Teachers strive to guide students in their learning as individuals in contrast with the traditional, full class lecture approach whenever possible. This is evident in their decision to cluster students into groups with a similar achievement or ability level. A stigma of branding student’s capabilities can be a detriment when perceived by other students. Although, a teacher’s best intentions are understood, its consequence can perpetuate low self-esteem and anxiety in students. This is amplified when special needs students are involved, or with the below average in achievement students who tend to fall between the cracks receiving no or minimal modification to their programme. Technology offers numerous supports that help empower students to take greater responsibility and independence for their learning. This is in a more personal and respectful manner… all between their fingers and a device.
Tablet technology has been a welcomed hand of friendship for students to visualise and individualise various aspects of the curriculum over the past eight years. Its function is to promote discovery, wonderment and active exploration with touch, motion, and sound, according to Apple. With thoughtful planning, a students’ day can be filled with a blended approach of many methods to achieve the goals of the classroom programme. The technology, not merely as a substitution for simple typing and transcription of facts elevates the learning potential to inter-disciplinary, creation-based, collaborative, promoting activities founded on higher order thinking skills ideology.
With the thousands of English learning apps for children on the various app stores, a definite conundrum exists in selecting the most robust and diverse apps. Educators time is precious to be able to afford the time to download, try, evaluate and long-term test an app’s value. An app called ‘Daily App Advice’ by AppAdvice.com is a must-have app for educators. It offers the daily user to 4 or more apps in a variety of categories that have gone free for a day. Once downloaded, these apps can be installed on all iPads under the same school account. Teacher networking is another way to keep informed of useful apps for education, either within your school or district or with online sites, for example: www.commonsensemedia.org.
Choosing Suitable Apps
This basic rubric provides hints to help educators to identify apps that afford the best user experience in achieving curriculum goals and reflect sound pedagogical best practices for classrooms. With practice, educators will quickly develop a skillful eye to evaluate an app’s appropriateness and which to avoid. The author takes the stance that using any aspect of technology is only a part of the many, varied learning tools and methods available that support a blended approach in education.