I have really begun to see growth in my comfort level with allowing my Pre-K students to use devices lately. This class and my Major Project have both played a huge role in this change.
Before I began this class, my two class iPads sat at the corner of my desk essentially unused – I would plug them in every once in a while when they went dead from the sheer despair of not being picked up for weeks (or months) at a time. My motto was “I have so many amazing materials and toys in my classroom and I want students to use them, not play with a device.” Thinking about children choosing to play on an iPad during free play time made me cringe, and I knew some of my students already got lots of screen time and exposure to iPads and devices at home. My solution: I simply didn’t offer iPads as an option.
Now, I am finding myself warming up to the idea of iPad time (albeit, with the following limits: devices are used with adult supervision, for a specific purpose, and for a limited amount of time). One day, a few weeks ago, I even CHOSE to pull out the classroom iPad to offer to a student to extend their play. That is proof that I am growing and opening my mind to change! (And the student’s reaction of having never seen the classroom iPad before and having no idea we even had such a thing in our classroom proves how anti-iPad I was previously).
It all started with the addition of puppets into our loft space. Some students were showing interest in the puppets, so I draped a blanket over the rail of the loft to allow the puppeteer’s to hide behind it and put on a puppet show. We pushed over a couch for the audience to sit on down below and voilà! The stage was set.
I sat down with the audience and began to take a video of the ensuing puppet show. A student seated beside me in the ‘audience’ noticed me doing this and asked if they could take a video. Thinking of the lessons I had been crafting recently for my Major Project, I headed to the oft-ignored iPads and (willingly!!) handed one over to a student to use to capture a video.
With some adult assistance, the student quickly learned how to start and stop a video and look at where the camera was pointing to ensure they captured the intended frame. Of course, seeing a classmate using an iPad was a bit of a novelty, so others soon asked if they could take a turn filming as well. This play experience was replicated again a subsequent school day when puppet play started up.
On the second day of bringing the iPads out to film, one curious student (who clearly had prior experience with using an iPad) piped up: “Are there any games on here?” to which I, shockingly, said “yes,” and proceeded to direct them to the (educational) games. Another big moment for me as a teacher of letting go my protectiveness over students using the iPads!
Allowing students to play games on the iPads was another big hit that drew a crowd. We brought out both iPads and had groups of students helping each other or waiting for a turn. I was so pleasantly surprised with how well the students did with using the games, assisting others and playing together, and waiting their turn to use an iPad. These little learners really exceeded my expectations and made using the iPads not so scary!
Pro Tip: I used the timer feature on the iPad’s built-in Clock app to set a limit of 10 minutes once each new student started their turn on the iPad. Once the timer rang, they knew it was time to let someone else have a turn. Surprisingly, no one took issue with this or got upset when their turn was over. Many students would either watch a peer play a game or step in to help them/play together. We were working on so many social emotional skills during this experience!
So… where do I go from here on the journey? Now that we’ve introduced the iPads and gone over some of the basic features (like taking photos or videos and playing games), I’d like to continue to bring iPads into unfolding play experiences to ENHANCE (not replace) learning. We have a Pre-K budget and one of the sub-areas is computer software and technology, so I think I will do some research into some more paid apps that we can load onto our iPads.
While I have yet to actually facilitate any of the lessons in my Major Project curriculum resource, I feel that these first few steps have been momentous in changing the perspective towards device and technology use in my Pre-K classroom. If there is one thing I have learned as a result of this class and my major project, it is that Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy doesn’t have to consist of fancy, planned-out lessons with students at this age. Rather, it can consist of the classroom environment and interactions that take place around technology.
I look forward to continuing to grow in this area of supplementing play and learning through devices in the future! Stay tuned for the reveal of my finalized Major Project (coming soon!).
Until next time,