By Jocelyn Sutherland, who works at an International IB PYP School in Switzerland, originally posted on her Tech & PYP blog.
As the technology facilitator at an international PYP school in Switzerland, I am constantly on the look out for engaging apps that enhance learning and don’t just replace what students could do with physical materials and tools. I spent a lot of time in the first few weeks learning about the play-based Reggio Emilia approach at our PYP school. To best support this model, I continue to work with the teachers and students in-class as much as possible to see first hand how tech and iPads can enhance learning for young students.
I recently encountered and share Tell About This with the Early Years and Kindergarten teams; they were thrilled at the possibilities for digitizing and enhancing documentation. The ‘Customize’ option and student ‘Profiles’ organizes documentation and enables them to personalize the prompts and tailor to specific play-based experiences.
Furthermore, storing the photos in student profiles also simplifies the organization for teachers who are sharing iPads. Currently, each classroom in EY-KG has access to 2 iPads. Using the ‘email’ option in the app or uploading the recordings to Google Drive are two efficient ways teachers could quickly store and share the students recordings.
We decided to trial it in the classrooms first so students became familiar with how to use the app.
Trialing the app in the Kindergarten classroom
I started with the 5-year old students in Kindergarten. They had been busy creating and building objects in the art studio and I took the opportunity to snap some photos and create prompts from what they made that day. This was definitely an activity that needed one teacher supervising while I pulled students 1:1. The children were eager to talk about their creations and spoke easily to the iPad as if it were a classmate. They pointed out details from their creation and elaborated on why they chose certain materials. For the most part, students were extremely comfortable talking and explaining their thinking. I immediately saved the file to the camera roll and emailed it to the teacher so she could take a look. Later on, I uploaded all the saved files to Google Drive so the teacher could access them on any device.
Tell About This in Early Years
After succeeding with the older students I met with Early Years team and we planned a time I could come in and set up student profiles and personalized prompts. Due to the developmental needs of this age group (3 and 4 year olds), it helped to have one teacher pulling students to trial the app while the other teacher facilitated play with the rest of the class. Even though there was just 1-2 years difference, the children reacted very differently to the app.
As soon as I started creating the profile (which has an option of snapping the child’s photo as part of the profile) the 3 and 4 year olds wanted to be the one to take their own picture. They crowded around and asked if they could type their name or press the ‘white button’ on the camera app.
After using a blocks construction as a prompt, the ‘builder’ (a 3.5 year old) sat himself in the blocks area with the iPad and prompt in front of him. He was quite confident telling me (and the iPad) about his construction, however he preferred to refer and point to the actual construction rather than refer to the screen. I noticed this happened when I worked with other 3-year-olds as well and it revealed a lot about their comfort level with the iPads and their preferred way to communicate (to the teacher rather than the device).
More to Tell About
In using Tell About This with our students, we learned a number of things about how they interact with learning devices and document their experiences and I will share several more details in a later post. Ultimately, we are pleased to have encountered an app that fits our play-based approach so nicely and are continuously surprised at the ease with which the students interact not only with Tell About This, but the iPad in general.