Kindergarten Math on the iPad…Many Questions…

It all started with a weekly reflection our teachers leave on our school’s closed Professional Development Ning. Mrs. Y, our Kindergarten teacher pondered how her five and six year olds were learning and practicing subtraction:

We blew up balloons last week to demonstrate subtraction! Then popped them one by one – our way of subtracting! The kids enjoyed it but now it’s a little more difficult transferring that idea to the paper. Though we have used cubes, counters, bears etc. and taken some away…

My first suggestion was:

How about using the “ShowMe” app on the iPad to have your students record themselves writing AND narrating a subtraction problem. They could then switch iPads and listen to a classmate explain.

You could also share these screencast videos on your classroom blog and parents and students can review together at home.

Mrs. Y. was game to use the ShowMe app with her Kindergarteners and learn right along with them to use it. She immediately knew that it would be too much to ask for her little ones to draw AND speak at the same time as the app was recording them. We came up with the alternative of students drawing their math story on a piece of paper, taking a photo with the iPad and inserting it into Showme app to record their voices over the image.

Note: We could have done the same in iMovie app, but then would have lost the ability of directly uploading the movie clip with one tap to get an embed code for the classroom blog.

They drew the illustration and then were called up, one by one, to the front of the class to take the picture, insert into ShowMe and record their voices.

Note!: We used the Reflection app to wirelessly project the iPad screen to the SmartBoard for the other kids to see and follow along. The bigger screen for all to see also helped with taking “just the right” picture of their illustration.

Note2: With a little more time available to us to practice, kindergartners are perfectly capable of going through this process (take picture>insert>record>save) by themselves.

Below you can see a few examples of their work.

As you are watching, ask yourself:

  • What changed by using, in this case, the iPad and ShowMe app?
  • Could the same [learning] have been accomplished by keeping students’ illustrations analog?
  • Was there differentiation potential?
  • Can this type of “activity” be used as an assessment to replace/upgrade traditional assessment?
  • Are the movie clips potential artifacts for digital portfolios?
  • Could these movie clips be part of a variety of student work at a parent-teacher conference?
  • Was any learning amplified by placing it on the classroom blog to share with families?
  • What skills were practiced?
  • What literacies were supported?
  • Was it worth the extra time investment, the learning curve?

I believe that teachers need to be AWARE OF, SEE and UNDERSTAND the difference an upgrade could make (or not!)  to their traditional methods.