Touch And Grow: Learning And Exploring Using Tablets
Whether choosing a traditional or a new tool, such as a tablet, teachers need a clear understanding of
●how the tool can meet identified educational and life goals for a child or for a group of children;
●the functions of various tools;
●how to monitor children’s engagement and progress, and adjust tasks accordingly;
● the children’s interests and preferences—individually and as a group
Using the tablet: Extending learning
The children discuss action words from the story, such as bow and twirl, review the words, and act out the motions. Later, the children look at and listen to the e-book version of the same story on a tablet, and they take turns touching particular words on the screen to hear them read aloud or using theirfingers to cause a character to bow or twirl. The e-book animations add playful actions that support the story line and inspire additional discussion. They also offer visual support for the action words.
Tool and app selection is important
Research features and types of tablets and apps to determine the best match for daily use with children and by adults.
Explore the entire app. Are all activity choices appropriate, and do they enhance children’s daily learning experiences?
Look for apps that allow for audio and photo input. They can be culturally sensitive if they allow children to input images and audio that reflect their own culture.
Consider the feedback options. In some apps a feedback option tells children immediately whether their choice is correct. Apps that decrease the number of available answer choices may help motivate a child who is struggling.
Introducing tablets to children
Consider how to introduce the tablet and apps.
Discuss careful and respectful use of the tool. Create and review poems, chants, and songs about rules and routines as needed to help children remember them.
Schedule individual support time, practice with a peer, and extra time to explore for children with differing abilities or limited prior experience.
Increasing access to learning
Tablets can personalize learning for diverse learners, including dual language learners. The devices can help them learn new skills and become familiar with routines and activities.
For children with minimal exposure to technology or limited English proficiency, the tablet can help increase comprehension and vocabulary. For example, a teacher can show a photo of a giraffe, explain what a giraffe is, share a video clip of it in its natural habitat, and further explore the topic through educational activity apps.
Teachers and administrators can use tablets to evaluate and document learning.
Teachers can save children’s drawings, writing samples, language samples, or media projects, which are created and automatically dated on the tablet, showing progress over time.
Some apps can track and record an individual child’s activity. Based on learning goals, choose apps that can track children’s progress.
When observing children using different apps, such as educational game apps to practice counting, reading with e-books, or creating art, teachers might note something new about their abilities. This information could impact future teaching strategies.
Digital documentation forms can streamline the data collection process. Forms can include drop down boxes with a number of prepared comments, such as knows the difference between living and nonliving things. They are easy to complete and e-mail. In addition, the information is automatically entered into a database the teacher has set up.
Tablets have the potential to be powerful tools for early learning. The choices we make about how they are used determine whether the technology is helpful or not. We need to develop “digital literacy” skills and decide how to use these new tools in ways that can support every child’s healthy development and learning.