A single leaf working alone provides no shade. -Chuck Page
Even with a full time teaching assistant in my classroom, there are times when I could use a few extra hands. 25 kindergarten students often makes me feel like an octopus with arms going in all different directions at once. We are 14 days into the school year, nearly 3 weeks. I have some students who immediately fell into our class routines and procedures. By now, most know what to do…however, there are a small handful who still need guidance. They are easily confused and have that deer-in-the-headlights look when I give directions. This is not uncommon and in time, all falls into place. Fortunately, I have a few “Mother Hens” in my classroom who know just what to do and they assist those who need a little extra help.
Using the iPads is no different. I have many students who are already pretty iPad savvy and a few who are still working on it. Without me asking, the students are quick to help each other and show them how to find something or do something. As one student helps another, the peer coaching aspect strengthens both students. Students are already learning to ask a friend before asking me.
One app we have used in partner activities is ABC Magnetic Board. It is $4.99, but with the Apple Volume Purchase Program you can get it for almost half. The app has upper and lower case letters in 4 languages, numbers, shapes, diacritics, signs and symbols, 5 sets of toys: summer, party, night, snowy winter and Christmas, and more than 15 backgrounds. The pictures created can be saved to the camera roll also. We have students partner up and spell names, sight words, match upper and lower case letters, and beginning sounds using the pictures in the app. There is a free version, but it is pretty limited. At this point in the year with a wide range of abilities in my room, this app allows differentiation for students on different skill levels. It also allows cooperative learning. This app is better than the classic version of refrigerator magnets because each letter can be used multiple times (and pieces don’t get lost!)
As my students work to become “experts” on a variety of tasks and skills, knowing there is a helping hand nearby encourages children to try new things and step out of their comfort zone. It is part of our classroom culture to work together as a family. Family members help each other. Watching my students work together this early in the school year, I know there will be many great things to come.
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