Brilliant! Students use iPads to record home reading

This fall Mulgrave School handed iPads to all the Grade 3 classes. Three weeks into the academic program and lead teachers on the project, Melanie Cannon and Shauna Ullman throw down one of the best uses of the iPad I’ve seen yet. Have a look at this Home Reading Clips post:

Tonight, and once a week until the end of the year, my students will record a clip of their home reading on their iPad, and email it to me. They can record the clip as many times as they want, and will choose from a selection of levelled books, books from home, and library books. I will store a selection of recordings in personal folders and will be able to listen to a progression of their reading fluency over the year. VERY excited about this, as it will be amazing to think in June ‘I want to hear how Lucy was reading at the beginning of the year’ and be able to hear an actual recording rather than relying on hurried notes from reading sessions. It will be great to be able to have the time to email students back feedback about their reading, or chat with them the next day in school about their reading strengths, goals to work on, and just about their general enjoyment of the books they are reading. Optimistic that our students will have more motivation to practice their oral reading at home as well! Shauna (my grade three iPad teaching buddy) and I remarked today on how neat it is to see students in their home environment with pajamas and cats walking by as it is a very different reading environment than the classroom.

This is brilliant work. I keep coming up with more reasons why I love this project:.

  • The students are working in the safest of places–home (check out the clip with the student reading in his pajamas) so there’s no performance anxiety to mask real student ability. Indeed, Cannon and Ullman report a significant jump in overall engagement and intellectual risk-taking amongst the students after the introduction of the iPad.
  • The students are in control–they can shoot as many takes as they like and submit their best work.
  • They own their content and will be able to look back over their work whenever they like.
  • They do the the heavy lifting, essentially doing their own record keeping. I think this will build ownership.
  • The teachers get a comprehensive video record of student development over the year which, as Cannon points out, will be far more valuable than a set of hurried notes take while the student is reading.
  • The activity makes classroom learning transparent to families.
  • The whole thing is so light; there’s nothing complciated here. Even a Grade 3 kid can do it!
  • It is teacher-generated, not committee- or department- or admin-generated. I’m a big believer that the best way to develop best practices in education is for admin and IT to creat a fertile ground for creativity and then get out of the teacher’s way.

Cannon and Ullman and their students and families are on fire here. Their blogs–raw and hoenst– are worth following.


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