• May 26, 2016

Creating learning opportunitiesA classroom teacher has several iPads and a handful of Math apps to enrich her lessons. How many learning opportunities can be generated in the process? And how many smiles are the result of adding technology to support students?

Karen Higginbotham, a Grade 1 teacher at View Royal Elementary in Victoria, BC, runs a structured and inventive learning environment providing energetic six-year-olds with multiple ways of embracing concepts. Karen already integrates technology seamlessly into the classroom having students interact for many activities using the Smartboard. This year, Karen requested a Tier 2 Classroom-Based Solution from SET-BC to reinforce basic Grade 1 Math concepts using the appeal of the iPad to capture her students’ attention, engage their imagination, and enhance their ability to think critically.

Student with iPadKaren worked diligently to weave the use of iPads into her Math lessons. In doing so, students were provided with the opportunity to use the iPad as just one of many tools to support learning – moving in groups between attempting a concept using pencil, paper and manipulatives to discussing and practicing the same idea while using a particular app.

Karen began with an array of apps that aligned well with the Grade 1 Math curriculum. Students used the Number Frames app to strengthen students’ understanding of addition equations and adding to ten. With the visual supports and motivational feedback, students were soon counting within a hundreds frame to answer much more complex addition equations. Shape concepts were reinforced with the Pattern and Shapes app, then, after discussion of shape attributes and differences, students manipulated virtual elastics on the Geoboard app to style increasingly complex figures. Numberline, Find Sums and Pieces Basic are also in the repertoire of Math supports on the iPad that can emphasize and highlight the Math concepts that Karen so carefully presents in multiple ways.

Students working togetherIndeed, SET-BC visits to Karen’s class have been enjoyable and invigorating in equal measure. Students chat enthusiastically as they work together to complete their tasks, sharpen critical thinking as they learn to manipulate the technology to solve the presented problem or work it though with more conventional manipulatives and worksheets. Enthusiastically embracing the choices available to them, all the students have happily invited the SET-BC consultant to work with them while proudly showcasing their ideas and answers.

This classroom-based solution has given the SET-BC consultant and the teacher the opportunity to share ideas and support each other in finding ways to give students opportunities to “show what they know”. Various apps have been discussed and put forward as possible ways to further support inclusive practice with students whether it is something that might be used now… or as something to think about for another day. In the end, Karen’s idea to integrate supportive apps into her Math lessons has all of the basic Universal Design for Learning (UDL) components – students are engaged, they have access to different ways to learn concepts and they can represent their learning in multiple ways.

One inventive teacher + various inclusive practices = multiple ways to learn!