Jones in (2012) ‘iPads and Kindergarten students’ literacy development’ discusses a classroom project where he set out to use play-based activities on the iPad to extend students literacy skills, focusing on spoken language.
Jones found that incorporating the iPad and play-based learning activities in the classroom not only supported student engagement and enthusiasm but it also supported their literacy development (Jones, 2012). Another important point in the article is that teachers must recognise “the range and depth of possible experiences for each student is dependent on the quality of the adult interactions with the students to ensure the app is being used to its full potential” (Jones, 2012, 33), this is important for teachers to be aware of as they must understand the full scope and potential of the app in order for it to be of most benefit to their classroom.
The learning goal for this Jones’ Kindergarten class was for students to “give a sequenced retelling of a story when prompted” (Jones, 2012, 34). In order to achieve this learning goal the article highlighted the importance of encouraging students to make connections with text and explore the meaning of text. To support students’ literacy development and comprehension skills student learning was scaffolded, ‘pre-reading activities, during reading activities and post reading activities’ (Jones, 2012) were all incorporated throughout the unit of work.
How you might use the Playschool Art Maker app to support literacy development in the classroom:
The Playschool Art Maker app could benefit the primary school classroom in developing literacy, such as viewing skills. Teachers can utilise this app to create a visual story where children explore the images, place them in a sequential order and make meaning, focusing on comprehension of the visuals in a story. Jones (2012) reinforces the importance of this by highlighting that “retelling a narrative is a complex task especially if students do not know how to identify what happened in the beginning, middle and end of a story” (p.135). Digital literacy enables students to directly engage with the grammatical features of different stages of a story by physically manipulating the images and text on the iPad.
As part of this activity students can further their comprehension of a text by exploring the emotions of characters or what characters might be thinking. Students are asked to draw speech bubbles for each character and write text for what they think this character might be thinking or feeling based on the image. Rushton (2010) highlights, “building students understandings of the emotional reactions of characters to events over the stages of the narrative helps to develop comprehension, both literal and inferential” (Rushton, 2010, p.3).
Toontastic is another app that teachers could use in the classroom to support student literacy. In short, Toontastic allows students to create their own cartoon where students design the setting for the cartoon, select their own characters, record their own music and record their own audio. At the same time as students are creating their cartoon the app scaffolds various aspects of the process for example, providing a Story Arc which guides the students about what components make up a story. This app can be used in so many different ways to support literacy learning in the classroom at the same time as being fun and engaging for students.
Jones, M. (2012), ipads and kindergarten- students literacy development, SCAN, 31(4), 31-40.