Getting used to teaching 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds has by far been one of the most daunting tasks that I've been charged with. I would honestly have to say that it has been even more daunting than: teaching technology without the actual use of technology, teaching 30 kindergarteners, and last but not least, teaching 5 and 6-year-olds how to differentiate between clicks and right-clicks without much knowledge on the difference between right and left.
For the first few weeks of school, I focused on teaching the preschool and pre-k classes how to properly handle the iPads. For this activity we used small books to model the proper ways in which to pass the iPads. The three rules that we focused on were as follows:
1. Always pass the iPad with two hands.
2. Only use clean hands on the iPad.
3. When tapping the iPad, tap gently.
These rules were purposefully set up and discussed. Even now, the rules are still being reinforced at the beginning of each technology class.
Always pass the iPad with two hands.
This is an important rule because the last thing that any of us wants to see is a 3-year-old dropping an iPad because they did not know how to properly handle it. To illustrate this rule for the students, I would pick the iPad up with one hand a hold it in the palm of one hand. Being incredibly over dramatic, I would act like I dropped the iPad and ask, "Uh oh, what might happen if I drop the iPad?". The students yelled out, "IT MIGHT BREAK". While the students crack up when I handle the iPad in a funny way, they clearly get the message of holding the iPad with two hands so as to not break it.
In teaching preschool and pre-k for the last couple of months, I've learned that it is incredibly important to reinforce the most important principles of any given lesson, as they have so much to remember over the span of an 8-hour school day.
Another funny thing that I've noticed, particularly in one of the pre-k classes, is that students have a hard time sharing, no matter what the object of the sharing happens to be. This is why it is important to create "small" groups of no more than 4 students, for optimal sharing success. Last week, in one of my pre-k classes, the teachers had decided to implement a new sharing strategy for the students. They taught them to silently hold out their hands (as though they were in church), to show that they were "ready to receive" the iPad. Seeing this for the first time, I cracked up a little bit inside, for I don't think that it was the intention of the practice, but it looked the students were at a church ceremony. This "ready to receive" technique worked out pretty well, in terms of improving the students' ability to share, however, I do recall one group where the holder of the iPad behaved as though she was greater than though, staring down her group members before slowly deciding who would receive the iPad next.
*When it comes to sharing in small groups, it is important to have all group members facing one another, as it becomes rather challenging to pass the iPad to someone who is behind you, when you can't even see them.
Only use clean hands with the iPad.
This was one of the more humorous rules that I taught in the first couple of weeks of the school year. I first started by asking the students, "What would happen if you touch the chair with dirty hands?". The students responded, "The chair would get dirty". Then, we were able to correlate the same knowledge to touching an iPad with dirty hands. The funniest part of this portion of the lesson was when I asked the students the following questions:
"Would you ever give your iPad a sandwich?"
"Would you ever give your iPad a sip of milk?"
"Would you ever push your iPad in a swing?"
The students were all but rolling on the floor from the ridiculousness of the questions. They loved answering "NO" to everything. Despite the humor, these actually are important questions to ask, because while a 3 or 4-year-old is not a baby, they are still young people who are working with a brand new "toy".
When tapping the iPad, tap gently.
This is a worthy rule for a couple of different reasons.
If someone were to tap an iPad forcefully, it could very likely slip from their grasp altogether.
By introducing the word "tapping", you're actually building the students' vocabularies, which is almost never a bad thing.
Since I'm charged with assessing all students on four different criteria each term, I've recently found that creating one more group than there are iPads seems to go a long way. Say, for example, you have 6 groups of four students. Simply distribute an iPad to 5 of the groups, while you use your own teacher iPad (or the remaining iPad) to assess that leftover group. This works for two reasons. One, while you're assessing the students in that one group, all of the other groups are working on the current task. When you finish assessing that group, you simply take an iPad from the next group to give to the group that you've just assessed. Then, you assess the new group that is without an iPad. Thus far, this method has worked so well, that I'm actually able to assess the vast majority of the class within that one class period, which is a lot more than I can say for my experiences in September.
My Typical iPad Lessons (30 minutes)
2 min. = Introduce lesson; Find out what the students already know
3 min. = Expand on the students' knowledge; Introduce new vocabulary
3 min. = Demonstrate iPad app.
2 min. = Wiggle Break
2 min. = Review process for using iPad app.; Ask and Answer any necessary questions
2 min. = Discuss iPad handling rules
4 min. = Create small groups; Distribute iPads
10 min. = Students work on iPads; Teacher monitors groups; Teacher assesses groups
2 min. = Review lesson
In the near future, I plan to post some YouTube videos on what a lot of these apps. look like. I've found that some of the apps. can be rather confusing, thus going through a trial and error situation prior to the start of any given lesson is essential. Why not make it a little bit easier by recording these trials so that others are able to make informed decisions about the Education apps that they download? Find me on YouTube @TechTeacherT (soon), where I'll post how-to videos on the iPad apps. that I've had success with, as well as the ones that have been utter failures.