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Monday, November 1, 2010

Spelling practice, math, and word study

Second grade teachers were ready for more options in their morning literacy centers, so the students have begun using three apps to practice their weekly spelling words. Our spelling program is individualized, and each student works on his or her own list of words each week -- no small management task! The iPads are enabling students to have independent practice opportunities with their words. They're using the iPad's built-in Notes app, Whiteboard lite, and ABC Magnetic Letters Lite to write and type the words -- all free apps. At no extra cost,we now have a multimodal spelling center up and running in a matter of a day!

Last week, my colleague Kristin Ziemke Fastabend brought the whole cart of iPads to her room for her math lesson. Using Whiteboard lite, students wrote number sentences on the screen as Kristin modeled the problems with manipulatives on a projector. Students were fully engaged in the process of expressing their math knowledge -- if you've never heard students beg for more math problems, then you should have been there with our first graders!

Afterwards, Kristin remarked on how easy it was for her to help students as she circulate around the room. If a student forgot an equals sign, for example, she could use her own finger to show the child where it should have gone. The activity was more engaging and easier to manage with the iPads. Even the simple difference of starting with a "blank slate" by erasing the screen each time made it easier for Kristin to assess and check for understanding as she went along, and it enabled students to focus only on solving the problem at hand.

Another whole-class iPad activity took place in Begoña Cowan's room and was similar to the lesson that our Reading Specialist, Sally Tajkowski, wrote about in an earlier post. Each student sat on the rug with an iPad carefully on his or her lap while Begoña challenged them to sound out and spell certain word families using letter patterns they are studying. The students were fully engaged, and using virtual magnetic letters was the only thing that made this activity possible -- rather than digging noisily through a bucket of plastic magnetic letters, students were finding the letters they needed in the alphabet and focusing on the letter sounds themselves. I'll be posting a video in the next few days.

This week we will have our first visit from our intrepid iPad coach extraordinaire, Dr. Bruce Ahlborn. We can't wait!

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