Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What Happens When you Give a 3, 4, 8-Year-Old an iTouch?

When asked what an appropriate age is to integrate cell phones into the classroom, I recommend doing so at the time they exist for most outside of the classroom. According to Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project today that means around 12-years-old for cell phones. However, it is at a much earlier age that children become intrigued with iTouches, often commandeering one of a parent, family member or friend when possible. Conversely adults have found that putting one of these devices into the hands of a young child can keep them entertained for quite some time. The beauty of these devices for educational use is that they are functional without cell phone service operating wherever there is an internet connection.

For educators interested in integrating technology into the lower grade classrooms, iTouches might be a tool to explore. Below are a few ways that 3, 4, and 8 year olds have been using iTouches. Each of them addresses different ways in which iTouches have become an engaging tool for students. They all make strong cases about the power of providing tech to students. You'll notice with each of them the appeal of the tactile experience that digital technology provides. When I hear folks reminisce about the "feel of the book" I think about how much richer the experience could be digitally. This first video does a great job of conveying this.

Why an iPhone could actually be good for your 3-year-old

Should a 4-year-old have an iPhone?

Marc Prensky shares how his four-year-old uses his iTouch for reading, writing, drawing and more.

What happens when you give a class of 8 year old children an iPod touch each?

In this video you see students using iTouches devices like it's second nature just like they do outside the classroom. They use the devices for reading, writing research and more using applications that are either free or much less expensive than the traditional textbook.

iPod Touches in our Pre-K Classroom

This video features a Pre-K student who explains how she is using an iPod touch to help her learn to spell better.

Finding apps to use with your students

These are just a few ideas for using iTouches with early elementary students. The best way for educators to determine what's right for their students is to start with learning goals and then partner with students and parents/guardians to determine ways various technologies can help meet them.

A terrific resource for teachers and students engaging in this work is www.appolicious.com, a site where users can find and share the mobile apps they love listed by categories like "kids" and "education." Not only is this a great resource, but encouraging students and their parents to share and review apps for the world is also a powerful learning experience.

The iPhone Mom
Another terrific resource for finding iTouch Apps is www.theiphonemom.com. This site is maintained by the mother of four iPhone/iTouch using kids. This is a great way to bring families into the conversation. Have your student explore apps with their families. Remember, not all students need to use the same apps to accomplish a learning goal. Share with your student's parents/guardians what you're trying to help their children learn and ask them to visit this resource for ideas. Encourage your student's parents to begin establishing their digital footprint by commenting on the blog with feedback they have from using the apps with their children and teachers can do the same with class reviews of apps they find useful.

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