Using Ipad apps to develop literacy in the Primary Classroom

‘Many children are entering school with a wide range of ICT skills because they have been developing them since birth’ (Prensky, 2001 as cited in Jones, 2012, p.31). To develop aspects of literacy it is important that ‘educators acknowledge’ and work with ‘children’s multiple literacies …of popular culture and technologies’ (Diaz, Arthur & Breecher, 2000 as cited in Jones, 2012, p.32).

This can be done in the primary classroom through the use of  developmentally appropriate information communication technology (ICT) resources that ‘can encourage play, exploration, investigation and problem solving’ (Jones, 2012, p.33). Jones (2012) explores the use of the Play school art maker app in a kindergarten classroom to enhance oral language and communication. Children worked towards successfully ‘restating the narrative in their own words’ and retelling stories sequentially including aspects of successful retelling including  ‘purposeful use of expression, intonation and extended statements’ (Jones, 2012, p.36).

Use of these ICT resources enables the teacher to assume the role of ‘facilitator’ and the students to become ‘leaders in the learning process’ (Goodwin, 2012 as cited in Jones, 2012, p.37). Incorporating ICT results in sustained interest, attention and engagement. Students can reflect on their learning using the app which captures and records their learning. Teachers are able to use this information too in ongoing planning towards achievement of student goals.

I would use the Play school art maker app or Toontastic (a similarly fantastic app) to develop several aspects of literacy including an understanding of the sequential nature of stories and narrative; an understanding of choices made by the author/illustrator/director and the effects of these choices on audience; and to develop speaking, listening and viewing skills. In addition, exposure to and use of ICT builds the technology skills and literacies of students in the class.

Toontastic is an extremely interactive, easy to use app that would be suitable for use with students stage 1 and up . The app has both written instruction and voice over that guides the user towards successful use . It is structured using a 5 step sequence of narrative (setup, challenge, conflict, climax and resolution) and reminds the user in a single sentence what parts of the narrative the scene should reflect. The app has several brilliant features including ability to change colour, size, motion and movement, sound scale to reflect mood of the scene (e.g from frustration to enraged), and the ability to capture voices of the characters using a simple record function (developing concepts of characterization, and intonation and expression in story telling). The only downside of the app is that it appears to have various locked backgrounds and characters on the free version…the complete version would be a great investment!

Jones, M. (2012), ipads and kindergarten- students literacy development, SCAN31(4), 31-40.



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