iPads for Literacy Instruction

A First-Grade Teacher Uses iPads in the Literacy Block

In this article in Reading Today, Emporia State University professor Elizabeth Dobler describes the effective use of three iPads as a literacy center in a first-grade classroom. The advantages, she believes, are:

Shoulder-to-shoulder learning – Students work in pairs on the iPads, and the size of the device gets students physically close, “heads huddled together to see the screen, both children interacting with the device by touch,” says Dobler. “Through this partnership, children are working together to solve problems and discuss solutions.”

Quasi-independence – The iPads are one of a number of literacy activities students are engaged in while the teacher runs guided reading groups and does assessments, so students need to be able to solve problems and learn without direct supervision. Pairs of students on the iPads are often able to do this.

Differentiation – The teacher divides iPad apps into red, blue, and green folders corresponding to students’ reading levels. When students get to the iPad centers, they pair up and choose the app best suited to their needs.

Literacy practice – iPad apps within the folders are divided into different areas for each day of the week:

- Monday – Fluency

- Tuesday – Word work

- Wednesday – Spelling (students work on their individualized spelling lists)

- Thursday – Word games

- Friday – Student choice: apps for making pottery, playing chess, publishing stories, etc.

On Wednesdays, students can use a variety of iPad apps to learn their spelling words, including Morse code, sign language, electronic glitter letters, and a digital whiteboard.

Easy access – The iPad can hold hundreds of games and applications and students find them easy to use with taps and finger swipes. This frees up the teacher to work with groups or individual students.

Independence – Within the structure of this classroom, students make lots of choices and increase their ability to work on their own.

“Using iPads to Promote Literacy in the Primary Grades” by Elizabeth Dobler in Reading Today, December 2011-January 2012 (Vol. 29, #3, p. 18-19), http://www.reading.org; Dobler can be reached at bdobler@cox.net.