This week the children used the iPads in a couple different ways.  They enjoyed making Valentine's Day cards for their parents.  Not only could they write a sweet message, but the children also recorded their voices and put in a picture of themselves.  The cards could be sent to the parents for a nice Valentine's Day surprise.  Closer to the end of the week, the children used the app Doodlecast.  Doodlecast is a lot like StoryKit.  The children can choose either a blank template, or a pre-made template with questions for the children to answer.  Some children wrote about what they like to do in the park while others wrote about their favorite foods.  One thing that Doodlecast does provide is the questions for children to answer.  This gives them a sort of story line to follow rather than trying to come up with something on their own.  Rachel Adamsky worked with the children on the beginning, middle, and end of their stories.  This is a great skill to begin to develop at such a young age.  It is amazing how fast the students pick up concepts.  The one problem with Doodlecast is that the voices record the entire time.  There is a pause button, but it does not record the drawing during the paused time; it just shows up.  The children tend to ramble when they do not have a known script or focus.  Unless reminded, children forget the beginning focus and what used to be their favorite food, turns into a story about playing outside that day.  Mrs. Frederick's class enjoyed Doodlecast, and we will continue working in this app throughout next week.  Another perk is that the Doodlecast saves into the "Photos" part of the iPad.  This allows the final product to be sent through e-mail or uploaded in the same way that regular pictures would be uploaded.  As we work with the students in Doodlecast this week, some of their finished products will be posted for viewing.
    During February, the students will be working on writing stories in literacy groups.  When the children get time at the iPads, they will be working in one of several apps.  This past week the children continued working in StoryKit.  I will post some of these with links to some of the children's examples.  The children did a great job drawing, writing, and talking about their stories.  Mrs. Frederick and I were surprised to see that the children made StoryKits even when they were not asked to do so.  This shows that the children really enjoyed using this app.  We will use DoodleCast, Puppet Pals, and Toontastic throughout the course of the month.  The children will learn about creating their own stories.  Some of the apps guide children through the writing process.  I am excited to see which apps the children most enjoy and which impact learning the most.  This week we got new iPads in Mrs. Frederick's Kindergarten.  There are now six iPads.  It is very exciting to see the use of technology grow and how it is impacting teaching and learning.  Here are a few of the StoryKits the children created.  Copy and paste the link into a new window.  To hear the child's voice, click on the
Mary Cole:
Mrs. Frederick:
    This week we kicked off the start of this project by using StoryKit.  Each child created a page using the app.  Mrs. Frederick and I are now working on a way to get all of these combined into some sort of presentation.  Many of the apps take time to get used to, but the children adapted very quickly.  I gave a few quick instructions, and the children were off to work!  The task was to draw, write, and talk about yourself.  The children could choose anything that described themselves.  It could be a favorite food, thing to do, place to be, or even person.  About half of the children chose to draw ice cream.  It seems the class has quite the sweet tooth!  They also drew about their families, activities, and even pets at home.  The iPads provided a fun way for the children to express themselves and tell a little about themselves while drawing.  This is a free app.  There is also an app called Doodlecast that does something very similar.  Doodlecast records the entire time that the child draws, and there is no text box for the children to type in.  Doodlecast has much easier uploading capabilities, but it does cost $0.99.  As I observed throughout the week, I noticed the children used the iPads during centers.  Though Mrs. Frederick was working with small groups, when I came anywhere near the children, I noticed they were on task and in an educational app.  My biggest fear about the iPads was having to constantly direct children into an app that was not a game, but they did a fantastic job using apps that had them practicing letters, words, and sentences.  Our first app project was pretty successful, and hopefully we will be able to make a presentation out of their stories to share with everyone.
    The iPad that Apple has provided finally arrived.  After taking a quick trip home to get the iPad, I spent the week researching fun, educational apps for kids.  There are many websites that provide highlights to discounted apps, reviews on apps, and classes around the nation using iPads to enhance learning.  My favorite app that I have found so far is called StoryKit.  I hope to use this one with the children as soon as possible.  This app not only allows children to draw pictures and create a book, but the children can also take real pictures and put them in their book, type sentences, and talk.  This is exactly what Mrs. Frederick and I have been talking about finding for the children.  After the children create their book, it is saved.  This book can be printed and made into a great keepsake.  Apps such as these can be a great tool in tracking the progress of children in the classroom.  This can also keep parents and family in the loop on the great learning experiences going on in the classroom.  I am in the process of finding more educational apps and organizing them.  Next week will begin my work inside the classroom with the children.  It will be interesting to see how the children react to the apps and how the iPads impact teaching and learning.
    In the Honor's Program at the University of North Alabama, Seniors must take on a Capstone Project.  This project is a research project that must somehow relate with your major.  As my senior year began approaching, I began to speak to our honor's director about what kind of project I wanted to start.  I am an Elementary Education major, so it needed to relate to education.  After we got out for Christmas, I got an e-mail from the honor's director asking if I was interested in working on a technology project with Dr. Katie Kinney.  Since I have known Dr. Kinney since I was young, I jumped on the chance and was so excited to begin.  The only problem was that I did not have an iPad.  How was I supposed to do research on iPads in education without an iPad?  I went through my finances and realized that there was no possible way that I could afford to buy an iPad.  As I began to get discouraged, someone suggested sending an e-mail to Apple and asking for one.  What could it hurt?  After speaking to my honor's director and Dr. Kinney, I went for it.  I sent an e-mail to the CEO and Vice President of Marketing and said a little prayer.  Counting on a miracle, I began to research different apps and ways that iPads were being used in the schools.  The day before I made my trek back to UNA, I received a phone call.  An Apple representative was on the other line.  He told me that the Apple executives had been so impressed with my e-mail that they were willing to let me use an iPad for my research.  This iPad must be returned after my project ends, but I was so grateful to be given the chance to borrow an iPad for the time being.  I am so excited to be picking up this iPad this week!  Not only has Apple provided me with an iPad to enhance research, but they have given me a huge opportunity to be successful in my research.  The process of just getting started has been so exciting, and I cannot wait to dive into this project.  Not only will our research be presented to faculty and parents of Kilby Laboratory School, but Dr. Kinney and I hope to take it across Alabama and hopefully nationwide.  I am so thankful for this opportunity, Apple's great support, and Kilby for opening their doors and allowing me to work with the Kindergarten students.


    My name is Kaitlin Ashley.  I am a few hours away from being a senior at the University of North Alabama.  This blog will be about researching the impacts of iPads in the kindergarten teaching and learning environment.  It will follow this process from the very beginning, and it will keep everyone up-to-date on what is going on in Mrs. Frederick's Kindergarten class.


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