Tuesday, September 29, 2015

iPads in the Primary Classroom: A few apps to get you started

As we continue to go 1:1 in our district in Springdale, AR, one of our biggest challenges is finding great apps for our Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade classrooms to use.

Here is a short list of just a few FREE apps to get you started:

ABC - Magnetic Alphabet Lite for Kids - Learn to write!
By Dot Next

Just as the title of the app suggests, this is simply a magnetic letter board for your students to use. The letters are easy to pull from a tray and drag and manipulate. 

Talking ABC - Magnetic Alphabet for Education in English and Spanish
By Tatiana Churanova

This is basically the speaking version of a magnetic alphabet board. The voice is fairly natural, but can sound a little strange on some words. When choosing the letter, it names the letter for the student, but will not make the sound of the letter by itself. As soon as you start to blend the letters together, it will begin to "sound it out" for the students.

ABC Alphabet Phonics - Preschool Kids Game Free Lite
By Innovative Investments Limited

A great app for students learning to or struggling with identifying letters. A voice on the app says a letter name, and the child touches the letter to identify it. As they progress, more letters are added to the screen to make it more challenging for the students. A highly engaging app, with immediate feedback for the students.

Little Writer - The Tracing App for Kids

A great app for students to learn how to write letters and sight words. The app will not let a student continue until the child traces the letter according to the path the app displays. 

To help this process transfer into their handwriting, teachers could have students write the letter or word on their iPad onto a piece of paper as well. The use of a child friendly stylist is a great option as well.
These apps can be a great way to get your iPad classroom started. Of course, there are many great apps out there, and these are just ones that I have seen success with. Feel free to comment below on other apps that are worth trying out for our primary students!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Digital Badges: A Simple Way to Motivate

Digital Badges have started to become a big deal in the everyday classroom. In a way, you can think of them as the new paper certificate. As stated in the title, they are a simple way to motivate students. 

Why do students care about badges? The answer is Gameification. 

In all of the video games and apps that your students are playing, they earn badges. If you will notice, they earn them for all sorts of things: finishing a level, the time it took for them to complete a task, finding extra items (like coins), and so on.

Kids (and adults) love collecting those badges in the games they play. In turn, they can quickly love collecting badges in your classroom. 

So after reading this, you may be thinking 2 things:
1) How do I create badges?
2) What do I give them out for?

Badge Creation Websites

Credly - My personal favorite. What I believe is the easiest and quickest Badge Creator out there.

Open Badge Designer - Not as easy as Credly, but they seem to have more options for design.

Badge Ideas
Here is a quick list of things that you could give badges for in your classroom!

  • Bronze Reader - after 10 books are read
  • Silver Reader - after 25 books are read
  • Gold Reader - after 50 books are read
  • Super Reader - after 100 books are read
  • Problem Solver Badge
  • Collaborator Badge
  • Hard Worker Badge
  • Citizenship Badge
  • Perfect Attendance Badge (Monthly)
  • Academic Growth Badge
These are just a few ideas to get you started, please feel free to comment below to add your badge ideas that you have or will add for your classroom!