Students’ use of technology in schools is often limited to playing games on only a few computers during center time and scheduled visits to a computer lab where students play interactive games.
After viewing a video on YouTube entitled “One Transformed Classroom,” Technology Support Teacher, Lauren Brannan, decided to take a step forward at Turner Elementary, and put technology in the hands of the students.
Principal, Luann Rice, was very enthusiastic about the idea of children using iPads in the classroom, and with the help of a grant from County Commissioner Connie Hudson and PTO funds, the school was able to purchase twelve iPads.
During the 2011-2012 school year teachers at J.E. Turner Elementary School took a giant step forward and began using technology for project based learning. Weekly computer lab times and the help of a new support teacher, classes told and retold stories digitally by creating movies and weather reports in front of a green screen, created presentations using SMART Notebook and PowerPoint, created avatars of famous Americans using Voki, produced podcasts to explain math problems, used word processing software from the very beginning of the writing process, to the finished product, and much more.
As soon as students were introduced to the iPads, they used them as if they owned them. All the students have signed user agreements about their use of the iPads and social/learning management apps such as Edmodo. Students are now able to word process within their classroom, work collaboratively on presentations, participate in literature circles using Edmodo, and respond to blog posts or create their own. The iPads have brought the real world into the classroom under the guidance of a teacher by introducing real digital literature and a real audience.
In Mrs. Lowell’s class students created several products from basic emailing and word processing, to more advanced apps. In recognition of 9-11, Mrs. Lowell’s students participated in read alouds and discussions about that historic day. The students used an app called Scribble Press to publish a piece of writing stating why they were proud to be an American. Students used the camera, stickers from within the app and the drawing features to illustrate their piece. Later, the pages will be combined to create a book. Another application that has been used is called Trading Cards. After reading the Reading Street selection about baseball legend, Satchel Paige, the students discussed baseball trading cards, then created a trading card about themselves.
J.E. Turner Elementary looks forward to more learning experiences with iPads. Its goal is to generate self-directed, 21st Century learners. iPads seem like a great tool to facilitate this process. Follow J.E. Turner Elementary on this journey in the blog, www.inthehandsofchildren.com.