iPod. App. Click. URL. Navigate. Download. Upload. Drag and drop. Logon. Memory. iPad. These words are the start of a new language for our 21st century students where technology is integrated into daily life. For many of us with smart phones, computers are in our back pockets. Our classrooms are catching up with the times.
San Miguel Elementary School has integrated the use of mobile technology into every classroom. Each third through fifth grade classroom has access to 10 iPod Touches and 6-10 iPad Minis for student use. Each Kindergarten through second grade classroom has six iPods and will soon be receiving four iPad Minis for student use. These are in addition to classroom computers. Students are able to take technology on the move. No longer are they glued to a computer, but rather can work anywhere in the classroom and anywhere in the school.
Students are engaged in a variety of activities on these mobile devices, including building reading fluency through voice recording and playback, taking reading tests, practicing math facts, and writing stories. Using these mobile devices frees up classroom computers for activities not yet available on the iPads and iPods.
One app in particular, Story Kit, allows students to create and identify elements of texts such as captions, illustrations, titles and subtitles. Students may publish their writing in a new format, complete with audio, and pictures. Students are able to organize text and graphics however they like within the app. The creative placement of text boxes may assist students in organizing thoughts. Students may also use the app to practice key comprehension skills, for example comparing and contrasting, showing cause and effect, or problems and solutions.
In addition, Story Kit provides a platform for students to share information or demonstrate understanding. For example, Story Kit may be used to make a book about different types of genres, idioms, or homophones. The easy use of visuals helps improve students’ understanding of abstract ideas or provide them opportunities to demonstrate understanding at different levels.
To meet the needs of students, teachers have made radical changes to their lessons in order to use this mobile technology. To help students describe a place during an ELD lesson, one teacher brought up pictures on all of her electronic devices, including desktop computers, and had students rotate through stations with sentence frames and vocabulary to describe the pictures.
In addition to the iPods and iPads in the classroom, San Miguel has two computer-based programs that promote math and reading skills. Jiji (ST Math) focuses on building special temporal reasoning skills in math. All students work on Jiji for 1.5 to 2 hours a week. For reading, San Miguel uses a program called Mimeo, which helps students with both foundational reading skills and reading comprehension. These engaging programs are used on both desktop computers and iPads.
Teachers also have access to Apple TVs where they may stream content area videos or student work from the mobile devices. The Apple TVs allow all of the technology to work together. 21st century students must have a fluid use of technology and San Miguel Elementary School is paving the way in giving students access to these digital tools.
Article by Jessica Boschen/Teacher at San Miguel Elementary School