I am in awe of the possibilities for educating students with technology. Absolutely in awe. Twenty-six years ago, I began my career as a high school English teacher with a chalk board, a filing cabinet, and one of those old mimeograph copiers that left purple ink all over my hands. Only the veteran teachers remember the purple ink machine!
With this new technology, we have now arrived with Mobile Applications. I saw an immediate possibility for education and technology to continue its journey. Apps in the classroom – what an awesome opportunity! I soon understood that apps alone in the classroom, however, are not enough; educators – overloaded with students, paper work, and in-services – need for app developers to design curriculum that accompanies these apps.
If I were still teaching, and if I were trying to decide between two apps that I could volume purchase for my iPad cart, and one of those apps offered custom-designed activities that involved technology, that provided student-friendly objectives, that aligned with Common Core State Standards (if needed), that used upper levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, and most of all, that made learning exciting and memorable…well, I think my point is made. I am certain that any teacher would purchase the app that provided curriculum.
Curriculum takes the app from being a thirty minute source of entertainment that may have some educational value to a new level of Edutainment. Jessieville School District’s superintendent (Arkansas), Andy Curry, is passionate about technology coupled with teaching. Because of his passion, I was allowed to pilot an app, Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island by award-winning author Karen Robertson, in this elementary school. I had created the Smarty Activities for her app, the assigned teacher, Katie Wainscott, had reviewed the activities, and with excitement we set out to discover the difference that Apps with Curriculum makes in the classroom.
Third grade teacher, Katie Wainscott, spent a week teaching the Smarty Activities about clue poems and quicksand. Treasure Kai is a choose your own adventure type story where clue poems led the students as they searched for gold. Students studied the rhyme scheme, created their own clue poems, watched Robertson’s video on making quicksand, researched quicksand facts using Safari, and then made quicksand. They were thrilled. I observed the difference that apps and iPads make in the classroom, but most of all, I observed the difference that Curriculum with Apps makes in education. To see all of the activities designed for Treasure Kai go to sascynpublishing.com/treasurekai.
The highlight of the week was Karen Robertson participating in a Skype with the Author with these third graders. Step back for a minute. When you were in the third grade…if you had had the opportunity to speak with an author and ask her questions… would you not have believed that anything you wanted to do with your life was possible?
“I feel that iPad apps are a necessary tool in today’s digital world to engage my students in learning. App activities make their learning highly interactive and allow them to work independently and project based,” teacher Katie Wainscott said. “iPad storybook apps like Treasure Kai combined with free technology apps like iBrainstorm and ShowMe encourage enhancement of my students’ learning and make daily activities fun and exciting in the classroom.”
I am currently writing a Case Study regarding Apps with Curriculum in the Classroom as I examine several authors’ apps, the Smarty Activities that parallel with their apps, and the learning result by those who matter most…our kids.
Thank you, Karen Robertson, for caring about kids and for teaching them to Treasure Reading.