“When are we going to use ipads?” they asked me.
I was so very excited to implement my sight word QR code activity at our learning centers this week. I’d spent a lot of time thinking about and creating it. The kids were very successful and engaged as they scanned the QR codes with their ipads, listened to the audio files, replayed audio files and re-scanned as necessary. This is probably the highest technological skill level any of them has ever achieved, and yet as the activity drew to a close, they started asking, “So when do we get to do ipads, Mrs. Nelson?” Clearly, using the ipad as a learning tool, did not “count” in their little five year old brains. “Using the ipad” meant playing any number of fun games that we have installed on this magic device.
I love all the games and apps we’ve downloaded. (Well, most of them, anyway… I’ve written about my favorites here.) I do think that they serve a purpose in our classroom. The kids are learning when they play those games. So many apps are fantastic when it comes to reinforcing basic skills. I just think that there needs to be more to it than basic skill review when it comes to using technology in an early childhood classroom. If that’s all we are after, there are plenty of drill and practice activities we could implement with our students that don’t cost $500 per activity. It’s hard to put my finger on what exactly it is that I’m hoping for as we move forward with our ipad program in our early childhood classrooms. I just know that I want my students to recognize that using the ipad is more than just playing fun games. I want them to see the ipad as a tool that can get them places. I want it to help them think deeper, not just harder, and I want them to discover how it can help them to create amazing things.
Last night I stumbled across this article, talking about an ipad program in Switzerland. I think they’re doing a lot of things right in their program, particularly in terms of making sure that ipads are an opportunity for creativity and learning, not just more screen time. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to create the same sort of environment here as we move forward with our ipad implementation. We’ve obviously got a long way to go if my students can spend 20 minutes completely engaged with their ipads, and still wonder, “When are we going to do ipads?” but I’m optimistic none the less.