Our Kindergarten schedule is arranged very well to introduce our youngest students to the ever-changing world of technology. During the first quarter, as the Lower School technology integration specialist, I visit their classrooms and teach whole-group lessons on the Promethean Board. This introduces them to an interactive board in an environment where they have their peers' support.
Once the children have had a chance to become comfortable on the interactive board in a whole group, we move to pairs on the classroom computers and/or iPads for the second quarter. I work with two children at a time on an activity that is integrated directly into their curriculum. During this time, we use the desktops to work on mouse skills as well as basic computer navigation. When we use the iPads, we work on their fine motor skills with apps such as Handwriting Without Tears (HWT): Wet, Dry, Try.
The HWT app follows the handwriting curriculum used in our Lower School, so the students are familiar with the letter formation and procedures. When they choose the letter they are studying, the app demonstrates how to write that letter with chalk.
Step one is for the children trace over the letter with a “wet” sponge. Step two requires the students to “dry” the letter by tracing over it with a paper towel. Step three instructs the children to “try” the letter on their own with the chalk. This repetitive action helps them remember the steps required to form each letter.
We now have a cart of iPads that are available to be checked out and used in the classrooms. Last week our Kindergarten teachers each had a pair of iPads in their classrooms and used them as a center during their rotations. I have children come up to me at least once a week and tell me how much they LOVE the iPads.
Before I start using a new technology with our students, I ask one simple question, “Have you ever used this before?” When I asked our Kindergarteners if they had ever used an iPad before, more hands went up than when I asked if they had used a desktop earlier this year. Our children are adapting to new technologies and we need to adapt our classrooms, too.