At John Henderson School in Vancouver, Grade 4 students are using iPads and Clicker apps to develop writing fluency. Classroom teacher Joan Jung and resource teacher Kim Grey have been busy implementing a Tier 2 classroom-based solution they received from SET-BC this year. The technology loan included iPads with Clicker apps, a MacBook with Clicker 6 installed, and an Apple TV. Joan felt this technology would help support a group of students who found reading and writing challenging while the training and implementation support would be an opportunity to develop her technology skills at the same time. Joan is passionate about exploring how the use of technology in the classroom can foster the development of all learners’ literacy and communication skills.
When asked about her experience integrating the iPad technology in her classroom, Joan reports, “I was able to find how to use the iPads, how to use the Clicker program in the classroom, and that’s just been through the training that I received while using it, as well as tapping into my resource teacher’s knowledge who was way more comfortable using iPads in classrooms. SET-BC Consultant Julie Ormiston provided training and support and together the three of us have made a great team for the technology implementation.”
By implementing iPads and apps in her teaching practice, she has seen huge strides in writing and math development among her students. Reluctant communicators now take the initiative on their own to share their writing with their peers. They are also demonstrating an increased confidence in completing numeracy tasks.
Initial steps in the technology integration path are recalled by Joan.
“I’m remembering back almost a year ago in the spring of last year when I was invited to come to this meeting about a new pilot program. I went to the meeting knowing very little about technology or even what to ask for, but I knew in a general way my incoming class for this coming year and I knew that there was a group of students that were quite limited in their literacy skills for both reading and writing and having a literacy background myself I knew that this was something that I wanted to take as a challenge for myself but also because I could see that there would be such benefits for that small group of students but, like I said, I didn’t even know anything about Clicker [and] I didn’t know what to ask for. I received help by describing what it is I was hoping for and that I wanted those students to feel equal to the others in their ability to produce their writing and their ability to present their writing to the class at Authors Chair.”
Joan had clear goals that she wanted to accomplish with the Tier 2 classroom-based solution. The objective was to have the students actively participate (like everyone else in the class) in writing and telling stories that they have created using the Clicker apps on the iPad’s. The class has had huge success in reaching their goal as students successfully engage regularly at Author’s Chair where they share with their fellow classmates their own writing. Using Clicker apps on the iPads enables students to be able to create a project related to content area in a simplified form but at the end of the project they have something on the bulletin board that is the same as everyone else. It has helped students with written expression overall, standardized spelling in particular, and has enabled the students to communicate their knowledge effectively with the entire school community. Earlier in the year the class explored and studied First Nations traditional foods and the group of students worked with resource teacher Kim Grey using the iPads to create a menu of their own restaurant on the West Coast.
The iPads and Clicker apps again provided the means for inclusive learning and knowledge sharing among the group of students.
As Joan remarked,
“I found that they really knew what traditional West Coast foods are from doing a project using the iPads and Clicker writing support in a way that I don’t think they would’ve had they just been doing paper and pencil like everyone else. Students created their own unique menu based on the common knowledge acquired through whole class brainstorming and discussions on the topic”.
The pride that the students have with those projects, now outside the classroom on the bulletin board, is simply amazing.
One of the advantages of having the technology always in the classroom is the opportunity for collaborative learning and joint discovery for both the students and teachers. Joan recalls a specific instance while working with the Clicker apps where she and her resource teacher were trying to figure out how to get the entire text of a paragraph to be read back and not just the last sentence when the audio function is selected. While she was observing her class of students working on their writing using their iPads, she saw that one boy in the group had figured it out on his own and was able to show her. He then proceeded to assist another student by demonstrating how he triple clicked at the start of the paragraph and then pressed the audio button to enable the speech function (voice) to read the whole paragraph.
During a recent visit to her classroom Joan expressed the invaluable impact the technology has had on fostering collaborative learning within the classroom community.
“If I only had one iPad for that one student it would not have worked like that. I would’ve been struggling with that because we were working collaboratively and in a small group and because I have five iPads they figured that out together and they help each other. Seriously, it was like a brilliant aha moment when I saw that student solve the problem on his own and then assist his peer; the beauty of having a small pod of iPads for a classroom rather than just the one computer”.
Another way Joan is using the iPads and the Clicker program has been having students create short paragraphs for a ‘Veggie Flaps project’ in which the technology enables the students to experience more independence in their writing and have their work be more presentable and readable to others. Student engagement and motivation regarding their personal learning was further illustrated during a Pen Pal letter assignment where one of her students requested to use the iPad to compose her letter.
Another very successful literacy support Joan has used with her students is the app called Epic – a reading program where thousands of books are on the iPad and are accessible for free if you’re using it within school. Joan has her whole class using this program where students are able to create a profile indicating their interests and the types of books they enjoy. The program keeps track as the student reads each book and then suggests other books that may appeal to the student.
This reading program is available to the students during the daily literacy time so everyone in the class is either reading or writing and able to choose (if it’s their day) to use an iPad.
Joan is committed to utilizing technology to meet the diverse learning needs of her students and recognizes that it’s a collective journey that she shares passionately with her students and her colleagues.
Joan final thoughts…
“I’ve learned a lot… I know I still have more to learn… it’s an ongoing journey but the joint forces you totally see the benefit in the students and in their pride about their writing in their motivation to tackle it whereas before they might not have been so keen or would’ve done it because I forced them but now they really have the same desire and approach that the rest of the kids do.”
The number of ways Joan is using iPad and Clicker app technology to support her students really is “Epic”!