I’m on the literacy faculty at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Although I try to integrate technology into my teaching in thoughtful and creative ways, I don’t always succeed. Typically, it’s due to lack of time, or the right hardware or software access, or the right know-how! This month, the School of Education received a generous gift of 30 iPads to use in our Literacy Classroom. My immediate reaction: What a fabulous opportunity to explore how the undergraduate reading methods class and I will use this gift over the remainder of the semester. So, in that spirit, my next few posts will focus on how it’s going, what I’m learning, and what I wish I never had to learn!
A General Web Resource on Teaching with iPads
Way back when (yes, all the way back to the 1990’s), I used to consult Kathy Schrock’s website when I had a technology question. I was delighted to find that she has a special website dedicated to all things iPad related! Whether you’re a beginner or novice user of iPads, there are things to learn from Kathy and the many educators who contribute resources and teaching strategies to this site.
iPad Posts from Dana Grisham
And, for those of you working with young children, visit the recent posts from Dana Grisham about developing emergent literacy with iPad apps.
- Recommended pre-school apps for literacy learning
- Goodnight, iPad!
Essential Apps for our CU- Boulder Literacy Classroom
As soon as we got word that we were going to be receiving the iPads, I immediately began to think about “essential apps”. Our budget was limited, so I knew I needed to be strategic in what we purchased (in a later post I’ll focus on free apps).
#1: A Drawing App
To begin, I knew I wanted a drawing program to support multimodal composition. I knew that we would be able to use it for responding to literature with color, drawing, photos, and images remixes, as well as creating illustrations for the students’ original picture books and trying out the ‘sketch to stretch’ reading comprehension strategy. I also wanted the drawing program to be one that could be used in elementary schools, since my goal was that the CU future teachers would first compose with the drawing tool themselves, and then apply it to teaching children. After reviewing multiple programs and getting advice from teachers in our masters’ program, I selected Drawing Pad ($1.99). It’s simple and intuitive, yet allows you to create some pretty amazing images fairly quickly!
Drawing Pad ($1.99)
#2: A Book Creator App
My second priority was to purchase Book Creator, another composing App that packs a lot of communication potential into a simple, yet powerful tool. I knew my good friend and colleague, Debby Rowe from Vanderbilt University, was successfully using Book Creator with pre-school and kindergarten children. Further, some Colorado elementary school teachers in our masters program tried it out in their classrooms last semester and gave it a favorable rating. Based on these positive reviews and my own experimentation with a free version, I decided that Book Creator would be a good match for our needs. It was more expensive — $4.99 – but it seemed worth it not to experience glitches that sometimes occur with a free version.
Book Creator ($4.99)
Taking That First Step
So, with 30 iPads and two essential Apps, I am ready to begin the adventure of Ipad and App integration into my reading methods course. I’ll let you know how it’s going next month. I should warn you that I am a PC person. I love my Apple smart phone, but am not nearly as fluent working on a MAC or an IPad as I am on a PC. So, the learning curve will be steep and I’m feeling some anxiety about the process. Ready, set, go!
If you have advice, suggested Apps, please post a response. I thank you in advance, Bridget.