Monday, October 10, 2016

Technology in Learning Centers!

So many of us are lucky enough to have technology in our classrooms, but have a lot of questions about how to best implement these devices in centers. Technology in centers can be awesome, as students are on task, engaged, and (if you have headphones!) they're usually quiet, which is helpful for your small groups. However, the key to using technology during centers is to make sure what you are using is purposeful and meaningful. Don't just put them on an iPad or a computer to keep them busy - be intentional about what you are having them do.

Setting up centers is always a challenge, especially deciding how to organize and "move" students from station to station. Some teachers are moving away from traditional centers toward "must do - can do" activities or Daily 5. There is no right or wrong way to set up your centers, and in fact, I OFTEN had to change mine up to make them work best for me and my students. As I go into classrooms, I will take pictures of teachers' center charts and I will post them to a Padlet here. Check back often, as I will add pictures frequently. You can also add a picture of your center chart to this Padlet! Just click this link and add it!
Made with Padlet
Here are some of my choices for beginning of the year K-2 centers. Keep it simple and only introduce a few apps at a time! You'll notice these aren't creation apps ... I think in order to use these well, students need an opportunity to learn and practice them whole group or at small group (teacher directed). This is just like any other center activity! As students have practice using creation apps like Pic Collage, Chatterpix, Shadow Puppet, Adobe Spark, etc, then you can gradually introduce these apps to centers.
One thing I really like is giving students choice, providing a list of "must do" tasks and then "can do" activities. They don't need to rotate like in traditional centers, so the teacher doesn't need to stop small groups at a certain time to rotate centers; it provides a much more fluid literacy time. Click the image below to read a great article about developing independent literacy centers by Kindergals.
I organized this pretty easily in my kindergarten classroom by printing photos of the app icons I wanted students to use. I made them a pretty good size for students to see, then laminated all of them and put magnets on the back. I could then arrange these on my magnetic whiteboard, adding the specific tasks underneath with my whiteboard marker. Here is an example from Mrs. Elenbaas' room of what this could look like for one app:
This was so quick and easy for me to do, giving students apps and tasks to do on each app. If you want to be a little more fancy, you could develop choice boards like this one. Click the image to make your own editable copy.
The blog Zig Zagging Through Education & Technology has tons of downloadable task cards you can browse - CLICK HERE to view her blog, then select "iPads in the classroom" and choose the task cards you'd like to check out.

Tony Vincent is amazing, and has so many great ideas and quick tips to make your life easier. Click the image below to check out his fantastic blog post about sprucing up your centers with technology. Tons of great tools and ideas!

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