Using iPads to Support Collaborative WritingSt. Patrick Elementary is a warm and welcoming school in the heart of Vancouver. You can feel the spirit of community as soon as you step in the front doors. Bright and colourful bulletin boards displaying student artwork and writing assignments clearly demonstrate the school’s mission and vision to develop leaders, responsible citizens, and life-long learners. This year, Cristina Pineda, the Grade 4 teacher, and Noel Evangelista, the Grade 6 teacher, implemented iPads loaned as part of their Classroom Based Solutions (CBS) with SET-BC.

Both teachers have similar goals for their students using the iPads to support their learning, such as improving writing skills, demonstrating their learning in different ways, and becoming more independent writers. A unique opportunity arose with both classes as they had the opportunity for cross-grade student collaboration; they paired to become buddy classes and worked together towards their learning goals. Initially they began the year working towards a buddy writing project and often collaborated to build stories they could share with their school.  As the year progressed, this project blossomed into a series of engaging and personalized learning experiences.

Mrs. Pineda and Mr. Evangelista started the year by introducing the apps that were included with the iPads for the CBS to increase writing fluency, spelling, and grammar. Co-Writer, Clicker Docs and Clicker Connect were new and exciting apps for both teachers.  They saw the potential of each of these apps to support writing projects that could become multimedia presentations to be shared with their school community.

Co-Writer was especially helpful as a writing support for both classes. It is a powerful word prediction tool that offers words and phrases as you type, which is helpful for English Language Learners.  The more they used it, the more they were able to write independently. As the year progressed, the teachers noticed the increased level of confidence with Co-Writer as the amount of time students spent asking teachers for help with spelling and word suggestions decreased. Students also increased their efficiency by using speech recognition; they simply tapped on the microphone to speak into the iPad. Moreover, Clicker Docs allowed the students to write with word prediction, word bank and text-to-speech support. Also, Clicker Connect allowed students to write using content suggestions in structured word clusters.

Some more specific tasks that were accomplished throughout the year between the buddy classes included using the iPads to video journal weekly meetings, create personal essays on Spring Break activities, and write a script for their positive message skits.

SET-BC Tier 2 Teachers, Alanna Wasylkiw and Julius Kristoff, regularly met with Mrs. Pineda and Mr. Evangelista to provide support in the form of training and planning for the implementation of the technology, as well as collaborating on lessons. Alanna and Julius also taught lessons using the apps in order for the students to explore them further. The students’ excitement and engagement while using the iPads for writing led to an increased confidence in writing. For the classroom teachers, it provided evidence of meaningful implementation of technology in their classes.  The classes will now continue their learning experiences by using the apps in other subject areas, such as creating messages for Science on how to recycle old milk containers, how to compost in the garden, and how to conserve energy. The teachers and their classes are excited to continue their learning journey using technology!

To learn more about the technology used in this SETstory, search for it by name in learningSET.