Whiteboards, Smartboards, laptops, iPads, Learnpads and more… We know that digital learning in the classroom is becoming increasingly important so we asked two Reception teachers to tell us how they are using digital devices in their classrooms, how they feel apps can aid learning and what they – and the children – think about our Ladybird apps.
A big thank you to the teachers – Francesca Cheney (FC) and Ella Burns (EB) and all the Reception children of Princess Frederica School!
These are the apps they put to the test: Ladybird I’m Ready for Phonics, Ladybird I’m ready to Spell and Read it Yourself with Ladybird. They have been developed in conjunction with teachers, children and phonics experts and aim to help support children who are learning to read in a fun, interactive way.
1. How long have you been using digital devices in your class/school?
EB: This is my third year using an iPad in the classroom and the second year for the children. In the past I’ve used other digital devices for photos, videos and recording pupil assessments. We are fortunate enough at our school that the Parent/Teacher Association has provided the funding for one iPad per classroom.
FC: I have been using Cameras, beebots and ICT toys in class since 2006. At the beginning of the year we received a class iPad which the teachers and children can access and use. We had a few free apps for the children to use.
2. How do you feel that apps can aid learning in school?
EB: Trusted education apps can complement the lesson and allow extra practise of skills. The children find the iPad easy to use. It seems to come almost intuitively to the little ones! They need little instruction thus allowing children (especially younger children) to work independently.
A good app can reach all types of learners: kinesthic learners with touch screen and interaction, visual learners with colourful displays and auditory learners with sound and music. Some learners find it hard to engage in an average lesson and the use of technology may attract those hard to reach children.
FC: Children are very motivated and engaged by games on the Smartboard and iPads. They are used to – and very proficient in – using modern day technology, picking up how to play a game very quickly. This means that apps that have phonics games can give children a chance to practise the skills we have taught them in class in a fun and interactive way that they enjoy.
3. How have you used the Ladybird I’m Ready for Phonics and Ladybird I’m Ready to Spell apps in your classroom?
EB: Children have used them independently or with a partner during choosing time. I’ve used the Phonics app in a small group as a warm up before a guided reading session. It’s possible to use them with the whole class with the Airplay with the interactive whiteboard. I have also used it to target children that need additional support or extend children to apply new sounds in a different way. I’ve also used it as an assessment tool to monitor children’s progress.
FC: We have used the resources with small groups and individuals to practise phonics, reading and spelling skills. The children have also had access to the apps in their choosing time to use independently with no adult. They may do this by themselves, but most of the time in groups taking turns to play the games.
4. What have you – and the children – particularly liked about the Ladybird apps?
EB: The children loved collecting stars. They also like the space theme with planets and rockets. There were also lots of giggles and squeals when listening to the recorded sounds and words playback.
In Ladybird I’m Ready for Phonics I liked that it practised both segmenting and blending. I also liked the use of pictures, again for visual learners, and the option of having the word said aloud, for auditory learners. I liked that sound buttons were used which directly compliments the instruction our phonics teaching in the classroom. I think it’s very helpful for the children to record their voices and play it back. It was helpful that it followed the Letters and Sounds scheme to complement our teaching. I also like the unlockable stages to make sure it’s pitched to the child’s appropriate level. In Ladybird I’m Ready to Spell, I liked Scrambled Spellings most and I could hear children segmenting the word as they worked with the app – music to my ears!
Read it yourself with Ladybird – the ‘Read it to me’ option provides a good example of inflection and fluency for the children to hear when listening to the story.
FC: I liked the game on Ladybird I’m Ready to Spell where children had to write the word to go with the pictures – it is purposeful and fun. The section of Read it yourself app that reads aloud is also good. It allows all children of different abilities to access the resource and the words are highlighted which means they can see which word is being read clearly and start to learn the words.
I’m Ready for Phonics – the children really enjoyed recording their voices and listening back to them. They also spent a lot of time playing the spelling game "sinking spelling". The children liked the phonics games because you gained stars if you got the answer right.
5. It sounds like the children have enjoyed using the apps in school. Would you recommend these apps to parents?
EB: I would recommend these apps to parents for extra practise at home and to use them to compliment school lessons. I would advise them to set up each player so the child has to unlock each level him/herself. This would allow him/her to progress at his/her own pace to make it meaningful to the child.
FC: Yes, I would. I think the children really enjoyed them and it is a fun way for them to practise their skills they have learnt at school. I would advise parents to use these resources alongside the resources provided by school to help their children practise their phonics skills in a fun and interactive way.
Buy the apps:
*Special offer: Read it yourself app is currently available to download from the App Store as a gift from Ladybird. Offer ends November 28th 2014.
Teachers – we’d love to hear from you to find out if – and how - your school is embracing digital learning, so please get in touch, leaving a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.