Here We Go Again

How do you restart something that had never been turned off? -Veronica Rossi, Under the Never Sky

It doesn’t matter how long I have taught, I always have trouble adjusting expectations with a new class. Of course I know these young children are new and are not at the same level as the class from the year before…it’s just…well, that class leaves when we are in such a good groove and it is hard for me to adjust a few months later. Summer vacation doesn’t seem to turn off the “old class” switch and turn on the “new class” switch.

No worries, it’s a short learning curve. It doesn’t take long to remind me of the need to start small and slow so that I can speed up later. We just finished our 10th day of school and we are currently using our iPads to enhance phonics instruction in small groups with Pocket Chart Pro, Starfall ABC’s and Magnetic ABC apps. We are also using them in centers as a choice in the math center and the ABC center. We’ve used Drawing Pad to draw a picture of something we like to do. Here is an example. She drew a picture of playing at school.

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In math, we have used Connecting Cubes to count objects.

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As well as experiment with counting and ten frames:

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We have also learned how to take a screen shot so we can upload our work! By experimenting with different apps in the early days, the students have an opportunity to explore and free-play while we are learning the proper way to use the device.

So how do you restart something that had never turned off? In my world, at least, I have to hit the reset button and remind myself to start small. The first few weeks of kindergarten are all about exploring our environment, getting to know each other, and taking things one step at a time!

Here’s to a great new year y’all!


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Learning Phonics with iPad Apps

Practice is the best of all instructors. -Publilius Syrus

The beginning of every school year brings a variety of ability levels to kindergarten.  I have children who are already reading and some who struggle with just naming upper and lower case letters and sounds.  I’ve stated that the best part of having 1:1 iPads in the classroom is the ability to differentiate for student need.  There are a series of apps by Good Neighbor Press we use a lot in the beginning of the year.

The first app I use is the Upper and Lower Case Letter Matching Pocket Chart.  This has students matching upper and lower case letters.  It takes about 3-5 minutes to complete the cycle.  This is particularly good for my young learners who are still working with this skill.  It is easy to use and engaging as the students are earning stars for correct answers.  It also helps with the ever-confusing lower case b and d identification.  This app is .99

Beyond matching, another app in the series is Matching Beginning Sounds.  Again, this is a 3-5 minutes cycle that is highly engaging and keeps students moving through the app.
Other apps in the series include matching rhyming words, ending sounds, consonant blends and digraphs, word families, compound words, and long and short vowels.

Math apps are also available from this publisher.  There are apps for shape matching, position words, counting 1-20, number and number words matching, fractions and single digit addition and subtraction.  Each of these apps can be purchased individually, or for $4.99, you can purchase Pocket Charts Pro and receive all 20 games in one app!

One of the reasons I like this app is because pocket charts are common in many classrooms.  These apps are recognizable activities that don’t require a lot of front loading to use.  It also give you a quick sense of an individual child’s abilities.  While I may have 1 or 2 pocket charts available during centers for students to interact with, having a variety of pocket charts apps in their iPads means no one has to wait their turn.  Instant access!  Because there is a variety of skill levels within the app series, there is virtually something for everyone.  When you can deliver just-in-time-practice to each individual student, you are increasing engagement as well as allowing the child to move at his/her own pace.  Students who are ready to move on aren’t held back by those needing extra practice.  Those needing extra practice aren’t being rushed on by those who are ready to move on.

As I’m finishing the 10th day of school today and finishing up all of my initial assessments, I see I have a wide variety of student abilities.  By using apps such as those in the Pocket Chart series, I know my students are getting practice right where they need it!

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