersome and more effective than dictionaries, we often use Google Translate or Google images when coming across unknown words or concepts. My students are becoming increasingly independent in their learning, able to use the iPad as a source of reference, rather than asking adults.

Having iPads in the classroom has helped to nurture self-expression and creativity in the ways that we present writing, particularly with the apps iMovie and Comic Life. Because of the simple (yet powerful) interface of iMovie, my 8-year-old students have proved impressively capable and independent when creating their own collaborative films. Allowing children to make their own movies is a great activity to develop their creative, technical and cooperative skills. The students in my class have made several short films on the school campus, including a zombie movie.

The iPads have also enriched my approach to developing factual writing skills. Comic Life is another one of my favorite apps – it is a publishing program installed on all the iPads, which allows students to create posters or comic books. This app allows you to easily insert photos, text and speech into a range of template pages. The finished products look professional and give the students a real sense of achievement. We use this app throughout our oiUnits of Inquiry, in Mathematics and in literacy to publish their thinking, discoveries and investigations. Some examples in our classroom include going on a 3D shape hunt, excursion recounts, interviews, writing up science investigations and many more. Using Comic Life has helped to enrich the unit being presented and enables my students to explain their answers in a unique and creative way.

For me, the iPad is a great way to integrate technology in the classroom and to energize and engage students. Technology is progressing at an astounding rate, so who knows what technology will look like by the time my current Grade 2 students leave school or which technological tools I will be using in five years’ time to empower my students in their learning. But for now, I’m really excited about the potential of the iPad in my classroom and look forward to extending its use further.

 

* Catherine Brown is a Grade 2 Homeroom teacher. She has been working in the primary years program at ISHCMC for three years.