In our classroom, first grade students use the iPad and Web 2.0 tools to build comprehension, expand audience and interact with the world! Our goal has been to go beyond substitutional interactions with the device and seek tools that modify, transform and redefine teaching and learning.
On any given day you’ll see students respond to text using a variety of tools. During a read aloud students may sit on the rug and respond by drawing their visual image with a drawing app. Or maybe they will jot their questions about a text on a Google spreadsheet or participate in a backchannel discussion on Edmodo. At the end of the read aloud, first graders will save their work on the iPad and email a sample to the teacher. These emailed work samples are used to plan for future lessons and document a child’s thinking and learning over time.
You’ll also see students write for an authentic audience. Each child hosts his or her own blog where they post book recommendations, learning reflections, questions they’d like answered and information about their inquiry projects. Students read and post comments on the blogs of their classmates, as well as reply to their 5th grade big buddies. Our first grade bloggers have followers around the world ranging from parents, extended family, visitors to our classroom and other schools. Our bloggers are also published authors who compose and illustrate fiction and nonfiction eBooks.
The six and seven-year-olds at our school are recording artists and movie producers. They compose and record songs that teach a concept or reflect their new learning. This multimodal response helps students summarize and synthesize an idea or skill and teaches others as the musical component makes information easy to remember. Similarly, our student producers use iMovie to create book trailers, app reviews and inquiry movies. They lay video, voice and musical tracks to develop movies that teach others. We share these movies with the world on our classroom website and our Vimeo channel.
First graders engage in a variety of digital communities. We share our learning and ask questions on Wonderopolis, we produce book reviews for various websites and Skype our favorite authors. Students share their learning with families in our Tweets From the Rug series on Twitter.
Each day students use their iPad in conjunction with other tools—crayons, books, markers, chart paper and paint. In our classroom, the iPad serves as one tool that is available for learning, but we use our resources flexibly throughout the school day. The technology we have available has transformed students’ access to information and interactions with the global community. First graders in this classroom will be prepared for the digital future that lies ahead.