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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Creating and Writing with iPads!

One of the most challenging things for me to teach my students to do in Kindergarten is writing. I'm not referencing handwriting, but rather Writers Workshop.  What I find to be very tricky is their differing levels and abilities. I've implemented some great Writers Workshop lessons and units from Lucy Calkins and other amazing resources I've found online (esp Pinterest!) but I still struggle with our non-fiction reports at the end of the year.  That is until I discovered how FANTASTIC iPads are for teaching writing! There are so many terrific creating apps out there, and they are really the best thing ever for early elementary writing. Cause lets be honest what student, or teacher, are big fans of draw, write, erase, erase, erase, hole in paper, new paper, draw, write, erase, erase, erase... well you get the idea. That sequence is what I often found happening for my kinderkiddos--no matter what level they are at. Early elementary students are brimming with fantastic ideas, and it is challenging for them to narrow their vision and convey them effectively on paper.
 Enter the iPad! I'll be honest, when I first started incorporating technology into my teaching it was often about skill practice.  It was the easiest way for me to get the iPads/iPods into my students hands without me micromanaging everything. It took me awhile to feel more comfortable with letting them 'create' with the iPads. I was worried they'd get off task and it wouldn't be as effective as getting them what they needed.  Well with some patience and some coaxing from the other half of Normoff I took a giant leap, and I am glad I did! One of my favorite creating/writing apps for my students is now Educreations
The students have a blast creating on Educreations! They can draw (and erase whenever they feel necessary without rubbing a hole in paper-woohoo!) add text and even better-add a recording describing their work! It has an easy to use interface that my students mastered within a few minutes and after 1 introduction to the app, which is HUGE in my Kindergarten world! They absolutely loved it and my fear of them not working was proven false through all of my observations. Even my students who struggled during Writers Workshop to stay focused and continue to add detail were spending their entire time on their work.  Those who weren't able to label and write sentences yet found themselves still able to participate in the author portion of the work through the use of the voice recording feature.  I'm super excited to include this app in my Writers Workshop throughout the entire year next year.  And as far as those nonfiction reports that I have a hard time with, I think Educreations will be a perfect solution! 
My plan is to pair Educreations with these amazing Kindergarten nonfiction unit reports from Krazee 4 Kindergarten. I loved how she included fact sheets in the units that aren't way over my kinderkiddos heads! After reading a variety of books on the subjects and the facts sheets, highlighting the most important part (yay for highlighters in K! We love them!) and then my students will create their rough drafts using Educreations.  This will allow them to do some great work and really get a feel for what editing is! Then we will transfer our information into the nonfiction book templates that she includes. Perfection!!! Being able to pair technology with traditional teaching formats really makes my heart skip a beat! Let us know of any other ways you are utilizing technology in your Writers Workshop! We'd love to hear from you!