I love it when our Technology Coordinator drops off new fun stuff for us to experiment with! She knew we’d been looking to try giving each of our students a stylus. So when she was on Spring Break, she picked up a few!
The kids and I were all excited to try them out. I had hoped that using a stylus would add a bit more authenticity to the writing process when we were asking kids to practice writing letters. We have a number of apps that encourage handwriting practice. (See my review of my five favorite writing apps here.) Up until this point, the children had used their finger to practice letter formation. This is great, but using a correct pencil grip is one of our objectives for the school year. I hoped that forming the letter while holding a “pencil” correctly would be one more way to cement those motor memory pathways.
Unfortunately, I have to report that the jury is still out! Many of the kids thought using the stylus was fun. But there were a few that struggled, and here’s why: when they wrote, they rested the side of their palm on the screen. This tended to confuse the writing apps. They wouldn’t recognize the stylus or the palm and the app would sort of freeze. It was interesting to me that only a few of the children encountered this issue. The ones who did, became frustrated. I’ll be curious to see if this is something that they are able to resolve with practice. I also wonder if keeping their palm off of the screen will have much of an impact on their ability to transfer their ipad learning to actual writing.
As a follow up to the issue we had with the side of the hand interfering with writing, I asked one of my students with the palm resting issue to try again using a drawing app rather than a writing app. He had more success with that app, but as you can see, there were still challenges:
There were a few times when the stylus “wouldn’t work.” So he pressed harder, and harder and ended up pulling the rubberized cap off of the stylus. I know from our tech coordinator that this wasn’t the most expensive stylus out there, but we’ve still learned our lesson: treat them gently.
As an adult, so far, I like the stylus. It allows me to be more precise when I’m “clicking” small buttons, and I think I may navigate the ipad more quickly as a result. They were also useful when using the ipad for journaling. (See my next post to hear about that.) I’m planning to replace my stylus that broke. I think it will still be more useful than a finger when it comes to some apps. We just may not use them as often as I had expected.