We welcomed three special students to our classroom community today. The three students that will be the focus of our TLLP came over to visit us. The intent of the visit was three fold - 1) for them to familiarize themselves with me, 2) for me to familiarize myself with them, and 3) for my students to lead by example, as caring & compassionate humans, and as iOS (iPad & iPod Touch) experts! Our three visitors were with us for about 45 minutes and in that time I observed lots of great things.
I will share my observations of each student, and in order to ensure their privacy, I will be using pseudonyms.
Neil - Grade 4 Student
Neil and I have a bit of rapport. When he was in grade 2 we spent some time getting to know one another as the grade 2 students gathered several times to prepare for the sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion. Neil makes eye contact with people and smiles a lot. Of the three students, he is the most verbal and I would say that he rarely gets upset. He engages in conversation but seems distracted from time to time. Neil arrived to our room with his E.A. and was then left in my care. He was excited to see the students using the touch technology and knew what they were working with. I welcomed him and asked if it was ok if I teamed him up with a couple of my students - he had no problem with this. I had already prepared two of my students to work with Neil. Their job was to take him through a few apps and to then allow him to use the device if he wanted to. Neil didn't end up using the iPod Touch that his group was working with. He spent most of the time watching. He did communicate with the other students verbally, but not much. He seemed happy to be with us and from time to time he looked serious - this appeared to be when his team members would start up a new app. At the end of our time I thanked him for coming and asked him if he would like to come back. He smiled and said yes!
Eric - Grade 3 Student
I know Eric because he is in the room next door to mine. From my observation, Eric doesn't make eye contact with the people around him and he communicates verbally but not in complete sentences. Eric was brought to my room by his E.A. and left in my care. He came with a piece of paper and a marker. The paper had a variety of numbers on it. When he came in the room he instantly stopped and looked around - he saw the students working with the iPads and iPod Touches and after surveying the room he headed towards the closest students. My students told him that they were using an iPod Touch. He sat next to them and watched. I welcomed him and asked him if he wanted to see what they were doing. He said he wanted to. I left his area but kept an eye on him because I couldn't gage whether he was interested or not. For the first few minutes he looked around and wrote more numbers on his paper. I later found out from his teacher that he is constantly writing numbers down on paper. When my students got his attention again they started telling him about the apps we have on the iPod Touch. He saw something he liked so they gave him the device and started working away. One of my students came to get me and bring me over, they wanted me to see what he was doing. He had discovered the app called "Fireworks123". Here is the description of the app, taken from the app store:
"Fireworks 123 is an interactive “cause and effect” app designed to support the development of early literacy skills and the comprehension of descriptive concepts such as number, size, and color in a fun and entertaining way. Each time a user makes a selection from one of the three descriptive choice menus, Fireworks 123 provides immediate feedback by showing a clear visual representation of the choice made. LAUNCH the firework show you selected to watch a fun and dynamic visual display designed to further reinforce comprehension."
He asked me how to turn up the volume so I showed him how to do so. He spent most of his time on this and did not write down any numbers as he was using this app. At the end of our time I thanked him for coming and he proceeded to leave the room (I watched him walk back to his class next door).
Hailey - Grade 1 Student
Hailey came to our classroom with her E.A.. I welcomed her and her E.A. and asked that she circulate the room and see what was going on. After a short while a few of my students started showing her what they were doing. Hailey did look at me and she did communicate with one or two words at a time. She seemed more engaged than Eric did, but not as much as Neil. As her E.A. and I were talking about this experience, Hailey noticed the iPad that was on the carpet beside us, it was unattended. She went over to it, picked it up, and began touching the screen. I immediately thought that she was mimicking what my students were doing or she has a touch device at home. My students immediately helped her get back the the 'home' screen. She flipped through the pages and she stopped at the "Glow Colouring" App. When she saw this app she touch it several times quickly - almost like she had seen it before. We are not sure if she has an iPad at home but her E.A. told me she would ask mom and get back to me. Here is the description of the app from the itunes store:
"Glow Coloring is the first doodle app that allows you to scan in images that you can color in or trace. With Glow Coloring, you can adjust brush pattern, brush size, and color. When you are done drawing your masterpiece, you can save it to your camera roll or email it directly from the app.
Glow Coloring provides you with the ability to add text messages to your colorings. Type a special message to a friend, color it in glowing colors, then email it to them."
After a little bit of time using her finger to make colourful marks, one of my students got her to exit our of that app and they I suggested she take a look at "Letter School Lite" (makes handwriting cool), which I had read about recently. Here is a brief description from the app store:
"HOW IT WORKS
Kids practice essential skills as they play four exciting games per letter/number:
INTRO - discover the letter’s shape, name and sound
TAP - learn where to start, change direction and finish by tapping the dots
TRACE - learn the letter trajectory by tracing it
WRITE - test your knowledge by writing from memory"
Her E.A. had the iPad and began to start working with the letter 'A'. Right away, Hailey yelled out "A"!! She was excited and seemed quite engaged. Her E.A. looked surprised as well and commented that this app would be very appropriate for Hailey. This particular app has been recognized for its looks and operation.
Today's visit was successful and I believe that the visiting students and I were able to become a little more familiar with each other and my students were fantastic. They were very patient and kind with our visitors and with each other. I enjoyed seeing Neil, Eric, and Hailey engaged with the touch devices but more importantly, I saw them enjoying themselves. Neil and Hailey smiled a lot and provided us with those visual clues of how they were feeling. Eric didn't provide us with that type of feedback but he provided us with information about how he was feeling by the intense focus he placed on the app he was working on.
I look forward to having them visit again and to working with them to enhance their learning.