Category Archives: reading round up

iPads for Kindergarteners

In April of 2011, the Auburn School Department decided to implement a radical idea: provide an iPad 2 for every kindergartener in the school.  Not only did the local new stations and newspaper pick up the story, CNN did as well, and pretty soon the whole country knew about this plan to approach early literacy from a different perspective.

I remember discussing the story with my friends and family members; it was big news, especially in a small state (population wise) like Maine.  Other than that, I didn’t think much about the iPads or the effect they would have on the incoming kindergarten class.

Fast forward to mid April 2012.  I attended a workshop at Reading Round Up entitled “iPads in Kindergarten and More!” which thoroughly explained the details of the program in Auburn.  I must say, I usually try to keep an open mind and form an opinion after I have heard plenty of evidence for both sides of an issue, but in this case, I was a little prejudiced against the idea of using this type of technology with five and six years old.

Photo from: bangordailynews.com

My reasons for not completely supporting the program are based on my own experiences growing up (much more on that in tomorrow’s post).  I went into the workshop looking for something to change my mind.  I wanted to jump on board and switch over to the iPad side.

To be honest, this didn’t happen.  Although I didn’t do a 180, I did learn quite a bit about the program and I can now see how iPads could be beneficial for some children in the classroom.  Below is an explanation of the iPad program, called Advantage 2014 in Q&A form.  I got the information from notes I took during the workshop and then double checked the notes against the FAQ page about the iPad program (sometimes I scribble).

Who receives an iPad 2?

Every kindergartener in the Auburn school system received a iPad this year for school use only.  Advantage 2014 is designed for grades K-3, so if the program receives adequate funding, an iPad will be provided to each incoming kindergarten class (in other words, this year’s kindergarteners would get to use their iPads for the next couple of years).

What is the cost?

The school is collaborating with Apple, so Apple provides the iPads at a discounted price for a total of $200,000.

How do teachers use the devices with students?

From the presentation, it seems that each teacher has his/her own style.  The kindergarten teacher who presented at the workshop set up stations where her students were instructed to use certain apps.  She would walk around, supervising and making sure that they were on the right track.

Which apps are the kids allowed to use?

The teachers had a few months to get comfortable using the iPads and then were asked to compile a list of apps for classroom use.  Favorite apps include:

Word Wizard: an app that features a moveable alphabet with an audio component.  Kids use this app to hear letter and word pronunciation.

and

Story Buddy: an app that allows kids to write their own stories and include a photo on each page.

What are the time restrictions for iPad usage during the day?  Do the students have a problem with the time limit?

The iPads can be used for no more than 20 consecutive minutes, but there can be several sessions a day. The total iPad time varies depending on the day’s lesson plans. At first, the students were a little obsessed with the iPads and wanted to use them all the time (even during recess). Now that the novelty has worn off, it isn’t so much of an issue.

Why is it important to provide an iPad for each student?  Wouldn’t it be sufficient to have one per classroom?

Each student learns at a different rate, and therefore each student needs his/her own iPad.  It is more efficient to have a customized iPad for each student because there is no need to change the level of difficulty with each new user.

For more information about Advantage 2014, please check out their FAQ page.

Does your child use an iPad at home or school (or both)? What do you think are the benefits and drawbacks to using this type of technology with kids? 

 

Stay tuned tomorrow for the second part to this post!

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Moonbird sighting in New Jersey

When I attended Reading Roundup in April, I heard Phillip Hoose speak about his upcoming book called Moonbird:  A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95.  This non-fiction book, due out on July 17th, is about an extraordinary bird who is thought to be at least 19 years old and has traveled an estimated total of 350,000 miles during its yearly migrations.

In late May of 2012, bird enthusiasts we excited to hear that B95 was spotted on a beach in New Jersey.  To read more about the B95 sighting as well as Hoose’s book, please click here to read an article from The New York Times.

Please check back soon for an interview with Phillip Hoose!

 

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Reading Round Up Award Winners 2012

I attended Reading Round Up in Augusta yesterday, and I would like to congratulate the winners of the Lupine Award and the recipient of the Katahdin Award for 2012.

Lupine Award winners:

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Ballons over Broadway:  the True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

Lost Trail:  Nine Days Alone in the Wilderness by Donn Fendler and Lynn Plourde; illustrations by Ben Bishop

Sammy in the Sky by Barbara Walsh;  paintings by Jamie Wyeth

I have only read one of these books (Small as an Elephant, my review can be found here) but the rest have been put on my tbr pile.  They all sound like wonderful, well-constructed stories.

This year’s Katahdin Award winner is Phillip Hoose.  This award is given to recognize an author or illustrator’s body of work.  Peter Hoose is the author of The Race to Save the Lord God Bird, Claudette Colvin:  Twice Toward Justice, and Hey Little Ant among others.  Peter sang “Hey Little Ant” to finish his speech, and I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t heard the song (or read the book) before.  I loved it!  It definitely has storytime potential, although I don’t know if my version would live up to the one I heard today.

His new book, Moonbird:  A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 will be released in July 2012.

I really enjoyed listening to these authors and illustrators as they gave their acceptance speeches.  Many of them see librarians as the link between the content they create and the child who enjoys it.  I will definitely write more about the day in future posts, but I just wanted to say a quick “congratulations” to this year’s winners!

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